posted by on social media marketing, Twitter

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Are you just getting started with   Twitter?   Wondering what  to do there?  You’re  not alone! Every day I  get questions and puzzled looks   when I mention it.  The feeling “I don’t get it” still looms large for many. That’s OK;  Twitter has a language and rules all its’ own, and takes time to “get.” I promise, it’s not you….it’s Twitter.  Feel better now?

You may wonder: Is Twitter worth my time? How can I benefit from using it?  Here are a couple of reasons my answer is yes: One, It’s the fastest news and information source on the planet. Just follow your favorite local and national news and info sources. Find them by doing a search in the bar at the top of your profile, follow a few, and you’re good to go. I love local traffic alerts from stations that I have set up to text to my phone; this has saved me valuable commute time. Two, Twitter is a great way to get customer service help quickly. Who’s your cel phone provider? Do you shop at big box retailers like Target? The big names are all there. Local companies are getting in on the act; here in Charleston, Piggly Wiggly has a great Twitter presence. The reason companies are so responsive there is because unlike a call or email, your complaint is in a public timeline, meaning everyone can see it. Smart retailers address these quickly. In addition to these services, I like being part of a medium that offers lifesaving info to a worldwide audience during a crisis. During the recent natural disasters in Haiti and Japan, Twitter was a critical first source of vital info during the aftermath and recovery. This fact alone should tell you that, used well, this medium has much more to offer you than the mundane “This is what I’m doing right now” tweets.

Here are my Top Tips for Twitter Beginners:

Start with the right mindset: Think of Twitter as a conversation. Listen first, then respond. Keep tweets short and to the point, and let your personality shine. Ask questions, offer answers. Twitter’s a great back and forth medium; often, the “cocktail party” of social media conversations.

Pick a few topics of interest: Search for them, and follow users whose tweets on those subjects are interesting. How do you determine this? Click on a user name. Their profile will appear to the right of your stream from your home page. If their tweets have personality, variety,  are conversational, and have links to good info, follow them. You can also do a search on people you know. In addition to Twitter itself, tools like Twellow are great for this purpose

Upload a picture of yourself to your profile. People want to know who they are talking to; this personalizes that experience for them. Spammers and bots often have no pictures. You don’t want to be confused with one of them. For backgrounds, you can choose one of Twitter’s, or create your own.  Both are easily done in the account set-up process under “Settings.”

Know the rules and etiquette: Here are a few of the most important: (1.)When you see a great tweet, don’t send as yours alone – retweet it (RT) to give proper credit.  (2.) Thank those who RT you. (3.) Answer people who directly mention you by mentioning them. For example: @lizdeloach how can I check for tweets directed to me? Answer: “@djones click on the word ‘mentions’ just above your timeline.”  (4.) Check into Twitter, and your mentions, once or twice a day, and spread out your tweets. Don’t be a feed clogger!

Hashtags: Understand and use them wisely: They are a way of categorizing and searching for info on any topic, person, place, etc., with the # symbol in front of a word or phrase. Your city probably has a hashtag – ours is #chs. It’s used for tweets with Charleston related info. If I tweet something with a hashtag, it appears in search for that hashtag with all tweets containing the same hashtag. Be sure to use these when relevant, and not just to get a tweet into a certain list. Want to start a hashtag on a topic you like? Tweet a question or info with one, and see who else is talking about the same subject.

These are just a few tips – I hope they help you create a meaningful and worthwhile experience there. There’s a lot more that I can help with, too. Questions? Leave them in the comment section below and I’ll gladly answer!

posted by on FaceBook, Google+, Opinions, Social Media

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When I heard Google+ was coming out with a social network to rival Facebook, I pretty much brushed if off as yet another attempt unlikely to dethrone the King and Master of Social Networking. After all, I reasoned, unless Facebook really screwed up – resulting in a mass exodus – or went under, why would people leave for yet another social network? Especially those with a large base of important connections?

I have to say, however, after trying it out for a few days, I am impressed. And eating my words. It’s easy to learn and use.The ability to categorize people into groups, (“Circles”) and share selectively so easily has great appeal. The site’s appearance is very clean, as there are no ads (yet) and no notices in the sidebars. Perhaps best of all: NO GAMES! So far, people are talking mostly about – you guessed it – Google+. Right now it’s like the place where all the “cool” kids hang out since you have to be invited, with everyone learning about it from each other. Among it’s other cool features:

Photo Editing: You can edit your pictures, changing hues, cropping, and even adding some cool effects and making color pictures black and white. Uploading is easy with a drag and drop function, and the photo quality looks better than Facebook’s. It’s easy to navigate and fun to use.

Hangouts: Video conferencing has never been easier. Install the required plug-in and you’re all set. When people in one of your circles uses it, it appears in your stream that they are in a hangout, and shows who has joined them. It will be great for socializing and work collaboration. One thing occurs to me: Will it be considered rude if someone invites you to hang out, and you decline? Hmmm. New features like this means new rules of etiquette will evolve. I sure hope people don’t get, well, a little too “casual” with this particular feature!

Sparks enables you to search topics of interest on the web. You can create lists whose content is updated with the most recent info and is accessible. It’s like having Google Alerts right there in Google+. Wow.

Integration: This is the lynchpin to Google+’s long term success.  I’ve heard reports of difficulties with some Google Apps emails, so there are still some issues to work out. I’ve experienced seamless navigation between my Gmail, GoogleDocs, Calendar, Pictures, and Google+ presence; I do just about everything I need to do online from there. That is huge.

For these reasons, I think Google+ offers great promise. They’ve improved upon many of Facebook’s good features, and added some that Facebook lacks. Not surprisingly, there’s a mobile version for the Droid. Of course, that has Iphone/iPad users salivating for theirs. Google will likely avoid at least some of Facebook’s noted missteps with privacy and making so many random changes with little or no notice. And surely, an API release can’t be too far away, which opens up numerous possibilities. For me, the ability to manage it from Hootsuite can’t come fast enough!

So what do you think? Have you tried Google+? If not, I highly recommend it. Leave your email below and I’ll send you an invite. What would it take for you to use it more than, or in place of, Facebook? For now, Google+ is at least part shiny new toy.  It is one whose novelty will wear off? Or is it a true game changer that seriously threatens Facebook’s dominance?

 

posted by on Online Reputation Management, Opinions, People, Social Media

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I remember a few years ago when my local newspaper went online.  At the time, I wondered why anyone would give up sitting in a comfy chair reading a paper to sit in front of a desktop computer to read.  Even now, as much as I love and embrace my laptop and smartphone, I still get a copy of the paper, and enjoy reading it from that same comfortable spot. I guess I’ll always do some things the old fashioned way, if for no other reason than the nostalgia of it.

The day finally came that I decided to check out this online edition to see what it was all about. Not bad, actually. It had less information than the print edition and was no substitute for it, so I still didn’t initially get why some people seemed to prefer it, other than it being free. Then, I saw the one feature that sucked me into the vortex: the ability to comment on stories. Oh. My. Goodness. How fun could that be?  There were no real identities attached to the comments – everyone had anonymous user ID’s. As with many online forums, there was an interesting cast of characters offering comments ranging from the articulate to the ridiculous, opinions as varied as the color spectrum, and slugfests between posters who disagreed.  I loved wading in with what I hoped was intelligent and well reasoned commentary. It was energizing and at times exhausting, but also educational and fun.

Fast forward a few years later, and I am far less inclined to comment on these forums. Why? One reason is that I use social media instead. I know who I am talking to and vice versa. I expect the transparency that typifies the social universe. When I do contribute, it is always in my name. I’m surprised to see so many people still comment anonymously. I think online communication, with few exceptions, has evolved such that people should identify themselves when speaking. If you can’t own your words with your real name behind them, chances are you’ve got no business saying them in the first place. Anonymous commenting, especially of the mean spirited variety, seems both cowardly and passe.

What do you think? Do you comment anonymously? Am a I wrong to condemn this practice as a general rule?

 

 

 

posted by on Opinions, People, Relationships, Social Media

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What a loaded question that has become! It’s one that came up for me recently when someone declared to me, very adamantly, that you cannot.

When I ask people what they get out of their social media, the answers usually go something like this: “I have reconnected with people I haven’t seen in years, and it’s great to do that and see pictures of their kids.” Other answers include:  “I only check in occasionally” and “I’m not on Facebook, I don’t have time.”

Fair enough. There is no one-size-fits-all formula for social media, and you’re not going to hear me proclaim, as many do, that everyone should be there. It’s a matter of taste and preference as to what sites you use, or whether you are there at all. That said, here are a few answers – always delivered in a patronizing tone – that make me want to scream: “Well, I don’t like it because it’s flat and one dimensional.” or “It’s a waste of time”  and the ultimate eyeroller: “I want to focus on real life meaningful relationships.”

As for the “flat and one dimensional” characterization, I see that. But can’t that be said about any written communication? That some types of communication are more meaningful and should be done in person, or at least over the telephone, where you can  look into someones’ eyes and hear voice inflection, is a given. But that doesn’t mean written communication can’t pack a punch and carry great depth and meaning. Think of all the relationships that started by written communication. Or those sustained during wars by letters. How about that cherished letter from Grandma, tattered and frayed by repeated reading because it means so much? The written word has long been a tie that binds when people are separated by time and distance. Today, it just occurs electronically more often than by parcel post. Ah, technology.

I’d argue that it is our communication with people in its’ many forms, and taken as a whole, that enables us to develop meaningful relationships with them. As for the arguments that one can get too isolated by social media and that it is no substitute for physically being with people, or that people can misunderstand or be misunderstood due to its flat nature, I wholeheartedly agree. I’ve been misunderstood more than once. I’ve also been very fortunate to sustain relationships, as well meet people through social media that I later met in person. In some cases, that has led to real life encounters and true friendships, business relationships, or both. At the heart of of these relationships is three core components: Trust, respect, and the fact that I like them. In some cases communication has not, as yet, progressed far beyond the online world. I still have a good rapport and common interests with these people – and that’s fine. ‘Meaningful’ has many layers, and I am happy to partake in all of them.

Now you know my position; I’d like to hear yours:  Can you build meaningful relationships through social media?  What has your experience been?  What are your challenges? Rewards?

posted by on People, Relationships

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They’re hazy, for the most part – the watercolor memories I have of my Dad.

A few details stand out: He was of average height, sallow skin tone, moderately pitched voice and a handsomely chiseled face. From my earliest memories, he had curvature of the spine. I even remember wondering how all the other Dads stood up so straight and tall when my Dad didn’t.  I learned he was that way from an injury sustained during World War II. Dad served on a tanker ship in the Pacific Theatre.  A swiveling cannon hit him in the back one day on that ship, and he became a disabled veteran with an honorable discharge. He went on to the Citadel. I still have The Ring, it’s sharpened edges softened by time. He met my Mom through mutual friends when she was a coed at the College of Charleston.

There were a couple of other unusual things about my Dad, and indeed, my childhood. Dad didn’t work outside the home. While many of my neighborhood friends had their moms at  home, we had Dad. And a maid who looked after him, us, and the house, while my Mom worked. It was quite the novelty, and held great fascination for friends on our street. He took us places, taught us things, made us laugh, schooled us about world events. He had a firm disciplinary hand – disrespect was not tolerated and he kept us in line. When he wasn’t doing these things, he seemed to rest – a lot. There was noticeable tension within his face. The glass beside his easy chair late in the day and early evenings often held a dark golden beverage. My older brother and I were told it eased chronic pain – pain that he lived with from my earliest memories. But I never heard him complain about it – not once.

A few more years passed. Dad spent considerable time in and out of hospitals. We moved to a bigger house, and my maternal grandmother came a lot. He went into the hospital one last time in April of 1972, and never came home.

Today is the very first time I have ever put fingers to keyboard about my Dad. As the years have passed and the memories faded, I’ve struggled to pinpoint just how he influenced, and continues to influence, my life. My time with him was too short. I wish he’d been here to see me graduate college. Walk me down the aisle. Kiss his grandchildren. Share an adult conversation. Is he proud of me? My life? I hope so.

Perhaps I’ll never entirely figure any of these things out. I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter. All that matters, really, is that he was my Dad – and that’s enough.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.