Hungry? There’s an App For That

It has been a mouth-watering week as Encore’s Restaurant Week here in Wilmington comes to a close. This week is hosted each fall by Encore Magazine and allows restaurants that participate to offer great deals for eight days in order to promote and advertise themselves. This year Encore went above and beyond to make this an easy and appealing opportunity for customers by creating a free EncoreGo! app which lists each of the restaurants, their location and the deal they offer. The app also shows users opportunities like local happenings, staff’s favorite places, drink specials, music and nightlife. With all of Wilmington made accessible with the touch of a finger, why would anyone not want this app?

The use of apps is becoming a more popular form of communication between company and consumers. Each app sits atop a large amount of underlying data and it is up to the business to put the right content in. Apps are highly focused to serve one highly targeted need at a time, which prevents brand confusion and keeps readers focused on the content offered. From the IMC perspective, there is the idea that now that consumers have a voice in companies, phones have become an essential tool to facilitate the conversation. Smart phones create ways for readers to enjoy looking at their screen and it is important to make sure the company’s app is easy to look at and navigate. It is not just about making your content fit on a smaller screen, but customizing the app to offer appealing visuals, information, and interaction so that readers stay engaged. The more enjoyable your app experience is, the longer users will look at it, tell others about it, and continue using it.

A second and essential reason consumers are relying on apps is the delivery of information. Instead of having to flip through various WebPages, apps have the ability to give readers all the information they might need in a condensed version. This helps them to find anything they might have otherwise missed. Most people would rather download a free app associated with a brand they are interested in than dig around multiple sites to find the information or product they desire. This demonstrates why apps are constantly feeding dynamic and fresh content to users to keep them satisfied.

Apps are changing the customer experience to offer stand-alone content that users can only access through Smartphones and tablets. This creates a specific target audience that brands can reach out to on a more individual level than larger social media or websites. Like EncoreGo! an app is aimed at giving readers the right amount of information that they need, keeping it interesting and making sure there is variety and change each time they return to the app. Now that Restaurant Week has ended the app has already modified to advertise new events, locations and deals. This kind of consistency keeps consumers coming back and encourages them to rely on the app to find what they want trouble-free and efficiently.

Savanna Mitchell, Brandon Hawkins, Danielle Salas, Bobby Huckabee, Tony Mangili

Red, White, and Confused?

Lazy, or uninterested? More and more voters seem to be refusing or neglecting to vote in elections. This voter apathy is being caused by more than just laziness. Politicians are trying to encourage people to vote, but it seems that voters have other reasons for their lack of participation in today’s elections.

The young adult vote is one that many candidates shoot for knowing it can help make a difference. Unfortunately the percentage of young voters is on the decline. In 2012, the percentage of young adults ages 18-29 who voted was 45%, down from 51% in 2008.

As mentioned before, this decline isn’t just voter apathy. In fact, less than 13% of college students said the reason they didn’t vote was that they were not interested. If it isn’t laziness or a lack of interest, then what is it?

Young voters that have attended college makes up 71% of the young voting population so it is likely that college students are the largest representation of young adults ages 18-29. This can get a little tricky for students who opt to attend schools out-of-state. A large majority of students are still dependents of their parents and maintain residency in the state in which they are originally from. Here comes the confusion for students: Where can I vote? How can I vote?

Over 25% of college students reported that they did not register to vote because they did not know where or how to register, or they had simply missed the deadline. How do we fix this? How can we shift this trend of voter apathy?

If a quarter of students are claiming confusion and lack of information is the reason to not vote then possibly a change in distributing information could help. States that mailed out sample ballots, information about polling places, and extended polling place hours, saw youth turnout increase by about 10%. If campaigns could focus their marketing towards students who may not know how or where to vote, we might see a boost of out-of-state college students voting.


By: Kelli Hall, Stephanie Jordan, Morgan McCleaf, Shawn Rause, and Danielle Walters

Photo Credit

Ready, Set, Run to the Polls!

The early bird gets the worm! Or, in this case, the early voter gets to skip out on the long lines at the polls. On October 30 at 5p.m., UNCW’s Election Campaign Communication class is helping citizens take advantage of early voting by hosting the Inaugural Run to the Polls event. During this time, UNCW students and locals who take part in the event will run, walk, or bike from Leutze Hall on campus to the Board of Elections and participate in early voting.

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The overarching marketing campaign is to increase voter turnout and mobilize young voters, while also informing voters about the 2014 Transportation Bond, known on the ballot as Streets and Sidewalks. According to this article, discussing the Engagement Approach to IMC (Groom, 2008), this type of marketing is on the rise in the ever-changing marketing sphere. Groom (2008) debates the importance of keeping up with the evolving expectations of the target audience by presenting a product or service to them in a way that will engage and bring about a desire to take action. By putting on this event, the Election Campaign Communication class has done just that. The class has also implemented various marketing channels in order to distribute the overall campaign message, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. By using social media as the channels of choice, the class is able to reach their target demographic: students.

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According to the article, 12 Basic Guidelines For Campaign Strategy, a campaign should amplify the motivation of your audience, not just their knowledge. The article also states that it is better for the audience to learn by doing, rather than having information thrown at them. The Run to the Polls event exemplifies this aspect of campaigning. It motivates the community to execute a certain behavior–take part in early voting–while also educating the target demographic about the 2014 Transportation Bond. By participating in this event, the community will have the opportunity to learn more about the Transportation Bond from the mayor himself, Bill Saffo. By physically mobilizing voters, this event will affect voter’s behavior in carrying out their civic duty at the polls, which will ultimately impact voter turnout.

-Hannah Rodgers, Kaitlyn Russell, Malia Swift, and Anna Joy Zima

North Carolina Senate Race Focuses on The Negative

The battle between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis for the NC Senate Seat will soon be coming to a close with the poll date rapidly approaching. This election has been one of the most heavily funded and discussed elections in recent years. We see proof of this is in the amount of political advertisement that we are constantly bombarded with while watching TV and browsing the internet. These commercials have been extremely harsh and have attacked each of the candidates in an unflattering manner.  The term voter apathy is used to describe the alienation many citizens feel from our government. We often feel like in elections we are picking from the lesser of two evils. These commercials have painted a picture making both Kay Hagen and Thom Tillis seem like horrible options.

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Agenda Setting Theory (1968) states that the media has the ability to impact what we as consumers and individuals believe is important. This election, issues of high importance include education, families, and women’s rights. Hagan and Tillis’s campaigns have pegged these issues as high importance and therefore they have become the focus of their attacks on the other. With the recent seven figure ad buy attacking Kay Hagan, North Carolina’s Senate race became number one in outside spending in the history of Senate races, with $55.7 million spent. 

Negative advertisements have completely overshadowed positive ones in recent years. In the 2012 Presidential election, Romney spent 91% of his 492 million dollar advertising budget on negative ads. This trend is not partisan as Obama also spent a majority of his 404 million dollar budget, 85%, on attacking his opponent.  With elections coming up on November 4th, many people may be just as excited to see the end of these ads as to go out and vote. How do negative ads affect your voting preferences?

- Margaret Cafasso, Kierstin Geary, Connor Gold, Olivia Sadler, and Hannah Zeskind

#nofilter?

 

instagram-logo“Can you guys help me pick a filter? I don’t know if I should go with XX Pro or Valencia. I wanna look tan. What should my caption be? I want it to be clever…How about “Livin’ with my ladies, hash tag LIVE”. I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes. Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie”. As the use of Instagram has grown within the past two years, it is safe to say that we, as users, have thought at least one of these sentences or something similar while uploading a picture. According to recent statistics, “Instagram is the tenth-largest application by reach. Moreover, it recently passed the 200 million user mark”. As a social media platform taking off with no intention of stopping, we are beginning to see how the personal and entrepreneurial use of Instagram is changing communication efforts today.

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Think back to a celebratory event where phones didn’t have cameras and developing pictures happened at the local drug store. At that time we didn’t take pictures at every social outing, selfies were not common, and online photo sharing was nonexistent. As social media has evolved, the use of photo sharing and editing applications have changed the way that we view our “friends”, brands, and their lifestyles and products. According to Stella Ting-Toomey’s Face Negotiation Theory, “People from collectivistic cultures with an interdependent self-image are concerned with other-face or mutual face, so they adopt a conflict style of avoiding and integrating.” Through the use of Instagram, users are allowed to choose what photos they believe put them in the best light and can feature those photos on their profiles. Very rarely do you see users posting pictures with no make-up on, without a filter, or in a setting that doesn’t make their personal image look more appealing. Not only does this apply to individualized users, but is integrating into corporations, nonprofit organizations, and various other firm Instagram accounts that aim to reach a large amount of people. In putting their best “face” towards the public eye, the transparency of people and brands alike can be questioned through this platform.

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As twenty first century communication moves from the written and spoken word to digital based visual communication, we will continue to see the communication effects of brands and individuals through their Instagram profiles. The way in which we communicate through these pictures is changing how we represent ourselves in the creation and cultivation of relationships. With the search for authenticity at an all-time high, showing ones “true self” is becoming more of an illusion than a reality on today’s Instagram feed. So what filter do you see your world through?

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-Angelica DiPaolo, Morganne McIntyre, Anderson McNaull, Madeline O’Connor, Rachel White

#Hashtag

People have always been searching for ways to improve social media so they can not only keep in touch with their peers but also share and talk about similar ideas on a specific topic. One of the more recent and now most popular social media mediums has successfully done this. People have wanted a simple way to connect their thoughts on a given topic with people around the world and Twitter has done just that with the introduction of the hashtag in 2006. The hashtag was originally introduced on Twitter as a way people could categorize their tweet and link it to any tweet that has the same hashtag. It started as a way for people to see other tweets with the same hashtag even if they are not following the person but it has now become a simple way for everyone to categorize their own thoughts and beliefs. The hashtag has created a revolutionary way to get details on breaking news or whatever happens to be trending that day.

Hashtags haven’t only changed the way we communicate by quickly categorizing each idea, but it has changed everything about businesses, politics, breaking news, sports and celebrities. If someone were to get bad service or a faulty product from a business, they aren’t going to write and mail in their complaint. Instead, they are likely to tweet a picture of whatever is wrong and create a hashtag that people can then add to. One of the biggest fears for business owners is a negative hashtag going viral and ultimately trending regionally if not internationally. A simple hashtag can ruin a business’s image far more than a letter of complaint could. A letter of complaint is hardly ever made public and the letter is usually only seen by the business itself but a hashtag will direct you to a list of similar complaints with just one click. This has given consumers immense power in the relationship and as well as increased communication between brands and their audience. Another advantage that hashtags offer companies is a cost-effective enhancement to traditional forms of advertising as seen during this year’s World Cup. By adding a hashtag to the end of a television commercial, a company can create a conversation between a worldwide audience.

Politically, hashtags have given candidates the ability to reach out and communicate to everyday people and respond to their questions or concerns. A hashtag can be used as a way  identify with which political party you support. It also allows for people to who wouldn’t normally be interested in politics to see different viewpoints about candidates to help make their decision when it comes to voting.

Hashtags allow easy and convenient two-way communication on a global scale. It allows us to connect with each other as well as businesses, celebrities, news and politics. It helps us to see the larger view of what is happening and what people are talking about. Using hashtags brings conversation to the forefront and helps us to find other people with similar interests or dislikes. It is important to businesses because using hashtags can encourage more conversation about your brand or industry as well as expand your range of current or potential customers. This will help in the way consumers and producers communicate and many believe hashtags will change the face of businesses forever.

–Brandon Hawkins, Bobby Huckabee, Tony Mangili, Danielle Salas, Savanna Mitchell

Designing Communication

Without a doubt, cell phones are the dominating tool of communication in modern day America. And with our phones starting to rule over our communication, it is important that they are effective tools. So we spend our free time talking about the newest phones and what changes we can expect. Phones have become such a prominent part of our lives that we no longer need them to fit into our pocket, because they’ll spend the majority of their time in our hand. Thus, our culture is witnessing a pattern of ever-growing smartphones, from 2003’s thin and efficient Motorola RAZR, to the newest iPhone 6 plus. Respectively, the phones range from a 2.2 inch screen to a vast 5.5 inches on Apple’s latest technology.

Why the size gap? In BloombergBusinessweek’s technology section, Brad Stone writes that the change in pace is the result of a change in function. Essentially, because communication is no longer a cell phone’s only function, the design of the phone must match the purpose. Don Norman, director of the Design Lab at the University of California at San Diego, says “Small phones were elegant. Remember, they were a reaction against the big old clunky bricks we started with. But then phones evolved. We don’t talk on them any longer. We use these devices for maps, restaurant reviews, and for texting our friends and listening to music. So the screen becomes very important, and small screens are miserable to use.”

Cell Phones

The change in phone size over the years creates a difficult scenario for designers who have to find an intricate balance between physical aesthetics and overall functionality. Sleek and small is physically appealing, but will not work for smartphones that serve as many purposes as the ones we have today. Designers and technology experts have created an incredible crossroads of aesthetics and functionality in the currently accepted thin, rectangular smartphones. This is what we call phenomenal communication design.

“Communication design happens when there is an intervention into some ongoing activity through the invention of techniques, devices, and procedures that aim to redesign interactivity and thus shape the possibilities for communication.” (Aakhus, 2007) First of all, cellular communication is a form of communication design by this definition simply because it shapes possibility for communication. But what we are really talking about is what phone developers such as Samsung and Apple are communicating to their audience through the design of their phones. Without even consciously realizing it, we as a culture accept bigger phones as better because current technology is telling us this is the case, when only 10 years ago the opposite was true. The evolution of smartphones and the growing sizes are messages to the world, letting us know that phones are no longer expected to be used solely for communication. They are cameras, maps, televisions, research tools, music, games, news, knowledge, and status. That being said, what shapes and sizes of phones do you think we might see in the future? Will the pattern of growing continue, or have phones reached their size limit?

 

Aakhus, M. (2007). Communication as design. Communication Monographs, 74(1) ,112-117.


By: Kelli Hall, Stephanie Jordan, Morgan McCleaf, Shawn Rause, and Danielle Walters