Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Social Media Marketing Agency for GM is Staffing Up

One of the biggest growing careers in today's job market is getting in with the social media marketing departments of large companies and corporations. Knowing about how to get company information out to the growing public via the internet, tv, ads and the like is something that many companies are looking for these days. If you can make a company more popular, then you may become more popular at the company and even work your way up the corporate ladder.
General Motors has had their problems in the past, but it appears that they are trying to revitalize their public image. Big Fuel, who handles all of the social media marketing for GM, has just announced that they will be opening a new office in Detroit to service GM's account, and they just so happen to be on a hiring binge.

CEO and founder of Big Fuel Avi Savar has noted that he has somewhere around 15 people currently in Detroit but is looking to up that number to about 30 by March. Big Fuel currently employs about 80 other people in an office in New York who handle the social media marketing for such corporations as McDonald's, Neutrogena and Colgate-Palmolive's Wisp toothbrush. By the end of 2011 Savar hopes to have more than 200 people on his staff.

GM brought Big Fuel on to handle their social media marketing about three months ago when the company was getting ready to work with Hyundai. However, this deal fell through after Joel Ewanick, lead marketer of Hyundai, moved to GM and persuaded Big Fuel to follow. Big Fuel has yet to do any campaigns with GM but a few are primed to release in January, according to Savar, including an ad for the Chevrolet Cruz known as the "Cruze-arati" which gives free cars to people who have large followings on social media outlets.

The previous social media marketing firm for GM was run in-house by Mary Henige and Chris Barger. These two were in charge of a program back in March that took eight teams of bloggers and drivers to attend South by Southwest on behalf of GM. According to Hanige, "They've been retained by marketing so you'll see more brand focused social marketing campaigns, which is good. We'll work with them, continue to lead GM's brand efforts and maintain and increase the relationships we've built."

Ford, one of GM's biggest rivals, has often dwarfed GM's social media marketing, maybe because Scott Monty, the social media marketing guy for Ford, has over 48,000 followers on Twitter alone. It also didn't help GM when Ford launched the Ford Explorer on Facebook and began circulating videos with celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Bret Michaels answering consumer questions about the model back in November.

Avi Savar and Big Fuel have their work cut out for them. With stiff competition from Ford and other companies, Big Fuel is going to need to do something tremendous in order to bring back attention to the dying General Motors before Obama has to bail them out again.

Source: Mashable
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Follow Friday On Twitter - A How To Guide

FollowFriday Twitter IntroIf you are new to Twitter, you might be wondering about a common hash tag you see every Friday. And just so we don't lose anyone here, a hash tag is any word or group of words put together without spaces and preceded by a "#". Hash tags help people search Twitter for key words, the key words in this case being simply those words proceeded by a "#" sign and called... you guessed it, hash tags. But on any given Friday one of the most popular hash tags on Twitter is #FollowFriday, or at times simply #FF by those hard pressed to come in under the Twitter character limit of 140.

The #FollowFriday phenomenon took off a few years ago when Micha Baldwin tweeted, "I am starting Follow Friday. Every Friday suggest a person to follow." Wow, what a concept right? In theory, just as Baldwin suggested, these are your recommendations for who your friends should be following. In reality it has sadly been perverted into something totally removed from that simple concept.

But for the purpose of this article we'll sidestep what's wrong with the world and focus on how you can use the #FollowFriday hash tag easily and effectively.

Let's start by keeping in mind that social media in the virtual world is simply an extension of our social interactions in the real world. As such, I like to apply the same rules to both.

How hard can that be? It's not. Just follow the social rules that most of us everyday. So, what exactly are those social rules and how do we apply them to #FollowFriday on Twitter?

The simple rules I use are: When someone says hello to you, say hello back. Keep in touch with those you would consider friends or acquaintances. Make small talk with other people, not just random tweets to no one. Mention those you admire even though you may not interact with them. Say thanks when someone does something nice for you, such as mentions you in a #FollowFriday or other positive list. Finally I would urge you to avoid arguing with clowns, as no normal person would want to follow a Twitter stream full of negative tweets or arguments.

When it comes time to apply these simple rules, well, as the saying goes, "there's nothing to it but to do it." But let's make sure we do it effectively. For that I would recommend a Twitter app along the lines of TweetDeck. Using a columnar based app such as TweetDeck, that separates your mentions into their own column, makes it quick and easy to reply to all those who mention you. With that ability you simply build your #FollowFriday tweets with all those who have mentioned you or tweeted with you in the past week, or even those you want to mention and might just happen to be on your screen at that moment. This is of course far from an exact science.

To further illustrate, my personal #FollowFriday routine goes like this: Load up TweetDeck, scroll down my Mention Column as far as it will go or until I hit last Saturday. Find those with whom I interacted, as opposed to those who just spammed me, click on the reply button, scroll up, repeat. By doing this again and again you will notice you are building a tweet that mentions all those you just replied to. Do this until you are down to a minimum of 14 characters remaining and then go to the front of the tweet and add "#FollowFriday". There is a chance that you might accidentally mention someone more than once, but there are worse things in the world than being overly friendly. But just try your best and keep going.

One quick improvement on this scheme is to try and apply a hash tag to the user or group of users you just mentioned in your #FollowFriday. For example I often #FollowFriday those of the politically conservative persuasion, so I might add a #tcot tag at the end to tell others these people are fellow conservatives. Also, if you have room in the tweet, a nice touch is to add a personal comment that makes each #FollowFriday tweet unique. An example might be "#FollowFriday @OhioHope @BentlyHogan @JohnBeagle // My Favorite People On Twitter!" As long as it's genuine and you have room, anything that makes your #FollowFriday tweets, or any of your tweets, stand out it's a good thing.

Be careful though, as this procedure can quickly crank out the tweets so take care to slow it down. That is to say, you don't want to fill out your followers' general stream with a dozen back to back tweets of nothing but #FollowFriday mentions. Do that and you may very well lose a few followers.

Will this in and of itself necessarily gain you any followers? Perhaps, but from experience I have not seen any increase in followers, even after 50 or more #FollowFriday mentions, over what I would have picked up on any random day. However, I do see an increase when I get involved and use #FollowFriday to follow those recommended in the tweets of friends. As there is a good chance you have something in common with those mentioned in a #FollowFriday by a friend, there is a good chance those folks will follow you back.

One last parting thought: In real life we don't attend a party or say hello to friends just because it benefits us. We do lots of things simply because they are the polite and nice thing to do, and perhaps we enjoy it a little bit too, and so in my humble opinion #FollowFriday should be thought of in the same way.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Toyota Thinks Your Tweet is Worth $500

ToyotathonWhen Twitter took off, nobody expected it to be as big as it got. Everybody and their mother tweets, and some people have thousands of followers following their tweets. Even celebrities are tweeting. But is a tweet worth anything financially? Well, according to Toyota, your tweet is worth $500.

According to a recent promotion from Toyota, a tweet from you is worth $500, a mere 1000 times more than Eventbrite is willing to pay you. Confused yet? Well, to make it simple, Toyota is rewarding those of you out there who buy a new Toyota by January 3, 2011 with a $500 debit card if you tweet about your new purchase on Twitter.

There are a few things you must do to qualify, however. In order to be eligible for the debit card, you must sign on to toyotashareathon.com and send in the following tweet through Toyota's application "If I get my new Toyota during Toyotathon, they'll give me $500 just for this Tweet. http://buyatoyota.com @Toyota #shareathon." Customers must do this by December 15, 2010, but once they buy their Toyota, they can redeem their $500 debit card on the same page.

Toyota's goal is to get people who may be just remotely interested in buying a Toyota to spread the word about the campaign even if they do not actually end up purchasing a car. However, I think it is safe to say that those who do tweet this will get a little extra attention from Toyota's marketing team in the next couple of weeks.

It does seem very strange that Toyota is willing to reward customers so heavily for such a small task. In response to that, Toyota's National Digital Marketing and Social Media Manager Kimberly Gardiner had this to say, "We wanted to leverage social media to build incremental awareness of our annual Toyotathon sales event. We feel that $500 is a significant enough offer to stimulate consumer interest and generate strong buzz throughout the social space."

Gardiner went on to say that, "Tweets and other Social Media efforts help us create velocity behind an immediate call to action for consumers to take advantage of a program like this with limited duration."

This definitely seems like a good way to spread the word about Toyota's sale as well as a great way to move somebody from thinking about buying to knowing they are going to buy. If this works out like Toyota hopes, then they will see a nice increase in sales during their Toyotathon sales event.
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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Pro Accounts for StumbleUpon Set to Launch Early Next Year

The beginning of next year marks a big change for the social media site StumbleUpon as businesses, publications and brands will be able to join the site as "Pro" users. A "Pro" user will be able to tailor their own content as well as suggested content in order to reach a broader audience.

Founder and CEO of StumbleUpon, Garrett Camp, Director of Communications Mike Mayzel and Senior Product Manager Jeff Eddings, the people who make up StumbleUpon, recently discussed the new Pro user project, duly named "StumbleUpon Pro", at Mashable.

The whole basis of StumbleUpon Pro is that businesses and publications will be able to sign up for the discovery service with a status from a regular user to a paid content provider. Essentially, a Pro account would work the same way a verified account on Twitter does. It would give the publication, company or business a level of legitimacy and authority that will entice regular StumbleUpon users to follow it.

Now accounts like this will not contain only a stream of a company's own content like some type of spamming creature, that would just be ridiculous. However, that content would more likely be more effective at reaching interested users given the likely boost in following. The StumbleUpon team was a little unsure about how the Pro accounts would be displayed on the site, however.

As of right now it appears that this service will be free. However, businesses and publications can pay to have their content featured more extensively via the existing ad platform that StumbleUpon currently uses. According to Eddings, this move for StumbleUpon aims to answer one very important question: "Who are the people who are here to discover stuff, and who are the people who are here to get discovered?"
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Google Me" Social Initiative on Hold

Google Me, billed by some as the second coming of Facebook, is being delayed until April 2011 at least. The 'virtual playground' according to Ben Parr of Mashable, Google was trying to keep this a 'secret social initiative.' Parr thinks the delay is being caused by disagreements on the "design, purpose, and execution" of the project.

Why is Google even trying to enter the social space, earlier attempts such as Google Wave have been complete failures to the point that Google has discontinued them. Because Facebook has tripled traffic to US news sites while Google News stayed static. More people are visiting US news sites via Facebook and Twitter than any other source, including Google News.

But Google says Google Me isn't even a product according to Hugo Barra, Google Mobile Product Management Director. The Telegraph puts it this way: “Google’s mobile chief has flat out denied that the search company is developing a ‘traditional’ social network, called Google Me, to rival Facebook”.

So how can a product that has a horrible name according to Hugo, not exist, according to Hugo.

Google Me, does not have a design, a purpose and is reported to be in a state of disorganization with different teams working in conflict according to inside sources.  The failure of another social initiative at Google is another win for Facebook.

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Technorati: not currently displaying submissions

Message on Technorati's website when I tried to submit a page:
Thank you for your Favorites Submission

Thank you for using Technorati Favorites! Technorati is collecting Favorites information as usual, however not currently displaying them in the site. Your submission was just saved. We are working on an upgraded Favorites system we think you'll like much better than the previous system. When we roll it out in the near future, all your previous favorite submissions will again be available to you. Thank you for your patience!

I'm concerned about Technorati and not just because of technical difficulties. Is Technorati taking it's eye off the ball with the Woman Channel, is it becoming political?


Screen-shot of new Technorati Page in Beta. Note the Women Tab in the upper left hand side of the page.
Related news: Technorati recently acquired Silicon Valley Mom's Group and launched "Technorati Women

About Technorati Women:
Technorati Women Channel will feature content about parenting, food and living, fitness, finances, and style, along with targeted content and social-media ads. Source: David Cohen

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

YouTube Isn't the Only Place for Internet Videos


The amount of time people spend online watching internet videos is astounding. People spend countless hours watching, and even rewatching, videos from all over the internet for whatever reason. Can you count how many times you have been asked to watch a YouTube video? YouTube is by far the biggest name in internet video distribution. The site is so big, in fact, that many people have gained international fame and celebrity status just because of their YouTube videos (enter Fred and that Double Rainbow guy).

YouTube has an estimated 24 hours of video uploaded to it every single minute! So it is safe to say that sifting through the content for just one site is a daunting task. However, YouTube is not the only place where people can get their viral video fix. While it may be the largest and most popular video sharing site on the internet, there are still some other contenders that can hold their own just as well.

ShortForm
ShortForm launched back in June and gained much praise for its human and software aggregated take to finding videos and placing them in auto-play channels. ShortForm has a ton of channels that are configured for you that sit in a range of categories like "Super Cute" or even "Facebook Hits". ShortForm makes it easy for you to create your very own video channels allowing you to link both your YouTube and Facebook accounts. This allows you to pull in your favorite videos from both sites and create a truly unique channel.

Devour
Creators of the site Uncrate bring the internet yet another great site known as Devour. Devour is a hand-made collection of different web videos. Every day the people over at Devour crawl the web and post the most insane, most incredible and most hilarious videos they can find. Like ShortForm, Devour has different channels you can peruse, or you can search for videos or just start randomly clicking away at whatever looks cool.

MovieClips.com
MovieClips.com is what I like to call freaking incredible. The site is a place where you can find movie clips that are completely licensed and just watch them. Find clips from damn near any movie you like and watch the clips the site has to offer. The best thing is that you can even embed these clips into your own blog if you like. You won't be able to upload on MovieClips.com, but this is the perfect place if you just want to watch.

Redux
If you are a person who has a lot of time to waste or needs to burn some time at the office,, then Redux is the place for you. The site isn't just for video as it turns statuses, RSS feeds and shared links into an ongoing stream of content, but its highlights are in its videos. Create custom channels or join other channels and add your own content, the choice is yours. Once you have a channel you can then play it in TV Mode which gives you an endless stream of video from whatever you have selected.

StumbleUpon Video
Many people use StumbleUpon to find cool or interesting new websites, but you can also use the site to find awesome viral videos. StumbleUpon revamped their video discovery system last month to which they added friend recommendations as opposed to most popular or highest rated. StumbleUpon also aggregates content from sites like YouTube and Vimeo but also brings in content form places like Hulu, CollegeHumor and TED.

Viral, internet videos are one of the most popular forms of entertainment in today's society and access to them is even greater with all the smartphones and iPod devices out there. While many places get overshadowed by the giant that is YouTube, there are still some very good sites out there for you to get your viral videos. So the next time you have some time to kill, be sure to check out one of the sites above, you will definitely find something you like.
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Another News Feed Patent Win for Facebook

FacebookFacebook has just generated a personalized feed of stories available to users of the site. The interesting thing is that Facebook won a patent for the service, which is quite similar to the news feed-related patent the social media giant was awarded earlier in the year.

The patent, lengthily named "Generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network", describes different methods and systems used for generating dynamic relationship-based content which is personalized for each and every member of a web-based social network.

Exactly like the first patent, this patent was filed on August 11, 2006. The patent that Facebook received back in February of this year speaks in greater detail about an actual news feed. However, the content of both patents seem to cover pretty much the same ground.

Here are two excerpts from both patents Facebook has won just to give you something to compare and contrast: "generating dynamic relationship-based content" versus "generating news items regarding activities associated with a user of a social network."

The newest patent for Facebook, on the other hand, seems to be more concerned with displaying data that stems from a relationship between two users. This excerpt from the abstract of the newly awarded patent: "At least one action of one or more members of a web-based social network is associated with relationship data for the one or more members to produce consolidated data."

This is reminiscent of one of Facebook's newest features which allows you to see all the interaction that takes place between you and another Facebook user. So far, these patents for Facebook have only been used in a defensive manner. Other companies have not been sued that have similar feed features to Facebook's. However, the mere fact that Facebook has control over these patents gives the site an immense advantage over its competitors.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Amazon, Kleiner Perkins and Facebook Start $250 Million Social Innovation Fund

Social InnovationIt is always great when you see companies doing their part to help out their business in a way that isn't increasing prices or trying to put the competition out of business. When a company or companies start up something to help out a market out of sheer generosity, it really is something special.

On the stage at Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr announced sFund, a staggering $250 million fund to back social innovation.

The sFund is a collaboration between Kleiner Perkins , Facebook, Zynga, Amazon, Comcast, Liberty Media and Allen & Company. Every single one of these seven companies is an investment partner in the fund.

According to Doerr, "If you can't invent the future, the second best thing to do is fund it."

Together Kleiner Perkins, Facebook, Zynga, Amazon, Comcast, Liberty Media and Allen & Company will provide financing, advice and "relationship capital". Amazon will offer up one year of Amazon Web Services to the entrepreneurs.

Facebook will provide early access to its platform and APIs. Zynga plans to host sessions for sFund companies for advice on technology and business management, and Comcast will make available its resources and relationships.

During the press conference, four specific startups were mentioned by name, one of which was Flipboard, the acclaimed iPad application for social news consumption. The other three startups were said to be Cafebots, Jive Software and Lockerz. Cafebots is the only sFund project the partners have invested in to date.

Facebook has already shown a vested interest in social innovation. The world's largest social networking company recently partnered with Y Combinator to inspire the next wave of social innovation around Facebook.

For those of you who didn't know, Kleiner Perkins is the same firm that started the $100 million iFund. The iFund helped to finance the iPhone application development. The fund was later doubled to $200 million to spur app development and innovation on the iPad.
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

New Group System for Facebook

FacebookDo you just feel the dire need to let all your closest Facebook friends how your most recent trip to the snack machine went? Do you also want to do this without bugging the other 300 people on your friends list? Well, then the newly revamped Groups feature on Facebook is the perfect app for you.

Unveiled at the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto, California on Wednesday, the new Groups feature allows you to create a virtual social "space" for a subset group of your friends on Facebook which can include anywhere from a few to a few hundred friends.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the new groups will be set to "closed" by default. Creating a new group is a simple matter of adding selected friends who, in turn, can add some of their friends to your virtual Facebook community. But don't fret about strangers invading your community. Anybody who gets added by another person will have their name as well as the name of the person who added them via an information panel.

Now you may be asking yourself what you can do once you have created a Facebook Group. Well there are the obvious things like posting group-specific updates or writing on the wall or sharing pics and videos.

You can also do a lot of other cooler, more interesting things like creating and editing group documents or engaging in real-time group chats, which is a first for Facebook. Users can also send an e-mail to the entire group using a custom e-mail address.

The new Facebook Groups rolled out yesterday and replaced the current public Groups functionality that you could previously restrict only to a Facebook network. On the flip side, existing groups will continue to exist as well as the Friends List that you can create from the left-hand tool bar.

What all this basically means is the same kind of virtual workspace you might find on an office intranet or the failed Google Wave, for example. Instead of collaborating on projects, Facebook users will be using Groups to collaborate, socially that is.

Zuckerberg said that Groups was revamped in order to address what he called the "biggest problem in social networking". This is mainly trying to organize all your various friends on Facebook into certain, specific social groups. The current Facebook Friends List feature was intended to assist users in creating such groups. However, only about 5% of Facebook users have actually created a Friends List.

An additional option was to create an algorithm which would automatically herd your friends into groups. However, such a technical solution could easily make some huge mistakes. Or it could quite possibly work all too well.

According to Zuckerberg, "Allowing Facebook users to create their own groups, with new members able to add their own friends, seemed like the most appropriate solution."

The real question is whether or not Facebook users will take to the new feature. It is a good thing to see that the Groups list will be set to "closed" by default, but the fact that any group member can add somebody to the group could cause some problems. However, the thought of creating a small group of close friends is cool, especially when you want to share something that may be too much for the four billion friends you have on Facebook.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Communicating Needs and Expectations to Web Designers

Web DesignIt isn't really a complicated concept. When you need something designed, you hire a designer. It's as simple as that. However, exactly what you get from the designer depends entirely on how well you communicate exactly what it is that you want, what you expect and what you need, which isn't always easy.

Getting a designer to understand what you envision in your head can be tricky. You might be interested in having a logo or a website created, but a designer is going to need a lot more than that to go on. To get the best out of your relationship with your designer you need to know a few helpful tips.

First, you need to understand what exactly it is that a designer does. A lot of misunderstandings that occur between designers and clients can be traced back to misconceptions about a designer's role or false expectations.

According to graphic designer BJ Heinley, "Designers and clients should both understand the difference between design and production. Designing a logo and a business card is different than getting them printed. You hire a designer for his/her opinion and knowledge in a particular area, and you're asking him/her to help you navigate waters that you don't feel confident wading into alone. You hire production and development people to get something done in the best and most efficient way possible. "

Unfortunately, this can get confusing sometimes, especially if the design and production sides of the process are handled by the same person. It is still important, however, to know which parts of what you are asking a designer to do are production and which parts are design.

In order to give your designer the best possible information to work with you have to seriously think about what exactly it is you want. You need to think about the functionality you want your users to get out of your design. You also need to think about what information you want to convey and what sort of feeling you want to evoke.

"Examples are the easiest way [for clients] to share what they are looking for. That doesn't, however, mean for them to send over a website from a competitor and say, 'I want this,'" according to freelance web designer David Ronnie. Ronnie also mentioned that you should think about why you like a particular design and how it relates to what it is you want.

Heinley likes to use familiar analogies, like comparing a car to a website, in order to draw from customers exactly what they are looking for. "I'll often ask questions like: Why are turn signals where they are? Why is the steering wheel round and not square? Why put the speedometer where it is?" he says. "These real-world examples have parallels on a website. Where is the logo placed on the page and why? Where are a search bar and button placed on a page? What type of navigation should or shouldn't be used? After a few minutes of this, the client is usually clearer on some of the design considerations."

According to Ronnie, "Any forethought and planning of content and navigation previous to meeting the designer can help immensely with the company job." Content is an often overlooked part of website design, but it is also critical for the majority of sites. The point of a website for many small businesses is to get a message across and facilitate some sort of action.

One of the hardest things to do as a client is to give up control to the designer, but it is also one of the most important. Don't think this means you won't get what you want or that you can't offer feedback. Do not, however, try to micromanage the design process. You are hiring a designer because you value his expertise and skill. This means you need to trust him to take your initial input and create something that works for you.

Despite all of these helpful hints, you still have to realize that working with a designer does involve a little bit of business. Just so there aren't any surprises, you should clearly define the business end of the arrangement and get it out of the way before you actual begin to design anything.

There is nothing worse than getting to the middle or end of a project and finally getting around to discussing payment. Here's the key: talk about money and deadlines up front. "No work should be done until payment prices and terms are agreed upon, " says Heinley.

It is also important to understand that design is a difficult thing to put a price on. According to Heinley, "Due to the nature of exploration and innovation in design, projects sometimes will have unforeseen costs and time." As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider and perform when you are trying to communicate a design with a designer or a producer. So take these tips and use them to make your next experience with a designer the perfect one.
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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Facebook Places: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.


Facebook Places launched yesterday after months of speculation and, in some cases, feelings of hope and panic. Geotagging has become increasingly popular in social media circles. Some users absolutely love it while some, like me, don't see a use for it. But when you look at Facebook's history with privacy and security, there's bound to be some real cause for worry. Here's the good, the bad and the ugly of this new Facebook feature.

The Good:

Facebook Places is an opt in feature. Therefore, it's disabled by default. In order to start using the application you have to sign in to it and allow it to start sharing your location with your friends. The feature is also set so that, by default, your location is only shared with your friends. You can change this in your "Privacy Settings" and under "Places I check in" you can change who can see where you check in. As with most Facebook features, your options include, "Everyone", "Friends", "Friends of Friends" and "Custom", where you can pick any of your groups or "Only Me" and also block specific friends as well. You can also disable friends from being able to check you in places. Unfortunately, this is only an enable/disable feature. (More on this a little later.)

The Bad:


As I mentioned above, you can only allow/disallow your friends to check you into places. That means, if you "enable" the feature, anyone of your friends can check you into a location. This has some groups concerned about your privacy.
But while Facebook makes it easy for users to allow their friends to check them in, the ACLU says that opting out of that feature is more difficult. For example, the feature lets users select a “not now” option when friends attempt to check them in, but not a “never” option to prevent friends from attempting to do so in the future. Further, if you’re already a Places user, friends can just check you in automatically.
Another bad feature, according to the tech blogs, of Facebook Places is when you check into a location, everyone else who has checked into that location also sees you in the "Here Now" feature, regardless of your privacy settings. But I found when I looked at my Facebook privacy settings that there's an "Include me in 'People Here Now' after I check in" box that is checked by default. If you uncheck the box, you will not be included in the "People Here Now" feature. But there is still no way to customize it so that only your friends can see it. Maybe Facebook will change that feature in the future, but for now, there's only yes or no.

The Ugly:

One major concern many have with applications such as Facebook Places and FourSquare is that it's very easy to turn your home into a "location" where your friends can check-in. This is a big concern if you happen to be a single woman and have a bunch of tech-savvy friends (namely, me.) According to Facebook, there's no real recourse except filing a complaint and waiting for Facebook to take down the location.
Facebook Product Manager Michael Sharin who says the company has a strong system in place to rapidly accept complaints from users. While there is no set time frame for handling a red flag, he says problems will be dealt with swiftly and often within 24 hours.
Another ugly feature is third party applications run through Facebook.
Facebook’s policy when it comes to sharing location information with third-party applications. As a user, the applications you install will need your explicit permission to get your check-in information. That’s valid, however, if your friend has weak privacy settings, s/he is free to share your check-in information to applications and Connect partners. This can be easily remedied by unchecking a box in your privacy settings but it is permitted by default. According to Schnitt, this exchange exposes information on your “check-ins, details about a place, ability to search for places and check-ins from friends.”
Facebook has a FAQ page for Places where it addresses many of the questions users may have. Users can also submit feedback and report problems with the feature. I have a feeling a few of the issues I discussed may be addressed by Facebook in the future. The bottom line is, well, Facebook's bottom line. Facebook is venturing into a world of location-based services to increase revenue. It's a good marriage for Facebook, local businesses and users who love both Facebook and staking their claim on local businesses. For others, it's another hurdle to climb to maintain online privacy.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What's More Popular: Facebook or Email?

What's More Popular: Facebook or EmailHow are people spending their time online these days? Could people be posting new Facebook statuses more than often than sending email? Seems pretty unbelievable, right? Well, according to a Nielsen report, Americans spend about six hours per month on social networking sites and blogs. That's 16% more time than last year. Facebook is the top social networking tool of choice; it has over half a billion users worldwide and of all American social networking use it makes up 85%. MySpace came in at 5% and Twitter at just 1%.

So, email must be a close second, right? Not so much. Games actually beat out email as the second most popular thing people do when they're online. This includes games such as FarmVille, which is played on Facebook. However, the Nielsen report didn't specify whether or not the Facebook-oriented games had an effect on the number of hours people spend on Facebook.

Email did come in at number three. It was followed by watching videos on websites such as YouTube and Netflix - something else that's on the rise. Instant messaging, which was once very popular, came in at number five. The research also suggests people are doing more emailing and instant messaging on their mobile devices these days instead of their personal computers. Also, Facebook offers ways to chat or send private messages, so people are still communicating in the same way, they're just not doing it with the same tools.

Dave Martin, the Vice President of Primary Research at Nielsen, admitted that even though the numbers are changing, the fundamentals are the same. "We are going online to communicate, get information, do research, stay abreast of the news and be entertained. We’re doing the same things we have always been doing online. The way we are getting to that content is shifting. It has become word-of-mouth. The power and recommendation platform of social networks like Facebook and Twitter are now driving that personalization of content consumption. Social networking is not just about connecting people. It’s a new way to distribute all types of content."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mayo Clinic Launches Center for Social Media

How Mayo Clinic Uses Social MediaEveryone is trying to figure out how to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to market their business or handle public relations these days, but some companies have been doing it for years - and quite successfully. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently looked at how Mayo Clinic is doing just that by talking to Lee Aase, the Clinic's manager of syndication and social media.

Yesterday, the Clinic announced that it would be launching a Center for Social Media, which according to the WSJ, "will expand social media tools beyond the traditional P.R. and marketing functions to use by staff, physicians and patients." Aase will be a leader at the center.

According to Aase, the center will "[look] for ways to increase the use of social media throughout the practice at Mayo...to provide in-depth information for patients in a much more comprehensive way, and to create connections between researchers, physicians and staff." It will have about eight full-time employees.

The interest in social media is not just from the business staff; the clinical staff is hoping they can use the platforms for business and training. One example cited was an introduction video for the head of one dental department. The video offers some background information on one of the doctors, as well as what patients expect from that specific specialty department. Mayo hopes such videos will make "consultations more efficient" and help patients know what to expect before being thrown into the process.

Mayo Clinic endocrinologist and the center’s interim medical director, Victor Montori, had this to say about the new center, "Staff at many hospitals wanting to get involved in social media have pointed to Mayo Clinic’s activity and experience to help make the case for engagement with their senior leaders. Some have even consulted with us informally and asked for advice on implementation. One of our goals for the center is to provide a mechanism for this consultation and sharing, so we can help colleagues in health care everywhere break down the barriers to involvement."

Aase also mentioned some consulting Mayo Clinic has been doing for a few other medical providers and organizations. They hope it will help build their relationships with other hospitals, as well as create a blogging platform for those organizations. The goal of this effort is ultimately to help patients, according to Aase. Not only will it help them get information more quickly, but it will help get information to the medical community, as well.

To hear Lee Aase talk more about the center, check out the video below:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Americans are Top Bloggers, Tweeters

Americans are Top Bloggers, Tweeters

It seems like everyone in the world has a blog or a Twitter account these days but there's only one country that's number one. Sysomos, a research company, found that more Americans keep blogs and use Twitter than any other country on earth. That means about one third of all bloggers are in the United States, as are over half of all Twitter users.

The company looked at over 100 million blog posts and attempted to gather gender, age, and location of the blogger. The results were pretty interesting. Perhaps not too surprising is the fact that over 53% of bloggers fall into the 21- to 35-year-old category. Also, you may not be too surprised to learn that over half of all bloggers are women. As for location, American bloggers maintain about 29.2% of all the blogs out there on the web.

That may not seem like a huge number but when you compare it to other countries, the difference is shocking. The United Kingdom came in second place with 6.75% of all bloggers, followed by Japan with 4.9% and Brazil in fourth place with 4.2% of all bloggers.

It was noted that English-speaking countries seemed to dominate the findings, which isn't all that surprising, seeing as how the internet's language of choice is English. English is also the most spoken language in the world. But Spanish is also a language that is spoken heavily in many countries around the world and there was a notable absence of Spanish-speaking countries in the top fifteen. Spain actually came in at eighth place with 3.1% of all blogs. It was also noted that China wasn't included in the research, due to the oppressiveness of the Chinese government and lack of free speech.

When it comes to micro-blogging, Sysomos looked at over 13 million Twitter accounts in October, November, and December of 2009. As mentioned, over half of the Twitter-users or "tweeters" were in the United States. Brazil actually came in second with 8.8% of users and the United Kingdom came in third place with 7.2% of all users.

Check out these related stories:

1. 2o Tips for Better Blogging

2. More People Using Phones for Social Networking

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

5 Easy Ways to Proofread Your Blog

8 Easy Ways to Proofread Your Blog Have you ever published your blog and gone back a while later to read it, only to notice you made an error? Maybe you forgot the difference between there, their, and they're, or maybe your subject-verb agreement left a lot to be desired. I'll never forget an article I wrote about baseball on my own personal blog. I managed to get a major sports writer to read it and was so excited! Well, that is, until I realized I'd typed "picture" instead of "pitcher."

The point is, it happens to the best of us. No matter how careful you are, or how many times you proofread, you can still overlook an error. Especially after you've spent an hour or more working on a post. Proofreading isn't fun in any situation, but when your tired eyes have already been staring at a computer screen for so long, you probably have a tendency to not proofread as closely as you should. Having a second person to look things over is the best way to truly proofread something you've written - they'll probably catch things you didn't - but I understand that's not always possible. In the event that it's just you reading your blog post before it becomes published, here are five simple ways to help make proofreading a little easier.

1. Take time between writing your post and proofreading it. Walk your dog, eat lunch, take a shower, or go for a drive. Whatever you do, step away from your computer and put something else in your head for a little while, and then go back for a fresh perspective. Chances are, when you've spent so much time writing something, you probably have it almost memorized, and when you go back to read it over a final time, you aren't always seeing what is actually there.

2. Be aware of words you often misspell. I think everyone has a word or ten they have issues with - my number one is "environment." Every time I type the word, I have to stop and think about how to spell it. Even then, I often get it wrong. Of course, you'll always want to run spell check when you finish a blog, but technical issues can sometimes prevent it from finding every spelling error. Keep a list of those problem words handy, or here is something I often do: type the word into Google. Even if you misspelled it, Google will more-than-likely come up with "Did you mean [correct spelling of the word]." A good old-fashioned dictionary works, too!

3. Write as if the world is watching. Remember my story about the sports writer? Write as though someone who you want to impress is reading. So many blogs have become book deals or led their authors to permanent jobs in media. You never really know just who is reading your blog and where it could lead you.

4. Read out loud; read slowly. Often times, when we start skimming over a post, in our heads, it may sound right because of the way our brains are trained to read after we've been doing it for so many years. Read your post out loud, and do it slowly. Then read it again to yourself - again, slowly.

5. Let your blogging friends read your posts. If you've been blogging for a while, or even if you haven't, there are probably other blogs you read, comment on, and link on your own blog. If you've had a chance to befriend any of their authors, consider asking them to proofread your posts. In exchange, you can offer to proofread theirs. You'll make new friends and eliminate grammar and spelling errors.

Check out these related stories:
1. 20 Tips for Better Blogging
2. 20 Great Ideas for Blog Posts
3. Media Rentals

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Social Media: Positivity Is Powerful


For those of us with profiles on multiple social networking sites you know that a person's attitude makes a huge difference to the amount of attention you pay to that person. If there's a person in your twitter feed always posting negative or depressing tweets, you may start to ignore them, or just unfollow them all together. I can say I have done that myself, on more than one occasion. But have you taken a look at your own tweets? Are you falling into the negativity trap that many in social media fall into? This week at the #140conf, Tal Yaniv gave a talk on positivity in social media. And a few of his suggestions may help you become a more positive presence in your social network.


As I mentioned before, we can all think of someone within our network that is quite negative. But can you think of someone who is always positive? Can you think of a business with an online presence that is really positive? Now when you compare the options, wouldn't you rather talk to/buy from/associate with a company/friend/co-worker with a positive attitude and outlook instead of someone who drags your mood down?

Tal Yaniv suggests,

entirely removing all allusions to negativity from your social network posts. Try to say what you want to say without using the word no or not, without the prefixes un- or non-, without any hint of negativity or pessimism. Not only will this keep your tweets and status updates on the positive side, but it will also shorten your tweets, making it easier to fit within the 140 character limit!


He also suggests thinking about how you phrase things. Instead of using the negative "don't" to tell someone not to do something, or to avoid something, maybe try rephrasing it so it sounds positive.

If the child’s parent says, “Be careful! Don’t spill your juice on the carpet!” this only puts the idea of spilling juice in the child’s mind, making it more likely for the child to spill the juice. Now the child is only thinking of spilling. That is the wrong way to go. A much better way for the parent to phrase that sentence would be “Hold on to your juice!” or “Keep the carpet clean!” This puts the idea of a clean carpet and a safe, un-spilled cup of juice in the child’s head. When using your social networks, think about your phrasing and try to put only good and positive images in your readers’ minds.


Your mood is contagious, even online. If you want to give off a positive impression to people you may need to work at it. Whether your promoting your personal or corporate blog, tweeting from a company account like Tech Army, or using facebook to communicate with your family, remember, a little positivity goes a long way.



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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

SMB Blogging 101

Blogging Tips for SMBs

If you own or manage a small business, you probably find yourself wondering how you can use the internet to your advantage. Facebook, Twitter, social media, and social networking - how do you know where to begin? Which one of these tools is going to allow you to promote your business in a way that you're not already able to? If you're a little confused by it all, one great place to start is with a good old-fashioned blog. Here are a few tips that will help you get started and help you make the most of your SMB blog.

1. Pick a platform. You'll want to sign up for a platform that is well-known and easy to use to your advantage. Many people say WordPress is the perfect platform because it allows you to use lots of plugins and is easier to customize; other people prefer Blogger because its simpler to use and understand. And of course, there are other options; Posterous and Tumblr to name a few.

2. Think about hosting your blog on your own domain. What does this mean? Well, when you generally sign up for a blog, you are assigned a URL. For example, if you are using WordPress name your blog "Matty's Musings," the link to your blog is going to be www.mattysmusings.wordpress.com. But if you purchase the website mattysmusings.com, you can go to Wordpress.org and they will allow you to use their blogging platform on your own domain. So, basically, you're still using the WordPress interface, but customers can find you a lot easier and your URL is more clean and professional.

3. SEO. You may have heard about search engine optimization, but do you know what it is and why it's important? Essentially, you're looking to increase your ranking in search engines, moving your website to the top so that people will find it easier. There is a lot out there on SEO and if you want to see to it that your blog or website comes in at the top spot when people search certain keywords, you'll definitely want to look into it.

4. Use Google Analytics. With Google analytics, you can see how many people visit your website, which posts they look at, how long they spend on your site, which keywords they use to get there and more. Basically, the tool allows you to see what is working. Is one post a lot more popular than the others? This tool will let you figure out why.

5. Use social networking. If you do have a Twitter, Facebook, Digg, or other social media account, use it! If you make a blog post about your company, share it on any and all websites you belong to. Set up accounts just for your SMB and promote, promote, promote!

6. Make your site appealing. Have you ever landed on a blog or website and left within seconds because the look wasn't right? Maybe it was so busy, you couldn't make out what you were supposed to be looking at. Maybe it was so bare that you figured it was really not up-to-date. Maybe it had so many different flashing colors or ads that it just gave you a headache. These are all things you'll want to avoid when setting up your blog. The nicer-looking it is, the more likely people are to stay around and browse.

7. Make your blog interesting and relevant. One common problem people have when they start a blog is not knowing what to blog about. Obviously, you want to promote your company but are people going to read the same thing over and over? Absolutely not. Stir things up a little bit by giving your opinions on what's going on in your industry, interview a staff member, post something that has absolutely nothing to do with your business, but that you think would appeal to your customers. Remind your customers that there is a human behind your blog and let them get to you know. Personalizing your blog posts will help you build a rapport and keep customers coming back to read more. Also, consider answering customer's frequently asked questions or allowing customers to leave comments that you can interact with.

8. Blog often. There's nothing worse than checking a blog every day, only to see that it hasn't been updated in weeks. If you don't have time to post daily or a few times a week, get your staff in on it, too. People will keep coming back anxiously awaiting your posts.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

YouTube and Copyrights

Margaret Gould Stewart discusses how YouTube handles copyright issues. Interesting to see that many big time music companies are now finding reasons to accept videos with their copyright music without approval first hand. Yes there is an option for copyright owners to pass judgement and approve some instances of the material being uploaded to YouTube.

An excellent video that causes one to ask more questions about what is acceptable and what is not regarding infringing on copyright owners. Good news, if its not accepted, you will know. Amazing technology they have to detect copyrighted music.

Friday, June 11, 2010

20 Tips for Better Blogging

20 Tips for Better Blogging

Want to improve your blogging skills? Here are 20 tips that can help make the blogging experience better for you:

1. Make a post at least once a day. There's nothing worse than a rarely updated blog.

2. Create a biographical page. Most blogs offer an "about me" or profile section that allows your reader to know just who you are.

3. Be honest. Tell anecdotal stories from your life and incorporate your personal thoughts and feelings. "Keep it real" as people say.

4. Post comments on other blogs. I've made many friends through posting comments on blogs and through people posting comments on my blog. Not only could it lead to lifelong friendships, but to links as well.

5. Put your best effort into your content. If your blog is pretty, that's only part of the whole package.

6. That said, you don't want a plain, boring, generic blog design. Create something unique.

7. Add a picture to each post.

8. Add tags to each post.

9. Link people. They might even link you back.

10. Consider podcasts. Making the audio, or even the video version of your blog post can grab lots of attention. How many people have become famous by posting a video of themselves ranting on YouTube?

11. Submit your posts to social websites such as Digg, Reddit, or Stumble Upon. Also, once you have an account on those websites, get active.

12. Participate in memes or any projects involving groups. This will definitely bring you new readers.

13. Try to get interviews with "important people." They are fun to read and are often exclusive content, which leads me to...

14. If you have some unique or exclusive content, make sure bigger bloggers and journalists are aware of it. This could bring you all kinds of attention.

15. Interact with you readers. If someone leaves a comment, respond and engage them. Ask readers how you can improve your blog.

16. Write about what you love. If you're writing about politics but you'd rather be writing about gardening, change! If you don't love what you're doing, you probably won't be happy.

17. Create bullet point lists. Paragraph after paragraph can get old, so spice things up with different formats.

18. The same old commentary can also get boring. Spice things up with book or movie reviews, top ten lists, and even guest bloggers or reader submissions.

19. Use attention-grabbing titles. Instead of "How to Bake a Cake," say something like, "The Best Cake You Will Ever Eat."

20. Have fun! If your readers can sense you don't want to be blogging, they'll probably decide they don't want to be reading. It's that simple.



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Sunday, June 06, 2010

3 Ways to Use Twitter to Promote Your Business

3 Ways to Use Twitter to Promote Your Business

Making sense of Twitter isn't always for the faint of heart. I've been using it for over a year and a half now and admittedly, I'm still learning. But if you own a business, it a great way to find new customers. The social networking site, which already has 100 million users, is growing. But how do you do it? Here are five sure-fire ways your company can use Twitter to its advantage.

1. Twitter conversations are mostly public and anyone can access them. Want to see if people are talking about you? Do a search for your company name. Larger companies such as Comcast and Dell take advantage of this. Anytime I've complained about my computer or my cable/internet service, an employee from either company has responded to me within a few hours and sometimes within a few minutes. You can also look for sales leads. Search for people who are looking for what you're selling and let them know you have it available.

2. Answer questions from your customers. If your business has a Twitter account, you can use it as quick, direct line between yourself and your customers when they have a question. If customers know your Twitter account is there and active, they will send questions and comments your way. As a matter of fact, today I went to the Chick-Fil-A drive thru for lunch and when I returned home, I realized the croutons were missing from my salad. Not to be picky, but that's one reason I love their salads. I happened to be tweeting with some friends at the time, and you better believe I made a tweet that said, "My salad didn't come with croutons @chickfila." I didn't get a response, nor do I expect a bag of croutons to arrive in the mail, but sometimes, companies can and should take advantage of this kind of interaction.

3. Have fun and don't be boring. Again, interaction is key. If you simply tweet about your business all day, then you probably aren't grabbing anyone's attention. Ask questions, respond to those you follow, retweet, and build relationships. Post things you find interesting and make sure your posts are interesting, too.



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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

4 Changes Facebook Needs to Make NOW!

4 Changes Facebook Needs to Make NOW!

Facebook may be one of the most popular websites in the world but lately, it's been one of the most scrutinized. Even though over 400 million people use the social networking site, watchdog groups, Congress, and others have been arguing over Facebook's privacy settings and who can see what, over the last few weeks, and it's not doing a whole lot for Facebook's reputation. Even Facebook, itself, admits that it can and will make some changes, but what should it change. Here are five things that should be high priority.

1. Change Chat. When you sign into Facebook, you automatically show up as being available. Wouldn't it make more sense if you signed in and were automatically invisible? If you're signing in to do something such as upload the pictures from your latest vacation, you probably don't want to have a million people jumping on you to chat.

2. Make it easier to delete. Ever tried to delete your account? Good luck figuring out how. After going through three or four tabs and having to state your reasons for leaving, you can do it, but wouldn't it be much easier if there was one general place that allows you to delete?

3. Simplify Privacy Options. Again, if you want to change your privacy settings, it's sort of hard to do. And once you find it, good luck understanding what the options actually mean. On your profile page, there should be a simple button labeled "privacy" and under that, an easier way for you to figure out just what it is you're making (or not making) private.

4. Start out with everything private. As it is, your Facebook profile starts out by assuming you want to share your information with everyone. Most websites don't have the audacity to make this assumption and start you out with the most private of settings. Facebook should definitely take note and they'd probably have a lot less problems.



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Thursday, May 27, 2010

20 Great Ideas for Blog Posts

20 Great Ideas for Blog Posts

Admit it, at some point in your blogging history, you've run out of ideas, couldn't think of what you wanted to post, or got bored with the same old format of your posts. Well, never fear, we have a solution! Below you'll find 20 ideas for blog content. No matter your subject, some or all of these ideas will help you spice things up and help you get rid of that bit of blogger's block that's been plaguing you.

1. Write a "how to" post. No matter your subject matter, there is a niche where you have learned to be one of the best in your field. Share your knowledge and teach others how to do what you can.

2. Interview people. If you keep a blog about your local town, try to get an interview with a local business owner. If you blog about politics, see if you can get political candidates to answer a few questions. People will love to read the unique answers each person gives.

3. Answer reader questions. Maybe you get lots of questions in the form of comments or maybe you want to allow your readers to ask you questions. Post the answers together as one big post and allow your readers to get to know you more.

4. Make a list. Top 10 lists are great ways to attract readers who don't want to stay for a long time or read a lot. They're also great ways to get people talking about what they'd put in the category.

5. Speedlink. If you found a bunch of articles and posts on other blogs you found interesting that day but don't really feel like elaborating, just list a bunch of links with a quick sentence or two about each one. Not only are you off the hook, but it allows you to cover a lot of topics in a little bit of time.

6. Invite a guest blogger. Do you have a good friend who blogs about the same topics you do? Let them add a post to your blog when you don't have time or don't have anything to say.

7. Create a series. If you have a lot to say on one certain topic, divide it up and post something aspect of it each day. Or you can have a "Quote of the Day" or "Song of the Day," or anything else "... of the day" that requires a daily post.

8. Respond to an opinion. Did you read an op-ed in a major newspaper or see a story on the news that really got under your skin? Take the opportunity to respond on your own blog.

9. Post pictures. Did you recently go on vacation or snap some cute pictures of your child's first birthday? Throw them in the mix when you can't think of anything to write. This is especially a great idea for family-oriented blogs.

10. Tell a story. Whether it's a true story of something that happened to you in the past or something that happened to someone you know, people love a good anecdote that evokes emotion such as humor or sadness. Even if it's just a simple thing that happened to you, a good writer can turn an everyday even into a good story.

11. Poetry & Short Stories. Express your creativity from time to time, you never know what kind of response you'll get.

12. Talk about a current news story. Even if you don't blog about news, there might be something that catches your attention. Maybe you helped in some way after the Nashville floods, and you'd like to tell about it or tell others how they can help.

13. Make a video or audio post. Set your webcam or microphone up and let your thoughts flow!! People will love the change of media.

14. Poll people. Want to know what people think about certain topics? Ask questions and let your readers respond in the comments sections.

15. Give each day a theme. Maybe you write serious stuff but want to change things up on "Fun Friday." One lady I know does "Menu Monday," where she lists her family's meals for the week and encourages healthy eating amongst her readers.

16. Review a book or movie. It can be on or off topic. Maybe you saw the new George Clooney movie and you just had to rave about it or maybe you got a new cookbook and you want to review it on your blog about cooking.

17. Create about "about me" post. If your readers know a lot about you, they're more than likely to stay interested in your posts. Write about yourself or give them some quick "fun facts."

18. Update an old post. Change your mind or find some new information? Just add to it and let everyone know it's an update.

19. Issue a challenge. Tell your readers your goal is to read 100 books in a year or visit every one of the 50 states. Not only does that help with one initial post, but once your task is underway, you can update every time you get a step further.

20. Have a contest. Nothing gets your readers involved more than interactive activities. Have something you'd like to give away? Lots of people give prizes by simply telling people to leave a comment. This will let you know who's out there and how much they're paying attention.



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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kids Beat Adults When It Comes to Privacy?

Kids Beat Adults When It Comes to Privacy

Anytime you hear anything about social networking and privacy issues, you're immediately made to believe that teenagers and young adults are posting their most personal information for all the world to see, but it turns out, that's not exactly the truth, at least so says a new report out from Pew Internet and American Life Project.

According to the report, people between the ages of 18 and 29 are the most cautious when they are online, and are the age group most likely to take advantage of privacy settings when it comes to social networking websites such as Facebook. The survey asked 2,253 people over the age of 18 if they changed their privacy settings and 71% in the 18 to 29 year old group said they did, which was a significant percentage more than, say, the 30 to 49 year old group. Privacy measures included untagging themselves in photos uploaded by friends, deleting unwanted comments, and limiting personal information. And if that's not enough to shock you, the 18 to 29 year old group is the only group that has been consistently doing so since 2006. The other age groups are using less privacy measures now than they were four years ago.

So, does this mean the older groups aren't aware of what they're doing? Nope, not at all. 44% of employed users said the details about where they work are online and 42% said their picture is online. 33% said their birth date can be found online and 26% have listed their home address. Just 12% have published their cell phone number online.

Pew researcher, Mary Madden, who authored the report, said in a statement, "Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities."

It should be noted that the younger group was more likely to post information such as their cell phone number online, but they were also more likely to control who has access to it. Older adults were more likely to publish their home addresses. Overall, it's good to point out that most people are aware that anyone from a criminal to their grandmother could access their information if they aren't careful. Also, 82% of people whose information was posted by others have asked it be removed.

And it's true, anyone can do a Google search of your name and find just about anything you've put online. If you don't believe, it search for yourself. Unless you want your boss seeing those pictures of you out partying on a work night or your mom seeing that you're dating that guy she absolutely can't stand, you may want amp up your personal privacy or go ahead and remove some information from your profiles all together.




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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Google Target of Several Global Investigations

Google Target of Several Global Investigations

Add the city state of Hamburg, Germany to the list of places who are investigating or filing a lawsuit against Google. Prosecutors are investigating the company's collecting of private internet data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks and are trying to get them to turn over at least one of the hard drives used to gather that data.

According to the New York Times, the investigation began earlier this week, when a law student in Germany, Jens Ferner, filed a complaint, stating he wanted to clarify "German law regarding the collection of data from unsecured wireless networks."

In an interview with the New York Times, Wilhelm Mollers, a spokesperson for the Hamburg prosecutor's office said, "We are absolutely at an early stage. This isn’t something that will be wrapped up in two or three weeks. We have to analyze whether there is reason to file criminal charges.”

Google has declined to turn over a hard drive, despite the fact that officials have set a deadline for May 26. The data was used to compile the Street View mapping archive. They did, however, state that they had collected 600 GB of data from unsecured networks around the world while putting the Street View archive together, due to a programming error. They have offered to get rid of the data, which contains websites and "snippets" of personal e-mails. they also said they will work with officials to answer any relevant questions.

If convicted, the sentence for illegal data-gathering is a fine cor two-year prison sentence, but Mollers said it's too soon in the investigation to say what exactly will happen.

Germany has stricter privacy laws than many countries in Europe and continues to oppose the 360-degree Street View photo archive, along with Switzerland. However, France and Great Britain have allowed Street View in their countries.

As for the United States, two members of Congress, Republican Joe Barton of Texas, and Democrat Edward Markey of Massachusetts have urged the FTC to investigate whether or not Google broke any American laws with the supposed accidental use of the data. In a letter to the FTC, the two Congressmen asked how the data was collected, stored, and if it had violated any privacy rights. They also wanted to know who had access to the information and whether or not it was deceptive or illegal. According to the New York Times, the FTC has not yet responded to the request.



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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why You Should Keep Blogging

Why You Should Keep BloggingKeeping up with a personal blog can be time-consuming. Often, school, work, families, and other daily activities get in the way. Then there is the issue of deciding what to write about. If you're keeping up a blog to promote your business, the task can become even more daunting. There is so much other stuff that seems to be so much more important and again, what do your potential and current customers want to read about? If you stick to certain topics, you may not update very often, and everybody knows a not-often-updated blog loses readers quickly. So, what do you do? First of all, don't stop blogging!! Here are a few reasons why you don't want to stop putting effort into keeping your blog up-to-date.

1. SEO - When search engines crawl sites, they are looking for those that are regularly updated with good content. The more you blog, the more search engines will see you as relevant and the higher up you'll move in the search engine's listings for the topics you're covering. You'll attract more readers and more traffic to your blog or company website. Also, the more you blog, the more content you add to you website and the more chances you have of a search engine finding you.

2. Personal Touch - When your company website has a blog, it gives it your entire company a friendlier outward appearance. Customers and potential customers will see that there really are human beings behind the scenes, working to meet their needs, and feel like someone actually cares about what's going on at your business.

3. Communication - In addition to that personal touch, your blog allows you to interact with customers and potential customers. Allowing comments gives your readers/customers the chance to get involved by asking questions or sharing their opinions. You can also respond to a customer in the event he or she has a question or some misguided information.

4. Competition - Does your competition have a blog? Do they provide their customers with the opportunity to interact with employees or have an outlet where they can prove how knowledgeable they are about the industry or their product? Using your blog to promote new products and services or taking the time to show that you are concerned with customer service may be the very thing that sends a potential customer to you verses your competition.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Who Needs a Poll When You Have Twitter?

Who Needs a Poll When You Have Twitter Could Twitter replace the public opinion poll? That's what the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University says. Research suggests that if you're wonder what the public opinion on politics and current events is, you'd be a lot better off (and spend a lot less money) just checking out Twitter. It seems as though the thoughts of millions of Twitter users each day correlates with polls taken by groups such as Gallup and Index of Consumer Sentiment (ICS).

How researchers would go about analyzing the Twitter information is still up for debate, but if you do need a quick idea of how the public is reacting to a certain event, you may very well want to hop on Twitter.

The research was conducted by professor Noah Smith. Together with his team, he collected about 1 billion "tweets" posted in 2008 and 2009, looked at the topic and how the person felt about each topic. He then compared his findings to data from the same period from Gallup and ICS. For example, tweets made on certain days about Obama were compared to Gallup's daily tracking polls from the same time periods.

Research found the correlation between the polls and the tweets was very strong, especially on topics like the President's job performance and the economy. Twitter matched up against the polls at rates of about 72% and 79%. But it's not all black and white. Not all data matched up. According to the research, Twitter data didn't match the increasing popularity of then Senator Obama during the presidential election.

Professor Smith says that a lot needs to be considered before people begin turning to the social networking site to predict opinions and outcomes. For example, do retweets of news headlines count? And the report also points out that polls aren't always exactly on target anyway. It concluded, "Future work should seek to understand how these different signals reflect public opinion either as a hidden variable, or as measured from more reliable sources like face-to-face interviews."

According to CNN, the study will be presented at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, later in May.


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Facebook Leads to Kidney Donation

Facebook Leads to Kidney DonationFacebook is one of the most popular websites in the world, and lots of people use it to keep up with local and national politicians. Whether you're looking for news about your state or news about a campaign, one thing you probably never expect is a body part, more specifically a kidney, but that's just what Carlos Sanchez of East Haven, Connecticut got from the town's mayor. And he got it through Facebook.

35 year old April Capone Almon, the mayor of East Haven, did not have to think twice about helping her 44 year old constituent with his medical problems. In an interview with AOL Noticias, Almon said she knew she'd be the right person to donate to Sanchez, who was preparing to go dialysis, due to his failing kidneys. Sanchez posted a desperate message to his Facebook page because he was unable to find a suitable donor. He wasn't totally comfortable with the idea, but his doctor told him the need was urgent.

Capone told AOL she considered Sanchez an acquaintance, but didn't really know him. She only knew of his need for a kidney through Facebook. She says she knew instantly that she wanted to donate and her family was concerned, yet supportive. Sanchez didn't believe her at first, but he finally gave her the number for the Yale Transplant Team.

Capone says she prefers to meet people in person but does use Facebook to help when she can. When she signed up for an account, she probably never realized she'd be helping in this capacity. She and Sanchez have become very close and she says she talks to him every day. Sanchez calls Capone his "little sister."

Both Capone and Sanchez had their surgeries in early April and both are expected to make a full recovery. Capone is already back at work and is eager to open other people's minds to live organ donation. Capone told AOL,

"There was one close friend who said 'If you were my daughter I would try to talk you out of this!' I replied 'But what if your daughter was the one that needed the kidney?' That really changed his perspective."

Read more about Capone and Sanchez's story here: Mayor donates kidney to save constituent, a Facebook friend.




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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Most Twitter Users are Outside the US

Most Twitter Users are Outside the US
It may seem like Twitter is all the rage in the United States, right? It is, but according to the company, Twitter has seen huge international growth lately. In a blog posted last week, Twitter's Matt Sanford, the lead engineer for the International Team, said that over 60% of Twitter accounts are from outside the United States and this has been the case since around September of last year.

In addition to English, Twitter is available in other languages, including French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. There are several reasons for the increase in international numbers. In November, Twitter.com was made available in Spanish for the first time, and Sanford writes that the social networking site immediately saw a boost in Spanish-speaking countries (about 50%). He also mentions that after the earthquake in Chile, people signed up to use the website as a communication tool. Most of the 1200% increase in new accounts were also from Spanish language users.

In several countries, when a politician begins using the tool to reach his or her constituents, you can bet that an increase in new users will come about as well. In Colombia, Piedad Cordoba Ruiz began using Twitter and sign ups increased 300%. In India, politician Shashi Tharoor and Bollywood stars Sharukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, and Abhishek Bachchan signed up for accounts and that's all it took for the country to see a 100% increase in the number of users.

In the post, Sanford says they've also been working to bring Twitter to countries like Indonesia and Haiti. He also reiterated what Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said at a recent CTIA conference, indicating Twitter wants to make itself available in as many countries and languages as possible. They're also working to bring more mobile phone users to Twitter, people who may not have computers. Stone said, "When a farmer in a rural village in a Third World nation can get the simplest of news over SMS, a weather report or whatever, it can have a dramatic impact."

According to PC World, Twitter better hurry up. Another microblogging service, Plurk, is gaining ground in many countries and is available in more languages, including Arabic, Russian, Turkish, Dutch, Chinese, Hindi, and Slovenian. It outranks Twitter is Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia.


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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fortune 500 Companies Fail at SEO

Fortune 500 Companies Fail at SEOIf you think Fortune 500 companies have the upper hand on SEO, you're wrong. Despite the fact that the big guns spend about $3.4 million a day - yes a day - on nearly 100,000 keywords, a report from Conductor Research reports that only one quarter of those keywords rank in the top 50 (natural) search results on the most popular search engines. And that's an increase from 2008 when the numbers showed just 17% of the companies' keywords showed up in the top 50.

The Fortune 500 Report analyzes national search results, optimization effectiveness, trends, and integration plans for those corporate an consumer brands for December 2009 fourth quarter.

"Since they spend all that money on paid-search keywords you would expect these companies would want the keywords in natural search to correlate with investments on the other side and make them as visible as possible," Nathan Safran, a senior research analyst at Conductor said.

More research showed that only 2% of the domains show a significant number of terms in the top 50. Only 15% of those companies have a "mid-to-strong presence" for their most advertised keywords, while 53% have absolutely no natural search visibility for those keywords. 68% of keywords can be found on a landing page. Safran says many companies just don't know what it takes to build their campaign.

Longer search queries caused a decrease in visibility. Searches with more than seven words saw a greater decrease than those with just one or two words.

The results show a huge difference in rankings of companies that did well and companies that have poor visibility; even the companies that have higher rankings, no company had most of their keywords ranked in the top 25 search results.

The report ranks companies with the best visibility as having a grade "A" or "B," while "C," "D," and "F" mean poor visibility. It also broke down the companies by market segment such as retail finance and insurance, manufacturing, transportation and warehouse, food services, construction, science and technical, and others.





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