Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Social Media is Changing Holiday Shopping Forever


By Kylie Munoz, Account Executive


Move over traditional television ads. Consumers now have a new form of inspiration and direction for holiday shopping--social media.

Social media is playing a bigger role in how consumers purchase gifts for friends and family during the holiday season, a new study by ConsumerSearch.com has found.

When it comes to shopping inspiration, the survey found that 64 percent of respondents depend on advertisements, emails, and retailer websites. And 62 percent count on social media, including user reviews and online wish lists, as well as a variety of content on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.

What’s even more interesting, but maybe not shocking, is that only 17 percent of respondents said they prefer to research and shop in stores as opposed to researching and shopping online.

“Retailers have begun using social media more to reach shoppers with deals and information and we can expect this trend to become even more popular over the next few years,” said Carey Rossi, editor-in-chief of ConsumerSearch.com.

If you’re looking for gift ideas, Pinterest, not Facebook, is where you should look, another recent study conducted by BizRateInsights.com has found.

A total of 70 percent of online consumers go to Pinterest to get inspiration on what to buy, while only 17 percent visit Facebook for the same purposes. 

Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team have become aware of this pinning frenzy and have recently launched a new test feature for a few select retailers, such as Pottery Barn and Victoria’s Secret. The ‘Collections’ feature is similar to Pinterest in that you can ‘collect’ or ‘want’ items from the retailers they have listed. These items are then saved to a user’s ‘Wishlist’ on their Facebook timeline.

So whether you’re looking at a retailer’s website, tweeting, ‘liking’ or pinning, you’re sure to find great gift ideas for loved ones this holiday season with much thanks to social media.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Creative Do-It-Yourself Project for the Holidays


By Lindsay Smith, Graphic Designer


The holidays are coming up and gift giving is on the mind. What a great time to bust out your creative juices and attempt a few DIY projects. I have made a step-by-step video showing one of the art projects I attempted. I hope this will inspire you all to save some cash and be creative this holiday season.


video

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Have You Been to Feather Falls?


By Patrick Sheehan, Graphic Designer


For all of you Chico State students who are interested in the great outdoors, Feather Falls is a must see.  In just under an hour and a half, you can be far from civilization and deep into the wonders of the Plumas National Forest.  Simply hop on Highway 99 South, drive through Oroville, and that puts you on the 162 winding around Lake Oroville.  

Then just keep your eyes peeled for Lumpkin Road, which is the gateway to the base of Feather Falls trail.  

The view of the towering waterfall is well deserved after a 4.5-mile hike from the 
base.  In fact, the total round trip from top to bottom is over 8 miles, so be sure to stretch your legs and stay hydrated throughout your journey.  The location of the waterfall lies on the middle fork of the Feather River known as the Fall River.  The river’s origin begins in the Sierra Nevada and runs 100 miles before flowing into one of the crooked fingers of Lake Oroville.  

On the descending voyage through the Plumas National Forest in route of the lake, the 
falls reach a 410-foot vertical granite slab where it projects its energy through a narrow passageway.  During the late winter months, the water levels reaches its peak 
and allows Feather Falls to come alive.  The top of the falls is easily accessible and provides the viewer with a breathtaking scene of the deep valley that lies beneath.  For those who are not fans of heights, an additional viewpoint was constructed that allows viewers to observe from a comfortable distance.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Apps That Make Life Easier

 By David Anaya, Graphic Designer


If you’re a graphic designer, you know how important project management is. Juggling multiple projects with tight deadlines can be extremely stressful, but when done effectively, it can be easy as pie. My final semester of college has been my busiest thus far, but these resources have done a great job in preventing me from being overwhelmed.

  1. Dropbox & Google Drive
These cloud file-storage services have been a tremendous help in workflow. As long as a computer has internet access, one can work from virtually anywhere. Dropbox is currently having a free storage space giveaway for college students, cleverly entitled the “Space Race.” All you have to do is enter your college ID, and 3GB of free storage space is added to your account for two years. Additional space is also granted depending on the amount of Space Race registered students from your school, so signing up not only benefits yourself, but also the collective student body.

  1. Evernote
Why weigh yourself down with physical notebooks in your backpack when you can have all your notes synchronized and editable on your laptop and smartphone? “Capture anything, access anywhere, find things fast” is displayed on the service’s website, accurately representing how easy it is to use the program. One can take notes on a school computer and have it immediately synced to their home computer, laptop and smartphone. Evernote has even partnered with Moleskine to create the Smart Notebook for those who enjoy physically writing notes. One can write in the book with a dark inked pen, take a picture of the page on an iPod, iPhone or iPad, and the page image is uploaded to your account. Evernote can even recognize your text, if you have good handwriting, and make your handwritten notes digitally searchable.

  1. Wunderlist
Similar to Evernote, this task management application can also synchronize data from their web platform to all of your digital devices. To-do lists can also be shared with friends or co-workers to help keep track of any collaborative project that you might have.

These apps have made my last semester of college much more manageable, I hope they can help you in the same way!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Budget Your Black Friday

By Rosana Torres, Editorial Assistant



Turkey Day, Dia de Accion de Gracias, Action de GrĂ¢ces or whichever way you refer to Thanksgiving Day, is right around the corner. That means so is Black Friday.


While Thanksgiving is exciting for the cooking enthusiasts like myself out there, there are some precautions we should take, because according to Red Cross, more than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving. Even though students are on break, firefighters will not necessarily be.

Thanksgiving is a day dedicated to giving thanks for what we are fortunate enough to have. Black Friday is a day dedicated to buying the things we think we need--at a lower cost--in the wee hours of the morning.

With this economy, many retailers have begun labeling Thanksgiving Day as Black Thursday. Shockingly enough, the usual Black Friday shoppers will skip out on Thursday night’s dinner to catch the sales. My concern is for the workers who will have to miss out on this special time with family. As a retail associate, I am personally opposed to having to work on a federal holiday.

Just like cooking comes with precautions, so does the event of shopping, whether it lands on Thursday or Friday. I’m not talking about the kind of carefulness shoppers should exercise when it gets crowded. No, I’m talking about the money aspect. A lot of people tend to overspend on this day, but by following these five simple tips, you can save lots of moolah on the day many retailers expect to make the most money.

1. Have a plan:
Follow a list of who you are shopping for, what your budget is for each person and stick to it!

2. Limit credit card use:
Remove all credit cards from your wallet and limit your use of credit to one card--the one with the lowest rate if you carry a balance on it.

3. Beware of special card offers:
Many retailers will offer special coupons and deals for opening an account with them--don’t do it! Many people will, which is why the total consumer credit card debt is close to $2.73 trillion. If you can’t afford it, then you can’t afford it!

4. Use layaway:
Take advantage of holiday layaway programs to buy yourself some time to pay for some of your Christmas gifts--there’s no shame!

5. Get creative:
If you are indecisive like myself, give gift cards and make something personal to go with them. You can also give special dates like a nature hike or spa day!

So, there you have it. This Thanksgiving break, make sure to spend time with family as well as take precautions while cooking and shopping for the holidays. After all, we have been working too hard this semester not to!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Capitalizing On Our Need For Capitalism


By Christopher Tavolazzi, Editorial Assisstant


I recently got in a high volume debate with my roommates over the new Windows
8. If you haven’t seen it yet, the new operating system throws out the standard
folders and drop-down menus in favor of colored tiles as its main form of navigation.
It’s weird, and the entire OS is designed for touch screens.

I told my roommates that I think Microsoft is using Windows 8 as a ploy to get
people to buy more Microsoft stuff. I believe they will drop support for older
operating systems like Vista and 7 very soon, and force people to either move to the
new or get left behind. My roommates disagreed, asserting instead that Microsoft is
spearheading innovation in an industry that needs it.

While we won’t know who’s right for a few more years, one thing is true--tech
companies have been capitalizing on our societal drive for capitalism for years. Look
at Apple, for example. Apple fans will line up a week before the next new iThing
release, only to have their iStuff outdated way too soon.

Or take Activision, which has released a new Call of Duty game literally every year
since its inception. The next one, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, released Nov. 13, is the most preordered game in Amazon’s history, and there is another title planned for next year.

It makes sense. Last year, Apple’s gross income was $45 billion, and Activision’s was
$3.4 billion. That’s no small feat.

Still, I get a pretty sour feeling when shelling out another couple hundred bucks to
buy the latest tech thing. I can’t help but feel manipulated and wonder why they
couldn’t have put all these features in the last version. But still I buy it, because I
don’t want to miss out.

Why we keep buying in, I have no idea. I have a feeling that it’s only going to get
worse as our society grows ever more dependent on technology.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Day After Election Day


By Rebecca Seylar, Editorial Director


The day after election day is always an interesting one. Prior to Barack Obama’s victory, I found myself caught in debates with my family, friends and coworkers on more than one occasion. Sometimes they were cool, calm and collected, sometimes they were heated. But the day after election day is different.

Although in some places it is an exciting and euphoric day, it’s also a day filled with some disappointed voters and many people threatening to “move to Canada.”

I would like to say I am very politically involved and educated, but among everything else going on in my life, politics isn’t always my number one. I care deeply about laws that ensure equality and uphold our rights in America. I care about a woman’s right to choose and that she deserves equal pay for equal work. I care about who runs this country, but I found it hard to always know exactly where each candidate stood on issues.

I found that social media, yet again, has made its way into a topic on the TGC blog, but how can it not come up when referring to such important issues? 

To keep up on the election, I ‘liked’ Facebook pages and followed news outlets, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Twitter. 

Although my beliefs may not align with other people that I am surrounded with every day, I like to think that we can all be objective and educated on subjects before we begin debates about them. Now that the next four years have been decided, I urge others to educate themselves before letting their preconceived political or religious notions get the best of them.

Election day is over, and the president for the next four years has been decided. The focus now should not be to insult and complain, but to seek information on how your voice can be heard and how to make a difference. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How to Put Your Phone Down When You’re a Social Media Addict


By Amber Whiteside, Social Media Director


Surprise, surprise.

I tend to have a problem setting my phone down. When managing different social media accounts, checking emails and updating my own personal sites, it seems impossible to shut off that little black thing buzzing every second.

Even on vacation, I cannot help but upload that Instagram photo of my toes in the sand, or check in at a new restaurant I discovered. It seems I can never escape my phone. 

When a teacher asks students to shut off their phones, I think in my head, “Do you know who I am? How can I possibly shut myself off from the online world? It’s my job!”

However, everyone needs a break. I have attempted to teach myself how to put the phone down, so that you may learn as well.

1. Admit you have a problem 
Yes, this is bizarre and alludes to other “first steps” of addiction programs, but it’s very difficult to fix a problem if you can’t admit there is one. Even the famous Pomeranian named Boo has his version of a “digital detox.” If you want to see his cuter version on how to step away from your computer or phone, by all means take a look. I can’t blame you. He is one of the world’s cutest dogs.

2. Pick a time for escape
To help myself with this process, I told myself that I couldn’t go on the Internet for an hour a day. I found myself filling that time with more productivity. Instead of staring at your phone, go on a walk, do homework or go out with friends. It was a lot easier to write this blog when I had that hour without the buzzing of my phone in the background.

3. Shut off your phone when you go to sleep at night
Yes, I admit, this was a difficult one. I use my phone for an alarm clock and with a long distance relationship, why on earth would I let my phone be off all night? However, studies show computers and cellphones can interrupt your sleeping patterns. That bright screen you are staring at can wear you down and negatively impact the start of your next day. Buy an alarm clock and get some sleep. Remember there was a time when we did survive without screens lying next to us.

4. Spend time in the moment
My roommates yell at me if I am staring down at my phone when we are out at dinner. As much as I want to defend myself, it is rude when people ignore your conversation to look at their phone. Remember that personal connections are more important than online-socializing. Spend your time riding the rollercoasters at an amusement park, not uploading pictures along the way. 

Social media addiction is becoming an actual problem today. According to an infographic on social media addiction, refraining from retweeting on Twitter is more difficult than refraining from consuming alcohol or smoking. So make sure to give yourself a break. Those notifications, comments and emails will still be there.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

#HurricaneSandy Shows the Power of Social Media


By Mandie Niklowitz, Online Communications Director


As I’m typing this from my computer in sunny California, it’s easy to forget that Hurricane Sandy has been wreaking havoc on the East Coast all week. But all it takes is one quick look at my Twitter or Instagram to be reminded of what the East Coast has been going through.

Sandy’s wrath began Monday, causing destruction from North Carolina to Maine and creating a social media frenzy.

#Sandy was the number one trending topic on Twitter Monday with more than 4 million mentions.

On Facebook’s Talk Meter, which measures conversations about specific events, Sandy scored an 8.34 making it the second-most popular topic of the year. Some of the most popular terms being used on Facebook were, “We’re OK,” “damage,” and “power.” There was also a Facebook group created for Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts where users could share ways to help those in need and give each other words of support.

As of Wednesday, there were almost 1 million pictures posted on Instagram with the hashtags, #Sandy and #HurricaneSandy.

Sandy isn’t the first major news event to be covered by social media. When Hurricane Isaac hit earlier this year, similar Facebook groups and Twitter hashtags were created.

However, many believe Sandy is what will move Instagram to the big leagues with Twitter and Facebook. The mobile photo application, which was bought by Facebook for $1 billion earlier this year, has become the main destination for Hurricane Sandy photos.  

During the height of the storm, Instagram users were uploading 10 pictures per second with the hashtag #Sandy.

CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, told Forbes Magazine, “I think this demonstrates how Instagram is quickly becoming a useful tool to see the world as it happens--especially for important world events like this.”

I agree with Systrom, in today’s information-filled world, we pick and choose what we want to read. More than once I’ve found myself scrolling through Twitter or Facebook and not even reading half of the posts.

Instagram gives you a picture and a caption. There’s no extra fluff or fillers, yet scrolling through the #Sandy feed on Instagram says so much more than the same feed on Twitter.

It has always been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and after seeing the aftermath of Sandy posted on Instagram, I couldn’t agree more.

For a full collection of Hurricane Sandy Instagram photos, visit Instacane.com, or if you would like to help with relief efforts, please visit RedCross.org.