Encouraging Community with Strategic Engagement

The Social Annie-versary Experiment

Today, my wife Annie and I celebrate 9 years of wedded bliss.  Okay, so it hasn’t been all bliss, but if I had it to do over, I wouldn’t change a thing.  And hey, that’s more than a lot of people can say these days (my wife included, I think).

Photo courtesy KC Brock

As the saying goes, opposites attract.  That’s certainly true in a lot of areas for us.  One of those areas is the internet and social media.  I’m heavily involved in both while my wife may occasionally send a friend an e-mail.  She could certainly do more in the space, she just chooses not to.

Still, sometimes I find myself wishing she’d stumbled upon my latest witty comment or random musing on her own instead of having to ask her to pause the DVR long enough so that I can read them to her out loud.  Sort of loses a bit of its magic that way, you know?

In comes the Social Annie-versary Experiment, an idea I came up with just yesterday (far be it from me to avoid last minute anniversary ideas now).

Watch the video for the whole scoop. And let me know your thoughts regarding social media and the experiment itself.  Is she better off staying away from Facebook and Twitter, et al?

You can help by commenting and/or spreading the word on Facebook and Twitter – use the hashtag #nothings – when you tweet/update ‘sweet nothings’ to your significant other.   I’ll peruse them throughout the day and may use my favorites on my honey (feel free to do the same).  Maybe before the day is over, you and I will have a crowd-sourced list of great ‘sweet nothings’ we can save for just the right moment.

Oh, and I may as well kick off the sweet nothings right here:

Honey, I love you more and more every day I’m alive.

Organize and Find Everything in One Place with Springpad and Evernote

If you’re like most people, between shopping, eating, surfing the net, conversations with friends and basically just living your day-to-day life, you constantly come across products, web pages and ideas you want to remember.  However, if you’re like me – and I hope for your sake you’re not – it can be a real challenge as to how to organize it all.

Chances are you’ve at least heard of Evernote.  With Evernote, you can save just about anything you want to remember in the cloud.  I’ve been using it extensively the last few months, mostly to organize others’ blog posts I want to refer back to, though there’s a lot more to it than that.

Unfortunately, for me at least, Evernote has slowly become yet another place to store my bookmarks, along with my Firefox browser and Delicious, giving me as many as three places they might be (to be fair, I’ve been using Evernote mostly on my desktop and long before I acquired my first smartphone a few weeks ago).

Recently, though, I came across a similar, free service called Springpad.  While Springpad mirrors Evernote in many ways – helping you save ideas, things you see, things you like, etc. – it does add a couple of new dimensions that I find intriguing.

First, the similarities:

  1. Both allow you to save just about anything you come across.  This could be a photo you’ve taken, a website or article you come across, an idea, any number of things.  Let’s say you’re planning a wedding and want to have one place to save dress photos, venue options, guest lists, whatever.  Instead of lugging around that three-ring binder, access everything you need right from your smartphone.
  2. You can save items independently or tag and categorize them in folders.  Either way, finding them later is as easy as entering a keyword or selecting the folder (say, “XYZ Project) that contains the items you’re looking for.
  3. Both offer their own smartphone app.  Likewise, I use an Evernote Firefox add-on and a Springpad (Spring It!) bookmarklet when surfing the web.
  4. Both are free.  Evernote does offer a paid version, but I’ve found the monthly 40MB offered with the free version  to be more than enough for me.  For $5 a month, you’ll get a total of 500MB of space that starts over every month.

Beyond that, there are several key differences:

  1. When it comes to how you save what you find, Evernote adds the option of saving audio notes on your app-enabled smartphone.  This feature, on the surface at least, seems to be one of the few advantages Evernote has over Springpad.
  2. Conversely, Springpad enables you to barcode searches.  You can even “search nearby.”  This might come in handy when, say, you see a restaurant or store you want to remember to visit later.  Save it and Springpad automatically pulls in the phone number and address of the business, even a Yelp review if applicable.
  3. Snap a photo that includes handwritten or printed text and Evernote makes it searchable.  Very cool.
  4. One key difference is Springpad adds social sharing to the equation.  You can choose what items, or categories of items, you’d like to make public. Others can follow what you’re sharing and, likewise, you can follow others.  Want to know about great wines Gary Vaynerchuk is discovering?  Just follow his Springpad feed.
  5. The web interface also allows you to add apps to your Springpad experience.  For example, my Springpad includes a blog post and date night planner among others.  Last week when I had an idea for a new blog post I wanted to remember, I noted it in Springpad and was able to even set a reminder e-mail for the day I wanted to work on it.  One drawback though is interfacing with these apps does not appear to be an option within the Springpad smartphone app.
  6. Lastly, when you save something, Springpad automatically curates relevant links, notes and other media (as in #2 above).  Spring a movie you want to check out and Springpad will include a link to Fandango so you can buy tickets whenever you’re ready, or maybe even the latest Trailer, reviews, or a link to purchase the DVD at Amazon.

I’ve only being using Springpad for a short while.  I can say for sure that the lack of a desktop app (versus Evernote which offers both a web and desktop version) is a big deal for me.  I use the Evernote desktop app virtually everyday.  However, I really like the additional features, like social sharing, that Springpad offers.

For more on both services, check out the respective videos below.  And let me know in the comments section which one you use, how you use it, and what you do and/or don’t like about it.  Do you use both?  Which do you prefer?

Have I missed any features?  Differences?  Similarities?

Photo credit, Franck-Boston on iStockphoto.com

No Size Fits All: Video Book Review No. 2

I first became aware of this intriguing new book at Mark Ramsey’s blog Hear 2.0.  If you’re so inclined, I highly recommend you take some time to read his analysis of what the book has to offer.

If you’re in the business of figuring out your industry’s or company’s digital future, and are fascinated by the psychology behind the popularity of social networking – or for that matter, why some marketers are welcomed to otherwise closed communities with open arms while others aren’t – then I highly recommend you give it a go.

There’s a bit of nostalgia where this particular video is concerned.  It was shot at my parent’s home in the room I grew up in as a boy.  Unfortunately, the Farrah Fawcett posters are no longer a part of the room’s decor.  What a shame.

Changing Facebook’s News Feed Default Settings

It’s been a few weeks since Facebook launched its recent round of changes.  Those changes not only included a slight face lift (no pun intended), but some under-the-hood changes as well.  If you’re like many, you’re still getting used to them.

In fact, it you spend time on Facebook daily, you may have noticed that what you’re posting isn’t being commented on at the same level you’re used to.  Part of the reason for that, I believe, is due to the changes Facebook made to some of the personal profile default settings.

First, it’s important to note that this won’t change, necessarily, by making the simple adjustments I describe in the video below.  For that to happen, everyone else you’re connected with will need to do the same.  To put it simply, you need to spread the word.

However, if you feel – as I did – that you’re just not seeing near the activity in your Facebook stream that you once did, the simple adjustments outlined in this screencast should help change that.  I hope it helps.

Photo credit, Photos8.com

The Only Book on Social Media Marketing You’ll Ever Need

Several months ago I promised Tamar Weinberg I’d do a video review of her book The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web.  My apologies to her for taking so long to get around to it.  After all, how hard can a video book review be, right?

After being sidetracked with other projects shortly after reading the first two-thirds, I finally got around to finishing it recently.  If you buy one book on social media, do yourself a favor and make it this one.

For the ultimate review of Tamar’s new book, check out this video from Polar Unlimited.

Sales and Social Media: PB & J or Oil and Water?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation to our company’s Business Development Directors on the benefits of considering certain social media tools to reach their goals.

My First Prezi Presentation

Mixing sales (or marketing) and social media is, of course, done by companies and individuals all over the world every day.  But, if your social media approach is lead by what you’re going to get out of it (ulterior motives) as opposed to shining the spotlight on other people (altruistic motives), make no mistake that people will see right through it.

My main point then was two-fold.  If you’re not participating, that doesn’t mean the conversations aren’t happening, they simply go on without you.  And, once in the game, are you there for the right reasons?  If it’s primarily to add value to whatever community you’re in and to help whenever possible, then the answer is yes.

Thanks to Brian Solis, Olivier Blanchard, John Haydon, Chris Brogan and everyone else who inspires me every day to aide those around me in their quest to make sense of all this stuff.  By the way, I tried embedding the presentation here but apparently wordpress.com doesn’t like Prezi.  At least they’re not playing well together.  Instead, I’ve included the public link.  I hope you like it.

Sales and Social Media: PB & J or Oil and Water?

Chris Brogan, Trust Agents and Social Media: Old-Fashioned Common Sense

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation made my Chris Brogan.  Through Thursday you can purchase a DVD of the eventChristine Taylor and JTMar partnered with Stage Post Studios to not only make Chris available in person to several hundred Nashvillians, but they also streamed the event online, including incorporating questions via Twitter and by phone all in real time.  Everyone in attendance also receive an autographed copy of Chris’ new book Trust Agents, written with Julien Smith.

Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

The name Chris Brogan has become synonymous with all things social media.  Many consider him to be the authority on the subject and the single best example for individuals desiring to be viewed as thought leaders and influencers and for companies hoping to more intimately connect with customers.

Needless to say, none of us were disappointed.  However, I did find myself continually thinking, “This all sounds so familiar.”  Chris himself mentioned more than once that so much of what works in the online world is truly nothing more than good ol’ fashioned common sense.  Help other people first.

I think Zig Ziglar said it best years ago:  “You can get everything in life you want, if you can just help enough other people get what they want.”  You could even go back a little further.  Remember the Golden Rule?  To paraphrase, it says, in essence, treat other people the way you yourself desire to be treated.  Or, as Chris so succinctly puts it,  exercise some “common sense.”

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents

Photo credit, affiliatesummit

It shouldn’t be hard, right?  Yet every day, each of us finds ourselves interacting with someone who has either failed to understand it, or understands it and is simply choosing to ignore it (maybe, heaven forbid, it’s that person in the mirror).  The best illustration I’ve ever heard that really helped to put this into perspective came from Chris yesterday.

Imagine someone you’re being introduced to for the first time has just reached out to shake your hand.  You oblige and then waste no time as you stick your tongue in their mouth.

As extreme as that sounds, it’s essentially what so many who don’t “get it” are doing every day.  How many times do you receive a friend request on Facebook (or a “follow” on Twitter or, name your platform) from someone you don’t know – and who hasn’t taken the time to even include a personal message of introduction – that is soon followed by a note about what services or product they offer that you might be interested in?

If you’ve ever chatted with someone with experience waiting tables, you’re likely to find they view the Sunday “after church” crowd as one of the worst group of tippers around (at least that’s what my anecdotal research reveals).  In some cases, the waiter or waitress is more likely to find a tract (a plan of salvation) than a tip once the table empties (just what the world needs: Christians who go around sticking their tongues in people’s mouths).

I’m embarrassed to admit that 25 years ago, as a young believer, I actually did this.  Mind you, I left a tip too, but apparently had no problem with leaving a stranger’s eternal destination up to a piece of paper.  As far as I was concerned, I’d fulfilled my obligation.  If the message didn’t sink in, that was their problem.  Investing in people’s lives was hard.  This was so much easier.  “Hurray, I planted another seed,” I told myself.

Did any of them take root?  The evidence is weak at best.  Let’s just say that if and when I get to heaven, I doubt there will be anyone eager to shake my hand.

This post is dedicated to my grandfather, William Otis Holladay, who, at 91, passed away earlier today.  A veteran of World War II, he was the epitome of common sense.  I have no doubt that in heaven, there is a long line ready to greet him.

The New Seesmic: Update Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts From a Single App

Did I recently post I’d given up on Seesmic?  Why, yes I did.

But wait.

No sooner had I gone back to TweetDeck – and I still really like the newest version of TweetDeck – the folks at Seesmic stepped up their game and added Facebook page functionality to the interface.

As someone who manages up to four Twitter accounts and five Facebook pages at any given time, I’d longed for a third-party app that would allow me to do this.

Until now, I’d utilized  Seesmic or TweetDeck to update multiple Twitter accounts only.  When I needed to update all five Facebook pages with the same status, I leaned on Ping.fm.  With the new Seesmic, managing these accounts across separate platforms is no longer necessary.

It’ll be interesting to see if TweetDeck can respond to the call.  If you too manage multiple accounts on Twitter and Facebook, or even if you manage a single Twitter account, a single Facebook profile and a single Facebook page, this new version of Seesmic certainly seems like you’re best app option moving forward.

The New and Improved TweetDeck

Okay, so it’s a little rough around the edges (the video quality could be clearer and the audio louder), but it is, nonetheless, my first attempt at desktop video by a new service I discovered the other day called Screenr.

Here, I take a stab at explaining some of the new updates in the latest version of TweetDeck.  I left TweetDeck in May for Seesmic.  Recently though, Seesmic has begun to crash on me quite regularly.

And, while I love these new updates to TweetDeck and have switched back in large part because of them, I’m still having one relatively major issue.  Every time I open TweetDeck, none of my columns show up and I have to re-populate the application with them (frustrating to say the least).  Later today, I plan to uninstall and then reinstall the app to see if that resolves the problem.

By the way, my friend John Haydon inspired this particular video.  He happens to be a lot better at it than I am (and is also smart enough to be doing it on a Mac).

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