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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

7 Reasons to Use Twitter

People Ask Me:  What Social Network Should I Use?

Which network or networks should I choose?  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+?  By far this is the question that I am asked the most, and understandably so.  It can be quite daunting to look at all the different networks, existing and emerging, and wonder which one should I use. 

Let's start by looking at Twitter. 

So, who is using Twitter anyway?  Well, the data would say that a lot of people from different backgrounds are using Twitter.  There are over 500 million active users generating more than 340 million tweets daily.  (Thanks Wikipedia).  Everyone from kids, to actors, to politicians are on Twitter.  It is used for both personal and professional communications.  However, let's break that down a bit more. 

According to information from, more women than men are using Twitter.  I have to confess that this tidbit surprised me.  Not surprising however, is that people between the ages of 25-54 when combined make up the largest group of users.   Twitter has typically attracted an older demographic, although Facebook has seen a shift in the last few years to users over 55 jumping on that channel to communicate, but I digress.  We will look at Facebook next time.

Here are just 7 reasons to use Twitter and if you like communicating in 140 characters, it might just be for you:

1.  Networking -  What a great way to connect with people that have similar interests as you.  Perhaps it is based on wanting to meet people and learn from them about a hobby or your chosen profession.

2.  Research - Whether you are researching your next Smartphone or doing market research, Twitter can yield great results.

3.  News - You are a news junkie and want the latest and greatest coming at you all the time and as it happens in succinct messages.

4.  Job Hunting - Whether you are looking for an employee or looking to be hired, you can use Twitter to gather a lot of intelligence.  Employers for example, often tweet about open positions.

5.  Customer Service - In our socially connected world, it can be a lot quicker and more efficient to initiate contact with a company through its Twitter handle.  Additionally, it can be a lot more convenient for you.

6.  Advice or Opinions - Looking for a good book to read? Or, want to know what camera they would buy if in the market?  Reach out to your network.  They are valuable resources.

7. Branding - Again, whether you are working on your personal branding plan or executing a branding plan for your employer, Twitter is an excellent tool for this purpose. 

This is really just scratching the surface when it comes to using this great communication tool.  If you are looking to write longer more detailed communications, other networks might be better for you.   Twitter is fast, efficient, entertaining and fun.  It is a great way to share information that is short and to the point. 

Need more advice?  Want to know how to get started and what you should Tweet?  Check out:  How Do I Know What to Tweet

Monday, August 20, 2012

People Ask Me:  How Do I Know What to Tweet?

More and more people are asking me questions about how to do "something" with respect to social media.  While social media is not the new kid on the block anymore, people are still struggling to understand all the different channels and when to use which one. So, based on which question I get asked in a given week, I will answer it here, in my blog.

So, what do you tweet?

This is a great question and I am glad that people are asking it.  It means that they really want to embrace Twitter and all the good things that come with it.  That is fantastic. 

Let's start with some easy things.  What are your hobbies?  What are your favourite news topics?  What things get your mojo grooving? 

For example, if you are interested in craft beer, it might be a great starting point to share some of your knowledge and insight.  You may also seek out others who have the same interest and pose questions so that you can learn more.  You can even create lists that contain all the people and/or brands related to craft beer. 

Image compliments of Picaroons Traditional Ales and DE MacLean Original carvings

Perhaps you are interested in silent films and want to learn more. You can start by searching out people of interest and following them.  Learn what they are talking about.  I think that you will learn fairly quickly that the things you wish to Tweet about are great conversations.  You just need to build your confidence and learn the environment of Twitter.  It is no different than going to a gathering with new people.  You always want to get the lay of the land and get to know people so that you feel more comfortable.  That my friends is human nature.

Start slowly, listen to others and share interesting and cool things.  One word of caution however, keep in mind that people are people.  Think about your interactions with people that you see each day.  How do you react to the person who is always in a good mood and wishing to help.  How do you react to the person who is always negative and complains about everything?  The same feelings and rules apply on social networks.  People are naturally drawn to people who are friendly and positive.  

So, there are just a couple of easy ways to determine what you can tweet about.  Start slowly and take it from there.  Before you know it, you will be an old pro and helping others figure out what they should Tweet.

There are other ideas as well and I encourage you to share them.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

World Humanitarian Day, August 19, 2012 - What Mark Will You Leave?

Today marks World Humanitarian Day.  It is time to pause and reflect upon not only the year that has passed, but the year that is coming.  There have been many devastating things that have occurred over the last year, but for me I have to also stop and think about the many wonderful positive human moments that have also occurred. 

I think about the many heroes that through the everyday activities of their careers have stopped and saved many lives.  I think about countless people who have stopped what they were doing, and sometimes, risked their own well-being to help another human-being in their time of need.  Many of those people helped are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters.  And maybe, just maybe, one of those people in need was your loved-one.  Without those courageous and selfless people, who stopped and helped, we would be impacted so much more.

All of these people, both those needing help and those extending help are human-beings.  Regardless of age, colour, income, race, religion, geographic location and/or sexual orientation, they are human-beings. 

For a recap on some of the most visual experiences of humanitarian relief, watch Beyoncé's video with her new song I Was Here

Now that we have thought about the past year, what about the next year?  What mark will you leave behind? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finding the Power of Positive in Social Media - You Do Have the Power - Ignite it!

On August 2, 2012, Frank Eliason wrote a blog post as a result of the growing negativity that he was seeing in social media.  In particular, he referenced a recent story of a little girl of 11 years old getting to sing the National Anthem before a Dallas/Los Angeles soccer match.  I guess it did not go well and someone, perhaps a few people decided that this was something that he/she/they would share via social networks.  The comments that were made were absolutely atrocious.  It is hard to imagine that such mean and hateful statements were said about a little girl who had a dream and dared to step forward in front of many, to live her dream.  Perhaps she is not Mariah Carey or Celine Dion yet, but why be so vicious?  How many of us would have the courage to take that step.  Not many I would say.  I wouldn't.  Rather than be ridiculed, she should be celebrated for having the courage and the strength to step out of her comfort zone and do something that she dreamed of doing.

When we look at our world today and we look at our children I am always amazed at how we work creativity, innovation and imagination right out of them.  I don't think that we mean to do it, we just do.  This little girl is a prime example.  If she has seen the comments, the threats against her, do you think that she will try anything out of her comfort zone again?  What if someday she has an idea for something revolutionary, something that could change our world for the better?  She may, as a result of this, just be too afraid to try it for fear of being made fun of, or worse, threatened yet again.  So, who loses then?  We all do!

positive thinking

I love the idea that Frank has suggested that August 14th be #positivelysocial day.  The idea is to find the positive in your world, your community - both online and not - and share it positively.  So, join me tomorrow as I share the positive things that I see in my world.  Not only will you make others feel better, but more and more research says that YOU will feel better.  

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why a Vacation is Good for Mind, Body and Soul

We all want to feel wanted, connected and in the know.  We all want to belong.  It is for these reasons that many of us love to work and work many long hours.  It is important to us to be contributing and to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.  I can easily get wrapped up in my work and my work environment putting in more and more hours each day and each week.  But what does this get us in the end?  Is this helpful to me as an individual?  Am I improving the bottom line for my company? 

We all know that Europeans take a different approach to vacation, or holidays as they call it.  They are allotted more by their employers and more importantly "they take their holidays".  But what does the latest research say about vacations?  Being the curious sort, I headed to Google and found some very interesting results.  Very interesting.

It will come as no surprise that technology has kept us connected to our work environments while supposedly on vacation.  I know from personal experience and close to 10 years of not getting a real vacation because of work-related commitments, phone calls and email, that it is not healthy.  Coming off of two weeks of real vacation, I feel absolutely recharged and relaxed.  I also managed to get a lot of reading done.  Some completely unrelated to my profession, but also read one work-related book, Running the Gauntlet.  Even though the latter was a professional book, being relaxed and disconnected from work, I was able to digest and think of ways to do things differently because of the book, but I digress...let's get back to the research.
Reading Running the Gauntlet from the Hammock
Leading companies, top employers if you will, are experimenting with unlimited paid vacation to combat burnout and also the need for people to feel that they have to work around the clock.  The concept is simple, get your work done and you can take vacation  - as much vacation as you want - provided that you fully disconnect from technology.  Let me stress that this is unlimited vacation.  It is not about "you have three weeks vacation for the whole year".  Nope, it might be for a given year you have performed so well that you take five weeks instead.  While this is a great recruiting tool, it is also ensuring that people return refreshed and relaxed.  Now that my friends, is not only innovative, but it is good for the individual and good for the company.  We talk about win/wins, but this is a real example of that!

One of the most interesting articles I read was written by Jenna Goudreau for Forbes and called:  The Vacation Paradox:  Why Some Companies are Paying Workers To Go Away.  This article has some really good examples of companies that are actually using these tactics and see the benefits.  In fact, some go as far as paying a vacation incentive to employees to ensure that they actually take vacation and disconnect.

So, the question is:  It is now August.  How much vacation - real vacation - have you taken this year?

Friday, August 3, 2012

In Social Media, What is Engagement?

For me, this is a big question.  I have my own opinion of course, but let's look at this issue.

I see many articles and blog discussions on this topic.  Many center on engagement being about how many "Likes" are attributed to a brand page or a specific post on a brand page.  Similarly people also look at how many shares a post has, to judge whether or not there is engagement.

I look at engagement differently however.  Let's go old school for a moment while I dust off the old 'New Collins Dictionary" and look up engage. There are 11 different definitions, some related to marriage, but here is the one relevant to this discussion: "to involve (a person or his attention) intensely."  If I look at engagement, the definition relevant to this discussion is: "a promise, obligation, or other condition that binds."

When we look at these definitions then, it becomes more apparent that engagement in  is much more than a "Like" or a "share".  A like does not involve two or more people being intensely involved in anything.  A "Like" doesn't involve an obligation or a promise to do anything.  I can say that I "like" Land Rovers, but I have no connection to the brand or any individual behind the brand.  I am  simply stating, here in this blog post, that I "like" Land Rovers.  Even if I visited their Facebook page once in my entire life and liked the page, what does that mean?  I may never return to the page and more importantly I may never buy a Land Rover.  My preference in "dream car" might change as well.  It has before.  So, while "Likes" are nice, it does not, in my opinion, mean engagement.

The other side of that equation is how does a brand respond/engage with someone who likes them?  Do they say "thank you for liking us?"  Probably not.  So, again there is no real engagement.

For me, engagement really comes down to people interacting with one another.  It is about a relationship.  It is about a conversation or multiple conversations.  Hmmm...what does this sound like?  It sounds like the goal and objective behind social media. In the words of Erik Qualman, it is about relationships and not technology.  The technology is just making it easier for us to connect as people.  Engagement is all about someone responding to a post and either asking or question or starting a discussion. Sharing a post comes a little closer to engagement. It is assumed that the person sharing was interested enough in the post to share with his or her friends/followers.  

I stress that engagement is about the relationship and wanting people that you care about to read something that could be relevant/helpful to them.  It is about them conversing with you about your brand, your product or even the friendship that you have developed.  Engagement is a relationship.  

Do you agree or disagree with my definition on engagement? 

For more reading on social media, check out The Ostrich Effect.