Saturday, April 17, 2010

Don't duke it out for everyone to see

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, April 16, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

Keep your catfights offline:

This week, I witnessed one of the worst catfights between two people online that I've ever seen. Although many of the comments were deleted shortly after they were posted, I sat there with my jaw open and in shock, not believing what I was reading, especially considering that the argument was between two well-educated professionals.

We can't pretend to always be having the greatest day on Earth, but business or personal problems don't need to be aired on public social media websites for everyone to see. It was breathtaking to watch the donnybrook unfold, and not in a good way.

Bottom line: if someone posts something rude about you that you have the power to delete, i.e. on your Facebook wall, just delete it without commenting and then respond to the person privately.

Reputations can be damaged in a split second. Think before you post. I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Posting something mean online is like making a sex tape. Just make sure that what sounds like a good idea at the time doesn't come back to bite you on the patootie. And it probably will. And it will probably hurt.

Google Documents:

From time to time, someone will ask me if it's possible to link to a PDF document or other document online. If you have a website, it's possible to upload it to your server, of course, and link people to it. For those of you without a website, however, Google Documents ( is a great way to do this. Just upload your file to the server, let Google know who can have access to the document and voilĂ ! You can share the file and even manage group edits. And the best part: it's free! You can even create documents, too!

Online translation tools:

Online translation tools are all the rage. I think they're great for finding a certain word or a simple phrase, but do not -- I repeat -- do not use these services as a substitute for hiring professional translators for your business or website. The translation of longer, more complex text is always horrible and will get you laughed at and not taken seriously.

You will lose customers, I promise you that. Here in New Brunswick, a bilingual province, if you rely on online services (i.e. Google) for your translation, trust me when I say this: you will do more damage to yourself than help. Pay a professional to do your translation. Free online services just don't cut it in that department.

Failing to use Twitter gets man arrested:

Canadian teen singing sensation Justin Bieber recently cancelled an appearance in Long Island, N.Y., because of security concerns. Problem is that his manager failed to tweet the news to waiting fans (who religiously follow Bieber on Twitter), so a near riot erupted and police had a lot of trouble getting the hormonal teens to disperse. The manager was subsequently arrested and has pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless endangerment, criminal nuisance and endangering the welfare of a child.

Lesson: If you create a following on Twitter, you can't just pretend it's not there, otherwise you're asking for trouble. You probably won't get arrested like Bieber's people, but you need to remember that when people are used to communicating with you religiously via social media platforms, you sure as heck better accept the responsibility.

Years ago, the police would have used a loudspeaker or water cannon to disperse the crowd. These days, they point at you and order to you use your Twitter or Facebook account instead. How times have changed!

Music on websites and blogs:

If you've decided that a website or blog is something you'd like to do, then great! But please, take my advice on this one: resist the temptation to add automatic music to your website. I surf the Internet a lot and have found myself jumping out my chair a few times because I landed on a perfectly innocent-looking blog only to discover that the author had loaded an automatic music service.

This meant that the minute I arrived on the site, music started automatically. If your speakers are turned up, this can be quite startling. If you want me to leave your blog faster than a speeding bullet, then add automatic music. I'm gone.

Quick online videos:

Online videos for your blog or social media sites has never been easier. A digital camera or newer cell phone can take videos these days. For something that looks a bit better, try an inexpensive Flip camera. I know they're sold at Wal-Mart and Future Shop, and perhaps some other locations. You can also buy them online, of course. There are high-definition versions, too, but the regular ones are nice, as well. I've owned one and can certainly vouch for the incredible quality and ease of use. The video quality in low-light conditions is quite simply astounding -- especially for a piece of equipment that only costs from $125-200, depending on the version you decide to purchase.

The only reason that I don't have mine anymore is that it's difficult to vlog with (vlog = blog done with video). You can point it at you, but because the viewing screen on the back doesn't rotate, you can't tell if you're in the shot. This drove me crazy, so I decided to go with the Sony HD Snap cam, which has a rotating lens, making it much easier to record yourself because you can actually see yourself as you record. My only criticism is that it's horrible in low light conditions compared to the Flip.

If the Flip ever comes out with a redesigned version where you can actually see yourself as you record, I'll get one in a second.


Downes said...

You may not want to use automatic translation to translate your own content for others to read, I agree.

But my main use of it is to translate others' content for me to read. Then it doesn't matter that the translation wasn't great - I know what I'm getting into ahead of time.

In particular - and you may want to pass this on to your readers - Google Reader automatically translates weblogs. Just subscribe, then select 'translate to my language' in Feed Settings.

This allows me to stay current in my field internationally, and not just in the English and French speaking world. This gives me a big advantage over my linguistically limited competitors.

Brian Cormier said...

That's a very good point. The online translation tools are excellent for allowing you to understand (or at least get the gist) of what's been written.