The Complexities of Labels

Labels. We all use them to describe how we identify ourselves and others. We use them to describe our sexuality, gender, race, and religious affiliation. But recently there has been a lot of discussion of whether or not these labels are harmful. One side believes that labels shouldn’t be used because we’re all human and to be equal we need to stop differentiating ourselves from others. The other believes there is reason and a purpose to using labels.

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But believing that it’s just the labels that cause people to treat each other differently is greatly oversimplifying the issue. Inequality is more affected by the people who have negative associations with the labels then the labels themselves.

In an article discussing the effects of labels, Sian Ferguson says “Without ‘labels,’ we don’t have the vocabulary to discuss oppression.” And she’s right. There are certain experiences you associate with labels like “black” or “bisexual” or “transgender.” They’re often experiences of disadvantage, discrimination, and mistreatment purely on the basis of those labels because even in 2016 racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are still highly prevalent in today’s world.

*Big tip here* Do not apply a label to someone who does not label themselves that way. Never assume you can figure out someone’s identity based on the color of their skin, their mannerisms, or the way they dress.

When using social media, whether as a business posting to the world or as a regular person engaging in online conversations, be aware of the labels you use to describe others. Be careful of treating all those who identify as a certain thing the same way, because every person is still different (basically don’t stereotype people).

Creating your own identity from these labels helps describe to the world a portion of who you are, what you’ve possibly been through, and how you perceive everything around you. If you can own your label, and wear it as a beacon of strength, labels can be incredibly empowering.

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Online Information: Why are we worried?

Social media marketing professionals, academics, and gurus dedicate much of their time adjusting from a time of traditional marketing into a time of virtual reality and globalized community. For blooming marketers, or other content creators looking for a way into the social media market, this adjustment calls to question ethical decision-making on part of the organization. Social media disclosures and best practice documents help employees create and maintain content that advocates for truth.

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Understandably, consumers wonder and worry about a vast amount of their data floating around the digital sphere because of their relationships with organizations. Time and time again are people asked to send out their names, ages, gender, income, nationality/race/ethnicity, credit card and banking information, and locations. To be fair, some individuals may not even have the access, ability, or reasonable safety enough to publish anything basic, like a name.

Ten odd years ago, I remember my uncle following a waitress to the cash register to make sure his banking information wasn’t being written down on her apron. The world has changed, and our understanding of what the right and wrong messages are is clouded with the urgency to consume, and to do it efficiently. The “ethical” discussions are no longer held within closed spaces.

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When a person pushes the “publish” button on a post that could change the landscape of an organization, the efficient consumption (and distribution) of information suddenly poses a problem. Organizations no longer have full control over the words being used to describe their businesses.

However, organizations have the option of actively participating in ethical discussions with other marketing professionals, academics, gurus, and consumers in an online community. As much as marketing is about sharing stories, ethical decision-making for an online community might depend on them in order to motivate change and anticipate further obstacles.

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Blogging: How to Get More Views

It seems that everyone around us has either blogged, thought about blogging, or is about to go backpacking through Europe and therefore, MUST blog all about their experience instead of waiting for the family christmas letter to let their loved ones know what has happened in their travels.

In all honesty, we love blogging (clearly) but there are so many interesting blogs that focus on certain activities, families, parenting tips, the list is endless and then there are blogs letting us know about a whole plethora of different topics. How can you make sure that your blog starts reaching more than just your BFFs and your mom? It’s all in the heading and the content. Let’s dive into four essential blogging tricks to capture the larger audience.

UNO: Be Honest With Yourself

Not only is honesty the best policy, but it will also help you pick a captivating title. When you are racking your brain for catchy titles, it can be hard to choose the most effective one. This is because writer’s block is real, and sometimes it hits you like a train when you are just trying to create a five word heading. At this point, you start talking yourself into believing a bad idea is a good one. If your title rhymes, it’s cute, but honestly… would you click on that? Especially if you only had, say, twenty minutes of down time and your different social media sties are all spitting out different articles to you? Be honest to yourself, make sure you would be willing to spend those precious twenty minutes reading if you hadn’t been the one to write the blog itself.

DOS: Lists Are Your Friends

Don’t do lists every time you create content, but when you are trying to convey a strong message or write about something helpful, or cute (kitten picture level of cute), lists help the flow of the story you are trying to tell. Take this blog post for example, we are highlighting specific steps that you could use. Imagine if we had just put the information scattered about in the post, it is not formal and not as convincing. Lists are also great for a post referencing several things on the internet at one time. We are talking about those cute kitten pictures, as well as the top man buns of the world.

 

TRES: Consistency is Key

People trust your advice and are interested in your opinion if you are an expert on something specific. How do you show that you know a lot about something? You make it known by being consistent with your content. If you are a mother giving advice on parenting based off of your personal experience, then make sure your posts are discussing just that. You can be fluid about your content and post things outside of your specialty, at times it’s even encouraged, but don’t stray away for too long. Repetitive readers are coming back seeking your specialty in the topics you know best about, make sure that new and relevant content is available for them.

CUATRO: Informative Entertainment

When you are discussing your opinions, don’t just rant, but engage the reader in the story you are telling. This can happen by using colorful writing, photo references and direct interaction with readers. What do we mean by direct interaction? We mean, talk about a comment that stood out to you and credit the commentator, give away some of your favorite products that you have discussed on your blog before. Make sure the reader feels like you care about them and their opinion, it is a collective effort to make your blog the best it can be. Keep yourself relevant and get people to interact with the posts by referencing different talking points on the internet, be it political, pop culture, or a silly video, it will keep the reader interested if they know that you too are interested in similar things.

Taking Social Media by Storm

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“You know you that b*tch when you cause all this conversation.” Beyoncé said it best herself. She is aware of her influence in pop culture and the nature of viral social media behavior. She is aware that when she takes a stand for the black power movement through the visuals in her video, it will be discussed. When she talks openly about her struggle through infidelity in marriage, it will be discussed. And when she only releases music on platforms that need payment, it does not hinder her success as an artist, music producer, and feminist.

The reason why Beyoncé seemingly has so much “power” and say in the entertainment industry is rooted in her personal branding and the revolutionary marketing tactics, which done correctly, can and should be applied to successful campaigns in any industry. We are going to break down some of Beyoncé’s most recent successes since her releases of “Formation” and Lemonade.

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EXCLUSIVITY IN THE FORM OF RESERVATION  

Beyoncé is well known for rarely discussing her personal life and opinions on movements but rather, she makes the noise for the discussion board to jump from. This caused a lot of backlash when she and hubby Jay Z stayed quiet about their involvement in the black lives matter movement. They were called out for being uninterested in their own cultural roots and the importance behind the movement. In reality, they were responsible for many anonymous donations and actively participated in the organization.

Their philanthropy is not what makes Bey successful, but what makes it powerful is the fact that she chose to keep it under wraps. Because her involvement was not well known, her hit single Formation took the nation by storm as it brought forth a public rise in appreciation and involvement of the black community.

Secrecy in new products is already a common tactic, but releasing it with little anticipation could help boost its popularity. Granted, this product or service has to be revolutionary in order to mimic the effect Formation had because with little advertisement and knowledge of a newly met need, traction can be difficult to create.

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NEVER BE “OFF” 

What do we mean by this? We are talking about basic social media marketing rules–leave little blank space. Yes, Beyoncé holds back on addressing rumors in interviews, but her social media and music never stops feeding information to fans.

When a college guest writer from TIME Magazine decided to say Beyoncé is not a trendsetter for fashion, the entertainment icon restrained from bitter tweets but posted gorgeous pictures of her wearing her finest attire. Let’s not even mention the huge slap in the face that writer received when Beyoncé showed up fashionably late to the MET gala in May of 2015 in a very sheer dress with rhinestones that barely covered her body. That moment lead to celebrities of all ages and shapes to show up on red carpets in sheer shiny dresses.

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How does this change the social media marketing game?

It creates a constant craving for the future product. Had Beyoncé stopped actively posting pictures that slay on social media, her brand would have taken a huge hit and her secret albums may not have been as widely anticipated.

For example, her Lemonade album (second secret visual album) dropped last week strategically after a month of making her fans thirsty for more after releasing Formation.
MAKE IT IMPORTANT 

Why was your Facebook spammed with Beyoncé’s Lemonade content/responses the minute it dropped and why has the exposure lasted this long?

Because the album mattered. Not only was Beyoncé talking about marital problems, but it was relevant to so many people who aren’t normally represented in the media (without stereotype attached).

Lyrically, the album talks about hard times, overcoming challenges, and forgiving mistakes. Everyone has gone through similar experiences and most can relate to her situation in one shape or another. More importantly, the album was not her usual dance-inducing party music that we have grown accustomed to since Destiny’s Child’s reign over the world. Lemonade had chain mail rhythms, slavery references, and inspirational lyrics for black women who have gone through marginalization. Malcolm X references motivate the black population to not stop fighting for their justice. Of course, she is going to cause conversation when her album has such raw experiences bleeding through the production, detailing events like infidelity to America’s ugly history of enslavement and oppression.

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What if your product/ company doesn’t have any sociopolitically-charged connections to focus on?

Well, that can’t be true.

Companies are proud to represent movements like reducing the carbon footprint, ethical manufacturing practices, donations to relatable causes, etc. Let your consumers know about why your products are made with ethically sound decisions and avoid simply stating that they’re being made a particular way. Share the importance behind your actions. Don’t talk about activism like your company is superior for doing so, but encourage other companies to follow in your footsteps. Embrace Beyoncé and help create a voice for an issue that matters.

 

 

Distinct, Not Different

When you log onto the web, you might have several tabs open on your browser that connect you to several social media sites. You have Facebook open because your mom messaged you and you need to message her back. You have Twitter open because you’re waiting on Kylie’s new lip kit to release. You have your phone in your hand, too. Your finger is scrolling through the various photos posted by your favorite accounts on Instagram.

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There are hundreds of thousands of other people sitting in the same exact position right now. Whether or not they have a goal when they flip on their screens, people are soaking up tons of online content.

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Businesses often have a tendency to erect too many social media platforms or forget to include social into their marketing at all. This could be due to a variety of reasons.

  1. So many people are connected and businesses have the misconception that they need everyone’s attention right away.
  2. So many platforms exist where very distinct communities form and thrive.
  3. They do not think of social media as a marketing tool because it’s “social.”
  4. Politics and ideologies around the internet get in the way of communication. (One example of this is older generations who own companies assuming that millennials are a homogeneous. They aren’t.)

 

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When businesses can break down these misconceptions and use the internet to create humanizing personas for their target markets, that’s when they will reach the people. The goal for social isn’t about reaching a lot of people; it’s about reaching the people that will benefit from the business’ product or service.

Get Your Audience To Work for You

As we start looking at social media through an analytical lens based off of concepts we are learning in class, we have found our personal interactions generated some effective and unique campaigns.

These marketing campaigns involve direct consumer interactions. One viral sensation that appeared on Instagram last week was the Powerpuff Girls avatar generator. Many millennials identify with the iconic cartoon because they grew up watching the show and wishing they were bad-ass, crime-fighting, super girls like those portrayed in the cartoon. These avatars were popping all over social media, and introduced the exciting news of a Powerpuff Girls reboot on Cartoon Network!

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We discovered that many of our peers were using the powerpuffyourself.com generator to share their unique Powerpuff characters that resembled their actual features and styles. Many other blogs featured this campaign because of how diversified the features and styles were!

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Social media marketing offers us more than just adorable new avatars. Marketers are given an insight as to how people want to interact with companies and their new products, which is crucial because the customer knows best. This is a line popularly coined for the customer service industry, but we are seeing its relevance in all industries. What the customer knows is that they are sick and tired of pop up ads, they are frustrated with constant promotions being shot their way, and as a result, they no longer pay attention to traditional advertisements.

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Because of this, it is detrimental that campaigns interact with the customer in a two-way conversation. Technology is offering us a unique platform where creativity can be expanded farther than a catchy slogan, but an experience can be created. This interaction can be captured through unique apps that create nostalgia like the Powerpuff Girls campaign. The marketers must have understood that because the fan-base of millennials have been waiting for the show’s reboot, Instagram was the best platform for image sharing. Successful interactions can be created with intriguing or relevant video, image, or blog posts that offer the customer insight to more than just the product.

All About Relationships

After going through the second week of the quarter, we are just beginning our journey with Muses and learning about the wonderful world of Social Media Marketing. Our group consists of four fantastic ladies, each invested in making Muses shine in the fashion industry!

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Allison Meyer, Mariana Osuna, Britt Parent, and Skyler White have been assigned to create a marketing plan for this non-profit company dedicated to training refugees and immigrants in the apparel production scene of Seattle. We are excited and motivated to work with them to improve awareness of the work that they do by evaluating their social media landscape and creating relevant and interesting content to engage with.

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Photo Credit: Muses Seattle Facebook

In addition to our projects, we explored some of the basics of Social Media Marketing. Our collected insight, thanks to instructor Joe Barnes, is that Social Media Marketing works best by establishing, making and maintaining relationships with the business’ followers. 

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Successful businesses are those that show their customers that care by engaging with them in a two-way conversation on social media, like Twitter or Facebook. If a business is successful in creating the relationship, the content must force audiences to enter the conversation with the business. This helps companies rise beyond the scope of other competitors. Using these ideas, our group will try to make sure that the conversation keeps going between the audience and Muses. 

For further updates on our progress with Muses and the Social Media Marketing course, make sure to follow our blog and let us know what you think! If you’d like to keep up with news from Muses Seattle, click here