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Archive | May, 2010

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Why I’m Great at Social Media

Why is it that some people have thousands of followers, and others only have a handful?  Sure, it could be they lock their accounts down.  It could be they really don’t work on spreading their message beyond a few close friends.  Or it could be that they create really horrible content with no value to anyone.

But, what if they aren’t particularly bland, they’re every open, and the share content of great value to all kinds of people.  While they may not be a celebrity, they certainly give you more value than learning what happened in the life of Ashton Kutcher.  Yet they still linger in a realm that prevents them from pushing star status.  Perhaps there is something more.

There is a certain quality that many of the amazing bloggers, tweeters, YouTubers and other social media greats share in common.  As someone who observes and participates within that circle, I believe I have located that secret trait within myself. I present to you, the quality that makes me an amazing blogger:

Narcissism.

That is to say, I’m obsessed with myself.  If you think I am kidding, you are very wrong.  While I may give the outside appearances of benevolence and kindness, inside I’m trying to figure out how I can use you all to make me look amazing.  Whether that is by getting you all to buy something I’ve come up with or by earning your trust enough to lead you into the jaws of advertisers, either way I plan to make money off of you through building my self-image.

I will kill you with content and kindness, and then process your corpse into a low grade meat slurry for a few extra bucks.  And the entire time I’ll be sharing more information and stories about myself than any normal person would want to know about.

I don’t really want to spread awesome content to share the value of that content, I want you to see me as a valuable resource and information finder.  I don’t write for to help my readers, to bring them a laugh, or even for the art of writing, but rather to say, “Look at me!  I’m dripping with ideas!”

I even make sure to try and write every day, so you won’t forget about me.  Because if you forget about me, I might as well be dead.  Keep coming back, and I’ll give you even more social media tips.  But you can only learn these from me, so you have to come back here.

Come and learn more about me and my narcissism!  Don’t let me die!

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Simplicity Isn’t Enough, Facebook

Let’s imagine you’re the biggest, baddest social network at the dawn of a new decade.  Your size is gargantuan.  Your revenue potential is nuts.  You attitude is cavalier and daring.  You know what’s best for your users, regardless of how much they complain.  And they always complain.  Anytime anything changes, they roar.  

Welcome to the world of Facebook.

Facebook is under pressure from the US Senate about its privacy settings and information sharing with its new Open Graph.  While I’ve seen some social media professionals question if the Senate really needed to get involved in Facebook’s privacy settings, with a huge number of US citizens using Facebook daily, protecting those citizens is an important issue.

So, before Facebook faced anymore pressure from the government, they decided to simplify their privacy controls to placate the US Senators. Unfortunately, their simplification put a band-aid on after they chopped off your arm.  It’s a small step in the right direction, but only a small one.  I’m glad I can easily figure out what I’m sharing with whom and when. Still, there’s a lot more Facebook can do to make users feel secure online when using Facebook.

Here’s what I’d do to make Facebook’s privacy better:

  1. Commit to making new sharing features opt-in. It’s easy to get upset when you sign into a website and find out they added a bunch of a new, public features that you have to turn off one by one.  That’s what Facebook recently did with Open Graph, turning it on for everyone before they even knew what it was.  It could be better by setting it up so even if you personally aren’t opting-in, you’d still get relevant content from your friends who did opt-in.  That way, users can decide for themselves if they like the new features or not by seeing them in action.  The problem with this approach is people may never turn on some features, and then the platform grows static as people keep the exact same feature set.
  2. Clearly Alert Users When the Terms of Service Change. Facebook has a history of changing its terms of service often and without warning.  I understand the need to change the terms quickly, but what I don’t understand is that they don’t alert their users when they do.  Every time iTunes changes its terms of service, I have to click through the new agreement.  It’s annoying, but at least I know every time they are changed, and if I get screwed, it’s my own fault.
  3. Stop Letting App Developers have User Info Permanently.  I still can’t believe that Facebook allows this at all.  I see at least one virus app a week.  Imagine all the data those apps pull from my friends profiles, and then imagine that those computers can then download all the information they want, and keep it as long as they like.  I don’t see why there can’t be a compromise, such as holding the data for three months.  That way, user experience isn’t sacrificed by having to re-download all the same info, but that data is destroyed regularly so users are safe.

SImplicity is one factor to making users feel secure on Facebook, but we also need Facebook to grow up quicker.  Start realizing we want to share with those we connect with, not the entire internet, and stop giving away our information without telling us.

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Stop Linking All of your Social Accounts!

Would you give the exact same greeting to everyone you see in a day?  No, because that’s crazy.  You don’t want to be known as a weirdo, so you don’t say “Howdy partner!” to everyone you come across.  Unfortunately, when you start linking all of your accounts together, all of your followers and connections start looking at you like you rode so far into the sunset you fried your brain.

There was a time when I used to sync my tweets with my Facebook status.  It seemed logical because I was using Twitter as a method of updating my networks with snarky observations.  It was awesome.  My reach for each tweets was practically tripled because of my number of Facebook friends.

However, there came a point when my tweets were overwhelming my Facebook.  A lot of my Facebook friends didn’t care about the crap I retweeted.  They didn’t understand the awkward hashtags.  Worse, I had my blog posts linked to Facebook and my Twitter account, so Facebook would get hit with them twice.  Thank goodness LinkedIn statuses couldn’t be synced with tweets at that time, or I’d probably never have made a connection there.

It makes sense to want to link pages together.  It helps your connections find out everything you’re doing.  It makes it easy to publish stuff without thinking, “Did I forget to post there?”  However, there’s a point where if a person is connected to you in more than one instance, they are bombarded by your content.  People get enough content from everywhere else online, and they don’t want to be annoyed with ten instances of the same crappy article.

Another problem I run across is that these account are synced incorrectly, and I’ll see the same thing automatically reposted two or three times by the same person.  When it’s reached that level of meltdown, I don’t read your content and instead start thinking about ways to fix your accounts.

Consider your audiences.  Would you want the same people your connected with on LinkedIn reading everything you put on Facebook?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.  I don’t even connect this blog with my personal Facebook account because I don’t think my friends want to read this stuff daily.

If you have to integrate, do it so your audiences find relevant content.  Don’t just do it to make things easier.  You’re better than that, and your readers will appreciate you for it.

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Even More Tweets I Hate

Some tweets make me want to claw my eyes out with a spork.  Even though I haven’t posted in a while about the tweets make me wish I had been born without the capacity for written language, I still see awful tweets.  Tweets that are boring.  Tweets that are unoriginal.  Tweets that make sense to no one, not even the original author.  Here are some awful tweets I’m seeing recently.

  1. Good Night – This tweet is a cornucopia of mixed messages.  One one hand, it says, “Readers, I’m still here!”  On the other hand, it says, “I am now sleeping, leave me alone.”  Your followers have common sense.  Not only will they realize you’re still alive if you don’t tweet for twelve hours, they will also leave you alone after midnight.  Unless they are psychopaths.
  2. The Photo Without Explanation -This is similar to the link with no explanation, but I can tell it’s a picture from the URL you posted. However, I worry about what I’m in for without an explanation.  It’s not hard to write “Cute Puppies!” or “This girl make you cry”  Just put something so I know I’m not looking at your butt.
  3. Anything about your iPad – I’m not jealous.  At least not yet.  But still, I don’t need to know how awesome it, how it’s cooler than a laptop, or how it saved a kitten from a fire.  Until you can justify talking about your iPad in terms of usefulness, please, keep your iPraise to your iSelf.
  4. Multi-Part Tweets – No matter how fast you write, someone in my stream will always interrupt your story.  ALWAYS.  I don’t care that you were kind and used a (1/2) and (2/2) to help me follow.  It still gets broken up.  It takes me much more time to read it than it should.  Twitter is all about concision.  If you need an example to learn how to tell a story quickly, check out Fireland.  If it can’t be told in one tweet, is it right for Twitter?
  5. Drunk Tweets – Do I need to say more?  If I do, you may have a problem.

This is your chance to vent.  Let me know what you’re seeing out there that gets under your skin.

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Who is your most awesome co-worker?

Since I don’t write about work, I’m going to assume you want to know about the awesome people who help me write this blog.  One of the most awesome is Allison Najman.  Allison guest wrote one of the most popular posts here, and is always tossing ideas and cool links my way.  I also get a bunch of great suggestions and great links sent my way from my friends Ellen and Marcie.  I am constantly in debt to them, and to the many readers and commenters on here.  Without them, I’d have a lot less to write about.

Have a pressing question of your own about Social Media?  Ask me!

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Your blog doesn’t suck. You do.

I read a lot of awesome blogs that have self-esteem issues.  Their authors think no one reads them.  Their authors think people avoid leaving comments.  Their authors think the entire internet is against them, and if the internet had the chance it would kill them and everyone they love.

The good news is the entire internet won’t kill you.  The bad news is your self-esteem issues might be justified.

The blogosphere is big, mean, and ugly.  Commenters can be ruthless.  Critics are heartless.  And sometimes, despite posting what seems like your best content, it falls flat.

Great writers are introverts by nature.  We share our minds on the page, preferring to let people read what we think rather than speaking.  People should come to us because we offer great content.

This logic is all well and good until you realize the sheer magnitude of stuff online.  You might get lucky and have one or two people find you serendipitously, but you can’t count on that.  And you can’t count on them to spread the word. You need to cast your net wide and bring people to you.  Thankfully, this is easier than you think.

  • Tell people you know about your blog.  You’d be amazed at how many people blog and never tell a soul.  While this might be good for your online diary of sex fantasies, if you’re writing about anything that wouldn’t embarrass my Mother* share it with everyone.  You never know who will become your biggest fan.
  • Find similar blogs and leave comments.  People love to read what other thinkers in their field are up to.  Creating a rivalry or partnership with another blog gives you something to work for.  Go where the people already are, and start dragging them to your blog.  The best part is you can still hide behind your written words.
  • Make it easy for them to come back.  If I can set a domain, you can too.  It’s not terribly hard.  Set up an RSS feed.  Make them able to subscribe by email.  There are many more ways to simplify a users return, figure them out and make it easier than an easy-bake oven.
  • Ask readers for their opinion. Readers don’t always know how to respond to a blog post.  Many great writers work is seen as a complete thought and doesn’t need additional commentary to weigh it down.  Inviting the readers to be active let’s them know you want their opinions, and builds relationships and community.
  • Don’t give up. If you think no one is reading what you write, step back a minute.  Are you getting page views?  Do you have people subscribed to the RSS feed?  IF you can answer yes, then keep going at it.  Breakthroughs happen because of hard work pays off. People rarely get lucky overnight.

If you’re on a pedestal, get off of it.  If you’re feeling down, pick yourself up and get back to work. If you think making it in the blogosphere is tough, try making it in the real world.


*I always suggest writing for my Mother in the audience as a standard, because she is wonderful and without peer. Also, you don’t know her, I’m sure you don’t want to frighten a kind woman. By the same logic, I don’t know your Mother.  She could be the sweetest person alive, or a Jerry Springer reject.  I can’t trust you writing for her.  Make my Mother proud.

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Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything:

Perhaps you want my opinion on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, or whatever, you can use the link above to ask me.  Your question and my answer will be public, so be warned if you don’t ask nicely I might not answer at all.  Have fun.

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Lost, TV, and Social Media

I had too many friends tweeting and Facebooking and blogging about the series finale of Lost last night.  I don’t think there could ever be any better publicity.  Every time there was a new episode, a new twist, any character development, or even if the wind blew in a scene, people wrote about it.  Hell, the people who had never seen an episode wrote asking what all the fuss was about.

I’ve never seen Lost, but I felt I needed to watch part of the finale to try and get in on the fuss. Was I missing some cultural event, like the finale of M.A.S.H or Seinfeld?  I didn’t understand any of it, but now I feel like I can at least relate to my friends in some twisted way.

It’s also a strange way of relating to people.  Instead of watching shows because I enjoy them, I caved to online peer pressure.  I didn’t gain anything for it, but I’m sure ABC appreciated me boosting their ratings, and their advertising revenues.

TV has changed significantly in recent years, but live and one time events have become bigger, especially as people write about them online.  It’s a strange way of being social in watching TV.  Instead of inviting friends over to have party, we can just sit at home and write out our commentary.  No one is interrupted; no dialogue is missed.

I don’t know how much it makes the viewing experience that much more enjoyable for Lost fans or for any program.  It seems distracting to me, something that would pull me out of the moment in viewing the show.  Instead of absorbing all the audio and visual details, we split attention with the commentary on our computer.  Perhaps that’s fine for an awards show, like the Oscars, where you don’t need to see every moment, but I’d still rather have my friends nearby.

Do you tweet as you watch TV?  Is it fun, annoying, or distracting?  I want to know what’s going on.

And no, please don’t try to explain Lost to me.  I’ve given up on that years ago.