The Benefits of Social Media for Professional Organizations and Companies

The landscape of Social Media is truly an ever-changing one. From news outlets utilizing Facebook and Twitter to get out the latest breakthroughs on Facebook, down to a pair of friends swapping recipes using Pinterest, Social Media of all kinds has opened up an entirely new world of communication for everyone, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. How, then, can we translate this into better serving our audience from the standpoint of a company or organization? Can we use Social Media to reach out to our audiences in effective and meaningful ways? The answer, as it has become obvious even within recent years, is definitely yes.

Advertising on Social Media has been on the rise for much longer than we even realize. Companies and Professional Organizations now all have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as accounts on other Social Media platforms.  Advertising is so effective in these instances because it is basically warranted by the consumer.

When one follows McDonalds on Twitter, one is basically asking to see their advertising. The consumer has found a company they have interest in, and taken an active part in receiving updates and advertising from that company. This allows companies and organizations to advertise much more fluidly and organically. Advertising on social media is often viewed as less intrusive by consumers. It feels more personalized and direct, and less like a broad appeal to a broad audience.

Customer service is also a benefit to a company or organization using Social Media. It provides a very easy, personal, and direct line to one’s customers. Entire twitter accounts are now set up so that Companies may answer questions for disgruntled customers. When done in such a public format, it makes the company appear very reliable and responsive to everyone who chooses to read through the Twitter feed.

Social Media platforms also offer a large amount of valuable information to companies and organizations in regard to analytical data about their customers. Having users subscribed to a Facebook account allows an organization to view customer data and demographics over time. Which is, of course, a blessing to anyone working in marketing.

One more benefit is the sheer variety offered by social media. Twitter and Facebook specialize in text-based posts, but can also post photos and event news. Instagram deals almost entirely in photos, which is fantastic for retail and other physical goods companies. Youtube is the big choice for videos, which is great for companies providing services and even information about the products they make or sell.

Overall, Social Media can offer a ton to Companies and Organizations. It’s important to embrace and utilize this ever-evolving type of marketing, and to stay ahead of the curve in terms of connecting to one’s consumer base with these methods.

Free!

For those of you who know me, you'll know how much I love anime and games and all that's related. I took a break from it all for quite a while, but there's one series in particular that's dragged me back in...

Free! Iwatobi Swim Club is the first installment of the series; the first season, as it were... Then comes Free! Eternal Summer and recently a movie based more directly on the original second light novel, Free! Starting Days; High Speed. That's a lot of ground to cover, and I could really go on and on about this series, so I guess I can start and see where exactly I go with this...

One of the reasons I really love this series is personal. I started watching it during a time in my life a few years ago when I was pretty unhappy with where I was going and incredibly unsure about what to do in general. This very issue, and the realization that you can truly rely on your friends to support you, is a central theme for the struggles facing the series' protagonist, Nanase Haruka.

I related a lot to him at the time, and I still do. This, coupled with his inherent quirks as a character quickly made him one of my favorite characters out of anything.

So yes. I have a deeply personal connection with this series. But I also really, really love the animation. I'm such a sucker for anything pretty and well made, and really anything Kyoto Animation puts out will be just that.

I deeply recommend this series, at least give it a try. It's warm-hearted, funny, and uplifting. I recently binged-watched it again, and it's really so, so good... Give it a try and see what you take away from it overall.

I know it's not Halloween but....

For whatever reason I've been thinking a lot about the general Genre of Horror in media, and the way it can vary so greatly and what I like and don't like about it.

It could be because I very recently saw "The Conjuring 2," which was a fun enough movie and had some really masterful scenes in it, albeit a bit predictable. In particular I was fond of the usage of posters in the main house that the spooky scenes took place in, during the day, they were simple friendly faces in the background. Posters of band members from the appropriate time. But during the night-time scenes, they turned more distorted, darker... (also that nun painting scene wow)

Anyway, I've been thinking about what I like and dislike about what the Horror genre has to offer. In particular with video games. I love Horror Games. And in recent years I've seen a really unfortunate focus grow in on Horror Games, where they're so heavily reliant on simple gore and violence for the sake of being "shocking." I feel that after a while an audience can become pretty accustomed to such content, and that is the point at which a Horror Game crosses into more of an Action Game sort of territory, for me.

"Tension" based horror

I like Horror Games that build you up in tension levels, that get you emotionally invested in the story and then tear it away from you in the worst way. People will always cite the original three Silent Hill games for this system, I think. With some Resident Evil thrown in and all the games that copied it back in the day in some way. 

 

The original three and, in my opinion, even the fourth Silent Hill games are probably the best examples of what I love to see in a Horror Game. Lots of tension, psychological issues, symbolism, meaning underlying almost everything... These are all really strong in Silent Hill 1-4. They get pretty gory and violent, but it's not so over the top as to disenchant you with the visuals. It comes in waves of calm tension and then builds to something that I've always found truly meaningful.

Some other examples are probably the earlier incarnations of Resident Evil (from the fourth game on, in my opinion, it becomes and Action Game series), and the Fatal Frame series.

Some less well executed examples would be the Clock Tower (and in the end, Haunting Ground) series, Alone in the Dark, and other games which lack a bit of originality in enemy design or story line, but still successfully build this tension I crave so much from these games...

"Action" or gore-based horror

Outlast is a good recent example of this type of game. Don't get me wrong, I like these games too, but somehow they satisfy me less than what I classify as games that would rely more on tension than shock value.

Like I said, Outlast is a good example. It's pretty over the top as far as gore and violence goes, and there are a ton of opportunity for jump scares. A lot of recent Horror Games go more toward this flavor, in my opinion. It's made it hard for me to like many current examples of this genre... I get weary of them. I want my quiet tension back. Even the Silent Hill series gave way to this type of action years ago.

Horror that may or may not be horror after all

So, in my search for such a theme in games, I've found it elsewhere.

Alien: Isolation is normally categorized as an Action-Adventure game. But in my opinion it had far more traditional Horror Game elements. You're extremely limited of resources to protect yourself with, even saving the game leaves you vulnerable, and you're almost constantly stalked by some form of enemy. Not much in this game is friendly to the player, and it leaves the player on edge, successfully tense and nervous of every little noise or movement...

Altus' Catherine is another example. The story line is successfully mysterious, and the game play is mainly puzzles and a sort of "Visual Novel" type of action and speech selection. I would very much count this as a Horror Game in a sense, despite the game play not being your traditional sort. It challenges one's personal views on interpersonal relationships, and brings up how society views such things. Many of the bosses are horrific, overly-sexualized monsters, much like the enemy designs in the Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series. This game can make one fairly uncomfortable.

And speaking of Visual Novels and feeling fairly uncomfortable; lets talk a bit about VN's as horror games...

Visual Novels as horror

VN's are notorious in today's gaming landscape. They range from the soft, near-exclusively pornographic NekoPara and Sakura Swim Club, to the silly, innocent ridiculousness of Hatoful Boyfriend and Butter Me Up (a Gordon Ramsay and Paula Deen dating sim). These games are very often surprisingly deep, and rife with storytelling ability simply because of the platform of having the audience read through what the creators have written, often from a singular character's point of view.

With this in mind, it's not hard to imagine that someone, somewhere out there has turn this genre creepy and horrific, right?

There are, and likely I'll get into them on a separate blog entry. But suffice to say I think the VN genre can add a lot to the Horror Game genre...

Everything changes

Change is so very constant.

I was laid off from my job at Fluence Bioengineering recently, which was terrifying at the time. How would I pay for my home? What would happen to my family? But, as it turns out, things are okay. As I type this I sit in my own office at a new company, something I never honestly thought I would be able to say I could do.

Life is so funny. One week you're fighting constant, crippling, absolutely numbing depression as you go from your day to day, and the next you've been kicked out and set free all at once. Being laid off, scary as it was, felt freeing in a way. The change was sudden and welcome, while being totally unwelcome at the same time. Since then, however, things have started to very much look "up."

Suffice to say, I'm okay. This is perfectly okay.

Nearly a year...

It's been almost a year since my wife and I purchased our home, our official closing date is right after my birthday, on the 26th, and it still feels unreal to me that I get to come home to my very own space now.

Yesterday I finally set up an actual desk that I can work at and have as a quiet space. More and more I find it difficult to concentrate when in a general living space and trying to work... I hope this opens up a chance for me to "do" more creatively. Get some drawings done, if not for anyone's sake but my own. Where I am physically is important to me when I'm working on something, and this space I'm starting to create really is my ideal!

Been a while, huh?

Happy holidays everyone. I literally haven't updated this blog in over a year, and I really should have. Sorry about that... I've been crazy busy.

Last October (2014) my wife and I had the amazing opportunity to go to California and Disneyland and get married. We didn't invite anyone. Just us. We had a quick courthouse wedding and spent the rest of our time in the park, just going wherever our feet took us and exploring. Disneyland's Magic Kingdom is laid out very similarly to the Magic Kingdom in Disneyworld, with a few alterations, so we more or less knew where to go and what to do. It was also Halloween time, and we got to see and do some really amazing things. It was a great trip.

Then, early in 2015 around February/March, we purchased our first house together in Buda. A little 1600 square foot open planned 3br2b new build in a new neighborhood. It's come with its own challenges, but owning a house has been a dream of ours for years, and its one of the best things thats happened in recent memory... Spending our first holiday season here is wonderful.

Same sex marriage was legalized nationwide this year, now our marriage is officially recognized by our home state.

This past year has been full of challenges, and to be honest my little blog has just not been at the forefront. I hope to get more time to update from now on!

Iwagumi Dry Start Progress...

So on April 30th I bought some bunches of Hemianthus callitrichoides (Dwarf Baby Tears, H.C.) and a bit of Eleocharis parvula (Dwarf Hairgrass) to start the process of dry-starting my ten gallon Iwagumi tank. Its been nearly two months, so I thought I would compile all the photos I've taken over this time in a blog post just to show how its grown!

For those of you who don't know, the Dry Start Method is a method of going out aquatic plants in an emersed form before filling a tank with water, developed by Tom Barr. This allows the plants to spread a bit more and form a sufficient carpet before filling the tank with water. I did a lot of research into doing this before I started, seeing what seemed to work and not work for other people, and planning out my tank and process accordingly.

I started with my hardscape. Some dragon rock I found in a local fish store (Not seiryu stone, it won't look as blue, but I like what I ended up with's more black/red tone) and ADA Aquasoil (both regular and powder), ordered online. I had more than enough soil, and have some left over. Maybe someday I'll set up my five gallon spec again, this time as another iwagumi and use the ADA Soil I have left over.... We'll see. I took a lot of time laying out the stones, and let the hardscape sit for a few weeks before panting it to make sure I liked the layout. Once it was perfected in my mind, it was on to the plants!

H.C. on a coco husk mat

H.C. on a coco husk mat

I only spent about $40 on plants I think. Which isn't terrible, and I got more than enough to create a good ground cover to start with! My local fish shop (the Austin Aquadome) had gotten a fresh shipment of plants the day I went in, so I walked out with quite a bit of H.C. and Hairgrass.

Just starting to lay the plants down...

Just starting to lay the plants down...

And done! Now to wait....

And done! Now to wait....

Front view, when first planted.

Front view, when first planted.

Ever since the initial planting it's been a game of waiting. I had heard that not much growth happens in the first few weeks or month, and I found that to be very true. The tank looked the same for a long time. I kept the tank covered with Seran Wrap, misted it, aired it out once in a while, and waited.... After nearly a month, however, I started seeing the H.C. sending out little shoots!

Little shoots of H.C.

Little shoots of H.C.

Top down view. You can see the improvement from the last photo.

Top down view. You can see the improvement from the last photo.

And a front view

And a front view

It was around this time I noticed a few things. The first being that the lower parts of the substrate were getting too wet. Here's a note for anyone wanting to try this method in the future: it is hard to let a tank that is being dry started get too dry once you get the substrate pretty soaked (if you're using a high quality soil type substrate). I remedied this issue by backing off on my mistings (I use water with some Flourish Excel and Seachem Prime dosed by the way) and allowing the tank to air out for quite some time with the Seran Wrap off. I let it air out for an hour or two a couple times a week now, it seems to keep it from getting too wet a lot better.

The second thing I noticed were some new friends!

Not the clearest picture, but here's a little baby snail that I've found crawling along the side of the glass a few times!

Not the clearest picture, but here's a little baby snail that I've found crawling along the side of the glass a few times!

Anyone whose ever spoken to me about "pest snails" in a tank will know that I rarely if ever consider them actual pests, but a helpful part of the enclosed ecosystem that I think we all try to achieve in aquariums, to the furthest extent that we can (or understand). So I was really happy when I found the first little snail. I've only ever seen one at a time, but I'd be willing to bet there's more! I've also noticed a few teeny white worms that are likely planaria, which isn't surprising considering the nutrients that are undoubtedly in the soil. So I've already got life going on in there that isn't plant life, and is totally natural.

Now on to the really good stuff. My latest photos of the tank, after nearly two months of Dry Starting.

Latest photo from the top down

Latest photo from the top down

And the front view

And the front view

I haven't gotten the chance to really look at these photos next to each other, and the progress has really convinced me that the Dry Start Method works really well. Soon I will fill the tank, add a CO2 system and a filter.

Night Vale Live

As usual, I've been an inconsistent boob when it comes to writing in my blog, so here's what been latest...

Yesterday Brit and I took the trip to Dallas, through all the horrific SXSW traffic and subsequent construction traffic in the small town along the way, to see Welcome to Night Vale's Live performance at the Lakewood Theatre. We had perfect seats, in like the fourth row right in front of the mic Cecil stood at! I won't give away any spoilers, since they're planning on making the performance into an episode once this tour is done, but it was so, sooooo good.

Cecil Baldwin seems to have so much fun reading for Night Vale. He allows for a good level of interaction with the audience and stays in character so well, and he's able to shift from dramatic horror reading to giddy sass-muffin flawlessly. The other performers were fantastic as well, and the musician we had was Eliza Rickman. She was great!

We'll be heading back to Austin today, here's a few of the most decent photographs we could grab...

 

cecil.jpg
nightvalegroup.jpg

I highly recommend listening the the podcast, it's free and amazing. And if you ever get a chance to see one of their live shows, they are SO indescribably worth it! I know I'll try to get to the next nearest one!

The World is Ahead....

It's been a while since I updated here, so I figure I may as well now. I am currently on a job search, and not limited only to Design Jobs. but really just opening the door for all the extra time I have now that I'm out of school.

I don't know if it makes me seem... Insipid. But all I really want is a job that can keep me going long enough to move into an apartment and be happy, maybe some wiggle room to save up for a trip with my girlfriend. I am enjoying a sense of quiet after school, yet also a willingness to move on from that stage, even if the step I take is small.

Don't get me wrong, if I landed some great Design job in New York or California, I'd take it. But also, if I don't, I am okay. Life is good, and calm. And so am I right now.

Also, about a week ago I got a chameleon. He is awesome!

Thanks

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I figure I should write down what I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful for the brilliant support system I have around me, my family and close friends, while they may be few in number, mean a lot to me. I have never believed that you have to have a huge family and a ton of friends in order to be happy, quality over quantity, I say. Brittany, my girlfriend, is a constant in my life, and someone I can always count on to love and nourish my soul when I need it. My parents have been supporting me all my life, pushing me to be my best and helping me in ways that I will never be able to pay them back for. My friends who have always entertained and comforted me were also particularly awesome this year =)

I am also thankful for something coming up, something which I've only told a very close few about, and will be a surprise later on for everyone else. Because I'm a tricky one. This month has been so, so busy. And next month will be too, in a different way!

Also, tomorrow I'll be thankful for the chance to sit down with those closest to me and eat delicious food. Because food is seriously awesome.

Getting there....

I am extremely quickly coming upon the imminency of my graduation, and surprisingly, I have gone from total freakout to almost calm.

I rarely show it when I am freaking out, so those who know me might not have noticed.

I only need a few more things to play out, then I can relax a bit (and start looking for jobs). It is sometimes hard for me to go from full throttle get-things-done mode to a more relaxed state, and the truth is that for me its like an on or off switch. I'll have some free time and spend it doing something I enjoy, but the whole time my mind is on that thing that needs to get done. It makes it a bit hard to focus sometimes.

I definitely need more coffee.

Start of a Blog

I imagine I'll be putting things in here from time to time, so here is my first post.

I plan eventually to talk about design here, of course. But this may also turn into other things, we do not, after all, always gain inpsiration from a single source. I'll talk about what I want on here. The things I like, what's going on, et cetera...

So please, enjoy!