What I’m talking about 2008-09-14

  • @JasonFalls: Happy Birthday, Angie! Hope it’s been a great one. 🙂 #
  • @mosqueda: I’m in Florida right now. We missed all the #IKE action in Texas. Thanks for thinking of me. You are just a sweetie. 🙂 #
  • @lrh A siesta on a Sunday afternoon is almost mandatory. Enjoy! #
  • @whurley: It means you are a “Chatty Cathy”. Or in this case “Chatty Charles”. #

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The Social Networking Short-Cut

Social Sites Social Networking is all the rage right now. There are those who have been a part of it in some form or fashion since it’s inception. There are others who are just hearing about it today. I became involved in Social Networking through podcasting in 2005. For me, it was about finding people who were as interested and passionate about podcasting as I was. It turned into more as the online relationships developed. Attending conference events like the New Media Expo and unconference events like Barcamp Austin led me to even more online social networks. It started off as a way to continue the conversation with folks I had met at events.

Over the years it has progressed to first meeting folks online and later meeting them in person at an event.  Even though I was meeting them for the first time, it felt as though I was visiting with an old friend. It was great! I was connecting with folks who had the same interests. It didn’t matter that they lived in Florida, Connecticut or even Canada. Our relationships were as real as any in my own town. More so, because we interacted with one another on a daily basis. I don’t do that with anyone in town with the exception of my family.

So by doing what came natural to me, chatting about stuff that interests me, it turns out I was Social Networking. Who knew?

Fast forward to 2008 and Social Networks are all the buzz. You can’t open a magazine without hearing about Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube and so many more. There is a lot of socializing going on in the Social Networks. So much so that Big Business has started to pay attention. Southwest Airlines, Comcast and Zappo’s are not only on the networks, they are actively participating in them daily. Ford just hired Scott Monty as their Social Media Strategist. Other companies are taking a serious look at Social Networking.

What does this mean for someone who wants to get involved but doesn’t know the first place to start? There are so many networks out there it can make your head spin. Which ones should you join and which ones should you avoid like the plague? Oh sure, there is always the old standard method of trial and terror. It does work. However, it can be time consuming and fraught with Social Media faux pas. If you are a business owner you may not have the time to learn the ropes. And there is a learning curve. There are folks who jump in with both feet and in their excitement proceed to get blocked or ignored.

While Social Networks can be beneficial for your business, organization or group, there is a right way and a wrong way to participate depending on the network. I highly recommend you take the time to learn about each network to see which one best suits your personality, interests and goals. In this case it’s okay to be a bit of a lurker. It’s one way to learn the nuances and ensure your acceptance into the community at large.

Another way to jump into the social media landscape is to participate in one of the unconference-style camp events which happen periodically around the country. They pack informative sessions on podcasting, videoblogging and social media all into one day long event. Here in San Antonio we have PodCamp San Antonio and the upcoming Barcamp San Antonio. Check for an event in your neck of the woods on the various camp wiki’s. Here is the Podcamp Wiki which shows future and past events.

And still another way would be to participate in a workshop or hands-on class. These are meant to be small and intimate affairs where the goal is to not just learn but to do. One of my favorite sayings is, “It’s all about the DOING”. It’s fine and dandy to have plans but if the actual DOING of the plans isn’t carried out then the plan was for naught. This could apply to just about anything but it certainly is applicable when it comes to Social Networking.

You could also hire a Social Media Consultant or Strategist to help you navigate the ever changing landscape that is Social Networking. This would be considered the most personalized method for introduction into the world of Social Networking. Each facet is highly customized to the particular organization. Having a guide to help you maneuver through the nuances of each particular site certainly makes participating less daunting.

Out of the four options I listed above, I consider the last two Social Networking Short-cuts. By hiring a Consultant or participating in a workshop you are able to shorten the learning curve considerably. The margin of error also goes down and your adoption rate goes up putting you on the fast track to Social Media Nirvana. Which is the perfect blend of real world and online world interaction with folks who are passionate about your business, brand, cause or even you.

What will it be like when you share coffee with folks all over the country over a Social Network like Twitter? How much of a boost will your career take once you engage with the LinkedIn community? Who will your dog connect with on Dogster?  Yes, even dogs and cats (Catster) are doing it. So, just how telling is it when dogs and cats have their own Social Network?

In case a workshop is more your style, I have partnered up with Connie Reece and Sheila Scarborough to conduct several workshops on Three Web 2.0 Tools. There are two in July. One is on Friday, July 18th in Austin, TX at the Hilton Garden Inn Northwest.  The other workshop will be held one week later on Friday, July 25th in San Antonio, TX at the San Antonio Technology Center. These workshops will be hands-on and highly interactive. Get ready to roll your sleeves up for an indepth introduction to three of the best ways to start your social media journey.

Regardless of the method chosen to engage in Social Networking, I do believe participation is the key to sucess. I hope you find Social Networking as informative and fun as I have.

Is Your Account For Sale? Andrew Baron’s Twitter Account On eBay

For Sale Sign

Is selling your social network community account like selling a car, a house or a business? Can it be a simple transaction for some cold hard cash? Christopher Penn has a post giving the example of credit bureaus selling a list of names in their database to lend support to the idea of selling a large community account database. Is the credit bureaus selling lists of names any different than what Andrew Baron has done by posting his Twitter account for sale on eBay?

I say yes.

Yes, because of the intimate nature of a social network community like Twitter. Of course I could just unfollow and block him (or whoever) from following me. There is a bigger issue involved in this action. Trust. I trust the folks I’ve chosen to follow with trivial and sometimes not so trivial aspects to my life. On a daily basis we communicate bits and pieces of our lives. Now I have to wonder if the person I developed a relationship within a community will still be the same person later.

It is true that Andrew could have sold his account without informing anyone beforehand. Had he done so the new owner of the account could have wielded considerable influence. Recipients of the tweets would be none the wiser to the change in ownership. I do applaud his choice to be transparent, including the community in the sale. In a sense allowing us to be part of the process through the conversations, comments and tweets during the auction.

At the same time I am not crazy about the place this takes us the social networking community. We all know there are spammers who have discovered sites like Twitter. They’re the ones who are talking at us and not with us. Following 3000+ people with only have a few hundred following back. You can spot them a mile away because their tweets have links in every single one of their posts. So database mining, linking, selling isn’t new to Twitter. What is new is having someone with “community cred” put a For Sale By Owner sign on their personal social networking community account.

Other than trust, another thing that comes to mind is the selling of a community when it is tied so closely to your personal brand. A business brand is one thing. If you sold your business then it would stand to reason that all properties (real or virtual) would be transferred to the new owner. So if you sell your Twitter account what about your other community accounts? What about Pownce, Plaxo, LinkedIn or Facebook accounts? Are those also for sale in a separate auction?

What if the highest bidder is an entity that promotes things that are the polar opposite to your own beliefs. Say you are a “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” person and the new owner is a “Baby seals make the best fur coats” person. Do you want that tied to your personal brand?

My own thoughts are that such an action diminishes the value of social network communities. The true power of these communities is their intimate and personal nature. The folks I’ve met through Twitter are folks with whom I have enjoyed interacting. I have developed a sense of who they are and they of me. I have had the pleasure of meeting quite a few of the folks from my Twitter community. The power of the social network community is further enhanced by these face-to-face meetings. As of yet, I have not been disappointed or surprised. Everyone has been exactly who they are on Twitter. Even though we are meeting for the first time, it’s like I’m meeting with an old friend. So now take that dynamic and put it up on the auction block for sale to the highest bidder. How exactly does that translate?

I understand that Andrew left a comment on Chris Brogan’s blog that the auction of his Twitter account on eBay is an experiment. So perhaps the sale of the account isn’t real but a gimmick or perhaps research material. The auction ends in 10 days. I am sure there will be many blog posts, articles and debate surrounding this long after the auction is complete. One thing for sure, Andrew Baron has certainly stirred things up.

Social Networking Tools = Employment?

At the recent Co-Working event held at Firecat Studios the discussion came around to what employers are looking for now in new hires. As a self-employed gal who gladly left Corporate America years ago, normally this type of talk has me going through my grocery list while tuning out. However this time was different. What I found fascinating about this was that one of the new criteria for employment consideration is familiarity with Social Networking Tools. Things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to name a few.

I had to stop the conversation to make sure I had heard right. You mean the stuff that most folks get into trouble doing at work is now what could get you hired? The answer surprised me. While it isn’t the only criteria used to make an employment choice, it certainly can put an applicant on the short list.

Now let me clarify this point a bit before you go off and amend your resume. It isn’t enough for someone to say they have knowledge of the Social Networking Tools. Nope. Having a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account is all fine and dandy. Sure, signing up is easy. The real test is how you have used the Social Networking Tools.

Do you participate?

For example, if you signed up for Twitter back in March 2007 during SXSW and haven’t used it much since, it might be time to dust off your account and rattle off some tweets. Thought Facebook was for college kids? Not anymore. You’d be surprised at who and what you’ll find there. Wonder about the value of LinkedIn? It’s where you’ll find some of these new hires that not only get it, but love it.

Don’t know where to start? Friend a few folks and get to know the community. Slowly but surely you’ll find yourself not only understanding the value of these tools, but having a good time in the process. Still not sure if this is for you? Well let’s take it one step at a time. You can always start with me.

Microblogging

Twitter
Jaiku Pownce

With all the cool ways we have to stay connected to one another it’s no wonder that the simple things seem to win out in the end. Blogging in and of itself requires a bit more thought and planning. Whereas microblogging is done quickly and on-the-fly. It suites my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style.

I’m able to express my thoughts, ask questions, get feedback and so much more. All in small bits. What’s even better is that the feedback is instantaneous. If I need an answer to something I know I can count on my friends in the Microblogging-sphere to come to my aid.

Having been an active member of Twitter for the past 9 months, I consider it an essential part of blogging. It has been well worth my time to participate in this small but daily bit of conversation. As a matter of fact, you might say it’s my preferred method of communicating.

The sense of closeness within in this tight knit community is never stronger than when our fellow microbloggers need help. Sickness and sorrow have moved my fellow microbloggers, Connie Reece & Dan Mosqueda, to create fundraising initiatives towards breast cancer research and unexpected funeral expenses. An amazing accomplishment for such a simple medium. I applaud the folks who take this simple but effective form of communication to a real and human level. That is what it means to be a part of the microblogging community.