Tag Archives: Etiquette

Reflections on a Blogging Journey

23 May

Most of this blog has been in correlation with a course on social media and journalism. Many prior attempts had been made at creating a blog in the past but not until the peer pressure of a class was upon me was I able to stick with it and really give the blog all I had to give. These past months have provided me with a great amount of blog insight that no amount of reading or advising of others had given me before. I consider this blog to still be in its early stages and the longevity of it may still be uncertain but the lessons taken from the experience will apply themselves both to the future of this blog and to other ventures.

You Can Never Do Too Much Prep

Obviously some platforms call for more prep than others (there is only so much thinking you can do on a 160 character message) but regardless of your target its important to take time to think, draft and revise what you’re going to write/say. In the case of a blog or a news article this can be days and days worth of work collecting resources and growing the content into something new and exciting.

Engagement Is Queen

The common wisdom is that content is king. If this is true than engagement definitely plays the part of the queen. The game might be over if you kill the content but you’ll be sorely hurt and recovery is hard if you lose your queen. Developing a social media persona isn’t about just writing lots of content, publishing links to it and waiting for people to read. The real objective is to create a platform in which the topics you write about can be discussed, where the ideas that you share gain traction and grow. The only way to have this happen is by engaging with other people in meaningful ways.

Its Important To Be Appropriate

Appropriateness on the internet is a little different than in person. The content of your media doesn’t need to be rated G by any means and in fact the internet is a very good medium for discussion topics that might not be accessible in print or regular television. The importance of appropriateness on the internet has to do with how you use the mediums. Standards are in place which make technology platforms work well for everyone, use hash-tags when you create a tweet, tag people in facebook posts if you mention their name, when writing an article please use meta-data. These small things are there so that everyone can access content in a level playing field without having to search for pages and pages.

Goals Matter

While the internet is full of people that are otherwise board and haven’t yet realized they can go outside, chances are most of them you’re interested in communicating with feel their time is valuable. It can be fun to be a chatty Cathy and share each and every tidbit that comes to mind but when doing this keep in mind why you’re publishing social media. If your goal is to having meaningful relationships with followers that result in an engaged community then it might be better to keep some thoughts private. There are lots of things worth sharing but not all of them help you in your goals.

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Facebook Questions: Here to Stay?

7 Apr

Facebook recently published for general public consumption the new questions feature. They tout this feature as assisting users by enabling them to, “learn from their friends, see what you know, and see where people stand.[facebook]” While questions seems to have taken off in its general use by the facebook community (my own page has been littered with polls over the past week) does the app really have both staying power and the potential to overcome other popular question/answer sites?

Mashable published a wonderful rundown of the facebook questions features earlier this week:

  • Photo questions: For example, if you take a picture of a bird, but don’t know what species it is, you can post the picture on Facebook Questions and get your answer.
  • Polling: If you’re simply looking for the answer to Which city is better: Chicago or Dallas?, you can get your answer by creating a poll.
  • Tagging: The company seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on tagging questions based on category or topic. The goal seems to be to make Q&A discovery an easier and faster process by making it simple to look up questions on cooking, photography, San Francisco or a variety of other topics.
  • Topic exploration: Facebook described this as a roulette-type feature that allows users to browse Facebook’s eventual mountain of Q&A. Under the “Questions about” drop-down menu, there’s a feature called “Everything” that allows users to browse the company’s catalog of questions.
  • Following: You can follow specific questions for updates and new answers.
  • Updated homepage: Facebook Questions does actually change the homepage, adding a new bar at the top of the page where you can choose to update your status, ask a question, add photos, or post a link. [mashable]

Last year facebook released a similar feature by the same name in a limited beta form. The app did not enjoy a welcome reception and was eventually removed largely because of overwhelmingly poor reviews. The original Facebook Questions was a direct competitor with other Q&A sites on the market, most notably the (at the time) new start-up Quora. This new feature shares some commonalities with its past counterpart but is no longer a direct competitor with other Q&A services which means facebooks answers may have a better long term survival chance.

Similar in concept to Yahoo! AnswersQuora and Mahalo, Facebook Questions gives users the opportunity to ask questions just by clicking the “Ask Question” button on the homepage. Questions is also available on friends’ profiles just as you would post on someone’s wall. [mashable]

Unlike the Q&A site Quora,Facebook Questions allows brands to ask and answer questions. On Quora you have to be a person, but Facebook Questions uses your nonprofit’s Page and avatar as your Facebook Questions identity. [NonProfit Tech 2.0]

One of the big questions is if Facebook Questions can avoid (or survive) some of the things that plague Yahoo Answers and some other Q&A sites: spam, uninteresting chit-chat posed as a question, and so forth. If it does, it will probably be due to the size of Facebook’s user base and the depth of the personal connections that many users have made. Facebook is building a Q&A service around an existing and popular social graph; the competition, to a large degree, is trying to add social features on top of a Q&A service. [search engine land]

Facebook has also captured a new market that is otherwise overlooked by other Q&A sites, Businesses and Organizations. Over the past couple of years Facebook has improved its business offerings and has made a nice place for itself as one of the top tools for online business promotion.

…Questions has a lot to offer small businesses. For example, are you straddling the fence over two ways to change a product or service but can’t make up your mind? Use Questions to ask your business’ friends list or followers whose opinions, of course, you care about. Their friends’ opinions are worth a lot as well since they very likely share similar wants and tastes with your businesses’ network. The polling results that Questions offers can also help you quantify and analyze responses. [pcworld]

The virality of questions and the prominence Facebook is placing within newsfeeds and notifications should capture the attention of brands with fan pages.  Questions are a utility specifically built not just to facilitate a fan page to ask a question to a base of their fans, but for that question to go a network beyond, and further if possible. This is an exciting engagement opportunity for branded pages to utilize. [Ignite Social Media]

Only time can tell for sure if Facebook Questions will be a success story but the very accessible app seems to have a lot of promise.

Boasting Vs. Branding

18 Mar

The idea and importance of the self-brand is such an accepted thing today that almost every online persona is ready to promote the personal self at any opportunity. The idea of self-promotion has always been a  thorn in my side. Whether its the way I was raised or just an element of my personality, in any given situation there are a million other things I’d prefer to talk about than myself and how great I am. This week I decided to overcome this hatred of self branding and finally define for myself the line between branding and bragging. This task called for some external assistance a little more powerful than a simple google search; in steps LinkedIn Answers to the rescue.

What suggestions are there have for overcoming the dislike of writing about oneself? Whether it be cover letters, resumes or bios, it always feels arrogant to write about my accomplishments, skills and assets.

I posted the above question fully expecting to get the same canned answers that I’ve read a million times before, be data driven, record your voice saying it and then transcribe that. These are great suggestions… for someone who doesn’t have any trouble talking about themselves – but in my case the two kinda go hand-in-hand. I was thrilled that with in a couple of days I had received 15 very thoughtful answers about the topic from others on LinkedIn who were just trying to help for the sake of altruism. while some of the answers did conform to the standard advice you would find anywhere – others provided a totally new and very interesting perspective on the task.

Some hi-lights:

The important thing to remember is that you are helping someone who is in desparate need of your skills and accomplishments. – Sharon Bailly

Get more, not less personal. And tell success stories about how you’ve helped your clients – Sally Strackbein

What could I say about you that would really p___ you off? Your designs are utterly unoriginal! You can’t make deadlines! You can’t spell! You can’t take criticism! – William Bell

As a developer, maybe you could think about it more like writing a specification as you would for a computer program. – Taylor Winship

When writing a cover letter or a bio, I find it best to simply sit down and tell a story…your story. People tend to get caught up on how to brag about who they are, describe their accomplished, and highlight their unique skills. – Jon Fernandez

Some of the above items may seem simple enough once you read them but none of theme have every been on my radar when writing up a bio. Some are slightly contradictory to one another, such as being less personal vs being more personal, but I like both for different occasions. Last year I did an experiment with sending out overly arrogant cover letters, the idea was in response to the number of incredibly overconfident but under-qualified I had recently encounted in working relationships. The results of this were infact surprising. There could be very large holes in the skills defined by my resume but with enough boasting in the cover letter I would still get considerably more return calls than when using my usual writing style in cover letters. Small tests like this have given me insight into a couple of key things; people actually do read cover letter, and people care more about your personality then your background and list of skills.

And so with many new ideas I go forth to do many a bio revision. Tip: check back soon for a proper author bio on this blog too.

Can You Even Call It Journalism?

18 Mar

Recent years have seen an onslaught of what is termed ambush journalism. Called so for the style in which “journalists” will surprise their subjects with out of context questions and ask for responses to false facts. The most sever of these ambushes involving  complex plots of deception that seem more like movie storylines than journalistic research. Since the result of ambush techniques frequently involves extensive editing prior to release to the public many believe that these stories are not journalism at all but rather a from of fiction based on true stories. While the true intention of these works may always be in question there are two schools of thought on the true purpose of ambush journalism.

…on the legality end, tho, aren’t set-ups referred to as entrapment? – Ron Bergeron

Is it for self-promotion?

The most obvious gain from ambush journalism is notoriety. Regardless of the quality of the story it will get noticed and so will the person who created it. While the names of ambush journalists quickly make headlines themselves and these journalists oftentimes become the center of the story this fame is not always a positive long-term career move. James O’keefe gained huge amounts of personal publicity for his actions towards ACORN but after it was revealed that his reporting was actually fabricated his reputation as a legitimate journalist was lost.

Is it for political gain?

More often than not, the practitioners of ambush journalism are looking for sensationalism – they want people (including public officials or officials of private corporations) to make stupid or borderline illegal mistakes – Ehsan Ahrari

Because most of the ambush stories have been around political figures and organizations and have shown each in poor (if even falsely so) lights many people see this as strictly a political tool. Some talk show journalists, namely Bill O’Riely, have publicly declared ambush journalism to be their chosen style of reporting and are open about their political goals with it.

While the reason behind these deceptive techniques may remain a partial mystery the effects of them are very real and in many cases extremely harmful to those that are the recipients of the ambush. Organizations have gone under, individuals have lost jobs and personal lives have been shattered because of sensationalized headlines, which in some cases have been found to be entirely untrue. All of this leaves us with big questions as to if ambush journalism can be considered journalism at all? Even more so, if its not journalism is it simply libel, and why are these ambushers seemingly immune to the laws that others would be prosecuted with?

IRL Etiquette for Social Media

11 Mar

Social media has become a staple in the lives of most Americans. With the rise of smart-phones it no longer is the domain of the anti-social computer geek and has entered into the realm of everyone – everywhere. There are many benefits that come along with having social media accessible to us all the time but one BIG annoyance that it brings.

One of the biggest complaints that comes from both users of social media and those that live without it is the use of social media in public settings. No one minds when you’re a lonely teen sitting in your bedroom spending hours on end texting but there is a huge amount of hatred towards this behavior coming from an adult that’s at a dinner party. I myself have often had a reaction of annoyance at friends, family and co-workers that sit down to a brunch and pull out their cell phone – it has been so much a distraction that my dinner table actually has a no electronics rule.

Yet for the first time yesterday I experienced the urge to use social media while in the midst of a meeting. It wasn’t that I was chatting away with friends or anything social for that matter. The whole issue was that I was in the middle of a rather sticky deployment of a new site, it was halfway live and there were more bugs than I’d every like to admit showing up. An office lunch meeting was getting started, and while I’m not at all a quiet person, there just wasn’t that much for me to say in this meeting. For the first time it actually felt like I was being more responsible and working more diligently by monitoring and responding to other developers txt messages then by placing all of my attention on the in person meeting I was attending. I had become that person I can’t stand.

This brings about a great question:

What is the most appropriate use of social media in public?

Having been on the otherside (that group of people that would prefer to go back to phones having cords), I totally understand the annoyance that is felt when everyone around you is having one sided conversations or all you hear is the clicking of tiny keyboards. I also now understand the increased productivity that can be achieved by using social media in a smart way. So here are my simple guidelines for social media etiquette.

Put family first – it doesn’t matter how important that text might be if you’re at a family gathering pay attention to your family. If you really need to check in to see your latest tweets then excuse yourself from the table and check your phone in the privacy of the powder room.

Think about what 5minutes gains. Sure you might get notifications every 20seconds about new information via txt but is all of it necessary right now? Even if your in an informal public environment there might be something gained by not grabbing your phone as soon as the alert comes in. Finish your in-person conversation and then check the phone, now you have 5 alerts to respond to all at once instead of being bogged down with one every 20 seconds.

Set your phone to vibrate. Regardless of how often you check your phone or where you check your phone everyone around you will appreciate it if they don’t have to hear your phone ringing all the time. Many smartphones even have different alerts for different types of messages. Let calls be heard by a ring (since we do really want to know if the babysitter is calling us about an emergency) but set txts and other notifications to vibrate or even silent. You’ll still get the messages but no one else will have to hear about it.

That’s it… simple enough, 3 rules that can keep everyone productive and happy.