Saturday, April 10, 2010

What makes a social media "expert"?

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, April 9, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

Social media "expert":

There's a lot of debate online whether or not such a creature even exists. Social media is such a vast area with so much conflicting advice and so many platforms that it's pretty much impossible to be a true "expert".

What is a so-called social media expert? Someone who knows how to use every platform perfectly? Someone who has lots of followers? A technical person? A content-oriented person? Someone who makes money at it? Someone who writes a column about it? Someone who spends every waking moment online?

The answer is that it's pretty much impossible to be a true expert on the entire gamut of social media. You may know Twitter and Facebook very well and have them down pat, but LinkedIn and YouTube are complete mysteries. You may be a brilliant technical person but useless at content -- or the other way around. Maybe you're already famous and automatically acquire a following because of previous work. An expert?

Maybe you need to know a lot about computers... or a lot about relationships... or a lot about business. The bottom line is that it's difficult to find any true experts on social media because the area is changing and evolving at the speed of light. Am I an expert? No, but I know a bit and can hopefully talk about social media intelligently enough to help some beginners wade through the mystery of it all. And if I don't know the answer, I'll find it. Columns like this aren't for everyone.

Many people know a lot more about social media than I do and this may be a bit too simplistic for them. For those who are more advanced than the rest of us, feel free to send in your advice for readers and I'll gladly give you credit. For those who need help and advice, send in your questions and I'll gladly answer them or find someone who can. In the meantime, let's have fun talking about social media. By sharing our mutual experiences and advice, everyone will win.

How are you doing on Twitter?

A site that I recently discovered is a good barometer at telling you how you're doing on Twitter. was developed by international public relations firm Edelman. Although it's still currently in beta (or "test") mode, it can give you a pretty good indication of some of the things you're doing correctly or incorrectly on Twitter.

Just enter your username and TweetLevel will give you an overall influence score based on popularity (how many followers you have), engagement (how many conversations you are participating in) and trust (how often people are retweeting your content). You may be surprised to see how well -- or how badly -- you're doing compared to some of the people you follow. I scored higher than some of the people I thought were amazing... and lower than some I thought who were not so amazing. Regardless, it's a good touchstone to see where you're at.

Negative people online:

What to do about annoying, negative or overly critical people on Twitter? That's always a very touchy subject.

While I have no problem simply unfollowing people, it's obviously something you want to do selectively, especially if they're people who live in the area. It's a small town, after all.

Then again, if someone is being negative, I prefer to avoid them like the plague and I don't apologize for it. I have no time for that garbage -- and neither should you! Local consultant Dave Gallant (Twitter @davergallant) reminded me about the use of lists on Twitter when commenting on my blog. You can create lists of followers in categories, as in people from work, personal friends, people from a certain geographic area, etc. Creating lists on Twitter is easy. Just check out the FAQ section of whatever platform you're using (HootSuite, TweetDeck, etc.). If you follow many people, it can be a more efficient way of tracking different people for different reasons rather than lumping everyone into one long newsfeed, which can become difficult to keep track of.

I don't use lists enough, quite frankly. It would probably make my Twitter experience much more efficient and relegate some of the more negative people to some obscure list that I only check occasionally rather than having to take the drastic step of unfollowing and/or blocking.

Facebook fan page versus group versus regular profile:

I rarely, if ever, accept a friend request on Facebook from an organization, rather than a real person. If "ABC Disease Association" wants a presence on Facebook, it's easy enough to start a group or a fan page, whichever is right for them. If they set up a friend profile, however, I tend not to accept them for the simple fact that they would then have access to some or all of my personal information. (I don't tend to use "limited profile" for any my Facebook friends.) That means I'm never sure who's on the other end of the line, so to speak.

Last year, an organization set up a profile and tried to add me as a friend many times. I kept refusing until I finally snapped and told them to bugger off.

The thing is, if this organization had a fan page or group, I'd gladly join it. But no, I'm not going to accept them as a friend, give them access to some of my personal information and then not know who's on the other end. Is it staff member A, B or C? And what happens if they hire someone less than honourable to start messing around inappropriately?

Whenever you accept a friend on Facebook, you can put them on "limited profile" in your privacy settings. By doing this, you can block access to some or most of your information. As I said, I personally rarely use this. And if I notice that someone has me on "limited profile", I promptly unfriend them. If they don't trust me, then sayonara!

My own view is that companies and organizations should have fan pages or groups on Facebook, not personal profiles like a "real person."

Friday, April 09, 2010

This week's Social Media Matters column

Check out my Social Media Matters column on pg. F2 of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. This week's topics include:

- Discussion on what makes a "social media expert"... and is there even such a thing?

- A way to measure how you're doing on Twitter

- Tips on avoiding negative people online

- What I think of organizations who set up personal profiles (i.e. like a real person would do) on Facebook rather than a fan page or group

Social Media Matters appears every Friday in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow. If you'd rather read it now, however, click here to read it on the newspaper's website.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

RCMP seek public’s help to locate missing Dieppe man

UPDATE: Mr. Thériault has been found alive. Click here for more information.

The RCMP are asking for the public’s help in locating a man who went missing on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.

78-year-old Roger Thériault of Dieppe was last seen driving his car at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7, in Moncton. His last contact with his family was at 5:45 p.m. when he called a relative in the Caraquet area.

Mr. Thériault has numerous health issues that require daily medication. It is not believed that he has his medication with him. He is normally in regular contact with his family. Mr. Thériault has been described of late as being somewhat disoriented and confused.

Mr. Thériault is 5'10", 250 lb, balding and wears glasses. He drives a newer model 2007 four-door, light brown Chevrolet Impala, N.B. licence plate GPV 417.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Codiac RCMP at (506) 857-2400.

Rufus Wainwright - "Across the Universe"

After Siobhan Magnus's performance of "Across the Universe" on American Idol this week, judge Ellen DeGeneres mentioned that Rufus Wainwright has a great version of the song, too. Anyone who's heard it would certainly agree. Here it is:

New Family Feud category: "Homophobic Guests"

Wow... this is absolutely breathtaking! Ellen DeGeneres found herself being chatted about on Family Feud -- mostly in a good way, but not by one certain gentleman. And people clapped like a bunch of monkeys. Crazy!!

American Idol: Recap of Top 9 results show

My predictions were way off this week, except for the fact that Aaron Kelly was in the bottom three, as I thought he would be. Other than that, I missed everything! I guess my ego got too big for my own good after I nailed last week's results 100%! Ha! Oh universe... you silly goose!

The bottom three last night was composed of Aaron and two other contestants who also saw themselves in the bottom three for the first time. Perennial bottom three favourites Katie Stevens and Tim Urban were spared this week after great performances and good reviews from the judges. One member of the bottom three was a surprise but not a shock... the other was a complete shock. In fact, the "complete shock" needed to sing for the judges' save because they, in fact, received the fewest votes!

After the contestant sang for the judges' save, Simon Cowell announced that -- for the first and only time this season -- the judges' save would indeed be invoked! So that's it for this year! If another "shock" elimination occurs, that contestant is out no matter what.

Because the judges' save was used this week, the Top 9 perform AGAIN next week under the mentorship of Adam Lambert, last season's runner-up. As well, because the judges' save was used, two contestants will be eliminated next week instead of just one.

To find out who joined Aaron in the bottom three this week, click here to read my Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read Idol Chatter in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Tune in to the Top 9 (Part 2) next Tuesday at 9 p.m. Atlantic (8 p.m. Eastern) on Fox!

Free speech means also accepting the consequences

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

While free speech has been one of the cornerstones of our society, I always marvel at the fact that there are those out there who forget another cornerstone of our society: accepting responsibility and the consequences for what we say.

Despite being a treasured fundamental freedom, I find that with the onslaught of online media in the past decade, we've lost sight of the reality of one thing: if we shoot our mouth off, there are consequences. I'm surprised at the number of people who feel they can say anything yet somehow believe they're immune from any repercussions.

I've heard the following: "This is freedom of speech!"; "I can say what I want!"; "Can't you take criticism?"... and so on.

Although I'm the first to admit that I don't have the thickest skin in the world when it comes to criticism, I'm certainly fine with being told I'm wrong about something. As someone who likes to be right (don't we all?), being proven wrong is actually a good thing, because then I can change course and end up being right! Right? Right!

Recently, someone posted comments on a video I made and I deleted them because, in my opinion, they were insulting and inappropriate. They were critical for one reason only: to be critical. There was nothing constructive. There was nothing factual.

That's OK. It's a free country. But here's where it's a free country for me, too: I deleted the garbage and blocked the person who posted the comments. They e-mailed me and were completely out-of-sorts that I dared delete their words. Poor baby! I feel so bad for you that I could just cry. You decided to throw nastiness at me and I decided to wipe it off and put up a wall so you couldn't do it again and, somehow, I'm the bad guy here?

It's really puzzling. This stuff doesn't only happen online, it also happens in person. It can happen while walking down the street. It can happen on the telephone. It can happen anywhere. I find that people are standing up and demanding free speech -- people like American shock entertainer Ann Coulter (I refuse to give her any credibility by suggesting she's a legitimate political commentator) -- yet when the consequences come as a result of their "free speech," they cry foul.

You've probably heard this before, but regardless of what some people say, free speech does have its limits.

There's the old adage that says free speech is nice, but you still can't scream "Fire!" in a crowded theatre. People seem to think that they can say and write anything -- and I do mean anything -- and that somehow people don't have the right to react strongly.

I reject that notion. I fully agree that you can say what you want. You can write what you want. But I can also react the way I want. When you exercise the right to free speech, you must also accept the consequences. Sometimes they're fair. Sometimes they're not. Sometimes they're mild. Sometimes they're drastic.

To anyone out there who believes you can say anything to anyone regardless of how it hurts or insults them, I say, "You're right! You can!" But you have to accept the consequences of the reaction -- whatever they are.

When a person says something that is legitimately out of line and that offends you, you have the right to react. You can choose not to, of course, and depending on the circumstances, that indeed may the correct course of action. But sometimes it's just not. Sometimes it's appropriate, and in fact desirable, to launch a shot across the bow of the other person's ship just to let them know to move on and pick on someone else.

I always ask this very simple question when people are surprised at getting pushback following their nasty messages: "What did you expect?"

It's simple, yet complex at the same time. Seriously, "What did you expect?" Did you think that calling me fat, an idiot, or useless was going to get you a positive reaction? Did you think I was going to let your comments stay on my website, blog, video channel or what have you?

Did you think I was going to give you $20 and thank you for being part of my life? Were you expecting a kiss? A tender caress? Perhaps an awkward curtsey of subservience with my eyes looking toward the ground in surrender?

If you did, you have some serious personal interaction issues that you should talk to a psychiatrist about (I'm only half kidding.) Next time someone insults you and you react badly, look at them in the eyes and ask that question. "What did you expect?"

Maybe a light will go on then.

We all have choices. We can choose to spread the love, so to speak. Or we can choose to spread the hate, so to speak. Whichever one you choose, that's up to you, but I reserve the right to choose what I allow into my personal space in the world, be it the mailbox attached to my house, my e-mail, online activities, my telephone, or what have you. And if I'm ever critical of something, then I'll need to accept the consequences too! I'm not suggesting criticism isn't ever warranted, just be prepared for the repercussions.

People who spread garbage -- the spammers, the haters, the fraud artists, the insulters -- well, you have fun with that. But when it comes to me, I choose not to give in. I won't start any wars, but I'll ignore, hang up, write "Return to sender!" on an envelope or whatever else I have to do to divert your attention elsewhere.

The soapboxes we stand on are our own. We shouldn't demand that others maintain them for us, too, especially when we decide to go negative.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about free speech and my observation that many people believe you can say anything to anyone but somehow should remain immune from any repercussions. Some people seem to believe that the right to free speech is an vaccination against having to take responsiblity for what you said.

I found that out this week when someone left a nasty note on one of my videos and then chewed me out for deleting it.

You have the right to your soap box -- you're absolutely 100% correct -- but I'm under no obligation to stand in the audience and listen.

Read Hump Day in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Remember: if it's Wednesday, it's Hump Day!

(And is it just me, or is the photo I chose for this post really disturbing?)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

American Idol: Top 9 performance show recap and predictions

Last night was one of those American Idol shows that re-establishes your faith in the franchise. Although it's been a bit bland this year, I thought last night's show of music from the Lennon-McCartney songbook was definitely the best of the season, with everyone doing reasonably well.

Despite the fact that this was supposed to be the year that the girls dominated the competition, three consecutive females have gone home since the Top 12 began. Do I think that trend will continue tonight? Nope... and who I think is being sent home may surprise you. I think it will be their first time in the bottom three -- and their last.

To read today's Idol Chatter column, click here for the column in Moncton Times & Transcript. The column was not posted to the online edition of today's Fredericton Daily Gleaner, however.

To find out who goes home this week, tune in to Fox tonight at 10 p.m. Atlantic (9 p.m. Eastern).

Will It Blend? -- iPad

Considering how "in demand" the iPad is, this is painful to watch!

Monday, April 05, 2010

RMFHaiti Video: A Ricky Martin Foundation Celebrity Appeal for Haiti

Click here for more information on the Ricky Martin Foundation/Habitat for Humanity Haiti Recovery Fund (RMFHaiti).

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Green Village closes in Moncton

Green Village has closed its large impressive facility on Lewisville Road in Moncton. Too bad. Nice place. Click here for a news report on the closure. Sad to see 45 jobs lost in the city. I drove by this afternoon and the signs are now down.

Defending realtors

Moncton realtor Jason Capson puts in a good word for real estate agents. Click here to visit Jason's website at Exit Realty.

Happy Easter!

Click on the photo for a larger version for the kids to colour!

... and some Easter cartoons, too!

Funny Little Bunnies

Bugs Bunny: Easter Yeggs

It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown!

Peter Cottontail

Bing Crosby: Easter Parade