Tagged facebook

Social Media Sommeliers – Choosing perfect pairs of social networks

by Jonathan Barrick

A well maintained social media presence is like a fine wine; it develops more character as it ages. As you invest more time in to social media, joining additional networks and using new tools, your presence gains different characteristics that it did not have before. However, just as certain wine characteristics mesh well together, others simply do not. Certain wines will pair well with certain foods and enhance the experience, while others conflict and compete. So it is with different social networks. Some are natural fits, enhancing each other and creating synergy. Others are so vastly different in scope and purpose that using them together can actually weaken the total effort.

So how do you know which networks jive well together, and which just don’t? Well, I reached out to several brilliant professionals whose experiences in social media give them a unique perspective on which networks work great together. They are, for all intents and purposes, Social Media Sommeliers, pairing different networks together to create an experience greater than the sum of its parts. So, what networks do they believe hold the greatest power for synergy?

Here’s what Ric Dragon http://twitter.com/ricdragon had to say:

image“I’m of the mind that the Twitter/G+ combo is killer.  G+ is more open than FB, and it’s easier to share blog-type posts publicly. Twitter, of course, is the place for garnering those weak-link connections – those people with whom you share an affinity. So Twitter makes the connection, and G+ allows you to share deeper content with those new connections.”

Smart stuff, to be sure. And after speaking with multiple other professionals, and with so many different networks out there to choose from, it became quite clear that everyone would have a different approach tailored to their individual style, fitting with their unique approach to their industry.

I asked this extremely savvy group of Marketing/PR/Social pros to look at this concept from two different angles:

1) Which two social networks do you feel are most complementary, and why?



2) Which two social networks do you feel have the biggest disconnect, and why?

Here’s what they had to say:

Mark Schaeferhttp://twitter.com/markwschaefer
image“The biggest synergy that I see is between Blogging and Twitter. Building a Twitter audience is an effective way to build an audience for your blog. A tweet is like the movie trailer for the movie! They fit like a hand in a glove.

As I see it, the biggest disconnect in social networks right now is between Google + and everything else. Google is not making the sharing easy so it is probably the least integrated network.”

Peg Fitzpatrickhttp://twitter.com/pegfitzpatrick
image“I feel that Google+ and Pinterest are a powerful combination. They are both very visual networks with savvy users. Photographers are really killing it on both platforms such as Trey Ratcliff, with 4.5 million Google+ followers and 4.7 million followers on Pinterest, that’s an enviable social media network! Google+ and Pinterest, more than other platforms, really reward their power users with engagement and activity with their content. You can save your Google+ posts on Pinterest boards or find interesting things to post on Google+ from Pinterest. Both platforms support hashtag usage and using keywords is a benefit.  Google+ and Pinterest complement each other and add mutual value without distracting or overwhelming the other.

I feel like LinkedIn and every other network are disconnected. LinkedIn doesn’t seem to fit naturally with any of the other networks although they have taken strides towards improvement. The endorsement feature made LinkedIn spammy to me and weakened the recommendations, which I felt was their most valuable asset. I feel that LinkedIn has its place for job seekers and networking but I don’t see how it blends with Pinterest, Facebook or any other site. I think that this was their intention but they shot themselves in the foot with that plan. You need to have a presence on more than one social media platform so if you are on multiple platforms, you’d like to work them seamlessly together.”

Don Powerhttp://twitter.com/donpower
image“LinkedIn and Twitter work beautifully together for me. I use LinkedIn to get comprehensive background info and details about individuals and their histories and companies before connecting with them on Twitter. Or, you may be connected with a person at Company X on Twitter – you can use LinkedIn to find more people at Company X to connect with (including their Twitter backgrounds). I use them in tandem quite a bit but for me – all roads ultimately lead to Twitter – if I make a connection on LinkedIn, I’m always suggesting that we continue the conversation on Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter – two almost completely exclusive sets of users (in my opinion and personal experience). For example, almost all of my high school friends are on Facebook (I graduated high school in ‘86) but NONE of them are on Twitter. Most of the people I’m connected with on Facebook are not active on Twitter. I only use Facebook to respond to people who find me or reach out to me there. I don’t start conversations on Facebook and 99.9% of my posts on Facebook (unless I’m responding to a specific tagged post) are simply copies of what I post to Twitter (and no – I don’t care that my Facebook posts are often marked up with @ symbols and hashtags)

As I see it, albeit an oversimplification, Facebook is made up of 90% of the people who want to be social 90% of the time. Twitter is made up of 90% of social people who want to do social business communication (in a no sales-y way) 90% of the time. Facebook is 90% wasting time and sharing crap, Twitter is 90% time connecting with people and building networks where the underlying assumption is – how might I be able to leverage this connection, now or in the future, for a business purpose? Because those networks have two completely different modus operandi, they are a total disconnect for me.”

Susie Parkerhttp://twitter.com/susie_parker
image“I often see how well Facebook and YouTube can work well together. Facebook being the largest social network and YouTube being the second largest search engine makes it easy to share a powerful, compelling, funny, or moving video with a large network of people with one click.

There is so much potential with Foursquare and Twitter. But there is too much disconnect and not enough businesses have claimed their locations to maximize the benefit to their businesses. When sharing where you are on Foursquare it would be great to have better Twitter integration to connect better with a potential new place to experience.”

David Christopherhttp://twitter.com/davidchris
image“Twitter I find great as a tool to build new relationships and to start conversations that continue on other platforms. It also allows you to connect with your network and keep those important relationships alive in just 140 characters when in today’s busy business world you don’t have time for much more.

Google+ for is the opposite. It’s where conversations continue and evolve (especially with the recent release of Google+ Communities) and for those where the need for much deeper level relationships are important. What I find interesting is that of the Twitter users in my network, very few of them use Google+. For this reason I find they complement each other as they don’t compete against each other for market share.

As for networks that have major disconnects, I’m going to give you a response that maybe you weren’t expecting here. External Social Networks and Enterprise Social Networks. There is a big disconnect between the Enterprise Social Network (behind the firewall) and the External Social Network (beyond the firewall). This isn’t a technology response, but a cultural response. Employees are your companies Brand ambassadors and should be leveraged as such but fear of what they might say prevents this. This is creating a disconnect in consistent messaging and preventing engagement opportunities with your customers.”

Sam Fiorella – http://twitter.com/samfiorella
image“Google+ and YouTube are natural partners and work together for the brand’s benefit on many levels. Google+ Hangouts upload directly to a YouTube channel for one-click cross-network sharing. Further, with Google Authorship, the combo packs a great SEO/SEM punch. There’s little-to-no expertise required to create conversational videos with customers, vendors, the  media or others and best of all, the platforms are free!

When talking about disconnected networks, I believe those are Pinterest and YouTube. Each are successful in their own right and each is a visual medium. Pinterest is great at sharing with Facebook but doesn’t accept other forms of visual content from other networks well. I see great opportunities for individuals and business if Pinterest would allow the inclusion of videos onto their boards, it would make for a richer experience.”

As for me? I believe that Facebook and Instagram are a very powerful combination. The ease with which you can insert creative, timely images in to your Facebook timeline, and the ease with which users can interact, share, and comment on this activity make them a natural fit for both personal use and for showcasing the personality of a brand.

Where I fail to see much synergy is between Pinterest and Twitter. Much in the same way that the absence of Instagram image support within Twitter has hurt the synergy between them, I feel that it is a crucial missing element that Pinterest should be working towards achieving. Being able to see a pin from within Twitter without the need to click would add a lot of utility, enabling users to view and re-share Tweeted content from Pinterest in one step instead of multiple steps in two different apps.

As you can clearly see, there is no definitive, all-encompassing answer to the question, which appears to be the general nature of social media to begin with. Everyone does it differently, and that’s ok. Ultimately it comes down to your personal ‘taste’ when choosing the social networks that work best for you.

What do you think? Are there two networks that consistently create business magic for you? Or are there two that don’t jive for you at all? Let’s hear!

Knowledge Hoarders – Does your business have a problem finding the ‘awesome’?

by Jonathan Barrickimage

Businesses reluctant to pursue activities in social media inevitably blame their lack of action on factors like ‘We don’t have time’, ‘Our customers aren’t there’ or the always popular ‘We don’t have anything interesting to say’.

I take issue with all of these, as they’ve all been proven wrong by the countless social media successes of businesses of all types. However, the one that makes me shake my head in frustration most is why so many businesses in all kinds of different industries firmly believe that they’ve got NOTHING to say in social media.

Really? In your entire organization there’s nothing going on that’s worth talking about with your customers? If this is true, then I fear for the future of your company because you’re stagnating.

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the good stuff coming through in your business because you’re so accustomed to the day-in day-out operations that you become numb to what makes your company exceptional. But rest assured, there’s always SOMETHING there that’s timely and relevant to your community. There’s always SOMETHING that’s awesome.

Too many businesses treat knowledge the way those troubled people on “Hoarders” treat the objects that occupy every square inch of their homes. It accumulates gradually, a little bit at a time, nothing is ever actually done with it, and very seldom is it ever realized just how much there actually is. Well, the time has come to unleash the power of your knowledge hoard and share the piles of ‘awesome’ that your company has spent so much time accumulating over the years.

Here’s a few examples of how you might find treasure troves of knowledge you could unleash as great content:

  • Local/Regional Reps – These reps know the ins and outs of their territories. They’ve spent the time learning the intricacies of local markets, and what you need to get things done in specific regions, and as such are a perfect source for targeted blog posts, tweets, or even YouTube videos. For example, does climate affect your product or service? Do you sell in northern Canada as well as the southern US? Well these are the guys you can get insight from on how climate plays a role in their area.
  • Engineers – This group is overflowing with knowledge. Is your product engineered to comply with a certain set of standards or regulations? These tend to be overly complex and hard to understand, so why not use blog posts or short YouTube videos to explain them in terms that matter to your customers? Explaining why things are designed the way that they are goes a long way to building value in your products and trust in your company.
  • Customer Service – FAQ’s are incredibly valuable, and no group is better at compiling a list of this type than your customer service team. These can make great tweets, Facebook posts, and can become an ongoing series of blog posts. One additional thing I’d suggest is adding a bit of personal touch to the list by quoting and attributing the answers to individual reps. They’ll appreciate being presented as an expert, and the readers place more faith in the answer if it comes from an identifiable human. Creating great content should boost your brand not just outside your company, but inside it as well.

Finding the sources of knowledge in your business isn’t a chore. It’s FUN, and inevitably what you’ll find is that your company has a lot more to offer a social audience than you think it does. Great content isn’t your product specs, it’s not your latest pricing special, or your corporate tagline; it’s the awesome that is contained in the brains of your team. Find the awesome, and you’ll find great content that your customers will care about.

Happy hunting!

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

Disaster-Related Promotions Never End Well – KFC’s Facebook Fail

by Jonathan Barrick

I sure would like to meet the person who thought that THIS would be a good idea. Evidently, some genius over at KFC in Thailand was struck with the inspiration that most people in the country would be too busy monitoring the news for earthquake and tsunami updates to cook, and therefore this would be a great time for everyone to order a bucket of chicken.

Seriously, they actually posted this on their Facebook wall:

“People should hurry home this evening to monitor the earthquake situation and don’t forget to order the KFC menu, which will be delivered direct to your hands,”

Knowing what I know about people and how they typically react to things like this, there are a couple of things I feel are inherently wrong with this strategy.

1 – History has shown that we tend to frown upon businesses looking to profit from natural disasters.

2 – What makes them think anyone would be taking the time out during a major earthquake alert to see what’s new on the Facebook page dedicated to fried chicken?

Evidently news of Kenneth Cole’s poorly thought out tweet during the Cairo riots last spring never made it to KFC Thailand’s marketing team. Too bad, because if they had followed that story, they would have seen the general public express a massive amount of outrage at the fact that Kenneth Cole would trivialize such an event this way.

After Thailand began voicing its outrage at the post, it was taken down and a public apology was issued, but has done little to assuage the anger generated as a result.

Several words come to mind summarizing KFC’s mistake: Insensitivity, Greed, Irresponsibility, Ignorance

Ultimately, the message for brands here is pretty clear: During times of national crisis or social upheaval, you might want to stay away from business promotions tied directly to such events. They rarely end well.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

Who Owns the Account? – Navigating the Minefield of Social Ownership

by Jonathan Barrick

When your job responsibilities include engaging in social media, are the contacts you make truly yours, or do they belong to the company?

It’s a divisive topic for companies who engage in social communications. If you put an employee in the position of representing your brand in social media channels, what happens with that account if that employee leaves your business? How should you set up these accounts, and how ‘personal’ do you make them appear?

Recently, the story of PhoneDog and its former employee Noah Kravitz brought forth a shining example of how things can go horribly awry. PhoneDog alleges they setup the account & username for Kravitz to use for business purposes. Over time the number of followers grew to over 17,000, and when Kravitz left to work for a competitor, he changed the account name to his own & continued to use it.

On the surface, the answer seems pretty clear. PhoneDog setup the account for business, so it’s theirs. However, there are different perspectives that come in to play in the world of social media that muddy the waters. For example, is it certain that the followers were truly following the ‘brand’, or were they following Noah? What’s the context in which this account was used? Does the context even matter, or does the original intent of the account override any personal factors rising from how it was used?

These questions can be extremely difficult to answer for some businesses, and the decisions you make here could have huge repercussions in the future. These are questions not typically addressed in your average social media policy, as they generally stick to covering things like behaviour and the types of content being shared, not the ownership of connections being made between individuals. Fortunately, there are some sensible steps you can take to easily maintain a ‘personal’ face for your brand AND minimize the risk of disruption if certain individuals leave your business.

In navigating this minefield, the first question you need to ask is “Will the account be used for BUSINESS PURPOSES?” If the answer is “Yes”, then I believe that the following criteria for the setup of social media accounts would protect both parties regarding ownership of accounts that are used for business purposes:

  • If the account was created under the individual’s personal identity prior to the beginning of the contract, the account remains property of the individual.
  • If the account was created by the company for the purposes of official company communication/representation, then the account remains property of the company.
  • It is appropriate for small businesses and sole-proprietorships to present themselves through the personal accounts of the owner, but it is important to keep in mind that any personal opinions shared through these accounts directly impact the image of the brand. It is nearly impossible to separate the brand of the business from the brand of the individual in these situations.
  • In larger businesses, it is appropriate for special corporate accounts to be created for each individual who will be participating in social communications, and these accounts should be designated as such. Example: A Dell employee named Jim might communicate on behalf of Dell on Twitter using the handle: @JimAtDell
  • Visually, choosing the right profile picture for the account is also important. Using the example above, it would make sense for @JimAtDell’s account to feature a picture of Jim with the Dell logo added to it in order to visually distinguish it as an official company account.
  • If the company will have multiple individuals contributing through the same account, it is effective to add the initials of the individual posted at the end of each piece of content to designate the person responsible for that posting. Example: An employee named Mike Smith tweeting through the @starbucks account would end each of his tweets with ‘MS’
  • In situations where multiple people are using the same social account on behalf of the company, it would be appropriate for the profile picture to be that of the corporate logo, or other universally applicable image not associated with any one particular individual. Although in certain situations, one individual may be designated to be the figurehead of the account, and therefore use of their picture along with a logo would be appropriate.
  • In certain situations, it may be wise to cross-reference the account of the individual and the account of the company in the bio spaces of each account. From the example we used earlier, Mike Smith’s @mikesmith personal twitter account bio might mention he tweets from @starbucks with the initials MS, and the @starbucks account might mention tweets from @mikesmith in its bio. This would help to ensure that business followers and personal followers are aware of the difference between the two.

Ultimately, every company needs to choose the approach that best suits their brand & their goals. And in the event that the one, singular face of your brand in social media decides to leave your business, the reality is that some of your fans WILL inevitably go with them. Of course, how many fans leave will depend on more than just how you approach each of the factors I laid out above. HOW they leave, WHERE they go, and WHY they left will all play a role in how things pan out for your business.

The best approach, of course, is to maintain a clear line of communication to the employees managing the accounts regarding the company’s expectations. Make it clear at the very beginning that the accounts created for the purposes of business belong to the company. They are communications tools just like laptops and cell phones, and the employee should understand that when they leave they must return all property. That includes Twitter accounts!

On the other side of the spectrum, companies must recognize that just like personal laptops or cell phones, a personal Twitter account stays with the individual. If you ask or require them to use their own equipment or account for company purposes, then you’d better respect their ownership of it.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

The January Social Checklist – 9 simple things you need to do NOW for 2012

by Jonathan Barrick

2011 was a tremendous year in the world of social communications. We saw the emergence of several new big players in social networks like Google+, Instagram and Pinterest. We also saw massive increases in the use of social by businesses, and a dramatic shift in the way we all interact online.

2012 is undoubtedly poised to continue down this path, and now is the perfect time to make a few simple but powerful tweaks to your online social presence. Here’s a handful of tips that can help you get off to a strong start in 2012!

1 – Consistent profiles

Make sure all of your personal profiles across all the social sites you use are consistent. It should be easy for your Twitter followers to identify you on LinkedIn at a glance, and across all other networks that you participate in. In addition, doing this will also tighten up how you present your personal brand.

2 – Reserve your usernames

You don’t need to use every new social site that starts up, but you never know which ones are going to be huge, so get in early on every site you hear about and register your account. This way you make sure to reserve the same username across all the networks out there, just in case. Again, the key is consistency.

3 – Get the apps

If you don’t have all the apps for all the networks you use, get them now. Easy access to your networks and real-time monitoring are crucial to making sure that you’re not missing anything.

4 – Set up your alerts

Google Alerts, TweetAlarm, and other notification services are extremely valuable to keep you in the know when the conversations turn to you or your company. And don’t forget that you can also use them for any topic that you’re interested in or passionate about. It doesn’t have to be all work all the time.

5 – Link to everywhere from everywhere

You should be able to get to any of your networks easily from your profiles. Some make this easier than others, but at the very least you should make sure that your main ‘hub’ of activity is linked to all your profiles, and all your profiles link to your main hub.

6 – Make a list of ‘Superstars’

We all have a group of individuals that we consider to be the best of the best. If you haven’t already done this, create a special list dedicated solely for those people on your favourite networks so that you can easily browse through the latest stuff posted and shared by your ‘superstars’.

7 – Register for key events

Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up for those events that you really want to attend. Register now, and make the commitment. The last thing you want is to miss out on an event that could be a great opportunity to learn and network with other awesome people.

8 – Plan out your essential reading

Check your ‘Superstars’ list for any upcoming books they may be authoring, or anything they may recommend that suits you, and make sure you add them to your reading list for the year. This also counts for blogs that you may stumble across as well. Make sure to keep your list up-to-date as you go!

9 – Choose your key metrics

Identify a handful of metrics that you will track throughout the year that will give you ACTIONABLE information you can use to improve. Everything you do has an impact, but being able to identify WHAT that impact was, and what it means for your brand or business is the key to making positive changes and adjustments as you go.

There you have it! A few simple tips that anyone can use. Hopefully you found at least one or two things here that can help you in 2012, and beyond!

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

For Auld Lang Syne – 5 Resolutions to Help Make Social Media Better

by Jonathan Barrick

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Forget those stereotypical resolutions like losing weight, learning ballroom dance, joining a book club, or taking up piano lessons. This year you can make a real difference by choosing one of these simple, easy-to-follow resolutions that will make unicorns dance, kittens smile, and rainbows shoot out of your ears.

1 – I will never send a Twitter Auto-DM from this moment forward.

The auto-DM was a bad idea from day 1. People still do it. If you’re one of them, then this is the resolution for you!

2 – I will not do anything for the sole reason of ‘raising my Klout score’.

Doing stuff to raise your Klout score only benefits you. There are hundreds of other more worthwhile things you can do to benefit your entire community. Do those instead.

3 – I will not unfollow people simply because they didn’t follow me back.

Really? If you only followed someone because you hoped they’d reciprocate, what are you really trying to accomplish? Follow because you WANT to, and BE followed because THEY wanted to.

4 – I will include a personal message on every invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

Where do I know you from? Why do you want to connect with me? Who ARE you? Blind LinkedIn invites are a really quick way to get the recipient familiar with the location of the ‘Decline’ button.

5 – I will not be ‘too busy’ for my community.

Did someone ask you a question? Answer. Did someone comment on your blog? Respond. Did someone ask for your opinion? Reply. Do you want your community to think you are awesome? Then BE AWESOME.

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‘We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne.’ Happy New Year to you all!

Retrospect – My 5 Favourite Personal Blog Posts from 2011

by Jonathan Barrick
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2011 has been a fascinating year for Marketers, and for me especially. Businesses everywhere are opening their eyes to the inescapable truth that social communications are now essential for success, and with this change comes a tremendous shift in the way businesses conduct themselves and communicate with their communities. Looking at the usage stats, this is hardly surprising.

Social communications are altering the way we do everything. Facebook, as the largest social network, has ingrained itself in to the daily life of virtually everyone in North America, in one form or another. Even if you personally don’t have an account (which seems highly unlikely), everyone around you does. We are ALL impacted in some way by social communications, and to deny it is simply naive. It’s changed the way we keep in touch with those in our lives. It’s changed how we express happiness and how we make our outrage known. It’s changed how we think about our personal privacy, and what our rights are.

It’s changed our culture.

Throughout the year, I’ve stumbled across hundreds of excellent insights written by hundreds of brilliant people. I thought about scouring my Twitter archive and digging up a handful of the most potent articles from the year, but I quickly realized that this would be a nearly impossible task. There’s simply too much good stuff to sort through. So, I thought I’d just go through my own stuff and choose a handful of my favourite articles that were no doubt inspired by all that great stuff. It’s an easy compromise, I suppose, but I’m ok with that.

So, here’s a short list of some of my own personal blog posts that I’m proud of this year. They’re not necessarily the most ‘commented on’, or the ‘most shared’ posts I wrote, but they’re the ones that really resonated with me when I wrote them. I hope you enjoy them!

1 – The Twitterized Classroom
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This article looks at how I attempted to use social communications to enhance the learning in a college classroom setting. Social media is stereotypically looked at as nothing more than a pervasive distraction by teachers, but I think the results of this might surprise you!

2 – Social Strategies for Uncommon Businesses
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This article was written for all those companies who look at Social Media and think “I get how it works for Starbucks, but what am I supposed to do for MY business??” There’s a lot of different options and approaches, so this is intended to help you choose where to begin.

3 – Powerful Brand Experiences – The Story of Two Coffee Shops
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I get a bit nostalgic in this one. I look at how brand-building goes beyond a logo or Pantone colour and consists of a complete sensory experience. My own experiences with two fantastic coffee shops illustrate just how strong these connections can be.

4 – 3 Lessons About Social Media Learned From Transformers
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This one was fun. Inspiration can be drawn from anywhere, and therefore anything can be turned in to an analogy. Here I take a few anecdotes from the classic ‘good robots vs. evil robots’ battle for the universe that helped define my childhood.

5 – Getting a Head-Start Through LinkedIn
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Historically, your career began on graduation day. Now? It begins the moment you set foot on campus for the first time. The connections you make, the activities you participate in, the internships you take, and the faculty you impress are all part of building your ‘personal brand’.

Well, there you have it!  2011 was a tremendous year in marketing, and I foresee 2012 being even better! This ‘social’ roller coaster hasn’t even crested the first hill yet, and I’m pretty sure we’re in for one heck of a ride next year!

19 Signs Your Social Media Approach Might Suck

by Jonathan Barrick
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You’ve seen them out there. You’ve shaken your head in disbelief. You’ve vowed never ever to be like them. And yet, every now and then, even for just a brief fleeting moment, we all have done at least ONE of these things that drive us nuts when we see other people do them. So sit back, sip your coffee, go through this list, have a laugh, and hopefully you’re not guilty of too many of them. Enjoy!

1 – Your profiles are empty.
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Equivalent to:
Showing up at a cocktail party wearing a fencing suit. Faceless, and with no distinguishing markings, nobody has any idea who you are, or why you’re there.

2 – Everything is linked and synchronized.

Equivalent to: Your telephone ringing all of your friends every time you make a call. Not everyone wants the same information, at the same time. Treat your social networks the same way.

3 – Everything is automated.
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Equivalent to:
Being a robot. You’re not a robot, are you?

4 – There are comments on your Facebook wall from weeks ago with no responses from you.

Equivalent to: Leaving halfway through a conversation with no warning. “Hey, where’d you go?”

5 – You follow people, then unfollow if they don’t follow back, then follow them again, then unfollow if they don’t follow back, Ad Nauseam.

Equivalent to: That little dog Chester from Looney Tunes who just wants to be tough Spike’s friend SOOOOOO BAD, he can’t event stand himself. “We’re friends, aren’t we Spike? Huh? Huh? Aren’t we? Aren’t we? I like Spike because he’s so big and strong. Yeah.”

6 – Your blog hasn’t been updated in a year.

Equivalent to: A one night stand. This relationship meant nothing to you, and I’ve moved on.

7 – YOU TYPE EVERYTHING IN ALL-CAPS AND USE MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!
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Equivalent to:
Shouting. All the time. About everything. Stop it. You’re hurting my ears and upsetting the kittens.

8 – #you #are #mired #in #hashtag #hell

Equivalent to: There’s no real-word equivalent to this phenomenon. If you talked like this in real life, you’d be beaten regularly.

9 – Your Facebook page loads to a splash landing graphic instead of your wall.

Equivalent to: Shoving a flyer in the face of every friend who stops by your house for a visit. Classy.

10 – 90% of your tweets preach engagement, but you let countless mentions go by unanswered.

Equivalent to: Do as I say, not as I do. We can all be guilty of this from time to time, but it’s a terrible idea to build your empire on it.

11 – Your LinkedIn page is a barren wasteland.

Equivalent to: Not updating your resume since 2001. Seriously? You haven’t done anything worth talking about in the last decade?

12 – Your profile picture is you, only from 30 years ago.

Equivalent to: I’m just as cool, hip, and trendy as I was in college. Also, that leather tie kicks ass.

13 – You announce your Klout score every time it goes up a notch.
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Equivalent to: That guy on the golf course driving range who shouts ‘Did you SEE THAT!?!’ every time he hits one farther than 100 yards.

14 – All you can think of when asked about ‘good social media examples’ is your own stuff.

Equivalent to: “Everyone is stupid except me.” – Homer Simpson

15 – You never check or use Social Media on your mobile device.

Equivalent to: Putting a pie in the oven, and then leaving the house for three hours. No, you don’t need to stare at it until it’s done, but you need to check on it regularly so it doesn’t burn. Nobody likes burnt pie.

16 – When a new social network rolls around, your default response is ‘That’s stupid.”

Equivalent to: Look at that idiot, Henry Ford. Everyone knows the REAL money is in horse diapers.

17 – You use different names/handles, different descriptions, and different vanity URLs on each social media channel.
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Equivalent to: Multiple-personality disorder. Seriously, which one ARE you?

18 – You change your profile picture on an hourly basis.

Equivalent to: Constantly changing clothes and hairstyles. It’s annoying, and no one can figure out why you’re doing it.

19 – You flat-out beg for followers, likes, and retweets.
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Equivalent to:
Ooooh! Ooooh! Pick me! Pick me! Pleeeeaaaaassse?!?

Can you think of any to add to this list that I’ve missed? Let’s hear ‘em!

4 Simple Steps for Starting A Social Media Presence

by Jonathan Barrick

You have the key, and there’s gas in the tank. You just need to start it up.

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YES – there are still businesses that haven’t yet made a move in to the world of social communications. It may be hard to believe, given the sheer volume of discussion about social media happening everywhere, but it’s true. For every socially-savvy business out there rocking the world of Twitter and being fascinating on Facebook, there are dozens more who are struggling to figure out what they should be doing, and where they should be doing it. There is a large portion of business owners who KNOW they need to be participating, and yet take one look at the vast array of social media tools available to them and think “Where do I possibly begin?!?”

It is for those people that it’s so crucial to provide simple, effective approaches to getting started in these communication channels so that they get off on the right path from the beginning.

Step 1 – Search for discussions

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Social Media is all about generating conversation and interaction between your business and its communities. Rest assured, that no matter what product or service you may provide, someone somewhere is talking about you. You just need to search for them. Use search tools like SocialMention as a compass to point you in the right direction, and to get an idea about where the action is occurring. This tool will tell you on what sites the conversations are happening, and also an overview on whether they are typically happy, angry, or neutral about the topics of discussion. Once you’ve found where people are talking, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2 – Read the content

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Now that you’ve found where the conversations are happening, whether it be on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or somewhere else, the time has come to listen intently to every word. Before you can start posting your thoughts, it’s crucial to understand how these communities are talking to each other, and about you. Jumping right in with a ‘BIG SALE THIS WEEK!!’ message might be the worst possible thing you could do. You want to COMPLEMENT the conversations and CONTRIBUTE to them, not shout over them with slogans and your daily specials.

3 – Determine what value you bring

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As mentioned in Step 2, in order to be well received by the community, you need to complement the discussions taking place, and contribute to them. How you do this depends entirely on what value you bring to these conversations. Most people follow brands and companies for one (or a combination) of three reasons:

Entertainment – Videos, photos, blog posts, links that amuse or impress, etc.
Education – Helpful tips, tricks, advice, troubleshooting, etc.
Exclusives – Deals, specials, or giveaways not available anywhere else.

If you can’t provide any of those, you’re not looking hard enough. The simplest way for most new businesses to contribute to the conversation without having to give discounts, or pretend to have a sense of humor (especially if your business doesn’t) is to be a helpful expert. Take the knowledge contained in your business and share it with your community.

4 – Share, and share, and then share some more

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Once you’ve found the value you bring to your community, let it loose. Don’t hold it back, but give it freely and openly. Become the expert on your topic. Share the awesome photos you’ve accumulated over the years. Give your communities a special appreciation discount code. Every time you share, you generate value you didn’t have before. Every time you make them smile, you’re generating positive brand awareness. Every time you answer their question, you take away the opportunity for a competitor to do the same.

So there you have it. A simple 4-step approach that can be used for any company, anywhere to get a handle on how they can approach social communications. The real clincher to this strategy is Step 3 – Regardless of the channel you choose, you need to provide value. If you’re not giving your community something they wouldn’t otherwise have, in a format that makes them want to see it, all you’re doing is advertising to them. If they get the sense that this is what your social media content is all about, don’t be surprised if their fingers move to that ‘Unfollow’ button before you even have a chance to say ‘hello’.

The most important thing to keep in mind when participating in social communications is ‘Am I helping myself, or my community?’. The answer to this question is much easier to determine than you’d think. Just look at what you want out of the companies that you personally follow, and realize that your business’ community is no different. Keep that mindset, and you’re already on your way to social success.

This article originally written for http://crowdshifter.com

My Review of the Google+ Reviews

Haven’t heard of Google+ yet? You’re either in a coma or on Mars.

It’s all over the traditional news media, blogs are writing about it constantly, and Twitter is being barraged by people talking about it, begging for invites, praising it’s awesomeness, tearing it apart for being crappy, or posting one of thousands of ‘reviews’ of the newest social network.

I’ve read dozens of reviews so far, most of which are carbon copies of each other. There are a small few that have some unique points by calling out some hidden features, or bringing to light some glaring bugs in the system, but for the most part they simply regurgitate the same four points:

1 – There’s no Farmville or Mafia Wars junk – YAY!

2 – Circles are awesome and stupid-easy to manage – YAY!

3 – The interface is clean and intuitive – YAY!

4 – It’s not ‘different enough’ from Facebook – Hmmm…

Ok, so now what? It’s about three weeks old. Do you really think that Twitter reached it’s state of awesomeness in three weeks? Did Facebook exist when it was launched in the same way it does now? Of course not. Every social network currently in widespread use has grown over YEARS, not weeks. Features have been added and removed, interfaces get redesigned, and things evolve. It’s not a teenager, tween, or even toddler. Google+ is a newborn.

Anyone claiming to ‘know’ that Google+ is either doomed to fail or destined for greatness is speculating just as much as those people claiming to know what the next iPhone will look like. It’s all speculation until it either succeeds or fails, and for that to happen, people need to try it, use it, and put it through the wringer. Does anyone honestly think we’ve reached the point in just a few short weeks that anyone anywhere can legitimately say if Google+ is a pass or fail? No way.

Google+ is just another social network, sure. But what will it be in a few years? Myspace probably dismissed Facebook as ‘not different enough’ from its own service to be any kind of real threat, and we all know how that turned out. When Gmail was introduced, it was ‘just another email service’. Hotmail and Yahoo had their own, and to your average user, how much different could it be? After all, it’s just email, right?

To use an obvious cliche: time will tell. As for me, I’ve got my Google+ account, I’ve got my circles going, and I’m using it how I want to use it. Which is really why they created it, isn’t it? If we all use it how we want to instead of how others tell us we should, then Google+ should evolve in to something great.

If you’re not on Google+ yet, and would like to give it a shot, shoot me a private message with your email address, and I’ll send an invite over. Just promise me that you won’t write a review of Google+ later!