Monthly Archives: April 2011

Kindle 1, Clarity 0 = Kindle None

After getting paid for a dozen stories or so recently, I decided to treat myself to a Kindle. I’ve actually been against this device in the past. One of my favorite pastimes is perusing new and used book stores, finding those gems and then finding just the right place for them on one of my 6 book shelves. But recently, I discovered the value of the e-book, and how it brings equality to publishing for unknown, independent writers. So a Kindle suddenly seemed like a good idea.

After some thought of what I could live with, and live without, I decided on the middle of the road model of the latest Kindle, which does have wi-fi, but does not have advertisements which the cheapest model delivers for about $20 less.

Somewhat uneasy about the purchase, I carefully pulled back the seal and unwrapped reader from the 100% recyclable packaging. I actually read the quick start manual, or at least glanced at it, plugged in the device and turned it on. The words that appeared on the welcome page seemed to float on the surface. Because I have a touch screen phone, out of habit, I tried to activate it somehow by touching various parts of the screen. Then, remembering the diagram in the quick start, I pressed a button on the side that advanced the pages for me. It took a moment or two to re-aquaint myself with a non-touch-screen device. It had no roller mouse just four directional arrows with a square select button in the middle which seemed almost quaint.

I already had a few books I was ready to load onto the device, but ran into a problem getting the WIFI to connect. After going through all the steps on the support page and a few described in forums, I  finally broke down and called Customer Service for help. Not surprisingly, the Service Rep asked me to repeat all the steps I had already tried. I obliged, but got the feeling he thought I was just a silly woman who didn’t know how to deal with technology. Finally, when the device didn’t work even after completely resetting my WIFI without encryption, the Rep admitted that there must be something wrong with the device.

He gave his canned apologies, and I gave my insincere thanks and that was that. It just wasn’t meant to be. I carefully repackaged the device and the accessories I bought to return them first thing in the morning. Any device that causes that much stress isn’t worth my time and surely not worth my money. But in truth, it was the condescending service that really turned me off.

As a consultant, I often work with those who don’t know what I know. That’s why they hire me.  But I like to think that the reason they like to work with me, is because I treat them with respect; respect of their person and of their knowledge. I’m OK with the fact that I know I don’t know it all.  For me, every job is an opportunity to learn something else that I can then pass along to benefit the next client. If you get what you give, it behooves you to give something worthwhile.

Giving good service is essential for small businesses or independent contractors. And, knowing what I will and won’t tolerate is a good reminder of the expectations my clients have as well. I decided to bank my money I spent for an Android tablet instead. The Kindle App is free on Android and the tablet has a touch screen to boot.

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Filed under Consulting, People, Tools

When you connect for real: Meet-ups

There’s no doubt that Social Media has changed the way we connect and interact with each other. It’s called the Communication Age after all. Information is now at our beck and call. No more monitoring copy machines to make hundreds of fliers about that upcoming fundraiser. No more mimeographs to print newsletters, and fewer obstacles to connect with new and interesting people. Think?  Well kind of.

Connecting with people around common causes is one of the best parts about the internet. But making those connections into a community isn’t a given. Creating community online is more than connections, it’s conversations and even interaction.

While not all communities are made up of folks who are proximate to each other, for those that are Meet-ups are a great way to cement an online community for your organization or project. Here’s some thoughts:

  • Choose a Good Location – Preferably a place that is accessible by public transit, has reasonable parking and is not too crowded, so your group can easily distinguish itself from others. Be aware of how loud a venue gets. The idea of Meet-up is to encourage people to talk. That can be hard if there’s loud music, or a Party Hardy type crowd. With warmer weather on the way, consider a picnic or BBQ at a public park, that way folks can bring kids and dogs accordingly if that is a big component of your group.
  • Social Lubricant – Food and Beverages can be a great social lubricant. Consider asking everyone to bring their favorite dish or beverage. If you are not meeting in a pot-luck atmosphere, i.e. a bar, cafe or restaurant, be considerate of the financial situation of others.
  • Plan Mingling Activities – Meet ups can be awkward.  Sometimes a rapport built over time online doesn’t immediately translate in RL. Plan activities like personal scavenger hunts that require people to talk to each other to learn interesting things, like, who can speak more than one language, who owns a skateboard, or who can juggle. Or, set up a speed dating style quick talk circle, that encourages everyone to talk to another person for a short bit.
  • Be a Good Host – Greet everyone and make an effort to include everyone. Make introductions.
  • Don’t Forget Name Tags & Pictures – Encourage people to use both their screen name and real name if desired on name tags. Also take and encourage others to take and then post pictures from the Meet-Up.

 

 

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Filed under People, Social Media

Bearing the Responsibility of Social Media Alone?

Writer David Reich posed an interesting question in an article last week: “Who owns Social Media?”

The story was about who’s responsibility it is to maintain social media in a business or organization. Is it the responsibility of the PR Department, Advertising or that oh so savvy intern? His answer was it’s everyone’s responsibility. Reich writes,

I believe social media, in most cases, should be a shared effort. Parameters for messaging should be determined by the marketing folks, in close coordination with the ad and PR people, and possibly even top management. Day-to-day implementation should be handled, in most cases, by the PR people, because they are supposed to be the experts in communications. But all the marketing disciplines must have regular involvement.

But what if you don’t have PR people? What if you are a small operation or even a one-person show? Does that mean that the responsibility of Social Media falls squarely on you? Yes and No.

When working alone, you are more or less responsible for your own personal brand. You probably don’t have someone to write your tweets, or update your Facebook fan page. These things have to be worked into your likely very full schedule. But you don’t have to be online 24-7 to do be active in Social Media.

As I’ve mentioned before, updates can be scheduled with tools like TweetDeck that allow you to do several updates at once but have them go out throughout the day or week. This especially helpful if you are making an appearance or involved in an event that will take up the rest of your mind’s detail capability.

Another thing that TweetDeck is great for is hash tag searches. Remember,  you should have a beat on Twitter, a general subject area that you Tweet about.  TweetDeck makes this easier by setting up columns of your hash tag searches, putting all Tweets with a specific hash tag in a column. This saves you from going over hundreds if not thousands of Tweets to find the ones you are interested in sharing. It’s a great time saver and helps you stay on target.

The ReTweet, Like and Share can also be a helpful tool when used by you and your social network. It’s Social Media after all. So it’s not all on you to get your message out. Encourage Social Media Love, by practicing it yourself. Social Media Love: you gotta give it to get it.

It can be hard going it alone. Balancing time-management, workload and now a personal message is a lot. But how alone are you online really? You have your Friends, your Tweeps, and Google anytime you need some mental stimulation or a fresh idea.

A not so fresh idea would be to end this blog with a song.  I love irony!

Find a lighter to wave.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Message, Social Media, Tools