Thursday, November 29, 2007

So Much for Current Content

I just looked at my blogger cue and my notes from the events I've attended recently and realized I've been bad, well at least as far as social media goes. I've been holding content in the wings, greedily attending events without so much as offering the briefest of hat tips.

So here goes nothing... Since the end of last month, I've attended Podcamp (three or four sessions still left to post on), an event on new media at BU, a PRSA Boston event, Jeff Pulver's Real Time Social Networking, a NEDMA event, and a breakfast with Jeff Pulver and friends. All great events, with great people and better discussion.

Will I get to posting on these events? Hopefully. But I wanted everyone to feel some link love, so I would feel less like the quiet kid from tenth grade English lit--greedily taking in everyone else's thoughts and contributing nothing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quaker Breakfast Cookies

Most mornings, I start my day with an over-sized cup of coffee and small container of yogurt. Within about two hours, I'm hungry again. And 10:30am is not an acceptable lunch time.

So today, I wandered through the cafeteria / lunch room area to refill my mug, hoping to stave off the hunger for another hour with coffee. In my walk-through, I found a Quaker Breakfast Cookie on the table, an indication that it's up for grabs.

It wasn't until I got back to my desk that I realized that I was holding the exception to every rule my parents had ever tried to teach me about healthy eating. There really weren't that many rules, but I'm pretty sure cookies were not allowed.

What a brilliant marketing concept! It's a cookie, so it's going to taste good. But it's Quaker, so it'll be good for you too. Trick the customer into thinking their getting away with something naughty, and nice!

Yummy, yummy, cookie in my tummy.

Any other good examples of fun marketing trickery out there?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veterans' Day to a 20-Something

a person who has served in a military force, esp. one who has fought in a war (

I don't have any living relatives that served in this country in wartime. I had a great uncle that was a Pearl Harbor (deceased prior to my birth) and my grandfather's time in the Marines was between wars.

I was taught to appreciate those who fought for a country and died for our country. I was taught to thank the men and women in uniform for their service. And I did and still do. Yet, in years' past, I've lacked a personal connection to the holiday because I really didn't know any veterans.

This morning, when I thought about the holiday, I thought more about the current war. I realized that I do actually know living veterans--and more than knowing them, they're my peers, my classmates from high school and college, and soon my extended family... This year, my cousin started classes at West Point.

Though I won't begin to speculate on where the arms of the American military will be in four years, I worried for my peers. My elders already have my respect, more so as veterans, but their experience, coupled with their place in time, conveys touches of wisdom that I may never understand. It's most striking to me that these peers of mine, former classmates and my younger cousin too (maybe), have and will likely continue to endure the most physically and emotionally taxing experiences one life could--solely to maintain our feelings of safety and security at home. Perhaps it's the worry and fear that makes us most grateful.

They have my respect, respect beyond their years. But this year I didn't just think about appreciating what the veterans of this country have done--I thought about what they will do and who I will know and how their experiences will effect them.

What will the veterans from my generation see? What will they protect me from?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Taking the Weekend Off

My mom got to town on Friday and I know I've been silent since then.

FYI-- more posts coming soon!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Post a Day

Where's the Balance in My Day?

I've been struggling to get one post a day (as per the condition of NaBloPoMo)--I find that between work and sleep and eating, there aren't really that many hours in the day. Social media is demanding! (So is that 9 to 5 work structure--Though I know the arguments in support of posting at work, I feel guilty when I do because it takes me away from client related work time.)

I've found that when I get home from work, I don't want to be latched to my laptop. I'm fighting with myself to sit down and write. On one hand, I do want to write and post; on the other, my vision is going fuzzy from starring at a screen all day at work! And on top of that, it seems alocking myself, away from my roommates and boyfriend, so I can engage with this social media beast.

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

There's plenty more I'd like to cram into my day, on top of work and a blog post. But I keep coming back to one thing cutting into another-- facebook or in-person. The gym or more sleep?

How do you structure your day in away that you get a little bit of everything that's important (without sacrificing a night's sleep)? Any suggestions?

I want more from my 24 hours!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Just Starting Out with Your Finances

Awhile back I wrote a post on adult world words. As I was collecting words that I found take on new meanings in this post college adult land (can we trademark a theme park?) , a friend of mine suggested debt. It wasn't initially what I had in mind with my post--I was looking for funny. But debt was and is a very true adult word, so it made the list.

Amanda Gravel (@amandagravel) posted a comment asking how to avoid that whole debt situation. I balked at the question initially, because I don't really feel 100% financially stable. (I wonder how many people really do after graduating from college.) But I recently found myself reading Kiplinger's Personal Finance (for a client) and I came across some great resources for us young folks trying to figure it out.

I have to admit here that I am not one of those people that balances my checkbook in paper. I don't have a spreadsheet of expenses. I have a general idea of the bottom-line and I try to be thrifty. Budgeting seemed like a luxury to me, working from paycheck to paycheck. But these are some good guidelines to keep your finances in shape.

These numbers are percentages of take-home pay (after taxes):
30% Housing
15% Food (both at home and take-out)
10% Utilities and other housing expenditures
10% Transportation
10% Debt repayment
10% Savings
5% Clothing
5% Entertainment
5% Misc. personal expenses

Now, I have a pretty refined sense of guilt that spills over into my finances. Budgeting for clothes and entertainment sounded a bit crazy to me--probably because I always feel like those purchases are guilty indulgences (and $30 at the movies is madness!). But it's honest and important to factor in the money you should be spending to keep yourself amused, and warm.

This is just a start for managing your finances. And if you're in college still, you're probably going to be spending more money on books than on debt repayment. However, you should try to outline a budget, if for no other reason than to get a sense of how you spend your money. You'd be surprised how quickly the morning Starbucks add up--and if you know how you're spending, you can plan creative ways to save (like buying a coffeemaker and putting the money you save towards next semester's books, or a night out).

I'm definitely not a financial expert, but I'm figuring this out as I go. So Amanda, and everyone out there, if you have any questions or ideas, leave 'em as a comment. We can try to figure this all out together.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Podcamp: Pistachio on Presentations

Day two of Podcamp started off bright and early with a session lead by Laura Fitton (@pistachio). "Presenting... (The People Formerly Known as) Your Audience" was the title of the session and understanding the nature of presentations was the game.

Laura began by telling us that media, even in this new media landscape, is about audience. It's not about you. And consequently, you should remember that podcasts--any form of media--are shows and conversations. You have to ask and listen, be active participants in the entire process.

Most importantly--Love your audience!
Show your audience some love with:
production value
tight editing
getting (and incorporating) feedback
providing entertainment
making them think
informing / educating
giving 'em something

You're providing content and you should actively be seeking out an audience that matches your content. Get out of your fish bowl and find them where they live.

During the her presentation, Laura had everyone take out a business card, pass it to the person sitting in the next chair over and call the person's voicemail. Your voicemail is a presentation of who you are to--and most of us cringed at the thought of being judged by it!

Laura had this mnemonic device in her slides:

I think it succinctly summarizes her points about how to engage an audience in a presentation in only four words.

The session concluded with members of the audience sharing tactics for getting their respective audiences to engage. People suggested asking friends and family to comment to break the silence. The diecast audio podcaster said he found some of his audience in local diecast enthusiast club meetings... The take aways were to make the audience feel comfortable and find them where are.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Podcamp: Blogger Relations and PR 101

One of my colleagues at Topaz, Doug Haslam, led a discussion with Bryper (Bryan Person) on blogger relations and some other stuff (that the session's really long title was supposed to convey)... Really the session was PR in the new media landscape and it was led by two people who are down in the trenches on a regular basis.

The session began with examples of failures.
Bryper works for Monster and shared a story about blogger relations going amiss in Ireland. I hadn't heard this whole issue before, but I guess a Monster employee in Ireland send out a mass spam email. A well-read blogger received the email, got a nasty response from the person who sent it and posted about it. Then some Monster employee thought it wise to comment on the blog post from work--and the IP address was traced and exposed... The post and the comments attracted a lot of attention--the post got over 500 diggs.

@dougH shared a story of a past Topaz client. The client got some unfavorable coverage and an employee took matters into his own hands... Astroturf happens. But the company didn't think think it was important to apologize for the employee and state their blogger policy (apparently the employees weren't supposed to commenting on behalf of the company). It took them entirely too long to realize that the blogger was, in fact, worth apologizing.

What's the point?
Find online conversations and join them! Using Google, RSS, Newsgator, Feed demons, Google reader, you can keep track of all of them.

New PR= Old PR
Form pitches don't work because PR is about relationships.

PR people can stimulate conversations. PR people can be involved in conversations on behalf of a client. But you have to be honest about who you are.

The take away (yet again): Transparency. Why is this one so hard?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Participating in NaBloPoMo

I'm participating in the NaBloPoMo--National Blog Posting Month, in which you post at least once a day for the entire month of November.

They have a series of entertaining bagdes you can put up on your blog to announce your participation. I liked this one best because it's ridiculous.

Awhile back, I was pointed to this post called "Are You an A-List Bloglebrity?"--it contains a rating scheme based on the (sometimes contested) Technorati ranking and authority. You type in your URL and find out how cool you are in social media terms.

I made the D-list.

At first I couldn't decide if I was proud or embarrassed. But I knew I didn't post enough to move up in the social media ranks.

So let's see that happens if I post once a day for a month. Maybe I'll be a C-list blogger in the end. Maybe I'll be happily typing away and not notice the ranking system. Either way, I'll have posted a lot.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The Comment Rant (amended)

When I set up this blog, I set it up for pre-moderation of all comments. So first I received an anonymous comment to my The Brookline Public Library Recycles...Books post, then another on to this rant about promotional sounding, unsigned comments (which I've now amended). The second of which was considerably negative, so much so that it won't be published.

Now, there are many things I found irritating about the original comment:

First and foremost, sign your name. Clearly you want to engage me in one way or another; clearly you care. If you want me to take you seriously, tell me who you actually are. Transparency is the word.

Now, the link I was pointed to, and the comment itself for that matter, is written for someone that has some sort of say in libraries--"Let us sell your discards and donations." --I'm not a library; I don't have a stack of books to discard. I walked by and saw some in the recycling can. You want to impact change--talk to the Brookline Public Library.

Finally, the comment refers to ways to purchase books. When did I mention buying books? The post was about recycling books and then I suggested ways the library could have better handled their unwanted material. If you, the anonymous commenter, wanted me to add to that list of options you should have written the comment in such a way to convey that goal.

The second comment was a bit more inflammatory--it's funny how people think the internet is a black hole of anonymity and therefore regular rules of conversation or etiquette don't apply. It is for this reason that I'm establishing a set of guidelines for my approach to moderating comments:
  • Tell me who you are (transparency)--if for some reason you can't, tell me why
  • Talk to me (create dialogue)--don't sound like a salesman or an obvious promotion, I work in PR (I get that all day)
  • Talk to my audience (be relevant)
  • Be respectful--name calling isn't okay, even behind the veil of the Internet

***this post has been modified from the first version I published the morning of November 2nd.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Beth Kanter on Social Media Metrics

Beth Kanter's session on metrics began with a definition of metrics--the attributes or factors that are important for you to determine results or make improvements. She cited this definition from Jeremiah Owyang (an Forrester analyst and blogger) and went on to say what metrics are not; when we're talking about metrics, we're not talking about a scoreboard or a report card.

Ultimately, metrics don't exist in a vacuum. You need measurement--the process of determining result of strategy--to bring meaning to the metrics and the strategy as a whole.

The most substantive take away from this session is that measuring social media metrics is not like Martha Stewart; metrics for social media are not and can not be perfect. So you have to get comfortable with ambiguity and using the numbers you can get.

That being said, what are the basics?
Page views
Visitor info
Time on site
Bounce rate (only view single page before leaving site)
Traffic and content
Entry and exit pages
Click analysis
Search engine entry

How do these become meaningful?
In the session, Beth referred to 5 Rays from Scoble's white board. Those rays are themes to take into consideration for measuring social media success. Beneath each ray are some general ideas of how to measure it:

Who's reading
Unique visitors
Engagement =interaction+attention
Click on
Length of stay
Shape of conversation (qualitative analysis)
Post to comment ratio
Conversation index-> posts / trackback + comments
RSS subscribers (feedburner, et al)
Repeat visitors
Memes and their intensity over time
Question: authority
Digg, Techmeme, Technorati
Linked to goals

*There are plenty of metrics tools available--webtrends, google analytics, clickstream, feedburner, typepad. That could be another post in and of itself...

Final points: Conclusion

Don't be use metrics as therapy. Don't be a metrics detective.
Do link metrics to goals, strategy and decisions.

I wish it could be more precise! But social media is like life--a little vague at times...