…Just What is This “Social Media Thing” All About?

What is Social Media AboutIt seems like everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon. Whether it be your toothpaste brand, the local shop that serves your favorite brand of coffee, or your grandmother, social media is becoming more and more prevalent.

So, just what is this “Social Media thing” all about? If you feel like one of the few who haven’t given in because it’s all so overwhelming, read further for a brief and easily digestible breakdown of some of the most used social media platforms for personal use.

Twitter- A network that is updated in real-time. It allows individuals and entities to share information with each other within a 140 character “tweet” or direct message. You may share multimedia via tweets so video and photographs may exchanged. Even if you don’t tweet personally, it is a great way to stay updated with the news, conversations, opinions and ideas that interest you.

Facebook-A social network which allows individuals, businesses and organizations to connect with one another, and share interests and information. The heart of the Facebook network is the profile. It contains information about the individual or entity and allows them to share and post text, documents, photographs and videos. It also allows the user to see and interact with what others are sharing.

Pinterest- Pinterest is a virtual pin board allowing users to post and organize visual ideas, thoughts and interests or preferred web pages all in one place. It is also a fun way to explore what others are doing or to obtain ideas and inspiration on a topic you find interesting. My fitness board has helped me on more than one occasion to make that unwanted trip to the gym.

Foursquare-*(Requires a smart phone.)  A geo-location service application that may be installed on a smart phone which turns “checking-in” to various locations a social and fun interaction between you and your friends.  In addition to sharing and obtaining points on a leader board and competing with your friends, you may also obtain personalized recommendations and deals based upon your tastes and the places you frequent.

LinkedIn-A professionally oriented social network which allows users to profile their professional experience, credentials and abilities to network and connect with others. It is also a helpful resource for those  looking for job opportunities or looking to make a career switch.

Instagram-*(Requires a smart phone.) A free, fast and fun way to share your photographs with your friends and those you choose to connect with or follow. Instagram has a large variety of filters to transform the look and feel of your photograph. It’s also easy to share photographs with Instagram across other networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

What other social media platforms do you enjoy for personal use that are not mentioned above?

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Three Holiday Oriented Social Media Tips

ImageThe holidays are a fun and stressful time for all of us. During the festivities of family, friends, food and gift giving there are a few staples to remember which also relate to social media.

1). Don’t OverindulgeDuring the holidays, it seems like no matter where I go I am unable to escape the immense amount of sweets and goodies. Whether it be in the office break room, a Toastmasters meeting or even my very own home where my family likes to bake; they are everywhere. Speaking from self-experience, it isn’t such a great feeling after indulging in two cupcakes, a full glass of sparkling cider and one too many chocolates from a relative’s gift basket.

Just like it isn’t good to over indulge in sweets and hollow calories, it is not beneficial to inundate your followers or friends with too many status updates or tweets that offer little or no value. In order for your followers to continue to be engaged, it is important to keep in mind the quality of your postings over the quantity.

2).  “Give and You Shall Receive” – For most of us, presents are an inevitable part of the holidays.  Just like it is important to give presents and not just receive them, it is important to give credit to those whose content you share or use in social media. Whether it be a re-tweet of an interesting article or the website of the meme you just shared, remember how good it feels to be acknowledged when others use content you generate.

3). Get Along Nicely – The holidays is also a time for spending time with family and friends. Even if that includes family you aren’t too fond of or those co-workers you don’t particularly care to be around at the holiday office party.

Much like it is important to be cordial and civil to those that you may not be fond of, it is important to remain in pleasant and positive with those engaged with via social media. There will always be “negative Nancys” or those that attempt to “push buttons” in order to illicit a reaction, but it important to rise above those and keep a positive outlook, particularly if you are representing a brand.

What holiday adages or rules do you practice that relate to social media?

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Five Job Search Tips for Near Graduates

The summer months are approaching, which also means that graduation day is coming up if it hasn’t already. I can still remember the excited anticipation of FINALLY being done with school. I can also recall the nervous anticipation of finding a job… 

In terms of job searching, being nearly graduated is a tough place to be. You know you need a job after receiving your diploma, yet not being able to check the box signifying you have a college diploma on the job application leaves near graduates in an awkward spot.

Entry-level positions are tricky. When applying for PR jobs, many job descriptions require at least one to two years of experience. How are you supposed to get that one to years of experience when no one will give you a job? Keep these resources in mind:

Department Professors
Professors from various classes you have taken in your field have a wealth of knowledge. They are also a fairly easy resource to take advantage of since you already have them as a point of contact through classes. Requesting a few minutes of their time to pick their brains on what suggestions they may have for you in terms of job searching is very valuable. They may also be able to put you in contact with those that do have the ability of connecting you with a job.

Professional Organization
Joining a professional organization not only provides educational development, but is also a valuable opportunity for networking with established individuals in your field. Through my membership with the Public Relations Society of America, I have made numerous contacts and gotten to know various people in my field. This is particularly helpful considering much of the job search process is not what you know, but who you know.

University Career Services Center
Depending upon the size of your school, some universities have a Career Services Center. This entity provides a great resource for students. Not only are students able receive assistance in the areas on job search and internships, but many offer courses and workshops in areas including resume building, interview skills and personalized career coaching sessions. Check out the Univeristy of Alaska Anchorage Career Services Center.

Employment Agency Services
This may not be the first plan of action, however it should not be discounted. Why not have someone do some of the job search research for you? Companies like Personnel Plus  and Alaska Executive Search exist solely to help match job seekers and employers to each other. 

ID Professionals
What better way to make yourself an employable candidate than to ask those who are currently working in the field you seek to? Request a fifteen minute meeting or offer to take an experienced professional out to coffee and inquire about what types of qualities they would look for in a candidate they were looking to hire. Remember to send a follow-up thank you for their time.

In conclusion, searching for a job is a full-time job within itself and it is important to be aware of that. Best of luck to those enduring the job-finding journey!

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Six Communication Successes of the “KONY 2012” Campaign

If you are connected to the social media world, chances are you have recently viewed the KONY 2012 video. The media buzz regarding KONY 2012 started with a YouTube documentary about a Ugandan warlord, which was created by the non-profit Invisible Children and resulted in the most viral video of all time (according to Mashable).

Since its initial release, this video has stirred up much controversy. There are many who stand behind the cause and are eager to be apart of this unique and nontraditional movement, while others are hesitant or altogether against the campaign, stating that the overall movement may do more harm than good.  Additionally there have been recent negative developments regarding Jason Russell, the film’s creator and narrator, in addition to scrutiny about how Invisible Children has spent their funds.

Regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with what the film stands for or what the entire KONY 2012 campaign is about, there are several communications and PR efforts the 30-minute documentary did right:

Positivity – Although the video goes into detail regarding how horrific the situation in Uganda is, when soliciting the viewers for help, the narrator remains focused on many of the positive efforts that have been made. It highlights the problems this cause has faced, but it also emphasizes it’s successes as well. This approach is helpful in making the viewer want to be apart of an exciting movement as opposed to trying to guilt the viewer into action.

All Inclusiveness – One of the main logos for the campaign is composed of an elephant representing the Republican party and a donkey representing the Democratic party with their heads united. This effectively communicates that the KONY issue is not associated with either party, but is an issue everyone should be concerned about regardless of their political affiliation.

Human Connections – The video uses the relationship and dialog between narrator Jason Russell and his son to allow the viewer to feel like they get to know the narrator and his son. This adds to the overall sense of trust of what the narrator is saying about the issue.

End Date –
If you haven’t yet watched the video, the narrator states, “This movie expires in December 2012.” By putting an end date on the call to action, it promotes a sense of urgency to get something done and forces the viewer to act on the empathy they feel on this issue. This is particularly meaningful on world issues when many may feel that their small bit of activism or giving may not make much of a difference. It also provides a definite and measurable goal.

Specific and Clear Calls to Action – Even though the video is a whopping thirty minutes long, it gives very specific calls to action. After attempting to explain the very complicated problem and catching the viewer up with what has been done so far, it states that the very least you can do is to share this video.

Didn’t Request Much Action – It emphasizes that at the very least you can share this video. Statistically speaking, if one in one hundred people took action by contributing money to the cause or purchasing and using an “Action Kit,” the likelihood that many of the other 99 will share the link substantially increases the potential number of activists and donors. So by giving those who do not donate or act a simple way to assist will expand the number of potential donors and activists as well as enlist them as supporters.

Whether or not you agree with the issue at hand, it is clear that this video is a testament to what social media is really capable of. What are your thoughts on the communication tactics incorporated into the KONY 2012 campaign?

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Check Out ‘Five Things Working Out Can Teach You About Social Media’

Whether one of your New Year’s resolutions was to get fit or you work in the communications field, you should check out my blog post, ‘Five Things Working Out Can Teach You About Social Media,’ featured on Communication and Marketing Consultant, Lydia Di Francesco‘s blog. Get to tweeting and pumping that iron!

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Twitter Supplemental Sites

Twitter is increasingly making itself known as a social media staple.

As the third most popular social media site according to Mashable, it is also an effective way to find real-time information about specific and relevant topics.  Because of this, a presence on the site is increasingly important.

Though Twitter is a great tool itself, there are several free sites I found to be helpful to use along with Twitter which enhance what this social media avenue has to offer.

Social Oomph
Social Oomph offers a variety of tools which may used in coordination Twitter including, but not limited to the ability to track keys words and clicks, URL shortening, saving and reusing drafts, and (what I use the most) the ability to schedule tweets.

Queuing tweets allows for a more efficient use of time, though this feature should be used sparingly. Barraging people with a copious amount of self-promoting tweets and links is a fast way to get unfollowed.

For an additional fee, an upgrade to the ‘Professional’ account allows users the ability to auto-follow people, tweet via email, find quality friends to follow using key words and find powerful followers…among other features.

The ‘Professional’ account also enables other social media supplemental features such as scheduling Facebook status and wall updates and automated blog postings.

Not only is Trunk.ly a great way to save all links tweeted by a specific Twitter account, but it also offers the ability to search past tweets by searching key words.

I specifically find this tool helpful for Twitter since I regularly tweet many social media and communications oriented links.

For example, since I post multiple links regarding Facebook on a weekly basis, if I want to search for a specific article about the new Facebook Timeline I posted two months ago, I can use Trunk.ly to find it.

Another beneficial feature is the ability to search links from a specific Twitter account. There are several social media enthusiasts who regularly post informative and helpful information that I may want to search as well.

Trunk.ly is not limited to Twitter, but may also be used to reference links posted to other social media accounts including: Twitter, Facebook, Quora, WordPress etc…

Friend or Follow
This tool may be used to view:

  • Who unfollowed you
  • Who is not following you back
  • Who you are not following back

For those who are specifically conscience of their Twitter friend count or are simply curious to see any of the above, this tool comes in handy. It is also helpful if someone followed you at one time, but you did not follow them back and you would like to do so.

Aside from the basic free features described above, Friend or Follow offers a ‘Gold’ account for a fee, which enables features such as unfollowing or following multiple accounts at once and the ability to view the site advertisement free.

What supplemental Twitter sites do you use that you find helpful?

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From Millennial to Millennial

Millennials are the current generation entering the workforce. Also known as Generation Y, they are those born after 1980. This demographic is often described as lazy, entitled, and self-serving by older generations and finding them preceded by their reputation at work is nothing new. According to CRT/Tanaka, Millennials expect praise and recognition constantly because their lives have been shaped by rewards ‘just for showing up’. To sum it up: “Your parents loved you, and they did their best, but they created a false reality. Everyone isn’t above average in all they do. And in real life, only the winner gets the trophy.” OUCH. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage in articles telling us what we do wrong.

Clearly, my take as a millennial is different. Despite those that make our generation look bad, we have a lot going for us. We may be narcissistic, impatient, and have short attention spans, but we’re connected, we love technology and have a high appreciation of creativity (according to Social Times)  and overall we have a lot to offer.

This is not an article perpetuating the faults of the Millennial generation or attempting to explain just how to manage this ‘unruly generation’…The meat and potatoes of this article is just to share a bit of knowledge that I have found to be helpful and to prove those who doubt us wrong:

Be Aware-Know that we have these unfortunate stereotypes working against us and try not to perpetuate these views in the work place.

Send a Thank You- Millennials are well connected. Some would even say addicted to the technology that connects us. With email and texting and devices like iPads and smart phones, it is easy to forget that snail mail exists. However, it should not be disregarded. It is important to remember that if you request someone else’s time, whether it be for career advice or what have you, that it is necessary to show how grateful you are. Also, on the job search front, it sets you apart from those also applying for the position.

Correct Spelling
-Being a student in college is a WHOLE other story than being a professional in the career world. There is unfortunately no way around it…Proof read, proof read, proof read. A misspelling or the wrong use of ‘your’ doesn’t just mean a C instead of a B, the ramifications mean your credibility. This also means, don’t rely on auto correct!

Monitor Your Social Media-
Google yourself and know what is out there. As mentioned in 10 Social Media Tips for Job Seekers, don’t post to Facebook what you wouldn’t want your boss to see and know that there is a likely chance that he or she may look.

Pay Your Dues-I hate to preach it, but it is important to understand that authority, rank and that more money comes with experience. It is important to keep this in perspective to realize that those who have the corner offices likely worked long and hard to get there.

Enjoy Being Connected, But Enjoy Being Disconnected-I love my iPhone. This device allows me to Facebook in the waiting room of my dentist’s office. I can post about how much I am dreading my filling and even receive sympathy from my Facebook peers. I can feel the secret glory of being at the top of the leader board on Foursquare or tweet about how disappointed I was in the last Matt Damon movie. These are all great, but it is important to know when to leave the technology at home, or at the very least mute it and leave it alone. Be in the moment when enjoying the sunset after hiking a mountain…have a genuine conversation with a friend –without distractions. I find I even have to catch myself with this issue and put my technology away.

In closing, I leave you with an article in defense of bashing Millenials here. 

Whether you are a Millennial, from Generation X (born 1965-1980), a Baby Boomer (born 1946-1980) or other…please share your thoughts.  Have you had an encounter with a millennial that confirms the negative stereotypes? If you are a millennial, do you think that we are being unfairly judged?

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Facebook Resources for the Beginner

Believe it or not there are still people who are not on Facebook. Are you or someone you know, new to the somewhat daunting and intimidating world of Facebook? Here is list of 7 helpful Facebook websites which overview the website’s basics.

I recently helped my mother establish a Facebook account. During this process I discovered that situations that may seem like common sense for those of us who have evolved with Facebook as it has changed, may not be so obvious to others who are just starting out.

If you are one of those looking for resources to help you tackle the seemingly overwhelming endeavor of Facebook, take a look:

A Beginner’s Guide to Facebook: Learn the Basics of Facebook

A Newbie’s Guide to Facebook

Facebook 101:

Official Facebook Site Help Center:

The Mashable Facebook Guidebook

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Social Media Buzzword Cheat Sheet

According to Dictionary.com the definition of a “buzzword” is as follows: “A word or phrase, often sounding authoritative or technical, that is a vogue term in a particular profession, field of study, popular culture, etc.” Though buzzwords may be defined as trending and fleeting, they remain important for those operating within the social media world now.

The process of learning social media can be overwhelming, and sometimes it may feel like learning a new language. The following is a list of buzzwords for several popular social media sites.

Tweet (n. or v.) – A “tweet” is a status update with a 140-character limit. Once tweeted, the tweet is shared with those who follow you. Tweets from everyone you follow are displayed on your home page.

Follow (v.) – Following someone on Twitter allows you to that you see all his or her tweets. People who follow you are those that see the tweets you tweet.

Hash Tag (n.) – Placing a hashtag in front of a #certain word or phrase allows you to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. This allows for the categorization of tags in a twitter search. Clicking on a hashtagged word in any tweet allows you to see other tweets in this category. Hashtagged words that become very popular are often trending topics.

@Mentions (n. or v.) – The “@” symbol is used to direct a tweet towards another user. When a username is preceded by the @ symbol it enables a link to that users profile. This is effective in engaging others in conversations. All @tweets to your account may be accessed in the “@Mentions” tab.

Lists (n.) – Twitter users have the ability to create a list or group of other Twitter users. This is specifically helpful when wanting to follow specific types of accounts, which allow you to view tweets exclusively from that group. For example, I have groups such as “friends” “PR  Professionals” …etc. If you follow a lot of people, this makes it easier to make sure you are not missing tweets.

Status (n.) – A status update allows users to let their friends know what they are doing, how they are feeling, what they are thinking etc… and is displayed on the user’s newsfeed and wall. Though there is a character limit, it is open for people to type anything into. Your friends have the ability to comment on or like a status update and vice versa.

Newsfeed (n.) – The newsfeed is where you can read-up on what all your Facebook friends are doing. It records the many actions and interactions between all of your Facebook friends and constantly updated.

Wall (n.)– The wall is the basic part of the Facebook which records a conglomeration of all of your activity. This includes what you may have written or posted to the walls of others, what you have liked, if you have befriended someone new…etc. People may post comments, links, videos…etc. to your wall and vice versa. A notification is received when someone has interacted with your wall.

Like (v.)– This basic feature allows you to display your approval of a recorded action and notifies the people involved with the interaction you liked. Remember that everything you do is recorded on your wall and shows up in your newsfeed for you friends to see. It is features like this that allow for the viral nature and sharing on Facebook.

Befriend/Unfriend (v.)– Facebook friends are the basis of your Facebook experience. To friend someone a “friend invitation” must be initiated. Upon acceptance you and that person are connected and they are able to see everything you do on Facebook in their newsfeed (which can be modified based upon privacy settings).

Google Plus 
Hangouts (n.)– This Google Plus feature is an area in which entire circles or a select group of friends can all take part in a video chat using their computer cameras. Up to 10 individuals may join a “hangout” which will be seen in each user’s streams.

+1 (v.)– You may have noticed a “+1” symbol next to many articles or sites. Every time you click a “+1”, the site is stored in a new tab on your Google profile. You are able to publicize your +1’s or keep it private.

Sparks (n.) – is a feature that looks for videos and articles you may like and is specifically all about sharing. It includes a search bar where you are able to type a subject and it relays articles that may find interesting. This is convenient because it allows the user to save information all in one place and is easily shared with circles.

Circles (n.)–
Google Plus users are able to break down groups of people they have chosen to interact with and keep them separate from each other as opposed to one giant newsfeed. This is a tidy way of sorting your “friends” and allows you to post so that specific circles may view the content.

…There are numerous other features to each of these social media sites, but I tried to cover the bare basics for someone who may just be interested in knowing what their niece or son is talking about.

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Seven Twitter Etiquette Tips

With the transformation of social interaction through the emergence of new communications platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, comes an entirely new set of etiquette and manners.

While some of what is listed below is just plain courtesy, others are indicative of the new platform itself.

Whether you are looking to utilize Twitter for personal or professional purposes, knowing these tips and being aware of these faux pas are important.

1). Tweet TimingTiming tweets is important for several reasons. Tweeting too little implies that you are not engaged and causes potential followers to overlook you. Tweeting too much (as in more than once an hour) may overwhelm some of your followers causing them to un-follow you. As you may discover, no one wants to login to their account to find his or her feed dominated by a single tweeter.

2).  Use Common Sense – This may sound obvious, but it is sadly surprising that even the famous forget it (Weinergate anyone?) Remember that like Facebook, Twitter is a public platform and you shouldn’t tweet what you don’t want others to know or see. This is especially important if Twitter is being used for a professional account. Let’s not even get into how many Twitter crises cases have ruined the reputation of companies or cost people their jobs.

Also keep in mind that others may find what you find amusing and funny are rude and offensive. What is rude in real life is rude on Twitter. Make sure there is a distinction between a personal and professional account.

3). Tweet Button – Using a tweet button to promote articles found on your blog, website or whatnot can be a great promotion and publicity tool. However, if you want people to share your information, make it easy for them. This means featuring the button in an easy, accessible location such as the top or side of the article near the headline. Don’t make your reader go for a wild goose chase and search for it.

Also, make sure you know what the tweet text reads. I have clicked on Tweet buttons which display just a nondescript link or that significantly exceed the 140 character limit. Be conscience of these items or chances are you will not get retweeted.

4). Give Credit – Be considerate and give your sources the credit they deserve. This means if you tweet an article from your favorite blog or website, say it. There are several ways this can be done. Hashtag your subject or brand you are tweeting about or state the article title “via” @thesource. If all else fails, just state the source or author it came from with a dash.

5). Be Useful – Don’t use Twitter to just self-promote shamelessly. Share info and add value. Give people a reason to want to follow you. It is helpful to mention your mission or Twitter undertaking in the bio section of your profile so that people have an idea about your twitter mission.

6). Respond to your followers  - Be engaged and stay engaged. This means, if someone tweets at you. Tweet back. Ask questions. Give opinions. This may be a challenge for individuals who are not familiar with Twitter and just what exactly a #hashtag is or how to “tweet” @somebody. This is just the reason it is important to familiarize yourself with Twitter and its features before diving in.

7). Complete your Profile – Having a completed profile shows that you are not a spammer and that there is a reason for people to want to follow you. As mentioned, you can state in your bio your Twitter purpose. Also, having a profile picture allows people to have something to identify with.

I have tired to cover most basics, but am happy to hear any more basics I may have missed or insight. Please share any other Twitter tips, tricks or suggestions you have come across in your Twitter experience.

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