Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending February 18

Every week I compile 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). 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.


I haven’t heard a whole lot this week that was big news and not also big rumor. One item going around is that Facebook will begin rolling out Timeline for Pages in the next few weeks. I really hope it’s true. I’ll let you know when I hear.

Facebook has announced that it will verify accounts for certain “famous” users now. Their process  is better defined than Twitter’s, but there will be no visible identification of verified accounts, which actually makes the process useless to the average user who wants to know if that really IS Lady Gaga they just subscribed to.

StumbleUpon is offering users a way to hide the StumbleUpon bar, which takes up some pretty significant real estate on a wide screen. They’ve also added original link to reviews so that content creators get proper attribution. These two moves have restored my desire to use this tool that I’ve all but abandoned since the changes took place.

The darling of the social media world these days is clearly Pinterest. Everyone is talking about this beautiful tool and how it’s revolutionizing the way we share. As much as I love the tool, I must admit to being a little Pinterested out. Do you want to know more about Pinterest? How about how to “trick out” your boards?

And if you’ve had enough of the comparisons of Facebook to Google+, don’t worry. Apparently we’ve switched to comparing Google+ and Pinterest.

Brilliance - Blogging Edition

I’ve been blogging for three years, which means I’ve been around a while, but I’m still a relative newbie compared to some of the bloggers that I respect. This week, as I was going through the many brilliant posts I get to read, there seemed to be so much good stuff about blogging. So, welcome to the Blogging Edition of Brilliance. You can learn a lot from these five articles!

What is one of the first pages a new visitor will check out on your web site? You guessed it - the about page. They want to know who you are and what you do. This handy list will help keep you from making mistakes on the page that could frustrate visitors.

Of course, you can’t realistically expect to write an adequate about page if you don’t know the answers to these three questions. In fact, it could be argued that one shouldn’t begin (seriously) blogging unless you do answer them.

Something I have a hard time with is writing through writer’s block. Christopher Penn’s post this week spoke to me. Just keep going. He writes a lot about digital marketing, but it applies to anything you’re doing - just keep pushing that snowball.

The best writing tip on this list is “Write the way you talk. Naturally.” This might seem to be in conflict when you think about business writing versus personal writing, but it isn’t. We adopt different modes of speech based on the situations we’re in at any given time. It only makes sense to do the same in our writing.

If ever there was a guide to better blogging, this is it. How appropriate that it comes from Problogger.

And a bonus for the business owners out there, here’s a comprehensive list of non-financial benefits of blogging. Now, do you still need to ask why you should blog?


The #MediaMeshBBC is not going to meet this week after all. I’m going to set a new date in March because February has been too busy for much reading. But the busyness is going to bring some exciting news that I can’t wait to share with you!

Buzz and Brilliance: Week Ending February 11

In a week where Super Bowl commercials and commentary on social media dominated the reporting of anything social media related, I do have a few tidbits to share that have nothing to do with the big game. From Lady Gaga (what?) to Pinterest (of course) to Twitter and Facebook (naturally) and even Klout.


Some Klout users have been clamoring for a mobile app for quite a while. With the addition of more and more gamification to the mix, a mobile app makes a lot of sense. This week BlockBoard, a mobile app maker, was acquired by Klout. It's the in thing to do to buy an app maker before you build an app, so we should have a release sometime soon(ish).

Are you using Pinterest yet? More so now than ever before, I'm completely sold on the value of it as a social bookmarking tool. But is your site "optimized" for Pinterest? Having good visuals (video/pictures) is crucial for sharing on Pinterest. You don't have to go very far on the Web before you'll trip over a pin or a post about creative ways to use Pinterest. Without a doubt, it's going to be interesting to watch this network evolve. There was a bit of controversy about Pinterest making money off of users' pins, though they have to make money somehow so I think it's mostly about being transparent about it to users. In other Pinterest controversy, they say that imitation sincerest form of flattery and Pinterest has clones in spades.

There is still a lot of content I'd rather share on Stumbleupon, but they've recently made changes that make it a tad less appealing. As someone who's been a big fan of StumbleUpon for a while, I'm disappointed to say the very least.

In the big question of who owns twitter followers - prompted by PhoneDog Media in South Carolina - a judge has allowed the lawsuit against former PhoneDog employee, Noah Kravitz, to move forward. Do you have employees tweeting on accounts that your company owns? Make sure the ownership and company social media policy is clear and put it in writing. Never just assume that it's understood.

Facebook is still raising the ire of users from its Timeline rollout and privacy concerns around it to demands for dividends as people see through the IPO filings just how much their data is worth to Facebook. They're also doing some really nice work with the design of photo layouts, but users are upset that deleted photos haven't been properly purged - a big no-no for sure.

There was a time when actresses or pop stars had to market themselves as pop stars and actresses. Then it evolved into perfume lines, clothing lines, shoe lines and more. If you weren't dipping your toe into multiple industries, then you were essentially not hip and with it. Now, it seems that tech and social networks are all the rage. From Ashton Kutcher's tech investments, to Justin Timberlake "saving" MySpace and now Lady Gaga has developed her very own social network called Little Monsters - apparently a cross between Reddit and Pinterest where you can share all things Gaga.

I'm just shaking my head. Moving on!


I like posts that debunk myths about Web presence and help support the (already well-proven) business case for getting online. David Meerman Scott published one this week that so perfectly illustrates the fallacy that customers are not on the Web. Sure, not all of them will be, but for the vast majority of businesses I bet you will find a critical mass you can reach out to.

I took a few Web design courses a few years ago and probably the best part of those courses was the emphasis that was put on code that's accessible. I developed an awareness of the issues around usability that I believe helps me address them better for my sites - whether my audience needs it or not. You really never know. I thought about that when I saw this post from Mark Shaefer about social media leveling the playing field. Isn't it so good to read stories like this about the positive impact SM is having?

Speaking of a level playing field, this post from Mitch Joel about the changes our world has experienced is a poignant commentary on how connected we've become and encouragement to sit back, relax and enjoy it when you have a free moment.

How much time do you spend on social media? This was the subject of a poll reported on by SmartBlog on Social Media. The results are interesting - we spend a lot of time. The article has a few good tips to keep your time spent down to a minimum.

Facebook engagement seems to be a universal issue. I always get questions about how to get more from followers. Here's a few suggestions for creating engaging posts from Amy Porterfield. The biggest takeaway? Operate on the KISS principle - keep it simple silly. Make it easy for your followers to respond to your call to action. And keep your posts short.


This past week on The Media Mesh, I talked about the 5 Ws of Facebook and had a very interesting discussion about comments on blogs. This week, we'll dive a bit deeper into Facebook with Social 101. Don't forget that we're finishing up Getting Things Done for the #MediaMeshBBC on February 21st!

Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending December 10

The Buzz

This has been the week of re-design, from Twitter, to StumbleUpon to Facebook - even if Facebook's rollout is only in New Zealand so far. I did see some changes on my own profile, so I don't think it will be too long before we get the new Facebook Timeline too. So far, what I've seen of the new designs is fantastic - that includes all three tools.

In other Facebook news, we've seen changes to events, a countersuit against and they added a subscribe button that is going to compete directly with Twitter's follow button. Subscriptions are finally causing a bit of a stir as we all realize that the potential for spamming our friends is high (and happening). I used to keep my Facebook pretty personal, but that line between personal and professional is blurring more and more. Subscriptions aren't necessarily the answer, but Pages aren't perfect. This filter that Josh Constine suggests seems like a good compromise. The problem is that all of your friends are default subscribers. How does one solve that?

Despite wide claims to the contrary, it seems that the vast majority of Facebook users have no problem with the data they're sharing on the social network.

Foursquare now has 15 million users, which is good news since Facebook purchased Gowalla this week. I, however, must agree with Chris Pirillo that location services aren't really delivering value.

Google+ has added facial recognition and greater Gmail integration into its burgeoning social network. And - thankfully - the facial recognition feature is opt-in.

For those who like Klout (or who are at least willing to continue using it), they've launched a new feature this week that I think is pretty nice. Now you can add a topic if their system doesn't automatically pick it up.

The Brilliance

Klout has remained a steady presence in my stream since the big algorithm change at the end of October, despite little news coming out about the tool. I've been actively avoiding the subject. This week a bunch of big names have been throwing around their views about Klout after Liz Strauss shared why she opted out. Jason Falls doesn't want to hear about people quitting anymore - I suspect from his strong words he feels it's a narcissistic move based on falling numbers. Christopher Penn encourages people to make the choice based on principle rather than numbers. Mark Shaeffer is seeing too many people criticizing Klout over privacy who don't pay nearly as much attention to the much bigger offenders - like Facebook. I think there are good points from all of them. I haven't seen the line crossed yet that really bothers me. Even opting in minors is something that can happen because of the data they have access to being incomplete. I don't care if people opt out, but if it's about the number, I agree with Jason - please don't tell me.

I had a conversation this week about whether to date blog posts. This is a new trend in blogging that is supposed to keep your content relevant for longer, increase shares and decrease bounce rates. That's all good in theory, but as Shel Holtz points out, some of that content is time-sensitive (like the Buzz and Brilliance posts I do weekly). I do like the happy medium of putting a date in the copy, but even some commentary that may be seemingly timeless can become outdated as tools and practices change.

SEO can strike fear into just about any novice and many veteran bloggers, but it's something we all need to learn if building an audience is a goal. Learning from others' mistakes can be a good starting point.

After reading this post earlier this week, I have once again started discontinuing the practice of automated posts to Facebook. Despite my desire to have posts go up as quickly as possible, I see the advantages of manually sharing with an engaging question or comment. I think the same applies to twitter, though to a lesser extent since I re-share over there manually.

What's the best way to learn how to use a tool well? By checking out what others are doing. Sometimes they're doing really poorly and you can learn from that. Others have developed best practices that stand out.

I love reading stories about how people use technology to do a better job and this one about Evernote use to be a better blogger is no exception. It's a great tool; try it out!

More reading opportunities are coming up - this one is free. I've heard nothing but good about Julien Smith's Flinch, release on Kindle as part of the Domino Project.

I passed this along on a couple of networks this week because it's fun. How many of these warning signs apply to 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!

Stumbleupon: My initial thoughts on an essential network

A couple of years ago I saw a friend whose Facebook status update expressed confusion at the value of Twitter and declared that StumbleUpon was the winner in his opinion. At the time, I gave a mental “hmph” and moved on. Twitter was already becoming very valuable to me at that point and its value has only continued to grow. I didn’t see how StumbleUpon could compete.

Until now.

I joined StumbleUpon late last year (2010) and then decided to school myself on it sometime in the Spring of 2011. What I have discovered is a tool that I don’t want to live without in my online activity. Here is StumbleUpon’s description of the tool:
“StumbleUpon integrates peer-to-peer and social networking principles with one-click blogging to create an emergent content referral system. Our patent-pending toolbar system automates the collection, distribution and review of web content within an intuitive social framework, providing users with a browsing experience which resembles “channel-surfing” the web. This architecture has easily scaled to millions of users.”

Simply put, that means that users recommend (like/thumbs up) content and then other SU users get to discover (Stumble) that content once it's in the StumbleUpon repository. The sites you Stumble are based on interests you enter when you set up your StumbleUpon account and as you like/thumbs up sites or dislike/thumbs down sites, StumbleUpon perfects what it delivers to you. User feedback is the foundation on which StumbleUpon is built.

A user who discovers a site first gets to enter the keyword details that will determine who that content is delivered to, so the more accurate the keywords the better to avoid "thumbs down". The more keywords you enter that also apply to the content, the better. (As long as they're truly accurate - remember that!)

One event really sparked my interest in StumbleUpon last spring. A post I wrote on my personal blog, which is small with a modest number of followers got five times the traffic I typically get after I shared it on StumbleUpon. Let me repeat that: It got five times the traffic. As first-day traffic for a piece goes, that one still holds the record.

I started using StumbleUpon more diligently after this incident. I've had similar results and the longer I'm using it (and sharing other's content too) the more regularly I get bursts of traffic to my blog.

Is StumbleUpon a magic formula for growth? 

Not really. You might convert occasional SU users into regular readers over time, but it's not a recipe for quick growth. It's a tool to get content out there to a wider audience that might not otherwise see it.

It's fine to share your own content - you absolutely should. But don't only share your own content. This is essentially considered spam and is frowned upon. I tend to space out when I thumbs up my own pieces unless I'm being active in promoting others' content. It's important to appropriately distribute content sharing - i.e., share others' more than you share your own. I'm intentionally taking time to thumbs up any great content I read in my RSS reader and spending a few minutes a day Stumbling to discover what's out there outside of my usual circles. I'm happy to drop out of using Twitter for those few minutes a day to incorporate StumbleUpon into my overall social media repertoire.

How do I make time for another social network?

StumbleUpon isn't a full network. I like to think of it as a secondary network. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ - those are the heavyweights (and that is debatable when it comes to Google+ for now). The secondary networks are those like StumbleUpon, Instagram, Pinterest and others that don't have robust interfaces for engagement.

I set a limit on my StumbleUpon time. It doesn't truly take very long to Stumble a few posts. I can get through about 20 in ten minutes a day. And if I'm on a site that's shareworthy on twitter, I'll often give it a thumbs up too.

The bottom line is that the benefit I derive - from increased traffic to content discovery - is greater than the investment I have to put into it and I'm a big believer in putting quality content out there in every possible place to maximize exposure.

With 20 million already using it, just think how much great content you can find!

Can you Stumble on the go?

Yes, StumbleUpon has mobile applications for Android, iPhone and iPad. I am an iThing owner, so I have those versions and they work well. I haven't found an easy way to thumbs up sites from my RSS reader, though. I'm quite disappointed that neither of the readers I use (MobileRSS/Reeder/Feedly) have SU as a sharing option. So, I've been starring anything I want to thumbs up to return to later - not an ideal option at all. Let me know if any of you have a better system!

How can you get started?

I am not an expert on StumbleUpon. I'm still learning, but I do highly recommend it as a tool - an essential tool. As I learn more, I'll share more with you. For now, I'll leave you with a few more practical links that will help you if you want to dive in right away:

Social Media Examiner - How to Use StumbleUpon: Your Comprehensive Guide

1st Web Designer - StumbleUpon FAQ, Guides, Tools, Addons And Scripts

E-Junkie.Info - StumbleUpon: A Stumbler's Comprehensive Guide Part 1

Duct Tape Marketing - 5 Step Approach to Learning the StumbleUpon Targeted Traffic Tango

MomComm - StumbleUpon: A Guide to What Not to Stumble

There may be conflicts in best practices presented in these guides and I haven't fully vetted all of the information in them to ensure it is currently accurate so some of the content may be outdated, but they all have some general information that has value to new and existing users to maximize their benefit.

Do you use StumbleUpon? What keeps you going back? 

If you don't use StumbleUpon yet, does learning more pique your interest?