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I recently read an article bringing up the ways that social media can hurt your career.  We have all seen these articles that highlight the horror stories of Joe who called in sick and his boss read his tweet about going to the Red Sox game, who subsequently fired him, or whatever.

While I think the three social networking don’ts highlighted should be considered, I still fail to see the fault in social networking regarding career advancement. While sometimes the incriminating tweets and status updates are funny to read, most people who have a handle on social networking platforms and how they work know the potential, good and bad, of anything you post reaching new readership.

My rule of thumb used to be: don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your dear old Grandma to hear. Now that my social media usage has changed from strictly personal socialization to more utilitarian applications, including career advancement, my rule of thumb is: don’t post anything you that wouldn’t feel comfortable saying directly in person.

As long as you remember that it may seem like a post in outer-space, anyone can stumble upon anything. There are also different ways of saying similar things and you can still express your opinions in an inoffensive way. It’s about applying the simple rules of gossip that we learned in elementary school to this version of tech gossip…also, not everything thought needs to be said.

An important piece of news was revealed yesterday, as Facebook purchased FriendFeed for a total of $50 million - $15 million in cash and $35 million in Facebook stock, which Mashable reported is worth about $6.5 billion. Facebook has apparently discussed joining forces with Friendfeed since 2007 and this deal only came about after an acquisition attempt by Twitter reportedly fell through. Though this joining of forces cost quite a sum, according to TechCrunch, Facebook also acquired the Friendfeed team, which includes ex-Googlers such as Paul Buchheit, Bret Taylor, Jim Norris, and Sanjeev Singh.

Though Facebook has already based many aspects of the News Feed off of FriendFeed, FriendFeed is superior in several ways and will certainly enrich the News Feed experience for Facebook users.

On FriendFeed, stories appear and then re-appear at the top of the feed as new users make comments on them, and updates occur as they happen. Facebook’s feed has to be manually refreshed.This acquisition allows for the integration of popular social networking sites, including Twitter, because it enables users to continue conversations or exchanges from Twitter to Facebook, or even use the two interchangeably.

People are now able to comment on a tweet through Facebook and leave a longer comment than they could on Twitter due to the 140-character limit. Instead of Twitterers and Facebookers using one or both separately, users can also publish their Twitter stream to either FriendFeed or Facebook, which means Facebook and Twitter can pretty much be used interchangeably.

According to Marketing VOX, it is likely that Facebook will see improved integration between its community of users, as well as Twitter users, through Friendfeed’s more open interface and the flexibility Facebook offers. It will be interesting to see if these two social networking communities will maintain some level of distinction, or continue to merge.

We’re always saying that technology is changing everything…and it is. We’re connecting with new people everyday through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and so many more internet media services. Everything that we could bring online, we have; stores, banks, books, maps, mail, even schools, all have a strong presence online. Dating has shifted online as well.

Online dating is one of the more controversial internet services. I have no personal stance on internet dating, as many people have great success with it, but it just isn’t for some.  My interest in online dating is in the social implications - aren’t online dating websites social media platforms?

Online dating websites, such as, bring people together based on a limited amount of information, which is self-disclosed. They allow users to reach out to other people they do not know, and try to connect with them.

So far, aside from the agenda of the users, online dating sites aren’t any different from other popular social media platforms, such as Facebook.  Dating sites have the potential to affect our behavior and life experiences.

Online dating has turned an often awkward process into a streamlined progression similar to online shopping…but shopping for people. An algorithm brings you matches based on your interests, and it takes into consideration much more quantitative data indicating compatibility than a friend who was setting you up with her second cousin might.

The appeal of online dating is that you will be matched with someone who has similar values, interests, and goals. Ok, it’s really more than interests and goals. specifically asks about your astrological sign, body type, whether you’re a “meat and potatoes” or “keep it healthy” kind of person, and on and on - even whether you might want kids in the future.

With all that personal data, you should meet someone compatible! For many users, the best benefit is bypassing all those bad dates and bad break-ups, as many relationships end because one person doesn’t want kids, and the other does, and it took them 15 months of dating to realize it. Great, cut to the chase! With online dating, it’s all out on the table. If you know you want kids, and you come across a match that doesn’t, toss ‘em. You just saved three years of your life…Right?

On the other side of the coin, something to consider is the actual effectiveness of a data-based match. There may be a match for several explicit goals or ideals, but is it enough to make for compatibility? Two women can be very different in their personality, but both want to have kids.

Also, the issue of self-disclosure not only affects online dating, but most internet social media platforms. Profiles are designed with attraction in mind, and like Facebook profiles, they are can often be an embellishment of the person it really represents. Does he really like long walks on the beach, or is that what he thinks a potential connection wants to hear? Is she really a “fit build”, as self-reported?

So my question is this: is the efficiency of social media, including online dating, better than the wasted dates, or even wasted years of an ultimately unsuccessful relationship? Or, if we leave our fate in the hands of technology, will we miss out on those learning experiences because with compatibility matches, it’s more likely that the first one could be the right one? Is it even that the first one IS the right one?

If we are using technology to better other daily aspects of our lives and make them more efficient, should we apply it to dating, which is arguably the most time consuming, costly, and draining component of our lives?

What do you think about online dating in terms of social media?

A recent blog posting on ReadWriteWeb about why we tweet shows that many of us use Twitter for purposed-based activities, such as obtaining news, information, or work-related activities, rather than just for fun.

The fact that people are actually using Twitter as a resource and are paying attention to the information is a double-edged sword for businesses: you have the opportunity to hear what your consumers are saying, but you have to be willing to listen and hear what they are saying as well.

Generally when a company enters a social media platform, they are capitalizing on the opportunity to tap into the wants, ideas, and invaluable feedback from your consumer base, and realize that it outweighs the damage control that is involved when a problem is brought to light.

Recently, a Twitter user was sued by her management company for an allegedly “malicious” tweet. Of course there are two sides to every story, but I am going to look at it how it was perceived, which is all that really matters in terms of CRM and publicity.

The management company was reported to have said “We’re a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization,” as the Twitter user was reportedly not contacted about her tweet. I will not begin to get into the ethics and standards of whether or not tweets should be held to journalistic standards, or if they are just an extension of our free speech, but I will point out this reaction caused that tweet to be exposed to millions of people, rather than just the 20 or so people following.

In terms of brand management and customer relations, social media should be used as a tool to help improve a business. This situation is a perfect example of how a social media presence could have been used for a proactive valuable exchange, being that the woman’s tweet wasn’t directed at the management company, and the company found it of their own accord.

A social media presence is not about keeping track of what is being said about your company, and quickly squashing anyone who speaks negatively; it is about keeping track of what is being said, and if negative comments are found, using it as a competitive advantage to see how to resurrect the situation, and also how to prevent it in the future.

There will always be nay-sayers and bad-mouthers, and part of collecting valuable feedback is also dealing with some difficult people and situations. I think brand management via social media can be best utilized by appreciating any and all feedback in order to improve future interactions, not by forcefully silencing any negative comments.

How should companies manage negative comments? How proactive do you think a company’s brand management plan should be?

Socialbrite is a hub that brings together social media tools with social causes and philanthropy in the online community. They provide people with tools and information about using the different social media platforms to directly impact their social cause. Here are a few reasons to check out socialbrite:

1. The Sharing Center on the Socialbrite page, while not directly part of, is a resource for guides, tutorials, videos, and other how-to’s about social media for worthy causes.

2. In addition to the Sharing Center, Socialbrite has a list of organizations and platforms that address social causes in the nonprofit setting.

3. Socialbrite also offers services to NPOs and social change organizations, including strategic planning, community outreach, fund-raising, site development and much more. Visit their social solutions page for a full list of services.

4. Perhaps most useful is their tools section. This section includes information on using social media for social cause, from basic video tutorials on how to tweet Flickr photos, to SEO tips specific to a nonprofit website.

So whether you are a non profit organization looking to learn more about how social media can help your cause, or whether you are just a person looking to connect your social media skills with a good cause, Socialbrite has something of interest for you.

After much consideration of all the great organizations who entered, we are happy to announce Crossroads Community Foundation as the winner of our contest and recipient of a free social media report. Congratulations to Crossroads Community Foundation!

Crossroads Community Foundation is an organization that connects donors with non-profit organizations. They organize and manage donations into funds, then distribute grants to causes in need. They are proponents of supporting local organizations and creating strong tie to the community.

In addition, they have a Youth in Philanthropy Program, which teaches youth the value of philanthropy in society, and trains them in the workings of NPOs and how they can become involved, or even how they can apply for their own grants.

Take a look at Crossroads Community Foundation, and see what they’re up to. Over the course of our evaluation for their report, we will be blogging any updates about their progress so check back for periodic updates about their social media development.

As we at Other Side Group are interested in non-profit organizations, we’re regular readers of Beth’s Blog. This blog features several guest posts to give great perspective from different people, and we immediately thought it was something that deserved attention.

It is a great resource to help NPOs use social media effectively to their benefit, whether they are just starting up with their Twitter and Facebook accounts, or already have a presence, but need some social media management guidance.  Beth’s blog features several guest posts, all of which address the investments (not just monetary) and potential returns (again, not just monetary) of using social media platforms.

While all of the posts on the blog have helpful information for non-profits entering the social media world, I have picked a few of the most recent guest entries that I think are exceptionally helpful:

1. Katya Andresen on “How to Convince Your Skeptical Boss Social Media Has Merit

Despite those of us that are using social media feverishly, many still resist and are skeptical of its return for business purposes. It can be frustrating when you see the potential returns of social media, but none of the “decision makers” do. This blog highlights small actual steps you can take to create awareness and gradual acceptance of social media, that don’t require hypnotizing or hijacking your boss.

2. Frank Barry on “4 Facebook Tips for Nonprofit Success- See What Others are Doing

Many businesses now have a presence on Facebook. It is more common to have a Facebook presence than a Twitter presence because it has been around longer and more people are familiar with Facebook and its use. This guest blog points out some great points for starting a presence on Facebook, such as making a page instead of a group or a cause. This is important because some organizations have been on Facebook awhile as a group and do not have a page, but because they have had a Facebook presence for awhile, do not think they need to update their efforts.

3. Nancy Schwartz on “Don’t Even THINK about Social Media until Your Web Site and E-news are Working Well

Nancy makes a great point in this entry: before you even begin to think about drawing additional attention to your company, make sure they are going to like what they see. Implementing social media without thinking ahead of what happens once people start following you can be treacherous for your brand image.

4. Kivi Leroux Miller on “Tips for Giving Social Media Projects to Interns

Especially in this time of economic instability, many companies, large and small, are taking on unpaid interns. Because social media is a huge time investment, interns are a great way to put man-power behind social media campaigns. Kivi gives a few tips about how to best introduce your interns to social media and how to use it with your organization in mind.

5. Alistair Croll on “Using Twitter for Fundraising- Lessons Learned from Beers for Canada

This blog highlights a fundraising campaign from Beers for Canada. Alistair points out valuable tips, including steps before, during, and after the campaign and what worked best for fundraising purposes.

Check out Beth’s Blog for new posts about social media use specifically with non-profit organizations in mind

It’s a different world out there as more people are tweeting, meeting and friending left and right. The explosion of social media has brought a lot of light to the online community for purposes beyond practical use. However, some people are very hesitant to get involved because they are wary of sharing personal information.

Any internet user should definitely be smart about what information they are displaying, but to cite a great point from a fellow social media user, Mattan Ingram, there is a difference between privacy and security. Before you put up the paranoia guard, there are a few things to keep in mind:

You get what you put into social media
If new media is being used solely for purposes that the general public is not interested in, then it’s not as much of a concern that you will be “discovered” and “passed on”.

Viral marketing is only really successful if many links on the communication chain are interested in passing the information on. If someone is too paranoid to be followed by or chat with a stranger on Twitter, then it will be impossible for them to really understand and utilize social media effectively because that is the beauty of social media. The rise of social media increases open two-way communication. As Mattan said,

“The more transparent society is, the better and healthier it will be. We just have to get through the adjustment period. Transparency is not just top down, Big Brother style. It goes both ways.”

This applies to many areas, from consumer-business relationships to government-citizen relationships. The paranoid resisters are actually the ones that could benefit the most from social media; yes by putting up a profile on Facebook, you allow others a snapshot into your life, but in turn you’re also allowed access to theirs. Again, this can apply to individuals, businesses, or government.

We are not lost behind the computer screen. You still have your identity and it is an extension of your being
In a different vein, some people use social media interactions to hide behind a computer screen and act in a completely inappropriate fashion…Ever read YouTube video comments? It’s best not to if you want to keep faith in mankind. To be honest, many of these people probably would never say those things face-to-face, but for some reason have a really nasty internet alter ego.

Be it comments on other peoples’ blogs, YouTube videos, or other opinions, some people really take their comments to the level of just blatantly offensive. This deters a lot of people from using social media because they just don’t want to deal with arrogant rude people, or are afraid then of voicing their own valuable opinions.

Now with more streamlining, such as Facebook Connect, where a Facebook user can use their account to log in to other 3rd party websites, instead of making a separate one for that site, our identities are following us online. This may again strike a note of paranoia in some, but if you think about it, it could actually make the internet community closer and safer.

Of course there will always be weirdos, people who make multiple fake accounts, hackers, etc, but isn’t that say the same for face to face interactions? There will always be people who cut you in line, people with road rage, criminals, etc., but as long as you are smart with what information is put online, just the same way you lock your car door, then we can continue to be comfortable in the online community. For example, if you are reading a review on Citysearch, it has more merit when you can see their Facebook profile and know there is a real person behind it, even if it is a stranger. It eliminates the internet unknown, which is what strikes fear in some.

Where does this leave social media?

While not everyone is on board, there are plenty of people who see new media and internet services as an opportunity for information and positive communication. I consider E-mail, Instant Messaging, and other internet based communication as an opportunity to think about what you say before you open your mouth, instead of saying something completely distasteful, and not having to deal with repercussions, or anyone seeing who the person behind the screen is.

I must say that opinions are great. I like when people don’t agree with me because that is the basis of a good conversation (read: conversation, not a YouTube comment battle). However, when people take disagreements out of context and make personal insults, they are not going to get anything of value from their social media presence, and will also deter others from interacting.

Even though social media is being stunted by two angles, paranoia and terrorizing others, by nature, social media is working on breaking down these barriers. Paranoia is being resolved as more people begin to see that these platforms are used for listening to others, gaining insight/opinions, and communicating with people they normally wouldn’t. Online bullying is being battled inadvertently by creating more ties between different internet platforms. There will always be some resistance, but ironically it could be that as social media grows, it has the potential to resolve some of the current oppositions.

How do you feel about social media? Have you embraced it yet? How can we help make the online community more constructive? Please feel free to share thoughts, comments, ideas.

Social media is a great marketing tool for businesses because it has little initial cost. However, what many do not take into account is the man-hours needed to establish and maintain good communication with the community, be it followers, fans, or friends.

Recently I came across an article about Fortune 100 CEOs’ lacking presence on social media. The obvious explanation is that the CEO of P&G or Bank of America has a little free time in the to day to Twitter, much less than Ashton Kutcher who updates quite frequently.

Something else I read on Mashable, informed me Twitter for Busy People is saying that’s not an excuse anymore. Twitter for Busy People allows you to glance over the most recent tweets of the people you’re following.

This interface by Blue Java has many useful applications, such as:

  • It helps prevent less active twitterers from being pushed off the page by that one person who updates what they ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and every thought in between.
  • For larger follower bases, it allows you to see a smaller picture of a larger volume. This is useful to make sure you are interacting with a broad range of followers, not just a few very active users.
  • It allows the user to see a glimpse of a feed or update, which helps discover and determine relevant conversations.

Reading about this new interface reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend last week. She has been a Twitter user for awhile, but uses it solely for personal use. We were sitting on the couch, and I was in a clicking frenzy, toggling between Twitter accounts on Seesmic Desktop.

When I finally stopped, in my exasperation, I asked if there was an application to subscribe or prioritize certain people’s updates, and, in doing so filter, out others. She looked at me and asked, “Why would you follow them if you don’t want to read all their updates?” Good point. Clearly, Twitter accounts for businesses are approached differently than personal accounts, but her question haunted me.

Remembering the article on Fortune 100 CEOs not having an active presence on Twitter or Facebook, many of the CEOs were criticized for not having a presence on social media. It was thought their lack of presence could be taken as disinterest or being distant.

So why are we being so critical? Is it better to not be on at all if you’re not going to do it right? We are always disinterested when we find out that a celebrity is not really tweeting his or her own updates. Is the same for business Twitter accounts?

One of the key strategies to a successful social media campaign is interacting personally and individually with your follower base. If new interfaces allow us to only see a small piece of our follower picture, it seems to undermine the whole foundation of social media. My friend’s question made me realize that in my wishing for an app to prioritize and filter updates, we could be taking the social out of social media.

We are always hearing tips and tricks for social media, but regardless of how much or little you know, it’s pretty understood that having an existence on social media is not enough. If you are not executing effectively, it can translate to wasted resources, or even a negative impression of a company. Are we eventually going to have filters to prioritize certain chosen followers, and the others are merely numbers? How then do we determine who should be chosen to follow?

If information on social media platforms is becoming one-way, without the open flow of communication back and forth, it is no different than traditional marketing. It is important to keep the social aspects of social media as a priority, or else we risk losing the outreach and communication, what made social media effective to begin with.

What do you think about the direction of social media? How do you think these new tools, interfaces and applications might change social media?

There is a new face of volunteering that is keeping up with the increase in social media popularity. The YouTube channel Video Volunteers, a project of All for Good, connects non-profit organizations with people looking to volunteer, help out a good cause, or show off their video making skills. On the YouTube Video Volunteer channel, users can browse postings by NPOs for various video projects. Projects range from creating promotional videos helping organizations get their message out and editing videos, to recording live footage of events.

So how does it work? Non-profit organizations can post their request for a volunteer with a description of the job. Then, members of the YouTube community can browse for projects of interest. The contact information for the organization is provided so the next step is to connect and see how you can get involved with the project.

The Video Volunteers channel posts volunteer opportunities for locations all over the U.S. and all video making skill levels, so it is easy to search for projects in your area.

I think this is a great resource for users looking to give back to their community. It is effectively using a social media space to bring strangers together with face-to-face interactions, working together to better the community.

How do you think the YouTube Video Volunteer channel will affect the world of volunteer work? Will it be successful? Do you think it’s a good idea?

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