Social media for the Educational Support Professionals

I enjoyed giving an intro to social media talk to the Educational Support Professionals yesterday in Nepean.



View more presentations from Lara Wellman.


As promised, here are a few resources that might be of help as you’re starting out with social media.







Buzz and Brilliance: Week ending January 7

{EAV:791908013b0aa24e}Welcome to the first Buzz and Brilliance of 2012! Judging by the number of articles in my RSS reader the last few weeks, the world of social media hasn't slowed down one little bit for the holidays. As if anyone thought it would! The buzz this week is pretty mild - nothing earth-shattering going on. I suspect social news is going to take a backseat to the hardware goodies everyone (but me) is going to be drooling over at CES next week.

Before I jump in, I'll just mention that I'm going to strip down the B&B just a tad this year. I'm limiting the amount of time I can write it, so that means I have to pick fewer stories to highlight. I'll pick five of the top stories of the week, though I'll likely include more links to related articles still. I'll pick five articles that are worthy of being called Brilliant as well. This week I have a few bonus New Year's suggestions and some fun to share.

This tool is so interesting that I couldn't not include it: If This, Then That (ifttt) is a fantastic-sounding tool to help you automate and organize some of your social activity. I haven't logged in to check it out yet, but it's on my To Do list. I know there's more to it than any of the articles I've read and they had enough that piqued my interest quite easily.

If you ever had any doubts about the power of the Internet and social media, doubt no more. GoDaddy is feeling the wrath from (now) former customers for their formerly supportive stance on SOPA - proposed legislation in the U.S. that will be very bad for the Internet if it passes. GoDaddy's support has led to massive defection of customers transferring their businessto other providers. They saw the light within 24 hours and removed their support, but trust has already been broken.

When I saw this article about Twitter users being labeled anti-social, I wasn't bothered in the least. How many accounts are out there who do nothing but broadcast? (I won't even get into spam-bots.) At the same time, I personally have Twitter accounts that are mostly broadcast accounts, but they are for communities and I tend to interact more from my personal account. So, this may not be a good thing after all.

Have you ever wanted to communicate privately with someone on a Facebook page? It's quite the process. You have to go to the Web site (assuming they have one) or hope that they've included their email contact information on the page. Then you have to go to your email client to send the email. Why isn't there a solution built into the Facebook interface? Well, my guess is that now that Tumblr has fan mail, we'll see Facebook build this kind of functionality into Pages. I just wouldn't want to be the Starbucks page administrator when that happens.

In a story that, honestly, annoys me a little bit a privacy group is urging the FTC to investigate Facebook's Timeline - for privacy violations. This attempt just seems ignorant of the new layout. In fact, there are far better privacy controls now than ever before on Facebook. My wall had two options before - leave content posted or delete it. Now I can change who sees individual posts after they've been posted. (And I do.) Do you want to cleanse your wall before your Timeline goes live? Go for it! I encourage that. Do you want to complain about all that information being accessible? Please don't. It always was - even though it wasn't easy or pretty.

I don't know about you, but occasionally I start to feel overwhelmed with everything there is out there in social media. Partially because I try stuff out - I bring this feeling on myself. But I'm realistic enough to know that I can't do it all if I want to do anything else in life. With hundreds of networks to choose from, social media use can be daunting and intimidating for newcomers. And it's only getting worse. Mitch Joel is calling 2012 "The Year of More".  I see it every week in my RSS reader - more and more and more apps, sites, networks, gadgets to plug in to. He wraps his post by saying more isn't always better and I agree. Sue Murphy has provided some excellent tips for taking control of your social media use and the best advice she gives? "Social media is not about spreading yourself around to as many tools as possible." Fitting social media in to your day doesn't have to be hard if you adopt a social media lifestyle, as Ali Goldfield suggests.

Privacy is a hot topic around here and I have my own views on it. But what about you? The Next Web wants to know if you will care more about privacy in 2012 or less. Personally, I can't see ever caring less about privacy. We should all care a lot. What we should not do is expect anyone other than ourselves to take responsibility for it.

Starting a social media program is a great step for any company, but without firm commitment to do it properly and consistently, it can be difficult to achieve any success. Jen Zingsheim has shared some ways to avoid some of the common pitfalls that can derail a social media program.

New Year's Social Cleanup
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reassess things, whether you make resolutions or not. Take a few minutes this week to review the permissions you've granted on social sites. Are you still using those tools regularly? I'm also going through my 500+ "likes" on Facebook to get rid of inactive pages and any that I've forgotten why I liked them in the first place. It's all about reducing the noise and keeping things clean.

Here are a few other suggestions from Mashable. What other social cleanup are you doing this time of year?

A Little Fun
It doesn't surprise me that people are creating Facebook profiles for pets. The sheer number does surprise me. 14% for dogs alone!? That's a lot. I'm pretty sure that violates Facebook's TOS, too. And if you feel you're missing out on Facebook in the shower, well...here's a solution.

I love that more guys are getting into Pinterest.

As someone who met her husband on ICQ's Random Chat feature (not terribly long after it was introduced), I never thought I'd be surprised at the way people meet online - well, in our connected world, anyway. But the couple who met on Words with Friends did surprise me. How unexpected!

Finally, I'm a little squirrely around needles, but apparently these social media users aren't.


Recently, inspired by Chris Brogan's practice of identifying three words to define your year, I posted my own three words and a request for my readers to share ideas or requests for content that they would find useful from The Media Mesh.

She said / She said: Are you interested in Pinterest?

This is my November She Said / She Said post that I'm doing with Lara Wellman. Lara and I will pick a topic each month and present our different perspectives. This month's topic is the tool Pinterest!


If you aren't already on Pinterest, then you may not know if you're interested or not. But if you've heard of it, you're likely either a woman or know a woman who's using it since that's the vast majority of the user base...for the moment. (Mark my words: That gender gap will shift.) So, imagine this - a virtual pinboard, if you will. (Okay, that's actually what they call it.) A place to:
"...organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests."

And what's the purpose or mission of said virtual pinboard service?
"Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the 'things' they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests."

Pinterest and other niche networks like Twitter first and later Tumblr, Instagram and others have revolutionized the way we use the Web to consume content. The emphasis on search has eroded to make way for us to discover things that interest us and then save or share them within our networks.

When Lara and I started talking about our She Said / She Said post for this month and she suggested Pinterest, I let out the biggest mental groan. I remember seeing a friend rave about it back in the spring, so I requested an invite. None was forthcoming, but more and more friends were getting in, so I got one of them to send me an invite. I jumped in and saw all the pretty pictures and fun little sayings and had great fun for about 10 minutes. Once I had my fill I closed the app and it didn't enter my mind for about another month. I think what prompted me to look at it again was seeing someone post about a pin. So, I fired it up and enjoyed 10 minutes of browsing and then shut 'er down and forgot about Pinterest again for another few months until Lara decided to torture me by suggesting we write about it.

This isn't a network that grabbed me at all. I kept hearing for months about how people just loved it and how fun it is and wondered what the allure was. Then Lara decided to make me write about it and I knew I was going to have to immerse myself in it to give it a fair shot. So, of course I forgot all about it until the last week.

I was reminded of my need to get moving on immersion when Robert Scoble - of all people - posted on Google+ his prediction(?) that Pinterest was on his list of possible "next big things" (paraphrase). And get this: he wasn't even using it yet! My comment is in there amongst the 90 other people who had some view of Pinterest's scalability and chances of long-term success where I say: "I have no interest in the tool. I've tried to get into it, but so far it's not my thing at all. I can see it going big, though."

After reading Scoble's prediction, I started doing my research, studying away about this tool that I really don't "get". And I was convinced of how my post was going to go. I was going to tell all of you how it's great for people who are visually stimulated by really cool stuff, but that it doesn't seem to be the right social network for me. (I truly believe that not every social network is going to work for everyone and no person needs to be on every network.) Pinterest is niche, boutique-y, an accessory network - more technically known around The Media Mesh as a secondary network. The kind that is useful in a few minutes every now and then. Unless you're me.

But something happened that I didn't expect. I was up ridiculously late one night with insomnia and decided to get immersed. I figured five or ten minutes would get me nice and sleepy. Forty-five minutes later, I forced myself to turn it off and I'm officially hooked.

I'll say it again - Lara's evil masterful plan worked: I get Pinterest and I think you should too.

So, what changed my mind about Pinterest?

It was more of a mindset change. I originally went in looking at pretty things, admiring pretty things and that feels so artificial and boring after a while. It's just not me at all. But this time I had my friends' uses ringing in my head, namely something to the effect of: I use it as a bookmarking tool to remember recipes and crafts I want to do. It's a visual way to save these things. To have visual cues of what you were thinking about when you saved it. And that is perfect for me because I am a visual person, despite the fears and doubts I started to have when Pinterest didn't catch my interest. Why did I want to save that recipe for slow cooker sweet potatoes? Because at 1:15am, they looked really delicious.

Oddly enough, the timing of our Pinterest exploration seems to be coinciding with the tool taking off. With the exception of Facebook, no other tool - not even Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+ - has been mentioned as much in the social media news scene this week. Here's a sampling of the stories I've seen, so you don't have to listen to me tell you Pinterest is going to be huge - I've assembled evidence for you:

  1. Pinterest Is Now Pulling In More Pageviews Than Etsy; Grew 2,000% Since June | TechCrunch

  2. Niche Social Networks Deliver Big Results for Brands | Mashable

  3. Pinterest May Become a Social Networking Takeover Target | Wall Street Cheat Sheet

  4. Pinterest Appeals to Online Collectors | The New York Times

  5. Why Image-Sharing Network Pinterest Is Hot | Bloomberg Businessweek

  6. How to Make Your Startup Go Viral The Pinterest Way | TechCrunch

I'm not one to be seduced by popularity - I can assure you I found all of these stories after my abrupt turnaround. I can also say that I have long felt that Pinterest was going to grow to be a pretty important secondary network that would be very popular before I finally understood why. Now that I get why Pinterest is going to be big and know a few practical ways to use it, I just have to make sure I go back to those pinboards and do those crafts and make those foods I found that were interesting enough to pin.

Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it? Any creative ways I haven't mentioned here?

Be sure to go check out Lara's post to see what she has to say!

What is it and why should I care: Tumblr

This is icon for social networking website. Th...  Image via Wikipedia

What is it

Tumblr, sometimes styled as tumblr., is a microblogging platform that allows users to post text, images, videos, links, quotes and audio to their tumblelog, a short-form blog. Users can follow other users, or choose to make their tumblelog private. The service emphasizes ease of use ~Wikipedia

In my words

Tumblr is a somewhere you can post short bursts of content (just an image, just a video) very easily.  It makes posting all kinds of content really user friendly; you can do it from your phone, by email, you can even post audio by calling it in on the phone!

You can also have it link to twitter and facebook (and toggle it on or off on a post by post basis).

Why should you care?

If you fall into one of the following categories:

  • You want a blog (or think you’re supposed to have one?) but  you don’t have a lot of time, or only have a variety of short content.


  • Your content is more often not text based (videos, images, audio, etc)


  • You are creating your content from a mobile device and want to get it online quickly (video and photos of events, things happening around town, etc)

  • You want an online space for something that isn’t going to be long lived

then Tumblr. might make a lot more sense for you than creating a traditional blog.

Here are a few examples of how I think a Tumblr. site could be an effective (possibly business) tool:

- An artist who wants to post images of artwork but doesn’t really have anything else to say about the piece.

- An event could have a Tumblr. page and people could post photos and videos from the event from mobile phones as things are unfolding.

- You want to chronicle a specific project - like a 365 photography project or the creation of something, or you want to journal (and amplify) your dealings (and complaints) with a company.

- You want to have a user submitted interest page - maybe photos of Ottawa in the summer, photos of your favourite meals, pantry disasters or like this page by Ottawa Start about interesting and exotic cars in the Ottawa area you can easily set up a submit page . You can also let viewers ask questions to help guide your content.

I think Tumblr. isn’t really for people who are regular bloggers (I have one set up, but it’s more so I could try it out so I could talk about it than out of any specific need) but I could see possibly setting one up for an event, a  fun contest or a sharing space with friends.

Have you tried Tumblr.? What do you think? Have you seen any other creative uses for a Tumblr. page?