Saturday, June 26, 2010

Social media holds value for politicians

Social Media Matters
By Brian Cormier
Friday, June 25, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Metro section

Politicians and social media: With more and more politicians online these days, this has added a new dimension to communicating with the public and media. Once able to hide behind a bevy of handlers, politicians and candidates are venturing more and more into social media, sometimes to their credit, and sometimes to their own detriment.

If you're a politician or candidate, it goes without saying that being personally involved in social media will bring you closer to voters and certainly give the perception of being more accessible. Years ago, we had to send a letter to a politician - a letter that was vetted through several people for consideration. Today we're communicating more and more with our elected officials through Facebook and Twitter.

Personally, I think it's a good thing that politicians and candidates are more accessible this way. However, there are many pitfalls to avoid.

If you're a horrible writer and can barely put two words together, you won't exactly breed an image of competence and ability. You may be able to make people swoon in public during a speech (very important!) and you may also be able to move bureaucracy and society into making fundamental changes that help many people (also very important!), but the ability to actually write reasonably well is now on the table, too.

I'll resist the urge to go on another spelling rant, however, it's important to know your limitations. If you can't spell and you know it, get some help. Pass your tweets and updates through a proofreader or trusted friend before. Sure, this may not exactly be fast, but at least you'll avoid looking like a dim bulb.

Be careful about getting into online public arguments. There are many journalists who use Twitter quite effectively. If you're just starting out and are trying to show off to your followers, you'll get caught by someone who may use your lack of social media knowledge against you. And no, this is not entrapment. If you want to play in the sphere of social media and have set yourself up on Twitter and Facebook, it's fair game to take you on.

It's not the journalist's job to treat you like a newborn kitten. Practise first or get some good strategic advice from some of your supporters knowledgeable in the area before getting too involved.

Answer comments on your Facebook page and Twitter. There will obviously be some negative things there from people who don't support you, but you'll also get sincere feedback and questions from legitimately undecided voters. Keep track of your social media networks like you would your telephone, e-mail or mail box. Don't feel obligated to get into arguments with obvious opponents who are baiting you. It's usually pretty glaring who these people are.

There are some people who don't agree with deleting negative comments. Personally, I have no problem with the practice. If someone has a hate on for you, there's no use leaving their stuff on your site. This is easy enough to do on a blog or Facebook, but keep in mind that negative comments written on Twitter can't be deleted by you when they mention you. Tread lightly, though, when choosing what to delete. There's legitimate criticism and then there's harassment. Delete the harassment and know the difference.

I believe that politicians getting involved in social media is a very good thing, however there are many landmines out there. Make sure what you write makes sense and that you sound intelligent. Read what you write out loud. If it doesn't make sense out loud, try again! Don't get into public arguments with people online or you'll end up in the news - and for all the wrong reasons. Be sincere. Don't exaggerate because you'll definitely be called on it by opponents or the media. Make sure you get your facts straight all the time, not just some of the time.

Using Twitter to connect with tourists: One of the search terms I regularly check on Twitter is "Moncton." I like reading about what people have to say regarding the city. Thankfully, the vast majority of what is being said is very positive. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that an Alberta politician tweeted that she was vacationing in Moncton.

I didn't know her from a hole in the wall but decided to send her a message wishing her a good holiday! She was very appreciative of the note and, I think, pleasantly surprised that someone local saw her tweet and wished her well in her travels.

This gave me a bit of a brainstorm now that tourist season is upon us. If you own a restaurant, tourist attraction or hotel, keep an eye out on Twitter for people mentioning that they're travelling to your area. If you're in Shediac, for example, search for "Shediac" on Twitter and send notes to people mentioning that they're in town visiting. Don't try to sell them anything... just say "hi" and give them some tips on local attractions. They'll check out who you are (make sure your profile is properly filled out) and may give you some of their business! Even if you're just a regular citizen like me, welcome tourists to the area this year by saying "hi" to them on Twitter. They'll be pleasantly surprised at the hospitality and warm welcome they receive "out of the blue" and their experience will be that much better. I'm going to continue saying "hi" to tourists on Twitter this summer. If more people do it, it could be that extra little "oomph" that will keep them coming back!

Twitter giving you problems lately? You may have noticed that Twitter is very slow or completely offline lately. You can blame the 2010 FIFA World Cup soccer championship in South Africa for that. Twitter expects to be back to normal after the tournament ends on July 11. Until then, we Twitter fans need to be patient as millions of people tweet every move of every soccer game being played.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Today's Social Media Matters column...

... touches on politicians being personally active in social media and how local businesses and citizens can make tourists feel more welcome by using Twitter.

Check out today's Social Media Matters column in the Metro section of the Moncton Times & Transcript or return here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

If you'd rather read the column right away, click here to access it on the newspaper's website.

First anniversary of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett

Seems like yesterday, but today is the first anniversary of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

Six months to go 'til Ho! Ho! Ho!

Santa's enjoying some time at the beach... but he'll be back to making toys soon. :)

Fred goes grocery shopping! (featuring Annoying Orange!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Fuplers: Mom on Facebook

We've seen incredible change in 28 years

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

I graduated from high school 28 years ago this week. It was Sunday, June 20, 1982, and 500 of my classmates and I sat in a sweltering arena with no air conditioning. To make matters worse, we'd just been told by "the powers that be" that it was against so-called etiquette to fan ourselves with our programs.

Needless to say, I ignored the etiquette. I was so warm that I was on the verge of doing my impression of Frosty the Snowman on his way to becoming a puddle with a top hat in the middle of it. I fanned myself like crazy and didn't care if I got in trouble. After all, I was graduating. What were they going to do to me, anyway?

And besides, I also had a head full of hair at the time... lots of hair... and I was roasting alive. Had I shaved my head before the graduation ceremony began, I'm pretty sure I could have stuffed a couple of beanbag chairs with the clippings.

Oh, those were the days!

How times have changed. Back then, a flock of eagles could have set up a colony in my hair. Today, I slap sunscreen on my head to avoid the unavoidable sunburn if I'm outside for more than 30 seconds.

The world has changed so much since that hot and humid day in the arena. There were no cell phones. When we wanted to talk to our friends, we called using a handset attached to a telephone by a wire or actually went to see them. We didn't text. We didn't e-mail. In fact, there was no such thing.

Personal computers were just coming on the market and were rare as hen's teeth, not to mention incredibly pricey and laughably weak compared to today's powerful machines.

I used to have pen pals at the time. It was a thrill to communicate with people from as far away as Korea, the United Kingdom, South America and Africa. It was a lot of fun checking out the different writing styles and exchanging photos. The stamps were always so cool, too - quite different and ornate from the rather plain ones we had here in Canada.

Today, we communicate instantaneously with people from around the globe, the art of the hand-written letter a thing of the past.

Photos can be sent in a nanosecond to anywhere in the world. In fact, you can have an online conversation using services such as Skype where you can see and hear each other - for free! It's unfathomable how times have changes. Back then, you had to pay long distance charges to call 50 kilometres away. Today, you can call (and see) someone in China for nothing.

If we wanted a book, we went to the library or the bookstore. If it wasn't there, they could perhaps order it for us, but it took a long time. Today, buying a book online either from a book seller or an auction site takes literally seconds, even for hard-to-find titles. Shopping online back in 1982 wasn't even a flicker in our minds.

Does anyone actually have snow days anymore? There was actually a time when it was impossible to work if you couldn't make it to the office.

Today, with the Internet, e-mail and company online portals, it's practically impossible to have a true "snow day" - in years past one of Mother Nature's unexpected little treats. Now, there's no excuse for not working from home. Even if the electricity is out, you can still use your cell phone or laptop computer (if it's properly charged) to get some work done.

If a song you liked wasn't available on a 45 RPM record, you had the buy the entire album. Sure, you could order in a 45, but it took forever, and by then it would no longer be a hit.

Today, services such as iTunes give you the ability to purchase the song you want instantaneously for around a dollar.

Back then, if you ran out of money on the weekend, you were out of luck. There were no ATMs - or they were extremely rare. Grocery stores didn't take credit cards or debit, either, so you had to either go without or borrow cash from family or friends. Forget about Sunday shopping. Pretty much everything was closed. In fact, many things were closed past 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, too.

Did you miss your favourite television show one night? Well, tough! You'd have to wait until it ran again. And even to find that out, you'd have to keep checking the newspaper listings to see if it was on. Today the listings are available 24/7 on the television or online. It's similar for movie showtimes and even grocery store flyers.

Had a child who was skipping school? Unless you got a call from the teacher, you'd never know. Today, you just check the online attendance reports. Remember the notes sent home from school? Today, they're being replaced by notices on Facebook, school websites and voice mail messages sent home.

Remember when you had to wait for the television or radio newscast or the newspaper to be delivered to find out what was happening in the world? Today, it's all instantaneous thanks to news websites, including those of newspapers. And thanks to Twitter, you know when anything major is happening in the world immediately.

Yes, the world sure is different from that hot sunny day in 1982.

I wonder how the world will be different for today's grads 28 years from now?

I can't wait to find out.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about how the world has changed since my high school graduation 28 years ago. Once I actually sat down to think about it, the changes have been incredible!

Check out today's Hump Day column in the editorial section of the Moncton Times & Transcript or check back here tomorrow when it will be posted online.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tourism promotion on steroids

Check out this catchy "Inspired by Iceland" video. Awesome!

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Help Moncton's Food Depot Alimentaire raise $1.2 million!

Check out the great video above produced by Botsford Productions and Razor Creative in support of Food Depot Alimentaire's capital campaign to raise $1.2 million to purchase their warehouse. For more information on the campaign, click here. The campaign's major sponsor is the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

It's summer!

If you're reading this, it's now officially summer! Enjoy the nice weather and slower change of pace. Be safe!

(Photo credit: Sherri Cormier)

Charlieissocoollike: Defending video games

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Police standoff on Lancaster Street in Moncton

Wrinkled Ladies

Here's a funny parody of Beyonce's "Single Ladies". Clever!

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, including my own. :)

Here are a few father-related songs... some of them real tear-jerkers!