Essay #2

This semester we covered a variety of topics in PUB101, such as design, online behavior, marketing, and monetizing your website. Our blogs were meant to be either personal, business oriented or informative and encouraged to be professional. I saw a lot of different ideas sprout up from others in the class; baking blogs, nature blogs, fashion blogs, even political blogs- a popular topic in class. I decided at the start of the semester to make a bold choice and put my personal life on the line: I would record and document my experience in the dating world of Vancouver, and post about it on my blog. I started this with a lot of confidence, but my first few posts ended up being about my reservations on the topic. I was anxious about putting myself out there and danced around the topic of even going back on Tinder and similar dating apps after past experiences and knowing how I usually react when trying to date people in this way. I persisted, and tried to design my blog in a feminine way, using bubbly fonts and pastel pinks. I even had a countdown to Valentine’s day, a day I had titled “Single’s Awareness Day” on my blog. I still had made no progress in putting myself out there in the Vancouver dating world, and was working on adding more and more things to my blog which contained almost no content. Meanwhile, fellow classmates were updating their sites with things they were passionate about, and I continued to put pressure on myself to put myself out there. I wanted my blog to be a humour blog for an audience of like-minded, witty women. I tried to appeal to these women by fitting to stereotypical female design elements. Meanwhile in my personal life, I was making no progress and still dealing with personal issues that were stopping me from moving forward with my love life.

During this period however I was offered a job by the marketing department at my work to run the social media outlets for the restaurants I worked at. I would be paid to update the Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for the pub I serve at and take part in marketing meetings. It was an extra push of motivation for me to get back on track with updating something regularly online. A two months into this course, shortly after Valentine’s day, I realized I wasn’t going to make any progress with my original blog idea. I decided to change my angle and turn my site into a humour blog about “adulting”, something I found myself doing a lot of all of a sudden. Romance went on the backburner and I was facing having to think about second jobs, moving out, getting over an ex, potentially hooking up with a different ex, watching my friends move away… it was becoming a lot to handle. I had installed google analytics on my newly refurbished blog but it wasn’t giving me a lot of hits. I was trying to write more about my personal life but I was still stressed out. This class had shown us a lot of different ways we can use social media to our advantages to market ourselves and gain followings and blog readers. While I was struggling to use these techniques on my blog due to commitment issues (funny enough, the same reason I couldn’t commit to all those relationship topics), I was able to use them for my marketing job. Instagram and Facebook have their own forms of analytics and though a small budget I was able to use these charts to expand the audience of people viewing the photos and advertisements through these accounts. I was receiving positive feedback though comments on my posts, as well as likes from regulars. The attention on the Facebook page grew, and by reaching out to breweries and locally sourced food companies in the online community, we were able to enter into an exchange of sorts. For example, I would mention Phillips beer as a feature I had, and they would retweet it, and then give my pub a shout out, thus widening our audience and putting us on the map for Phillips lovers.

At the beginning of this course I thought that publishing a blog would be easy- I would post about my fun dating life and share my posts on Facebook. I would be incredibly open about my career, sex life and personal feelings about everyone and everything that was happening in my world, day to day. But I discovered that without the proper marketing techniques, right connections and social media hook ups, your blog just disappears into the ether of unclaimed and abandoned sites. You need to share and tweet your posts, as well as network and comment on other people’s blogs. It’s more than just mysteriously scrolling your url in a public washroom and hoping someone will peak interest enough to spend .5 seconds on your site on their phone while they’re on the toilet. My education about the different types of publication has advanced a lot as well. I had no idea how much design and proper formatting could make a difference in your blog. Even the right font can grip people and give them that visual element to hold on to and draw them into your site.

I think that I will continue my personal blog after this semester is over. I just moved out of my parent’s house this last weekend, and the source of my holding back on new relationships is leaving my life forever come the end of this month, so a blog about adulting might be more relevant than ever now. I think I’ll finally have a chance to experience a really independent lifestyle, and I think without certain things holding me back it would be a good time to document. Before I start elaborating my online presence I want to be sure of the image I want to give off. I want to rethink how much I actually share on the internet and not list people and events as accurately as they occur in real life so as to leave some form of privacy. A friend of mine has a blog where she uses her full name as her url and posts the most personal things imaginable to it, a move I consider bold but also somewhat foolish at the risk of future employers or even lovers reading it and getting false perceptions. I’m not sure if I want to pursue an online life that closely. As for my marketing job, I want to improve with the amount of reach I get, and I’m going to continue reaching out to other local medias to do so. The comments I gather on the social media pages and the feedback I get from higher ups is encouraging and it makes me want to give back and comment more and participate on other sites in return. I hope to bring these traits over to my personal blog and move up from there. But first the adulting. Then the writing about it.

https://www.instagram.com/the_blackbirdbar/?hl=en

The Blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above is a link to the website for the pub that I work at, and it gives a general look of the aesthetic the bar is going for, which I try to recreate in the Instagram, linked at the top.

Whereas below is a link to my own Instagram. So far all my posts of the year have been photos from my last vacation. I haven’t had a lot going on in my life lately that warrens a lot of posting, which also explains the absence of personal posts on my blog.

https://www.instagram.com/wallisbomb/

 

 

Peer Review #3

For our third peer review I was assigned kadunbar.com, a baking blog run by Kathleen Dunbar. Right away Kathleen’s site is welcoming and definitely gives the message of what it’s about. You’re greeted by a logo: a K wrapped in a wreath of leaves that looks like it could be the logo for a coffee shop or an independent clothing store.

The blog looks like it could be the website for a small bakery. Kathleen’s photos are very professional, and therefore bring an organized, more presentable look to the site. It’s a clean layout, white, with a header that changes between photos she’s taken of her baked goods. There’s a variety of pictures to show the diversity of her skills and tastes. There are also links at the top of the website that lead to a contact page, a link to her process posts, an about section, and a section linking to all her food posts. The photos for her mixed berry scones are gorgeous and look very professional. The powdered sugar and placement of the berries as well as the colour scheme of the photos matching the blog continues to bring a professional quality to the blog.

Kathleen also includes her social media links at the bottom of the page as a part of the footer, but as an added bonus there’s an option to save her posts to pinterest if you hover over the images on her blog. For bakers with pinterest boards this is a must and definitely an added quality to her site.

Kathleen’s website could be improved by adding more posts, but this applies to most of the blogs in this course. She’s off to a great start, and it looks like she could easily turn her blog into a professional website for a bakery if she were to make a start up one, or at least any kind of baking business. She’s also got several comments on her post and she replied to all of them, which is great to lend a hand to being a part of an online baking community. An excellent looking blog.

Process Post: Cha-ching!

When it comes to designing a website, I can see where monetising the site would come in handy. You’ve developed an audience, your stats are up and you want to make money out of it. I’m in no way against monetising websites, but I have no plans to do so to my own site for at least a while. You need an audience to benefit from this and since downloading Google Analytics I don’t have much of one. I’ve considered leaving my url on stickers around town to grab random attention but even if that did work I don’t think I have enough content, or consistent content for that matter, to grab anyone’s attention. I think that if I manage to develop an audience once I settle into a routine for regular posts and themes, then I would move forward to take on ads for sponsors or any personal benefit.

Essay: I Want YOU! (to stop spreading fake news).

Incorporating a business into the world of social media can be challenging. The competition to grab the attention of people scrolling through their newsfeeds requires more than bright colours and click bait. Your content has to be relevant and easily accessible. But more importantly, your content should be something that people want to hear about. Otherwise the backlash can be staggering. Recently the Donnelly Group, an independent business based out of Vancouver that owns pubs such as the Bimini and the Lamplighter, made another shift in their business by purchasing the now closed Railway Club. The Railway Club had been a Vancouver staple since the 30s, but fell out of business after it’s last owner couldn’t keep it up. Then when he couldn’t see it they shut it down. When Vancouver local Jeff Donnelly decided to buy the club one would think enthusiasts would rejoice, right?

Wrong. Shortly after the news broke the CBC released an article interviewing partner Chad Cole on the future of the club, where in the interview he stated that “unfortunately [live music]’s not going to be a core element of this new pub.” The news of the Donnelly Group buying out the club spread like wildfire over Facebook and the comment sections of Georgia Straight articles and those done by Vancity Buzz were alive with internet rage. Comments ranged from “For most people The Railway Club is synonymous with live music…to bring the place back without live music is very disappointing” to “I’d rather tear it down than turn it into another generic vapid soulless chain bar. Not going” to calling out employees who work there: “…then the greasy, little floor manager comes over and says “how can I make this right for you?” What a joke”.

The anger was on. But despite the complaints of no live music, the article continued to explain that there would in fact be live music, just not as frequently as the venue had in the past. A follow up article was released emphasising that there would be at least four nights of live music a week due to the backlash. As for the “bad beer, worse food”, the Donnelly Group actually sources almost all of their beer and food locally, and is a proud supporter of local breweries and sponsor of Vancouver events. If any of the commenters had attempted to do the smallest bit of research into this new group that was reviving their so-called favourite establishment when nobody else would, they would learn all of this. This is the effect of social media news.

People have gotten used to bite sized pieces of information. Today things are limited to 140 characters, 7 second videos and status updates to express huge events in our lives. When our attention span has been trained to be so short, all we read is the headline. The drawback is that these headlines can be misleading and often don’t give people the correct information. Pre-conceived biases people hold can be triggered by a negative headline they don’t agree with or enlightened by one that they do. How many times have you “liked” or reacted to an article’s headline without clicking on the link? According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 62% of U.S. adults get their news on social media. NPR reported that a Stanford survey conducted found that 80% of middle schoolers in 12 states couldn’t tell the difference between fake and real news. Based on the comments sections of certain Facebook articles, I’d wager that percentage would only be slightly less for adults. Fake news is effective because people believe what they want to believe. They want something to talk about, and when everyone has their own internet soapbox, it’s easy to yell your opinion into the void, however misinformed it may be. People see a title that supports their way of thinking and because it’s a “published” piece of writing, they cling on to that.

Publishing has changed now that Facebook is in play. In the Columbia Journalism Review’s article “Facebook is eating the world”, writer Emily Bell states “The future of publishing is being put into the hands of the few who control the destiny of the many.” Facebook’s power of news distribution is huge, and who can say what will and will not be published when people’s views of the truth have become so obscure, and even the president is spewing lies in national addresses. The technological powerhouses such as Google, Facebook and Apple have all started to dip their toes in the new industry, with Apple recently launching “Apple News” to add to the growing list of sources.

“When facts don’t work and voters don’t trust the media, everyone believes in their own truth.” claims Katharine Viner in her essay for the Guardian, published in July of last year. For a piece written over six months ago, the statements couldn’t be more true now. The world of publishing and how we receive and even accept our news is changing, and people blowing a restaurant chain out of proportion is just a small example. Incidents like #pizzagate that start off ridiculous and lead to shootings could just be the tip of the iceberg if people don’t start being more responsible for the news that they choose to regurgitate.

But the public doesn’t always believe they have time, or even consider looking deeper into the articles they’re being fed. In an attempt to stop the catcall of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, websites like Teen Vogue and Slate are attempting to educate their readers on how to spot false articles, with Slate even going so far as to create a Chrome extension that actually highlights articles on your newsfeed as possibly false if they come from uncredible sources. Despite this attempt, Slate’s headline for the announcement gives off the real message: “Only you can stop the spread of fake news.” The message is clear, and if people have a duty to themselves and to those around them to believe that the truth is not subjective when it comes to delivering facts. In the end, that’s what news media has always been and what we must fight to make it today.

Sources:

1. Bell, Emily. “Facebook is eating the world.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 7, 2017. http://www.cjr.org/analysis/facebook_and_media.php.
2. Colglazier, William. “The Best TIps for Spotting Fake News in the Age of Trump.” Teen Vogue. January 17, 2017. http://www.teenvogue.com/story/the-best-tips-for-spotting-fake-news-in-the-age-of-trump.
3. Domonoske, Camila. “Students have “dismaying” inhibility to tell fake news from real, study finds. .” NPR. November 23, 2016. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/23/503129818/study-finds-students-have-dismaying-inability-to-tell-fake-news-from-real.
4. Gottfried, Jeffery, and Elisa Shearer. “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.” Pew Research Center. May 26, 2016. http://www.journalism.org/2016/05/26/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2016/.
Oremus, Will. “Only You Can Stop the Spread of Fake News. .” Slate. December 13, 2016. http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2016/12/introducing_this_is_fake_slate_s_tool_for_stopping_fake_news_on_facebook.html.
5. Viner, Katharine. “How technology disrupted the truth.” The Guardian. July 12, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/jul/12/how-technology-disrupted-the-truth.

Peer Review #2

For my 2nd peer review I’ll be looking at the design aspects of Kaiya’s blogThe Wise Child.

On first arrival to the page, we see her title centred boldly on the screen. The caption, “In a world full of labels, where do I fit?” sits underneath and gives the viewer the impression that they’re entering a personal blog, with some elements of self reflection. Below the title are two images, one a classic painting, the other a dusty rose coloured stone. These images double as links to some of Kaiya’s posts which ad a beautiful element to her website and make her links more interesting. At the top of the website is a menu displaying an About Me section (with details about Kaiya and what she wants from the blog), a Behind the Scenes section (which details all the posiel posts and PUB 101 details) and and Aesthetic section, which link to a feed from her Tumblr account. The menu has the added effect of following you as you scroll so one doesn’t have to keep returning to the top of the screen in order to check out different posts.

Kaiya’s colour scheme of light pinks and creams gives a nice overall look to her website and I really like the addition of images to the headers and links of all her posts. It gives a visually compelling theme to make you want to read her posts further, and also hammers home the audience of the website, seemingly aimed towards women and reflecting Kaiya’s feminine personality. The images in her “Aesthetic” header help ad more of a feel towards her personality and are also matching the theme and design elements of her blog.

Over all Kaiya’s blog is beautifully laid out. If anything it would be nice to see more personal posts as well as Posiel ones to add to the theme, but from a design perspective the website is lovely.

Process Post: My Audience

I don’t believe that the fascinating world of dating in Vancouver is of limited interest to only women, but I do feel like my blog’s audience, as well as my target audience, are females. I’m writing about love and feelings and how my brain works. I identify with women and I believe they will identify with me more than men if they were to read my blog. I’m also designing my blog around more stereotypical “female” elements; the pink background, font and countdown photo which is of a sunset I took when I was in Vietnam! I want my blog to have a fun, straightforward, feminine feel. I really love minimalist layouts but I don’t feel they fit the theme of what I’m going for in my writing. Essentially I’m writing for smart, funny women who are a little bit lost in life. So people like me! Just kidding. Sort of.

The imagined audience has affected the way that I present my blog theme wise. If it was more of a personal blog I’d make it cleaner, maybe more of a minimal theme, and with more personal photos. Im toying with the idea of posting more photos but for not I’m keeping it girlier and still trying to hold up the dating theme instead of it slipping into more of a personal blog. Otherwise, my posts are essentially fragments of my personality and I’m pretty pleased with how they’ve come out so far. It’s just the design of the blog that I’m formatting for the audience.