So long, farewell…

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Looking back at the semester.

Where did I go wrong? Where did I go right?

2015’s fall semester is in the books. I made it. I’ve just one more undergraduate semester left here at Texas Tech, and I’m excited. But I’m trying not to focus too much on the end. Now is a time for reflection on this past semester.

Also it is a time for me to sleep.

My blog activity this semester has been entirely for my Online and Digital PR class. The class required weekly blogs on a specified topic that, in some way, pertained to that week’s lecture topic. Initially, this was daunting and unexciting. But it turned out to be fun and I’m proud of the blogs I’ve posted.

For the final blog assignment, I’ve been instructed to reflect on my online reputation. So, let’s jump right in to a Q&A session on the subject.

Unlike Sway, I got the answers.

Q. Reflecting on the assignment to identify a firm, key influencers, a job and skills needed to be a successful candidate, do you feel more or less prepared to succeed after taking this class?
A. A bit of background: an assignment early in the semester prompted me to look into job listings that fit my career interests. I then wrote a brief on the job’s requirements and how I could work to meet those requirements.

I would say I feel more prepared to succeed after taking this class. However, I should note the job I chose at the beginning of the semester no longer appeals to me. Interning at a massive public relations firm now sounds more laborious than it does exciting. I probably feel more successful because this semester, and the classes and opportunities I’ve faced within it, has helped me to focus in on what truly interests me in life beyond graduation.

Q. Discuss how your blog and the information you are sharing with others through social media is enhancing your online reputation – both personally and professionally.
A. While the initially daunting notion of weekly blog assignments have turned out to be a blast, I recognize the purpose my professor had in assigning them in the first place. This blog, and the topics discussed on it, is a solid baseline for me to prove myself as a credible voice in public relations. I’ve written blogs discussing, investigating, and offering solutions for happenings in the public relations world. Also, there’s a fair amount of discussion on important digital tools public relations professionals should know about. If I can get the right people to look at my blog, it will show them I’m tuned into the industry and intent on listening, as well as learning.

Q. Discuss the characteristics that have helped build your online reputation (ex. personality characteristics, information sharing behavior, engaging consistently and professionally with followers and others through social media, etc).
A. My ultimate goal is for my online reputation to reflect someone who values truth and authenticity – both professionally and personally. I also hope I make people laugh. That’s important to me. Thus far, I think these are two characteristics I’ve really been successful in developing in my blog and across my social media.

However, I need to engage with more professionals online. I need to cultivate online relationships with the right influencers. I’ve got good stuff, but the important people aren’t seeing it yet.

Q. Which Hootsuite report did you choose to run? Discuss results.
What’s Hootsuite? You can learn more about it there.

I rain a “Twitter Engagement – Detailed” report on my Twitter. You know, the Twitter account that used to be Frick Yeah (May she rest in peace). The report covers my Twitter activity from November 18, 2015 to December 2, 2015. Looking at it, I smile, because I love my friends and the copious amounts of love they give to me via my Twitter mentions. Also, I should note that my Twitter activity consistently peaks on Fridays. We could discuss the nuances of that for hours.

However, I recognize that I’ve hit a plateau in my follower growth. I also see my mentions are filled with friends and not professional contacts. Like I said before, I have to get the important people to see me.

Q. What were your perceptions before and after this assignment in regards to online reputation management (AKA Digital Footprint)?

I can’t say my perceptions on online reputation management have changed over the course of me writing this assignment. But my perception of online reputation management is VASTLY different than it was at the start of this semester. I used to think a strong online reputation meant not cursing. Now, I (thankfully) have learned it is so much more than that.
For me, managing my online reputation starts with me deciding how I want to be thought of, and eventually remembered, and working to make sure my posts and interactions reflect that.

So, there you have it. My final blog assignment of the semester. But I’m not going anywhere. I still have plans to continue blogging and throwing in my two cents. Now that I no longer have weekly prompts, any topic is up for grabs…

But, for now, goodnight. For a week.

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McAlister’s Deli App Part 2: The Remix

A long, long time ago, in a class far away…

I wrote my very first blog.  It was an evaluation of McAlister’s app and how it was connected with the rest of their brand.

I went looking for signs of the app on their website. I also evaluated the mobile design of their website. And I broke down the McAlister’s Deli brand and how it was integrated into their digital presence.

What we learned the first time around…

  1. McAlister’s actually has two apps: Online Ordering and DeliClub.
    • Visiting their website on a mobile device prompted you to download the Online Ordering app, while DeliClub was nowhere to be found outside of a search for “McAlister’s” in the app store.
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    • I decided that while the Online Ordering app only does one thing, it does it very well. But, I deemed there to be some missed opportunities for content within in the app. You can learn more about that by reading the first blog.
  2. McAlister’s does not advertise their app(s) through their social media.
  3. A Secret Shopper experience revealed that customers often find the DeliClub app glitchy and unnecessary, but the employee I spoke with agreed with me that the Online Ordering app is a great asset.

Overall, that first time around taught me that McAlister’s Deli lacked cohesiveness in their app presentation and promotion.

So, I decided to revisit it and reevaluate now that I’m a whole four months wiser. I was hoping to find that McAlister’s had magically heard my recommendations from the first evaluation, and put them into effect. Sadly, this is not the case.

What we learned when we got back in the saddle…

  1. McAlister’s no longer has a prompt to download their Online Ordering app when you go to visit their website on a mobile device.
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    • However, website is no longer simply “optimized for mobile,” it now has a responsive design.
      • This is where me being four months wiser comes into play.
      • A responsive design means there is one set of code written for the website and it adapts to whatever screen it is loaded on without much fuss.
      • This allows for a more dynamic experience when visiting the mobile site. The photos on the home screen now scroll on a slideshow without the user having to prompt them to scroll, just like the desktop version.
    • THIS IS GREAT, MCALISTER’S.
      • However, online ordering is still not available through the mobile website, only the desktop version or the app.
      • So not prompting users to download the app when they visit the mobile site is a sorely missed opportunity.
  2. While McAlister’s social media is still mouth watering and hunger inducing, there’s still no sign of the app.
    • Essentially, this means that users will now only know of the app through word of mouth or if they search “McAlister’s” in the app store since there’s no CTA on the mobile site anymore.
      • Though the search will still leave them presented with two options. Confusing.
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  3. The latest round of Secret Shopper brought me to an eager, young counter employee eager to help me work through the DeliClub app after I asked her about it.
    • I told her I only had, and used, the Online Ordering app and she said, “Oh that one’s great!” And then followed with something along the lines of, “The DeliClub could be great, but it’s got some problems. Having two apps might be a little excessive, but I still want people to use them.”
    • I pretended I was a McAlister’s executive and gave this eager, young counter employee an A+. (The food was an A+ as well. Yum.)

Revisiting Recommendations

Now, even more-so than the last time I did this, I’m urging McAlister’s Deli to promote their dang app. They have a great thing going with their Online Ordering app, but now, quite literally, there is no way anyone would know it exists without going looking for it.

And bravo for those proactive people who do go looking for it, but the majority of people need to be prompted with something to know it’s available for use. Do better, McAlister’s.

I still think they need to combine the two apps. DeliClub is their rewards program, and would be more useful if users could gather rewards when ordering through the app. Currently, the app requires you to whip it out at check out or order pick up. A whole extra step for something means most people won’t do it.

BUT THEY DID DO SOMETHING GOOD.

The new, responsive website design really left me impressed. Their mobile site has never been difficult, but now it’s visually engaging instead of just optimized.

McAlister’s, I may be tough on you, but it’s because I just love you so much.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

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Creating Visual Content

Getting on-board with the explosion of visual data.

The brain processes visual data 60,000 times faster than written content.

Seriously,  check out that link. There’s some hefty stats on the speed of the Digital Age and the effectiveness of visual content.

Visual content? Let’s break it down.

Those graphics I have at the top of every blog post? That’s visual content. An attention-grabbing graphic with the purpose of drawing readers into the key message of the blog so that they want to keep reading.

Also, if you’ve spent any time at all on Pinterest, you no doubt know what an infographic is. Infographics are visual content.

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Here’s an infographic on creating a quality infographic from piktochart.com. 

Charts and graphs are also visual content.

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Here’s a pie chart on America’s most popular Thanksgiving pies courtesy of incrediblethings.com.
(I’m hungry.)

To sum it up, visual content is used to visualize (go figure) data and key messages so readers can take in information without having to take the time to read an entire research report or article because the brain takes in visual information much faster than text.

The average attention span is 2,8-8 seconds. Your brain processes visual information  60,000 times faster than text, and 90 percent of information sent to the brain is visual. (Source.)

However, most of the time, the purpose of visual content and data visualization is to entice readers to engage with some sort of written text after they find the easily-processed visual content interesting.

Like the graphics on my blog are a cry of, “Please read me!”

So, how can you create visual content?

Well, there’s piktochart.com. Piktochart promises “anyone can create mind blowing infographics, quick and easy.”

There’s Canva (a personal favorite of mine). Canva is a simple, online graphic design software. It provides templates for a variety of graphics for a variety of platforms. What’s cool about Canva is it provides hundreds of free images and fonts. The free options are cleared for use so you’re not inadvertently stealing anyone’s creative property. But they also offer options you can pay for, roughly ranging from $1 to $5. That means there is copyright on the image, but paying the fee attached to  it clears you for use.

Then there’s Snappa, advertised as “the graphic design tool for digital marketing.” This is something I’ve just discovered in this past week; it’s so new, it’s technically still in its Beta stage. But I gotta say, since I discovered it on Monday (it’s now Friday), I’ve created 12 graphics on it for a new job of mine (I’ll tell y’all more about that once I’m a little deeper into it…). Twelve graphics in essentially four days is astronomical for someone who is not a designated graphic designer.

But Snappa has made it unbelievably easy. It’s extremely similar to Canva, but perhaps maybe even more streamlined. It only provides images and graphics that are free for use. This way, I don’t see something I totally love only to be crushed when I learn I have to pay for.

And, like Canva, Snappa let’s me import my own images, which is great for my elusive new job.

I may be a Snappa-convert. I’m sorry, Canva. I will always love you, and I’m not deactivating my account any time soon.

So, there you have it. A lesson on visual content and how you can get started creating it.

I’m so much cooler online…

R.I.P. Danafrickyeah

Auditing My Online Reputation

And setting goals for improvement.

Aaaaaaand, we’re back! This time with another audit. But not the tax kind. The fun kind we talked about in this blog.

“What are we auditing this time, Dana?” Thank you so much for asking. This time, it’s all about me.

While talking about myself and thinking about myself isn’t exactly my favorite past time, sometimes I have turn the conversation to myself. Especially if I want to be a successful PR practitioner.

In public relations, before I could ever hope to successfully manage an organization’s brand reputation, I need to have my own personal brand under control. The best place to start honing it in? Online.

So, I’ve done an audit of my online presence, aiming to answer questions like, “What is my ‘why’ as a future PR pro?” As well as, “Does my digital persona match my real one?”

And now it’s time to set some goals. Because in this blog, we learned nothing can be accomplished until some measurable goals are set.

But before I tell you my goals, a bit of back story…

Who am I?

Not 24601. Not Jean Valjean.

So when I started my Content PR class this past summer, I was told to hand in my Twitter handle, as we would be using it for class participation, projects and things of the like.

My reaction was something along the lines of, “S#!+.”

Now, my reaction was not spurred by the fact that my “personal” Twitter is dedicated to inappropriate postings, jokes and activities. It was because of my ‘@’ name on my “personal” Twitter: @Danafrickyeah.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

I made the Twitter my junior year of high school and my ‘@’ name has become my own moniker of sorts. Seriously. I have many dear friends who greet me like, “Hey, Frick Yeah!”

But @Danafrickyeah is no Twitter handle for a professional woman. And by no means was I ready to give up that aspect of my online identity. So, I made my “professional” Twitter: @danamcjenn.

But I’ve learned how valuable an established online presence is in public relations, as well as how difficult it is to start from scratch. @Danafrickyeah has 549 followers. @danamcjenn has 10.

So most of my online reputation goals pertain to merging these two Twitter accounts because I’d be a fool to throw away the following I have on my “personal” Twitter by deleting it in pursuit of cultivating my “professional” Twitter.

High school has ended and is long-gone (though Bowling for Soup would beg to differ). It’s time to lay “Frick Yeah” to rest.

(Long story short: I’m going to delete @danamcjenn and give that handle to what is currently @Danafrickyeah. This way, a Twitter search for “Dana Jennings” does not result in two results, with the larger having an immature handle.)

Okay, so back story turned into a novel, but whatever. Let’s get to those goals for improving my online reputation!!!!!

How I’m going to improve my online self…

  1. Establish my professional accomplishments on my new, improved Twitter.
    1. Right now my Twitter is not inappropriate, but it is mostly for my personal musings. I need to start sharing things like my blog and my speculations on the industry on there.
  2. Earn a following of professional influencers.
    1. This may be quite an undertaking. I do have plenty of followers, but they’re mostly friends. I follow many PR professionals and influencers, but it’s time for them to notice me as a credible, vocal, up-and-comer.
  3. Make my identity across the “Big Three” cohesive.
    1. The Big Three being Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
      1. My Instagram shares those rare occasions I like a picture of myself when I’m out being social. I need to make it a little more personable. What’s my day-to-day life like?
      2. My Facebook really has no identity at all. It’s pretty all over the place.
      3. My Twitter, as mentioned, is for my personal musings on pop culture and current events. Also, this is where you can go to see how I’m doing emotionally. Odd, I know. But I tell Twitter what I’m feeling more than I vocalize it to the people around me.

I’m going to stop there because this is getting pretty wordy. But I have plenty more goals and tactics to achieve them. I’ve saved these for myself, but if you really want to know, I’d be happy to share!

So, follow me on everything: @danamcjenn and Dana Jennings on Facebook.

Sincerely,

The Artist Formerly Known as Frick Yeah

Managing what’s mine…

digital assets

DAM.

It’s more than a misspelled swear word.

DAM, it’s good to be back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Yes, I meant to say DAM.

While eight-year- old me is giggling at typing out something so closely resembling a swear word, 20-year -old me sees just an acronym (and also an opportunity for word play, but I digress).

DAM, or Digital Asset Management, is the management, organization and distribution of digital assets from a central repository.

Okay, what’s a digital asset…

A digital asset (eight –year- old me is laughing at how this also closely resembles a swear word) are images, multimedia and textual context files existing in a binary format that come with the right to use.

That last part is important because if something doesn’t have parameters for use, it isn’t considered an asset.

Like in this blog on digital rights management when I showed you how you could determine if you were using someone else’s created content legally and correctly.

How do I start managing my assets?

In that blog, I gave a demo on how to find and understand a photo’s licensing information using Flickr. It just so happens Flickr is a perfect example of digital asset management.

I should say Flickr is a great friend of mine. I’m not looking to make money off of my pictures or anything, they’re free for use. It’s mostly a compilation of pictures I need to be able to access on a computer for academic or professional reasons. Flickr, for me, is quick, efficient and I always know I can access certain pictures in a specific place when my phone’s camera roll just isn’t cutting it.

The point is, even though I’m not posting brilliant photography on there, I can still set parameters for use. Thus making these photos assets.

So, what does a tool like this mean for public relations professionals working within or managing a brand?

Anyone can sign up for Flickr and use it however they like, as long as they have, or create, a Yahoo account.

A company or organization can create one account, give members of their marketing/communications team the login information, and then everyone has access to photographs the content manager has approved to reinforce brand image. Members of the team can then use these photos for assignment as they need.

Other tools can do this, too. Like Hootsuite (specifically its content library), Google Drive, and Dropbox. All of which I am an avid user.

But with Flickr, the brand can set parameters for use on their photos and people outside of the organization can use them, since profiles are public, if they follow the licensing guidelines.

I guess, what I’m getting at is: I’ve got Flickr on the brain. Because the Project Apollo Archive uploaded more than 8,400 photos of NASA’s lunar missions to Flickr earlier this month.

DAM, space is cool.

Walgreens, we’re looking at you…

Hey guys! This week my partner, Ruben, and I teamed up to write this blog over Walgreens’ content strategy together. Be sure to check out his blog here.

And if you need a refresher course on the different types of content, you can check out my last blog here.

So, here’s what we think…

But let’s start with the technical stuff first, from October 1st to October 14th, Walgreens posted to Twitter 23 times, Instagram 10 times, and Facebook 5 times.

First, let’s go in-depth with Twitter.

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Twitter

Over a 14-day period, Walgreens’ tweets consisted entirely of short and sweet copy, a shortened link to take you to their website page for whatever product or service the tweet was advertising, and an accompanying image. The content was all original, with varying focus, but the format was the same. All 23 tweets fit this description.

Fair enough, but Ruben and I are a little blah about it.

But what’s really interesting is Walgreens’ level of interaction with their Twitter audience.

While they’re not often found retweeting users who mention them, their community manager sure is spending a lot of time replying to their audience members.

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Walgreens consistently thanks anyone who tweets them for shopping at Walgreens, for sharing their stories, and even for thanking Walgreens for service.

Ruben and I both tweeted Walgreens in an attempt for some extra credit, and we each got responses within minutes.

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If any of you have interacted with a brand on social media before, you know how exciting it is when you get a quick, personal response.

Thanks, Walgreens. You made us feel good AND earned us some extra credit.

All in all, Walgreens’ Twitter is used to send out advertisements in an effort to draw followers onto their website. BUT they are powerful, personal and quick with their user interactions.And we like that.

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Instagram

Walgreens’ Instagram, while less active than their Twitter, is almost more captivating.

While they do still promote their products and services here, it’s done a little differently. The copy is typically along the lines of,  “____ is happening today/soon! Find what you need to celebrate in store.”

Links included in captions on Instagram are not functional, so Walgreens does not include the links to their website we saw on Twitter here. We think this gives their Instagram a more relaxed tone behind their original content.

However, where Walgreens is extremely interactive on Twitter, if you take a peek at the comments on their Instagram photos, brand response is nowhere to be found. Even when a customer takes to the comment section to complain about poor in-store service.

Not good, Walgreens. We can only hope you’re, at least, handling these customer service issues in private forums since you’re not responding in the comments.

But, it should be said that Walgreens’ Instagram is very pleasing to the eye and not trying to sell product and services in a way that’s overwhelming. Good for you, Walgreens.

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Facebook

By the time we got to Walgreens’ Facebook page, we knew what to expect. Original content, identical to Instagram and Twitter, beckoning audience members into their nearest Walgreens to solve whatever common, seasonal problem they’re experiencing.

Except here, they post way less than Twitter or Instagram. But here, they are responding to customer comments.

BUT they seem to only be responding to positive comments. Situations where they can reply “We love you, too.” And they respond to the occasional frantic customer, directing them to call 9-1-1.

This could be better Walgreens, but at least you’re replying, unlike Instagram.

All in all…

In summary, Walgreens’ social media is a solid 6/10. Their copy for their original content is enticing. They’re generally interactive, and quick when they are. And they’re consistent across the three major platforms.

However, they’re consistent almost to a fault in that their major social media accounts are almost identical.

And, they’re neglecting Facebook. Which is odd considering their target audience is of the older variety that tends to frequent Facebook…

But Ruben and I will always have a soft-spot for Walgreens social media because they earned us some extra credit. Thanks for the fun, Walgreens.

You can form your own opinion of their content strategy at Walgreens’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram by following those hyperlinks. Let us know what you think about their content strategy!

Content Inventory

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The audit you’ll actually want to do…

Quick! Think of your favorite brand.

Quicker! Think about how you interact with that brand on social media platforms.

Do you follow them on every media platform possible? Do you love their posts? Do they post consistently to your liking? Do you share/retweet/favorite them on a regular basis?

Now, consider your answers to those questions. I’ll wait while you do.

Cue Jeopardy theme…

Do you have your answers? Great! You, my friend, just performed your own small-scale social media audit.

“Dana, what on Earth is a social media audit?” I am so glad you asked!

Now I know the word “audit” may trigger some panic because, y’know, taxes. But I promise this kind of audit is one you want to utilize (especially if you’re an aspiring PR practitioner like me).

A social media audit is essentially an examination of how a brand manages their brand online and whether or not they’re utilizing social media to its fullest potential.

Step one of a social media audit is to research. Identify the brand’s “why.” Why are they doing what they’re doing? Identify the brand’s target audience and how the “why” fits in with their demographic and psychographic.

Then, take an inventory of the brand’s digital and social channels. Their website of course, but what social media platforms are they on? Do they have an app? A blog?

Then you should check out their search engine optimization. Basically, when you Google/Yahoo/Bing search the brand, are they the first result?

After that, go to all of their social media platforms and determine how large their follower/audience count is for each one. It also helps if their accounts are verified. While you’re there, evaluate what kind of listening and engagement strategy they’re implementing. Do they reply to tweets from their followers? Do they respond to complaints in a way that is visible to all of their followers?

Finally, it’s time to evaluate their content strategy. This encompasses their frequency of posting, their consistency of content across platforms, tone, calls to action, types of content.

Types of Content

Types of content is my favorite to tell people about because once I tell you about them, you’ll see them everywhere.

Curated Content

  • This is when a company or organization seeks relevant content that already exists and posts it on its own social media accounts.
  • An example of this is when an organization will tweet out a link to an article that was written about it.
  • Here’s an example. A blog on content curation, posting information about content creation, educating by utilizing content creation.

User Generated Content (UGC)

  • UGC is pretty much just what it sounds like.
  • You’ll probably recognize it as when a brand will tweet/post something like, “Send us pictures of you _____!” And then they’ll share their favorites.
  • Essentially, this is when brands utilize audience engagement to get their audience members to contribute to their content creation efforts.

Crowdsourced Content

  • This is similar to UGC, but not all the same.
  • The best example of this is Wikipedia. Meaning it is when a brand looks to its audience members for contributions and inspiration.
  • Like UGC in that the audience does the work, but different in that this is more for ideas of content instead of content itself. (i.e. “What do you want to see on our blog this week?”)
  • Here’s a great article on why crowdsourced content can be useful.

Original Content

Ah, dear old friend…

  • This is exactly what it sounds like.
  • A brand plans, creates and posts content made entirely from scratch. Photos, blogs and copy all from the mind of the brand’s digital planner.

There you have it, the four types of content. Good to know if you’re planning to perform a social media audit anytime soon.

And, if you’re like me, you’ll start recognizing them everywhere you look!

(Did the “Full House” theme just get stuck in anyone else’s head?)

Let’s get measuring, measuring…

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In last week’s blog, I talked about how the digital world has affected copyright issues. That can be kind of a bummer.

But what’s really cool about the digital world is that literally e v e r y t h i n g can be measured.

From how many times a link you tweet is clicked to what area of the world is liking your Facebook page the most.

For the ordinary person, this is kind of a “Who cares?” piece of information.

But for public relations professionals, this is a Holy Grail piece of information.

This means when we use the digital world to spread a campaign or to grow our organization’s audience, we can track exactly how successful we are.

A little back story, public relations has a lot to do with setting goals and objectives, and these two things need to go beyond, “We want to get more Twitter followers.” Okay, that’s fine, but by how much is “more” and by when do you want to do it?

Does that make sense? Good.

So when measuring digital successes and failures, the information you’re looking for and finding needs to tie back into goals and objectives.

As measurement expert Katie Paine has said, “Data without insight is just trivia.”

So, let me make an example out of this.

I’ll pick a PR campaign, and I’ll pick a way to measure it and how I would tie the results back into goals and objectives of the campaign.

How about one of my personal favorite campaigns… Dos Equis’ “Dos de Mayo” campaign.

Now, if you follow that hyperlink, you’ll find that Edelman has already measured and stated the success of the campaign in terms of metrics. They’re not idiots over there at Edelman.

But let’s say I was the brain that came up with this campaign (I wish), and my goal was for the digital world tactics of the campaign to increase website traffic for Dos Equis.

One way I could measure this would be referrals. Referrals basically means the amount of times a link was clicked and followed from a specific platform.
Let’s go with Twitter.

I could Tweet this Dos de Mayo promotional video with some enticing copy, including a link to the Dos Equis website page for the event.

With that, I could measure how many times the video and copy enticed someone into clicking the link through to the website.

And over a selected period of time, I could determine, in terms of a percentage, how much more website traffic was produced during the time of the digital implementations of the campaign.

Ultimately, this would let me know whether or not myself and the campaign were successful in terms of the goals set at the very beginning.

But remember, you can’t measure your goals if you don’t set them to begin with…

Giving credit where it’s due…

Some of you may have noticed at the end of my last blog post, I gave credit to a man I have never met for the photo of the delectable looking peanut butter and jelly sandwich I used as the cover photo for the post.

I told you who took the picture, where I found it and I told you I edited it.

Because I don’t want to be sued. (I’m a 20 year old college student, a lawsuit is not in the budget right now)

Now, if you’re anything like me, you love the internet. You pride yourself on the things you can find in the deepest, darkest depths of the World Wide Web.

Seriously, it’s like everything anyone ever does is published and immortalized in some form or manner on the internet. I love it. I’ll never miss anything.

But there are people like me who love the internet, who are unlike me in the sense that they deem everything they can dig up out of the deepest, darkest depths of the World Wide Web as free for their own personal use with no limits at all.

Cue Pocahontas singing, “You think you own whatever land you land on…”

And sure, there are some things out there on the internet that are entirely free for use in any way with no added stipulations. But, more often than not, things are copyrighted. And using them without abiding by the restrictions set by the owner, is copyright infringement.

The internet has seriously complicated things in terms of copyright law.

So, there’s something called Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Basically, DRM is an approach to copyright protection for all things digital and an aim to prevent unauthorized use and distribution of digital media.

DRM is such a good thing for this age of internet access. Especially for professionals who are sharing and selling their content on the internet.

DRM ensures everyone has rights (rights they choose and specify) to the things they carefully produce.

Take photographers, for example. This article puts it best when it says the “ease of online access makes ‘stealing’ photographs more common.”

Photographers face their photographs being illegally downloaded and used every day.
How would you feel if someone came into your house, took your finger-painting artwork off the refrigerator, and then displayed it in the window of their business as an advertisement without giving you any credit?

I know I wouldn’t be happy.

So while many believe that the internet is for sharing and everything should be shared for free, I disagree.

If someone didn’t create something through their own effort, then they shouldn’t be able to take credit for it.

So, I’m going to help you all out, using last week’s blog’s photo credit as an example. This is how to make sure you’re using created content within the parameters the creator has set, and how to make sure you’re not in danger of a lawsuit.

1. I found the photo I wanted (via Flickr)

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2. I clicked on information

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3. I scrolled to find the license information. In this case, it was “Some rights reserved.”

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4. Clicking on the “license” section lead me to the Creative Commons website where I learned what the symbols mean and if I could use the photo.

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So, if you’re creating something you intend to publish or share, make sure you’re abiding by the licensing rules on any photo or content you intend to use.

Just because you can find it through Google doesn’t mean it’s all yours for the taking.