Community Engagement Showcase

The core idea that works in modern marketing and in social media marketing is building an online community – a community that cares about your message. When you provide something of value, people will be excited to be part of your company or project. Many appreciate true community services and original projects become easily active. University if Nevada, Reno is providing community based learning experience and stimulates community research that will address community issues.

On Thursday, April 24th, the Office of Service & Civic Engagement (OSLCE) hosted the first UNR Engagement Showcase. Students presented projects in categories that provide service, create change and apply community research. Marlene Rebori, Director of OSLCE at UNR opened the ceremony:

“I want you to consider the showcase a marketplace of ideas – learn, converse, engage, share different aspects, network with each other and inspire!”

Truly there were multiple interesting projects that give something of value to the community. Between a recycle bike, wilderness awareness, and the food bank projects the one that stood out to me the most was a project conducted by the School of Community Health Sciences. One of the courses they offer includes a field study abroad. Recent project that students worked on was a women protection trip to Kenya. Future courses will be taken to Turkey, Cuba and Kenya in a matter of public health.

IMG_2134During the event a presidential award for excellence in engagement was given to a group of biochemistry students. Morgan Hines and Sumayya Bekkun presented the Food and Tobacco demographics of Washoe County. The group recognized that rich food availability is correlated to Tobacco usage in certain neighborhoods.

I personally engage in a project that provides value to Reno’s startups and to UNR students. UNR Tech Connect is a project that we presented in the engagement case.

We developed the project in a Participatory Journalism graduate course. After two month of design thinking, interviews, research and information processing we came up with UNR Tech Connect. It is a news site and an upcoming event – a startup career fair. I am glad to take a part in a project that got such a positive response from the startup community, UNR, EDAWN, City of Reno and other sponsors. The project proved to me that great ideas that are important to the community get the desired recognition. Please follow my blog to get news about connections that serve a community. This principle works for successful marketing and social media campaigns.

IMG_2148

 

 

Advertisements

Google Land

Google is one the most desirable companies that people want to work at. It is known for being able to provide the most comfortable environment for its employees. Even though it is a corporate company with more than forty thousand employees, the building offices represent a playful environment. The company’s strategy is to hire the smartest and the most determined employees from diverse backgrounds that speak various languages. Open-minded culture and creative interaction areas are designed to encourage the best outcome form the working minds.

IMG_0451

We visited Google as part of a filed trip last week, which was organized by the graduate journalism class at UNR. The main focus of the trip was Design Thinking work atmosphere and process. We visited IDEO, Google and the d.school in Stanford about which I wrote in a previous post. My impression about the work culture in Google was that it is very creative and playful, yet very professional and technologically modernized.

In each building that we visited and in between the buildings there are many areas of interaction, such as cafes, cafeterias, and hangout areas with colorful comfortable couches. Google employees can enjoy a variety of food cuisines at the cafeterias for breakfast, lunch and dinner. From the Indian food to sushi and organic kitchens, the nutritional advantage is provided to employees, with caffeine stops available at any moment. The management does not want anyone to worry about anything beyond the frame of the Google glasses. Landry services, baby day care center and charge station for electric cars are also available on the site.

photo (19)

Colorful sculptures are spread out inside and in between the buildings. For example the front of the Android Building looks like a sweet yard from Hansel and Gretel. Seriously, there are enlarged cookie figures in front of the building. Colorful bikes are available at the entrance of each building, in case employees or visitors are tired from walking around. There is even a volleyball court with send, for those who need to get the blood streaming. In the lobby of the main building, where Google collects the information of all the visitors there were many art-tech activities. There were also few screens at which visitors can have a full experience of Google Earth. I enjoyed finding my parents home in Israel, starting at the full vision of the globe and by slowly zooming into Haifa, Israel.

 

 

It was exciting to view the culture at Google. Of course there is a big difference between a first time visitors to a long-term employee. But when someone enjoys such facilities as part of the daily work routine, I am sure that this atmosphere is encouraging fast and efficient results. Especially in the high tech world, structural thinking needs the brakes to continue creativity and efficiency. If you are interested to hear more about creative professional environments, feel free to follow my blog!

IMG_0453

Design and creativity is the new way to solve global problems!

Is there a right or wrong way to get to the final solution? Truly, the sky is the limit when it comes to creative thinking process. Many companies today use the Design Thinking process to develop the most brilliant ideas and products. New products or services must stand out in today’s innovative, fast-paced tech environment. People can develop great ideas while collaborating in a design setting. Design thinking process is generation of multiple ideas that fennel organically into a result that helps a need of a community.

It was fascinating to observe Design Thinking processes and workspaces during a field trip to d. school in Stanford, Android building in Google and IDEO. The trip was originated as a part of a graduate Participatory Journalism class, at the University of Nevada, Reno.  The atmosphere, work process and workspaces in d. school and IDEO were both screaming freedom of expression.  The design program in Stanford is focusing on global challenges of the complex business and social environments.

IMG_0434Hannah Mensing a product design graduate student took us around the classes in d. school, a combination of workshops that I have not seen before. White boards, sticky notes and sharpies were the most used materials in those classes. Students have the option to work in different arrangements of furniture with various crafty accessories and machinery to produce the idea in mind.

Design process is bringing diverse minds together to develop an idea with creativity, yet with definite strategic goals. The projects in d. school can focus on tech-oriented ideas that match the Silicon Valley professionalism or non-profit projects that will serve the global community of the developing countries. One example that design students were working on was a Nicaragua Fruit-bread project. Project’s direction was developing a solution that Nicaraguan rural citizens can use to strengthen the economic resilience.

 

IMG_0436

I already mentioned the two core principles of design thinking – creativity and rationality. The main principle that Hannah and Steve Bishop from IDEO were both talking about was empathy. During a design process people can be sensitive to the environment. Group members can belong to a different experience stage in which case the leaders should encourage their creativity thinking. The process of creative thinking to accomplish the most original result is a process of full collaboration between the members.

IMG_0438

The design process takes more notable effort that the process of project execution. In contrast, the actual time of the project should take three times longer than the brainstorming process. The first step often involves prototyping and figuring of project images. In many cases, the project seems ta take the right direction, but during the execution ideas may hit the “dark knight” space, meaning that results don’t look as they were planned. In other cases, events like that could end a project, but design thinking process allows continuity of creative work towards redirection towards creation of a better idea.

UNR Tech Connect bringing Startups and Students together!

Can Reno be the next innovative ecosystem? By looking at the local startup development in downtown, the surrounding area and the talent at the University of Nevada – Reno has a great chance of building an innovative community. A group of graduate journalism students at UNR recognized the need of a connection between the startup community and the university. Students, members of the startup community and the faculty of UNR all agreed that a communication channel between the two will be beneficial for a future of a better economy.

UNRTC_Square_Social Media

Photo Credit – UNR Tech Connect and Reynolds School of Journalism, UNR.

UNR Tech Connect is dedicated to provide information and engage in events that will minimize the gap between the startup community to students and between other local communities.  There are two main ways of interaction between the tech community to students at UNR. One way is personal interaction in engaging events and the other one is following up-to-date news about local startups and development of different communities.

There is an emerging startup community centered geographically around First Street in downtown Reno. Key members of the startup companies located in that area, which is called the Startup Row were excited to participate in a first event of connectivity The Biggest Little Startup Fair is a career fair that will be held at the Marketplace in downtown on May 9th. Fifteen startup companies will be presenting job and internship opportunities at this open event. The event is also supported by EDAWN, The City of Reno, and few sponsors.

The event and other tech news will be notified on UNRTechConnect.com – a site that is managed by graduate journalism students from Reynolds School of Journalism.

Here is a quote from the About Us page from the website:

“UNR Tech Connect provides information and news about the local tech startup community. This website will also serve as a notification center for events organized by members of the local startup community.”

Current and future event information is available on the site, along with an interactive tech map and directory.

 UNR Tech Connect is also engaging with students and startup members on social media. The group is hosting weekly Twitter chats that focus on tech subjects and what’s happening in the local communities. Participating in those chats is a great way to meet students, local entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals.

More information is available on the Twitter by following @UNR_TechConnect.

I encourage students, startup personnel and local business owners to follow UNRTEchConnect.com. As more people will engage in local development and news about innovation and entrepreneurship in the city of Reno, the goal of becoming the next innovative ecosystem will get closer.

Social Media Storytelling – Why It’s Important to Create Content for a Small Business

You don’t have to be a marketing expert to create engaging content for your customers, it will develop with persistency and passion to the nature of your business. If you want to get the attention from your audience, you must provide valuable content that will differentiate you from the competitors. Valuable content is what will get you the additional revenue. Multiple content tips were given at the Reno AMA Marketing Workshop last Thursday at the University if Nevada, Reno. One of the speakers was focusing on content creation for small businesses to expand brand awareness. Dave Polivy from Tahoe Mountain Sports shared his experience on how to create great content that your audience will love:

“Why to do it?

  • It’s Free
  • It’s Fun
  • Engaging for your team and staff
  • It’s unique
  • It will set you apart because you are trying!”
photo (14) copy

Photo taken by Alexandra Gurevich during AMA Marketing Workshop (Content Marketing for Small Business by Dave Polivy, Tahoe Mountain Sports)

The first rule is to have fun with content! As anything else in life when you are enjoying your work the results will be outstanding. People recognize content that presented with a good energy and follow it. Showing that you care and documenting that activity for social media content is a great way to build trust with the community.

As we know by now, content can be shared in a blog and social media story telling. You can read more about branded story telling in my previous blog post. A must have, the easiest to make and the most sharable content is an About Me Video. Dave almost creamed in his presentation that “If you don’t have an About Us Video yet, make one right now!”

People appreciate educational content. That is why product guidance videos and product reviews can be also shared by the many. Posting a How to…. Video on youtube is a great way to link traffic to your site. For example, I was working on my yard this week because of the coming up summer. I was searching on  Youtube about how to mow a lawn. I found useful videos online and that I thought to myself, what a great way for a small business to enrich traffic by providing such advise. Clear and educational videos received between 30,000 to 130,000 view in two to five years, which is a lot of traffic for a small business.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 8.46.36 AM

For the Dave and his team content creation came naturally and even created by accident, but because it was amusing to some, their business acquired a serious crowd of online followers. As you approach content creation for your website and social media platforms do it with intention and a clear goal to increase the number of follower, likes, traffic to the website, brand awareness and mostly important increase revenue! To hear more about content marketing for a small business and success storytelling stories, please follow my blog!

Who are the Users of Social Media News?

Here are few facts that prove that most adults in the United States are using social media. It’s not just a place to connect with the community and to find the reflection of your identity. Many use social media as a source of news. In fact, during braking news events, social media post become handy for journalist to find details and current information about the event. People are tired of traditional news sources as they’re tired of traditional advertising. On social media and online search, people can find the story of their interest without flipping pages. It’s all about a matter of time; we just don’t have the time to consume information that we don’t truly care about.

Here are some facts about the users of social media in the United States. Those facts are taken from a research conducted by the Pew Research Center.

  •  62% of adults use social media
  • 60% are using Facebook
  • 19% – Linkedin
  • 18% – Pinterest
  • 15% – Twitter
  • 2% – Reddit

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 9.12.01 PM

Facebook is the largest social network in the US and half of it’s users get the news on the site. While the percentage of Twitter users is lower, the news readers on this site are half of the visitors. On Reddit 62% of the users read the news on the site. Youtube also plays a role in news delivery; 50% of the adults use the site and 10% read the news.

Detailed demographics of social media users and news readers can be found in this report – News Use Across Social Media Platform conducted by Pew Research Center.

There is human voice, a personalized voice in social media postings during the time of braking news. Not only the readers are getting news on social media sites, but also journalists are looking for news sources. Twitter serves as a popular tool for news sourcing by using the Advanced Search Tool. The key is to search for words that witnesses would use, such as: My on Train. The fact that people are on social media, not just to interact with friends, but for other reasons such as news gathering. That means that every company should be present on social media because that’s where people spend their time.

Are you interested in facts about social media users today? I will be posting similar articles in my future blogs…

 

 

What is the Future of Virtual Reality Communications?

What is the future of communication via technology? What will be the next gadget of social interaction? I can’t predict the future, but I am curious about how two worlds – social media and virtual reality will be incorporated together.

 

13259765654_84dcaea3d4_o

Photo Credit – TED Conference

Few days ago, Facebook bought Oculus, a virtual reality company for $2 billion. My question is what is Facebook’s strategy by acquiring the virtual company and how the company is planning to incorporate three-dimensional reality into social media. Facebook bought a company’s virtual reality Rift headset.  For both companies the press speech is that this is the new way of communications and the future for tech developers.

Prior to this acquisition, Facebook purchased companies that developed app technology. This is the first time that the company is getting involved with a hardware product. The bright side of the deal is that Facebook and Oculus together will have the talent and the financial funds to develop high quality virtual reality products. On the other hand this deal was upsetting to crowdfunders of Oculus, some video games developers and even virtual reality game players.

Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post: “After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.”

It is exciting to see the development of technology. This seems like the ultimate way of new communications. One of their plans is to develop live media platforms for education and other group interactions.  For the game and technology lovers out there, this tool may be exciting, but for some it will replace the face-to-face real-time of communications. This partnership will create new experiment of communications. This is a beginning to a sharable virtual space that can be shared for different purposes. This can be a new way of communications to follow and research. This relationship will definitely has an outcome on the gaming industry, but my interest is how it will affect social media marketing.

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about wearable technology. Now there is a new turn from wearable technology to wearable virtual reality. If you’re interested in similar news about technology and communications, join me and follow my blog…

Another Country Blocks Social Media – A Challenge to International Social Media Marketing?

8583949219_f55657573e_b

Photo Credit

Social media is truly an amazing tool for marketers to reach the worldwide audience. You can get the message out to the whole world in a matter of minutes. Well, not always. More and more countries today block social media sites. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter – the most popular social media sites in most of the world.

Last Thursday, March 27th Turkey banned YouTube, just few days after they banned Twitter. As the local elections are coming up, Turkish prime minister decided to block sources of information stream that can be harmful politically. The red flag for the Turkish government was a video leak of government officials discussing war attempts against Syria. Turkey is blaming Twitter, Facebook and YouTube as sites that distribute false information.

Prior to Turkey, few other countries decided to block social media:

China blocked Facebook in 2009, after the deadly Uighur riots. The government discovered that the activists were using Facebook and took over the control on the Internet.

North Korea restricts social media and provides very limited access to the Internet. It is not surprising due to Kim Jong-un’s dictatorial isolation of the country form the rest of the world.

Iran – Banned Facebook, Twitter, YouTube in 2009 also due to a political matter of opposing governmental groups.

Vietnam – In 2009 Vietnamese Facebook users reported that the site is not accessible.

Facebook was also banned from Pakistan, Syria, and Eritrea, while partial restrictions appeared in Egypt and Cuba.

Some of those countries may share restricted governmental principles, but the fact is that restrictions on social media are expanding globally. When you are thinking to spread the world on social media internationally, it’s good to research the political norms of this country and predict the direction of their regulations upon social media. Which country will be the next to block social media? Please share your thoughts in comments…

Surprise me with Humor and Interactive Creativity – Great Guerrilla Marketing Ads

When one is struck by an element of surprise, this moment stays in the memory for a long time. Guerrilla marketing ads must be unique and with a taste of imagination. It is clear that people are tired from traditional advertising and being talked at. Social media marketing becomes handy today because it encourages conversation. Guerrilla marketing also operates on a personal, social manner. An unexpected activity leaves a stronger impression and deepens the roots between a company and a potential consumer. Jay Conrad Levinson defined Guerrilla Marketing in his book in 1984 and more guerrilla marketing definitions are available on his website.

The main principle of this marketing technique is to yield the maximum results at the lowest cost possible. That is why this marketing technique was designed for small businesses with small budget. Big companies also adapted the guerrilla marketing and some companies do a brilliant job. Since people are tired from traditional advertising, creative and personalized marketing works well for the big sharks. Guerrilla marketing can leave a more positive impression than  social media marketing for the large companies. Nobody pays attention to large company’s advertisement on the side of their Facebook page. It works for businesses that target consumers demographically or geographically.

Here are few examples of how large companies create ROI from guerrilla marketing in fun ways:

3331504998_c345310c4e_o1 – Large graphic print for Frontline – a flea medicine.

From above this huge print of an itching lab creates an imaginary view that the people walking on the ad look like fleas. That is a great ad from the perspective of the image and a good joke always stays in the memory.

 

 

 

2 – IKEA – Billy shelf in Bondi Beach Australia

For the 30th anniversary of the Billy shelf – IKEA’s top selling item, IKEA set up a display of the largest Billy shelf on the beach in 2010. The random setting, the red color on the sand and books available for grab from the shelf created a buzz about this ad as one of the most creative guerrilla marketing campaigns.

 

 

3 – Coke’s dancing vending machine

Coca-Cola is known to be one of the entertainers when it comes to guerrilla marketing. Their actions evolve games, dancing competitions that come as a surprise, while customers purchase drinks at Coke’s vending machines. The following video from 2012 of a dancing vending machine at a Korean shopping mall created huge excitement from the youngsters and rewarded them with a free drink. Click here to see the video!

Those companies successfully launched those campaigns with yield ROI because they all followed the elements of guerrilla marketing. They were set up in surprising locations in an interactive way with the audience. Those ads encouraged positive response from the audience based on humor and playful atmosphere. Those creative ways of advertisement will stay in someone’s memory and will be transferred as a story to their friends. Creativity and fun interaction with the audience is a key in modern guerrilla marketing and in social media marketing practices.

What funny guerrilla marketing did you see recently? Please share in comments…

Tahoe PaddleBoarding – Lifestyle and Adventure!

Today I want to talk about branding products as lifestyle. Companies that sell lifestyle products target an audience with a need of identity and belonging to a cultural group. We can see lifestyle purchases in technology, luxury cars, fashion and designer products, and sport equipment. Companies that market lifestyle product often relate to that consumer identity.  We can see that relation in outdoor products where both the customer and the founding innovators live an active, healthy and extreme lifestyle.

Lakesore4

 Tahoe defiantly is a center to an outdoor cultural lifestyle. Skiing and snowboarding take place in the winter, camping and kayaking in the summer, but my favorite outdoor sports is paddle boarding. The feeling of cruising on top of various shades of blue of Lake Tahoe is truly magical. Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) started taking off in 2005 and standup paddle boarding for flat-water developed in Tahoe in 2009. It’s a sport of fitness, fun and adventure that fits for all family members – kids, adults and even dog lovers can cruise with their four-legged friend.

My favorite local brand is the Lake Shore PaddleBoard Company, which is an innovator company of that sport and lifestyle. Their boards designed for flat-water lakes, rivers and the open ocean water. With a sharp vertical shape, those boards designed for better balance and gliding with speed. Standup paddle boarding became the most popular sport in Tahoe during the summer. Racing events take place all over the lake.  A good spot to see paddle-boarding lifestyle in action Race the Lake of the Sky in South Lake Tahoe, coming up ion the end of June.

lakeshore 5What makes paddle-boarding a catchy lifestyle is that it fits all ages that live in outdoorsy areas and it’s family friendliness. On the other hand it is a competitive sport for advanced athletes.  It’s a satisfying sport because you can get from one destination to another while enjoying the sun, water and the view. That is a win-win situation when nature, fun and fitness are combined. Follow my blog if you’re interested to hear more about fun product, interesting people and events. Looking forward for the summer!