links Archives - Harris Social Media

10 great sites to look for a job in social media

on Nov 11 in google, hints and tips, links, News, social media posted by

Social media is one of the hot spots for job seekers in an otherwise lackluster employment market. There are a lot of resources out there, but they’re scattered and of varying quality. Soooo… I created a new page for TwitterThoughts: Social Media Jobs.

Visit the page to get a list 10 of the best (IMO) websites for you to concentrate your job search. And if you’re new to this particular job market, the page provides some links to articles that describe the key qualities you need to get hired.

There’s also a news feed for you to keep up to date on developments in social media jobs and careers.

If you know of additional resources, please let me know and I’ll add them to the page.

All for one and one for all: 5 tips to managing multiple social profiles

on Sep 16 in hints and tips, lifestreaming, links, personal information management systems, reputation management, social media, tools, Twitter posted by

Do you Tweet? Have a Facebook profile? MySpace? LinkedIn? How about your own blog? Like many, you probably have at least two or three social profiles and, like many, are wondering how on earth you’ll find the time to manage them all.

Some people suggest you should only have one profile and focus on that. But others recommend separating your personal and professional profiles. Many users want to spread their presence and extend their network beyond one or two profiles. So you may need several social profiles, depending on your needs and circumstances.

 Here are five suggestions for helping you manage multiple accounts (and your time!) to get the most out of your social media presence.

1. Use disseminators to post to multiple accounts across platforms Push microposts with one click to more than 30 of the most popular social platforms including Facebook and Twitter. Supports SMS messaging so you can update from your mobile device.

Posterous A “life-streaming” application enabling you to post multimedia to multiple platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogger and others. You can update Posterous simply by emailing your post — no browser needed! 🙂

Hootsuite The best application (IMHO) for managing multiple Twitter accounts. Includes a scheduler to Tweet any time in the future, one-click URL shortener, stats for your posted links and dashboard for one-stop management.

2. Use aggregators to monitor conversations across platforms

Think of aggregators as the opposite of disseminators. You are pulling in information which you monitor for conversations and mentions. The simplest aggregator is an application that reads RSS feeds, say from a blog.

You can manage multiple RSS feeds through desktop aggregators but I have found the most efficient way is to use the iGoogle browser interface. Use the tab feature to build multiple pages around specific topics, then add RSS feeds from Web sites featuring those topics.

Friendfeed is the leading social aggregator. Use it to pull in posts from your friends and followers on up to 58 social sites including Twitter and Facebook.

3. Choose one or two platforms and do them really well

Rather than running around with a Tweet here, a Digg there, then a Facebook post, use the aggregators to make your life easier. But choose one or two platforms to focus your energies. For example, I focus on my Twitter activity and use Hootsuite to manage my multiple profiles. But I could decide to use Tumblr or Posterous if they better suited my communication needs.

4. Check in occasionally to your less-used accounts

The downside of having so many profiles is that you will inevitably miss some of the conversation. Include your FriendFeed feed (sorry!) in your RSS feeds to make sure you catch at least the main conversations. On the profiles you visit the least (say Plurk), put a message in your Plurk profile saying you are mostly on Twitter or whereever and will not likely respond to posts on Plurk. The idea is to point users in the direction where you are most active.

5. Practice to your strengths

If you are good writer, blog. If you like making videos, do that. I’m good at understanding complex issues and boiling them down to a few words, so I like to Twitter. By practicing to your strengths you will build your online reputation and personal brand.

Lies, damn lies and social media statistics

on May 28 in blogging, business, links, marketing, social media, social networks, statistics, trends posted by

According to a recent study by Knowledge Networks fewer than 5 percent of social-media users age 13-54 “regularly turn to [social media] sites for guidance on purchase decisions” in a range of common product/service categories.

The study created a flurry of dissent among social media marketers, who were quick to point out flaws in the research.

Certainly its sweeping conclusions seem to conflict with findings from other studies that show social media does influence decisions.For example, in a survey of women online (PDF), “45% of survey respondents decided to purchase an item after reading about it on a blog.”

Part of the problem, as pointed out by blogger Chris Baggot is that the research focused on use of social networks but the report uses the term social media.

One blogger in the UK opines that the study is a “perfect example of a lack of genuine understanding of the medium.”

So how does a respected research organization fall flat on its face? Let’s see why. Three significant featues of the study that make it statistically questionable.

  • Conducted over a less than a week, from March 10 through 16, 2009.
  • Used a closed group of “502 members of KnowledgePanel®”
  • Defines “social media” as 27 pre-selected social networks (Facebook, MySpace, etc.).

Every college student who has been through Statistics 101 knows that the reliability of results depends on sample size. That is, using a pre-selected group within such a short time frame is bound to lead to questions of statistical validity.

The online results do not provide error estimates (plus or minus percentage points). Again, a small sample size will yield high error estimates, which hinders drawing reliable conclusions.

In the aforementioned study of women in social media, the researchers sampled a population of 2,281 women over a month (March 2009). Overall, 85 percent of women responded that a purcase decision had been influenced by a recommendation or customer experience posted on a blog. The Knowledge Network study omits blogs entirely, so it was wrong to suggest its conclusions apply to all of social media.

The age distribution of the sample population, characterized as 13 to 54 is also misleading. How many 13 year olds are turning anywhere for “guidance on purchase decisions”? A more meaningful approach would have to show the data divided up among age groups.

In their haste to jump on the social media bandwagon, Knowledge Networks made several basic marketing research errors. Shame on them for muddying the waters, when so many budgets and jobs depend on accurate conclusions about the value of social media.

Knowledge Networks’ “How People Use Social Media” Misses The Point Completely
Knowledge Networks: Social Media and Marketing…not much Intent
Social Media Doesn’t Drive Purchases?

Twitter catching on among public officials

on May 18 in links, politics, social media, trends, Twitter posted by

Maybe it was Obama’s victory. Maybe it was Oprah. In any case, public officials are seeing the benefits of social media: better connectivity with their audience, faster responses to problem issues and lower per unit cost of communications.

Benefits to business apply to government as well. I’ve seen an uptick in the past few weeks on reports and articles about public officials using social media, and Twitter in particular.

Check out the selection of headlines from recent days. Officials in public education, legislatures and city managment are looking to Twitter to connect with stakeholders. The widely publicized Tweets sent by a NASA astronaut from the space shuttle show there are many ways publicly-funded agencies can provide added value to tax-payers.

For those of us who “get it,” signing on to social media is a no-brainer. Instinctively cautious public officials are to be commended for braving the new world.

Boulder officials drawing followers on Twitter
Twitter takes flight with lawmakers
School districts turning to Twitter to speed up communications

Twitter Trending Topics: Use and Abuse

on May 14 in hints and tips, links, strategy, trends, Twitter posted by

One of Twitter’s most compelling features is its “Trending Topics,” a list of the ten most popular terms in global tweets and updated on the fly.

Users can see at a glance the zeitgeist of the day and join in the conversation. Participating is made easier by the use of hashtags. The user places a hash in front of the word, which allows the terms to be readily searched.

Twitter’s Trending Topic list is on the right of the main feed
Twitter seems not to censor such use, so from time to time, we see quite strange, if not offensive (or NSFW), topics rise to the top ten.

A recent meme rising to the top was #crapnamesforpubs. Users came up with names for pubs (real or imaginary) that they thought were crap. A search for the tag then allows the user to see other contributions.

Hashtags have a real practical use. I tweeted several items about a presentation by James Protzman, who used the metaphor “turn the telescope” to illustrate how to switch perspectives in developing messaging for clients. I used #turntelescope to allow me and colleagues to easily find the accumulated tweets. The tweets serve as a record of the meeting.

But some users have found a more insidious way to take advantage of hashtags, and Trending Topics in particular. There appear to be three main ways to game the hashtag system.

1. Create an account and spam all tweets with the hashtag
Yesterday, #twatlight climbed into top ten. (No, I don’t know what it means.) While a number of different users had used the hashtag, one user created an account @twatlightforeva and posted 140 character tweets comprising nothing but the hashtag. It seems this users purpose was simply to flame the Twitter timeline.

Twatlightforeva’s feed has only one purpose: to flame the hashtag with #twatlightOther users spammed the hashtag on individual tweets, presumably to boost the topic to the top of the list.

Example of hashtag abuse to boost the topic

2. Post a commercial tweet and add the hashtag
Another interesting (and perhaps more insidious abuse) was the use of the hashtags to post commercial spam tweets (sweets? speets?) unrelated to #twatlight. These users are exploiting the popularity of the hashtag to post their own message. Given the low cost of the tactic and the high number of eyeballs, such an approach may be worthwhile for spammers.

Example of hashtag spam for commercial promotion

This may become a pervasive abuse. Just today, the top trending topic #whyitweet was soon spammed by someone trying to promote an iPhone lottery.

3. Phishing for confidential information
Another exploit is to use a hashtag game to get information that would not otherwise be disclosed. The “porn name” game (#twitterpornname) asked users to take the name of their pet and mother’s maiden name and combine them to create their “porn name.” Articles in PC World and elsewhere warned that such information was phishing for terms users might use for secure site passwords.

The #twitterpornname hashtag may have been used to phish for security terms

Scamming Twitter Trends: This Needs To Be Fixed
Twitter’s Trend Scam, Spam Proliferating

Top 10 Twitter search tools

on May 05 in hints and tips, links, search, tools, Twitter posted by

Twitter’s value to marketers and researchers is insights and perspective on the mass consciousness that is expressed through short bursts of communication.

Twitter is experimenting with embedding search in the users profile page, but for now most users can turn to a range of Twitter search tools, each of which add varied functionality.

  1. Twitter Search Uses frequent keyword searches to see what’s happening ‘right now.’
  2. TweetScan Searches Twitter for certain keywords. Create an RSS feed of your Tweetscan search results to monitor what is being said about your topics.
  3. Twit(url)y Tracks the URLs people are posting and talking about.
  4. Hashtags Provides realtime tracking of Twitter Hashtags. (Seems to be suffering from lack of maintenace.)
  5. TweetBeep Provides email alerts whenever a specific word or phrase is tweeted.
  6. Twilert More or less the same as TweetBeep.
  7. TweetMeme Aggregates the number of times a certain blog URL, picture, video, or sound file is linked to on Twitter to show popularity.
  8. Twitrratr Rates mentions of a search term as positive, neutral or negative. (Seems rather inaccurate.)
  9. TwitScoop Crawls hundreds of tweets every minute and extracts words that are mentioned more often than usual. The result is displayed in a tag cloud.
  10. Google Advanced Search Use Google’s advanced search to search

Fail Whale and others failing Twitter

on Jul 01 in links, trends, Twitter posted by

Recent weeks have seen the launch of several sites related to Twitter’s failings, mostly related to the site’s notorious downtime. I recently blogged on the increasing number of sites that help Twitter users when the site goes offline. (See link below.)

What do such sites mean for Twitter and its users? 

Some sites cater to Twitter users who’d rather be Tweeting and give them an alternative. For example, Twiddict allows users to stack their microposts which then load to Twitter once it comes back on line, “Tweet your heart out … and avoid life-changing withdrawal symptoms during Twitter downtime.”

Others such as Fail Whale soothe users by suggesting users shouldn’t get uptight about downtime. Fail Whale is “to poke fun at the people who seem to take online social network downtime a little too seriously.” And Tweeple love it. Indeed, Fail Whale has already established a solid following. Its Facebook group has grown to almost 1,250 fans in less than a week since its inception June 24.

However, such sites are doing Twitter more harm than good. They act as a pressure valve, when Twitter needs more pressure, not less. Twitter developers need pressure to get it right, fix downtime, and to communicate with users ahead of time rather than just dropping a feature here and there to limit server requests.

By pandering to the feelings of dedicated but frustrated followers, sites such as Fail Whale divert attention from the real problems of the service. The result? Users will turn to FriendFeed, Plurk and other microblog sites (which now number several dozen).

And slowly but surely, loyalty will dwindle and Twitter will lose its audience. VC will dry up as the smart money turns to more reliable services that can deliver. As I have blogged about before, microblogging is too important to depend solely on one model or one service. If Twitter doesn’t get it right, others will step in. Fail Whale and its ilk will only highlight Twitter’s problems and lead to its eventual demise.

Related post
What to do when Twitter goes down

Related links
Fail Whale

What to do when Twitter goes down?

on Jun 10 in hints and tips, links, Twitter posted by

Twitter’s up! Nope, down again. Up, down, up. We’ve all been frustrated when the notoriously unreliable service goes offline. But let’s live with the growing pains for a bit, and instead think what else we can do. Okay, we can catch up on email, surf YouTube or Facebook, or write blog posts.

Or we can try one of the increasing number of Twitter alternatives.

Try searching Twitter with Summize. This app reads Twitter posts and might still be up when Twitter is down. For the June 9 WWDC Apple developers meeting, Twitter teamed with Summize to provide a feed that tracks Apple news based on key words related to the WWDC

When Twitter’s down, some go to FriendFeed to post their wordbites there. FriendFeed is much more than microblogging, however. Basically, Friendfeed aggregates updates on social websites. It’s similar in some ways to Facebook’s Minifeed. You can keep up-to-date on the web pages and media that friends and family are sharing.

A new service, Plurk, offers similar functionality to Twitter but with more bells and whistles. Plurk is similar to Twitter in that you have a 140 character limit on your posts. Its main difference is in the horizontal timeline, rather than vertically ordered Tweets. Plurk offers more functionality, such as color-coding posts, and a way to build your online reputation through “karma,” basically by invited others to use the service.

And if you really can’t live without your 140 character Tweeting use Twiddict to update Twitter when it’s not working. Type in your posts just as you would with Twitter and Twiddict puts them in a queue that is posted when Twitter is online again. But it seems a bit self-glorifying when most of your followers are probably going to skip a long list of backdated tweets in favor of moving to more recent ones, or even an alternative.

Will any of these replace Twitter for good? Probably not, but at least you can keep going during those long boring moments when Twitter is down… again!

Other things to do when Twitter goes down… 

What Do You Do When Twitter Goes Down?
What to do when twitter is down
Twitter Goes Down, Geeks Go Crazy!
7 Things Twitter Addicts Can Do When Twitter Goes Down
It’s a Twit-Out! When Twitter Goes Down, Where Do You Go?
What to do while Twitter is down

The future of social networking: Consolidation or fragmentation?

on Apr 21 in business, links, social media, trends posted by

The past two or three years have brought social media to the mainstream Internet. MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn and more recently Twitter, are the buzz de jour.

But wither Twitter and its ilk? Analysts and lay folk alike question the future of these popular apps. They’re fine for fun, chatting, catching up and sharing but where is it all headed?

Two main trends seem apparent. One is “fragmentation.” The other, in apparent juxtaposition, is “consolidation.”

Social networking apps are multiplying, experimenting and milling around like kids in a candy store. With online tools such as Ning, anyone can set up a group, and get it looking pretty good with little technical smarts. The result is not quite Facebook or MySpace, but perfectly usable. More to the point, the creator can make a group to suit virtually any conceivable need, based on geography, academic interests, religious group, what brand of coffee shop they prefer, or whatever. The trend will lead to yet more groups and yet more demands on users time to participate meaningfully in such groups.

A significant pressure contributing to this trend is the greater potential for monetization—a problem that continues to bug the big players—from leveraging the loyalty of participants in smaller niche networks. According to an article by CNN, “…specialty sites believe they can offer advertisers a smaller, but passionate audience for which they’d be willing to pay more…” To counter the threat, says the article, Facebook and MySpace allow the smaller websites to create widgets that engage users, and keep them on their own networks.

But will it be enough? Facebook and MySpace are beginning to see their visitor growth asymptote. Because of competition from the smaller players? Maybe, or perhaps because users just want a different experience after the novelty of virtual poking, pillow fighting or sending undrinkable beers has worn off. 

In any case, the online social networking environment will continue to diversify and fragment, to a point where it more accurately reflects the range of interests and needs of the humanity it serves. 

By definition, fragmentation results in more and more networks. But people are not monolithic. Who is interested in just one type of coffee shop, sports team or knitting style? With our multiple interests, we naturally are drawn to multiple groups. I belong to more than 100 Facebook groups, and dozens of online networks, such as LinkedIn, Naymz, Twitter, and Nature Networks, as well as Facebook and MySpace.

But rampant joining cannot continue indefinitely. My time is limited. My circumstances and interests will change. And it’s simply impractical to manage all those networks with diligence and interest. Hence, social media will need to provide means of consolidating profiles and related online information.

So what will the future of social networking look like? 

In her comment on social networking trends, Charlene Li of Forrester Research says that social networks will be like “air.” That is, all around us—pervasive. And like air, without it “we won’t really feel like we are truly living and alive, just as without sufficient air, we won’t really be able to breathe deeply.”

I don’t entirely buy that vision, but Ms. Li is on the right track—social networking will become ubiquitous, its spread exertiing strong pressure for standardization. The space will need to consolidate. Already, online apps are emerging to meet the need for consolidation. 

For example, FriendFeed is “an aggregator that consolidates updates on social websites,” according to Daniel Nations on’s Web Trends section. Since going mainstream in October 2007, it is now hovering around 40,000 by Alexa’s website ranking measure. But will it do? In many ways, FriendFeed does much of what Facebook does, or is capable of doing.

What might a future solution look like, if it is to approach Charlene Li’s vision of a ubiquitous social network? 

What now?
One idea of where we might be headed is ZLoop, an application currently in private alpha. ZLoop facilitates, captures, and organizes digital interaction within private, secure online environments called loops. In a sense, the loops are like the conventional networks (such as Facebook groups), but the focus is on the community, rather than the individual.

Because of the way users can manage multiple incarnations of their profiles within and among networks, the ZLoop model is highly congruous with the way in which people actually interact. For example, say I have three networks: my immediate family, my golfing buddies and my work colleagues.

I have a sales lead from one of my golfing buddies. My work colleagues and fellow golfers might be interested, but chances are my immediate family won’t be. I hear that my cousin in England is pregnant. My immediate family might be interested, possibly my golfing buddies, but most likely not my colleagues.

You get the picture. Not all people are interested in all my goings on all the time. That’s one of the drawbacks of Twitter, and it’s a flaw in the Facebook model. More than a few times, I’ve caught items posted to my profile that I’d rather not all my Facebook friends see.

This is a flaw the ZLoop model promises to address. In ZLoop, one’s profile is highly customizable to the group or network, so that you can present a quite different profile to specific networks—rather like real life.

This nested series of networks, a networks of networks concept, “…is at the core of why we built ZLoop and is one of our primary value propositions and differentiators,” according to Jim Bisenius, CEO of the company, based in Portland, Oregon.

So what is the zLoops business model? Suffice to say, the company believes it can make money. But how and when? Right now, that’s confidential.

So, what’s it to be? Consolidation or fragmentation? With an app like ZLoops it’s a mixture of both. The only way to handle fragmentation is to consolidate. ZLoops is still working out the kinks. It might not be the perfect solution, but it is certainly showing the way ahead.

More on the future of social networking 

Don Dodge: The Future Of Social Networking – Consolidation or Mass Customization?
Robert Young: The Future of Social Networks – Communication
Michael Arrington: I Saw The Future Of Social Networking The Other Day
Hannah Hickey: Future of social networking explored in UW’s computer science building
The Economist: Everywher
e and nowhere

Tim Bajarin:  The Future of Social Networking

Follow you, follow me: finding people on Twitter

on Apr 18 in hints and tips, links, social media, tools, Twitter posted by

OK, so you’ve discovered Twitter. But how are you going to make the most of it? How do you find among the 1 million or so Twitterers (or Tweeple) who to follow?

To Follow Or Not To Follow

As with so many things in life, what “counts” is quality, not quantity. Unless you have the concentration of a Zen master and the mental capacity of a savant, there is no way to consciously follow more than a few dozen active Tweeple. The people you choose to follow (or not) are the prime determinant of your Twitter experience.

So how do you figure who’s best to follow? There’s no hard and fast rule. Here are some suggestions.

  1. Look for people who are blogging on the topic that interests you. If they have a Twitter account they usually have a button or widget you can click to follow them.
  2. If you know someone who is knowledgable, try Twitter search to find them.
  3. Use online search apps to help you narrow down who to follow. Here are some to get you started.
  • Ranking sites: TwitDir lists top Twitterers as measured by various criteria such as those who follow the most, who are followed the most, update the most, etc. A couple of other sites list top Twitterers by their “popularity” (although there is some wiggle-room for how popularity is measured) such as Twitterholic and Twittown’s Twitrank (a bit dated).
  • Friendsic Analysis:  By ranking by how many of your friends are following them, Twubble helps you find friends using the principle of a friend of a friend is my friend.
  • Think Locally: Find people who are using Twitter in or around a localized area with Twitter Local.
  • Doctor the Who:  Search for people you already know by their name or email using TwitterWho.
  • Upper-Class Twits: Find Twitterers who might have similar interests with Twits Like Me.

See recent article on ReadWriteWeb for more details on Tweeple finding tools.

Useful intros to Twitter
Webware’s Newbies Guide to Twitter
Chris Brogan’s Newbies Guide to Twitter 
Video from Twitter developers 
55 Twitter Tots from The Spinning Donut 

NB The title of this post refers to a Genesis song. (Genesis is a UK rock band from the 70s and 80s.)

Follow you, follow me on YouTube