Six Social Media Rules From Your Mom

It's a little lot disconcerting to me that we now need books, blog posts and experts to tell us how to engage in social media.  I've read a slew of pointers and lists of things to do and not do from people who charge lots of money to tell me what they think.  Here's what they always say about getting started:

Don't spam.
Be helpful.
Give something of value.

That's it.  No Big Idea here, is there?

Are we really so far gone in our social interactions that we need dozens of Social Media Emily Post gurus to tell us something as simple as how to begin basic relationships?

What's even more disconcerting is that there are still plenty of businesses and self-proclaimed thought leaders who ignore this most basic advice.  They can be found with no @ symbols in their Twitter timelines, or Facebook wall posts that shout out to no one in particular.  I'm assuming they've never taken to the lessons of childhood, or never had the benefit of a good teacher of common courtesy and decency. Why else would they not yet know that it's in poor taste to speak without pausing to listen?  Or that repeatedly shouting your name in public is almost never a good idea?

From what I can see, there's really not a lot of mystery to building a successful social media foundation. It seems to be as simple as keeping to some of the most basic rules taught to a child.  Let's say you want to walk into a new social media playground with lots of people having a great time and you want to get in on the fun. Here are Six Amazing and Foolproof Rules my mom offered me, and I won't charge a dime for writing them down here.  They're just too idiot-proof.

1. Say hello.
2. Listen.
3. Figure out what game they're playing. 
4. Ask questions if you're not sure.
5. Wait your turn.
6. Share your toys.

As you listen and play you'll begin to learn all the subtle rules of the game and how to get in on creating new ways to play.  The others will trust you once they see you really like what they have to share with you, and that you're willing to share your toys too. 
That's it, all Six Rules you need to build a good start. Once these lessons are done, then go read books by the gurus.  You'll find that you're a lot smarter about figuring out who the good ones are.
Tell me, did I forget anything?  Because it's my turn to listen.
Photo credit:  macsimc on Deviantart

Twitter, FourSquare, and a Social Media MindVirus

It's hard to believe it’s been an entire year since I got this bright idea  to get goods from foreclosures delivered to those in need. My Search For An Ethical Pirate yielded a wonderful source from Australia, Ethical Brand. But the overall idea, in my hands, flattened like a crushed pancake. Why? There were too many dependencies and too little time. But I found some great people along the way and the experience was more than worth the effort. I learned a few things:

I dream really big – The only time this can hurt is if I expect to achieve every piece of the goal. Progress, though, is not to be taken lightly.

When I find a passion, there’s no stopping me from trying. I’ve been described as a tenacious bulldog, but you won’t see that side of me often, only when I find a great cause.

My friends are very supportive- No matter how hair-brained my idea, I have good people around me who will champion it.

Good lessons.

But what's this got to do with Foursquare, Books, and Twitter?

And now I’ve got another, smaller idea along a similar vein. It’s about my gently-read books. The plan is to start leaving them, one at a time, at coffee shops and waiting rooms all over town. What makes this a little more exciting is that I’m going to use social media tools to help. For each book I leave, I'll check into FourSquare and send a tweet about the title and author. And that is how I’m going to employ a guilt-free method to rid my overflowing shelves, nightstands, and coffee tables of some really good books.  This social movement requires just one person with a tweet and a book. 

I’m inviting you to do the same in the places you haunt.  Make paying books forward your own little mindvirus campaign.  #bookshare #bookforward!

Photo credit:  *m0thyyku on DeviantArt

Why Google's New Social Search Can Leave You Naked and Exposed

It's taken me a while to catch up with Google's Social Search but the dangers of the new service has hit me over the head this weekend with a thud.  It happened after reading this post about managing your online reputation by Emergent by Design.  Having worked in the People Data business, my stomach dropped a little, and I immediately logged in to my Google account to check it out for myself.   What I found when clicking My Social Circle link was a listing of the people I'm connected to in the Second Degree, as well as the person through whom I'm linked to them.

At first glance this doesn't seem like such a bad idea, except if you don't realize what this means, it really is.

LinkedIn already does this linking.  Through Twitter you can ferret this information out.  Facebook is a huge example of this kind of linking in operation.  But the problem I have with Google getting into the game is that the rules have been established only after we've been playing for a very long while, and with many of their various toys.  Use Google Reader?  Twitter?  Flickr?  Picasso?  Blogger?  If you've added those elements to your Google Profile, everyone you've connected to through those platforms is now not only searchable but so are their connections.  That single degree is a huge leap.  Networks you thought were closed or at least confined to a certain group have now been exposed to your other networks.

Google Profile should have come with a warning label, and I'm going to give you a caveat, which is this:  My professional background includes working as an analyst for a data mining company.  One of the technologies worked on was all about linking people by degrees of separation, up to 36.  I can tell you that after 6 degrees the data is essentially useless, and some might argue that the same holds true for 5 or 6.  But two degrees is optimum for finding interesting relationships, some of which may be misleading.  For an intelligence analyst trained to ferret through this data, it's not an issue.  But if your Google-Profiled future employer or mother-in-law is doing searches on you, be prepared for exposing years of linking to people you'd forgotten about.  And be prepared for the possibility that their interests, blog posts, photos, and the like can, in some cases, be displayed to those doing the searching for your information.

Pay close attention to the man in the video.  There's a reason why he's talking about why opting in means you're making a "very clear choice that you're comfortable with the world knowing that information".

11 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Vacation

Sometimes and maybe most times, it's best to go back to the basics to gain a little perspective.  That's the case with me and the concept of a good vacation experience, because frankly, I suck at planning them.

Full disclosure here.  I make my living working in the world of vacations, so you'd think I might have a handle on this kind of thing.  And yes, the fact that I've centered my work around vacation experiences sounds like the beautiful oxymoron that it is.  I'm surrounded by crisp palm-laden images of gorgeous resorts and happy families skiing moguls or strolling white sand beaches all day.

But even with the prospect of relaxing somewhere in an inventory of over 45 resorts my employer offers, I still haven't planned one.  It's not that I don't have the time, but that I've lost the practice of treating myself to a good getaway, Away being the word I need to underline here.  And that's true for not only me.

Having access to spacious resorts means I've got it good compared to most of my friends.  For them, the concept of a family vacation has dwindled from a yearly relaxing treat to a high-pressured scramble to plan hotel accommodations in cramped spaces.  By the time they've finished coordinating days off then pouring through ratings and price comparisons, they've all but given up on the idea of taking the trip.  As a result they end up staying home, and like me, convince themselves it's ok to"just take it easy this year".

All that experience really ever does for me is to make for a very short water-cooler conversation on my first day back.  There's no embellishing the experience of cleaning out my closets or wandering for hours at the local mall.

It was while reading Stephen Wilke's post on his blog by that name that I realized the error of my ways, and that a revisit of my personal definition of vacation was in order.  Mistaking "time away" for "vacation" has become a personal habit, one I have ample opportunity to correct this year.  There's no excuse, no frenetic planning or hotel price comparisons to make.  I just need to decide to actually book it.

Sometimes a simple time off seems like a decent way to recharge, but every once in a while a true break from routine, familiarity, and especially location is the best thing I can do to get my groove back.

How many of these 11 excuses are sabotaging your idea of a great getaway?

Gorgeous Vintage Graphic from Hawaiian Days

Getting Started - Mining the Collective Brain Reserve First Step

In all the research I've done over the past few months, this post very nicely summarizes the touchpoints I believe are important to any business beginning a social media strategy. It not only gives the How, but an excellent case for Why.

That means I just had to point you to it:

9 Tips on Getting Started in Social Media

from F.A.D.S. (The Fight Against Destructive Spin)  Don't you love that name?

Mining the Collective Brain Reserve (Begin at the Beginning...)

I'm on a learning curve, and according to Todd Kashdan's book Curious, it's the reason I'm currently happy.

What's got my time and attention is social media, and if you're reading this blog, you've probably spent enough time online to become tired of the words.  Yes, the term is ubiquitous and by now, after everyone whose ever had to market online through a single tweet or facebook page has titled themselves a social media expert, I'll bet you're about ready to stop reading this post.

And that's ok.  You can stop reading.

But if your eyes have hit this sentence and you decide to continue, I'll tell you about my latest plan to have segments of this blog dedicated to what I learn about measuring and monitoring social media.

How did I decide to include that topic in a blog about ideas?  Because my worklife role now involves gathering social media metrics and like all things I become keenly interested in, I dive head first.  Especially a project I'm passionate about.  Especially a project that involves one of the Biggest Ideas to come along since television, and especially since the field is so wide open that there's exponential room for creativity. 

The mind reels with the possibilities.

So when you see my post titles include Mining the Collective Brain Reserve, you'll understand that I'll be writing about the progress of my self-imposed bootcamp.  I'm doing that in this Big Idea space because there are lots of folks like me out there, tasked with understanding, measuring, monitoring, creating, and listening.  And they want a plan, or they'd like to read about how others have done it.

I'm a fan of performing lots of research for anything I set out to do, so you'll get lots of links and pointers as I write out my journey.  It'll be a winding path, but here:  I've just taken the first steps.

First Link, First Step:   Radian6 says, is to Listen