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"Unfriend" is now officially a word

The New Oxford American Dictionary named "unfriend" the word of the year - beating out such other social media terms like "hashtag" and "sexting". (There's always 2010, right?)

Oxford defined "unfriend" as a verb that means to remove someone as a "friend" on a social networking site such as Facebook.

I trooped down the hall to our WLRN-Miami Herald News partner studios to have a chat with Kenny Malone about unfriending. Kenny and I are pretty much always laughing together - so apologies for me laughing in the middle of this segment that aired this morning:

Unfriend - WLRN - 11-21

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 02:44 PM on November 24, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Are you a Twitter "meformer" or an "informer"?

It seems like we have a hard time forgetting about the "I'' in Twitter.

That was the conclusion by two Rutgers professors who studied the content of 3,000 tweets sent by 350 Twitter users.

The communication and information professors, Mor Naaman and Jeffrey Boase, found that there tend to be two types of Twitter folks. The majority, or 80 percent, were what they called "meformers" -- Twitter users who sent out messages that revolved around themselves, updating others about their activities or sharing thoughts and feelings.

The other 20 percent are "informers" -- people who were actually sharing information. Not surprisingly, the informers tended to have larger social networks and be more interactive. In their study, on average, informers had at least twice as many friends and followers compared to meformers. Another interesting note: women tended to be more "meformers" than men.

Because they're academics, Naaman and Boase came up with a technical description for not just Twitter, but all the short, instant ways we communicate these days, be it through a Facebook status update or other ways we end up in people's Newsfeeds: They called it social awareness streams.

Naaman told me he thinks people talk about themselves simply because it's the easiest thing to do - it's natural, and it is probably what we all talk about most of the time. He also thinks that as people get more used to these streams, like we had to do with e-mail, or even the telephone, usage will adapt. Naaman himself has even done this - after doing the study, he told me he realized his Twitter account was too much meformer than informer, so he set up a new account.

TwitterWhatsHappennings copy
Twitter's picked up on this, too: Last week, the question ``What are you doing?'' was changed to ``What's happening?'' -- an evolution perhaps in how they see people using the site.

Because Naaman and Boase think social awareness streams are becoming an important part of the way some people communicate, both through public and personal relationships, they don't come down that hard on the meformers as you think they would.

"Although the meformers' self focus might be characterized by some as self-indulgent, these messages may play an important role in helping others maintain relationships," they wrote in their study.

I don't have a problem with meformers, per say - there are plenty of "meformer"-focused Tweets can are interesting, funny or help you connect with someone. But as someone who spents a lot of time wading through social awareness streams, some days, I think I'm drowning in self-indulgence.

Naaman also told me that they've just really started getting into studying this - so we'll be on the lookout for future findings.

In the meantime, always worth remembering: if we are really about wanting to develop relationships on social networking sites, we should limit the screaming or whining about ourselves, start listening and interact.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 01:59 PM on November 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Be careful when putting co-workers in a company Twitter List

Twitter recently introduced a new tool, called Lists, to help users organize the massive amount of information broadcast through the network.

Lists are a way for you to categorize users. You can create a public List for the world to see on your profile, and others can follow folks on that List. Or it can just be a private List for your personal use. Putting an account in a List doesn't mean you are following them.

Although the List tool is a great way to let others know of good folks to follow, you can get yourself into some trouble with co-workers if you start creating Lists of people you work with.

For example, I wanted to make a public List of people who work at The Miami Herald. There are plenty of people here with Twitter accounts, and most people say in their bio that they work here in some manner.

But the problem comes in when there are co-workers who DON'T say in their Twitter bio that they work here. Maybe they don't want bosses to know they are on Twitter. Maybe they don't talk about work and they keep it for their personal life only. And because it's personal, maybe they don't want people to think they represent the company. Regardless of the reason, the fact that they don't identify themselves as an employee means I shouldn't "out'' them in a public employee List without asking them first.

I realize today the lines between career and personal life are totally blurred -- especially in our social media profiles. But you have to respect your connections who are trying their darnedest to keep those worlds separate in their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

That, of course, brings up the point that Niala and I always preach about -- no matter what you use your network for, you should always act professionally. These days, there's really no way to completely cut off your professional connections from stumbling upon something in your personal networks. It's just better to be safe than sorry.

You can access and manage Lists through Twitter's website. Third-party Twitter applications like TweetDeck, Twhirl and Seesmic are still working on incorporating this new tool. But in the meantime, play around to get a feel for how they work. Or if you don't have the time to create your own List, visit a site like Listorious.com, which features some really popular Twitter Lists and you can just follow ones that others have made.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 05:20 PM on November 18, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook's "suggestions" show limits of social media

Since Faceboook made a few changes recently, active users have probably noticed a lot more "suggestions'' prompting you to interact with people you haven't paid attention to for a long time -- and maybe aren't even around anymore.

That's been the case with many of my coworkers, who are mourning the loss of a friend and former Miami Herald editor Mike McQueen, who died two weeks ago.

Mike mcqueenLast week was his birthday, and many received reminders to send him well wishes. Others noticed even before his birthday that Facebook was prompting them to contact him, via the new suggestions section on the far right hand column of their profile pages.

Facebook doesn't know that someone has died until it's reported -- it has a form that can be filled out by close family or friends that changes a person's page to what they call a "memorial page.'

Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin told me in an e-mail that suggestions are based on profiles of people who aren't very active or completely filled out, and that they're made to encourage those users to interact with others on Facebook more. I get that - but wonder if this will also irritate active users who don't want to see the Facebook slackers..anyone else feel that way?

That explains why one of the suggestions I keep getting is my sister. She's a busy mom of three young kids who has barely finished her profile. Still, we talk or text each other every day, but Facebook doesn't know that -- so it keeps giving suggestions to ``get in touch with her."

That's one of the limitations of social media right now, and something that should be incorporated in future evolutions. People are already interacting so much on Facebook that it's become a part of our lives. The next step in social media needs to be an integration of the two.

Until then, be careful -- even if Facebook suggests you poke your boss, you know that's not a good idea.

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 11:10 AM on November 11, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Broward County considering social media policy

My WLRN-Miami Herald colleague Joshua Johnson did this story on Broward County considering new rules for employees & social media - take a listen.

These days it seems the most popular means of communication, are also free: social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube. Broward County would like to get in on the act too, but it's bound by open government laws. As WLRN-Miami Herald reporter Joshua Johnson tells us, the County is considering new rules to help it navigate the world of social media.


Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 03:04 PM on November 10, 2009 in Current Affairs , Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Connect your Twitter account with LinkedIn

Today Twitter and LinkedIn announced that they have teamed up to help you cross the social media streams between the two networks.

The feature is slowly being rolled out to LinkedIn users over the next few days, but the LinkedIn blog has a clear description how the cross-posting will work.

I don't support putting every Twitter post on your LinkedIn profile. Niala and I always preach you should be careful when crossing the streams. The network audiences are different, and no one uses the @ symbol in LinkedIn, so the language is sometimes different. Twitter tends to be a mix of personal and business updates, and LinkedIn always keeps a professional tone.

But just by adding a simple #in to your tweet, it can post to your LinkedIn account. And it goes the other way around too -- just check a box while writing your LinkedIn status update to share it with your Twitter followers.

I like the ability to turn it on and off, depending on the message. It's a nice way to save time and make sure only relevant stuff gets shared to both networks, instead of having your Twitter feed vomit all over your LinkedIn page. It can be especially useful when you're looking for input or help from your business connections on both networks at once.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 12:52 PM on November 10, 2009 in LinkedIn , Status updates , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

¿Qué estás haciendo? Twitter now in Spanish.

Twitter has released a Spanish version of its site this week, and made the announcement in Spanish on its blog.

Before this, the only languages that were available were English and Japanese. But that didn't stop tons of users already tweeting in Spanish, like my colleague Daniel Shoer Roth (@danielshoerroth) who writes for El Nuevo Herald. (And thanks to Daniel for the heads up on this news.) Twitter said it is seeking the help of volunteers to translate its site in more languages.

To change the language, go to Settings and then scroll down to the drop-down menu for Language.

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:50 PM on November 4, 2009 in Twitter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Eat a virtual sandwich; help out Share our Strength

Dagwood Tomorrow is National Sandwich Day.  Yeah, I didn't know either, until this morning, when I got a press release about a new nonprofit fundraiser that going on tomorrow between Sara Lee Deli (they make the deli meats, not the yummy baked goods, apparently) and Share our Strength, a nonprofit that is working to end childhood hunger. (I wrote about nonprofits and how they're using social media last week)

For every new Twitter follower they get tomorrow, Sara Lee says it will donate $1 (up to $25,000) to share our strength.

It will be interesting to see if this catches on...

Posted by Niala Boodhoo at 05:19 PM on November 2, 2009 in Facebook , Twitter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The difference between Facebook's News Feed and Live Feed

First off, I'd like to thank Facebook for confusing its users yet again with a new feature that is hard to decipher and makes users grumpy.

It really makes my job of picking a column topic so easy when they baffle folks with a new layout every couple months.

Last week, Facebook introduced a new home page that shows users a "News Feed'' and a "Live Feed.'' Before, it used to be just one big feed that showed the updates of all your friends and fan pages.

Now, your News Feed is put together by a Facebook formula that calculates what it thinks you would like to see. It will include posts that got a lot of comments and how likely you are to interact with that post.

That means your News Feed can show things that are several days old up at the top if it's really popular -- it's not in chronological order. It also means you're not seeing every friend's update.

That's where Live Feed comes in. Live Feed is everything happening right now, in real time ... well, almost everything.

Here's how Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin described it to me: "Live Feed defaults to showing you updates from your top 250 friends and connections [including Pages]. We algorithmically determine those 250 based on who and what you interact with most frequently.''

I just became a fan of the Florida Marlins page, but the updates are not showing on my Live Feed because Facebook doesn't have a history of me interacting with that page.

So basically you have to teach Facebook what you like by throwing a few comments or hit ``like'' on posts on new pages you follow.

I have nearly 600 "friends,'' I'm a fan of 94 pages and a member of 88 groups. There's no way I'll be seeing every update on my feed.

If you want to see all of your Fan Pages, use the left hand navigation menu of your home page to click on the Pages filter -- then you'll see every update.

And for those of you out there running a fan page, keep in mind that there's a chance your posts won't be seen on every fan's feed.

For a really important post that you want everyone to see, it might be good to send out an Update that will show up in every fan's message inbox. But don't abuse your power! You'll quickly annoy your fans if you send messages too often. Use it sparingly and only for big news items.

You can't do much to change your Live Feed, but if you click the "Edit Options'' link on the bottom of the page, you can change what people or groups are hidden from your News Feed.

The two sets of update feeds were created to help the nonobsessed Facebook user. Niala and I check our Facebook multiple times a day, so the News Feed is pointless and stale for us. But it would be helpful for someone who only checks Facebook once every few days, so they don't feel like they're missing out on something.

For the addicted user, it's probably best to just leave it showing the Live Feed, since it's the most accurate real-time list of updates, even if it isn't showing everything.

What are your thoughts on the changes?

Posted by Bridget Carey at 03:47 PM on November 2, 2009 in Facebook | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

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