Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Bad is Shisha for you? [Most Recent Figures]

I usually don't put personal posts here. But here's an interesting one (also, it's super interesting how I found it on Facebook Guardian read!)

Here's the gist of the article findings: 
The volume of smoke inhaled in an hour-long shisha session is estimated to be the equivalent of smoking between 100 and 200 cigarettes.  
The estimated findings show that, on average, a smoker will inhale 1/2 a litre of smoke per cigarette, while a shisha smoker can take in anything from just under 1/6 of a litre to 1 litre of smoke per inhale.

- World Health Organization 

Studies led by independent researchers at the Royal University of Saudi Arabia have shown that shisha smoke is 30 times less concentrated in chemicals than cigarette smoke. 
While about 5,000 chemicals have been identified so far in cigarette smoke, chemists and pharmacologists from Saudi Arabia only found 142 chemicals in shish smoke.
- Dr Kamal Chaouachi, a tobacco expert who teaches at Paris IX University
Here's the full article:

Further reading [A Journal of Public Health Article 2009]:

Also, someone needs to make an info graphic version of this. :).

Thanks Kevin for the info on this!

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Prepare Yourself to be a #Social #Strategist from #College

As Social Media is a rising platform for marketing, it is also an increasingly popular career path for many graduating students, but what does it take to become a social strategist and how can you prepare early?

Information from an interesting infographic by Valtier Creative:

Here are some things to look out for as you begin/ finish up your college career:

1. What major should I be?
- 46% of Social Strategists hold a Communication and 40% hold Marketing degrees.
- 58% of existing Social Strategists say that what makes them successful is that they are multi-disciplinary and can wear many hats. i.e. it could be a good idea for a Liberal Arts education.
Take your pick.

2. Be familiar with your numbers, and argue it with a story
- One of the most important aspect in becoming a good social strategist is the skill in measuring and reporting ROI (as well as producing them of course.) 

What to do in college:
So some great courses to take if they aren't already in your requirement list, are statistics, introduction to business management, etc. They will also help you get used to very basic but useful tools like excel.

Other courses such as Logic and Reasoning (philosophy), or creative writing will help you make better reports + proposals!

3. Work on your leadership and social skills
- To be a social strategist, you must be able to manage a team, work with agencies, external/internal stakeholders, as well as be able to teach others via workshops and training. 

What to do in college:
Get some experience via student groups, or start your own business while you're in college! (Or take classes like Organizational Behavior, or intro to public relations/corporate relations!)


Monday, September 19, 2011

Implications of The #Facebook #Subscribe Button - Pros and Cons

Since the launch of Google+ and it's success in recruiting users, Facebook has been adding new features frantically - the new photo viewing options, video chatting, new navigation bars, and most recently, the subscription button.

This new feature allows users to subscribe to updates, including photos, statuses and more, from people they aren't already Facebook Friends with. This may not seem like a big deal yet, but it opens a door to endless potentials for brands, celebrities and thought leaders for better broadcasting. Of course, on the flip side, with potential comes a great deal of risk.

Here are a few aspects I jotted down briefly:
1. Facebook and Twitter just had a baby.
Facebooks, Google+, and Twitter are all unique in their own user interfaces and purposes. Twitter can be considered mass broadcasting through microblogging where anyone can tweet with or read other users' tweets, given that they're not private. Google+ is a more general interface that focuses more on user sectoring, and Facebook, the friend connector, allowing friends to catch up, learn more about, and maintain relations with one another without physically hanging out. 

However, this subscription button changes all that. Allowing users to follow others' updates without friending incorporates Twitter's broadcasting aspect, creating a TON of opportunities for celebrities, brands and others to broadcast their messages to a larger audience.

2. Better classifications of your friends and invisible stalking.
No more limited profiles, or friend requests. That's right. You no longer have to be friends with someone to stalk them if they enabled the subscription button. Also, you don't necessarily have to friend people you just met in order to see what they're up to until you hang out with them more.

With subscription, you can now classify your friends/ non-friends into lists so your updates are all categorized. You don't have to see updates of farmville or restaurant city any more. Just like twitter, you can categorize your news outlets, fashion tips, non-profit events, anything you wish so they are better organized. There are options to hide photo updates, video updates, and more from lists to make your feed more personalized.

1. It just murdered the two-way connect flow
Facebook is unique in that it encourages a two-way communication. It's about friends and connection. The subscription button just threw all that out the window. It's true that Twitter itself focuses on engagement even though it's a free-for-all type of conversation, but the word "Facebook Friends" just got degraded.

2. New metrics needed
With public subscriptions, the measuring system just got complicated. Facebook Insights will have to come up with better metrics to measure subscriber activities.

3. Back to the Privacy Issue
I am sure most of everyone is social media savvy by now, but there are of course people who are still a little lost trying to catch up with all the tools bombarded their way. For people who want to use Facebook personally, the subscribe button may cause issues, as it allows non-friends to read your updates.

Changing its mission statement.
Just from first impressions, it seems to me that the subscription button is definitely a good move in terms of helping brands and celebrities work their marketing strategies. However, if Facebook were to follow its original 2008 mission of " “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” Then the subscription button is way out of its boundaries. Its new mission statement however, became “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” This for me makes Facebook a lot more business and revenue oriented, and a little negligent of user interests.

What are your opinions on the new Facebook Subscribe button?

What you might also be interested in:

Facebook Subscribe Button: What It Means for Each Type of User

What Facebook's new Subscribe button means to brands and businesses 

The Complete Guide To Facebook’s Subscribe Button

Sunday, July 31, 2011

What Do Real Social Media Experts Think of the Posers

As @NeilGlassman (blogger for SocialTimes and Principal Marketing Strategist at WhizBangPowWow) states:

“Active Twitter users cannot avoid contact with those who purport to be able to make you a "Social Media Rock Star" by dramatically increasing your Twitter follower count.”

Since the prominent rise in social media marketing, there has been a sharp increase in the number of social media experts and gurus everywhere in the past 6 months. Many of them are indeed legitimate community managers, strategists, and public relations specialist, but a large number of them are self-proclaimed “specialists” who don’t seem to know what they’re doing.

Some of them are easy to differentiate as they spam sales-y tweets every minute, send auto DMs, and do not interact at all with their followers; but others, with high follower counts, who understand interaction but not necessarily marketing/PR strategies are a little more difficult to point out.

As a soon-to-be graduating Public Relations student focusing on social media marketing, I see this as a rising issue, making it difficult to differentiate myself from other “social media gurus” in the hiring process for corporations that know little about social media.

What do experts think?
After having short interviews via Twitter (J yes twitter), and emails with various experts such as:

Frederic Townes
CTO of Mashable

Amber Avines
Former Broadcast Journalist @CBS and Los Angeles Times

Neil Glassman
Blogger for SocialTimes and Principal Marketing Strategist at WhizBangPowWow

Jason Sem
Corporate Social Strategist at J.B. Sem Consulting, LLC.

James Dabbagian
Freelance blogger and copywriter.

There seem to be a host of other issues with this dramatic rise in the number of social media experts.

1. There are WAY too many of them
The barrier to entry for social media is very low – it’s usually free, and the only thing you dedicate is time and brain juice. This allows a lot of stay-at-home employees, unemployed individuals or social fanatics to jump on the wagon.

It’s a free-for-all chance for success with little monetary investement.

“There are too many self-proclaimed social media gurus out there who know NOTHING & teach people incorrectly.” @Wordsdonewrite.

2. They are giving out the wrong idea about social media marketing!
For a beginner in Twitter, it’s easy to be distracted by the immense number of followers that some of these social gurus have. It is easy for them to fall into the trap of following the gurus’ footsteps in aiming for quantity over quality or spamming auto-DMs and retweets.

The most common misconception is that followers are EVERYTHING. Although a large size of followers are immensely important as it increases exposure and the size of your reach, it’s not the only thing that matters.

Here’s an article about good social media strategies:

3. “Lots of companies contract out social media help, but don't know how to screen to get the most knowledgeable people.” @Wordsdonewrite

“The thing is that social media has been such a disruptive technology (but necessary) that most companies are way behind the curve and are looking for help. Any help.  Unfortunately, some turn to these gurus and find out pretty quickly that they're all talk and no action. This is where the social snake oil salesmen come out and pray on the confused marketing execs.” @Jbsem

Then how do we sift through the gazillion social gurus?
“I think you need to unbundle those who respond to questionable (perhaps, false) gurus and those that have a strategy that may overemphasize building numbers.” @Neilglassman

“Real strategists will cultivate KPIs relevant to the campaign/project at
hand if possible, more importantly, they will be specific about the aims they have for a campaign or project. For example, if trying to increase awareness for a social good project, did donations increase by some specific percentage as a result of engagement on twitter?” @W3edge

It’s about success stories, like in any other type of marketing. What kind of experiences and results do these people have in their pockets that they can showcase?

Here’s an article about how to select a social media agency to manage your brand:

How does Klout scores come into play here?
The general consensus is that social media metrics definitely show influence, but should a host of other variables should be considered.

“Klout scores are 1 of MANY tools that can be used. Frequently, scores don't accurately represent engagement. Look @ big online pic.” @Wordsdonewrite

Here’s an article regarding how to effectively measure social media results:

A different perspective:

How are these spamming social media gurus different from the classic infomercial tactics or do-it-yourself/ get-rich-schemes others have succeeded in promoting?

“If we are speaking about the same "experts," it actually appears they might be doing well. Those presenting social media, and Twitter in particular, as a do-it-yourself, get-rich-scheme are not much different than others who have done the same over the years for other industries.” @neilglassman

The reason why the late-night infomercials or online get-rich scheme ads still exist is because they still work, meaning there are obviously people who buy that type of content/promotions. If this is the case, the same would indeed apply to social media.

Of course, I’m not trying to say that everyone who focuses on quantity over quality is a snake oil salesperson, but I simply wish to warn employers who are trying to catch up with the social media wave the caution they should take while hiring social media experts to manage and represent their brand.

It may sound cliché, but social media marketing truly involves attention to detail, engagement, carefully planned strategies, campaigns and a host of other traits.

This is just the beginning of outlining some issues the rise of “social media gurus” will arise.

For now, keep in mind that a little skepticism goes a long way.

Thank you @DaveKerpen and @Caraizzle for edits!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

3 Reasons Why the #Arts Sector Needs #SocialMedia

Ben Horrigan is a final-year music student at the University of Manchester, pursuing a career in arts marketing/management. He plays bass with up-and-coming band Always Awake. Check out his Arts blog

When Mazy asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to guest on her blog, I thought I’d write about the relationship between the arts and social media, since that’s the angle I’m most interested in, my own background being in music. Some arts marketers are doing a great job, while others have a lot to learn. 

Here’s why social media is such a blessing to the arts:

1. Arts Marketers Have Tiny Budgets
It’s all too obvious, but arts organizations simply don’t have the money to market themselves effectively in traditional ways. Posters, flyers, and etc. cost a fortune to design, print and distribute, especially beyond a local level. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to put some money into such publicity methods; if nothing else, they put public minds at ease about the credibility and professionalism of an organization (in other words, they’re often necessary in order for a brand to be taken seriously).

But the arts also have to rely a lot on the two more wallet-friendly approaches to marketing: one is guerrilla marketing and the other is social media. The only problem here is that it costs money to put a staff member in charge of the organization’s Twitter feed, Facebook page and so on, and it’s not clear what return we get on this investment...but that’s a debate for another time.

2. Arts Marketers are Creative People

Sure, posters and flyers are inherently creative objects, but a good social media campaign really demonstrates a marketing team’s originality and ingenuity.
Arts administration is, after all, more of an art form than people give it credit for. New Broadway musical 'Next to Normal', about manic depression and suicide, was obviously a hard sale when it first came out. Its marketing team decided to tweet lines and thoughts from the characters' perspectives, according to the timings in the play’s narrative. This attracted over half a million followers, raised awareness of the play, and enhanced the experience of its audienc

Here's the article about Next to Normal

3. Arts Marketers Don’t Have Much Time
140 characters – all it takes to truly engage your audience with an interesting and exclusive insight into your arts organisation. #bitesize

If you're interested in guest posting for this blog, please shoot me a message or tweet! I would love to incorporate your ideas!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

TouchBase - Using Social Media to Reinvent Family Relations

Since Google Maps and Foursquare, Geolocation Technology has been on the rise. There are even games that play around with real places based on geolocation checkins such as TapCity (Do check it out, it's pretty darn cool, and it's now available in the iPhone app store!)

Many stats indicate that Geolocation Technology will worth more than $10 billion by 2016.

Conversation Media took advantage of this new rising technology to bring to us its new product: TouchBase.

Simply put, TouchBase is an mobile/web application that uses Geolocation Technology to allow children to check-in with their parents.

You must be thinking, what the heck? This is the first step to pushing for parent stalking. Or better, yet, why should us kids care (of course, I'm assuming all parents will be for this type of technology.) 

Here are 4 reasons to convince you otherwise:

1. It's Trust not Track
TouchBase is based on the idea of building trust. Every check-in is voluntary, (although as a parent you can request a check-ing, but it's not compulsory that the children must respond.)

2. Reinventing Family Relations - No more questions; fulfilling the basic need to know.
It's the idea of letting children go off on their own, no more big brother watching, but it fulfills parents' most needed questions: Who are you with? Where are you? Are you really there? TouchBase helps removes all those tedious questions that instigate argument. 

Note: They are still in development, so the "Who you're with" section (much like how it works in FourSquare) is not yet intact.

3. It's the Little Reassurance that Matters
Breaking news, children lie. With Geolocation Technology, parents know for sure their children are where they say they are (well, of course there are bound to be ways to work around that... like go to the spot just to check-in for a lie...but let's stay optimistic here.)

4. Positive Reinforcement (is, and almost always is, the way to go).
TouchBase also incorporates a point system. For example, every time a child decides to check in to let his parents know where he is, he receives a point. The positive reinforcement here on the parents' side is quite flexible. They can for example say that their children can stay out a few hours later for 20 points, or get a new laptop for 100, or a new car for 500 and etc.

What's the difference with this and texting?
Some parents are comfortable with a text from their children late at night, some aren't. The question comes down to: how do you really know they are where they are or with who they say they're with? The doubt usually eats parents inside out and lead to argument. Commonly, parents ask again all the question they ask when the child gets home = annoying, downplaying trust = bad relations.

How is this different from existing Geolocation Technologies such as Foursquare, Google Latitude, or SCVNG?
It focuses specifically to foster family communication and integration.

I am anxious to see what happens when TouchBase is in full-throttle after all its development is in place. Personally, I have a visual image of it as the TV ads of Verizon Family & Friends.

I would really like to hear what you think of this product, especially if you're a parent. Do leave me comments :).

Information in courtesy of Jason, marketing intern at TouchBase, Boston. If you are interested in this application or have further questions, please feel free to contact Jason at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

5 Reasons Why Klout Perks Is a Great Marketing Tool

For those of you who've been here before, you'd recall my doubts and bashing (just a little) of this new social media metric system. But now I am reassured and actually finding myself quite happy with Klout.

Everyone loves to know how well they're doing quantified; whether it be a grade on an exam, business revenue reports, and more, people like to see the results and changes from their efforts. Many may not agree that social media, due to its "social" aspect, should be quantified, as it can never be properly quantified; however, just as psychology or sociology can be quantified through both qualitative and quantitative data, so can social media! You may say that there are a thousand variables and aspects to be taken account of and still it wouldn't be accurate... that's the same as psychology or psychiatry! (Or natural sciences for that matter... but we will not dive into the philosophy of "how we know what we know" right now.)

One of the super cool things happen to be Klout Perks. It is so far the most innovative and effective marketing tool I've seen this year. Here's why:

1. It puts the list of specific target audience straight in your palms
- Since it ranks users in terms of influential scores, topics of influence, social style and etc., Klout can pull up the very specific audience your company wants to target. It gives you how influential an individual is, the topics they are influential about, where they live, and many more. Whether it be mommy bloggers in the field of Food who are influential about #restaurants or #vegan, or students studying in the Boston area influential about #basketball, you name it, they can pull up a list for you.

2. Free Stuff
- Who doesn't like free stuff? Enough said.

3. Not only free, but COOL free stuff.
The Klout perks give out a variety of free things (and events!) ranging from free movie premiers, HP laptops, popchips and a bunch of cool things people would want to get for free!

4. They help cultivate EVANGELISTS!
- Since they help companies give free stuff out to the RIGHT people who are interested, they help companies empower evangelists. For example, a mommy blogger who has been given a free premier to KungFu Panda 2 would be ecstatic! She would bring her family, perhaps her friends' families, enjoy her time here, and tweet about it!

5. Brings themselves business
- Because it has cool free stuff, it helps attract more users = more companies to partner with = more free stuff = the awesome self-sustaining vicious cycle!

Any other reasons why you think Klout Perks are super cool? Do let me know :).

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elaborate Legislation for Blogging Needed: Blogger Jailed for Food Review

Blogging is most definitely not a new thing, but it is hard to keep up with its evolution even as an Internet-savvy college student. Internet as leisure; Internet as communication; Internet as a marketing tool; Internet technology is often defined and redefined to its ever changing nature.

Blogging- Mass Media or Not?

This is an important question to ask. As of February 2011, there are over 156,000,000 public blogs in existence. Bloggers are constantly commenting stories on the news, providing readers with reviews, as well as creating or delivering news themselves.

Traditionally, the mass media is defined as means of communication that reach and influence the mass audience, for example newspapers, radios, magazines or television. Internet is a fairly recent item on the list, but seems to only point to online newspaper outlets.

Social media, since the founding of Facebook, have become a large part of the populations' information distribution and sharing. 1 in every 13 people (about 500,000,000 people) are active users on Facebook, and almost 50% of its users check Facebook the first thing they wake up.

With this level of reach, the line between what's mass media and what's not begins to blur.

If You're Popular, What You Say Matters.

Blogging, as self-explained by its name Web Logging, began as a tool mainly for personal purposes, like a diary. With its rising popularity in the past decade, marketers have taken advantage of this seemingly simple tool as means of advertising, branding, and much more. With its immense use and audience reach,   blogs have a lot more power and influence than people imagined before, and hence what they express is slowly becoming a public matter.

Today, I came upon a blogging news in Taiwan:

Blogger jailed over critical restaurant review

The Taichung branch of Taiwan High Court on Tuesday sentenced a blogger who wrote that a restaurant’s beef noodles were too salty to 30 days in detention and two years of probation and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 in compensation to the restaurant.
The blogger, surnamed Liu (劉), writes about a variety of topics — including food, health, interior design and lifestyle topics — and has received more than 60,000 hits on her Web site.
After visiting a Taichung beef noodle restaurant in July 2008, where she had dried noodles and side dishes, Liu wrote that the restaurant served food that was too salty, the place was unsanitary because there were cockroaches and that the owner was a “bully” because he let customers park their cars haphazardly, leading to traffic jams. 
Let me recap the important parts of this article: 
...sentenced a blogger who wrote that a restaurant’s beef noodles were too salty to 30 days in detention and two years of probation and ordered her to pay NT$200,000 in compensation to the restaurant...


1. Whatever happened to freedom of speech and expression? (Mind you, Taiwan is NOT communist.)

2. I'm very sure it's very common someone walks out of a restaurant complaining about this or that. Too salty? Sounds like something my mom would say at almost any given dinner.

3. Cockroaches = Unhygienic. Sounds pretty fair to me.

It seems that the Taiwan legislation really took this seriously. Of course, the blogger has 60,000 hits on her page, but that's barely the reason to put her in jail for expressing her opinion.

Think about Yelp! Are they going to throw every influential reviewer in jail? How about Rotten Tomatoes? Or College Board?

Surely, this would not have happened a decade ago. Penalizing criticisms from someone's public diary online would have seemed ridiculous!

This example really calls to a few needs:
1. A more recent definition of mass media, what is included and what is not. (And constantly updating it.)

2. An elaborate legislations about Blogging, as well as other types of social media.

But how since social media itself is so vague, complex and volatile, how can anyone go about setting ANY rules to it?

What do you think? I would love to hear your opinion.

From Huffington Post:
It's not rare for restaurants to sue reviewers in America, but they almost never win. A 1985 ruling by the 2nd Circuit Federal Appeals Court in New York, in the case Mr. Chow of New York v. Ste. Jour Azur S.A., gave critics extremely wide berth for their restaurant reviews. The judge in the case explained that American readers understand that reviews represent the opinion of the writer, and so should not be taken factually. Subsequent lawsuits in America have almost never been decided in favor of restaurants—our critics are too influential for punishment!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

3 reasons why the Jimmy Fund ScooperBowl is failureproof

Celebrating its 29th year this year, The Jimmy Fund brought to Boston 3 days worth of the finest ice-cream and gelato to over 500,000 ice-cream lovers from all over the nation. What's better is that while doing so, it also raised MILLIONS of dollars for cancer research and patient care.

They must have done something right. What could they be?

Not going to lie, I truly enjoyed inhaling the amazing ice-cream on that hot summer day. But what's more fruitful for me was reading about the Jimmy Fund campaign, missions, and execution, and here are a few things I made note of.

Kids Kids Kids
In a PR sense, kids are the best image a non-profit can use. Who can turn down kids? Its mission statement is crafted perfectly. Here, it has included kids, a local angle with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, AND a save-the-world motive.

The Jimmy Fund aims to "fight against cancer in children and adults at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, helping to raise the chances of survival for cancer patients around the world."

Even its logo is a cute kid's face, how can you resist that.

The irresistible - ICE-CREAM!
WHO DOESN'T LOVE ICE-CREAM? Just seeing this ice-cream hub in the middle of the city on a hot summer day makes you want to have a scoop. People who have done the research in advance knows that the event will bring all their favorite ice-cream brands such as Ben & Jerry's, Ciao bella, Dryers and many more. What's better is that it's all you can eat, all day.

Even though there are 1 out of 10 individuals in the United States who are Lactose intolerant, I can bet many of them still eat ice-cream once in a while.

(**EDIT** As a helpful commenter pointed out, there were also dairy free options! Lactose intolerant problem all gone.)

The Ice-Cream Social
The Scooper-bowl, as evident by its name, is much more than just a food convention type of event. It has become a social event that families, schools, companies, go to. Friends go to compete how many scoops they can eat, or just enjoy a hot summer day together. Since Boston doesn't have many carnivals, this outdoor event almost serves as one with live bands performing, yummy food, free water, and CROWDS.

#Scooperbowl love.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Google's attempt to be more social with the +1 button - The Pros and Cons

As many of you may have noticed, a strange new button appeared in your blog's sharing bar - the new Google +1 button!

What in the world is this?
This is Google's attempt to be more social and to tune in to the social media network. It's kind of like another version of the Facebook "Like" button. It allows you to give the thumbs up for content and whatever you +1'd will show up on your Google account, (which can be made public or private). In other words, a sharing network where you can see what your friends +1'd.

Since it's unexpected early launch in March, the +1 button has appeared in blogger and been imported to other non-Google blogging sites (like Mashable) through embedded coding. The button itself is in full function, but other features such as +1 for Google search engine is yet in place.

Many people take no interest yet in this new gadget, since many of Google's recent attempts such as Buzz have slowly gone into the dark. A few concerns seem to arise:

- How is it different from all the other recommendation buttons such as the Facebook "Like" or the Tweet counts?

- Why bother going through all that to share content while we are trying to keep up with the gazillion other social media tools such as Twitter and Tumblr?

Here's some pros and cons I see so far:


1.) It's overwhelming my buttons! 
- It adds to the gazillion buttons there are already in the share/recommend bar in every blog. It's not that we're lazy, but when there are 5 buttons all on the same page, Tweet, Like, E-mail, Reblog, Buzz, are you really going to click ALL OF THEM? Personally, I'd stick with one, or at most two.

2.) It doesn't show you who +1'd your content 
- I'm not sure if Google doesn't have it up and running yet or just doesn't intend to have this function at all, but it makes me anxious. It's the same concept as re-tweeting- when you get a retweet, it's nice to know who did and thank them/return the favor.

1.) It integrates with the Google search engine 
- This is something the Facebook like button has yet to do. The audience will be so much larger since it's not restricted to friends. I'm guessing this will intervene with the search engine rankings. If this is the case, I'm sure people will start gaming the system but that's a different story I'll blog about when +1 is in full throttle.

2.) It has elaborate analytics (or so I read online saying that it will...) - 
I'm not sure how this works if indeed they aren't going to show you who +1'd you. But, if everything is in place, the analytics would provide a pretty decent analytics of who likes and recommend your content for targeting your audience.

With this said, I'm anxious to see where the +1 button will take us. Give it a try, wait a little, maybe it'll be the next biggest thing!

Friday, June 3, 2011

6 Reasons Why Internet/Social Media Should be Used in Classrooms

It's no secret that students with laptops in class, with the excuse of "I type notes faster on my computer," are surfing away on the Internet while trying to look focused (or in some cases they won't even bother.)  Many professors, or parents even, have long debated whether Internet use in class is distracting or helpful at all.

Of course, very soon professors realize that students are IM-ing or Facebook-ing more often than typing down everything they say, so some professors have gone as far as to prohibit laptop use AT ALL, (or try to ;) ).

But here's how I see it. If put to good use, as most over-achieving college students or at least ones with a tiny sense of pride do, Internet actually facilitates learning in the classroom. I mean who enjoys being embarrassed in front of the class when asked a question you don't know the answer to?

1. Internet can be your quick tutor
Unfortunately, not every student are prepared for class every single time. Some oversleep their alarm clock for the early 30 minutes read before class; some too wasted from last night to care until the embarrassment of class discussion; some honestly just forgot about it.

But as a good college class should be, the content covered is always beyond the textbook. The textbook is the basis of class discussion/analysis, so I didn't read what?

I can either
1.) Sit here and day dream to the gibberish in the background, 
2.) leave, or 
3.) I can quickly sparknotes/google it. 

Option 3 allows me to have the basic understanding to what the professor is going on about. I mean my parents DID pay god knows how much money for me to be here.

2. Participation in Class
Don't you hate that kid on your left that just rambles on and on about nothing hoping that the teacher won't notice that he didn't read the material? Yeah, some would prefer to be silent than to be him With the aid of Internet however as mentioned above, you get the gist of the material you didn't read, and if you listened really carefully to what your professor said, it's much easier to join in with some useful comments. i.e. Internet can help encourage participation (apart from the scenario where you're just completely indulged in last night's pictures someone just posted on Facebook.)

3. Imagination and room for debate
Many students like to look up topics or controversial arguments online brought up by the professor during class. What then happens is you find a completely opposite view, feel smart, and challenge the professor on what he just said. This usually prompts a fairly insightful debate in class that helps you use information you already know at hand.

4. Keeping my attention
Personally, I have quite a short attention span. I have to be doing quite a few things at the same time for me not to fall asleep, so staring attentively at the professor isn't a choice for me. Random clicks on Facebook or Google actually helps me focus in class. Anyone feel the same way?

5. Information sharing
Many professors actually provide relevant, timely, or funny materials that students enjoy. I've tweeted many inspiring quotes, videos, and food-for-thought type content I got from class. This helps share the knowledge to fellow students and encourage learning.

6. Calming my worried mother who still forgets the time difference
Relevant to most international students. Many times my mother who lives in Hong Kong forgets the time difference and decides to Skype me while I'm in class. She hasn't reached me for a while and types "pick up! where are you!" And you know how mothers are when they can't reach with Internet in class, you can easily answer the call, turn on the webcam to show her you're listening attentively in class and thus calm her and have her feel safe for another week or two (i.e. she won't call you.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

6 Qualities of an Outstanding Professor

Coming to Boston from a private high school in Hong Kong, I had extremely high expectations for the quality of professors at BU. Of course, BU is an ENORMOUS school, so there are bound to be some good professors and not so good ones. 

What I've come to realize is that not all professors understand the art of teaching. They are all outstanding in their subject area, but to teach it to someone else is a completely different story.

Funny this happens during my senior year, but this semester I had a chance to see the best of it and the worst of it at the same time.

Never have I taken more than 10 minutes of my time to fill in "1" bubbles down the entire column (1 = Very poor, 5 = Excellent,) I guess that's a change.

So here's a basic comparison of the two anonymous professors. 

So what went wrong here with professor B? Almost everything to be honest... Not very conventional, but the student (not me of course =]) who collected the class evaluations decided to read a bunch of them out loud, and *surprisingly*, all the bubbles were filled in on the "1" column, and all the written comments were very negative.

Professor A was so loved that at the end of the last class, students voluntarily waited for her to finish packing, lined up at the door to express their gratitude with a huge hug. True story.

Ranting. A lot of ranting I know. 
To clear things up, here are 6 qualities I look for in a good professor.

1. A humble attitude - As a professor, you are hired because of your qualifications. As students, we KNOW you're good at your subject matter. You don't need to remind us every class that you have a Ph.D. Learning is a life time career by the way. Many professor admit to it, they learn from students as much as they learn from them.

2. Be strict, but don't be a robot - It is always hard to maintain a good balance between being too strict or too lenient, but part of the fun of teaching is that the rules are never completely rigid. Students are never the same, and it's important to tailor the class to different groups. Attendance is mandatory, we understand that. But it's hard to us to understand why you take off 10% of our final grade when we were put in a hospital for a week after a brutal car crash.

3. You're busy, but know that we are too - It's absolutely ANNOYING when professor say "I'll have your papers end of this week, or maybe the next or the one after. I have a LOT of things to do you know. You'll get it when you get it." Many students here at BU overload classes AND have 2 internships on top of a part-time job, but we're not allowed to say "you'll get my assignment when you get it" now are we? Why would we do our assignments if you don't do your job?

4. Open mindedness - Most professors are open to new ideas, or a challenge to old ones. Especially in the field of communications, it's important to follow trends and rising theories, (there's an awesome New Media class a BU). Debates are mind provoking, and to in my opinion, best way to learn. It's easier to convince students with arguments than just telling them they're wrong.

"It is not so much what is poured into the student, but what is planted that really counts."

5. It's about listening and quality feedback - Just as media is no longer a one-way street, neither is teaching. We are no longer in an era where we just sit and absorb information, because chances are we can get whatever information you are just feeding us from the Internet or books.

"Teach a child how to think, not what to think." - Sidney Sugarman

6. PASSION - Not just about the subject, but about teaching! As a professor, you basically hold the power to change the world. Your attitudes, values, knowledge and etc. is passed on to the next generation.

There are many reasons why certain people become teachers. Great vacations, get time to work on personal projects such as books, research or even your own company while teaching. Some people just do it because that's the best they got. But whatever reason it was, know that you are preparing the future pillars of the world, shaping and inspiring their thoughts.

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." - William Ward

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

5 Ways to Benefit from Your Haters

How to Rise Above Your Rivalries - 5 ways to benefit from your haters.

Whether it was for academic or non-academic clubs throughout middle school to high school to the end of my college career, there is one thing I can say that is pretty consistent - there are always silent or overt haters, within, outside, around.

We all know it's important to manage personal relations, and often times it is much easier to just say I don't care so I'll let them be. With clubs/brands/companies however, it is important to acknowledge your rivalries, and use them to your advantage. 

I am of course no expert in mediation, but here's what I got from all of it.

It is inevitable to have disputes and rivalries, but how do you make the best of them?

"A man with no enemies is a man with no character." - Paul Newman

1. First of all, be PROUD that you have rivalries. 
- This means that you are probably good enough for someone to be jealous of (, or just really good at being a total jerk...). You stood up for your point of view, but now you find others who disagree. You've set a standard for others, and now everyone wants to step all over it and rise above you. Now what?

"If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better"- Kristin Chenoweth

2. Everyone has flaws. Time to find out what yours are.
Everyone has flaws, and ignoring them isn't the best way to improve. You and I know that your enemies will pick you apart, from small nitsy gritsy mistakes to major loopholes in your organization or your personality. So why not ask them? They probably see it more clearly then you do.

"No man ever got very high by pulling other people down."
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

3. Don't hate back 
- Who said all disputes and rivalries have to incorporate hate? They can simply be healthy competitions that keep each other in check, to fight for improvement, to exchange ideas. The worse thing you could do is bad mouth your rivalries, it's not only unprofessional, but bad on your image. You can rise above by showing why you're BETTER, not why they're WORSE.

Don't be a hater, because that'll only get more haters around you.

"In order to know your enemy, you must become your enemy." 
- Chris Bradford

4. Find out more about them 
- What makes them our rivalry? What would they want out of this enemy-ship? Think in their shoes. What do they want from us? What makes them a worthy rivalry and not just a hater? And most importantly -What can we learn from them?

5. Finally, make friends with them. 
Pretty self explanatory, and over discussed in centuries. You get my point =].

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Legit is Klout score?

For those of you who aren't familiar with Klout scores:

It's an emerging tool to measure users' social media influence on Twitter and Facebook through algorithms which scores you between 1 to 100. Not only does it give you your total number of Retweets, @Mentions, and Followers (they take away the spam ones apparently,) they indicate your influence topics and areas and show you others who are also influential in the topic.

Personally, I check it once or twice a month just as a reference. Although it works with "real mathematics," I think the measure of influence is questionable.

Social media as emerging journalism:

Influence may be seen through how people respond to your call to actions, (in most cases it's your retweets and conversations), but how about the influence by agenda setting? Users can provide insightful news that people don't generally need to discuss about or retweet.

I understand that this does however come into clash with the term "social media," since social media is about interaction. But as most of you may have read in various blog posts, there have been ongoing debates on social media as a new type of journalism, mini-blogging, and etc. If we take into account this type of social media interaction,
how then, can you really measure influence? 

My question boils down to this:

Are Klout scores completely bogus, or do they mean something?

Wait, what exactly do they measure?

Klout uses more than 25 variables to create a score for True Reach, Amplification, and Network and comes up with a final score of Klout influence.

It provides a general content analysis which shows you your influential topics.

It indicates that my influential topics are:
social media
public relations

Personally, the only topics that correlate above are public relations, and social media. I don't tweet at all about #internchat, Colorado, or California (I'm in BOSTON!...).

Mini poll on twitter:

I recently asked quite a few influential tweeters (i.e. Klout score of 65 and above, usually with more than 1,000 followers) about what they think of Klout scores. There are answers in every part of the continuum - that they are reliable, an okay reference, and completely bogus. Now what?

Does this mean it's legit?

"Klout announced early Monday that it has closed
an $8.5-million funding round from Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Byers, and is adding Kleiner partner Bing Gordon to its board of directors."

"Companies using Klout’s API include Radian 6, About.Me, ExactTarget, The Huffington Post, Seesmic, Gnip, Gist and StockTwits. Currently Klout is doing more then 500 million API calls per month and is adding more than 5 API partners per day. For some perspective, Twitter sees more than 6 billion API calls per day." (from techcrunch.)

Some interesting fall backs on Klout from industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang (Web Strategy):

  1. Consumers will game the system –reducing validity of metric. Expect many people to start gaming the Klout systems, in fact I see some ‘influential types’ tweeting over 200 times a day to try to hopefully raise their Klout scores, which just ends up annoying their followers.
  2. Klout is not representative of a customers real influence. Currently, as I understand it, Klout only siphons in content from Twitter and Facebook if the user allows for FB connect.
  3. Without sentiment of the influencer –the gauge is incomplete. Klout lacks sentiment analysis, so true opinions of what’s being said about the person may be ill-informed, see Kenneth Cole example above.
  4. Relying on this single metric alone is dangerous. as Frank Eliason of Citi (formerly Comcast Cares) indicates the “sleeping comcast technician” was uploaded by someone who had practically zero prior online influence.
There are obviously pros and cons to the Klout score as with any analytics, my guess is until Klout uses it's funding to work on a more accurate portrayal of influence (it just revamped it's site to beta by the way!) keep using it as a reference or ego boost, but don't take it too far as to rely on it as your sole source of measuring social media achievement.