Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reach out and touch someone -- from Twitter

I've never met anyone I follow on Twitter in person.

But I'm about to take that next important step and segue from interacting online to socializing off line.

Tweetups are nothing new to the Lawrence crew that's celebrating its first anniversary of getting together tonight. They've been meeting, eating and drinking for a year now -- even raising money for some great local charities. I look forward to meeting all these people who started out with nothing in common but a love for social media and and now, a year later, have so many shared memories of good times together.

Don't get me wrong. It's nice to know people are listening to you in the ever-expanding twitosphere. Just yesterday a comedian named Marc Wootton started following me after I tweeted about his new show called LaLaLand. I know he only found me because he's set up searches to scour the 'net for mentions of his name, but we're connected all the same.

I look forward to following my new Twitter friend, but there's still no online equivalent for a good old face-to-face meeting. We can follow all the celebrities and politicians and media mavens in the world, but it's unlikely we'll ever break bread with them or work together on a common cause.

Maybe someday technology will completely replace the need for personal interaction. But for now I'm looking forward to the 3-dimensional satisfaction of making some new friends in the flesh.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Attention politicians: social media is a two-way street

If you’ve ever written a heartfelt letter to your congressperson only to receive an auto-response form letter in return, you know how it feels to be talked at – not to – by a politician. Letters to the editor don’t earn you much feedback either: you can write all you want but your elected representative never has to reply.

Social media has changed that. And woe be to the politician who hasn’t learned this lesson yet.

Take Martha Coakley’s botched campaign. Mid-term elections tend to go in the minority party’s favor, so I could forgive her for losing the social media numbers game to Brown. But she also committed the cardinal sin of disabling comments on her YouTube videos. Tsk tsk. If you’re going to put yourself out there on the Internets, you have to be prepared to take the good with the bad. And that includes friendly feedback from the other side of the political fence.

While Coakley’s social media missteps are more glaring given the role they played in helping a Republican take Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, she’s not the only one in Washington who’s tuning out constituents. Missouri’s Claire Mccaskill is the Senate’s most prolific tweeter, but when I checked out her Twitter page I was disappointed to see that she’s following one person. One. What’s the point of social media if you’re talking but not listening? You might as well be cranking out form letters.

Twitter is just one piece of the social media pie, one that blogger Mark Senak says nobody in Congress is using to its fullest potential. Even Candidate Brown, who earned praise for his social media campaign savvy, has to prove he can use FaceBook, YouTube and all the other online tools to their fullest potential now that he’s in office.

The Massachusetts race is just the kick-off to a year full of electoral contests. In every one, politicians will be frantically looking for ways to exploit the Web to their advantage. It’s up to us, the people, to hold them accountable for listening as much as they talk.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The High Cost of Blowing Social Media

It’s hard to check out the news this week without seeing some reference to the roll social media is playing in getting aid to Haiti. In the meantime, social media is playing an important roll in a story that will affect everyone here in the US: the special election between Coakley and Brown for Ted Kennedy’s senate seat.

The stakes are huge for this race. And unfortunately, the Democratic candidate hasn’t used the web to her advantage. Out-Twittered and out-friended, she’s managed to run a decidedly old-school campaign in a tech-savvy state. It’s doubtful the race will be decided by social media alone, but the opportunities it offered to mobilize supporters were missed. And if the Democrats lose their super majority in the Senate -- as well as the slim chance they had to pass health care reform -- we’ll all be feeling the effects for some time to come.

Health care reform doesn’t carry with it the graphic images of the devastation in Haiti, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. But considering 45,000 people die in this country every year due to lack of insurance coverage, it’s a very real problem right here at home – one that might have been improved upon with a more politically savvy social media presence.

Staying on track with marketing trends

When I was reading a blog post today on a site I visit regularly, one sentence really stood out:

“I believe that the hardest part of SEO is simply keeping up with the trends. “

Boy, you can say that again!

Marketing has changed by leaps and bounds since my first little job marketing paperback books to rural libraries. Email marketing, SEO, SEM, social media -- the tools are definitely bigger and better today. The challenge is using them effectively.

Earning my Master Certificate in Internet Marketing from the University of San Francisco has kept me up to speed on SEO changes. The newest information I can find about title tags, URLs and external links reflects changes I’m trying to bring to the site I work on at my job.

Now I just need to stay on top of all the other marketing pieces floating around in the online universe, such as mastering Twitter, building a personal brand, networking and keeping my technical skills up to speed – just to name a few. My blog is one element of those efforts. By posting here more regularly and sharing what I’m doing to keep up with online marketing, I hope I’ll start to hear from others who are tackling these challenges too. Maybe we can give each other a tip or two!

Networking is next on my list. I’ve joined the Social Media Club KC, where I hope to not only meet some local social media geeks but also learn how they’re using social media in their personal and professional lives. I work alone on my in-house web site and online marketing efforts, so it will be great to hear what’s working (or not) for others in my field.

Keeping up with the trends is hard. But not impossible. Here’s to keeping those career development balls in the air in 2010 and maybe even adding a few more to the mix.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Magnet poetry for the masses

Really? Did someone use their brain power to turn refrigerator magnets into a Twitter app?

Oh yes, they did.

Twitter magnets is a silly little site where you turn random words into a poem. Here's mine:

the feline perfume dance pierces
a squirming dog belly
his cold eyes soft porcelain

Brilliant, I know.

I guess if you did really write something ingenious, the site's functionality, which lets you post your masterpiece to your Twitter site, would come in very handy. OTOH, if you just put together some random babbling, it could lead visitors to your Twitter site to question your sanity.

Personally, I think I'll stick to the good old-fashioned refrigerator magnets that leave no evidence of my madness. ;)