Digital Artifact: Video Transcript!

A crash Course in Social Media for the time-poor small business!

Video #1: INTRODUCTION

So you’ve decided to start a small business. Congratulations! But… You need customers. Word of mouth is great, but you can’t sustain your business on word-of-mouth alone.

We live in a constantly connected world, and in order to be noticed you need to make sure you stand out. We can do this by starting with the trinity of social media:
>Identity; Market; Content.
In that order!

To keep yourself from being overwhelmed we need to follow one simple guideline: #FIST. #FIST is a way to keep things simple and ensure you don’t throw your money down the drain. So what does #FIST mean?

FAST – INEXPENSIVE – SIMPLE – TINY

In the world of small business, the work never ends; no matter how tired you are. So you need to find a strategy that works for you!A note before we begin though – this is just a starting point with general advice. There won’t be any in depth guides on specific platforms… for now. These are all simple tricks that I have picked up over the past few years!

The first step to starting your businesses online profile is to find the business’s IDENTITY.

If you have no clear idea of who you are and what you do, your customers won’t, either – and you’ll be forgotten. Stay tuned for the next video for us to really dive into these tips.

 

Video #2: IDENTITY

So let’s say you’re starting a small business – you need to find your target market, and brand yourself. You need a solid identity for the business – not only will you be noticed, but it will also stop you from constantly changing direction in the future, leaving your clients confused.

Here are some tips to help you with this:

  1. Sum up what you do in a few words; preferably 5 or less.
    Of course you can expand on this, but being able to really narrow down your field will help when prospective customers search for your business. For example, instead of “market analyst who specialises in social media and advertising on websites”, you could refine that to “Online Market Analyst” – and then expand on this in your ‘about me’ sections. Think of this short summary as the core of your business – something to stay true to.
  2. Have consistent branding!
    You’ll also want to figure out your personal branding and style – and then keep that consistent. While it may be tempting to change your identity every time growth feels slow, try to avoid this and instead ensure you are staying true to your brand’s identity. It is important to consider your future tarket market when approaching your branding: if you are workind in a formal field with professional clients, you’ll want to avoid using comic sans. Conversely, if you want to market towards the average family, you’ll want to avoid looking too luxurious.You need to look at what it is you do, why you do it, and who you’re doing it for. Then you’ll need to make yourself a logo that is simple and easy to reproduce, that identifies your brand immediately (but doesn’t infringe on any copyrights for other business logos) and that will work cross-platform and through print media, too. Pick one or two fonts to work with too, so that when you produce your content, that looks consistent as well.
  3. Stay true to your values.
    Set some goals and guidelines for your business. A great way to do this is to have two lists: one for “I will strive to”, and “I will avoid” – and stick to these principles. These are in addition to standard business practices and laws, and will be ideologies behind your business and will set you apart from others that do the same thing. For example – “I will strive to involve my customer with the process every step of the way” and “I will avoid making excuses for why a job is taking longer than expected” are a couple of great ones for those who freelance in creative industries.

So now you know who you are. You’ve made yourself some guidelines. But you need people to sell to. It’s time to find your MARKET.

 

Video #3: MARKET

This can be a tricky situation for some small businesses, particularly those in very populated areas, or those exclusively online. It is very easy to be swamped by other businesses who offer the same thing yours does, so finding your target market and being able to market to them effectively will ensure that you have direction for growth. A common misconception is that you should try to broaden your market as much as you can so that you can be inclusive of all people – however for small businesses this is usually impractical and can leave you feeling very overwhelmed very quickly. Remember #FIST: we want to keep this simple! Here are some ways to help with that.

  1. Streamline your products and be flexible.
    When we look at huge businesses, like in the telecommunications industry, it is very easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of products and services they offer. You may begin to wonder how you can compete, and the answer is simple: you don’t! If you try to offer the same amount of range that they do, you’ll find yourself overworked and offering more than you can potentially fulfill. For example – a photographer might look at larger media companies with set packages and prices and feel like that would be the way to go. As a small business, freelancer or sole trader however, you have the advantage of flexibility and it’s one you should take. Avoid setting rigid packages and prices, and always be approachable by your customers. They will appreciate service taylored to their needs and their budget. People like being treated like more than a number – so if you extend that respect towards them, it will be very appreciated.
  2. Observe your local market and stand out.
    Have you already started a businesses and found that you’re struggling to really grow and kick off? There may be an oversaturated market in your area. A great way to evaluate your competitors is to just jump onto Google and do some research. Remember those keywords you created to describe your own business? Use them! Search for those and similar keywords, and then add the area to the end. Let’s say you just bought an awesome top-of-the-line drone and you want to do get some paid work for it. You’ve got all your permits, you’ve practiced and you’re ready to go. You jump on to google and search for “Drone Videography Sydney” and you get 12 returns – and those are just the ones on google maps! So you’re now facing a saturated market. You need to now find a point of difference – something you can offer that everyone else may not be able to. Something that makes you unique and may even fill a gap in that market. This can be a long and boring process of clicking through all these websites, researching their offers, and then brainstorming a way to stand out: but it is a very important one in order to avoid being overshadowed.
  3. Market towards a specific few crowds.
    Marketing towards a few specific crowds is a great way to keep things cheap and targeted. As your business expands you will be able to expand your target market as well – but when starting out try to keep things small! Look at the products that you offer, and the skills that you have, and see who they may benefit most or appeal to at this point in time. If you’ve just started a trendy cafe and milkshake bar with loud music and want to do most of your advertising through Instagram for that viral fame, your target market will be younger people who love expressing themselves instead of older people who don’t even know what a hashtag is. So narrow down a field that you specialise in; catering business? Perhaps you could start out small, targeting corporate clients for their lunch meetings, or weddings and formal events with some gourmet meals. Narrowing your target market will make it so much easier to target ads through Google and Facebook, and will also help with content creation as well!

Once you’ve streamlined your offers, filled the gaps in your local market, and you’ve found your target market, you’ll want to start attracting some interest with your brand by generating appropriate CONTENT.

 

Video #4: CONTENT

The home stretch. The content you produce will be THE way that you can spread the word about your small business, so you need to curate it carefully. If you’ve followed the steps so far, though, generating effective content will be so much easier! You have your targeted audience already through finding your targeted market, you have your own identity as a guideline to follow. Now you just need to figure out what is appropriate. The following steps will help guide you with this.

  1. Choose your social media platforms.
    This can be overwhelming. There are so many social media platforms out there, how do you know which ares are for you? Thankfully if you’ve followed along so far, we have an easy way to find out! The best starting point would be to find out what platforms your target market use the most. Facebook is the largest social media platform across all age groups. The quickest way to find out is to simply search for the key terms “Demographics of Social Media Users” – you can further refine this by country, as well. You’ll also want to consider the type of business you are and choose a few platforms that complement your business. If you are in a creative industry, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook are great for sharing images and videos of the work you have been producing and are quick ways to engage with your customers. A more formal and professional industry, such as IT support, would benefit from Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn in addition to Facebook as a way to market to other business or to share industry relevant news. Have a look at the benefits that each unique platform is able to offer and if you see a way to take advantage of that, go for it. But you want to avoid trying to be on all of them at once; that will get expensive and tiring very fast.
  2. Don’t neglect your website.
    Your website is where people should find most of the information about your business. It should link to all of your social media, and your social media should all link back to your website. Update the content regularly and be very thorough about what you put on there. Keep the layout simple and easy to follow – if you find your website is covered in links and has more than two menus, your customers will get lost. Don’t forget to include very clear contact information and have a contact form that will reach you directly – and create a professional email address just for your business. Do not use your personal email – it looks very unprofessional and many people will end up thinking you’re cheap or inexperienced. In order for your site to be visible on search engines, you can also look into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but that is a very complicated process. There are people out there who can help you with this, however!
  3. Curate your content appropriately.
    The final and most important point to content generation – curation. This is why we took great care in selecting appropriate platforms that match our target market, and why we don’t limit ourselves to just one social media platform. The reason why it’s recommended to choose a few different platforms is because each one has its own advantage in terms of formatting and content presentation. Instagram is great for photos and short videos. Facebook is an awesome way to interact with your audience and not only share your own content, but to share other content that you find relevant to your business and your target market! Twitter is a micro-blogging platform which is also great for customer interactivity, to share quick information, and other industry relevant news.
    When I say we need to curate our content to each platform, what I mean is that we need to consider the strengths of each platform that we have chosen and create content with those platforms in mind. For example, if you’re a florist, you can use Instagram for sharing beautiful custom bouquets that you’ve created throughout the day as well as ‘behind the scenes’ photos of orders of flowers that you’ve gotten in before you arrange them. On Facebook you can share a video of a fellow staff member arranging something for a large event that you are providing flowers for, or share inspirational images and quotes (making sure to give credit, of course). Be careful to avoid trying too hard to go viral, though – and go easy on the personal opinions. Keep controversial memes and thoughts off your business page as these can and often do backfire.
    Stagger your content across your platforms, though. Avoid sharing the exact same content across all your platforms at once – if you do, then there will be no reason for having different platforms in the first place. Don’t be afraid to occasionally plug your other social media platforms and do cross-platform promotions – just don’t be so overwhelming.
    Make sure that before you create your content that you are taking into account the technical aspects of these platforms as well – filesize limitations as well as recommended dimensions are very important to keep in mind. YouTube is great for horizontal video, but keep your vertical and square format videos to Facebook and Instagram. And for any original content you produce, don’t forget to add your watermark or credit in there somewhere so that the content can be traced back to your business. There’s nothing worse than having another business share your content without credit and gaining all the profit from it!

 

Lastly, never stop interacting, researching and producing. If you go quiet, even for a few days, or completely ignore any interaction your audience and customers attempt to have with you – they will stop trying too, and you’ll be forgotten. Keep learning and stay up to date with platform changes, and be on the lookout for upcoming new features or platforms that may benefit you. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to simplify your processes: remember #FIST. There are programs that you can use to schedule your content releases so if you find yourself too busy to constantly update your pages, it doesn’t go dead, and your business continues to boom!

[Week 11] Online Persona and Stuff that Tweets

Boy did I open a can of worms for my final blog post. This weeks topic was a guest lecture by Dr Christopher Moore, who I have for my DIGC335 class. We were to examine celebrity practice on Twitter, the micro-celebrity as a concept, as well as analyse the impact and activities of non-human Twitter users, such as bots and AIs.

I enlisted the help of two of my friends and my partner (respectively) – Stephen, Janessa, and Orien. Together we took part in a 40 minute podcast (way longer than the 5 minutes I was hoping for) with a series of questions. It was a two parter, firstly looking at our own use of Twitter, and secondly, the use of celebrities and the non-human, and looking at the impact this may have for the future. Feel free to click below to listen if you’d like 40 minutes of background noise.

For your convenience, I will unpack the conversation that we had and summarise some of the main points that followed the questions that were asked.

Analyising your own Online Persona:

What does twitter mean to you?

There seem to be a few reasons twitter is used – as a glorified news outlet, to analyse trends, as a microblogging platform, to communicate and socialise – and of course, to shitpost.

Barak Obama’s brother apparently enjoys shitposting on Twitter.

Your own twitter activity:

We found that none of us actually have any decent interactions on Twitter – Orien doesn’t even have an account. We concluded that none of us have really taken the platform seriously. Looking at our ‘impressions’ we noticed that none of us were really being noticed.

We also discovered what an impression actually was.

“In Union Metrics Twitter reporting, we define reach as the total number of estimated unique Twitter users that tweets about the search term were delivered to. Exposure is the total number of times tweets about the search term were delivered to Twitter streams, or the number of overall potential impressions generated.
When we say “impression”, we mean that a tweet has been delivered to the Twitter stream of a particular account. Not everyone who receives a tweet will read it, so you should consider this a measure of potential impressions. Both reach and impressions should be treated as directional metrics to give you an idea of the overall exposure the tracked term received. Use these metrics to get a sense of the size of your potential audience, and use engagement metrics like retweets, clicks and replies to gain a more complete understanding of your impact.”

Union Metrics Support

reach_vs_exposure
https://unionmetrics.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201201636-What-do-you-mean-by-Twitter-reach-exposure-and-impressions-

We also talked about what we could change in our own Twitter activity, hypothetically. Popularity was a common preference – to do so, we’d need to tweet more regularly, use appropriate hashtags, or hit the jackpot by befriending a celebrity and having them sack their legions of fans upon us for follows.

Valuing Twitter celebrities, as well as celebrities on Twitter:

When discussing what makes a celebrity popular on Twitter, we reached a rather unanimous conclusion – that the value of a celebrity on Twitter lies within humanising these people who’s lifestyles seem so foreign to our own. We’ve been given a platform to communicate with them, to reach out to them, and perhaps even be noticed by them as well. On the flip side – it’s also easier to evaluate a celebrities worth by observing their true colours; we can quickly discern whether or not a celebrity is genuine – or genuinely a twat.

Damaging or helpful effects of mini celebrities:

We quickly discovered that Twitter can be a direct influence on making or breaking a person’s career, or even life – whether they were famous or not. Without these platforms, no one would know that Jaden Smith was a nutcase, for example.

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However there have been instances of celebrities destroying their careers from things they’ve said on Twitter. Here is a whole list of them. There are also examples of celebrities weighing in on a debate with another person or celebrity, and either accidentally or intentionally sending their fans to rabidly attack the other party, as well as their supporters – which we could even put down to cult-like behaviour of people worshipping their ‘Twitter God’.

It could be argued that this isn’t necessarily a bad outcome, however – with Orien saying that it’s good that we have a way of discovering who these people really are, and taking away their fame as a platform for their controversial and potentially harmful or malicious opinions.

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However, praise was also allocated to the platform for its potential for good: it can be a source for unbiased facts or alternative views, or for setting hashtags to go viral for the greater good, and to promote some generally wholesome content.

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Looking at the non-human:

Unfortunately, we didn’t have many non-human instances of twitter accounts to name off the top of our heads. I made mention of a few bot accounts that I have following me, which actively search for #stream #streaming and #twitch hashtags in my tweets, to re-tweet to people following those accounts, in order to give my stream exposure a boost.

Innocently, there are other bot accounts that monitor RSS feeds to deliver news or weather updates.

The other account that could now be considered synonymous with Twitter AIs is Microsoft’s Tay – for those not in the know, this will catch you up quite quickly.

In looking at the general maliciousness that we discovered in humans interacting with Tay, we quickly came to the conclusion that humans are generally shitty, and would not hesitate to use AI in other malicious forms – such as bullying or online harassment. For example, setting up a series of Twitter bots to target someone online and spam them with horrible images and links. Bots and AIs are a tool – and it is up to the person to decide what they do with it.

A hypothetical that was considered was the use of AI and bots for the future, particularly on Twitter. We mused at the concept of a completely unbiased source of news from bots that only analyse the facts, with no journalistic spin. Unfortunately, that seems to be way off in the future.

 

Blog Post #2: Delving Deeper into the Underbelly of Online Communications

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Despite the fact that this looks like she’s written this in word to herself – does anyone actually talk like this online? Let’s find out.

Warning: This blog post contains some very harsh language.

There are two things I’d like to cover in this blog post: firstly, gathering responses from other people’s experiences online, and secondly, to streamline the points to cover in my digital artefact and seminar to be presented in week 9.

Over the past week I have engaged with some auto-ethnographical research methods to gather some answers to two questions, on either side of the negative communications spectrum – those that have ‘dished it’ and those that have ‘taken it’. As a disclaimer, I’d like to stress that these are just samples of responses that I have received – they do not reflect the entire situation. Some responses have been edited for continuity, grammar and spelling; all participants will remain unnamed on this blog.

The first question (as posted on Reddit):
What’s your favourite ‘abusive’ message you’ve received online (gaming, youtube, etc)?
I seem to have issues cracking the secret to a succesful Reddit thread; I only got a few responses to this, but what I did receive was useful. The question is ambiguously worded, and deliberately so; I chose the word “favourite” so as not to antagonise anyone into remembering any triggering memories, and to prompt some more of the entertaining responses that may not have been to harmful.

“”Come fight me, bro!” as he proceeded to give me his number and address …”

“I got told to hang myself with my mouse because some salty kid had the urge to PM me after a match cause i kicked his ass. Jokes on him its wireless!”

“Not exactly an “abusive” message, but a guy kept harassing me to do something that I kept telling him I wasn’t going to do, and in the end he just told me “Now the dream is dead.” … I used to make and sell fantasy attire for Second Life and I had made a set of pauldrons / bracers, and about a year later, he was asking me why there wasn’t leg armor and demanding I make it and give it to him. (so nothing exciting)”

“”Everything was great until OP started begging for money. Dont ask people to support your hobby. Go find a job and support yourself.” … “Just because you know how to make some doodles doesn’t mean you can earn a living with it.” … “he’s not even that good”
Response from one person on imgur to me putting a link to my patreon at the bottom of a series of Dark Souls boss monster drawings that I did.”

“Not very abusive towards me but I was playing CS:GO and someone got a triple kill with the pp-bizon and decided he would write in chat: “Get raped” … “By my pp””

“Had this friend who was a mute chick on League of legends. Back then, my username was KuroTheCat and I would sometimes just pretend to be a cat to annoy people.
Since she was mute, she would only type when we skyped but she always used your instead of you’re. After a while, I told her she should really correct it. She flipped out and went into a long rant about how it was who she was and she would change whenever she wanted.
So I deleted her. The next morning she sent me an essay of how I was a horrible human being but she topped it off with “And BTW you’re not a fucking cat””

While there were not a lot of responses, I was pleased with the variety of responses I received. I am concerned that the notion of rape was brought up in such a small sample pool – I wonder if the ratio of comments of sexual nature would change should I have had a greater response. I was previously under the impression that these kind of comments were not all that common – I personally haven’t received any notable responses of a sexually charged nature. I will elaborate on my own experiences in my seminar.

The second question (asked in numerous Discord channels):
Have you ever been combanned/banhammered from online communications? If so what was it you said that got you banned? Did you feel any remorse for your actions and did you think there would be consequences?
This question was a little more loaded than the last one – only a few managed to answer the third part of the question, however. I believe I will have to dig a little more deeply in order to find the psychology behind these behaviours – perhaps by finding some more scholarly sources.

“I was only banned once, but I dont remember what it was for, so :/”

“Been banned in a twitch chat for using 3 emotes to type out kek”

“I’ve never been banned from anywhere, as far as I remember. My brother, however, was banned in Maplestory due to drama spread by his then-girlfriend. Ended up getting kicked from a guild, and I guess the drama was enough to ban him from the game.”

“I got banned from league of legends for being salty in one game. I called someone a dick waffle twat. … [then] I got banned from minecraft for… You gotta wait for this… Having my brightness on full. So I don’t need torches in the dark. It was either that or the fact that I was a bit rude to the mod that pointed it out. I think I said something along the lines of. “Because your blind ass can’t see in the dark doesn’t mean I can’t” Which wasn’t even that bad. I got banned on a different server for saying “Where do I buy some fine booty” … and I’m not even joking”

“Been banned on some unturned server for telling an admin to “chill the fuck out you autistic spastic” … the admin was being an autistic lil spas so … oh better one … another one in unturned banned from another server for walking up to an admin and saying “hello” that got me a perma ban cracked me up XD”

“I got banned many times as a kid, it was because I was an asshole. I used to be a lot more abrasive … I remember one time I got banned for racism because I was trying to explain to some guy that banning jokes is fucking retarded. That was a fun day – he got so mad … Sometimes its how I’d acted for years on that forum and sone [sic] guy just got pissy about it. Sometimes I didn’t care or I felt I was making a moral stand.”

“[The second time] I got combanned for calling the kid a scrub … [the first time for] saying either fucker bitch or cunt.”

There are some great and varied responses here – examples of minor rules being broken and some examples of outright abusive communications behaviour. I feel that those that answered the question and showed no remorse did so because they believed the receiving party deserved the harsh words, or that they were made in good faith that the other party would not find it offensive. Which brings me to another point of investigation that I’d like to look at – the difference between banter and abuse.

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Unlike the last image, this actually happened. Someone seemed to be confused as to whether this was banter, or real bullying. The two have since reconciled over the misunderstanding.

Coming to this point of the study,  I may have been too ambitious and I feel I need to dial back on the mass of topics lest I become overwhelmed. Refining this study into a series of dot points to use as headers looks like the way to proceed.

So, what are we really looking at here?

  • The difference between banter and bullying
  • When trolling becomes harassment – what’s the difference?
  • Real life consequences: doxxing and swatting
  • Is this an indication on how we’ll treat our AI citizens in the future?

Given the seminar is 20 minutes long, it seems to make sense that I will spend 4 minutes on each point, and use the remaining 4 minutes to introduce the topic, conclude my hypotheses, and explain my approach to the digital artefact – how I will present this information. I am leaning towards a series of 4 youtube videos or blog posts at this point.

Blog #1: A Brief Look at Malicious Online Communications

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My personal favourite example of a malicious comment.

Have you ever received a negative message online?

I feel like in this day and age, it’s almost impossible to find someone who would say no. Negative messages can come in many different forms and differ in severity; anything from a minor insult during a Facebook tiff with someone on a local buy-sell group, to rape and death threats – all from complete strangers. Why does this behaviour seem to be largely ignored, and in some cases, even glorified?

This was a question that came to me after reading Julian Dibbell’s article, A Rape in CyberspaceThe further I delved into it, the more parallels I began to draw to another real life incident that I’d read about a few years ago. Dibbell writes about a harrowing experience shared by a friend from an online community; acting as a second hand source. In the second article that I have linked, written by Kim Correa, Correa writes about her own experiences first hand.

“Months later, the woman in Seattle would confide to me that as she wrote those words posttraumatic tears were streaming down her face — a real-life fact that should suffice to prove that the words’ emotional content was no mere fiction. The precise tenor of that content, however, its mingling of murderous rage and eyeball-rolling annoyance, was a curious amalgam that neither the RL nor the VR facts alone can quite account for. Where virtual reality and its conventions would have us believe that exu and Moondreamer were brutally raped in their own living room, here was the victim exu scolding Mr. Bungle for a breach of “civility.” Where real life, on the other hand, insists the incident was only an episode in a free-form version of Dungeons and Dragons, confined to the realm of the symbolic and at no point threatening any player’s life, limb, or material well-being, here now was the player exu issuing aggrieved and heartfelt calls for Mr. Bungle’s dismemberment.”

– Excerpt from Dibbell’s “A Rape In CyberSpace” (1998)

The similarities are undeniable between the two stories – and these are only two examples of the seemingly seedy underbelly of peer to peer online communications. When we access these digital worlds, we do so to relax, and not to be harassed – certainly not to feel personally violated in any way.

“The guys who shot me made moaning and groaning noises. You can still talk in chat, so I tried to yell at them, but they were louder. I gave up and was too rattled to respawn, so I just logged off and left my desk. I didn’t play again that night.”

Excerpt from Correa’s “Being a Lady and Playing DayZ” (2014)

Knowing this, I would like to investigate the attitudes and even cultures behind these kind of comments or actions – not just in videogames (where I have personally experienced harassment), but also in other forms of online communications; on platforms such as Twitch, Youtube, Tumblr, AskFM, and even reddit or imgur. In addition to this, I would also like to look at cases where such comments evolve beyond simple trolling into incidents with real world consequences or harassment – such as “doxxing” or “swatting”.

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Why do people celebrate malicious behaviours with real life consequences?
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#Freetay

As a minor point – I’d like to have a look at treatment of the cybernetic, robotic and artificial intelligence bots (such as the infamous Tay incident) and see if there are any similarities to be drawn between the treatment of artificially intelligent beings and the way people are treated online.

By the conclusion of the project I’d like to be able to conclude if there is a true psychological explanation of such behaviour, and what there is to be done to combat malicious incidences of such behaviour.

Reference list:

https://cybercultures.blog/week-four-experiencing-cyberculture/
http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/
https://kiimpulsively.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/dayz/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tay_(bot)
http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/navy-seal-copypasta
http://www.imgur.com/gallery/FzbfIRp
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=doxing
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=swatting