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Internet Orphans

Aug 13, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

I’m going to lead this post off with an assumption (dangerous, I know) that I’m not the only one who occasionally googles my name to see what comes up in the search results. I was doing that very thing this evening and was dismayed by the results. On pages 2 and 3 of the results, I found a string of Internet orphans – blogs and websites I’d abandoned (some which had been dormant since 2004).

A deeper dive into the results showed a total of four blogs that had been lost to time  (posts covered topics like fitness, my creative writing program at FSU and preparing for my wedding), as well as a poetry site I’d set up during my senior year in high school (there were some embarrassing gems on that site, let me tell you). The evening’s scavenger hunt yielded an important lesson and reminder, that just like the real world, it’s a good idea to do a thorough scrub of your online presence every once in awhile.

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I’ve been a ravenous consumer of online content since the ripe old age of thirteen (bringing us back to 1998 if you’re keeping score), which has given me more time than I care to think about to grow my digital footprint. Couple that time spent online with the natural pull I felt to social applications on the Internet, and that leaves an impressive wake of old data lying around the interwebs for anyone to find.

So what did I do with the Internet orphans who’d found their way into my search results? I welcomed them back home, which ended up being no easy feat. Each of the blogs that I’d created were keyed to a different email address with passwords long forgotten. Though it took me awhile to crack my past self, I eventually came up with the passwords for each of the sites, and promptly archived old posts to my computer for safekeeping. From there, the blogs were deleted one by one.

The poetry site I stumbled across ended up being a tougher nut to crack. As I mentioned, my profile/site within the site was created back in 2002, and the email and corresponding password used to set them up were no longer in existence. Couple that with the fact that this site was built before “recover your password” prompts, and I was in a serious pickle. After ten minutes of fruitless password combinations, I blanked my mind in an attempt to let the old password float to the top of my thoughts. I’m happy to report that my jedi mind trick worked, and I was able to remember the old code. After backing up 51 poems (most of which I fervently hope never resurface), I promptly deleted my profile.

The whole experience tonight actually ended up reminding me of an article I read back in 2011 about protecting your digital afterlife. While it sounds a little macabre, your online presence could very well outlive your corporeal existence (sometimes to you or your family’s detriment) unless you take steps to be a better steward of your digital self and assets. Thankfully in my case, it just ended up being an interesting (and occasionally embarrassing) trip down memory lane.

Have I inspired you to do your own digital excavation? I’d love to hear about what you uncover!

Books vs. E-Books (Who Would Win in a Fight?)

Jan 15, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

For the past two and half years, I’ve been fighting against the migration to e-books, which if you consider what I do for a living, may seem a little odd. But if you spend any length of time in my home (or in my car), you’ll notice that I’ve also railed against the movement to digital downloads for music (and movies) too.

Before we get too deeply into the “why” of the matter, I think it’s important to note that I’m a repeat consumer of products. If I like something, such as a book or album, it stays with me and is re-read or re-listened to dozens (in the case of books) or hundreds (in the case of albums) of times. Part of that constant re-use comes from the fact that I read rather quickly, and it can be an expensive hobby to keep up with. I also have an eclectic taste in music which means inevitably, I always have at least a couple of dozen albums on my “want” list.

It’s amazing Chris puts up with me at all, considering he knows that if I had my way (and won the lottery), my personal collection would look a little bit more like the library from Beauty and the Beast (for you cats who dig fictional references) or the library at the Biltmore Estate (for you realists), and not the four bookshelves and dozen or more boxes we have in the garage…but I digress.

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Fictional Library of My Dreams (Beauty & the Beast)

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Real-Life Library of My Dreams (Biltmore Estate)

Getting back to the topic at hand (the reasons why I’ve fought the migration to digital), it’s been an interesting exercise putting my reasons down, because I had more than I initially believed, and so without further ado, here they are:


The tangibles:
One of the things I love most about curling up with a new book is that freshly inked, new paper smell. If you’re a bibliophile like me, you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. Each medium has a distinct smell and texture, be it paperback, graphic novel, hardback, magazine or newspaper – and I love each one for different reasons. Old books are even more satisfying to the senses – with their pages worn smooth and soft from numerous readings, an earthy smell just shy of being musty with pages beginning to turn slightly yellow from age.

The physical:
In addition to the way my senses react to a new book, there’s also something comforting about the weight of a book and how it rests when propped up against a knee, is held in one’s hand or cradled with both hands. There’s also a satisfying sound that accompanies the turning of each page (although I suppose I should have included that under the “tangibles”). ::smiles::

My reading style:
When I become engrossed in a good book, the rest of the world falls away, the words and lines of text disappear, and my imagination kicks in, converting written language into a movie reel in my mind’s eye. I lose track of time, the ability to focus on my physical surroundings (my hearing becomes especially stunted), and the speed of my “reading” cranks up. It’s not unusual for me to churn through 100+ pages in an hour when I’m enthralled.

My hoarder tendencies:
While that description probably makes it sound a lot worse than it actually is, because I do burn through books so quickly, it is stressful financially to keep up with my desire for new content. To help soothe the insatiable thirst for fresh stories, I reread books in my arsenal VERY frequently. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that I reread at least half of my entire inventory every year in addition to whatever new books/series I’ve managed to accumulate during the same timeframe.

I don’t often think about my love of reading in such a pragmatic fashion, and I have to admit, this confession makes me sound a little OCD, but if I’m being 100% honest with myself (and you), while reading is something I’m passionate about, it could also easily be described as a compulsion. If I see something written (anywhere), I read it. Need an example? When I’m waiting in line at the grocery store, post office or wherever, I read every product label or magazine cover. It’s not necessarily a conscious decision or something I “want” to do. But I do it anyway. Another example: When I shower, I read the label for every product I use (even though at this point I’ve probably read the same information hundreds of times). It’s not that I’m really all that interested in what the manufacturer has to say (or need the directions), I just can’t seem to help myself.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just want you, the reader, to be clear that when I say hoarder, I don’t necessarily mean of books (although I would probably do that too if I could), but rather of words.

My fear of the cloud:
Raise your hand if you remember when the [dot]com bubble burst. ::raises hand:: So I understand that companies like Google and Apple have a pretty long-standing, stable history, but that being said, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to be around forever. What happens to all of our data that’s been stored “in the cloud” when they’ve bit the big one? Or when someone uses an EMP bomb? Or a mega-virus hits servers and back-up servers. Say bye bye to all those digital copies floating in the proverbial ether. (Seriously guys, thoughts like this keep me up at night!)

So I’ve given you a pretty in-depth look into the paranoia I have about losing my stuff, which if you’re still with me (and I hope you are) means that we can finally get on with learning about why I decided to dip my toes in the water despite my better judgment. Here’s my shorter list of what happened (in just the last six months) to get me on the path of digital content.


It’s all Apple’s fault.
I’m a fan of Apple, and have been since I was an elementary student playing with KidPix and learning to type. I have a Macbook, an iPhone, and as of this Christmas, am now also the proud owner of an iPad. Why is this important? My prior issues with e-books have been admittedly mostly theoretical. After all, it wasn’t really practical to read books on my iPhone due to the tiny screen, so I had to argue against e-books on principle alone, rather than from firsthand experience. That doesn’t mean that my earlier trepidations weren’t valid; however, they weren’t exactly fair as I hadn’t (until VERY recently) tried reading books in a digital format.

I’m a K-pop / J-pop fangirl.
[insert startled gasps here.] When you’ve finished expressing your non-surprise at that admission, I’ll regale you with the fact that I am at heart a practical, rational person who recognizes that I can import a CD from Korea or Japan for a measly $40+ an album (and wait a week or more for delivery), or I can instantly download new albums from this wonderful online store called iTunes at an affordable price. Not really that difficult of a decision. (Well…when you’re like me, it can be a hard decision, but at the end of the day, you look at the cost-savings and convenience, then close your eyes and take the plunge.) You especially take the plunge when one of your favorites band (say BIGBANG) comes out with a new album, as do various members of the group. (I’m just saying.)

I’m a sucker for free.
(I just didn’t realize how much of one until it was too late.) We were on our way to Seattle, and I’d already breezed through the book I brought for the adventure, and we were only half-way through our airport adventure. To pass the remainder of my time waiting to board the next flight (I didn’t want to open my only other book for the trip so soon), I began searching for free e-books via iTunes. Most of the books I uncovered were classics (which I’ve read quite a few times already), recipe books or risque books. I did find a couple of science fiction / fantasy novels that seemed like they could pass muster, and downloaded them for a rainy (re: desperate) day when I was suffering from the ennui of books I’ve read dozens of times before. Those random downloads were to be my undoing. I just didn’t know it yet.

So now we’re into the heart of the matter. The actual experience of reading an e-book. On a tablet.

Last week, I was suffering from a persistent case of the blahs and decided to browse through the books I’d downloaded on a whim all those weeks before (okay, so it was two weeks). I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but we all know that even though you shouldn’t, you always do. It was for that reason that of all the books I browsed through, I decided to open, “Prince of Wolves” and give it a go. BEST. MISTAKE. EVER.

I started reading Prince of Wolves Wednesday night at 11:30, just to give my mind a little bit of distraction from fretting over the usual everyday life stuff. (Or that was the plan at least.) As it turns out, I was incapable of putting the book down until I’d finished it, some three and half hours later. (Let’s do the time warp again!) I had no sooner finished the book, before I knew that I’d be buying the next book in the series (They successfully lured me in with that “free” first book.) Thursday night, I rushed home after work, ate dinner, had the briefest chat I could with the hubs while still being polite, then purchased the second book, and ran off to the bedroom to read it in peace (two dogs and four cats can be pretty demanding of you when they realize you’re ignoring them to look at some square object that glows). Again, I couldn’t put the book down. I finished it that evening, and then immediately (even though it was 1 a.m.) downloaded the remaining three books in the series.

You can probably guess how the remainder of the story goes. Despite my earlier (and lengthly) protests about e-books, I managed to tear through five of them in five days (a record even for my voracious reading habits).

Here’s what I learned from the experience:

  1. Quinn Loftis is a talented writer, and if you’re into young adult fiction featuring the paranormal, you should DEFINITELY check her out. The series that held me so enthralled is called the Grey Wolves series, and if you like werewolves (and a little bit of teen angst and romance), it’s likely to be right up your alley.
  2. While reading the books, the device itself didn’t detract from the experience like I was afraid that it would. I found myself reading just as fast (if not faster) than I usually do, and once I got the hang of “turning” pages, I was transported back to the movie inside my head.
  3. I can literally carry a library in the palm of my hand!!! (While I know this is common knowledge, it didn’t really sink in until I experienced reading an e-book firsthand.)
  4. I’m not a “it’s one or the other” kind of girl. I don’t like to mix-and-match mediums, so it’s likely that moving forward, I’ll continue to collect books for series that I haven’t yet completed. However, for new series moving forward, I’m open to (and excited by) the prospect of collecting new series via e-book.

I’m glad that I finally gave e-books a fighting chance, and am pretty surprised at the conclusions drawn from my experiences. I was fairly certain that “real” books would win the day, but the convenience, variety and easy storage of e-books made them pretty hard to ignore.

If you’re interested in learning more about the series that so helped alter my perceptions (and misconceptions), stay tuned! I’ll be posting a review on my site later this week. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the books vs. e-books argument in the comments below!

**UPDATE**

My review of Prince of Wolves is now up!

The Grey Wolves Series: Book 1

The Grey Wolves Series: Book 1

Helping FSU Students Feed Their Brains

Jul 31, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

Special thanks to Professor Ebe Randeree for inviting me to participate in FSU’s STARS Alliance ‘Feed Your Brain‘ series on Monday to discuss the role of social media in advertising, and for allowing me to be part of his ’10 in 10′ series for his new social media class being offered for the first time this semester at Florida State University. I’m a pretty quick talker, so my responses didn’t exactly add up to 10 minutes, but the twenty-minute discussion that followed the video and my hour-long Feed Your Brain presentation made up for I think (and hope).

In addition to being an alumna who’s always interested in the goings-on on campus, I’m going to be especially watchful over the next few semesters. It looks like there are some exciting hybrid programs in the works that I think would be very beneficial for any student thinking about pursuing a career in social media. In particular, the College of Communication & Information has put together a comprehensive Information, Communication and Technology major that I think is pretty spectacular – combining the best of both worlds from the PR & IT programs. (It would definitely be a program I’d be interested in pursuing if I had known that social media was where I’d end up and I had it all to do over again.)

If you’re interested in having me coming out and speak to your class or organization about the role (and power) of social media in marketing, feel free to contact me. If you’d like to discuss any of my answers to the questions in the video above, feel free to leave a comment below.

Facebook Allows Admins to Update Page Usernames

Jun 27, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

Keeping up with changes to Facebook Pages can be a challenging juggling act for social media managers, especially when Facebook’s testing mechanism causes existing functionality (such as posting or commenting  as a Page) to fail resulting in errors like sending out messages from the admin’s personal account in lieu of the Page itself.

However, those hiccups aside, the changes that Facebook has been working on seem to be part of a concerted effort to make the management of Facebook Pages for businesses and organizations a better-oiled machine.

The first of those changes is a simple call-out located at the top of Facebook Pages, alerting admins about how they’re currently logged in – be it as the Facebook Page itself or from their admin or personal profile. While that may not seem like a big deal in and of itself, it is a handy feature that serves as a visual cue to remind community managers (especially those that handle multiple Pages) of how they’re posts will show up on the Page.

 

The second update deals with changing a Facebook Page’s username. Back when Facebook Pages first launched, Facebook warned users and Pages alike that once you set your Facebook username (Facebook URL), it was something that could not be altered. Due likely to a startling number of requests from Pages over the years, Facebook has decided to allow admins to update their URLs. Admins can update this from the Admin Panel > Update Info > Basic Information.

These changes fall on the heels of the new edit comments feature and the recently launched administrator roles which are as follows:

  • Manager: Can manage admin roles, send messages and create posts as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Content Creator: Can edit the Page, send messages and create posts as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Moderator: Can respond to and delete comments on the Page, send messages as the Page, create ads, and view insights.
  • Advertiser: Can create ads and view insights.
  • Insights Analyst: Can view insights.

Another change that affects more than just community managers, which was launched last Wednesday is the timeline card in user news feeds. If you’re following a Page’s updates in your news feed, you’ll now get a preview link of the Page if you hover over its name – a preview that includes its cover photo, profile image or map icon and the number and names of friends who like the page. If you hover over a user’s name, you’ll also get a preview of their profile, a pretty nifty feature!

And not one to miss out on the opportunity to plug their own services, Facebook has added a little icon next to the Sponsored Stories bar – a megaphone that conveniently links back to the About Facebook Advertising landing page.

Are you a social media manager or local business owner that manages a Facebook Page or Pages? I’d like to hear your thoughts about the recently launched features. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

LinkedIn Benefits in 5 Minutes A Day

May 22, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Social Media & Tech

I’ve been meaning to write this post for awhile now, but as usual life has gotten in the way. That, and I’ve had a little bit of a block as to how to bring in some of my professional thoughts on my mostly personal stream-of-consciousness platform.

In my day-t0-day life as a social media strategist, I spend the majority of my time thinking about how to apply brand strategies online – usually with a heavy focus on Facebook, secondary focus on Twitter and a sprinkle of YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest thrown in for good measure.

However, what I haven’t been seeing (and what I’d like to see more of), is people taking a more serious look into their personal brand by getting more active on LinkedIn…and by that, I mean moving beyond the initial profile set-up and superfluous linking of their Facebook/Twitter feeds (that drives me nuts!).

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for networking, lead generation and follow-up if you’re willing to put in five minutes a day. Five minutes isn’t a lot, especially when reflecting on how much time people pour into Twitter and Facebook.

Okay, say I’ve convinced you that you should be spending that five minutes on LinkedIn in lieu of catching up on your weekly web comics…what should you be doing with that time? Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Update your status with an interesting article you’ve read, share an inspirational quote or just a general thought about what you’re up to today and why it matters.
  2. Go through any business cards you’ve received from new contacts (or go back through that stack of old ones on your desk) and track down those contacts on LinkedIn, sending each one you find an invitation to connect that includes information about how and when you met. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use the standard text.
  3. Give back to the LinkedIn Community by cruising through LinkedIn Answers to see if there are any outstanding (as in not yet answered) questions in a category or field where you have unique knowledge. You should try to answer at least one question a week – it’s a great way to meet new contacts and showcase your personal expertise.
  4. Join a LinkedIn Group – if you’re in marketing or public relations, there are a ton to choose from, especially when you think about all the local chapters of national professional organizations. Not only are these groups a great way to connect with professionals in your area, it’s also a great place to go prospecting. If you’re already in a group, contribute by responding to member questions, sharing your expertise or asking a relevant question.
  5. Consider adding one of LinkedIn’s Profile Applications such as Amazon’s Reading List, a link to your (or your company’s RSS feed) or SlideShare to help provide people viewing your profile with a more robust view of you, the individual.

In the spirit of transparency, I’ll admit that I go through 3-4 week furloughs on occasion when my LinkedIn profile is not as top-of-mind as it should be, but when that happens, I take a step back, evaluate my goals and recommit to owning my presence on the platform. Setting goals is something that I do habitual in every aspect of my life, but if you’re not sure where to begin in terms of LinkedIn, I’d suggest the following weekly goals:

  • Connect with 5-10 people.
  • Share 2-3 interesting articles.
  • Comment 3-5 in any groups you’ve joined.
  • Answer 2-3 LinkedIn Answers.

Still not convinced LinkedIn is beneficial and have some time to kill? Check out the presentation my coworker Liz and I put together for ImpactJAX.