Personal Observations

This category contains 12 posts

Consistency is key… oops!

It’s been too long since uploading an article to this blog. I have violated my own personal goal of maintenance and consistency in writing:  and I’m here to apologize to anyone who happens to stop by and read this.

So I’ve decided to post a few resources on this topic, in a quick attempt to get myself back on track. Hope you find these useful in your social media pursuits – and that you will also accept my sincere apology for the distance between this and my last post.

Here we go:

    1. 50 Steps to Establishing a Consistent Social Media Practice by Chris Brogan
    2. 7 Ways To Craft A Consistent Social Media Brand by Kristi Hynes
    3. Social Media and Brand Consistency by Edward Boches
    4. The 15 Commandments of Social Media Communication
    5. 5 Tips for Making a Consistent Social Media Effort by Marlene Friis

Again: my apologies for not sticking to my original intent – and thank you for allowing me to back off, re-group, and attempt to develop my consistency for the future.

One slight reminder, though:  too much of a good thing is bad.  While developing a following via social networks/media/blogging – consistency is a strength.

At the same time, remember Aldous Huxley:
“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.”

Find a happy medium: that’s my goal.

Wish me luck!


Putting a face to email…

VUMail logo

mailVU is a great new opportunity to personalize the online experience, and one that is finding some serious fans in the realm of higher education and online / distance learning courses.

Inherently simple in its approach, mailVU provides a personal touch to email – a method of communication notorious for its lack of personality. I cannot begin to count the number of messages that I’ve received that were embarrassingly inept when it comes to spelling, grammar and structure.

With mailVU, you simple visit the site – record a short message – and send off an email to the recipient. You can choose to have the message self-destruct after a certain number of views, days, or even retract it at will.

An excellent opportunity to put a face in place of the words.

Check it out…

#F**kyouwashington – will it be heard?

fuck you washington trend map

F U Washington trending map


it seems that the media has caught onto the Twitter frustrations boiling up at politicians in Washington – check out CBS News at:

This one got my attention while visiting my new Google+ account…

It seems that a new trend on Twitter is (and pardon my language, but I’m giving you the uncut version to facilitate your search…) #fuckyouwashington

Apparently instigated by Jeff Jarvis over the weekend, it’s starting to trend on Twitter. The question is, as ‘in your face’ as this hashtag is – will it get the necessary attention that it deserves? Is it capable of catching fire? Will twitter users latch on to #fuckyouwashington as a way to send a message to our elected representatives, and if so – will they pay attention.

This has me interested… while it has picked up some steam – it seems overwhelmed by Parking Wars, #amywinehouse and Brett Favre. A little disappointing from the perspective of child of the 60’s, but I’m holding out hopes that this will spark out and get some coverage and some major participation.

Social media as social revolution is fascinating – you get insight as to the how people prioritize things… and it’s not always comforting.

Here’s hoping for a good old-fashion digital sit-in!

Social Intelligence… defining an oxymoron

Social Intelligence HR logobig brother is watching you

There’s a new company on the web – Social Intelligence – that archives your online behavior for up to seven (7) years, to facilitate retrieval within the scope of a background check for employment.

My favorite paragraph on their front page (and this is an excerpt for informational purposes):

“We are not building a “database” on individuals that will be evaluated each time they apply for a job and potentially could be used adversely even if they have cleaned up their profiles. It is important for job applicants to understand we are not storing their historical information to be used against them the next time they apply for a job.” (their emphasis)

There is something so Orwellian about this company it’s sickening. This post will probably end up in their database, and that’s fine. I’ve always been a privacy advocate, and that is not about to change under the threat of these online monitors of personal behavior.

I’ve always lived by the rule –  if I don’t want my grandmother to read it, I’m not publishing it as an update to Twitter, Facebook or any other social network or internet outlet. However, young people don’t always have this foresight. For a company to exist on a providing a product that is technically legal, but morally questionable (such as this one) is troubling to say the least.

I understand the concept of background checks, and don’t dispute their value. What bothers me is that momentary lapses of judgement are now going to be archived for reference by future employers.

This company (accurately) states that they provide information that is legally allowable under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  One question: how many of you have ever had something appear on your credit report, and you’ve attempted to dispute it? How much time does this take? How much effort? And besides, what if you just made a bad decision, and later corrected it?

Too bad.

An article in the New York Post – “How to Protect Your Online Rep” – provides some good oversight into this new info industry, that you should really review.

I think what bothers me the most  – outside of the impetuous nature of youthful mistakes being archived (potentially indefinitely) to be used in screenings (the infamous ‘permanent record’ syndrome)… is that the information shared by these companies can effectively shut down freedom of expression, association and speech.

Think about it – if you know that “liking” a certain group on Facebook that holds politically charged opinions – and the potential of that information is going to be shared with a future employer:  where’s the ability to have an opinion, or to associate with like-minded people?

I’m not worried about what I put out there (if I was, I surely would not have authored this blog post). I believe in the basic rights of our constitution – and I think companies like this (regardless of their legal standing) have the potential for truly destroying the freedoms we are supposed to enjoy.

The phrase ‘slippery slope’ comes to mind…

What do you think?

Social Networks and the Workplace

social networking sites

  • “technology is not just for the geeks, technology is part of our lifestyle…it is part of who we are. However, as we are all coming to learn, it’s not in what we have, it’s in how we use it that says everything about us.”
    Brian Solis 

Do you twitter while at work? Update your Facebook status? Yammer away at colleagues?How does this affect your performance – does it enhance or detract from your efficiency?

Many positions today require the use / integration of social media/networks in order to efficiently service their clients. However; does this integration represent a positive or negative for employers?

This can be a tough call – especially when you consider the paradigm shift in communication that has occurred over the past couple of years. Just as corporate leaders are getting used to email – the shift to social networks begins and the whole game is changing; leaving corporate policies in the dust…

While the inefficient use of social networks within a work environment can be an enormous time-waster, the question is: who determines the valid use within a work environment? It is often made by people who have little (if any) understanding of the capabilities of this new communication medium.

Other companies are rapidly utilizing social networking sites – in ways that could seriously affect you and your future career. A recent study stated that out of 2,667 managers and human resource employers, 45 percent reported they used social networking sites to screen potential employees. (

Be aware of the reasons for utilizing these networks within the parameters of your job, and able to show results that this interaction brings.

Publishing cute kitten photos while at work is not appropriate (unless you work at the Humane Society) – however: getting involved in conversations with people who are involved with your company/organization is a requirement. Be aware of how you / your company is perceived and act accordingly; interface with your clients in a responsible and pro-active manner, to ensure that their needs are met.

A couple of related articles from opposing sides of the issues:

Facebook and other social media cost UK billions
(By Paul Casciato, Reuters August 9, 2010)

Social media and the workplace: Dealing with a new phenomenon
(By James Chilton, The Daily News, April 15 2011)

Viral marketing genius of DirecTV

Lap Giraffe - DirecTV

Lap Giraffe / DirecTV

Ok, this one got my attention… you know those absurdly great DirecTV ads with the miniature giraffe? Now they’ve added a new facet to the campaign:

Sokoblovsky Farms, “Russia’s finest purveyor of Petite Lap Giraffes.”

No kidding. Or, rather – kidding taken to a new level.

A brilliant continuation of a clever marketing campaign, that is already getting people to sign up for “delivery” of a ‘Lap Giraffe’ – which, when you do the math (“you are #63,419 on the list”) means delivery will happen sometime in the next 20,000 years.

Kudos, DirecTV – clever, funny, adorable – and viral. Works all around.

How to **** a career in 140 characters or less…

Twitter image of chrysler rant
It seems that a recent tweet released via the ‘official’ Twitter account of Chrysler has cost a young man his “dream job” with the automaker.

Frustrated by Detroit traffic, it appears that the young man decided to rant about other drivers: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive”

Unfortunately – that Tweet was intended for his friends, but he accidentally fed it through the Chrysler corporate Twitter account.

Chrysler immediately took action: they fired the firm he worked for (losing jobs for about 20 other people in the area) – and he was terminated by the agency he worked for.

This was unfortunate. He loved his job – but he didn’t take steps to ensure that it would last. This is a recent college graduate; not someone vaguely familiar with social media.  Life teaches you some rough lessons, once college is finished with you – and this is one of the worst.

It was avoidable, though. That’s the frustrating thing about it. He seems like a nice enough guy – but seriously, when you are directly responsible for the public image of a corporation that large, you don’t take risks. The tweet was released from his phone while he was sitting in traffic in the metro Detroit area.

First of all – Michigan law prohibits texting (which, it could be argued, this qualifies as).  Second – the whole rebirth of Chrysler – unveiled with that 2 minute Super Bowl commercial (“Imported from Detroit”) is geared to promoting the city and its automotive industry. Shooting out a tweet that is diametrically opposed to your biggest client’s point of view is just downright suicide.

I’m sorry he learned his lesson this way; but being totally honest here – I’m not sure he’s selected the proper career choice. Yes, we have freedom of speech in this country; but you also have a responsibility to people who are paying your salary. Negative comments and rants – if necessary at all – should be done privately.

It wasn’t even the expletive that got him canned – it was his critical rant.  (C’mon – Eminem was the Chrysler spokesperson…)

Professionals must be professional. Clients must be able to count on you.

This young man dropped the ball.

The Role of Social Media

Japan Crisis image from MSNBC

by Stephen Stofflet

This baby boomer (me) is amazed on a daily basis. The speed with which information is transmitted  internationally blows my mind.

While I was growing up, it was the newspaper – backed up by the nightly news from NBC. Today it’s Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds – immediate information flying through the digital  landscape to land on my desktop.

Initially, I really noticed the effect during the last presidential campaign and the incredibly effective way Obama’s team put the internet to work.

The recent events in Egypt, Bahrain, and Japan have demonstrated the power of that people hold in their hands. The power to tell the truth – to share their stories – to help.

The world is watching – and caring.

Power to the people (… and the animals!)


New Media Driver’s License

New Media Driver's License Logo

image from website

Now that the holiday season has retreated, and my life is calming down a bit, I wanted to revisit the New Media Driver’s License course that I recently took at Michigan State University this past fall.  I’ve developed this blog to focus on Social Media/Networking – and this course really contributed to the excitement I have towards this developing field.

As an introduction to my background: I currently support an online MS program at MSU for the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology.

My interest in enrolling in the New Media Driver’s License course was centered around my career:  I wanted to ensure that my (and my department’s) efforts in social media marketing / networking were being utilized effectively. I’ve been active on the Internet since the mid-1990’s (when there were all of five or six people out there), but I wanted to make sure that I was headed in a direction that would be productive.

My initial interest was captured by the fact that it is offered predominantly online: there are only two classroom meetings – at the beginning and the end of the course. The rest of the material is shared in an online learning environment, and that is where the true strength of this course lies.

Derek Mehraban of Ingenex Digital Marketing in Ann Arbor, MI and Michael Lorenc of Google AdWords (Canada) are the two instructors of the course.  Their experience in the field is extensive, and they share this through a well-designed series of assignments that actually require you to become an active presence in social media.

This hands-on approach to the subject is where the learning happens. I’ve always been more effective in courses that involved me – made me participate in some way (as opposed to sitting and listening to lectures). That’s exactly what this course does, and the end result is a sense of proficiency and accomplishment that I’ve found in few educational courses.  Your assignments get you involved in the world of social media, help you create your online identity, make you feel comfortable in this electronic-relationship-building world of tweets, blog posts, and online conversations.

For anyone interested in social marketing, social networking, online relationship building – this course provides some solid information, helps you to develop effective and novel approaches to creating/marketing a brand identity, and provides a solid support system.

The final class meeting surrounded effective Powerpoint presentations, through utilizing style examined in the book Presentation Zen.  The students were asked to choose a company, and develop a 10 slide powerpoint that would effectively convey a marketing concept for the product/company/brand they selected.  These presentations were then posted to – and a selected group of them were shared with the class on the final day.

Check out some of the student work at the NMDL site.

I Survived…

Well, it’s over. The social media course that I was part of (New Media Driver’s License) at Michigan State University has ended. I survived. In fact, I did pretty well.

The fact that it culminated with a presentation in front of 150 students (virtually all of them at least 20 years younger than me) was mildly intimidating, but I pushed myself out there and did it.

You know what? I’m glad I did.

The course was outstanding in that it forces you to practice what you’re being taught. It gets you involved from the start, keeps you going, is clear in its expectations – and by the end of it, you sink or swim.

I swam.

And it felt good…