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June 2011

You Should Switch to the New Twitter “Very, Very Soon”

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If you are still using the old Twitter set up, then most likely you’ve seen the announcement at the top of the page that says “You will automatically be upgraded to the new Twitter very, very soon”. It looks like this.


Twitter introduced the “New Twitter” nine months ago and although some people are complaining about the change and dragging their feet a little on coming over to the dark side, most are okay with the new set up.

What twitter means by “very, very soon” no one knows. It could be tomorrow (highly unlikely) or it could be weeks away.

If you haven’t made the switch yet, Twitter has an introductory video called “Meet the new Twitter”. You can view it here. Here’s how Twitter describes the new design:

You will now find @mentions, retweets, searches, and lists just above your timeline – creating a single, streamlined view on the left of the screen. On the right, you can see the features you’re familiar with, including whom you recently followed and who recently followed you, favorites, and Trending Topics.

Have you made the switch to the New Twitter yet? If so, how does it compare to the old design?

Imperfection Makes Perfect

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On of the things that I found surprising when I started out in podcasting was the value that imperfection can bring towards your production. I’m about to start my yearly coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – a daily show that runs each day of the month long festival featuring news, chat, reviews and interviews. This will be the sixth year that it runs, and each year of course has lessons for the following year (be it thing to do better, and things that should never be done again.

I want to go back to my second year to illustrate a point. The first year of the Fringe, I was recording while out and about, finding quiet corners in bars, alcoves in the streets, dark alleyways just out of the volume of the street performers to do the interviews. Mostly because this was 2005 and I didn’t know better, but also because I couldn’t get a "base" to work from that I could set up equipment and get really good sound quality.

Everyone loved the shows though, and it gained popular and critical acclaim (and six years later has a crowd of people eagerly waiting for it to return and performers lining up to get on the show). And in year two I had more time to plan the show, and was doing some volunteer work at a local community radio station. Which meant I had access to an honest-to-goodness real studio. Mixing desks! Microphones! Comfy chairs! Tea and Coffee making facilities!

Perfect, I thought, and proceeded to book in the performers to the studio, rather than a bar that was close to their theatre space. The audio quality was good, the quality of the interview was better than the year before (that’ll be a year of experience talking)…

Yet after a week I got a few listener emails all saying the same thing. They loved the interviews, they loved the people that were on the show (and some were buying tickets on the strength of these spots), but they missed something. They missed the hustle and bustle in the background, they missed the feeling that they were right in the thick of the excitement that the Fringe brought to Edinburgh. They missed the moments I had to stop and let a very loud bus pass before I could ask another question.

They missed the imperfection, and it was that imperfection that created the flavour that the rest of the podcast drew its energy from.

I cancelled the studio, moved back onto the streets, and to this day have continued to do the interviews wherever I as in Edinburgh, be it a quiet coffee bar, the busy Royal Mile, or in the middle of a Bouncy Castle which is being used as a stage to put on a performance of Dracula.

It also led to a special show that I do once a year, where I literally stand on The Royal Mile, switch on the recorder, and just stop and ask people "why are you here?" for 45 minutes to bring over the spirit of the Fringe. And that’s the one I get asked about the most!

The lesson? Pay attention and talk to your listeners, and never be afraid to throw your plans out the window if you’re presented with a more appropriate option. In the long run, it will be improve you and your show.

Image Source: Leith Podcaster, Creative Commons.

19 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About QR Codes

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Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge link of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: QR Codes

This year at BlogWorld was the first time I really saw people at a conference really talking about QR codes. Of course, they’ve been around for much longer, but I think QR codes have really taken off in popularity. I don’t know tons about using QR codes effectively myself, so I was actually excited to research and read all of the posts related to this topic. Let’s jump right into the posts this week; here’s what some brilliant bloggers have to say about using QR codes:

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

QR Codes 101: Make Links to Your Website from Anywhere by Charles Hamilton

I wanted to include this link as the first on the Brilliant Blogger list because it is such a good, quick overview if you’ve never really used QR codes before or don’t understand how they code be relevant to you. While this is a very brief overview (especially as compared to some other posts linked below), there are TONS of links within the post that you can click to fin more information about QR codes. When you’re done reading the article, you can also follow Charles on Twitter @chcs.

QR Codes: Are Your Read for Paper-Based Hyperlinks? by Mark Sprague

I love this Search Engine Land post by Mark Sprague because it not only gives a really good overview of what a QR codes, but it also gives readers real-life examples of how companies around the world are successfully using QR codes. Mark also gives you lots of ideas on how you can use QR codes as well, so if you’re new to this concept this is a great place to start thinking about how you can use the codes for your business. Check out Mark on Twitter @CMarkSprague.

How Effective are QR Codes with Consumers? by Grant Iven

Okay, QR codes might be neat, but I want to know the same thing most businesses want to know – are they working? Companies like to talk a lot about ROI, and while it might be free to generate a QR code, if you’re going to print it everywhere, there’s a bit of investment involved. This post is a little case study showing what happened when one company used QR codes to promote their Facebook page. You can follow Grant on twitter after checking out this post @saywhat_com.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about QR codes? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link!

Next Week’s Topic: Offensive Content

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Are You Ready for Promoted Tweets to Appear in Your Main Twitter Stream?

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Twitter introduced “promoted tweets” last year, where promoted tweets appeared when using Twitter’s search facility. There’s also the “promoted trends” that you see at the top of the list and “promoted accounts” in a list of recommended people for you to follow.

So far, it doesn’t seem these advertising methods have affected a user’s Twitter experience.

Things might change a little.

The Financial Times is reporting that advertising on Twitter could start getting a little more in your face. Meaning promoted tweets would show up in your main Twitter stream. Twitter has already tested these ads with HootSuite.

In a recent blog post from Twitter, they said “We are always talking with marketers about ways they could potentially get more out of Twitter. Some of these discussed concepts may materialise; others will not.”

It’s always been talked about that as Twitter grows, it’s going to get more commercial. How do you feel about promoted tweets in your main Twitter stream?

Moms Are Still Old School When it Comes to Back to School Shopping

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You would think with the ever growing popularity of social media that moms would flock to it for all things back-to-school. According to a new survey by School Family Media Inc., that’s not the case.

The survey revealed that it’s actually their least preferred method of receiving information about products and promotions.

The online survey was done this month, June 2011, and asked 1,400 women with school age kids about back-to-school shopping.

We work with moms all year, across all demographics, who are engaged with their kids’ education, so we were uniquely positioned to gain and share some insights about moms’ attitudes regarding back-to-school shopping,” said John Driscoll, President – Consumer Connections, School Family Media.  “What we found interesting was that despite the emergence of new technologies and communication platforms, moms aren’t planning on utilizing these much when it comes to their back-to-school shopping.  In fact, social media was moms’ least preferred method for receiving information about products and promotions, and 90 percent of moms still planned to make the majority of their purchases at actual stores versus online.

The results do not in any way mean that these moms are not active online. In fact, they are. So what’s their favorite way to receive information about products? Their email inbox. Over 70 percent chose “Email from brand/store”.

Here are a few more results from the survey.

Moms are:

  • Not looking to social media for information about products and promotions
  • Making majority of purchases at actual stores vs. online
  • Spending more this year, compared to last year – but still price-conscious
  • Not rushing to complete shopping before the first day of school

For those of you moms active online, do you feel these results fall in to line with how you like to receive back to school information?

Image Source: SXC

Bahraini Blogger Gets Sentenced to Life in Prison

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21 activists went before a military court yesterday (June 22nd) for being accused of belonging to terrorist organizations and trying to overthrow the government. Reporters Without Borders was shocked at the long sentences given out. Eight received life sentences, including one Bahraini blogger – Dr. Abduljalil Al-Singace.

Another blogger was sentenced to 15 years, while thirteen others received 2 to 15 years.

“The only crime committed by Abdulemam and Al-Singace was freely expressing opinions contrary to those of the government,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These sentences, handed down at the end of trail that flouted defence rights, are typical of the intransigence that the authorities have been showing towards those identified as government opponents, who have borne the full brunt of their repression. The international community must call the government to account on its strategy of stifling all dissent.”

Al-Singace was arrested last August when he returned to Bahrain from being abroad. He is head of the civil society movement El Haq.

What do you think of the sentences handed down?

Image Source: IFEX

The Winklevoss Twins End Their Battle with Facebook

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After seven years of lawsuits, the $65 million dollar settlement with Facebook in 2008, and a movie (The Social Network), Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss have ended their battle with Facebook.

According to The Washington Post, they filed a one paragraph court document on Wednesday (June 22nd) stating they would accept the $65 million dollar settlement from 2008.

The Facebook battle was made famous and brought to the public’s attention with the film ‘The Social Network’. The twins were suing Facebook and CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, claiming he had taken their idea from their project ConnectU and created Facebook.

The twins were appealing the $20 million in cash and $45 million in stock. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against them stating they were represented “by a squadron of Silicon Valley lawyers and their father”. Their stock is now worth more than $100 million.

What was Facebook’s reaction to the news? In a statement they said, “We’ve considered this case closed for a long time, and we’re pleased to see the other party now agrees.”

Are you glad to see this come to a close? According to Facebook, it’s BEEN closed.

Daps’em – A Virtual Fist Pump to Show Your Appreciation

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Poke. Like. Retweet. Daps’em. What’s Daps’em you ask? It’s a ‘virtual fist pump’ to show people you think they’ve done something awesome.

Pick any friend from Facebook, Twitter or your email contacts and ‘Dap’ them when they’ve done something you appreciate.

Other users can then give your Dap a ‘Yay’, which is similar to Facebook’s ‘Like’ feature.

Here’s an example:

It’s likely you’ve never heard of a ‘Dap’ because they’ve been under the radar since their launch. But you might start seeing more #daps on Twitter. Why? The company just updated the app so you can ‘Dap’ anyone on Twitter, even if they’re not a Daps’em user.

Here’s one way the company Daps’em used the hastag, #Daps, on Twitter.

Daps’em is available on the app store and you can follow them on twitter (@dapsem). Can you see Daps’em taking off and being used by Social Media enthusiasts?

Is Generic Content Bringing You Down?

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Think back on the last few weeks and all the blog posts you read, podcasts you downloaded, and videos you watched. If you’re anything like me, the list is pretty long. But now ask yourself this: how many do you actually remember?

Often times, I’ll click on a link expecting to read some high-quality content. And I do – the information is well-researched, there are no spelling errors, and the blogger’s message is clear. In our fast-paced ADD Internet world, though, I’m moving on to another link pretty quickly. If your content was generic, no matter how informative and well-written the post might be, I probably won’t recommend it to others…and after a few weeks, I definitely won’t remember it.

What is Generic Content?

“Generic” is kind of a vague term in this context so let me explain what I mean. To me, generic content is content that can be found on any blog out there. There’s no little oomph to connect it to you as a blogger and the information is nothing new. Essentially, it just looks like you rewrote a post from another blog and plopped it on your own site. It brings you down as a blogger and it certainly brings me down as a reader.

Now, I’m not saying that you can’t cover news stories and topics that have been covered by other bloggers in the past. Heck, I don’t have to tell y’all that it’s hard to come up with super original ideas every single time you write a post. Sometimes you just want to cover a concept that you really enjoy, even though others have as well. Also, readers, frankly, need information that’s been covered elsewhere. Just because you read Billy Sue’s Amazing BBQ Blog where she covered the different types of BBQs doesn’t mean that the readers of your cooking blog do, so covering that same topic makes sense.

So if I’m not saying that every post has to be super original, what am I saying? Let’s take a look at how to pull your blog out of generic-land.

Baby, Are You Down, Down, Down, Down, Down?*

Here’s a good way to evaluate your content to see if it’s generic. Take your name off the post and label it “admin” instead. You don’t actually have to do this, but at least imagine it. Would people still know it’s you? Would they care?

Personality in your posts is important, but being generic isn’t just a lack of personality. It’s a lack of style, and personality is just a part of that. A lot of bloggers don’t have big personalities, and that’s okay as long as you make up for it in other ways. Someone like Jordan Cooper is going to write a recognizable post because of his sense of humor. Humor is part of his personality. Take away all of that funny stuff, though, and you still have a blog post that is far from generic. Likewise, someone like Kyeli from Connection Revolution is going to write a recognizable because because her posts are super introspective and sensitive. It’s part of her personality. Take away the tear-jerking and humbling moments, though, and you still have a blog post that is far from generic.

What is it beyond personality that makes these bloggers (and many others I love)? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Use original ideas when possible. Like I’ve said, that’s not always possible, but original ideas, ideas that are not found anywhere else, will build a backbone to your blog.
  • Be opinionated. You don’t always have to present information like a textbook. Your opinions will make your content unique.
  • Think about the words you use. Writing (and even speaking if you podcast or vlog) is an art, and taking a moment to consider the specific language you use can really elevate your blog posts.
  • Find a new angle. If everyone under the sun has written about a specific topic, look for a way to cover it that is new and interesting. For example, if you blog about celebrity relationships, instead of writing a straight news story about Hugh Heffner’s financee calling of the wedding, you could cover the story in a post about celebrities that have been left at the alter or celebrity couples with huge age differences. You’re still providing readers with the information, but you aren’t rewriting stories found on other blogs.
  • Crowdsource. What is a blog without its readers? They’re one of the things that makes your blog unique. So, use their comments or tweets as jumping off points for your posts.

Of course, not every post has to include all of these elements. However, if you’re writing generic posts that could be found on any blog out there with any writer’s name on it, you’re doing a disservice to your readers and to yourself. Present your knowledge in a way that stands out, and you’re create a blog that people have to read and share, rather than a blog that readers forget.

*I couldn’t resist. I love that song.

Social Media Quickly Becoming the Leading Way to Communicate During National Disasters

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The National Hurricane Survival Initiative released a new survey today that shows both social media and texting are leading the way in terms of how people communicate during national disasters. Not only are social media users using it to communicate back and forth, but it’s also the way they are receiving important information.

The survey revealed that “72% of Americans are members of a social network, such as Facebook, Twitter or MySpace and 45% said they would rely on it to communicate with friends and loved ones in the event of a natural disaster; another 24% said they might.”

“Being prepared for any hazard is critical and can save lives,” said Bryan Koon, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Surviving natural disasters, such as hurricanes, in 2011 means having a disaster supply kit that includes devices such as smart phones as well as knowing how and where to receive updates through social media.”

There is still room for improvement in educating Americans how to best effectively use the new technology to both protect themselves and seek help during a disaster.

The survey also revealed that social media use is more prevalent within the 18 to 34 age range, so emergency managers need to use a variety of strategies to get the word out and reach all age groups.

With forecasters predicting a highly active hurricane season for 2011, we can definitely expect to see social media use for national disaster information on the rise.

Have you ever used social media to either communicate or get important information during a disaster?

 

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