Category Archives: Communication

You Are Never Alone as a Blogger

I had a discussion last night with a long-time prominent blogger. During our conversation, we naturally strayed towards writing and community building, topics with which we are both very familiar. This is someone who puts out extremely high-quality content on a daily basis. He is constantly pushing the limits, drawing in new people with his wisdom, humor and beautiful style. I couldn’t help but ask how the heck he manages to maintain his blog with such consistency year after year. I was quite relieved with the answers given.

I’m not the only person out there in blogger-land who sometimes wonders what the heck I’m doing this for. It’s not only me who feels that it’s insanely difficult to make your voice heard above the crowd, nor am I the first person to think that I must be nuts to keep going. My friend not only experiences these same thoughts and feelings, he pointed to many other well-known writers who are in the same boat. We’re all rowing as hard as we can to reach shore. I’m starting to think, though, that that shoreline shouldn’t be our goal.

Reaching the shore means the end of a journey. I don’t know about you, but I think my trip is still in its early stages. There is so much out there I want to see, do and conquer online, both personally and professionally. Why am I trying so hard to get my feet back on solid ground? I’m not adrift or lost at sea… I’m merely checking out previously uncharted territories to figure out where all I may fit.

Burnout is a common theme amongst us all. Fear of never “making it” haunts each of us on a daily basis. We’re pushing ourselves every day to try and write more, be more creative and stand out. We pretend to be friends with those who we “compete” against instead of creating actual connections and relationships. That needs to end. We are alienating each other instead of developing bonds which will in turn make us stronger.

We shouldn’t be competing with anyone other than ourselves. Blogger A and Writer B can both be wildly successful – even if they write about the exact same thing. There are billions of people online and I’m pretty sure they each visit more than one website. Having real friendships with other writers allows you to stretch your mind in different directions. It can and will open up new possibilities for your writing style and rang of topics. Debating current issues with your peers – whether you’re discussing politics or tech – can strengthen the influence you have with your own readers.

One of the biggest keys to maintaining the level of output we expect of ourselves is to remember that we are not alone.

How Many Followers Do You Have?

For many of you, the entire point of having an online presence is to be seen. Getting as much exposure as you can is the name of the game, but at what price? Too often, I see people focusing so much energy on their number of likes and followers that they seem to have forgotten why the heck they wanted or needed exposure to begin with.

Hat tip to Frills in the Hills for this amazing picture!

These days, you can practically buy followers. There are so many of you out there rabid about counting your community members and seeing how well the numbers tally up. The higher that bottom line is, the happier and more important you feel. When was the last time you stopped to actually interact in any meaningful way with that community, though? Talking with them involves far more than throwing links their way or saying thank you for the #FF or reTweets. Interaction and engagement levels count for much more than a bunch of stupid numbers.

Behind the person or company on the Twitter profile and Facebook page, there needs to be something worth getting involved with. You need to have a kickass product or service – period. Working your tail off to build some mythical “perfect” Facebook Page doesn’t mean squat if what your company stands for is crap. Your social profiles aren’t what make you great… YOU are. Why then does it matter how many people like or follow you?

People who truly enjoy who you are and what you do will follow you, yes. But I guarantee there are a LOT of people out there who simply follow anyone they feel is “important.” This pads the numbers you’re so proud of in a way. The bottom line isn’t a true account of people that care about what you’re doing and saying. I know that it’s impossible to weed through them and tell the difference. I wish I had an answer as to how to figure that part out.

The bottom line is that you have to stop worrying so damn much about how many likes, follows and community members you have. Focus your attention on building a great product or service and THEN go out and engage those people you want to market to. Talk to them. Interact with them. Treat them like people – and not like numbers.

Is Social Media Driving You Crazy?

There is a lot of noise on the Internet. We are inundated with photos, videos, music and words to the point we have to start filtering some of it out or go insane. I’m starting to wonder, though, if we are driving ourselves crazy in the process. Are we going deaf and blind? How much good content are we missing out on when we tune out and turn off? It’s obviously not feasible to read/hear/watch everything out there. The key is going to have to be to balance what we’re consuming online – filtering out the noise while taking in the important stuff. How the hell do we pull that off?

Decide what’s really important to you. What is it you want to get out of social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook? Take the time to decide which types of things you feel add value to your day and which just provide background noise. Make a point of weeding through your lists and get rid of anyone who just seems to be there for the heck of it.

You may feel important when you follow a lot of people, but what good is that really doing you? Are you learning anything? Have you gained any type of knowledge, insight or satisfaction from each of these users? Do they at least make you laugh once in a while? Why do you keep following those whom do nothing more than annoy you when you see their constant drivel wind its way through your timelines?

Filtering out noise will keep you a whole lot more sane, I promise. I’m not saying you can’t have fun and follow people who make you laugh. Watch videos that are comedic in nature only. Listen to your favorite tunes or the newest smash hit from that unknown artist. You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from the “unimportant” things and people… you just need to find a better way to balance that with the things and persons who will add true value to your day and your life.

Can You Be Swayed?

Swayable may be a fairly new website, but its traffic is already growing by leaps and bounds. It’s quite addictive to sit and click a button, choosing the fate of one thing or person over another. Think the bunny is cuter than the horse? Sway it. Sure that Ballmer is better than Jobs? Sway him, too. There are hundreds of categories to choose from, along with a never-ending stream of new Sways to judge.

There’s some measure of perverse thrill sent through our brains each time we click that little voting button. Whether you’re being mean and picking the worst pics to “win” or being honest in your selections, site stats show that many users are becoming addicted to this site.

Swayable makes it easy to share things when you’re on the go. Take pictures of two different things with your iOS device (Android isn’t available – yet!), come up with a caption or question and click a button to send it all through SMS, email and the Swayable site.

This application isn’t just for fun, y’all. You can use it to quickly get opinions from friends and family prior to making a large purchase, renting a new home or even just choosing which outfit to wear out on the town. We tend to be our own worst critics, and that can make it tough to always make the right decision. Crowdsourcing answers is always one of the best ways to get things done, and Swayable makes that a snap. Life is all about choices, after all!

For the record – Wicket and Pixie are far cuter than any pooch I’ve seen on the Swayable site at this point. I don’t think I can pit them against each other though… they’re equally adorable. How can I ask someone to choose between them?!

How to Buy a Home Using Technology

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Can new media help the real estate industry? Years ago, you used to be able to place an ad in the paper and receive almost guaranteed results. At the time, that’s where people’s eyes were. Now, potential home buyers are spending their time on social networks like Facebook and Twitter instead of reading the local newspaper. It’s for this reason that companies like Century 21 have expanded their public reach in to the realm of new media.

Just like many of you out there, I happen to own a house. While visiting BlogWorld, I noticed a booth from a real estate company. That shocked me, since this venue is not normally a place you’d see this type of business having a booth at.

Century 21 is still a real estate company, yes. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way they talk to consumers. By visiting conferences such as BlogWorld, Century 21 and other businesses are able to connect with people face-to-face in a relaxed atmosphere in ways they couldn’t otherwise.

This is a much different type of scale for the companies. Part of the effort is to let people know of all of the social media properties out there, so that they can get involved with the brand.

When I bought my first house back in the late 90s, it was so difficult to find information online. Blogging as it is now didn’t really exist. Forget “social media” as you use it today. None of that was around. I wanted to do things though when researching that the Internet simply wasn’t ready to do.

The second time I bought a home a few years ago, I was able to learn everything I could possibly want – and then some – just by logging in to my computer. I found blogs and podcasts and tools and ways to connect with my realtor, my company and my own mind.

I’ve always trusted technology to help me make decisions. Talking with Matt from Century 21 helped me realize exactly how much more my beloved tech is being ingrained into every aspect of our lives.

This video was filmed during a live broadcast from the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO 2011 in New York.

How to Communicate More Effectively

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Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the sheer mass of communication apps and networks, phone numbers and text messages constantly flowing around you? Have you ever carried on a conversation that spanned across multiple communication channels? What starts out as a text message can quickly become a series of tweets and a mountain of email. This is where Meshin comes in.

Meshin, first available on Outlook initially launching for mobile on the Android platform, is an all-in-one solution for keeping in touch. Instead of having an email sent to your phone and then having to respond via a text message, you’ll just centralize your communication with Meshin. Likewise, it can consolidate your communications from Facebook and Twitter.

Why are you wasting so much time using fifteen different platforms and applications to keep in touch? You’re expending time and energy that you simply don’t need to. Meshin’s mission (I bet you can’t say that three times quickly!) is to help you get rid of all of the clutter and confusion. We don’t have enough time in the day as it is and are always looking for ways to save time. What better way could there be than to trim unnecessary lines of communication?

Currently, the application has the ability to understand the information inside of your communications, and is being funded by Xerox. Being able to integrate your phone, email address, text messages, Facebook messages and Tweets into ONE place is simply a beautiful thing.

How do you communicate with others? How many applications and devices do you use each day to talk to people? Let us hear your horror stories in the comments section. When was the last time you had a conversation that spanned more than one means of communication?

This video was filmed during a live broadcast from the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO 2011 in New York.

Why are Tech Conferences Important?

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As I was setting up the podcast booth for BlogWorld Expo the other day, one of our community members asked on Twitter if tech conferences are even still relevant. I felt it was important to address this question, especially given the timing of it coming in while I am here. Being a geek, I tend to stay indoors a lot. I don’t get out often enough which means I don’t make face-to-face connections often enough. One of the largest – if not most critical – reasons to attend any type of conference is to make those types of connections and form bonds with others.

Getting out of the house sometimes is a good thing. Flying across the country to attend this conference is a great way to meet new people, even if it’s a little scary. Actually talking to someone while looking into their eyes makes a much more powerful impact. These types of connections are often much stronger than others you can make and will stay strong once you’re back home and only speaking with them online.

People you meet online are definitely real friends and connections. However, nothing will ever replace honest-to-goodness REAL face time. We’re human beings, and we want to connect with others. Meeting someone in “real” life can help boost your own confidence and sense of self. Going back to your social media networks to continue the conversations will then have a lot more meaning for both of you – and your community.

Yes, you’re going to go to a tech conference to learn about the hottest new items and developments. However, most anyone will tell you that the networking that goes on between and after sessions are far more important than the actual content at any given event. Yes me – the introvert and Great Indoorsman – is telling you to get out of your house and meet people!

Why Should Celebrities Use Social Media?

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Dave Peck, a force in new media since 2004, has been behind some of the biggest social media campaigns in the industry. In this interview, he discusses how celebrities are connecting with their fans through social networking, and how productions have benefited from live tweeting.

Dave considers himself as working in interactive PR. He’s been fortunate to interview some pretty cool people lately, including Antonio Sabato Jr, Jerry Ryan, Kenny Loggins and Lou Diamond Phillips. These celebrities are learning the power of social media and connecting with fans via Twitter. While their respective television shows are on, the actors leverage Twitter to connect with their followers during air time.

I happen to be friends with Survivor host Jeff Probst. One of the things that helps keep his site so insanely active is the fact that he live Tweets during shows. He engages the community with questions – and by answering their queries. The traffic on his website spikes into the ozone every time the show airs… and Jeff’s direct involvement in social media is one of the largest reasons. It proves once again that celebrities can and should be using the power of services such as Twitter.

When a celebrity shares themselves online, they are making themselves less of a “star” and more of a human. It allows them to make real connections with people, and it reminds all of us that no one is “above” us in any way. We’re all on the same level, y’all – every one of you is just as human as anyone else. Using social media can help level that playing field.

Ashton Kutcher believes in the power of social so much that he went out and developed his own Twitter client. Aplus was created with Adobe Air, so it works cross-platform. It’s a solid piece of software – even if you aren’t a fan of Ashton’s. You have the option to remove the information about the man himself, and use the app in the ways that work for you.

How To Stay Secure While Using Social Media

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Is location-based social media an incredibly innovative technology that will garner relationships and bring them to the real world, or a creepy way to help evildoers find out where you are, or where you aren’t? One thing is for sure, this new trend is big business and a lot of money is being thrown at companies that are at the forefront.

SchneiderMike knows a thing or two about this latest trend and where it may be headed. In this interview we cover topics including the hype behind Color, security, and the future of location-based social networking.

Tech Interruption is dedicated to arguing about the tech issues of today and trying to predict the future. They have had some pretty serious heavy-hitting guests on their show in the past and tend to focus on what’s hot at any moment in time – which is why they’re so focused on location-based technology right now.

Mike and I were laughing that BlogWorld was happening in the same building at the same time as a book expo. It’s confusing, eh? Who reads books? Mike quickly jumped in to tell me about a recent conversation with his publisher. He would love to see more communication between readers while they are reading. He’d love to see people put notes and treat it more like a community while reading something on your device of choice. I’m surprised someone like Amazon hasn’t thought of this yet.

There’s a group trying to take textbooks to this level – at least on the iPad – but I don’t know about regular old novels. Anyone can publish and sell a book and anyone can read one. There’s just no glue to hold everyone together. There needs to be something ridiculously awesome in order to pull people together in this way.

So how could location-based services be used around books? It might be interesting to see where people are that are reading the same thing you are. It’s hard to peg down what people want to see and know about others, which is why we’re not seeing anything much in the way of “fast” innovation in this area.

People are giving out so much information about themselves. They throw it out there without realizing the possible ramifications. You have to be completely serious and conscious about who you’re pushing your location to online. The most important thing is you – your family, your life and your safety. Before giving out your location to anyone, ask yourself if it is something you need to do and check to see who it’s going out to. What are they going to do with this information? Is it going to bring any value to yourself or others?

Be sure to check out what Mike and the rest of the Tech Interruption team are up to. They’ve got some fantastic work ethics and a lot of passion.

Webgrrls Empowers Women in Technology

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Webgrrls International is a forum to exchange job and business leads, network, form strategic alliances, mentor and teach, intern and learn the skills needed to succeed in an increasingly technical workplace and world. In this interview with Nelly Yusupova during BlogWorld, we discuss the challenges women face in business, and how Webgrrls helps women to get ahead in business through networking and technology.

Webgrrls helps women to leverage the power of technology and tools to empower themselves. Even if you’re not completely geeky, there are still many benefits to you. The organization has been in existence since 1995, and has members from every walk of life, age, race and technology background. The organizers and other members can help teach you the tech you need to know to succeed and reach your goals.

I was shocked and happy to see the number of women walking around the floors during BlogWorld. Nelly says that it’s almost a “non-question” these days. The tech sector is not just dedicated to men. More and more women are coming forward and proving that they are just as highly capable as their male counterparts. She’s quick to point out that women have a lot of potential power as developers, even, and need to stop being afraid to show it.

As the CTO of Webgrrls, Nelly says her biggest challenge is keeping up with everything and everyone. You need to have a strategy, and hold yourself back from jumping ahead too quickly. It’s better to do fewer things the right way than to try to go after too many things just to be on the “cutting edge.”

Blogging has transformed female-oriented communities and helped give them the power to step forward. Webgrrls has over 30,000 members and is rapidly expanding to include more females from around the world. There is strength in numbers – even when it comes to helping women connect and conquer the tech scene.