How authors use Facebook

While researching Facebook strategy for authors for a client today, I cam across
this fantastic blog post:
a Q&A with author Jane Friedman, widely noted for her own social media strategy. Friedman’s tips are not only relevant to authors, but to journalists or any other individuals considering their own Facebook business page. She has such a complete understanding of how Facebook can be utilized to its fullest potential. I will be saving this to read again, and you probably should, too. A quote that made me smile:

Also, introversion/extroversion really has nothing to do with your ability to use social media. I think social media is the best thing to ever happen to introverts (and I speak as one of the biggest of all time.

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Ignoring Social Media Is Whisky Business

Maker’s Mark learns a lesson

In a surprise announcement over the weekend,
Maker’s Mark,
the Loretto, KY-based whisky producer, recanted their recent decision to water down their 90 proof bourbon in order to stretch supplies. It seems their devotees had quite a bit to say about this decision, and flooded Maker’s Mark’s social media channels to such an extent that their protestations could not be ignored.

In a Facebook post entitled
“You spoke. We listened.”
Maker’s Mark pours out a rather humble apology to their fans and urges them to continue to speak their minds. (The note even includes the direct email addresses of two executives at the family-run company). Evidance gathered from Twitter shows that they were right to swallow their pride: tweets of elation after yesterday’s announcement flooded in from the likes of Isaac from The Hansons, actress Patricia Heaton and actor/writer Andy Richter. If you are still searching for proof that social media is worth your business’s time/money, this is a prime example.

Had Maker’s Mark preempted their decision with an online explanation of their plan and reasoning, they doubtless would have saved significant time and money in preparing for the shift in production. Be sure that you do not make a similar mistake with your brand. If you have a well-established following of loyal fans engaging with you across social platforms, use them as a sounding board whenever possible. They say the customer is always right, after all.

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Wikipedia: Here to stay

How much is Wikipedia worth?

Way more than you think. In this interview on, WikiMedia Foundation Executive director Sue Gardner revealed some astonishing numbers. The WikiMedia Foundation uses a similar fund-raising model to that of public radio to support entities including Wikipedia, explains host @KaiRyssdal.

In its latest campaign, the site raised an astounding $2.7 million per day. I find it encouraging to hear that, despite the lack of academic validity and the overwhelming gender imbalance among its editors (nine out of ten male, says Gardner), Wikipedia is being acknowledged by investors as an information resource that should be sustained. Its clean, speedy, ad-free interface and wealth of useful factoids is worth every penny.

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Featured on Marketplace, from American Public Media

Talking mobile accessibility

As a professional in the tech industry who happens to be blind, I am passionate about the technical devices that are fully accessible to me, and which therefore allow me to do my job efficiently.
Apple was the first company to build full accessibility for visually impaired users into their products when they added the
VoiceOver screen reading and Zoom screen magnification software to all Macs and iPhones. Because they continue to tweak and improve upon all of their accessibility elements with each new operating system update, I continue to be a loyal fan. They are true innovators in a field that, until now, has been virtually ignored by the main stream.

After reading my critical opinion on Ray, a new screen reader being built for Android, Marketplace reporter
Meg Cramer
came to interview me about mobile accessibility, and watched me use my iPhone as I packed my bags for a trip. The resulting story, which aired in time for the annual Consumer Electronics show this week, was heard on public radio stations nationwide on the Jan. 7 edition of Marketplace, from American Public Media. In case you missed it, you can still listen to and read the story
here. Special thanks goes out to Meg, for coming to me with such a great opportunity.

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Setting the bar for social media bios

An excellent Twitter bio

Before I parse this Twitter bio and tell you why it’s so deserving, I want you to read it, as I did, without any further information about the user to whom it belongs. So here it is:

Internet geologist. Health care gadfly. Community colleague. Currently reading: Oddly Normal by @jswatz

Why it is excellent

This bio
intrigued me from the beginning with the words “Internet geologist.” I am unfamiliar with this digital subset of geology and suspect that the user made it up, but it grabbed my attention and sounds like an awesome occupation. Actually,
Susannah Fox, author of this Twitter bio, is the Associate Director, Digital Strategy for the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, where she studies and blogs about the relationship between technology, the internet and health care. With such a long job title, Ms. Fox was smart to wordsmith it in such a clever and intriguing way. I admire the way this job title and later use of the word “gadfly” lend an almost playful tone to what might otherwise be a difficult occupation for strangers like me to comprehend.

Ms. Fox also includes a “currently reading” section which, she confirms via tweet, she keeps updated. This not only shows that she cares about maintaining her Twitter presence and keeping it current, but tells us more about where her interests lie. Plus, she took the time to check if the author of her current reading choice,
NYTimes reporter John Schwartz,
is on Twitter and gives him credit by referencing his handle.

All of the elements I’ve highlighted in @SusannahFox’s bio combine to promote an image of someone who is professional yet humorous, and who has quite the social media savvy; someone we can all learn from, perhaps.

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Here’s Looking at You, Twitter

Looking back at 2012, socially

We’ve reached that time of year when every source of media begins airing their year-in-review montages. Admittedly, I look forward to the year’s news highlights reel, because I am always appalled by how many stories I’ve forgotten or mistakenly archived in the more distant past. Well, now I have social highlights to review, as well.
Twitter, where I get much of the breaking news these days, set the bar pretty high this year by presenting two cool ways to view 2012.

On their designated
2012 page, Twitter has amassed the year’s biggest trending hash tags, the most tweeted about world events, and the most re-tweeted celebrity tweets, among other highlights. Arguably, the most celebrated tweet was
@BarackObama’s “Four more years” tweet, which garnered more than 810,000 re-tweets.

Twitter has also partnered with Vizify to bring its users a graphical representation of their individual activity on Twitter this year (or as I sarcastically call it, much to the protest of my followers, my “twactivity”). Unfortunately, Vizify only seems to work for those who are not incessant tweeters, so that users like @isalara, who has almost 37,000 tweets to her name, produced an info graphic that only showed her activity since September. Ah well, I suppose such imperfections mean that we can look forward to improvements in next year’s annual roundups.

What do you notice when you look back on your year on Twitter or other social media platforms? Did you have any success using Vizify and did you like what you saw? Let me know in the comments below or @Elizain140 on Twitter.

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On SoundCloud, Journalism Sounds Cooler Than Ever

SoundCloud was originally a popular platform on which deejays and audio mixing fanatics shared their newest creations, but it has morphed into a service with a much broader appeal.
This article
explains that journalists are now using SoundCloud as a way to post interviews and content from radio programs. As a listener, I use SoundCloud these days as one of my podcast feeds: I haven’t subscribed to’s
“Bull’s Eye with Jesse Thorn” podcast on iTunes, for example, because its new episodes appear in my stream whenever I’m on SoundCloud.

I relish this platform most, though, for its experimental soundscapes. NPR tried something bold and new this year when they crowdsourced listeners local city sounds through their
#NPRcities hash tag
on the service. Individual journalists like
Ben Sisario
are also submitting interesting soundscapes as a hobby. I look forward to the day when audio from SoundCloud users is featured in radio news updates, as YouTube videos have increasingly done.

If you like, you can
follow my progress as I begin my journey up into the SoundCloud.
And, be sure to share your SoundCloud in the comments below, so we can check out your sounds!

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