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Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Theresa Decker, Jason Lamb, Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler on the social media and teens panel.

Recently I was asked to speak as part of a panel discussion on social media use and teenagers as part of a panel discussion at my church, Grace Fellowship Church. Below you will find the questions along with my answers as a parent and as someone who appreciates both the positive and the more dangerous side of social media. Of course Instagram, twitter, vine and Snapchat were named as some of the more popular platforms with today’s generation while Facebook still thrives among “old” people (read: parents.)
Introduction:
1. Before I share my interest in social media just a quick funny story about how the world is changing so rapidly. The other night I saw my 11 year old son doing what I thought was playing on the iPad and I asked him to put down the iPad and do his homework! Whoops! He said “Mom, I am doing my homework!” He absolutely was! He was  doing his vocabulary homework and looking up words on dictionary.com on the iPad. Point is: we must always be thinking in new and different ways and his version of how to do homework is quite different from mine (remember pencil and paper?)
I have worked in and around social media since 2008. As a parent I am very interested in staying on top of trends and keeping up with what is out there. I even look over his shoulder when he’s playing Minecraft just to see who else is or could be in on the game. I believe as parents we need to know who our children are communicating with online. It used to be we worried about the creep down the road at the playground but now that playground is a virtual playground and we need to be just as vigilant if not more so than before.

2. What has been the number one benefit of social media both in your
professional experience and your personal life?

My embrace particularly of twitter was a game changer in terms of getting me first interviewed by TV news when I first started my business and them actually creating a TV news series called “Social Media 101” that aired on the evening news. I have been asked to do public speaking on many occasions because of my knowledge and use of social media. I have been asked to speak at conferences and on this panel because of social media. Sarah Kinsler and I will be attending a conference in Atlanta this week strictly on the basis of colleagues I have met through the #soloPR twitter chat I’ve been involved with since founding my business. In terms of my clients I have assisted my political PR clients with gaining a presence on social media for the past five years. Currently I am assisting Lisa Rice in her political campaign for Criminal Court Judge Part 1. At first she resisted going on Facebook because she uses it against people in court. Her view has changed now because she sees the importance of this new “word of mouth.” On a personal note Facebook enables me to keep up with dear old friends and family.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

The MarketingMel team hammed it up when the discussion turned to #selfies.

3. What has been the biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media
that you have experienced?

The biggest threat/abuse/downfall of social media is probably the people who are using it for illegitimate means and who target cyber “victims.” You have to be savvy and I don’t think young children can always differentiate between good and bad. I also see how social media targets you by the demographics they have on you. If you don’t believe me, log on as someone else. I used to log on as a male client sometimes and would get completely different ads. I met a man at a conference who was considered a “god” of social media. He spoke all around the world on the subject. He had thousands of followers and “friends.” (Zuckerberg’s rewritten the meaning of the word friend) but this man tragically took his own life. The thing that absolutely makes me want to cry was the story of the young girl who had been cyber bullied and she took her own life by jumping off a tower. That was such a needless tragedy. BTW I make it my policy to never friend anyone less than 13 on Facebook. I just don’t want to have anything to do with a child that young on Facebook for many different reasons.

4. If you could communicate only one caution about social media to
parents, what would that be?

My caution about social media to parents would be that you must be vigilant. Do not bury your head in the sand. Find out who they are communicating with and what they are putting online. We all have a digital footprint that follows us from womb to beyond the grave. Make sure you know what platforms your kids are using and friend them and follow them.

Photos from our event were live streamed via Eventstagram.  We received very positive feedback from the parents who attended. What advice do you have for parents and teens concerning social media?

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Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Our personal brand is quite simply, how others perceive us. It’s what they think of when they hear our name and see our digital and in-person image.  As we move into the New Year let’s each take a quick assessment of our own personal brand and what we can do to better ourselves in 2014.

  1. Google yourself– What do you find? Is it fresh? Is it negative? Does it need a PR boost? I once advised a prospective client who was looking for start-up capital for a new venture to google himself.  A simple search produced a five year old negative news story about his business. I knew that if I saw that so would his potential investors. There are ways (creating blog posts for example) to drive the old and ugly down.
  2. Does your brand transfer to social/mobile? More and more consumers are on both social media platforms and mobile devices. According to Business News Daily, “companies will be finding new ways to target mobile devices and users.”
  3. How are you visually “showing” your personal brand? Have you made plans for a new professional head shot? If your head shot is more than a few years old it’s time for a refresh. (I’ve already made plans to see one of my favorite photographers, Tina Wilson, next week.) The article mentioned above states that Trends predictors are saying that with our short attention spans it will increasingly be a “show don’t tell” world.  How are you “showing” your personal brand?
  4. Who is your target audience? What communications channels are they using? Each year I look back at all of the new social media channels that I joined. In 2013 it was Instagram, SnapChat, WeChat (international) and Vine. I entered those channels because I’m a professional communicator eager to check out the trends, but there’s no question the “tried and true” of Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are where I connect with most of my business contacts.
  5. How do you plan to promote your brand in 2014? Through guest media appearances? Your blog? Podcasts? Social media? Your e-mail signature? Video? Civic clubs? Chamber of Commerce? Winning awards? Take time now to assess what has brought you business in the past and do more of it this year.
  6. Do you have an editorial calendar planned for 2014? Remember, social media provides a tremendous opportunity for you to be both content creator and publisher. No one knows your business like you do! Create your own content and plan ahead for the seasonality of your brand.
  7. Are you or do you expect to look for a new job or new client in 2014? If you’re reading this you are probably interested in finding new jobs or new clients. Maria Peagler and I developed a free one-hour personal branding webinar for you that includes more profit-making tips at www.personalbrandinghowto.com.

Please share what you’re doing to successfully boost your brand in the comments section below. All the best of luck to you in 2014!

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Editor’s note: The following blog post was written by MarketingMel Associate Sarah Kinsler. (Sarah and Mel tried out the Vine app in the lobby of  WJCW Radio last month before going on the air to talk about social media trends.)

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities PRSA awards.

Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler at the Tri-Cities TN/VA PRSA awards.

You can break a bull riding record, cross three state lines or experience an amazing “he’s the one” kiss. You can also post your adorable toddler’s toe-tapping hoe-down to international acclaim.

Now Twitter founders have introduced a way to capture these six second memories and share them! Vine, an app that allows users to shoot, combine and loop video is now the #1 app on iTunes. This app is quickly becoming the preferred outlet of social interaction amongst young adults and teens. However, large corporations and brands are jumping on the bandwagon as well.

But here’s the real question: Can brands tell their full story in six seconds? Maybe not the full narrative, but it is a  definite way to get a person intrigued. Including Vine in your marketing plan can increase brand awareness and add some personality to your updates and news. While a Vine video is only one-fifth of a typical commercial, it can generate buzz to a specific audience that would otherwise ignore alternative media outlets.

Which brings me to my next question: With apps such as Vine, Snapchat and Twitter, delivering information in a such a quick and effortless way is becoming the norm. What does that mean for the future of print media? Are our short attention spans going to change the process of how we get our news? What do you  think?

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(Editor’s note: This article is co-authored by Mary Ellen Miller and Sarah Kinsler, a recent ETSU Public Relations graduate and assistant to MarketingMel.)

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and intern Kristen Pierce.

Sarah Kinsler,MarketingMel assistant and Mel’s intern Kristen Pierce, leaders in the next gen social networkers.

The once great love affair between America’s youth and Facebook  is over.  The social network, once the “craze” for teens a few years back, has slowly turned into a ghost town when it comes to high school aged kids.

 

Why you ask? It’s simple. Now that Facebook has become the chosen network for the middle aged and even seniors, teens are feeling a little “crowded.”  Now they aren’t sharing info, updates, jokes with just their friends, but with Grandma too! Another reason of course is teens are all about chasing new trends and being involved in the newest networks. So adios Facebook and Hello Snapchat, vine and Tumblr.

 

Snapchat, a mobile app sharing service, lets users take short video and photos, then allows users to send as a message.The unique thing about this app however is that once the message is seen, for a very short amount of time, it self destructs (or so teens believe). This is huge right now because teens find it fun that they can live in the moment and not worry about the consequences of a photo/video being taken for a permanent record.

 

Another popular app right now (number one on iTunes actually)  is called Vine. The is app was created by Twitter to take short video clips and mash it into one looping six second short video.  (Sarah and Mary Ellen created this video on Vine while waiting to be interviewed about recent youth trends at WJCW radio last week.)

 

Tumblr is also very big right now. This app is for photo blogging and creating fun profiles that represent the user. It provides teens with a since of creativity without the extended family watching their every move.

To listen to more of our discussion on youth and social media trends please listen to our podcast.  Prior to the podcast Mary Ellen posted on both her Facebook business and personal pages about youth leaving Facebook and got a resounding “yes” from parents who agreed. What trends are you seeing in social networking and youth communications these days?

 

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