Keys to Being Social: Grammar

Leather Belt, Metal Buckle by Beatrice Murch, on Flickr

Leather Belt, Metal Buckle by Beatrice Murch, on Flickr

I cannot even tell you how many blog posts I’ve come across over the years whose first paragraphs had so severely injured my eyes that I could not continue reading.

I’ve offered to proofread people’s posts and instead of thanking me for the free help, they’re offended.

Guess what? You’re standing in the middle of the room with your pants down and everyone sees it. I’m the one offering a belt. It’s your choice whether the belt is viewed as a tool to inflict punishment or a much-needed support system.

Yes, grammar matters.

True, a well-written post about nothing is like a waterless cloud. The need for content does not outweigh the need for its presentation to be, well, presentable.

Yes, we all screw up, too. This is not an indictment on your person. I am not condemning you to a life lived in solitary on a deserted island with only a dictionary to read. You shouldn’t be offended by the post, you should be motivated to improve your writing.

Heck! Spell check is my friend. Google helps me learn words. The issue isn’t the struggle; it’s the results.

English is hard. 85% of the words in our lexicon were borrowed without conforming their spelling to our rules. I get that. It’s for that reason that English is the only language with Spelling Bees and posts like this one from Copyblogger, “15 grammar goofs that make you look silly,” are written.

Difficulty is Not an Acceptable Excuse

Do you want to be taken seriously or do you want your ideas to be dismissed? Read more ›

Posted in Keys To Being Social

Don’t be a Twit – Tilting at Internet Scarecrows

Scarecrow by Joi Ito, on Flickr

Scarecrow by Joi Ito, on Flickr

My friend Stacy wrote:
“I have a Twitter pet peeve – TrueTwit Validation…have you written on this yet?”

Though I’ve never read Don Quixote, I’m aware of the tilting at windmill cultural reference. But for this post, scarecrows is more appropriate.

All of us are afraid of the crows. We set up our digital spaces, trying to keep the spammers and trolls from eating our developing crop.

One scarecrow is good, common sense. A field of scarecrows is extreme.

Some of the things people do to protect themselves from spammers actually drives away regular people, too. I, for one, am sick of having to prove that I am a legitimate, breathing human being to computers. This isn’t 2001: A Space Odyssey. You’re not HAL. I’m not Dave.

Read more ›

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Posted in Security, The Internet

Twitter Followers: Ten Ways to Grow Your Following

"10" Boating Sign at Dana Point Harbor by Bridget Willard

“10″ Boating Sign at Dana Point Harbor by Bridget Willard

A friend said, “I am having trouble getting followers for a new client.” Though she was general in her tweet topics (not just self-promotional, she was at a loss.

Here were my suggestions, generalized and tweaked as to not identify the asker.

  1. Make sure you have a completed profile, avatar (logo), header photo, and background. Your Twitter background shouldn’t be clouds. Most of us are choosy and won’t follow eggs. See: “Baby Steps to the Tweet.”
  2. Follow back. Unless they are spam, an egg, #TeamFollowBack, or porn, I follow. One thing I’ve learned in this business is that you never know who is behind the account, who they know, or even where they live. All business is word of mouth and social media just multiplies that exponentially. I have friends all over this country who do accounts that aren’t necessarily local and we talk (and recommend each other).
  3. Nerds like me have lists by geography and topic. Take advantage of the work we’ve done for you. For example, here is the list my primary personality has for my county. Follow those people. It’s a much better way to find new people than buying followers (which is spammy). Read more ›
Posted in Twitter

Keys to Being Social: Consistency

130510 The Positive Daily Affirmation Image About Consistency

Do you debate blogging based on consistency versus inspiration? Are you a slave to the editorial calendar?  Do you fear the impending, un-avoidable lack of quality that only comes with consistency? Perhaps, that debate has only been in my own mind.

“Consistency is the last resort for the unimaginative.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Yet consistency is important to our own skill-set. Like any skill, writing must be practiced. That reason alone, regardless of consideration for Google’s search math or serving your audience, is enough to compel me to publish more regularly.

The Confession

I admit that I’ve been selfish in my blogging. I only blog when I feel compelled to.

Often, since I have a “day job,” my reasons fall under “Life Happens.”

 “At the end of the day blogs, Twitter, Facebook are just sites. Sometimes the world is more important than the digital one we live in.” Scott Stratten, “Frequently Futile: How Often Should You Blog”  Read more ›

Posted in Keys To Being Social

Retweet Styles – It’s like Jeans; there’s a fit for everyone.

Jean City 2004

Sarah Macmillan (c) 2004 – Flickr Creative Commons

Social media experts are known for their opining.  Like it or not, extreme positioning tends to garner both positive and negative attention.

As a dispensary of “unsolicited advice” I’ve made the enemy or two in my day. My thought, however, is this: why not experiment around?

One thing we can count on in social media is that trends, platforms, and accepted notions change over time.

By now, most people know what I think of Twitter’s Retweet Button.

But there is an element of style in the retweet. Style in tweeting is like jeans – there’s a fit for everyone.

1.  Old School RT

This is traditionally done by clicking reply on a tweet, copying the text of the original tweet, and pasting after the user’s name.  Then you put “RT” in the front of the tweet and click send.

Hootsuite and Tweetdeck (as well as their rival third party apps) have buttons that make this much easier.  In Hootsuite, however, you have to change the settings for this retweet style to be activated.

On Twitter mobile this is called “Quote Tweet.”  I still don’t get why they don’t have that option on the web version, but I digress. Read more ›

Posted in Twitter

Why I Don’t Use Twitter’s Retweet Button

grumpynoretweetNothing sets me on edge like the retweet button.

Twitter shot themselves in the foot when they took an organic, user-generated syntax (the retweet) and made a button for it.  

Sure, maybe I lose credibility in your eyes because I don’t have an MBA in Marketing but I have been tweeting since 2007 (as @gidgey), in the BRTB days (before retweet button).

Now, you can take my advice or you bounce from the blog.  But my perspective is always to be a help.

I’ll start with the benefits of the Retweet Button.

  1. People like to be able to say that their tweet was retweeted x amount of times.  Even I have fallen into this trap from time to time. 
  2. Some tweets are just too awesome or too long to edit in order to Retweet.
  3. People claim it curbs traffic on Twitter.  I’m not sure if that’s actually true but I’ll capitulate to the point for the purpose of this post.

Here are some of the reasons why I don’t use Twitter’s Retweet Button:

It’s overused.  

When a “reply” suffices as in a case where “You’re welcome” or “Thank you” are appropriate responses, the retweet makes you look lazy.  Yep, I said it.

Now, don’t get your feelings all hurt, I’m not going to call anyone out and show screenshots or anything.  Just think before you press “retweet.”  Is it the appropriate response?  Remember, Twitter is for conversations, not just mirroring a statement back to the original sender. Read more ›

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Posted in Twitter

Ten Ways to Be Retweetable

An Example of How Not to Tweet

If You Want to be Retweeted, Be Retweet-able

It never ceases to amaze me how technology cripples our ability to communicate.

(Wait. What?)

Yes, you would think it should be the opposite.

This post lists ways to remind you that you are still a human being even when you have a computer in your pocket.

1. Stop Tweeting from Facebook

Yes. Automation. Specifically, “Tweeting from Facebook” is very easy and popular. But is it the best way to get your message out on Twitter? I say no.

(Save your outcry for politicians or the comment section.)

Listen, I’ve been tweeting since 2007. I’ve seen a lot of new people take up Twitter lately, thinking it will give them instant results like the promise of Sea Monkeys on the back of cereal boxes.

You don’t build relationships by pushing buttons. Read more ›

Posted in social media, Twitter

Keys to Being Social: Common Sense

Bridget's Relationship Pyramid (c) 2014 Bridget Willard

Bridget’s Relationship Pyramid (c) 2014 Bridget Willard

Do you leave your front door unlocked and let just anyone walk in? No. That’d be ridiculous. When your friends come for dinner, do you give them access to every room? Can your neighbor look in your underwear drawer? Then why do you let everyone in all of your digital spaces?

The key to your online privacy is common sense.

In every other area of our lives, we have levels of intimacy and certain people are never allowed to have our most private information.

Dinner guests don’t get access to our tax returns, so why are you letting some person you just met on Twitter be your friend on Facebook?

Define your Safe Place

The first thing you need to do is decide which network will be your safe place. This is the place where you allow yourself to be the most open. For me, that’s Facebook.

Back in my Mafia Wars days (yes, I got wrapped up in that), I let every Tom, Dick, and Harry be my friend. In fact, I needed them to be my friend so I could advance through the levels. After I quit that (and subsequently the rest of the social-obligation games), I slowly by slowly unfriended my former mafiosos.

Read more ›

Posted in Keys To Being Social

Keys to Being Social: Spontaneity

“Humor is a spontaneous, wonderful bit of an outburst that just comes. It’s unbridled, its unplanned, it’s full of surprises.” ― Erma Bombeck

Plan, plan, plan. Social media seems to be obsessed with planning. The problem with planning is life happens.

Some posts can be keyword analyzed, penciled into your editorial calendar, and scheduled three months in advance. There’s no harm in planning. In many ways, planning gives us room for spontaneity.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

The idiomatic proverb rings true with planning and spontaneity.

Read more ›

Posted in Keys To Being Social

Keys to Being Social: Passion

Every Passion Has a Color

Every Passion Has a Color by Eric Broder Van Dyke, on Flickr

Social gatherings can be great opportunities to meet new people, catch up on your email, or gain a few extra pounds, depending on the event and how excited you are to be there. As the local guru to my crew, I’m often asked “how to questions.”

This time, my niece introduced me to a friend of the family while we were in the buffet line at a shower. This beautiful soul was curious about how to use a blog to promote her new book.

This silver-haired, tender-hearted woman had written a book. Sadly, she didn’t feel she could blog.

I looked her in the eye and said,

“You have something to say. You can add value to the world.”

Her eyes began to well up and her face changed entirely.

She believed me. She believed in herself.

It was a teachable moment for her and an inspiration to me.

In between the requisite shower games we continued our conversation. The more we brainstormed, the more energized I became.

Driving home, I realized this is my passion. There’s a part of me that will always be a teacher. I love it when someone’s brain clicks. You can see it on their face. Read more ›

Posted in Keys To Being Social

Keys to Being Social: Content

Yes, this is a meatloaf formed into a beautiful cake. Two layers of your standard meatloaf recipe are frosted with mashed potatoes. Decorate with vegetables.

My mom’s Meatloaf Cake. Photo by @Presence_Etsy. Yes, this is a meatloaf formed into a beautiful cake. Two layers of your standard meatloaf recipe are frosted with mashed potatoes. Decorate with vegetables. Photo used with express permission.

In real estate you often hear the mantra, “Location, Location, Location.”

In many ways this also applies to digital real estate. More appropriate to this global space is:

“Content, Content, Content.”

Social media is driven by thoughts. Thoughts become ideas. Ideas become action.

Commonalities and relationships are forged because of thoughts and similar experiences.

Sharing content is always what sets you apart from others.

What if I have nothing to say?

Have you ever thought to yourself that everything meaningful has already been said? Maybe it has. I’m sure there is another blogging series or posts that are better than this one. But this is my creation and the words come out in my voice.

Believe me, you, too, have ideas. You have your own style. You have a voice. You can add value to the world. Are you worried you’ll just state the obvious? Maybe the obvious isn’t that obvious.

“Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them. Maybe what’s obvious to me is amazing to someone else.” Derek Sivers  Read more ›

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Posted in Keys To Being Social

Keys to Being Social: The Golden Rule

Live by the golden rule. @orangeshow on Flikr

Live by the golden rule. @orangeshow on Flikr

Who remembers first grade? Among stretching exercises, snack time, recess, and learning to read with Dick & Jane there was a sign, way, way high up on the classroom wall.

The Golden Rule:

“Do Unto Others As You Would Have them Do Unto You.”

Do you remember that?

Is it taught anymore?

Lately it seems like the internet doesn’t embrace this basic axiom of human relations.

Even Ted Rubin started a Twitter account to remind people to Just be Nice.

A Word on Kindness

Kindness is the bonding agent that allows two people with diverse interests and opinions to become and remain friends. It’s such a simple, basic concept. It’s a wonder that we forget.

Yet, our fast-paced society with blue-backlit screens has perhaps de-sensitized us. Have we been stripped of our sense of propriety and manners in the name of authenticity? Has “keeping it real” been an excuse for brutal honesty? At what point does this cyber bullying break down all meaningful communication? Read more ›

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Posted in Keys To Being Social

Keys to Being Social: Conversation

Last Conversation Piece by Cliff1066 on Flikr

Last Conversation Piece by Cliff1066 on Flikr

“A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What role does a conversation have in social media?

If you are of the persuasion, as I am, that social media is about relationships, then conversation and the art thereof, is one of the major requisites of social media.

People generally understand how to comment and converse blog-style on Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus. But with Twitter, the syntax seems to leave even experienced users perplexed.

It’s funny to me how frequently I am asked how one starts a conversation on Twitter. The answer is always the same.

“You start a conversation on Twitter the same way you do in real life.”

Hold that thought. Let’s first discuss the retweet button and your social strategy.

The Retweet Button: A Conversation Inhibitor.

I am pretty famous (or infamous depending upon whether you agree with me) for my opinion about Twitter’s Retweet Button. But it comes down to two major reasons for me: manners and conversation.

It seems that a retweet is commonly accepted as a substitute for “thank you” or “you’re welcome.” And this is why the conversation is stopped.

To make my point, I recently tweeted:

I really liked this reply:

Though, I don’t happen to agree with him entirely. But keep his thought in mind while I digress to strategy. Read more ›

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Posted in Keys To Being Social
Bridget Willard

Bridget Willard

I'm pretty hard to box in and I have a wide variety of interests which is why I have three blogs.

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