Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring 09 Student Podcasts

Here's a fresh batch of podcasts from this semester's students! Each student team was instructed to produce a 5-10 minute podcast on an issue pertaining to class. Teams were given the option of either interviewing an expert on the topic of social media or organizing a panel discussion on a social media and PR issue. This semester, we relied entirely on open-source software (in this case Audacity) to produce the podcasts. Here are the results:

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Twitter's Agenda Setting Power: Example of a Hail Storm

I just made it home from work yesterday right before a brief but vicious hail storm descended upon Austin. After checking the radar on TV and realizing I'd probably be fine, I turned to the important things in life - checking my Twitter feeds. And there I saw this:
Must be a hail storm in Texas right now. Mighty Twitter knows all.
Nothing too unusual considering the speed with which messages get spread through Twitter. Except that in this case, the tweeter was @pphilp and lives in Canada. It took me a second to realize that the hail storm must be a trending topic on Twitter and lo and behold it was:

How can an event this localized dominate the Twitterverse so easily? A number of possibilities come to mind: either yesterday was a very slow "news day" for Twitter, or there is a disproportionate amount of Twitter users living in Austin. Or maybe it's a combination of both? TwitterGrader does support the idea that Austinites might be particularly prone to tweeting - it lists the city among the top 10 Twitter cities. Maybe the tweets around events in Austin are more likely to make the trending list because there are simply a lot of Twitter users in Austin? Think about the power that gives Austinites and other tweeters from Twitter-friendly cities in terms of setting the agenda for what other Internet users hear and think about.

Whatever it may be, here's an example of an event that didn't make it past the local news in the traditional media (at least I'm not aware of any of the major networks running a story on the Austin hail storm, let alone the international media). Yet, Twitter spread the news of this localized event all the way to other countries - and all of that pretty much in real time. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Monitoring Online Conversations with Yahoo Pipes

Last week we concluded our discussion of online monitoring by building a Yahoo Pipe designed to capture conversations about SXSW. Considering all the excitement SXSW generated, I'm assuming the pipe we built kept your RSS reader busy over spring break! For those of you who weren't in class, I have embedded the slideshow/tutorial on how to build this pipe below. You don't necessarily need to monitor the same keywords (SXSW and southbysouthwest in our class example) - just use any tags/names/keywords you are interested in monitoring.

View more presentations from Corinne .

You may also want to read Brian Solis' new post on
Social Customer Relationship Management with regard to the need to listen in on online conversations. Yahoo pipes offer a very basic, yet easy way to do what Solis is describing here:
Listening to the dialog related to specific keywords within every community, initially, will help us define and chart an accurate social map that pinpoints the exact communities that require our attention, the volume and frequency of relevant conversations, and the tonality and reach of those conversations within their respective networks.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A new way to grade blogs?

I just found a fun new way to grade your blog posts. Here's the deal:
First, I'll run your blog URL through the MoneyPath Bailout Calculator (via @BarbaraNixon). Then I'll rank order your blogs based on the bailout money you received and assign a corresponding grade...

Okay, just joking! Tempting though :-)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Explaining Twitter in 140 characters or less - is it possible?

Good talk by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams on how Twitter evolved from the original idea of letting people share moments of their lives into something a lot more complex. Williams contends that although Twitter was initially designed as a broadcast medium, it's the users that ended up shaping the system into what it is today. Some of Twitter's current uses go far beyond the original idea of allowing people to stay connected and were completely unanticipated according to Williams.

I think that's one of the reasons many people have a hard time "getting" Twitter. Twitter is many things and continues to evolve in directions that are hard to anticipate - even by its co-founder. The ever-changing nature of Twitter means that we need to stay open to its many possibilities and that we can't just categorize it one way. It's another good example of what I talked about last week in a short guest post on the PRSA ComPRehension blog: the danger of static views of social media technologies. It's difficult to summarize what Twitter is all about. Imagine having to do so in true Twitter fashion: in 140 characters or less. I don't think I could do it. Could you? ABC tried to explain Twitter last week and they did a nice job but it took them 7 minutes to do so!

One other thing worth pointing out in this talk is the demonstration of Twitter as a backchanneling tool for presenters. We've seen it with Sarah Lacy's interview of Marc Zuckerberg at SXSW last year and we saw it again last night at the Texas Public Relations Association (TPRA) awards when comedian Sherry Belle offended her audience and was castigated in real-time on Twitter.