How I Used Social Media to Get a Job

Photo cred: Jason (aka Jasmic)

First off, I’m proud to announce that I have been hired for this Summer as the Community Manager for Scribnia (in alpha), a web start-up based out of Boston, but working out of Philly. I am extremely excited about this opportunity and look forward to what should be an amazing experience to work with some great people.

Of course I use social media for a number of reasons, with finding a job only being one of my goals albeit the main one recently.  I would not have been able to create this job opportunity without the help of the social media tools I have frequented over the past several months.  I’d like to share my journey to this point with you in hopes that it might inspire some of you who are in a similar position to embrace these concepts.

I started off at my internship at Ruder Finn Interactive (RFI) which I may be referring to as the start to my career for the rest of my life. A big part of what I did at RFI dealt with reading and outreaching blogs. I quickly learned the value of blogging and began to read more and more about the social media space. There was a lot of talk on these social blogs about Twitter and so I checked it out.

I spent a couple months not really “getting” it and really only used my Twitterberry 2-3 times a week. I started following a lot of people in the social media space like @chrisbrogan @SoItsComeToThis @Skydiver @Scobleizer and other people that I already knew that were on twitter. Eventually Twitter “clicked” for me.  By connecting and following more and more interesting and helpful people, I was directed to a lot of great blogs where I started reading and commenting like crazy. I found my passion.

I reached the point in reading and commenting on blogs while connecting on twitter where I realized that I had a lot to say about this stuff, and decided to start my own blog. I went to, whipped up a blog and just started writing. It didn’t take me long to realize how tough and rewarding writing a blog can be. It would take me 2-3 hours to write each post, if I can come up with good ideas for posts. For a while I was also facing the new blogger’s dilemma, where I felt like I was speaking to the world and no one was listening. It’s not a fast or easy method, but you have to stick with it.

Fast forward…after months of reading, writing and connecting, I’ve created some amazing connections/friendships with professionals who share my passion. My blog has a small but amazing community, and has allowed me to show potentially hiring companies my level of knowledge and that I have a passion for the industry. I’ve learned more from conversing and sharing with other professionals than I ever could have from my classes or books. I’ve even had the privilege to guest post at blogs that I’ve followed and looked up to from the start, like Mashable and Kyle Lacy.

The biggest lesson I think I’ve learned is to never pass up an opportunity to connect and to network. These social media tools have made it easier than ever to network and you should use it to its fullest. Even if you don’t think there is that much to gain directly from connecting with someone, you never know where an opportunity might develop. By connecting and sharing with each other, you contribute to the community and make it better for everyone… including yourself.

Stuart Foster, a smart and wittily sarcastic consultant who created The Lost Jacket asked me to write a guest post for his blog. I immediately responded telling him I would. I wrote the post where a pretty interesting conversation ensued. One of those people in the conversation checked out my blog, and found me to be a good candidate for his company’s community manager position. I am now moving to Philly this Summer (=.

Regardless of your passion, you can contribute, connect, and share using these tools.  You never know where your opportunities will come.

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Blog For Your Audience, Not Your Product

Photo cred: Felipe Trucco
Photo cred: Felipe Trucco

Should all businesses start a blog? Will they all benefit from starting a blog? This has been a big question that many businesses are asking as social media develops into a relevant business tool. There are a range of views on this matter, as this question fueled a great discussion on this week’s #blogchat. Here are my thoughts on the issue…

Whether or not you should start a blog has less to do with your product, and more to do with your customers and your audience. During #blogchat, someone described a company that sells pools as a company that shouldn’t blog…because who wants to read a blog about pools right? This person was basing their decision on the product without looking at the big picture.

You have to figure out what is valuable to your audience. For the pool company, they could start a blog about anything pertaining to pools that will help their audience and provide value. Blog about pool deck designs, cool new pool toys and tools, how to throw pool parties, pool care tips etc. You don’t have to blog about your product and what you have to offer; in fact you’re better off not blogging all about your product.

Take my blog as an example. I am looking for a job and so my product is myself. If I blogged only about myself, and what I have to offer companies, I would have absolutely no readers. I blog about things that (I think) are valuable to my audience. By doing this, I prove my knowledge in the industry, create awareness of my product, build trust with my customers, and ultimately sell my product (get a job)…hopefully.

A great example of a company creating a community around their product’s “big picture” is Dell.  They have a few different blogs that provide info for small businesses, education, and other areas of their audience’s interest.  Many of the topics that Dell discusses have very little to do with their products.  After providing content of value however, their customers are more receptive when Dell also posts information about the company and it’s products.

Look at the big picture, blog for your audience.

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The Mainstreamification of Twitter

oprahThe big discussion lately has been the recent “mainstreamification” of Twitter as more celebrities start to use the application and are bringing their fan base with them.  Some people are welcoming of these new trends, others are worried/irritated.  The question isn’t “is twitter changing?”, its “how is it changing and will it be for better or worse?” Jeremiah Owyang provides some very interesting predictions worth checking out. Here’s what I think…

First off, twitter isn’t going to change very much on an individual level.  Twitter is opt in so you connect with who you want to connect with, you follow who you want to follow.  It doesn’t matter if there’s a million people or 100 million people, how old they are or what they’re interested in.  The only people that will be affected on an individual level are the big names that are used to being the “who’s who” of twitter.  The internet celebrities that rank as the most popular twitter users have, and will continue to give up their popularity titles to mainstream celebrities like Ashton.

The real changes will be found on a macro level. The service itself will change as Twitter attempts to appeal to this mainstream market and creates a monetization plan.  As the user base gets bigger, so does the range of features that people and businesses require.  We’ve already seen this happen with Myspace and Facebook.  Many once loyal users are unhappy with how “busy” these sites have become as they continue to lose focus on their original purpose.

Another issue has been the disapproval of how celebrities are using social media.  Some view Ashton’s race with CNN to 1 million followers as a publicity stunt that created a lot of buzz for himself and for twitter, and will be quickly forgotten.  Oprah built up 40 thousand followers before even posting a tweet.  In a community that values conversation and community, these are hardly the type practices that create real, valuable relationships. The issue is that many of these people are holding celebrities to the same accountability standards that we hold businesses on Twitter. While celebrities and business might seek similar benefits from social media, celebrities can’t (because of scale) and just don’t need to connect with their followers in the same way we expect businesses to.  If you’re interested in reading more on this issue, there’s a great conversation going on at Beth Harte’s blog.

Twitter is going through a time of change.  That is for sure.  When people see celebrities using Twitter, they stop thinking “I don’t get the point of Twitter” and start thinking “Am I missing out by not being on Twitter?”  More people are going to continue to give Twitter a chance and the Twitter team will try to convert them into regular users.  How that will change the twitter user experience is to be seen.  Regardless, people and businesses will continue to connect and communicate wherever their communities exist.

Edit: Just remembered an additional point.  One positive change for businesses is that as Twitter becomes more popular, the chance that their audience is present on Twitter increases, creating more opportunities.  At the same time, users aren’t going to follow your company just because you were the first/only one in your industry to join twitter anymore.  The mere fact that your business is using Twitter will become less interesting and you’re really going to have to provide value and connect on Twitter if you’d like your audience to follow you.

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Will Google Continue to Be Successful?

google1Since it’s birth in 1998, Google has continued to increase in size and revenues, but has recently faced difficulties maintaining such numbers. Today Google announced it’s first quarter 2009 results, with a 3% decrease in revenues from the fourth quarter of 2008.

“Google had a good quarter given the depth of the recession–while revenues were down quarter over quarter, they grew 6% year over year, thanks to continued strong query growth. These results underline both the resilience of our business model and the ongoing potential of the web as users and advertisers shift online. Going forward, our priority remains investing for the long term to drive future growth in our core and emerging businesses.” said Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google.

Lately, there have been questions about whether Google can continue to be successful. We are currently in a time of great change in the social web. Google will face some of the biggest challenges it has ever seen over the next couple years. Let’s look at some of Google’s  resources and some of the challenges they’ll have to overcome.

Google Resources

  • Innovative Culture. Everything from the organizational structure to the hiring process to the office environment at Google is built for innovation and creativity.  Google maintains a “small business” feel to increase personal interaction amongst employees and promote team building.  Google is also known as one of the best companies to work for as they provide a great deal of “perks” to make sure its employees are happy and comfortable.
    • Counter: Google’s “laid back” organizational structure will cause them to decrease in efficiency, and it’s small business structure causes a decrease in productivity as it stimulates competition amongst employee teams.
  • Cash. Googles sitting on a huge pile of cash ($17.8 billion as of March 31, 2009) that it can, and has used to purchase new innovative start-ups that show a lot of potential.  This will ensure that even if they don’t create the “next big thing”, they can buy it from the people that do.
    • Counter: Google may have a lot of cash, but Microsoft has more.
  • Brand Name. Everyone knows the name Google.  I’m pretty sure it’s actually in the dictionary now.  You no longer search for something online…you Google it. Google has a great deal of brand loyalty and sits up high at at the top of the search market.
    • Counter: Being so large and well known is a liability for Google.  Any wrong step will need a great deal of crisis management.  As Google continues to grow, it will find it harder and harder to keep to it’s philosophy of “do no evil”.
  • Range of Applications. Google provides an array of free applications.  You can create a google account and gain access to google docs, calendar, talk, maps, earth and lots more.  While its main competitors, Microsoft and Yahoo!, offer a lot of their own applications, none are quite as extensive as that of Google’s.
    • Counter: Google is losing focus on its main service, its search.  Aside from its search, youtube and a few other apps, most of their services don’t hold very much market share. While the power of Google’s brand name will retain search users for now, if it loses focus it may lose its momentum as well.

Other Challenges

  • Issues with Privacy. There are a number of issues with privacy when looking at Google.  Two major issues have been with the scanning of gmail messages and the street-view on Google Maps.  The question is, are people willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience?  In step with the growth of the web, the answer has been increasingly yes as people are sharing more and more of their personal lives online…but to what extent?
  • Increased Focus on Conversation. Twitter search is quickly becoming a leading tool for searching the web.  Where google ranks pages using the algorithm that they’ve worked so hard to develop, Twitter has been able to provide people with fast information that is user recommended and almost always relevant.  We’ve heard talks of Google wanting to buy Twitter, which may be their best bet.  Either way, Google has to find a way to incorporate such conversation into their search engine, or be left behind with nothing more than a useless Jaiku.

I’ve barely scraped the surface of the great amount of factors that affect Google.  There are so many things to consider when looking at a company of such magnitude, that is involved in so many markets.  I think that Google will continue to grow, but not at the rapid pace that they have enjoyed in the past.  Many of the issues they face today are issues that they have faced for years and have still been successful.  With their focus on innovation, Google should be able to stay ahead of the curve, or at least keep up in this rapidly changing social environment.

What do you think? Will we still be “Googling” for years to come?  Will Google continue to be successful?


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Twitter IS NOT the Same As Facebook Status Updates

twitter-facebookIsn’t Twitter just like Facebook updates?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this misconception. I think this issue can be attributed to the Twitter homepage’s question “What are you doing?”  This was always the main purpose of Facebook updates, to let your friends now what you’re doing.  While this may be an aspect of how people use twitter, it is a small one.  Twitter is used for much more which isn’t exactly explained on the homepage.

Facebook has recently remodeled their homepage, making it very similar to Twitter in that users are encouraged to post links, share content and it asks the question “What’s on your mind?”  While some might say that NOW facebook updates and twitter updates are essentially the same, there are still a few very big differences. (note: I’m not saying one is better than the other, rather that they serve different purposes)  Here are 5 of the major differences…

1) Focus

Facebook now offers many of the same functions that twitter does.  The difference is that Twitter focuses on these functions while Facebook’s live feed is only one of it’s many functions. While this may make facebook a more “well rounded” service, the great amount of functionality options create a a lot of clutter on the site, taking focus away from the feed.  When you’re on twitter, you’re there for one reason.

2) Audience

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two services is who reads your updates.  On facebook, the only people reading your updates are the people that you are friends with, meaning you both approved the friendship. When you post a message on twitter you are talking to the world.  Unless you keep your tweets private (an uncommon practice on twitter) anyone can search twitter and find your tweets.  Additionally, the people who receive your tweets in their homepage feed are anyone who’s interested enough to follow you, whether or not you follow them back.  This allows you to connect with anyone, not just who you already know.

3) Conversation

On the facebook feed, the conversation around an update comes in the form of comments that are listed under the update.  This greatly limits the amount of conversation you can have because it does not encourage the person who posted the original update to partake in the conversation any further.  Also, on twitter, if someone replies to an update, the conversation stays relevant because people continue to read about it.  On facebook, once the original update moves down the feed, so does the conversation.  Both facebook and twitter provide a private message option; facebook uses a direct messaging system and provides a private chat window while twitter only provides the direct message.

4) Retweets

Twitter makes it much easier for valuable content to go viral than facebook.  Someone can always post the link again but this is not as easy, or effective as twitter’s retweet.  To add on to the audience issue, when you post a link on facebook, only your friends can find it.  On twitter if you post a link, anyone can find it and share it with their followers using retweets.

5) Searchability

You can search the content on twitter. If you’re looking for posted links or any other content, just go to and search keywords.  There is no way to search the facebook feed. You either have to just keep scrolling, or remember who posted the update and check their feed.

So…in conclusion

The facebook feed and twitter may seem very similar in concept, however they are very different in purpose.  Still not convinced? Here’s a very general comparison…

Facebook is a great way to see what your friends are doing.  Twitter is a great way to see what the world is doing (friends included).

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Social Media in Higher Education: Interview with Professor Bill Handy

billandchaseToday we have an interview with Bill Handy who is a professor at Oklahoma State University, and has been working hard to educate his students in social media. He was kind enough to share with us how his school has incorporated social media.

1) How is social media being taught in your school? How do you teach it?

I can’t speak for the entire school but in the Journalism and Broadcasting school it is now being taught as a standalone course but is covered in a variety of other courses. We cover the following: history, ethics, legal, philosophy, measurement, strategy and tactical tools. This includes case studies and outside presenters. Interesting to point out, the original concern was not having enough content to fill a traditional 16 week course. My challenge now is having too much.

2) Have you faced much opposition in incorporating social media into the curriculum from the administration or other professors?

Not really but we have a fantastic department head which gets the implications of this new found awareness of two-way symmetrical communications to mass communication, journalism, PR, etc. The greatest challenge I find, and this pertains to professors as well as industry professionals and the general public, is what to do with these new tools and how to use them strategically. Way too much ready, fire, aim with regards to social media. As a side, I teach sm as a strategy and tactics course and remind my students that sm has no place in the goals or objectives section of a strategic communication plan.

3) What isn’t your school teaching or doing that you think they should be, in terms of social media?

Great question – I think we are doing a good job including it in our curriculum, making sure our students knowledge of these tools will be an asset to their future employers. Let me add a twist to your question though – I would like to see sm taught in every school/college not just with regard to how these tools could/would benefit their industry but also used within the curricula to benefit the student’s classroom engagement and learning opportunities outside the classroom. The opportunities I see could revolutionize how we teach/learn and how we look at advanced levels of education. I could talk on this one for hours…

4) Have you taken on any projects to incorporate social media your school?

Lots and lots of ways to incorporate. Some started by me, other just grew up organically. Have a great case study of how our library is using twitter – scanning for key words within a radius then reaching out to those folks – genius. Students in my class are creating a sm site (using ning) for the JB school. Totally from the bottom up, not even sure other faculty are completely aware. There is a possibility we will be working with our State NPR station – but more on that later, hope to make a splash with what we do.

5) Freestyle:

Here is the bottom line, there are all kinds of things you can do with social media. What I/we encourage is to use it for good, not evil – no stunts (i.e. skittles). Treat this new found power of symmetrical communication with the respect it deserves. Let’s look at all the challenges we have and figure out ways to combat them with the collective knowledge sm offers and the ability to reach out to everyone in need or who can help.

I’d like to thank Bill for sharing with us how social media is being taught in his school. You can find his blog at and if you’d like to follow his students and sm class on twitter, you can find them by searching the hash tag #jb4520. (awesome idea)

Chatwatch: #Blogchat

Photo cred: David Sifry
Photo cred: David Sifry

Have you been taking part in #journchat every Monday night?  If you have, you’re aware of how great it is, but also how popular it is becoming…perhaps too popular.  #journchat covers a very wide range of topics, from journalism to social media to PR and has gained a huge following.  It’s hard to keep up!

For this reason I’m confident that you will start to see more focused chats begin to gain momentum.  Chats like #blogchat, where the conversation will focus on blogging related topics. With 2 chats under the belt already, this weekly chat started by Mack Collier has brought together some of the bloggers’ brightest and covered topics such as getting more comments/interaction on your blog, and making company blogs more like personal blogs.  Whether you have some blogging questions or you’d just like to bounce some thoughts and ideas off other bloggers, come and join the conversation.

…and how do these awesome chats get started?  Mack describes the rigorous process in this tweet.

#Blogchat Info

Time: 8:00 CST Sunday nights.

Platform: Twitter

Moderator: Mack Collier

Format: Currently experimental, changing every week until the most efficient method is found. Next chat will consist of three general themes, allotted roughly 30 mins each.