My Take on this Course

As a communication student, I never knew there was a class on social media and PR at UoP. After conducting my survey on the impact of social media among Afghan youth last summer, my faculty advisor, Dr. Qingwen Dong recommended that I take the class.

Now after 14 weeks into the course, I think Dr. Dong’s advice was a sound one. The course has completely changed my perspective on PR, and communication in general. In a world that is so rapidly changing, catching up with the revolutionary developments in communication and online interaction is consequential for anyone, let alone for students who are majoring in communication.

What is also very unique about this course is the mix of academic and hands-on experiential methods. I not only learned concepts, processes and techniques, but also had the opportunity and time to put all the things I learned into practice. I am finishing off this course with two major take-aways. First, my understanding of the groundswell and how it is continuing to change social interaction dynamics across online world, its implication on both social and professional life, and application as I move on in my academic and professional journey. Second, the application of all the platforms and tools enabling me to operate in this emerging field.

Most of the concepts on social media and PR I learned in this course comes from the book Engage and the Groundswell. Both these books, especially Groundswell, encompass very clear and practical overview of the social media essentials and their relation to PR. Some of the main concepts I have learned are the POST, Social Technographics, personal branding, talking, listening, embracing, energizing and supporting. These concepts taught me that social media is not a one way communication channel, but a two way medium where talking is not enough (even detrimental) and individuals and organizations need to engage, provide support and listen. The techniques I learned in this class that are vital to implementing social media strategies are content curation through platforms such as Pineterest and Storify, photo sharing and management through Flicker, and location based platforms such as Foursquare.


As with every communication endeavor, analysis and impact assessment are key to the success of communication and PR. I learned a great deal about social media metrics and the tools such as Socialmention, Klout and Google Analytics that allow communication and PR professionals to gauge their performance and the impact of their campaigns.

Aside from these concepts, tactics and tools, I am now walking away with two very important social media platforms that I always ignored. Twitter was an absurd social networking platform in which I didn’t see any purpose. The term blogging was always ringing a bell, but it was never a clear concept and I never took the time to understand what its purpose was. Now, I have a Twitter account and a blog with a good understanding of both platforms and their application. These two platforms along with other ones will be great support throughout my future career.

To summarize, I am walking out of this course with a totally different perspective on social media and PR. I recommend this class as compulsory for all communication students and even suggest other students to take the course as an elective. Regardless of what field we are interested, at some point in our life we would need to have some basic understanding and skills required to comprehend the environment around us and the get the word out about ourselves, our business and our institutions.



Social Media Conversational Engagement

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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Crisis Communication

The age of Internet and social media, where every individual is a citizen journalist, presents great opportunities as well as serious threats. Throughout our class lectures and course materials, we learned how businesses make the best use of social media to develop their brand value and communicate and energize their enthusiasts. This very ability of social media can threaten individuals and businesses inflicting serious damages to their reputation and integrity.

To effectively dissuade these crises, individuals, companies and organizations employ crisis communication experts to develop strategies and practices in order to defend their reputation. Thus, crisis communication is an integral function of organizations and is managed by the public relations department. Failure to communicate crises effectively can result in disastrous consequences threatening integrity and reputation of organizations and even individuals.

A crisis could stem from media coverage of situations such as natural disasters, manmade disasters, intentional or unintentional human mistakes, false rumors, and deceptions attributed to organizations as well as individuals. To defend and minimize the disastrous impacts of these crises, organizations and individuals need to communicate and manage crises on time and effectively.

However, crisis communication in our present era is not merely about reacting to and managing the crisis. According to Brian Solis, the Groundswell and the social media has turned crisis management from a proactive to a reactive mode. In other words, individuals and organizations can’t afford to sit and wait to react when a crisis happens. Rather, crisis can be avoided before it sparks and ignites a disaster. This is done if businesses are constantly and proactively listening, engaging, responding, engaging in conversation and acting in respected humbleness.

Through these technique individuals and organizations can deploy a marketing and PR strategy that observes, listens, reacts, learns and adapts to the unlimited flow of messages, responses and reactions of individuals on the web and social media platforms.  This strategy can be aided by services aimed at a marketing and monitoring brand reputation such as Brandimensions, MotiveQuest, and Factiva.

This exciting yet challenging and complicated industry is what makes Crisis communication and management a strong candidate for me to pursue. I believe that this would be a great expertise specially when I open my own company or provide services to other companies, individuals and government and non-government institutions.

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Posted by on November 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Foursquare Mania

This week was another addition to the pool of social media platforms we covered in this class.  T

his new addition is Foursquare, an online social media

platform that helps users make the most out of where they are. The application allows users to check-in where they are, save places they visit and see what places friends are visiting and recommending.

I personally keep some level of privacy and I wouldn’t

want to disclose every place I visit. I think it is too much of getting to expose everything about what I do on a daily basis. However, there are benefits of using the app, which are useful enough to convince me to use the app without disclosing my location. Here are a few of them

–       If you don’t know the name of a place, you can search using a word that could represent the place you are looking for. For example, if you don’t know what restaurant serves spicy south Asian food, you can search for the word “spicy” and Foursquare lists all the restaurant in the area that serves spicy Indian or Pakistani food. Since the platform allows tags and lists are indexed, it makes it very easy for people to make specific searches.

–       If you are on a business trip outside your city and come across a few places that you really want to visit but don’t have the time, Foursquare allows you to easily save them directly in the app so that you can visit them later.

–       You can also save money by using Foursquare. Hundreds of business across the country offer coupons and deals for Foursquare users. You can easily filter places by places that have “Foursquare specials.”

The increasing popularity and usage of Foursquare as a location-based social media platform has drawn many businesses to start using it too. Business use Foursquare beyond pinning their business on the Foursquare map. They offer specials and coupons to attract Foursquare users and increase their revenue and popularity. Businesses can also use the statistics Foursquare offers to adapt to the evolving social consumer trends and behaviors.

To conclude, Foursquare provides a variety of ways for users to use the platform. It is user-friendly making is very easy for users to navigate through the platform. It allows users not to disclose their location but still enjoy the benefits of the platform. Last but not least, Foursquare users no longer need to find brochures to find their choice of restaurants and places to go to. They can do so by using the Foursquare application on their cell phone.

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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Uncategorized


Live-tweeting Experience

Here is the link to my live-tweeting experience on Storify.


Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized



We have learned about the Groundswell in great details. We now know the importance of social media objectives, goals, strategies and all the social media technologies available in order to build personal as well as company brands. In order to build valuable brands, companies also need to energize, engage, listen and create communities that offer value around their services. While all these efforts are underway, companies also need to evaluate their social media plans. They need to know if their social media strategy is being effective – something I call continuous assessment of social media activities.

This is where metrics come to play a very significant role. Regardless of business type or sector, all companies need metrics in order to find out if they are reaching the audience they intend to reach on social media. They need metrics in order to find out how many times they are being mentioned on both mainstream media as well as social media platforms.

Social media metrics offers four major categories or indicators that can guide companies in evaluating their social media plan:

  1. Social Media Exposure – to find out the frequency and quality of exposure brand get online.
  2. Social Media Engagement – to find out how people engage with brands online including liking, commenting and sharing.
  3. Social Media Influence – in what ways the social media plan has influenced the target audience? Is the outcome positive or negative?
  4. Social Media Action – how is the social media plan translating to desired business outcomes? These outcomes could be increased sales, service enquiries, brand promotion and etc.

In order to translate these indicators into tangible information, there are a variety of tools available with which companies can gauge their social media performance. For Twitter, my favorite is tweetreach. This application allows getting into the very miniscule details of reach, exposure, tweets and re-tweets of a company’s Twitter campaign. In addition, tweetreach can generate reports that highlight how far a company’s tweets traveled, who talked about them and how many people saw the company’s messages.

Klout is another cool platform that allows finding out how a company influences a specific market or audience. Klout connects to the social media platforms of the company or person and generates a score showing how strong a personal or a company brand is. Or how the company or person influences the social media world around them. I tried for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney and obviously, Obama’s score @99 was the highest not only compared to Mitt Romney but with many other influential political figures around the world. Mine was 21 😦

Google Analytics is a more complex tool that offers a number of options to generate social media assessment reports. It offers real time report measuring the activity as it happens. For example, it can generate report on how many people are on the website right now, what they are visiting and who they are. Google Analytics can also generate custom build reports making it easier for companies to crunch the data they are looking for. For example, it can generate reports about visitor type, new or returning ones, which search engine allowed the visitor to visit the website, and the products explored by type of visitor.

Overall, I believe using metrics is a great way to evaluate the performance of social media plans. It offers organizations with the kind of analysis that will enable them to make informed decision about future plans and objectives.

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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Content Curation

The big bang of Internet and Web 2.0 started an era of content creation and sharing. It is an era where every online user is a content creator, a publisher and citizen journalist. This has been a perplexing problem. I have always asked what happens to all the content and information that make indelible marks on online websites and platforms.? Where does it end up? It must be definitely overwhelming for ordinary online users who have to browse through hundreds of websites in order to gather what they are looking for. I guess content curation has come to be the answer to all these questions.

Curation is the remedy to the unlimited amount of information and content being produced every second. Social media websites have emerged in recent years providing a platform for online users to make sense of information available online. These platforms allow users to look for the type and category of content they are after and let them change, tweak and play with their desired content as they wish. This not only saves vast amounts of time, but also encourages online users to be creative in sorting, organizing and gathering content.

Pinterest for example, is a photo sharing social media platform that provides a board for users to pin photos they find interesting, useful or catchy. This avoids the hassle of keeping or downloading photos on to the computer or bookmarking the online link. The platform also lets users to organize photos they pin in desired categories and keep them organized. Users can maintain these collections and use them whenever they want. Companies and brands use Pinterest in the same way with a difference that they can use the platform to drive traffic through posting photos on Pinterest. The source of the pin remains as a hyperlink on the photo itself and offers the possibility of driving traffic to the website of the business. For example, a fashion business can post clothing photos on their Pinterest account allowing users not only to go through the variety of clothes they offer, but also lead them to the sales page of the website if they users may choose so.

Similarly, Tumbir has come strong in the market of social media and curation platforms. It allows users not only to create and write blogs, but also to collect and manage content. It offers its users a great way to easily curate their interests and share them with their friends and communities. Users can collect and post text, photos, videos and music in a variety of way to express themselves and their interests. Businesses use Tumbir to develop their brand and establish communities of enthusiasts. This provides a platform for businesses not only to interact with their customers, but also to listen to the good, bad and ugly comments customers express.

I believe content curation platforms are great tools to make online content gathering meaningful and easier then ever. It helps individuals easily stiff through what they are interested without the hassle of spending hours on online browsing and content searching. Content curation is helping companies get targeted exposure to niche choices and interests of existing and potential customers. With these ever changing trends in content sharing and management, I can’t wait to see the next big experience social media has to offer.