Monday, December 26, 2011

New Facebook Timeline Tips

I see that a few of my friends have ventured into the land of the new Facebook timeline. It is a bit time consuming to clean up, but Facebook gives you a week before they publish it so you don't have to do it all in one sitting. Here are a few things to look out for:

  1. Choose a good cover photo since it takes up half of the first screen.
  2. Check your About section to make sure it lists the information you want in your heading. If it does not, click "About" and edit the sections listed there. If you list dates in this section, it will post those activities in your timeline (when you started a job, when you attended school, etc.).
  3. There are two ways to clean up your timeline. Either click on "Activity Log" or scroll down through the timeline. Either way, you will have to hide, delete or change each item individually. The more active you have been on Facebook, the longer it will take you to clean it up. You certainly are not required to delete the less meaningful posts, but I recommend it.
  4. I have found that my photos are showing nicely with the correct date and location tags because I have been organizing them into albums shortly after I upload them from my mobile phone. If all of your photos are still in your mobile upload album, you will want to take the time to sort them into albums with date and location tags so they show up in the right spots on your timeline.
  5. Next, click on the little picture of the book to add Life Events such as volunteer work, study abroad, marriage, loss of a loved one, move, new vehicle, weight loss, overcame an illness, new hobby, or awards. This is where you can talk about things that happened before or after you joined Facebook that are not already reflected in your previous posts. For each life event, you can list the dates, location, picture and who you were with.
  6. Under your cover photo, you will see quick links to: "Update Info", "Activity Log" and Settings (wheel with down arrow). If you click on the Settings tab and then View As, you will see how your timeline looks to the public or you can type in the name of a person to see how it looks to them.
I hope this was helpful and you make the Facebook timeline one of your projects if you have time off this week! Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advanced Search on LinkedIn

If you are searching for suppliers or vendors for a project, try using LinkedIn instead of doing a general internet search. This will bring up people you have met or people your friends are connected to - and have possibly recommended! Here's a 5 minute video tutorial:

Monday, November 28, 2011

Out of Control E-mail

I don't know about you, but my e-mail inboxes are out of control! I tried using different accounts for different projects, but now I just have multiple accounts with too many messages. In this day of personal and professional relationships blurring, it is hard to keep one e-mail for professional correspondence and one e-mail for personal correspondence. You still need a separate account for all of the stuff (junk) you sign up for online. Now, it seems that you need a separate account just for social media notifications! You can turn off notifications, but many of them exist for good reason and alert you to things you want to be notified about.

Here's a run-down of all of the different notifications you might be potentially receiving in your inbox.

Facebook offers notifications via e-mail and mobile text messaging. You might try switching notifications to text messages to free up some of your e-mail space. Also, it looks like a new feature is the option to choose a summary e-mail of all of your notifications instead of individual e-mails for each notification.

There are 79 Facebook notifications you can turn on or off including:
Someone sends you a message
Someone posts on your wall
Someone tags you in a post
Someone mentions you in a comment
Someone comments on a post you were tagged in

The 79 notification choices do not include applications that you have allowed to connect with Facebook. You have to manually select or de-select notifications from each of those. Also, groups are individually managed within each group page. Often, we will be added to a group by someone else. You need to change your notification settings on that particular group page if you don't want e-mails about each post.

On LinkedIn, there are 13 choices for the frequency you receive notifications. You probably want to know when someone sends you a connection request or sends you a message through LinkedIn. I highly recommend joining 50 groups (the maximum number you can join) however, you should only keep receiving e-mail notifications for new messages posted in groups that are benefiting you. Otherwise, your inbox will overflow!

I turned off my new Twitter follower notification a long time ago. However, now I have to remind myself to log-in directly to Twitter to see who my new followers are so I can determine which ones I want to follow back. There are only 7 notifications to choose from on Twitter. This must be the reason I love Twitter: it is so simple compared to all of the other sites!

Google+ is the one that is pushing me over the edge and I think it is only because it is new so I haven't changed my notification settings yet. It looks like they setup notifications identically to Facebook's notifications page. You can choose e-mail or mobile text messaging for most of the 22 notification options you have for Google+. I just un-checked all of my e-mail notifications. Just like Facebook, I will see a notification box at the top of the page when I am logged into the platform so I will know if someone has added me to a circle or tagged me in a post.

All of these platforms have mobile applications as well and I receive notifications on my mobile phone when many of these actions occur. However, they don't all come through and are not always timely so unfortunately we can't rely on this method of notifications yet.

Let me know if I missed anything important - or if you feel the same way about your inbox as I do mine!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Twitter Walls at Conferences

Typically, I would advocate any use of social media at a conference in order to engage the attendees in the room However, there are plenty of reasons not to do it so let's discuss those today, too.

First, a quick description of what a Twitter Wall is: a screen setup in a session room that is running a live feed of twitter posts about the event. Most commonly, the hashtag for the conference is the filter that is used so that viewers are only seeing posts about the event they are attending.

What's good about Twitter Walls
Showing the conversation that is happening on twitter during a presentation can connect the people in the room who are tweeting. A presenter or facilitator fielding questions during the session can see what people are asking on the twitter feed and everyone in the audience can see the questions that other people have. This is one of the best reasons to have a twitter wall. If you have a virtual audience that is viewing the same session, it connects them to the live audience. Someone in the room must be a virtual emcee or audience liaison for these folks.

If you have multiple break-out sessions happening simultaneously, your twitter users (and some non-twitter users) might appreciate being able to see tweets from other sessions. If your attendees are sharing educational tweets for the most part, then the audience will see all of the tweetable quotes coming from speakers in every room.

What's bad about Twitter Walls
If one of your attendees is having a bad experience, they may choose to share that information on the twitter feed. They will be expecting a response - and in most cases, the others on twitter will expect the organizer to respond as well. If the negative comment is directed at the speaker who is currently speaking, this can cause an embarrassing situation - whether or not the speaker is aware of it.

I recently spoke on a panel with someone who works for PETA. He told me the story of how their activists had taken over the twitter wall at a conference where someone from NASA was speaking. PETA was protesting something that NASA was doing at the time and bombarded the twitter hashtag at the conference without even being there. In this case, I don't think you can handle it by simply blocking negative tweeters. You would need to have someone that is monitoring the feed and have the ability to switch the feed to a different hashtag or put something else on the screen.

Another demographic to consider is your audience who is not on twitter. They may feel distracted by the twitter feed if they are not accustomed to viewing a twitter feed and listening to a speaker at the same time. As I have mentioned on other posts, if your attendees are using the hashtag to socialize more than they are using it to share knowledge, then the information showing may not be relevant to the physical audience. These folks will be turned off by twitter even more than they already are if your audience has become very elitist on twitter instead of welcoming.

Let me know what your experience has been with twitter walls at conferences. Do you have any pro's or con's that I missed?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Top 10 List - Tech Providers

These technology providers in the meetings and events industry not only know what they are talking about but are actively involved in the community. They contribute in a variety of different ways and are all good people to know. I have included links to their LinkedIn profiles because like so many other successful people, most of them contribute to a variety of projects so I didn't want to direct you to just one website.

Friday, September 16, 2011

It Might Be too Late to Learn Social Media

When I started my company, Building Blocks Social Media, one of the populations of people I wanted to serve were the folks who still needed basic social media training, and that is why I picked that as my URL for my website. As I am approaching my one year anniversary, I am finally getting to the point where I can be honest with myself and realize that the population of people who need to learn social media may have missed the boat, and I may not be able to help them.

In the beginning, social media was free and it was social. The early adopters saw value in it and enjoyed using it as a communication tool. It used to be purely conversation! Then, the marketers realized the power that held for businesses and they started learning how to use it for business. These people were comfortable having the same online presence, whether they were on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. The personality types of these folks is much more transparent. They used the last five years to learn how to use the platforms. Much of this time was spent with trial and error, but they were all learning together so it was o.k. I spoke with Mike McAllen and Jon Trask about this issue in the meetings and events industry recently and our conversation will be posted on the Meetings Podcast site shortly. 

Recently, I have been feeling a change in the wind. It is as if social media has become a profession. You have a lot of people like me trying to develop a business model around all different facets of social media. There are self-proclaimed social media experts, specialists, gurus, certifications. How do you know who to trust? One of my recommendations is don't trust someone who calls themselves an expert. The platforms are changing every day so it is nearly impossible to keep up with the best practices and important developments. Instead, look for someone who is trying their best to keep up and continually learn what the important changes are for the business uses of social media platforms.

Or, maybe you still think that hiring an intern to manage your social media and online presence is good enough because if they are young, they should know how to use all of these tools. Facebook's company page product is much more difficult to do correctly than the personal profile. Many Generation Y'rs don't use Twitter and, again, don't understand the conversation value it can provide to a brand. You need someone who knows you well enough to speak for you with your most important client or prospect. You are clearly that person, but you are too busy and important to "bother" with social media.

It is never too late to learn a new skill, but it isn't something you can learn part-time by trial and error anymore. You need a coach who can spend the required time to setup or clean up your online presence and then train you how to use it in the most efficient way. As I continue to narrow the focus of my business, I have learned that I don't specialize in any industry outside of the meetings/hospitality industry. This is the language that I speak, the language of conference organizer. Therefore, I am marketing myself to these people specifically. I am not qualified to speak for your organization on a day-to-day basis. However, when it comes time for your annual conference, I can help you with the strategy, monitoring and moderation of any of the social media platforms your attendees are using.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Social Media Policies at Your Organization

In the beginning, we heard about employees being fired for negative social media posts against their employers. Now, I am reading about lawsuits where the decision is being made in favor of those employees.

There are two clearly different issues around people using social media to negatively represent the organizations they work for: one is an employee who believes that on social media, he or she is not a representative of the organization and what they talk about with their friends is none of your business! The other is an employee who is knowingly using social media platforms to represent the organization. Where do you draw the line? If at any time, you have said the name of the organization you work for, you cross the line from private citizen to public employee. Or, I would argue, that if anyone who sees that post knows where you work and sees your commentary on that organization, you are representing that organization.

Facebook gets a lot of bad rap about this, but the same problems could easily appear on any other network as well. Most Gen Xers and Baby Boomers still see Facebook as the network for only their close friends and family. They know that there are privacy mechanisms in place that protect what they share with certain groups or lists. Or, at least, they think they know this. I have also heard funny stories of criminals talking about crimes they committed on Facebook. Anything that you think is private could be held against you in a court of law. This is the reason I gave up on privacy settings awhile ago. My profile is set so that friends of friends can see most of what I post. This means that I have chosen to post fewer updates and links that are of personal interest to me (i.e. political, religious, etc.). The types of subjects that you don't talk about with acquaintances are the types of subjects that you should not be posting on the internet, unless you want the whole world to know how you feel about a certain topic. There are occasions when you may still do that. There are certain people who share these types of subjects intentionally. Where people are missing the boat is they trust that the privacy settings on their social networks will protect them from sharing things with people whom they don't mean to share with.

Here's some food for thought. If an organization treated its employees well, had a social media policy in place that encouraged them to share good news about their work, and the employees felt like their jobs were part of who they are, we would not have any of these issues. Entrepreneurs and other people who are passionate about what they do make it very evident on their social media profiles. They want you to know where they work because they are proud to do what they do!

Our society has gone very far down this path of transparency and authenticity on the internet. You have an online presence, whether you like it or not. You can choose to positively participate and make sure that what people find is what you want them to find, or you can hide behind your privacy settings (for now).

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why You Should Consider Google+

I finally made the time to start playing around with Google+ and since many of my friends have asked me what I think, here is a preliminary review. The way I am analyzing it is motivated by the question: will it become bigger than Facebook?

Right now, Facebook is the largest social networking platform. However, many gen x'rs and baby boomers are still using Facebook only for personal connections and not professional networking. I had read that Google+ Circles would make it much easier for users to post content to only certain groups of people. Guess what? It does. I still maintain that you should only post things on the internet that you want the whole world to see, but I am also a much more open person than many people I talk to.

Here's the drawback. To get started, you have to add each individual person to one of your circles. I am not sure that the average Facebook user is going to spend time adding each of their contacts to circles. It takes a bit (o.k., a lot) of time. Google+ will suggest people you e-mail (from your gmail account) and people who are active on Google+ (who you probably don't know). You can import other e-mail accounts as well, but it will take time to re-create a large social network that you might have on another platform.

Google+ is like Facebook, Twitter and Skype all put together. You can follow people you don't know like you do on Twitter and they may or may not follow you back. You will see their public updates. It is a great communication tool for the circles of people in your life. I have started putting some of my circles together based on the hashtags on Twitter that I follow.

You can send group messages and updates to particular circles and you don't have to make them public. However, the feature I like the most is Google+ Hangouts. You can have a video conference call with up to 10 people. (On Skype, you have to upgrade to see more than one other person on video.) It includes a "push to talk" button so you aren't talking over other people. You can pull up a YouTube video and everyone on the call can watch it if they choose.

Because it is a Google product, you can expect more streamlined sharing from products other than YouTube. (Blogger, Picasa, automatic back-up of photos from your Android phone, etc.) That was the reason I chose Blogger for my blog over WordPress. It looked like Google was trying to take over the internet, so I thought I would jump on board!

Leave your comments here with your questions or tips as you start to explore Google+. If you need an invitation, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Great article I found on Twitter

Using the Internet to Build Your Personal Brand | Blogging Tips - StumbleUpon

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Top 10 Event Technology Consultants and Planners

Top 10 List
BuildingBlocks_logo_vertical 2
Consultants and independent planners who attended WEC - Meeting Professionals International's World Education Congress: These folks are on top of technology in the meetings and events industry.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Twitter at Conferences (What I learned at WEC)

Whether you are planning a professional development conference or attending one, you might benefit from some of the things I learned at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in July.

It was enlightening for me to be in a session with non-twitter users when they were asked what they thought of the twitter wall in the room. (For those of you who have not seen it, a screen in a session will be dedicated to the conversation happening on twitter about the conference while it is happening.) One attendee commented that the twitter users seemed very narcissistic. This was the perfect a-ha moment for me because what she was feeling went beyond the typical complaint of "I don't want to know what you had for breakfast". The twitter community at this event had been using the event's hashtag for socializing. They were complimenting each other, teasing each other and sharing pictures of each other. However, to someone outside of that circle, it would seem narcissistic.

Do we create a new hashtag for the fun stuff? Maybe Twitter could find a way for you to view multiple hashtags in one stream if you wanted to. That way, we could have multiple hashtags at a conference (one for feedback for the organizers or venue, one for each session, one for each topic, one for socializing, one for sponsors or suppliers to promote specials, etc.) and you could choose which information you wanted to see without having to view multiple streams on Twitter. On the other hand, do more hashtags feel like more information overload? In theory, we already have all of those types of tweets in one stream (or multiple) and so it would not increase the number of tweets. One of the hurdles to twitter use is learning how to filter out the garbage and finding the information that is relevant to you.

One of the sessions talked about generation Y using social media for personal gain and generation X using it for professional gain. As a general rule, I think this is true. Baby boomers signed up for Facebook initially to keep tabs on their kids and so their original motivation was personal use. Many of them struggle with the idea of using Facebook for professional networking. I would say that if you are “friends” with people in your industry and truly have relationships with them, why would they be any different from friends outside of work? It will be interesting to test out Google+ Circles to see if this solves this dilemma for them. Most baby boomers are not interested in Twitter because they have not seen a strong enough reason for them to explore it. Until you feel like you are missing out on something, you are going to keep your distance.

Have you attended or planned a conference with twitter users? Have you seen a twitter wall? Did you feel like you were outside of the inner circle or did it inspire you to start tweeting?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Maximize Your Networking Opportunities at a Conference

Attending professional development conferences is an important part of your personal branding efforts. At any stage in your career, you will find benefits from the networking and education offered at these events. You can get a lot out of your industry's association gatherings without social networking. However, I am going to talk about a few things you can incorporate to increase the ROI of the price you are paying for your registration, time and travel.

Business cards are the foundation of the networking experience. At some point in the near future, they will be eliminated by technology. However, for now, they are still required. Don't be afraid to give your card to anyone you meet. If you end up being bombarded with phone calls from people trying to sell you their services when you return to the office, give them a few minutes and determine if you would be a potential client for them. Any good salesperson will only spend time cold calling people who are a good fit for their product. If you have control over what goes on your business card, add your LinkedIn public profile address. If you haven't changed the address where people can find your profile, do that first! You want it to be simple, i.e. If you are using Twitter and Facebook for professional networking, add these addresses along with your website or blog if you are providing useful information there.

Find the event on Facebook or LinkedIn so you can RSVP there and let your peers and colleagues know you are attending. Industry groups on these platforms can also hold a lot of useful information, either logistically or for people you should meet. The conference organizers may have developed a platform where you can create a profile just for the conference. If it is available to you, use it! It will make your networking efforts more efficient and increase the number of people you meet.

Look at the conference website to determine what the hashtag will be on Twitter so you can start seeing what people are talking about, and find new people to follow on Twitter. The best case scenario is to start a relationship on social media and then meet that person face to face at a networking event. You have an instant connection when you meet and it propels your relationship further than a cold introduction. I will be attending the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress July 23-26. Go to Twitter and type in #wec11 to follow the conversation if you have never seen the kind of information people post while they are attending a conference.

What else do you do to prepare for an industry event?

Monday, June 13, 2011

How To Stand In Your Customer’s Shoes (Without A Focus Group)

As a small business owner, here are a few ways that you can start to adapt your behaviour to experience your business the way a customer might – so you can continue to improve your business.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Follow up on "When... Twitter Fails" or, What Not To Do

Now that the issue has been resolved and I learned a valuable lesson, I would like to share a cautionary tale with you.

While working on the logistics for a public event, it was decided that food trucks should be invited to participate so the attendees would have more options. Instead of just doing a regular Google search for food trucks in that geographic area, I thought I would use Twitter for this research. Doing a simple search for “food trucks”, I quickly came across a tweet about an event the next day that would involve food trucks in the same metropolitan area that my event would take place. It had a link to the website of the event so I clicked over to it. Because this particular event was a very large food truck event, they had a form on their website that listed the names of the food trucks and their twitter names. I thought I had struck gold! Instead of having to find each website and contact information for each truck, I had their twitter names.

The next step for me was to contact trucks and tell them about our event to see if they were interested. I sent this tweet to 57 trucks I had found on the other event’s website. “Would love to see you at the Port of Long Beach 100th B-day Party! Contact me for details.” Here’s an important note: You can’t send a direct (private) message to someone who does not follow you. I didn’t have time to follow the trucks first and hope they follow me back in order to send the message. However, you can mention (include a twitter name for) someone whether they are following you or not. Most people have alerts setup to notify them when someone mentions them on twitter. Given my goal and timeline, this was the most efficient way to do it.

Since I sent each one individually, it took a few minutes to send 57 tweets. At some point; it occurred to me what I was doing did seem like spam. However, I thought because I was inviting them to an event where there would be 3,000 people, they would be happy to see my tweet and want to participate! Well, about a dozen or so trucks did respond to me via twitter and we moved the conversation to e-mail. I can’t know for sure, but it seems that a number of food trucks who did not receive my message as a positive one marked me as a spammer. A week or so later, my tweets were not showing up in the streams for any subjects to which I would tag them. I was baffled and thought it might be an issue with my phone, with twitter, or with the hashtag where I first noticed it. The issue persisted. It was happening no matter what hardware I was using or which hashtag I was posting to. I checked my security settings to make sure nothing had changed, I contacted twitter customer support, and I asked a few other social media nerds if they had ever seen such a thing.

After a couple of weeks, I received a vague response from twitter indicating that my tweets would start showing up in hashtag feeds again. I just checked it and it seems that it is working. So, to summarize the lesson… twitter is a powerful search engine if you know how to use it. However, when you are ready to take the next step and reach out to those prospects, take your time and do it right. Follow them first and then when they follow you back, send them a personal direct (private) message with something of value. There are no short cuts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter Fail

I used to be a social media evangelist because I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that most people realize social media is here to stay and they need to figure it out, I spend my time working with those people to achieve their goals. Today, I am going to write about how each of the big three have failed me so that you can be aware of some of the pitfalls to look out for.

First, it was LinkedIn, because LinkedIn was the first platform I used for professional social networking. When you sign up, it asks you to upload your address book from hotmail, gmail, outlook, etc. I followed the instructions and uploaded what must of been thousands of contacts. Unfortunately, I had many e-mail addresses in that database of people who didn't know me. LinkedIn sent them automatic invitations to connect with me and then LinkedIn asks them if they actually know me. If they say they do not know you, you get marked as a spammer. After a certain number of people marked me as a spammer, LinkedIn would not let me send anymore invitations. I had to contact their customer service to get it straightened out. The take-away here is not to suggest you should not upload your e-mail address book. Instead, you should use the feature that lets you upload the contacts and then manually check which ones you want to send invitations to.

Facebook has not failed me in any specific way. The thing to watch out for is that they are constantly changing. Many of you are relying on your privacy settings to keep your personal and professional contacts separate. I would suggest that you should not put so much faith in Facebook to make this happen. Facebook wants you to be one person online - the personal and professional you - in the same profile. Instead of resisting, keep up with the changes and figure out how to capitalize on them. Pay attention to how things look and what information is displayed on your news feed.

Finally, Twitter. Twitter hadn't really failed me until this week. I attend networking and professional development events and share what I am learning via Twitter. The way to do this is to include a hashtag like #eventprofs in your tweets so that other people doing a search for that hashtag will see what you are saying. Most events have their own hashtag so if you are attending an event either live or virtually, you can see who else is tweeting about that event. At an event on Friday, I noticed that my tweets were not showing up in the twitter stream for that event. Upon further investigation, I realized that my tweets were not showing up in any streams, regardless of which hashtags I was using. I have contacted customer service, but the issue has not yet been resolved. This is a bit ironic, because twitter is such a good tool to use for customer service. I guess they are understaffed because Twitter is free for users and they are not making enough money! This particular lesson has been an important one for me because one of the services I provide to clients is to monitor the twitter feed at an event and engage on behalf of the organization. Well, if the account I am using is not showing up in the feed, this would be devastating.

Comment here if you have had any social media failures so we can all learn from each other!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Podcast on Personal Branding

Your Online Personal Branding | Meetings Podcast

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We are all in Sales!

Here's a great reminder of why you need a professional online presence and why you should participate in social networking.              

Thursday, April 21, 2011

26 Tips to Enhance Your Experience on LinkedIn

Neal Schaffer held a LinkedIn workshop at SMMOC this week. I attend many seminars on social media subjects so that I might glean some insight into how speakers explain social media to an audience. There were a couple of things that Neal said that I found interesting.

He suggested that by using Tweet Deck or Hoot Suite, you are losing the ability to maximize each of the applications. LinkedIn has so many uses beyond the status updates and if you never actually log in and use the tool the way it is meant to be used, you are missing a lot of functionality. LinkedIn has been rolling out some new features, so make sure you are logging in and checking them out periodically!

I was surprised to hear him say that he hides his connection list. I always felt that we are living in a more open and collaborative world. If you are in sales and worried about your competition finding your clients, know that there are many more ways to do so, including a people search on LinkedIn. By doing a people search, I can see my potential clients and who they are connected to, regardless if either one has hidden their list.

Here's a great list of 26 tips on LinkedIn, starting with the basics:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smartphones: Personal Assistant or Leash?

Admittedly, I wasn't always the person who had to have the latest, greatest technology. In fact, I didn't even have a touch screen phone until about one year ago. Before that, I had an older version Blackberry provided by my employer. It didn't have very many features other than the ability to check my e-mail... Which brings me to the question of the day. Are smartphones making us more efficient or just tying us to our jobs at any given moment?

With a phone like the one I just described, I felt more obligated to check work e-mail after hours because it was there and it was convenient. I couldn't do much else with the phone besides maybe managing my calendar, so it was not making me more efficient in any other way. From my interactions with people, it sounds like most boomers have this type of phone and feel like it is a leash.

Once I entered into the realm of access to the entire internet and "apps", I felt like my phone was my friend and personal assistant, not something that was making me work when I didn't want to. Another confession: if you were to observe me, I probably look like I am using my phone at any given moment. I use it while I am walking down the street, I use it at restaurants, and anytime I am standing in a line waiting for something, you better bet I am looking down at my phone! Does this make me anti-social? I try to keep my smartphone usage to a minimum when I have the possibility to engage with a human instead.

This is why I love it. In particular, the cases where I am waiting for something and wouldn't otherwise be doing anything else, I feel productive. I can jump on Twitter and re-tweet good content. I can view my Facebook news feed and comment on a friend's status update. I can search for someone I just met on LinkedIn and invite them to join my network. Aren't these all of the things that most people are struggling to find the time to do? If one of these sites leads you to an article on the web, you can read it immediately, or share it to an app like Evernote and read it later on your PC if you want.

Now, here's what I love about the phone I purchased this weekend, which is one of the newest Android phones, the Verizon HTC Thunderbolt. All of my social networks are synced together with my contact list. Now, the contact list on my phone will show me your phone number, Facebook status update, e-mail, LinkedIn, and Twitter information. Don't freak out. I can only see this information if we are already connected, if I already had the information or if you made it public on those profiles. I love having all of that information in one place.

Did you have a reaction when I said I use my smartphone in restaurants? I enjoy using location based services like Foursquare, Facebook Places or SCVNGR to "check-in" to places I am visiting. Sometimes, I choose to publish the information to Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes, I just check-in to play the game. Typically, I am sharing this information as a social tool because I am checking-in the people who are with me. I also use the app for Yelp so I can write a review for a place that was really good or really bad. I also use the apps to find a place to eat, make reservations, look up sustainable seafood options or decide which movie theater to go to based on what is playing after dinner.

You could also use a smartphone to play games or watch videos. Maybe that is how you would rather spend your down time. There is definitely value in that: a well deserved mental break. Let me know what kind of phone you have and whether it makes you feel more efficient or like you are on a leash.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Work / Life / Online Balance

Does social media feel overwhelming?

I was attending one of my monthly networking groups this morning and I heard from another friend about her concerns with social media. She mentioned balance. We used to think of it as work/life balance, right? You have work and then everything else is life, and you need to have a healthy balance. I am sensing a new dynamic should be added: work/life/online balance. For many people, the struggle is where to fit in social media, social networking and everything else you do online.

The core of the issue goes back to the fact that you feel like social media came out of nowhere and now it is just one more thing you have to do. Unfortunately, in this digital age, it is. Here is the good news: you can take it one step at a time and keep it to a manageable amount of time. Balance is truly the key. For many of you, staying on top of your online personal brand requires time outside of work, and therefore it must fit into your new work/life/online balance.

If you own a business or are responsible for marketing a business and feel the pressure to do it all at once, you can relax. Start with your personal brand online. Start with LinkedIn because I find that people are comfortable starting there, as they see it as the "professional" social network. At the same time that I am allowing you to take it one step at a time, I am going to tell you not to fool yourself. Any presence you have online needs to be representative of your professional personal brand. Facebook has privacy settings, which you should certainly monitor from time to time, however, if you have a Facebook profile, start making the transition to a more professional image there as well.

Your personal brand online is a reflection of your company or employer, which is why it is a good place to start. All social networks are based off person to person interaction. They are not run by organizations, but by individuals. If all individuals took their online presence seriously, their employers would feel less hesitation in using social media to communicate with their stakeholders. Start with you, and start with LinkedIn. If you haven't done so already, complete your profile and connect with everyone who lives in your Rolodex. Your goal should be to transfer your offline network to your online network. The two work best when used in conjunction with each other. Each time you attend a face to face networking event, add your new contacts to your LinkedIn network. It only takes a few minutes so I hope you can fit it into your already full work/life balance.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Innovative Parenting - Fail to Succeed

Kudos to my parents for making me who I am. I am not a parent, so I am not writing this post from the perspective of someone who has done something great myself. Several things I have heard and read recently make me realize what a great job my parents did raising me. As many of my friends are new parents, I am thinking about what it takes to be a good parent these days.

Because of LinkedOC, I saw Seth Godin speak recently and he said that our system of education was setup to create factory workers. It seems as though he is right, even though my school system in Gering, Nebraska might have been an exception. He suggested parents these days need to be more innovative. He spoke of making your kids figure things out for themselves. This is the part that made me think of my parents. Let me give you a few examples. If I forgot my lunch or my homework or forgot that I was supposed to wear something specific on any given day, my parents would not bring it to me. I think they were just trying to teach me that my actions have consequences. They were not trying to be innovative – or teach me to be innovative – but it worked. I can only imagine how hard it is to not “save” your kids because you don’t want them to fail or be embarrassed or get hurt.

Meeting Professionals International’s One+ magazine featured an article about Alina Tugend’s book (you may not be able to see the link if you are not a member). She says to encourage kids to work hard. Don’t praise them for being smart. My parents excelled at this, too. I have average intelligence, but I was always praised for being a hard worker so I succeeded at many things simply because of my work ethic. My parents refused to buy me anything they thought I didn’t need. However, they did provide me with a job working for my Father’s lawn care business. I had money to spend on frivolous things, but because I had worked for it, I respected it a little bit more than if they had just given it to me as an allowance.

I managed to have a sufficient sense of entitlement after graduating from college and I wonder if the reason is that everyone told me that a college education was expected and necessary. The conclusion that I made was that it was going to make the difference between me starting at entry level (as someone would without a degree) and starting at management level (as someone would with a degree). No wonder gen x and gen y have a problem with entitlement! Instead, you should tell your kids that they are expected to go to college and then they will still have to start at the bottom, but their degree will help them once they are a few years into their professional careers. Although, the way that information is distributed is changing so fast and the world is changing so fast, that the traditional system of education probably won’t be able to keep up. Seth Godin said something about school being a good place for your kids to learn how to get along with people they don’t like. I would agree and say that college is still a good place to learn about a lot of things, just maybe not a place to become an expert at a particular subject.

Part of the reason that I have always questioned my superiors is because I was taught critical thinking at a young age. I had a particularly hard time adjusting to “the real world” because my liberal arts education did such a good job teaching me democracy. For some reason, I thought business was run the same way! In my first job, I was so disappointed to find out that decisions were made that did not make sense to me and did not seem fair. Can you imagine? Do you work in an environment where it is o.k. to fail and learn from your mistakes, o.k. to question your superiors, creative thinking is valued?

Let me know if you had any of the same experiences or have any questions for me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

How Engaging is Your Event?

Engagement. I’m not sure why this is such a new trend for conferences. Is it that we have finally taken seriously the studies on adult learning and decided to incorporate them into our events? “Maybe my attendees will learn more/come again/tell their friends if I encourage them to actively participate in the creation/sessions/feedback of my event.” Here’s my disclaimer: I love innovation, I love change, I love making things better, more than the average person and it has almost been to the detriment of my career, but I can’t help it. This is who I am. Therefore, this article will be written from the perspective of someone who thinks all of these new trends for our industry are just dandy.

On my way home from the Green Meetings Industry Council (GMIC) Sustainable Meetings Conference, I am pondering all of the relatively innovative practices that I experienced over the past few days. Making a meeting more sustainable in and of itself is innovative. That is a topic for another day. I want to write about all of the other cool things they did to get and keep attendees engaged.

It is not surprising that there were a large percentage of attendees on twitter. I guess the GMIC community is largely made up of people like us (innovation lovers) and therefore, are early adopters of social media, hybrid events, and technology like smart phones. According to the, there were 3,499 tweets, 246 contributors and almost 500 tweets per day with the #gmic hashtag on twitter from 2/18 – 2/24/11 (at 1:17pm). The twitter feed at this event turned out to be one of the fastest moving feeds I have seen at a conference. Instead of complaints or suppliers begging planners to come to their booths, it was filled with educational content.

The folks that attended GMIC via the virtual pass (viewing the general sessions on their computers at home) were also engaged in the twitter feed. I was a virtual attendee at PCMA this year and found that experience to be highly fulfilling (and it created the desire for me to attend in person next year). The sense of community engagement was so tight-knit that the virtual attendees had no problem asking questions – and they got answered! Attendees on-site were helping other attendees with tips and tricks to using social media or using it more efficiently.

The mobile app and website that was created and sponsored by QuickMobile had all of the information the attendees needed to navigate the conference. Because this was a green conference, no one complained that they didn’t receive a printed program. We all knew we were expected to view the program online before we arrived if we were not going to bring a laptop or smart phone. Ponder that thought for a moment. If we communicate the expectation, slowly our attendees will adapt.

I was happy to be present at a conference full of people who were highly engaged, who’s planning team employed speakers who were engaging and who’s board of directors was willing to take risks to provide an experience full of innovation and new trends. How else are meeting planners going to learn about what works and what doesn’t work unless we experience it ourselves?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Social Media Shortcuts

Even if you only use the basic functionality of Seesmic, HootSuite or TweetDeck, I highly recommend using one of them. All of them are good for seeing all of your social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) in one place and having the capability to post to all of them (or some of them) at the same time. You will be more likely to get engaged with social networking if you can go to one place to do it.

For this article, I am comparing these programs on Google Chrome. For those of you who have not made the switch to cloud computing or don’t even know what that is, let me explain. Google Chrome is a program like Internet Explorer, which you use to see Websites. I am finding it to be much cleaner because I don’t have ten toolbars across the top of my browser and they make it easier to return to the same Websites that I frequently use. They also offer several programs for you to use instead of downloading them to your desktop. I prefer having my work done “in the cloud” so if my computer crashes, nothing is lost. The reason I include this information is somewhat of a disclaimer, just in case there are different functionalities with the desktop versions that you download.

Now, the comparison between the top three players in the world of making social networking easier for you.  Seesmic was the first one I started using in Google Chrome and I was really enjoying the new features that I hadn’t seen on the desktop versions of the others in the past. The Twitter feed refreshes just often enough so you can actually read the tweets on your home feed which are coming from everyone that you follow. Now that Facebook upgraded the business pages, I tried to add access to those pages but had difficulty doing so. One feature on Seesmic that I did not see on the others is a translation option.

TweetDeck can post to Facebook groups, which I did not see on the other programs. I really like that it combined my mentions on Twitter and Facebook (posts on my wall or comments on my posts) into one column. The Twitter feed is constantly scrolling (too fast to read). I was also unable to add LinkedIn. My guess is that they are still working out the Google Chrome version and your settings are easier to change on the desktop version.

HootSuite is the one that won me over. In addition to the other features mentioned above, they add separate columns for scheduled posts to each network. HootSuite seems to have all of the features and capability that you have when you are using One feature I really like is that you can send a tweet via e-mail. This may seem strange, but sometimes I want to share content with people I know are not using Social Media. You can also filter within a feed. This means that you can set up a feed for #eventprofs and filter the feed to only show tweets with certain keywords or by people with a certain Klout score.

I decided to upgrade my account for $5.99/month. If you need to show the return on investment of your social media efforts, then it is worth the upgrade because it shows your Google analytics and Facebook insights. Scott Stratten said, “When you ask for the ROI on social media, a kitten dies.” While I tend to agree in the sense that the purpose of social media is to have a conversation, unfortunately, most of us do not have the luxury to engage in any activity for which we cannot show the value.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Social Media Seminars / Webinars vs. Individual Consultation

This article can be summarized like this: "You get what you pay for". I wouldn't write about this topic just to say that you should hire me instead of going to a free seminar or webinar. However, I have been to a couple of seminars recently that are handing out incorrect information and that upsets me.

However, I will say that even the free seminars and webinars I have attended haven't been a waste of time. Face-to-face events always provide for networking opportunities, so even if I don't learn anything, I meet great people. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about webinars because they are not set up for networking, but they don't require travel time, either.

Recently, a few seminars and webinars I attended left me disappointed or frustrated. If you are going to advertise that your seminar will teach folks social media for small businesses, then that is what you should deliver. One in particular that I attended was advertised as such but actually delivered training on how to be an affiliate marketer. Let me explain why this is so disappointing for me. I know that most of the folks in the room really needed basic social media training. The speaker told them that they don't need a website and they should use a blog instead. The bulk of the meeting was talking about how to put affiliate ads on your blog to make money when people buy those products if they find them through your blog. What was not mentioned is that if someone clicks on the ads on your website or blog, they are clicking away (and will probably lose) the product or service YOU are selling. If the core of your business is something other than affiliate marketing, then I wouldn't recommend it.

This particular speaker also showed her Facebook profile with almost 5,000 "friends" and admitted that she was using her profile as her business presence. She either didn't know or didn't care that this practice is against Facebook's policy and was telling the group to do the same. When someone asked how to do it, she told them to just use a different e-mail and phone number to set up a separate Facebook profile for yourself. The correct way of handling this is to have one personal profile and one (or many) professional or business pages. Go to Pixel Coaching for the correct information on Facebook marketing. Stacey does a great job of explaining it and has pictures on her site so it is easy for beginners to understand.

Now for the webinars. Free webinars are always produced by a company that hopes you will purchase their program or package after the webinar and that is why they are spending the time and money out of their marketing budgets to offer you a free webinar. Sometimes the content can be pretty good. However on two separate occasions (two different companies), the speaker says, "there are certain times of the day to post to XYZ social media application". When a viewer submits the obvious question: "What is the magic time of day or day of the week?", the speaker says, "You will have to purchase our program to find out. We can't give away all of our secrets for free!" In my humble opinion, that just makes the speaker or company look like they only care about making money and not about helping people. Would you want to hire someone like that?

There are many types of social media groups you can join and many of them have a presence on Some are organized by companies that offer individual consultation. Some are organized by volunteers who want to share their knowledge and experience with others. On a philosophical level, the problem I see with seminars is that the speaker automatically adjusts the content to the highest level learner in the group, in an attempt to make everyone happy. What you need to look for in a seminar is a clearly defined knowledge expectation. If the group is advertised for beginners, make sure that the description clearly states that the session is for beginners only. If you belong to any other professional organizations, ask them to bring in a speaker on social media if the majority of your association is at the same knowledge level.

I will say it again. "You get what you pay for." If something is free it likely has some kind of hidden cost associated with it or it is just bad content. If you are a digital immigrant, you need to hire someone to sit down with you, at your computer, and walk you through the steps to create your online presence.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Growing Use of Twitter and Trade Shows

The last two years has seen a dramatic rise in the use of Twitter as a tool to help drive booth traffic.  In fact, it can enhance an exhibiting company’s overall brand at a show.  In this chapter, we will discuss the ways you can use this particular marketing tool effectively...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New search feature on LinkedIn status updates!

This is a great new tool. Before this upgrade, the LinkedIn updates feed was a lot like your Twitter feed for two reasons. Many of my connections are also on Twitter and are posting identical updates to both applications. The second reason is the updates were showing up chronologically so anytime you logged in to LinkedIn, you would see only the most recent status updates.

Now, you can filter by many different categories. Just want to see updates that have been shared? You can click on Shares and see better content (in theory) because it was good enough for someone else to share it.

LinkedIn's advance search for profiles is one of the best reasons to use the application for prospecting. Now, you can search status updates with the same amount of filter capacity. Some examples:

Relationship - see updates from people you are not connected to. This was the first feature I found useful because I saw a great blog post from someone who is a 3rd connection. I am following this person on Twitter, but hadn't seen this post on Twitter yet.
Company - see updates from a company you are tying to get as a client or as an employer
Time - filter to only see recent updates
Location - filter to see updates from people in a certain geographic area
School - filter to see people from particular schools
Topics - shows you relevant twitter hashtags. This is a great feature for those of you who are still learning twitter because you can see the hashtags people are using in the industry or keywords you are searching for!

As with other search features on LinkedIn, you can save a search once you have chosen the filters you want to use so you don't have to re-create it each time.

Click on the "NEW" next to the search updates box to view their quick video overview. This is a powerful new feature so you will want to start using it.

1/27/11 edit: I didn't realize this feature was not available to everyone yet. Here's the link to LinkedIn's blog explaining.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

34 case studies that prove social media ROI

"So, next time someone at your company questions whether social media demonstrates ROI, you can give them these 34 case studies..."

Monday, January 17, 2011

How Do You Use Twitter As A Networking Tool At Conferences?

Planners and suppliers can benefit from social networking, just as you can benefit from networking at face to face events. Like face to face networking, social media is best used as conversation, not direct selling. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are three of the most commonly used platforms. Check out the January Intercom for my article on LinkedIn. This article will discuss Twitter and next month we will dive into Facebook.

At the MPI World Education Congress (WEC) in July 2009, we were asked for our Twitter name on the registration form for the event. I had been reluctant to join Twitter up until that point. When I saw that on the registration form, I didn’t want to miss out on any of the education at the event, so I signed up for Twitter, then signed up for WEC. They did a great job of providing one-on-one training in an area of the conference where you could go at any time. I started to get the hang of it and am very glad that I was given a good foundation on how to use Twitter to network and learn about topics important to my professional development. If your audience is multi-generational, you might want to consider providing this type of education to your attendees so your Gen Xers and Baby Boomers don’t get left behind.

On Twitter, I have connected to and become better acquainted with many people in the hospitality and events industry who live in different parts of the world. I found a few Twitter mentors whom I could emulate. I quickly found people who were tweeting interesting and educational things. In the beginning, I mostly re-tweeted things I liked sent out from people I was following. Then, I learned how to use a hashtag to see tweets from other event professionals (i.e. #eventprofs or #mpi). Most of them have their blog, Web Site or LinkedIn listed on their Twitter profile so you can click over to it to learn more about them. You can follow big brands and celebrities, but they won’t follow you back and you will quickly lose interest. If you follow real people who are tweeting good content and engaging with others on Twitter, you will have a much better experience. If you want more people to follow you, make sure you say something interesting in the bio section of your Twitter profile.

Lists are also a good way to find people quickly who are in the same industry or have the same interests as you. The people you have already found will have either created lists or will be listed, which you can see on their profiles. You can save a list and view tweets from the people the list is following at any time, or you can simply follow everyone on that list so you will always see their tweets.

By the time WEC 2010 came around, I had a year of Twitter under my belt. I had been using it at smaller conferences and other meetings on my laptop and smart phone. It takes some practice, but you can get the hang of taking a learning “nugget” from a speaker and quickly turning it into 140 characters. By doing this, you are sharing what you are learning with the people who are following you. At larger conferences, someone will inevitably organize a tweet-up and everyone that has been tweeting from the conference will then meet in person. This is an excellent way to extend your professional network. In addition to sharing content presented by the speakers, Twitter is an evaluation tool. Your attendees will comment on the food, technical difficulties, maybe even the temperature in the room. If you are monitoring the twitter feed from your conference (i.e. #wec10), there may be issues which you can remedy immediately. Otherwise, you may not hear about it until after the conference. The feedback you get from your evaluation forms is directly related to the questions you ask. Twitter feedback is exactly what your attendees are thinking, while they are thinking it – whether good or bad! Your audience will increasingly expect you to be paying attention to what they are tweeting.

Contact me with any questions you have on social media so I can help you bridge the gap between traditional networking and the brave new world of web 2.0. or If you have a specific question about Facebook, LinkedIn or social media for events, I would love to include it in an upcoming article.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Guest Post on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is widely accepted as the professional network online. Many companies, who do not allow access to other social media applications, do allow their employees to access LinkedIn while at work. There are two things you should do to take advantage of this tool. First, create a company page and second, create a social media policy for your employees.

See more...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Media Resolutions

Have you started thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet? This year, I am starting a business. Even though it is a risky venture, I am helping people with their personal and professional BuildingBlocks_logo_verticaldevelopment, so it will be fulfilling for me!
The New Year is the perfect time for you to start thinking about your social media strategy - for you, your business, or your event. O.k., I know you have already been thinking about social media. How could you not be thinking about it? I am sure you hear the words LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter almost every day. Now, it is time to put a plan in place for you to manage it in 2011.
New Year, New Media Resolutions:
  • Learn how to use an application that you haven't tried yet.
  • Share your knowledge or a fun fact on your status update 1 x week.
  • Import your rolodex or address book on LinkedIn to stay in touch.
Wishing you the best in 2011! Let me know how I can help with your New Year, New Media Resolutions.