Book Review: The Elements of Style, by Strunk, White, and Kalman

Book Review: The Elements of Style, by Strunk, White, and Kalman

As a part of the Quinnipiac social media writing class, we were required to purchase and reference The Elements of Style (illustrated) by William Strunk , E. B. White, and Maira Kalman.

Rather than just reference this work, I read it from cover to cover. And it turned out to be an easy read, considerably more comprehensive and better than I had remembered.

Simple Rules

Simple rules emerge in clear and concise prose which never talks down to the reader. It contains all of the rules that so many people should known, and should have learned years ago. Yet these days it seems that so many people just plain don’t know.

Case in point: forming possessives. Therefore, on Page 1 the guide just says, “Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.”

That’s it, no more.

Information about punctuation remains equally succinct. Hence on Page 15, the guide says,

“A colon tells the reader that what follows is closely related to the preceding clause. The colon has more effect than the comma, less power to separate than the semicolon, and more formality than the dash.”

Easy to follow and remember, the above two sentences tell more about colons, semicolons, and dashes than I think I learned in most of my formal education.

Furthermore, language comes across as something knowable, with rules and formal logic, instead of what English can sometimes seem like, e. g. a messy stew of words from all over the world.

Book Review: The Elements of Style, by Strunk, White, and Kalman

The Elements of Style (illustrated)

Write better.

Review: 5/5 stars.

Google+ Tips to Quickly Boost Results

Google+ Tips to Quickly Boost Results

Tips to Quickly Boost Results. Rebekah Radice of Canva offers some great ideas for how to improve your engagement on Google+, a social platform that even a lot of experienced social media managers can find rather confusing and daunting, and hard to break into.

Google+ Tips to Quickly Boost Results
Google Plus (Photo credit: ivanpw)

Images

It should come as no great shock that images are key. But that is true for pretty much all social media platforms these days. Posts without images are just contributing to the enormous tidal wave of text that we are all dealing with, all the time.

The 800 x 1200 size is optimal for Google+.

Share Fun, Inspirational and Educational Content

Well, sure, that makes sense. For most social media platforms, the mix should be of fun and smart content, with a smattering of inspirational. If your business is angel flights for children, you’ve got no shortage of inspirational content. If it’s The Daily Show, you’ll never have to hunt around for fun content. And if you’ve got Harvard to promote, you can get educational content.

Then there’s the rest of us.

But Radice has some great ideas for engagement, printed here in their entirety –

  • “Share your thoughts, expertise, mission, vision and values.
  • Give a nice shout out to your favorite blogs and websites.
  • Share inspirational thoughts, funny quotes and timely news stories.
  • Share other peoples content with context around it.
  • Don’t post and run away. Interact, connect and engage!
  • Be grateful. Thank people that share your content.
  • Be personable and share details about your business in a fun and interactive way.
  • Follow people within your industry and niche and create a conversation. Get to know them, share their content and spread the good word about their business. This creates reciprocity and more meaningful interactions.
  • Repurpose your content. Just because it’s old to you, doesn’t mean it’s not new to someone else.”

Optimize Your Profile

This includes adding details about what you do, links to your other online content, and sprucing up your profile/logo image and cover image.   The 2120 x 1192 size is optimal for Google+ cover images.

Return to Your Buyer Personae

Why are people on Google+? And how can you align your strategy, and what you provide, to what they want, need, and crave?

Don’t forget about Google Plus.

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Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans, A Book Review

Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans

Social Media Marketing by Liana Evans was a book that I might have read a little too late in the semester. In all fairness, I read this book toward the end of my first social media class at Quinnipiac (ICM 522).

KD Paine and Liana "Li" Evans Liana Evans
KD Paine and Liana “Li” Evans (Photo credit: wordbiz)

Hence it felt like I already knew a lot of what was being written, but that was likely more a function of timing than anything else.

Sorry, Li.

Been There, Done That

The book is interesting. However, I had just read a ton of other works about very similar work, strategies, and ideas. Therefore, it ended up being maybe one book too many. And it ended up an optional read, anyway. Furthermore, other works seemed to have said it better. And these days, books just do not get published fast enough to take proper advantage of trends and new insights. Blogs, in general (although not always!) end up more current and relevant.

Possibly the best takeaway I got from the book was when Evans talked about online communities, particularly in Chapter 33 – You Get What You Give. And on page 255, she writes –

    • You need to invest your resources
      • Time to research where the conversation is
      • Time and resources to develop a strategy
      • and Time and staff resources to engage community members
      • Time to listen to what they are saying, in the communities
      • Time and resources to measure successes and failures
    • Giving valuable content
    • It is similar to a bank account
    • Don’t bribe the community
    • Rewards come in all fashions
      • Research who your audience is
      • Give your audience something valuable and/or exclusive
      • Don’t expect you’ll know everything
      • Listen to what your audience says
      • Admit when you are wrong
      • Thank your community

Finally, much like we’ve been telling people for years on Able2know – listen before you speak!

Rating

4/5

Time-saving Tips from the Angels at HootSuite

Time-saving Tips from the Angels at HootSuite

Time-saving Tips? Sign me up!

Everybody’s busy.

Time-saving Tips
HootSuite Owl Van (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

Here are some time-saving tips from the angels at HootSuite. Everybody’s got a lot on their plate. Not to worry. HootSuite to the rescue, to help you manage all of those little social media bits and bobs that we all deal with, every day.

Make an Influencer List

Or just a list of important folks.  Or people who can help you succeed. Whatever you want to call it, use Twitter (or HootSuite itself), to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’ve only got five minutes to look at your social media streams, populate this list with the people you absolutely, positively must read.

Curate Content and Auto-Schedule Using the Hootlet

It’s a little Chrome extension, and all you have to do is, click the owl, pull down on the drop-down to select the stream(s) you want to add the content to (just like in the full-blown version of HootSuite), modify the content if you wish, and either schedule manually or click schedule or Auto-Schedule.

Frankly, I’m having trouble envisioning how HootSuite could make it any easier.

Add Content at the Right Time for the Right Network

HootSuite says this so well that I’ll just quote it in its entirety –

Consider planning your posting to meet these times. For Google+ the highest engagement comes from 9-11 a.m., so maybe you can connect with a follower during breakfast. For Twitter it’s 1-3 p.m. and for Facebook it’s 1-4 p.m., perfect times to engage one or two users during your lunch break. For Pinterest it’s 8-11 p.m., and Instagram 5-6 p.m. —after work hours when you can likely spare a few minutes to interact with your following. When you don’t have time to use social media while you work, it helps to fit it in during quick breaks.”

I would add, make sure to keep these times in mind when auto-scheduling.

Share and Repurpose Great Content

This is what I’m doing right now!  In his great book, Optimize, Lee Odden advises, in Chapter 9, to adopt an “Oreo Cookie Tactic”.  That is, take content and add your own introduction and conclusion, with the content placed in between and properly attributed, of course (see page 118).

I love this tactic, not only because it is an easier way to add content (particularly when inspiration is harder to come by), but also because it promotes the Rule of Thirds, e. g. one-third of social media content should be about the content creator’s wisdom being imparted, one-third should be the content creator’s personality, and the final third should be the promotion of others’ content.

Evan Page has written an excellent article and I highly recommend that you read the original source material as well. His Time-saving Tips never seem to go out of style.

The Top 10 Positives About Job Seeking

The Top 10 Positives About Job Seeking

Job Seeking. Sigh.

Adventures in Career Changing means job applications.

Job Seeking
Success

Beyond networking, education and research, there are just sometimes some forms to fill out. I have filled out – I have no idea how many. And while there are problems with many of these forms, there is also some good out there, along with other aspects of looking for a job these days.

#10 – Following Twitter to Find Jobs

There are all sorts of Twitter streams which showcase any number of openings. Company streams, in particular, can be a good source of leads. Make sure to watch for perhaps a week or so in order to determine whether the content is being updated frequently.

#9 – LinkedIn, Land of Opportunity

For power users of LinkedIn, there are numerous ways to look for work. One good way is to check their job listings, and apply through the site. Some openings allow you to apply directly via your LinkedIn profile. Others send you to a company’s website. But make no mistake; companies (or at least they should) check the traffic sources for the job applications they receive. And so by going to a job application directly from LinkedIn, you show that, at least in some small way, the biggest online networking site in the world matters.

#8 – LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements

If you’ve got an account on LinkedIn, surely you have seen these by now. So fill in your skills profile! And make sure to endorse other people as well, and a lot of them will reciprocate.

#7 – Scannable Resumes

Gone are the days when most resumes were eyeballed, at least to start. Because your resume is far more likely to be read by a machine before a human. So get your resume loaded up with keywords! Why? Because you’ll make the first cut, that’s why.

#6 – Personal Websites

The good, the bad and the ugly are out there. My own, for instance. Because the site is completely functional. And it comes up quickly, plus you can readily find everything on it. Finally, Google ranks it fairly well.

#5 – Clarity

Job descriptions can become very precise these days, as employers can (in part, in some instances) select software and versions from drop-downs to better communicate their needs to the job seeking public.

#4 – LinkedIn Recommendations

Unlike endorsements, these require a bit of prose. But they can be rather powerful. At the very least, you don’t want to be a job seeker who doesn’t have any. So ask! And not just your boss or former boss – ask your coworkers as well, and offer to reciprocate.

#3 – Blog

Just like this one, a candidate can use a blog to provide more information or get across personality without having to overload a resume. Savvy employers will look candidates up on social media. Why not give them something good to find?

#2 – LinkedIn Functionality

For jobs advertised on LinkedIn, for some of them, you can apply by connecting them directly to your profile. What could be easier?

#1 – Being Able to do this Online

Finally, of course, a lot of the job search still must happen in an old-fashioned manner. Interviews will, for the most part (except, perhaps, for quickie phone screens, particularly where relocation is at issue), be conducted in person. A lot of networking will still happen at events and not on LinkedIn. But a ton of it can happen in cyberspace. It makes the search far easier and faster than it ever has been.

Got any of your own gems you’d like to share?

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The Risks of Having a Community Without Management

The Risks of Having a Community Without Management

Is yours a community without management?

The post is a riff on The Community Roundtable’s 5 Risks of Having A Community Without Management.

Flower - Yellow Flowers Without Management
Flower – Yellow Flowers (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The author comes up with five good ones:

  1. A Ghost Town
  2. Land of 1,000 Flowers
  3. Drama Central
  4. A Circling Storm
  5. A Clique

Ghost Town

Here’s what they mean. A Ghost Town is, essentially, either a more or less empty community or one without deep engagement. People may come in after an initial push and then just abandon the place. Now, the converse to this is people who hang around forever and never seem to convert to paying customers of any sort. In a commercial enterprise, that’s no good, either. But definitely you need for people to hang around, at least a little bit.

Land of 1,000 Flowers

Land of 1,000 Flowers is where there’s perhaps a little bit of everything but there is little connectivity. Some of the problem could potentially be alleviated with a very good search engine, e. g. if people see that the question about who wrote Peter Rabbit has already been answered, they might just go to that answer, rather than asking it again. Of course the downside to this is converting potential participants right back into lurkers.

Drama Central

Drama Central, ah, yes, this bit of juvenilia. This is a byproduct of having a smaller community/one that is not too active. If there are 100 members, and one acts out, that one will loom large. With 1,000 members, that person’s impact diminishes. And with 1,000,000 members, they barely register as a blip on the screen. And, even in a smaller community, if there are 100 members but also a good 1,000 topics are created every month, the one Drama Queen’s attention-grabbing me me me topic can be more or less swept under the rug. However, if your users create only five or so new topics every month, guess what’s gonna be front and center?

A Circling Storm

A Circling Storm, there are a lot of entrenched factions, hostile to one another. Even in a well-moderated community, this can still happen in a Politics section (and, to a lesser extent, in a Religion section). Hence people form strong opinions and don’t want to back down. How to handle it? I say let them argue, for the most part, but intervene if newbies are being chased off or it becomes too personal.

A Clique

A Clique, of course this is a niche or fringe group that grabs and hogs the spotlight. This can be whiny teenagers (you know who you are), organic gardeners, birthers, I dunno. They can absolutely create a self-fulfilling prophecy, e. g. if the only people they welcome are from Omaha, then those will be the ones who stick around. And then eventually people from Poughkeepsie or wherever don’t stick around and suddenly your board is filled with Nebraskans.

What to do? Well, it may seem obvious, or it may not. Manage the site! Don’t just leave it to chance!

Light Touch with Management

However, don’t go overboard with management. Heavy-handed community management can stifle. So find a balance, and do your best to follow it, all while respecting the community and its interests, but nudging it in the proper directions if it threatens to go off-course. You don’t just have to let the boat go wherever the currents take it but, at the same time, you also need to leave the dock.

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Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, An Updated Book Review

Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

This is something of an updated review of Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff as, by the time I got to the ICM 522 Social Media Platforms class at Quinnipiac University, I had already read this seminal work.

Cover of "Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
Cover via Amazon

But no matter. Because this is still a terrific work by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, and it remains more than a little relevant.

And in fact, I think I understand it better than I ever have.

Changing the Way You Think about Online Marketing for Good

For Li and Bernoff, the online world is a rich and diversified community. And in that large umbrella community, there are several smaller communities. But unlike Matryoshka (Russian nesting dolls), there is an enormous amount of overlap.

Above all, they put forward the idea of a system called POST.

  • Personae – who are your potential buyers? Who are your readers? And who makes up your audience?
  • Objectives – what do you expect to get out of going online, and continuing online, or going in a different direction online?
  • Strategies – how will you implement your ideas? What comes first? In addition, what must wait?
  • Technologies – which platforms will you use? How will you use these differently as your strategy begins to click into place?

So the last time I read Groundswell, I suspect that I didn’t really understand POST.

And now I know never to start a social media campaign without it. So thanks to Charlene Li and John Bernoff! This work is a classic for a damned fine reason. It really is that good. Because you need this book in your social media library.

Rating

5/5 

The Deal Behind Online Community and Social Media Job Descriptions

The Deal Behind Online Community and Social Media Job Descriptions

Social Media Job Descriptions! This is a shout-out to Blaise Grimes-Viort, Community Manager extraordinaire. His older blog post still rings true today.

So in 2010 (it was his most popular blog post), Blaise outlined some differences in Social Media job descriptions.

The Deal Behind Online Community and Social Media Job Descriptions

Blaise’s Theory

His thinking is: there are internal and externally-facing types of jobs. And the internally-facing ones tend to look more like Community Management, e. g. what I do for Able2know. Those tasks include pulling spam, making peace among the users, interpreting site statistics and measurements, or scrubbing graffiti tags. Furthermore, they can also include adding correct tags to topics, and working on that site’s Help Desk. Those jobs tend to be called Community Manager, Head of Online Community, etc. Content Strategist and Content Curator seem to fit into this bucket as well. However, those other jobs can be more about promoting content rather than serving those who make it.

On the other hand, externally-facing jobs are more like what I did for Neuron Robotics. Because in that role, I attended events on behalf of the company, conducted product demonstrations, did outreach and sales, communicated with potential customers, etc. Hence those jobs tend to have words like Marketing or Marketer in their titles.

Blogging seems to be either external or internal. However, it all begs the question, though: what happens when you’ve got skills in both areas? Must you choose one or the other? See, this is what’s been bothering me, all along, about the whole Social Media career-changing experience. There seems to be a requirement that a person drop themselves into one pigeonhole or another.

And I say, why can’t I be in both?

So for more information, check out Blaise’s February 8, 2010 blog entry and make please help to make it even more popular. Kudos to him!

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Community Management Haikus

Community Management Haikus

Community Management Haikus are – I will be the very first person to admit this – a rather silly topic. This is a Friday topic, a bit of fun as this can, often, be a rather fun sort of a profession and industry. After all, you are spending your time tweeting, posting to Facebook, and using Google+. You are making videos, and you are writing blog entries (much like this one, actually).

The truth is that, although it can also, sometimes, be a laugh riot, community management and the overall discipline of social media marketing can sometimes be rather serious. We may need to cobble  together some sort of a response to rather somber news, such as a death in our industry or our community or our company. We may have to address angry customers, disillusioned share holders, or the bewildered folks among us who just need a little help and then they can be on their way.

We are deadly serious, as we do our best to cut down on the number of technical support calls, or increase customer engagement and satisfactions. Or maybe we just want to create a memorable experience and, in the meantime (assuming that the stars and the planets all align absolutely perfectly), get someone to bookmark our link or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Come back, we cry. Come back and we will dazzle you with even niftier content.

But I’m rambling here. Maybe we just, sometimes, want to write something that can only charitably be referred to as pseudo-artsy.

Haiku for You

Community Management Haikus

Fun with the topic
feel free to add more in the
comments section, please

Community is
four syllables, so comm is
abbreviation

Fear, uncertainty
doubt commingle with robot
avatars and posts

Small things can blow out
of proportion, as there’s no
tone emoticon

Social media –
substitute for life? Maybe.
Or just leisure time