Where Business Meets the Blogroll

social media

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Animated GIFs

Now that Google+ joins services like Tumblr in supporting animated GIFs, I’ve decided it’s high time to learn how to make them.


I did a web search and found there’s a whole bunch of websites that will let you do them for free. Take a few photos of a moving object with your iPhone, resize them something reasonable, and you’re all set.

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What is Social Media?

Social media is…

Social media is a term used to collectively describe a set of tools that foster interaction, discussion and community, allowing people to build relationships and share information.

Social Media Is Driving Massive Online Video Growth

Social Media is a powerful tool in your marketing and sales tool box.

The first rule of social media etiquette is to be yourself.

Social media is vital small-business tool

Social Media Is Here to Stay

Social media is not…

Social Media is not Going to Save Your Business

Social Media Is Not a Strategy; It’s a Channel

Social media is not the place to air dirty laundry

Social media is not the “universal scoring system” for journalism

Sanjay Dalal, founder / CEO of oGoing. “Social media is not a one shot approach though, and it takes patience, persistence and passion to realize some of these benefits,”

Social Media is NOT a trend

Your role on social media is NOT to sell your product or service; it’s to build relationships with current and potential clients, providing them with useful information that positions you as an expert in your field.

What do you think social media is?

3 Keys To Starting an Online Community

Are You My Tribe?

I received an email last week asking me for advice about starting a new online community (thank you, ML).

I am thinking about starting my own social network. I have many questions. I was wondering do you think you could do a blog post about starting a social network? What do you think about the Ning platform? Which platform do you think would be best?

Even though I’ve formally studied online communities for nearly a decade, I found the question surprisingly difficult to answer. Nonetheless, here’s my summation of the 3 most important considerations for stating an online community.

1. Tribe or Guild?

At the most basic level, people are looking for one of two things in an online community:

  • Social: a place to hang out with friends, or
  • Information: a place to get answers to questions.

The best social networks provide both, but one or the other is the primary reason a group exists. (Tribes have guilds and guild members also form tribes.)

What can you provide? Do you have a particular talent for “throwing a good party”? In that case, you just might  pull off the exceeding difficult task of forging a tribe. People with common sensibilities are out there wandering the web, they are just really hard to find. (Hint: It helps if you can jump-start the process by co-opting an existing tribe.)

Or, are you more interested in hanging out with people who can share tips and tricks about a common interest? That’s the more typical route for an online community… guild members who swap stories, resources, and insights about an area of interest.

Pick one: tribe or guild. That’s your starting point for a clear vision.

2. Platforms Don’t Matter (Much), Only People Do

I can distinctly remember the first social network I was active in back in the late-1980’s … a bulletin-board like system for students, faculty, and staff of William & Mary (platform was Participate by Unison running on Primos). Green screens with 80 character columns.

Nothing fancy. No color. Not even bold or italics. Just text.

Yet, there was a strong sense of community. Countless hours to be wasted. It was great fun.

Now, the right platform can make it easier for people to find your community. It can make it easier to organize content, share responsibilities, and shape behaviors. But, the platform does not matter unless people want to be there.

Choosing the platform is one of the least important decisions. Identify a clear vision, create compelling value to members, and cultivate a bottomless reserve of patience and determination. That’s what will see your new community through.

3. The Big Secret

My most important advice for starting an online community is: don’t do it.

There are millions of online communities and social networks. If your interest is so obscure that no one is yet talking about it online, how will you ever attract enough interest to sustain a community?

Instead of forming a brand new online community, look hard and long for your existing tribe or your existing guild. Odds are good they will welcome your energy and enthusiasm. It’s not just the first follower, but also the second, third, fourth, and thousandth that make a community. You provide an invaluable service by channeling your energy and enthusiasm into an existing venture.

Your Turn

What do you think? Is there room on the world wide web for yet another social network? If you were starting an online community today, what platform would you recommend?

Image credit: Smithsonian Institution (no known copyright)

What is a Like Bomb? Is it Good or Bad?

Some people like bombs, others just Like Bomb.

Among active Facebook users, the term “Like Bomb” describes someone rapidly liking a whole bunch of content on your wall. The question is when, if ever, is this a good thing to do?

Like so much else in life, one person’s trash is another’s treasures. Some people love broccoli, other’s can’t abide it. Some people love seeing a long, raid list of notifications show up. Others, especially those who get Facebook notifications on their cell phone or email Inbox, may find it highly annoying.

And, thus, there’s a simple answer:

  • If you don’t know someone well enough to predict their reaction, it’s probably a bad idea to Like Bomb their Facebook wall.
  • If someone hits your wall hard, it’s fair game to return the favor.
  • If you’re looking to engage with someone on Facebook, hit like a maximum of 3-5 items and craft a heart-felt comment.

Another word of warning: too many likes in a rapid span and you’ll end up in Facebook jail. That’s a temporary (but highly annoying) condition whereby Facebook disables the like (and/or commenting) features for your account.

What do you think? Are you happy or annoyed when someone blows up your Facebook notification stream with a dozen or more likes?

Image Source: The Library of Congress, no known copyright

Have Twitter and Facebook Killed Blogging Yet?

From UW Digital Collections

“I am so totally going to blog about this party.”

Today’s question from Klout:

Are social media websites like Twitter and Facebook killing the blog? Why or why not?

My answer:

I think overall that Twitter and Facebook are helping, rather than hurting, blogs because they make it easier to find good blog content. There’s still an interest in reading (and writing) content that fits better on a blog. Also, many people like the flexibility and control of having their own site.

Additional thoughts…

With so many people on social networking sites, do you think that helps or hurts blogs?

What’s the easiest way to live-blog an event?

Credit: State Library of New South Wales collection

Live-Blogging Old Style

Today’s question from Klout is:

What’s the easiest way to live blog an event and why?

My response (links added here):

What works for me is to live-tweet and then post a collection of tweets as a blog post (a service like Storify makes that easy to do). I like this approach because I can easily monitor or amplify (RT) what others say and also post pictures. Twitter also helps me keep updates short and snappy.

Some additional advice:

  • Have a story arch: introduce the event, post (or paint) a picture of the setting, do your updates during the event, and also provide an acknowledgement of when the event ends. 
  • Provide a summary and highlights, not a transcript!
  • Be generous with credit: live-blogging is a great way to build connections by highlighting interesting things that other people are saying and doing.
  • Engage in dialogue with those following along.
  • Don’t forget to update your live-blog post with relevant links to the event’s official website and other information that will provide useful context for someone who reads the post later.

What do you think makes a good live-blog? Any advice to others who want to live-blog an event

In-Class Activity on Ethics in Social Media

For this week’s meeting of my social media innovation class I created an in-class activity related to ethics and social media.

Activity Structure

The structure of the activity is:

1. Present brief scenarios.

2. Assign student teams to advocate for the “agree” and “disagree” sides of the argument.

3. Give students time to develop those arguments.

4. For each of the three scenarios:

  • Take a vote on student positions.
  • Have the “agree” and “disagree” teams present their arguments.
  • Have any other students also offer justification for their stance.
  • Take another vote to see if positions have changed.

This is the first time I’ve done this activity and I think that structure worked well.

Which path do you choose?

Social Media Scenarios

Here are the three scenarios I created.

Scenario #A: One of your co-workers has signed up for the free version of a direct competitors product. One day they get an email blast about a major customer issue and the email was accidently sent with all of the recipients in the cc field instead of the bcc field. Your co-worker suggests adding all of those email addresses to your company’s marketing email list. Do you agree?

Scenario #B: One of your co-workers is assigned to investigate strengths and weakness of a competitor’s product. They create a website on your company’s intranet (e.g., only viewable by employees) that quotes from every negative consumer review they can find on social media or product review websites. One of your co-workers thinks that info should be posted as an anonymous public website. Do you agree?

Scenario #C: You work for a company with a small but loyal customer base. The company has cash flow problems and is concerned about making the next payroll. It may not be able to pay employees like you! A direct marketing firm offers a substantial amount of money if you will sell them the email list of your customers. Your TOS (terms of service) say you will never sell customers’ personal information but it also says the terms can be unilaterally changed at any time. Do you sell the email list to keep the company afloat?

When I use this activity again, I’ll likely tweak the scenarios a little bit. I’d also love to find videos or real-world examples that could be used instead. (If you know of any, please share!)


In initial voting, the students were divided on Scenarios #A and #C (roughly 25% to 75%). When students changed their mind it was a small movement towards the majority opinion. There was almost no-one voting for the “Agree” side of Scenario #B.

If you’re interested in seeing more details on how I administered this, here’s a copy of the hand-out I created: Prof. Johnson Social Media Ethics Activity.

Thank You

A major thank you to everyone who responded to my Twitter and Facebook requests for input on social media ethical issues. It was very helpful.

What do you think? Are these realistic scenarios? What are other scenarios you think students about to enter the workforce should be well-informed about?

Image credit: Go Away! by Steven L. Johnson

Cheldin Barlatt of @igcreativeinc visits @TempleUniv @FoxSchool #MIS3538

Cheldin Barlatt Rumer (@CheldinBarlatt) visited our Social Media Innovation course on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Here’s a storify summarizing the live-tweeting.

Can Social Media Be Addictive?

Visiting Klout.com today, I was asked to answer this question:

Do you believe social media can be addictive? Why or why not?

Here’s my response:

Yes, social media can absolutely be addictive. Variable, intermittent responses are highly habit-forming. Sometimes you’ll have a response, sometimes not, and it’s impossible to predict. Even when there’s no response, it’s easy to find something new to start that cycle of engagement again.

To learn more about intermittent reinforcements check out this section of the Wikipedia page on reinforcement.

Jessica Lawlor of @VisitBucksPA speaks at @TempleUniv @FoxSchool #TempleMade #MIS3538

A huge thank you to Jessica Lawlor for her visit to my class last evening!

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