The Joneses: Communication Networks to Do Your Dirty Work


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Keeping up with the Joneses… That idea is an integral part of selling anything – whether it's a car or a spot in an upcoming freshman class.

We all know that we have to have conversations with our audiences and more importantly listen, but why is this approach so important? Does this engagement approach directly oppose the traditional idea of marketing our wares? Do folks actually listen to what we have to say when we tweet, Facebook, email? How do we engage them – and convince them to do what we want?

The answer is often not in how we engage, but in how we help communication networks develop. In this session, you'll learn the characteristics of a strong communication network and of great opinion leaders as well as what communication behaviors individuals bring to social media. Finally, you'll find out best practices for engaging with opinion leaders and how to *use* them wisely.

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  • All these things form your communication network.\n\nFor good or bad, they influence how we make decisions. And we all have them. \n
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  • All American family, right?\n1.8 kids, nice house, nice cars, good jobs\n\nEverybody wants to be like Joneses, but who are they? Really?\n
  • Plot? A seemingly perfect couple moves into an upscale gated community along with their equally perfect teenagers. The Joneses have better goods and game than any other family in town. The only problem is they’re not a family - they are employees of a stealth marketing organization, and they know how to make everyone else want what they’ve got.\n \n Like it or not, we can all be like the Joneses in our own little corner of the world. \n \n If you work in communication or marketing, like I do, then you know the importance of swaying people’s perceptions of whatever you’re selling. Cause that’s what we’re doing, we’re selling. \n \n I’m tired of it being a dirty word, and I’m tired of people asserting that if you use social media to accomplish goals then it’s not authentic communication. \n \n People know who I am. They know what I do. \n
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  • Communications Director at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law\nCo-chair for #hewebAR\nCo-chair of the HighEdWeb regional support committee\nEarned master’s degree in applied communication studies in 2010\n\nBowen – one of two Arkansas law schools. It is located in the capital city, focused on teaching professionalism, public service, and access to justice to our 500 students. \n\nPrior to this position managing all the communication elements for the college, I was a public relations coordinator for UALR. Serves 13000 students.\n\n\n
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  • How many of you maintain personal social media accounts? \nHow many of you manage institutional accounts? 1? 2? more?\n\nHow many of you have tweeted from the wrong account? >.<\n
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  • Today, we’re going to take some research (bah, research, who needs it?) and apply it to building communities in higher education. We’re focused on a specific communication theory known as diffusion of innovation. That’s where my research interest lies, and I think the theory provides a good foundation for anyone who is tasked with convincing people to do something - whether it be getting a vaccination or signing up for summer enrollment.\n
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  • Though my research applied to the use of Twitter to communicate information about an important event, the data we gained can be used for any computer-mediated communication vehicle.\n\nThis research project came down completely to a right place, right time thing. After a graduate program heavy with interpersonal communication theory and concepts, which can be used in our work, I was hungry for a course that allowed me to use elements of my everyday work. \n\nDiffusion of innovation (change management communication) gave me that. I knew I had to use this theory in my research, and I was personally involved in our campus’ response to communication about the H1N1 outbreak.\n
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  • Change agents’ success in securing the adoption of innovations by clients is positively related to the extent that he or she works through opinion leaders.\n
  • Started out with 3.4 MG of Tweets (almost 1200 pages of content – 140 characters at a time\nApril 25 = WHO met to discuss epidemic and possible treatments and vaccinations\nSept. 4 = Number of deaths around globe ramped up\nOct. 24 = Obama declared national state of emergency to deal with outbreak\n\nThe results: \nContent analysis – three themes:\nInformation-seeking behaviors\nMisinformation\nUncertainty reduction\n\nFollowed survey with phone interviews with volunteers to glean even more information about vaccination behaviors\n\n
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  • Survey of the users:\nHow often do individuals pass along information?\nHow do they choose what information to pass along?\nHow do they verify the truth of the information they see?\nHow does the information they see on Twitter impact their decisions?\n\nMajority of users pass along information 1-3 times per day, however, some tweet 10 or more times per day and pass along information that much too\nImportant to myself and followers, useful to me, “something of interest that comes from someone who I know who isn’t in my circle of followers”\nCONNECTIVE TISSUE in community\nDon’t verify information they see on Twitter, they trust those they follow\nTwitter is one of a set of tools they use to make decisions – this was disheartening to me, but revealing, Users glean information from a variety of places – family, friends, experts. Twitter cannot be the only way we share important information.\n\nCOMMON, IMPORTANT, VALUABLE information\n\n“I feel that the people I follow on tweeter are credible resources of information - as they are professional folks whose reputations are tied to what they say in this forum”\n\n\n
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  • People already want to believe what the members of their communities say online. Question is... \n\nHow do we create communities? \n\nEven more core to the discussion – how do we develop relationships with those opinion leaders who will influence communities?\n\nFirst, find your opinion leaders…\n\n
  • Cannot be too innovative, however. Not necessarily the early adopter category. System’s norms determine whether or not an individual is innovative as an opinion leader. \n\nOften described as people on the edge. Brokers between groups.\n\nOpinion leaders build communities\n
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  • Change agents’ success in securing the adoption of innovations by clients is positively related to the extent that he or she works through opinion leaders.\n
  • Anybody remember the Mercedes Benz tweet race?\nHow about girlsgonewww?\n
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  • The Joneses: Communication Networks to Do Your Dirty Work

    1. 1. THE JONESESCommunication Networks to Do Your Dirty Work Tonya Oaks Smith 16 April 2012
    2. 2. Major purchasein the past year? • Car? • House? • Computer?
    3. 3. What impactedyour decision to buy?• Newspapers?• TV?• Friends?• Family?• Social media?
    4. 4. Let’s meet some people...
    5. 5. Meet the Joneses
    6. 6. They’re not just living the American dream. They’re selling it.
    7. 7. Meet the agenda...• Who am I? Why do you care?• Who are you?• What are we talking about today?
    8. 8. Meet the agenda...• Who am I? Why do you care?• Who are you?• What are we talking about today?
    9. 9. Meet @marleysmom
    10. 10. ;)
    11. 11. Who areyou?
    12. 12. >.<
    13. 13. What exactly arewe talking about? • Research background • Theory • Research • Results • Application
    14. 14. BAH
    15. 15. Meet the researchTwitter + H1N1 == totally cool communication event
    16. 16. Meet the theoryDiffusion is the process by whichan innovation is communicatedthrough certain channels over timeamong the members of a socialsystem. - Ev Rogers
    17. 17. What we’re gonna create is a ripple effect. - Kate Jones
    18. 18. Meet the research• 1,400 pages of tweets 15,000 tweets 5,000 tweets• Content analysis + survey + interviews
    19. 19. OMGWTFBBQ* thanks to @robin2go
    20. 20. Meet the results“I feel that the people I followon Twitter are credible sourcesof information - as they areprofessional folks whosereputations are tied to whatthey say in this forum.”
    21. 21. So peopletrust whatthey see on CMC*
    22. 22. Meet the applicationInformation flows in diffusion:• Change Agency == organization that desires change• Change Agent == individual who represents that change agency• Opinion Leader == member of a social system who is able to influence others’ actions
    23. 23. Opinion Leaders• Take in more external communication• Display greater social participation• Have higher socioeconomic status• Display more innovative behavior
    24. 24. Activity Break! • In your Change Agency, who are: • Change Agents? • Opinion Leaders?
    25. 25. Back to businessOther ways to identify Opinion Leaders:• Who interacts with institutional accounts?• Who interacts with other students, professors, staff - online and IRL?• Who has friends in many circles?• Who has the toys?
    26. 26. So, we’ve always knownabout Opinion Leaders. What’s different now?
    27. 27. Today, people expect to share information, not be fed it. They expect to be listened to when they have knowledge and raise questions. They want news that connects with their lives and interests. They want control over their information. And they want connection – they give their trust to those they engage with – people who talk with them, listen and maintain a relationship. – Michael Skoler Media scholar•
    28. 28. o.O
    29. 29. You don’t realize the effect you have on people. - Steve Jones
    30. 30. Now that you’ve found theleaders, then what?
    31. 31. Have a party? In a manner of speaking... • Segment your stakeholders • Bring together followers with similarities • Create contact opportunities
    32. 32. Then...
    33. 33. Then...Strengthen relationships through continued interactions
    34. 34. Activity Break! Of your mentioned Opinion Leaders, what are their areas of interest? How can you create interaction opportunities between these leader and their interest areas?
    35. 35. Activity DebriefHow can you involve othersin your community?
    36. 36. How @bowenlaw does it Engagement with students, faculty, staff, and alumni who express an interest in communicating our values
    37. 37. Tweetups
    38. 38. Include all stakeholders in important news
    39. 39. Interact on their level
    40. 40. Contests
    41. 41. And ducks!
    42. 42. Duck contests, actually
    43. 43. Your Opinion Leaders will deliver communities if...• You accept the importance of their chosen medium.• You continue to build relationships.• You share salient information - allow super-users to scoop you sometimes.• You encourage questioning.• You fill the information vacuum.• You reduce uncertainty.
    44. 44. You must not...• Share information unworthy of your followers• Ignore followers’ legitimate concerns• Waste time sharing useless information• Ignore misinformation• Spread information you can’t confirm• Abuse your followers’ trust• Use any communication medium without pondering the ramifications
    45. 45. Questions?•• @marleysmom• 501.324.9896• Complete research is at