Category Archives: Social Media

Hello? Google? Is Anybody Here?

Google + — You were touted as the next big thing — the savior of social media — the networking platform to render all others obsolete.

I took the bait, sought out a beta phase invite, and was among your earliest users. I connected with a handful of acquaintances (most of whom were already connections on Facebook or Twitter) and waited …  for … the … magic … to … happen.

Just as I began to question the value of Google+, you introduced pages, and, again, I grabbed an account for my employer (a community college in the Philadelphia suburbs) on the very first day. This was it. I was sure.

But, you can’t add people to your page circles until they first add your page to their personal circles. And you can’t even message users to request or suggest that they add your page. Instead, the only way to promote your page on G+ is by posting a message to the people in your personal profile circles.

And here lies part of the problem. Acquaintances in my personal G+ circles have no interest in my employer’s page. So, besides posting the page’s link on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, WordPress, etc. (ironic, isn’t it?), there’s no way for people to know that a G+ page even exists.

Furthermore, if the right people are already interacting with our accounts on those other social platforms — which they are —  why would they need/want to connect with us somewhere else?

Who, then, you may ask, are the 300+ followers on my institution’s G+ page?

Good question. I have no idea who these people are. They are certainly NOT our students, faculty, local community leaders, members of the media, alumni, etc. Many of them post in languages other than English, and, as of recently, many of them appear to work for Google.

Really, Google? Are your employees now following pages in order to pad circle numbers? These people don’t care about what’s going on at my institution or in the world of higher ed.

Which brings me to yet another part of the problem. Since the people in my circles have no interest in my content, there is NO (zero, zilch, nada) interaction.

And as a page facilitator, I’m doing all the right things. I don’t make it all about my employer. I share and repost links and other interesting content. (How do I know it’s interesting? The same content generates a ton of interaction on other social platforms.) And I interact with other people and pages by liking and commenting on their content. Is there an ounce of reciprocation? Nope.

So, Google, the question is, at what point do I stop investing hours of my time on a platform that seemingly nobody finds useful? At what point is the “cool” factor of having a G+ page outweighed by its complete lack of ROI?


Ashley’s Breaker: Social Connections

My latest post on Ashley’s Breaker, our documentary project about the Huber Coal Breaker in Ashley, PA, discusses how social media (positively) impacts the work of writers and artists, and specifically how Twitter — in the course of a day — changed the landscape of our project.

Check it out: Social Connections

Thanks for reading!

Mea Culpa, Pinterest

I like to think that I’m an early adopter when it comes to innovation and technology in my field of communications. So it’s a hard pill to swallow that I’m THAT PERSON — the one who spent the last 10 months turning up her nose to the latest social media darling, Pinterest.

Introduced to me early on by different people as a site for sharing “hairstyle ideas” “arts and crafts” and “recipes,” I had myself convinced that it was not my scene before I ever used the tool. Months later, I broke down and created an account, only to have my prior belief reinforced. Why should I “pin” photos from outside websites to illustrate “My Style” to people I don’t know — or for that matter, to people I do know. After all, if they KNOW me they pretty much get my style; I wear it on my sleeve.

But, I AM a professional, so I persevered. I spent a weekend playing with the platform — replacing some of the template “boards” with my own topics:musicartbooksFlyers (!!!)movieswords, and yes, even “My Style” in a homage to vegan Doc Martins & Chucks.

And even though I connected with some friends on Pinterest, I lost interestpretty quickly. The writer and artist in me struggled to get my head around CURATING as opposed to CREATING content. I get the importance of content curation professionally, but the whole “me, me, me” aspect seemed a bit narcissistic (even for a compulsive Tweeter like me!).

A few weeks later at a professional communications conference, I worked the use of Pinterest into a conservation with my peers. The reactions varied from blank stares, to panic, to dismissal. None of them embraced the idea.

Yet, sites like Mashable are chock-full of articles about how some companies, like Whole Foods for example, are using Pinterest effectively — not only to promote their brands, but to engage in meaningful interactions with their customers.

And while I, at first, used my colleagues’ Pinterest reactions (or lack thereof) to validate my own opinions, I realized that the MILLIONS and growing number of Pinterest users must be on to something.

Determined to discover what that something is, I read everything I could find about Pinterest best practices for brands and created an account for my employer (a public higher ed institution). The key, it seems, is to strike a delicate balance between sharing relevant information and promoting one’s brand. When done correctly, the two are one in the same.

To my utter shock, in less than seven days, the account has an average of 50 followers on each of its 12 boards, and dozens of “re-pins” and “likes” — more interaction than we’ve seen on Google+ in close to a year.

In light of this success, it’s easy to say “mea culpa, Pinterest” without too much shame. In fact, it’s a humbling lesson I hope recall next time I start thinking I know best.

Playing with

A few months ago, a tweet from a colleague showed up in my Twitter feed. Of course, I immediately set up a account of my own, put all of the Twitter accounts I follow into lists, and linked every single list as a content source of my paper.

Much to my disappointment, the result was a mash-up of information I didn’t care about. I played with it for another day or two, and then lost interest for a while. Then recently, one of my tweets made it into a friend’s I checked it out again and liked the way she customized the paper to only a few topics. I drastically reduced the scope of my account, named the paper after this blog, and crossed my fingers.

Visit Communication Art

The results are a lot better than my first attempt — although I did go in and manually edit two of the top stories. And while most of the paper’s categories can be customized, I remain frustrated that I can’t delete the photo section (it seems the people I follow tweet odd and irrelevant photos).

It will be interesting to see how the tool will develop over time. The website itself notes that it’s still in its early stages of development. One of the criticisms about tools like is the lack of original content. However, I view it as another platform by which to distribute original content rather than as a means to dilute it.

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On Becoming a Social Media Expert

“Find your niche and become an expert in that area. Stay on top of the latest trends and be confident that you are among the best at what you do.” — This is advice that I offer to aspiring writing and communications students that I mentor. It’s a new piece of advice for me — one I decided to start using myself about a year ago.

My niche is social media. I chose it for myself and followed my own advice. Every day I learn something new. I scour daily tweets from sites like Mashable. I form opinions on what I read. Most importantly, I apply it to my job.

Over the past six months, I started crafting national media pitches in response to queries from HARO and ProfNet (so much more productive that pitching blind!!!). While pitching others as experts in such areas as education, economics and psychology, I discovered that many queries sought experts in social media.

Following my own advice to students, why shouldn’t this be me! So I pitched myself as a social media expert and  was interviewed for the article, “How to Avoid Social Media Messes” published on Information Week‘s blog The Brain Yard on Oct. 31, 2011. 

The interview, for me, served not only get my name out there as a social media expert, but it boosted my confidence, renewing my commitment to, indeed, be among the best at what I do. It also gave me confidence to take my own blog, the one you are reading now, more public.

Linked-In Etiquette

Linked-In has established itself, for better or worse, as the career builder among social media outlets. However, many people, especially college students or recent graduates, make the mistake of using Linked-In the they use Facebook. In reality, the two have very different purposes, and what is acceptable on one is not necessarily appropriate on the other.

While both platforms fall into the category of “social networking,” LinkedIn should exclusively be used to build your professional reputation. Please consider the following tips when using LinkedIn:

  • Instead of focusing on how many “friends” one can acquire on platforms like Facebook, Linked-In users should focus on the quality and impact of their connections. It’s not about reconnecting with former classmates or sharing photos of your children.
  • If you post a photo, make sure it is a professional looking headshot. Don’t post photos of pets or children or of yourself in a bathing suit or at a party.
  • Keep your updates professional. For example, share news about your industry or updates about projects you’re working on. It’s not about sharing 10 status updates every day about what you ate for lunch.
  • If you want to connect with someone who is in your industry but who you don’t personally know, write a message first introducing yourself. For example, I have used Linked-In to connect with freelance writers in my geographical area to discuss potential work.
  • Don’t ask someone for a reference unless they have first-hand knowledge of your work and skills. Being someone’s neighbor, former student or friend of the family does not, by itself, qualify them to endorse your work. It’s not a character reference.

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