Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why I Really Dislike Value Judgments

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia
"People with opinions just go around bothering one another." The Buddha

There has been a discussion(mostly for fun) going on over the last few months about whether or not Facebook should add a Dislike button aside its popular Like option on status/news/etc. updates. I do see where this could often be harmless fun if people are arguing about baseball or TV or something trivial. But...I regularly see wires crossed in the world of the social web. As people(this person included), it's pretty normal operation to put your foot in your mouth or accidentally offend a friend. Do we need Facebook's help in straining our relationships? As an example...

How is a person to decode a simple "Dislike" status on something they said?

Or, how to decode if a large number of your friends Dislike something you say?

Many people walk away from social media because they tire of the negative forces in action. Facebook has done a good job of encouraging members to stay positive. Granted, users can do whatever they want with a status update or a comment box, but a Dislike button seems very impersonal and too easy to misunderstand.

One of the most common bits of advice about the social web is to stay positive. I see this play out in my own interactions, as I tend to steer clear of the bile. True misery plays okay("My car is in the shop, again!"), but political, religious, or just plain grumpy posts should stay in your head("The current/past/future President is a big, dumb jerk!"). So, I contend that life can be miserable enough without a negativity engine running on Facebook.

Who's with me? I'm accepting all Likes/Dislikes via comments below.
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Why I fell out of love with social media, but we're still good friends...

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing." Goethe

You know that guy that when he first discovers a new band he likes, he goes nuts and has to play their music for everyone? The minute you walk into his house, he sits you down for a short speech followed by a reverent listening of a new favorite group. Fill in the blank with anything people are passionate, motorcycles, shoes(for the ladies!).

Well, time to fess up. I was that guy with social media. Thanks to a dynamic, passionate presentation by Geoff Livingston over a year ago, I was instantly hooked. I couldn't wait to sign up for every site that was out there. I couldn't wait to tell co-workers, friends, family and the guy at the bus stop about how Twitter and Facebook were going to absolutely change their life, absolutely. As laid out in Geoff's book Now is Gone, the world of communication had changed forever - especially in the areas of public relations and corporate communications. Geoff was right, and I'm really glad I was able to be exposed to the shift in thought, but...

The mistake I made was in becoming that guy, the over-excited guy. That excitement led to some great opportunities for speaking, meeting great new people, and a complete 180 in how I view the job of public relations. Plenty of good came of it.

So, where am I know? Per the title of this post, I am still "good friends" with social media. For a time, I'd considered jettisoning my various social media outlets. Following evaluation, I realized this was a bit strong, and instead chose to re-evaluate my usage and goals for each tool. As a metaphor, I needed to make sure I wasn't using my house key to try to start my car.

I see social media as an incredibly valuable tool for organizations, if used correctly. The tools are not the answer, in and of themselves. Companies used to desperately need a web site, but they weren't sure why. Today, companies want a social media presence, but they aren't sure why. It's up to the experts and the willing individuals with an organization's leadership to take the next step.

There's no denying, the use of these tools can be great fun. It's fun in the same way that any great social gathering can be. So, dig in, have fun. But be careful not to become that guy. Social media is a new, great thing, but it will soon find it's place among the other tools of the trade.

What's your take?

Photo Gracias: That's me fist-bumping my computer. Har-har.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

5 Reasons to Ditch Your Professional Organization

I've spent the week thinking about professional organizations. If you missed it the first time around, take a look at Are Professional Organizations Old School? and 5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization. Everything seems to come packaged as a trilogy these days (even Fast & the Furious movies), so here's part 3 in the series...

5 Reasons to Ditch Your Professional Organization

1. You're Bored: If you are not engaged in what is going on, then get out. It would likely be better for you to visit a favorite spot, or to spend some time reading a great book, than frowning at the members of an organization you are not excited about.

2. Stagnant: It's the same 15 people every meeting, and you can't stand 14 of them.

3. Zero return: I'm not suggesting you look at every activity of your life in this results-only mode, but you should evaluate how you are spending your time. Most professionals complain about how they don't have enough time. If you can think of something that is much better for you professionally than attending another meeting of Brand X Organization, then move on.

4. The Pinch: In some way, every family/individual or company is feeling a pinch of the current economic situation. Most professional organizations are not cheap. There's typically an annual membership and then related costs like meals, transportation to get there, etc. It might simply be too expensive to play along right now.

5. It's for My Resume: Professional organizations are nice additions to an already great resume, but I'd hedge it will likely not be the single thing that sways a hiring manager. This can even work against you. I have spoken to several managers who will turn a critical eye to job candidates who seem to spend most of their time on professional organizations. It begs the question, "How much real work did they have time for?"

That closes out the week. Feel free to comment, sneer, etc., below.

Photo Gracias: Flickr user Chad Horwedel

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

My recent post, "Are Professional Organizations Old School?," led to some great foll0w-up discussions. Below is a list of five reasons to participate in a professional organization. Special thanks to @LindaJacobson, @dquack, @vedo, @kristen_okla and Craig(comments) for weighing in online or off.

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

1. Face-to-Face: There is still immense value in meeting with people face-to-face. Online tools like Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc., have drawn us all a bit closer online, but it is still no substitute for real live interaction. Online social interaction saps non-verbal cues and much of the human element out of everyday communication.
2. Get Out: Almost all of us are guilty of being chained to our routines. Whether you sit at a desk or have a more active job, it's easy to get in a rut. By attending a professional meeting/happy hour/etc., you are getting out of the office and into the world. Anything can happen out there.
3. Meet New People: Whether you are an independent practitioner who mostly talks to your cat or an office worker who mostly interacts with the same small group of people, there's real value in branching out and having a few new conversations. Also, you learn pretty quick about which areas you(or your organization) are ahead or behind the curve.
4. Jobs: A bit of a no-brainer here, but there are still college students being churned out every day that think they'll be handed a job based on their amazing promise and college accomplishments. I can gig them a little because I was one of those graduates. I could not understand why employers were not as excited about me as I was about me. Even if you are not looking for a job, the connections you make today could help you down the line. Good people hire good people, not resumes.
5. Leadership Experience: Every organization I have been involved with is looking for people to head up committees and perform other functions like updating a web site, managing a LinkedIn group, lining up speakers, etc. Perhaps you are a person who needs to prove to your managers that you are leadership material. Or perhaps you simply want the valuable experience of working within a leadership group. You will also gain insight into financial aspects, politics, and other areas that are possibly not part of your regular experience.

So there's my five, do you have any to add?
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Are Professional Organizations Old School?

In my professional life, I have been a member of several organizations. Some of these have been very rewarding, and some very questionable. In recent interactions, many young professionals are telling me they get what they need from online sources. They are skipping the traditional lunch and happy hour circuit for online networking sources like LinkedIn and Facebook. There's no question that it's more economical, both time and cost-wise, to invest in online groups - but is this pocket of professionals missing something?
I am not picking on recent grads, by the way, I have known many professionals who preferred not to join organizations and had long and successful careers.
So there's the question - Are the non-joiners missing out, or are they really the enlightened crowd?

Photo gracias: Flickr user Binkixxx.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Twitter Rocks: Twitter is Your Favorite Hometown Band That Made it Big.

I've always thought that some of the best albums are second albums. Bands that were once obscure and working hard just to get gigs now have the confidence, time, and financial support to really crank out some magic. So I pose the question:

Is Twitter now your favorite hometown band that's made it big?

1. There are many rumors of the "second act" for Twitter. Will it be fully integrated(or swallowed) by another established service like Facebook. Will it lose its identity in the process?
Anybody remember when Garth Brooks decided he was now pop star Chris Gaines. It was just weird.
Which brings me to...

2. Will Twitter sell out? In music circles, true fans can point to the exact minute their favorite band sold out. Some would say Twitter has already done this? I don't agree. It's become a cultural phenomenon, partly due to all the press about how Twitter is getting lots of press.
"Selling out" has almost become a term for elderly music fans, as most fans get that marketing integration is one of the best ways to get your music heard these days. (Thx @TomOKeefe1 for the thought.)

3. Does the new stuff sound like the old stuff? When bands get big, fans can forgive them if they don't start dressing too funny and their music still sounds like them. The important thing with Twitter is that it keep to the spirit of what has made it successful. It's going to change and evolve, but will it keep the elements that brought us all there in the first place. We'll have to wait and see.
Incubus and Good Charlotte used to be hard rock bands. Now they're pop bands. Some people stayed along for the ride, some ditched them. Artists like U2, Madonna and Bob Dylan took their image and music in 100 different directions all while increasing their fan base and holding onto the majority of their true fans.

4. Can they survive major changes in personnel? So far, all is well on that front. In the spirit of Twitter, their "execs" are right out front in the community. The wrong leadership could be deadly for the service. Unlike many corporations, they are built on personality - and like music(see how I brought that home), the people and personalities really matter.
Van Halen was great with David Lee Roth, good with Sammy Hagar, Gary Cherone anyone?

So, fans and critics, will Twitter's second album rock?

More Twitter Rocks: Twitter desktop apps in guitar terms.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Social Media 101 Presentation

Presented "Social Media for School Foundations" yesterday at the National School Foundation Association Conference in Westlake, TX. (If you're trying to find Westlake, it's just NW of Southlake, TX. No joke.) I heard from conference planners that it was one of the best attended breakout sessions of the conference. I'm not saying this to congratulate myself, I'm saying this to say that social media continues to loom large as a topic of discussion and interest.

Here's the breakdown from yesterday:

If you are speaker, I strongly encourage you to stick to one product(or one category of social media) for a presentation. I have done several of these now and I feel they've been much better for me(and the audience) when they focus on one product. I did an introduction and then focused on the four(IMO) best social media "products" for development/fundraising.

1. LinkedIn: To my surprise(from prior experience), 3/4 of the audience were using LinkedIn. From my impression, many had signed up and not done much more with the account. This is very common in social media. I've done this with several products, but I think LinkedIn is worth a little time. The majority of the group "got it" and a few seemed to content to continue to network via the phone and business cards.
2. Blog: This topic is best suited to 2 to 3 hours. I focused on two of the most powerful elements of blogging: active listening and telling stories. The group seemed to relax a little, and really like the idea, of turning over some of the writing duties to their passionate stakeholders(i.e. grant winners, board members, etc.). I recommended getting started via or I also argued that a blog could even replace a Foundation Web site, and even do a better job in many cases.
3. Facebook: Facebook seemed to have the most interest. The group was surprised to hear that the majority of FB users are out of college already and the fastest growing demographic of users are over 30. One attendee said she likes the use of the Causes group for foundation activities. There still seemed to be a lingering discomfort with crossing business and family/friend relationships on FB. At the least, I encouraged individuals to (sparingly, smartly and naturally) to include information about what they are doing professionally in their FB status.
4. Twitter: By the time I got to Twitter, I had roughly two minutes to finish. But, everyone hung around and agreed they "really, really" wanted to know that this Twitter thingy was they had heard so much about. By then, we really had reached critical mass. Several stuck around and asked questions about Twitter, though. Twitter remains a SM201 tool, primarily because there is really no roadmap for use of the service. I recently presented a full hour on Twitter with colleague Richie Escovedo - that post and pres are here.
**IF YOU WERE THERE: Feel free to let me know about the pres, ask further questions, etc., below in the comment section. Overall, I hope it convinced you to at least try something new. And thanks again, the discussion and interaction was great (esp. for a 3 p.m. crowd).
Links from the presentation are here - .

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Nuts and Bolts of Twitter

I presented yesterday on The Nuts and Bolts of Twitter at the Best of the Southwest Communicators Conference, sponsored by the Texas Public Relations Association and the PRSA Southwest District. My co-presenter Richie Escovedo and I opened the presentation by signing up a Twitter newbie(welcome @mayday08). It was a fun presentation, and judging from the attendance and the bulk of questions - Twitter continues to loom large in the PR world.
Most questions centered on:
1. How can I monitor a brand?
2. How do you find time to use Twitter?
3. What are the best apps, especially for mobile devices?
4. What should I include in my bio?

(Thanks to Richie for posting our pres on Slideshare. Enjoy.)
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Watch This: David Merrill on Siftables

If you're not well acquainted with the TED site, click over and enjoy. Below is a great video from David Merrill on what he calls "siftables." It's really amazing stuff. (Thanks to @paisano and @vedo for directing me to the video.)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Social Media for School PR.

Richie Escovedo and I presented the below Social Media Tools for School PR presentation this week at the Texas School Public Relations Association Conference in San Antonio. It is always interesting to see where questions will lead. I've been part of presentations on this topic quite a bit in the last year, as well as many conversations. There's been a positive trend that the majority of PR professionals are beginning to shift from a slight resistance to social media to a healthy curiosity.
The majority of questions centered on these topics:
1. Promoting social media when many social media sites are blocked at schools and school facilities
2. Facebook - Good? Bad? (special interest in photos & tagging)
3. Blogging - How often? How does one find time?
4. Security issues with social media related to students, staff, and PR initiatives

This presentation is also available on Slideshare.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Twitter Rocks: Desktop apps in guitar terms

People are always asking, "How can I really use this Twitter thing?" If you are only using the basic interface(see first example below), then you are missing out on the full experience. I could go on and on about all the cool instruments that are out there, but why not explain it in human terms. I'm a fan of rock, so here's a few desktop Twitter apps in guitar terms. Enjoy!

Classic Twitterfeed via Once upon a time, this was the only feed available. There are updates made to the interface, but currently the Twitterfolk are more focused on keeping their product alive than adding features.(Plus, why do this when independents are working hard to create killer apps?)
Rocking: It's the original. You can say you've been Tweeting there since @The_Real_Shaq was playing for the Lakers. Still a good way to add people. You also get the benefit of the person's full profile.
Lame: Pretty slow to bounce around on this site. Currently not a quick interface for direct messaging, re-tweeting, etc.
Guitarspeak: It's like Stevie Ray's old Strat. It's old and basic, but if you know what you're doing, it can definitely get the job done.

One-liner update via Twhirl: This is great, as you get a regularly refreshed stream from your Twitter friends. There's a handy window to add updates, and you can click on someone's avatar to send a reply, direct message, add as fav, or re-tweet. This is the most similar experience to Twitter apps available for iPhone and Storm.
Rocking: Speed is generally good. Nice look, and not much desktop real estate required.
Lame: It does not allow for management of multiple Twitter accounts, or searches. Even w ith a giant monitor, you're held to about 12 of your most recent Tweets on-screen.
Guitarspeak: Les Paul. Great look and pretty easy to maneuver. It's good enough to not need anything else, unless you are looking to be a guitar god. Then you need more, read on.

Twitter overload via Tweetdeck: Tweetdeck allows you to watch your own regular Twitterstream - plus streams for searches and groups of your friends. Several people I have bumped into use an app like this to follow subjects and do not worry much with following people via the standard Twitter workflow.
Rocking: This is great for those of you that are ADD, or if you are using Twitter for professional means. For example, if you are a reporter - you could use Tweetdeck to follow trending topics or to see what people are saying about your beat. You can also use it just like Twhirl through the magic of maximizing and minimizing the window. (Extra rock props for the black bird logo!)
Lame: It has been known to crash, but just think of this as when your favorite band plays that one awful song and you get to take a restroom break. Use it as a break and go outside, see if the sun is shining. Then, get right back on there.
Guitarspeak: Rick Nielsen(from Cheap Trick) had the chops to play a five neck guitar. It didn't stress him out, he made it rock.

Photo gracias: Flickr user Miki and Steve,, Flickr user Brett Wilde , Hamer Guitars.

More Twitter Rocks: Twitter is Your Favorite Hometown Band That Made It Big
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just for Fun: Morph Thing.

For those of you that are fans of Conan O'Brien's face morphing, you can now do your own thanks to Morph Thing. Above is one I did of Shia LeBeouf and Queen Elizabeth II. Dig it!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Watch This: Fifty People, One Question.

Came across this great video by Crush and Lovely. There's a second here, if you like the first. Great stuff. Enjoy.

Fifty People, One Question: New York from Crush & Lovely on Vimeo.