Supercharging Your On-Line Presence

Supercharging Your On-Line Presence

Supercharging? Yes! This post is a riff on the February 2011 edition of Law Practice Today

About a thousand (er, twenty) years ago, I used to practice law. And,

supercharging
LinkedIn pen (Photo credit: TheSeafarer)

of course, things were far different then as opposed to now. But I have retained some of my old interests and connections, and would get the paper version of the ABA Journal for years after I had hung up my shingle.

Once a lot of that started to go online, I renewed my interest in any number of facets of law practice, in particular how it collides and dovetails with the Internet and, these days, Social Media.

Viral Marketing Gone Wrong

And I have seen enough tone-deaf Social Media campaigns (Able2know is rife with laughably bad viral marketing attempts, for example) to see the need for a publication like Law Practice Today to try to clear up some misconceptions and get lawyers going in a good — or at least non-harmful — online direction. What is great about this article is that it doesn’t just apply to attorneys.

Get Your Own Domain Name

The first point made in the article is: You need your own internet domain name. Well, yes. And it continues to surprise me when companies and individuals who are attempting to make a splash (or at least not appear to be totally out of it) online don’t do this. C’mon, people, domain names are cheap! Go to GoDaddy and buy one! You can direct WordPress to be posting through a domain name that has naught to do with WordPress. This is not too tough (hell, that’s what I’m doing with my blog), or you can hire someone to do this. It’s a lot, to me, like buying business cards with your actual name on them versus cards that just say “Lawyer”.

Rejuvenate Your Website

The next point is: Rejuvenate Your Website. No argument here. Stale websites are as appealing as stale bread. I am not saying that you need to update every minute or every day or even every week but I see an awful lot of abandoned blogs and websites out there — or at least they appear to be, as their most recent changes occurred in 2010. That means it’s been at least nearly two months since anyone changed them. Surely there is news, or at least even cosmetic changes would give one’s readership/potential clients a feeling that someone was minding the store.

Use a Good Profile Picture

Point number three is: Your picture is worth a thousand words. A good picture is, well, good. You might not be able to afford to hire a professional as the article suggests. That’s okay if you at least get a decent photographer friend to take a lot of pictures. How many? How’s one hundred? Lighting varies. You might not smile perfectly the first time. Your tie might be crooked. Your hair might be flying in your face. You might not be looking directly at the camera. There are any number of reasons why a photo can go wrong. And get your pal to snap photos of you in various places, doing various things, so long as they are germane to the site. For a lawyer, that could be in the office, or in front of a courthouse or in front of the office building or with colleagues or alone. After all, with a good hundred photos, you might end up with several usable ones. If there are choices in different locations, you can use them to make different points on your site.

Fill Out All About Me and Profile Pages

Point number four is: It’s All About Me. That is, create an “About Me” page. There’s a place to put a photograph or two, eh? It doesn’t have to be long, but give it a little personality. Be sensible, of course. This is probably not the place (assuming you’re a lawyer) to tout your ninja skills. But if you play tennis or have two kids or are from Omaha, by all means, those things are perfectly fine here. Otherwise, you’re just nameless, faceless Joe or Jane Lawyer — and I, as your prospective client, can find a million of them.

Give Visitors Take Aways

The next point is: Give visitors something to “take away” from your blog. Me, I write articles and I allow the reprint rights. So if my experiences can help you, then by all means reprint my articles, and I wish you well, so long as you respect my rights in the matter.

Work on SEO

The next point is: Build a (Free) Google Profile. Here’s mine. Meh, I’m not so sure it helps me so much, but that’s probably also because I’ve made SEO efforts elsewhere. Still, for an SEO beginner, or someone with a limited budget, this is easy and free and it takes nearly no time.

Here’s another point: Make Sure You Advertise on Google Local. I felt no need to do this, but I’m not trying to push ecommerce directly through my site and blog. Your mileage will, undoubtedly, vary.

LinkedIn

Next point: Be LinkedIn. Hell yeah. Here’s my LinkedIn profile. Yes, I will link to you – just send me a request. Also, I have found that LinkedIn is an excellent way to get to know people attending an event with you. If you can get a hold of the guest list in advance (and with Eventbrite, evite and others, you can), look those people up on LinkedIn. Hey, you might have something in common with them, their photo might be up so that you can recognize them and they might be someone you’d like to know, either personally or professionally.

Gather Business Intelligence

Then there’s the penultimate point: Use Social Networks To Gather Business Intelligence. People share all sorts of stuff these days. Want to know if someone is moving? Going on vacation? Selling their business? Changing jobs? A lot of that information is out there, free for the taking. And other things are out there, if you know how to dig. I’m not suggesting that you turn yourself into a creepy stalker but if a possible client is tweeting about buying land, and you’ve got a real estate practice, well, do I really have to connect the dots for you?

Tell People the News (About You or Anything Else of Interest)

Here’s the last point: Be the Evening News. The idea is, broadcast youtube-type stuff, either your own or pass along others’. Agreed, but I wouldn’t overdo this, particularly not at the expense of other types of content, which are generally easier for Google to index (and for you to get an SEO bounce from). But by all means, if it adds value (there’s a big if right there. I adore the Old Spice Guy but he does not help me on my site), add it.

The bottom line, I think is: don’t be afraid. Yes, the Internet can bite you. But it can also be quite a good friend to you

supercharging

The Conquest of LinkedIn – Your Profile Page

The Conquest of LinkedIn – Your Profile Page

What’s with your Profile Page?

You’re doing it. And you’ve got your resume up. You’re answering questions. And you’re joining groups. You’re even meeting people offline. But you aren’t getting an enormous number of invitations to connect.

LinkedIn Profile Page
LinkedIn (Photo credit: Christopher S. Penn)

Or, perhaps, you’re blogging and tweeting. But you’re not getting a lot of readers in either medium. And you’d love to get some of your LinkedIn buddies to read some of your stuff. Maybe you want to use your writing and social media skills as a part of your overall job search strategy.

So the most obvious place to look, and to fix, is your Profile page.

Just like with a resume, a news story, or even if you were trying to sell your home, it pays to spruce up the first thing people see. Hence special care should be taken, as this is your first (and it may very well be your only) chance to make an impression. There are any number of things you can do to assure that this impression is a positive one.

Driving Traffic

And, you can even use it to help you drive a little traffic to your own website and/or blog. Here’s how:

  • Make sure that you make use of all available fields, and customize these as you are able.
  • Next, list your blog.
  • and I also recommend adding Twitter.

So assuming that your resume has been integrated in its entirety, your next task should be to update the summary and specialties sections in your profile page. First of all, the specialties section is essentially just for keywords, so load them up. However, the summary section should be more grammatical. So don’t make it an old-fashioned and generic personal statement. Instead, highlight your main differences here.

Finally, with a little polish, your front door (profile page) can look mighty inviting to all.

Next: Groups and Answers.

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Giving Your LinkedIn Profile A Facelift

Giving Your LinkedIn Profile A Facelift

Dahling, you need a facelift! This post is a riff on 6 Tips for giving your LinkedIn profile a facelift.

I liked this article and recognize that it was designed to be a straightforward beginner’s set of tips, but there is more that could be done. There usually is.

Use a Profile Photograph

Linkedin Profile Facelift
Linkedin Chocolates (Photo credit: nan palmero)

I absolutely agree. I realize there are people who are shy or who feel that they don’t photograph well. But the truth is, most of us on LinkedIn don’t care. Unless you are looking for a modeling or an acting gig, your appearance does not and should not matter, so long as you are neat and presentable, and are in business attire. Head shots and  images up to about the middle of your chest are best. You don’t need a full-length body shot.

I also think that keeping a picture off your profile because you don’t want to reveal your race, gender or age is somewhat wrongheaded. After all, what are you going to do if you actually get an interview with a company (and not necessarily directly through LinkedIn)? Send a proxy in your stead, a la Cyrano de Bergerac? That’s kinda silly, dontcha think?

As for me, people online are going to figure out that I am female, they will get a pretty good handle on my age and my religion and if they look a bit, they’ll even see pictures of me when I weighed nearly 350 pounds. And I embrace those things and don’t try to hide them. Your ideas may differ, but I don’t, personally, see the value in hiding such things. And if an employer is going to pass me by because I’m no longer 21, or not Asian, or too short or whatever, then I don’t want to work for that employer, anyway.

Use a Vanity URL

On LinkedIn, you can get them to make you a specific URL for your profile, rather than just accept the computer-generated one. Not surprisingly, I think this is a great idea. This happens to be mine. You can get a bit of an SEO bounce if you use a vanity URL. It is easy and it is free, and it is considerably more memorable. Plus, if you wish, it’s a good thing to put on a business card or a resume, or even into a signature line in email.

Use a Headline

Personally, I find these weird, but that may be just me. For me, just my job title seems to be fine, as it evokes (currently) not only what I do but the industry I am in right now. I’ve always, personally, found that titles like Terrific Social Media Manager or Experienced Fry Cook just seem odd. But that may be me. Try it — but I’d recommend doing so as a more or less controlled experiment. If it’s not working after, say, six months, I recommend rethinking it.

Update your email settings

If you’re open to receiving job openings, make sure that you’re set up that way. And if not, make sure that’s properly reflected as well. People won’t necessarily follow your requirements in this area, but some will. And it can serve as an indirect means of indicating you might be interested in making a move if the timing and the circumstances were right.

Make Your Profile Public

Personally, I think that the only time your profile should be private is in the first five seconds after you’ve created it. Then again, I have had an online persona since 1997, and find it easy to share a lot of things.

Of course not everyone feels this way, but it seems to be kind of useless to have a LinkedIn profile if you don’t want to share it with anyone. Networking, which is what LinkedIn is all about, is, in part, about going outside your comfort zone and meeting new people. This is not like Facebook where, potentially, the pictures of you drinking in 1963 could come back to haunt you. This is a gathering of professionals. Any employer upset if you have an online presence on LinkedIn is not only not with the times. They are being thoroughly unrealistic. Employees look for better opportunities all the time. Wise employers recognize and accept that. Denying someone access to LinkedIn, or being upset by an employee’s presence therein, is misplaced.

So go out there and fix your profile! And give it a facelift!

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Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM501 – Ratings and Recommender Systems

Ratings and Recommender Systems

Unlike the offline world, the Internet is chock full of ratings and recommender systems. Why? Because metrics are everywhere. On YouTube, you know how many people watched a video, and who made it to the end. On WordPress, you know where your readers came from. On Facebook, you are constantly being served the likings, joinings, and friendings of your friends. Plus you have likely provided any number of cues about your preferences, your age, your gender, your marital status and/or sexual preference, and your location, among dozens if not hundreds of other data points. This includes everything from indicating you are a Red Sox fan to watching a cooking demonstration video to its end, to listing your college graduation year on LinkedIn, to joining a group devoted to German Shepherd Dog rescue, to reviewing a book on GoodReads about bi-curiosity. With all of this data, attempts are made to get a clear(er) picture of a person. With the picture comes an effort at predictability.

Amusingly, as I’ve been writing this blog post, to prove the point, the WordPress Zemanta plugin is currently serving me pictures of German Shepherd Dogs and a number of articles about them, allegedly related to this post. But, surprise! This post isn’t really about German Shepherds at all, this image notwithstanding.

Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM501 – Ratings and Recommender Systems
German Shepherd Dog from 1915 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Close But No Cigar. Not Even a Kewpie Doll

Just as Zemanta screws up, so do plenty of other sites with recommender systems. Spotify, Pandora, and other music-matching sites seem to fairly routinely not get it. In September of 2013, Forbes reporter Amadou Diallo wrote about a search for a perfect playlist. In his article, Diallo compared iTunes Radio, Spotify, and Pandora, by using various seed artists to create playlists. The matching algorithms were given Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, and The Alabama Shakes. Diallo concluded that Pandora had the best matching algorithm, but there were definite flaws with all three.

To my mind, a pure computer-driven search is a misplaced notion. One of the issues is of categorization. For musical, film, book, and other recommendations, it’s all only as good as how it’s categorized, and often goods are poorly organized. Consider Johnny Cash. A country artist? Sure. Male artist? Of course. He came from a particular time period and his work was generally guitar-heavy. And then, late in his career, he threw a curve and recorded a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt. If recommender systems had existed when he released it, the song would have dented the algorithms, perhaps even fatally.

A further issue with recommender systems is that they seem to treat people’s preferences like computer problems. E. g. if you like, say, movies that involve the American South, history, and a strong male lead, you might be served, under a movie recommender system, both Gone With The Wind and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Yet one is a classic romance, whereas the other is a nonfiction work. Even if perfect granularity is achieved, and all of the seemingly relevant data points are hit, recommender systems still aren’t necessarily truly up to the task.

As J. Ellenberg says, in This psychologist might outsmart the math brains competing for the Netflix Prize. Wired (2008, February 25). [Link] “Of course, this system breaks down when applied to people who like both of those movies. You can address this problem by adding more dimensions — rating movies on a “chick flick” to “jock movie” scale or a “horror” to “romantic comedy” scale. You might imagine that if you kept track of enough of these coordinates, you could use them to profile users’ likes and dislikes pretty well. The problem is, how do you know the attributes you’ve selected are the right ones? Maybe you’re analyzing a lot of data that’s not really helping you make good predictions, and maybe there are variables that do drive people’s ratings that you’ve completely missed.” (Page 3)

There are any number of thoroughly out there reasons why people like or dislike something or other. Some are far from quantifiable, predictable, or replicable. They can’t be scaled to the entire population, or even one of its segments. Do we prefer a particular song because it reminds us of a point in our life that is no more? Do we avoid a film because it’s where we took our lost love on our first date?

Going Along to Get Along

Another issue with recommender systems is that people can often be persuaded one way or another. The Salganik and Watts study is rather interesting in this regard. These two researchers presented subjects with a number of unreleased songs and asked them to rate the songs and also download whatever they liked. Certain songs rose to the top of the charts (just like we normally see on Billboard, the Hot 100 and the like) whereas others were clunkers that fell swiftly. When the researchers switched the presented numbers, showing higher ratings for the stinkers and lower ratings for euphony, test subjects changed their minds. All Salganik and Watts had to do was convince their test subjects that this was the right outcome.

Salganik, M. J., & Watts, D. J. (2008). Leading the herd astray: An experimental study of self-fulfilling prophecies in an artificial cultural market. Social Psychology Quarterly, 71(4), 338–355. [PDF“…over a wide range of scales and domains, the belief in a particular outcome may indeed cause that outcome to be realized, even if the belief itself was initially unfounded or even false.” (Page 2)

Are these instances of undue influence? Self-fulfilling prophecies? Test subjects wanting to appear ‘cool’ or go along with the majority in order to increase personal social capital? And where are ratings and recommender systems in all of this? Are they measuring data? Or is it, like is the case with the Observer Effect, that the very acts of observation and measurement are skewing the numbers and generating false outcomes?

Or is it, perhaps still the case, that there’s no accounting for taste?

Enjoy Johnny Cash (but only if you want to).

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

With the end of my first Social Media class came a request for our overall impressions of how things went. Hence, I prepared Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522.

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

My classmates and I were also tasked with showcasing what we felt was our best work.

I was so very pleased that I had a few works to choose from, but I narrowed my choices down in order to save some space.

My reflections essay included comments about the video and essay portions of Module #4, Module #9, Module #10, Module #11,  and my Final Project; that video is duplicated below.

Module Four was about the Ad Astra Star Trek fan fiction writing community. Module Nine was about the Facebook page that my partner, Kim Scroggins, and I created for our ‘client’, the as-yet undiscovered Rhode Island rock band, J-Krak. Module Ten was about the creation and growth of the Twitter stream that we made for J-Krak. And Module Eleven was all about our less than successful experiments in spreading the gospel of J-Krak to MySpace and Google+ (the former was a particularly abysmal showing. At least our client’s presence on Google+ assured better placement in overall search results).

The class was great fun, and I could not get enough of studying for it. I have never, ever had a course like this before, where I was so into it that I could not wait to study, and I did all of the extra credit because I wanted to, and not because I necessarily needed to. That has never, ever been my experience with a class before this one. This overwhelmingly positive experience has given me the incentive to not only finish my Social Media Certification training, but I am also rather seriously considering going on and getting my Masters’ Degree in Communications, with a concentration in Social Media.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #14 – Final Project ICM 522

Final Project ICM 522

These videos together comprised our final project for Quinnipiac’s Social Media Platforms class, ICM 522.

Final Project ICM 522

At this point in time, I have a short break before starting ICM 524, which is the Analytics class. I am taking it with the same instructor, Professor Eleanor Hong.

In the meantime, here are our project videos.

My partner, Kim Scroggins, went first. I would love it if you could take the time and watch her video, too. We were a true team and really enjoyed working together.

And now here’s my half of the presentation. One of the things that I made absolutely sure of doing was to thank my partner. This was absolutely a team effort and it would have turned out far differently if we had not gotten along as well as we did.

We went over our general experiences with J-Krak and the many social media platforms we tried. We made every effort, I feel, to engage our audience and garner buzz and attention for our ‘client’. We set ourselves up for a rather difficult task, which was to try to get a small measure of fame for a rock band that was not even online in any way, shape, or form when we first started this project.

MySpace was recalled as a failed experiment. Google+, for the most part, was a failed experiment in engagement, but it did help us with improving our search engine optimization efforts. Twitter and our blog were somewhat in the middle. Twitter worked out fairly well as we were able to join the overall conversation. However, the number of our followers remained fewer than the number of people we were following. The blog had an ever-increasing number of followers, but we received few comments. Our best social media platform? Spoiler alert – it was Facebook.

Thanks for watching! Next week, I’ll post my impressions of the class overall.

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A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action

A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action

Blogging Less?

I’ve been running through life lately by shooting along at seventy gazillion miles per hour, and it’s catching up with me.

A Little Less Conversation, a Little More Action
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suppose that’s to be expected. After all, hurtling along like that should, eventually, lead to some form of burnout. So I am looking to cut back.

Now, I love to write. I truly, madly, deeply love it. But lately it’s been something of a chore to get the blog out. It’s been — oh Gawd, I’ve gotta do this again? And that’s led to, what are to my mind, some less than stellar blogs.

Perhaps you have noticed them, or maybe you have not. Or you are too polite to say so. Or, I am just talking to myself. I don’t discount that as a possibility, either. And that’s fine, too. Hey, it happens.

But in my head, some of the joy was getting sucked out because it had turned into much more of a chore than a labor of love. And — gasp! — I had been running out of things to say. Things had stalled, and I was floundering, and it was all moving more slowly and I am sure that you all don’t want to hear, yet again, about my exploits shoveling snow — fascinating as they may be.

Hence I have decided to pull back a bit, and write less. Instead of sustaining a twice per week blog, I am pulling back to a once per week blog. And, sometimes, that may even turn into a no times per week blog. It’s silly to merely pump out content for the sake of pumping out content. I want to write when I have something to actually say. And I suspect you — if you are out there — would much rather read my blatherings if they have a coherent point and a purpose.

I don’t want to waste my time. And I don’t want to waste yours.

So here I am, disengaging a bit.

The mountains will not crumble. The seas will not boil away.

And Social Media will be there when I get back.

Thanks for listening. I’m never too far away.

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