A Problem With Twitter Chats?

Photo cred: Lise

Who owns a community on twitter? No one can moderate it so does anyone really control it?

After participating in #blogchat last weekend, I read a post from Mack Collier. The comments held a lively debate. I suggest you read a bit of the comments, but the basic argument was this:

Mack commented on the issue of people coming and tweeting out links to their posts using the #blogchat hashtag without really participating in the chat.
Ryan, one of the people Mack quoted in the post, contended that a hashtag isn’t “owned” by anyone. He was using the tag to reach people he thought would find those posts useful. There is no “wrong” way to use a hashtag.

As a fellow chat founder, I understand how Mack felt. He loves his community, and hates to see it mistreated. Still, I realized that our chats are run on a hashtag in a completely open forum. You can’t prevent someone from using a hashtag however they want. No one owns a hashtag.

If someone wanted to start a blogchat today, and say that it’s a hashtag used to share blog posts about blogging, there’s really nothing, the original blogchat community, could do about it. Same for #u30pro…same for any other chat.

Personally, I love that people share good posts in the #u30pro feed throughout the week, as long as it’s not spammy. But really, there’s nothing we can do about it.

Gathering around a common interest is great on twitter. But for large, organized communities, is twitter the best option?

Twitter is for Losers

Photo cred: Jesse CourteManche

That’s apparently what a lot of people think…

At another lively #u30pro chat last night, we discussed where social media might fail for young professionals.  One of the topics of discussion that developed really intrigued me.  It seems that not one, not most, but almost ALL the participants shared their experience of being mocked by their friends for using twitter.

If you’re on facebook?  That’s okay… who isn’t?

If you’re on linkedin?  That’s okay too…you’re just trying to network.

From my experience, the two things that seem to draw mockery are twitter and blogging.  They’re still viewed as “lame” by many who aren’t involved. And if your friends are saying it, you can only imagine what strangers are thinking.

Does it really matter? No. I know why I do what I do, and if someone has a problem with it…fuck em! Being mocked is just part of being friends.

But it’s interesting isn’t it?  The most open forms of social interaction online draw the most mockery while those platforms which essentially allow you to do that same, but within a “closed” or private network, are acceptable.


Have you been mocked for using twitter or blogging?

Social Media Has No Borders

This is a guest post from Grace Boyle, a 20-something adventurista. She lives in Boulder, CO and does Business Development for the tech startup, Lijit. She blogs at Small Hands, Big Ideas where she writes about the startup world, career and daily inspirations.

This last weekend I took a trip back East, to Burlington, Vermont. It’s the last place I called home and where I attended college.

Before the epic reunion with my girlfriends began, I had to stop by my beautiful campus of Champlain College. My marketing professor, Elaine Young, who taught me about Twitter, internet marketing and blogging in college asked me to speak in her Marketing 250 class. Of course I obliged.

Elaine began her class; it was informal, real and honest. Elaine began to talk about #u30pro. I giggle to myself, as I just spoke with David Spinks on Twitter and in my inbox I have the #u30pro newsletter, where my recent blog post was featured. The students enthusiastically talked about joining in on the conversation (tweeting is part of their homework, Elaine is so smart) and what they learned.

Furthermore, as I tweeted I was in the classroom presenting on blogging and transparency a Twitter and blogging friend (who also happened to live in Burlington, Vermont) sent me a DM for an impromptu coffee date.

I immediately told David the students in this very class were talking about him and #u30pro. Right away, I thought to myself, it’s a small (social media) world. Here I am, Friday morning in Burlington, Vermont with a small group of students passionately talking about blogging and social media. We talk about the same blogs, the same people and many of the same ideas. Only difference is the filter to our lens and place in life.


Photo Credit: WeHeartIt

It’s Like the Social Media (Verizon) Network

We get caught in our world – tweeting and blogging from your favorite coffee shop or the same desk each day. We forget, we’re enabling a worldwide network and everyone you’re talking to really is real! More than likely, your paths will cross and you will meet.

It’s interesting, because my gratification aha comes at a time when other blogging friends have been talking about blog crushes and the blogger is real. It’s like the Verizon Network always behind you, available if you need them. This is your own Social Media Network, tiptoeing behind you, smiling, holding their smart phones and laptops.

Making It Real

Starting this year, I have had the privilege of meeting up with blogging and Twitter friends in real life (IRL). It’s exhilarating because some are just as you imagined, some surprise you. It keeps you on your toes and gives way to more layers. I even had a blogging friend who moved to Boulder stay at my apartment before she got settled and found her own place. That’s right, social media has me welcoming a “stranger” into my home (yes, I’m being facetious).

It sounds cheesy, but the line, “The world is my family,” really holds true. Think about how special this is. You can interact with these people every day. Share stories, ideas and thoughts, regardless of their geographical location. You can talk through e-mail, skype, chat, groups or Twitter. This means, you are never really alone. This means you can travel virtually anywhere in the world and find a connection. This shouldn’t feel claustrophobic; this should feel enlightening as it broadens our senses and connecting capabilities.

These tools (we use every day) are bridging the gap to great connections. Borders don’t exist and barriers dissipate. I owe many friendships and my current job to social media. There’s something to be said about a connection and whether it’s 140 characters worth or a 500-word blog post that makes you smile, it’s worth it.

I will end with this quote by Charles Eames. It speaks measures on how powerful a connection really can be: “Eventually, everything connects-people, ideas, and objects. The quality of these connections is the key to a well-lived life.”

5 Creative Ways to Use Sponsored Tweets

sponsoredtweetsBack when Sponsored Tweets launched, I wrote a post asking if it will survive.  (Disclaimer: Ted has since given me credit to test the service, which I wrote about here.)

I continue to think about the service and it’s possible value.  If done right, I really like sponsored tweets.  The goal isn’t always to manipulate the follower into finding value in a product…Sponsored tweets simply allow you to tap in to a community that you don’t currently have access to.

And it’s not always ads.  The message they choose to send can be a number of things. Here are some different ways that businesses can use sponsored tweets.

  1. Market Research. Want to know a community’s thoughts and opinions?   The answers you get will be more quality than a mass snail mail campaign, and it’s probably cheaper too.
  2. Contests.  If you want to start a contest for a specific community, you need to be able to reach the people in that community.  Sponsoring a tweet can be a great way to give away prizes.  It involves no “opinion” from the tweeter so their followers probably won’t be too offended.
  3. Crowdsource ideas. Pull in ideas by sponsoring tweets in different communities and asking for feedback. For example, a company wants to launch a new diaper product, and wants to gather ideas from mothers.  If you aren’t tapped into the “mom-blog” community on twitter, good luck finding answers there. Sponsor a tweet from a prominent “mom-twitterer” to ask questions for you.
  4. Collect donations for a cause. Most tweeters probably won’t even ask for money, assuming you have a worthy cause and you approach them respectfully.  Either way, you can reach a larger audience to get your charity off the ground.
  5. Sponsor a Q&A Expert Session. Say you have a site for bloggers.  Sponsor a Q&A session on twitter with Darren Rowse where he can answer questions from new bloggers directly.  Add your hashtag to the tweets, promote the event with your site.

See a re-occuring theme?  Again, sponsored tweets simply allows you to tap into communities that you don’t currently have access to.  Sure, if you’re trying to engage with the community, sponsored tweets aren’t the best method.

Not all tweets are meant for participating in conversation and building a community.

You can sign up to try out Sponsored Tweets here. (affiliate referral link)

What are some other creative ways to use sponsored tweets?

Mentor Monday: Using Chats to Find Mentors

Photo cred: Kevin Zollman
Photo cred: Kevin Zollman

This is a guest post from Valerie Merahn Simon.

I was fortunate to meet my first great mentor when I was still in college.

Bill Sweeney, who at the time was heading EDS’s global government affairs office, was an alumnus of American University (my alma mater) and a founder of the Campaign Management Institute (one of my favorite learning experiences while at AU).

I met Bill because of my summer job. I didn’t have an important internship that summer, but as a swim instructor at AU swim school, I certainly had the opportunity to meet a lot of parents. Bill happened to be the father of two of my favorite students.

Finding a mentor while still in college can be a challenge. The academic world is often isolated from “the real world.” But social media offers the opportunity to change that. In August, Deirdre Breakenridge and I began #PRStudChat to provide students with an opportunity to connect directly with industry leaders and educators in a new learning environment that brings together the academic and professional world. Three months later, individual relationships and the community are building into important resources.

As one of David’s recent guests, Arik Hanson, points out, mentoring has been redefined as the result of social media.  In a departure from the traditional one on one mentor/mentee relationships, social media has created the opportunity to build substantive relationships with a wide array of professionals, regardless of geographic boundaries.

Participating in Twitter chats can be one way to find new professionals and begin to build new relationships with individuals who bring different backgrounds, experiences and strengths. Last week Miguel A. Llano pointed out the benefit of creating a “Board of Mentors”; I’d like to share how you can use Twitter chats as one tool to help you fill that board.

If you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat, here is a quick guide. As those of you who have participated in David and Lauren’s #u30pro chat already know, twitter chats offer a tremendous opportunity to develop relationships and learn from other professionals.  If you participate regularly, you WILL develop mentoring relationships.  Here are a few tips to help you identify and develop mentoring relationships:

  1. Break out of your current network and get to know experts in different areas by attending different chats.
  2. Listen carefully and actively to the conversation. Ask questions and share knowledge. @ Reply to individual comments, to encourage dialog and assure your response is not lost in the stream.
  3. Perhaps most importantly, when the chat ends, take action to assure that the relationships do not. Follow professionals you have met. Create a special column in HootSuite, TweetDeck, or whatever Twitter App you are using to assure that you do not miss future conversations. Follow their blogs and be sure to add your comments. Continue the conversation

But don’t just look to fill your “Board of Mentors”; add your knowledge and experience to someone else’s board. Young professionals can play an important role in helping students prepare for a career. I urge young PR professionals to take the time to do some “virtual mentoring” by joining #PRStudChat and passing along their own wisdom and experiences.

You don’t have to be a senior level professional to be a mentor. During #PRStudChat, some of the best insights have come from Millennials like Lauren Fernandez. With participants ranging in experience from students to industry thought leaders, one thing is very clear. We are all students. And we are all teachers. As David noted in his post on reverse mentoring, “Ultimately, every mentorial relationship should be a two way street.”

Have you ever participated in a Twitter chat? Have you been able to build individual relationships from the group conversation? What suggestions would you offer to those looking to develop mentoring relationships from a chat?

Valerie Merahn Simon currently serves as a Senior Vice President at BurrellesLuce media monitoring and measurement, and writes a national public relations column for examiner.com. She is also co-founder and host of #PRStudChat, a monthly twitter chat between PR professionals and students moderated by Deirdre Breakenridge. She can be found on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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