Monday, June 17, 2013

Does the use of social media give businesses useful information?

Social Media 101

                Social media exists in various levels of social presence and self-presentation.  Various forms of social media will vary by how much interaction someone has with it and how much you disclose of yourself.  Something like Wikipedia has a low level of social presence due to how little one would interact with the program (essay format); it would also have a low level of self disclosure because by participating in the project you would not share much about yourself.  On the other hand you would disclose more of yourself on Facebook or Second Life while also engaging in a much more enriched experience.
                While blogs such as this, social networks or interactive social experiences such as Second Life vary in their format, they all have one thing in common: they increase the amount of social interaction people have with each other, even though that interaction is virtual.

Social Media and Business

                With the rise of social media sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Reddit and others, businesses have to manage their brand in new and innovative ways.  Teri Kojetin believes that social media can help businesses define their image, share the brand message and engage with customers.  These are probably the most beneficial things that social media can do for a business.
                The difference between social media today and the way people have traditionally communicated is that in today’s digital social world businesses can be an active part of the conversation rather than a passive bystander.  This can have some good or bad outcomes depending on how a company handles situations.

Social Media Errors

                Because some people don’t have experience using new technology, it is common for some businesses to make mistakes.  During the 2012 Super Bowl, Toyota created several twitter accounts and used them to tweet promotions rather than discuss the football game.  This caused many people to have ill feelings toward Toyota due to the spamming of their twitter feed.
                During the 2012 presidential campaign, many accused President Obama’s campaign of overusing social media and email.  While experimental or innovative, this can lead to image problems.  As one Penn State student put it: “We don’t think Obama’s cool because he’s managed to infiltrate so many outlets of social media... those of us who don’t think he’s cool are probably just annoyed.”
                Many companies have improperly or insensitively used Twitter or Facebook in promoting their brands.  In October of 2012, the Gap and Urban Outfitters used Hurricane Sandy to try to promote their brand, for which they received negative publicity.
                Recently, when Abercrobie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries made statements about only wanting “thin and beautiful”  people wearing his line of clothing, a backlash of social media memes proceeded to do harm to the company that they may never recover from.

Counter Arguments

                Because of some mismanaged social media campaigns, some people think that social media should be ignored.  Is it better to simply let people say what they want online and when the smoke clears the brand will still remain strong as it always has?  There are many reasons to think that this is wrong.

Ignoring Social Media a Bad Idea for Businesses

                A big mistake businesses can make in using social media is by not responding to criticisms. When a company makes a mistake, it can quickly go viral.  In 2009, United Airlines had a headache when they had to deal with Dave Carroll, a musician whose guitar was broken by the mishandling by the baggage carriers.  After he made a music video about the experience, United Airlines had to deal with the fallout of his video going viral.

Just be Smart

                It’s important for businesses to use the resources they have for managing their brand.  Today, marketers have the resources of the Internet that allow them to reach out to customers or potential customers in ways that Don Draper in Mad Men could only dream about.  If companies have these tools, then why not use them?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My 2-Week Fast

Day 0, 8 Oct 2010, Friday
Beginning weight: 180.1 lbs
Waist: 38.25 in
Neck: 16.5 in
Bottom: 41 in

I start my fast tomorrow.

I was originally put on to the idea of a multi-day fast by a story on This American Life that was aired a couple months ago. I started thinking that doing a cleansing fast would not only help me physically, but allow me to have more control over my mind and body and maybe allow me to have more clarity of though. I've fasted without food or water for a day at a time on several occasions for religious purposes, but this fast would only deprive me of solid food and it would last a full week or two. I would still be able to drink vegetable and fruit juices, broths and herbal teas on a strict regiment.

I found a fasting plan online that gave me a solid plan of attack. It also includes eating some digestion supplements and doing a couple other things.

Once I told Camille that I was interested in doing this fast, I expected her to oppose the idea and give me several reasons that I shouldn't do it, to my surprise, she was completely supportive. So we put the plan into motion. Due to the lack of certain types of food, the fast would have obvious effects on my body such as weakness and exhaustion for the first several days. I had an Army physical training test scheduled, so I knew that I would want to wait until after that test before I started the fast. Since it's coming up on the long Columbus day weekend, I figured this would be the perfect time to start my fast.

Now that I've bought all the necessary foods, supplements and equipment, I'm ready to start my fast. I'm very apprehensive about it because I know that I'll feel weak for a time and I will go through a period of feeling extremely hungry, so I've been psyching myself up about it for several days. I am nervous that I won't have the willpower to continue my fast after the first day or two. I'm also nervous that I'll be so tired from it all that I won't be able to help at home and with the kids as much as Camille needs. Regardless of these worries, Camille is supporting me and I want to be successful in this personal journey.

I'm about to go to bed now, and start the fun tomorrow morning, first thing!

Day 1, 9 Oct 2010, Saturday
Weight: 177.2 lbs

It's been a very interesting day. I started by taking a tablespoon of Epsom salts with some water. This worked as a laxative and started clearing me out. Then I drank an abundance of citrus juices mixed with water. I also drank some other vegetable juices, fruit juices, chicken broth and plenty of water. At times I even felt full.

There were many times when I felt a strong urge to just pop a little bit of food in my mouth. It's tough to be around food when I can't have any myself. I fed my daughter a couple times today, and if I wasn't thinking, I probably would have just popped a bit of cracker, bread, fruit or something in my mouth as I was giving it to her.

I didn't even really feel hungry at all until after noon when Camille made herself lunch and I didn't feel strong hunger until around 4 PM or so. Many times during the day I realized certain foods that I am really going to miss for the next couple weeks. I hardly ever eat them, but now they are something to daydream about. Imagine a slice of pepperoni pizza... or a meal from Panda Express. I try not to ponder too long on that, though because it just makes me focus on my hunger.

I notice that my brain feels a bit different. Maybe it's just the fact that I've been so focused on myself, but this evening I've started to feel a little euphoric: kind of like that punch you get when you feel medicine finally kicking in.

I haven't really gotten to the hard part yet, I think. I'm worried that I haven't felt anything yet.

Day 2, 10 Oct 2010, Sunday
Weight: 176.6 lbs

I've had a headache most of the day today. I even had to take an aspirin on a couple occasions. I am still having mad cravings for food sometimes. Mainly for potato chips, probably because I have much less salt intake than I normally do. I haven't been as hungry as I expected so far. I have had moments, but they pass and I feel mostly just fine.

I have felt weak. I can really tell when I have to get some sugar into my body. I do so my drinking some orange juice or apple juice. It still doesn't give me energy to do much, just keep from passing out. I find it hard to have any energy to chase kids or even stand in the kitchen and use the juicer.

I took an hour nap when the rest of the family was asleep and It was hard to wake up. It kinda feels like I've been sick and throwing up... that kind of weak feeling from exhaustion. I still expect it to get worse, though. We'll see what happens.

Day 3, 11 Oct 2010, Monday
Weight: 175.2 lbs

I did well today. I still got hungry sometimes, but no more than a nomal day. When I got hungry, I would just drink some juice or do something to distract myself. I did feel rather weak at times. Not shaky weak, but just when I would go upstairs, for example, I would notice that my muscles were a bit fatigued.

I got cravings more often than I got hungry, and the cravings mainly came when I was around food, like when I made Camille's breakfast or fed Tayla something. If I was able to distance myself from food more, it would be much easier.

I feel more mentally balanced. I took care of my newborn baby for a while and he was really angry and crying. He's had colic. Usually I feel myself get very angry with him and I get clenched teeth and have to put him down, but today I didn't feel any anger at all. I just calmly held him and tried to get him to stop crying. I didn't notice any guttural reaction at all. It was very nice to not even have anger inside of me like that. I don't know if I didn't get angry because my brain is getting different nutrients from my juice diet or if my body was just too weak to get angry.

I keep feeling that it will probably be harder tomorrow than it has been so far. It's really not that bad yet.

Day 4, 12 Oct 2010, Tuesday
Weight: 175.1 lbs

I had to get back to work today. It was hard to go out of the house because I kept being tempted with food. At the gas station, in my office, driving down the street. Everywhere you look is food, food, food! No wonder Americans are overweight. Being around food makes me crave it and makes me hungry. I was hoping that I would lose all appetite by now, but no such luck. I think it'll still be with me the whole time.

I went to the gym today and worked out my muscles. I didn't lift very heavy weights like usual, but just enough to let my body know that my muscles can't be used as fuel. I didn't lose any weight since yesterday, and maybe it's because my body has finally cleaned itself out and now it needs to focus on burning fat. At least that's what I'm hoping.

My skin feels vaguely numb most of the time. I think it could be that my diet is affecting my nerves in some fashion. I've heard that nerves communicate using fat somehow, so maybe the lack of fat in my diet is interrupting the nerves slightly. I don't think it's a problem unless it starts getting worse.

Day 5, 13 Oct 2010, Wednesday
Weight: 173.1 lbs

Today was quite tough. Work was stressful because I had too much to do and no one was giving me time to do any of it. When I would get worked up or stressed, I would get hungry. I now understand how some people feel when they go home from work and say "I need a drink" because when I got home I felt like I really needed a bite to eat. I guess I'm addicted to food.

I didn't eat, though, no matter how tempted I was. I had to rely on willpower, though, especially when my wife made a huge lasagna and left the leftovers on the counter for me to put in the fridge.

I was grumpy today. In the past I know that lack of food makes me very grumpy and as soon as I get something in my system I feel happy and cheerful again. It's probably the same effect of either low nutrients or low blood sugar.

Day 6, 14 Oct 2010, Thursday
Weight: 173.3 lbs

It's surprising how much energy I have for not having eaten any food in 6 full days. I also have had more focus than I feel I usually do. At work, I went from task to task and I didn't get sleepy or frustrated. When we went out shopping today, however, I began to feel faint after we were walking around for over an hour, luckily we were already in the checkout lane.

A coworker told me that I was looking thin in the face today. He joked that he thought I might be sick or have cancer. I have not been telling anyone that I'm on a fast or that I'm even dieting. I figure I'll let people know after the fact because I don't want people bugging me about it every day.

I didn't know how long I was planning on fasting when I started. I was dead set on at least one week and then judge if I was feeling up to another week. I certainly feel like going for another week. I'll break the news to my wife this evening.

Day 7, 15 Oct 2010, Friday
Weight: 171.4 lbs

From the This American Life story (mentioned above) I was under the impression that after a few days I wouldn't be hungry any more. I was wrong. I've been hungry most of the day today. It could be partly due to the fact that I have been running around doing stuff all day and working up an appetite, but I have been hungry every day at various times and to varying degrees. If you are thinking about doing this fast, be sure that you can put up with being very hungry.

I'm half way through the fast. I feel great. It may be the fast that's doing it or it may partly be due to the fact that I'm not eating any processed sugars or caffeine. It allows my body to get to feel more like it naturally should. On day 2 of my fast I had a headache most of the day. It was probably a caffeine headache. Now that I'm over that withdrawal, I've felt fantastic. Why did I ever feel the need to drink Pepsi or Red Bull?

Day 8, 16 Oct 2010, Saturday
Weight: 170.4 lbs

I only had a tough time with hunger at dinner time. We went to a barbecue and it smelled and looked so good. Burgers, hot dogs, chips, salads... mmMMmm. We went because it was a birthday party.

I'm down 10 pounds in 8 days. It's startling really. I guess I'm starving myself without protein or breads. I can finally tell that I'm losing weight. Other people have noticed, but I guess looking at myself in the mirror every day makes it a little hard to notice things in the long run.

Day 9, 17 Oct 2010, Sunday
Weight: 170.1 lbs

I've noticed that even when there's been hot weather, I don't feel as hot as I used to. I really can tell the difference in the body fat that I've lost so far. Not just with how warm or cool it is outside, but also with how I look. I can tell when I look in the mirror that I've lost weight, especially in my face.

It's tough to be around food at all. When Camille ate lunch, even sitting near food was very difficult.

Day 10, 18 Oct 2010, Monday
Weight: 169.1 lbs

I've really noticed that I've been in control of my impulses since being on the fast. I feel like much less of a servant to my body. I haven't taken any pills (except the occasional aspirin) whereas I would take my daily muscle relaxers and a pain pill for my back. I feel no need for caffeine at all. I don't crave chocolate bars or other junk food. The only thing I really crave is food of any kind, whether it's healthy or not, I crave it the same. I also have my emotions in almost complete check. I feel much slower to anger or passion. Is this control over my body a byproduct of the nutrients in my diet or is it a psychological effect of having to deny myself the simple pleasure of eating for such a long time?

I haven't caught myself about to eat by accident in the last few days. Not eating has become as much of a habit as eating was before. Eating really is a habit that many of us have become accustomed to. It is almost second nature to just have food in front of us much of the time. Maybe it is boredom. If more of us found hobbies, we wouldn't eat so much. As it is, TV is the main recreation for many of us, and we are restless sitting in front of a screen for so long that we must do something with our hands, and mouth... we must always be eating.

Day 11, 19 Oct 2010, Tuesday
Weight: 169.8 lbs

A person I met for the first time told me that it must be easy to be as young as I am because it's easy to stay thin. I haven't gotten a comment like that in a long time. That shows that even people that don't know me think I'm thin.

I've been getting cramps in my legs. I'm not sure if it's because of the fast or if it's due to the fact that I haven't been to the gym in over a week when I regularly go a couple times a week at least.

I'm on the home stretch now. I just have a couple days left until I start eating food again. I'm rather nervous to start eating food. I'm concerned that my weight will bounce back very quickly. I'm going to make a strong effort to eat less and eat healthier food from now on in order to keep from gaining too much of my weight back. I really feel more confident and happy with myself at this weight (but I wouldn't mind being a couple pounds lighter).

Day 12, 20 Oct 2010, Wednesday
Weight: 169.2 lbs

I really feel I need to get back to the gym. I have only gone once since being on the fast because of how little energy I've had.

I've come to realize that one main reason that I wanted to fast for 14 days was to prove to myself that I could do it. It was a subconscious goal. It really is an exercise in willpower. It takes a lot of effort not to eat. I think any other benefit was secondary. Of course I wanted to lose weight and get a clarity of mind, but proving to myself that I could do this is really an achievement to me.

Day 13, 21 Oct 2010, Thursday
Weight: 167.0 lbs

When I work out at the gym I lose a lot of water. This is partly due to the fact that I go to the sauna for 10 minutes or so each time. I always weigh less after a workout. Today after the gym I weighed 165 lbs. I haven't been that weight since I got married 6 years ago. During this whole fast, I kept hoping to myself that I would somehow hit that magic number. If I could maintain this weight I'd be happy, but I can't go on eating nothing for very much longer; my fast ends tomorrow. I just hope I don't gain back too much weight.

I've been feeling pretty much normal these past few days. The tingling skin went away and the weakness is gone. I do feel more energetic though. I sleep better. I also have a better temperament. I guess my brain likes my current diet. After I start eating tomorrow afternoon, I will definitely cut down (or out) the caffeine, eat much less junk food, eat more fruits and veggies and less meat. I also plan to eat less food in general.

I'm nervous to eat again tomorrow. I don't know how my stomach will react to solid food after so long without. The fast plan does layout a set of instructions for eating again. I also wonder if my jaw will become fatigued having not chewed anything in two weeks.

I give myself a certain amount of spending money each pay period. Usually I run out of money by the next pay period, but I hardly spent any money at all in the past two weeks. I guess I only ever buy food. What a waste.

Day 14, 22 Oct 2010, Friday
Ending Weight: 165.4 lbs (down 14.7 pounds)
Waist: 36 in (down 2.25 inches)
Neck: 15.5 in (down 1 inch)
Bottom: 40 in (down 1 inch)

Well that's it. My fast is over. I ate some cooked carrots around dinner time, making it a full 2 weeks since I ate anything. A couple hours later I ate some raw vegetables and a couple hours after that I ate some cooked potato. I wasn't really hungry at all after I ate the first food. In fact, eating itself seemed rather like a chore.

Do I feel I accomplished what I set out to accomplish? Yes, I think so. I lost weight, I had insights into myself and my own eating habits and if nothing else, I proved to myself that I had the marathon mentality to accomplish this feat.

Its not the longest anyone has ever fasted. Gandhi fasted for 3 weeks and Jesus supposedly fasted for 40 days, though I don't know if they drank any juice and broth like I did. I don't consider myself holy for doing the fast, though I do think that I was able to gain a better sense of myself through this experiment.

Will I do it again? I don't know. If I do, it won't be for a while. But I'm not nervous about doing it again. Once I was able to realize that feeling hungry isn't the worst thing in the world it was a very positive experience.