Archive for May, 2011

Hello infographic, goodbye pie chart

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Much like fashion, website design has trends that come and go. Depending on your age, you might remember the days when websites were reminiscent of the Vegas strip, with all the bells and whistles the designer could cram onto a screen.

bad website

Click on it--the colors scroll!

Thankfully, most of today’s sites are more refined. According to “The State of Web Design Trends,” one of the up and coming trends is infographics. This term is fairly new to me and, as the name implies, refers to a graphic representation of information. If you’re unsure of the benefits of infographics, here is an infographic about infographics:

infographic about infographics

With color, images and a flexibility you just can’t get from Excel, infographics are the charts and graphs of the 21st century. According to marketing professional and blogger Pam Dyer, an infographic is more effective at communication than its predecessors because it translates complex data into an easily understandable format. In her words, “charts and graphs can communicate data, but infographics turn data into information.”

Take Obama’s $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Plan. All politics aside, how many people really understand how that enormous sum of money is broken down? Enter the infographic:

Obama's Economic Stimulus Plan infographic

Click to open the full graphic.

A New York Times article goes a step further, suggesting that infographics have the potential to “prompt visceral comprehension, moments of insight that make viewers want to learn more.” For example, regardless of how you feel about Twitter, this visual representation of how the death of Osama bin Laden spread via Twitter offers an instant appreciation of the power of this medium.

bin Laden death spread viaTwitter

It all started with a single tweet from Keith Urbahn...

Not everyone is on the infographic bandwagon though. Could this trend be another indication of just how lazy we’ve become? One blog suggests this new tool is simply a gimmick that drives website traffic without offering value to readers. This infographic might fall into that category:

coffee infographic

Count me as a passenger on the bandwagon. Like it or not, we’ve become a culture of skimmers. As a communications professional, I have some sadness about this development. As a part-time student, full-time employee, and lifetime consumer, however, I have to resort to skimming just to make it through the day. If you want to get your point across, especially if you are marketing something, then you had better do it in a succinct and appealing manner.

What do you think about infographics? Do you have any favorites to share?

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How young is too young for Facebook?

Posted on May 24, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Facebook Baby

One of the focuses in class this week is today’s youth and their seemingly innate proficiency with new media of all kinds. While I consider myself fairly tech savvy, a recent Xbox lesson from my 13-year-old nephew proved that my hand-eye coordination lags woefully behind that of today’s teens.

For these kids, technology is second-nature because it has always been a part of their lives. But are there categories of emerging media that should be reserved until their maturity is as developed as their joystick skills?

Mark Zuckerberg thinks not. The Facebook controversy du jour is whether kids under the age of 13 (the current limit as determined by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) should be allowed to use the popular social networking site.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg

Acknowledging there is no easy answer and admitting I have no children, I lean toward agreeing with Zuckerberg. As blogger Adrian noted, an estimated 7.5 million underage kids are already posting status updates, “liking” pages, and playing Farmville on a daily basis. They are already there and we can’t keep them out. Adrian suggests focusing instead on making Facebook a more kid-friendly environment. For example, allow and encourage kids to use fake names to make them less vulnerable to child predators and bullies.

If used for good instead of evil, Facebook has the potential to be a conduit for 21st century pen pals, teaching kids geography and politics, as well as the valuable lesson that we are all more alike than we are different. A article touts the many educational benefits of social media, pointing out that kids today are multi-taskers, and so we need to mirror that environment in the classroom. By incorporating new media, including social networks, into schools, children will remain engaged and be more excited about learning.

Are there dangers? Sure. Does my childless status influence my opinion? Without a doubt. Still, I feel the bus has left the station on this particular issue, and there’s no turning it around. At this point, we are best served by encouraging responsible Facebook use with proper parental guidance.

What do YOU think? Take my poll and comment below. I especially look forward to hearing the perspectives of parents and kids!

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What NPR and the European Wax Center have in common

Posted on May 15, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Hello, World! Welcome to my blog for Emerging Media and the Market, my fifth class in WVU’s Integrated Marketing Communications program. While followers of my former blog (temporarily on hiatus while I earn a master’s degree) read all about my travels, training and racing, followers of this blog will read about my thoughts on the newest media technologies.

One of the best things about this new digital world is the ease with which we can interact. So don’t be shy – post a comment! Share your insights, ask a question, play devil’s advocate or express yourself through an emoticon. Seriously, this blog is graded and comments make me look good. 🙂

Now that the introduction is out of the way, I’ll get to NPR and the European Wax Center.

I just spent three minutes skimming my Facebook newsfeed and discovered that Julian thinks Hardball is a good movie, Kate is doing a walk to raise money for Children’s Hospital Boston, NPR wants to speak to expectant mothers for an upcoming story, Pollyanna goes to the European Wax Center…and much, much more. A quick peek at my Twitter account offers mentions of Myers and Chang, The GAP, Spirited Gourmet…and so on. You get the picture.

In his tech and gadget blog, PC Mike discusses how social media has changed “word of mouth” to “world of mouth.” With smartphones, apps, texting and the Internet, it’s easier than ever before to get brand recommendations, even while standing in the supermarket aisle. This is a boon for us consumers since we trust each other much more than we trust advertising.

Types of Advertising Trusted by Internet Users

But it’s also a win for businesses – at least the ones who are quick to adapt to and embrace new media. Think about it, how often do you mention brand names in your status updates, blogs or tweets? While checking in to Target on Foursquare isn’t exactly a glowing recommending, it lets all your followers know you shop there and puts the company’s name in their minds, if only for a brief moment. Compared with the thousands of dollars businesses pay for billboards, social media is cheap, quick and potentially far-reaching.

According to Alterian’s Eighth Annual Survey, however, a lot of marketers admit to being behind the curve. Seventy percent reported having “little understanding of social media conversations surrounding their brand,” while 75% feel “their brand is at risk of not being as engaged with customers as it should be.”

What are some brands that you feel “get” emerging media and are using it effectively to engage you?

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