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The Grand Social Media Experiment. We learn by doing.


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Social Media Can Also Improve Relationships

Social networking (and other technological advances) has altered how we stay connected to friends, make purchases, network with colleagues, and find out what’s going on in the world. It has been known to destroy relationships by rekindling past flames, beginning covert affairs, replacing face-to-face intimacy with imaginary online closeness, revealing too much information, and cyber-stalking to ease or confirm jealousy.

Some things to remember that will help keep relationships running smoothly online (and offline) are:

  • Anyone involved in a committed adult relationship shouldn’t be afraid to be public about their status on Facebook or other social media sites.
  • Your partner should be your friend on social media sites. If you can’t see what each other shares publicly online, this could be a sign of impending trouble.
  • Reminisce only briefly with past loves. Anything any more than that could put distance between you and your significant other.
  • Never vent personal information online when you’re angry. In fact, never do it offline either. Give yourself time to assess the situation and address it without pointing blame.
  • Online content is permanent! Even if something posted is deleted (and forgotten), it isn’t really. Nothing ever permanently goes away, and you don’t want it to resurface when you least expect it.
  • Don’t over-share. A better way to learn about people is to have face-to-face conversations. Also, don’t publicize every little detail about your relationships and personal life online.

Often, social media does couples more harm than good. However, social media can also be a positive thing that fortifies bonds between partners. Social media is a great way to connect and encourage loved ones during the workday, or whenever they are away. Anytime you can stay connected and increase communication will benefit a relationship.

Here are some fun ways to stay connected and put a smile on that important someone’s face during times when you are apart. Use social media to:

  • Remember the good times by reminding them of a special moment you shared.
  • Express thankfulness for kindnesses they’ve shown you and for their friendship and love.
  • Make them laugh with a funny meme or other online content that you think they will enjoy.
  • Just say “Hello” or send a smile (emoticon).

A celebrity who does an awesome job of showing his wife how much she means to him and is an inspiration to us all is Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad. He just might be the most perfect husband ever, complimenting his wife Lauren Parsekian every chance he gets. Read about this very-much-in-love couple here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/aaron-paul-wife_n_4032479.html. Awwwe!!

Remember—you have the power to build and maintain quality relationships. The golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” is excellent advice; it is as powerful now as it was c. 2000 BC, “Now this is the command: Do to the doer to cause that he do thus to you.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule)

What are you waiting for? Go reach out to your special someone!

—Laura

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A Traveler’s Guide Through The Social Media Universe, Part II

Let’s pick up where we left off – popular social media channels. The next one we’ll be reviewing is Twitter. This channel can be likened to a noisy, popular night club. These are the main facts you need to know about the Twitter channel:

  1. Social network which allows personal and professional users to set up basic profiles and “Tweet” (send/receive messages), pictures, and/or videos confined by a 140 character limit.
  2. Users can also “Retweet” others’ messages, pictures, and/ or videos.
  3. Users have the option of tagging to “Follow” others to boost social interactions and stay updated on other users’ tweets. The same principle applies vice versa.
  4. Users also receive notices via a “Notifications” folder.
  5. Hashtags (pound sign preceding brief text) links to other sources as well as potentially attracting more followers.
  6. There’s an ongoing newsfeed of “Current Trends.” Users can opt to click on hashtag links to view more information about those trends.
  7. Last but not least, there’s the “#Discover” where Twitter searches out and filters trends the user might like.

Now, let’s examine our third social media channel – Pinterest. Figuratively speaking, Pinterest can be likened to both a playful art gallery. Pinterest’s essential elements include:

  1. Users set up personal accounts to collect, share, and store pictures/videos on virtual bulletin boards.
  2. Users “Pin it” (use web content to upload personal content) and “Repin” (import from other peoples’ boards) media content to various personal “boards” (different categories).
  3. The “Pin Feed” suggests content users might like and use.
  4. Each media image opens the door to other related information and entertainment.
  5. Users can both invite Pinterest friends to their boards and follow other Pinterest members.

Our fourth social media channel, Linkedin, can be likened to a job fair or office setting. LinkedIn’s primary components include:

  1. Professional networking site where users set up profile pages displaying their professional background, skills, and interests to find jobs and/or business opportunities.
  2. Users network with each other by establishing “connections.” There are three degrees of connections (One refers to a direct connect while the other two are indirect).
  3. Users can endorse each other (verify job skills)
  4. Users can “like” and “congratulate” each other on their achievements.
  5. Users can see who has previewed their pages.
  6. Users can also join professional groups and clubs.
  7. Employers can use LinkedIn to post jobs and search for potential workers.

We’ll come back and explore some more popular social media sites soon, but right now, let’s become familiar with the nuts and bolts of these four channels. While you’re doing this, be sure to also check out YouTube tutorials for each of the four channels to help you learn visually as well (There are quite a few.)  Of course, each of the social media channels help centers to assist you as well. On a final note, be sure to explore these additional educational resources before we move on to our next blog:

 

-Cheryl Bokon


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World’s Ugliest Woman

 

Be STRONG when you are weak. BRAVE when you are scared. And HUMBLE when you are victorious.

Be STRONG when you are weak. BRAVE when you are scared. And HUMBLE when you are victorious.

Lizzie was a sweet little girl, born to two very excited first-time parents in Austin, Texas. She was very small at birth—she was born four weeks premature and weighed less than three pounds. Lizzie was nurtured and cared for by her loving parents and grew to be quite a precocious child. She was blessed with two younger siblings, many relatives, and had a very charming, very normal life. At least that’s what she thought until she went to school.

Little Lizzie was very excited on her first day of school. She had a pretty dress, new hair ribbons, and a snazzy lunchbox. She couldn’t wait to make new friends in kindergarten, but when she got to school, things didn’t happen as she thought they would. No one would speak to her. When she talked to them, they backed away. She had a very bad first day.

When Lizzie got home, she told her mother what happened at school. It was then that she discovered she was not like other children. Her mother told her they would learn to like her and they quickly did. Throughout Lizzie’s school years, there were those who stared and were mean and insulting. There were also those who were very good to her—who loved her and stood by her side when other kids mistreated her. Through all of this, Lizzie remained positive and kind.

Lizzie was very smart and had a great sense of humor. Whatever she wanted to do, she did and was successful at it. Lizzie prospered in school, joined lots of clubs, and was on the cheerleading team. One day, while distracted and not wanting to do homework, she listened to music on YouTube. Lizzie saw a video on the side that looked familiar to her and had over four million views. She clicked on it and was horrified to see her face in a video titled “World’s Ugliest Woman.”

This is how I discovered Lizzie—I was watching something on YouTube, a news program or something, and saw a video on the side where Katie Couric interviewed the ugliest woman. I hadn’t ever seen Katie Couric but was familiar with the name. I was curious to see who she was more than I cared about seeing an ugly woman.

What I saw made me sad and happy at the same time. Lizzie Velasquez is an amazing young woman. She is funny, upbeat, kind, and adorable. She was born with a disease so rare that it doesn’t even have a name. She has no fat cells in her body and cannot gain weight. She is also blind in one eye. Lizzie has put up with so much—wherever she goes she is stared at and treated as if she is a monster. But Lizzie is a special beauty with many loving friends and a wonderful family.

I was so moved by her story that I wanted to learn more about her. I watched a few Ted talks she has done. Lizzie is an inspiring motivational speaker and encourages people with her story. She has decided not to let the bullies win—the video that made fun of her made her even stronger. She vowed to not let it get her down and speaks out against cyber bullying. Lizzie lives every day to the fullest.

I found Lizzie at a time when I needed to hear her story. I was very stressed and things were going poorly for me. Lizzie is so strong! If she can move forward with all that is against her, I think I could too. Lizzie has a website and uses Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumbler to share her story. Lizzie’s story has appeared via broadcast, on-line, or print media all over the country and internationally. She has written three books, of which I now have two. I’m so glad I was distracted that day and virtually met this amazing, inspiring young woman.

You can hear about her story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1tydA1MraE. Just don’t read the comments—they will make you sick.

PS: I screen-captured the beautiful pictures of Lizzie from http://lizziebeautiful.tumblr.com/post/98397430713/be-strong-when-you-are-weak-brave-when-you-are (top) and http://ryantowephotography.com/blog/lizzie-velasquez/ (bottom).

—Laura

Lizzie Velasquez

Beautiful Lizzie

 


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Twitter Tips for All

Twitter logo

Tweet! Tweet!! A little birdie told me…

Thinking about using Twitter? Not sure why you would or if it’s even worth it? Twitter is many different things to many different people. It’s a great place for keeping in touch with friends and family, staying current with what’s happening in the world, and informing others about your business’s products and services.

Twitter is like blogging (it started as a micro-blogging service) and instant messaging combined. It is the ultimate in social messaging, as you can connect with lots of people whenever and wherever you want. It is an event coordinator, a business tool, a news reporting service, and a marketing device.

In order to effectively use Twitter, I’ve put together a list of things to keep in mind as you enter the world of Twitter and get ready to “tweet” (or post) a brief message:

MISC. INFO

  • Maximum length of username is 15 characters—the shorter the better. It will be easier for people to find you.
  • Maximum number of characters per tweet is 140. Leave at least 20 characters free as space for people to retweet you.
  • Twitter shortens links with their internal shortener, or you can use bitly.com. Each link uses up 22 or 23 characters.
  • Starting the beginning of a tweet with @username is a reply. It will only be seen by that person and people who are following both of you (it will also show up on your profile page and in Twitter search). If you tag a username anywhere but at the start of the tweet, everybody following you (including the user) will see that message. This is called a mention.
  • Images dramatically increase social media engagement. A picture on Twitter uses up 23 characters.
  • If you make an error in a tweet, to fix it, delete it first and then re-submit. You cannot edit tweets.

USING TWITTER

  • To be social, when you are mentioned (@username), you should respond to that tweet.
  • Retweet, reply to, and favorite other people’s tweets.
  • People who tweet frequently attract more followers. An active Twitter presence can help a business generate more revenue.
  • Link your tweets to interesting articles you find.
  • Hosting a creative contest or sweepstakes is a great way to improve engagement for businesses.
  • Join a worldwide public conversation by participating in Twitter trends (#hashtags). Twitter provides a daily list of trending topics near the top of your Twitter page on the lefthand side.
  • Behind-the-scenes info and photos are a great way to humanize your business.
  • You can live-tweet anything that would interest your followers and friends. Concerts, low gas prices, Elvis sightings, etc.
  • Quotes are always popular no matter what social media platform you’re on.
  • Create an original meme that fits with your company or product. Everybody loves memes and they often go viral.
  • Use one to two #hashtags per tweet for maximum engagement.
  • Become an expert: inform, talk about your company and other things your audience is interested in.
  • Use Twitter daily—search, lurk, post, retweet.

ADDITIONAL TIPS

  • To grow your community, add your Twitter ID to your email signature and other content, both online and off.
  • It’s OK to schedule tweets, but don’t automate anything.
  • Don’t be a salesperson on Twitter. Instead, be informative, entertaining and social.
  • Don’t ask people to follow you. They probably won’t. Some may unfollow you.

REMEMBER

  • Everything you say can be seen by anyone, right from the start.
  • Your tweets can be found in Twitter search and also by Google and other search engines.
  • Search your company on Twitter. See what people are saying about you. Respond whether good or bad—make things right!
  • Follow 20-30 good users.
  • Google search companies doing well on Twitter and check out what they do; follow them.

Don’t be nervous! The best way to learn is to jump right in and as Nike says, “Just do it!”

—Laura

Liz Lemon saying, "What the what the?"


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Is Cursing Taboo, Blase or OK?

If the Internet hasn’t made our culture more profane, certainly it has diminished our collective shock by curse words. According to a study reported in digitaltrends.com, one in every 13 tweets contain profanity (nsfw, but in case you are at work and curious, you may be as surprised as I was that the C-word ranks 16th). Now, one in 13 is not a shocking figure when you consider anyone with opposable thumbs has a media platform. But for those of us who believe there is more to writing than the ability to navigate a keyboard or message chat acronyms on a smart phone, our audience and message determine the words and language we use.

The lax on the taboos of profanity goes back farther than the Internet and has been happening for decades. It’s been almost ten years since Vice President Dick Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy to f*** himself, and even though it probably wasn’t the first time that suggestion was offered on the Senate floor, it would have been far more shocking 50 years earlier. It would be even less shocking if it happened today. Perhaps social media and the plethora of smart phones are simply revealing that we were always a culture of potty mouths. But back when a virtual conversation meant something tweeners imagined having with the latest heartthrob on the cover of Tiger Beat, profanity was considered taboo in “mixed company,” meaning when both genders were present. I’d have to try pretty hard to fain shock by the use of “naughty language” today, even though I was raised where my permissible threshold for cursing stopped after darn and before hell (outside its religious context). Mom said the use of profanity demonstrated not only a lack of cultural civility, but a lack of an abundant vocabulary. And even after I rattle off a string of profanity that would prompt Chelsea Handler and Roseanne to rise for a standing ovation (mostly when no one’s around), I remind myself that Mom was right. Words matter.

Whether defining your own voice or that of the organization you represent, the right words will always matter. Broadcasting through social media offers greater freedom but also a greater opportunity to cause damage to your brand if you don’t choose your words carefully. It pays to think before you post because no matter how fleeting your messages may be in the world-wide web of words, remember all posts are permanent and will come back to haunt you if they can. If using one of George Carlin’s famous seven curse words you can never say on television is right for your brand or the audience you want to reach, use them, But the S-word or F-word can be just as dull or jarring as using a fancy, multisyllabic word when it’s not the right word. Using the right language or even inventing new words and phrases will attract the people you want to your site. Think how popular Thirty Rock’s Liz Lemonisms, like blergh, myirt, whuck and jagweed have become.

Recently the AP stylebook, the journalist’s bible, defined “N-word” and “F-word” as the proper style rule when writing those words in print. But Jesse Sheidlower, author of  “The F-Word, The Complete History of the Word. Yes, That One,” contends that the media should reflect the real world and use the actual word when reporting. After all, everyone knows what those acronyms mean, so you could argue substitutions are silly or, at best, only there to protect the innocent. But I doubt there are many children over five who haven’t heard or seen these words many times before. Are the acronyms any less ugly than the words themselves? Would using them shine more light on their vulgarity or are they too offensive for that experiment?

Time will tell whether social media changes the bleep-word practice or other current language mores, like it seems to be changing nearly everything else. And were he alive today, Carlin would agree social media has blurred the lurid language line and he’d have a new, brilliant riff on the subject. WWCT – what would Carlin think – or tweet? SB

 

 

 


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For the Birds: A Field Guide to Social Media Channels

Sure, you know about Twitter. But what about Chirp, Chirpify and the rest of the 200 or so channels out there?

It’s not your imagination. New social media channels really are popping up every few months. A study by Experian predicts that “Deeper functional[it]y, combined with a lower technical barrier to entry, will result in new leaders in social media being created, accepted and used within a matter of days.”

So how do you select the right channels for your organization? As with marketing communications generally, there’s a strategic as well as a tactical answer to that question.

Start with yourself. That’s the advice of Catherine Parker, author of 301 Ways to Use Social Media to Boost Your Marketing. For example, if your professional product is highly visual—or text-heavy—choose your channels accordingly. “Know your business’s strengths and weaknesses,” Parker advises (Tip 2).

Just as field guides help birders identify the hundreds of avian species in the USA, the “conversation prism,” reproduced here, guides marketers to the social media environment and its native inhabitants.

Social media guru Brian Solis, developer of the conversation prism, places “YOU” at the center of the social universe. In order to choose the right channels, Solis suggests, first consider your vision, purpose, value, commitment, and transparency with regard to social media.

“Social is not a silo or a function, it is a way of business. It is intended to mature business perspective from a command and control mentality to that of engagement and openness.”—Brian Solis

Next, identify your priority audience segment(s). This is partly a demographic exercise: who are they and how do they prefer to communicate? It’s also a functional exercise: what task are they trying to accomplish at a given time? What’s their strategy for engaging with social media?

With a little research, you’ll be able to identify your segments’ “native habitat” in the social media environment. Using the outer rim of the conversation prism, you can then make tactical choices to convey your message through the channels your audiences will appreciate.

As a bonus, you’ll be better prepared to create relevant and meaningful content. Information, entertainment, and applications can take different forms, depending on the channel you choose and the audience you plan to engage there. (We’ve written elsewhere on “value” and values in social media.)

Happy birding! (LA)


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You Better Tweeork! — “Scandal” Works Twitter Like Nobody’s Business!

There are many groundbreaking aspects to the success of the hit show “Scandal.” For one, there’s the titillating behind-the-scenes glimpses into the high-octane world of politics:

Also, the lead character of the show, Olivia Pope, is a D.C. “fixer” and based on a real-life crisis manager named Judy Smith (whose services, interestingly enough, were recently utilized in the General David Petraeus scandal). Smith is well-known in D.C. circles.

Then there’s the rare sight of  the show’s lead star, Kerry Washington: an African-American actress leading a prime-time drama. scandal_season_2

Additionally, Washington’s character is involved in a torrid romantic affair with a married White male character…who just happens to be the President of the United States.  Yeah, there’s that.   Oh, and he’s Republican!  Oh, and in real life, Washington is a passionate supporter of President Obama’s and sits on his administration’s Arts and Humanities Committee.  Of course, gossip rags could not resist exploiting the parallels between Washington’s real-life role and her role on the show!

But perhaps the biggest story regarding the success of “Scandal” is how the show used social media to build its audience and brand, raising the bar for the marriage of TV shows and social media engagement in the process. It’s hard to think of a current prime-time show that engages its audience better through social media–Twitter specifically– than “Scandal.”

From the start, actress Kerry Washington followed the social media strategy advice of Allison Peters, and began engaging viewers of the show on Twitter with “live Tweets.”

Noted for getting Kerry Washington to take the leap on Twitter along with fellow cast mates, Allison’s genius has changed the game and is causing a few waves in the casting and television development industry.  Actors for future shows are being assessed by their social engagement activity and are encouraged to be ready and available to speak to fans when it comes to promoting and discussing their involvement in a series….Platforms such as Vizify, Tweetreach, and Crowdbooster were recommended as the best ways to gauge if, when, and how best to jump into conversation mode online…

At first, I didn’t think much of Washington’s Tweets. It seemed like the logical choice for a show trying to get off the ground. But as the ratings began to show “Scandal” finding its footing each week, the #ScandalABC Tweets and Scandal-related Trending  Topics took on a different feel. Soon it seemed like the nation was having a “water-cooler” moment about the show each week. Watching “Scandal” grow from a plucky and saucy hopeful to the most talked about show in prime-time–complete with national media coverage:

      

was fascinating to watch.

Basically, “Scandal” utilized the real-time advantage of Twitter to have a giant viewing party each week as the show aired.  The show boasts strong chemistry between the two romantic leads, provocative and unconventional plot-lines, and an intoxicating brew of personal and political soapiness. It all makes for a potent mix that keeps viewers off-kilter and stunned. The shock and awe floods onto Twitter timelines each week, drenching the Trending Topics and piquing the curiosity of onlookers. And thus, “Scandal” became the most talked about show in prime-time and scored a season finale that broke records!

Who knows how long “Scandal” can keep up the fervid pace. One thing for sure is, Twitter will be waiting with baited breath for the start of Season 3. Meanwhile, I’ll be catching up this summer by watching Season 1 and 2 on Netflix.  I won’t be alone.