Reflections on the Role of Social Media: Instagram.

MKT-355: Module Two. Blog 2-1. SNHU.

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Instagram is a playground for those who absorb content visually, an entire application based on the sharing of pictures and stylizing them. The ability to hyperlink is limited, and it has been shown that posts with too much text don’t do as well for reach, so one must best express their message with imagery while in the Instagram realm. Though Instagram is the 3rd most popular social networking app, with Youtube at #1 and Facebook at #2, it is growing more quickly than all the others, and is predicted to continue to do so as time goes on.

I am still fairly new to being active on Instagram. Though I made a personal account back in 2012, I rarely used it and am just now beginning to be on it consistently, mainly for the purpose of marketing mine and my fiance’s new artisan/gallery business, seeing that Instagram is clearly the place to chronicle the very artistic and visual nature of the work we do, and find an audience that appreciates it. It has been a remarkable way to garner interest, as well as find tips, tricks and inspiration for what we do as well, from others showcasing their work and doing the same kind of thing!

I started ours before we even had anything for sale or a storefront and viewers have been able to watch our progress and see how far we have come. However, I have been tinkering with my personal Instagram again as well, and enjoying the app for more than just business reasons. I am glad to have renewed interest in Instagram, and I apparently am far from the only one… I fully understand its ever growing popularity, it is a nice break from the more text based apps, like Facebook and Twitter, and the consistent negative bickering that occurs in those places more often. Instagram feels like a vacation of sorts, truly seems to speak to a different area of the brain.

Like Facebook, Instagram businesses can opt to do a paid local marketing campaign, and only send their promoted post to viewers within a certain close mileage of where the storefront is, and other more intricate means of boosting for different goals, like website clicks, directions, profile views. However, Instagram seems to grant its content creators their own kind of unpaid reach with hashtags, which can lead posts to show up in the news feed of viewers, if they have “liked” posts with similar hashtags, or follow that tag exclusively, which is a cool option. As a business, I love this feature, and as a personal user, I do as well. It seems to make “ads” less like ads, and considering the image based nature of the application, they have to be visually artistic or striking in some way as well, which makes for some interesting out of the box posts. I like how it challenges traditional marketing to be more creative. One can still obtain notifications for locally promoted businesses and other paid posts, as well as take a journey and explore other facets of certain interests or locales that stand out of their own accord, without boosting necessarily. The rabbit hole runs deep on Instagram…

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Reflections on the Marketing Implications of Facebook.

MKT-355: Module One. Blog 1-2. SNHU.

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Marketing and advertising has come a long way since my childhood in the 1980’s. Unlike the new media rich world of today, where you can cheaply upgrade for the “no commercial option” for nearly all entertainment imbibed or stream limitlessly, in the 1980’s we had to wait painfully through the onslaught of endless jarring commercials, interrupting our favorite radio and television shows consistently, without any way around it. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the barrage of advertising either- companies were content to holler at anyone who would listen, making their jingles as infectious as possible so their brand would take up residence in our head, and we’d even be forced to memorize their phone numbers, addresses, and catch phrases all repetitively recited and at times very distastefully. I still get the jingles for long defunct and forgotten about companies stuck in my head! I have often wondered what my brain may have stored in place of the unending commercial ditties I can’t seem to ditch from my mind…Does this kind of thing still happen today? I can’t even tell you, I haven’t engaged with commercial ridden media for some time now as there are so many more options.

As random as it may have seemed at times, there certainly was a  heavy “target audience” campaign occurring , like us 80’s kids witnessed during commercial breaks while watching Saturday morning cartoons, as every toy company, breakfast cereal, and junk food brand assaulted our senses with things we would undoubtedly pester our parents for… I often wonder if the reason Generation X is the least marketed or advertized to generation, is because the onslaught of commercial advertising we faced in our early years hardened and desensitized us, and taught us to view marketing as insincere.

If anything, it has lead me personally to be somewhat appreciative of how intricate and personalized advertising can be today, on the infinite forum of the internet and social media. As much as I see people complaining about advertising today still, one cannot deny that it is far less obtrusive than the past, and at times- even beneficial and can more easily assess what you would likely have interest in or want to be informed of. I am far more likely to engage with ads than I have ever been before (especially on Facebook), maybe because it can be so much more personalized than it was in the past and feels a lot more sincere because of it. The intelligence of our media has increased and so have the marketing campaigns, and means to engage with an audience in meaningful ways, aside from trying to acquire their money.

In Facebook land, there are a slew of ways to both: find what you are looking for & to be as bright a beacon as you can be to guide those that are looking for you in.  Facebook is the second most utilized social media application (68% of adult Americans), second only to Youtube (73%), but exponentially higher than quickly growing Instagram (35%) in third place. Everyone from your grandmother to your young teen brother has a Facebook account, though your Grandma likely shirks newer apps like Instagram & Snapchat. As diverse as the demographic, so are the reasons why it is used.

As the new media director for an up and coming art gallery, it is essential for me to utilize social media to get word out about our business, and Facebook was the first venue I set up digital shop in and for good reason. One of them, is undoubtedly because I am there the most personally, but mostly because I appreciate its broad and diverse audience encompassing the largest range of ages, and un-restrictive in its ease of integration with other social media applications, like its acquired Instagram, and blog sites like WordPress where I speak to you from now…  I appreciate that I can fine tune our paid promotions and ads to target by locality and/or only those that would be interested (though admit to being fearful of not being broad enough and leaving people out), and not have to waste time (and money) with those who may grumble about ads as they scroll by mine. Social media has made advertising far more palatable, for both the sender and the receiver.

 

 

 

E Pluribus Unum: The Original US Motto and the Importance of its Restoration.

 

The founding Fathers of the United States of America were quite clear about freedom being an important facet of American life. They went to great lengths to ensure its citizens as much autonomy as possible, the freedom of religion included. Those who originally came to this country were seeking the right to practice freely and wished the same for everyone else.

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In 1776, shortly after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the first US motto was coined “E Pluribus Unum” which translates to “From the many, one.” (Foster) It was intended to represent the union between the states and federal government but happened to be a fine representation of the plurality intended for Americans, as well. In the 1950’s, during the Cold War, the motto was switched to “In God We Trust” to show opposition to secular communism, aka “The Red Scare”. Other edits to American traditions were made in this time as well, like The Pledge of Allegiance coming to include “under God”). (Foster) The Cold War has been over for decades, yet still… “In God We Trust” remains as the national motto in a country that fosters and encourages diversity among its people.

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Original 1776 E Pluribus Unum Seal designed by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere

I feel that it is important to reinstate “E Pluribus Unum” as the national US motto. Even though “In God We Trust” is a more recent addition, it is far more outdated and archaic than the original motto, which better represents every American and their freedom to practice how they will, as our forefathers intended. “In God We Trust” is a rather limited and theocratic motto that caters to one demographic of American while violating the Constitution and has outlived its reasoning for putting it into place. “E Pluribus Unum” covers every citizen and symbolizes the unity in democracy- in being able to live among others who are also free to their own beliefs and liberty.

“In God We Trust” insinuates theocracy in endorsing religion, which is not American. The Establishment Clause of the first amendment of The Constitution proclaims, “The State shall not show preference to any one religion over the other,” to prevent such a divisive statement from being made. (Madison) “In God We Trust” does exactly that by limiting or misrepresenting one’s higher power or by even implying that one has to show trust or faith in a God at all. “E Pluribus Unum” has room for everyone, those who believe in God or do not and all variants in between as well as being in line with The Constitution, what was written to ensure freedom for all, not preference for one religion shown over the other like “In God We Trust” blatantly does.

Why is “In God We Trust” even allowed to remain the US motto? Though Christianity and other Abrahamic monotheistic faiths are the most numerous in this country, those who identify as other religions, or none at all, are on the rise and have been for some time. (Pew Research Center) Even still, America has no obligation to bolster up one religion over the other in the public square and actually decries it, as clearly stated in The Establishment Clause of The Constitution. (Madison) It is shameful that this breach of church and state is allowed to continue and so blatantly.

Symbolism is extremely important as it influences the views of others in a subconscious way. Having “In God We Trust” as the motto is inaccurate in representing the citizens of America. It almost seems to be a part of encroaching theocracy, in place since the fear of communism in the 1950’s brought about all this religious verbiage in government induced aspects. (Foster) Even though more and more Americans are coming away from organized religion, (Pew Research Center) it seems that the grip is being tightened in laws attempting to be passed across the country, such as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act- which allows businesses to turn down customers/clients due to religious belief. (Freedom From Religion Foundation) Also, anytime Christianity sneaks or bullies itself into the government forum, it seems they don’t like it when others do the same, as evidenced by outrage from public officials and citizens alike, whenever another religious group tries to claim the same privileges granted to Christians, in leading prayers at town halls or displays on public property. (Holley) This is exactly the type of bickering our founding Fathers hoped to avoid.

Why would we choose a theocratic motto in a country that values religious freedom? The current US motto, The Pledge of Allegiance and the fact that “In God We Trust” is printed on our currency, is constantly used as an argument against any type of secularism proclaiming that, “America is a Christian nation,” and therefore has a right to dominate the discourse. (Knight)  Those who say that are usually oblivious to the fact that the addition of “God” in all of these American facets was added centuries after our nation was founded and wasn’t intended by our forefathers. (Foster) Since the beginning, America sought to be a country free from governmental influence in nearly every area of life, as dictated by those who wrote the Constitution to guarantee such freedoms. (Madison) The original motto represents that freedom a lot better and even that of those who are in preference of the 1950’s edit. Why fix what is not broken?

Americans should not continue to settle for an archaic motto born in fear during a war that is no longer being fought, when the original declared motto of “E Pluribus Unum” was perfect to begin with and represents everyone instead of a select few. We are not a theocratic country but a diverse nation founded on freedom and made up of various religious backgrounds as a result, or lack thereof.

Our forefathers would encourage us to be accepting of our neighbors, as we would like them to be of us. The original motto is best representative of the plurality America embodies and in line with The Constitution more than the one that hijacked it.

It is time to fly “E Pluribus Unum” once again and truly become the “one from the many” instead of dividing people further because of differences that ensue when the line between church and state is crossed.

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Works Cited

Foster, Thomas A. “”In God We Trust” or “E Pluribus Unum”? The American Founders Preferred the Latter Motto.” 9 November 2011. Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspectives. Electronic Article. 10 October 2016. <https://origins.osu.edu/history-news/god-we-trust-or-e-pluribus-unum-american-founders-preferred-latter-motto&gt;.
Freedom From Religion Foundation. State/Church FAQ: Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 11 September 2016. Electronic Document. 11 Septemeber 2016. <https://ffrf.org/faq/state-church/item/22708-religious-freedom-restoration-act-rfra&gt;.
Holley, Peter. “How The Satanic Temple Forced Phoenix Lawmakers to Ban Public Prayer.” Washington Post (2016). Electronic Article. 11 September 2016. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/02/05/how-the-satanic-temple-forced-phoenix-lawmakers-to-ban-public-prayer/&gt;.
Knight, Robert. “”America IS a Christian Nation” Church and State.” Opposing Viewpoints in Contrast (2012). Report from “U.S. Was Born a Christian Nation.” CNN, 2010. 11 September 2016.
Madison, James. “U.S. Constitution, Amendment I.” Government, Politics, and Protest: Essential Primary Sources. Ed. K Lee Lerner, Adrienne Wilmoth Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner. Detroit: Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context. 11 September 2016.
Pew Research Center. “America’s Changing Religious Landscape.” 12 May 2015. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/. Demographic Poll. 10 October 2016.

 

(This is an A graded persuasive essay, properly cited in MLA format, that I composed for my English 2 Final. Southern New Hampshire University, October 2016)

 

Markathon, My new favorite Christmas Tradition!

Image12/04/13- I do not normally listen to the radio en route while driving, never mind at home! I have a fully loaded Ipod full of my churning and ever morphing musical tastes, as well as safely filed away musical relics from my past, anything I could ever need for the fix that only music can provide. Yet, all this week… I have been tuned into Portland Maine’s WCYY both in my car and at home- my computer is hooked into my 18 inch vocal PA speaker and always playing in the back ground as our family goes about our tasks.

That is for one reason… Markathon! For this week (102 hours) WCYY radio DJ Mark Curdo will be taking song requests, as well as entertaining an assortment of guests in studio, for donations to The Center for Grieving Children< (Portland & Sanford, ME) and will play anything! (as long as it fits radio decency regulations) He usually doesn’t sleep more than a couple hours a night and the requests never stop! As you can imagine, those wishing to donate to this cause have quite a wide range of musical interests! (and Mark still finds a way to do it tastefully- dealing with quite the onslaught while being as sleep deprived as he is!) Tuning in means hearing any possible genre or style from any possible generation at any possible time- it is too funny to hear foofy pop songs and sappy crooners on a station that is renown for playing hard rock & alternative. (Nice to hear obscure favorites like Mr Bungle & Meshuggah too.) Every song that you hear, is a donation to a local organization that provides services for families that are dealing with grief, as result of death. The radio musical fundraiser is riddled with choice snippets from those who have been a visitor at the center and benefited from their services. There are some true tear jerking hopeful sentiments from young children, and comforted adults rationalizing their experiences. It is all truly sincere and a nice thing to hear on the radio, which is usually full of inane people screaming at you to buy stuff or a result of feeding an ego induced mania. It is very enjoyable to listen to and participate in.

The Center for Grieving Children has been in operation for 25+ years and provides support, peer counselling, education and outreach to families in grief or dealing with chronic illness in Southern Maine. It reaches a wide array of individuals (much like Markathon does!) as grief is a universal affliction. One thing that all of us have in common as humans is that we all have to deal with death- whether it is the loss of a loved one or eventually- our self. I am moved that such a place exists to provide counsel for those of us who are feeling the pain of loss and even more moved that this local radio DJ took it upon himself to raise money for this cause.

Markathon is in it’s 6th year of raising money for The Center. They raised over $37,000 last year and $30,000+ the prior year.

I have been listening for the past 4 years religiously and normally donate to hear “Masochism Tango” by Tom Leher but am especially broke this year so I have decided to write this blog instead and hopefully spread the word to someone who may not know about this amazing fundraiser.

There are still a few days left to participate in Markathon, as of right now 12/04/13!

You can tune into stream WCYY here world wide.

Learn more about The Center for Grieving Children here.