On sending your tweets to Facebook

By Alexandra Golaszewska

I am all for efficiency. 2 birds, 1 stone! But the fact that you can do 2 things at once doesn't mean it's the best way to do it. Case in point: posting your tweets to Facebook.

tweet

If you see this in your Twitter feed, you can click through to @johnpaul215's profile. But if I cross-post this to Facebook, the name is no longer a link, so it doesn't mean anything. The same thing goes for hashtags, which don't do anything on Facebook. If you're prolific on Twitter and cross-post everything, you're cluttering up the news feeds of your friends/followers with posts that don't really have context. If they find it annoying they'll hide you, and once they do that, it's very hard to get them back.

Have a question for the next one? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.

A day of digital silence

By Alexandra Golaszewska

This year, I observed the National Day of Unplugging. It's a secular event with its roots in the religious tradition of a day of rest. In our hyper-connected world, we get so anxious when we forget our phones or temporarily lose Internet access; we feel like we need to be on and available 24 hours every day. A day of unplugging by choice can give us space to think and relax and get outside without constantly checking a device.

"Unplugging" is open to interpretation. The organizers created a 10-point manifesto, but this doesn't have to be all-or-nothing. For some, it might mean that the phone is OK but internet is not. For others, it might mean not using anything powered by electricity.

I chose to get rid of phone and internet. On the designated Friday night, I shut off my phone and put my iPad into airplane mode. I allowed myself books on the iPad, but nothing else.

Overall, it felt really good. An unplugged day made me realize how much time I usually spend online reading and researching and checking messages and tweeting. I had space, in a way that I don't on a normal day. I felt relaxed… mostly. I did have a few moments of panic that there was some emergency happening and I didn't know about it. There were a couple of minor inconveniences: I was running late on my way to meet some people on Friday night, and a friend was a little late meeting me for a hike on Saturday morning, and I couldn't use my phone. Neither was a big deal. I was meeting 3 people at a bar on Friday night, so it wasn't like someone was waiting for me to order dinner. On Saturday, I was in a beautiful park and my dog and I just enjoyed our surroundings until my friend arrived.

Some positive effects that happened in a big way in the days that followed:

  • Increased productivity. Forcing a break from unnecessary internet use made me a lot more particular about how I spend my time online.
  • Decreased tolerance to email clutter. When email is allowed to pile up, you really notice how much you get that you don't need. I've since done a lot of unsubscribing.
  • More ideas. Better ideas. If you're into meditation, you know that quieting your mind makes space for new things to come in. Unplugging does this too.

Some tips, if you want to give it a try:

  • Tell a few people what you're doing. You don't have to announce it to everyone you know, but just make sure that a few friends or family members know. That way, if there really is an emergency, they know that they need to find you in person or contact a neighbor. It's easier to relax if you know that someone will track you down if necessary.
  • Make your plans ahead of time. A solitary day of unplugging spent at home could be really therapeutic, but that isn't what I was looking for this time. I made my plans with friends ahead of time, and they knew that I wasn't available to change them by phone. No problem.
  • Enjoy it.

I don't think I'm ready to do this every week. Maybe someday. For now, I'm going to try making this a monthly practice on the first Friday sundown to Saturday sundown of every month.

One of the ideas that came out of this: an expansion of my marketing skills to the realm of online dating. I've spent years helping clients look their best online in the business world, and I've also helped friends fix up their online dating profiles (one met her husband after I worked my magic). I've combined the two into a new service at ProfileCoach.net.  

I bet you can't name a town in Pennsylvania that doesn't contain the letter E

By Alexandra Golaszewska

If you're using Facebook, you've probably seen a lot of posts like this lately:

I bet you can't name a fish that doesn't have the letter A in it. Can you name a band that has no letter T anywhere in their name? This is harder than you think! Post your answers below and share with friends!

If you've put any thought into these questions, you know that they aren't that difficult. So what's the point of them? To understand that, you need to know about Facebook's EdgeRank.

How Facebook decides what you see Just because you have liked a brand's Facebook page doesn't mean that you see all of their posts in your news feed, even if you're on every day. If you are an administrator of a page, you've definitely seen this from the other side. You might have 500 fans, but if you look at the post when you're on your business page, you'll see that it was only shown to 47 of them.

Besides fees for promotion (a whole 'nother topic that I'll discuss later), Facebook uses something called EdgeRank to determine whether you will see a post. They tweak the exact formula all the time, but factors include:

  • Whether you've interacted with the page before
  • Whether you've interacted with similar posts in the past
  • Whether a lot of other people have responded to the post (whether by liking, sharing or commenting on it)
  • Whether other users have flagged it as spam, or made other complaints

So when that radio station challenges you to name a breed of dog that doesn't include the letter B — I bet you can't do it! — it isn't really about that question; the point is to make their next posts about the upcoming music festival or the new morning show visible to a higher percentage of their fans.

Do you need to think about Foursquare?

If you're a service provider whose physical location isn't important (like me), you can stop reading now and go do something else.

If you're a...

  • brick-and-mortar retail business
  • you do retail sales or product sampling from a mobile physical location (like a food truck)
  • you run large in-person events

... you need to think about Foursquare.

What is it?

Foursquare is a location-based check-in service.

Users download the Foursquare app to their smartphones. They can search their contacts (address book, Facebook, Twitter) to see who else is on it, and they can send friend requests. Like on Facebook, a friend request must be accepted.

Is this like Facebook check-in?

Sort of, and users can set it up to sync with Facebook or Twitter to show Foursquare check-ins. But Foursquare users tend to be very active on social media, which means that many of them have a lot of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. They don't always want everyone knowing where they are. Foursquare can be a smaller, edited list.

So… what does it do?

The user experience goes something like this:

If I'm out for the evening and I check in on Foursquare, I can see where my friends are; maybe we'll meet up if we're all hopping from place to place. If I check in at a bar, I might get a notification of a special deal — something like a free appetizer when I order a drink on my first check-in. I might see notifications about specials elsewhere in the neighborhood, or suggestions from other users on things to try or other places to visit. If it's one of my regular haunts, I might become the Foursquare mayor and they might give me something for that.

(I'm sure you can see how this example might apply to a café, a clothing store, a live event, etc.)

If I'm in a place I don't know very well, I can tap the Explore button and learn about everything that's nearby.

What you need to do

First: get on Foursquare and claim your venue. (If you don't want to do it yourself, you can have me do it, or someone like me.) You might think that because you never signed up for it, your venue isn't on there, but you're probably wrong. Foursquare users can set up venues on their own, and they often do. You might have multiple entries that are spelled various ways, you might have inaccurate information out there. At the bare minimum, you need to get this sorted out, even if you never intend to use it for anything else.

The next step

Start running promotions and getting more traffic for your business.

Do you really need to be on Pinterest?

At least once a week, someone asks me whether Pinterest is really that important. Maybe, maybe not. Does your business rely on a lot of visuals?

Pinterest is an image-driven social network. Users create "boards" around specific topics, and "pin" images to them. They follow other users, some of whom they know in real life, some of whom they don't. (This makes it more like Twitter than Facebook or Foursquare.) The boards can be named anything, and can contain any type of image, but there are a few categories that are far more common than others.

When a user pins something from your site, Pinterest will show the image and will also include a link back to your original page. Women make up a large percentage of users, but men use it too, and their numbers have been growing.

You should definitely consider it if you're in any of the following categories:

  • Fashion
  • Travel
  • Home/office decor
  • Food (recipes)
  • Anything involving events, particularly weddings. Pinterest is an ideal way to gather images of items that will end up in one room in order to see how they all look together.
  • Life coaching. This one might not be as obvious. However, a lot of inspirational images are passed around on Pinterest.

You might want to give it a whirl if you're in:

  • Food (restaurant)
  • Real estate

You can use it if you really want to if you're in:

  • Finance. Not an obvious one, right? But depending on your target market, infographics and inspirational content could do well here.

Have a social media question you'd like me to answer in a future post? Email me at Alexandra@AlexandraGo.com.

Feeling stuck in Facebook?

Facebook is a great tool, but some of us who use it will have to quit. Maybe it's become a time-suck and you're neglecting other things, or maybe you've taken a job with a company that forbids you to use it (not common, but it does happen).But what about all of the school friends with whom you've reconnected — how will you stay in touch? What about the photos you posted from the old iPhone you never backed up?

Facebook has a not-obvious feature that allows you to download your data. Here's how you do it.

  • When you're logged in, click the pull-down arrow at the top right and go to Account Settings
  • You'll see a section in the middle labeled General Account Settings
  • Below that, you'll see a link: Download a copy of your Facebook data

The archive will include:

  • Photos and videos you've shared on Facebook
  • Your wall posts, messages & chat conversations
  • The names of your friends and some of their email addresses (email addresses are included if they've chosen to share that on Facebook)

Easy peasy.

How not to acquire Facebook fans

If you're using Facebook, you're almost certainly familiar with Pages.These are the Facebook pages on which you click Like, rather than sending a friend request. Typically they're used for businesses of all types. Public figures use them as well. A lot of people prioritize the number of fans over everything else. Two of the common ways to quickly build the number of fans are to buy them or to run a promotion.

I'd avoid the first one entirely. Tread lightly with the second one.

If you do an Internet search for "buy Facebook fans," you'll see a number of services out there that offer to build your fan numbers for a fee. They do what they say they will — if you sign up, you'll see a jump in the numbers very quickly. (This is different from a Facebook ad; ads target real people who are in your real target market, and that's a topic for another post.)

However... these numbers don't actually mean a lot to you, and they screw up your data. Facebook provides a tool called Insights, which shows you all sorts of information about your audience. But if a lot of these Likes are coming from purchased fans, the Insights page isn't telling you much anymore. You can post incredible content that's so beautifully written it makes you weep with joy, but it will look like it's getting a tepid response because the purchased fans are not people who look at your page.

Now, promotions. Contests, sweepstakes, giveaways, etc. If you're going to run one, the first thing you must do is check Facebook's rules on how to do them. Do it incorrectly, and they can take your page down, which is devastating for a small business that needs Facebook to survive. (Again, a topic for a whole post of its own.)

Once you're positive you're OK with the rules, make sure that the promotion you're running is what your people want, not just what boosts your numbers. The opportunity to win a trip to the Super Bowl is a great prize for the right audience. But if you're in the business of selling ukuleles, run a contest for that and you're going to end up with a lot of people on your page who don't play the ukulele and aren't interested in learning, and you're going to spend a lot of time cleaning up their comments.

A few of my favorite things (for staying organized & productive).

The new year is upon us, which means a lot of y'all are making lists of resolutions and goals. Many of us resolve to finally get organized and productive, and that's what this one's all about.I'm an Apple girl. I've had an iPhone for a few years, an iPad since the summer, and I've never had a non-Mac computer. So that's my bias, but most (if not all) of these will work on other platforms too.

Evernote. A note-taking application that works on almost every computer, smartphone and mobile device out there. When you install it, you create an account, so you can sync across multiple devices. There are both free and paid versions. (So far, I haven't needed to upgrade from free.)

Dropbox. Easy-peasy data storage and file transfer. You can also have shared folders that can be accessed by you as well as other people. If you sign up using this link, we'll both get extra free space.

Freshbooks (affiliate link). An unfortunate number of freelancers do their invoices in Microsoft Word. Quickbooks is good for those who need it, but we don't all need the bells and whistles and inventory and whatnot. Freshbooks is clean, simple, web-based invoicing and expense tracking. You can use it for free (forever!) for up to 3 clients; the next level up is $19.99/month for up to 25 clients, and there are 2 options above that. It has made invoicing so freaking easy for me, and my accountant loves the reports it generates.

Teux Deux. I've probably tried every to-do list out there, and this is the one I love. I always think I'm going to like categories and priorities and all that, but when I use overly-complicated systems I always headed back to pen & paper, until I discovered Teux Deux. The web browser version is beautiful, both on a computer and on an iPad. There's an iPhone app too. You can see the whole week at a time, and there's a separate section for "Someday" — the tasks you need to do eventually.

Do you have any favorites? Tell me in the comments!

 

Why I don't use Facebook Events for invitations

As great as Facebook is for a lot of things, I don't use it for event invitations.Of course there are exceptions to this, but in general, Facebook's capital-E Event feature doesn't get people out to your real-life event.

Here's why :

Facebook doesn't send reminders. Maybe they'll fix this, but right now it's easy to lose track of invitations unless you regularly check your event schedule.

It's sometimes used for events that don't require being there in person. You've probably gotten these. They're for things like "A moment of silence to commemorate _______ " or "Christmas, wherever you are," or "BOYCOTT _______." Which is fine, but those items make it less of a list of conferences and happy hours and things you attend in person, and more a list of things others want you to think about. It clutters up your "event" list with different types of infomation. 

Facebook users are unclear on privacy settings and expect a default towards making too much information public. Something I hear all the time is "I don't want everyone knowing my entire schedule."

Not everyone is on Facebook. For every event I organize, there are at least a few non-Facebook users I want to invite.

A couple of the alternatives that I like:

Evite.com is the original — I think I started using it in 1998. It used to be great, then it looked really dated for a while because they didn't update their template designs, but now it's much better. They have always allowed registered users to include multiple email addresses, with one set as the primary and notifications go to the primary address. This means that if you registered an address for a job you no longer have, you'll still receive invitations that are sent to that address as long as your primary one is still good.

You can allow guests to invite others, you can take polls (for example — have your friends vote on a restaurant for a group dinner) and you can allow them to choose items to bring (for, say, a potluck). 

Pingg.com has Evite-like features, some beautiful templates and also allows you to sell tickets for events (their fee is $1 per ticket plus Paypal transaction fees). 

Both allow you to show or hide the guest list. 

Maybe you still want a Facebook option, because you might not have an email address for everyone you'd like to invite. No problem — after you create and send your Evite or Pingg invitation, you can share it on Facebook. 

Why you need to be on LinkedIn.

I love LinkedIn. Sociologist Mark Granovetter wrote a paper called The Strength of Weak Ties; it's an idea that was later more widely read when Malcolm Gladwell discussed it in The Tipping Point. The brief summary is that weak ties allow you to reach a lot more people and give you a lot more opportunities than strong ties do. Think about when you've gotten a job or a new client and it's been through some kind of an existing relationship. Chances are that it was through a weak tie — not your best friend or your spouse, but maybe through your brother's client's wife or your spouse's tennis partner.

LinkedIn is all about the weak ties. You can use it to stay connected to — yes — your best friends, but also to your former coworkers, high school classmates and the people you met at a business seminar a few weeks ago. Whatever you do, there are people out there looking to do business with you. LinkedIn makes it super-easy for them to find you, and they'll see which contacts you have in common, which puts some social proof on your side.

An example: I recently got a message through LinkedIn from a woman I know socially. She needed some social media help, so she went on LinkedIn and did a search. I hadn't seen her in months and we had never talked about work. She had no idea what I did for a living, but she found my profile and ended up hiring me.

Here are a few quick tips for maximizing your LinkedIn profile. (Groups are a whole 'nother thing and will be the topic of a future post):

Keep your profile complete and up-to-date. You know the headache you get when it's time to update your resumé (and this isn't only an issue for employees; occasionally business owners are asked for them too). Keeping this updated regularly makes it easy, and in many cases you can just direct 'em to LinkedIn. Also great: when you add information (experience, a web site, a photo, etc.), everyone in your network will see it on the main page when they log in. If they don't log in, they'll see your update in the weekly email that LinkedIn send to users.

Include a photo.According to LinkedIn, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be clicked on than profiles without. I'm of the opinion that you're better off having a not-ideal photo on here than none at all.

If you send a connection request to someone you don't know; please include a personal note. In my opinion, it's OK to send LinkedIn requests to strangers if you also introduce yourself. I've built great working relationships with some people I've met that way; they've written a note telling me why they got in touch, and I think that's totally OK. But it's spammy to send a connection request to a total stranger without even saying hi.