Tag Archives: Facebook

Five unapparent personal benefits of social networking…

The more time you spend on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the more benefit you derive from the experience. I often find it hard to describe a lot of the personal benefits I get beyond connections and fast access news, but after a little creative thinking I’ve put together five unapparent benefits to social networking:

5. An insatiable thirst for knowledge

I honestly can’t remember if I was like this before and it was amplified, or if it’s a new quality all together, but I’ve definitely noticed that I now crave knowledge. I need to learn more and I need to at least skim Twitter to see what’s happening in my community/country/the entire world. Even on weekends and days off I’m always checking my phone (when appropriate! Not in the rude anti-social way!)

4. A newfound willingness to take risks

Or perhaps I mean the ability to take more calculated risks; when you’re exposed to more, you can make better decisions. For example, if I wanted to start a business helping restaurants with marketing, before I would maybe look up a few web sites, makes some calls and try to get an understanding if there were a need for such a service and if my potential client base would be willing to pay. However, without a lot of money to do proper market research (let’s face it-most entrepreneurs definitely don’t have money for it), I’d have to rely on a very small number of opinions based on my limited time to do said research on my own. However, now I can simply passively research this info through Google and various social networking sites, poll or survey my Twitter followers and Facebook friends and I can get a better glimpse of the risky industry and whether or not my idea will fly. Sure it’s still not as accurate as proper research, but it’s a whole lot better than what I was going to do.

3. A humbled world view

I admit, I’ve often been a “big fish in a small pond” kind of person. I exceeded in school and many hobbies/sports but mostly participated in small communities, as is pretty normal in the offline world. Secondly I’ll admit I’m a bit of a competitive person, not in a malicious kind of way, but in the sense that I’m always looking to benchmark myself against others, so I can work on improving. Well online there are so many more people doing whatever it is you’re trying to do. It’s humbling–which is awesome because it gives you a great sense of how *much* you can improve. And yes, on the flip side this can also be discouraging, but we all know the best out there know how to persevere!

2. A stronger sense of confidence

Especially as a writer (or any creative field) you always practice your craft with a certain level of vulnerability. You’re putting yourself out there. It’s scary. People will judge you. You might make a mistake. To me, it seems like whenever I’ve gone too far and lost my sense of what I’m doing, the community around me chimes up with words of encouragement. Even when things go wrong, there will always be someone backing you up and cheering you on.

1. An optimistic view of the world

OK maybe you’ve caught on that I’m generally an optimistic person… But I’m talking about something bigger. For all the awful things going on in the world, it’s amazing to see people band together for the greater good. There are so many great examples, but most timely is @unmarketing‘s Tweetathon for Tanner (go on, read the whole story and try not to shed a tear!) it ends tomorrow at 9 pm and since earlier today has already raised over $8,000 for a very worthy cause. Also take any natural disaster–even the most recent floods in Pakistan, a simple search shows many tweets urging help and many have been retweeted hundreds of times.

Have you noticed the same? Do you have others I haven’t mentioned here? Please share! (Especially because I’m super excited that I finally have Disqus running on here! Yea, sometimes I’m not such an early adopter–and this blog gets neglected.)

Foursquare: Is it really a game changer?

As 2009 ended, like usual, we saw tons of blog posts and speculation about what’s in store for 2010. One common theme (that had even been hinted upon long before the end of the year) was “geo-location based apps” such as Foursquare, and now contender Gowalla.

While I definitely see a huge untapped potential for local businesses to take advantage of. At this point I don’t think Foursquare will be the next Twitter. From my perspective, there are a few growing problems with the tool.

  • Scalability – I think I was one of the first 50 or so users in Ottawa when Foursquare was launched here. I *loved* it! I used the handy web tools to find all my Twitter and Facebook friends and I already knew many of the other users. However, as it grows, the happy community feel is diminishing. Also unless you’re checking in over 200 times a week (which, even as a highly social person, I find that completely ludicrous) you don’t even have a chance at making the top 10 anymore. The competitor in me has lost interest.

    Also, a recent Tech Crunch article claims that appealing to a mass audience means compromising quirky features that appealed to the original geeks who embraced it. Douchebag badge anyone?

  • The annoyance factor – As I mentioned above, Foursquare allows you to import your Twitter followers and add them as friends in Foursquare. So that begs the question, why do so many feel the need to tweet their every Foursquare activity?

    This seems to be creating a counter-Foursquare movement by Twitter users who are fed up with the “spammy” foursquare updates. (With very smart people like Judy Gombita leading the way, see her passionate interview on one of my favourite blogs – MediaStyle)

  • And now what? – The reason tools like Twitter and Facebook have been so successful is the sense of empowerment they provide to users. Facebook allowed us all to re-connect and better stay connected to old friends and past acquaintances. Twitter taught us a new and powerful way to communicate and network in 140 characters or less.

    But Foursquare does what? Enables stalkers to function more efficiently? Yes, it’s really cool when you check in at an event and find other people there as well, but Twitter already does that via hashtags, and has a much larger user-base. Foursquare has a lot of ‘hey that’s really cool’ elements to it, but nothing that is going to set of bells in our heads and make us feel like we couldn’t live without it.

For the record–I am an avid user of Foursquare. It’s fun and I definitely see staying power potential, I just don’t envision it as the next big thing anymore. What do you think?

Should you change your Twitter avatar?

Have you thought about changing your Twitter avatar? Are you scared to? Do you think it’s important to always keep the same one?

@djwaldow brought this up today, which prompted an interesting discussion. One that I was particularly interested in, since I was forced to change my Twitter avatar while attending SXSW! (Ok, maybe forced is a strong word–the story is my Twitter avatar was blond, and I dyed my hair a dark brown a couple months ago, it seems whenever I meet Twitter friends they are shocked to learn I’m not blond! I caved under pressure and snapped a new photo)

So the issue is how often should you change you Twitter avatar? Aside from my little mishap, my opinion is barely ever… and with good reason. I think you Twitter avatar should match your Facebook profile pic, your LinkedIn pic, as well as MySpace, Ning and any other online profiles you maintain. Specifically if you are trying to develop your personal brand, it won’t do you any good if people don’t recognize you from one site to another! And it takes quite some time to go through all to update your avatar. On the other hand, if you’re already pretty Internet famous you probably don’t need to worry too much.

The good news is, according to dj’s poll, it looks like others agree:

How often should you change your avatar?
How often should you change your avatar?

What do you think? How often do you change your pic? And is a hair colour/cut a viable reason to change your avatar? (Seriously!! People were making fun of me!!)

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Facebook's new Terms of Service: Are they out to get us?

This is a follow up to my recent post: Concerned about privacy on the social web? Particularly because of the recent news of Facebook changing its Terms of Service. The story broke on Consumerist, and there’s still a lot of buzz going around.

There’s a lot of talk about how ‘scary’ it is that Facebook and other sites get access to all of our personal information and tell us they will use it however they wish. Personally, I don’t worry too much. The first thing you’ve got to remember is ANYTHING you post online pretty much becomes public domain. And it’s there permanently. Even if you delete your profile or a web page it still exists online in cache files and chances are someone can find a way to access it. Don’t believe me? Check out the Wayback Machine an internet archive site that shows you past versions of any web site. (tip: it’s a lot of fun to look up big brands like Pepsi and see what its website looked like in 1996).

Mark Zuckerberg
Image by jdlasica via Flickr

One thing you have to remember about Facebook is it’s not a big company formed by fat cat executives. It was a couple of college students who created a site to keep in touch with friends. Yes, it’s exploded and Mark Zuckerberg is now a millionaire–and yes Facebook is now a *real* company with shareholders and executives and the likes, but it’s also already very profitable and doesn’t show any signs of struggling. So why would it want to ostracize it’s gigantic user base and screw us all over? I don’t think that’s a feasible explanation. And really–what’s the worst they can do with your information? Sell it? Tons of companies are doing that anyway. I don’t like it either, but it’s certainly nothing new. In fact, my guess is this move was more to protect themselves BECAUSE all your information is cached and they still have access whether you delete your account or not.

Who knows, maybe Facebook will prove me wrong. Whether you are concerned about this issue or not, the important lesson to remember is DO NOT post anything online that you don’t feel comfortable sharing with the world.

**UPDATE**
So Facebook reverted its terms of service, posted a message to users AND created a group looking for user feedback. I can’t help but feel I was a little bit right about this…

picture-3

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Are you concerned about your privacy on the social web?

When Google warns of privacy issues on the social web, you can’t really help but listen…

Privacy is an issue I’m pretty two-sided about. I obviously care about being safe and protected, but at the same time, there’s a lot of info about me online that *I* voluntarily put up. I try not to worry about it too much, but every so often I do. However, whether your careful or not about WHAT you put online, it is very important that you at least know what you’re getting yourself into and what you should be afraid of–what I’m tackling in this post.

For example, think about your various passwords–do you use the same password for every site you’re on? I sure do (did, actually) until my email was hijacked by spammers a few weeks ago, sending a tacky spam message to EVERYONE in my contact list (Going back at least 6 years). I put on my little tin foil hat and went and changed all my passwords on important sites (to all different passwords). Also, be weary of where you give your password. I’m not certain, but I was told that email hijacking can be a result of giving your email address and password to social networking sites in an effort to find out if your contacts on that site. Now while the site may swear up and down it won’t keep your info or use it anyway–it’s always possible that someone else could hack the site and get this valuable information.

Another issue–if you’re a mac user (like I am) you probably don’t have any anti-virus protection on your computer. As it stands there is virtually no risk for mac users, though with it’s growing popularity, it may just be a matter of time before some hacker owns us all, and there’s nothing we can do about it!

So I’m no expert, and I’ll admit I don’t always practice what I preach, but here’s what I suggest to protect yourself and your computer on the social web:

1. Change passwords regularly and store them in a safe place – You can either write them down in a book (and keep it hidden somewhere) or my preferred method is to record them in .txt files with cryptic names/folder on your hard drive (as long as you’ll be able to remember what it is) Leaving the passwords out is a risk if your house or computer gets broken into, and suddenly someone has access to EVERYTHING!

2. Consider keeping your birth date private – Admittedly, I’ve never even thought of this before, but publishing your birthdate on Facebook leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. More info…

3. Be sure to read privacy policies thoroughly – At the very least, this can help you avoid getting unwanted spam, but you may be surprised to learn anything you post (family photos, personal information) can become the property of the company running the site. If this is the case, think twice before publishing information that’s important to you.

4. Always make sure your anti-virus/security software is up-to-date – New threats come out all the time, and just because you bought a software three years ago doesn’t mean you’re still protected. As for mac users, I’m not sure what’s out there now, can you help me out in the comments?

The scary thing is, us trusting humans will likely continue surrender our personal information while being oblivious to how it may be used (sadly, myself included). To get more information on the issue, I spoke with Steve Dodd, who works for Sysomosis, a social media monitoring software, and has a background in online security application. Here are his thoughts on the subject:

Generally speaking, especially with the analytic and monitoring tools available, all personal information posted online is readily available to anyone, for any purpose.  Identity theft is a huge and growing issue these days.  The more you tell people about yourself and the more that can be cross referenced, the easier it is to determine how to access or control your online or even off line persona.  Like with email, never ever give up or expose personal financial information for any purpose.  It really doesn’t matter who you think you are communicating with or linking to, unless you have a secure connection, and even then…….

As a parent and an industry participant, I’m so very,very paranoid about what my “trusting” children are doing online.  They have no idea about what is really happening out there. They trust the internet like my generation trusted television, newspapers and other forms of traditional media.  The problem is that as their information is posted online, it’s available for anyone to see it, manipulate it and leverage it.  The web is faceless, impersonal and electronic.  There is no way to really know who you are exchanging information with and what they will do with it.

And, contrary to popular understanding, it maintains a permanent record.  Even though you might delete something, it never is truly gone. People are believing that online social networks (like email systems) are “free”.  They are not, businesses have significant ulterior motives for providing these services.  And information collection for future use is a primary one.  Since all of these services have been hacked many times and information stolen, who knows who has the data and what they are going to do with it….

Scary stuff! What do you do to protect yourself, or even more importantly, your children, online?

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Social media: What's ahead for 2009?

It only makes sense to make the first post of 2009 about what’s ahead this year for social media. Please add your input, as I’m really just providing a few jumping points. Maybe at the end of the year, we can look back and see how well we did.

1. Twitter will hit critical mass

And no, I don’t think it has already because many of my friends still gave me odd looks when I mention my “tweeple” or that I’m heading to a “tweetup.” However, in 2008 Twitter had so much momentum and I think it will just keep growing. Also I think Twitter may start trying to monetize. Not sure how, though, ads? Any other ideas?

2. “Personal branding” will have more clout

I have been telling my friends all year to get online and start building their personal brands. Start a blog, an online portfolio, get on Twitter, ‘professionalize’ your Facebook profile, etc.

Now with words like ‘recession,’ and unemployment at an all-time high, finding a job is much more about marketing yourself. Companies are going to be faced with increased competition for positions, and you can make yourself stand out by showing your ability to change with the times and demonstrated initiative.

3. 2009 will be the year of meaningful metrics

With budgets tightened and staff skimped, many companies will turn to social media to maximize ROI–this is nothing new, but the tools to measure success need improvements. I track the traffic to Web2dotwhat.com using three tools- Google Analytics, Feedburner and Clicky. Sadly all three report different numbers (not sure which is correct, but I think Clicky is most accurate). Those who have a really good understanding of metrics and analytics will be in a great position to help others. I for one hope to see an easy-to-understand/use tool aimed at PR/marketing folk for blog tracking.

4. Content quality will become the crucial element

Right now, if you are publishing any sort of content, if it’s not blatantly terrible you’ll probably get traffic, comments, new subscribers, conversions, etc. However this year I think quality will trump quantity as the noise ratio out there is just getting too high. When hiring someone to produce content, make sure he/she has solid communication and writing skills, as well as an expert understanding of the medium.

5. It’s all about you, forget about me

I don’t mean literally! But there’s still a lot of “me, me, me” content out there, when it should be “you, you, you.” While this concept is certainly nothing new, it desperately needs to be put in practice. If you’re not sure what I mean, find a site you like and read through it, is it speaking to YOU, or is it talking about ME (or we)? Chances are, if you like it, it’s probably speaking to you. If you think the content comes across as cocky or arrogant, it’s probably speaking about itself. As competition steepens and budgets deplete this will be more important than ever.

So what do you think? Am I accurate? Do you have other predictions to add?

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5 Tactics land a job using social media (plus tips to do it right)

Times are tough right now and only getting tougher. This means finding a job right now amidst mass layoffs and a tanking economy is definitely not easy. But I’m saying fret not, and use the power of social media to land a new gig.

Whether you’re looking for a job *in* social media or a traditional communications role that probably involves social media, you can definitely use it to your advantage in your job search. In fact, I’ve had great luck with job opportunities through social media and I’ve done the traditional job searching and it’s never worked to my advantage.

Here are some tactics you can start right now which can help you find job opportunities and also to put yourself out there and let the opportunities find you:

Get on Twitter

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image by via CrunchBase

This is the first thing I tell anyone who’s looking for a job. Actually I pretty much tell everyone to join Twitter for any reason really. I’m sure you already know networking is the best way to land a job and I consider Twitter to be the ultimate networking tool. If you aren’t sure what to post about (You don’t have to take “What are you doing?” so literally) start by posting articles, blog posts and web sites that you find interesting.  Build a profile that includes a real photo (doesn’t have to be a photo of you, but something personal yet professional will work best). Include a brief bio that includes what you are interested and what you like to tweet about. When you’ve got a few posts up, head over to Twitter Search and start searching topics that interest you and find interesting people tweeting about them and follow them. When you start to follow people, reply to their tweets (by starting yours with @[username]) to start a conversation. Once you get going it’s a lot of fun and you’ll meet lots of interesting people. Once you join, follow me and let me know you read my post and I’ll send some interesting tweeters your way. (Oh, and if you’re in Ottawa looking for a job you may want to follow @ottawatweetjobs – my other Twitter account.)

Join relevant social networks

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...
Image by via CrunchBase

There are literally thousands of active social networks these days and chances are there’s a handful that touch upon your interests or that can help you in your job search. First of all, if you aren’t on LinkedIn, get on and start finding all your past colleagues and acquaintences. Complete your profile and consider asking for recommendations from former bosses and co-workers as recruiters do regularly use the sites to find candidates. I can recommend a handful of others depending on what you’re looking for, so feel free to contact me if you’re having problems finding ones to join.

Build an online portfolio

Showcase your work so it’s not only easy to send to potential employers, but it will come up in Google searches and also allow for others to pass along. If you’re worried about your technical abilities, worry not–just head over to Blogger.com and start a blog as a hosting place for your online portfolio. Put links to social networks you’re a part of (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, if it’s not too personal) and include a link to your resume. For an example, you can see an online portfolio I put together a while back on blogger…

Once you’ve built the portfolio (and tested all your links!) be sure you reference it in cover letters to potential employers and even include the link in your email signature. You never know when a potential opportunity may be hiding in a regular email communication.

Read and comment on blogs that interest you

If this is all new to you, you may want to start with iGoogle. It is a personalized Google homepage that displays RSS subscriptions as widgets (and you can get other handy widgets like the weather, your gmail account etc.) The City of Ottawa has a fabulous page that explains how you can set up your iGoogle page for RSS. Once you’re all set up, use Google Blog Search or Technorati to scope out blogs that interest you and click the RSS subscribe button (usually a little orange icon).

Start your own blog

If you’re really passionate about what you want to do, and can dedicate the time to maintain a blog, then consider starting your own. Blogging is a rewarding experience in its own, especially if you love to write. Check out my previous post “Social media and community management resources” for links and resources for blogging. Consider joining communities like MyBlogLog or the Bloggeries forum to help learn as you go and to promote your blog.

Tips to succeed in social media

Think you’re ready to go out and conquer social media to help find your dream job? That’s great, but it also involves a lot of ‘putting yourself out there’ and if you’re not careful it could backfire. So here’s a few quick tips to keep you on the path to success:

  • Consistency across social media – If you’re building a personal brand you want to make sure you get credit for all your effort. Build your own ‘brand’ by developing a user name, photo and brief bio to use across all social networks so that people will recognize you at each and it won’t seem like you’ve developed a multiple personality disorder.
  • Think before you post – Sometimes when we finally open our mouths, we can’t seem to shut them again! Remember that *anyone* could be reading what you’re writing so you may want to steer clear of controversial topics like religion or politics. Also you’ll want to ensure that you come across as a responsible professional so don’t drink and tweet!
  • Commit time to do it all – An abandoned profile or blog may give off a negative impression of you, so before you start, make sure you can commit the necessary time to keep it up.
  • Remember it’s about conversations – Be kind and polite to others, and always try to respond to comments posted on your profile page or tweets or however some one may be reaching out to you… Even if they don’t have a job offer for you.

That’s all I have for now! Have any tips that have helped you land a job? Have you tried something else I didn’t list here? Leave a comment!

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It's not about the tools! It's the new way of marketing…

I’m almost embarassed to admit–but I’m just reading the Cluetrain Manifesto now. I’ve long known about the book, and specifically that it is about how the Internet has changed the way business works. Nevertheless, it’s an inspiring book and reaffirms a lot of the theories I’ve always believed, and I’ve also learned some new stuff too. There are two big takeaways I want to emphasize right here and now:

1. It’s not about the tools.

Despite the fact that this blog IS (mostly) about the tools, the whole concept and ideals behind social media are not. It’s about better communication because people are now able to connect, grow, learn on their own, at a faster pace than ever before. And businesses need to adapt. Those who’ve grown accustomed to ‘old’ marketing often dismiss terms like social media, user-generated content etc as a passing fad, or just another tool for the marketing toolkit, but it’s really so much more. Personally I’ve never been a fan of “interruption marketing” or broadcast media, simply because as a consumer, I hate tv commercialsand the fact that over 50% of my magazine is ads and especially those ugly flashing banners on site, they’re all in my way and wasting my valuable time. However, I love when a brand engages me with a fun flash game, or sends me emails with exclusive offers I can pass along, or even follows me on twitter and participates in my (sometimes) silly conversations. I really love it. And while some believe the old marketing is a necessary evil, I don’t. I’m done with it, before I ever really got started…

I started my career as a PR girl working in the email marketing biz. Like marketing, PR often gets a bad wrap, but for different reasons. I was always taught the key to PR was respecting your audiences and giving them exactly what they want in order to acheive your goals and objectives and that honesty, ethical behavior and transparency are absolutely essential. It makes perfect sense to me, and I saw it as very relatable to email marketing, which is probably why it was so easy for me to understand, embrace and tell others about. (BTW I still blog about email marketing, over at Tamara Gielen’s Be Relevant! Blog)

2. Sadly, though the book was written nearly 10 years ago (eons in Internet years…) So many companies still don’t get it.

By “it” I mean the fact that “mass marketing” is no longer effective, that employees are a company’s greatest asset and that open, honest and personal dialogue between a company and its customers is the new key to success (these are the points Cluetrain Manifesto is really driving home). I’m only now realizing the reason I get all this social media/online stuff is that as a teenager I was secretly a big geek–on newsgroups, IRC, early bulletin boards, etc. I loved that I was able to learn and get to know people potentially on the other side of the world. I’m super curious by nature and the Internet has always been my portal to ‘the rest of the world’ outside the suburb I grew up in. Now though the tools have evolved and changed greatly, although Facebook and MySpace and the likes have brought these things into the mainstream, really it’s all the same. In fact, in 1999 I joined a local nightlife website which became my obsession for years, it was membership driven, had bulletin boards, the ability to ‘friend’ other users, share photos and toggle event attendance… It *was* a social network, and it was a huge part of me, before I even knew what the term social network was!

Ok, wait, back to my main point here. The point about companies getting “it” has been proven 100 times over. Take Google for example – have you ever seen a Google TV ad? What about banner ads? How did YOU here about Google?(My mom actually told me about it!) What about its slogan ‘don’t be evil’ and have you taken a peek at the Googleplex lately? It’s pretty obvious Google has evolved into the type of company that embraces new ideals brought on by the communications shift, and I don’t have to tell you it’s working for them. Consequently, not only is Google bringing in bazillions of dollars ever quarter, it’s got hundreds (probably thousands, actually) of brand evangelists walking around–employees that is…Who doesn’t love working with those who absolutely love their jobs?

I haven’t posted in a while, so please excuse my wacky tangents. My time for blogging is tighter than ever, and the hardest part is finding inspiration for writing (I could write for hours on end, so long as I’m inspired)… If you have any great topics, ideas, or suggestions, drop me a line at kelly(at)web2dotwhat.com or, of course, comments are always open!