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Podcasting for Fun and Possibly Some Profit

A Look at Podcasting

Podcasting can get you to a wider audience. It’s a different medium from what you might be used to. And it offers practice and the opportunity to polish some skills that you, the writer, might not have realized you needed, such as thinking on your feet and being an interview subject.

Alas, I currently no longer podcast. But these tips don’t go out of style.

Getting Started with Podcasting

What do you need for podcasting? This image is a pretty good summary of what you need –

Podcasting
Podcast 1 (Image by user Tim Wilson on Wikimedia Commons). File is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The good news is that you have most of this stuff already. In fact, you don’t even need everything that’s in the image.

Computers

It doesn’t seem to matter too much which type of computer you use. You really just need an Internet connection. You will need some speed, so dispense with dial up if you’re still using it (someone out there is, right?). I would, though, recommend using an actual computer as opposed to a phone for podcasting, as the resultant file is going to be huge.

Microphones

The image shows a studio-style mic, but the truth is, you don’t need to get quite so fancy. My own microphone is part of a headset. It works just fine and most importantly, the mouthpiece is adjustable. You want adjustability because, inevitably, you’re going to sneeze or cough, or the phone will ring or whatever.

Software

To be able to talk to your fellow podcasters on your show, or to your guests, you’ll need some software. Essentially what you are looking for is chat. My team and I liked to use TeamSpeak. I imagine you could do as well with Yahoo! or Facebook chat. Just make sure that whatever you are using is private. Oh, and turn any sound notifications off.

If you’re going to put your podcast on YouTube (I think this is generally a good idea), you’ll need software for that, too. I use software that came from my school, Screencast-o-matic. The school also uses TechSmith Relay but I prefer Screencast-o-matic. Either way, you want software which allows you to record a fairly long video.

You may not think that you need any sort of visual art software, but I beg to differ. At minimum, your podcast needs a logo or at least a slide that you can slap onto the front of your YouTube video. Photoshop or Gimp is ideal, but Paint or even Microsoft PowerPoint can do in a pinch.

Image Permissions

If you are going to use an image that you didn’t make, check the license! I like to use Wikimedia Commons as a lot of their images have open licenses or they just require an attribution and nothing more. But remember – just because an image exists online and you can right-click and save it, does not mean that you have permission to use it! When in doubt, use one of your own images. I like to use scenery images if I don’t have a logo. Scenery can even be something really tiny, such as one flower bud.

For sound editing, the beauty of TeamSpeak is that it allows for sound recording. But you will still need to trim something or other. I have Audacity though I admit I don’t use it for much (I don’t do the sound editing for our podcast). But Audacity is otherwise useful.

Practice

You should practice before you try to go anywhere with podcasting. It doesn’t need to be long or involved. Get to know the software. For example, TeamSpeak allows for a push to talk feature. Use it! This will help a lot when you are recording, as you need to consciously press a button for any sound to come out. Practice using this until it’s second nature.

Use Audacity, and record yourself saying something simple and scripted. It can be a nursery rhyme or the like. You don’t want to be doing this for more than a minute or so.

The idea here is to listen to playback. Can you be understood? Are you too breathy? Does your accent push through a bit too much? Do you talk too fast? Every single one of these issues can be fixed, including the accent.

Fix Your Audio

Generally, you will need to slow down and enunciate. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun, but at least in the beginning you’ll want to talk more slowly, in particular if you have a thick accent.

If you’re too breathy-sounding, try bringing the mic farther away from your mouth. As for outside noises, you’ll need to close windows and doors, put pets outside, and turn off fans and space heaters. Set your phone on mute.

When you work with co-hosts, practice with them at least once. Remember to not talk over them and, if you’re laughing at their jokes, you need assure that even your laughter is being recorded.

Hosts and Guests

Consider your subject and your potential audience. On the G & T Show, we talked about Star Trek and Star Trek Online. This included the novels and cosplay. We would also branch out to talk about other gaming and other science fiction. Having this broad a topic but with its own limitations made it fairly easy to come up with show ideas. As for guests, our hosts networked at conventions, in the STO game, and on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Cohosts

A co-host is an extremely good idea, as otherwise you’re talking to yourself a lot. While you could carry a show by yourself, it’s a lot easier if you don’t have to. Three hosts tends to be a really good number, particularly if the third is not too active. You’ll quickly find your hosts unconsciously dividing into three groups:

  1. The talker – this person won’t necessarily stay on topic all the time, but they can fill dead air.
  2. The organizer – this person understands creating a theme and keeping the show on target. This person often remembers to thank the guests.
  3. The utility infielder – this person can chime in and also cover if either of the first two cannot podcast. Along with the organizer, this person often performs research and gathers potential podcast material in advance.

Guests

As for guests, consider your circle, both online and off. You can podcast without guests, and you will most likely need to get a few under your belt before anyone will want to visit.

However, when you do get guests, the usual details apply, e. g. be polite, give them ample time to plug whatever they want to plug, and prepare questions for them in advance. If your guest writes, for example, you might want to talk about the themes in their book, where they get their inspiration, how long they’ve been writing, and how they first became published.

Think outside the box and consider guests a little removed from your basic subject. Hence if your subject is books and writing, why not have a cover artist on as a guest, or a professional editor? Maybe feature a literary agent or a representative from a publishing house.

Podcasting Extras

At G & T we had a Streaming page and used a minicaster. This also included a hosted chat room – the show broadcasted live and the audience could listen and follow along in the chat room. This was not necessary, but it’s fun.

Blogging

We also blogged about the show, which meant that we took notes (in our case, the utility infielder did this). The blog was a great place to get the URLs in that we may have talked about but our audience might not have gotten the first time we mentioned them. With the blog, we could just make clickable outbound links. We also made sure that a player was embedded into the blog, so that a reader could listen to the show if they would prefer that.

Podcasting and Distribution

We always uploaded our podcast to not only iTunes, but also MixCloud and YouTube. These spread our broadcast even further. We used a regular logo card as the image accompanying our YouTube videos. For special interviews, we made different images, usually with our guest’s provided headshot.

To introduce new segments, we used bumpers. These are just short (less than half a minute long) introductions to various segments (e. g. Star Trek News). Ours consisted of our utility infielder’s niece giving the title of the segment and then some introductory music that we had permission to use (always get permission or make sure that music is public domain!).

Bumpers help because they provide a smooth transition between segments and they can cover up any ragged transitions. We spliced these into the completed file. Our announcer girl also recorded our intro and our credits portion (with music we could use), so we added these as a part of post-production. Again, these provided recognizable transitions for our audience.

Promotions and Podcasting

We promote our show on social media, with mainly our YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. We also have Tumblr, and Pinterest accounts but use them less. Our main promotions come from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. We also promote at conventions, including a table at Star Trek Las Vegas for the past few years.

Why Not Podcasting?

So what are you waiting for? Why not give podcasting a try?

Janet Gershen-Siegel is the Content Manager at Credit Suite. Her novel, Untrustworthy, was published by Riverdale Avenue Books in 2015 and is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback editions.

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Social Media Twitter

Online Personas and Cyber Infidelity, Oh My!

Online Personas and Cyber Infidelity, Oh My!

Cyber Infidelity?

The Cambridge News reports that author Sophie Hannah has conducted a survey of Twitter, OKCupid and other sites, in conjunction with just plain out and out asking people – is online infidelity worse than in-person infidelity?

Cyber Infidelity
Suspected of Infidelity (Photo credit: Lex Photographic)

Results

Her results were mixed.

Some of the respondents saw less harm in a relationship where the parties never actually, physically, met. Others saw it as being more or less the same as a physical affair, or at least an emotional one.

Hannah performed the research for her book, The Telling Error. She says,

The thing about Twitter is that everything is on there, so whatever you’re interested in is there. But it is capable of being incredibly nasty. I noticed that whenever somebody either does something wrong or offends somebody, Twitter will form a kind of aggressive, vindictive mob and start slagging off that person. Almost always, the punishment is worse than the crime.”

For bored and isolated people, social media can often serve as a godsend. Yet with worries such as this, spouses might do well to be cautious. Not necessary jealous, but at least to be wondering a bit, if someone spends seemingly forever online. It does not help that a lot of online behaviors encourage an almost addictive obsession. Because we crave the latest tweets.

We can’t wait to read the next gem from the Huffington Post, or take the latest meaningless quiz from Buzz Feed, or try to prank our friends with the most recent fake news from The Onion. And do not get me started on Candy Crush.

Hence the opportunities are all too ample for vulnerable, lonely people to end up typing a little too much with someone else, and for it to turn into sexting and worse.

I wonder who will tweet The Scarlet Letter now.

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Facebook Social Media Twitter

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put

It’s a relentless pace out there. And much like the holidays accelerate the end of the year, and we suddenly look up on January 7th or so and wonder just what the hell just happened, social media is continuing to not so much reap the whirlwind as to be the whirlwind. But at the same time, there’s an effort afoot to slow down and control the whirlwind.

Twitter’s Relentless Pace

Social Media Continues its Relentless Pace to Try to Make You Stay Put
English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Case in point: Twitter‘s recent changes are designed to keep people on as long as possible. They do this by embedding media more directly and making it so that you don’t have to leave Twitter’s embrace in order to enjoy a clip or a photograph. So far, so good. But shortened URLs allow for more malware exploits. It’s like one step forward, a step back and another one to the side.

Facebook’s Relentless Pace

Facebook, yet again, looks to change its layout. The profile is going to become richer and provide more information. This may or may not be useful to users but it will certainly keep them on longer. At least, that will happen in the beginning, when it’s a novel concept.

LinkedIn’s Relentless Pace

Long ago, LinkedIn tried adding Signal to make it easier to track even more of the social media avalanche – and, of course, to try to keep people on LinkedIn as long as possible.

Currently, they are using status types of communications. Sounds a lot like Facebook, eh?

The Common Thread

What these changes had in common, other than, perhaps, novelty for the sake of novelty, is the desire to keep people on site as long as possible. Put some tar down, and have us all stick, at least for a while.

So while the internet spins ever faster, and social media sites attempt to keep up, their overall strategies seem to try to slow us all down. Will it work? Is it a foolish dream to think you can keep people around with such tricks, such slick bells and whistles?

Lack of Content

What disturbs me is that there’s not a lot of content happening. And it would, could, should make me want to hang around. Instead of hiring writers to improve things, or rewarding good current content providers, each of the big three sites is instead pursuing a software solution. But what’s the sense in hanging around a site if the content isn’t compelling? Or are we, instead, merely getting the sites that we, perhaps, deserve?

Hence here’s what happens if my Facebook friends list is dominated by people I went to High School with over thirty years ago. Their status updates and my wall have a lot of news of their birthdays, their children and their careers. But isn’t that what we would expect? And if I instead tip my list in a different direction, and it’s suddenly dominated by the people I work with or diet with or do artwork with, the news is going to be different.

In particular, politically, you can see very different versions of each site, depending on your bubble. After all, a lot of us prefer to see people we like and agree with.

Comparison to Reality TV

One thing about Reality TV is that it’s anything but real if it’s at all successful. Because people just, generally, don’t lead terribly interesting lives (yes, you too, gentle reader). We pick up the dry cleaning. Or we bicker over the remote. We forget to buy sausages and make do with hot dogs. And around and around and around we go. And all three of the big social media sites, when we are not following celebrities and businesses, are really just a big agglomeration of Post-It Notes whereby we tell each other to grab milk on the way home. For “Reality” to be compelling at all, it’s got to be unreal, and scripted. It must become this fight or that rose ceremony or this other weird pancake-making challenge.

The big three older social media sites, when you strip away the celebrities and the companies, can be a boatload of errands or a standard-form holiday letter. You know the kind, where you learn little Suzie has taken up the clarinet. Over and over ad infinitum.

No wonder we need software solutions to keep us there. The relentless pace continues.

Categories
Facebook Social Media Twitter

Happy Holidays, Social Media Style

Happy Holidays, Social Media Style

Happy Holidays!

Oh, I do so wish I had written this.

Happy Holidays, Social Media Style

It says so much more about Social Media than most can say, and it does it in a breezy, easy to understand style.

The main idea behind this rather detailed video consists of a retelling of the Nativity Story. The video does so through the medium of social media, with everything from Facebook statuses to Foursquare checkins, to tweets, and more. Even electronic mail gets into the act. The Virgin Mary apparently uses Gmail.

Even More

And then there is even more, with a look at Nazareth from Google Earth. Of course there is a check for directions from Nazareth to Bethlehem. A check for hotel space reveals only a stable available (but of course). Joseph buys a cow (from Farmville, I would guess).

The Magi discuss their offerings (over Gmail – man, Google has its hands in everything!). And they pick up their gold, frankincense and myrrh at, you guessed it, Amazon.  Twitter gets into the act as the Magi, naturally, follow the star there (very clever play on words there).

Eventually, the visit to the baby by the Magi gets placed onto video and uploaded to – could there be any other place more perfect? – YouTube. The video shows, I suspect, a play.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

This beautifully made and cleverly written and produced video comes to us from ExcentricGrey, which is evidently a Portuguese advertising firm. They report that this viral video has over 20 million views. Viewers are concentrated more in the United States and Western Europe than elsewhere, a function (probably) at least in part due to the video being made available in both English and Portuguese.  Oddly enough, Portugal did not seem to have a very big concentration of viewers. Neither did Portuguese-speaking Brazil, Mozambique or Angola.

Enjoy, and have a wonderful holiday.

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Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (visual elements)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (visual elements)

Visual elements. There are two areas on Twitter where you can make a visual impact, and it has nothing to do with what you’re actually tweeting. No, scratch that, there are three. Kinda.

Avatar

visual elements
ala10 Twibbon (Photo credit: ALA staff)

So the first, most obvious one, consists of the account’s avatar. Here’s where you should put the company logo. Don’t have a logo? Then it can be a picture of the person doing the tweeting, as this is supposed to be something of a conversation.

Other visual elements of choice for an avatar can be a picture of the company mascot, if there is one. Or a photo of one person (the main user) on the Twitter team, although if two or three people are doing the tweeting, what about a closeup of both or all three of them, photo booth style? This will depend upon your industry and your image therein. But at the very least, you must get away from a generic Twitter avatar.

Background Visual Elements

Where’s the second area where you can make a visual impact? It’s your background. Here’s where your company logo can go if it’s not already being used for the account’s avatar. And if you have a well-known logo, that will add to the visual impact, so long as you’re not using the logo for both the avatar and the background. Because that constitutes overkill unless both are subtle.

Depending upon monitor or device size and screen resolution, some parts of the background will be hidden or revealed. So make sure to place the logo on the left of the background, preferably near the top, and test the look on several different-sized monitors and devices, and utilizing different resolutions and operating systems. You will not be able to customize the look for each setup (like you can with Cascading Style Sheets), but at least you’ll get an idea of where you’re being cut off. Naturally, you want to optimize your visual elements for whatever setup your customers are most likely to be using — if your target audience has vision problems (e. g. perhaps they’re elderly), the most likely setup may very well involve a larger than standard screen resolution.

More About the Background

Below the upper left corner is some space directly to the left of where the tweeting actually occurs. To the left, vertically, you have a little room in which to place the company web address, a telephone number and possibly a short slogan. Twitter is meant to be short and sweet; don’t get caught up in adding a lot of verbiage here. Less can certainly be more in this case. Keep in mind, too, that no one can search on any verbiage you place here in the background image.

You can also add a picture just below your logo, or in place of it, in the upper left corner or along the left side. Try, perhaps, a picture of the Twitter team. Because you can great impact from offering pictorial evidence of who’s listening. Another option: place a picture of your main product here.

There is also some space to the right. However, this is the part that seems to grow or shrink depending upon monitor or device size and resolution. I recommend putting nothing much (if anything) here. This is because you don’t know how it will cut off. Although, if you have a color readily associated with your company (think of Starbucks green) or website, make sure that any unused portion of the background contains at least that color. Use that space as a part of a more unified design, not as a focal point.

Tweet Now, Or Later?

What’s part three? Visuals are also something, like every other part of Twitter, that you can schedule. This can come from a free or quasi-free website or software like Buffer or HootSuite.

But, what do I mean by timing? Picture this. You’re up early, and you’re kind of groggy. So all you really need is a cup of coffee. Then wouldn’t an image of a cup of coffee catch your eye? It just might.

And maybe this is small or even too subtle. But it’s another way to use visuals. Consider what your Twitter stream’s day looks like. And when are your followers up? If your followers are in the Philippines and not Boston, then you will need to think of everything as 12 hours opposite from the way you see it. So don’t put up your happy wake up cup of coffee image when your Filipino followers are heading to bed or going out to parties.

Visual Elements: The Upshot

What you tweet is, naturally, important, but consider the other areas where you can enhance your message. These basic visual elements can help you to place an exclamation point at the end of your tweets.

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Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)

Verbal elements? Twitter is, of course, utterly verbal. It’s just about all text. But not all of that text is tweets.

Almost Everything But the Tweet - Conquering Twitter (verbal elements)

One piece is the profile. There isn’t a lot of space here. The good news is that these verbal elements are searchable. If you want to make it clear that your company is green, you can put that here. Separate short messages with delimiters like pipes (|) or asterisks (*). Don’t use semicolons as they can end up being converted to code. This is an easy section to change, so consider changing it as needed, perhaps as special events come up.

Another area is the site URL. In order to be better able to track traffic coming in from Twitter, how about using a unique URL here, say, http://www.yoursite.com/twitter? That page could contain a customized welcome message to Twitter users. This is another readily editable area of Twitter, so why not switch it up as circumstances change?

Your location is another verbal area. Of course it need not be a real place, but for a commercial Twitter account you can’t get too whimsical here. However, if you’ve got a multi-state presence (and want to get that across but not create separate Twitter accounts for each state), there’s nothing wrong with making your location something like United States or New England or Great Lakes Region.

Verbal Elements: Names

Another area is the name behind the account. This is a searchable field. A company can add a tiny bit of additional information here, such as the general company location. Hence the user name could be Your Company but the name behind it could be Your Company, Cleveland.

Yet another area is the name(s) of list(s) that your company uses to follow others. Does a company need Twitter lists? Not necessarily, but you can still use them to make certain accounts stand out. What about lists like customers or distributors? Perhaps not very imaginative, but these could prove useful in the future if Twitter ever makes it possible to send certain tweets only to certain lists.

Finally, although it is an issue to change it, the username is another nugget of non-tweet verbiage. Instead of changing it, what about creating a few accounts to cover different eventualities? Able2Know used to do this well (although some of these feeds are abandoned these days). Able2know had split off a few feeds as follows:

A user can follow any or all of these and see a different slice of that site. The individual user names for the accounts make it abundantly clear which cut of the site you’re following.

What do you want to get across? What image do you wish to project? Peripheral information can support or obfuscate your message. Choose what you really want your verbal elements to say.

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Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Offsite connections. Because Twitter is so bare bones, any number of applications have sprung up around it in order to help you manage it and become as great as you can be. Try Twellow (many thanks to Bobbie Carlton for this particular tip).

This is essentially the Yellow Pages of Twitter. Put your company name here. You’ll have a bit more space to describe your site versus what Twitter gives you, so use that space wisely. Since most of the people checking you out on Twellow are also going to search for you on Twitter (probably after seeing your Twellow profile), make sure that your information is supportive and bolstering, but not redundant vis a vis your Twitter profile.

CrowdLens and Other Software

Another idea is CrowdLens, my friend Nick Ashley’s app. CrowdLens is designed to help remove redundancy (all that retweeting!) from your Twitter stream. CrowdLens can sometimes be slow. Here are some more sites to check out:

  • HootSuite – a tweet scheduling service (and more) whereby you can track stats and import your lists.
  • Social Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) – time tweets and gather simple metrics on shortened urls. You can set up more than one account this way.
  • Tweet Stats – a graph of, among other things, daily aggregate tweets, your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet.
  • Idek – a url-shortening service that tracks metrics.
  • Twitter Reach – exposure and reach information, such as impressions and mentionings of any topic, word, phrase, userid or hashtag.

Offsite Connections: The Upshot

As Twitter continues to mature as a business tool, I predict that more and more of these off-site services will spring up. The most successful one will, in my opinion, combine the best features of all, coupled with ease of use and an ability to show trends over time.

And finally, Twitter changes things almost as much and as fast as Facebook does. So keep in mind, these instructions may need some tweaking.

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Twitter

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Metrics and timing. When you tweet may not seem to matter too much. In particular, if you don’t tweet too terribly often, your tweets will still be out there, so why bother to even care about timing?

metrics and timing

Not so fast.

Patterns

According to The Science of Retweets, Twitter users tend to follow some recognizable patterns. First thing Monday morning is prime time for retweeting; so is five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. And that makes sense, as tweeters are either settling into the work week or are just about to start the weekend. Weekend tweeting is another animal as well. Noon is another good time for retweeting — people are at lunch or are about to go.

Plus there’s also the matter of accounts (often for job sites) that pump out a good dozen tweets, one right after another. These have little individual impact and seem only to be useful for later searching.

Timed tweeting seems almost counterintuitive. But for a business to use Twitter effectively, the tweets should be planned anyway. Why not plan not only their content but also their timing?

Scheduling Software

Here’s where services like Tweet DeckSocial Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) and HootSuite can provide some assistance. By scheduling the most important tweets for the very start and end (and middle) of each business day, you can add to their impact. Separating out your tweets can also get them all out there while simultaneously preventing a flood of tweets which many users are generally just going to ignore.

Another positive upshot to spacing out your tweets is giving you content that can be used later. For Social Media platforms, it’s easy to initially attack them with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and then taper off or even fizzle out entirely. If you regularly spit out twenty tweets per day, you’ll be tweeting 100 times during any given work week. Even your most dedicated followers are probably not going to read every single one. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.

Time Zone Scheduling

Instead, how about scheduling only two tweets per day (say, at 9:00 and 5:00 PM in the time zone where you have the greatest market share)? That way, you’ll have more people reading and no one will feel overwhelmed. Plus your 100 tweets will work for a little over a month or even two, if you are judicious and don’t tweet on the weekends.

So long as your tweets aren’t intimately tied to a specific time (e. g. announcements of an upcoming event), it shouldn’t matter. And, if they are, you might want to consider splitting them over several Twitter accounts. Perhaps open up one for just events in Seattle, for example.

Now, what about metrics?

URLs

Unfortunately, Twitter itself doesn’t do much, so you’ll have to cobble things together yourself and use off-Twitter resources. One idea is to use a URL-shortening service that tracks basic metrics, such as Social Oomph or Idek. You may not get much more data from them than click count, but it’s still something. Hoot Suite provides .owly link metrics, with two free reports.

Another idea is to use a unique URL for the site URL in your profile, say, http://yoursite.com/twitter. If you’ve got Google Analytics set up, you can track when that page is used for landings to your site, and its bounce rate. For commercial ventures, you might even make up a coupon code and tweet about it, or use your Twitter landing page as a means of communicating certain special offers available only to Twitter users.

Follower/Following Ratio

Your number of followers, and the ratio of followers to who youfollow, is all well and good, but it’s hard to say what you’re measuring. On Twitter, as on much of the web, popularity tends to breed even more popularity. And, it doesn’t really mean much if you have a number of purely spammy sites following you. They aren’t reading your tweets, anyway, so what’s the point?

This dilutes any idea of what these numbers might provide regarding influence, but if for some reason you really want to be followed by a bunch of spammers, just place the term weight loss into your profile and never block the spammers. In fact, follow them back, and you can get even more of them.

It hardly seems a worthwhile trophy to be followed by the biggest-ever village of spammers, eh?

Some Metrics

Some sites, such as Audiense, show number of followers and their influence and activity. You can see which inactive people you follow (so you can drop them), which famous people follow you, etc. Some of these are admittedly vanity metrics, but they are helpful.

Tweet Stats demonstrates, among other things, a graph of daily aggregate tweets. And it also contains your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet. Twitter Reach reveals exposure and reach. E. g. this means impressions and mentions of any topic, be it a word, a phrase, a userid or a hashtag.

In conclusion, keep up with Twitter, but don’t overwhelm your followers with floods of content, and measure your influence as well as you can, both using your own and external tools. If you can adjust your tweets to better serve your followers, your true influence will surely rise.

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Facebook Google+ LinkedIn Opinion Social Media Twitter

Employer Access to Employee Passwords

A Look at Employer Access to Employee Passwords

Employee passwords have become a new battleground. Because this issue has begun to crop up, and it will only continue to do so.

So does your employer have a right to your social media passwords?

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So before you reflexively say no, hold the phone. Because the truth is, unless the is expressly forbids it, companies can. They can take advantage of a less than stellar economy and less than powerful employees.

As a result, they can demand access into social media accounts and employee passwords. Hence a variety of bills have been introduced around the United States in an effort to address this matter.

Massachusetts

First of all, here in the Bay State, legislation is pending. This includes H.B 448, which relates to student data privacy. It also includes, which relates to social media consumer privacy protection. And it includes S.B 1055, which relates to social media privacy protection.

Arkansas and Employee Passwords

Arkansas Ark. Code Ann. § 11-2-124; Code Ark. R. 010.14.1-500 says:

“Employers may not ask or require employees or applicants to disclose their user names or passwords to a personal online account; change the privacy settlings on their accounts…”

California and Employee Passwords

Much like Arkansas, employers can’t get into employees’ social media accounts. But an exception exists for investigations into misconduct, per Cal. Lab. Code § 980.

Colorado

Colorado’s law is Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 8-2-127, which says:

“Employers can be fined up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $5,000 for each subsequent violation.”

Connecticut

In Connecticut, the law is Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 31-40x, which says:

“Employers can be fined up to $500 for the first violation and between $500 and $1,000 for each subsequent violation. Employees can be awarded relief, including job reinstatement, payment of back wages, reestablishment of employee benefits, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

Delaware

And in Delaware, the law is Del. Code Ann. tit. 19, § 709A. It’s pretty similar to the law in Arkansas.

Illinois

So in Illinois, the law is 820 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 55/10; Ill. Admin. Code tit. 56, §§ 360.110, 360.120.

“If an employer violates the law, an employees and applicants may file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Labor.”

Louisiana

In addition, La. Stat. Ann. §§ 51:1951 to 51:1953, 51:1955 says:

“Employers may not request or require employees or applicants to disclose user names and passwords or other login information for their personal accounts.”

But in Louisiana, it’s okay for employers to push for a look into employee personal online accounts in one instance. This is if there are allegations of misconduct. So stop downloading porn at work!

And this is according to Nolo.

Maine

So in Maine, the law is Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 26, §§ 615 to 619.

“An employer that violates the law is subject to a fine from the Department of Labor of at least $100 for the first violation, $250 for the second violation, and $500 for subsequent violations.”

Maryland

So in Maryland, the law is Md. Code Ann., Lab. & Empl. § 3-712. The provisions are pretty close to those in Arkansas.

Michigan

And then in Michigan, the law is Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. §§ 37.271 to 37.278.

“Employers that violate the law can be convicted of a misdemeanor and fined up to $1,000. Employees and applicants may also file a civil claim and recover up to $1,000 in damages plus attorney fees’ and court costs.”

Montana

And then in Montana, the law is Mont. Code Ann. § 39-2-307.

“An employee or applicant may bring an action against an employer in small claims court for violations. If successful, an employee or applicant can receive $500 or actual damages up to $7,000, as well as legal costs.”

Nebraska

Then in Nebraska, the law is Neb. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 48-3501 to 48-3511. This is another law like the one in Arkansas.

Nevada

But in Nevada, the law is Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 613.135. This one is very short but it specifically includes blogs.

New Hampshire

Furthermore, N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 275:73 to 275:75 says:

“Employers may not require employees or applicants to change the privacy settings on their email or social media accounts or add anyone to their email or social media contact lists.”

But just like in Louisiana, Granite Staters will have to provide a look-see if there are any misconduct accusations flying around.

New Jersey

Then in New Jersey, the law is N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 34:6B-5 to 34:6B-10. So it says:

“Employers that violate the law are subject to a fine of up to $1,000 for the first violation and up to $2,500 for each subsequent violation from the New Jersey Labor Commissioner.”

New Mexico

So in New Mexico, the law is N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-4-34. This one specifically extends to friend lists.

Oklahoma on Employee Passwords

In addition, when it comes to employee passwords, Oklahoma’s House Bill 2372 says,

“Relates to labor; prohibits employer from requesting or requiring access to social media account of certain employees; prohibits an employer from taking retaliatory personnel action for failure to provide access to social media account; authorizes civil actions for violations; provides for recovery of attorney fees and court costs; defines terms; provides for codification; provides an effective date.”

So this is according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oregon

Then in Oregon, the law is Or. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659A.330. This is another law like the one in Arkansas.

Rhode Island

Furthermore, per R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 28-56-1 to 28-56-6:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit for violations. The court can award declaratory relief, damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and injunctive relief against the employer.”

So this is beyond the standard where an employer can’t just take a peek whenever they feel like it.

Employer Access to Employee Passwords
English: Great seal of the state of Rhode Island Français : Sceau du Rhode Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tennessee on Employee Passwords

And per Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 50-1-1001 to 50-1-1004:

“Employers may not ask or require employees or applicants to disclose passwords to personal online accounts.”

Utah

So in Utah, the law is Utah Code Ann. §§ 34-48-101 to 34-48-301. So it says:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit against the employer for violations, with a maximum award of $500.”

Virginia and Employee Passwords

So in Virginia, the law is Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-28.7:5. It’s not too far off from Arkansas, but an employer can get employee passwords under the guise of an investigation.

Washington (State) on Employee Passwords

So in Washington State, the law is Wash. Rev. Code Ann. §§ 49.44.200 and 49.44.205. So it says:

“Employees and applicants may file a civil lawsuit against the employer for violations and obtain injunctive relief, actual damages, a penalty of $500, and reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.”

West Virginia

So in West Virginia, the law is W. Va. Code Ann. § 21-5H-1, another Arkansas clone, more or less.

Wisconsin on Employee Passwords

And then in Wisconsin, per Wis. Stat. Ann. § 995.55:

“Employees and applicants may file a complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for violations and receive appropriate relief.”

Other States on Employee Passwords

In addition, Maryland became apparently the first state to consider the matter, per the Boston Globe, in 2012. Furthermore, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, several bills have been proposed around the country.

However, aside from the ones listed above, only the following states seem to have these laws. Then according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the following states have pending laws (as of 2019): Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York. And then in 2018, these states considered the matter: Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and New York.

So these bills come up repeatedly.

Finally, the country still has a long way to go in terms of guaranteeing employees privacy in social media accounts. Hence we all need to look out more. In addition, it might end up a good idea to just out and out refuse when asked for passwords.

Facebooker, beware.

Categories
Facebook Social Media Twitter

Social Networking/Social Media Tips

Social Networking/Social Media Tips

Social Media Tips? Yes, please! A while back, Grassroots Giving Group published some great Social Networking tips. I agreed with their ideas but would like to expand upon them a bit.

English: A pie chart created in Excel 2007 sho... Social Media Tips
English: A pie chart created in Excel 2007 showing the content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And they were essentially exploring when Facebook and Twitter are useful. Here are some of their ideas.

Ideas

  • Announcements – don’t just announce upcoming or new things but also add links in order to drive traffic. Agreed! However, I would add a targeted landing page. If you’ve got people coming in from Facebook, why not create a new landing page to personally welcome them (e. g. Welcome to our Facebook Friends!). The best part about that is that, since it’s a separate page, Google Analytics will track the clicks separately. You’ve got a fighting chance of getting good metrics, so you’ll know whether your announcement of the opening of a new branch of the Widget Factory played better on Facebook or on Twitter.
  • Sending shortened website addresses on Twitter – use an URL shortener. Of course! But why not use one (such as from HootSuite or Social Oomph) where you can get some click metrics? Using both a personalized landing page and an URL with click metrics can give you an even clearer idea of how traffic flows. Oh, and they don’t tell you why you should shorten an URL on Twitter (even if the URL fits), but I will: to make it easier for people to retweet.

Planning

  • Planning in Advance – nothing new here. You should keep up with things and plan in advance. Absolutely. And that means, when you’re hot and creative, write, write, write! Keep drafts and ideas going, and also think about how you can expand on your own blog entries or others’ (such as this blog entry). Get yourself a stable of other blogs/blog writers, news sources, etc. Who inspires you? Who interests you? And don’t repeat or steal, of course. Rather, expand and comment. These are perfectly legitimate ways to update your blog.
  • This Day in History – Commemorate occasions in your company! There must be something you’ve done that is good blog fodder. Of course, not every day is memorable, but it’s another way to keep the pipeline going. If July 12th is an important day in your organization, make sure that the July 12th blog post and Tweets are ready to rock and roll, and they are updated to the correct year. Heck, in HootSuite and SocialOomph (mentioned above), you can schedule Tweets. Why not schedule the Tweets for July 12th (or whatever your special day just so happens to be) and be done with them?

Quotes

  • Quote Collection – I like this idea, and I think it can be used for a lot of purposes. This is not only quotes about your specific organization or its work, but even more generalized quotations. Surely there is something from Shakespeare (My Kingdom for a horse!) or the Bible that could work for you in some capacity or another. It can be another jumping off point for creativity.
  • Ask Your Audience Questions – I think this is more useful if you have a somewhat large and actively commenting readership. While a rhetorical question is lovely, I think it’s just better if you can get at least a little feedback. Otherwise, it feels like you’re just shouting out to the wilderness.
  • Staff Introductions – this is another great idea. While your site might already have staff biographies, that’s another way to get the readership acquainted with who’s making the product.

Notes From Your Day

  • Notes from Your Day – I don’t know about this one. Your day, maybe. Mine? I guess this is, in part, centered around the event reviews I’ve done. But otherwise, my days tend to be spent, well, here, blogging. Which may or may not be thrilling to others. But I can see where my coworkers could have some very interesting days. The process of invention is pretty fascinating.

So there you have it. Some pretty amazing ideas for getting and keeping things going. And, while the post wasn’t, specifically, about blogging, it rings very true for that very specific – and sometimes challenging and elusive – task.

Finally, many, many thanks to the Grassroots Giving Group.

For more information, see the December 16, 2010 edition of Grassroots Giving Group.com’s blog.