Sunday, April 5, 2009

Helping Orphans in Bangladesh

Since 2001 I have been going to Dhaka, Bangladesh and working with the Canadian organization, Families For Children at their orphanage. The first time I wen there I fell in love with the kids and immediately started sponsoring one - Khadiza who is now 9-years old and is always giggling, running around and doing gymnastics! The more I got involved the more I became attached to the kids and to FFC itself. It was founded in the 1970's by an amazing woman named Sandra Simpson who also runs another project in India. Everyone outside of Bangladesh works on a volunteer basis so there is almost no overhead ensuring the money can be used directly to help the kids! If you are interested and want more information either go to the website (link below) or contact me to ask me any questions!

Check it out: www.familiesforchildren.ca

The reason I am writing this now is that I spent 3 months there last year and due to the funding of a CIDA grant I was able to help open up The Spa, a beauty parlour and a training centre for the older girls to give the marketable job skills for when they leave FFC. This grant was received through the university where I am taking my Master's in Communications, Royal Roads University, and their magazine InRoads recently published an article on my trip.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Amzing Video - VIrtual World

This is a simply amazing video - a must watch! From Christian Renaud's website. Again, off-topic but this is too good not to share!


World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fool's Day!

So, I'm straying from my main topic today to say Happy April Fool's to everyone! I personally am staying inside all day, not answering the door or my phone! It's just safer that way.

I've been checking out some funny April Fool's day jokes and put 5 of my favourite below. Enjoy!

1. Youtube: Check out YouTube today - they are playing all their videos upside down!

2. Guardian publishing on Twitter only: The U.K. newspaper The Guardian announced that it was shutting down both its print edition and Web site, turning instead to a Twitter-only format. "Experts say any story can be told in 140 characters," the announcement read.

I fell for this - only realized it's a joke now!


3. The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest spaghetti harvest1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

See the video on YouTube!

4. The Left-Handed Whopper 1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version.

Seriously people! A left-handed burger!?!?!

5.UFO Lands in London Branson's UFO Balloon1989: On March 31, 1989 thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction. The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London's Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.

I would have paid to see this!

Thanks to:
Museum of HoaxesShow all
and Caroline McCarthy at CNET

Monday, March 30, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Facebook Part 4: More about Pages...

Ok, so I'm not setting the best example here as I'm still working on setting up my own Page. The problem has been (as I'm sure many women can understand) that I hate having my photo taken! I did however, manage to get a friend who I work with on consulting projects to take some professional photos of me. She did a great job and for once in my life I was comfortable in front of the camera. Thanks Alana! Check out her website Alana Hayes Photography. She specializes in photos of children and families but also does great corporate and commercial pictures.

So, when I get those photos in a few days my Facebook Page should be up and running! In the meantime here are some new things I've learned:

* With the new changes Facebook Pages are now much more similar to the normal profile pages and are easier to customize.

* Posts on your Page appear in the News Feed of your fans giving you a great way to tell people about new promotions or changes in your business (I did mention this last time but it's worth mentioning again!)

* You can add videos, photos etc. on your wall and have it shared with your fans. You can also chose to not have it sent out to your fan's Newsfeed so they will only see it if they visit your page. This is a great place to post photos or news coverage of events and projects you have been working on! I am in the process of creating photo albums for the different projects I have worked as soon as I finish this post.

* A great tool is the INSIGHTS TOOL which lets page owners find out how many users are viewing your posts - a great way to know if you are attracting enough 'fans' or if you need to work to get more.

* When you first create your page be careful about the Name and Category you pick - these two options cannot be changed. The Category you pick also determines what will show up on your Page - a restaraunt for example may have information such as location and attire but another type of business won't.

* BLURB BOX: In the upper left hand side of the Page. It's a great space to share more information about your organization or even post your favourite saying.

* APPLICATION BOXES: You can put up to 4 applications boxes on your Wall (left hand column)

* You can edit your wall so that it either shows only posts from your organization or else these posts and posts from fans. Just go to the 'settings' tab.

* EVENTS: You can let your fans know about upcoming parties, promotions or any kind of event with this application. After a fan RSVP's the event is added to their calendar and News Feed where their friend can see it.

And finally, don't forget to take advantage of all the other Facebook applications out there that have been built by third parties. I'll try and find some interesting ones for my next post.

Night everyone!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Successfully breaking the 'rules' of Social Media

Here is a great article by David Spark about people who broke the 'rules' of social media successfully. Great article and breaking the rules can work - I just always think you need to know what they are in the first place!

5 People Who Broke the Rules of Social Media and Succeeded

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Why Social Media? and What The F**K is Social Media?

What The F**K is Social Media?

This is an interesting presentation by Marta Kagan on why social media is so important for businesses success.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Facebook Part 3: Creating a 'Page' for your business (now called Public Profiles)

Facebook Pages (now called Public Profiles) are another great way for business owners to advertise their services and to expand their client base. Facebook page owners can create their own page and develop a following of 'fans' and can be used for individuals, groups or businesses.

Why a Page?

1. Your page can be seen and searched both inside and outside of Facebook (a profile or a group can only be seen by members of Facebook).
2. You can track and analyze your traffic on your Facebook page (more on this in another blog).
2. You can send email updates and status updates to all your friends and fans. It's a great to keep fans informed of new events or promotions for your business
3. Personally, I like to used my profile for more personal reasons and my Page for business ones. But, don't forget, depending on your privacy settings your business associates can still probably see both!

***Note: with recent changes to the Facebook website some features between your Page and personal profile seem to be integrated.

How to make your Page:

1. Go to the following link to start creating your page.
2. Pick a category (such as restaraunt) and page name.
3. Add a photo - don't forget to have a clear, professional photo that shows you the way you want to be shown. Company logos are ok but often people want to see a face they can connect to - it makes you and your business seem more approachable and trustworthy, if you use the right photo of course!
4. Add information - add as much as you feel comfortable adding since the more information customers have the more they know about you and your business.
5. Make it interesting - add pictures, videos, comments and information that your viewers will enjoy. Add applications that help to sell your business and to get your fans interacting on your site. Go here to find a list of applications.
6. Click on the "publish this page". When your page is finish always remember to publish it, otherwise no one will see it after all your hard work!

Always remember to update your site regularly to keep people coming back and to get them to recommend other people to your site!

With the new changes on Facebook I am going to be doing a lot of exploring and figuring out how to best use the new Pages or Public Profiles as they are called now. I will keep you up-to-date on whatever I learn.

Some other good sites that talk about Facebook Pages are:

Facebook Group vs Facebook Fan Page: What’s Better?

Using Facebook Pages to Promote Your Blog

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Facebook in 5 minutes a day

So today I'm cheating a bit and I am going to direct you to another person's site - there is a great video out there by Mari Smith that shows you how to use Facebook in 5 minutes a day. For business people it's always important to use social networking but not let it completely consume you. Using simple tips that Mari gives you, you can keep your time on Facebook down to a reasonable level!

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Facebook Part 2: Seven Business Tips for Facebook

A few weeks ago I was called up by a recruiting company and asked to come in for an interview. The interesting thing was that the recruiter had looked me up on Facebook prior to calling! I've heard about people doing this but had never personally experienced it. He advised me that while most of my profile was ok, there was one particular group I belonged to that didn't reflect too well on me and he suggested I remove myself from the group. Before you get too curious it wasn't anything TOO bad - it was an inside joke amongst a group of friends who I socialized with many years ago when I was living in Dubai. But still, people looking me up on Facebook would have no idea what the real meaning of this group was and might interpret it the wrong way. So, unfortunately I decided to drop out of the group and review my whole Facebook profile to make sure it was presenting me in the correct light.

So that is my first Facebook tip:

#1 Always review your Facebook profile on a regular basis to ensure that it portrays you in a positive, and professional way.

If you have been 'tagged' in any photos you don't like just click on 'remove tag' under the photo, or better yet beg your friends to take the photo down!

Another alternative is to have your privacy settings so that only your network can view you, in this case however you wouldn't be able to use Facebook to market yourself or your business.


# 2 Keep your page updated on a regular basis!

According to the Facebook Press Room:

* More than 175 million active users
* More than half of Facebook users are outside of college
* The fastest growing demographic is those 30 years old and older

This is a giant market to tap into but if you don't keep your Facebook page new, fresh and relevant people won't visit your page or recommend it to others.

Keep your page fresh and interesting by:

1) Posting regular status updates. Status updates go into your friend's newsfeeds so by posting updates regularly you increase your exposure.

2) Mix business and pleasure. Let your page say something about you and your personality but don’t go over the top. People will become loyal followers if they like and are interested in you and your business. And don't make it all business - putting in your status updates everyday that your company is offering "50% off _____", or "visit my webpage at _____" will just irritate people and violate the social atmosphere that is Facebook.

# 3 Watch other people's status updates, photos etc. and make comments.

One of the best ways to get people interested in you and your business is to show interest in them. An easy way to do this is check your Newsfeed once or twice a day (shows up first on your Home page) and make a comment on anything you find interesting or that deserves congratulations. But BE SINCERE - fakeness online is just as apparent as it is face-to-face.

# 4 Keep your page clean and uncluttered!

There is nothing worse than visiting someone's page and seeing application after application, or Superwall post after Superwall post. In fact, I have my Superwall turned off and rarely add applications because they clutter up my page. If people are trying to find out something about you and your business but have to sift through a ton of mess to find it they will either give up, or think that the messiness of your page is a reflection on you!

# 5 Create a Facebook Page

A Facebook Page is an alternative choice to creating a Facebook Group on your business (although you can always do both). I am a big fan of this one because I like to keep my Facebook Profile more on the personal side so for business I am going to create a new Facebook page and direct clients and potential customers towards that.

A few of these tips I am just working on myself so I will talk more about Facebook Pages in another blog.

# 6 Have a great photo.

This is something I’m working on at the moment. Using a photo that people become familiar with is an excellent branding tool. Using photos, rather than logos give your business a ‘face’ and a personality that people can relate to.

Advice on photos include:

a) Use a headshot – on Facebook and a number of other sites the pictures tend to be smaller in size so having a full length will make it difficult to see your face.
b) SMILE!
c) Wear solid colours and preferably have a plain, white background. This way the focus will be on you and the viewer won’t be distracted by that bright plaid shirt!
d) If you can afford it, get a professional photographer to take your photo. I know I hate having my photo taken so the idea of this is torture but believe me I’ve tried taking ones of myself (using a remote) and the quality is just not comparable. Your photo is the first thing people see so it’s worth the time and money to make sure it shows you in the best light possible!

Use this same photo (or one taken in the same series) everywhere. Put it up on Twitter, LinkedIn, your blog etc. With enough marketing people will start to recognize you and your brand.

#7 Link, Link, Link!


Of course you are going to have your Facebook Profile, Group or Page linked to your business website, but have you thought about linking your website back to Facebook? If you follow this link you’ll find instructions on just how to do this.

Also, link everything else to Facebook such as your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. Utilizing all of these tools and linking them to each other will ensure maximum exposure, branding and connection to other markets.


So these are the top 7 Facebook networking tips for today! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Facebook Video Spoof

I had to add this video--a hilarious spoof on Facebook!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Facebook Part 1: The Basics

Social Media comes in many, many different forms such as blogs, social networking, video sharing, microblogs, references and even virtual reality. In each of my next blogs I am going to examine a different type of social media and will include any hints, tips or tricks I come across to help everyone using any of these sites. I recommend to everyone that you focus your efforts on one thing at a time, become an expert on that and then move on to the next!

Again, any comments or help from readers are always appreciated!

Today’s subject will be the form of social media I use the most—Facebook! This is a large subject and will be covered over several blogs. This blog outlines the basic facts of Facebook.

FACEBOOK PART 1: THE BASICS

Facebook is a form of social media called social networking (briefly defined as an online community sharing interests and activities). In fact, Facebook (founded in 2004) is a great example of the potential spread and influence of social media; initially only Harvard students were able to become members but it rapidly spread to include university and then high school students. Today anyone can become a member and there are over 175 million users worldwide.

HOW IT WORKS:

Users join Facebook and create a profile which can include items such as photos, interests and personal details. Users then start to connect with friends, join a network (by location), and join groups. When you ‘become friends’ with another person you have access to their profile which includes their status updates, photos, a list of their friends etc. You can request to become friends with someone you see on one of your current friend’s lists, and so your network expands. Additionally, you can look up and add people by name, email address or membership in a group. Who can see your Facebook account and what they can see is determined by individual privacy settings.

On a personal note, I love Facebook because it lets me keep in touch with friends all around the world. Unfortunately I can't make it to places like Malta, Dubai or Australia as much as I'd like but I still know what is going on in my friend's lives and can see photos of what they've been up to--it makes me feel like we will never lose that connection. Recently, I've also re-connected with a number of friends from high school!

FEATURES:

CAUSES: an area where users can display the causes that they are supporting

CHAT: users can communicate via instant message.

EVENTS: a way for users to let friends know about and organize social events (includes: event name host, time, place, guest list etc.). Allows photos and videos concerning the event to be added to the event page.

GIFTS: users can send a virtual gift to a friend.

GROUPS: enable groups of people with similar interests to gather and connect online.

MARKETPLACE: a place to post free classified ads.

MESSAGES: private emails that no one but the sender and user can view.

NEWSFEED: user receives an updated feed about their friends’ details such as status and profile changes, upcoming events and birthdays.

NOTES: a blogging feature where users can import blogs.

PAGES: page owners (individuals or businesses) create their own page and develop a following of 'fans'. Allows a page owner to advertise to Facebook users, provides traffic analysis features, and can be seen and searched both inside and outside of Facebook.

PHOTOS: people can post photos that are visible to others. These photos can be commented on and ‘tagged’ (labeled with a friend’s name who is sent a notification and a link to the photo).

PLATFORM: access to interactive games like Scrabble and Chess and other applications such as Birthday Calendar, which are created by software developers not working for Facebook.

POKES: one user can virtually poke another (a note saying a friend has poked them).

STATUS: users can post a brief update about where they are and what they are doing that is viewable by all of their friends (a micro blog).

VIDEOS: a video sharing application in which friends can be tagged (similar to photos).

WALL: a space in a user’s profile where friends can leave a messages and post attachments such as videos etc.

Cost: Free to users
Source of revenue: advertising

Demographics: 55% female, 30% ages 12-17 and 47% ages 18-34
(Quantcast)

FUN FACT: Australia has ruled that court notices for defendants can be served via Facebook.

References: Wikipedia

Friday, February 27, 2009

What is Social Media?

So far I've been thinking, searching and reading a lot and have found some interesting sites and information. What I haven't found however is a simple, step-by-step guide to understanding social media and how best to utilize it. With that in mind I'm going to approach this blog a little like a classroom (where I am a student too!) and start out with the ABC's and work my way up.

That being said I think that we (ok, I mean me) need to get a clear definition of Social Media. I'm going to write below a short synopsis of my personal understanding of the definition of Social Media based on my research.

Please feel free to comment and criticize but remember I'm going for simplicity here!

Social Media Definition:

1) New technologies enabling anyone to collaboratively create, spread, and access information.

2) Communication in “traditional” media such as newspapers, books, radio and television can’t be altered once it is created, whereas, in social media content can evolve and change after its initial creation. Example: you can leave a comment on a blog or change an entry to Wikipedia.

3) Social media is changing how people interact with and relate to each other (let's talk about impact later!).

And my favourite, simple definition:

4) "Social media is something we engage in rather than consume"

(from a comment by Michael O'Connor Clarke taken from a posting on ProPR).

So, it seems Social Media has 4 main parts:

TECHNOLOGY + INFORMATION + PEOPLE (ANYONE) + COLLABORATION

= SOCIAL MEDIA



Below I've posted a video link to Common Craft where Social Media is explained in a simple,entertaining and informative video.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Starting out: Figuring my way around social media

I'm new to this - new and a little terrified. I've always thought of blogging as a bit like exposing my diary to the world. The last time I wrote a diary, well...it was full of stories of embarrassing crushes and rage against my parent's rules! (All those entries by the way have been long since destroyed).

So why am I doing this now? Well, I am a communications professional and I am expanding my area of expertise to include social media. Even though I am admittedly a Facebook addict and plan my life through email, until the past year I hadn't fully utilized the power and effectiveness of social media. The 'ah-ha' moment came when I started using LinkedIn on a regular basis I began receiving unsolicited job offers! Since then I've approached social media like a school project and I've been reading blog after blog, article after article on how to get yourself, your business, or your cause out there and seen by millions of people. It's amazing. Amazing and overwhelming.

Each piece of good advice I found linked me to another one, and another, and another. All good but at first I was overwhelmed and felt like I was researching and researching but coming up with too many unclear answers and even more questions! What I really wanted was an A-Z instruction manual on social media but I couldn't find one.

I figure there are a number of people out there are in the same boat I was, so I've decided to make the main topic of my blog about how on earth I figured (or continue to figure) out and best use this whole social media thing! I'll pass on all the knowledge I've gained, any good and clear information I get, links to interesting sites, thoughts etc.

So this is a call out for help/advice/queries or just plain frustration from anyone out there who is experienced or just figuring things out. Would love to hear about you and your experiences!

Hope this is a help to all of us!

A few excellent posts I have read include:

Liajen's Blog - Have You Considered How You Will Position Yourself In Social Media?

Very good points she brings up about having a plan before you dive into Social Media. I'm working on mine!

The Secret to Building a Popular Blog and Getting Tons of Readers - written by Maki

Great article and one I'm going to need to read again and again to get everything out of it!