Why Social Media use is essential in 21st century business

Go back only a small number of years, where the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were simply unheard of. We have since entered a social media age, whereby people are constantly communicating through online channels, “liking” pages on Facebook, Tweeting and in general interacting with one another in an entirely new way.

For businesses, Social Media has become a godsend and in my opinion is an absolute essential tool in running a business in the 21st century, with 75% of businesses owning a company page on social platforms (The Social Times, 2014). Yes, businesses did well before social media arrived on the scene, however social media allows businesses to spread the word of their brand easily and gives customers an experience that allows a more personal engagement with a business, whether that be a large multi national brand or your local barber – and customers expect this engagement too nowadays. Social media presence benefits business owners and consumers alike.

First of all, Social Media allows a business to expand its brand awareness.  Having a website allows new customers to discover a business in a few seconds thanks to search engines such as Google and Bing, whilst social media presence on Facebook and Twitter allows this to happen too. Current customers help spread the word of the business, simply by “liking” a business on Facebook, this informs their online friends of their action, and encourages others to do the same, creating new customers.

There also paid promotional tools available on Social Media which are a guaranteed way of increasing awareness of the business in the online space. Facebook in particular has an excellent advertising platform which allows users to specify a gender, location and age to target. This could be to promote a post, for example a promotion that is being offered in store, or to increase the businesses reach overall. This is a proven way for the online community to discover a business, thus creating more in store customers. Social Media allows businesses to minimise the cost of advertising and marketing as posts can be made for free, or if a business decides to use paid promotional tools, these are relatively inexpensive, although the more that is spent, the more effective promotion is.

For customers, a businesses social media page allows a much more personal interaction between themselves and the business, creating a build up of customer rapport. Facebook and Twitter, two of the biggest social networks in the world have allowed customers to communicate directly with businesses in a simple and easy way, whilst also offering an insight to business owners about what consumers are saying about the product or service they provide. “Social Listening” is what this is called, whereby business owners “listen” to consumer’s thoughts on the brand. Negative comments can sometimes occur; however, these can help improve the business over time. This is also benefits the business by not having to be in office to communicate directly with customers, as smartphones, tablets and laptops have allowed these interactions to take place, any time, any where.

Instagram, a popular photo and video sharing service is becoming ever more popular with businesses. This is because it offers a simple way of promoting a brand or product by posting a photo or video online. This can also be used as a way to show to customers a behind the scenes look at the day to day running of the business, something that wouldn’t have been possible before without the help of these social media services. Again, this allows customers to feel more involved with the business itself and offers more personal interaction with brands.

Even though Social Media has a proven track record of increasing customers or increasing the customer experience, it is vitally important that online resources are updated on a daily basis, making customers aware of what the brand or product is about or keeping customer up to date with promotions or services. Online users are unlikely to interact with a business if their online presence is only a few posts every couple of weeks or so.

I’m also aware there are certain people that are very reluctant toward social media and will never use it, stereotypically the older generation. It is true to say that younger generations are more accustomed to online services, and are more likely to use them, but it isn’t to say that older generations aren’t using social media at all.

Like anything, there are pitfalls to social media use within business. Social Media is a lot more time consuming than traditional marketing methods, as I mentioned above, it has to be updated frequently to be effective. However, businesses do have the option to out-source their online presence to third party companies that specialise in this area, or employ a member or staff to specifically deal with social media. It is also true to say that traditional marketing methods are still needed and useful, so a combination of both traditional and digital marketing is advised.  Another potential pitiful of social media is that businesses are becoming more wary of what staff are posting on their personal social media profiles. Its been known in the past that staff have been fired from positions due to posts on social media because it could portray the company in a negative manner.

Overall though, I believe the benefits outweigh the negatives of social media use within business, and I truly believe that it is essential for a business to have presence online for them to survive in todays tough economic environment. The online generation is here, and businesses need to adapt to this to survive.

Sources

The Social Times, 2014, 10 reasons why social media is good for business. Available from: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-good-business/501266 [accessed 16.08.15)

Advertisements

Here I created a motion typography video using Adobe’s After Effects Software.

I selected a piece of audio from the motion picture “The Perks of Being a Wallflower and first imported it into After Effects.

I wanted the video to fit the theme to the movie, so I imported two images to use as part of the background. The section in the film in which the audio is taken from, the central character is writing a letter to an anonymous recipient, so I downloaded images of lined paper and an American post stamp from Google. Again, I imported these into After Effects.

To start making the video, I created a new composition within the new project. I then set the background images into places and locked these, meaning I couldn’t change these after positioning them.

I then broke down the audio into each individual sentence, with each sentence having it’s own composition. On each composition, I used the Horizontal Text tool to write each word in the particular sentence. I then used the Active Selection tool (Shortcut V) to position each word into its place and made sure they were scaled as I wanted.

After positioning and scaling each word, I began to animate my words so they would appear on screen as the character spoke them in the audio. I used the Transform tool to edit items such as the size, orientation and opacity. I then had to make sure they appeared in time with the audio by dragging the time pointer to the right moment in time.  I did this process for each composition.

Once I had completed this, I selected all composition, right clicked not them and converted them into one whole composition, so each sentence would flow from one to the next. I then added this new composition to the render queue and exported it.

Overall, I am pleased with the result, however, I feel like the words are sometimes too fast for too slow for the words to match up with the audio. Next time, to improve this, I would look further into the timings of the words, making sure they match up as accurately as possible by moving the animation a few frames forward or back.

I used information I had received in my workshops, when I created a very similar style of video and used the techniques I had learnt in my own video.

Here is my collage for Task 1 of Concept and Ideation. I was set the task to create a collage of objects that could be framed as letters of the alphabet then stitch them together using Adobe’s Photoshop software. 
To take the photo’s themselves, I used a mixture of my iPhone and a Digital SLR as I partnered with another member of my Seminar group to take the pictures. I then imported them to photoshop, editing the photo size to 300 x 300 pixels to ensure all photographs would be the same size.
I then used the layer tools on Photoshop to create my collage, putting each individual photograph onto a new layer. This then created a collage for the overall image. 
In terms of what went well and what didn’t go so well, I think that I need to develop my photography skills further, as I have never done any work in this field previously. With practise, I believe that the overall product would be much more to a professional standard. 

Here is my collage for Task 1 of Concept and Ideation. I was set the task to create a collage of objects that could be framed as letters of the alphabet then stitch them together using Adobe’s Photoshop software.

To take the photo’s themselves, I used a mixture of my iPhone and a Digital SLR as I partnered with another member of my Seminar group to take the pictures. I then imported them to photoshop, editing the photo size to 300 x 300 pixels to ensure all photographs would be the same size.

I then used the layer tools on Photoshop to create my collage, putting each individual photograph onto a new layer. This then created a collage for the overall image.

In terms of what went well and what didn’t go so well, I think that I need to develop my photography skills further, as I have never done any work in this field previously. With practise, I believe that the overall product would be much more to a professional standard

image

Here I created a GIF of a running cat in photoshop during a workshop.

First of all, I downloaded a sprite sheet from Google and then opened this in photoshop.

image

After opening the sprite sheet in Photoshop, I split the whole image into individual images, using the layers function in photoshop. To do this I used the rectangular marquee tool and cut each image into a new layer.

After creating a layer for each individual image, I positioned each image slightly over each other and copying the images into new layers again. Because I did this, it allowed me to create a cycle of a running cat.

To create a GIF, I used the “ Save for web” tool, under the file menu. This menu allowed me to create an animated GIF, which allowed me to set the loop to “forever”

I conducted some research into elements that will help me complete the Temporal Expressions task.

David Hockey and Joiners:

image

David Hockey, born 1937, is a British painter, draughtsman, printmaker and photographer. He is best known for use of vibrant colour, landscapes and portraits in his work.

Hockey created photography work called “Joiners”.  Joiner photography uses two or more separately taken images to create a larger one by overlapping them physically or merging the photos together digitally in software such as Photoshop. (http://joinerphotography.com/). Hockey created these joiners because he became interested in how we turn a 3D world into a two dimensional image. He liked the way the technique allowed the audience to read space.

image

The image above is Hockey’s most famous joiner called “Pearblossum Highway, 11th to 18th April 1986 No.2”. It depicts an American Highway and is made up from thousands of photographs. In real life the audience can explore the scene from corner to corner.

Hockney had a great interest in Cubism and his works have strong links to Cubism.

Cubism is an art movement started by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso. Dan. (2007). What is Cubism? An Introduction to the Cubist Art Movement and Cubist Painters. Available:http://emptyeasel.com/2007/10/17/what-is-cubism-an-introduction-to-the-cubist-art-movement-and-cubist-painters/. Last accessed 9th Oct 2014.

Cubism paintings are not supposed to be realistic or life like. After looking at the subject, an artist will put together fragments from different viewing angles into one complete paining.

Below is an image of an example to Cubism. It is called “Violin and Candlestick” and was painted by Braque in 1910.

image

Hockney’s motivation for producing Joiners was to introduce three elements which a single photograph cannot have: time, space and narrative. Space and Time are the two mains themes of Cubism. Hockey stated that a single photograph cannot represent time or narrative because it expresses a single moment.

Narrative is present from Hockney’s early works. An example of this is a piece of work named “My House, Montcalm Avenue (1982)”  which is a joiner that depicts a photographical journey through his house.

An example of a time element to Hockney’s work is appears in Steve Cohen, Ian, Gary, Lindsay, Dough, Anthony, Ken (1982) and shows a groups of friends talking. Because all the friends are continuously talking and moving and also because there is a space of time between each photograph, the whole conversation is allowed to be seen by the audience in a similar fashion to a film.

Thirdly, Hockney uses elements of space within his Joiner work. An example of this is presented in Pearblossom Highway 1986 (find image in this blog post). In this joiner, the left side of the overall photograph shows scenic elements, to correspond to the fact that the passenger seat on the left, whilst on the drivers (right) side, the overall photograph shows elements associated with driving, such as road signs etc.

(2000). David Hockey: Photocollage. Available: http://h2g2.com/entry/A449921. Last accessed 9th Oct 2014.

Long exposure photography:

Long exposure involves using long duration shutter speed to sharply capture the stationary elements of image blurring, smearing or obscuring the moving elements. The paths of moving light sources become clearly visible.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-exposure_photography). Long exposure can be used to capture the effect of time on an image.

A few examples of long exposure photography are:

Light Painting:

image

For this, it is recommended that the shutter speed is set between 11 to 30 seconds, the aperture is set between f/8 and f/32 and the ISO is set at 100 or 200.  (http://www.instructables.com/id/Light-Painting-Photography-For-Beginners/).

Motion Blur:

image

Slit Scan:

image

Short exposure photography:

Short exposure photography involves short duration shutter speeds and captures an instant of time, something that happens in a fracture of a second.

image

Cinemagraphs:

Cinemagraphs are still photographs where a minor and repeated movement occurs. They are usually published as an animated GIF, and give the impression to the audience that they are watching a video.  They are commonly produced by taking a series of photographs or a video recording. Then, using software, the photos are then made into a loop of frames. The term was created by US photographers Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinemagraph)

Here is an example of a Cinemagraphs:

image

The Parallax Effect (2.5D):

The parallax effect is what happens when you create the illusion of depth with completely flat, two dimensional objects by moving background and foreground elements are varying speeds. Foreground objects move fastest, mid – ground slower and the far off back ground elements the slowest.  The end result is a still photograph within a video that appears three dimensional.  (http://blog.visual.ly/the-2-5d-effect-how-to-animate-photos-and-create-a-parallax-shift/). Here is an example of this effect.

PARALLAX 2.5D / Demo Reel from Adam Eyster on Vimeo.

Task 2 – Temporal Expressions Introduction

We have been given a new task within the Concept and Ideation unit named “Temporal Expressions. I should aim to complete this by the next seminar, however the final assessment deadline is Monday 10th November. 

In this task I aim to:

  1. Use my blog to reflect on “Space and Time” expressions within Art History – from Cubism to Hockey. I shall research these and write about my findings on my blog.
  2. Using the theme “Cycle” to experiment in the following:
  • Create a Joiner image in the style of David Hockney
  • Produce Creative photo images which exploit long exposer (eg light painting, motion blur, slit scan etc)
  • Produce creative photo images or sequence which exploit short exposure (eg sports, frozen motion etc)
  • Look into tutorials on cinemagraph techniques and parallax 2.5D techniques and create my own images using the “cycle” theme.

My first step will be to complete research about these photography techniques, which I will blog about in the near future to present my findings.

Here are screenshots from the finalised web app project. 

As part of the brief, we were asked to create a web app for a targeted audience that would be able to connect to a database. From the front end, the user should be able to view posts, register for an account and be able to post to the database. 

As a group, we have created SUBU (Student Offers for Bournemouth Uni), a play on SUBU, the Student’s Union of Bournemouth University. 

The website allows people to view, sign up for an account and post offers and discounts in the local area around Bournemouth. I think the idea is a strong one because it has a clear target market of University students and could be localised to other universities very easily. 

The group consisted of myself, Hallam and Robin and I feel that we worked well in a team. This was my first time building a website from scratch and I didn’t feel that confident with coding because it’s something i’ve never properly done before, however I got myself stuck in and being in a group helped a lot.  I do still feel as though I need more practise with code, especially CSS, as that is the area I struggled with the most I think. We used Bootstrap to help with the CSS so it wasn’t too difficult. Bootstrap is useful, but in review, it would look better if we had coded the CSS ourselves, as Bootstrap has become quite a generic framework to use. 

I enjoyed working with the database, I found PhpMyAdmin very easy to use, and PHP coding I found difficult but I found that after sitting down working it out logically helped me understand it.  

I believe we have met the requirements outlined within the brief successfully and overall I am pleased with the end result.