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Social Media, Tips,

Some of My Favorite Posts on Social Media Basics

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I look back on the last 4-ish years of blogging and am amazed at how much I’ve learned. I’ve shared a lot of that here on this blog, but a lot has also been from tons of smart people in my industry.

I often find myself sharing the same posts on certain topics over and over.

In case you don’t want to go digging through my archives and those who I recommend following, I’ve put together this list of some of my favorite posts. Enjoy!

Blogging

Creating a Compelling Blog Post: A Checklist (me)

Beautiful Blog Posts Have Great Bone Structure (me)

Twitter

Twitter for Business (Twitter)

Split-Second Decisions: My Twitter Follow-Back Tips (me)

Finding Friends and Building Your Network on Twitter (me)

LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn: A Primer (me)

General

Five Ways to Support Your Favorite Fan Page (Verve)

How to Use Social Media Guide (TechnoTheory)

An Introduction to Social Media for Undergrads (Paull Young)

Starting Social Media: Building on What You Have (Amber Naslund)

What is…? A Handy Guide for the New Media Pro (10,000 words)

Five Very Official Tips for Building an Online Presence (Shannon Paul)

Why I Don’t Link My Social Media Profiles (me)

The Magic of RSS (me)

Bonus: Social Media Today’s Social Media School aggregates all the “basic” posts from that site. Great resource on all kinds of social media topics.

If you have a favorite, please leave it in the comments.

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Social Media, Tips,

Watch Out For Sneaky Spammers

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I’ve noticed a new tactic with spammers lately… they are awfully complimentary of your content, your blog and your writing style. Flattery is hard to resist, I know. So here are some tips for keeping the spam out of your comments section.

  • If the comment seems to be over thesaurus-ized – common words turned into $5 words that aren’t quite used right – you’re probably looking at spam.
  • If the comment could be related to any blog, any post, anytime? It could be spam.
  • If the commenter asks about your fabulous layout and how you did it – yup, spam. (I fell for this one, hard!)

If you’re not sure, check the possible inputs on the comment form for consistency and legitimacy. Individually, they might not raise any red flags, but combined can tip you off:

  • Name: By itself this might not be a problem one way or another, unless it’s clearly not a name.
  • Email: Look for an email that lines up with the name entered and with the URL
  • URL: This is the big giveaway, usually. The point of spam is to get linkbacks to the spam site in question through comments. So check the URL, visit it to make sure it’s a real site.

Elli here has some pretty obvious problems. Her name is ok, but her URL is a dead giveaway. Line that up with her email address that has nothing to do with either thing and we’ve got a spammer. Click “spam” on the comment and move on.

Look for ways to get real people engaged with your content. Much better for the ego in the long run.

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Shiny New Tool, Social Media, Tips,

I Made a Prezi: Here’s my Process

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An email floated around a couple of weeks ago about free premium Prezi accounts for educators. Always game for the next shiny new tool, I decided to give it a shot. I had a presentation coming up for Local Food Connection 2010 that I was going to have to start from scratch on Keynote, so why not give Prezi a try.

I watched the tutorials, viewed some other people’s Prezis and poked at one for a while. Honestly, the blank canvas was terrifying at first. I’m a very linear thinker, I guess. I need outlines and plans and things in order. I had a hard time visualizing all the parts of the presentation (not literally, of course).

However, just last week, I had listened in when Professor Deb Morrison lectured to the Gateway to Media class on creative process and mind mapping.I decided a mind map might just do the trick.

Office Depot is my closest office/art supply place, so I headed there to find big paper (tabloid or 11×17 size recommended!). I got a sketch book for less than $10. I had markers at home, but I think next time I might used colored pencils.

My supplies: sketch book & Sharpie pens

Mind map, version 1

Mind map, final version. Note my fabulously illustrated carrot there at the bottom.

With the mind map created, I went back to my Prezi canvas and started to map out the presentation in the same way.  I’d estimate it took about six hours total to learn and create the presentation. That is on par with what it takes me to start a Keynote from scratch.

I was very pleased with the final presentation. I downloaded the Prezi to my computer so I didn’t have to rely on the nonexistent wi-fi at the conference location and it went very smoothly. Things that I still need to figure out?

  • The Prezi Web site says that you can use remotes with the presentations, but neither my Mac remote nor the app I downloaded called Rowmote worked. That kept me tied to my laptop a little more than I am comfortable with.
  • If you embed images, my advice is to either choose ones that are fairly high resolution or don’t zoom in tightly (on the presentation below, you’ll see what I mean with the carrots and corn, particularly).
  • Because you don’t have presenter notes like a Keynote or PowerPoint, I would recommend either knowing your presentation inside and out, or putting your notes on index cards. I opted for the latter for the formal presentation to the conference participants.

With that said, this is a way cool tool that I will use again. Probably even this week! You can view my Prezi below.

Blog in typescript letters
Social Media, Writing Tips,

Creating Compelling Blog Posts: A Checklist

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Creating a blog post is really more than just writing good content. The following checklist can help you ensure that your post is readable, findable and shareable.

  • Do you have a compelling headline? There’s some dos and don’ts.
  • Does your post have good structure & provide useful information? Plenty of folks have written posts on how to write posts. Take a look around.
  • Does your post invite feedback or ideas?
  • Did you provide at least one in-text hyperlink? Don’t include links as text, hyperlink them using the “link” button.
  • Did you include an image? (or other multimedia) 
 Some blog templates require an image, but even if it’s not required, an image helps to make your post more visually attractive. 
Try istockphoto.comsxc.hu, or flickr (creative commons licensed) for images. Or check out some of these sites for free or cheap images.
  • Did you assign a category or categories? Categories help to organize your content. When your blog has a lot of posts, categories can help you visitor find what he or she is looking for.
  • Did you include tags based on keywords in the post?

What did I forget? What’s on your checklist?

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All-Time Favorites, Social Media,

Why I Don’t Link My Social Media Profiles

It seems like a good idea. When you update Twitter, why not update Facebook automatically… and while you’re at it, how about LinkedIn?

To me, each of these tools serves a different purpose and therefore needs different content. Certainly there is overlap in many instances, but it’s important to think about how each fits into your overall personal social media use – or how, as an organization, each helps you reach your objectives.

I know that the social media time suck is a big deal and we’re all looking for ways to make the most our time in front the screen – but if you’re going to “do” social media, do it right. And be prepared for how much time it takes.

Twitter: Short updates, more “real-time,” drive traffic to Web or blog, personal appeal. Tweets often don’t make sense out of context and when you add hashtags, RT’s and @’s it can be confusing, particularly for those on Facebook who aren’t familiar with how Twitter works. And yes, there are still plenty of people for whom that’s true.

Facebook Fan Page: More room to wiggle (no character limit), ability to add links with thumbnails for visual appeal. If you update from Facebook, the syncing to Twitter is technically easy, but can look awkward when it goes over the character limit. When Facebook-to-Twitter updates cut off, the result can be just more noise in the Twitter stream. Example:

Picture 7

LinkedIn: Suit & tie network, business-oriented. I see too many status updates that not only have nothing to do with your business-self, but could be less than helpful if a potential employer, investor or business partner happened to visit your profile at just that moment.

That’s not to say that you can’t use the same subject and update each platform appropriately. I do that all the time. I just don’t often update simultaneously. Maybe it’s a control thing. But I want to know that each group of fans/friends/followers is getting the best content for them, at the right “pace” and the most relevant.

When it makes sense for overlap, I prefer to send updates from Twitter. By using “Selective Twitter” on Facebook (where you add #fb to do simultaneous updates) and adding Twitter to your LinkedIn profile (use #in for simultaneous updates), you can be smart about your updates.

My personal rules of thumb are pretty basic. I use my personal Facebook page largely for personal use, so I only sync my Twitter and personal Facebook when I tweet things that are (potentially) interesting for friends & family. But what if you’re helping to manage fan pages and Twitter accounts?

Twitter –> Facebook Fan Page: Updates that translate easily to a Facebook audience. That means knowing what the people connected to the company on each platform want and expect. And, without exception, the expectations are different. For one company in particular, Facebook fans are only interested in updates from the company and I get very little interaction around other information. Twitter friends, on the other hand, like a variety of information and often retweet or reply to non-company-related tweets. When I sync the two, it’s only when the two groups’ interests overlap.

Twitter –> LinkedIn: Updates that are related to my business and add something to my virtual resume. These updates also need to be more “timeless.” That is, I don’t update LinkedIn as often as the other networks, so the updates should add value and not get stale too quickly.

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I know full well that people will disagree with me and have a different approach to this conundrum. I’d love to hear what you think!

Social Media,

Blogging: Creating a Window to Your World

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From My Apartment Window in Tuscany by Foto Iervolino

From My Apartment Window in Tuscany by Foto Iervolino

When you’re ready to launch a blog, rather personal or professional, it’s important to think beyond just “what am I going to blog about?” Your blog is a window into your professional life and what people see and how they see it is up to you.

Have a strategy: Even if you’re creating a personal blog, have a sense of what you want to accomplish with it. Do you want your blog to be informational, to help you to define and explore your thoughts & ideas about working in public relations or maybe show your interest and expertise around a topic or issue?

Think about functionality: Think about what you want the experience to be for your readers. Making your blog easy on the eyes and simple to navigate is the first step. But remember that window analogy – what do you want your readers to see? Do you want to share photos? How about a Flickr widget. Also think about including things like a Twitter widget, recent comments, videos, etc. The possibilities are vast. It may seem like simply window dressing, but think about what a blog tell you about its author. And then, in turn, what you want people to know about you.

Create a schedule: Know how often you want to blog and stick to a schedule. Most blogging software will let you blog whenever and then schedule your posts, so you don’t have to necessarily blog on a schedule – hey! life comes up. I usually blog on the weekend and schedule posts to update during the week.

Develop a ethics & comment policy: This may seem silly, but it’s important that you think through what your policies are and how you will handle tough issues when they come up (not if, but when). You can check out my policies for this blog and feel free to borrow.

Include an “about me” section with a picture & bio. People connect with people and being the real and authentic you is an important part of blogging. You don’t need a boring headshot and overly-scripted bio. Be yourself!

Include a blogroll: I love the way WordPress lets you organize links. Being able to categorize them allows me to think through what topics I want to discuss and frame my blog appropriately. Regardless of your platform, however, don’t take your blogroll lightly. It’s important to think about what your choices reveal about what you want to say.

Just spend some time thinking about your blog and what role you want it to play in your professional life. By doing so, you’ll be able to design the best window into your world that you can before you invite people over.

I’d love to hear other tips. What lessons have you learned as a blogger along these lines?

Social Media,

Thoughts Out Loud: Local Governments Using Social Media

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I had the pleasure of being part of a panel on KOPB’s Think Out Loud the morning of October 6. The topic was using social media in local government.

A few key points I think came out of the discussion (based on feedback I got from people):

  • Organizations must be deliberate and approach social media thoughtfully and strategically.
  • Be human and be real. If you’re not, people won’t want to interact with you online. If people/orgs appear insincere, consumers will stop reading or following.
  • Social media will not replace traditional channels of outreach and is not a panacea for organizations to connect with their constituents.
  • Social media is a paradigm shift and is about sharing, not about one way information.

In preparation for my participation on the panel, I thought about potential topics and made some notes for myself. I covered most of these in my remarks, but I wanted to share some of my favorite points with you here.

Why should local government participate?

  • Be part of existing conversations about your agency/organization and its services
  • Put a human face on government
  • Make government easy to access
  • Engage new audiences
  • Build dialogue with your constituents

How should government participate?

  • Listen first. Know where conversations are occurring so you can meet your audience where they are.
  • Be authentic and transparent
  • Be strategic. Think about what you want to accomplish, how it fits in with your organization’s mission and then find the tools – not the other way around.

What if people say negative things?

  • If people are being critical or have a genuine concern, that’s ok. It’s an opportunity to respond and do so publicly. If it’s more than a basic question, take it off the social network to fully explore the issue and help solve it.
  • Spam, hate speech and porn have no place on a public sector site. Create a policy to deal with such comments and have people empowered to remove them.

I found several great resources for thinking about this topic that I’d also like to share:

What do you think? Are any government agencies doing it “right” in your view? I welcome your feedback.

[note: cross-posted at Verve:In Bloom]

Listening & Monitoring, Social Media,

Summer Resolution #1: Start Reading, Listening

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If you’re thinking about getting started in social media and have designated “this summer” as a chance to do so, the first thing you should do is start reading. Find 10 or 20 (or more) blogs that cover areas of public relations, marketing and social media that you’re interested in and start reading.

Not sure how to begin? Two PR agencies (and me) have created tools to get you started.

Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence’s Daily Influence: Powered by Netvibes (also my feed reader of choice), Daily Influence has tabs for categories in advertising, public relations and social media and subscribes to a lot of the most influential blogs in each. You can create an account on Netvibes and customize your page based on Daily Influence. Keep what you like, delete what you don’t and add in your own.

MWW Group’s M.Insight is a mobile app, which rules. You can get it on the iPhone, Blackberry and phones with Windows Mobile. Again, the application is a starter pack of the best blogs to read – and now in an on-the-go variety. The application is free (yay, free!) and is also customizable. I have it on my iPhone and really like it. It’s a good mix of stuff, most of which I subscribe to and the application is quite intuitive.


Finally, I’ve taken my social media, PR and PR educator tabs and created a public site. It works a lot like the Ogilvy Daily Influence because it’s on Netvibes, too. Compare all three recommendations here and you’ll get a very full list of PR and social media blogs that are worth reading.


Create a habit of checking your feed reader regularly (make it your home page!) and you’ll be on your way! Questions? Just ask!

For those of you who are vets at this stuff, leave your tips!

Getting Started, Social Media,

What am I Reading?

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I recently switched from Bloglines to Netvibes for my feed reader. Netvibes is just more visual and also makes it easy to access recent posts. One of the other cool features is that I can share my subscriptions with you pretty easily.

I’ve set up a public page with three tabs from my personal feed reader. There are two for public relations (one tab for professionals and one tab for educators) and one social media. You can check it out here. Please feel free to use it to start your own reading habit.

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Goldfish Leading School
All-Time Favorites, Social Media,

Balancing a Reverse Coaching Role as a Young PRo

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Most entry-level PR PRos will start in a technician role, participating in the “craft” side of public relations: writing, editing, taking photos, running special events and doing the legwork of media relations. The technician implements the management’s communication strategies.

I always try to focus on helping students show that, while they have the skills to be a technician, that they have the capacity for the problem solving, planning and counsel that is required of managers.

With social media, I think we’re seeing entry-level practitioners, well-versed in the tools of the trade, being asked to provide solutions, the strategic planning and serve as “reverse coaches.” I was chatting with my friend and colleague Pat McCormick from Conkling Fiskum McCormick about how important this “reverse coaching” role is in today’s business, especially in public relations and communications. CFM has hired several Ducks and recognizes how much its entry-level employees have to offer.

The balance, however, is that while, as new employees, you bring much-desired skills to the table, they have much to learn that only experience and strong senior mentors can bring. The way that young PRos get information, exchange information and build relationships is shifting fundamentally the way that we all communicate and they are the natives. I also think that as educators, professionals, employers – and even students – we’re just starting to really get a handle on this shift.

We have the responsibility to help prepare our students for this “reverse coaching” role, and also help them to approach that role with grace, professionalism and an open mind. They have much to learn to from their colleagues to fully realize their potential to be remarkable strategists, problem solvers and counselors.

What do you think about the changing face of communications and the entry-level practitioners role in it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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