Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Online resources can teach better blogging

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Monday, May 10, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Life & Times section, page C1

Before I get into the column this week, I just wanted to thank everyone who's commented, forwarded and retweeted Social Media Matters since it began in March. I really appreciate the support and ongoing interest!

Blogging resources: The last two columns focused on blogging, so I just wanted to point out two especially good resources for those of you wanting to raise the bar on your blogging, or for those of you who are thinking of getting into it as an income-generating activity.

First, check out Yaro Starak, an Australian blogger who's always willing to help. He makes a full-time income blogging through coaching, courses, advertising and affiliate sales and is a wonderful resource for anyone who blogs for fun or profit. Yaro's website is entrepreneurs-journey.com. Check out his free reports on blogging for profits and also on starting up your own membership site. Also, check out Darren Rowse over at problogger.net, considered one of the most successful bloggers in the world. Darren is also Australian and always willing to share tips, tricks and valuable information on becoming a better blogger.

Both Yaro and Darren personify the blogger and social media mentality that we all must have: sharing makes the entire experience better for everyone... and being generous with your advice only makes you more successful!

Facebook news feed: I've been talking to several Facebook friends who are being driven crazy by getting updates from a variety of quizzes and applications that other people are taking part in, especially Farmville, the hugely popular Facebook application where you can manage a virtual farm.

In fact, it's quite easy to hide these annoying updates. Just scroll over to the right of the update and a "Hide" button will appear. (It's hidden unless you scroll over to the right of the update.) Click on it and it will give you the option of either hiding the person entirely or just the application or quiz. I have blocked every game and quiz from my newsfeed and it's made my Facebook experience much more enjoyable.

The power of the crowd: A couple of weeks ago, I attended a fascinating workshop on social media by Mike Kujawski, an Ottawa-based social media and marketing consultant. I was really impressed by what he had to say, especially when he espoused the power of the crowd. We don't have to do it all alone. There are thousands of people out there willing to help us with our business challenges if we simply ask.

One of the books that Kujawski urged those in attendance to read was "Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations" by Clay Shirky. I promptly went out and bought the last copy at a local bookstore and am in the process of reading it now. Shirky writes about how social media has changed the world by bringing together like-minded people for good... and for bad. It may interest you.

Sharing documents online: Ever wanted to share a PowerPoint presentation online but didn't have a website (or a friend with a website) with which to host it? If that's the case, check out SlideShare (slideshare.net). According to the website, supported files include: Presentations -- pdf, ppt, pps, pptx, ppsx, pot, potx (Powerpoint); odp (OpenOffice); key, zip (Apple Keynote). Documents -- pdf, doc, docx, rtf, xls (MSOffice); odt, ods (OpenOffice); Apple iWork Pages.

If you've been looking for a way of sharing documents and presentations with others, be sure to check out SlideShare! You can even link your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts to SlideShare if you'd like.

Social media policies: During the Mike Kujawski presentation that I mentioned earlier, he talked about a site called Social Media Governance (socialmediagovernance.com) that provides a variety of tools for organizations to improve their effectiveness in the social media sphere.

One of the site's most useful offerings are links to the social media policies of several organizations, including hospitals, governments, broadcasters, large industry, charities, universities and many others. There's no use reinventing the wheel when developing social media policies for your own organization. Check out the Social Media Governance website for links to organizations similar to yours and your job will be made so much easier.

Besides, many of these organizations have already tried and failed at policies that don't work, so what you'll read there is probably working just fine for them. Let others' trials and errors work for you by saving you time and money by starting off on the right foot by implementing policies that have actually been tried and proven to be worthwhile!

Online hoaxes: If you're like me, you take great pleasure in pointing out to people that they've been taken in by hoaxes. If you're ever wondering if the latest Facebook warning or scary e-mail is true, there are two sites you need to bookmark. The first is Snopes (snopes.com), and the other is Hoax Slayer (hoax-slayer.com). Both these sites are excellent for providing factual and researched information on what is true and not true out there. Bookmark them now.

Another simple and overlooked way to find out if something is a hoax is Google. Just enter a few key words from the hoax "warning" into Google and you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll find out right way whether or not you really need to be afraid. Using Snopes, Hoax Slayer and Google can save you a lot of time and embarrassment.

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