Generating Buzz

Friday, February 13, 2009 0 comments

What is Buzz?

  • Word of mouth
  • Tell a friend
  • Viral marketing
The source has to be reliable and authoritative, and the message must be authentic.

Proven fact:
blog posts with lots of comments get more comments. Digg submissions with a high Digg count (combined with a catchy headline and summary) get Dugg before the content is viewed (even if the content is never viewed).

The Cost of Creating Buzz

  • Tools are cheap, but the return on investment requires significant time because of the need to build trust and relationships. An hour per day for at least six months of cultivation is required.
  • Heartfelt and sincere appeals can work just as effectively as the wildly popular humorous ones.
  • Begin by building relationships first before asking or appealing for anything.
  • Be a good member of your community by promoting the work of others as much as you do your own. You don't want to appear as a spammer who only talks about his/her latest posts or site content.
  • Just like around the water cooler, memes or themes will develop in online communities.
Remember: Being awesome is the best way to SEEM awesome. The cool factor cannot be underestimated when building buzz.


  • Twitter
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • FriendFeed

Things to Consider

  • Why are you using it?
  • Who will use it?
  • How will you know you are succeeding?
Set up your accounts to reflect the answers to these questions.


Meet people - Have conversations - Make it easy
Listening is a big part of creating buzz.

Twitter Tools



Watch me, watch what I like, and recommend new content for me.
Rate your favorite pages, StumbleUpon will recommend similar content it thinks you will like.
Make friends, be consistent, generosity rules.


News aggregator, much bigger community than StumbleUpon.

Social Media Strategy: First Draft

Thursday, February 12, 2009 2 comments
  • Form an action group of those on campus (staff, faculty, students!) interested in Twitter and other social media
  • Hold a Twitter sandbox
    • Show how easy it is; how little time it takes
    • Showcase tools to make it even easier: TweetDeck, twhirl, Firefox extensions
  • Ask folks who are active on Yammer to consider posting on Twitter
  • Encourage these new Twitterers to tweet about work projects but also their personal interests -- these Twitter accounts need personality and a face behind them
  • Emphasize the need to follow others: find counterparts at other higher ed institutions, people with similar personal interests, anyone you find interesting
  • Stress importance of having conversations on Twitter
    • If someone has a question about obtaining a visa, and you are qualified to answer -- go for it! Link them to the video you made or the blog post you wrote!
    • Your conversations don't directly have to benefit MIIS; they can establish your credibility and help craft your digital personality/identity.
  • Listen to Twitter chatter: assign people specific listening areas/terms that are relevant to them and have them monitor conversations regarding these topics
  • Use Google Alerts/Twitter Search
    • Possible search terms: MBA, Monterey, policy, MIIS, Monterey Institute, translation, interpretation, translate, interpret, language, language teaching, language education, localization management, TESOL, grad school, financial aid, visas
  • By summer, brainstorm goals and tactical approaches
  • Determine which tool(s) best suit what we want to accomplish
  • Develop standard operating procedure for the Twitter team
  • Audience: 2010 enrollment targets(?)

Some Reflections on Listening

During a break out session at the conference, we participated in a Social Media Strategy Simulation Game.  Our team was tasked with developing a list of social media objectives for a fictional non-profit:  "You are a marketing team for a museum that showcases art in different media featuring bridges in San Francisco.  You offer workshops, have a youth program and want to increase registrations, participation and attendance. "  By identifying which tactical approaches and tools we would use, we hoped to chart a social media plan.  

Early on, we realized the importance of the distinction between "marketer" and "community manager".  The two are not necessarily the same thing.  Certain social media tools lend themselves well to one or the other.  Which of these are you familiar with?  Which would you choose to employ? 

Digg, friendfeed, utterli, podcasts, technorati, RSS Readers, Social networking sites (Linked In, Facebook, etc.), Video Sharing (YouTube,, blogs, google tools, etc.

Program delivery depends heavily on your goals.

As our group discussed these issues, we realized how very important listening is before composing your social media strategy.  Before launching videos on YouTube, creating a SNS or blogging, has your organization taken enough time to listen to your prospective audience?
By placing key terms into google alerts, one can establish a better understanding of who is talking about your organization and determine which media forms are best for your goals.

How much time can your organization just listen?  A month?  Six? Twelve?

MIIS has seen an explosion of media projects in the last year.  Have we established clear objectives for these or are we just reacting to what we think we need based on what we have heard in the media.  ("Other colleges are should WE!!)  Should we listen to what is being said about MIIS a bit more before we leap?  

Time to fire up google alerts?

Workshop Day 1


What Is Social Media?

Wordle of WeAreMedia participant burning questions:

Using the Internet to collaborate, share information, and have a conversation about ideas and causes we care about. The conversation is not controlled, not organized, and not on message.

The use of social media is growing, but not everyone is a social media user.

Right now, social media might be considered disruptive technology. Social media won't be disruptive technology for long because disruptive technology is constantly evolving (PCs were once considered disruptive technology!).

New term

Online social graph: the map being constructed by social networking sites of every person on the Internet and how they are connected.

What's the Benefit?

Spreading awareness, creating a community, creating a presence, getting other people involved, virality, empowering an audience, learning about your audience, telling your story

The Limitations?

While it is useful, social media is not a life raft. Our main website also needs to be a strong, carefully crafted presence.

However, the main website also needs to play well with social media sites. That means not just the platform but the process and people for updating it. In the era of social media an effective website must be dynamic and "carefully crafted" must not imply static or slow moving. Embedding media, cross-promoting MIIS social media sites, and aggregating news from MIIS blogs must be part of the DNA of in order to achieve the maximum benefit from our social media efforts.

Our online presence is an untapped arena of community, participation, and functionality that can better serve the MIIS community. We should use online media to represent ourselves to the world and share the stories of the Institute.

Types of bogs
-institutional blog
-aggregates content
-specialized content

Flipping the Funnel by Seth Godin

We Need Strategy!

Fears About Social Media

  • Loss of control over branding and messages
  • Negative comments
  • Addressing personality versus organizational voice
  • Fear of failure
  • Perception of wasted time and resources
  • Suffering from information overload already, this will cause more

We need to turn these concerns around. Education and demonstration helps.


American Red Cross method

  • pick a project that won't take much time
  • write down successes
  • write down challenges
  • determine what worked and what didn't
  • watch other nonprofits and copy & remix for your next project

Tactical Approaches and Tools


Who is already blogging in our area of interest? What are they saying? Know what is being said online about your organization and your field. Listening leads to participation.
Corresponding tools: RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Technorati, Twitter, Radian6


Share content: Share your story and allow the rest of our community to share their stories as well. Who will respond and in what circumstances? How will we address negative comments? What is the GOAL of our participation? How are we engaging people and encouraging content creation?
Corresponding tools: Backtype, Twitter

Generate Buzz

Community building & social networking: How can we connect the members of our community?
Corresponding tools:, digg, StumbleUpon, friendfeed, utterli, Twitter

Community Building & Social Networking

How will MIIS represent itself on social networks?

Introducing New Media to Key Decision-Makers

Monday, February 9, 2009 0 comments

Assigned Reading

Definition of Social Media by Liz Strauss
A Primer on Social Media by Jocelyn Harmon
Is Web 2.0 Software You Purchase from Microsoft and other Stupid Questions You Might Be Afraid to Ask by Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog


The concept of social media may be relatively new to key decision-makers at MIIS. Rob and I must consider how we will introduce Twitter and explain why becoming part of the Twitterverse is so important.

Explaining Twitter to those unacquainted with the service is no easy task. Since microblogging is still relatively new, it is often misunderstood by those who are tech-savvy. I would compare Twitter to a blog, but also stress the fact that each "entry" is limited to 140 characters. These Twitter updates (or "tweets") are much shorter than a normal blog entry; therefore, it will take much less time to prepare and update Twitter than to maintain a normal blog.

I would begin by showing examples of how other higher ed institutions are using Twitter:
Twitter can be used in many different ways, so we should have an audience/focus in mind before we present our idea to the key decision-makers. Because the Monterey Institute is so small, I think it would be wise to begin with only one Twitter account (as opposed to some schools who have a separate Twitter name for admissions, athletics, etc.).

Finally, we must show the decision-makers how easy it will be to implement. We will have to decide who will have access to the MIIS Twitter account (probably more than one person) and how often they will be responsible for posting. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, we can provide examples of appropriate tweets. Each tweet should serve a purpose (such as promoting an event, announcing a deadline change, introducing a new MIIS employee, and so on).

In order to be successful on Twitter, we will also need to keep track of who is tweeting about MIIS and follow up with them if needed (I especially believe this after reading Ten 10 Reasons to Monitor Twitter as a University or College). "Following" people who follow MIIS on Twitter will also increase our credibility and help expand our Twitter network.

Is the language of new media only English?

Sunday, February 8, 2009 0 comments
For journalists, academics, traditional authors and bloggers, the written word has been the primary tool of influence.  It is quite universally recognized that English has become the lingua franca of the internet age.  

A Japanese scholar with a dual degree in biology and applied linguistics, who is currently developing an English for Academic curriculum for the Biological Sciences department of a top Japanese university, recently confided to me that she felt there is no longer a single academic journal published in Japanese that can truly be considered world class. The reason was not that Japanese doctoral programs don't produce enough talented scholars. Rather, her point was that the best scholars know that they must publish in English to solicit appropriate peer review.  

It is only with global exposure that scientific research can be appropriately assessed and evaluated.  Because much of the world's scientific community publishes research in English, the trend is that all scientific research must adhere to this norm.  The professor lamented that if her colleagues' studies are published only in Japanese, nobody will read them.  Or, if they are read, the time which was required to translate and circulate them would render the research without value.  In the fast paced world of biotech development, when a scientist has tantalizing results, it is a mad dash to get the results published first! An edge of even a few months ahead of one's  competitors can mean the difference between a Nobel prize and anonymity. 

Attending the social media conference for non-profits got me wondering if community developers, NGOs and other enterprises felt the same pressure to produce content only in English.  Or, is localized content still king when it comes to development, social justice, migration, poverty relief, environmental work, or other policy areas?  Does the multi-national, American-centric perspective of new media bias the tech community's understanding of the world? Or should the world simply localize the media tools which so frequently develop from the bosom of California's Silicon Valley? 

When I lived in Asia I didn't use Facebook.  I had heard of it, but there was no need to check it out because I exclusively used the Japanese social networking site MIXI.  My blog posts were in Japanese and so were my communities of friends.  But when I contributed to a gay activism and networking community in Asia, I wrote in English.  

I believe that the trend among many of the leading social media companies is to have their tools equipped with localized language tools.  Want to post YouTube videos in Chinese? No problem.  Care to update your Facebook status in Arabic?  Just click to change.  But are those facilities merely window dressing for users less proficient in English?  My Moroccan sister in law uses English for Facebook and blogs in Arabic.  Should she be made to feel the need to publish her content in just one language?  Why have I stopped writing in Japanese since I moved back to the US?  And what of San Francisco, with a rich mix of ethnicities and languages? During this conference, I only heard one reference to producing a social media plan with other languages in mind.

Do the social media tools we use tie us down to one identity?  When the vast majority of the world's population is bilingual or multilingual, surely we should we aware of the value of a diverse social media plan.  When compiling a list of objectives and choosing tactical approaches and media tools, there must surely be some merit to considering whether the language question.  Is English the only language of social media or do we use it exclusively because it is the only one we speak?