Make social. Be social.

In the flipped lecture on social media, Weight has addressed the triple aspects of social media in which they are:

  • a professional networking tool. It establishes your credibility within a specific range of expertise, and it builds up a network of contacts within that professional field.

  • a tool to market media projects.

  • an emerging platform in which media projects, or aspects of cross-platform media projects, natively reside.

In view of this, this can be understood in reference to the rising power of bloggers and social media influencers in the present. We may questioned, ‘Why are certain social media users considered as influencers, while some aren’t?’ Perhaps, this has a strong correlation to the notion of “social media is authored”, as mentioned in the flipped lecture. Even though the contents posted by bloggers or social media influencers allow us–as audience–to have a peek into their personal lives, it is important to note that they are carrying themselves as a personal brand where each posts are highly curated. Social media no longer just offers users a platform for creative expression, but has extensively become a professional networking tool. In light of this, we can increasingly witnessed how bloggers are presenting their identities by posting contents with open-ended captions to gauge interactive communications. Hence, we can see here that social media has functioned as a platform that showcases all their works, a tool that promotes their identities as a personal brand, and a space that enabled them to foster both professional and social contacts.

For our digital story, the group members are attempting to address the triple aspects of social media in promoting our short film. First of all, a Facebook page will be created as a professional networking tool that connects us with key influencers in the industry or communities. Secondly, it will also be utilised as a marketing tool to increase the outreach of our short film to wider audiences. We have taken into consideration that if the short film were to be placed onto our personal social media account, it can create disjuncture for consistent communication with our audiences. As a result, having a main social media page that addresses all the core information related to our short film will be useful in marketing our media projects with a single voice, rather than overlapping voices that may create further confusion. Last but not least, social media has increasingly become a platform that supports our short film, where we are able to upload video onto our Facebook page. In this case, our short film can reside on the Facebook page. This does not only enabled audiences to view our contents easily on the same platform (saving the hassle of linking to YouTube or Vimeo), but also offers us data analytics such as traffic flow, audience engagement, and peak time for responses. Taking into consideration of social media’s technological affordances, hashtags will be used to participate into existing conversations and communities relevant to our short film.

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Search Engine Optimisation / SEO

 

Within the space of World Wide Web, we are overloaded with data and information that are ever readily available for us to discover. This also means that our voices can be easily drowned and overlooked by any latest updates. Hence, we will be looking at Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), which discusses the hopeful ways we can increase the visibility of our websites and have our voices reaching out to desired audiences more effectively. The three main SEO principles I’ve implemented are as followed:

    1. Multi-channel optimisation
      Even though my website is the core hub of my contents, I can increase its visibility through multi-channel optimisation, especially with social media platforms. Some of the common ways that have been put into practices are having matching website name with your social media handles to increase visibility, as well as including links in the biography of your social media account for ease of accessibility. While the former can creates consistency, latter can be useful for cases where desired username has been taken.  As you can see below, my Twitter and Instagram accounts have included my links to practice multi-channel optimisation.

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      Example of Instagram: @iridescentdawnn
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      Example of Twitter: @sharonxwlee

      In this sense, your social media accounts does not only encourage more intimate interactions, but also offered an extension to your website that opens up multiple gateways for traffic flow into your website.

    2. Headlines, Permalinks
      The second way I’ve been executing on my website is to ensure my headlines and permalinks (the url that directs your audiences to a selected post) are relevant to the contents I’m discussing. This has been done by including keywords in my permalinks, as well as making sure that my headlines are attractive. Where my website has discussions around topics that may be foreign to some audiences, such as coding and programming, it is important that they are easily understandable as well. This means not using any complicated words, or jargons that can confused my audiences, thus pushing away traffic flows towards my website.
    3. Internal Linking and Rich Media Context
      Where my website contains dominantly of textual posts, I am seeking to find ways of balancing them with occasional images or videos. This approach is also helpful in optimising the visibility of my website as search engines take various mediums into consideration before presenting relevant informations on search results. In addition to that, rich media context can also creates internal linking to relevant contents that I’ve discussed before on my website. This provides further reading options, which has potential of attracting more of their attentions and increase credibility for my website.

 

 

VoIP: Connecting us virtually

Face-to-face communications allow us to have conversations on a personal level, where we are able to observe more clearly of the non-verbal cues such as body languages and micro facial expressions. However, geographical barriers and time constraints may refrained us from being capable of having face-to-face communications easily. This was especially a struggle during the busy assignment month to have a quick discussion with my digital story group. Hence, we resorted to Skype.

The most prominent strength of using Skype is its convenience in connecting our group members who lives a distant from each other. Skype does not only save the time and cost from travelling both ways, but also drastically shorten the time required to wrap up a quick discussion. Although there was slight difficulty at the start adding members into group video call, we are still able to omit unnecessary waiting time and finding a proper location for meetings.

However, there are downsides in using Skype for group discussion as well. It first required a strong Internet connection to support a smooth and stable Skype conversation. There were moments where other group members’ voice sounded unclear and requiring them to repeat their sentences again. Also, we would have to take turns speaking, instead of being able to chip into the conversation immediately due to the connection speed at times. Furthermore, the video was constantly switching on and off by itself, which makes the conversation slightly awkward because I can’t really gauge who is planning to speak next without seeing the movements. However, thankfully the sound was stable all the while, which still enabled us to carry out the conversation pretty smoothly.

 

What do you mean, #?

Hashtags, commonly known in its symbolic form of #, increasingly play a vital role in digital communication with its technological affordances to gather relevant data, fostering engagement and creating social groups based on a topic, whether it is an event, genre or discussion of a person. With social media strategy closely integrated with the production of short film for my digital story, I have carried out research on relevant hashtags intended to address my target audience and attract more viewerships. As my digital story is central to the genre of thriller and mystery, I have found some interesting insights from my research.

It has been found out that tweets tagged with #thriller are dominantly addressed to the conversation of fiction novels and short stories based on such genre. This is evident as seen with the media texts that are encompasses of quotes extracted from books, users’ current progress on the novel’s storyline and short reviews within 140 characters (or separated into several continuous tweets). In addition to that, tweets tagged with #thriller frequently include images of book covers and links to website for purchase. According to Hashtagify–an online hashtag tracking tool, the 10 hashtags most commonly related to #thriller include #suspense, #mystery and #crime (as pictured below). However, it is surprising to find that #ASMSG (Author Social Media Support Group) came in top with 14% correlation to #thriller, followed by #suspense and #mystery with 13.4% and 11.9% respectively. In this sense, it can be perceived that using #thriller runs in a risk of addressing the authors’ community rather than films (or short films) audiences. This is unexpected where even though using a genre focused hashtag can refer to various related medium including films and music videos, authors and fiction novels are mainly dominating in this topic.

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All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #thriller (Hashtagify, 2016)

In addition to that, Hashtag.org has also listed the top 10 influencers for #thriller, #mystery and #suspense respectively. What’s interesting is the similarity in the list of top influencers, which has been dominated by authors (with some appearing twice in two different list) and only one or two community network. This highlights the importance of recognised individuals who are handling the account that raises their position as influencers on a topic. As you can see above, it is interesting to see how popularity of hashtags related to authors and books (#ASMSG, #IARTG, #kindle and #ebook) triumphed over the #thriller, #mystery and #crime.

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All Time Top 10 Hashtags related to #shortfilm (Hashtagify, 2016)

In conclusion, this research offers me a better understanding of the potentials of hashtags intended for my digital story’s social media strategy. The outcomes of my research has significantly shown that it is unsafe to assume that using hashtags related to my digital story does not signifies it will address my target audiences effectively, since #thriller is largely used by authors and book lovers community. Furthermore, while related hashtags can be useful to expand outreach of our tweets to wider community, its impact may not be significant if they could not reach out to your target audience. For my digital story, it would be more beneficial to include other hashtags such as #shortfilm, #filmmaking or #DeadRoad (short film’s title) that are more specific as compared to genre focused hashtags, although hashtags such as #suspense and #mystery have higher popularity within Twitter platform.

 

 

Facebook for the Blind?

One of the recent posts that has popped up in my Google Alerts is Facebook’s new announcement in improving accessibility for visually impaired users with Automatic Alternative Text. What is Automatic Alternative Text? Essentially, it describes images on Facebook newsfeed through its key features based on object recognition technology. For example: “Image may contain food, pizza”.

This article instantly caught my interest because it always intrigued me into knowing more about what technology can do for the society in the future. While we who are more fortunate to experience new innovations in technology that has been commonly designed to our needs, technologies can often neglect those who have been marginalised and secluded from the bigger community due to lack of accessibility. As mentioned in the article, Matt King–who is “a member of Facebook’s accessibility team”–expressed his hardship in browsing through Facebook and felt extremely torturous on numerous occasions.

In the past, the visually impaired has been able to keep updated with the society through a touch of morse codes on new information. However, the increasing touch-screen technology introduced in new devices these days along with a visual-driven culture can make visually impaired people tougher to participate in the online conversation. Despite the availability of voiceover and speech functions, the speed of information that are flooding the internet space can be daunting to the blind since they are required to spend more hours processing all the information as compared to us who flicked through news feed in quick glances. This creates a bigger gap for visually impaired community who already faced difficulties reading and absorbing new information with their pure imagination, but also having to accept that they are constantly one step behind participating in the conversation.

Albeit a new promising step for visually impaired users, there remain some limitations to the introduction of this feature. First of all, it will only be launched on iOS devices on its introductory phase. This mean Android and Windows phone visually impaired users will have to wait longer for the launch that enables them to enjoy the same feature. The update will also come later for web users as well. Second, the article has also mentioned that “Facebook users are required to launch Siri in order to enjoy the feature”. For iPhone users, Siri is only available on models from iPhone 4s to its latest model, iPhone 6s. Unfortunately for those who owns models earlier than iPhone 4s, they will not be able to use the Automatic Alternative Text feature, albeit being first launched on iOS. This means that visually impaired users would have to purchase a new phone or device due to the lack of technological support.

While it can be a good news to be celebrated, there are still some disadvantages as well. Nevertheless, these are baby steps taken to help the marginalised groups a more accessible way to participate not only within their social circle, but also potentially with the bigger community. It is obvious that there are still lots of room for improvement, thus it is highly anticipated on how this features can function to its best potential as more research and development are invested into it.

Credit: Facebook on Vimeo

 

Dealing with Comments and Spam

In the past decades, blogging has been a powerful platform that allows people to voice marginalised opinions, express their creative talents or even narrating their own stories that appeal to their selective audiences. Since they are easily reachable through hyperlinks, search engines and social media, their contents are able to reach out to their readers as well as fostering two-way communications with a comment box.

While some readers may utilise the comment box to offer genuine feedbacks and constructive criticism, others can misused it into cyberbullying or intentionally spamming the comment box with irrelevant comments to the intended post. In view of the latter situation, few strategies have been considered to unnecessary spams in your comment box:

  1. Moderate your comments
    This strategy means that submitted comment posts will only appeared in the comment box after it has been approved by an administrator. Even though this places a strict control on potential spams that may have filled up the comment box, but can also become a tedious process if the blog has high traffic flow and active conservation ongoing within the comment box.
  2. Comments are only opened to registered users 
    The second strategy is only accepting comments from registered users. For most members within the WordPress community or readers who are highly interested to participate within a conversation, they will usually find no trouble carrying out such simple step. It could be the most basic form of preventing spams in comment box as it required an additional step for spammers, which can be hassle.
  3. Install anti-spam plugins
    While the previous strategies are useful, it can be tough to handle large numbers of comments since they required a certain amount of manual labor. By installing anti-spam plugins, they functioned as a protective layer for your website that is able to detect spam comments from computer bots or even humans and filter them out from your comment box. In the mean time, you are able to open your comment box to everyone, which can foster a bigger community as compared to moderated comments and limitation to unregistered users.

These are just a few basic strategies I have thought of in dealing with comments and spam. If you are using other strategies that have been highly useful and helpful, leave a comment down below!