By Madeline McGill, Staff Writer
There are few college students who are not familiar with at least one well-known digital brand. Staples such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr have blended seamlessly into our lives, dominating our day-to-day rituals. Casual actions like waking up and checking Facebook or browsing through BuzzFeed during a study break demonstrate the significant influence that digital brands hold.
Edward Boches, an advertising professor at Boston University’s College of Communication, says that digital brands are significant in that they often serve a certain utility, which is changing the landscape of how the idea of a brand is defined.
“By definition a digital brand isn’t something that you buy and wear, it isn’t something that you buy and eat, it isn’t something that you buy and drive, it’s something that you use on a day in day out basis,” said Boches. “So it has to add enough value to your life that it’s something you want to use.”
When one stops to think about how a digital brand such as Facebook became such an integral part of our social interactivity, the story becomes less clear. Yes, many digital brands arose to meet the growing market need for social media services. But how did the ideas behind Snapchat and Instagram turn into multi-million and billion dollar industries?
Boches said he believes that there are certain factors that contribute to the success of a digital brand. One of these, he stated, is an available user base.
“If you look at the value of any digital brand, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, a blog like the Bleacher Report, it’s pretty much based on how many eyeballs it has,” said Boches. “
What use would Instagram be if no one had instant access to a camera at all times of the day? Part of the company’s success is that it was able to take advantage of the utility of the modern camera phone while creating a digital platform that appealed to a wide audience.
Appealing to a wide audience, according to Boches, can also be achieved by a frictionless user experience.
“Because you think about anything that you use in that space, and if it works really easily, really seamlessly, really simply, really institutive, and has very low friction to it, then you will tend to use it more,” said Boches. “So think about how fast Instagram took off. You didn’t need to figure it out or think about it.”
However, any avid Instagram user can tell you that it is not all about the individual user experience. There is a great need for users to share their experiences with their network, and Instagram provides a digital space where that need can be met.
“So why did Instagram take off so quickly? Because all of a sudden everybody in the world is walking around with a camera in their pocket that can capture images and what are you going to do with those images?” said Boches. “You’re going to want to share them and look and other people’s pictures, and so it could only have existed when all of a sudden the camera in your pocket was a universal thing. Which by the way was also connected to the web, which was connected to your social profile, which was connected to everything else.”
Digital brands that effectively tap into an active user base will experience astounding results. Since its launch, Instagram boasts more than 200 million monthly users, 70% of whom log in at least once a day.
Recognizing the success effectively cultivating and mobilizing a user base may yield, there are individuals who use the process of digital branding, through digital brands such as Facebook and Twitter, to promote themselves or an idea that they want to share.
Many college students are familiar with the Twitter user @BostonTweet, who created a Twitter account in 2008 to promote local business activity during the economic downturn. Boasting 112 thousand followers as of April 13, account creator Tom O’Keefe has successfully marketed himself as a personal brand to the Boston area.
According to Boches, this is just one example of how any individual can market themselves via emerging forms of digital media.
“You could be a brand,” said Boches. “If you’re a reporter, and you have a column, and you have a Twitter account, and then you also have a blog, and you also have a Instagram, and you share all of your content and you build a community of followers, and they pay attention to you and seek out and subscribe to your content, then you are a small brand.”
It may not fit the traditional definition of a brand, but it is all part of an evolving transition that is changing the way that the public regards the traditional definition of a brand.
According to Boches, anyone who is resourceful, determined and prolific could accomplish what @BostonTweet has done with the digital resources at their disposal.
“When I was your age, you needed five million dollars to do anything,” said Boches. “Now there’s a multi-billion dollar infrastructure courtesy of Facebook, Google, Twitter, the web, YouTube, et cetera… I think what it means is that anybody with the wherewithal, with the creativity, with an idea, with content, et cetera, can do something.”
Boches added that though actual content creators comprise a smaller proportion of social media platforms than content distributors, generational changes have encouraged the increase in the percentage of content creators.
“There’s an argument that goes like this: of all the people on all the platforms, whatever they are, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, across all those platforms probably only 10 or 15 percent of the people who use them are actually creating content and calling attention to themselves. 30 or 40 percent of people are maybe distributing and sharing it, and passing it around or commenting it or interacting with it. The rest are just reading it, as consumers,” said Boches. “But, if you look at those numbers, that 15 percent of content creators used to be 5, then it was 10, now it’s at 15 and I think as your generation and subsequent generations have something to say, you’re growing up with the idea that ‘Well, we own the media. The media belongs to us.’”
With the ingrained idea that people have the power to manipulate the media, what are the future implications of digital brands and the process of digital branding? With more resources available, it is expected that the number of personal and digital brands will arise via the use of social media platforms.
“I do think that it’s not that we’re going to see less of it,” said Boches. “It might be harder to stand out, and harder to get real notoriety, and you might have to be more inventive and more creative and better at it.”
By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
First we had BU Crushes and BU Confessions, and now… BU Snaps?
BU Snaps already has more than 1,8oo Facebook likes after its creation on February 21st. It’s surely catching up to the other main anonymous Boston University entertaining Facebook pages. BU Crushes 2.0 currently holds 2,732 likes after joining in September.
School of Hospitality Administration freshman Maura Feltault sees the positive in the newest BU page. “I think it’s a good way for the BU students to come together as more of a community,” said Feltault. “It’s always fun to see what other people are up to and this is a great way for students to stay in touch.”
Some students, however, don’t feel the same enthusiasm about BU Snaps.
“I don’t like knowing that anyone could screenshot my snapchat and submit it onto this Facebook page without my consent,” said Lauren Howard, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. “I understand I’m sending the snapchat, but to people who I decide, not a portion of the BU population that I don’t know.”
The snapchats range from food arrangements and partying, to “selfies” and views of the city.
While some may use this social media outlet to embarrass friends (all in good fun) or showcase funny or pretty pictures via snapchat, BU Snaps’s main goal is for students to share their life moments at BU.
With 157 snapchats shared and counting, the future of BU Snaps looks bright. With BU Confessions and BU Crushes 2.0 starting to fade on popularity growth, BU Snaps could be the next big thing.
By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
Since “The Lego Movie” came out two weeks ago, my Facebook news-feed has been filled with statuses raving about it, my friends have been raving about it, and even Rotten Tomatoes has been raving about it (the movie has a 96% rating, beating The Dark Knight!)
My point is everyone is raving about it, except me. No, I haven’t seen it yet and I’m not here to claim that it’s a horrible film. And I’ve heard nothing but praise. But I’m just a bit skeptical as to how brilliant this children’s movie could be (and whether it’s worth the $12 movie ticket).
My childhood was never centered on these tiny plastic blocks (“books or bust” was my parents’ motto) so it’s hard for me want to shell out some time to watch this movie. I’ve seen the trailer in theaters and wasn’t blown away by the cheesy jokes or story line.
It seems that animated movies are the thing of the moment. Last year we had “Monsters University,” “The Croods,” and “Despicable Me 2,” among others. The past few months we had “Frozen” melting hearts all around the world. And now, “The Lego Movie” has stepped up and taken its place.
Despite my skepticism, it’s been rated as a film that should be watched by all ages. Adults love it, children love it and my roommate who hasn’t even seen it yet, also loves it. She’s been trying to convince me to watch it for weeks.
I give it credit for being well animated and for taking the nation by storm. Maybe one day I’ll watch “The Lego Movie,” but I don’t think it’ll be any time soon.
By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
It seems like the leading social media network has finally caught on to the fact that gender identity isn’t just about male or female anymore. Facebook added more than 50 new gender options for people who do not strictly identify as male or female Thursday, Feb. 13.
Some of the new options include (but are not exclusive to): transgender, cisgender, gender fluid, gender queer and intersex. Facebook even goes so far as to let users choose whether they want to use female, male or neutral pronouns.
For those who are confused about the difference between sex and gender: sex is a biological term, which refers to anatomy and hormones. Gender, on the other hand, refers to society’s constructs of gender roles and behaviors.
There are many people who are against Facebook’s new feature, like Fox News Contributor Todd Starnes.
In my opinion, it is highly insensitive, disturbing and unacceptable to state that being a trans person is the same as identifying with a “pine cone or a chicken or a weed whacker,” as Starnes claims. It is sickening that there are people in this world who can even think those kinds of thoughts.
In this day and age, Society celebrates the ability to conform to the boxes and roles, but that should not be the case. A human being should be celebrated, no matter who they are or how they identify themselves. Humans are smart. We can change with time and effort.
These new gender options may not apply to some people, but to the ones that it does affect, it makes a difference.
The Daily Beast even has a detailed glossary of most of Facebook’s new gender options.
The bottom line: We should respect all humans, in all forms. People are people, and we are all beautiful. We should all be celebrated and given the same respect as everyone else. If we want to change society, we must first change ourselves. And this is a step in the right direction. Thank you, Facebook.
By Robin Ngai, Staff Writer
It’s hard to believe that Facebook has been around for a decade! That’s over half my life thus far. To be honest, I can hardly imagine life without Facebook and I’m sure that most college-aged students would agree.
It starts off at the beginning, stating when you joined and then it goes through your first moments (embarrassing photos from middle school), your most liked posts, and the photos you’ve shared. And while this 62 second flashback is happening, nostalgic instrumental music plays in the background.
It’s almost like watching a wedding montage between you and your Facebook profile.
Let’s face it, whether we want to admit it or not, we’ve basically been in a relationship with Facebook for the past few years. We’ve used it to stalk our exes (we’re all guilty of it and we know it), keep in touch with friends back home and get to know our college classmates.
As someone who couldn’t visit Boston University before move-in, Facebook was how I got to know more about on campus groups, academics and campus life in general.
Facebook is used for much more than just personal profiles: political campaigns, fundraising and outreach are all different instances that individuals and companies have used Facebook for something other than connecting with friends.
I’ve seen my friends post links to help disaster relief or raise money to support the fight against cancer. Last April, when the Boston Marathon bombing happened, Facebook was a way for friends and family to reach out to one another. Here is Facebook’s 10 stories that they shared to give users a feel for how Facebook has been changing lives for 10 years.
Though this social media site does not define our generation, it is a reflection of who we are and where we are going.
By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
Hello friends! I hope you all had a great winter break filled with great food and good company. Here we are at the start of a new year, time for new beginnings and new life hacks to try out.
But before we turn over a new leaf, it’s important to take a look at the past and learn from our mistakes. Why don’t we take a close look at the fall semester and rectify the mistakes we made (if you didn’t make any, good for you – but let’s be real: we’ve all made mistakes).
Here are five things we (hopefully) learned from first semester:
This does not mean simply skimming. It may get the task done quickly, but not very well in the long run. When it comes to studying, websites like Sparknotes and Cliffnotes are helpful to refresh your memory, but the only way to actually know what’s going on is to read the real deal. Don’t have the time? Try an old elementary school tip and apply it to college by reading a portion of the assignment each night. You can also make a habit of active reading by taking notes or by quizzing yourself at the end of chapters, another great study tool.
2. Monitor your party habits.
Partying is fun, I get it. The experience is unlike any other, but at the same time, don’t be that desperate freshman looking to “turn up” every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. First semester it might hard to find the delicate balance between having a social life and partying too much, but now that we’ve had a semester to assimilate, it is no longer acceptable for you to stagger into your dorm every single weekend. Instead, plan out your weekend. One night out, another night in. Your body will thank you for less toxins and more sleep.
3. Get involved.
Academics are great, and should be a huge part of your life. However, if you spent your entire first semester hitting the books, it’s time to get some fresh air. Thankfully, BU has over 500 clubs and organizations, including the Community Service Center (CSC), that you can always find something to do. SPLASH may be over, but another way to find out what BU has to offer is through this great site that lists all our student organizations. If you don’t have the time to commit to anything specific, at least make a late New Year’s Resolution to explore Boston. Go see a Red Sox Game, visit a museum, the list goes on.
4. Make an effort to keep your friends.
This one isn’t as obvious, but if you notice, your friends have been coming and going all throughout first semester. The friends you thought you would keep all four years from orientation are no longer your friends and the random kid you met in math class is suddenly your best friend. Unlike high school, you don’t see your friends every single day, which makes things more difficult. Take the time to keep in contact with people, by making a lunch date to catch up. It will be worth it in the end.
5. Social media is not that important.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. We’re all obsessed, and while we say we can stop at anytime – the truth is, we can’t. Document how much time you spend on social media everyday for a week and you’ll how bad your media addiction really is. By learning to cut back, you can increase time spent on studying and spending time with friends, and therefore improve your grades and relationships. If you can’t stop checking your social media sites, look into applications such as Self-Control (Apple) that block you from accessing those pesky sites you go to by instinct.
Best of luck in making this semester even better than the last.
By Hannah Landers, Staff Writer
Burglary, arson and murder are all considered to be pretty terrible crimes, but one look at any number of ranting articles on the web could have one believing that there is no atrocity more heinous than that of the “selfie.” Yet they’re out there, and multiplying by the second.
Though the term itself has become a recent phenomenon, selfies have long been a staple of social media.
Come with me now to a simpler time, when Myspace reigned supreme in the kingdom of the internet. Ah, yes, I can see it now: the profile layout that you carefully selected after hours of scouring the web, that Dashboard Confessional song with just the right amount of angst for profile’s music player and, most importantly, your profile picture.
You spent time on that photo, if not in staging it then in scrupulously selecting it from all those photos you took at your cousin’s wedding where your hair looked, like, so good. Myspace gave us the selfie, and we all embraced that sweet little nugget of vanity in our arms like it had come from the holy womb of Kate Middleton herself.
In fact, if we really want to “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” this into the depths of history, any artist who has ever produced a self-portrait has engaged in the not-so-sacred practice of selfie-dom. Yes, these portraits vary in their realism (I’m looking at you, Van Gogh!) and require a certain level of artistry, but doesn’t every great selfie? Today, the tricks-of-the-trade are a soft-focus filter and a steady hand.
And really, vanity is the social media endgame no matter what you’re posting. Sure, your Instagram might not be flooded with photos of your face, but it’s still a collection of the things that you see, the things that you experience. No matter what you’re posting about on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram, it all comes down to the bare-bones fact that you’re commanding followers and strangers all across this great internet nation of ours to care about you.
Therefore, there’s nothing really so egregiously arrogant about wanting to share your cheesin’ mug with the rest of the world. Selfies should be something to praise, not to condemn. You’re looking and feeling good, and you should be encouraged to share that positivity with the rest of the world. Selfie on, Garth!
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
We’ve all heard it—we’re in the electronic age. From finding out that our friends from home are engaged at 21 on Facebook, to following people on Instagram who have killer style (but they don’t even go here), or reppin’ some of the cutest DIY posts your friends have pinned for Thanksgiving.
The thing is, well, isn’t it kind of odd that people can see what we do and like what we’ve liked? It’s not for us, but if you think about it, it totally is. Even companies like Hulu and Facebook are getting real personal with advertising products and websites that are geared to what you like.
If you’re ready for another revolutionary advertising tactic, Japan has it for you. Neurocam and its new app were introduced at the Human Sensing 2013 conference in Yokohoma, Japan.
Advertisers can tell what we like based on a headband system that attaches to your head and holds an iPhone next to your temple. Hitting the soft spot, huh? Well, this headset knows you better than you know yourself with the help of EEG sensors.
The camera on the headset records whatever you’re viewing, so when you see those Jimmy Choos and can’t contain yourself, the sensors will pick up on those spikes of interest through the brain scan.
The spike value ranges from one to 100, so once the data gets to a value of 60, the EEG sensors will claim whatever you’re viewing as something of interest to you. That’s when the phone’s camera will start to record, in five-second GIFs, the image you’re viewing (like a Tardis teapot in commemorating the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary).
I told you it’s a little weird, right? Well, advertisers are going to use this to their advantage, which I don’t have too much of a problem with, but my wallet just might. Advertising titan Dentsu is supporting the Neurocam through Dentsu ScienceJam. They think it can help to determine what goods interest people and also help in urban development planning.
The thing is, when I see a commercial for the Kia Soul while I’m on YouTube and literally scream because I’m obsessed with those Kia hamsters, only I see this side of me. I don’t know how I would feel if Kia can actually see how many times I’ve watched the commercial because it’s right there on the screen when I’m browsing online. I’m sure they’ll keep showing the commercial to me until I buy the car…oops.
Don’t you just want to buy the car now? Yep, totes.
By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
Twitter’s been on a roll as of late. Last week, “the SMS of the Internet” went public and witnessed its shares rise 73 percent above the offering price on its first day in the stock market. It was a pretty amazing accomplishment, considering Facebook flopped during its public debut last year. Facebook’s shares rose only 0.6 percent.
I’m pretty sure Facebook’s top guns have put this day in the back of their minds. Since Twitter now has something to gloat about, the rivalry between the two is definitely heating up.
Twitter and Facebook are currently fighting over celebrity attention. Both want to make it easier for celebrities to create profiles and interact with their fan base. They believe a stronger celebrity presence will not only attract more users, but also engage them.
It’s important that more people sign up for accounts with Facebook and Twitter but if they’re not engaged, these users aren’t going to stay.
Twitter is often credited with breaking down the barrier between celebrities and their fans. Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake and Nicki Minaj can connect with the world by re-tweeting and favorite-ing their fans’ tweets. They could make someone’s dream come true by simply hitting the follow button on their fans’ pages.
However, it’s a different story while on Facebook. Celebs don’t have many options to address fans because their public profiles have certain limitations. They’re attempting to change this.
According to an article in Yahoo!, it looks like Facebook is going to launch a feature allowing the Jay-Zs and Lady Gagas of the world to better reach out to their supporters. Facebook hasn’t released any details on the new feature as of yet. It’s been hinted that the feature will “step on Twitter’s home turf.”
I don’t really pay attention to celebrities on Facebook, but when it comes to Twitter, I follow them religiously. I feel more connected when they tweet about their normal lives than on Facebook when their posts are more glamorized.
It’s also entertaining to watch celebrity feuds pan out on Twitter such as the recent feud between Kanye West and Jimmy Kimmel. You would never see something like this on Facebook. I love Twitter.
I’ll give Facebook the benefit of the doubt and wait to see what its new feature will offer. Whatever happens, I’m still #TeamTwitter.
By Bhaswati Chattopadhyay
The entire crowd at Coolidge Corner Theater sat at the edge of their seats and leaned in to hear the arguments Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg pitched for greater women’s representation in the workplace. In the sold-out WBUR event last Thursday, Sandberg discussed with interviewer Robin Young her national bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.
The enthusiastic crowd consisted largely of professional women already carrying copies of Lean In for the subsequent book-signing. Many already appeared to be sold on Sandberg’s message — unsurprising, as Sandberg has established herself as a strong voice in the business community. Consistently featured on international lists of “Most Influential Women,” Sandberg gained a massive fan following after a 2010 TED Talk on “Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders.”
Her book, her nonprofit organization, and the discussion all serve as a call to action for women to “lean-in” in order to truly lead in a male-dominated world where women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, and only hold about 14 percent of executive officer positions in the United States.
While acknowledging that many challenges women face are institutional and there must be an effort from men in power to work against prejudice, Sandberg asserted that the “best way to reform an institution is to run it.” The problem lies in the lack of encouragement women receive to be leaders.
Sandberg explained that these problems stem from gender stereotyping that start at early childhood. Citing shirts told by major retailers for babies featuring the words “Smart like Daddy” and “Pretty like Mommy,” she said the pigeonholing doesn’t stop there.
“We’re held back by sexism, discrimination, and terrible public policy, but we’re also held back by the stereotypes,” she said. “Go to any playground and you’ll hear little girls called ‘bossy.’ You won’t hear little boys called bossy, because we expect boys to be assertive. Lean In is trying to change that – instead of calling our girls bossy we should say ‘my daughter has executive leadership skills.’”
However, even women who break past these initial barriers and discouragement aren’t given the same credit as men are. Sandberg cites research that reveal how women are more likely to attribute their own success to “working hard, help from others, and luck,” while men credit their own “core skills.”
Additionally, the negative perception of strong women continues onto the professional world, where intelligent, assertive men are praised as “leaders,” while women with the same traits are deemed “bossy.”
According to Sandberg, the best way individual women can counteract the discrimination is to not tolerate subtle condescension or inequalities. She urged women to be more confident in their skills, to negotiate for higher wages and positions, and to demand equal treatment. Women are capable of making these changes by themselves. Quoting Alice Walker, Sandberg said that “[t]he most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
While Sandberg’s message is very simple to follow, it has garnered considerable criticism, especially from women who otherwise support women occupying more leadership positions.
Young described one of these view points: “There are people who think that in saying that women need to lean in more and claim their place at the table that you are blaming them.”
Sandberg argued that her message had no such intention and that encouraging women to take control of their destinies ultimately empowers them to no longer depend on a huge shift in social attitudes to occur before they can make a difference.
Following the interview an audience member raised another point of controversy when she noted that many of her otherwise like-minded colleagues cannot relate to the “Lean in” message because of additional struggles women of different socioeconomic, resources, opportunities, and ethnic origins face.
The question prompted me to consider the situation from the following perspective: “How much can working class women of color truly benefit from advice given by a billionaire COO with two Harvard degrees?”
Sandberg handled these tough questions with considerable grace. Thankfully, she did not attempt to argue against the fact that she was incredibly privileged.
“I don’t think that I can address every issue and it would be dishonest for me to try. I’m lucky and I know that. But what can I do with that luck? Do I not have some responsibility to make a difference with the resources and position I have?”
She added that the many arguments she raised in her book could easily apply to any group that has faced historic oppression and has not been empowered yet.
Nevertheless, this criticism is valid. It is indeed an oversimplification that “leaning in” will work for all women equally. Sandberg’s message is, in many ways, reminiscent of “second-wave” feminist rhetoric that did not fully take the intersectionality of race, ability, gender identity and sexual orientation into consideration.
It’s refreshing to see someone with of that position and influence proudly identify as a feminist. On the long run, however, Sandberg’s message, like the greater feminist movement, must “lean in” towards greater inclusivity to truly lead in equality.