Tag Archives: social media

So, You Want to Create a Blog

Social media are here to stay, as evidenced by the ongoing popularity of tools such as Twitter and Facebook. However, if you prefer to convey your ideas in complete sentences or phrases longer than 140 characters, blogging may be the vehicle for you.

If you’re reading this, you are already familiar with blogs. A blog – a shortened version of the term web log — is nothing more than an ongoing series of articles or stories posted online on a particular website. These posts generally appear in reverse chronological order, newest first.

Your blog can stick to a specific topic – mine is generally about words and language – or can be a collection of musings on a variety of subjects. It can also be a tool to keep employees or clients up to date on the organization’s plans and activities.

For organizations and individuals, blogs can be a great way of keeping website content fresh, even if the majority of the site remains static. A clothing store’s blog, for example, might contain posts about the latest fashion trends and hints about wearing a particular item of apparel with style.

Before you take the plunge, however, do a bit of research to be sure that a blog is the right tool for you. If you’re going to put the time and energy into creating a blog, you want to make sure it meets your needs. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. What kind of information will interest/intrigue them?
  3. Who will write the blog? Who will they be representing (e.g., the CEO? The organization as a whole?)
  4. Who needs to approve the copy before posting?
  5. How often do you plan to refresh the copy? Once you begin, you need to be committed to adding posts regularly.
  6. Who is responsible for posting the copy and making changes, as needed?
  7. Will you allow comments? If so, who will respond to them?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to roll. All you need is content. I’ll address the guts of a post in my next blog entry. Stay tuned.

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Alphabet Soup and Social Media

Have you ever thought that the world of social media has plunged us deep into a bowl of alphabet soup and left us to climb out as best we can?AlphabetSoup

I’m referring to acronyms, of course – those “words” that are created by taking the first letter of a longer phrase or title and stringing them together. We all use acronyms in our conversations – think NATO, for example (North American Treaty Organization). Sometimes, they are even so well integrated into our language that we forget that the term we’re using is actually an acronym; scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) is one that comes to mind.

The advent of social media and cellphone technology, however, has taken acronyms to whole new level. Given the character limits imposed by Twitter and the need for speed when texting — or Keyboard_Twitterthe reluctance to type more characters than is absolutely necessary – an entire new collection of acronyms has come into being. These acronyms are rarely spoken, because they are generally unpronounceable (LMAO, anyone?), and besides, they were designed for an online medium that is read, not verbalized.

If you are new to texting or to Twitter, you are suddenly assaulted by a barrage of terms that seems foreign and incomprehensible. When I first came across LOL (laugh out loud), I was puzzled. Lots of love? How did that relate to the sentence I had just read?

It’s all a matter of exposure, however. Everyone can play the game – they just need a teacher to guide them through kindergarten, as it were. These days, I can decipher online acronyms with the best of them. IMHO? In my humble opinion, of course. ICYMI? In case you missed it.

Today, when I come across an online acronym I can’t identify, I just say WTH* (What the heck – known in other circles as WTF) and google the translation. If you haven’t yet made the acquaintance of online acronyms, it’s time to GWTP* (Get with the program) before you drown in your soup.

*My own creation

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Technology Has the Last Word … or Two

Language, as I have noted before, is fluid and ever-changing. Nothing is surer proof of its fluidity than the inclusion of many media and social media terms in the online version of that august tome, the Oxford English Dictionary. Fitting, I suppose, that these words are being featured in the free online OED.

The editors of the OED don’t take new entries lightly. As the OED blog notes, “Each month, Oxford Dictionaries collects examples of around 150 million words in use from sources around the world, and adds these to the Oxford Corpus. The editors use this database to track and verify new and emerging word trends.” Their research leads to more than 1,000 new inclusions annually.

Included among recent entries are terms such as listicle, an online article in the form of a bulleted list, and live-tweeting, an activity undoubtedly common among Pan Am Games spectators – posting comments about an event on Twitter while the event is ongoing. In fact, those who hate-watch television shows can make the most of the experience by live-tweeting about them.

Perhaps you’ve already read about these entries – after all, in our hyperconnected world, this information in undoubtedly everywhere.

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Emoticons: Pro or Con — Word(s) of Wisdom

It’s a golden age for punctuation, opined Mary Norris, copy editor for the New Yorker magazine during a recent interview with Michael Enright, the CBC radio host. Norris gave credit to social media for much of the fun: emoticons and their cousins, emoji, have provided a wealth of expression not covered by the ordinary exclamation point.

In case the distinction is unclear, emoticons represent facial expressions and are created using standard keyboard characters. The smile, for example, combines a colon and a comma — :). Emoji originated in Japan and the word itself means picture letter. There are emoji     to represent a wide variety of objects and activities, including plants, flags and travel destinations.

As adorable as they are, a debate rages. Are emoticons appropriate in business communication? It depends on your point of view, on the organization your represent  – and on the recipient of your email or text message. In other words, context is the key.

If you work for a Bay Street bank, the work environment is formal, so it is a good rule of thumb to stay away from emoticons in your business correspondence. If you work for an advertising agency, where creativity rules the day, using emoji may be accepted simply as evidence of that imagination.

Learn to keep your emoticons in check when the situation warrants, or your virtual smile may be rewarded with a real, live frown.

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Making the Case for Social Media: Six Pixels of Separation

In today’s business world, if your online activities don’t extend much beyond using email, it’s time for a dose of Mitch JoelImage.

Joel is a Canadian digital marketing guru who has advised Google, among organizations, and was named the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” in 2006 by Marketing magazine. He is also president of Twist Image, a digital marketing and communications agency, and author of two books about online marketing, including Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone, a book that seeks to lead readers out of the wilderness and into the digital age.

For Joel, it’s a “no brainer”: be a part of the digital community or be left behind. You don’t have to struggle towards this brave new world on your own, however. Joel is there to hold your hand, step-by-step, explaining the tools that are available and the most effective ways to employ them to get a return on your investment.

Although Joel wrote this book in 2008, it is still relevant and offers a good introduction to the approach required for corporations and individuals to successfully navigate the world of online marketing. He maintains – correctly – that there is a much more vibrant two-way conversation taking place between brands and their customers than ever before. Without downplaying the hard work involved in engaging in this conversation, Joel encourages readers with real-world examples of those who have successfully negotiated the changing marketplace.

Joel believes that making a mark in the digital world requires bravery and a willingness to do things differently, yet he believes there are sound principles that help ensure success, such as the 5 C’s of Entrepreneurship 2.0 (connecting, creating, conversations, community and commerce) With his assistance, readers will be armed with the information and the confidence they need to develop the necessary strategies and tactics for making their mark in today’s digital world. Joel is a positive, gentle guide into the unknown. 

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