Like me, you've probably noticed the "youthiness" of those leading the social media revolution. Relax. I'm here to speak your language. So, put on your slippers, grab a cup of whatever floats your boat and let's do it. Together!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Coffee, please, with a side of #hashtags...the brilliance of Twitter

In his blog post nearly a year ago GIGAOM, Om Malik gave us "A Brief History of Twitter" detailing Jack Dorsey's project with Odeo, Corp. that began on March 31, 2006.  Just five months later, the results of Dorsey's work was witnessed by Malik at a party in San Francisco on July 15, 2006. That was the gestation period for Twttr. Five months. Twttr was the original name...the logo color was a juicy green and no birds were in sight. For more detail, please check out Om Malik's "A Brief History of Twitter" http://gigaom.com/2009/02/01/a-brief-history-of-twitter/ on GIGAOM.

The project came out of @jack's desire to create a real-time, micro-messaging, no installation service to connect people from their phones thus creating social groups. A short code messaging service (SMS) to connect people right on the spot would do the trick and thus create electronically-driven social groups or even mobs. Rather than calling muliple friends to say "I'm at a great new club listening to the best band since ABBA having a drink that'll blow your socks off" you could message it to all your friends at once and BOOM, that great new club is hit with your personal social mob. So, that's pretty brilliant, right? Right. But is it the end all be all to Twitter's brilliance? Nah. It gets better.

The brilliance that started with Twttr came not too much later with invention of the hashtag and the global marketing community has us, the consumer to thank for it. And, a couple of other people like Chris Messina who came up with the idea and tweeted it at exactly 12:26 P.M. on August 23, 2007....about a year after the creation of Twttr. Read more at http://factoryjoe.com/blog/2007/08/25/groups-for-twitter-or-a-proposal-for-twitter-tag-channels/ or follow Chris on Twitter @chrismessina. Chris suggested the pound sign as a way to group people, specifically, like-minded friends, or friends that were like-minded about certain subjects. Like my daughter, Chris must have liked organizing things as a child. (My daughter actually inventoried her Halloween candy one year.) One of the first significant applications of the hashtag was by Nate Ritter @nateritter with his use of #sandiegofire to earmark his real time updates on the disaster. More on the history of the hashtag can be found here:  http://www.socialbrite.org/tag/hashtags/

So, Pat, you're thinking..."that's nice. What's the big deal for the global corporate market? How could just one teeny little pound sign be such a big stinkin' deal?" The brilliance is that marketing doesn't just talk to us any more. We get to talk back in real time. On the spot. The lowly pound sign has, in essence, turned marketing upside down. In the time you can click out 140 characters on your keyboard, you can let the people that follow you know about lousy customer service or inferior products. You'd be right in thinking, "gee whiz, we could do that with an email." True. But the brilliance of Twitter's hashtag is that we are grouped into social mobs by our likes and dislikes, if we use the hashtag as a signal. The next new beautiful innovative thing that lights your fire and floats your boat can be broadcast around the world in real time. Things that move you and things that touch you all can be shared in real time. There's no more hiding behind arcane phone systems to register complaints when you can shout it from the proverbial rooftop and a lot of people will listen. Stick a #hashtag in front of a key word and if enough people share your experience, positive or negative, it just might become a trending topic. Before you know it you have a social group. You may even start a social mob. That's what I call power to the people. Brilliant!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Six Simple Strategies for Social Media Fence-Sitters

Everything I need to know about social media I learned from my mama (and a few other folks I'll mention a little later in this post.) First, let's start with mama.  She divorced my dad when I was thirteen and was left to raise three kids with very little financial support. She worked two part-time jobs, sold Avon and home-made pies to make ends meet. She did a little bit of everything to make sure we kept our heads above water. She amazed my siblings and me and she never let us see her sweat. She did what she had to do and looked for ways to make life better.  In this example, there is something that companies and non-profits can learn if they are still considering whether or not to invest time, effort or resources in social media.  The answer is, YES! The last thing you want to do in a bad economy is try something new, right? WRONG! You've read the hype and if you've read closely enough you know that it isn't really hype at all.

Social media is the new world order and adding something new to your marketing or fundraising strategy does not have be as daunting as re-inventing the wheel. Let me repeat the first half of that sentence. Social media is the new world order. Adding one more thing to your marketing strategy doesn't have to be a drain. There are lots of ways to make it feasible if you do some sleuthing around for a top-notch social media assistant.

Shameless plug: http://patgermelmansma.blogspot.com/.

The most important step is to decide that you can and will do social media. (By the way, the three siblings in this story helped mama with the Avon distributing and pie baking. There is a bit of a misconception that social media is fun. Well, it is fun. That part is not actually a myth. It does, however, take discipline, commitment and work. Kind of like Avon and pies.)

Once you've decided to commit, go on a virtual expedition and find the people who do social media best. That sounds ridiculous even as I write it because the social media population is so massively huge. But, like making connections in your professional life, you will gravitate to people that share your professional values. As in every other part of life, you will find a snake oil salesman or two ready to pull that proverbial wool right over your eyes.  If you have business savvy, you'll have social media savvy. Snake oil is snake oil.

When you find a true social media expert that you like (if they tell you they are an expert it is a sure sign they aren't), follow them like a bloodhound. This gets tricky because you never want to stalk. Send a message that you like their work, thank them for doing it, and pay it forward like crazy on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Check out who these icons are following and follow them and their contacts. Is this beginning to sound a little bit viral? Visit their websites and read their blogs (RSS feeds help, thank you very much!) When you find something they blog or post that you really like, make sure you pass it on for others to read, too. Paying it forward is the highest praise you can give in social media. A word of urgency here though because the early bird really does get the worm. The work of the pros I follow gets retweeted fast. It's not that you have to be the first and only person to RT their work, but it helps.

Chris Brogan 
  (@chrisbrogan) http://www.chrisbrogan.com/
Guy Kawasaki
  (@GuyKawasaki) http://alltop.com/
Blair Semenoff
   (@Flipbooks) http://truactionflix.com/about/ceo-blair-semenoff

There are many more social media experts out there but the three mentioned above are the flour, butter and sugar of social media (another pie-baking reference.) Last but not least, if you aren't following Pete Cashmore (@mashable) you might want to forgo using social media for your company. :-) There are tons of social media folks on LinkedIn ready and willing to share information one-on-one or through their postings, publications and webinars. Once you open the gate, you'll be flooded with opportunities to learn from the best in social media.

In a nutshell (pecan pie, anyone?), here are six simple strategies for the social media fence-sitters...

1.  Determine its value, decide to do it and commit.
2.  Social media takes discipline, see number 1.
3.  Get the help you need (you may not need to add staff.)
4.  Find social media leaders and follow them.
5.  Pay it forward. Share what you learn.
6.  Pay it forward fast. Someone else is ready to jump ahead of you.

Friday, December 11, 2009

And for your social media bookshelf...

Top 15 Recommended Social Media Books of 2009

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Facebook Creating Safety Advisory Board

Facebook Creating Safety Advisory Board

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reBlog from windmillnetworking.com: Twitter 101 with 7 Useful Tips for Those Getting Started on Twitter | Windmill Networking

I found this fascinating quote today:
"Yesterday I presented on the topic of Social Media and Your Job Search in front of a large group of executives, many of whom were in transition.  As with any professional crowd, nearly everyone was already comfortable with LinkedIn, but less than half of the attendees had ventured out onto Twitter yet.  I sensed some confusion about Twitter, so today instead of blogging about Twitter and Personal Branding or Twitter and the Job Search, I felt it was time to write a blog post to help hand-hold those that are still confused by Twitter but really want to give it a shot without any risk.  With that in mind, this is your Twitter 101 Getting Started on Twitter Guide based on 7 tips that I hope you’ll find useful."windmillnetworking.com, Twitter 101 with 7 Useful Tips for Those Getting Started on Twitter | Windmill Networking, Nov 20, 2009You should read the whole article.

Friday, December 4, 2009

9 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile

9 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile

Social TV — Convergence is Coming

Social TV — Convergence is Coming

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Why Laughing Babies?

My journey has begun! Just a year ago, I never dreamed that I would describe myself as a "social media enthusiast." In fact, I don't think the phrase would have had much meaning for me. But two things happened that led me down this path. First, in 2009 social media exploded and the world went all "a-Twitter" when Ashton Kutcher (tweeting as @aplusk) hit the one million follower milestone. Sure Twitter had been around for a couple of years prior, but when the word "trending" hit mainstream media, all bets were off. It quickly became a "get on the bus or get out of the way" proposition.

At the time, I was working for a small non-profit and with fund raising sources hard hit by the economy, we moved forward with Twitter to try and shore things up. As development director, I was in charge of social media (ha!) and as with all endeavors, I jumped right in with both feet. Imagine my enthusiasm (ergo the word enthusiast) when FastCompany (http://www.fastcompany.com/) listed the small non-profit as one of five up and coming non-profits to watch on Twitter. My enthusiasm for social media suddenly exploded, too. No longer just a personal web tool for keeping up with family and friends, it became a major marketing tool to be reckoned with. I was on fire for social media.

The second (and third) life-changing events that led to my enthusiasm for social media were the births of my two perfect grandchildren. Clearly, it was time to follow my passion and become my own boss. My desire was overwhelming to be able to set a schedule that allowed for family time.  Time to enjoy two beautiful laughing babies..and laugh right along with them. I want to see and hear those two laughing babies as often as possible!  As they grow, I want them to sit by my side as I tweet, blog, and post. Although I may have to wipe the PBJ off my keyboard now and then, these two perfect babies are my joy and my peace followed very closely by this new thing in my life called social media.

Many wonderful people have helped shape my journey this past year with one of the most influential being Guy Kawasaki (co-founder of Alltop http://alltop.com/). If you are not following him on Twitter, please do. In his Twitter bio, Guy describes himself as "a firehose that answers the question: What's interesting?" My philosophy is very much in sync with Guy's. If you're going to do it, be a firehose.  Social media is not something that requires you to tread lightly or with trepidation. If you snooze you lose. It's a brave new world that requires brave new souls ready to jump in and bob along fearlessly in a stream that can change into rapids on a dime. Jump in and jump on board. Those who don't will be left standing on the shore wondering what happened and wishing they had the same joy and success of those in the water.