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Mary Biever | One Writing Mother | Tag Archive | Twitter
Tag Archive - Twitter

How Twitter Kept Me Safer from Violence Twice in Two Days

Twice in a single week, the fast updates on Twitter have helped keep my family and me safe in unexpected situations. Both were instances where every single moment counted.

In the first, I was driving down the highway when my phone rang and yes- I answered via speakerphone. “Where are you?” a friend asked with “The” voice. I told her I was on 41 South driving back into Evansville. “Get off 41 NOW.” she told me. I was 1/2 mile from anywhere to get off and looked for a way out as she continued,

“A bank robber is fleeing, driving south in the 41 Northbound lanes. He’s going about 100 miles an hour, has a dozen police cars pursuing him, and now they are saying he’s aiming a shot gun to shoot at cars in the lane where you’re driving. He’s probably 4 miles behind you and closing in. He’s shooting at cars, and you’re next in the line of fire.”

A stop light was now in front of me, on red, and I was going to stop behind a petroleum truck, with another 10 cars in line in front of him. I went to the shoulder and passed those cars, turned onto a side road, and breathed a sigh of relief.   After I parked, I called my friend back. The alleged robber had been stopped about 1 1/2 miles from where I was parked. She had learned of the situation via Twitter.

Even so, I’m thankful to my friend and my friends on Twitter who tweeted a clear and present danger.

Then, the next night, as I sat down to enjoy a nice movie at home with my husband, the phone rang and I answered. The same voice again. “Where are you?” she asked. I told her we were at home.

“Lock your doors and don’t go outside. An armed gunman just robbed the Subway by UE, and the university s on lockdown while the police look for the guy.”

In other words it was essentially my own back yard. Luckily, we keep our doors locked.

Then I read on Twitter where they were searching. Too close to our home for comfort.

For once, I was glad my kids were at an overnight event. My daughter called, needing to stop by to pick up something extra. It was hard to tell her not to come home, but I didn’t want to risk a 17 year old female teen driving driving alone late night into a hornet’s nest. After almost an hour, the lockdown was lifted. The suspect is still at large. In reading the tweets, the university’s text alert system for students did work – alerting them moments after Twitter had spread the alarm.

Then I spread the alarm myself on Facebook…several of my friends live near me and are on Facebook, not Twitter.

So, twice in two days, with the help of my friends on Twitter, I learned of improbable, urgent situations where I was able to take action to protect myself and those I love. Twitter works faster in those instances than Facebook…if you know who to follow and which hashtags to use.

The next time someone asks me why I tweet, I’ll probably answer, “To keep up to date on news. And to keep my family safer.”

Addenda: In this case, it wasn’t just Twitter keeping me safer. It was having friends who used it well and our using Twitter as another type of communication, to augment real life conversations.


Search Your Colleges. Then Search Again.

If you have teens going to colleges, search their social media footprint.

For years, I’ve told my social media classes that colleges and scholarship committees do social media background searches. Now, as the parent of a graduating high school senior, I see the ways they use social media to better communicate.

When we tour a campus, I now tweet about it to see if their college administration is listening. So far, half respond. I want my teens to learn to use social media well. If a college leads by example, monitors their own Twitter presence, and replies to my tweets, that’s a plus in their favor. For the colleges that don’t, it’s a potential red flag.

My most amusing moment was at a college day when I checked in on FourSquare and watched the Admissions reception table. I stood by the side and noted when one of the admissions counselors saw the Tweet on her phone. She immediately tweeted on behalf of her college’s admissions office. Then, she grabbed the counselor next to her, they looked me up, and then I could see their scanning the room to find me. I said nothing but nearly exploded with laughter the moment they saw me. Neither of them said a word. But later that day, one of them asked, “Do you use Twitter?”

Answer: “Yes.”

I was impressed with the school that gave their scholarship weekend a Twitter hashtag to see if any students tweeted about it. And I enjoyed the professors’ banter with that hashtag. About half the colleges she has applied to have made creative use of private Facebook groups to better communicate with students and their parents. (And you know that means they are also screening students and their social media profiles.)

Now, I see it’s also important to flip the search. Last weekend, I started a Hootsuite page to search  my daughter’s top college choices.

What’s being tweeted about my daughter’s prospective college choices? Who is tweeting about them?

Here’s what I’ve found in 3 days:

  • One college is under pressure to drop certain majors because of declining enrollment. I checked my daughter’s department and preferred major, and it’s not on the list.
  • One college has just had student protests because of a professor’s ill-advised, inappropriate use of Facebook.
  • Some colleges tweet links to their research studies.
  • Lots of students love their college’s sports teams and live tweet during games. And they hate it when their teams lose.
  • Some professors require students to tweet and do an excellent job of engaging students in online conversations.
  • Some colleges promote their career fairs via Twitter. (a very good thing)
  • Some college students blog about stupid things their classmates say in class.
  • Some college students hate the cafeteria food. (Imagine that.)

Colleges do social media background searches to see if a student’s test scores, transcript, scholarship essays, and interviews reflect what the students say and do on social media. I think that’s a good thing.

Parents need to do social media background searches on prospective colleges to ensure that the gorgeous brochures and weekend tours match what is happening on campuses.

Stopping Jerry Springer Syndrome in Social Media

Social media that inspires people and builds communities must be on guard not to fall into a Gotcha Social Media trap.

Social media can be a fantastic venue by which we can shed light on customer service problems quickly. However, it also runs the risk of thoughtless, tweet on the impulse rants that can go viral and don’t give people a first chance to fix mistakes without public humiliation or virtual lynching.

Two weeks ago, when I was angry about a horrid dressing room experience, I wrote a livid blog that roasted the company involved. Leveler heads than my own, especially that of my husband, told me to NOT post the company’s name but give them a chance to fix the problem. So I wrote my blog without mentioning the company, went through corporate channels, and watched to see what would happen. And I chomped at the bit, wanting to do more.

Through my blog, awareness of dressing room safety was raised. The company involved sent national representatives into the store with the problem and fixed them. If the solution works, they will broaden what they have tried here and expand it nationally.

Bottom line? A problem was addressed and fixed without my publicly crucifying the company and turning loose a virtual lynch mob where every socially conscious social media expert jumps on the bandwagon, retweets and shares the incident so we can “make” the company fix it.

So now corporate America knows the effects of gotcha social media. We who are on social media must guard ourselves and our keyboards so we don’t devolve into a Jerry Springer studio audience lynch mob where we yell “fight! fight! fight!” whenever there is an injustice in this world. Sometimes, it’s ok to keep our social powder dry until we determine whether or not we really need to use it.

As the mother of teenagers, I have another worry about gotcha social media. In the past week, we’ve seen what happened when a teen-aged cashier put something racist, offensive, and inappropriate on a restaurant receipt. It went viral, went global, the teen got fired, and the restaurant went into major damage control.

As the mom of 2 teenagers and the friend of others, I worry about what happens to a teen who makes a stupid mistake and does the wrong thing. I’m an adult and I still do wrong, stupid things sometimes. Instead of crucifying the kid who does something wrong, would it sometimes not be more constructive to make it a teachable moment and give a second chance?

It’s easy as someone who can instantly communicate with thousands of people with a single tweet, Facebook status, blog, or pin on a corkboard to air what is wrong with our world.  In the process we might just wreck a life and dismiss it as collateral damage, done as a testament to our new power with social media.

But I wonder – should we find a way to think twice and try to work within the system and work to preserve the dignity of those involved, including those who wronged us, before we rant in front of the whole planet?

Would it hurt us to work a little harder to err on the side of mercy? Isn’t that what the song “Give Peace a Chance” was supposed to mean?

Social Media Safety 4-H Success Story

Social Media Safety workshop in Evansville, Indiana.

Because of Twitter, Facebook, and 4-H, I got to meet some great people to help spread the message of social media safety to a larger audience. As a mother of teens who have been on social media for the past 4 years, the topic is a passion of mine. I’ve presented talks to church groups and youth groups on do’s and don’ts for social media.

Last spring, as I lobbied for 4-H funding at the state and national level, I met a 4-H leader in Massachusetts on Twitter. That became a friendship on Facebook. From there, we began discussing social safety for our communities.

Tonight, that culminates in a Skyped workshop, with my giving half of it in Evansville, Indiana and a Massachusetts speaker giving the other half. If all the technical details work out, our 4-H leaders and youth who participate will get to enjoy the same workshop, at the same time, in different states and different time zones. We’ve never tried this before and hope the technical details work.

We’ve shared information and ideas, regardless of how the tech part goes.

Our 4-H pledge talks about building our club, our community, our country and our world. Tonight, Facebook and Twitter helped us take that pledge to a new level.

The workshop in Evansville is at McCullough Library, 6 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

I Invite, 6 Platforms

Imagine you’re inviting people to a big party at your office. How will you reach them? Each communications platform has its own style. Smart business communicators use each correctly.

Text: <3 our kewl partay next week! Be there!!!!!

Email: Our office is holding its annual customer appreciation day next Thursday from 1-5. We hope you will join us.

Blog: Blog on how much customers are valued with a graphic that shows the theme. It might include an Eventbrite for reservations, or it might just be an open invite.

Facebook: 5 days till the customer appreciation party – just bought the decorations. Hope to see you there! (attached to a link on the blog about the party)

LinkedIn: Please join us next week for our annual customer appreciation party. (attached to a link on the blog about the party)

Twitter:  We love our customers! Join us next week! (shortened link to blog attached)

Business professionals need to know the vernacular of each communications platform and use it. When I text, don’t expect me to ever type “kewl” or “partay.” On the other hand, I might reply back with a “k.”

I am over 40. When you send me an email, I expect it to include complete sentences, with appropriate capitalization and punctuation.

When I get an email that is phrased like a text, unless it is from a digital native under the age of 20, I am offended and question the sender’s professionalism. “Kewl Partay!” comes across as effectively as showing up for work, dressed in a bathrobe, going commando, wearing no pants, with varicose veins popping all over the place. As I read such messages I cringe just like I do when someone talks to me who has bad breathe.

Know each platform. You can follow its standards and maintain your own voice. At the same time, remember that the voice we use in the board meeting has a different inflection than the one Ma Kettle used when she clanged her triangle and hollered for her kids to come in for dinner.

And the person who wears a tux and tails to the beach party is going to look like an overstuffed lobster ready to be baked.

When you use the wrong form, people notice your bad form and miss your message.

Are Your Clients Your FB Friends?

When I taught a full house class of business owners on social media for businesses, I was surprised when I asked the question, “Are your biggest clients your Facebook friends?”

None in the class said yes. Their vision of Facebook for business was entirely wrapped up in the business page.

Why should most of us friend our clients?

  1. Stronger communication
  2. Better relationships
  3. An additional opportunity to better understand each other
  4. More visibility

Friending clients also means we need to learn to use Facebook well and to communicate with it, not sell. (By the way – I can help you with that and personally coach clients to better communicate socially.)

Friending clients also means communicating with them across other social platforms – Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Each has a little different style and purpose. Here’s how each platform works for me with business networking:

  • Facebook – nurture and build relationships with friends and those who could be friends
  • Twitter – talk about stuff that interests me and meet new people all over the planet
  • LinkedIn – meet professionals and brand myself with my blogs on business topics.
  • Google Plus – a hybrid of all of the above where I increase visibility with more tech-oriented people.

As my relationship with someone grows, we might increase the different places we talk online. What begins with Twitter or Google Plus could venture to LinkedIn.

It’s like business networking in real life. I meet someone at a networking group on Thursday and then discover that we’re both also involved in a community event. Then we meet in a different venue. Over time, we build a relationship.

Better relationships provide more opportunities for business.

That’s why business owners should friend their clients and prospective clients on Facebook.

Google+ Joins the Social Media Playground

playgroundphoto © 2006 Azfar Ismail | more info (via: Wylio)

What do businesses need to know and do right now with Google+?

Keep your backyard Social Media Playground flexible enough to adjust the layout when a new toy gets introduced to the market.

Early reports look good. With its invitation only roll-out, social media obsessives like me were pumping Twitter networks yesterday to angle invites from friends already there. We liked what we saw. All it took was an invite and a gmail account to get me hooked.

What do Businesses Need to Know:

I hope you didn’t fall so in love with your Facebook page that you made it the inground pool centerpiece of your social media strategy. Facebook owns the platform and loves to change its rules. Arguing with Facebook is as effective as negotiating with the Borg in Star Trek.

If you built the inground Facebook pool, get ready to make adjustments in your other backyard space. Facebook grew too confident and comfortable with its market dominance because there was no viable competitor. In recent months, and especially in recent weeks, I’ve heard varied frustrations from people sick of Facebook. Why?

  • Teens don’t want to hang out on the same block Grandma and Grandpa do.
  • Facebook games lost their luster.
  • Recent spam attacks that showed pornographic images put wavering users over the edge.
  • More people are frustrated at how difficult it is to negotiate with Facebook if they delete your account.

Real competition will force Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to all up their game. This morning, Facebook added sorting and reputation features to comments.

What do Businesses Need to Do:

  • Get an invite to Google+ for at least one person on your social media team. Start playing.
  • Vary the toys on your social media playground. If all you’ve had is the Facebook pool, it’s time to try the Twitter trampoline and the LinkedIn Playhouse.
  • Get thee to WordPress and Youtube. Go blogging with written and video channels. (The Youtube/Google+ connection could become much bigger.)
  • Go mobile. Design your website for mobile. Value added apps your customer uses can make your sales boom.
  • If you choose to stay Facebook only social media marketing, prepare yourself for the day your Facebook pool becomes as relevant as a backyard museum designed for Pet Rocks.

If you need help getting started with Twitter or LinkedIn, I can help. If you don’t know who to go to to create an app, design your website, or set up your blog so you not only win search but make more money, ask me for recommendations.

I know some super talented pros in each of those areas who can help – WordPress design, web design, blogging, video, and app development and would be glad to give you a referral.

The Socializer

“I can do this!” one of my clients exclaimed after I helped her create a social media schedule that would fit with her business day.

Afterwards, she told people I had “Socialized” her. That inspired this ad campaign, The Socializer. I joked about copy for the ad. Then my husband and daughter of The Copper Lion took my idea of The Socializer last night and created the graphic.

Learning to leverage technology is frustrating. What I do is help you help yourself and find how to make it work for you. We will most likely laugh along the way because a dose of laughter helps the lesson go down.

I wish I could put the theme song to The Equalizer with the graphic. Back in the day, the Equalizer helped equalize the odds of regular people facing tough challenges. I do the same today, as The Socializer.

Frustrated and want to hire some help to make social media (or Excel or Word or Outlook) easier to unravel? Give me a call! Write on my wall! Tweet me! Email me! I’ll be there, ready to help.

1 Month, 40 Twitter Action Items

Guest blog by Marjorie Clayman

Moreso than in blogging, the first month of Twitter can be really frustrating and discouraging. In blogging, the principles are pretty easy to figure out, though it can be hard to achieve your objectives. You write a post, you promote post, you hope people respond the way you want them to. In Twitter, you sign up and your page looks like somebody spilled alphabet soup with hashtags all over your computer. People are talking to each other in ways that don’t make sense, and you don’t even know where to begin.

With that in mind, I’ve put together 40 action items that will help you (I hope) get through that first month. If you’ve been on Twitter for awhile but still feel like you’re struggling with it, take a look at these recommended action items and see if some of them might help you out.

One quick note – the action items for week 1 will almost certainly take longer than a week to get done, especially if you need to figure out answers with other people in your company. However, knowing what I know now, I highly recommend solidifying some of the things listed for week one before you jump in. Plan accordingly

Week One – Decisions, Decisions

1. Decide if you will be tweeting as an individual, as a company/brand, or a hybrid of the two

2. Decide what you will use as your username. This sounds easy, but it’s harder than you may think, especially if you and the other folks in your company want to come up with a naming convention. Also, and I say this from personal experience, don’t try to be “cute” with your choice. For example, my choice of using “RealLifeMadMan” when I first started was totally confusing and really long. Bad combo!

3. Decide what you will use for your user picture or avatar. If you are blogging on behalf of your company, this will likely be a heavily discussed subject. A lot of companies like to use a product picture or a company logo but factually, people respond better if they can see a human face.

4. Decide what you will put in your Twitter bio. You don’t have a lot of room, and if you want to get your company’s website in there, you have even less room. However, this is super duper important! Get the most important information in there first.

5. Decide what you will do for your background. This background is not something that your followers will see on a daily basis, perhaps – people only see it when they click to view your profile. However, once you’ve been on Twitter for awhile, you know what the default backgrounds look like. Showing some effort to customize your background can show that you’re really trying hard to engage and be engaging.

6. Pin down how you will talk on Twitter. I started out on Twitter trying to blog as our company. I found that it was extremely awkward saying “We just read a post.” I worried people thought I had multiple personality disorder. On the other hand, if you are partaking in a company-wide initiative, that kind of tweet may be 100% logical. Work it out before you dive in!

7. Define what your “follow” methodology will be. I can tell you that almost instantly upon signing up for Twitter, you’ll probably get 2-3 followers. There are some accounts on Twitter that have thousands of followers and no recorded tweets. What this means is that there are a lot of accounts out there who just follow people so that they can get followed back. How will you deal with situations like that?

8. Watch a few people for a few days before you start engaging. See if you can figure out how people who might be similar to you use Twitter. Are they promoting themselves a lot, or are they talking to people casually, or both? See what the expectations are in your space.

9. Avoid the temptation of starting out of the gate following 575 people. When you first sign up for Twitter, you get all kinds of categories with big names to follow. It’s super easy to follow hundreds of people right away. However, the folks that Twitter starts out recommending are people like Yoko Ono, Michael Ian Black, and the President of the United States. I know you’re a lovely person, but these folks probably will not engage with you. Hand-pick a few, but know that this will not be your base of operations.

10. Search for words that are important to you and follow people who seem to have interesting things to say about them.

Week Two – Twitter Speak!

Twitter has very peculiar shortcut words that make following conversation pretty hard when you’re first starting out. In week two, the goal is to learn about some of these and then practice using them. If you have a hard time figuring these out, feel free to ask me either here or @margieclayman.

1. Learn what a DM is

2. Learn what an RT is

3. Learn what #ff is

4. Make sure you are clear in your head about the difference between a DM and a regular tweet

5. Watch how people RT. People have their own ways of doing this and there are good reasons behind each methodology. Find out which way makes you feel most comfortable.

6. As a piggy back to number 5 (hint hint) learn how to use URL shorteners so that you can link to things on Twitter. For example, check out goo.gl or bit.ly. Watch how people use those and see if you can practice using them yourself.

7. Decide how you will thank people if someone RTs you (or says something else nice). Some people will RT any nice thing sent their way. Other people will respond in other ways out of the Twitter stream, while other people (like yours truly) usually simply say “Thanks!”

8. Observe how people do #ff (Hint, this will happen on your first Friday). There are 2 schools to this: 1 is to mention tons of people, and 1 is to mention just 1 or 2 people but explain why you are mentioning them. I prefer the latter myself.

9. Observe how people use the # symbol. Not only is this a really important thing to learn in order to use Twitter, but you are also likely to jump into some pretty good conversations by following that little symbol. *Hint: “trending topics” will give you a hint on this one.

10. Make sure you know how to talk to people on Twitter. Remember, after the @ you need to type their name exactly as it is in their handle. Otherwise, they won’t see it. To make sure you have this down, tweet out a hi to me and let me know how your action items are going so far. You’re halfway there!

Week Three: Jump into the pool

1. Introduce yourself to five people this week. If they don’t answer right away, that’s okay. Practice pushing yourself into the stream.

2. Practice promoting someone else’s blog post this week – this is very important to a lot of people who use Twitter. This will introduce you to people and will also help you practice linking to things using URL shorteners.

3. RT something someone says – and make sure you know now what RT stands for

4. Try to come up with a question that would be pertinent to other people learning Twitter or relevant to your  business niche. Questions are a great way to start conversations and meet people. Again, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get any answers – just focus on learning how to engage.

5. Try to find another person who is learning the ropes – help each other out as you go along. It’s great to have a buddy!

6. If you have someone to mention for #ff, give it a go. I have to warn you that a lot of the big names don’t like being included in those kinds of mentions just because they get absolutely flooded with them. If you do mention them, don’t be sad if you don’t get a huge thank you

7. Tweet something out that is of interest to you, whether it’s one of your own blog posts, an article you read that’s interesting, or something you learned at a webinar. If you do the latter, see if the webinar has a # so that you can tie your comment to other people doing the same thing (there, I gave you more of a hint for your week 2 homework!)

8. On Saturday night at 9 PM EST, search for #tweetdiner. This is a Twitter chat that my friend Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) and I started. Its goal is to help people new to Twitter talk with people who are new or who have been on Twitter for awhile, and it’s also a place where you can ask questions and be assured of getting lots of help.

9. Look for a question mark and see if you can find a question you can answer. Now you can help someone else and maybe meet someone new at the same time.

10. Take stock of where you are. Do you feel like you are moving in a good direction? Send me a tweet and let me know how you are doing!

Week Four – Start building your Twitter house

1. Learn how to use lists on Twitter – you may be listed on a few already. Some are automated, some are created by other users. See if you can tell the difference. Are you ready to create your own lists yet?

2. Begin to watch the content of your tweets. The golden rule is to make sure you are promoting other people more than yourself. The unspoken rule is that interacting with people person to person is a lot more interesting than just tweeting out links. Now that you’re getting the mechanics down, learn how to translate your personality into 120 characters.

3. Try to find and join a new chat that interests you. There are tons of chats every day and night of the week. Jump in, introduce yourself, and meet some new people!

4. Try to meet 10 new people this week, either by answering questions, via chats, or through searching for terms that are important to you and seeing who is talking about them.

5. Turn your attention to beginning to build relationships now that you’re getting used to the wacky world of Twitter. If you see someone talking about a movie you love, jump in and talk to them about it. Get your humanity involved!

6. Check your “following” list. Are you staying true to what your follow-back policy was? Why or why not?

7. Take stock of the kinds of reactions you’re getting. If you are not getting a lot of traction yet, is it possible that you are not engaging enough? Does your profile not say enough about you? If things are going really well, try to isolate things that are working well for you and keep those going!

8. Try to introduce two people to each other this week. If you don’t know enough people yet, that’s okay. Keep this one in mind though. Introducing people is a great way to start building a community.

9. Try to find a person who is newer than you are now to the world of Twitter. Try to help them out.

10. Let me know (if you could) how this program worked for you! Are you feeling okay about Twitter after your first month or are you still kind of unsure? I’d love to get your feedback.

-Marjorie Clayman works for Clayman Advertising, Inc., a 3rd generation Akron, Ohio, marketing firm.

Shopping in a Mobile Age

Shopping’s changed from when we visited the Main Street stores on Friday night in Small Town America.  My phone is my  new road map for shopping success.

By Christmas this year, half of all Americans will own a SmartPhone or other mobile device. Smart shoppers will leverage their technology, and smart stores will profit. 


  • When car shopping, a teen lags behind her parents in the car lot, texting prices quoted to her parents so they can later compare with online prices and other lots.
  • A mom at a meeting, discussing the need to make costumes for an event, goes to the fabric store online from her Nook Color, finds a pattern that will work, shows it to all in the room and buys it immediately. Does your online store offers pictures and access to make this possible?
  • While shopping at the grocery store, an odd cut of meat is on sale. The shopper hasn’t seen it before and checks her recipe app on her phone to learn more about it. It includes recipes, nutrition info, and shopping lists.
  • The fine print on the back of the package at the store is too small to read, so the shopper starts the magnifying glass app on the phone and reads what it really says.
  • The bar code scanner shows me every comparable price online and in the area. I may still buy from you if you’re local and your price is a bit higher. But you’re going to have to have great customer service and give back to our local community.
  • Shoppers scan a QR code – whether on a sign in a store or the back of a cereal box – looking for more information or coupons. One Boston sushi restaurant prints QR codes in edible squid ink directly on plates so consumers can get dietary information about their dinner.
  • Location-based programs a la Facebook Places and FourSquare can offer me deals or can help me brand myself or promote important events to others.
  • If I get bad service and the store ignores my complaint, my next complaint goes on Facebook and Twitter. I could photo or video my problem and share that as well.

Let’s Make a Deal shows the audience making deals with the emcee. In our increasingly mobile world, it becomes: Let’s Make It Mobile.

How do you use mobile to enhance your shopping experience?

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