Mentor Monday: Gloria Bell

She's so happy she can't even open her eyes.
She's so happy she can't even open her eyes.

Mentor Monday is a series where I feature people that have helped me when I needed it, whether or not I asked for it, and whether or not they even realize it.  I am extremely thankful for these people, and would not be where I am today, or where I will be tomorrow, without them.

I also mix in posts about mentorship in general…

Feel free to join in and thank your mentors for everything they’ve done every #mentormonday.

Gloria Bell

Her Consulting Business.

Her Blog.

Her Twitter.

Gloria is just one of those people that genuinely wants to help, and rarely asks for anything in return.  She always has a great attitude, a friendly smile, and lightens up whatever room she’s in.  Perhaps that’s why it seems like she knows everyone and their mother.

Throughout my time in Philly, she introduced me to so many people I can’t event begin to count.  She made sure to let me know of any upcoming events and either helped me set up, or made sure to attend any event that I hosted.

Along with Beth Harte, Gloria truly made me feel comfortable in a new city, and taught me a great deal along the way.

Gloria is a great person and a great mentor to whom I owe a great deal.

Thank you.

You can view all Mentor Monday posts here.

Social Media is NOT an End

BB1162-002 How many followers do you have? How many facebook fans did your page bring in? How many RTs did you get on your last link?

No.

It’s not that these numbers don’t matter, but these questions are irrelevant if they’re not tied to an end.

Social media isn’t an end. Being successful in social media isn’t necessarily success.  It doesn’t matter how well you do in terms of “social media numbers”.

What matters is what you turn those numbers into. The end is the bottom line, it’s leads, it’s customers, it’s money.

Stop treating social media like an end…it’s just another means to an end.

Thanks to Geoff Livingston for inspiring this post with his presentation at the Social Good conference.

7 Twitter Expectations and Predictions

twittercloudsTwitter hasn’t given us much.  We got a new homepage annnnd that’s about it.  So it’s pretty interesting that they’ve recently been announcing a few new features on the way.  They’re no small endeavor either.

Here are some additions that you can (officially) be expecting:

1. Official Retweets: Twitter has announced Phase 1 of their “Project Retweet”.  To this point “retweets” or the reposting of someone else’s tweet has been a feature created by users and has not been officially supported by Twitter.  Apparently, that’s going to change.  There are many implications of this project, so check out the article.

2. Premium Accounts: Don’t let the recent hoax fool you, twitter is planning to offer premium accounts.   Mashable Editor Ben Parr was able to confirm that premium accounts are indeed coming but we might not be seeing them for a while.  As expected, the first premium accounts will be targeted at businesses.

3. Location Based Tweets: Currently, users can put in their location in their profile. The new location feature will allow users to switch on an option that will read your longitude and latititude and so others can see exactly where you’re tweeting from.  The potential implications of this addition are huge! Anything from news, to closer integration with other location focused apps like foursquare to well, some darker implications and issues that will inevitably occur.  Regardless, things should get interesting.

Here are some features I’m predicting they’ll add soon:

4. Spam Killer: It’s getting bad. Now spammers learned that they don’t even need me to follow them in order to get their message out.  They can send @ replies, and some even use bots to automatically reply to, or retweet, anyone that uses specific keywords.  Something should be done, and I think Twitter knows that.

5. Official Replies: They’re making retweets official, why not replies as well?  Much like retweets, a @reply is a twitter feature created by users.  Twitter has officially recognized their value and created a replies link on the homepage, but I think they’ll officially integrate it into the system. Edit: To clarify, I mean that it will be built into the system.

6. A Big Acquisition: This is completely speculative, but I think Twitter is going to be making some purchases.  They’ve got a truckload of funding, with little to spend it on.  They openly stated in article about premium accounts, that they were thinking about buying friendfeed before facebook beat them to the punch.  Why would they want to acquire other companies? I’d say functionality.  We’ll see Twitter start to buy the companies that provide the most valuable functionality…probably 3rd party twitter apps. Possibly one of the big desktop apps?

7. Your Predictions: What do you think Twitter will do next? I’ll add some of your predictions here.

  1. Officially integrated hashtags: “an evolution of the hashtags, making it easier for tweeters to follow popular trends” –Rich Pulvino
  2. Less down time: “Server stability.” –Danny Brown
  3. Analytics and real-time search: Figuring out how to capture, parse and report data about user demographics and what users are sharing and discussing would be something any business would like access to. –Amy Mengel
  4. BUY FOURSQUARE: Seems incredibly obvious to me…and would be a great match for both companies. –Stuart Foster

“Is This Social Media Bubble Deadly?”

Photo cred: "Circulating"
Photo cred: "Circulating"

There’s a problem, and deep down, we’re all aware of it…but to do something about it would make many feel hypocritical and so they push it aside whenever it’s brought up.

The Social Media Bubble.

We’re all enthusiastic about the power of social media. And if someone questions it, we refer them to the same case studies of social media success stories, and big news events to back it up.  While MILLIONS of dollars (h/t Alex Tan) and countless hours are now being invested in social media tools, most companies aren’t making money. People say the money will come, but…

Are we setting ourselves up for disaster?

Half a year ago, it seemed that the few social media evangelists were the only ones that saw the value in social media, and getting brands and media to embrace these new technologies was extremely difficult.

Fast forward to today…the evangelists have gotten their way.  Virtually every brand and their mother wants to jump in, whether they know why or not.  Brands, media and professionals are hearing the voice of the evangelists, finding the success stories that they share, and they don’t want to be left behind in the proverbial dust.

When brands and professionals embrace something because they’ll be ridiculed for not doing so or because other brands and professionals are doing it, without actually understanding the value, there’s a problem.

They spend a lot of money, quite possibly on people who don’t actually know what they’re doing and tools that aren’t actually worth the time or money.  By setting the standards, this will fuel other companies to do the same.

There is value in social media, but something isn’t valuable just because it’s social media based.  This is the distinction that many are missing, a problem that evangelists are catalyzing.  Social media can be valuable, but it is not definitive value.

I’ll admit, I’ve been to blame for this as well.  I am learning more every day, and becoming more perceptive and realistic.  I’m learning to look at the big picture…outside of the “fishbowl”.

Much of this false value is created when people that are active in the social media space, become successful within the space and become a case study for social media success.

For example, I write about social media, I am active in the social media space, I spend a lot of time on emerging technologies, and my time and effort has paid off greatly.

That kind of story might inspire others to attempt the same path…but the reason it worked so well for me is because I am working IN the social media space.  While the same path might work for those in other professions, to blindly apply it to any situation is naïve and dangerous.

These kinds of generalities and assumptions are taking place constantly.  Resources are being dumped into this concept of “social media success” with little to warrant such action.  How long can this last?

Are we blinded by the enjoyment of these tools?  Is the bliss that is social media encouraging our ignorance to the reality that is taking place?

Are we headed toward the next bubble burst?  If we are, what can we do to stop it from killing the entire space?

Journchat Live Philly Event Recap

j_twitter_avatar_biggerThe first ever LIVE #journchat event has now been completed.  It proved to be extremely interesting and left me with a lot of lessons learned about the future of organized events and discussions.

The idea behind these live events is compelling:  Drive a conversation that integrates the face-to-face with the social web.  It’s a tough feat to accomplish, and definitely one that will take a few times to get right.

The Philly event brought in some of Philly’s best and brightest, although the numbers were certainly much less than that of other locations like Chicago.  Essentially, we were able to form one smaller group of highly insightful and active individuals, including journalists, bloggers, PR and social media professionals, that drove a lively discussion.

Thanks to Gloria Bell, Valeria Maltoni, Eileen O’Brien, Brian Courtney, Steve Lubetkin and more for attending and driving a great discussion…

A few things that I learned…

  • When online, if a question comes up that doesn’t apply to you, it’s easy to just do something else for 10 minutes until the next question comes up.  During a live discussion, you’re only focus is the discussions, and so if you don’t relate, you can’t participate.  It may be better to keep the questions very general.
  • When a conversation online takes a life of it’s own, that’s okay, because everyone is looking at the same conversation.  In the live event, every group is going to approach the discussion a little bit differently.  This causes a disconnect between the online conversation and the offline.
  • More collaboration is needed between the “Champions” and the Moderator (Sarah Evans) throughout the chat.  It proved to be difficult to remain in contact and discuss issues, questions, or suggestions.  I think that Sarah is better off letting someone else champion her location’s event and she should just focus on working with all the champions, and choosing questions.
  • At our location, there were only a couple laptops.  I think this is better.  I tweeted out good points, comments, and questions that came up, and others used their phones if they had something specific to tweet.  The interesting part here, is that for the most part, the live events won’t take part in the conversation online.  They’ll watch the live feed (we had it on a projector screen) and take the conversation live.  Is it possible to have a live discussion while also effectively taking part in the conversation online?  I’m not sure it is.

Those are a few of the things I noticed.  I agree that there needs to be more face-to-face discussions going on…and not panel based, speaker series discussions.  I mean a mutual conversation, where everyone listens and everyone is listened to. (Philly Social Media Club does a great job with this)

Do you think it’s possible to have these kind of offline discussions closely integrated and kept consistent with online conversations?

Share your thoughts, whether you were at the event, or not.

You can check out the recap of the entire #journchat LIVE event at Sarah’s blog here.

Mentor Monday: 5 Reasons to Have a Mentor

Photo cred: Timothy K Hamilton
Photo cred: Timothy K Hamilton

If you didn’t already know, mentors are the single most valuable resource a young professional could hope to enjoy…aside from actual experience.

Starting off isn’t easy.  Mentors make it easier.  If you are able to create meaningful relationships with older, more experienced professionals, you’ll certainly have a leg up on your competition.

A mentor provides you with…

  1. Their experiences. Now nothing can replace the value of actually experiencing something yourself, but it’s also extremely valuable to have the advice of someone who’s been there before.  Your mentor has seen what works and what doesn’t.  Let them help you make some right decisions.
  2. Their network. If you have a mentor, it’s because they believe in you and they want to pass on their experience and knowledge to a worthy younger professional.  This means that they’ll probably trust you enough that they’d be willing to recommend you to their connections.  Their network is probably much greater than yours, and can be invaluable to a young professional.  Remember though, sometimes you have to ask.
  3. An “in” at networking events. Working off the last point, if you’re in the same area as your mentor, as I currently am with two great ladies Beth Harte and Gloria Bell, your mentor is a HUGE resource when it comes to networking events.  Those events can be awkward for young professionals who don’t know that many people.  Beth and Gloria have both been amazing to me, introducing me to everyone they know at networking events in Philly.
  4. Their knowledge. I don’t know it all.  Shocking right? Especially while working for a start-up, I’ve been asked to do things that have just drawn a smile and a nod from me while thinking “how the crap am I going to do this?”  Well amazing mentors like Arik Hanson, Danny Brown, and many others have always been there to teach me the things I need to learn.
  5. Their support. This may not sound like a great resource, but for me, it’s been amazing.  Starting off in your career is tough.  You always feel like you’re catching up to learn as much as others, you often don’t have the answer, and you’re afraid to do or say anything wrong because any misstep could destroy your career (not true, but the thought occurs).  Having an older, experienced and respected mentor there to support you and reassure you of the things you’re doing well helps you get through some of the tougher times.

How have your mentors helped you?

You can view all Mentor Monday posts here. It is a series where I feature people that have helped me when I needed it, whether or not I asked for it, and whether or not they even realize it.  I am extremely thankful for these people, and would not be where I am today, or where I will be tomorrow, without them.

BUT since I’m starting to run out of mentors, I will also be mixing in posts about mentorship in general…

Feel free to join in and thank your mentors for everything they’ve done every #mentormonday.

Are You a Social Media Expert or Evangelist?

Photo cred: Transguyjay
Photo cred: Transguyjay

Are you a social media expert or a social media evangelist?  There are a lot of discussions about the gorwing number of “social media experts”.  Most of it tends to be negative, as there are many self-proclaimed social media experts out there, that aren’t worthy of such a title.

There are also a lot of people that say there aren’t social media experts.  They say the space is so new, and always changing, so it would be impossible for someone to be an expert.  If you ask me, the technology and tools are changing, but the concepts have been around since the beginning of time.

So I think there are experts, and those are people who understand the concepts and how they apply to the changing tools and technology.

Are you an evangelist? Perhaps you think you’re an expert? Well, here are a few ways to tell.

Evangelists usually understand and are able to convey other’s advice to new people.

Experts are also able to develop their own advice.

Evangelists are knowledgeable about what has worked or hasn’t worked for others.

Experts have experienced it themselves.

Evangelists know where social media works.

Experts know where it doesn’t.

Evangelists love to talk about the value of social media.

Experts love to apply it to real situations, and prove it’s value.

REAL experts make money through their passion for social media.

BS experts’ only passion is taking your money.

Here are some of the responses that I received on twitter when I asked “what’s the difference between a social media expert and a social media evangelist?”

Mandy_Vavrinak: Evangelists have to be believers. Experts can be in it for the money.

billhandy: evangelist simply advocates. Experts have experience, knowledge, etc and are considered authorities. Think flack vs sme

robynski: Experience? An expert has hands on work and an evangelist is a recipient that has had good exps.That could be one definition.

kengaylord: I’m not sure there’s such a thing as “social media experts” there is WAY too much social media out there to know about it all.

NeerajKA @DavidSpinks no difference, they both use social media exclusively to talk about social media