Social Media Engagement And Conversation Through The Eyes Of A Homeless Guy

How can I possibly have any impact or voice when my pocketbook margin is so thin? I wish my resources equaled _________ dollars so I can start a movement that matters. Why aren’t my videos and posts going viral so I can make mega bucks off of advertising? If Google got there start in a garage, why does it feel as if I’m never going to get away from the oil puddles and have a ‘real’ company?

Are questions like these beating up on your self confidence? Have you grown jealous of social media buzz centered around people who have made it big through viral content, who have the advantage of constantly being in the public eye, or have cashed in on a previous venture allowing them to “coast.”

To help with wrestling with this painful issue, a short film entitled Change for a Dollar (watch below), depicts a homeless man who turns heads by taking his donated change to impact others. He “provides” for them in unsuspecting and well thought out ways (planting a coin before a help wanted sign, hands exact change to a young woman so she can make that one call home, etc.).

Here are four insights from the point of view of the homeless man depicted in the film:

1. He was observant and from the way the film plays out, he appeared to be well-connected with most of the persons he assisted.

2. He began his day like any other, however, at a certain point he put his available strength and resources into selfless action by meeting the needs of others at crucial junctions in their lives.

3. Limited resources do not and should not stifle creativity, but rather empower it. He could have helped each person by simply handing them money. He did not, but operated from a thought-out plan to provide for a need and awaken a sense of mystery in each recipient.

4. He returned to the spot he began, not expecting a major change to his situation but content to serve others from what was entrusted to him.

In today’s economy, more and more people can relate to feeling “impoverished” compared to what was enjoyed yesterday. But, this does not have to bring paralysis. In fact, new ideas are best birthed out of pain.

Relationships today are complex, with many being started and even sustained via social media. How can these principles be applied to social networking conversations and even to blog posts?

Get to know the audience. The time invested to shows care, drawing them out on what is important to them will enable to know how to best meet their needs.

Resisting the temptation to “blanket” communication. In other words, being very careful of the campaigns performed to build followers or to snag the interest of current followers. It’s not the form itself that will build a trusted audience, but how to deliver value with the campaign being used simply as a tool in the long-term relationship.

Courageously engaging friends of friends. Just as the homeless man set out the coin, knowing it would gain the attention of the boy, his intention was to get the mother to notice the “Help Wanted” sign in the window. He used an indirect approach through trusted relationships of that friend.

Losing the sense of entitlement that these friends will build business (and a portfolio). The homeless man did not go back to each of these individuals and later ask for money as a payback. He merely went to his post and waited to see what would come his way.

Many more lessons can be drawn from this ten minute film. What impressions would you add?

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Three Questions #OccupyWallStreet Has Surfaced About Our Virtual And Physical Existence

A topic that needs no introduction: Occupy Wall Street. Better known (at least on Twitter) as #occupywallstreet. We’ve been submerged in the hype for over a month now, with ‘occupies’ breaking out in major cities around the globe.

Speaking philosophically, what can we deduce or learn from this movement? Here are three specific questions off the top of my head:

  1. Are we the sum of our virtual identities? – The move to social media and web-based business has not squelched our desire to be connected in ‘flesh and blood’ situations. In fact, it more than likely fuels this desire. The Arab protests in the Middle East should tell us that this desire for human camaraderie is even cross-cultural.

    Our Internet connectivity has certainly streamlined physical movements such as ‘Occupy.’ Could these protests signal our innate collectivity to promote what is ‘right?’ And, the social media platforms minus human-to-human interaction are not enough?

  2. Is the power of a movement only accurately measured in the physical realm? – What if, hypothetically, the Occupy Wall Street breakout only occurred within the confines of social media? Not one person took to the streets (or parks). Not one tent was erected (or taken away). Not one piece of trash or human waste ‘occupied’ the ground.

    Social networking may be the craze, but it’s not the end all, right? Will we ever reach a point where there is an equalized boundary between the virtual and the physical realms? Are groups of friends standing around before a blockbuster movie interacting on their smart phones, and engaging some with each other—is this the way we’ll exist indefinitely? Where do we (or should we) draw the boundary? Will protests keep us in check? Or will they fuel our online collaboration?

  3. Where does free speech and taking a stand violate law? – Tents being confiscated by police, forcing people out to clean up parks, keeping blocked traffic at bay—these are enforcements in the physical domain. What, if anything, needs to be enforced in the virtual? Are certain #hashtag trends on Twitter a violation of cyber territory? Specific social media users being targeted by the masses in disrespectful ways. Where should it stop?

    The cleaning up of physical debris is thankfully not a problem for social media users, but certain ‘garbage’ does exist. Whether you want to consider that spam, infringing marketing campaigns, or crude language (or images); that is an entirely different matter. Or is it?

These questions are not easily answered and I would imagine they will continue to be visited as we figure out how social media fits into our lives and visa versa. So, how are you discussing the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street? Are you focusing on the problems it’s creating for local police and authorities, the hope of new-found freedom for the middle class, or that we are in the center of a virtual and physical growth spurt?

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Social Networking: Is It Conversation Or Curation; What About Conversion?

The onset of social media has brought a revolution of content. What many had buried in their minds, stored in their pockets or recorded on tape is now able to be broadcast in real time. With today’s powerful social networking tools in hand, how can you know the best way to promote yourself, your business’ ideas? And to what end?

For the sake of this post we’ll focus in on two processes (conversation and curation) and one “end product” (conversion) used within social media.

Conversation, in its purest sense, is interacting with others so as to share and gain ideas and experiences resulting in a more harmonious and congruent relationship. Conversation can take many forms and is exercised by all of us everyday. When it comes to online interaction, it is no different.

Three walls have been broken down with communication over social networks (especially on Twitter and Google Plus): geography, demographics and economic status. The playing field is leveled when it comes to interactions. For example, a low income citizen can build an impressive online reputation, getting the attention of high-profile executives and celebrities. For example, look at Daniel Starkov from Ruse, Bulgaria. He is a college student living in a small city along the Danube River. He now has over 40,000 followers on Twitter and offers a great platform for guest blogging.

Curation is best illustrated by observing entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki. The guy’s (no pun intended) a virtual fire hose. And with his creation of Alltop, it’s one of the supreme sources to discover what’s being talked about.

You may not be able to tweet interesting or bizarre links every few seconds like Kawasaki, but if you know your niche it’s possible to deliver good, trustworthy references to a growing captive audience.

Conversion, for businesses, non profit organizations, and individuals alike, is the pinnacle of social media. Whether it’s the sale of your coffee, a visit to your site resulting in revenue, or a link being passed along by many people—everyone has a goal to bring their followers into deeper engagement.

Whether you choose conversation or curation for building a reputation on social media, you can be sure that you’re efforts will be rewarded. However, the most effective, in my opinion, is to apply both methods and play with the balance between them. Watch how your audience responds to both and make the necessary adjustments to either converse or curate more. In short, allow your customers to be your gauge for how your virtual reputation is shaping up.

Even though we all desire to have that one tweet, Facebook post or blog entry to go viral, it is more the exception than the rule. Faithful interaction with your followers and friendly recruiting of newer audiences will guarantee a group of humans who not only follow your branding but will eagerly promote it among their circles.

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Which Social Network Would Mister Rogers Prefer?

You remember the red sweater, the putting on and removing of shoes routine? What about the trolley that would arrive upon his beckon call? Mister Rogers entertained kids for nearly two generations, bringing a multitude of lessons to the ears of little ones with ease.

Mister Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood

Courtesy of Pennstatelive

Having passed away of stomach cancer on February 27th, 2003, he just missed the onset of the social media revolution. Let’s say, theoretically, that he was still alive today and active on social platforms. Which one would he prefer? Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus? Would he be engaged online at all? Maybe he would hire someone younger to handle it? Would he feature Mark Zuckerberg on his Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood program?

Why do I ask what Fred, the shoe-tying guru, would prefer when it comes to staying connected? Because he is the epitome of simple, transferable, yet profound teaching lessons that many of us grew up with.

Instead of me babbling on, let’s hear your input by way of a poll

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How Google Plus Is Causing Institutions To Rethink Social Media ‘Restrictions’ And Three Reasons Why This May Be A Good Idea

Yesterday I was excited to perform a Foursquare check in at my children’s school, but much to my demise, the site was blocked (Auughhh!). I then checked my gmail account and wondered, out of curiosity, if I could get on Google Plus. Surprisingly I could, realizing that for the school to shut down Google Plus they would have to block Google all together, including that major backbone—Google search. Hmmmm, what a conundrum the school board must feel over this.

Google Plus Social Media Badge

Does this mean we smirk at institutions who block social sites and go our merry way interacting, no holds barred, on Google Plus? No, it does not. However, as you may or may not have come into contact with these restrictions where you work (or your children attend classes), these social media ‘restrictions’ are becoming increasingly more painful (and I believe detrimental to educational and professional development).

Ten years down the road, the ITs and policy makers at these institutions may wake in a cold sweat regretting the fact they COMPLETELY blocked the social web. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there is a place for social media monitoring with children. We cannot let them freely interact with just anyone—we need to be engaged with students and help them discover the benefits of social networking. Here are three specific reasons I believe social media should not be completely restricted:

  1. The reliance on social media for relationships and business will only grow more important – As social media is becoming more and more intertwined with higher education and business, individuals are going to be expected to have more of a grasp on these mediums when looking for employment.The true innovators of the web—young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and many other change agents under thirty years old have more than likely been inspired or learned tricks of their trade from online communities, not just the unlinked classroom.
  2. Institutions choosing to block social media on the inside, yet utilizing it on the outside to promote themselves is a bold, hypocritical move – Why hire a social media marketing agent or encourage a staff member to socially promote to the outside world when no person internally can utilize it? Do the online conversations that brought that new student or employee into the company have to stop the moment they set foot in the door?
  3. If computer Internet use is being taught to kids in schools, why, must I ask, do school administrators feel they must cut access to the most up-to-date resources discovered mainly through social media? – How do we discover the latest news, breakthroughs, and changes in society today? Pulling the plug on properly accessed feeds like Twitter will tend to put young students ‘in the dark’ when it comes to learning how to stay current. Teachers, I am sure, are interacting with each other via social networks and even obtain lesson plan ideas via links to videos and articles from social channels. Must I say more.

The launch of Google Plus has seemingly caught many institutions by surprise, leaving them to scratch their heads at how to throttle this new platform. How school boards choose to move forward with this dilemma, whether to block Google all together or realize they must take more of a proactive teaching stance on the integration of social media remains to be seen.

For now, this battle over who and when people interact on social networks inside institutional walls is percolating new questions and new issues that will not be easily answered.

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Whistle While You Work: Some ‘Under The Radar’ YouTube Videos To Boost Your Workday Habits

Streaming media, especially music, has been an over-the-top convenience for many since the onset of Pandora Radio, LastFM, and dozens of other streaming mediums. However, like receiving satellite television channels, when provided more channels sometimes the decision of what to watch or listen to becomes even more daunting. So, how can you discover quality tunes without paying an arm and a leg or spend the majority of your day searching for just the right album or track?

The answer may be more simple than you realize, though it does require a little effort on the front end. Discovering entertaining music is simple with your existing social media accounts. With almost endless numbers of music artists emerging, discovering ear-pleasing talent is just a click away.

To put this into perspective: a few weeks ago my fifth-grade neighbor told me that he and his brother are in a band. To that I remarked, “That’s great. What is your band called?” He responded by saying, “We call ourselves The Toxic Potato. You can watch us on our YouTube channel. We’re trying to market our band through all the social network channels.” I stood there, a bit shell shocked by their valiant efforts at such young ages.

The Toxic Potato is just one of thousands of under the radar ‘garage’ bands hitting the networks with up-and-coming talent. Who knows when the next Justin Bieber sensation will surface. For now at least, we want-to-be musicians (or at least those of us desiring to adopt the same following these singers generate) must settle for passively listening (or watching) their talent.

Recently I’ve come across a superb record company featuring guitarists through a StumbleUpon link. You can find their diverse collection of songs and artists on the Candyrat Records YouTube Channel, or if you do not care to watch the artists then you can simply stream Candyrat’s music.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a couple of songs I enjoy by Candyrat guitarist, Sebastien Cloutier, a producer, engineer, and guitarist from Quebec, Canada.

Five Secrets To A Balanced Business and Personal Social Media Presence

When you operate as a social media ghostwriter, it can be difficult to keep up your own social networking. Days will come where you feel as though you’ll pull your hair out over it. What are effective methods to deal with this constant tension? Well, here are five secrets that I’ve learned from my own experience:

  1. Don’t feel too pressured to maintain the same barrage of updates as with your paying clients – If you’re a freelancer like me, when you’re posting social updates ‘off the clock’ it almost feels like a waste of time. Remember, you’re still growing your visibility and networking even with one to three quality updates per day.
  2. Spending time on your own social media updates can be therapeutic (and strategic) – Writing a personal update via Twitter about your hectic workday or even the fact that you’re falling behind on freelance work can not only feel like an emotional weight lifted, but may reward you with sympathy or timely advice from the social community. Not only will it bring your blood pressure down, but you may generate new connections over your honesty and emotional approach.
  3. Be intentional to carve out time for updating your own social profiles – I find that if I wait until other work is completed before I tweet or post a link on Facebook that it never happens. Force yourself to put up an update before beginning your freelance or other business-related marketing.
  4. Turn it into a conversation by asking the community – Tweet or post about your dilemma and wait for the social media community to offer their collective wisdom. And, as mentioned above, you might be surprised at the growth of followers who have either been afraid to publicize their emotions or are ready to branch out from their own group of confidantes.
  5. Some of your social connections could benefit the company you work for – It’s very possible, as has happened to me, that a person or two in your social circles could benefit your client. Whether it’s website design, legal services, financial advice or the like, it could prove to be a powerful and natural networking technique.

If you’re new to social media marketing, realize it will take time to adjust to the intensity and breadth of growing followers around the particular branding of the company you represent. Even though it may feel like you’re emotional energy is being sapped by building their business, it doesn’t have to detract from your own presence on the web.

Finally, it is possible that some of the links (a cool viral video) you’re using for work could be very useful and relevant for your own social network; content that you otherwise would have never discovered on your own.

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How To Know Both Sides Of The WordPress Open Source Platform

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Wondering why this random code is published above? If you’ve used Technorati, you know why. I would think there would be a more effective way to actually prove this is my blog. Well, makes for interesting dinner discussion.

While I’m writing (and did not expect to publish anything this afternoon) I thought I would give a simple WordPress tip. The tip being the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.

WordPress.com – The site you currently are reading this post on. WordPress handles the server details, thus updating the software and hosting the site is something they take care of. This makes for less maintenance for the blog owner. However, it does have drawbacks. You are limited to what you are able to do with the code. You can upgrade to a paid subscription to be able to change the CSS. Plugins are not allowed. And, unless you buy a domain name you are always going to have ‘wordpress’ within your URL. I have bought a domain name, so all you have to do to get to my blog is type matthewdhudson.com.

WordPress.org – Downloadable software to run on your own server or to upload to a hosting company. The benefits are total control over the CSS and PHP, the ability to install plugins, and the freedom to upgrade the software whenever convenient. The disadvantages are the challenging aspects of upgrading the software without losing customized files, outages for hosting on your own server, and the obvious one: breaking the code and having to start all over again.

There you have it, an almost worthless Technorati confirmation post that has moved you one level deeper in your knowhow of the WordPress open source platform.

Now if I can just get Technorati to confirm…

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Social Media For Beginners

How many social networking sites exist? It’s hard to know, but the most populous ones by far are Facebook and Twitter. When it comes to professional networking LinkedIn wins hands down. Video you say? Uh, YouTube.

Now that the big guns are on the table the next question is, “What do we do with them?” That, my friends, has a short answer and a very LONG answer. For simplicity sake, I will unpack the short answer for just Twitter and Facebook…

I’m assuming you have set up accounts at the major networks (mentioned above). Let me begin with the distinctive of each…

Twitter – A short sound byte megaphone. It is a superb medium for getting word out to large audiences very quickly. Recent examples would be the Arab uprisings that spread like wildfire over social networks. Remember the Iranian election uprisings a while back? CNN got major backlash for being too slow to disseminate content regarding the election uprisings… Twitter had them beat.

  • How many times a day should you tweet? Well, that depends on your purpose in using the service. A bare minimum would be once per day, but if you want to enter into more extensive networks and connections it would be advantageous to post updates six to ten times per day (or more). An extreme example, sometimes referred to as a ‘firehouse’ effect, is Guy Kawasaki.
  • What should you promote? Depends on what you value? If you have tweeted for some time and want to know your label as a Twitter user, just sign up at Klout and check out the grid. Basically, you want to have a well-constructed statement followed by a shortlink and then possibly some hashtags to target a particular audience.
  • Can you interact with other Twitter users? Absolutely. Utilize the mention feature or send a direct message (though you and that user must be mutually following each other to use this). Browse different profiles to see how conversations are taking place. You’ll get the hang of it eventually.
  • How can you keep track of certain users more closely? Create a list and add your favorites to that list. Then, whenever you want to see what they’re tweeting about just pull up the list on Twitter or any well-built API.

Facebook – A conversational platform 700 million strong developed by Mark Zuckerberg.

  • How often should you post an update? Depends on your lifestyle. Some update every few minutes and others every other month.
  • How can you interact with other users (or ‘friends’)? You’ll need to invite (or be invited)  ‘friends’ (by ‘friends’) to take advantage of full interaction capabilities. Once the friendship is accepted then you are free to collaborate and see each others’ content. One of the advantages, for some, is this ‘walled garden’ effect that gives a certain level of privacy. Realize that you can change your privacy settings too.
  • You have a business or organization. How can you use Facebook to promote that? Set up either a Fan Page or a Group to showcase your venture. People will need to ‘like’ your fan page in order to see updates in their stream. You have the power to invite anyone of your friends into a group. These are ideal for class reunions, and can be set to complete privacy for deeper interaction.

So, how can I integrate Twitter and Facebook in my daily routine? This is not a simple question to answer, as it will depend on the person and their lifestyle. However, a rule of thumb is to use Twitter for quick sharing of content or your business vision. It’s like walking into a large room of strangers and making a lot of small talk, with a focus on introductions and networking. Facebook, on the other hand, is entering a room filled with acquaintances and friends who you would enjoy more detailed conversations with.

You’ll notice many businesses and organizations have a Twitter and Facebook badge on their sites or on their products. Because we are such a mobile society and even the culture of the work environment has changed, more and more conversations are happening over social media.

Don’t let the seemingly complex nature of social networks discourage you—remember using your first cell phone?

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Three Simple Ways To Keep An Old Computer Running

The last decade has seen a substantial drop in hardware costs, mainly because units have been farmed out to be assembled in China or other Asian territories. I’m not here to argue for or against outsourcing, but I do want to give three simple ways of keeping an older computer running.

A run to Best Buy, Walmart, or any local store that sells computers is an easy option… If, you want to spend at least five hundred dollars. By the time you pay for the machine, memory upgrades, warranty, etc. it’s going to run you at least that for a desktop, let alone a laptop.

So, what are three distinct tips for keeping an old desktop or laptop computer running (and running well)?

1. Optimize, optimize, optimize – Whatever machine you own (Apple or PC), you’ll want to use the optimizing software to keep the hard drive (or flash drive) running smoothly. Also, for peak performance, I recommend uninstalling and reinstalling the operating system at least once per year. This may seem like a pain, but it is well worth the time and effort. If you do not want to attempt this on your own, I will be happy to assist, provided you live in the Seattle area.

2. Make a move towards the Linux operating system – A bit more of a stretch than simply optimizing your existing software. I have been using Ubuntu Linux for about four years and plan to never return to Windows. I’ve not owned a Mac, refusing to shell out money for one. Linux runs well on older machines, and some stripped-down kernels are less than 150 Megabytes in size!

3. Replacement parts are still less expensive than buying a new computer – Always price replacement parts for your system. Scour sites like Craigslist and Ebay for what you’ll need. Perplexed at how to install a certain component? There’s a tutorial for every computer part imaginable. Look it up and consider it a fun project to tackle alone, with a friend, child, etc.

The list could go on, but for now these three tips will give you direction when the screen lags, the DVD drive no longer runs, the screen flickers, or the famous hard drive crashing.

To give a cool example: a few months ago one of my monitors stopped working. Perplexing as it was, I decided to investigate. The problem was a faulty power adapter. I dug through my boxes of old parts, located an old power adapter from a Dell laptop I no longer had (gave it away to my niece), cut the end off and hardwired it into my monitor and walla! It worked! In fact, I’m looking at it right now as I type.

Reusing old computers is a very ‘green’ gesture. Do the earth and your pocketbook good and think twice before chucking that old computer.

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