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May 2009

Social Media isn't Spam

Author:

spam

The past couple of weeks found me on a quest for answers. With everyone claiming to be social media experts nowadays, I went looking for definitions. What is social media? What criteria should one have before claiming social media expertise? I’m still compiling that data, but there is one trend I found interesting and disturbing. Many people who are new to social media consider it nothing more than spam, and they’re happy to do the spamming. Since it falls under the whole “social media” umbrella they feel it’s ok.

Let me explain..

When I ask “what is social media?” I’m amazed at how many people feel it’s only a way to promote articles or blog posts, or pimp a service. Twitter profiles with 20,000 followers are filled with links. I’m getting Facebook invites for events from the same people every single day, and they’re not saying anything new. These linky people aren’t trying to have a conversation or form a relationship, they just want me to check out their links.

There’s a different between social media and spam. Social media doesn’t have much to with self promotion, really. Instead, it’s about building up relationships with others and then using those relationships to share ideas. It’s about having a conversation with like minded people, and maybe, sharing the occasional link now and then – but not in a manner that’s off putting to others. This why I have a problem with the people who build up a following of 20,000 people without following anyone in return. It’s so terribly one sided. Sharing indicates more than one person is involved. Blasting out links is not sharing.

The folks who truly know how to use social media are the ones who can build up a relationship online and use it as a base that includes conducting business face to face or over the phone. Twitter and Facebook are a very small part of social media and so are links. Enough with the social media spam.

Social Media isn’t Spam

Author:

spam

The past couple of weeks found me on a quest for answers. With everyone claiming to be social media experts nowadays, I went looking for definitions. What is social media? What criteria should one have before claiming social media expertise? I’m still compiling that data, but there is one trend I found interesting and disturbing. Many people who are new to social media consider it nothing more than spam, and they’re happy to do the spamming. Since it falls under the whole “social media” umbrella they feel it’s ok.

Let me explain..

When I ask “what is social media?” I’m amazed at how many people feel it’s only a way to promote articles or blog posts, or pimp a service. Twitter profiles with 20,000 followers are filled with links. I’m getting Facebook invites for events from the same people every single day, and they’re not saying anything new. These linky people aren’t trying to have a conversation or form a relationship, they just want me to check out their links.

There’s a different between social media and spam. Social media doesn’t have much to with self promotion, really. Instead, it’s about building up relationships with others and then using those relationships to share ideas. It’s about having a conversation with like minded people, and maybe, sharing the occasional link now and then – but not in a manner that’s off putting to others. This why I have a problem with the people who build up a following of 20,000 people without following anyone in return. It’s so terribly one sided. Sharing indicates more than one person is involved. Blasting out links is not sharing.

The folks who truly know how to use social media are the ones who can build up a relationship online and use it as a base that includes conducting business face to face or over the phone. Twitter and Facebook are a very small part of social media and so are links. Enough with the social media spam.

Tweets From Space: Astronaut Twitters

Author:

massimino-thumbnail If the White House jumping on the bandwagon and signing themselves up for a Twitter account wasn’t enough to convince you that the micro-blogging service had officially gone mainstream and its popularity has blown up, maybe today’s little gem of news will.  How about this:  a NASA astronaut part of their latest, ongoing mission not only used Twitter during his entire training program, he is going to be Tweeting from Space.  Yes, Space.

Astronaut Mike Massimino has been updating his Twitter page over the last few weeks and his most recent post was a precursor for the exciting events that are about to come as he and his fellow NASA astronauts attempt to fix and repair the Hubble Telescope.  His last pre-Space tweet read:  “I’m going to put my spacesuit on, next stop: Earth Orbit!!”  Everyone following his adventure is waiting anxiously to receive his first Tweet from Space.

It is amazing to see just how far technology has come, and how exciting it is to see where it goes next.  To think that only a decade ago, mobile phones were just starting to gain in popularity and Twitter and Social Networking in general had yet to even be developed.  Fast forward to today and we’re able to keep in contact with friends, customers, clients, and yes, even astronauts, all from our phones and computers.

Who would have thought that 140 characters could be so huge.  Next stop:  Tweets from the Moon.  “That’s One Small Tweet for a Man, One Giant Twitter for Mankind.”  Right?

10 Tips for Attending Conferences

Author:

blogworld

Every time I attend a conference, I learn a few more tricks. It took a few years of trial and error to get it all right – not that there’s a wrong way to attend a conference.  Now though, I know a little bit more about saving costs, remembering names and faces, making important connections and keeping myself healthy and safe.

I’d like to share some of my favorite tips for attending conferences.

1. Load up on vitamins and supplements before you go – By the end of the conference, you’re absolutely exhausted and you feel a bad cold coming on. Your throat is raw and raspy and you can’t wait to get on the plane so you can get some sleep. Sound familiar? Every time I attend a conference I return home feeling a wreck. There are no words to describe how bad I need sleep and some meds. So I got smart. This year, for about two weeks before SXSWi, I began taking extra Vitamin C and immunity boosters. These are easily found at the drugstore or supermarket and up your resistance so you don’t succumb to the Conference Flu. When I returned home from Austin, I was still tired, but I wasn’t sick. I think taking care of myself beforehand made all the difference.

2. Pack two pairs of your most comfortable shoes – Are you one of the people who teases me at conferences for walking around in Crocs? Maybe I got the last laugh at the end of the day when I didn’t feel any discomfort after being on my feet for 16 hours though. When I attend conferences I pack two pairs of very practical shoes – plus a pair that’s maybe not so practical for a night on the town. Heels and flip flops have no place on a conference floor. After an hour or two I’m wanting to head back to my hotel and change. Try sneakers or something equally as comfortable. Then if you do put on your strappy sandals or Sunday shoes at night, your feet won’t be as achy and swollen. Plus your feet will definitely thank you in the morning.

3.Save money by staying close to the conference center – Here’s my best money saving tip for conferences: stay close to the convention center. Sometimes folks balk at the price of the closest hotels and stay a mile or two away where rooms might be cheaper.  Are you really saving money if you have to pay $20 per cab ride? Before you book your hotel find out how far it is from the conference center and then research how much money it will cost by cab. The more expensive, closer hotel is probably a better option when you figure in your “getting around” costs.

4. Look for all-suite hotels – Here’s another money saving tip. If you can stay at a “suite” hotel such as the Residence Inn or Embassy Suites, by all means, do so. Usually they’re within walking distances to conference centers, plus they have kitchen set ups. Save money on food by keeping stuff in your room. The Residence Inn also offers a free breakfast buffet each morning, so you don’t even have to pay for a hot breakfast. By keeping water, coffee and snacks in your hotel room, you won’t have to pay a premium at the convention center, hotel shop or convenience store.

5. Try a variety of discounts – Most conference attendees receive a hotel discount with their admission. This may not always be the best deal, however. If your favorite hotel or credit card offer points good for a discount, take advantage. I generally use my AAA discount instead of the convention discount because,  I can save $50 – $100 per night.

6. Bring an extra carry on bag – I like to travel light. I check my suitcase and only carry my laptop on the plane. On the return trip it’s a little different. Since I leave conferences with a bag filled with freebies. I always come home with books, tshirts and other items that don’t fit into my suitcase. Even if you may not use it, pack an extra bag just in case. This way you don’t have to leave anything behind.

7. You make more connections at dinners and over coffee rather than loud parties – Parties at conferences are the norm but that’s not my scene. They’re loud and you can’t really hold a conversation. If I’m really interested in networking or making a connection with certain people I make plans for dinner, to meet over a cup of coffee or even for a beer in a quieter lounge. By all mean, party if that’s your thing, but you make a better impression when you’re sober in a quieter atmosphere.

8. Don’t forget the sessions – Yes the trade floor is fun. Yes the parties are fun. For me, the best reason to attend a conference is to sit in on the classes, workshops and sessions. Conference sessions are an amazing opportunity to learn from the best gurus in a field or genre. If you really want to be inspired sit in on a session led by your favorite thought leader. You’ll want to head straight to your blog afterward.

9. Write notes on the back of business cards – Here’s where I get lost. I come home from a conference and I have hundreds of business cards. Who gave me what? What did this person look like again? Was I interested in continuing the conversation with this person? When you look at a stack of business cards it can be confusing. So at the last conference I got smart. Whenever I had five spare minutes or when I got back to my hotel room each night I wrote notes on the back of each business card. I jotted down where I met the person, what we talked about and why I’d like to connect again. After the conference it was easy to connect with the folks who interested me the most.

10. Juice up all your toys at the end of each day– Before you go to bed each night, charge up cell phones, laptops, iPods and anything else you want to carry with you. The last thing you want is for the charge to run out of your batteries – and no outlets to spare. I’m also notorious for forgetting to empty out my camera’s memory stick each evening and can’t take pictures the next day. Taking care of these things in the evening before you go to bed, will allow you to waste less time in the morning and will also ensure you don’t miss out on memories or communicating the next day.

What are your favorite tips for attending conferences?

Facebook Gives Two Holocaust Denial Groups The Boot

Author:

Looks like pressure finally got to Facebook and they did what I am sure the vast majority of people will agree, was the right thing.  Freedom of speech in this country is beyond vital.  The ability to say what we feel, when we feel it without censorship or controlling is one of the things that makes America what it is, and when issues arise that test that, you’re always going to have controversy.  Hopefully Facebooks decision today will put an end to at least some of the controversy as they seem to have their bases covered in why they removed them.

In case you’re a bit out of the loop, Facebook has been receiving pressure from outside sources after some Facebook Group Pages were created that spoke out against the Holocaust and denied it ever occured.  There were two groups in question at the heart of this controversy, “Holocaust is a Holohoax” and “Based on the facts…there was no Holocaust,” and both were removed from Facebook today as it was determined that they were violating Facebook’s Terms of Service allowing messages that spread hate on their Walls.

The issue here is, there are still many groups like this that still exist on Facebook.  According to reports:

“Despite Facebook’s decision to eliminate two Holocaust Denial groups, numerous others remain on Facebook. These groups have names like “Holocaust: A Series of Lies,” “Holocaust is a Myth,” “the holocaust that the Jewish believe in is very big lie,” “Holocaust denial & Anti-Zionism,” three different groups named “F–K Israel And Their Holocaust Bulls–t,” and “1,000,000 for the TRUTH about the Holocaust.””

Why the other groups remain might be questionable to many, but Facebook has said they have to uphold that freedom of speech and these groups, while maybe not extremely popular to many, are merely “engaging in legitimate discourse about a controversial topic.”  Until those groups “cross the line” into hatred, they will do nothing.

All of this is controversial, that much is clear, but it does raise some important questions:  How far should Freedom of Speech go with online social networking?  What should be allowed and what should not?  Isn’t the simple fact that groups exist denying one of the most devestating and tragic events in human history enough to be called hateful?  These are big questions, important questions, and they all need answers.  What do you think?

Here Are My Heroes…. Who Is Your Hero?

Author:

A few days ago a dear friend introduced me to a group of very special people and a wonderful organization; The Bob Woodruff FoundationStephanie asked if we could help them spread the word for their TweettoRemind campaign and their goal to raise $1.65m by Memorial Day. We of course said yes!

What is Tweet to Remind?

Here is Bob in his own words:

After I was severely injured while reporting on location in Iraq, my family and I realized we had a unique opportunity to reach out and help many of our nation’s injured heroes. In January 2008, my wife Lee and I started ReMIND.org, an organization dedicated to raising money and awareness for service members injured in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as their families. Our current project is the TweetToRemind campaign, which asks individuals and corporations to donate $5.25 or more in an effort to raise $1.65 million by the end of the Memorial Day weekend.

Please read the whole thing, join the campaign and let us know who your heroes are and give what you can to support this worthy cause.  It will certainly make you a hero in my eyes.

As for my heroes I have a lot of them starting with my Mom. After adopting my sister and I when we were babies she sacrificed quite a bit to give us the best life we could ever hope for.

All the men and women serving in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Coast Guard are heroes to me. The amazing volunteers at Soldiers Angels, Fisher House and Semper Fi Fund who lead by example and show all of use civilians how we can do our part.

But today thanks to BlackFive I have some new heroes. Their names are Rachel Pertile and her son Evan. Two days before Thanksgiving in 2008 Rachel tried to annonymously pay the bill for a group of soldiers eating their lunch at a local restaurant. The soldiers found out what she had done and thanked her before she could leave.  Three days later Evan was diagnosed with brain cancer. More on this story from BlackFive:

Evan, now 6 years old, has had two neurosurgeries, radiation and is now having chemotherapy. All of his treatments have been at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. In January, Pertile was on a flight making her way from Memphis back to her home in Colombia when she broke down in tears.

“It was the first time I had gone home since we had ,come to St. Jude’s and we have three other boys and I really wanted to go home and spend some time there,” Pertile said. “But I was really sad to leave Evan because he had just started losing his hair in chunks.”

Sitting next to Pertile on the flight was Brenda Bowen, who works in Classroom Services at the Command and General Staff College. Bowen offered Pertile an ear and a shoulder, and when she found out Evan’s affinity for “Army guys,” she knew there was something she could do to help.

“She told me about her son and how he loves Soldiers, and I thought ‘I bet I can get a few Soldiers to send him messages,'” Bowen said.

After the flight, Bowen contacted Col. Bob Burns, the director of the Center for Army Tactics at CGSC.

“We start getting faculty and the students to send notes to the boy,” Burns said.

Evan has a page at caringbridge.org, a Web site for people to connect with loved ones and others during a critical illness.

“There were a significant number of messages that got posted,” Burns said. “And then it kind of grows like these things do, and guys in Iraq start sending notes.”

What Evan began doing next surprised everyone. Pertile said Evan had been receiving messages on his Web page saying he needed to eat to be Army strong and that Army Rangers have to eat to be strong.

“He started eating – he had completely quit eating and he was like ‘I gotta eat,'” Pertile said. “It was remarkable, it was just incredible, like this unseen force helping my child – the generosity of others.”

In addition to the messages on the Web site, Evan has received his own set of ACUs, a beret and a certificate designating him as an honorary Soldier.

Pertile said she welcomes posts to her son’s Web site http://caringbridge.org/visit/evanpertile. To register, enter an e-mail address and create a password.

Please go read the whole thing at BlackFive.  This story is chock full of heroes that we should all try to emulate.

Who are your heroes?

Community Isn't Only Online

Author:

community-outreach

One of the reasons I enjoy attending blog and social media conferences so much is because I love meeting with the folks I interact with online. I’ll even go as far as to say I use my online communities only as a tool for making personal connections. I think a mistake many folks make is believing community management is only for online, but that isn’t the case at all.

It’s great to have 20,000 followers on Twitter or 750 Friends on Facebook, but what do they really do for you – and what can you really do for them in 140 characters or less? I find I better learn the wants and needs of the folks in the communities I manage over a cup of coffee or chit chatting in the hallway of a conference center. It’s easier for me to explain how something works, or the benefits of a particular service face to face or while using the telephone.

It’s great that we’re now realizing it’s all about pesonal connections and conversations, but those connections shouldn’t be tied down to one’s laptop. Use your online connections to reach out to make a more personal connection, you –and your community – will be happy you did.

Community Isn’t Only Online

Author:

community-outreach

One of the reasons I enjoy attending blog and social media conferences so much is because I love meeting with the folks I interact with online. I’ll even go as far as to say I use my online communities only as a tool for making personal connections. I think a mistake many folks make is believing community management is only for online, but that isn’t the case at all.

It’s great to have 20,000 followers on Twitter or 750 Friends on Facebook, but what do they really do for you – and what can you really do for them in 140 characters or less? I find I better learn the wants and needs of the folks in the communities I manage over a cup of coffee or chit chatting in the hallway of a conference center. It’s easier for me to explain how something works, or the benefits of a particular service face to face or while using the telephone.

It’s great that we’re now realizing it’s all about pesonal connections and conversations, but those connections shouldn’t be tied down to one’s laptop. Use your online connections to reach out to make a more personal connection, you –and your community – will be happy you did.

Better Paying Opportunities for Bloggers?

Author:

blog-stockxchnge

As someone who trolls the job boards daily looking for writing and blogging leads, I tend to notice trends. For instance, with so many folks laid off from their jobs, many are turning to freelance writing and paid blogging opportunities for making ends meet, at least temporarily.

I started writing for the web in 1999, we didn’t use the term blogging as much but it was the same thing. Write, build up community, monitor comments, have a ball. The pay wasn’t bad at all and I was able to quit my boring office job and carve out a very nice living as a writer and blogger for hire.

Then Adsense happened…

All of a sudden webmasters realized they could make money from this Internet thing. The cheap webcontent trend was born. Advertisments offering to pay $200 for 100 articles were the norm. After blogging exploded a few years back, the blog networks joined the bandwagon.

I’m happy to say I found many lucrative blogging opportunties for organizations such as Oxygen Media and About.com. To supplement my big gigs, I enjoyed working for blog networks and even had my own successful blog, which is still going strong. I soon moved into the world of social media, keeping my own blogs while resigning from network blogging – a good thing I did, too. Know More Media closed its doors and b5Media, Today.com and others began lowering pay levels for bloggers. Many bloggers found it more profitable to have their own blogs than to work for networks. It was disheartening for many who relied on this pay to make ends meet.

As I check the job boards now,  I’m noticing how things are picking up for bloggers for hire – especially if they are willing to look beyond the networks. Bloggers who used to be paid $50 to $100 a month for their daily blogging are now finding opportunities for $20, $30 and upwards of $50 per post. Many businesses are willing to pay bloggers $45,000 to $60,000 annually for building up the corporate blog and getting the community rocking.  Last year I was wondering if blogging had a future, this year I’m pleased to see it does, and the opportunities are bigger and better!

So where does one find these lucrative paying opportunties? There are several places to look on the web, but be sure to check terms. You want to work smarter, not harder. $1 gigs aren’t smart. Try one of these job boards:

  • Problogger – Darren Rowse’s popular blog has several new opportunities each week. Some are lucrative, others are best ignored. (Hint – I saw one  there today paying $500/month)
  • Startuply – Lists all sorts of web based opportunities for startups, even some blogging gigs.
  • Freelance Writing Jobs – No jobs listed paying under $10 a post.
  • BlogHer – I landed my job blogging for Oxygen Media through BlogHer. You might find a gem too!
  • Blogging Jobs – Not updated often, but you can find some good ones here.
  • Craigslist – Craigslist gets a bum rap. The truth is, I found my highest paying gigs via Craigslist. It may be a haven for spammers and scammers, but there are also of plenty of good gigs to be found.
  • Twitter – If someone is looking for a blogger, you can bet it will be on Twitter.

Those are only a few of the places where one can find work as a blogger. There are even bigger opportunties for those looking beyond blogging to the world of social media. Businesses want to jump on the bandwagon, and we’re the ones in the driver seat.

Twitter: The Best Job Search Tool Ever

Author:

twitter

Twitter fascinates me. If I could, I’d spend the entire day watching the current trends and following shared links. Sometimes I lurk, and watch other conversations unfold, other times I’m an active participant. With my Tweet deck open I can monitor several talks at once. It’s a beautiful thing.

Because my blog is about freelancing and finding work, I tend to monitor job hunting tweets most often. Here’s what I’m noticing:

The Twitter community wants to help others find work: If I were to Tweet that I was looking for work, the echo effect would take place. My news would be retweeted several times over. Should an attractive job come along for which I’m qualified, it would be brought to my attention via @’s and DM’s. Twitter impresses me. After moving away from a city where neighbors didn’t take the time to get to know each other, and people were suspicious of me for going out of my way to help the elderly folks upstairs, I dig the vibe. Twitter is community at its best.

There are lots of jobs being advertised on Twitter: Holy cats there are a lot of jobs out there! Don’t believe me? Set up your Tweet Deck to include searches for jobs in your profession and see what happens. Twitter services such as Job Angels not only alert followers to available opportunities, but they also tweet out job hunters’ details.

Jobs in social media are hot: Everyone wants to be a community manager and everyone is a social media expert (we’ll talk more on that last one another time). As soon as a social media job is tweeted, the Twitterers take note. Retweets abound. Mind you, this probably creates a lot of competition, but since most of the jobs are location specific (more on THAT at a later time as well), there’s not a whole lot to worry about. Suffice it to say there is an abundance of social media opportunities on Twitter. Partake.

Twitter Search is the best source on the web for finding work: Two terrific sources for finding work are Twitter Search or Twitter Job Search. Go ahead, give it a try….I’ll wait.

See what I mean? Type in “Freelance writing jobs”, “social media jobs” or “community manager” and you’ll get turned on to leads or links to job opportunties you never knew existed.

All the job boards are on Twitter: Follow your favorite job boards because they tweet out tasty tidbits. Blogs specialzing in jobs and careers are also known to drop a gem or two. Pretty soon everyone on Twitter will be employed and the only folks without work are the ones who don’t get it.

How do you use Twitter for your job search?

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