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Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending April 14 (Triple B Edition)

Every week I compile a list of the noteworthy news (Buzz) from my week of reading. I like to balance news with commentary, but it has to be really valuable for my readers (Brilliance). This week I’m adding Blogging to the mix. We’ll see if it becomes a permanent addition, but this week it was necessary. The links that follow are to sites and blogs that I read on a regular basis - consider them recommended reading for you too. Or you can just come back here each week for a taste of what stuck out to me.

It’s been a while, so I’m glad to be back sharing the latest and greatest of the world of social media with you. There’s a lot that’s gone on in the last few weeks that the B&B has been on hiatus, but I’m going to stick to the past week. Not that it wasn’t important. I just don’t want this post to take 6 hours to write or read. :)




Pinterest announced something this week that many are excited about - the ability to choose your board cover. However, I think this has limited usefulness. The fact is, most people will visit your Pinterest profile once. The day they go to follow your board(s). That doesn’t mean it’s not nice. Being able to customize is just one more way you can reinforce your visual identity.

If you’re looking to learn more about how your Pinterest efforts are being received, you might want to check out Pinerly. It’s an analytics tool specifically for Pinterest.

By far, the biggest news this week is Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for the bargain basement price of $1 billion. There’s been a bit of backlash over the purchase, with some Instagram users vowing they’ll delete their accounts over privacy concerns. This stems from the fact that Facebook will have access to a wealth of location data stored on Instagram with photos. The supposed backlash didn’t stop Instagram’s growth - it became the #1 app on the app store for the first time after the announcement. I usually avoid mentioning this type of story here because it’s not at the stage where it’s going to affect user experience or impact engagement. But it’s certainly good to be aware.

Google+ rolled out a new interface design that’s really quite nice!* There are giant avatars now and a cover photo. It’s quite a different feel than what you see with Facebook. Many would argue (and I can’t disagree) that the Google+ single column beats out Facebook’s double-column timeline. It is easier to read. Have you checked it out yet?

*It’s interesting to note that there’s been talk here and there this week that people are seeing larger profile pictures on Facebook Timeline. This is clearly a direct response to the Google+ design update. It seems intermittent so far - I’ve been looking all week and only spotted it for the first time on a live page just today. However, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we’re about to see our first change to the Timeline design. Oh yes, just six weeks after we all scrambled to publish our timelines, we’ll have to make sure the new profile picture size doesn’t mess it all up again.


I rarely add Seth Godin’s posts to the Brilliance section, because that just wouldn’t be fair. When is there not some brilliance in them? I couldn’t not add this one. It gives a framework for taking in criticism/complaints and deciding how seriously to take them. When you’re using social media, those things are inevitable. Putting the proper perspective on them can save so much stress. Besides, as my dad would say, “Everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if they’re wrong.” 

“If you want to be charismatic, your mind can’t wander while you’re one-on-one with a customer or colleague.” Do you struggle with this? I have and I’m going to check out this book. As a business owner, I know I owe it to my clients in particular to be fully present when I’m with them.

Ask anyone why it’s important for businesses and organizations to participate in social media and invariably “being where your customer/client/members are” is on the list. It’s become necessary for social media to be part of any comprehensive marketing/public relations/communications strategy. So, it’s noteworthy when an organization decides to pull the plug on their social media channels


I added this section this week for one reason. Mitch Joel wrote about his process and challenged others to follow suit. The result has been a very interesting peek into the minds of many of my favorite bloggers. Perhaps sometime Lara and I will share our individual blogging process with you as well.

Chris Penn was the first blogger I saw respond to Mitch’s challenge. Chris’ blog always teaches me new ways to look at data. The man is brilliant. Reading about his process was a treat. 

Mark Schaefer’s was the next post I got to see. I’m a little in awe of the fact that Mark writes everything for the week on Sundays. I barely have time to put this post together lately!

I also need to learn how to be more like Jason Falls and write, self-edit and cue my posts in 30 minutes. I’ve spent as long as 6 hours on a blog post. If I counted the reading time I spend each week for this post, we’d be up to double-digits.

I’ll keep an eye out for more of these posts over the coming week. I hope it’s a good one for you!

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending November 19

While most people are still talking about the battle between Facebook and Google+ (that I still maintain is ridiculous) I am beginning to think there is a battle - of who gets the most news stories of the week. And, quite frankly, with the numerous different products Google has, Facebook is likely always going to be the winner. They're always the big news of the week, so I'm going to start with someone else for once.

One of my favorite tools to help me organize content and ideas is Evernote. It's become invaluable to me, from the ability to easily clip pages on the web from my browser to accessing my notes anywhere - web, desktop, iPad, iPhone (and they're on the other major mobile platforms as well). My Evernote notes even get searched when I search google, which is great for me to be able to access content I already have on topics I'm searching. This week, Evernote launched a new browser plugin, Clearly. It's a great way to clean up busy web pages to consume the more important content. The downside is that it cleans up web pages to consume the content. No ads, no links within the post. This is even more stripped down than RSS feeds. It is easy to toggle back and forth from Clearly to the live version of the site, so visitors won't entirely miss what you're delivering if they use Clearly, but it will give (in many ways) a much nicer Web experience.

I've been doing some experimenting in a Facebook group on posts that get engagement. What I'm finding is that the easier the question, the better engagement I get across the board. It's given me some insight into why updates from brands are ignoredMari Smith has put together a great list of tips to help generate better sharing. There is no better indication of an engaged audience than when they want to share your content with their friends and followers. Better engagement from brands will reduce un-likes/follows regardless of the platform.

Speaking of engagement, do you know the difference between engagement and social media optimization? Mashable defines both and explains how adopting appropriate strategies in both areas will benefit you with increased, targeted readership. As other research suggests, engagement begets engagement - though it's not all equal. Maybe there are other ways engagement would improve for brands on Facebook, but friending a brand is going to be a tough sell.

If you have thoughts on ways to improve Facebook pages, you'll be happy to know that Facebook wants your feedback! I'd encourage you - if you're interested - to read on about the latest changes to the Facebook Events, Photos and Jobvite.

The introduction of Google+ brand pages means that there is a whole new round of comparison stories. The overwhelming majority (that I've seen) are ho-hum about the Google+ introduction. Many have said businesses don't need to have a G+ page yet...I tend to agree. But there are plenty of compelling reasons why you'd want to start a G+ brand page as well. This isn't any huge surprise since Facebook has about 5 years on Google+ in the page stakes. Not to mention a hefty lead in the user department with 750million (and counting) more users to attract.

By the way, if you're still an individual unsure about Google+, don't worry. It's not for everyone.

QR Codes are by no means mainstream or even "popular" by today's standards. But they're gaining traction and it doesn't look like they're going to fade away any time soon given the diverse and creative ways that businesses are finding to use them.

For over a year, Digg has been taking a dive (I've pretty much ignored my Digg account for two years) and - more and more - Reddit is flying high. I thought about joining Reddit a year or so ago, but decided against it. I'm changing my mind - look for a post about it in the coming weeks. Of course, just as with StumbleUpon, Reddit is what I would term as a secondary network. Not meant to take a great deal of time or replace Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. Having recently read some other interesting stories from Kenna McHugh lately, my interest is officially piqued.

Foursquare has incorporated new badges that highlight users' expertise in various areas. I hardly need to point out that this will be incredibly useful for people to build proof of authority - particularly for anyone in food and retail, but other topics that are well-supported with location-based information as well. With their recent re-design as well, I have a renewed interest in what will come in the next little while from Foursquare. I think they could be answering users' requests in such a way that is creating a robust, (unbeatable?) tool.

As soon as I saw the title of this 12 Most post, I knew my RSS reader was likely about to get another boost. Thankfully, it's a small boost. I was already following most of them. For the record, anytime I get recommendations like this with a great reason, I'm likely to subscribe. My one complaint about this piece is that there were no links to the blogs, because that would have been really useful.

To me, it's a dangerous practice to definitively say someone is doing social media "wrong". I think that requires proof, such as lack of growth, effectiveness in the network they're building. So, when I saw Mathew Ingram's post earlier this week, I was curious about what he had to say about the use of Twitter by media companies and Adam Singer did a good job of pointing out that social media use just isn't that black and white. On the other hand, sometimes we see people suggest practices that don't have solid logic behind them, so questioning the practice is valuable.

One use of Twitter than we CAN definitively say is just wrong is spam. And it's been getting worse lately. TweetSmarter has some info about it and steps Twitter is taking to alleviate the pain for all of us.

Wendy's recently ran a twitter campaign that netted a secondary account 33,000 followers in just one month. While it's impressive, I'd love to know specifics about their tactics before I would say it's a great idea. If they aren't using methods that are measurable, it's impossible to say how effective such a campaign will be on their bottom line. However, it is a very creative way to gamify social media use and create greater brand awareness as well. General best practice would say that splitting accounts isn't a good idea, but maybe Wendy's has come up with a clever way to benefit from having secondary twitter feeds.

On a final merry note, I cannot believe how tempted I am by this Twitter-sourced ornament! Have a great week!

She said / She said : Google +

Karen from The Media Mesh and I have decided to start a new monthly series called She said/She said.

Once a month we will cover the same topic on the same day from our individual perspectives. We will then wrap up the day with a google hangout where we hope people will join us to talk more about the topic.


What is it?

Google + is a new social network by Google.

The basic elements of it are (based on my own observations):

- You follow people and don’t need their permission to do so (like Twitter).

- Your content unfolds in your stream more similarly to Facebook, with longer posts, photos and links to other sites.

- You can sort your contacts into circles (I have ones for social media, Ottawa, and friends - to name a few) and then use those circles to filter content when you want to read about a certain topic or to send messages to only select groups of people.

- They have google hangouts which are live group video chats (we’ll be having one tonight if you’re interested in joining Karen and I to further discuss this topic).

- +1 - you may have seen this on blogs, web sites, etc.  When you +1 something it is essentially the same thing as “liking” on Facebook, but google is able to integrate it into all of their spaces easily which means you’ll see +1 all over.

- It integrates with Picasa Photos.

- In time it will surely integrate with all of Googles applications.

Why should I care?

Are you sitting there thinking:

“why on earth should I join ANOTHER social network.  I don’t even manage to find the time to use Facebook, Twitter and Linked In well!”

Here are the reasons I think Google + is worth investing some time in:

- You can follow some really interesting people and take part in some really interesting conversations.


Because you can follow people without them having to approve you (like Twitter) you can be a part of some really interesting and in depth conversations (which is very unlike Twitter).  I follow a lot of experts in Social Media (and  admittedly there are many, because they are the early adopters of a new social network) and I have learned more in areas of interest through Google + than any other network.


- Circles


When I first heard about circles I thought that the biggest value was in being able to choose who what content went to (business associates don’t need to see 50 photos of my kids at the cottage for example), but I quickly realized the real value was in being able to quickly sort the people I follow into the kind of content I’m looking for. I can visit google+ for business/learning and spend time with just the circles that are appropriate to that, or I can come and see what my friends are up to.


- Opportunities to build engagement


Because there is no character limitations in Google + there is a lot of room to play around with content and provide content to your audience that they are looking for.  There are a few great ideas in this post, including reusing old blog posts as Google + posts, or breaking up long blog posts into a google + series that people would keep coming back to.


- Circle sharing


You can share a circle, like you can share a Twitter list.  This is a great way to find lots of new people to follow quickly!


- Hangouts


The ability to easily have multi-user chats online (whether with video or not) is a great and useful tool.  I have conducted meetings in google + hangouts and they have even integrated google documents into the hangouts now (thought I haven’t tried that functionality yet). It makes the virtual meeting or the virtual online class easier than ever before.

My advice to you

-It’s still new


Google + is still a new space.  If you were on Facebook in the first year then you remember it was a lot slower paced and quieter than it is now.  Google+ moves a lot slower than Facebook or Twitter because  not that many people are actively using the tool yet.  I believe it will get better, and I think we should appreciate the calm and quiet of the space for now :)




Look for and follow lots of people in your field.  Engage, share their information, join in the conversations.


- Circles


Think about what makes sense for the circles you create.  I have some by geographic area and some by field. You don’t want to have to move people around later so think about how you’d like things organized before you start clicking and dragging


- Try it out


Even if you don’t use it a lot, check it out, follow some people (including Karen and I!) and post some content.  Share your latest blog posts, events, etc and you may be surprised by the feedback and pickup it gets.  By being in the space early you’ll be at an advantage later on.

Have you tried Google +? What do you think?

Don’t forget to visit Karen’s post to see what her point of view on Google + is, and join us at 8pm tonight (Monday October 25) for a hangout (the link will be posted on  Karen’s profile) where we can talk about all the things we like and don’t like, and answer questions about Google +!



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Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending October 22

Skipping a week of Buzz and Brilliance was not easy to do. It left me with a reader overflowing with posts I didn't have time to read. And I felt a little out of touch with what was going on in the world of social media, though perhaps that's a good thing considering I was at a real, live conference with real, live people around me to connect with. I was connected in the most important way of all and that's something we should all value in social media use - it really means nothing if you never have a face-to-face conversation.

What is the one social network that you just can't wrap your head around? For me, that network is LinkedIn (followed closely by Pinterest - sorry, devotees!) and I've decided it's time to do something about it. LinkedIn, not Pinterest - I'll save that for another time. My determination to learn was sparked by my friend, Andrea, who talks about its value regularly. Then, I saw Copyblogger telling me that I could turn LinkedIn into an SM workhorse. Really? I need to know more! Shortly thereafter, I found the LI & Business magazine and I'm convinced that the universe also wants me to know more about LinkedIn. The more I learn about its growth and the inherent value of that growth, the more I know it's wise to be well-versed. Seriously, the social media magazines are great resources if there are tools you want to get up-to-speed on. You're welcome.

One of the most-talked-about news items from week to week in the online world is changes to this app, that network, etc. And immediately following a hundred posts describing the facts of the change (with opinions thrown in about its value), there is inevitably a backlash from users who want things back the way they were before. Having seen this over and over again since I got involved with social media (as it is today), I was really happy to see 12 Most address it in a self-help post for change-resistant users. Not only that, but they also published a post detailing the Facebook changes that have users so upset and debunked what I see as a myth of privacy controls being lost. (Also, seriously subscribe to this blog. It's so diverse, interesting and above all...useful.)

Speaking of Facebook and privacy, did you know that most users actually DO change their privacy settings? Maybe they do, but not necessarily right away. I check profiles when I see friend recommendations of people I know. Often, I can see a lot more than I would personally feel comfortable sharing. No, it's not scientific or even probably statistically relevant what I've seen, but it says to me that we have a long way to go with educating users. Even Sean Parker, co-founder of Plaxo, Napster and Causes - also the first president of Facebook - doesn't believe privacy is an issue on Facebook. Oversharing by power users is the issue; they make people want to overwhelm their friends with the volume of sharing.

Interestingly, as Poole told Facebook and Google that they were doing identity wrong and backed it up with assertions that information dissemination is often interest-based, Bill Gross announced - an interest based social media network. I'm curious to check it out, but I'll as the obvious: Do we really need another social network? Maybe it will grow faster given that there is an income model associated with it.

Have you ever wanted to dabble in video on the Web? I'm resistant to it, personally, because I don't like recording my voice and I'm a little camera shy. But one of these days I'll try it out and see how it goes, because I do think there is great value in video done well. And Sue Murphy gave DIYers a few really helpful tips in one of her recent blog posts. There's nothing better than being able to tap the knowledge of an expert on these things!

More and more changes coming to Google with product integration to the social network, Google+. I'm not sure how I feel about limiting the ways of sharing as Marshall Kirkpatrick describes on ReadWriteWeb, but I also do the vast majority of my feed reading in third-party apps like MobileRSS or Reeder and they have built-in sharing/saving to a host of services. From the looks of it, Google will eventually be integrating pretty much everything with Google+.

Google set off a firestorm when they announced their intention to enforce the use of real names. By far, the best news I've seen from Google has to be their relaxed stance on pseudonyms. This was welcome news after Christopher Poole (founder of 4chan and Canvas) took Google+ and Facebook to task at the Web 2.0 Summit, raising valid and important points about identity online.

For all the talk about Google's commitment to privacy, there are still breaches that occur. Checking your privacy settings periodically on every network isn't a bad thing. Not checking them, however, can be. With more and more integration of Google services into Google+, users will need to work hard to ensure they aren't leaving themselves vulnerable to such breaches.

I'm going to be talking more about Google+ tomorrow simultaneously with Lara Wellman in the first of our new monthly series, "She Said / She Said".

QR code technology has slowly grown to cult status for people who like the technology. It's a great way to share deals and information about your product/services to people on the go. BUT, it's a mystery where that site will lead you. And that is a big security vulnerability for mobile users. The critical mass of QR code users has finally reached a critical mass that nefarious sites are beginning to crop up. It's going to be important now that genuine users setting up QR codes brand them in a way to show the code can be trusted. And users need to look for authenticity when scanning. Don't just scan every code that's out there.

If there's anything controversial associated with social media, it is influence scores - most particularly Klout, though PeerIndex and TweetLevel have had flack for their measurements as well.  Because, really, how do you effectively automate the measurement of influence? Well, Klout is taking a stab at getting better. This week. So, if and when your klout score changes, don't be surprised. It's happened before and it will likely happen again. I, for one, am happy they evaluate and tweak their algorithm.

A little fun

Social media loves a cause and what better way to work on your bad habits and give to charity than through a social tool? Check out SwearJar.

I think this is fun because I use Squarespace for my personal blog (and may move The Media Mesh when my hosting expires). I love Squarespace because it's just so easy and user-friendly. And it's getting a really big overhaul with some exciting changes. Are you thinking about starting a blog? Want a no-hassle platform? Squarespace is my number one recommended platform - and I've used Blogger, and TMM is hosted on Squarespace is my favorite.

Last week, I announced the new BBC (short for Business Book Club) that I'll run online (and off?) through The Media Mesh. Then I saw this article from (of course) 12 Most about, you guessed it, biz books! Let me know in the comments if you want to join - here or on the original post. What book is a game-changer for you?

This was a long one, so I thank you for sticking around! Let me know if you find this series useful. It's a lengthy post to write and I want to make sure it's adding value.

Buzz and Brilliance - Week of September 26

Last week included a veritable avalanche of news about Facebook last week, so I thought this week things would have calmed down a bit. The actual news stopped, but speculation about oversharing and privacy concerns, the effect on businesses and marketing as well as other networks was rampant. Far and away the biggest concern I've seen over Facebook's changes is privacy and oversharing. Changes haven't come yet to pages, other than not having to "like" a page to comment/like posts on it. There will be changes eventually, so it's important to think about how the changes will impact your Facebook page now.

As for individuals, timeline will feel like an invasion of your privacy - it isn't. I've been using it for almost a week now. The switch to the new timeline has prompted many to threaten leaving and, like Mashable, I think that's mostly just talk and no action. But keep in mind that every piece of information was shared with your audience before timeline and the way it was shared hasn't changed. Access to it has changed only in that it's easier to see everything. Ultimately, it's important to remember that each person using any tool on the Web is responsible for protecting their own privacy. Learn how Facebook is implementing frictionless sharing and take steps to avoid sharing what you don't want others to see. And if you want to see comprehensive coverage of privacy concerns, be sure to look at ReadWriteWeb's Facebook coverage.

Have you ever used SlideShare? It's a really great tool for sharing presentations, but it's greatest limitation has been Flash and the effect that has on mobile users. But that's not a problem anymore! They're overhauling the tool with HTML5 and making it much more mobile-friendly. As an iPhone user, I'm excited about HTML5 and what it means for my mobile experience. If you're not familiar with HTML5, that's okay. You'll hear more and more about it as more sites adopt its use to make sites more accessible on all platforms - desktop and mobile. It's about delivering content everywhere in the same way and HTML5 can help if it ever becomes a standard.

Delicious was recently saved and the site got a radical overhaul. I haven't had a chance to check it out yet, but reports about the changes aren't terribly positive. Have you looked yet? Let me know what you think!

A few other snippets of news:

Google+ users can now share circles with followers. I have yet to use this function and I don't know if I will. But for power users, who have key industry people in their circles it could be a great way to put others in touch with those people...maybe. I'm a little on the fence about the value of this since it has potential to open all users up to more spam which is rampant on all social media sites lately.

In other Google news, I'm excited to share that they've finally added real-time updates to the Web version (my iPhone/iPad app has had real-time availability all along), but this is huge news for Webmasters who want to see the robust stats that Analytics provide in real-time.

Quora users are a devoted bunch and now they can use the Q&A tool wherever they are with the new Quora iPhone app. Reviews at this time are mixed, but that's not any big surprise. First versions of apps are rarely packed with the functions users really want/need. I'm sure updates will solve many of the issues it currently has. The important thing is that this is a step in the right direction for them.

There is so much more - I think everyone was trying to get noticed after Facebook overshadowed everything last week. But I don't want this to go too long, so these are the highlights I've picked for this week. Are there any other news tidbits you heard that were interesting?
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