The “dip in” theory of social media

After asking me “how can I unfriend someone on Facebook and will they know?”, the second-most common question I hear from clients and course participants is “How do you have time to keep up with social media?”

I have a few answers, starting mostly with tapping my smartphone and suggesting they might need one too (honestly, I need all the help I can get and a smartphone makes me a tad smarter, or at least more able to do stuff when I get a spare moment), they may well need to lock themselves in the bathroom to read their Twitter stream but most importantly, you don’t have to keep up with everything!

Using smartphones on the train (to keep up with social media?!) via Retinafunk

When I show people how to use their Facebook news feed or to follow people on Twitter, they often ask “How can I delete all those updates when I’ve read them?” People want to start again with a clean slate. They want to think they’ve seen everything or, perhaps more importantly, not missed anything. I always try to explain that social media just doesn’t work like that. You have to “dip in” when you can, have a look around, have a few conversations, share something, find new people or pages, and then head back out again into the real world. Whether you have time to do this for five minutes a day, or thirty minutes twice a week, or whatever, that’s your social media time budget and that’s fine.

In an interesting piece on social media rejection, the ever-wise Valerie Khoo has some sage words:

For those of you getting overwhelmed by the number of Tweets you are viewing, just remember … you don’t have to read every single one of them. That’s just insane. I thought Twitter was best described by US technology journalist and uber-podcaster Leo Laporte. He suggests that you think of Twitter like a river. And every so often you stand on the bridge that crosses the river and watch what goes by. You don’t have to keep up with what went past a few hours (or days) ago and you can step off the bridge at any time. But while you’re on it, you may choose to interact and respond to whatever you see going past at the time.

My sentiments exactly! Never, ever feel like you need to keep up with everything on social media. That’s not the point of it. I know, for example, that on Twitter feeds I manage, I schedule the same message to run a few different times simply because that’s the way it works – people just pop in now and again and see what’s there at the time.

So relax. Dip in, enjoy, then get out and do something else. That’s social media. Easy!

Social media is evolving. Fast!

Every month or two on a Saturday morning I get to take a lovely drive along the river to get to the Futuresphere at Christchurch Grammar School here in Perth – it’s the venue for all my computer lab-based courses for UWA Extension. Without fail I pass by large bunches of cyclists enjoying the relatively quiet roads and the scenic route along the Swan and it always puts me in just the right frame of mind to meet and teach a new group. It’s become quite a nice routine over the last couple of years!

Part of my driving view – thanks to borkazoid

This morning I headed off in beautiful sunny weather (yes, slightly jealous of those who could enjoy one of the first warm days here) and taught a half-day course called “Facebook, Twitter and more”. It’s basically an introductory course to Facebook and Twitter with a little preview of other social media thrown in (this time, that included Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+).

Anyway, what struck me about this course on my drive home (not so scenic – I drive a more direct way then, keen to get home to my family) is how much it and its audience has changed over the last couple of years. Sure, Facebook specifically and social media in general have both changed a lot since I started teaching this classes but what’s changed more is what people know about them. They really know a lot.

(Computer lab pic from FailedImitator – not the same computer lab that I teach in!)

Back when this class began it was called “Safe social networking” and it was squarely aimed at parents of teenagers. It sold out for the first three or four runs. Then the parents stopped needing to come. They were all on Facebook already, I think! So we rejigged the course a little and it became a social media introduction (and Facebook in particular) for pretty much anyone. This kind of worked, but this morning at least half the class already had some experience of Facebook and Twitter and even more surprisingly (for me), they didn’t need it for personal use, but they wanted to learn how to use Facebook and other social media to help promote their businesses. I was pretty amazed – this is a huge shift in knowledge in probably less than eighteen months. But it does make me feel like I’m in the right business 😉 As long as I can keep up with all the changes!

Facebook scheduling: For my clients whose eyes glaze over when I explain Hootsuite

I work with all kinds of different clients, but increasingly, a whole swag of them have a Facebook business page, and complain that they don’t have time to update it as regularly as I’m advising them too.

In the past, I’ve advised them to use scheduling sites like Hootsuite, but in most cases, I can already see their eyes glazing over as I’m explaining how it works, and I can see them thinking – *another* site I have to remember how to log in to?

Thankfully, Facebook seems to have figured this out … find out more at my Amanda Kendle Consulting blog post Save some time with Facebook scheduling.

How can I unfriend my Facebook friend? Yes, people always ask!

“How can I unfriend my Facebook friend?”

If I had a dollar for every time somebody asked this question at one of my social media talks or course, I would be quite a lot richer. I must say, it makes me giggle that people who are just learning how to use Facebook are already so keen to know how they can “unfriend” someone they allowed to be friends with them in the first place – but I know that in the flurry of seeing familiar old faces it’s easy to “friend” people who you later don’t really want to have so much contact with.

Get the answer over at my Amanda Kendle Consulting blog post – How can I delete my Facebook friend?

Looking better online: Optimising your online presence course

My “Optimising Your Online Presence” workshop was inspired by an unfortunate googling incident – as I described in my post on googling yourself – but the workshop itself turned into a very fortunate incident indeed! It was the coming together of a great variety of professionals in Perth – authors, a language teacher, several artists, small business owners of various sorts and even a cheese maker. I told the group before we started the day that I had at least six thousand things I wanted to tell them, but that I’d tried to keep it down to just the most important one thousand of them – I’m not sure I succeeded, but it was a whole lot of fun trying.

Before the course, I did some good old “practice what I preach” and googled all the names on my class role. They were all a bit surprised when I told them I’d been checking up on them – but that’s the modern world and I was a bit shocked that nobody had googled me when they enrolled in the course. What if I turned out to be a chocolate-loving, crazy nerd? (Oh, I am. Well, it seems nobody minded too much.)

Each of the participants was at a different stage of their “online development” – some had well-established websites and Facebook pages while others were just starting out, with some still in the early days of start-up of their business itself (how wise of them to come on this kind of course already, I thought). For those with established sites, I made them sit through a website audit – watching a new user look around their site (they were often surprised to see where people clicked).

We spent quite a lot of time playing with Facebook, tweaking little bits like what I call the “ugly number” that Facebook pages have in their URL until you are able to replace it with a custom URL, as well as talking big picture stuff like how to create engaging content and get your “likers” involved with your page. I also managed to explain a few of the confusions of Twitter, though it remains to be seen if I converted too many to using it – I adore Twitter, but I think most people need to explore it several times before they see the fun and usefulness of it. We covered lots of other areas too: optimising your website, having a blog, and looking at other social media possibilities like Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Big thanks to all the people who came along – I hope you had as much fun as I did, although if you’re even half as exhausted as I am after our long busy day, I apologise! In the spirit of sharing and caring, here’s a list of some of the participants from today – hop over to their (sometimes new) Facebook pages and tell them I sent you!

Amanda Kendle Consulting newsletters are in the world!

A few of you (who I trusted wouldn’t mind being added to my mailing list) will already have received the first edition of my newsletter last month. If that’s not you (or it might be you, but it disappeared into your spam so you never saw it), and you’re keen to know all the latest news from me on blogging, social media, courses I’m running, meet-ups I’m hosting and how much chocolate I’m eating, then you can subscribe below. Easy! And thanks.

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Why googling yourself is smart, not vain

Last year I sat in a presentation being given by a social media expert, and I have to admit, my mind started to drift a little. I hadn’t heard of this man before, and I’m not going to be a big meanie and tell you his name, but the conference programme blurb did make him sound like a well-qualified expert and I was hoping to learn plenty during his presentation.

I tried to pay attention but after I’d realised I probably wouldn’t learn much from him, I became curious enough to google him on my smartphone. (I hoped it would just look like I was taking notes!)

Ouch. On the first page of search results, two of the top five links were to newspaper stories about him that weren’t entirely complimentary (and perhaps more worryingly were about different incidents). He didn’t have his own website, no blog or LinkedIn profile came up in the top results and other links went to obscure mentions he’d got on other sites.

For someone working in social media, he had not taken very much care of his online presence. Even me, a much smaller fish, well, I do a lot better. Go and google Amanda Kendle (or just click the link, I’ve done it for you) and unless I’ve committed some serious crime in between me writing this post and you reading it, you will see something like this:

The top few results send you to my main website (the one you’re reading this on). Then comes my travel blog, Not A Ballerina, one of my most important sites. My Facebook page and LinkedIn profile soon follow, and then some profile pages from companies and websites I work with are mixed in among these.

Fortunately, I’ve had a reasonably boring life insofar as misdemeanours or bad news stories go, so you can keep clicking through a lot of pages and still not find anything nasty about me, but you will find plenty of articles I’ve written and blog post comments I’ve made that are all not totally relevant to me as a business. So I’m glad I’ve made the effort to take care of my online presence so that the first page of results actually tells you something about me and should (hopefully) convince a prospective client that I do know something about what I say I do!

Anyway, all of this inspired me to develop a course on managing your online presence and it is running through UWA Extension in Perth in March – if you’re interested, click over to Optimising your online presence – A guide for consultants, sole traders and creative professionals and sign up. The course is designed to make sure you and your business are online in all the “right” places, so when people google you – because your prospective clients will google you – they see good stuff and want to work with you.

Everyone wants to know about social networking

I’ve been so busy with social networking consulting and coaching lately, and it seems like it will never stop. Or will it? Surely one day everybody will know all about Facebook, at least, and it will be just another communication and marketing tool everybody uses without thinking about it, like the telephone, mail and email.

It’s been a very interesting few months though, with consulting clients ranging from regular bloggers (people not so different from me), government agencies, small and large businesses and coming up this week, a library (with another library lined up for 2012). I certainly could never say that I’m getting bored with my work. Bring it on!

Teenagers and social media

I’m putting the finishing touches on my UWA Extension course on “Safe Social Networking: Family-Friendly Facebook and More”. These resources and links are useful ones for parents to read if they’re concerned about what their teenagers (and tweens!) are doing online.

Teenagers on the internet: Parents need to be involved: says everything I want to say. Don’t be scared of social media, get involved! If your children are interested in it, share their interest! Along with realistic warnings, this article includes some positives that come out of social media:

•    By being friends with people online, we can maintain a more constant dialogue with people, and have people who would not otherwise be so, as a positive psychological presence in our lives.
•    Access to social media can aid in social activism (help to support or create a cause)
•    Social networks allow you to share important information in a fast and reliable way
•    Social networking can allow you to become a more active part of the social discourse
•    And last but not least, if you involved in social media you have the opportunity to share in the social zeitgest of the day.

How do teens use social media: a lot of info and stats on teenagers and their use of social media sites (especially Facebook), but for me the most interesting point is this:

While we assume that this audience are comfortable with sharing their entire lives online, they’re developing a sense of intelligence around this that shows how keenly aware they are of the consequences of this. A study referenced by Pew finds that that 18-29 year olds regularly control their online reputations by deleting certain posts or removing tags in photos. This is an incredibly interesting development in human and social behaviour – that this future generation have such a keen understanding of personal branding, even though they may not be calling it that.

So one of our big fears for young people – that they’re “messing up their lives” by putting everything online – might well be unfounded.

Teenage social media butterflies may not be such a bad idea: research published in the LA Times; worth a read, and the key message is that kids who are sociable online are just as sociable offline – they’re not turning into strange hermits just by spending hours on Facebook or MySpace!




Social media and education

I’m just planning some professional development training for a bunch of high school teachers, so it is excellent timing that I came across this infographic on How to Get Better Grades Using Social Media:

++ Click to Enlarge Image ++
How to Get Better Grades Using Social Media  | Infographic |

Lots of interesting facts and figures in there, and confirms my opinion that Facebook and blogging are not bad things at all! I’ll be able to use this infographic at my Safe Social Networking course for parents next week, too.