What makes a blog eye-catching?

One blog that I regularly follow is Makeup By Caitlyn Michelle. Caity is a good friend of mine, so when she started doing professional makeup, I was all for supporting her in every way possible. Her blog was one of the first platforms she used to talk about her business. She also used it to share makeup tips and tricks, her portfolio, opinion pieces, and more. I like following her blog because I never knew much about makeup, but her posts inspired me to learn more.

As I said, I wasn’t never a makeup guru, but the way Caity’s content is put together helps me learn easily. Through her blog I’ve learned how certain makeup items work, and how to look into different types of makeup. I like how she mixes up content, too. It isn’t always about makeup. Sometimes she will post about how to decorate your home or how to achieve your yearly goals. Mixing up the content helps keep the blog fresh.makeup2

makeup1The overall design of the blog is clean, concise, and eye-catching. I like how you can see her latest posts with a tidbit of information under each title and graphic, which then allows you to read more if you choose. Additionally, I like the photos she chooses to add to her posts. They help make the content stand out – it’s very professional looking!

Lastly, I like how the blog is integrated into her overall professional website caitlynmichelle.com. This allows the user to go back and learn more about her, her services, and portfolio. What I find amazing about the site is that I know Caity does more than makeup, and she displays it perfectly on her website under “about us”– allowing people to see what she can help them with (for example, she links to her Etsy shop). The social media icons and widgets on the site allow for more ways to connect with Caity, too.

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Knowing Caity personally, she is a rockstar! She does makeup on top of a full-time marketing job, and is also a graphic designer and does freelance work. She also touches on fashion by assisting others in shopping and cleaning out their closet. Caity is extremely busy, so it’s impressive how she is able to keep up with her blog regularly and still make it eye-catching! Her blog is a great example of what makes a blog stand out.

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What’s next for communications?

This week was our second to last Intro to Digital Communication class – I can hardly believe is already almost over! Over the last 10 weeks, we discussed digital convergence, public relations, advertising in the digital age, and much more. All of us talked about what we thought was the most interesting thing we learned in this class, and I must say we have a smart group!

I originally said in the class that digital convergence was the most interesting to me – mainly because we don’t really think about how technology has changed how we communicate, we just take it as it comes. However, one thing that interested me the most was the topic of “Big Data.” I talked about Big Data in a previous post, but I really think it is so captivating how it continues to advance.

It’s a little mind-blowing to think about how much digital communication has evolved over time, and how much of our personal life is out in the digital space. Our interests, thoughts, inquiries, etc. are all out there for the Internet to analyze and break down to assist organizations in targeting their consumers; thus, leading to more customization when we search the web. We continue to see advertisements for things we are interested in show up on our Facebook page or Pandora playlist, but where will they go next? We see how they play out in the current digital space, but with continuing changes, it makes you wonder what other types of data they can collect from us and how it’ll be used.

All of the changes over the years really makes you wonder – what else will be different in the future? We’ve seen many technologies played out in movies come to life, such as robots or self-driving cars, but what’s next? I’d love to hear what you think!

I’m sad to see this class is almost over, but very thankful for all I’ve learned. It has reminded me that I have taken on the right field for work!

 

 

Advertising in a Digital World

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class we discussed how digital growth has most dramatically changed in the advertising industry. Advertisements have become more diverse as we continue to see changes in technology. Below are a couple examples of what we talked about in class.

  • Ads in Facebook videos. Facebook showing advertisements in their videos is now similar to how we see many videos on YouTube. Since Facebook always looks to be the most dominant social network out there, they continue to add features and limits to specific parts of the site – in this case, video. Facebook won’t allow you to share a YouTube video on their page and have it auto-play, mainly due to the fact that they want you to upload your video to their site (it shows up as a thumbnail when shared from YouTube. This also allows them to places ads in the video and make money that way. Users typically have to watch some or most of an ad before watching a video – a new, kind of forced, way of advertising. Facebook is also encouraging video advertisements for your business – read more here.
  • Snapchat geofilters. Snapchat geofilters (see samples below) are one of the more diverse out of the most recent digital advertisements created. Snapping a video or photo and then swiping left allows you to choose filters based on your location or a campaign that is going on. For example, as you can see below, most cities now have filters for you to use when you send your snaps to others – which, in turn, promotes the city. Many companies use this technique to spread awareness of their brand, campaign, or event. One example that comes to mind is the show Scream Queens. I remember seeing commercials for it on TV, but when the pilot show was about to come out, a Snapchat filter was created to promote the show. The geofilters usually are unique and entertaining, which leads to “snapchatters” to use the filter – without always realizing they’re helping promote a brand, campaign, or event.

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Other advertisements we see today include podcast ads, social influencers, personalized ads tailored to our Internet activity, and much more. All of these have impacted the advertising industry greatly – making it harder to keep up with all the different platforms to use, but also making it easier to reach the target audience. It’s funny to think about how radio, print, and TV were the most popular way to advertise – now there are almost too many!

Digital Divide: The Global Difference

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class, we discussed the digital divide on global, social and personal levels. The one I found most interesting was the global divide – the difference in technology between industrialized and less industrialized nations. Wealth, language, lack of reading ability/education, etc. are all factors that contribute to the industrialization of a location. The thought of life without Internet made me think of how lucky we are as a nation to have it.

It isn’t only not having the Internet that is crazy to me, but the lack of opportunity in some countries, such as Eritrea. In America, we are able to go to school and get a proper education to prepare us for our future beyond school. In addition, if that isn’t easy for some of us, there are usually plenty of options for us to obtain an education. It is expected of us to get an education.

Now, we have the Internet to give us even more opportunities. We can look for scholarships, apply to college, learn new languages, go to school, etc. – all online! We are SO incredibly lucky to be afforded these possibilities that sometimes we take them for granted. When we think of the global divide and the countries who aren’t offered the same things we are, we have to remember to be grateful for what we have and what we can do with our lives, because there are others out there wishing they could do what we can.

It’s imperative to help others when you can. That’s a big thing I do in life. It’s important to think of how you can make a difference in the world, and to act on it. So, how can we help other countries become industrialized enough to get Internet? I would love to hear your ideas! It would be great to all come together and be able to make someone’s life by giving the gift of the Internet.

Social media – How has it changed your social life?

Many say social media has made us more social, while others say the opposite. Social media allows us to connect more with others on new levels. On the contrast, we are able to hide behind social media when we are too nervous to speak to someone in person. It all depends on our personality and the social activity. According to Imtiaz Ali’s “Positive and Negative Effects of Social Media on Society” article, we can see the clear positive and negative effects of social media. While there are several points to list on the impacts of social media, I am going to highlight one positive impact from the Ali’s article, and a negative impact I view for myself.

One of the positive impacts mentioned says “social networking sites is to unite people on a huge platform for the achievement of some specific objective. This is very important to bring the positive change in society.”

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Toby was our first rescue dog as a couple. Read more about Toby here.

I believe the above statement is true. There are so many groups, events, etc. where people who share the same interests can come together to achieve an ultimate goal. For example, I have a passion for saving animals – so I’m part of many local and national pet groups on Facebook where I can share fundraisers, animals needing foster homes or advice. This has helped me make a difference in many lives – I know I wouldn’t have been able to save as many lives as I did without Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites. Another positive note is I have made many animal rescue friends along the way! I know this has made me more social because I’m able to speak on my beliefs more freely than I have before.

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Sammy, Scrappy, Eli & Moe wouldn’t be alive if social media didn’t exist.

A negative aspect about social media is a person’s need to share content to make his or herself feel good. To me, this is not a healthy way of thinking. People share selfies, some over-the-top information on their relationships, where they are eating or where they are traveling to – there is no privacy. I understand if you are excited about something and want to share it, I do that as well; but everyone knows those particular friends who stick out and do a lot of it solely for the attention. What happened to just calling up a friend to tell them your happy news? These days, we are expected to broadcast our news on the internet – for people to like or dislike – then decipher that person’s motive. It somewhat makes us less social because we can’t just tell people news in person; we have to wait for their reactions, if any, on social media.

There are numerous other reasons why social media has made us more and less social. Social media has definitely impacted how are society acts and thinks compared to how it did previously. I do think, overall, social media has helped bring many people together for causes and other endeavors – this helps make a difference in the world – something I’m always a fan of.

The Internet: Making the World Smaller

In this week’s “Introduction to Digital Communications” class, we discussed how we define the Internet. We broke off into five groups – I was with Brenna and Jenny. My group came up with the definition below.

Internet: A global environment that connects people, enables communication, and fosters the sharing of information instantly from any location on a wide variety of devices.

While we were thinking of ways to come up with this definition, Jenny noted that the “Internet makes the world smaller.” I thought this was a very interesting thought; it is so true. Almost everyone in the world is connected to the Internet; thus, making it easier to spread global news stories, communicate with others, etc. I think it truly does make the world smaller because we share more with all Internet users than we would if we didn’t have Internet at all. Websites have even “died” – such as myspace, askjeeves.com, and BabelFish – because the Internet keeps evolving. We all become globally connected and learn more about each other this way – whether it’s a person, country, industry, etc. – it connects us deeper than ever before.

Internet gives us everything quickly. We are able to find answers to questions, connect with others more through social media, shop online with just “1-click,” and much more. The Internet has changed our lives indefinitely, and it makes you wonder what life would be like now if we never had it.

Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both 🙂

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets — he’s very active on social media! 🙂

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young — it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made — that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time — it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

Winter Storm Jonas

This is about a week late, but I finally had time to upload some Winter Storm Jonas photos my friends and family sent to me. According to The Weather Channel, “Winter Storm Jonas produced prolific amounts of snow in parts of the East, rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past. Snowfall totals from the storm topped out near 42 inches in West Virginia and at least 14 states in total received more than a foot of snow from the storm.”

This storm was one for the books, that’s for sure!

Many people sent me these photos since I couldn’t experience this storm for myself. My family and friends never let me down!

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We recently found out we will be moving back to Central New York this spring, and I can’t wait to be back up north to experience these crazy winters!

Winter finally hits Upstate New York

We didn’t end up having a “White Christmas” — instead it was 67 degrees — but I did get to see some snow and ice before I left town. Of course, now that I’m no longer there, the snow has hit hard and is staying (just my luck).

It had snowed a couple times before Christmas, but nothing stuck. So now that the snow is finally hanging around, I would say winter has finally arrived up north.

My friends, Laci and Dan, live on Lake Delta in Rome (as I stated in my Fall foliage on Lake Delta post). I had the opportunity to take some pictures after the storm hit Monday night into Tuesday morning, Dec. 28-29. Unfortunately the WordPress website isn’t allowing me to upload all the files at this time, so I picked a few photos from Christmas Eve and the storm and posted them below. The Christmas Eve photos were taken from my cousin’s house.There is nothing like fall and winter in Upstate!

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It was a full moon and 60 degrees on Christmas Eve.

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Ryan and I enjoying the warm weather and full moon on Christmas Eve.

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Foggy Lake Delta after the ice storm hit.

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Looking down the icy staircase leading to Lake Delta’s brisk, cold waters.

My next adventure is to New Orleans (for the third time in the past year and a half)! The “Big Easy” is one of my favorite cities I’ve been to. I can’t wait to go back and experience all the fun. I hope to get some great weather photos while I’m there!

Fall foliage on Lake Delta

Fall is my absolute favorite season. I love when the leaves change colors and the weather starts to cool down. I love to decorate for Halloween; it is my favorite holiday to decorate for! I’m not a big fan of the various types of pumpkin coffees and lattes, but I must say the advertisements for the drinks make me excited knowing fall is here.

It is still pretty warm here in Georgia. It was cooler, in the 60s, about a week ago; however, we are back to the high 70s/low 80s again. I had the opportunity last weekend to go home to Rome, N.Y. as our friends were getting married. I definitely took advantage of the time home by taking walks in the city and by the lake to take photos of the fall leaves, going to a haunted house with my friends, and several other autumn activities.

One of my best friends and her boyfriend, Laci and Dan, live right on Lake Delta in Rome. Everyone in Rome can tell you Lake Delta is one of the biggest attractions in the area. It is a place where everyone in Rome goes to gather on their boats to hang out and enjoy the water whenever they can. In the fall and winter, people go to local restaurants or country clubs and take part in events by the lake because the view is just so breathtaking during any season.

Anyways, the reason I brought up Laci and Dan’s house was because the picture below was captured there. It is just a simple reminder that New York has the BEST fall scenery in the country. I can’t wait to live up there again someday and enjoy all four seasons!