Meme Feeds

Meme accounts AKA meme feeds have been appearing on social networks, especially Instagram.  Meme accounts are also becoming attractive for brands and publishers who are seeking a better ROI compared to “influencers” who aren’t getting the results they once did.

You know memes, right? They are things, often witty or humorous, like an image, video, small piece of text that is copied (often with slight variations) and spreads rapidly by social media users.

A brand is probably no better at creating a meme than any of us are at creating a viral video. It just happens.

But with a meme, the wit comes more naturally when crowdsourced. Meme accounts are people who aggregate a meme.

Of course, social media sites also aggregate memes. Twitter has trending hashtags, such as #BlackGirlsRock or a brand meme like Subway’s #SubTheBurger campaign.

And a meme account saves money.  “For 1 million followers, you could be paying $15,000 to a human influencer, and for 1 million followers on a meme account you’d be paying about $1,000,” said Tim Armoo, CEO of influencer platform Fanbytes.

Of course, what we still want is engagement. The engagement rate is calculated as LIKES + COMMENTS divided by the number of followers.   1000 likes + 100 comments divided by 250 followers would give you a nice engagement rate of 4.4%.

Some numbers found online say that the engagement rate is 3.5 percent for the cool meme accounts and that is equal to mainstream influencers doing the same kind of posting. Brand-sponsored meme posts only have an engagement rate of 1.7 percent.

MORE at digiday.com

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Interaction Design IxD

interaction

Interaction design defines the relationship between people and the product they use, from computers to mobile apps and beyond.  How do you incorporate it into your work to create more meaningful experiences?

One mistake some designers make is a tendency to focus on how things look, when the focus should equally be on how things work.

Interaction design, often abbreviated as IxD, is the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services.

IxD is often associated with digital design, but it is also useful when creating a physical product and considering how a user might interact with it.

Some crossovers of interaction design include human–computer interaction, and software development.

It’s not that interaction designers don’t consider form, but they are also concerned  with analyzing how things are, how they could be, and satisfying the majority of users.

If you have never heard of IxD, don’t feel bad. The design fields are changing very fast right now. A future post might have to look at another job that I only discovered this month: chief experience officer (CXO). A CXO is an executive responsible for the overall user experience (UX) of an organization’s products and services.

Technical Writers

Technical Writers are often the link between engineers, marketing associates, developers and external users of a product or service.

When I have taught undergraduate classes in technical writing, something I have to address with students right away is their definition of technical writing. In many people’s minds, writing that is “technical” is complicated, full of jargon and difficult to read. But in fact, the goal of the technical writer is exactly the opposite. It is usually to make technical subject matter less complicated and easier to understand and use.

In my undergraduate technical writing classes (which are considered advanced writing courses) we combines current theory with actual practice to prepare students as technical writers. They analyze complex communication situations and then design appropriate responses through tasks that involve problem solving, rhetorical theory, document design, oral presentations, writing teams, audience awareness, ethical considerations and ethical issues.

When I teach at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), my students are engineers, computer scientists, architects and scientists who often dislike writing and are used to only academic writing. Unfortunately, much academic writing is students demonstrating their learning to a professor who already knows the subject. In most real technical communication, the writer is the expert and the readers are the learners. In professional life, you may be writing for supervisors, colleagues or customers. You might be explaining a problem, a product, an experiment, or a project, and the format may be a proposal, abstract, report, email or manual.

When I teach technical writing at a more comprehensive university, such as Montclair State University, the students are more comfortable with writing, but less comfortable with the technical part.  That is because they don’t think of technical writing as being a part of every field. For education, biology, art, music, and other science and liberal arts students, they need to rethink the technical aspects of their studies. For example, I have had art history majors who wrote technical documentation on art restoration.

My graduate students in professional technical communication are often dealing with social media, documentation, video presentations and a variety of real world tasks. NJIT offers a Technical Communications Certificate that attracts primarily professionals who intend to learn/expand their careers as technical writers, editors, trainers, website designers, and documentation specialists.

I don’t know that being a technical writer at Google is typical of that job, but this video gives you a little taste of technical writing and life at Google.

This post first appeared on Serendipity35

What’s Cool With Gen Z?

gen z
I looked at “It’s Lit: A Google Guide to What Teens (Gen Z) Think is Cool”

The social media global penetration will hit three billion people worldwide by 2021, and one of the fastest growing, quickest adopting generations on social media is Generation Z  These are the current teenagers and they make up about 26%, of the US population.

Where are they posting online? Snapchat, and Instagram are cool. Twitter and Facebook, not cool. Still, Facebook is still almost a daily habit for most teens for viewing/consuming content from friends and family, but they are not engaged there or posting.

Snapchat and Instagram don’t encourage sharing as much and are more about who you follow which makes them feel more private/closed allowing messaging and shares without it being public.

Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and other chat services may play no roll in your clients’ or your personal social media landscape but are growing in popularity with Gen Z.

Pinterest is down with only a 26% reach with teens. In Google’s report, they don’t treat their own YouTube property as social media but as a streaming service. In that category, teens rank services in this order: YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu.

I was surprised at some of the brands they engage with most often: Oreo, Playstation, Doritos, Xbox, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Chik-Fil-A, and Go Pro. Low engagement goes to  Patagonia, Zara, Lululemon, Quicksilver, Oakley, Nordstrom and Sunglass Hut. If you are in that latter group, you would want to consider where these teens will be looking and buying in the next decade when Gen Z purchasing power increases significantly. Will you have lost them?

The Gig Economy

work at home pexels

Sometimes people chuckle or look confused when I say I work in the gig economy. They think I made it up. I didn’t.

A gig economy is usually defined as an environment in which temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements.

Twenty years ago, I would have associated “gigs” with musicians. You play a gig at a club tonight, next weekend you play one somewhere else. Maybe you luck into getting a regular gig (almost an oxymoron) playing every other Friday night at the same place for a few months.

It is not “part-time” work.

The trend toward a gig economy has been climbing and a study by Intuit predicted that by 2020, 40 percent of American workers would be independent contractors.

What is pushing this trend to short-term jobs? One thing is an increasingly mobile workforce that can increasingly work from anywhere. Job and location are not always linked these days. Freelancers can select  jobs and projects around the world, and employers have a much larger pool of candidates.

Employers often like this arrangement as it means no office space needed and, as with part-timers in general, probably no benefits. Not being responsible for employees’ taxes and benefits allows companies to operate with 20% to 30% less in labor costs than the traditional competition.

People tend to change jobs more often throughout their working lives than in prior generations and the gig economy can be seen as an evolution of that trend.

Employers can contract with experts for specific projects who might be too high-priced to maintain on staff.

My newest gig is doing instructional design of online courses for a college. It is a one-year gig, so it is actually pretty regular work. But it is all virtual work from home and the hours are set by me. I have milestones and deadlines to meet, but the schedule is mine.

For this gig, I am getting an hourly rate, but the college has set a cap on the number of hours I can bill per course (though we have already discussed the possibility that some courses may run over that amount, while others will be under). The Dean in charge of this project would prefer to have an instructional designer full time on staff, but the budget line for that position won’t appear until next fall when their “virtual college” actually launches with student.

Gig workers like the improved work-life balance offered over most traditional jobs. Ideally, the worker is able to select jobs that they’re interested in – though obviously if you’re in need of work, you may have to take a gig that isn’t your first choice.

Despite any benefits, the gig economy is part of  the sharing economy, the gift economy and the barter economy and there are downsides to all of these. You are like freelancers and self-employed workers of the past and have to deal with insurance and other benefits and issues.

Finding hard numbers on the size of this gig economy workforce seems rather inexact right now. Government data sources have difficulty counting how many gig workers there are, but it is being tracked by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

Gig workers are seen in some government stats as contingent workers, defined as “those who don’t have an implicit or explicit contract for long-term employment.” Alternative employment titles also include those who identify as independent contractors, freelancers or independent consultants, on-call workers, and workers provided by temporary help agencies or contract firms.

BLS data lumps gig workers in with all the other alternative workers. The Census includes them in nonemployer statistics data – a self-employed individual operating a very small, unincorporated business with no paid employees.

Fast Company magazine warns that lawsuits around the gig economy are an issue of concern. Uber, Lyft and other gig drivers have protested and “gone on strike” and other companies that have built their business model on gig employees have seen some employee resistance.

Homejoy, Handy (both cleaning services) and workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (an online platform that pays independent contractors cents per task) recently orchestrated a letter-writing campaign to Jeff Bezos asking for him “to see that Turkers are not only actual human beings, but people who deserve respect, fair treatment, and open communication.” Legally, Uber and Lyft are also facing charges of misclassifying workers. A case against an online work platform called Crowdflower was also opened.

What might bring down the gig economy? Besides some class-action lawsuits, there might be intervention by regulators (many cities are clamping down on Uber and Lyft at the behest of traditional taxi companies). If companies can ever hybridize traditional jobs and gig ones, you might end up with a new option that offers both the freedom and some of the benefits of traditional work.

New Template Being Pushed for Facebook Business Pages

changes

Many of you Facebook received the same update news that I got about changes to business Pages. I have read that these changes are largely inspired by a push to support small and local businesses.

There are more than 80 million businesses that use Facebook Pages. About two-thirds of the 1.6 billion people around the world visit a local business Page or an Event Page each week.

I have also read that Page reach and engagement for brands has been on the decline. The area of weakest engagement is the News Feed.

The News Feed is the key area for personal pages, but not so for business Pages. The changes seem to be making your business presence more like a website. Some smaller businesses have been using their Facebook Page as a website in that they don’t have a traditional website at all. Recently, I built a Facebook business Page for a professional photographer who did not have a website, though he did use Zenfolio to display and sell his work.

Business owners know that customer reviews (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor etc.) are important to all businesses but especially for local businesses. If you trust the validity of those reviews for restaurants and services, they can drive engagement and sales. And facebook quickly realized (and abused to a degree) the fact that most of us especially trust reviews by their friends and families.

The update makes it easier for people to recommend your business by posting text, photos and tags directly on your Page.

There are also action buttons prominently near the top of Pages for things like booking an appointment for a haircut, ordering, sending a message or writing  a recommendation.

The email I initially received said:

We want to let you know that your Page’s template will be changing. This new design will help you connect with the people who care most about your business on Facebook.

The new layout is specifically for businesses like yours and will showcase important information about your business – like hours, prices and your menu – making it easier for people to connect with Ronkowitz LLC.

You can make this change now, or we’ll automatically update your Page layout on August 24th, 2018. You can also continue to use your current template.

Other changes are also coming for businesses. It may not really affect small, local businesses but job listings (which Facebook has been testing since 2017) is supposed to be added to business pages in the next few months.

Choosing the action buttons best suited to your business would be a good first step, but you can also feature information such as hours and prices, as well as Recommendations more prominently on Pages. You can also choose to highlight new content such as events and offers.

Some of these features are not new, but are displayed differently. Facebook says that 700 million people use Facebook Events each month. You could always link to ticket sales on another site, but now you will be able to sell tickets directly through Facebook Pages and make event-specific ads to help with promotion and marketing. Obviously, those changes benefit Facebook monetarily too.

I have seen other recent changes too not mentioned in most update articles. For example, a photo post I shared from my Instagram to Facebook no longer carried an Instagram label and so looked less like a repost.