Becoming Professional: A Blog

Posts Tagged ‘social media

me and Paul Wycherley

Me and Olympian Paul Wycherley, another speaker

This past week, I spoke at the Huntswood People Learning and Development event about how to use social media professionally. My audience was made up of contractors in the learning and development field, trainers who work with financial services providers. For the most part, though they may have been on LinkedIn, they were not using social media professionally to aid them in their work. That’s where I came in. My job was to introduce them to the benefits of social media. In less than 20 minutes. I obviously couldn’t discuss everything, so I limited my discussion to profiles. And even then I still went over.

The thing is, profiles are not easy, particularly for those who are not avid social media users. After all, even those who do frequently use social media often get limited use out of their social media profiles. There is a lot more to a LinkedIn profile than merely saying your name and work history. Even Twitter can have some potential, even if you do not use the service regularly. As for Facebook, well, I suggested creating a Facebook Page. It’s just too tempting to post a picture from Friday night on Facebook, both for you and your friends. And those privacy settings are confusing. A Facebook Page just makes more sense here.

As far as first speaking gigs go, I think I did pretty well. I was the first guest speaker, and after me was the canapés, also known as dinner, drinks, and mingling. I was flooded with questions and personal stories. Everyone seemed ready to get started and redo their own online profiles, or put them up in the first place. That’s all a speaker can really ask for, isn’t it?

Here is the full presentation. A video should be on its way shortly from Huntswood, so expect that as well.

my twitter bio

My Twitter Bio

If you follow me on Twitter (I’m @KateDavids by the way), you know I love the thing. I’m on at least five times a day, often more, and I use numerous tools to facilitate my participation. I source news, find out about trends, and have even landed a job through the service. I share news, both industry and personal. Most importantly, I have made friends through Twitter.

But most people are still on the outside looking in. Let’s face it, Twitter is not easy to start. You begin with a blank slate. This is great- you can do whatever you want, be whoever you want. But it is also scary- you don’t know what on Earth to do.

I recently started a new Twitter feed, @Masked_Geek. I want to join the wider community of science fiction and fantasy fans. Here are the guidelines I am using to build my new account. If you follow them, you can build yours, too.

1.       No One Cares What You Had for Breakfast

egss and toast X

Original photo by Brandi Jordan on Flickr (I added the X)

There is a misconception that people on Twitter keep saying what they are eating. Yes, sometimes this happens, but for the most part people are sharing articles, networking, and discussing topics from politics to the latest sports match. They are generally not discussing the finer points of eggs and toast.

So Tweet about the things you enjoy. With the @Masked_Geek account, I share links to cool things that my target audience would like. I talk about events I go to, or other relevant topics.

2.       Everyone Starts Off Talking to Themselves

man alone

by JB London on Flickr

When you start on Twitter your follower count is a big fat zero. If you do have a few followers, I’m willing to bet they are spammers hoping that you will follow them back so they can inundate you with useless promotions (#Adidas for #Cheap! Only $4.99!

This is normal. Don’t be worried. And don’t feel weird. The only way to get real followers is to have an active feed. If you are following 400 people and have a grand total of 4 Tweets, no one will follow you. With only 4 Tweets, they don’t know you are worth following. The only way to show that is to talk to yourself.

So, even though no one was listening to me, I shared my links. I may have been talking to the air at first, but now I have 42 people listening to what I am saying. And you know what? That count is growing each time I look at it.

3.       Find Cool People by Listening to Cool People

a group of school kids, take a picture at the camera

by jurvetson on Flickr

Another of the big problems people have with Twitter is finding who to follow. Yes, you can use Twitter search, but often enough this will get you celebrities and not normal people you can actually talk to.

With @Masked_Geek, I am interested in following other sci-fi and fantasy fans and engaging in that online community, but “geek” refers to many things, like tech “geek” or science “geek.” Finding the specific kind of “geek” I’m looking for is difficult. People don’t just announce, “I love sci-fi and fantasy” in their bios. The type of person I’m interested in is more likely to say “I love butterflies that dance with death rays.” Not very searchable.

To get myself started, I followed science fiction and fantasy bloggers on Twitter. Once I was following them, I was able to see who they interacted with and to start following those new people. If I could find one person who engages in sci-fi and fantasy banter, chances are, he was already talking to other fantasy geeks. You may have to go to a person’s Twitter profile page to get a clear look at who they engage with, but it is worth it. Keep an eye out on Fridays for #FF or #FavoriteFollow. This hashtag is how people share with their Followers (which would be you) whom they enjoy following. Follow these new accounts to increase your network even more.

4.       They Tweet, Not Bite

vampire duckie

by ToobyDoo on Flickr

Finally, once you’ve got a bunch of people to follow, talk to them. Many people won’t follow you just because you are following them. This is a good thing. Following everyone who follows you will clutter your News Feed with irrelevant updates.

In order to get people to follow me, I talk to them. This lets them know I exist and am not a weird stalker. I once heard Twitter compared to a cocktail party, and just like at a cocktail party, you can walk up and chat with people you do not know. It’s okay. It’s allowed. This is how you make friends.

This List Is For Individuals

These tips are for individuals, not businesses. If you are a business, you have a whole other list of tips to get started. For example, unlike an individual, you’ll probably want to follow back everyone who follows you. But, if you are an individual, then this is the place to start. Follow these simple rules, and you’ll learn how to use Twitter by using it. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. But at least you’ll be able to say that you understand the tool.

Have you noticed that people are saying “blogs and social media?” Heck, I’ve probably said it a few times. But, the plain and simple truth is blogs are social media, most of the time.

What is Social Media?

Twitter bird chirping

by ivanpw on Flickr

This is the best place to start, but the definition is changing. Brian Clark over at Coppyblogger wrote an article on how blogs are social media, using a Wikipedia definition of social media to support his point. Now, Wikipedia has changed since Brian’s article. I’m going to use the current definition in acknowledgement that definitions are changing. This is probably a good thing since it means this discussion is evolving and Wikipedia is our benchmark of where it is at today.

According to Wikipedia (today, at any rate), “Social media can take on many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, microblogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking.” But Wikipedia also says that, “Social media are media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”

These two definitions are on the same page, but the second one is in the introduction while the first is down in the Examples section. While both definitions are right, the first definition, that Brian used, has the word “can” in it. Not to quibble with words, but basically blogs can be social media, but it is also possible for them not to be.

When Is a Blog Social Media and When Is It Not?

On an earlier blog post I discussed if blogs were publishing or not and if comments on social networks were, too. I concluded that an item is only considered publishing (in the traditional sense, not the “send this off to the world sense”) if the idea contained within it did not require a response to have meaning. Publishing and social media overlap, as with this blog, which is both social media and publishing.

But is all publishing social media? Nope. As the second Wikipedia definition clearly says, social media is media used for interaction meant to make communication a two-way street. This does not define all publishing, that’s for certain. Even if we disregard all off-line publishing, there are still plenty of online newspapers that do not allow comments (like I explore in my discussion of my hometown’s AZcentral). Even many top bloggers do not allow comments, such as Seth Godin.

Without the comments, are these forms of publishing still social? Even if blogs are generally social, are they always? I think without the comments feature on a blog, the blog is in essence the same as that newspaper’s website, not social media, though it is still “media” in the sense that it is published.

But Isn’t the Web Social by Definition by This Point?

Seth Godin's Blog Logo

Social or not?

Now Adam Singer at the Future Buzz does make a good a good point when he says that all content on the web can easily be social. I just copy past from an old-fashioned brochure website, post it to this blog and comment on it, forcing it to be social. Any presence on the web whatsoever is social to at least this degree. But I don’t think this satisfies Wikipedia’s definition. Yes, I would be using technology to turn communication into a dialogue, but I’m changing the platform. The website I copied from isn’t the technology that’s being social. Wherever I paste the content in order to add my comments is where the social element is coming from. That static website is not social at all.

The same goes for Seth Godin’s Twitter and Facebook plugins that allow readers to share his writings on those platforms. Those platforms are what are being social. Seth is making that social element easier, not contributing to it as a meaningful dialogue. After all, it could happen without the plugins, just as with my fictional brochure website.

It’s Not a Clear-Cut Definition

A blog is social if it welcomes dialogue. It is not if it doesn’t. But does that dialogue have to happen in a comments section? No, not really. I’ve linked to three other bloggers in this post. It is quite possible that linking like this could be considered social enough. Perhaps the blog post itself is the dialogue, without the comments, just that it takes a bit longer to occur.

I don’t think I’ve come up with a definitive definition of blogging as social media. I do hope that I’ve pointed out an interesting element to the discussion. Just as the Wikipedia definition has changed between my writing this and Brian Clark’s article, I expect it will again change shortly. We’re still discovering this world and testing its limits, after all.

What do you think? Is a blog social by merely being a blog or is it how the platform is used that makes it social?

twitter bird

by shawncampbell on Flickr

How are you reading this blog? Did you find it on Twitter? Perhaps we’re Facebook Friends and you saw it there. Chances are it’s one of these two since Facebook and Twitter provide the majority of the visits to this site. As you also getting your news through Facebook and Twitter?

Twitter has been touted as the RSS Feed replacement on CNet’s Webware and Facebook is encouraging users to use its services as their own personal newswire, according to this article on ReadWriteWeb. Are these good trends?

Social Media Is Filtered

Sure, you could be like Don Reisinger, the author of the Webware article, and follow everyone who follows you on Twitter, but while a broader slice of the world than just those who you are personally interested, it’s still a filter placed by the population. If you don’t follow back everyone who follows you, which I do not, then your Twitter feed is filtered expressly by your choices. This also applies to Facebook. You can Like news organizations on Facebook and get your news that way. You could also Follow them on Twitter, but chances are, you are still getting at least some of your news through your friends. They are sharing articles which you then read.

the great wall of china

by Francisco Diez on Flickr

This filtering is a double-edged sword. It can isolate you. Social filtering is why I do not hear much news out of China. I’m not following anyone who is either in China or Tweets about it. But social filtering also keeps you from being bored with what news does find its way in front of you. You know you’ll like what you see, or at least be interested in the topic. Filtering makes discovering a new topic difficult. After all, even if you are following the actual news outlet, if you are following its Sports section, you still won’t hear much about China.

Social Media Is Easy

At the same time, it also makes getting your news really easy. You just visit the websites you were visiting anyway and the news is pushed out to you. Little, or no, effort on your part. The most you might have to do is go to your “News” List on Facebook to see what the BBC has put out recently. It’s a few clicks and you’re never leaving the party on Facebook. You can still Facebook Chat with your friends.

This is a good thing for society, I think. As well as making news more easily accessible, it makes it easier to discuss it. This encourages debate, both amongst the social media community as a whole and amongst friends.

Social Media Makes It Easy to Miss Things

farm ville opening screne

by tarikgore1 on Flickr

But there are still problems. Let’s assume that you are being very good and following respected news outlets on Twitter and Facebook. It’s real time. As Reisinger said, sometimes the Tweets go up even before the RSS article is released. So you’ll have to be on Facebook and Twitter constantly, or you might miss something. Now, many people are. They can’t stand to be away from Facebook for one second or their Farmville plants might die, but I’m not. I like movies. That’s roughly two hours away from Facebook I spend a day (when I can fit it in). I jog. That’s a half hour a day away from Twitter. My God, the news I’m missing!

I Don’t Use Social Media for My News

google reader snippet

by Search Engine People Blog on Flickr

Of course, I do keep an ear to the ground in social media to pick up on any new trends, but I use a Feed Reader as my main way to catch my news. Reisinger doesn’t like Feed Readers. They aren’t fast enough for him. If you want your news before anyone else has it, then yes, social media is probably more your speed. However when it is important not to miss anything, as with professional information, you might want to use a Feed Reader. If you are okay with missing information occasionally, then social media might be okay for you.

I need to have reliable, accurate, and consistent news for my profession, so I don’t rely on Social Media to get my news. There is always the option of a mix, or doing as Reisinger suggests and actually visiting the news outlet’s Twitter feed (or Facebook Page) to catch up on the missed items. I’m too lazy for that.

Feed Readers do have drawbacks. They aren’t very social and they can be a bit confusing. That’s why Mashable posted HOW TO: Get the Most out of Google Reader. Even the RSS icon and sign up process can be confusing. “Fan this Page to get news” is a much simpler call to action. It’s a news version of Amazon’s one-click purchase.

Other News Sources Do Exist

This post does make it seem like there is an either or choice between Feed Readers and Social Media, but there are other choices. How about those old favorites, bookmarks? Actually visiting a news website is one choice. Social magazines like Flipboard that mix social and feed information are another option. Even just Google searching interesting events and topics can yield plenty of useful information.

I just tend to use my Google Reader plus a dose of filtered social media shares. How do you get your news?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

The First Strike Went to Social Media

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

A little over two months ago I faced a time management challenged: How to stay involved in all the social networks I enjoy and still (OMG!) have a life. It seemed impossible at the time. Every morning, I would get up and look at my social networks, which I would check each day. That meant a good hour and a half or more of social media, engaging on LinkedIn, Twitter, Quora, Brazen Careerist, and, of course, this blog. It was the perfect definition of “Time Suck.”

My Counterstrike

army tank in black and white

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

So I started my social media counter strike. I decided to touch each social media outlet in a daily rotation. One day LinkedIn, the next Twitter, then the blog, and so forth. It’s worked, to a degree. Because I’m only worrying about one social media outlet a day I am able to dig in and get some real value of out it, like learning from experts on LinkedIn or actually publishing a blog post on a regular basis.

But it hasn’t worked for Twitter. You cannot get any benefit from Twitter through a condensed engagement once a week. It’s just too hard to carry on a conversation. Sure, once a week I can go through my lists and unfollow people I forgot I was following in the first place, but I still was not getting any value out of it.

Phase Two of the Battle – Two Fronts

Two Lines of Tanks

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

Okay, so social media is still kicking my butt in some ways. Twitter remains a problem: how to engage enough without spending my life on it? I know that this is an issue many people have. So I’m experimenting with lists and my News Feed. I’ve already got the lists going, so now I just have to see how to use them appropriately. Maybe it’s just to dip my head in on the conversation occasionally, or maybe it will make in-depth conversations easier. Dunno. We’ll see.

The next thing that’s whooping my rear end is RSS Feeds. If you do not have an RSS Feed Reader, get one. They are gorgeous and enable you to keep up on all the blogs you like without visiting all the websites. But, if you are following a ton of feeds, like I am (58 total right now), it can be hard to keep up. I’m attempting to sort my RSS Feeds into folders and try to attack them piecemeal, but we’ll see how that works. Maybe if I don’t try to read everything each day I’ll be able to keep up. Or maybe if I do that, I’ll fall behind on my news. Again, we’ll see.

The War Continues

Tank pointing at the camera

by Nevada Tumbleweed on Flickr

This is not a battle I will easily win. As I master one time management system, some new social media tool or network will come out to entirely mess it up. That’s the way wars go. Besides, you know what happens to the best laid plans once you hit the battlefield.

It’s a tough question. As you might have read in the prequel to this post, there are potentially three digital publishing pricing models. Here’s a brief list:

  • Make it cheap or free so that word gets around easier and hopefully encourages purchase of the more expensive versions of the same content. This hits lower price points, but may cannibalize sales.
  • Charge subscriptions to view content, like the Financial Times does. Hopefully the publisher’s brand will be so well regarded the consumers will think it is worth paying for and not opt for the free version put out by competitors.
  • Publish the content as though it were software. Consumers can purchase it, but there will be upgrades and such they will have to purchase as well. This will cover the large initial investment in digital and the subsequent smaller investments to keep the operation running.

But which one works?

Well, Not Paying and Not Ads

The pay wall runs up against the availability of free substitute content. This model requires a strong brand, and those are expensive to grow. Because of this, pay walls can only really work for those companies that already have strong brands. Anything less and this path is unavailable.

software manuel

by mrbill on Flickr

To treat content like a piece of software makes a certain amount of sense, if it is delivered through an app, but if it is merely available online, then the pay wall’s problem still exists. How can a company, particularly if it is not immense and does not have wide brand recognition, grow? Or will we be faced with a monopoly of large publishers as all the smaller ones die out?

Digital advertising can’t cover the bills like it used to, so this takes out many of the free content business models. As John Squires, the former EVP of Time Inc, puts it, digital advertising is worth less than the analog version because it gets around to fewer people. This is odd, considering how people pass along information via social media, but Squires writes that a paper magazine is read by 7 people but a digital version is read by only 1.5 people per copy.

The Answer Is an Infomercial?

Gilt Taste LogoI think publishing will take a different route. Publishers will make their money through the communities that surround their content. They can charge for people to be a part of this community or merely sell merchandise to these individuals. That’s what the new magazine Gilt Taste is doing. The cooking magazine has no ads. Instead it offers consumers the opportunity to buy the products it discusses in the content. This is actually what Cory Doctorow is doing by allowing his books to be passed freely all over the Internet. The content becomes an advertisement for something else. In Doctorow’s case it is the hardcover versions of the books. In Gilt Taste’s case, it is the cooking appliances.

I know what you’re thinking: “This isn’t pricing content! It’s eCommerce! An infomercial!” And you’d be right. That’s exactly what it is, a pretty infomercial. What’s wrong with that? Yes, perhaps the newspapers will have some difficulty with this, after all what can they sell you in an article about Obama? But they could offer you’re a chance to donate to the political parties, which in turn support the coverage.

In either event, I think free content is the way to go. Money should come from elsewhere. Feel free to disagree with me. Many do. You can do it in the comments or even Tweeting at me.

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

Where people are getting their information is changing. But what is it changing into? The process is on-going, but I thought I’d delve into my own habits to see where it is heading. I may not be a representative sample, but I am a digital native. So, let’s see the results.

What paid media do I read/watch/listen to?

“Paid”? What is this word, “paid”? In all honesty, I do tend to purchase books, both those in paper and those for my Nook eReader. More and more, the eReader is carrying my library. I’m even considering rebuying some books just to have them on the more portable device!

I don’t buy much else, though. Occasionally a magazine or a DVD, but that’s almost once in a blue moon. I just satisfy my needs elsewhere. Sorry traditional publishers!

How do I stay up to date with the world?

sky news left hand site navigation

by Bobbie on Flickr

Hehe, news? I confess that most of my news happens almost through osmosis. But I can list a few channels that it tends to seep in from.

Facebook (social): If it weren’t for Facebook, I’d never know the current political developments in my home town. After all, it’s a Red State. Most news just says its Red and live with it. But I’m Blue, and I like to know how my fellow Dems are doing. On social media, like Facebook, news is pushed to me from my more up-to-date friends.

Twitter (social): If it weren’t for Twitter I’d never have known that that the British Queen wore yellow to her grandson’s wedding. Or, on a more serious note, I would not have known about the Japanese earthquake of recent past and the subsequent nuclear reactor fallout. More important to me, I would not have been able to keep track and support the various charities going on to help Japan.

Yahoo News Homepage (B2C): Ah, Yahoo. Home of lots of inane stupidity and occasional nuggets of must-have info. This is how I found out about Osama Bin Laden’s demise.

Google Reader (Agreggator): If you are talking about world news, then nope, not from this channel. I’m not that dedicated to staying informed. I should be, but I’m being honest here. However, I do gather industry blogs so I know what’s going on in the digital marketing world. If you don’t, I recommend you do. It’s quite handy.

Various Blogs (generally B2B): Of course, if I’m listing off where I get my news, I have to also list off the blogs I read for industry information. Here are my favourites:

  • Facebook Insider If you want to know what is going on at Facebook, this is the blog for you. Keeps to the point.
  • Social Games Insider I love games, and social games are where it’s at. Run by the same folk who do Facebook Insider (can’t you tell?). Does game reviews as well as publishing industry statistics.
  • Hubspot Blog I love Hubspot. All about how to attract customers rather than reaching out to them. While they do publish a lot of amusing articles, when something happens in the industry, they let you know.
  • SEOMoz If you want to know about SEO, then you want to read this blog. Every time Google changes something, they are on top of it. And they also teach you how to use it.

Looking at this list, it seems I do not rely on what could be described Consumer to Consumer media, or media written by a consumer for the benefit of other consumers. An example is a book review on an individual’s blog. Actually, this blog could be C2C, since I’m not writing it on behalf of a business. Though I do read blogs written by individuals, they tend to be used to support that individual’s business practice. I’d qualify them as B2B. It’s a grey zone. I do find it odd, myself, that I read few personal blogs, since C2C is one of the more interesting developments in publishing.

What media do I use to keep up with my hobbies?

Hobbies? Do I have time for any hobbies?  I tend to read books, watch anime, or read manga as my major hobbies. When I need a new book or series to watch or read, I put out a call on Facebook for suggestions. If all else fails I hit the generic “Top 10” lists for ideas. I tend to find those via Google searches. I suppose that my parents would read specialty magazines for this kind of information. Not this digital girl.

What about for entertainment?

A fantasy novel's cover art

One of my favourite books

For entertainment it’s science fiction and fantasy novels, music on Spotify, DVDs of television series and movies, YouTube and other online videos, and sometimes a good essay written on an entertaining topic – think why Harry should have been with Hermione and not Ginny. Good laughs. The essays tend to be published on blogs, most often on LiveJournal.

This is one section where I do consume C2C media. Those goofy essays are almost always published by consumers for fellow consumers. Consumers even post good short stories online, as well. So while my news is almost exclusively distributed by businesses, my entertainment online tends to come from fellow consumers.

Free? Paid? Online or off?

Perhaps more interesting than what media I consume is where I do it and at what price: how much do I pay for and how much to I consume offline?

As I mentioned, I pay for my books and I have no problem handing over money for a DVD, but how many DVDs do I own? Currently 3, and one is actually a friend’s. (Don’t ask about the books. I really do own a library.) So in terms of paid media, I only consume books and DVDs. It should also be worth noting that these are the only media I do not consume online, even though they may be digital, particularly my eBooks.

I get a lot more of my entertainment for free and online. I watch online videos, not all of which are about silly cats, and read short stories or those essays I mentioned. Music, too, is free, thanks to the freemium version of Spotify, though I might start paying for that. The commercials are killing me.

The Publishing Take-Away

So, judging from this, my news is published by businesses, but free. I find out about it, though, often through social media. My offline entertainment tends to be B2C as well, but online I find C2C entertainment readily available. I pay for media I consume offline; I expect free in regards to media consumed online.

Publishing is changing, but maybe, if others behave as I do, an effort should be made to focus on offline products for revenue and online products for publicity. I don’t mean “traditional” by “offline,” since my eBooks are distinctly digital. Even my DVDs are. Rather, I just mean media not consumed directly on the web. What do you think?

*This post was written as part of an assignment for my

Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School,

but since the topic was interesting, I decided to use it for this blog.

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog ( and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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