So You Say You’re an Expert…What Does Your Community Say?

A friend, Rick Butts, sent me this video clip and asked me to comment on it from a brand or reputation management standpoint, and the timing could not have been better. The day before I had spent over an hour on the phone with a new client who had spent the last year working with two other “EXPERTS” who made a total mess of her social media accounts. (Telling her she needed a separate personal Facebook account to just use for creating her business profile.  She ended up with three accounts, two business pages and a feeling of dread when she heard the word FACEBOOK!)

What I love about this clip is that we can “work so hard” for a specific title or brand but if our community doesn’t perceive us as fitting of that title, they will not give it to us! So many right now are touting the title of expert in this or that, but ONLY when that expert provides enough value and proves their expertise, will the community call them an expert!

Indeed, we can use online tools like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to spread our message and create a brand for ourselves and our businesses, but if you are not truly providing value and EXPERTise, your community will see the snake oil seeping out of your pockets.

Thanks for letting me rant!  What’s your opinion? I’d love to know.


What the Heck is a #Hashtag & 3 Steps to Set Up Your Own

Social Media, Hashtag, Gina Schreck, Synapse, Getting Geeky, Technology Speaker


Ok so you see them all the time on Twitter and occasionally on Facebook or LinkedIn.  The Hashtag.  In online computer terminology (ie: GEEK SPEAK), A tag is a non-hierarchical keyword or term assigned to a piece of information (such as an internet bookmark, digital image, or computer file). This kind of metadata helps describe an item and allows it to be found again by browsing or searching. WHAT????!!!#$##!**&!

In English, a hashtag is simply a symbol, a pound sign, a HASH MARK, that when placed before a group of letters or a word, make it searchable, clickable or TAGGED.  Let’s say, hypothetically, I am a lover of shoes…hypothetically… and I do a search for the word “Shoes” on Twitter, I may find posts from people saying they are not wearing any shoes, or they need a new pair of shoes.  But when I search for #shoes or click on #shoes when I see it in another tweet, it will pull tweets from people all around the world who have tagged their message.  This makes the search results much more targeted because typically when someone takes the time or effort to tag a tweet, they are wanting others, who share their interest, to find it.

Hashtags are also very helpful when attending an event (live or virtual) because if the event has a tag, I can follow the tweets without following the people.  I can create a column in TweetDeck, or any social management tool, that pulls just the tweets from, say #BWE10 (BlogWorldExpo10).  A great way to single out the tweet stream of just those pertaining to an event I am following is to go to TweetChat and type in the hashtag you want to follow.  If you sign into this site with your Twitter username you can tweet here without having to remember to type in your #hashtag each  time.  It will add it to every outgoing tweet as long as you are logged into TweetChat.

Now a great strategy for finding and following people who share the same interests as you, is to find and follow the folks using a tag you are interested in.  Example: I might go to an education conference and folks are using the Hashtag #DL10 (DevLearn 2010).  I can pull up a search for #DL10 and connect to these folks since I can assume they are all interested in learning and technology (that’s what this conference is all about).

If you would like to start your own tag, follow these 3 steps to set it up:

1. Create a short code or tag that makes sense to use.  It can be anything that includes letters and numbers. Make it as short as possible since folks have to fit it into the 280 character limit on Twitter, along with whatever they have to say.

2. Do a search on Twitter or Instagram to see if it is being used.  Once you find one that is not currently being used (or hasn’t been used in the past month or so) start letting people know about it.  You don’t officially have to register it–just start adding it to tweets when discussing the event or topic.

3. Go to Hashtagify to see who is using it most often, other hashtags that are related, and the popularity of that hashtag. It’s not that no one else will use it but it will give you information on the tag you’d like to start adding to your social media posts.

Do you use hashtags in your social media posts?  Do you have a tag you’d like to start using or are you still just as confused (if not more) about hashtags?  I’d love to hear from you~


4 Rules to Avoid Driving New Facebook Group Members Crazy

Gina Schreck, Technology Expert, speaker, Social media business


Ok so it’s been a few weeks now since Facebook rolled out the new groups feature and a few of you have created or have been added to (sometimes without you really knowing how that happened) a new group.

I’m really not sure who they tested this product on, but whoever was in their 6 month, sequestured study group was obviously connected to less than 50 people. I guess if we all used Facebook the way it was intended, and only connected with close friends and family members, I would not be writing this post, but the fact is we have redefined the word “friend” and we are connecting with hundreds, if not thousands of people on this social network.

As soon as I heard about this new Facebook Groups feature, I saw some great applications.  I created a couple groups, one for a conference committee team of 4.  The threaded conversations were easy to follow. The ability to upload and work on a document collaboratively and keep it in the string of conversation was extremely helpful (like Google docs and Wave). I was thrilled.  I showed my youngest daughter (the Schrecklet, who is a freshman in high school) how to create study groups for notes and conversations.  She loved that you could then do a group chat with everyone in the group instead of one on one. (see #1)  I saw promise for the new GROUPS!

All was peacefully organized in Facebook Land UNTIL I was added to 10 other groups that had 50-150 people in each group.  Suddenly my Facebook notifications went crazy!  You see, as long as you were connected to someone, you could ADD them to a group. They did not need to approve or agree to be in the group.  If someone creates a groups called SOCIAL MEDIA WOMEN (hypothetically of course) and wants to add 150 of their closest “friends” you could be added to the group.  Now once I am in the group I can continue adding my own “friends” in (see #2) and before long this group becomes a beast of conversations with 300 people, but now each comment in the thread causes a notification to go out to you.  You can opt OUT of the groups if you choose, (see #3) which I have, on several of them.  There is great conversations, but it is just too much.

Remember our problem is not necessarily information overload, it is filter failure.  And these new groups are forcing us to put in more filters.  So here is a list of

1. Keep your groups small and focused.  This is not to be used like a LIST when wanting to broadcast something to a specific LIST or group of people.  Groups are great for projects, and meeting notes, or very niche, sharing communities.

2. Opt out of noisy groups or those that are just broadcasting.  Click on the group notification and look to the right, you will see LEAVE GROUP.  (#3 above)

3. I haven’t seen a way to remove someone from a group once you have added them in, so be sure you know this person and their posting habits before adding them.

4. Don’t create a group to market your “stuff” to them.  Because this is not an OPT IN, you will quickly lose friends if you do this.  Use your LISTS feature for targeting a specific marketing message to a targeted list of folks.

Have you played with or been added to any groups?  What are your tips for managing the conversations?


Do Your Kids Have an Online Brand Already?

Gina Schreck, Social Media for Business, Social Reputation, Kids and Social Media, Technology speaker

When we grew up our parents worried about “What the neighbors will think” if we did anything stupid.

Today we have bigger things to worry about with our kids online.  What will Google think is a better question to ask our kids.  My kids are 14, 19, 26, & 28 and my older boys were already adults when MySpace really launched in 2004 (not saying they didn’t do stupid stuff at that age, it’s just I didn’t have to worry about their ONLINE reputation).  But my two younger daughters, Taylor and Bailey, have been using social sites like Facebook, YouTube and even Twitter for at least two years now, and we have the Google discussion quite frequently.

Today’s youth have grown up social.  They have their own YouTube channels and Facebook pages. Some, like my daughters, have Twitter accounts and already blog.  They manage complex social circles and post photos of themselves and their friends EVERYWHERE.  Their parents are also blogging about them, sharing embarrassing photos with others on Facebook and posting videos of little Johnny playing the tuba in the school play on YOUTUBE (usually not in a channel or set to private because mom and dad haven’t figured out how to do that). One study commissioned by security company AVG, found that 92% of infants have an online presence by the time they are TWO! Moms post sonograms and infant pics all over their networks.

In business we want to know where our name and our compay brand is being talked about, and we even have tools to find out. You can set up Google Alerts, and use services like Social Mention to send you notices when your name (or keywords) are mentioned in blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other places.  What about for your kids?  Don’t be naive and assume they are not using any of these tools.  If they are old enough to text message or type on a computer (approximately age 5 these days), they are creating tracks.

Gina Schreck, Online Brand, Social Media for Business, Social Media Speaker, Technology Remember a brand isn’t just about the information YOU put out there.  It is what your customers and others say about you out there.  When I say Walmart, what is the BRAND IMAGE you get? Low cost, cheap, yellow happy face-dude?  When I say SUN CHIPS what is the BRAND IMAGE you get? LOUD BAG!  When I say your kids’ names (aside from you being creeped out that I knew their name), what comes up in a Google search?  What would a future employer or college admin office think of their brand?  Google their names…with them sitting right next to you…so you can have these conversations.  Don’t only check web results, but check images, video, etc.

The fear of having one’s kids show up in ANY Google search can send chills of fear down the spine of most parents and cause many to pull internet cables out of the house all together, but we can’t cripple our children by not allowing them to build a positive brand for themselves online either (after all your child just might become a gazillionaire for creating the next Facebook).  NOW is the time to teach them about reputation management and a safe online presence.  Learn about Facebook privacy settings together and be sure photos are put into albums and locked down for appropriate viewing.

As you have these conversations with them, be sure to spend some time reflecting on how this also relates to you and your online reputation. If nothing shows up, what can you do to change that so positive posts and threads of your brilliance show up in searches?  If you have a common name, what can you do to capitalize on your product or service brand?  Perhaps starting that blog you’ve been talking about would give you enough regular Google tracks that you can rise to the top of your name search!

There is always great conversation around the differences or similarities between REPUTATION and BRAND, but with so many tools available to leave Google tracks around town or around the globe, we must be intentional to leave positive tracks and avoid any negative press.  After all…what would your neighbor’s think?

Share with us how you keep your kids safe, while still allowing them to utilize the tools of their generation.  If you don’t have children in this age category…LUCKY YOU!  What advice would you give those of us who do (it is usually the child-free who give the best advice to parents :))

As always, let me know if I, or the team here at Synapse can help you and your organization use today’s technology tools to build your business and manage your brand!


Don’t Make Me UNFRIEND You!

Unfriend, Facebook, Social Media for Business, Gina Schreck, Technology Speaker

Don’t Make Me UNFRIEND You

In most relationships there is a honeymoon phase, where we learn about each other, we are more tolerant of idiosyncrasies and we even see the best in each other…until you get on Facebook!   We are hyperconnected through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other sites with so many people that we don’t have time or patience to go through this honeymoon phase in so many relationships.

Plus people tend to expose their bad behaviors on social sites perhaps more than they would in person. They post inappropriate pictures, spray paint farm animals all over our walls, tell the world things that only a close friend should know and talk non-stop without coming up for air to allow others to chime in.

“Researchers spend a lot of time examining how people form friendships online but little is known about how these relationships end,” said a PhD student at CU Denver’s Business School, Christopher Sibona, who used Twitter to survey more than 1500 Facebook members.  He found that 57% of people will UNFRIEND because of poor online behavior, while almost 27% of folks get UNFRIENDED due to offline behavior.

His study revealed these top 3 reasons people get UNFRIENDED:

1. Frequent UNINTERESTING posts
2. Polarizing POLITICAL or RELIGIOUS views posted
3. Inappropriate, CRUDE or RACIST posts

While this study was about so-called friends calling it quits, what does it teach those of us using these tools for business?

1. You are always “ON.”  Your behavior online and off is part of your brand 24/7, so BEHAVE and play nice out there.

2. Be strategic with what you post.  Am I posting content my community would be interested in?  Is it helpful or is it just me entertaining myself? (I am guilty of engaging in a clever-fest occasionally and it is darn entertaining to me!)

3. Use LISTS on Facebook to send specific posts that may be more personal or politically slanted, to those that would be interested in that information.  Always keep your community in mind.

What are some of the reasons YOU have UNFRIENDED someone?  How are you keeping your personal and professional worlds from colliding?

Let us help you set those social goals, clarify your online strategy and be FRIENDED more often!