What makes an image iconic? Are all iconic images tied to an event that everyone shares?  Write a post on what makes images iconic, including some specific examples of images that would be and would not be iconic. 

Just kidding. There is no formula for creating an iconic image.  There are patterns and similarities that can be found among the existing iconic images, but a concrete and successful ‘how to’ cannot be derived form these patterns and similarities.   Martin Kemp, Oxford Trinity College professor, wrote a book called, Christ to Coke: How Image Becomes Iconic.  Kemp distills four key characteristics of icon images.  The four key characteristics that he names are:

  1. Simplicity. Enough said.
  2. Robust. The image can be simplified and recognized off of very little. (ex. Che Guevara, Mona Lisa)
  3. Good repeats. The image can be repeated over and over again side by side. (ex. Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup)
  4. Openness. The image has rich associations.

The characteristic of openness can be expanded upon to mean that the iconic images need to have relevance.  The relevance of an image can be religious, political, cultural, historical, etc., it just needs to fit into a larger meaning in some way.  Images that do not resonate with people in a significant way do not achieve icon status.  Google search almost anything and you can find the plethora of non-iconic images that are out there, especially in the digital age.  Here is a cute one of penguins, or an awkward picture of someone on the phone.  Neither of these images have the characteristics that can be found in iconic images and, not surprisingly, neither of these images are iconic.

Sources:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2011/11/what-makes-an-iconic-image-from-the-mona-lisa-to-che-guevara/248269/

http://meloukhia.net/2012/02/what_makes_an_image_iconic_when_does_that_meaning_wash_away.html

Although visuals are clearly important in advertising, most ads are also designed to ensure that the central messages convey without having to see the visuals (for people who listen to television while doing other things or navigate to other sites when an ad comes on in online video). Identify three examples of ads that are video, but have strong audio elements and analyze what, specifically, about the audio makes it compelling. How are nat sound, sound effects , music and/or voice-over used to convey the message?

Audio elements are very important in producing quality content both as a stand-alone piece and as a supplement to video.  Things to consider when composing audio are:

  • High quality. People can deal with poor video quality, but poor audio quality is very distracting and irritating.
  • Use nat sound and sound effects. Audio can put a viewer into the scene that the advertiser is creating with natural sound and sound effects in ways that video cannot achieve.  It can set the tone and elicit specific emotions in the viewer.
  • Pacing. Audio pacing can set a tone as well. It can create confusion, serenity, excitement, or any other mood if done effectively.
  • Engaging copy. It is important that the copy for the audio be engaging in some way or another.  It could be funny, or interesting, or intriguing.  No matter what, the script has to be engaging on some level.

Old Spice Commercial: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” 

The pacing of this commercial is very fast and playful.  The fast and playful pacing sets the fun tone for the advertisement.  Each of the various scene uses nat sound to bring the viewer closer to the setting of the scene. The nat sound comes in just before the video of the new setting is clear, thereby foreshadowing what is to come and creating a smoother transition.  Lastly, specifically for advertising, the jingle is very important.  The jingle is automatically associated with the brand and if it is catchy enough, the listener will repeat the jingle and spread the brand awareness.

Snickers Commercial: “Diva”

The snickers commercial combines humorous copy with good sound effects and nat sound.  The sound effects highlight the product.  The audio is also of high quality and doesn’t detract from the video.

DIRECTV Commercial: “Don’t Sell Your Hair to a Wig Shop”

The pacing is effectively used in this commercial.  It successfully illustrates the negative spiraling out of a snowball effect.  To set up each of the different environments that the subject encounters before ultimate failure, a variety of natural sounds and sound effects are created to set the tone.  Again, the copy is very engaging and humorous.

Sources:

http://www.videosound.com/home-theater/the-importance-of-quality-video-sound/

http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/importance-music-selection-advertising

Elucidate some general principles about viral videos and then examine at least 3 examples of videos that have gone viral and explain what attributes might have caused this. Conclude with some suggestions for content producers in your area of interest (narrative, for profit, not for profit)


Making a video go viral is not simply about making a good video.  A significant amount of strategy goes into making a video go viral.  Video producers need to take steps in both the production and the promotion phases to increase their chances of achieving a viral video.

Production.  Content still matters, but so do several other things.

  • Good content: while good content does not ensure your video will go viral, it is an essential first step
  • Make content short: suggested length is 15-30 seconds
  • Remix-ready: create content that can easily be remixed by others
  • Don’t blatantly advertise: consumer’s are wary of advertisers and subtle advertising is a much more successful means of creating a viral video
  • Humor: Good humor is always good practice. Embracing parody in a timely manner can often lead to success.
  • Use interesting techniques:  Use production techniques that will intrigue the viewer and make your video stand our from the thousands of other videos being put out every day. Examples of interesting techniques are stop motion, miniatures and time lapses.
  • Shock value: Create videos that make someone second guess if it is real or not.  This will propel people to explore the content more deeply by Googling it and thereby drive traffic to your website
  • Sex appeal: Never fails.
  • Quantity matters. Have lots of videos and release all of the videos at the same time so that viewers can more from one video to the next and be driven to your website.

Promotion.  Small steps along the way can make a big difference in achieving viral-dom.

  • Pump it. Use social media platforms, blogs, forums, email lists and friends to push out the video.
  • Details. Optimize titles and thumbnails to draw attention to your video.  Thumbnails with a face or at least a person have more success.
  • Controversy. Use the comments sections to create fake controversy and draw in other viewers to further the conversation and draw attention to your video.
  • Tagging. Use very unique tags in the beginning when you are trying to gain views.  Use this same tagging in all of your videos.  The process of determining ‘related videos’ is based on tags.  Using the same unique tags in all of your videos will limit the suggested ‘related videos’ and keep the viewer on your content.

Here are some examples:

Click! A LEGO Short Film

This video uses stop motion to intrigue the viewer and set it apart from other videos.  Though the video is not short, the content is excellent.  It is not a blatant advertisement of LEGOs, but it drives interest in the brand by playing on the human drive towards creativity and innovation.

UFO Haiti

This video is short, uses an intriguing title, has shock value and uses the comments section to promote controversy.  This is an example of a video where the content is not paramount to the viral nature of the video.  The promotion of this video led to it going viral.

Sony Bravia

This is a well-done advertisement.  The content is great.  The video uses stop-motion to intrigue the viewer and set the video apart from other videos.  Most importantly, the video is not a blatant advertisement.  While, in the end, the video promotes a product, the content of the video is so creative and innovative that people want to watch it over and over again, regardless of the fact that it is an advertisement.

Sources:

http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-10-14/strategy/30278478_1_viral-video-funny-videos-fun-video

http://techcrunch.com/2007/11/22/the-secret-strategies-behind-many-viral-videos/

Goal: Use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and blogging to attract sponsors and participants.  Pull in donations from sponsors and motivate participants to exercise by informing them about the benefits.

Successful campaign:

Curves Women’s Fitness

Facebook:

  • 97,255 likes
  • 2,092 talking about it

Their Facebook presence is very successful. They post engaging and relevant information very frequently.  They ask questions and inform their community with their posts. The posts are very successful in stimulating further conversation among fans.  They also post lots of multimedia, such as videos and photos.

YouTube:

  • 94 videos
  • 551 subscribers
  • 1,048,303 video views

Their YouTube channel has a huge number of views.  Their most successful videos are their workout videos.  These videos inform women and invite active participation.  They also have a testimonials campaign, where women can submit their testimonial of how Curves worked for them.

Twitter

  • 104 Tweets
  • 8 Following
  • 3,313 Followers

Twitter is not their strongest social media outlet.  They tweet about once a month. However, they do tie in their Tweets with current events (i.e. National Dance Day), tweet success stories, tweet multimedia and use a conversational tone.

Unsuccessful Campaign:

Durham Fitness

Facebook

  • 2 subscribers

Durham Fitness has a very poor social media platform.  They only have a presence on Facebook, and they have not created a page, so interested parties must either friend them or subscribe, which is more of a hassle than simply liking a page.  Their posts are weak.  They are only relevant to the organization and do not reach beyond to broader interests related to fitness that could potentially draw in more customers. 

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Audience:

All people ages 18-25.  According to a recent study, only 3% of the users on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Slashdot, Reddit, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, FriendFeed, Last.fm, Friendster, LiveJournal, Hi5, Tagged, Ning, Xanga, Classmates.com and Bebo are above the age of 65.  While 15% of users are under 17, marketing to that age group is significantly different than marketing to an adult age group.  Furthermore, the age group has a significantly larger range than the other age groups. Therefore, in order to have an effective campaign, I have limited the age group to 18-25.  I am not limiting by any other demographic factors such as race or education, because the organization is geared towards all of North Carolina.

The most active age group on social media is 35-44 year olds.  The 35-44 year olds dominate 11 out of the 19 sites surveyed.  Females make up the majority in all of the sites surveyed except for Slashdot, Reddit and Digg.  The average male to female ratio for all of the sites surveyed was 47% male to 53% female.  For Facebook, 79% of use is at home and 21% of use is at work. Twitter usage is similar with 77% being at home and 23% being at work.

Objectives

  • Use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and blogging to attract sponsors and participants.
  • Pull in donations from sponsors and motivate participants to exercise by informing them about the benefits.

Key Performance Indicators:

Facebook:

  • Shares: 200
  • Likes: 1,000

Twitter:

  • Retweets: 2 per day
  • Replies: 2 per tweet

Foursquare:

  • Check-ins: Check-ins to gyms and fitness centers can be posted to the Step Up NC Facebook page for awards.

Blog:

  • Replies/comments: 7 comments per post.

All of these Key Performance Indicators together will comprise a successful social media campaign.

Participant Profile:

Social media participants should have a basic knowledge of healthy eating and exercising habits.  More importantly, the participants should have an enthusiasm for adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Strategy

I will use Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and blogging to push content and awareness of Shape Up NC. Facebook and Twitter will be used in similar ways.  The two platforms can be used to push content about leading a healthy lifestyle.  It is a way of staying on participants’ radar.  Facebook and Twitter also allow the organization to connect with other like-minded organizations and thereby stay informed on the latest trends and topics within their realm of interests. Engaging Foursquare will allow for a healthy game environment where people are motivated to go to gyms and fitness centers.  Blogging will be a platform for deeper storytelling where organizations and individuals can provide more details and information to engage the participants.

Staffing

To initiate a successful social media campaign, I will need a:

  • Strategist: Determines when and what to post on the various social media platforms
  • Content Creator: Creates posts for the various social media platforms
  • Event Organizer: Organizes events and communicates with Strategist and Content Creator

Tweets

Tweet content related to health, exercise, and recipes in a fun way. Aiming for interesting tweets that are re-tweet worthy.

  1. The levels of some stress hormones that suppress the body’s immune system drop after a dose of laughter. #ShapeUpNC
  2. Wearing headphones for an hour increases the bacteria in your ear 700 times – yick! Wash those ears post-workout! #ShapeUpNC
  3. After eating too much, your hearing is less sharp. Eat right, hear right. #ShapeUpNC
  4. Monday is the day of the week when the risk of heart attack is greatest. Stay active and eat right! #ShapeUpNC
  5. Women who slept 5 or less hours a night were twice as likely to suffer from hypertension than women who slept 7 or more. #ShapeUpNC
  6. What’s a good #running trail in your local area? #ShapeUpNC
  7. Hesitant to try #Zumba? Don’t be http://bit.ly/hGeN0j #ShapeUpNC
  8. Can’t get over the brownie craving? Try this healthy recipe! http://bit.ly/xchqd2 #ShapeUpNC
  9. What is you favorite ‘I’m on a diet’ recipe? Tweet us a delish pic! #ShapeUpNC
  10. Who’s your workout buddy? Tweet us an action shot! #ShapeUpNC
  11.  Work out like a pterodactyl? http://bit.ly/eCXApq #P90X #ShapeUpNC
  12.  Sick of #dieting with frozen lunches? Try one of these instead http://bit.ly/H4txLB! #ShapeUpNC
  13. What does your family do to stay fit? Check this out for some #familyfun! http://bit.ly/H6yit8 #ShapeUpNC
  14. Almost Easter, tweet us some pics of you kids hunting for eggs! #ShapeUpNC
  15.  What’s holding you back from #exercising today? Tweet it and beat it! #ShapeUpNC
  16. Anyone still doing #jazzercise these days? What a throwback http://bit.ly/MRlCG! #ShapeUpNC
  17. Looking for a nice bikeride? Check out these NC trails http://1.usa.gov/H8KjjW #ShapeUpNC
  18. Hey guys, here is all you need to know about your health http://bit.ly/d5haq. #ShapeUpNC
  19. Yum! Who knew eating #healthy could taste so good! http://bit.ly/H6BnGe #ShapeUpNC
  20. Are you getting a good nights sleep? http://abcn.ws/GSuo68 stay healthy! #ShapeUpNC

Sources:

http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/02/16/study-ages-of-social-network-users/

Have a look at The Oatmeal’s cartoon How NOT to sell something to my generation. When you consider the development of social media, how has the role of the professional communicator changed since the days of Mad Men (“Advertising is based on happiness. We make the lie, we invent want.”)?  Investigate and list some best practices in social media.

Social media breaks down the communication barrier between business and the consumer.  Before social media, the only option that businesses had on a large scale was to talk to the consumer base as one large, single group.  This form of communications is called one-directional vertical engagement.  Because of this communications model, the interaction was always impersonal.

An impersonal model of communications is where the ‘make a lie, invent a want’ idea comes into play.  A lie is easier to pull off when it is impersonal.  Concerning the ‘want’, businesses need to create a want on a large scale because they don’t have the time or tools to discover the individual wants and gear the advertising to the pre-existing wants.

With the advent of social media, the communications between the business and the consumer have opened up.  Social media allows for a business to open up a conversation with the consumer and have back and forth interactions.  It also allows for the consumers to have consumer-consumer conversations about the business.  This communications model is called lateral engagement.

A business can use a Facebook page to post interesting articles, pictures, and videos.  Consumers can respond to those posts and start a conversation with the business and other consumers.  With Twitter, businesses can adopt a conversational style with their consumers.  The conversation can easily become one-to-one, with consumers and businesses tweeting at one another.  Businesses can build their own ‘culture’ or ‘personality’ by these social media platforms and others, like Pinterest.

All of these different social media outlets allow for a business to become more relatable and transparent to the consumer.  Relatability and transparency mean trustworthiness, which is essential for a good business to consumer relationship.

While social media can really help a business in it’s consumer relationships, it can only help when it is done right.  Here are some tips for how to successfully navigate the social media world as a business:

To Start:

  • Develop a strategy with an overall goal.
  • Determine which social media platform will help you to best achieve that goal.
  • Establish Key Performance Indicators for the social media platforms that you will be using.

To Keep in Mind:

  • Fill out your profile completely
  • Connect with those who share interests
  • Engage, but don’t be overtly commercial
  • Create meaningful relationships
  • Push useful and interesting information
  • Say thank you

Sources:

Solis, Brian. Social media ROI: Managing and measuring social media efforts in your organization.

http://www.netwitsthinktank.com/social-media/social-media-best-practices-12-tips-for-making-the-best-of-any-social-site.htm

People generally think the best practice for writing on the web is short and scannable and search engine optimized. Why is this? There are some exceptions – text on the web that makes people keep reading. What are the characteristics of text that keeps people reading? You must provide/analyze some examples to support your arguments. 

When writing for the web, it is generally understood that best practice is to write short, scannable pieces that are search engine optimized.  This understanding of best practice has evolved out of the idea that people have shorter and shorter attention spans, which is all too significant when someone is surfing the web.  The second the reader gets bored, uninterested, tired, or whatever, they can simply click and move on.  Suggestions for writing on the web are as follow:

  • Write short, scannable paragraphs.
  • Use bolding selectively and to highlight important points.
  • Hyperlink to interesting and pertinent information.
  • Cite sources.

Here is my take on this phenomenon; yes, it is important to have reader-friendly structure.  Small paragraphs, links, bold words and headlines are all helpful in a fast-paced reading environment. Search engine optimization is also good, but not at the expense of your content. Also, being concise and focused in your writing is important, but this does not necessarily mean you have to be short.  Which leads me to what characteristics can warrant an exception to the general rule of short, scannable, and SEO….

If the content is good enough, the content is good enough.  If an article is hilarious, like The Onion’s “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex”, and continues to be hilarious, readers keep reading.  If an article iscompelling, like the New York Times article “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant”, and continues to be compelling, readers keep reading . It’s as simple as that.  The better the writing, the less important the technicalities of writing for the web become.

Sources:

http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2009/08/20-tips-on-how-to-write-for-the-web/

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/9710a.html

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