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35 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Life Easier

Twitter is about more than telling people what kind of sandwich you had for lunch and Facebook is about more than posting party pictures from your days in college. The next time people tell you that social media is worthless, point them to this post. These are very real ways new media sites have made my life easier:

  1. When I was in Las Vegas, a city I don’t know well, for BlogWorld 2010 I asked for directions to a bar I was trying to find by tweeting at a friend who had just checked in there on Foursquare.
  2. I commonly ask for recommendations for movies, music, and other forms of entertainment on Twitter.
  3. As a writer, if I meet someone who might have freelance work for me, I can connect with them on LinkedIn when I get home or even with my smart phone before I even leave the party rather than relying on them to remember my website or having to keep track of a business card.
  4. Speaking of work, if you need a job, you can mention it to your friends/followers to see if anyone knows of any job openings where you might be a good fit.
  5. I tweeted at a hotel where I was planning to book a trip once, and they sent me to a hidden page on their website with awesome travel deals for upcoming weekends.
  6. Once, I was trying on shoes and trying to decide whether or not to buy. I posted a picture on Facebook and got my friends’ opinions before I made the purchase.
  7. Need to know an obscure fact? Someone on Twitter can probably help you remember who sang that song stuck in your head or what movie that quote you like comes from. If you ask, people will gladly offer up trivia tidbits and it’s often easier than using a search engine to find the fact.
  8. I once saw an a-lister tweet that he forgot his power cord at home and was already at the airport getting ready to board a long flight to another country. One of his friends brought him a back-up. Even if your network isn’t as robust, often they can help you identify where you can get replacement items in a hurry.
  9. Forget the lyrics to a song? Twitter knows. Twitter always knows.
  10. And even better, if you can’t find what you need on YouTube, most bands have their most popular songs posted on MySpace. Yes, MySpace really does still come in handy from time to time!
  11. Also handy when it comes to music – I was wondering when a favorite band of mine would be going on tour again, since there was nothing listed on their website. I asked them on Twitter and they pinged me when the page was updated. It isn’t just bands – ask questions about products to any small business on Twitter or Facebook and most will reply.
  12. When I was apartment hunting, I made sure to mention it often using social media. Some people responded with apartment listings they had found that might work for me.
  13. Once of my Facebook friends was recently selling her changing table. She posted a picture on Facebook and within a few hours, someone had replied, as one of their friends was pregnant and interesting in buying. It’s much easier than selling items on eBay or Craigslist.
  14. Last month, at about midnight, I needed some web design help with my website. I asked on Twitter and even with my relatively small network of about 1300 people at the time, over ten people replied. At midnight.
  15. When my sister’s computer died a few weeks ago, I mentioned it on Twitter and a number of people offered computer advice both for fixing the problem and for purchasing a new laptop.
  16. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about a conference he was attending. Within 24 hours, he found people to carpool with him to the event.
  17. He also found a hotel roommate.
  18. Twitter usually explodes with news of something important happening, even before major news sites have stories online. If you aren’t near a TV or radio, it’s often the best way to stay up-to-date.
  19. Want to pass the time while waiting at the doctor’s office? There are always links to some interesting reads on Facebook or Twitter.
  20. If I don’t have an acquaintance’s phone number or address, I can still wish them a happy birthday on Facebook. In fact, Facebook even has birthday alerts so I don’t forget (or let me know for people who I don’t know very well). Phone calls are always better, in my opinion, but a Facebook note is still nice, especially for new friends.
  21. If you need to know what time something starts, just ask your social media friends. They’ll even translate it to your time zone if you’re too lazy to figure it out (like me…I hate dealing with time differences).
  22. Many stores offer coupons just for checking in with a location-based app. I’m always down for saving money.
  23. Posting pictures to Flickr or Facebook makes it easy to exchange photos lots of people took at a single event. Do you remember the days of getting double and triple prints, or worse, scanning pictures and emailing them to everyone?
  24. If you’re a member of the media in some way (blogger or otherwise), social media makes it really easy to connect with people to get a quote for whatever story you’re working on.
  25. Similarly, if you want to link to a source for your article, just ask via social media. People will send you relevant links. Who doesn’t love promotion. It works the other way too – you can get promotion simply by paying attention and sending links to people who need them.
  26. Twitter DMs are great to contact someone if you just have a short message. It’s faster than email.
  27. With a Twitter DM or Facebook message, you can also exchange email addresses if you don’t have that information. It’s easy enough to search and find someone’s social media profiles, even if they don’t have a blog or contact information listed elsewhere online.
  28. It’s pretty easy to meet new people on social media sites, especially on Twitter. If you’re dating, online dating sites (which are, in essence, social media sites) are a great alternative for people who don’t like bars or clubs.
  29. Just now on Twitter, I saw someone tweet that his plane had just landed and he was wondering if anyone had the sports score for a baseball game that was going on. It’s much quicker than trying to find an up-to-date score online.
  30. Conference hashtags (like #BWENY) and Facebook event pages make it super easy to find other people attending an event.
  31. Occasionally, I read a post I like but forget to bookmark it. They aren’t always easy to find by searching on the site or with Google, but if you send a message to the blogger on Twitter, they’re usually happy to help you find an old post.
  32. Want to travel? If you are active on Twitter or Facebook, you can couchsurf with the best of ‘em – travel planning is a breeze, even on a budget. At the very least, people will recommend hotel and tourist destinations, and you might even be able to find someone to pick you up at the airport.
  33. Companies often tweet out discount codes and post coupons on Facebook. For example, if you aren’t already, you might want to follow Rick and Dave – they’ve been tweeting out 20% off codes for BlogWorld tickets.
  34. If an appliance in your home breaks and you can’t find a manual online, ask your fans/followers. Often, you can find someone who has had the same problem in the past and can help you find a fix.
  35. Stuck on what to make for dinner? Ask your friends online. People will offer up quick recipes you can make.

Okay those are my 35 contributions…but I’m sure there are more. For all the naysayers, add your experiences too – how as social media made your life easier?

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4 Myths About Social Media and Business

25% of small business owners said they plan to spend more on social networking in 2010, according to the Ad-ology Small Business Marketing Forecast.

Facebook ranked as the most beneficial social network for small businesses, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter, according to the November 2009 report. The 1,100 small business owners surveyed said the biggest benefits of social networking were the abilities to generate leads, keep up with their industry, and monitor the online conversation about their business.

But despite the enormous growth of business presences on social networking sites, there are still many misconceptions about how best to use social media. To help cut through the hype, here are a few social media myths dispelled.

Myth #1: Small Businesses Must be on Social Media 

Ad-ology’s study found that 31% of small business owners said they don’t use social media because their customers don’t use it. If that’s the case, find where your customers are and the best way to reach them there.

Warren Sukernek, partner and vice president of strategies atLift9, said there’s a rush to get on Twitter and launch a blog without a plan. He stressed that spending time up front doing analysis, research, and goal setting will make a social media plan easy to execute.

He recommended first getting active as a lurker on different social media networks to see what’s happening and what people are saying. For example, check out what other companies are doing on Twitter and then assess what you like and don’t like.

Sukernek also pointed out that social media fits more naturally for certain types of businesses, but that doesn’t mean other businesses shouldn’t be on there. It may just take more time to build an audience.

“I wouldn’t dissuade that B2B company from dipping a toe in. It might make sense to dip a toe in a different pool of water,” he said. He suggested that being on an industry-specific forum or LinkedIn might work better in some cases than being on Twitter.

Depending on what the goals are, gathering competitive intelligence might turn out to be what’s most valuable to a business, according to Sukernek.

“It’s hard to put a price tag on that,” he said.

Myth #2: Set It and Forget It 

Don’t expect a case of build it and they will come. Sukernek compared it to building a brick-and-mortar store and not putting a sign on the outside.

“You’ve got to promote it,” he said.

Cross promote your web site with the pages you set up on social media sites. Sukernek advised integrating these social media sites into your business’ offline activities. For example, a retailer should list their fan page URL and Twitter name along with its company’s web site.

Time spent on social media efforts depends on the type of business and the goals involved, according to Sukernek. Goals should be distilled down to revenue and key performance metrics.

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Set some reasonable, manageable objectives,” he said.

Myth #3: Word of Mouth Presence Isn’t There 

Sukernek said small businesses think that if no one is talking specifically about their company on social networks, they don’t need to be there. He disagrees.

“They’re talking about subjects that are germane to the brand,” he said.

On the other hand, what if your small business is being talked about on social media in a bad way? Sukernek said people are probably already doing that, and suggests it’s better for small businesses to be aware of it and address it directly on those platforms.

Myth #4: Social Media is Only for Broadcasting Messages 

megaphone imageTreating social media as a one-way communication channel is an approach that’s doomed to fail. Check in with your fans and followers by asking for feedback, responding to questions and comments, and being personable to build relationships with customers.

“It’s conversational. It’s dialogue,” Sukernek said.

Concerns of small businesses on social media aren’t much different than those of large companies. For those businesses that aren’t careful, subscribing to these social media myths can result in some big mistakes.

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Social Media for Business: The Dos & Don’ts of Sharing

It doesn’t matter if you’re on FacebookTwitterYouTube, Flickr; your online personality is not only part of your overall brand, it becomes an interactive experience for you and your business. So, who is the face or voice of your brand and what do they share? It’s a very important decision in and of itself.

Just as you create branding guidelines and key messaging guides, so too should you dedicate time to creating your social media personality. There are multiple combinations that you can use to increase your brand visibility and converse with your customers.

Be transparent and authentic. Be human.

Don’t want the worst day of your life to be played over and over again like Groundhog Day? Then don’t talk, share, Tweet or write about it via social media. That said, no one is happy, or perfect all of the time. It’s okay to let people into the “real” events which happen in your life. Social media for business is about return on engagement. Connect with people, build opportunities through dialogue which would not have otherwise occurred, then connect them with your business.

Think in terms of “bad driver just cut me off” instead of “just got served papers for a lawsuit.” The first example connects people and encourages dialogue. Who hasn’t been cut off by a bad driver? The second example has the potential to make people uncomfortable or turn them “off” to your brand.

A great example of “what not to do” is posted on Peter Shankman’s blog, How an “accomplished communicator” communicates. The sender of this email has now publicly shared a not-so-nice side of his personality in a VERY public setting.

A profile pic is worth a thousand tweets

A major part of your social media personality is your avatar and your profile bio. The first rule for avatars and bios is to stay consistent across social platforms. If you’re sharing information from your business account, decide whether you want your avatar to be your company logo or the face of the president. Each sends a completely different message and requires a different messaging and branding approach.

Who is doing it well? Here are a few of my favorite business and/or personal branded avatars and profiles on various social media platforms:


Businesses have many options when it comes to creating a Facebook personality. There are options for “group” or “fan” pages versus a personal account.


· Benjamin Leis and his pet project’s group page, The Campus Buzz for College Media: Ben uses The Campus Buzz as his avatar to reinforce the importance of his project and brand. He is becoming one with this identity.

· Carrie Kerpen and her company’s fan page, the Kbuzz: Carrie’s profile is on par with her personality—smart and helpful, a loving wife and mother.


· Blendtec’s Will It Blend? – The company offers a full library of “Will It Blend?” videos on its YouTube account with a profile perfectly suited to match.


· @VeronicaDLcruz – Tweeting from the CNN newsroom in New York City.
· @jasonfalls – Social media explorer for a brand building agency.
· @PRnewswire – Vicky Tweets on behalf of PR Newswire.

An inviting avatar may include one of the following attributes (along with great content): a smiling face, a full color photo (as opposed to black and white), or a familiar logo.

Leaving a legacy

Your social media personality becomes part of your brand’s legacy. Don’t brand your personality for the day, the month or the year. This is serious stuff. What you post stays around for a pretty long time and the information (good and bad) isn’t too hard to find. Your social media posts offer vast archives of information about you.

This means, what you share, post or tweet today should reinforce your brand tomorrow. Think about each message you share via social media as an email which has gone public to your entire organization and all of your stakeholders. Now, imagine if they are reading this email and RESPONDING to it. That’s part of the power of your social media brand.

Who is leaving a legacy aligned with their brand on Twitter?


· @BreakingNewsOn – Why? All breaking news, all the time. I’m not confused about what I’m getting from them.

· @dannybrown – Why? He walks the talk on business with a strong emphasis on philanthropy.

· @barefoot_exec – Why? Her messages completely align with her goals—to empower women, celebrate success and encourage greatness.

Don’t be a social schizo

Multiple personality disorders do not work well in social media. If you confuse, you lose. If you are a business expert one day, a media maven the next and live news feed after that, people will ultimately stop connecting.

A very simple approach is to make a short list of what you WILL talk about via social media. Stick with it. The pay off? When someone thinks about an expert in interior design, they will think of you because you will have BRANDED yourself as one. (DISCLAIMER: This is not an opportunity to “play a doctor on T.V.” You should actually be an expert in the areas you claim to be.)

The same concept applies for joining multiple networks. Keep the same personality for each.

Ever heard the compliment about a truly admired person, “he or she is the same in public as he or she is behind closed doors?” This is what I believe to be the golden rule of your social media personality. Live your brand across all networks (including offline).

The following people blog or vlog about specific topics and continue the dialogue via other social media platforms consistently:


· Aronado Placencia: (@Aronado) This man lives to promote entrepreneurs and new startups. With a goofy sense of humor and an ability to connect quickly, he is ultimately all about promotion (in a good way).

· Jeff Pulver: (@JeffPulver) Usually looking for social media speakers, getting ready for the next social media summit, or just talking about social media – he really does live “in” social media.

· Melanie Notkin: (@SavvyAuntie) She has branded the new, hip way to be an aunt. Her blog and online personality co-exist harmoniously.

Social climbing not the best approach

Social climbers beware. As you build your social media personality, don’t only connect with people who have a lot of “followers,” “friends,” “connections,” etc. It makes sense to engage the “big dogs” of social media, but it’s even better to connect with other quality audiences. Spending too much time looking for the big fish may take away from an entire school passing you by. Go grassroots and begin to build your personality one social media platform at a time.

A relatively easy approach on Twitter:

Use the search function and type in keywords associated with your brand. Reach out to everyone talking about these items with a personally crafted “Tweet.” Do not resend the same thing over and over. People you interact with will read your Twitter stream and want to see what useful information you provide.

Check out networks, groups, or fan pages on Facebook:

Creating a group or fan page for people to become a member of both gives you a new to interact with current customers and offers the opportunity to grow your reach exponentially. The Creative Commons fan page is a great example of a fan page doing it well. Their fan page has several discussion board posts (similar to a blog) and many wall posts – which demonstrates that people are engaged. They also have “REAL LIVE” employees who participate on the fan page.

Start a conversation on Seesmic, a video blogging community:

Post a 30 second video blog on Seesmic, asking for feedback and you’ll get it. There is a small, but mighty network of users on this video platform. If you’re looking for a way to jump on the video bandwagon this is a great way to get started. Todd Jordan (@tojosan) is an engaged member of the Seesmic community and offers “tell it like it is” advice. He gets that it’s not all about the numbers, and follows people who enjoy frequent video conversations with him.

It’s not a one-stop shop

There is no one-size fits all personality for your brand. In fact, think you know your brand? Explore social media and see how people really experience what it is you’re selling. You may need to adjust or reflect on your brand.

What is your brand offline? Social media isn’t an opportunity to reinvent a new brand, but to widen your brand’s reach. It’s all about the experience, right? People should get the same (or similar) experience with you online that they get offline. For example, a business owner talks up an impressive customer service experience at his or her business online without ensuring his or her staff truly delivers this service. Making a promise you can’t keep is worse than never having engaged your audience at all.

Remember Motrin Moms? Sharing information via social media without someone there to interact is a giant NO NO! A “must have” when branding on social media is being available to your public.

Return on engagement

It’s all about ROE – return on engagement. Is your social media personality working? You’ll know when opportunities arise that never would have been possible otherwise. A few ways to “quantify” engagement:

• Track incoming traffic from links

• Number of people subscribed to RSS feeds

• Number of people in social media groups, fan pages, etc

• Trackbacks or linkbacks to posts

• Conversation tracking tools like Twitter Search (Mashable guest writer Dan Schawbel previously discussedfree and fee-based brand monitoring tools)

• Comments on blog posts

• Increased sales and general inquiries

Best advice? Don’t take anyone else’s advice

You know your brand better than anyone. Learn some of the social media fundamentals, then apply and find what works best for you.

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