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Social Romance

14 Feb

Photo by JD Hancock

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the couples out there! Happy Single Awareness Day to all the rest of you! Here are some ways you can surprise your Valentine using social media! None of these are as good as an in-person kiss or rose, but in conjunction they are quite sweet!

If your love has unlimited texting ask a large group of people (all of your office, your Facebook friends) to send him a text saying that you love him!

Create a board on Pinterest dedicated to your Valentine. Fill it with pictures of things you enjoy doing with her, your favorite pictures of her, or pictures that show her best qualities.

Ask his favorite celebrity Tweeters to tell him in a tweet how much you love him.

Make a funny or quirky Prezi about how the two of you met or your favorite memory together.

Create a music video on YouTube with pictures of her set to her favorite love song.

Post a photo tribute to him on Flickr.

Put just your darling in a circle on Google+. Share it in a post saying that she’s your only one or just this person has your heart. Disable sharing because you intend to keep her!

Create a Facebook fan page for him and list yourself as his #1 fan! If you don’t want to maintain the page year round you can delete it on the 15th.

If your sweetheart has a favorite blog she reads every day ask that blogger to dedicate a post to her.

I would love to hear your Valentine’s Day plans!

Dreaming Social

27 Jan

Three of my family members are looking at some new business ventures. One of them is even under construction as we speak! Being the social media addict that I am, I’m already dreaming up ways that internet technology and social media can be of assistance to their efforts. I very much want this blog to be practical and hands-on. Blogs extolling the virtues of social media are a dime-a-dozen, after all. So, here are some futuristic case studies, if such a phrase is legitimate. ūüėČ

Business Scenario #1: Taco Stand

My uncle, Fred Sutherland, is in the last stages of being released from the Texas State Prison System on parole. It’s a scary economic world for us all right now, but ex-cons have a much worse time of it than the rest of us do. A long story short is that he has a business plan ready to implement for several food wagons (he’s currently looking at tacos and burgers). He wants to target the downtown professional on lunch break, the construction crews that do not have their own transportation while on site. The plan is to be able to hit two or three key locations in a day at their specific lunch/supper rush.

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #1

FourSquare: I’m recommending to Fred that he create a FourSquare account for each food wagon. I would like to see original quirky names. Each FourSquare account would build a strong local network of friends for each of its stops. Through push notifications and ‘Nearby’ features a lot of the daily promotional work will be ‘outsourced’ to FourSquare. Bonus: when a new location or stop is added for a wagon Fred can use Forecast (posted about previously) to plan an opening splash.

Text Club: The most obvious use of a texting group is to broadcast specials and locations, but you could do a lot beyond that. Customers could text orders and then receive a text when the order is ready. Which brings us to…

Payment: Square. The vendor pricing is quite competitive with traditional card payment methods. And you can’t beat the wow factor. ūüėČ

It’s going to take my superior communication skills to present this to Fred. Social media wasn’t even thought of when he was last in the business world. I’ll let y’all know how it goes!

Business Scenario #2: Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)

My brother’s father-in-law (what do I call him? Father-in-law once removed? 2nd Father-in-law?), Bob Kulp, is a seasoned business owner and¬†entrepreneur¬†(It runs deep in his family) and his latest project is the conversion of traditional gasoline vehicles so that they run off of natural gas, which is significantly cleaner and cheaper than gasoline. He is in the process of building a CNG filling station on his property. He is avidly promoting CNG ¬†and fleet conversion across Wisconsin.

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #2

App: the best sales pitch is to show someone the money and I find the easiest way to track money is through an app. A CNG app could track

  • mileage¬†of CNG vehicle and how much less pollution it exhausts
  • how much saved per gas purchase compared to gasoline prices in the area
  • how close you are to paying off conversion cost with lower fuel costs and better gas mileage. Once conversion is paid for this converts to a pure savings number.
  • how close you are to a CNG filling station

Each of these tracking should allow for sharing the positive numbers to social networks. “Aliya has saved $326 so far with Kulp Energy Solutions!” followed by a link.

Bob is already quite active on social networks, both personally and professionally, so just go observe and learn.

Business Scenario #3: Local Sports Scene

My brother Ethan has noticed that there is one sport that gets a lot of attention nationally that has a local scene in the Tulsa area who is ignored by all local media. I can’t tell you which one because you might capitalize on this idea before he gets to. ::glare:: don’t even think about it!

Possible Social Media/Technology for Business Scenario #3

He is first going to build an online reputation of an expert in the sport. Once that is established he wants to leverage it to get radio spots. All of this is a little hazy because some of it requires equipment investments that he does not currently have the money for. Any angel investors out there?

Twitter: He should live-tweet national events in this sport. He should also host a weekly TweetChat (which I described to him as a “twat on Chitter’ just the other day. How¬†embarrassing.) on the sport.

Google+: He should do hangouts from local events and do hangout interviews with the athletes on Google+. He could also broadcast hangouts from the teams’ gyms with multiple interviews.

Blog: Predictions, commentary, reviews, interviews, etc.. of each local event.

Podcast: live broadcasting from local events that are also being broadcasted on television (which might restrict Hangouts). This will be the easiest part to convert to radio.

Many of these require portable wifi or 4G internet, a laptop or tablet with a good web camera, an external mic (maybe 2?), and access to cable television. With that high financial threshold this venture might take some time to happen, but I’m confident Ethan can make it a success!

Social Art

28 Dec

I was in a creative mood today, but still had to work. If I can’t actually be artistic today I shall at least blog about art, so here are some thoughts about how an artist can use social media effectively.

Feast for the Eyes

People love to look at art. And it is important that they get to look at art in a format designed to compliment it.

Example: Flickr: Flickr has everything you could ever desire for photos. Some of my favorite features are…

  • Tags, a way to describe the elements of a photo. This is also how you search for photos.
  • Sets, a way to group your photos according to whatever theme or criteria you set.
  • Nuanced privacy controls, including type of copyright license, viewing privacy controls, and ability to turn off downloads of photos.

How can a visual artist use Flickr?

  • Portfolio
  • Boosting of search engine returns by distributing images through Creative Commons
  • Secure cloud storage of photos
  • Proofing of orders for customers

Flickr Tip:¬†The best way to get is to give. The more you comment on other people’s work the more attention your work attracts. You’ll find the Flickr community to be a warm and welcoming crowd.

Personalize, Customize, and Switch it Up

People love to consumne media in a customized format. Any piece of art is more fun when it can be interacted with by putting it in our own frame with original commentary.

Example: Pinterest. Pinterest is the digital equivalent of cutting pictures out of a magazine and gluing them into a notebook. My favorite features are…

  • Boards which allow you to categorize everything. It’s an organization dream–nothing can be out of place!
  • Ability to like, comment on, or repin any pin. Express your level of rapture precisely!
  • Share to other social networks as much or as little as you want.
  • Post your own original content or just enjoy everyone else’s.

How can an artist use Pinterest?

  • Reach out to a niche customer
  • Target women consumners (vast majority of Pinterest users are female)
  • Promote all styles of ¬†your work without diluting any section

Pinterest tip: Watermark all your pins with your web address or Twitter handle. Original creator information is easiy lost on Pinterest due more to format than carelessness or maliciousness.

Open-Door Studio

People love the secrets of the back stage. We appreciate the process of creation almost as much as we do the final product.

Example: YouTube. I doubt I have to tell you what it is. ūüėČ Best features…

  • Free
  • Easy to use
  • Linked to the mighty Google search engine
  • Opportunity for monetization

Let’s think outside the typical watercolor artist or photographer. Who else can use YouTube for a glimpse into their studio?

  • Fiber artists
  • Sculpture artists
  • Florists
  • Hairstylers
  • Makeup artists
  • Stage designers
  • Prop makers
  • Refurbishers and restorerers

YouTube tip: Edit, edit, edit, and then edit again. We want to see behind the scenes, but we don’t want to watch the paint dry.

Go Live

Everyone wants a piece of face-to-face interaction with the star. They want a personal touch.

Example: Hangouts¬†the video chat feature of Google+. Features…

  • All the cool video elements of Skype but for free
  • Chat with up to 9 other devices.
  • Broadcast and record events on YouTube
  • Take the intimacy of a private back-stage tour global

What can artists use Hangouts for? How about?

  • Concerts–intimate feel of just 10 people but still able to reach as many as a stadium would hold.
  • Comedic acts–guaranteed audience interaction
  • Portraiture, caricature, and cartooning
  • Interviews
  • Business meetings
  • Collaboration and brainstorming with a shared Google Doc or Doodle

Hangout Tip: Involve all 9 people in the conversation and don’t forget the chat box on the left hand side.

Mobile & Future-Tense

26 Dec

I’m a huge fan of original content. I try to keep all of my personal and business social accounts (with the exception of Pinterest) ¬†at least 75% original content (please don’t go run a calculation on my stream. That’s a rough guess.) However, this article was so good that I didn’t want you to miss out. I can tell it was good because it got me thinking and connecting it with other ideas in my head. Please give it a read and then read my response here.

Why Real World Socializing is the Next Big Thing for Social Media by Rene Pinnell

Although Rene doesn’t explicity state it, a theme that emerges for me is that online communications are the catalyst for offline action. Example: Have you ever seen pictures of people owling or planking? This online trend faciliated an entire evening of fun for my family and uncle’s family of doing both at once.

Top to bottom: Nathan, Naomi, Caleb, Isaac, Samuel, Joshua, Ethan

This is a particularly interesting example in that five of the participants and spectators were either inactive or absent entirely from any online social networks. Your actions can be influenced by social media whether you participate or not!

Most of my restuarant choices are driven by my Foursquare friends. My book and movie choices have always been driven by friend recommendations, but now they come via Facebook. I could go on and on, but you see the point.

The disconnect that Rene points out is that right now social networks can only document what we’re doing away from our computer screens. Social media¬†can only talk about it before and after the fact.¬†Anyone who has tried to live tweet an event knows that mobile can’t solve this entirely. In order to document something you lose part of the live experience. This is true even of older technologies. Have you ever felt like you missed an event simply because you were so busy videotaping it?

This is where Rene brings in the concept of adding a future-tense layer in social media. Basically, this would allow social media to be an even better catalyst for offline activity than it is now. In my mind this immediately connected with three services I’m alreadying using: Google+, Schemer, and Foursquare.

  • Google+: if I’m going to plan activities online I don’t want to handle the social drama of deciding who can come and who should know. Google+ circles are the answer.
  • Schemer: Rene looks very ignorant for writing an article about Schemer without mentioning them by name. If he had written it 2 months ago though he would have been prophetic. Schemer obviously is still in its infancy, but the possibilities here are huge.
  • Foursquare: Facebook recently launched a messenger app to work in conjunction with its primary mobile app. What if Foursquare had a messenger app? You could invite friends to check-in at a certain place at a certain time and it would notify the venue of your plans. You could choose the privacy level of both the event and of the messages. It would be both a social calendar and a reservations system.

One final thought. I haven’t yet tried the apps Rene and team have created: foreca.st¬†and Hurricane Party. I have downloaded foreca.st and will let you know how it goes! I thought it was highly commendable fo Rene to write an article that is so close to his product without once pitching his apps. Cheers, Rene!

Nonprofit Advantage

16 Dec

As I was writing yesterday’s post I kept trying to work in some points and mentions of noprofits using social media, but I just couldn’t reconcile vernacular like ‘returning customers’ and ‘sales leads’ with the image of a hospice volunteer or pastor of a small church. So, I decided to give them their own post. In fact, they’ll probably get several. After all, their goals are very different from a business, so naturally their social media techniques are going to be different as well. Not only will their social media be different, but I think it will also be easier for nonprofits. Why? Nonprofits do better at social media because, on average, they understand relationships better than businesses.

Take churches for example. I refer to my own church as my church family. We help each other out, take care of each other, hold each other accountable, help each other succeed, feed each other, swap kids like they’re merchandise, make music together, study together… Isn’t this panning out to be a great definition of relationships? We are not a social club–all of these actions have a spiritual reward and benefit. I won’t go into those here–go ask a pastor! The point is that a church functions off of relationships even in completley nondigital cultures. It is a hop and a skip for a church to then use social media.¬†

Nonprofits have another advantage of businesses. Nonprofits can galvanize their networks to act with passion. Businesses have one action they want their networks to do: buy their service/product! It is extremely difficult to urge buying something without damaging a relationship, sounding spammy, or coming across as pushy. Are there more consumners than volunteers? Sure there are. I’m just saying it’s easier to engage volunteers than it is consumners.

A good example of this are political groups. They show the magic of niche groups better than any marketing webinar I’ve seen. There are groups for every concern you could have and then they’re specialized to location. The very fact that somoene has identified themselves online with this group, whether that be by following them on Twitter or liking their page on Facebook, most likely means they are looking for a way to do something about its specialized concern. Its interaction handed you to on a gold platter!

Finally, one last social media bonus. Nonprofits are active. It is the easiest thing in the world to post interesting content for a nonprofit because they are constantly doing.

Consider a hypothetical social media profile of a Big Brothers, Big Sisters county chapter. What type of content is available to post for such a group?

  • Local activities
  • Local school information and activities
  • Latest media pieces on mentoring
  • Latest media pieces on the national group
  • Guides and how-tos (Should you friend your little brother on Facebook? Are you allowed to post pictures of your little sister on Tumblr?)
  • Activities the county chapter is sponsoring (fundraisers!)
  • Children movie reviews
  • Children book reviews
  • We could go on and on…

Hopefully, soon, this case won’t be hypothetical. Stay tuned…

So, what is your favorite nonprofit’s social profile like? Please link to them!

Futuristic Musings

15 Dec

I like change. I enjoy contemplating what the future will be like, even if it doesn’t turn out that way. Here’s some of my musings in regards to social media and business.

NFC-enabled FourSquare check-ins will eventually make our current Foursquare check-ins look so laborious and old school.

I wonder if the word ‘niche’ is going to be replaced with ‘hashtag’. So, instead of trying to find your niche market you’ll hunt for the right hashtag. Or maybe it will be circle. “I found the perfect circle for my product!” Like so.

Even before it was my job/business, I loved being part of something new. I got my Google+ invite from David Reagan on July 12th and it actually kind of irks me that I didn’t ask for it in June (the first month it was available). I recently signed up for two new things: Wahooly and Schemer. I have my doubts about Wahooly, but I was too curious to say no. I do think Kickstarter will become the go-to way for artists, particularly Indie. Look at what Five Iron Frenzy did!

Schemer, Google+, and Google Calendar need to integrate in a big way. It would beat Facebook events black and blue.

Google should buy Get Glue in order to use it with Latitude and Schemer. That might give it a bit of an edge with Foursquare. Letting Dennis and Alex get away from them has got to be one of Google’s biggest mistakes.

Smartphones need to improve drastically at reading QR codes. There’s enormous potential there but it does try ones patience! Speaking of which…

Did your college also have those bulletin boards covered in flyers? Eventually, those will be nothing but pieces of paper with headlines and QR codes.

If you have a fairly complicated medical condition you could build a website telling paramedics about it and then tattoo a QR code for that website on your forearm or something.

QR codes could also replace those little tags kids wear ‘My mommy’s phone number is…’

It’s interesting how social media has made my life both more global and more local. I communicate with people all over the world based on common interests, but then I’m inspired to actually live out those interests locally. Someday, dire warnings about replacing social life with social media will sound as outrageous people who claimed homeschoolers wouldn’t know how to function in society.

How long do you think the Galaxy Nexus will be outrageously expensive? I’m hoping not long.

I wrote yesterday on Google+ about redundant background checks. Now I’m thinking of ways to make it social. What if you put up all your background check costs on Kickstarter?

Raquel Beaty, my soon-to-be-sister-in-love (her sister is marrying my brother), had her Google account briefly suspended yesterday. It was a mishap and was quickly set right, but my mother, Janet Bavido, pointed out that it was similar to having your mailbox ripped out by the US Post Office. Which left me pondering A, how long is the USP going to limp along? and B, when will email become a property owner’s right, like snail mail?

Thank you for wandering through these musings with me. What do you think about the future?

Cleaning Day

12 Dec

A good portion of my day today will be spent in house cleaning. Things haven’t gotten gross–just a little too cluttered for any productivity. When I need a break today from house cleaning I’m going to sit down at the computer and do some social cleaning of my personal networks, especially on¬†Twitter¬†and¬†Google+. In fact, this post will be exclusively about Twitter and Google+, because the dynamics of mutual agreement on LinkedIn and Facebook are very different.

I like to think of the streams and news feeds of social networks as a series of fountains. You have to pick out the dead leaves and rescue stranded frogs daily. This might be compared to muting a post you’re not interested in or flagging spam comments. Every now and then though you have to clean the filter and scrub the algae off the bottom of the fountain. This is what I’m doing today. The ‘Unfollow’ button is going to earn its keep today!

If the last sentence just quickened your heart rate, let me explain how I found the freedom to do this. Imagine me in a meditative shaman pose, if that helps. On Twitter and on Google+ there is no obligation to follow or circle back.¬†Your stream is for you. It should show what you want–whether that’s Skyrim tips or cat GIFs or #YouMightBeAPoliticalStaffer memes. If someone is not adding value to your stream you don’t have to keep them in it. Take a deep breath and realize your liberation!

Now that we have all reached social enlightenment, here are some other social maintenance practices I do.

First, I know what I want to see. For me personally Twitter is almost exclusively politics at all levels, skewed strongly to the right. For @MagicBottleMkt I want to see a few, honestly-good social media people, but mostly I want local tweeters and news. On Google+ I can be more varied because of the magic of circles. I have political and social media circles there, too, but also Sci-fi/Fantasy, photography, music (gotta have some art in my life!), and alternative education.

Second, I use Twitter lists and individual circle streams as noise filters.¬†Twitter lists are what I will be working on a lot today. I’ll write another blog post another day about lists, perhaps highlight some of my favorites. Right now, I’ll just say that I don’t worry about my main stream becoming noisy. When my circle streams and list streams become noisy and cluttered, I know it’s time for some social cleaning.

Third, I search, search, search!¬†I may be at a live event, such as the Tulsa Oilers game Friday night, that I don’t usually have any interest in. Thanks to Twitter search I can connect quickly and briefly with other people, interact during the game, and then leave with no obligations. During one of the many Republican¬†Presidential¬†debates (what are we averaging now? One every 1 1/2 weeks?) I can follow hashtags on Twitter and do a search on Google+ for ‘presidential debate’ and get all the interaction and commentary I want without having to add a bunch of folks to my network. Search is also useful when I’m starting a new role-playing or multi-player game. I tend to do games on kicks and binges. With search I can gather the best tips and fun people to play with and then leave them when the game loses my interest.

By the way, all of the above makes for terrible relationship advice. ūüėČ

Social Media and Angry Birds

8 Dec

I got hooked on Angry Birds when it became free to play in Google Chrome. After that it quickly ended up on my iPod Touch for offline playing. I am not a good player by any means, but I have learned a few tricks. One of these is to shoot each bird at the material it’s designed to destroy. Little blue guys are best for breaking up glass. The yellow bird can penetrate wood like no one else. The black explosive bird is ideal for leveling stone.¬†In sociological and economic terms we would say that Angry Birds have specialization or division of labor. Remember reading about those concepts in school? It’s supposed to help set us humans apart from the animals, although bees have been doing it for a while.

This division of labor affects what type of innovations and tools come to be. We improve on what we already use. We solve problems we encounter and get inconvienced by. What one person invents to solve problem A is then used by the next person to solve problem A AND problems F and G that the inventer hadn’t gotten to yet.

Take a quantum leap here from slingshots, bees, and the wheel to social media platforms. Facebook started as a way for college students to connect (don’t believe quite everything in The Social Network). Twitter was born linked with ideas we now know as mobile and location-based. Google+ from its infancy has focused on resolving privacy issues that had left users of both Facebook and Buzz reeling. From those early days though each platform has grown way beyond whatever problem they were solving. Facebook is king of calendar socialization with Facebook Events. Twitter has become among many things a link farm and a chat service. Google+ is replacing blogs¬†for some.

Imagine if in Angry Birds you threw every single bird at the exact same spot with equal force. I didn’t have the patience to try this method until I could progress no further, but I think we can all agree that your results would never be as good as if you used birds for what they’re good at. With that in mind, why would you ever publish the exact same post to all your social networks?¬†For just a tiny bit more effort you can get much better results.

I might personally prefer one platform over another (Gladie here!), but I’m not going to dismiss the potential customers on any platform. If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it well. I learned the process, lingo, and community of each social network I provide professional services for.¬†I do believe in a clear, cohesive message across all networks, but I always type out each post separately for each network. I use fewer emoticons on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook. I use relevant hashtags on Twitter. I try to include an image with Facebook posts, because Facebook’s algorithims favor images (this area of my Facebook page still needs some improvement). I post longer thoughts on Google+ than I would ever consider on any other platform. In fact, I’m considering cross-posting every entry here on Google+.

To sum up, a motto from my dad. “The right tool for the right job.” And if you wanted to know, I’m currently on the last game of Mine and Dine on Angry Birds. I hope to finish the world tonight!