Archive for the ‘ In The News ’ Category

The Deafening Silence: In The Closet Of Suicide

Tyler ClementiThe recent tragic death of Tyler Clementi, an 18 year-old Rutgers University Freshman whose sexual tryst was broadcast across the Internet leading to his subsequent suicidal jump off the George Washington Bridge, has gay activists and advocates screaming for a call to action.

This story is not that of one, but of many. Hazing mainly happens in school, especially in college, when many LGBT individuals are discovering their sexual orientation. In the case of Clementi, his unspoken sexuality was exposed twice across the Internet, which begs the question: would this have happened if he were straight?

As someone who has been personally persecuted by people of the likes of Dharun Ravi, I tend to think not. Straight people have sex on TV, in magazines and in movies everyday; gay sexuality is still not mainstream. Whether the actions of the college students were out of curiosity—or just a sophomoric prank or bigotry— remains to be answered.

In high schools and colleges across the nation, kids and young adults are forced into silence for fear of retaliation. Unless a person of authority personally intercepts malicious behavior unto another student, silence follows. It takes the death of someone to instill change in schools or a community, but these changes are often short-lived and wildly ineffective, since teachers and others are often too passive to defend the meek.

Now, another person is dead. A talented and gifted musician died because of torment inflicted over his sexual orientation. If being gay had to be personified from a state of being into an emotional context, it would be love. So, in essence these people were tortured, and in some cases killed, because they found the ability to love. This isn’t a legislative problem; it is one of society as a whole – Blind-eye syndrome.

How many more people need to die before something is done? The Matthew Shepard Law helps, but it doesn’t do enough as a preventative measure.

At my high school in Massachusetts, our Gay-Straight Alliance wrote and enacted an anti-harassment policy to reduce the level of violence and hate speech at the school. This policy was left practically unenforced until the death of Phoebe Prince, which lead to an anti-bullying state law enacted in her honor. This law was written in blood, just like the Shepard law.

Politicians, such as Tom Emmer, the current Republican candidate for governor in Minnesota — a candidate financially supported by major corporations such as Target, Best Buy and 3M — feels that our society does not need bullying laws. In fact, during one of his campaign speeches, he said that if he were elected governor, he would veto the Safe Schools for All bill, a bill that includes protection for students bullied because of sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and disability.

The Facts:

  • 45% of gay males and 20% of lesbians report having experienced verbal harassment and/or physical violence as a result of their sexual orientation during high school.
  • 42% of adolescent lesbians and 34% of adolescent gay males who have suffered physical attack also attempt suicide.
  • 20% of LGB youth report skipping school at least once a month because of feeling unsafe while there.
  • 19% of gay/lesbian youth report suffering physical attacks based on their sexual orientation.

[Source: Lambda.org]

If LGBT Americans had equal rights and were not treated as a minority, heterosexual kids would grow up thinking of them as their fellow humans. Not a subhuman class that should be persecuted, ridiculed, and tortured because they love someone of the same sex. This problem will persist, more people will die, and more laws will be written in their blood until we start changing on a societal level. Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see in the world,” start practicing compassion and lets stop the deaths now!

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Marketing 2.0: Ad Smarketing

Marketing has come a long way from the days of the ever-so relatable Joe Camel. Gone is Joe, and so too are the cigarette ads, now a new player is in town: Facebook.

Marketing has finally come to the people. Egocentric marketers, whom really have no relation, nor understanding of their target audience, save for a few Nielson test group results, no longer dictate what is successful and what is not.

Now the people, the consumers, and even the Facebook-stalkers hold the key to a successful marketing plan – public opinion finally matters. On the Internet, things are not broadcasted en masse, marketing as a whole has become very demographic-specific. It is now possible to reach a group of unwed, white, 16-19 year old girls in the mid-west with great accuracy.

Today, Neilson released a special report entitled “Advertising Effectiveness: understanding the value of Social Media impressions.” This 12-page report is the result of six months of research consisting of surveys of over 800,000 Facebook users, 125 Facebook advertising campaigns and 70 brand advertisers.

The study concluded that there are two types of impressions in social media marketing (smarketing): paid impressions, and ‘earned’ or ‘organic’ impressions. These impressions are garnered from three sources: Homepage Ads, Homepage Ads with social media context and organic impressions. Of course, my favorite is the organic impression (duh).

What are ‘organic impressions’?

These are impressions that are a direct referral from a consumer; it is word-of-mouth 2.0, if you will (e.g., “Joshua Plant Became a Fan of Twitter”). These impressions have the least reach, but have the most impact.

Organic impressions nearly quadruple a campaign’s effectiveness across the board, when compared to a conventional Homepage Ad. According to Nielsen’s BrandLift research, purchase intent was merely 2% with Homepage Ad exposure, compared to 8% with Homepage Ad exposure with organic impressions. Similarly, ad recall’s numbers jumped from 10% to 30% when organic impressions were added to the mix.

It is evident that the key to effective marketing is to include interactive elements within the ad creative, such as a “become a fan” button or a “follow us on twitter” link, something that engages the consumer and allows them to broadcast their recent ‘fan-hood’ of a particular product or service to their audience (i.e. friends). Generally, this leads to a sudden bombardment of new “fans.” Even the chattiest of chatty Kathys could not spread news of a great thing as fast as residual organic impressions can.

The hardest part is that one cannot buy organic impressions, or force something into the viral market. The only way to do this is by offering a great product, targeted campaigning and brand integrity.

Social advertising is simply the beginning of Smarketing, community building is the next crucial building block in your foundation, but I will touch more on that in a later post.

Facebook: A place for revenue

Facebook board member, Marc Andreessen projected that Facebook would top $500 million in revenue for 2009; also, eluding that it could very well become a billion-dollar company within the year.

Namely, the reason for this sudden jump in revenue is because of Facebook’s transition into Social Ads over banner ads. These new ads target users with keywords in their status messages, profiles, etc, and gives the users the ability to “like” or “dislike” an ad; ergo, creating more precisely targeted ads to Facebook patrons.

A secondary source of income came from their “engagement ads,” which are ads with which users can interact, comment or send as a “gift” to their friends. Different companies sponsor these “gifts”, or users can pay for other more generic “gifts” – creating a virtual world of chatkas and sentimental gifts.

Facebook has really become the thought leader and innovator of advertising through social media, and they are one of the first social media networks to really figure out how to turn a [dot]com into a profitable and self-sustaining machine.

Because of this, and many other solid and profitable tools that Facebook has developed they “are definitely in no rush” for an IPO. “If you don’t need that capital, then all the pressures are different, and the motivations (to go public) are not there in the same way,” said the 25-year-old CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

And Zuckerberg is certainly under no pressure to raise outside capital, since they just turned $1 billion in revenue, last year; up $500 million from Andreessen’s estimates.

Facebook certainly has a solid chance of turning into the next Google-esque cash cow. Time to start buying up some private shares!!

Social News: Chile’s Earthquake Shakes Up Social Media

On February 27, 2010, just outside of Chile’s second-largest city, Concepción, an 8.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the area. It wasn’t long thereafter, that social media was feeling the aftershocks.

First, it was Twitter: Because of twitter’s accessibility via text message, many locals were updating their twitter pages in an effort to tell others that they were okay and safe. Other users were using it to get in contact with locals to try and find loved ones. Twitter instantly became a back and forth of information about those affected.

Hashtags such as, “#terremotochile,” “#Chile,” “#ChileEarthquake” were being used to centralize tweets about the quake. Many users were retweeting missing persons tweets, in an effort to reach more people in the Concepción area.

@SherylBreuker, in particular, tweeted “Any info on Maria Alicia Moya, please update http://tinyurl.com/yfjtzed or contact @kencamp or @sherylbreuker ASAP #chile #quake.” It wasn’t long after, that Maria was found and @sherylbreuker tweeted “we just got word that Mariali is safe and ok thanks to an amazing new friend and the power of Twitter! OMG! Awesome!!!!” This is just one instance of how social media helped connect people.

Another is Google’s Person Finder app, which was used in Haiti in January after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake that devastated Port-Au-Prince, was relaunched for the relief effort in Chile. The app gives up-to-the-minute information about nearly 63,400 records to those providing (or seeking) information about those affected by the earthquake. Although the information is not verified, it still provides a resource for families and friends to find missing loved ones faster than an agency could.

It works simply by providing the user with two buttons, “I’m looking for someone” and “I have information about someone.” The user selects which one and enters the information accordingly. It also provides a map pinpointing aftershocks.

(Credit: Google)

To some, social media is a stupid time-suck, but in times of crisis, it saves lives, helps connect loved ones and keeps people better informed at a faster rate than mainstream media outlets.

Text your support:

1. Text the word “CHILE” to 25383 to donate $10 on behalf of the Habitat for Humanity

2. Text the word “CHILE” to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of World Vision

3. Text the word “CHILE” to 52000 to donate $10 on behalf of the Salvation Army

4. Text the word “CHILE” to 85944 to donate $10 on behalf of International Medical Corp.