Archive for July, 2011

July 25, 2011

The Awesomeness and Oddities at the Social Capital Conference

With great anticipation, the first annual Social Capital Conference was held in Ottawa last weekend. The sold-out event gathered 150+ of the region’s top thinkers, social networking professionals, and most enthusiastic social media beginners to discuss issues divided into three streams: fundamental, advanced, and business. I spent all day in the business stream, but I also heard great things from each of the other sessions.

Now onto some of the awesomeness. It truly was a successful event. A great crowd, great conversations, some interesting speakers. The part of the day I enjoyed the most was the 90-minute session of organized-chaos where attendees were encouraged to roam freely between about a dozen facilitated conversations about podcasting, SEO, social coupons, risk management, WordPress, Twitter, community management, and so on.

Best takeaways. First, my conversation with Vivian Cheng, Owner of Blend Creations. She was discussing how she uses social media for her business, and her experience with community buying services (or social coupons). The plan is to interview her for a later post on community buying from a (small) business perspective.

Second was a conversation with @Kmarketing, facilitated by @benkmyers, about SEO. It was less of a conversation, and more of me asking a few questions and trying to absorb all the details and knowledge spilling out. If you want to chat about SEO and analytics, talk to these guys.

Now the Oddities. Before I get into this, I want to be clear that I’m pointing out the challenges in the interest of improving an already great event for next year, not to be insulting. A few logistical snags were the only thing holding this back from being the one of the best conferences I have been to: long lunch lines, running out of food, not enough conference “gift bags.” For some people lunch consisted of a half of an egg salad sandwich and a diet coke; not the best value for a $75 ticket.

This was all minor stuff that the content of the conference helped you forget about, but the one thing that was really a pain point was the lack of WiFi service. Yup, that’s right, it was a social media conference, in the Nation’s Capital, and there was no Wifi. It was so important to the function and optics of the event. I even asked about WiFi service the week before the event, and I was assured it would be there…and it wasn’t – #fail. Also, no tweet wall was used to help people keep track of the conversations: that’s another easy one to fix for next year too -visible tweets is a good option.

Overall, it was a solid conference, and I hope they do it again in 2012, if not sooner. It’s always great to designate at least one day a year to meet some of your “online friends” IRL.

July 21, 2011

Why I deleted my Facebook profile: Q&A with a former Facebook addict

About a year ago, nearly 40,000 people vowed to delete their Facebook accounts to mark “Quit Facebook Day,” but since that time I have yet to know somebody who actually removed their profile from the social network. I’ve always wanted to chat with somebody who went through with it and ask them a few questions. This week, I crossed paths with a former “friend” who I had lost touch with – perhaps because she quit Facebook. During our conversation it came out that she had deleted her account and she was open to answering a few questions.

Not surprisingly, she had some privacy concerns that contributed to the decision, but I didn’t expect that this user’s biggest issue with the social network was the lack of interest she had in many of the posts from “friends.” I love the perspective of this person who went against-the-grain (especially for her demographic) and quit Facebook. Ultimately, she stopped doing something that was no longer working for her. She even feels she’s more productive at home and work without the distraction.

Here are the highlights from the interview:

Q1 – How long were you thinking about deleting your Facebook account?

I hadn’t thought of actually deleting my entire account until about a week before I went ahead and did it. A couple months before that someone I knew from before my highschool days commented on one of my photos. I didn’t even know I had that person as a “friend,” so I wound up going through and deleting a bunch of contacts I never kept in touch with.  The more I thought about it, the more it weirded me out that people I hadn’t seen in more than 10 years could “creep” me and see what I’ve been up to without me knowing.

I also found myself actually getting frustrated with peoples’ status updates. What makes people think their lives are so intriguing that they need to post that they’re “stuck in traffic” or “had a bad day”? I more or less just lost interest in it after that and finally decided to delete my account before going away on holidays.

Q2 – Were you addicted to Facebook?

There was a time that yes, I definitely think I was. I was in a car accident a couple of years ago. It wasn’t serious, but I updated my status from my phone while waiting for the police to arrive. It got back to my parents (who aren’t on Facebook) before I could even call them to let them know what had happened. Looking back, I realize I was one of those people [who think their lives are so intriguing that they need to post EVERYTHING]. What makes me so important that I need to update my status with something so useless? It’s kind of embarrassing.

Q3 – What were your top 3 reasons for quitting Facebook?

  1. Lack of interest
  2. Pressure to always be monitoring what people are doing or how they’re interacting with your profile (photo comments, wall posts, etc.)
  3. The idea that people I didn’t know anymore could easily “keep tabs on me”

Q4 – Do you miss it?

I sometimes miss the “idea” of Facebook… that it’s easier to keep in touch with people or to get involved in upcoming events or gatherings.

Q5 – What has been the biggest change in your life since leaving Facebook?

Overall, I’m more productive (at home and work). I’ve started calling people again instead of messaging them through Facebook or writing on their wall. I didn’t realize I missed that aspect of human interaction until I deleted my account.

Q6 – Would you delete your Facebook profile again?

Yes.

Q7 – Any final thoughts?

I understand the allure, the convenience, and the “entertainment” aspect. I think that there definitely were ways I could have better managed my Friends list or security settings, but in the end, for me, it was just easier to delete the entire account because I didn’t feel I was getting anything out of it anymore.

Has anybody else quit Facebook? Is anybody thinking about it now? Leave a comment and share your experience/thoughts.

July 13, 2011

Are you “bad at technology”? Well then, you are bad at life.There, I said it.

When I hear somebody say “I’m bad at technology, can you do this for me?,” it makes me cringe. I cringe, not because the person who is saying this is a bad person or has ill intentions, but because I don’t think they know the message they are actually sending.

When someone says “I’m bad at technology,” they may really be trying to say “I don’t understand computers” or “the internet isn’t my strong suit” or “I don’t adapt well to change” or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, etc.  To Generation Y and Z (essentially anybody under 30 years old), however, they are saying “I’m not good at life.”

How dare I say that, right?

I don’t mean that the person who is “bad at technology” isn’t a successful, well-liked, professional; I mean that to Generation Y and Z, the use of modern technology is so entrenched in everyday life that it is not considered a skill-set to be learned later in life – or something to be good or bad at (like chess). Due to the fact that the youngest two generations are digital natives, computer/internet literacy is not a new concept introduced in school: it’s learned from a very young age along with their mother tongue. Technology provides Generation Y and Z with an instant, and efficient, way to work, play, organize, express, share, learn, love, hate, and be entertained. So, the idea of “being bad at technology” represents more than just not knowing how to use computers. To these generations, being “bad at technology” means you are bad at almost every aspect of making your life work.

Don’t get me wrong, I remember the analog days (the end of them at least), but communication was  a lot harder back then. It was harder to stay in touch with friends, harder to keep your loved-ones up-to-date on what’s going on in your life, and harder to organize a social gathering. In those days, I would have to get on the telephone, plan during face-to-face meetings, and rely on hand-written schedules to make sure things got done. Now, I can simply share a few sentences on my social media networks and accomplish all of these goals in a matter of seconds.

I know that the statement “If you say you are not good at technology you are telling everyone under 30 you are bad at life” is contentious, and it’s meant to be.  I’ve used this statement in one-on-one conversations, group discussion sessions, casually in passing, and as an instructor at Algonquin College, and each time it starts an interesting debate about the role of technology in our lives. Some love it, some hate it, but after discussion, each side gains some insight.

Remember, technology moves fast –  Check out this interesting video of youngsters trying to figure out the purpose of technologies invented in the last 30 years. Are they “bad at technology” too?

July 7, 2011

Responding to negative posts about you or your company – Tips from the US Air Force

This morning I had a conversation with @LyaraPR, Algonquin College PR student, about how to respond to negative posts about you, or your company, on social media networks. I shared the following flowchart that I’ve been using for a few years that helps keep in perspective what to consider when you encounter a negative, or erroneous, post. It was developed by the United States Air Force Public Affairs Agency – Emerging Technology Division and it’s a good document to print and keep close-by your computer, especially if you are a community manager on behalf of an organization. It’s been around for a while, but it’s still quite useful. Take a look…

NOTE: They also have a 25+ page Social Media and the Air Force document (PDF) that details guidelines, trends, and best practices.

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