Social Networking

Jump in, interrupt, bite the bullet and chat with me!

Image Source: MorguefileI was having lunch with my friend, Kim, yesterday. She came to Ottawa ALL the way from Winnipeg to attend Social Capital Conference last weekend. (How cool is that?) We got to chatting about Twitter, because we often do since that’s where we met. Kim made an observation about some twitter users that I’ve noticed as well: when “butting in” to a conversation, many preface their comments with an apology for doing so. I’ve done it before, too. I’ll likely do it again without thinking.

It’s hard to reverse the social rules we’ve been brought up to respect. When conversing face-to-face, interrupting is a no-no (and I am guilty of that one, too). 

However, Twitter etiquette gives us greater leeway. That’s one of the reasons I like the “semi-private” nature of tweets. By that, I mean that if Lara and I are having a public conversation, anyone who follows both of us can see the conversation in their timeline. However, if someone is only following one of us (it happens), they won’t see the conversation, even though our tweets are public. 

I really like that this gives the opportunity to jump in to conversations between other people. In fact, “interrupting” is not only acceptable, it’s a great way to get to know new people - and it’s encouraged! 

Lara has written about the networking event that is Twitter before. The value of networking on Twitter is in jumping in to conversations! So, be brave and jump in without apology. It really is unnecessary. Lara likes to call Twitter a big networking event. I like to call it the world’s biggest chat room and 17 years ago when I entered my first chat room, I jumped right in to the conversation. 

You can too and I promise you’ll be glad you did. 

Yes, even business owners - provided you’re being social on the networks you use. (Please be social…we can talk about that another day, though.) We have some case studies we’ll be sharing over the next few months that will show you how beneficial the social aspect of social media can be to your bottom line. 

So, please jump in, interrupt, bite the bullet and chat with people…including me and Lara!

Introduction to LinkedIn: Who's using it and how?

We’re going to spend a few weeks talking about LinkedIn, whether you should be using it as a tool for your business and how you can optimize your activity there to get new business. 

I wanted to start by giving you an idea of who is on LinkedIn and what they’re using it for. This infographic was developed Wayne Breitbarth on 2012 research data, which is a bit out of date after the recent announcement that LinkedIn had hit the 200 million member mark. Nonetheless, it’s useful information if you’re not sure how LinkedIn may be useful to you for your business.

Linkedin Infographic
Via: PowerFormula for Linkedin Success

Are you on LinkedIn? What questions do you have about using LinkedIn?

Social 101: 5 Tips for Facebook Engagement

This post is the second in a two-part series on Facebook that originally appeared on You can read the first part here. I thought it was a great way to kick of this month of Facebook posts. 


In my first post for Lara, I talked about the big question of whether to use Facebook pages or groups for your community. Now that you’ve set up your Page or Group, here are five strategies that you can use to make your content professional, useful and promote engagement with your followers:

1) Watch other pages.

Are they good at engaging? Do they have engaged followers? What are they doing that works well? What doesn’t work as well? You can get ideas for your own Facebook strategy by watching what works for others. One size doesn’t fit all, so if a technique doesn’t work, move on and try something else.

2) Link to Content

Here’s a little secret - the content doesn’t have to be yours every time! In fact, you should share others’ content. Do you have a question or opinion based on something you read? Link to it! Make sure your FB followers can see what prompted your query so they get the full context. If you want people to give opinions about something, link to it so they don’t have to go looking for it. The easier you make it for your followers to engage, the more likely they are to jump into the conversation.

3) Post to your page daily.

If you’re wondering when, you might be interested in this article from Mashable. Or this one from Social Times. All I get from these, and countless other similar articles, is that the perfect time is a moving target and probably depends on your audience anyway. Who are you targeting? When are they most likely to be on Facebook? Answer those questions and then do your own research of the trial and error variety.

4) Don’t spam your fans.

The average lifespan of a post on twitter is 10 minutes (this can vary a great deal based on how many people you’re following). Facebook doesn’t move nearly as fast - the lifespan is roughly 3 hours for a single post. Some Facebook pages can get away with quite a few posts by updating followers with up-to-the-minute information (news organizations). Most other pages don’t need to post updates more than two or three times a day - more than once in three hours can be a turn-off for some users.

5) Ask questions.

What’s the best way to start a conversation? Ask questions:

  • Input about products and services.

  • How your fans’ day is going.

  • How they spent their long weekend.

  • Topics, current events or news items relevant to your page’s purpose.

But whatever you ask, be sure to show an interest in the answers. Interact with your audience and be engaged.

There is no magic formula for growing your page following. Pages grow at different rates, but having good content and an actively engaged page will go a long way toward growing your audience.

What are some innovative ways that you’ve seen pages successfully engage with followers?

What's in a name? The "social media" debate

Image: Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot /

Last week, my friend Lara shared a description of social media as well as the benefits of using it. She encouraged those in her audience who are curious to go ahead and give it a try. But not everyone likes the use of the term "social media". Raise your hand if you've ever heard (or read) someone say something like, "I can't wait until we stop using the term 'social media'." By the end of this post, everyone should be raising their hands. When I read a piece by Mathew Ingram lamenting the use of the term "Cloud", it prompted me to look into the longstanding "social media" terminology debate.

Over the years, I've seen this come up countless times. Often, it's accompanied by really solid arguments about what social media tools really are in relation to communications and marketing. Here's the problem - everyone who has a valid reason for not calling this medium social media also has a different name they propose. Some are better than others. A few options for you to ponder:

There is good food for thought in each of these posts - particularly Ryan Anderson's which is the only one of the three that didn't try to put a new and improved buzz word out there for the world to use. But I haven't seen anyone come up with a good enough reason to try to stop people from calling it social media. Let's look at the primary reasons given in the posts above:

Tim Sanders (relaying challenges around getting buy-in with executives):
"Their biggest challenge is selling their senior leaders and CEOs on the concept.  To the average (older or non-tech) exec, social media is a fad that's led by propellerheads and amateur mavens.  In their view, it's a fad (like CB Radios) that they hope will soon pass.  Sure, they've heard the United Breaks Guitars story, but it likely doesn't apply to them - and when you use words like Twitter, they scrunch up their face in disbelief."

And "interactive media" solves this problem? Twitter is still a tool in the interactive media space - they'll accept it because it's "interactive media" and not "social media"? Think about the tools that are used in various industries and the names they have. There are plenty of silly names out there, but when users learn how to use the tool properly and see the value it adds to their work, do you think they quibble over what it's called?

Boardroom Metrics
"Tired of endless conversations with smart business owners about the irrelevance of social media, I’ve decided to stop calling it social media."

I think the author of this post may not feel as strongly about this whole terminology question as the others based on the tone of the message. They give a very simplistic line of reasoning for businesses to embrace social media - to gain better visibility on the Web. If that works for convincing their clients to move forward, that's great. After all, a business can't be social, but but social media gives businesses a medium to put a human "face" or personality on what they do and allows them to interact with individuals in a more personal way.

Ryan Anderson (talking about the evolution of work with a long-term client)
"What had started as a perceived need for blogs and Facebook had turned into something very different – and went from being an additional part of their marketing to a core part of their business strategy."


"The reality is, for all the talk about social media – there’s really no such thing.  There is only communication, and while our academic pursuit of what we call social media has certainly advanced the practice of communication as a whole, social media is nothing but a buzzword, a marketing ploy, a big ol’ bottle of snake oil that a slick-talking sideshow act is selling for a dollar to cure what ails you."

It must be incredibly gratifying to work with a client who wants to join "the Twitter" and see the real purpose click as they finally get it. Integrating social media into the overall business strategy is the ideal scenario - it's the end goal when you start working with someone. The part where Ryan loses me is in that italicized section that spouts "buzzword", "ploy", "snake oil" and other unflattering terms.

I don't agree with the sentiment, but I understand where it comes from. There is a mentality that social media will be a cure all to an ailing business. The way to take your business viral and make, billions. ("Let's make a viral video!" is a phrase I hear too often and it makes me cringe every time.)

Social media is a group of tools that marketers and communicators can use to make connections. We have traditional media tools and now social media tools that can be used together to create a cohesive and comprehensive communications plan. However, the tools themselves do not function the same, so classifying them differently is appropriate.

When all is said and done, if the tools are used in an effective way that fits with that overall business strategy, does it really matter what label we use to describe them?