Saturday, May 15, 2010

Twitter is an ever-evolving social media platform

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, May 14, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

This week's column deals exclusively with Twitter and getting started on the right foot.

1) First of all, go to twitter.com and fill out your profile, including a photo. A photo is important. If you're too afraid to show your face online, you really shouldn't be online at all. C'mon now! Be a big boy or girl and post your photo. Besides, it's kind of fun when people recognize you at the mall. (It has happened to me!)

2) Don't protect your tweets. This is a bit of overkill considering the fact that the huge percentage of people share openly on Twitter. While it's kosher -- almost mandatory -- on Facebook to ensure your privacy is protected because of the vast amount of personal information you can post, Twitter is different. The personal information you post in your profile is minimal, at best, and it's actually seen to be a bit odd to protect your tweets.

While it's certainly up to you to do so or not, if you insist on protecting your tweets, you should at least allow everyone you follow to also follow you if they ask. Sharing is a two-way street. It's not nice to read everyone's updates while shielding your own from the world -- especially if the people you follow ask to follow you, too. Again, if you're that paranoid, Twitter is likely not the best place for you.

3) If you've been using the Twitter homepage as your main Twitter experience, you're definitely losing out. You need to use a website such as HootSuite or TweetDeck to manage your Twitter experience. Using those sites, you can see several columns such as tweets sent by you, tweets mentioning you, tweets based on certain search criteria, and private messages sent to you directly. You can even pre-schedule tweets.

While you can also see all these items through the Twitter homepage, you need to click different links and everything is not on the screen all at once. Having several different columns of tweets in front of you definitely gives you a different perspective on the power of Twitter.

4) Use a link-shortening website such as bit.ly for posting your links. Because you only have 140 characters per tweet sent, you need every trick in the book to save this valuable real estate. Each character is vitally important. The next time you surf the Internet, check the length of the link in your address bar. It may be short if you're on the homepage of a website, but if you're deep in the bowels of the site, the address may be mighty long!

If you're using the Twitter homepage as your entire experience with this particular social media network, you'll need to manually enter the long link at bit.ly or tinyurl.com and get a shorter link to post in order to save characters. If you're using HootSuite or TweetDeck, you have the option to automatically shorten links. This is a tremendous time saver.

5) When writing your tweets, think about the retweeters. Using abbreviated links helps when trying to get people to retweet your posts because it will help to avoid them having to manually shorten your tweet by editing it -- sometimes inadvertently changing the meaning of your tweet and making it look like you said something you really didn't.

But even if you're not posting a link, try to stay below the 140 characters if you think your content will be retweeted by others. The longer your post, the more risk you take that an inexperienced user will edit your tweet into something very bad. Retweeted posts use up extra characters of the 140 available, so if you write to the maximum 140 characters all the time, you're forcing others to edit your tweets if they want to retweet them. This is risky. I've found myself furious more than once at someone changing the meaning of my tweet because they had to edit it to shorten it. I learned my lesson.

6) Don't underestimate the power of Twitter. I've heard people say that they don't "get" Twitter. If you want to know what is the most talked about thing on the planet or in a certain area of the world at this very second, you can do that via Twitter.

The first reports of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile didn't come via CNN, radio or the newspaper. They came via Twitter. When a huge number of people start tweeting about a subject at once, these items become what are called "trending topics" on Twitter. Canadian pop singing sensation Justin Bieber has been a trending topic almost daily for ages. Like him or hate him, he's being talked about a lot... and I do mean a lot!

Even if you don't use Twitter, simply go to search.twitter.com and you'll find a list of trending topics right there. See the name of a relatively obscure celebrity? You can bet they likely died that day. With so many people mentioning the name, it becomes a trending topic immediately. One thing is likely for sure, though, you'll probably see Justin Bieber's name among the trending topics for many months to come.

For a very cool word cloud version of trending topics, simply go to tweetcloud.com and see a comprehensive list of trending topics. The larger the word, the more popular the topic at that given moment. Again, expect to see Justin Bieber quite large, as well as other things happening right now in the news or on television.

Want to see a cool animated Twitter word cloud of your own tweets? Try out tweet3d.com. Enter your Twitter username (or anyone else's) and in a few seconds you'll see a word cloud based on your recent tweets. Apparently, I use the word "awesome" an awful lot!

For a fascinating real-time animated trending topics word cloud, go to twitscoop.com. You can literally watch a topic trend right before your eyes. Powerful.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Check out this great new Saint John 225 TV commercial

Saint John 225 commercial featuring Clinton Charlton and The Formers performing "A Place to Play my Song". Commercial by Hemmings House Pictures.

Aidons Joël Gallant!



L'auteur et conférencier Martin Latulippe donne 1 000 de ses livres meilleurs vendeurs pour amasser des dons pour le rêve de Joël Gallant. Obtenez votre COPIE GRATUITEMENT dès maintenant.

Le motivateur Martin Latulippe donne 1 000 de ses livres pour amasser de l'argent pour Joël Gallant, un jeune homme courageux, qui a été laissé quadraplégique suite à un triste incident de la route le 29 mai 2008.

Cliquez ici pour plus d'information.

Texas teacher's vicious attack on student gets her fired


I don't care what he did to get her this upset, but she has no business teaching children with disciplinary issues if she can't control herself. She's the adult.

Click here for a news story on the incident.

If the video attached to the news story does not work, check out the video here:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This week's Social Media Matters column

This week's Social Media Matters column focuses on Twitter and gettings started on the right foot.

Social Media Matters appears in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript every Friday. It will be posted online here tomorrow, but if you'd rather read it right away, click here to go to the newspaper's online version.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

12-year-old Greyson Chance singing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi" on Ellen

If you haven't seen 12-year-old Greyson Chance's viral YouTube video of himself performing Lady Gaga's "Paparazzi', you've missed something really great!

Here he is on Ellen being interviewed and performing the song. He's astoundingly good. The tone in his voice is incredible.



And here's the viral video if you haven't already seen it. Watch the girls in the background gradually fall in love with him as he sings. Too funny!

American Idol: Recap of Top 4 results show

Ever since fan-favourites LaToya London and Chris Daughtry were eliminated on Top 4 night in previous seasons, the Top 4 results show has earned the reputation as being the time when a shock elimination may occur.

Daughtry definitely caused a kabillion jaws to hit the floor when he was eliminated in 2006. Since then, though, Top 4 night has not produced a shocker.

But did it this year? To find out, click here to read my Idol Chatter column in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read the column in today's Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

Next week, the Top 3 return home for visits and we'll finally find out who'll be duking it out in the 2010 finale the week after next!

All the things that we end up wishing for...

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I wish I forced myself to read more. I miss the feeling of accomplishment of actually finishing a book. I used to be a voracious reader. I guess I still am, but now everything is in snippets of 140 characters or less (Twitter), Facebook updates or short items I read online.

I wish I could walk by the produce section of a grocery store and not have every fresh fruit and vegetable stare at me in terror because they know that coming home with me pretty much means a long, cold death in my refrigerator. A cucumber exists to be eaten, not to turn black and soft after being ignored for weeks.

I wish I would eat all that stuff in my freezer. It's been there forever. It took a lot of time to make and properly store so that I could enjoy it later. I need to stop walking around the house wondering what to eat when simply popping my head inside the freezer will present me with 101 meal ideas.

I wish I would get rid of this darn back pain that's been plaguing me for years. I finally know what it is. I even know which muscle it is. I even have a prescription for physiotherapy. My health plan at work will even pay for it. But I know that as soon as the physiotherapist looks at me, he's going to break it to me that I only have six months to live. (I never professed to be rational.)

I wish I could get a dog. I love dogs. I love all pets, really. I could easily become a crazy pet person. Unfortunately, my lifestyle at the moment just doesn't suit having a dog. That's my loss. And the dog's, too, because I'd probably parade him around the neighbourhood so that everyone could fawn over him.

I wish the basement of my house would stop leaking... and I wish my entire (and sizeable) tax refund didn't have to go to paying for it. I had big plans for that money. Now, it has to go to the company who's going to take a jackhammer to my basement floor and install new drainage tiles.

I wish my cats would stop growing older. They're perfectly fine, but I know that one day it will be time to part with them. I hope the little black cocktail dress I bought for their funerals will still fit me then. And I hope I can find a veiled black hat to cover my puffy eyes and a black lace handkerchief to muffle my hysterical sobs at their oh-so-tragic and dramatic gravesite services.

I wish Another World was still on the air. I used to watch that soap opera every day after school. I wish Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling was still on, too. What I wouldn't give to watch another match between Killer Karl Krupp and The Great Malumba, or The Beast and The Cuban Assassin. I wish Dave Lockhart was still on the air with Talk Back on CKCW Radio. I wish Betty White would live forever. I wish current TV shows like The Middle, Modern Family, Glee, Cougar Town, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, The Office and Bib Bang Theory would stay on the air forever. I wish summer would get here quickly because that means Big Brother will be back on TV again. I wish Canadian Idol would come back.

I wish I could eat all the ice cream I wanted without gaining weight. And I wish sugar wasn't so toxic for us because I really miss eating sweets. But I don't miss the 100 pounds I've lost since I stopped eating sugar.

I wish the American SPCA would stop running that television commercial for homeless animals with Sarah McLachlan's "Angel" playing in the background. It makes me sad. I can't even watch it. I have to turn the channel.

I wish I'd win the lottery. And no, I have no qualms about winning a huge jackpot. I'm not one of these people who say big jackpots (more than $40 million) are too big. That's like saying water is too wet, ice is too cold, or the surface of the sun is too hot. I want an obscene jackpot. You know, the type where even Bill Gates would shake his head and say, "Whoa... that's way too much money for one person to have." Bring it on!

I wish I could find someone who remembers the Doublemint gum Halloween TV commercial that ran in the 1970s. The ad featured an animated witch who flew around on a broomstick. I think she dropped packs of gum in kids' Halloween bags. No one remembers this ad. Did I dream it? I can't even find reference to it online.

I wish everyone loved Christmas and would stop complaining about it.

I wish people weren't so cynical about the men and women in our community who have chosen to enter public life through political office or other means. People complain that politicians are paid too much. But cut their salaries and see who'd run for office then. If you think they're dumb now...

I wish I could go to the Middle East and settle the entire issue by flipping a coin. And I wish wind chimes were illegal. And I wish I liked yard work more because I like the way it looks after it's nice and tidy. And I wish people who got their cars booted or towed would stop complaining and take their punishment like an adult instead of trying to justify stealing someone else's parking space. (And yeah, you did see the sign. You just didn't care. Seen it happen downtown 100 times.)

I wish I'd stop whining about all this stuff and actually get to work and do something about it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

American Idol: Recap of Top 4 performance show

Last night, the Top 4 sang songs from the movies under mentor Jamie Foxx. I'm not a huge fan of Foxx, but I have to admit he was a very good mentor. I felt that he truly wanted what was best for the contestants.

On their solos, Lee had an off night, Casey did very well, Mike did OK, and Crystal was amazing. The duets were incredible, with Lee and Crystal wowing the audience and the judges. I also thought Mike and Casey were excellent.

What did the judges have to say and what's my prediction for tonight? To find out, click here to read today's Idol Chatter in the Moncton Times & Transcript or click here to read the column in today's Fredericton Daily Gleaner.

We're getting closer to crowning another American Idol. After this week, there will only be three. Who will they be? Tune in to Fox at 10 p.m. Atlantic / 9 p.m. Eastern tonight to find out!

This week's Hump Day column...


... is a wish list of a variety things that have been on my mind lately -- from television shows that I would like to see back on the air, to various aches and pains that I wish would just go away.

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

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.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Moncton Wildcats win QMJHL's President Cup

The Moncton Wildcats defeated the Saint John Sea Dogs 7-4 at the Moncton Coliseum tonight before a capacity crowd to win the QMJHL's President Cup. The Wildcats won the series 4-2 and will take part in the Memorial Cup junior hockey national championship beginning Friday in Brandon, Manitoba.

Congratulations to the Moncton Wildcats and the Saint John Sea Dogs for an exciting series.

Go Cats Go!!!

This week's Social Media Matters column...

Last Friday's Social Media Matters column was not published due to a production error. It appears in today's edition of the Moncton Times & Transcript instead. (Thanks to T&T staff for finding the room to run it! I know you had to squeeze it in!) The column will run again on Friday in its usual spot in the Metro section. Today, it appears on the first page of the Life & Times section.

This week's column deals with the following subjects:

- Blogging resources
- Facebook newsfeed
- The power of the crowd
- Sharing documents online
- Social media policies
- Online hoaxes

To read a hard copy of the column, pick up a copy of today's Moncton Transcript and check out the front page of the Life & Times section (page C1). It will also be posted online here tomorrow. If you can't get a copy of today's newspaper or would prefer to read it right away, click here to read the column on the Times & Transcript's website.

Social Media Matters appears in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript every Friday.

Singer Lena Horne dead at 92

Legendary Grammy-winning singer Lena Horne died yesterday at the age of 92. One of her best-known songs was Stormy Weather.

Sunday, May 09, 2010