Archive for May, 2011

Keep It To Yourself: Share Your Opinions, Not Your Data



You’ve probably seen more and more of your favorite sites moving to HTTPS. Sure, you’ve been careful to buy only from commercial sites that use the secure protocol, but why worry about it when you’re on Facebook?

Mashable has a great illustration of this–ignoring HTTPS is just like handing your laptop over to a random stranger and walking away. And more and more sites are recognizing this, and giving users the option to use HTTPS. foursquare recently moved everyone to HTTPS; they seem to be very aware that their service, while “opt-in,” does raise privacy and security concerns for some of their users.

Facebook provides an example of why making the switch isn’t always that simple a decision. While you can switch to HTTPS for your profile and pages, some of your apps (including those all-important games!) may not work afterward.

It’s not foolproof, and there are new tactics in the works–but it’s an important start. Have you made the switch?

Photo by Digiart 2001 | jason.kuffer, via Flickr.

Why Every Organization Needs a Social Media Plan


Urban Outfitters is in the middle of a controversy, and it’s trending on Twitter. The company is accused of copying an independent jewelry designer’s creations, and people have taken to the Interwebs about it.

Urban Outfitters is also on Twitter, but so far they haven’t responded to the issue there. And they should.

There are plenty of examples of companies who responded well and poorly to crises playing out over social media. At this point, there’s really no excuse for failing to respond. If there’s a conversation going on, you need to be part of it. And you need to be part of it where it’s happening.

Do you work for an organization? Does your organization have a social media plan? If not, start working on one now. And remember, just because you’re not on a social media site doesn’t mean your customers aren’t. You need to be looking as broadly as possible.

Here are a few questions to get you started on your plan:

1) Who is our audience?
2) How do they use social media?
3) What monitoring tools are available to us?
4) How do we respond to common topics and issues that arise in our existing communications?
5) How can we adapt those to different kinds of social media sites?

Just as your approach to each site should be different, your method of responding to criticism or praise should depend on what site you’re using. Twitter is not Facebook is not YouTube is not Foursquare.

Learn. Think. Prepare.

You can’t anticipate everything, but the more you’ve done in advance, the better off you’ll be when the surprise comes. What’s stopping you?

Twitter and Tweetdeck (Updated)


Rumors abound. Is Twitter buying Tweetdeck for the tune of $40 million? Twitter isn’t saying. One way or another, we’ll all find out.

Tweetdeck is my third-party-Twitter-app-of-choice. It doesn’t entirely filter out the noise, but it helps tremendously. I find its columns more intuitive and easy to navigate than Twitter‘s internal tab system (the organization of which continues to seem rather random), and I like that I can order those columns according to my own priorities.

Apparently another contender was Ubermedia. Since their acquisition of–the social bookmarking site, which I loved–seems to have resulted in nothing tangible, I guess I’d be more worried if they’d come out on top. (I’m curious about Ubermedia’s plans for, though, since their focus seems to be firmly on Twitter. And I’ve switched my social bookmarking to may be the big dog, but it doesn’t use tagging the way I want to.) So what would this acquisition mean for Twitter and Tweetdeck? Will Twitter–which still seems to have service issues on a regular basis–be able to incorporate this into their repertoire?

Update: Yep–it happened. Let’s see what’s next.

Social Media, Social Change?



Lately, we’ve heard a lot about the power of Twitter during revolutions. But what about the effect of social media on other kinds of change?

Manal al-Sherif, a Saudi woman, is counting on the power of social media to change the culture of her country. Simply put, she wants to be able to drive a car–something that religious edicts prohibit women from doing in Saudi Arabia. Al-Sherif and fellow organizers have set up a Facebook page to support their cause, and posted the above video on Facebook and YouTube.

“We have a saying,” she told CNN. “The rain starts with a single drop. This is a symbolic thing.”

So what do you think? Can social media change social mores?

Depth or Breadth?


Every crowd starts with one person.

Seth Godin has a great post about audience-building, but I think there’s another step. Seth says you can focus on the person you attract and try to hold their attention, or keep casting about for new attention, and both work.

I think he’s right, but I’d add this: if you (as busker) focus on that one person, someone else will be curious about why they’ve stopped, and they’ll stop. It’s easier to spot two stopped people than one, so more people will be curious.

So although I thought it was corny at the time, I guess maybe there’s some truth to the old Faberge Organics commercial:


Side note, in the Everything Old is New Again category: Check out that decades-old use of “organic” as a product label!

Be Like Warren Buffet


Barcode Warren Buffet

This Harvard Business Review blog post isn’t brand new, but I’m pretty sure it’s evergreen. One thing we all forget at one point or another is this:

Communication is about sharing information.

It’s not about obscuring your meaning, trying to spin a bad situation, or fancy wordplay for it’s own sake. So don’t do these things. If you have something to share, tell people clearly. Make it interesting–fun, even, if that’s appropriate–but make it easy to understand.

So maybe we can’t all be financial wizards. That’s okay. After all, you’ll notice that the title of this post isn’t “Be Warren Buffet.”

Photo by magerleages, via Flickr.

Office Space


Conference Table

What’s your ideal workspace? I don’t really mean how it looks. I mean, in what spaces do you work best?

Looking back, I’ve been most focused and productive at large tables–no doubt this hearkens back to doing my homework on the dining room table. Later, I organized and wrote my master’s thesis in the department’s library, where my fellow students and I often gathered around a large conference table. (Mostly we worked there, but on occasion there was table-top waltzing.) (You didn’t hear that from me.) A few years after that, I had a job that required me to process so much paper that I could only use my cubicle for storage; my actual editing work was done at the large table in our common area.

So if I could design my own office space, it wouldn’t contain built-in furniture. And it definitely wouldn’t involve an L-shaped desk.

What I’d like would be a large table with a few chairs and a compact computer station. Oh, and a small file cabinet. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound modern and cool. But here’s what it is: an environment that lets me spread out, see new combinations, and find the big idea. And isn’t that the point?

Photo by Martin Ujlaki, via Flickr.

50 Inspiring Custom Facebook Pages


Wondering how major brands are using Facebook? Check out these samples.

Are there others you’d add to this list?

World Leaders and Social Media


Recently, Brian Solis wrote an interesting post about world leaders and social media. A couple of thoughts:

I agree that there’s a need for both a personal account and an institutional account. This is true for much more than politics–we’ve seen it play out in the business world, but higher ed could learn from it as well.

It’s a good idea to have fun with it. Not everything has to be A Serious Big Deal.

But one thing I do question, and that’s Solis’s discussion of “Twitter Diplomacy.” I get the idea, but I also see how it is a really tricky subject. Do you unfollow a leader or office when international relations change? What are the geopolitical ramifications of unfriending a fellow head of state? There’s opportunity here, but there’s also room for tremendous hazard.

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