Author Archives: amodioc0599

Final Paper Reflection

My final paper topic is how technology has changed marketing in retail businesses.  My experience working at an order management software company that hosted websites gave me a lot of insight into this topic.  I also think my work experience at Verizon Wireless has influenced this paper as well, due to their initiatives to launch destination stores and enhance their website to create a better customer experience.  In the event that you haven’t heard of these initiatives, check them out!

http://www.verizonwireless.com/news/article/2013/11/verizon-destination-store-unveiling.html

http://www.verizonwireless.com/wcms/consumer/videogallery/accessory-videos/gadgets-and-gear.html

I have to say, there’s a lot of information on this topic and I spent A LOT of time sorting through it all to try to choose the “right” ones to include as sources.  I also have a lot of thoughts on the topic.   I have to say, I think this is the first paper that I ever struggled to stay within the page limit.  Normally I’m stressing to add content.

I haven’t submitted my paper just yet.  It is finished, but I want a to read it over a few more times before I hit submit.  I appreciate deadlines, because when it comes to writing things wouldn’t get submitted without one, but, these days always give me anxiety!

For those of you that are interested, below is my Abstract.  It has been a pleasure sharing this class with all of you and I wish you all the best of luck with your semester and happy holidays!

Abstract

Social media and technology have changed the way retail businesses operate.  In a few keystrokes on a keyboard or taps of a finger on a smartphone, customers can view online shopping sites and product reviews.  In addition, there are sites on the Internet to “comparison shop,” and these include prices from both local retailers and online stores.  In this competitive atmosphere and tough economy, retailers need to change the way they market their products and support their customers to keep them coming back.  Retailers also must pay attention to their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ranking and the online, as well as in-store, customer experience.  This paper will explore the power the customer has and how retail businesses are changing to support customer wants and needs in fast paced environments that rely heavily on technology.

Scams and Accountability

The reading brings up the idea of actual privacy and perceived privacy.  This is a very good point because someone may feel that their information is save when it isn’t.  A good example of this is using a credit card when online shopping.  Even though a company can have on their website that they’re a secure site, they might be using order files that contain credit card numbers.  When I worked at the software company that made and sold order management software, I’d see this all the time.  There are updated versions of the software that don’t allow for credit card numbers to be displayed, but if someone hadn’t updated their software they were carelessly storing customer data.  The customer felt safe because the site provided the appearance of being secure, but in reality credit card numbers are available to everyone that works for that company.  There were many times I even saw credit card data supporting customer support inquiries.

Another example of actual and perceived privacy is going out to eat at a restaurant and paying your bill with your credit card.  This is pretty standard, as it seems most people don’t carry cash.  Your waiter can be walking away with your credit card and scamming your information.  below is a link to an example story of waiters using skimming devices to copy credit card numbers so they could create counterfeit cards to use to purchase expensive items and sell them for cash.

http://money.msn.com/identity-theft/article.aspx?post=450f13b5-f7c3-422c-a953-7def3d7a80e0

Some of you might be wondering what credit card skimming is.  The image below shows some details about how credit card skimming can be done.  The link below the image takes you to an article (where you’ll also see this image) that provides some more information about credit card skimming.

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http://www.businessinsider.com/hackers-tech-credit-card-skimming-2011-10

The reading makes a point that “we take it on faith people are who they say they are.”  This is so true in many aspects, such as online dating.  When you go on a site like match.com you’re just believing the person’s profile is an accurate representation of who they are.  This issue goes deeper than that though.   Celebrities get scammed this way by “catfishing”.  I saw on the news the other day that Brad Paisely and his wife got scammed by someone claiming their daughter was dying and she just wanted to speak to them.  The woman running the scam never asked for money, but when she said her daughter passed away she asked that Brad Paisely provide a song he had sung on the phone for the funeral service.

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The link below (that also contains the image above) provides the story in text and video form.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/uncovering-dying-daughter-hoax-lured-celebrities/story?id=20793858

The video also mentioned this wasn’t the first celebrity that was scammed this way.  It’s very sad to think people would play on the emotions of another person in such a way.  This I guess opens the door to ethics, which was also part of the reading this week.  I know the reading focused more on workplace and email ethics, which I think is an important topic being email is replacing conversations.  I think that email is not only quick to fire off and get a response, but it also covers you from taking the blame for something.  For example, If I call someone at work and ask if something is ok and they say yes, I have no evidence that approval happened if something goes wrong.  If it was done via email, the accountability is on that person.

blame

https://exploreb2b.com/articles/accountability-at-work-and-at-home

I think in the “cut-throat” world we live in makes the workplace tough because everyone is on the go and wants to look good.  Ethics sometimes take a backseat.

Location changes audience demands and the Internet can cure depression?

I’ve never traveled out of the country, so I find it interesting the reading this week stated different countries have websites that show information differently, for example they use less pictures.  This does make sense to me because I think about living in NJ and traveling to other places within the US.  It’s amazing how different things can be in different states.  I know NJ is very fast paced and when I travel sometimes it’s like being in a different country!  In some places people are much more relaxed and friendly.  I liked the example website provided in the reading, but would have enjoyed a deeper dive into examples of websites in different countries and why they are created the way they are.  I did some Googling and found a website in Spain and Ireland, and both have a combination pictures and words.  It looks like they’re laid out similar to websites that I’d expect to see in the US, so I’m not sure if I’m missing something, or not researching enough sites/locations.

Example sites:

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http://www.enlavaguada.com/W/do/centre/inicio

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http://www.thymerestaurant.ie/

Some of this is over my head information wise as I’ve never built a website, but there’s plenty of information on the web about how to build sites that will be used in different regions and how important it is to communicate with people in their own language.  The site below provides a lot of information on this topic.

http://searchengineland.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-multilingual-and-multiregional-seo-157838

I find it interesting the readings mentioned that studies haven’t really been done on how audiences are adapting to the digital age.  I found the case studies that were done though to be interesting.  The one mentioned how they use their support calls to help create content.  When I managed a knowledge base I used to do the same thing.  I’d go through the customer support ticket logs and listen in on phone calls to see what customers were asking and how they were asking it.  This helps get insight into what the customer needs to know and helps build the structure of the knowledge base so the customer could find it.  The reading also mentioned that the online environment is designed for quick feedback.  This is a very good point because in most knowledge bases users can leave comments or choose to give a thumbs up if the article was useful and a thumbs down if the article wasn’t helpful.

The reading did mention one of the issues with online content is that the information is available for everyone.  I don’t think this is true though, as some websites you have to log in to get access to content.  It is true that the content can be emailed to someone and be shared quickly and easily, but paper content can be photocopied and passed around too.

I also found The Implications of Mobility study entertaining.  I’d like to comment on three points I picked out:

  • 58% of business users agreed with “mobile phones restrict my freedom”

I can really understand this comment.  I have a work cell phone and I agree it restricts my freedom.  For example, there are two big meetings this week on Tuesday and Wednesday I’m managing material for.  I’ve been receiving emails/texts and working over the weekend because I’m accessible via my work phone.  I feel the days of having a weekend to myself are gone!

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http://joyreactor.com/post/470277

  • Mobile phones blur the boundary between public and private space

I agree that it seems people have private conversations in public places.  Just waiting online at the grocery store you can hear more about a person than you need to.

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  • Internet could reduce depression by providing a means to obtain social support

I’ve never thought about the Internet being helpful to people in this way, but I guess it really could.  I think if someone is being bullied and they find a support group and bond with people, it really can turn their attitude around.  Even if they’re talking to someone across the globe, it’s someone that relates to them and understands them.

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Is our digital culture a positive or a negative?

Our culture really has become a digital one.  Some of the reading this week reminded me of Turkle’s reading.  People do value human connections, but are electronics really satisfying that need?  It seems we feel valued when we’re a part of a community, but how is that really fulfilling our need to connect with each other?

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http://blackcoffeetwosugars.blogspot.com/

I remember before this digital culture having to look in the newspaper to try to find a job to apply to instead of going on Monster.com or LinkedIn.  I do think that LinkedIn can be a great tool to find a job.  The recommendations on LinkedIn are very helpful to a potential employer.  You have to be careful what you post on LinkedIn, even if your profile is private you might be connected with your current boss.  It’s important to take advantage of the confidentiality tools LinkedIn offers, as well as be smart about what you post.

I agree with this article that states either you use LinkedIn right, meaning you have a full profile and are active in groups, or you don’t use it at all.  Just having a LinkedIn and not using it doesn’t help you.

http://jobsearch.about.com/b/2013/10/05/dont-waste-your-time-on-linkedin.htm

As part of the digital culture comes the Glass House generation.  I thought this name was interesting considering it’s very true.  It’s very easy to find information about people with online profiles.  A coworker of mine told me that the restriction for 13 – 17 year olds to keep their profile private has been lifted this week.  I can’t say that I agree with this.  I think if they can choose to post publicly that can open them up for danger of strangers knowing where they’re going.  But maybe it’s a good thing and can help cut down things like underage drinking because they’ll be more visibility to them.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/facebook-teens-can-now-post-publicly-but-posts-are-friends-only-by-default/2013/10/16/57d5051c-3682-11e3-be86-6aeaa439845b_story.html

Apps like the Find My Friends app also provides more visibility into where people are.  Two friends of mine are engaged and they use this app to check up on where each other is.  I remember one day one of my friends told me she was at the doctor and her fiancé seemed to be gambling at a casino and went without telling her he was going.  It seems like these apps are set up for people with trust issues.  I remember growing up when my dad wasn’t home from work at the “normal time” we just looked out  the window and waited.  We couldn’t call his cell phone to ask where he was and when he’d be home.

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https://itunes.apple.com/US/app/find-my-friends/id466122094?mt=8

I liked the part of the reading that covered the way search engines make money.  As I’ve said before, I worked for an order management software that hosted websites.  Clients asked us all the time about how to get their site higher in search engines and would pay us to do special work on their site to increase their rankings.  The software also allowed people to use what we called source codes.  This would allow a user to create different codes for the different places they advertise to see what the most productive ads are.  For example, if they have an ad on Google, they can enter the URL of the ad and assign a code to it.  Whenever a shopper would come to their site from that URL, that code would be placed on their profile.  Reports could be run to see how many of those clicks resulted in orders, and what the order size was.

The types of tracking and information we can uncover can have some positives, such as businesses knowing where to put more of their advertising dollars.  But we need to be aware of the negatives, like keeping children safe as well.  I guess we’ll see where some of these changes get us in the near future.

Colleagues in different locations and how to get people to read the manual

I think that successful businesses with multiple locations have to follow the Systems of Engagement in B2B Enterprises defined in the “A Sea of Change in Enterprise IT” reading this week.  These five ways to make technology work internally and externally to be more productive really do make a difference.  These things won’t completely turn a business around, but they’re good things to do.  The first point of making meetings work better across time zones sounds like a no-brainer but it’s something people just don’t understand.  Verizon Wireless has many locations across the USA.  I’m in NJ and have to keep in mind there are times I’m working with someone located in CA.  I always look at the location of my colleague when scheduling a meeting to be polite to not schedule a meeting during a time that’s out of their office hours.  I even go as far to not schedule during their lunch hour!  And we use tools that allow for conference calls and screen sharing, even telepresence.  These technologies may be expensive to implement but make a big difference in how employees can work together and reduces employee travel.  I think addressing issues collaboratively and keeping collaborators connected really does help solve issues with real solutions quickly.  No one person will make a complete difference, but having a team that can easily communicate and come up with ideas will really make a difference.  I notice that sometimes my boss will get upset at my team for communicating.  I believe she thinks we’re talking about personal things, but we’re really collaborating and coming up with great ideas to help take our work to the next level.  I also agree that mining community content to extract insights and viewing collaboration and social systems in context will help with diving in and analyzing the community to result in better decisions for the future.  It’s also important that not everything has to be shared with social systems.  Having a social presence is important, but having the wrong social image can be just as harmful as not having a social presence at all.

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Information design and architecture are huge responsibilities for technical writers.  Information design and architecture isn’t only for external use, internal staff can benefit as well.  Information needs to be easy to find and displayed in a well organized format for customers and internal staff to use it.  In the world we live in people are inpatient.  We want what we want when we want it.  If there is a barrier to getting what we want, we become frustrated.  When I worked as a technical writer and implemented a knowledge base, I came up with a draft layout of categories that information should be posted to.  I tried to put myself in the shoes of the customer and thought about where I’d look for this information.  There were many internal meetings to discuss this because we wanted customers and staff to see value in this knowledge base.  It had to be right the first time, as a customer, as well as internal staff, will base an opinion of it on their first use.  If they find what they’re looking for they’ll look at it again.  If a customer can’t figure out where information is, they’ll call customer support and already be frustrated that they had to pick up the phone, and not look at the knowledge base again.  I tried to do some searching to see how long a customer will spend finding information on a knowledge base before giving up and calling technical support, but I wasn’t able to find any details on this.  I think it’d be a good study to conduct.  However, there’s plenty of information, like this link below from Zen Desk, about how to develop knowledge base content.

https://support.zendesk.com/entries/26166856-Best-practices-Developing-content-for-your-knowledge-base

Technical writers are also content managers.  It’s part of the job of a technical writer to create and manage content.  This starts with defining the information to relay, the format/template that is used to relay it and making sure the content is up to date.  As a technical writer I’ve started many documents trying to figure out what the reader on the other side of the computer screen is looking for.  It’s difficult but I think the best we can do is relate to the person on the other end of the document.  Maybe customers will actually read the manual if they feel it’s put together well, and it’s easy to find and navigate.

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http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/p/keep-calm-and-read-the-manual-1/

Are Targeted Ads and Facebook controlling where we spend our money?

I find the concept of socialommerce interesting.  I think we all know when we’re on a website that they can track what we’re doing, such as where we’re clicking and how long we’re on each page.  In my last job at an order management software company I saw these concepts a lot.  In addition to providing a software to help businesses manage their orders, the company also hosted websites.  I learned a lot about e-marketing tools because of this.  Let’s say you go online shopping and you leave the site quickly without putting any items in your cart.  If you entered your email address anywhere or were logged into an account on that site, they can tell you were there and didn’t buy.  The company can send a special coupon to use to attract your attention back to the site.  But let’s say you went online shopping and abandoned your cart.  You can get an email with a different offer that is specific to the item you left behind.  Businesses will also send surveys for feedback from their customers, and most will offer a coupon to thank you for your time and opinion.  The example below is from New York and Company.

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Businesses have so much visibility they no longer should be offering blanket offers because not every coupon or deal is going to influence everyone to buy.  Even in this rough economy, people will spend money when they feel they’re getting a good value.  I did some quick searching and found a study from The Network Advertising Initiative that stated targeted advertising increased revenue 2.7 times as much as non-targeted ads.  Also, it is twice as effective at converting users who click on the ads into buyers.  People will also be more likely to spend money on things their friends give positive reviews on and companies that have a good reputation.  I do agree that we’re at a point where products and special deals find us.  Over the summer I was looking to buy a car.  After my first couple of Google searches and visits to different sites, car ads were all over my Facebook page.  I didn’t like these ads because I knew what I was looking for and what I wanted to test drive.  After I purchased a car the ads were still on my page for weeks.  This makes me wonder how individual specific advertising can be productive for things that the advertiser can’t tell I am no longer in the market for.  Being I already bought a car, continuing the ads for me are useless.  That space could be used to advertise something I might actually spend money on, like the ad on my Facebook page today that’s below.  Birchbox sounds pretty cool, anyone try it?  I have to love asking for feedback on my blog post that talks about how we use social media to see if something is worth investing in!

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Facebook can definitely influence purchases.  This morning one of my friends posted she had a waffle and instantly that’s what I wanted.  I actually did go out to the diner to get one!  Our statuses also allow us to network.  Friends of mine are getting married and posted on their Facebook status that they’re looking for a photographer.  There were many comments that provided names and links to example work done by the photographers.  In this case Facebook did the research for them and instead of finding a photographer, a photographer kind of came to them.

I was surprised to read that there is so much tracking on DVRs.  I don’t know why this shocked me because everything is tracked these days, so why wouldn’t my cable company track what I fast forward and what I’m watching and when?  I wonder how they use this data.  I’d assume some of this has to be used to determine the popularity of a TV show.  As a rule, I DVR everything and watch it later so I can skip the commercials.  In the reading this week Hulu and their limited commercials are mentioned.  The reading states that these 2 minute commercials are more productive than a longer commercial break because people will sit there and pay attention for those two minutes.  When a commercial break is longer people get up and do things or fast forward through them.  I know many people that are getting rid of their cable and just watching TV online.  I wonder how we’ll see either Internet plans or sites change to support this.  It makes me think of cell phones and how wireless plans have changed to accommodate a lot of people no longer keeping a landline.

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Social media fundraises and can make us more productive

I found a lot of things in the Qualman reading this week informative.  I didn’t realize Obama raised more money for his campaign and it seems like the credit is going to social media.  It does make sense that if you have more donation vehicles available that you’ll raise more money, but maybe those people would have donated anyway, so I’m not sure social media deserves all the credit.  I also found it really interesting that we can tell who searches for what and where, such as how Canada and United Kingdom were searching for political news in the U.S.  The internet really does provide visibility into our lives.

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The Qualman reading also said Obama had a meeting where people put their phones on the center of the table.  At one of my previous jobs there was a rule in place that you didn’t bring phones and laptops to meetings.  This was the result of too many people going “wait, what?” in meetings.  You can’t pay attention in a meeting if you’re on your phone or laptop.  Meetings won’t take as long if you don’t have to keep stopping to repeat things either.

One of my friends has a brunch every year for the holidays, and someone actually made a comment last year that it was nice no one had their phone in their hand.  You see it way too often in places like restaurants or bars where people are with people in person, but spend the night on their phones.

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http://cheese-wheel.com/2013/05/26/put-down-the-phone/

Social media does make us productive though, like the example the reading provides of seeing the wait time to vote. The NJ DMV does this for the inspection wait times.  I do wonder if we’ll see online voting though.  It would be very convenient, but a lot of things for privacy and accuracy need to be addressed.

The reading also discusses the role of marketing and that marketing has the job to make the customer happy and produce something that really has value.  We’re in the age of the customer where online recommendations and reviews really do make an impact.  There have been many things online I was going to buy, saw negative reviews and then either didn’t make the purchase or went with a different product.  I also have bought something based on a recommendation from something that I bought previously.  Money is made in a tough economy when people see value in their spend.

This is why online documents have become so important.  The Spilka reading mentions how technical documents aren’t just part of an assembly line anymore.  Documents need to be readily available in an easy to access location.  We’ve become a society with no patience, so if we can’t get what we want when we want it, we move on.  The idea the reading presents of maybe using blogs to replace technical documentation I don’t think will take off.  I think a blog can be a great pairing to technical documents, but can’t serve as a replacement for them.  The only way a blog can be effective is if someone is monitoring it 24/7 with quick answers, which almost turns the blog into a chat with a live agent kind of thing.

So, what do you guys think?  I feel like I covered a hodgepodge of topics, but I liked a lot of the different topics the readings made and wanted to discuss some of them.

The evolution of the web and user experience

It’s interesting to read about the evolution of computers and the web that was in the Digital Literacy for Technical Communication reading.  I think we forget with the modern technologies we have and how fast paced our lives have become that we used to have bulky desktop computers that allowed us to check email via dial up, and had to read a printed instruction manual instead of Googling something and finding a YouTube video on it.  An example of this is when I was trying to figure out how to change the air filter in my car.  I took my laptop out to my car and followed along to a YouTube video of someone doing it.  It’s hard to believe the Internet wasn’t always a thing and wasn’t super fast, just a few years ago.  Now it seems like we rely on the web for everything.

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http://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/1848-244223

This is why user experience is so big today.  Companies spend a lot of money and are constantly working on their website to make it inviting and customer friendly.  If people can’t find anything on your site or don’t find it appealing, they’ll go to another site they do find easier to use.  The web competition is huge.  I think this is why we’ve seen an evolution of graphics and images on the web.  For example, when people are shopping on the web they want to be able to see a zoomed in image of the item they’re looking to buy so they can see the quality, color, material, etc.  Take the image below for example, who really wants to spend time on this site to do anything?

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http://www.noclipmode.com/2011/02/18/why-do-all-restaurant-websites-suck-so-much/

I had to laugh when I read in the section in the Qualman reading on who cares what I’m doing?  I think that often when something happens in my life.  I think who cares, why do they want to know?  But social media is a way to keep in touch.  So while people might not care if I went to Starbucks today, they care that you had a nice dinner with your family to celebrate something.  I also liked the point of using social media to kill time.  I find anytime I have to wait somewhere I use my phone to pass the time.  I noticed even while waiting for a table at a restaurant, parents will have their kids watching TV on a tablet to keep them busy.

We’ve become such a digital world.  I’ve seen that in my time as a technical writer.  We had to transition from sending printed documentation to building an online knowledge base.  People expect to be able to use the Internet to find what they want, whenever they want it.

Usage and customer service in social media

I enjoyed the readings this week that covered descriptions and research around social media, as well as answered questions like “why use social media?”.  Being a social media user for a few years, I can relate to a lot of the information these readings covered.

The reading from Always On provided a lot of information on studies conducted in 2006 about Facebook.  I remember using Facebook in 2006, this was my senior year in college.  After meeting someone at a party you’d become friends on Facebook.  I also had to laugh when the article mentioned roommates that sit in the same room IMing each other, as my roommate and I did that in our college dorm room.  The reading also provides usage stats and how Facebook profiles are used to gain more information about people.  I wonder how much these stats have changed in the world we live in today.  When I first joined Facebook, I remember friends of mine that didn’t go to college couldn’t sign up for Facebook.  They were upset because they felt like they were missing “the next big thing”.  Now that anyone can create a Facebook profile and so many features have been added, like an advanced chat, I would think people spend more time on Facebook and would say it’s a comprehensive solution to getting to know people and keeping in touch with them.

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http://www.gagdonkey.com/cartoons/facebook-is-like-a-fridge/

I enjoyed the part of the Qualman reading about how business use social media to address customer complaints.  I’ve seen a number of friends, and I’ve done it a few times as well, complain openly on social media about poor service provided by a company.  When a company reacts and reaches out to their customer for the poor experience they are talking about, it shows the company cares.  When companies don’t react, the customer feels not only is the company wrong for what they’re complaining about, but also that the company doesn’t care enough to address their clearly upset customer.  Potential customers see this as well and create an opinion of the company.  Customer service has evolved.  It’s not just someone sitting at a support desk to take customer complaint calls or a manager speaking to a customer at the store, good customer service addresses customer complaints in whatever channel they’re received.  If the company provides good customer service on Facebook (like the Zappos.com example below) people see that and take notice.  The company has a positive perception and people will be more likely to order from the company in the future.

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http://www.shopify.com/blog/6992318-4-examples-of-excellent-customer-service-on-facebook#axzz2fe2LDiVh

I know how my own usage of social media has changed throughout the years, but I’d love to hear how your experiences have changed.  Do you use social media more or less than when you first signed up?  Do you use social media as a vehicle for reaching a company you’ve received poor service from?

My experience and thoughts on blogging

I took Rhetorical Theory in the Spring 2013 semester.  At that time I never thought of myself as someone who has blogged.  I realized writing my introduction blog post for that class, I had blogged before using sites like LiveJournal.  Also, in a previous job, I helped write and edit content for the company blog.  The Rhetorical Theory course, similar to this one, used a blog as a class tool.  By no means would I say I’m a blogging expert, but I’m not new to the blog scene either.

I think the article 16 Top Tips from Blogging Experts for Beginners has some good insight to those looking to start blogging, or even those that do blog and are interested in taking their blog further.  I think the tip that says “write for yourself” makes a great point.  We’re in a society where everyone is crunched for time.  If you’re going to take time to blog, do it for you.  I have had friends that started blogs to try to make money from it, realized it takes time to build a blog that can produce revenue, and then quit.  It wasn’t something they really wanted to spend their time on, they just wanted a quick buck.  As the article also states, give it time and be willing to fail.  The odds are a blog won’t go viral in an evening.

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http://qualityhostingnow.com/how-to-get-started-making-money-by-blogging/

If you’re blogging because you want to, another good point the article makes is to keep your audience in mind.  A friend of mine has a blog that she doesn’t update that often, but when she does the content is true to the blog description.  It’s clear she writes for herself, thinks of her audience, but just doesn’t have the time to really commit to blogging.  I like that the blog is focused on cooking and it doesn’t focus just on her words, it also provides pictures and recipes.  Check it out, if you’re interested  http://www.girlversuskitchen.com.

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http://www.girlversuskitchen.com

I look forward to seeing all of your introduction posts and reading your thoughts as we go through the semester.