See me on CNet!

My review of the Looktel Recognizer app for iPhone, which helps blind and visually impaired users identify cans, ID and other cards and even storefronts, has just been posted on the fantastic “Sreetips” blog on CNet. Ipplex, creators of the Looktel suite of apps, is one of the most promising developers out there of apps useful to blind techies like me.

Thanks so much to Sree (@sree) for inviting me to write this guest post!

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Must-Read Blog Posts on Google+

Inviting friends to Google+ was just made easier, as you can now share a personalized link with them, rather than sending an invite via email. Have you recently joined the new social network thanks to this update? Welcome!

I have no real qualms with Google+ at all. It’s extremely easy to use both online and via its smartphone apps, and has an advantage over other networks with its seamless integration with all of Google’s other services that most of us already use. It is this advantage, in fact, that will be the key to its overpowering of Facebook, if such a defeat happens.

Why wouldn’t Google+ win? Because no one really wanted to deal with another social network. Sure, Facebook has gotten increasingly annoying, ad-heavy and cumbersome, but we’re all established there already. Who has the time to stop Facebook chatting with their friends long enough to customize their new “circles” of friends on Google+? And yet millions are already joining, because we’re all too attached to (and intrigued by) Google not to be curious about every move that it makes.

I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts about Google+, and think these are worth checking out for those who are just getting into it. Here’s a good one on the potential benefits of Google+ for marketers and brands,
and here are two posts that focus more on user reactions and experience: one by Ryan Sholin, and one from my friends’ Two Laptops blog.

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I did, and feel free to share your favorites, as well!

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The Debate Over Influencer Scores: where do you stand?

I saw a discussion on Twitter this morning which confirmed my recent suspicion that I’m not the only one wondering about the value of influencer scores.

The concept of influencer scores was popularized by Klout, who calculates your overall reach across social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to determine your influence, i.e., how likely your posts, tweets, etc. are to drive people to actions such as likes, re-tweets, or clicks. Here is Klout’s technical definition of what they do, which may be even more intimidating than was my above attempt to simplify the idea.

Your colleagues and friends can now boost your influence through a kind of “like” button on your posts. One cynic asserted on Twitter, though, that many of these influencers are concerned too much with raising the value of their score or broadcasting their opinions far and wide, and not concerned enough with the quality of their content. I wonder, have influence scores just become a game to most people?

Think about it: who’s really paying attention to your score other than you and a smattering of your associates who use social media, right? How much potential does the influencer score really have of becoming an object of interest to those outside of the industry?

On the other hand, the score is a good indicator of how well someone knows what they’re doing in the social media sphere, and of how well they are connected.

What Do You Think?

Have you looked at your Klout score? How much attention do you give to it? How useful are these scores? Please share your opinion in the comments below.

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Where’s the Bubble? Angels, Startups and Us

I stopped by Internet Week in New York City this week to attend a few panels that covered the current state of the technology market, startups and launching new products successfully. Here are a few things I learned:

Are we in a bubble, or aren’t we?

In a panel entitled “Pop! Goes the Bubble”, an angel investor and representatives from companies including Meebo, Geekosystem.com and MessageParty debated whether or not we are in the middle of a second technology bubble which threatens to burst. The consensus was that angel investments in tech startups have formed a growing bubble, but that public market valuation of tech companies is not yet a bubble. There are so many now popular names of angel investors floating around, and sites like Kickstarter, which fuel the trend by allowing any average Joe to fill the same role. Market valuation is not yet a bubble because few startups have grown large enough to go public. LinkedIn is currently in the spotlight in this regard, and it looks like Groupon and Zynga are on deck. Will more companies be brave enough to take the plunge and go public? We’ll see.

Keeping the bubble alive

Panelists offered the following advice which would be useful for startups, their founders, and anyone launching a new prodct:

  • Do NOT fundraise until you’ve launched your product. (that was a crucial mistake which contributed to the collapse of the .com bubble.
  • The founding team must be scrappy and motivated not by money but by the appeal of (and their belief in) the concept.
  • The superstar tech giants have founders who can code and program their products themselves. This is no coincidence. Every penny counts, so not having to pay outsiders to build your product is key.
  • Treat monetization as a necessary evil. The more it is integrated into your product and your users’ experience, the better off you’ll be.
  • Create a company whose product bridges a gap or occupies a space that no one else is occupying. Innovate in a way that no one else is doing.

Perhaps you’ll find that some of the above points are obvious, but I believe they’re worth repeating, because forgetting any one coulled endanger your startup’s or product’s success. What would you add, or delete from, this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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How Many Online Resumes Should You Have?

A Mashable article, published this weekend, highlights a few forms of online resumes that you may want to consider creating for yourself. Do you have a visual or video resume yet? Is your resume on SlideShare or Scribd?

The article does mention the use of LinkedIn, but doesn’t go into as much detail about its resume tool as I do in this blog post.

How many online versions of your resume is too many? Share your opinion in the comments below.

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Social Media is Not About You

The title of this post comes from something that @krochmal, a Columbia University professor said: “Social media is not about you,” he shared with the group at large during a feedback plenary session. “It is about connecting with people and sharing information.” This was the best phrasing of a sentiment that had been expressed in a few ways during Social Media Weekend – May 13-15 at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism. It was expressed most pointedly by NPR’s @acarvin, who reminded us in his keynote speech that we are not an audience. In fact, as far as social media marketers are concerned, there is no audience at all. The whole point of social media, as many of the weekend’s panelists iterated, is to connect. If you don’t make an effort to connect with your clients, consumers, or fans on social media platforms, you’re doomed to fail.

When connecting across platforms, we were reminded, it is important to remember that not all of your consumers will be engaged with you on Facebook AND Twitter AND via mobile apps. Your brand must therefore spread all of its messages and campaigns to all of these platforms. What’s most important is consistency and comprehensive reach.

When posting to multiple platforms, you should also adjust your message so that it works for that platform in terms of length and content. It is often obvious when someone is using a super-convenient cross-posting service that has automatically aggregated a Facebook post to Twitter, because the whole message will not fit in the restricted 140-character Twitter space. You never want your consumer to assume that you don’t put as much effort into engaging on the platform they prefer.

In targeting the content of your message to Facebook, Twitter and mobile, consider these general tips:

  • Twitter is particularly good for give-and-take conversation, the sharing of information and customer service
  • Facebook posts and campaigns are more successful if they elicit emotion and tell a story
  • Mobile is also a more emotional platform, but its users crave a tangible experience. They want rewards for their engagement with your app, i.e., coupons or deals.

I am only scratching the surface of what was learned at Social Media Weekend in this post, of course. The conferences’ attendees ranged from folks who didn’t yet have Twitter of Facebook accounts to industry pros, and everyone walked away having learned something new. In a separate post, I will discuss new tools to which I was introduced, but for now, here is a trove of thoughts and info from the conference, put together by some of its attendees:
Presentations, notes and tips
And here are details about the panels and speakers:
conference website

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REMINDER: Social Media Weekend is 2 days away!

If you live in or near New York City, you should come to Social Media Weekend at Columbia’s Journalism School this weekend. There’s still time to register!

I wrote a bit about this event in this blog post, but allow me to entice you with a few more details:

Two panels that I put together:

Other panel titles include Social Media and Social Good; Social Media and Job Hunting; and The Watercooler Effect: Social Media and Tv.

For more info on panels and plenary sessions occurring throughout, visit our event website.

I hope to see you there, and stay tuned to this blog for a full event report!

Posted in events, job hunt, journalism, on-the-job, Social Media, social media campaigns, startup companies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment