Entries Tagged 'Community' ↓

Plan before you post that vacation picture

Oceans, yummy food, the family having fun… They’re all moments you want to share when you’re on vacation. But before you head out on your big family trip for the summer, you might want to think about who is reading your social media posts about your epic trip. There are steps you can take in person and online to make sure your sharing doesn’t put you, your home or belongings at risk.

Neighborhood Talk
The first thing I’d recommend is making sure you have someone stopping by your house to make sure it is safe while you’re away. A house sitter is a great way to know for sure your home is getting the love and attention it deserves.

With or without a house sitter, you also want to to visit the neighbors you know well and let them know when you will be out of town and what your house sitter’s car looks like. Ask them to keep an eye on anything that may look strange.

There are also a few more traditional things you will want to do:
     *Cancel your mail service
     *Contact your local police department to let them know you’re out of town. (Some police departments
         have online forms to help alert them about your vacation plans.)
     *Arrange for grass mowing, leaf raking, or snow shoveling.
     *Make sure all of your doors and windows are locked, including garage doors.
     *Don’t leave keys hidden outside.
     *Put lights on timers. (You can also put the TV on a timer.)

Social Settings
If you want to share stories about your trip on social media, you will want to assess your sharing settings. Do you trust all of the people you connect with on Facebook? If not, it’s time to create friend lists. You can see how to create lists in this step-by-step guide I created for anyone who has already joined Facebook. Make sure when you share information on Facebook, you are comfortable with who can see it.

Other social sites are more public and have fewer privacy settings. If you have public accounts on Twitter, Vine and Instagram, do not forget that anyone can search your accounts and see your mentions of vacation online. I used to post a lot of vacation photos on Instagram but now it’s easy to visit my Instagram page from a web browser. That means you do not have to be an Instagram user to see my posts. I’m not saying you shouldn’t post about your vacation on public social media sites, but if you didn’t take precautions at your home *before* you left town, you should be more wary about posting your travel information.

One of my favorite social media travel options is creating an account on Tumblr that doesn’t tie to my name to post photos, videos and quotes from your vacation without tying it back to the social media sites you normally share. I have used Tumblr to capture our yearly vacation for the last three years and it’s turned into a really cool family photo album. It also gets my need to share photos and stories about our trip online without broadcasting our travel on larger social networks.

I tend to take a lot of photos and do not have time to organize them after the trip. I give myself time during my vacation to upload most of my photos to a Flickr account. My privacy settings allow only a small collection of friends and family to see my photos.

With a little bit of preparation before your trip, capturing the cool moments on social media is possible and can be a lot of fun.

If you have extra question or thoughts about travel, join me and Samantha Brown in a Facebook chat at 2pm ET on June 18th.

Online to reality

Almost two years ago, a friend who used to teach at Mizzou introduced me to a mom who was connecting with other professional moms. We both happened to know a lot of the same women in the mom blog world. Not long after that, Hollee Schwartz Temple asked me for a favor: to review her new book, Good Enough is the New Perfect. She wrote it along with Becky Beaupre Gillespie and focused the writing on research that helps us all better understand where many women are finding success and failure with work/life balance. The book looks at research that finds type-a moms or “never enoughs” tend to be more stressed and unhappy than moms who allow moments of imperfection. The “good enoughs” are okay with store-bought food or skipping a soccer practice.

I enjoyed the book and blogged about it on Born Just Right back in 2011. After the blog post, Hollee and I became Facebook friends. We would talk there and on Twitter from time to time.

Fast forward to this week. Our local women’s network invited Hollee to speak about her book and research. We finally had a chance to meet! We had breakfast together, I helped shoot video of her speech and I quickly discovered I’m SO glad we had a chance to meet online because we were meant to meet in person. Moving a friendship that starts online and moves into the real world is one of my favorite parts of being in the social media world. I’ve met people from around the world who I would have never known and when we can actually meet in person, the relationship just grows. It is never awkward for me because the person I appear online is exactly who I am in person.

I’m looking forward to my next chance to meet up with Hollee… and many, many more people as I move into my next career.

Groups are your secret to community

This post was originally written for Dubtizzle on 8.28.12:
Facebook Pages are a great way to extend your public relationship for yourself or your brand. Facebook Subscribe lets you share your personal posts in a public way. As your news feed fills with branding and professional talk (kind of like when Twitter feeds automatically appeared on LinkedIn), you may lose track of actual conversations. There was a time when you could post a question on Twitter or Facebook and you could get a stream of input. It just is not as easy as it used to be.

Mind you, my streams are loud. I have 1,786 friends on Facebook and like or subscribe to more than 2,000 brands or people. When I post a public item, my 50,000+ subscribers have a chance to comment. I follow 5,649 brands and people on Twitter from years and years of using the service. (I started in 2007.) Clearly, my most dominant social media tools are “loud” with nonstop chatter.

You don’t need that many people and brands to feel overwhelmed and watch conversations disappear into the social ether.

Enter Facebook Groups. Sure, there are LinkedIn Groups but where are you when you want to build conversations with customers or clients? How can you grow a relationship with your most committed brand supporters? If Facebook comes to mind, you’re probably right. The difference between Groups and Pages? Groups give you a more personal space to talk to a members-only collection of people.

Groups have different settings depending on how private or public you want your conversations. Secret groups are invite-only. Closed groups are request or invite only but the group names are searchable on Facebook. And then there are open groups. Open groups are searchable and anyone can join. Groups become a more directed conversation than the type of posts you add on a fan page. (Pages use the kind of posts that encourage conversation but also likes and shares.)

There’s another secret you may not know about Facebook groups. Not only is it a great way to create an extra relationship with potential brand ambassadors, you can find groups that benefit your career as well. There are groups for every topic you can think of. Many are focused on career-minded topics that help benefit the members. Other groups help people of similar careers share stories of success and failure. Groups can even be created just to help manage a project.

Let’s say you are a photography business and you want to grow a more personal relationship with your customers or potential customers. Using your Facebook page, you can invite your fans to join an open or closed group where you can share special tips and answer photography questions. (A closed group would require you to approve member requests.) From that group, you may find a small number of super fans who want to spread the word about your business. You could invite them to a special secret group where you can offer special deals or tips. You could even brainstorm ways to spread the word about your awesome business.

Facebook groups are one of the few places where I find I’m participating in excellent debates, conversations and updates on parts of my job that matter to me. At times, it may seem like it’s a spot where only the “cool kids” hang out. But the real power behind it is when you can’t find a group you want to join, just make one of your own. Invite friends, colleagues or clients. It just depends on what you want to get out of the group experience. If there’s any piece of advice to make a Facebook group experience really work for you, it’s to just try it and make it your own.

Learning and changing for a traditional audience

Last September my newsroom took a jump into an uncharted path of merging social media with broadcast. We had had moments of success leading up to the U_News show that gave us the bravery to do things differently. We had a schedule opening after Oprah ended her show. That’s when we launched U_News@4 #SarahHill. We blended conversations online and on air using social media and Google+ hangouts. As our online audience grew around the world, our local audience never caught on quickly. In a world where traditional broadcast still relies on the majority of its funding from on air advertisement, our station continued to look for a way to create a new show and new revenue opportunities.

From the start, our team tried to learn and create without having access to analytical data that can show us the potential financial opportunity that hides inside social media-based audiences. U_News anchor, Sarah Hill, has steadily grown as a powerhouse of interactivity with an online and on air audience. If you’ve ever watched her juggle an on air segment and casually speak with a Google+ hangout during sound bites and commercial segments, you’ll see an incredible ease to communicate with two different news audiences. That ease doesn’t exist in the sales world. At least not yet. How can we take the power of her 900,000+ circles inside Google+ and translate that into funding for our news station? We don’t have answers just yet.

In January, the hour long U_News broadcast was moved from 4pm to 11am and moved to a 30 minute format. The interactivity and show content remained similar. But it wasn’t enough of a change for our traditional audience. Instead of canceling the show, we’re making more changes. KOMU plans to scale back on how we present interactivity in a way our audience is more willing to accept. U_News’ major changes are the show’s time (noon), name and format changes to boost its professionalism. The dominance of social media will be toned down. But it isn’t canceled and we will continue to use Google+ and other social media tools. This is partly the challenge of bringing new delivery to a traditional space. It’s also proof of the challenge of creating audience in new ways but not having the ability to measure the audience for sales to find non-traditional ways to fund the newscast.

The biggest lesson we’ve learned: When you try to launch new efforts on the news side of a broadcast environment, you need the sales side to also innovate.

Our efforts to bring more education and awareness to our market isn’t over. We will continue to share our skills with the community and encourage more participation in our market. So if you hear how KOMU’s interactive newscast was canceled, that’s wrong. It’s moving, it’s constantly changing and because I’m lucky to work here, we’ll continue to share the lessons we’re learning.

I’m lucky to work in a newsroom that is willing to take risks. I’m lucky to work in an industry that is trying to find ways to be flexible with an increasingly inflexible funding base. I’m also trying to learn how to better blend my skills with the growing entrepreneurial nature of the industry. Where do you balance your drive to do good journalism while seeking out funding in a traditional environment? Is the traditional newsroom more motivated to find non-traditional funding? If so, when it is right or wrong to cross the line of journalist versus sales? I’m not sure. So I’m hoping to keep track of how other broadcast stations are innovating and blending online and on air and finding ways to monetize. My favorite person of late is Matt Markovich at KOMO News in Seattle. He’s playing with live online broadcast and finding ways to gain sponsorship and an audience. It’s fun to watch and I hope KOMU will continue to experiment and report back what we’re learning.

At the same time, we aren’t backing away from the communities we’ve built and continue to build online. It may look different on air, but we will continue to learn, grow and help as journalism changes.

Relief through social

The devastation in Joplin, MO had consumed my focus and the attention of my newsroom. I found my connections through social media allows me to offer support, guidance and community like no other.

I took a little time to explain how I harnessed the power of Facebook to coordinate relief efforts. You can read it on MediaShift. I’ll try to write more soon… But my work has priority right now.