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Scared of social media? Read this.

We get questions from people almost every day asking us what "books" are good to read to learn about social media. So this week, Bridget and I wrote this column to help these folks out:

The questions have been picking up since practically every media outlet jumped on the Twitter Train in the past couple months. Even Oprah got on Twitter two weeks ago. (Shaq had to end up helping her out, click here to see the conversation.)

One recent e-mail we got is from a publicist who wants to learn more about using both Facebook and Twitter for work purposes. The question: ``Can you suggest the best resources, books and sites that I can use to quickly come up to speed so that I can offer my clients additional ideas on building their brands?''

We know it's scary, but our answer to everyone is always the same: Just dive in. No book or blog can help you understand social media until you sign up and use the site. Seriously. Click around. Don't worry! We know it's awkward, but trust us -- you're not going to break anything.

Picking a username is a great first step, but it doesn't count as diving in. That's just a toe. If you want to learn anything, give your clicking finger a workout and spend at least 15 minutes a day on the site. On Twitter, there are plenty of folks happy to help newbies and answer questions.

Here are a few basic pointers we can offer when it comes to building a personal brand on Twitter:

• Use your real name as your user name.

• Don't auto-follow back people or use a program to send auto direct messages. (If you don't know, ''Following'' is Twitter lingo for connecting.)

• Be active in your network. It's not social if you don't have conversations.

• Mix up tweets about personal interests with business topics. You don't want the only messages you send out to be plugs for your website -- totally lame.

• Use the search tools to find people with the same interests and shoot them a message or follow them to catch their attention.

For folks who want to build a community using a Facebook fan page:

• Build a personal account on Facebook (and be active for weeks) before you even think about starting a fan page. How will you know what fans want if you don't know how to use Facebook?

• It's more effective to engage members by sending out messages rather than posting news on your own wall.

Be creative -- use the status message or find cool multimedia to draw people to your page.

What tips do you have for social networking newbies?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 06:31 PM on April 29, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Twitter provides free webinar for professionals

In an event they're billing as "giving away the shop," Twitter's Anamitra Bannerji and online public relations firm AbrahamHarrison's Chris Abraham are doing a Twitter free webinar at 1 p.m. EST Thursday entitled "How to use Twitter effectively for business, advocacy and  policy".

According to the release, they say you'll learn tips about effective communication and what to do to avoid getting into "social and legal trouble". There will be time for questions and answers. To register or for more information, click here.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 08:22 AM on April 27, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Five signs you're addicted to Facebook

CNN has a great story today about folks who are so addicted to Facebook that they become socially dysfunctional. They rather spend time in the Facebook world than the real world.

We all have times when we get sucked in to social networks. But do you worry that you might be taking it too far? Perhaps spending too much time on Facebook at work? The story has five signs that might suggest you are a little too hooked on a virtual life.

  1. You lose sleep over Facebook.
  2. You spend more than an hour a day on Facebook
  3. You become obsessed with old loves
  4. You ignore work in favor of Facebook
  5. The thought of leaving Facebook leaves you in a cold sweat

What do you think of the five signs? I think many folks are guilty of all five signs at one time in their virtual lives. Maybe you don't go into a cold sweat thinking about deleting your Facebook account, but I have a hard time imagining myself unplugged from Facebook or Twitter forever. Even while on vacation, I find myself sending trip-related tweets or checking Facebook on my mobile! (Sigh.)

Posted by Bridget Carey at 06:08 PM on April 23, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Is Twitter banned at your workplace?

I should preface this post with this: Tweeting at work is basically part of my job, since I write about social media. I know this isn't the case for others.

On Twitter today, saw a few posts about a fun application called SpreadTweet, which is worth a look just for the clever name. Basically, it's a look-alike of an Excel spreadsheet to disguise your Twitter feed:

SpreadTweet

I think it's hilarious. I wonder how long this gem will last before Microsoft intervenes. But it also raises the question if there are companies that have actually banned people from using Twitter at work. I see so many lawyers, marketing professionals and other techie folks on there all day that I wonder who isn't on Twitter at work. Is Twitter banned at your job? Or do you feel guilty when the boss walks by and sees you twittering away?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 07:31 PM on April 21, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Get rid of those annoying Facebook notifications.

Ever since Facebook changed its design, it seems there are tons of notifications popping up from applications.

And a new design can make it a little confusing on how to disable those notifications from applications like Willy's Sweet Shop or LivingSocial's Top 5 Things. And it seems to never end! And I hear several co-workers complaining about how it's confusing to turn them off.

Notifications But there's an easy way to shut them up. Just click on the notification tab in the bottom right corner of Facebook. (Pictured here.)

Then, while the menu is expanded, click on "See All" at the top right of the menu. It'll take you to a page where you can uncheck all the applications you don't want to hear from again.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 04:58 PM on April 16, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't just ask for Twitter followers. Ask for conversations.

I simply love Sue Bailey's post on the TwiTip blog about how you should stop asking people to follow you on Twitter. Instead, ask them to talk to you on Twitter.

Instead of just linking to your Twitter account, create a link that puts your name in the message box, thereby encouraging someone to engage with you on Twitter. It's the same as having a "mailto" link for your e-mail. Sure, they'll probably still follow you -- but it surely looks more inviting than a cold "follow me" link.

Just add a line in your e-mail signature a line that says "Talk to me on Twitter" with the link http://twitter.com/home?status=@YourTwitterNameHere

Have you come across other creative ways to get new followers to engage with you on Twitter?

UPDATE 4/15 1p.m. Ok um, perhaps this isn't a good method after all. I just confused Niala by having this link in my e-mail signature -- and she understands Twitter! I guess this kind of link is too techy and unnecessary in an e-mail sig, especially if someone doesn't have a Twitter account. I think for now I'm going to change the link in my e-mail to just say "Message me on Twitter" but have it go to my main account page.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:00 PM on April 15, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Feel like your identity has been hijacked online?

Another Tuesday, another column. I got this question from someone who attended a social networking workshop I did recently for people who are soon to be out of work. She was concerned about her image online, especially since she's soon to be out actively in the job market:

We talk about online image control quite a bit, the primary test being to Google your name and see what comes up.

But what if you don't like what you see? And even worse, what if it's not even you?

One Poked reader e-mailed us, worrying about a case of mistaken identity online. The reader had a common Hispanic name, and when she Googled herself, the third link was another person's Facebook account. It had the same name as her -- and a profile picture of a woman dancing on a stripper pole.

Needless to say, not a good image for potential employers -- at least, not for most jobs.

Thankfully, people switch Facebook pictures. Within a few days, the pole profile picture had been replaced.

You can't control other people's Facebook images. But take heart because there are a few things you can do to make your online search results as good as possible.

LinkedIn has a powerful pull in search-engine results. That means if you have a LinkedIn account, that profile will appear higher in a Google name search. But you need to have an active, complete profile and at least a few connections to improve your chances of keeping that site prominent in search results.

Facebook and other sites like VisualCV and Twitter that are popular also seem to weigh in heavier than smaller websites.

So here's the key: Bulk up your online presence by creating profiles on well-known sites. But you must be active on these sites for them to show up.

Finally, here's another practical way to distance yourself from others who share your name. Put up a picture on your LinkedIn profile so it will be clear who you are. And make sure when you're sending out your résumé, either a hard copy or online, that you provide a link to that profile.


What about you? Do you have any tips for how you have managed this issue?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:39 PM on April 14, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , MySpace , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook hits 200 million active users

If Facebook's community of active users was a country, it would be the world's fifth largest, sandwiched between Indonesia and Brazil.

That's what Facebook said when it announced it expected to surpass the 200th million active user mark today. They also posted this nifty video showing the geographic reach of its users:

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:43 PM on April 8, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Don't know how to respond to that "how are you" message?

This week's column sparked an interesting and I was told "generational" debate about the question that was posed to us.

The question is about how to answer a "Hey, you" email through a social network. Our editor thought that not answering an email, via Facebook or LinkedIn, is just as rude as ignoring someone who asks you how you are in person.

He felt that our answer was being too harsh on this questioner, because he felt our younger generation doesn't have many manners as "old-schoolers". I think we do have manners, I just think we don't see this as a big of a deal. Personally? I think the "hey, How you are email" is the equivalent of when someone asks you in person -- most of the time, this is just a greeting. People don't really care how you are doing.

Clearly, people feel very strongly about this. Here's what we wrote:

A Poked reader we're calling ''Old School'' sent in this question after feeling a bit ignored online:

Am I wrong to expect that a person will reply back when I've e-mailed them or contacted them via LinkedIn just to say ''hi'' and see how they're doing? These are not strangers -- they're all people I've worked with in the past.

I know everyone is busy, but it takes a second to hit ''reply'' with one line thanking someone for their interest in your life. (And yes: their addresses are valid and they did receive my message.) Would I be justified in removing these people from my social networks?


Dear Old School,

We think it's admirable that you are reaching out to folks and you don't want something, but let's take a deep breath. After you're done, calculate how many connections you have on every online social network you're in.

People tend to have a hundred or more connections on sites like LinkedIn. On Facebook, the ''friend'' tallies can be much greater. Translation? With volume like that, it's a harsh but inevitable truth that there will be connections who don't care about you.

Now, that doesn't give people a reason to behave badly. Although we think you should treat people online as if you're face to face with them, the reality is, you're not face to face -- and that makes it easier to reject you.

If you want to touch bases with someone just to check in, offer them something. It's about what you bring to the conversation, even if it's just a compliment, like something you noticed on their profile about their life or work.

This is what we think about social media: You're not just communicating for the sake of communicating. You're communicating for a purpose. People have hundreds of connections on these networks, so you need to make it easy and worthy of a response.

Put yourself on the receiving end. How would you respond to someone you don't know well who said: ''Hey, how are things?'' We don't like responding to those kinds of messages, basically because they contain no content, no context, no inspiration that would elicit a worthwhile response. And in the vast world of too many e-mails, pokes and tweets, it's easy to get left behind.

Have you tried connecting with people in ways other than a private message? Comment on a project, their posted link, or in a group that you're both part of. In our minds, that makes a message more valuable, because it shows that you're paying attention to what's going on in their lives.

You also asked about whether it was appropriate to ''unfriend'' or remove a LinkedIn contact for ignoring you. We think, if it's bothering you that much, go ahead. But we would first ask ourselves: Have I been paying attention to what they actually do online, as in, actually networking with them? Have I been a good friend/connection to them?

What do you think?

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 02:03 PM on April 7, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

How to directly link someone to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile

Want to directly link someone to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile? It's good to know if you want to put the link to your Facebook or LinkedIn profile on a website or resume. Here's how to get the links:

On Facebook this is fairly easy. Log into Facebook, then click the word [Profile] in the top navigation link that takes you to your profile. Copy the URL.

It should look something like this: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/profile.php?id=2020640&ref=profile

I think that looks messy. If you want to get a link that is prettier, log out of Facebook and then go to that same profile URL you just copied. When you are logged out and try to go to that link, the URL gets cleaned up to something that looks like this: http://en-us.facebook.com/people/Bridget-Carey/2020640

Or, you can also use a Facebook application called Memorable Web Address to create a clean and easy-to-remember redirect URL of your page, such as http://profile.to/bridgetcarey/

IMPORTANT NOTE: The link will be useless for non-Facebook users if you blocked your Facebook page from being found by people outside of Facebook.  But if you did that, I'm guessing you don't want to share your Facebook link with others, anyway.

This is also a good time to take a look of what your profile details look like to someone outside of Facebook. My public search listing was ridiculous!

Publicprofile

You can click the photo for a larger image, but it just says Bridget Carey is a fan of:
    * Skittles
    * Dunkin' Donuts
    * Marvel
    * The Onion
    * Pancakes 
    * Batman: The Dark Knight
    * Iron Man
    * Disney Pixar
    * Star Trek
    * Tropic Thunder
    * The Office
    * Rocko's Modern Life
    * Transformers
    * Arrested Development (2003)
    * Late Night with Conan O'Brien 
    * UF College of Journalism and Communications
    * UF Department of Journalism

Uhh.... if my public listing is someone's first impression of me, I can only imagine what they'll think of me. "I like Skittles and Pancakes!" (What am I, the Nannerpuss?)

So I'm going to change my settings so that kind of Nannerpuss nonsense doesn't show to the world.

To do the same on LinkedIn, go to the tab for "Edit My Profile" (not the View My Profile section). You'll see a section toward the begining of your profile that says "Public Profile." Click the [Edit] link to change it to something classy like http://www.linkedin.com/in/bridgetcarey.

Presto change-o. Thanks to James, a Poked reader, for asking the question!

Posted by Bridget Carey at 02:41 PM on April 1, 2009 in Facebook , LinkedIn , Privacy settings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

 
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