Cindy Brugge

A Public Relations Student

Month: March, 2013

Managing Illness Updates through a New Social Media Tool

When my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, it took a major toll on my extended family. The matriarch of our family tree, she is my only living grandparent. With four grandparents down and only one to go, I did not handle her illness well.

My parents, grandparents and aunt at my dedication

My surrogate parent, she hid Easter eggs, bought me my first bra, organized tea parties, sewed dress up clothes and kindled my competitive nature by being a fierce Spades opponent. As close as I have been to her, I am not alone in this sentiment. My 12 cousins have slight variations of the same story. She was our playmate through childhood, our advocate through adolescence and remains our mentor as we have matured into adults.

Easter Celebration 1993 with my grandmother and two of my cousins

So, it isn’t hard to understand our heartbreak when she became terminally ill with stage three leukemia. I specifically remember the first time all 13 of her grandchildren came to the hospital on one afternoon. After everyone spoke with her individually, we all came in the room and sang “Amazing Grace.” (Side note: My singing was mostly mumbled words mixed with tears, snot and sobbing noises.) That afternoon made our communal love apparent very quickly and in the passing weeks, I began to see that the admiration for my grandmother extended past my family into the community.

On a daily basis, people crawled out of the woodwork to reach out to her. If she had allowed it, she would have had a constant stream of visitors from dawn to dusk every day. However, the chemo took the spark out of the spunky old broad. She spent most of her days in a great deal of exhaustion and pain and wasn’t able to take in the chaos and outside germs that visitors brought in. Although her friends couldn’t come to her room, she still needed constant supervision from family. So we had an ongoing schedule of shifts for the family to keep an eye on her health. It quickly became very confusing and difficult to maintain the various schedules of the numerous caregivers.

Therefore, when I recently found CaringBridge, I was amazed at the service it provides and incredibly disappointed that I hadn’t discovered it sooner. CaringBridge is a social media site that allows an ill patient create a page to update followers on their health status. Each page has a journal and a photo book to keep followers up to date and a guestbook for people to share kind notes with the ill individual. Each site can be created for public or private use, which can be especially helpful with the sensitivity of illness.

All of these qualities of the website intrigued me, but I was most excited about their supplemental application, SupportPlanner. This website allows the family to manage the various details involved with trying to support an individual in the hospital. The planner helps maintain caregiving schedules and provided meals. It can also allow for pet and childcare, as well as household chores. Juggling the responsibilities of someone who becomes incapacitated in a moment can be very challenging. This app makes this balancing act much simpler. Announcements are posted to one place, making it easier to complete every task while accepting help from the numerous involved parties.

Luckily, my grandmother overcame the cancer through chemo treatment. In remission, she is no longer bedridden in the hospital. However, her illness is likely to return in the coming years. If we are unfortunate enough to undergo this experience again, I will be utilizing this unique feature for my family.

Saying Goodbye to Facebook?

“None of my friends use it anymore…”

“Isn’t that for older people mostly?”

“I’m thinking about deleting my account, because I’m never on.”

I hear these statements about Facebook more and more frequently. High school and college students have begun abandoning Facebook and flocking to other social media sites, such as Instagram and Pinterest. But as they leave Facebook out in the cold, should they worry that these passing trends may eventually fade in to obsoleteness? And if so, will they return to Facebook or will an new site emerge as a front runner to replace Facebook?

Facebook recognizes its failing platform and is in the process of redesigning its front page. Will this help them regain strength like a phoenix rising from the ashes? Some don’t think so.

David Garcia, a researcher from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, said that this redesign could cause Facebook to plunge lower in ratings than before. Garcia referenced the redesign of Friendster, which was the final straw of its following.

Garcia makes the valid point that an updated design could be only detrimental to Facebook. With use already declining, Facebook will cause confusion with already rare users. Unless Facebook is able to integrate a new element that revives its following, we might be saying goodbye to the beloved site in the near future.

Why Free People’s Social Media Gurus Constantly Rock My World

URBN, a corporation that owns numerous trendy clothing stores such as Urban Outfitters, Free People and Anthropologie, has consistently infiltrated the market with forward thinking ideas. In accordance with this tendency, Free People has integrated many social media tools into their marketing strategy to create a blissfully, seamless transition across all of their web platforms.

Pinterest: On this platform, they have 36 boards and over 10,000 pins. Their most populated areas are on the DIY and recipe boards, but once people begin to follow Free People for their beautiful random pins they also receive a steady stream of Free People clothing, fashion shows, hairstyles, interior design, etc. Additionally, every Free People product that is pinned, links to the Free People website. They’ve also found ways to cleverly get people to join the conversation of their Pinterest page. For example, Free People addicts competed in a competition in early February to submit the cutest relationship pictures to celebrate Valentines Day. Let me just say that this board is so adorable that a razor blade to the wrist seemed preferable to a lonely February 14th.

Instagram: Free People’s Instagram account just makes followers envious of every URBN employee. Fun pictures of day-to-day activities in the Free People corporate office, include snapshots of their office dogs and crafty projects. Then the next post will come from backstage at a fashion show or a preview of a new line of clothes, being released. They absolutely stay in touch with their audience by fitting into the hipster, Instagram scene with their stylish lifestyle.

Twitter: Because their job looks like so much fun, URBN has a Twitter handle to post job opportunities. If you look for career options on their website, it sends you right to the Twitter page. This way their job opportunities are always being updated. It also forces their applicants to be on the same forward thinking wavelength as URBN branches.

Blog: On top of everything else, they have a great blog called Building 25. The web design of their blog is clutter free and easy to use with tons of information from many different outlets. My favorite column is the 60-Second Stylist. They also try to engage their audience by answering dating advice questions and offering a book club to their followers.

Bldg 25: The Free People Blog

Bldg 25: The Free People Blog

Other: YoutubeFlickrFacebookrdioGoogle+

I love that I get a daily dose of this brand through social media without being overwhelmed by embedded ads. They are incredibly effective, by skillfully adhering to their brand to market to current shoppers and future audiences. I just can’t get enough of their web presence.