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social networking

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One Week Without Facebook

I'm logging out of facebook - One Week Update

Two weeks ago, I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone. Last week, I decided not to log into Facebook to check my personal profile anymore. You can read more about that decision here. Part of me kind of feels childish for just not going on Facebook. For a moment, I felt like the kid who decided to leave because the other kids wouldn’t play nice. The problem with the majority of the people on Facebook is that they do not respect the thoughts or opinions of other people. These people have no regard for others. What is interesting to me is that these people seem to only exist on Facebook. There is a different mentality on other social networks such as Twitter, Linkedin and even Instagram.

Over the last week I have ran different situations through my head that could get me back to Facebook such as deleting a lot of these negative people from my friends list or just deleting my entire friends list altogether and then add people back that I want to remain online friends with. All of this sounds like too much work. There is no easy way to do this when you have 4500+ friends in your friends list. I don’t want to delete my account because as I have mentioned before, there is a timeline of my life for the last many years on there and I do not want that to go away.

I also noticed that my Instagram was posting to my Facebook profile and my wife mentioned that people were commenting on the photos I was posting from our trip to Newport Beach last week. I wish that you could pin a post to the top of your profile like you can with a Facebook Business page. Since Facebook does not show much of what you post to your entire friends list, many people do not know why I am not responding. There is no easy way to make that known. I did add a message in my about me section mentioning that I am no longer checking my Facebook profile but people who are already my Facebook friend would have to dig to find it.

I have been considering disabling my Facebook profile because that would make it easier to remove myself from the equation. A friend of mine deleted his Facebook profile and then started getting messages and calls from people asking if he was ok. He said that people thought he might be having marital problems or that maybe something went wrong with his health. This is the kind of weird OCD or whatever it is that people on Facebook have. Facebook is so engrossed into people’s lives that when something doesn’t seem right, they assume the worst and have to know the gritty details. The issue I have here is that most people would never bother to call or check in on you personally so long as you have your Facebook profile going. The moment you remove yourself from the tribe, everybody assumes the worst and must know the drama. When there isn’t any drama, they go back to scrolling Facebook on their phones in hopes to find something else they can feed off of.

What is hard is that all of my family uses Facebook to stay up to date with what we are doing and to see photos of our kids. To be honest, I kind of like it that way. My family and I talk maybe once a week, sometimes a little less than that. It’s just the way we have always been with communication, even before social media. My wife’s family talks much more often and seeing a post on social media often triggers a phone call. When I decide to post to my blog or another social network, my family often does not see that post. Being on Facebook does make it easier because everybody is there.

Not posting to Facebook all week has also changed how I feel about Facebook pages for businesses. The more Facebook forces businesses to pay for advertising the less I want to be involved with it altogether. When there was talk of the Facebook IPO, I knew that they were going to have to switch gears quickly into money mode and that is what they have done. Facebook runs tests on us showing us different content to see how we react to it. They show us less of what we actually want to see so we spend more time there. For many, it has turned into an addiction. For me, I would spend a lot of time there just trying to find something interesting. It would take me 10 minutes of scrolling to find something that was interesting enough to read or comment on.

I get it, we are all busy these days. We have filled our lives with so much stuff to keep us occupied that we don’t have time for real life interactions. We don’t get the details on each other’s lives like we used to so when we see something on Facebook, we obsess over it. We have also lost context. We are left to draw our own conclusions. To be honest, I would rather that less people know what is going on in my personal life. I would rather those who do care about what I’m up to ask me what I am up to by giving me a call or text message. I miss the days of getting coffee with a friend and talking about life.

Whats next?

I am going to continue not logging into Facebook and will stop Instagram from posting as well. Hopefully this post will remain on the top of my profile so people can see that I am not physically present on my Facebook profile. If anybody wants to stay up to date with what is going on with my family and myself, you can follow this blog or the links below. There is also a Photos section of this blog that contains photos I have been posting here rather than to Facebook.

I have also been reconsidering my presence on several other social networks. Instagram is owned by Facebook so I am sure they are working toward making changes to it like they have with Facebook. They have said that there will be ads and the feed of photos will start to change. It’s only a matter of time before Instagram becomes more of a time consumer.

When talking about social networking with people, I have always told people that I would rather be someone that somebody Google searches for than someone who just shows up in somebody’s news feed. I want to add value to the internet and that means coming up with content that is useful and interesting. I want to connect with people who have similar interests and desire similar things in life. Facebook has not been the correct platform for that.

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Linkedin Recommendations Request Script

I have found that it is easier to get recommendations from people on Linkedin if you email them personally and ask. Everybody knows what the canned Linkedin email looks like and they know that you can easily ask all of your Linkedin contacts at once. Linkedin Recommendations are like Yelp Reviews for your resume. Don’t take this script as it is, take it and personalize it to the person you are asking for a recommendation. You should also return the favor.

You can dress this up or down depending on the kind of relationship you have with the person.

Hey Name, I am working on getting a few of the people I have recently worked closely with on projects to write recommendations about me on my Linkedin profile. Your voice and opinion matters to me. I would love to have your thoughts on our work together on my profile for others to see.

You can view my Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeradhill

Thank you for considering,

Your Name

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How Well Do People Really Know You?

How well do people really know you? I have worked in a couple of different industries over the years but nothing very confusing. I’ve been doing website design for a long time and for the last six years I have also been a wedding photographer. Online I have marketed myself as a wedding photographer. In face-to-face and at networking events I market myself as a website designer. I feel that as a website designer I have more of a tangible offering to the general public than I do as a wedding photographer. There are not too many people wandering around networking events looking for a wedding photographer. What surprises me is that I get asked the question, “what do you actually do,” very often, as if I only focus on one and pretend to do the others. If somebody follows me on Facebook or twitter than they probably know that I am a photographer. This is because I post a lot of photos and talk about my camera often. Most of the people that I network with locally who are my friends on Facebook or twitter know that I am a web designer and also a photographer. But what about the people that don’t know me on a personal level, the people that have never met or heard of me before? What information will they find when they search for me? This is a good question to ask yourself. The reason that I decided to write on this topic is because I was using a new iPhone app called Evi which is a competitor to iPhones Siri. This app allows you to speak in search terms, and ask it questions. So obviously the first thing I wanted to do was ask it “who is Jerad Hill.” The first thing he responded with was “Jerad Hill the technology journalist.” This threw me off because I’ve never had anyone referred to me as a technology journalist. However it does make sense because of my websites DailyAppShow.Com, iCopilot.Net and StateofTech.Net. Both of those websites get a lot more traffic than my photography and web design websites combined. I am not sure what search components drive the results that Evi gave me but what it did tell me is that the computer, which is the most linear thinker there is, thinks I’m a technology journalist. This added yet another job description into the mix.

We cannot allow our connections with the social networks to be the only place that people can go to figure out what it is that we do for work. Even friends of mine that I have had on social networks for years get confused about what it is that I do when I start talking to them. I have found that social network friends, meaning friends that I have on social networks but are not friends in person, have less of an idea what I do because I often focus on my personal life on my social networks. I made a decision along time ago not to be a business touting robot on social networks. I want people to see me as a person, a husband, a father and Christian before they see other things. Of course if anyone is paying any attention they will notice that I do talk about what I do for a living and often post about related subjects. I want to make it easy for people to know what it is that I do for a living but at the same time I don’t want them to associate me only with my job title. The reason that I want to make it easy is that I have a different job titles in different industries which is confusing for some people to to comprehend. Even though it is the 21st century and people often wear multiple hats throughout their lives and even at the same time, people still associate you with one job. Here are some of things that I have found out when it comes to using social networks and websites to promote yourself as a business person.

The first thing is that regardless of how interesting you think you are, people are only going to remember a set amount of things about you. I will even say that they will most likely only remember things about you that they can associate with themselves. There may be other things that they remember, but only if they can associate with them in one way or another. Women usually remember that I’m a photographer because I post pictures of weddings and my kids. Most of the women I know have no idea that I have been doing website design for over 12 years unless I tell them or unless they went out of their way to find out on their own. Guys are even quicker to make associations which probably has to do with our linear way of thinking. Because of this you want to be careful how many things you throw out there at once. People only remember a set amount of things so don’t leave it to chance, make sure they remember the important ones which are your main focus.

On Facebook I decided that I wanted people to associate me with being a husband and a father to my kids. Most of the things that I post about have to do with my family. I decided this because I want to try my best to set an example in a world where husbands and fathers are not that interested in their titles. Don’t get me wrong, I am no where near perfect, my wife can attest to that. I rarely, very rarely post anything about website design. Because of that, the majority of my Facebook friends probably have no idea that I am a website designer. It is much easier for people to associate me with photography because I’m always posting photos of my kids, and they are pretty darn good photos at that 😉 That is okay with me because at this period in my life I would prefer to grow my photography business over my website design business. I get enough website design clients from my website and referrals from my lovely past clients. This is not to say that I couldn’t always use new business. New business is always good.

On twitter when I’m not trying to be funny I’m usually trying to add value some way. I feel that that is a good use of twitter, adding value. I don’t know all of my twitter followers, I actually know a very small fraction of them personally however because of the short form post length I feel it is best used for sharing short bits of good information, or short puns, because I like making jokes. I don’t do this nearly often enough. I feel that if I provide enough value people will wonder what it is that I do and look deeper into what I offer. The link I provide in my twitter profile is a link to a special page on my website that shares information I think would be relevant to people who find me on twitter. Even on twitter I post very little about website design even though Twitter is a much better demographic for sharing web related information then Facebook is due to the fact that more tech-centric people are on Twitter.

The point of why I am writing this is that you need to have some sort of a focus if you want or expect people in your general sphere of influence to refer business your way. If you expect people to think about you when someone mentions that they need to find a new insurance agent, then you need to talk about work from time to time. It is actually quite easy. I often post short posts on Facebook and Twitter about a wedding as I am shooting it. Sometimes I even take a few Instagram photos at the wedding or have someone take one of me with my iPhone.

When Myspace started to take off I saw that social network as a way to bullhorn my message to a large group of people with out having to leave the comfort of my own home. Over the years my message has changed but I am still using Social Networks to share what I stand for in this world and occasionally, what I do for a living. I suggest you find a way to do this yourself and see what happens. People will start to see what you are passionate about and associate you with those passions.

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Social Media in the Workplace – California Central Valley HDI

Tonight I gave a talk on Social Media to the California Central Valley HDI Chapter and students at Modesto’s Institute of Technology. It was an honor to have such a wide range of people to talk to. When surveying the members on what they wanted to hear about in regards to social media I received such a wide range of response I decided to try and cover as much of social media as a whole and cite experiences I have had with other companies. When you are not given something specific to talk about you just have to assume they want to hear an overview.

I recorded my talk with my iPhone in my shirt pocket. It sounds decent. I hope you take a moment to listen to it. Nothing that I share is breakthrough information. It’s more thought provoking. Since I had an audience of IT professionals from large area companies and IT students as well, I did my best to speak to both levels of my audience.

I enjoyed the experience and getting the chance to talk to such a dynamic range of people.

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10 Reasons Why Your Main Focus Should Be Your Website

Focusing Communication to your WebsiteIt seems like every day there is a new social network popping up with hopes and dreams of capturing the precious time of us internet users. Business owners have always gravitated to where the people are focusing their attention. When the radio took attention away from the newspaper, businesses focused their attention on radio. When tv started to take over radio, the same change happened. Then internet took focus away from the tv. Now the changes are taking place inside of the internet. Businesses are focusing on engaging with their customers on social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Google recently released business profiles for brands on Google+. As the changes keep coming and focus keeps shifting I would like to make an argument as to why your main focus should still be your website.

1. Social Networks are for Sharing
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are all about sharing content. Look at the updates from your friends through out the day. What are they sharing and where do the links land? When a funny video is shared the video resides on Youtube and is brought in as a link. When an inspirational blog post is shared it comes in to Facebook as a link. These social networks are sharing platforms. They were not designed to be the “homepage” for your business. Having a page on these social networks has its place in your push for brand awareness but it should not be your main focus.

Your businesses social network page should be an extension of your website. It should complement your website. These social network pages can only contain a small amount of data about your business. I know that it is tempting to make the change because it seems that more interaction happens on your social network page than your website but I encourage you to keep your website as your main focus.

2. Not Everybody is on Social Networks
I have seen some companies forward their website URL to their Facebook page. They gave up on having a website for their company and assume that since “everybody” is on Facebook that they would just use their Facebook page. This is a bad idea. Not only are you alienating those who do not have a Facebook account from finding out more information about your company, you are showing most of us that you are lazy. Posting updates to a wall on Facebook is quick and easy, however it is not a good representation of your business. I can think of very few businesses that have so little about them that they can fit it on the Info page on their Facebook page.

3. You Can’t Capture Useful Data
Social Networks have the good stuff, all of the data from users profiles that would help us market better. They leverage that data so they can sell ad placement. Facebook allows ads to be sold on their website through their system which if used correctly can be pretty powerful. However, we do not get any of that data. If somebody clicks on a link to my website and finds something interesting, I can make a connection with them through a contact form. A viewer can only find your Facebook page if they either already knew your companies name, one of their friends shared a link to your page or saw your ad and clicked on it. Once they get to your page there is no way for them to communicate with your business other than to post on your wall publicly. It takes going to your website to engage on a more private level.

4. You Can’t Sell on Most Social Networks
Facebook does not allow you to sell directly to other Facebook users. Most social networks have this rule because it is a pretty huge risk to let people sell on your website when you have no control over what and how it is being done. You can post links to products that can be sold but you would need a website for that. This goes right back to my 1st point: Social Networks Are For Sharing!

5. Social Networks Go Away
How useful do you think some of those Myspace profiles that companies poured time and resources into back in 2006 are? Of course not all resources last forever but I watched some businesses pour all of their efforts into their Myspace profile just to have to switch focus to Facebook and Twitter which people expect even more of a presence on. There is a happy medium between having a presence on social networks and remembering that there is a “rest of the world” out there. Social networks are made for sharing content. If a social network goes away, we will find a new one to share on. Sharing has been taking place since the beginning of time and that platform continues to change. Do not put all of your eggs in one basket.

6. People Don’t Ask Stupid Questions Publicly
As I mentioned in #3, there are few ways with social networks to communicate privately. On Facebook this is not possible and on Twitter it is only possible if both people are following each other. You want to be available at the moment your customer or prospective customer has a question or concern. Most people are just fine asking any question through an email or a contact form. That question goes to one person who can answer it. The question is not on public display for all to see and potentially mock. Yes, we are talking about the insecurity of people. If I am unsure about something and ask a question, I don’t want to find out that the answer I was looking for was painted on the wall in front of me for all eyes to see. Let me email you through a form on your website and receive my responses privately.

7. Not All Forms of Customer Engagement Should Be Public
As I mentioned in my last point, not all people like making their issues public. When I want an answer from the source I go to the website and email directly. Posting on a public forum or social network often does not get me the answer I wanted. It gets me answers from users. Sometimes this can be good but often you get bad information. The more you force users to engage with your business on social networks the more you will have to pay attention to those conversations. Wall and topic posts from your customers could also take off in a negative direction. A minor concern that should have been sent in an email could turn into a rant feed of other customers who were not yet ready to complain but now are since someone brought it up.

8. Support Should Be Scaleable
Use the social networks to encourage people to contact you through your website to handle support issues. I really like how some of the large companies out there are using social media to make a public display out of how they are helping customers, however this can backfire for you if you focus to much on helping customers through social networks and forget about those coming to your website for support. Helping each customer with their issues through a social network is not scaleable. Support through a social network takes place like a conversation. This takes much more time to help a person than if it was over an email. Over time, the support posts to your profile, wall or feed will disappear as more posts push it off of the first page and closer to not being found at all. Use the customer engagement you have on social networks to create great FAQ pages on your website. Do you want to continue to answer those common questions on your social network pages all of the time? If the answer already resided in a FAQ section on your site, you could respond to the social network posts with a link to an answer on your site.

9. Your Website is Searchable
When was the last time you did a Google search for something and it resulted in a post to a social network? As of the time I am writing this it is very rare to get a search result that links to a post on a social network profile. This usually only happens when the search is very specific and there are no websites that have written about the subject. Posts to social networks are typically pretty short. Facebook limits posts to 420 characters, Twitter limits are set at 140. If I was focusing all of my attention on my Facebook page, how could I write an article like this? It would have to be broken into chunks and I would have to be very short winded on topics that could require a lot of explaining.

I write articles like this for two reasons. The first is to share information and help people make more informed decisions when it comes to marketing. The second is to increase my own brand awareness. I don’t feel that I can provide much value in the different ways that I attempt to in 420 or 140 characters or less.

10. A Website Can Make or Break Your Business
I never hear anybody say that they decided to do business with someone else because that business has a Facebook page. However I do hear people say that they decided to do business with a company because their website was very professional. You can differentiate yourself from your competition with your website, however for the most part all Facebook and Twitter pages look the same. You are just like everybody else and there are many perfectly good reasons why you should try your best not to be.

If you were just like everybody else why would you care about marketing your business in the first place? There has to be a reason why you are better than your competition? What sets you apart from the other guy/gal in town who offers what you do? When you think of ways to get those points across to customers who may not know you from your competition do you think that a social network profile could accomplish this for you? You can engage your followers in a way that will help build faith in your company but that can only go so far. The above nine points that I made all provide reasons as to why you would want your main focus to be your website.

In Closing
I am not shunning the use of social networks. I have a profile on more social networks than I can even remember. My argument is that you focus your attention on your website and use social networks as a way to drive traffic to your website. Place all of your good content and nuggets of wisdom in your website where people can contact you. Encourage whoever is running your social network profiles to direct customers to your website for support where they can find FAQ’s, blog posts, articles, white papers, answers or direct contacts to the departments that can answer their questions effectively.

Social Networks can make for a great place to share stories and other information that is great, but not great enough to be a main focus on your website. Social networks have character limits because the content is meant to be kept short, just like the attention span of those browsing them. On Twitter, if you can’t say it in 140 characters or less, figure out how it can be turned into a blog post on your website. Use the social networks to share your catchy article title to drive traffic to that article on your website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long article. As you can tell, I am pretty passionate about marketing and making the best use of your time and resources. If I can be of any help to you or your company, please feel free to contact me.

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Social Networking Etiquette Lesson

Social Networks such as Facebook and Twitter have been exploding over the last few years. Businesses have flocked to this new space because that is where the people are. Active business people, sometimes known as “Movers and Shakers” are usually the first to take part in using new networks to their advantage. However, the tone and way you go about communicating with people on social networks is far different then the way most are used to communicating with people, especially when it comes to promoting products and services.

Traditional print and media marketing is equal dumping a bucket of water off of a 50 story building. Some people will get hit, most will miss it. Before social networks there was no way for a business to connect one on one with their target market. Today, the target market is a friend request away. With out the right etiquette and mindset going into social networks, you can easily do more damage than good.

I am all about promoting business. I love making suggestions for products and services to friends of mine when I find that they have a need that I know one of my contacts can fill. For example, I was on Facebook yesterday and one of my friends posted an image of their car that was just damaged after hitting a dog that ran out in front of them. I personally know the owners of the premier body shop in the town that I live in so I contacted her directly and made a suggestion. Dealing with things such as who to trust with your car is a big deal and if I was in her shoes I would have appreciated any suggestions that could have been made. Knowing so many business people in my community I could easily take advantage of my friend’s desires to share their daily ins and outs with me, but I don’t give in to that temptation. I understand how good it feels to help someone out but I also understand when it is welcome and when it becomes annoying. Here are some tips and suggestions that I think should be considered when thinking about promoting yourself, your business or the businesses of others through social networks.

1. Always make your suggestions private.
Social Networks are super public. Most people allow anyone to see their posts and the posts of their friends. The average person on Facebook has 180 friends. This is very exciting to a business person who feels that they have something that could help. However, the public space is not where you want to do this. Although most will want to place their suggestion in public with hopes that all of their friends will see it the suggestion will come across as nothing more than a shameless plug. Shameless plugs = Annoying. I personally take offense to it, give one warning and then unfriend the person. In real life, if someone was to jump into a conversation with out being invited it would be considered rude. How is a person’s Facebook wall any different?

The right way to make your suggestion is to contact the person through their email or through private message. On Facebook you can message people privately as well as on Twitter you can Direct Message them. If the recipient of your suggestion takes you up on it and has a good experience I am sure they will post about it. They post about everything else so why not about their great interaction with your business? After business has closed and you feel the transaction went well you can even ask if they would post something to their Facebook wall or Twitter feed. How much better is a recommendation or testimonial from a happy customer then from your mouth?

Painful Example of poor Social Networking Etiquette: When I post something to my Facebook wall or Twitter feed about something and people make a shameless plug about their product or service that is not even relevant to what I was talking about. An example of this would be if the product or service was not available in my area. There is no relevance to what I posted nor that of anyone else who was posting comments under it, the plug was completely shameless and brought no value to the conversation. Why don’t you just slap me in the face while you are at it!

2. Invites to Groups, Fan Pages or Lists.
Creating a list, group or fan page for your business is a good idea. I have one and would recommend you get one for your business. You can even go as far as suggesting to all of your friends that they become a fan of your page, add you group or list as well. However, do not become relentless in attempting to get all people on your list or fan page. They saw it the first time. If they did not add it, they did not want to add it. If you continue to be persistant with getting people to add your page you are frustrating them and almost guaranteeing that they will never do business with you. This is equal to chasing people down and making them come in your door. Have you ever been to Las Vegas or certain parts of San Francisco where the bars and restaurants have people out front trying to get you to come into their establishment? It’s obnoxious, and you only put up with it long enough to walk by. Internally you are telling yourself that you will never go into that place and you probably even feel insulted.

To get people to become fans of your page, group of list you should ask those who are already fans to share it with others. Ask them to type a short message that they can send with the invite. This short message would explain how your business or product helped them. You are more likely to get fans who actually want to know more about you and your product this way.

Painful Example of poor Social Networking Etiquette: There is a local restaurant who has both a Facebook profile and Fan page. There is no indication of personality behind these profiles, they seem to strictly be there to be recognized and I have noticed no intention to be an active part of the community. This business would “suggest” that I added their page as a fan every single day. It was really annoying to click “ignore” every day as these suggestions would add up with the others and there is no easy way to “ignore all”, nor can you just ignore all future suggestions for a certain friend. You just have to unfriend them. This is exactly what I did. One week later they attempted to add me as a friend. Maybe they thought that somehow our friendship had been accidentally terminated, because you know how that happens all of the time. I decided to accept the friend invite but I also posted to their wall that I would be more than happy to have them as a friend, but I am not interested in being a fan of their page. I only fan pages that I feel are relevant to me and unless I completely love the business and am willing to shout it from the roof tops, I do not want to be their fan just for the sake of making their fan count ego feel good. Since that post, I have not received a fan request since.

3. Automated Responses
My policy is that if I can not respond personally, I will not respond at all. My Mother used to tell me that if I didn’t have something nice to say that I should not say it at all. To me, a automated response is nothing nice. When someone accepts your friend request or even adds you as a friend they deserve a personal response. If you do not have time to give personal responses then don’t respond at all. The only people who can get away with this are celebrities, if they even care to give you any time of day at all. However, the large majority of us are not celebrities and should not send automatic responses. I have 100’s of examples from Twitter that I could post images of but I don’t feel like throwing anyone under the bus for just being ignorant.

Many of us turn off email notifications from the social networks because of the amount of emails that end up coming in. My suggestion is that you head over to Gmail.Com, set up a free email account such as [email protected] (not an actual email) that you can set as your email address for notifications on these social networks. Let the new friend notifications pile up and go through them one at a time sending a short personal message. You can even pick and choose who you email. If you are a realestate agent and another realestate agent adds you as a friend, they probably are not going to enjoy the canned response you came up with thinking that the all of your new friends are potential home buyers.

Painful Example of poor Social Networking Etiquette: Quote from a recent Twitter direct message: “Thanks for the follow. I’ll look forward to connecting with you! You might also enjoy http://blogname.wordpress.com.” The truth is that this person could care less about connecting with me. I have yet to communicate with her and she has not made an effort to communicate with me either. To me it feels just like going to a Chamber of Commerce event where people are running around like zombies with business cards trying to eat you alive.

In Closing:
If you get one thing out of this I hope that you walk away with a desire to treat people in social networks like you would treat your neighbor. Truth is that we are more in contact with people online than we are our own neighbors living right outside our walls. Respecting people is just as important online as it is offline. Give people your respect and they will respond with theirs.

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State of the Internet and Digital Media

It is amazing what the internet has became over the years. Everything moves at the speed of light online, it is hard to keep up. There are a few things in the video that I would like to point out. I will note them below.

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

The amount of malicious intent on the internet is getting worse by the day. This is why you need to make sure you have your computer checked out at least every six months by a professional. By professional I mean somebody who does this for a living. Not your brother-in-law who thinks he knows everything. If you need a referral to a reputable IT professional, contact me and I will hook you up.

The social web and online media is growing by leaps and bounds. Everything is becoming more interconnected. I urge you to think wisely about what you share online. The opinion that people have about you is no longer generated based on real life encounters with you, it is now predominately based off of what they see you sharing about yourself online. Rebuilding your reputation is going to become near impossible due to ones past being easily searchable online. If you have already caused a mess for yourself and need help clearing it, I can give you some ideas on how to clear some of it up, at the very least burry it. Always save your passwords somewhere safe. Use an email address from a provider that will not delete your email if you cancel service with them. For example, use Gmail for your email instead of Comcast. If you cancel your Comcast service then you will lose your email and will not be able to cancel your online accounts.

Just some suggestions. It’s going to be interesting to see how the web shapes peoples lives over the next 10 years.

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Everything You Need to Know About the Value of Social Media Sites

With all of the self proclaimed “social networking experts” out there it is hard to decide who to believe and trust. Most of them want money from you in trade for what they call their “experience”. However what makes me smile is that almost none of these people have any business experience at all. If they do, it’s not any experience that has yielded something they could brag about. How does one decide who to trust to direct your business in the most public display of communication that your company has ever engaged in? Which social media sites do you participate in and why? To be an expert in something you must have experience. I have never found that one person has had all of the right answers.

For years now I have been using these sites to build SEO for my websites and expand my personal brand. I have been posting articles to StumbleUpon and Digg for years and have seen great results, posting images to Flickr and communicating through Twitter and Facebook. These sites have been huge contributors to the traffic many of my websites receive. There are many different social media websites, each of them with a different purpose.

While browsing around online I came across a single PDF Roadmap that explains everything in plain english. You can download a large PDF here (right click, save target/file as). Drew McLellan put this beautiful breakdown together and it’s content is very sound. As I explained before, different social media sites help with different functions of your purpose and brand. Use it to figure out where to post which types of media for the best results.

It is not rocket science, it just takes someone to put it all together in plain english. If you do not have accounts on these websites, get them. If your website is not set up with buttons such as the buttons you see below for sharing content, then contact your website designer and have them added. Encourage your readers to share your content if they enjoyed it. And please for the love of all that is sacred, stop encouraging the talking heads out there, take initiative and do it yourself.

Finding tools like the CMO Social Landscape help me continue to get better at promoting myself, my business and the content I create.

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Tutorial: Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Brightkite for Small Business Owners

The other day I posted an audio blog about using social location sharing apps to promote your business. I decided to walk through the apps on my iPhone to give you an example of how to do this. The apps I suggest using in the video are Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp and Brightkite.

The great thing about location sharing is that everybody is doing it right now and it’s free. Get a little creative and figure out how you can drive new business using these free services. I believe location sharing services will only get more popular over the next year, so get an early start.

On Yelp you can customize your listing, add details and photos. My business, Jerad Hill Studios, is listed on Yelp and I have customized my listing to provide information for people who have never heard of my business before.

I would love to hear how you are using Social Location Sharing Services to promote your business. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box.