Monday, August 13, 2012

Facebook hits and misses: tales from a social media Mom

A good friend recently made mention of certain people who “always seemed to be online”.  The implication, of course, being: “don’t they have anything better to do?” I nodded my head up and down vigorously, then shook it hard from side to side, hopeful that she left the conversation feeling supported.
In reality, however, I am one of those people who is "always" on-line.
Yes. I get paid to be here. 
As community engagement editor for The Macomb Daily and Daily Tribune, it’s my job to market our products and services to online audiences -- read, you! --  particularly those who read blogs like this one, and use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus
Explaining this to a friend/recipient of numerous (and of course “relevant”) online links, pics, memes, news items --  was told: “I want your job!”
I won’t lie. It is nice to be in the know; a big part of the reason I got involved with journalism in the first place.
After five months into the position, I'm getting a good feel of what triggers people’s interest – and what does not, at least in our particular u-verse.
Here is an informal breakdown of our greatest "hits", literally: 
·        Landscape Shots. Brightly-hued photos celebrating the natural beauty of Macomb County and Michigan -- particularly those showcasing sun, sky and water.(The above photo taken by Macomb County photographer, Cathy Rudd, at Lake St. Clair Metro Park)

 Humor. A recent meme of a gracefully dressed Victorian lady, with head and arms folded over the table above this caption: “Why do they want dinner every single night?”  Not quite as popular, but still good for a few laughs, an animation of a phone-toting tween walking past a cautionary street sign: “Slow. Children Texting.”   
·        Solar Power (as in tributes to our solar system) A stunning, Super Moon photo gallery proved a huge hit; also drawing warm favor from fans – the first photos and video from Mars.  
·         Nostalgia. Our second biggest post ever, reminiscing about the childhood tradition of “calling out” our friends to play; a post on Merchurocrome “Did it sting? Or was that Iodine?” and a picture of the early seventies fire that destroyed Federals department store in Roseville.
·        The DIA – We had a spirited discussion about whether it was a good idea to support the Detroit Institute of Arts the day of the millage vote; then, afterwards, readers were happy to give us a like when we posted the DIA’s famous, Diego Rivera assembly line mural as our cover photo.
·        Michigan Patriotism.  A meme titled “You might be from Michigan if …” drew 70 plus interactions
·        Guns -- Guns-rights folks are always passionate and vocal on our bulletin boards; a recent photo of a window sticker of a gun family drew a whopping 152 interactions.

 A question re:  “Do you still care about American Idol?” was also hot
·        Select local crime stories – a story in yesterday’s paper regarding a car chase into Detroit that injured an innocent bystander and destroyed a vehicle drew 50 plus interactions.   
·        Select local news stories – motorcycle helmet law, Michigan fireworks law, the local fish fly invasion, alcohol at local movie theaters and roundabout safety captured readers’ interest. Surprisingly, a post asking for nominations of the most dangerous intersections in Macomb County got luke warm attention.   
·          Select Olympic stories, discussions and photos. For example, a pic and story re: Canton's Allyson Schmitt carrying U.S. women to gold was popular, but a question re: “Which Olympic events would you eliminate?” Barely caused a stir.
·       Severe weather updates 
 And good news: A story about a New Baltimore Police cadet who instantly drafted a comprehensive plan to locate a missing child who was autistic got tons of attention and a story about Kid Rock collaborating to donate a new home to an injured vet grabbed more than 270 interactions, shattering the old record by more than 100 interactions.
News items that crashed and burned
·      Updates on the Jane Bashara murder trial
·     Anything Tigers, Lions or sports in general. ??? (I know, right? Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.) 
·      Madonna star gossip
·      Anything about books; even movie and TV discussions get very little traction.

A few trends on my personal Facebook page.
Major Engagers
·        Cute, inspiring, or humorous stories about my kids, for example, their being embarrassed of everything I say and do.
      ·   Colorful images of my kids and family, especially against stunning backdrops (when they’re available) i.e. cool vacation shots.
·          Hot guys. Including one of a good-looking man presenting us “girls” with “organic kale” and another shirtless specimen I dropped in, hoping to inspire a lively discussion about summer reads. (My friends – kindly! –did take the time to weigh in, but alas, not necessarily about the books. Sigh. Lol)
 Occasional cultural trend references re: current movies such as Brave, my interest in cooking, wine and working out.
Crash and Burn Part II
·  *  Story links. 
·          Again, book discussions 
·          Pictures of people my friends don't know well, including my cousins, doing amazing things like leaping over hot flames or over giant hurdels on motor cross bicycles.
FLastly,  a few words about the way we react to “tone”.
Although I’m not surprised that most of us are turned off by arrogance -- superiority complexes and narcissism aren’t well- tolerated offline either -- I was surprised how coldly sarcasm is received online.
Any post or comment that smacks of superiority in the slightest, dies like a 70s rock song at an elementary school dance.  Halleluiah.
Not sure how sarcasm ever got a positive rep in the real world -- generally, sarcasm s considered funny and acceptable -- if you doubt this, just click over to the Disney Channel for a minute. 
Webster New World College Dictionary, however, defines sarcasm as the “intent to hurt by taunting with mocking ridicule, veiled sneers, etc.” Wow. I wonder if people who use it ever stop long enough to realize it's impact? 

OK. Now it’s your turn. What online posts grab you by the throat and make you want to share your innermost thoughts, opinions and laughter??
Inquiring minds want to know.

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