Sunday, June 19, 2011

Twitterdate: An update into Anthony Weiner's Twitter Scandal

      As a follow-up to last week’s blog about the effect of social media on all things politics and the spotlight on Representative  Anthony Weiner (D-NY) Twitter scandal, Thursday marked his formal resignation.  Weiner had been under increasing pressure to resign from many democratic leaders such as Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and many others.  On June 6th, a photo of Weiner wearing tight underwear was accidentally sent over Twitter to a student in Washington.  After denying the claim for a week, alleging that someone had hacked into his account, Weiner finally admitted to sending pictures to the individual as well as having online relations with many others. 
      I and many others had compared Weiner’s Twitter mishap to Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinski, although it is clear that politics, and more importantly the influence of social media, has changed the landscape of politics forever.  Clinton, as everyone knows, did not resign, and in fact carried out the rest of his presidency, with the support of his wife, United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, at his side.  It is still too early to tell whether Weiner and his wife, herself an aide of Hilary Clinton, will remain together and work through his internet infidelity. 
      The main question that arises in my mind is would have things been different for former president Clinton if social media were as prevalent in the late 90’s as it is today?  It sure would have given his supporters a larger platform to express their support for him through, but it would undoubtedly allowed those who were in opposition to him to spread their message of disappointment and disapproval even farther.  Who knows if he would have remained the president of the Unites States or if history would have changed courses.  That is not for me to assume, although things for sure would have been different.  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Social Media Overload: When is too much?

     I was researching different types of social media outlets for my internship this past week and my boss gave me and the other interns a list of over 60 different social media sites ranging from microblogs to social networking sites to social media dashboards to investigate.  I was amazed at all the different outlets that an individual or organization could connect with others through.  Many were slightly changed versions of more popular outlets giving users one more place to share the happenings of their lives with others.
     I started to think, how many profiles are too many?  When does it hit the point where spending twenty minutes checking and updating their 4th microblogging profile grants them little additional exposure?  Is there such thing as too much social media?
     Sure, experts tell beginner social media users that they should utilize many different types of mediums to reach and connect with their different types of users because people prefer different things.  I understand that notion and it makes sense to give your customers and potential customers or clients media how they want it . But there has to be a point where the repetitive exposure doesn't really do you any good and your time could be used wisely elsewhere.
    The real question, however, is how much is too much?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Political Media: How Social Media Can Sway Voters

        I had the opportunity of researching and presenting on the influence of the internet and social media on politics.  I happened to come upon a website that outlines major political news courtesy of social media and what politicians have Tweeted, blogged or shared on Facebook.  One of the politicians highlighted Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and a blooper he made on Twitter:  Weiner "accidentally" posted a picture of a man's underwear-clad groin to Twitter and later denied that it was his own doing and reported his account had been hacked.  Earlier this week the Senator admitted that he had been having online relationships with multiple women and that he had sent them all inappropriate pictures.  I really think Weiner missed and opportunity to confess to his poor behavior and now who knows how the media will react.  Will Weiner and this mishap be the President Clinton scandal of Twitter?
      Seeing all the online news sites and blogs cluttered with posts about Weiner's unfortunate "Twithap" made me think about the influence social media really can have on a candidates supporters and more importantly voters.  President Obama was truly the forerunner of integrating social media into politics and it has only taken off from his 2008 presidential campaign.  Since 2008, more and more individuals are turning to social media outlets to voice their opinion on the issues that matter to them but to also learn about the candidates and their platforms.
      Social media has changed the way that voters interact with the candidates but is that necessarily a good thing.  Sure, anyone can do a search in google about a particular candidate and pages of results pop up with their twitter and facebook account(s) and blog posts (good and bad) about them, but how can we really be sure that all this information is correct?  Oftentimes, how can we even unearth the original source of the blog and find the issue that lies at the bottom.  We are presented with so many different opinions that sometimes the candidates are unable to tap into what brought them to social media in he first place: interacting personally with all their supporters.
      Another interesting point of social media in politics is that it exposes an individual to a wider array of views than traditional campaigns could ever.  All the ends of the political spectrum are represented through social media which gives voters the opportunity to hear all the stances and truly make an informed decision.  No longer are we in a political age with just a Democratic, Republican Party and independent party.  The spectrum is much broader and politics are becoming more complex.
     Only time will tell the effects social media will have on the 2012 elections but one thing's certain:  if there are more Representative Weiner's out there it certainly will be entertaining.  Can anyone say "The Real House[wives] Representatives of DC!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Groupon: Marketing Boom or Bust

                 Ever since the emergence of the deal-of-the-day group coupon sites such as Groupon and living social, in 2009, users have tuned into their email daily to find out the latest deal:  30- day gym membership for $30, $20 worth of food for $10 and $39 for $72 worth of theater tickets.  What consumers aren’t tuned into are the terms of the offer the business must accept to extend an “amazing” deal.  Groupon takes a commission (between 30-60%) off the deal once enough consumers have purchased it and the rest is left up to the business to wait for the influx of new customers.  Although Groupon’s website makes it sound foolproof and presents numerous case studies of organizations that have won the new customer jackpot, they fail to mention the extreme downsides: loss of profits and declining employee morale. 
                According to Groupon’s video explanation, they utilize “collective buying” and social media outlets such as twitter, facebook, and email blasts to spread the word of new deals and attract new customers.  This business model appeals to businesses because they anticipate that the new customer base will become loyal, long-term, users.   What they don’t envision is the damaging effects that this new customer base can have on their business and employees.
                After Groupon promotes a product or service and a business reduces the price by 50% or more all they have to do is wait for the influx of new customers to buy and use their offers.  However, what many business fail to take into account is the “type” of consumers these offers attract.  Many consumers, in fact, will not become long-term, loyal fans but rather accept the deal for what it is at the time- a bargain discount- and never return to the store.   In addition, by offering these discounts, business risk tarnishing their brand identity in the eyes of their actual loyal customers who become disgruntled with this new customer base who buy solely because your product or service is “cheap.”
                Think of how this will affect future sales:  after offering this discount, the product or service offered will not sell as well at the regular price simply because it was offered at a discounted coupon.  Also, this new customer base will dwindle as long as there are no new offers.  How are businesses able to draw a profit when the slash their profits by 50% or more to be attractive to Groupon-addicted users?            
                Finally, what effect does Groupon have on the employees who are at the front lines of the deals?  Many businesses fail to think of the effect the increase in customer visits will have on employees during the duration of the deal.  Typically, Groupon users are attracted to the business for the thrill of the deal and felt entitled to special treatment because the Groupon was only offered to a select number of users.  Customers drawn to the location through Groupon were also typically less inclined to tip because they felt it was included in the price of the Groupon itself.  As a result, workers tend to resent the new customers and the extra time they have to work to carry out a deal.  The mood of disgruntled and overworked employees often is visible to customers and can affect their overall experience.
How can this new model of product and service promotion really be better than the tried and trusted more traditional forms of marketing? Is Groupon really worth damaging the morale of employees who are the face of one’s business?  Businesses need to ask themselves if these post- Groupon effects are gaining a few new potentially loyal customers.