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  • feedwordpress 22:39:57 on 2015/10/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , Shop Local, , Social Media,   

    The Shop Local Movement and Social Media 


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    As big business takes over the country, we’ve been urged to buy locally.  Most people are under the misconception that this means only frequenting businesses in your local area.  What it actually means is purchasing items from small businesses rather than huge multi-unit box stores, and buying only items that have been produced, grown, or built in the United States.  I don’t know about you, but I’m much more likely to shop from a store where I’ve seen the owner a time or two, can see their impact on my local economy, or one that gives back to the community around them.

    When it comes to shopping local, social media can be a huge help.  As many small businesses have difficulty affording huge advertising campaigns to entice customers to frequent their business, social media pages offer, somewhat, free advertising.  A tiny little mom and pop shop down the corner from where you were brought up is now able to establish an audience with the help of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and the like.  It doesn’t cost a great deal of money on social media sites to run current promotions, post photos of new merchandise, or introduce the audience to new employees.

    As a social media manager, one of my biggest recommendations for businesses is that they establish a healthy website.  Unfortunately, web design in an expensive undertaking, and many people lack the knowledge to build one themselves.  Sure, there are sites out there that offer web design at a low cost, but many of these sites are still somewhat difficult to understand.  The next best thing to a good website, is a healthy and active presence on a well-established Facebook page, and this also works as a less expensive alternative as well.

    For a local business, a web presence is going to be a massive help, as many people are found to begin their search for a product online.  Not only is a Facebook page virtually free, and I say virtually because you can choose to pay for Facebook ads, which are helpful, but not necessary.  One of the major upsides of shopping locally is that you get to see the owners, the same employees who enjoy their jobs, and some excellent product lines that are often handcrafted by local residents, and a social media presence can help put these things out in the public eye.

    Recently, I vacationed in Sunset Beach, North Carolina, a sleepy little beach town just a hop, skip, and jump from the much more commercialized Myrtle Beach.  While there are plenty of canned, typical beach style box stores advertising 10 t-shirts for $20 in Myrtle, Sunset Beach has very few of these.  On the island, there are only local shops.  In one of these shops, I grabbed a business card and was very quick to “Like” them on Facebook.  To my delight, they post at least four times a week.  Within these posts, they share charming anecdotes about customers, honor their employees, and keep people informed about the goings-on in the area.

    Ideally, every small business would take the reins for the social media campaigns in the same way the aforementioned business has, but this isn’t always the case.  What is seen as a hassle is often ignored, but most business owners don’t understand that they’re shortchanging themselves.  Social media isn’t meant to be an advertising medium, but it is.  With millions of people using social sites, worldwide, a local business doesn’t have to drop thousands of dollars with flashy ads, if they’re just willing to put in the work themselves.

    Many people, especially those who subscribe to the Shop Local Mentality, love to see small businesses succeed and progress.  One surefire way to put a face to your store is to open a Facebook Business Page.  The setup is pretty simple, and Facebook will walk you through the process.  Once a business has established a page, an email mailing list can be uploaded to search for frequent visitors to like your new page.  Once you’ve gotten 25 likes to the page, the web address can be customized.  After you’ve established the page, collected the necessary number of likes, and uploaded some pictures, now it’s time to work on your presence.  I recommend posting no less than two times a week, and sharing photos of your specialized merchandise.

    One particularly awesome thing about a Facebook Business Page is that newcomers to the area can search for local business and that business will then come up in a search.  While it isn’t the same as having a website, the page does allow local businesses to post their hours, showcase new merchandise, and inform people about changes in inventory or special sales.  In lieu of an excellent website, have an excellent social media presence.

    Frequenting local businesses isn’t practical for all shopping needs, but making an effort to buy 20% of birthday or holiday gifts locally can truly help both the local business, and your local economy as well.  No one enjoys driving through their town and seeing closed businesses, so pay attention to your Facebook news feed and see where people you know are shopping locally, and check them out.

     
  • feedwordpress 00:10:46 on 2015/08/15 Permalink
    Tags: , Social Media   

    Social Media Isn’t Your Enemy 


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    When speaking to my mother, I get a sense of the attitude of many people in her age group.  She refers to social media in general as “that Facebook” and displays a genuine and deep seated dislike for anything related to the field.  Imagine her chagrin when I began my career as a social media writer.  While she was pleased for me, and my ability to express myself and make money from my true passion, she is still quite skeptical about how social media can be a positive thing.  I’ve made it my one-woman mission to show her.

    I’m well aware of the negative aspects of social media, as I’ve written about them, in detail, previously.  However, in one recent instance, social media banded people together to show their support to a family that was fighting a battle with a vicious disease.  It’s seldom expressed or celebrated, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t consider the amount of charitable advances made as a result of social media.  A lot of people focus solely on the negativity associated with social media activity, but I’m here to tell you: social media is not your enemy.

    Recently, in the social media world, many members of the community were introduced to a young man who was battling cancer.  The child of a fellow #AutoFam member, this little boy generated a veritable wildfire on social media.  As many were clamoring to get their hands on a Caleb vs. Cancer t-shirt to show our support and express our solidarity, social media was the root of all of it.  A small prayer request for a young boy, rocketed into a widespread campaign to show our solidarity to a child many members of the community had never met, that showed us all what true courage looked like.

    We live in a world where stories of violence and horror lead the news reports at night.  On a daily basis we are greeted with a barrage of terrifying images and bad news, so that it is difficult to remain optimistic.  Social media, for the most part, is no different.  A good story on social media is a diamond in the rough, but they’re out there.  For every ten negative, politically fueled curse-laden rants, there is one story that will renew your faith in the human race.  You sometimes just have to know how to find it.

    Yes, social media is filled with vile opinions and horrific grammar that makes you reconsider the job the education system is doing, but every once in a while, people will surprise you.  Recently, Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg took to Facebook to announce a momentous occasion in his life; the more than halfway point of his wife’s pregnancy following several miscarriages.  These are the types of posts we normally miss, as we’re skimming through our pages either looking to get into or avoid a fight with the more outspoken of our Facebook friends.

    While the announcement of pregnancies, new life coming into the world, or engagement announcements are often looked at with joy and are celebrated, they’re also often overshadowed by others’ complaining tendencies.  Another incredible aspect of social media, is the increased visibility of charitable organizations.  A friend of my sister’s, a 25 year old woman, gave birth to a little boy almost two years ago.  While this was a time of celebration, it was also cause for concern, as she gave birth to a little boy who has XLMTM, a very rare disease.  Social media has allowed her to increase awareness, meet other parents whose children have the same issues, and also set up a charitable organization to help her family and her son.

    One of the greatest stories in the media recently, speaks to the true purpose of social media.  There was an animal shelter in Atlanta that posted a photo of two dogs that appeared to be hugging.  As the dogs were slated for euthanasia in a high kill shelter, the photo went viral and within two hours they were both adopted.   This is the true spirit of why social media has become so important in our society; the human connection, and inspiring compassion and empathy.

    We need to get away from what social media has become, a space for us to vent our contempt for nearly everything, and get back to what it was meant to be.  When Facebook first emerged, it was primarily to connect with people.  I, personally, was able to find my best friend from kindergarten, after we’d lost touch for many years.  We live in a place that is obsessed with negativity and other people’s pain, but occasionally, when you look around, you’re surprised by the genuine outpouring of love and support for our fellow man.

    Social media can be a bad thing, when used improperly and left in the control of the wrong people.  However, social media also has the incredible and awe-inspiring power to connect people across the globe for the greater good.  We don’t always focus on what is good in our lives, but a simple alignment of our point of view can do amazing things.  When is the last time you posted something uplifting on Facebook or Twitter?  Give it a shot, you may be pleasantly surprised.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:28:29 on 2015/08/12 Permalink
    Tags: Nice, Social Media   

    If You Can’t Say Anything Nice… 


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    We’ve all heard the old adage that says if we don’t have anything nice to say, we shouldn’t say anything at all.  Unfortunately, social media has made it a lot more difficult to hold true to this statement.  Adding Facebook and Twitter into the mix has created a group of people that don’t take others’ feelings into account before we spill our guts on the internet.  The question is; have we forgone our ethics and values when it comes to social media?

    Back in the day, before social media, we had to think about what we said before we said it, because we weren’t trying to be inherently mean to people.  What social media has allowed is an opportunity to not have to think before we type something.  Many people use Facebook and Twitter as a means to air their grievances without considering what kind of impact their words may have.  Have we truly become heartless or is simply a case of faceless courage?

    It’s easier to type something and not think about what we’ve actually said, than to have to say something heinous to someone’s face.  Over the internet, we can’t see a person’s face fall when we say something that hurts their feelings, and therefore we consider this a safe way to speak.  All too often, we speak our minds with the defense that we’re a generation of people that “don’t have a filter”.  While this is all well and good, when you’re six years old and you haven’t yet learned the difference between right and wrong, it’s not okay as an adult.

    Not having a filter is not an acceptable excuse for adults, but it’s become an all too convenient excuse for people to say horrific things to each other.  When social media came about, it gave a soapbox to people who were otherwise unheard outside of their own social circles.  People felt free to voice opinions, regardless of whom it may hurt.  Unfortunately, what seems to be happening now, is that a great deal of people have taken their social media persona to the streets.

    While social media has provided an incredible outlet for business purposes, it has also become a way of life for people who wish to spew their negativity.  The unfortunate thing is that in some cases, the good outweighs the bad.  There are a lot of people that use social media for its intended purpose; connecting with people they haven’t seen in a long time, showcasing photos of long-distance grandchildren, or allowing others to see the incredible creations inspired by their hobbies.  However, others use it to create melodrama in otherwise boring lives.

    As someone who works in social media, I’ve seen my fair share of the negative aspects of social media.  People issue reviews of businesses and are often a good bit harsher than they would be if they had to give the owners a review to their faces.   The internet has made us quite brave, but the false bravado has caused a dramatic upswing in our tendency to insult people to their faces under the guise of not having a filter.  Regardless of whether or not we have a filter, we’ve got to be more careful about what we’re saying both on the internet and off.

    It’s not fair of us to think that everyone wants to hear our opinions in an unfiltered fashion.  Many people may want to know what we think in terms of reviews or feedback, sometimes even constructive criticism, but that doesn’t mean setting themselves up to be fodder.  Obtaining an opinion about the services your business offers is a completely different thing than setting your business or yourself up to be bombarded.

    People are being shamed for their beliefs, their values, and their faith.  There have always been instances in which people talk smack, but when we’re spending our time viciously attacking each other about our appearances, what we hold near and dear, and even things that are out of our control.  Too many people spend their days finding ways to blatantly offend people or hurt people.  Social media has become the online version of a slam book, but everyone we know can see it.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying everything is supposed to be sweetness and light.  We can’t always get along, but we can take the care for people’s feelings.  We can all strive to be better people and find the love and light within ourselves.  Simply thinking before we speak or before we type can go a long way in healing some of the hurt in our lives.  Before we allow social media to create a generation of mean girls; let’s just think before we say something.  It’s not a difficult principle to master.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:35:34 on 2015/08/05 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Online, , Shills, Social Media, Stuff They Don't Want You To Know, trolls,   

    How Sneaky People Control the Internet 


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    Trolls. Anyone who has been active online long enough, particularly through social media or website comments that make them express their opinions online, have probably been trolled. The question that we all should ask (if we even really care) is whether or not the trolls are real or if they’re shills.

    The massive movement by companies, governments, and interested parties produces so much content on the various networks that there’s a good chance you’ve had a conversation with sockpuppets, meatpuppets, or even bots. They started being used in marketing years ago and now they’re used by pretty much every major company and country in the world. If you’re shocked that you’ve never heard about it, there’s a reason. They’re a very self-protected force. The techniques used to sway our opinions are also used to hide the very existence of those who are swaying our opinions.

    I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time, but it was actually a video that encapsulates much of what I wanted to say in the first place. Here’s the video…

    Sockpuppets

     
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