With the advent of Web 2.0, a number of new media tools have been introduced to help people connect and share ideas. For the communications professional, an understanding of these tools is critical for reaching the modern public: while television is the number one source adults turn to for news, 21% use the Internet as their primary source of news surpassing newspapers, magazines and radio (Saad, n.d.). I chose three new media tools – widgets, Instagram and Twitter – to try out and review from the vantage point of a marketing professional. Here is what I found out:
“A widget is a stand-alone application that can be embedded” on a website (Web widget, n.d.). Widgets include interactive maps, polls/surveys and “photo and video viewers” (Widgets, n.d.). Snacktools enables you to create free widgets through a fairly simple process (see a screen shot of their website below). You have the option of signing-in using Facebook, Twitter or Google (I love this! It saves so much time.). You can choose to create a slideshow, an audio or video playlist, polls, surveys, a flip book or create notification bars. (Examples are provided to show you what each widget looks like.)
I chose to create a poll on social media. After signing-in, there was a really fast and easy three-step form to fill out:
Step One: fill-in the question and answer options for your poll
Step Two: customize the look of the survey (there are various background color and design options)
Step Three: publish
You can publish to Facebook, WordPress, tumblr, Blogger and a number of other social media sites. However, with the free version, I don’t think there is a way to upload the survey directly onto your site. Instead, it shows up as a link back to Snacktools. (I posted a link to my survey in the post below this.)
A widget could be used to target just about any audience. Polls, surveys and other interactive content are widely used on websites for many different purposes. As my survey asked for opinions on social media, a younger audience would likely be more attuned as they utilize social media extensively.
Instagram is a photo sharing and editing site. I downloaded the free app for Instagram on my iPhone. If you sign in using Facebook, all you have to do is create a user name and password. The site then imports your Facebook friends on Instagram and asks if you want to follow them. Easy!
Once you are set-up, you can upload photos to the site. Instagram then takes you through a series of editing options that include adjustments to highlights, sharpness, saturation, etc. It also allows you to place a filter on the pix for effect. You can then share your photo on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr or Flickr. Here is a photo of my son I uploaded to Facebook using 3 different filters:
According to Business Insider, Instagram is most widely used by 18-34-year-olds (Smith, 2014). It also attracts more female and urban users (Smith, 2014). This would be a great site for reaching those demographics. Instagram is also a great tool for media professionals who want to use images to reach people but don’t have access to professional photo editing tools.
Twitter is a micro-blog site. It allows you to create and send messages using 140 characters or less. You can also follow other people and organizations: their tweets show up on your Twitter feed like a RSS feed. Twitter uses hashtags to categorize posts by keywords.
Setting an account up was simple and fast: Twitter asks you about some of your interests to personalize your Twitter feed, uploads your email contacts and voila! You’re ready to go! (Below is a screen shot of my Twitter page right after I created it.)
Although this is the simplest tool I chose, I think Twitter has the greatest potential to reach audiences. The ease of use (it’s like texting to the public) enables messages to get good traction really fast. Twitter’s use of hashtags also enables you to track engagement with your messages so you can experiment with what works best. Conducting a quick Google News search of “viral on Twitter” results in a few really high profile news items from the past month:
“#WeaselPecker image goes viral on Twitter” (Cullinane, 2015)
“Dress Color Debate Goes Viral on Twitter” (Rahman, 2015)
“#NeverTellMeTheOdds Goes Viral on Twitter…” (Diente, 2015)
I don’t think a post on Instagram or a widget on your website has the potential to reach millions the way a viral tweet does.
Cullinane, S. (2015, March 3). #WeaselPecker image goes viral on Twitter – CNN.com. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/03/europe/uk-woodpecker-weasel/
Diente, T. (2015, March 9). #NeverTellMeTheOdds Goes Viral On Twitter Following Harrison Ford’s Plane Crash. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://au.ibtimes.com/nevertellmetheodds-goes-viral-twitter-following-harrison-fords-plane-crash-1427841
Rahman, A. (2015, February 26). Dress Color Debate Goes Viral on Twitter. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/dress-color-debate-goes-viral-778218
Saad, L. (n.d.). TV Is Americans’ Main Source of News. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://www.gallup.com/poll/163412/americans-main-source-news.aspx
Smith, C. (2014, August 17). Here’s Why Instagram’s Demographics Are So Attractive To Brands. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/instagram-demographics-2013-12
Web widget. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_widget
Widgets. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2015, from https://www.aids.gov/using-new-media/tools/widgets/