Can social media erase ageism?

One of the things I love most about social media is that it doesn't discriminate based on age. There are people in my Twitter feed who are college students and others who are senior citizens. At tweetups, I've had the pleasure of chatting with 22 year olds and 65 year olds. At social media events, I've seen young adults learn from their elders and grandparents learn from recent graduates. I love that age seems to have no bearing in social media circles.

Age discrimination is alive and well in our world, however. Too many people jump to conclusions based on that stupid, little number. You only know this much if you're under 25 or you don't know something else because you're over 50. Personally, I never ask someone's age. I don't want to know.

At the age of 26 I actually had a supervisor call me a spinster because I wasn't married. In this day and age, I still marvel at the small-mindedness of it. Heaven help a gal who puts her career first! I'm a complex, driven, and passionate person. My age does not define me nor dictate where I should be in my life. Neither does your age.

I'm grateful that social media seems to be chipping away at ageism. I frequently see folks tweeting with others who are 10, 20, or 40 years their senior or junior. For some reason, those who are most active on social media seem to have a greater understanding that we're all just people. We can all learn from one another. We can all laugh with one another. We can all enjoy each other's company. We all have something to offer. We all have value.

I'm not sure why, but age seems to be unimportant in social media. I would love to think this is a sign of things to come. A world without age discrimination would be a wonderful thing. I know I want to be judged on the things that matter and not something as arbitrary as a birth year. Don't you?

How to hire a freelance writer

Credit: Charles Shulz
In this new era of content creation, many folks suddenly find themselves responsible for writing. Unfortunately, lots of them either have no interest in writing, lack the time, or don't consider themselves qualified to produce well-written material. So, how do you create blog posts and other materials if you don't want to write? Perhaps it's time to hire a professional!

If you've never worked with a freelance writer before, here are some tips to help:
Ask for recommendations
Just like when hiring a plumber or roofer, having someone you know vouch for a person's work puts your mind at ease. Ask your friends, family, former and current colleagues for a recommendation. Chances are someone you know has worked with a freelance writer at some point and may have a name or two to send your way.

Place an ad
If your network doesn't come back with any referrals, try looking at elance, Freelance Writing, the writing section of Craigslist, or Google "writers for hire".

Set a budget
Writing fees have plummeted during the recession, so there's a big gap separating high and low wages. I've seen ads offering $5 to $10 for blog posts (which, as a writer, I think is criminal). For comparison, several years ago when I worked at a publishing house we offered our freelance writers $125 per 500 words. In short, there's no hard and fast rule on what to pay. However, sometimes you can offer less if you can guarantee a constant stream of guaranteed work (if, of course, the first assignment goes well).

Ask for links to the writer's work
If the person is an active writer, he or she should have work published somewhere on the web (online samples with attribution are better than Word docs because they are less likely to be plagiarized ). Look at their writing style, range, and voice to determine if it's a match for you. Also, check out the person's LinkedIn profile to read what others have said about working with him/her.

Determine whether your writer gets a byline
Writers like to have samples of their work, so some may be more inclined to accept less money in exchange for a byline and/or a link back to their own sites. If, however, you're looking for a ghostwriter, you may have to offer more money since the person won't receive any added exposure by writing for you.

Agree on editing
Writing is not a math. It's subjective and, as such, can vary greatly. Be very clear up front as to what you want the piece to accomplish and the tone of the writing. Then, agree upon how many rounds of rewrites are included in the fee. Up to two round of edits is acceptable. If you require more than that, chances are you may not have been clear enough about your expectations.

Ensure everyone understands the terms of the work
Do you just want the writer to write? Will he/she be responsible for all the research? Will you be providing resources? Will the writer be tasked with finding images for the post? Inserting links? Designing the post? To make sure your project goes smoothly, make sure everyone understands the parameters of the project before you begin.

Choose a payment option
You can compensate a writer by the hour or by the project. Each has it's own set of pros and cons. As a writer and a client, I personally prefer a flat rate. That ensures that the project doesn't exceed your budget and that both parties understand the terms of the work and the compensation up front. Before getting started, clarify how and when the writer will be paid (e.g. upon final approval via PayPal).
In this new world of social media, content creation is quickly becoming everyone's responsibility: accountants, mechanics, sales people, realtors, etc. If you choose to outsource your efforts, be sure you do your homework and be clear about deliverables. That will spare you and your freelancer a lot of headaches.

Have you ever hired a freelance writer before? If so, what did I miss? Are you a writer? What else should potential clients consider before making a hire?

9 tweets you need to stop sending

Social media is notorious for bringing unnecessary noise into our lives. Meaningless, worthless static that heightens the amount of buzzing in our heads and makes baby Santa cry. Don't you wish you could just focus on the good stuff?

All of us are guilty of sending a tweet here and there that devalues the Twitter streams of others. But, if you're sending any of the following tweets on a regular basis, you should seriously rethink how you're using the platform:

1. @insertusername Thanks for following me!
Gratitude is nice, but generic tweets to every person who follows you is spam.

2. I'm listening to (insert song here) via (insert platform here)
Lots of people have their Pandora or GetGlue accounts hooked up to Twitter, but no one needs the play by play on every song you're listening to. Skip it.

3. I just posted today's blog. Check it out: www.bitly.ReadMyStuffButIWontTellYouWhatItsAbout
If you want to promote your blog via tweet, remember to give us a clue as to the subject. The fact that you've written and published something isn't breaking news.

4. I got 5,000 followers from (insert site here) and you can too: www.bitly.TheGuyOnlyHas400Followers
Aside from the fact that buying Twitter followers is downright sleazy, if you're going to tell us we can do something, why don't you do it first, eh?

5. Please like my Facebook page (also "subscribe to my YouTube channel", "follow my blog", etc.).
And the million dollar question is...why? Give people a reason. How will it benefit them?

6. Any tweet including the #NomNom hashtag
Let's leave the food tweets to those with food blogs. Knowing that you just ate pumpkin pie is noise in its purest form.

7. I walked ___ miles in ___ minutes
Having your Daily Mile activities feed into your Twitter stream is unnecessary. You're telling us about your daily exercise routine why?
8. I'm watching (insert show here) via (insert platform here)
Just like the music tweet above, telling your followers that you're viewing "Hawaii Five-0" does nothing to enrich our lives.

9. The _______ Daily is out! tweets don't help you make money, get more clients, or enrich the lives of your followers. It's time to say buh-bye. 

You'll notice that a great deal of these tweets are a result of giving other platforms access to your Twitter account. Automation is rarely a good idea. Giving sites permission to tweet one's activities is generally the default setting because it provides exposure for the site; however it's not of benefit to the user or their followers.

What tweets are you sick of seeing? What do you think adds to the noise?

ABC to 123: Giving adults social media grades

As a child, the report card validates us. A, B, C, D, F. Those letters affect our self esteem, self confidence, and future success. As we grow, those letters morph into numbers. In social media, it's all about how many Twitter followers, blog subscribers, unique visitors, Facebook fans, and retweets we have. And, don't forget the Klout score! Living and dying by numbers can be exhausting.

For my last several blog posts, Twitter hasn't been indexing tweets to my posts and, therefore, Disqus (my commenting system) hasn't been accurately logging reactions. I know I have 60+ on my last post and only four are showing. Oh, the inhumanity of it all! No! No! No! Where are my numbers? Validate me! Love me! Show me the numbers!

I admit that I notice the numbers. Don't think less of me. But, if we're honest with ourselves, most of us do care to a certain degree. Numbers are one of the ways we measure success. And, of course, don't forget when we add a dollar sign to the front of a number (as in our salaries). Numbers, numbers, numbers.

Numbers are the adult version of grades. And, although I did well in school, I'm sick of being graded. Is the number of Twitter followers I have really an accurate representation of my knowledge? No. If I have a bad traffic day on my blog, does that make what I have to say any less valid? No. Will my Klout score help me live longer or be healthier? Absolutely not.

I'm a person with value outside of the numbers. I donate things instead of throwing them away. I volunteer. I recycle. I don't litter. I get things off high shelves for senior citizens at the market. I'm a person who tries to make a positive change, both personally and professionally. I know you are, too. So, despite the fact that society says numbers matter and that they represent our value, let's start a new revolution. One that puts a greater emphasis on the right things.

Let's forget about the social media grades. Let's focus on what matters. Family, friends, growing our businesses, improving ourselves, and being home in time for dinner. Who's with me?

The BlogWorld Gold Star Awards #bwela

The fifth annual BlogWorld & New Media Expo just concluded & many exhausted bloggers are on planes, trains, and in cars on their way home. Lots of great information this year and some real stand out performers amongst the 4,000 attendees, 150 sessions, and 275 speakers. So, without further adieu, let's give out some gold stars!

The I'm Gonna Rock Your World Award
Best Session
Marcus Sheridan
If you didn't attend Marcus' session on 7 Blogging Ideas That Will Brand Your Business, you missed out big time. This high energy session gave attendees actual executable ideas and Marcus' enthusiastic and humorous delivery kept people on their toes and laughing throughout. If you ever have the chance to see Marcus present, you simply must go. I guarantee you'll leave the room smarter and with a few more laugh lines. 

The Branding is in My DNA Award
Best Physical Branding
Mari Smith
If you don't know Mari as the Facebook Marketing maven that she is, perhaps you know her as the alluring blond in the turquoise and bling. Mari uses turquoise and sparkly things throughout her branding (e.g. website, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), but Mari takes her branding one step further. She wears it. Walking about the conference in turquoise clothing, shiny earrings, and a turquoise rolly bag, there was no way you didn't know who she was. Mari doesn't just talk branding, she oozes it in everything she does.

The I'm Totally Smart, Funny, and Know How to Make Money Award
Best Keynote
Peter Shankman
Peter is best known as the guy who started Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and who worked like a maniac to complete the Iron Man. However, I think many folks had no idea how amazingly funny this guy is. His keynote was filled with inspirational stories of how he took chances, seized opportunities, and made a ton of money because he didn't let fear hold him back. Forget going to your local comedy club or searching Amazon for a book to inspire you.  Peter delivers both and serves it up on a silver platter. If he's ever delivering a speech in your town, go see him and pay whatever it costs.

The Just Because We're Celebs Doesn't Mean We Don't Get Social Media Award
Best Panel
Rick Fox, Aisha Tyler, Jace Hall, Justine Ezarik, Tim Street
This was the final session of the conference and, as such, many folks had already bailed. What a loss for them! This panel was great and the highlight was Aisha Tyler, who brought the house down with her nonstop jokes and antics. Jace did a superb job as moderator (a job that most people stink at!), Tim had all the guys in the crowd with his stories of lingerie models, Justine is iJustine so of course she has a built-in fan base no matter where she goes, and Rick Fox is a genuinely likeable guy who brought the star power.

The Standing Room Only Award
Best Filled Room
Amy Porterfield
Even some of the best attended sessions had empty seats scattered throughout the room, but not Amy Porterfield's Facebook Marketing session! Every chair was filled, people were sitting in the aisles, hugging the walls, and trying to look in the door. Amy knows how to fill a room (and a hot topic doesn't hurt, either)! Give this girl a larger space next time, guys!

The I'm Gonna Use My Entire Marketing Budget To Make You Happy Award
Best Swag
The Exhibit Hall had lots of companies. Some handed out candy, a few gave out sippie cups, others gave out t-shirts, but hands down the best giveaway came from the Yahoo! booth! These guys knew their audience and weren't stingy. The gave away a canvas tote bag, a t-shirt, and the best part was The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World book. Five-hundred pages of great info and the most useful conference freebie I've ever received. Kudos Yahoo!

The Going for the Easy Laughs Award
Best Use of Klout Humor
Tom Webster
Klout is a easy target for those in social media. Want to go for the laughs? Mock Klout. However, the way Tom did it was absolutely fabulous! He was talking about how all of our parents remember where they were and what they were doing when Kennedy was shot or when the Space Shuttle exploded. We, however, will all remember the day of the Kloutpocalypse--the day last month when all of our Klout scores plummeted. And the funny part is, if you're in social media, that is totally true!

The Don't Go Home Without Saying Howdy Ya'll Award
Best Connector
Mack Collier
Mack's live #blogchat session concluded with Mack passing around the microphone to everyone in the room and asking them to say their Twitter handle. This was the best value-added move in the entire conference. Turns out there were four people in the room who I had been searching for for three days, but hadn't yet connected with. There were many more there who I didn't recognize by sight, yet knew right away once they said their Twitter name. Had Mack not done that, I would have never known those people were sitting in the same room as me. Nice way to bring your audience together, Mack!

Your turn! Who do you think deserves a BlogWorld Gold Star? What did you enjoy about the conference? And, if you didn't go, will you be attending next year?

Social media conferences are like Vegas

Social media conferences bring together thousands of people from across the country, sometimes the globe. People who have built friendships online finally get a chance to meet in real life. And, despite the great content that's offered at conferences such as Blogworld and SXSW, attendees know that the parties are where some of the best networking is.

Since social media quickens one's comfort level amongst strangers, when people finally meet in the flesh they feel as though they're longtime friends. This is one of the great aspects of social media, however that can also lead to some Vegas-like shenanigans. And we all know what happens in Vegas, ends up on Facebook.

For those attending a social media conference, remember that there are thousands of attendees with smartphones, laptops, tablets, and video cameras. The majority live on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ and most have blogs. These uber-connected folks make a habit of capturing the world around them. It's second nature.

So, if a social media conference is in your future, stay clear of the Vegas drama. Remember these 5 tips to maintain your reputation:

1. Nothing is private 
Even if you think you're having a private conversation, think again. People love sharing OH tweets (for newbies, that means tweeting something you've overheard).
2. You're always under surveillance 
Ok, it's not like when you're being watched by security cameras at the department store, but everyone at social media conferences thinks of their gadgets as their BFFs. Pictures and video are the life blood of these events. Know that at any moment, what you're doing could be documented and posted online for all the world to see. 
3. Everything you do is potential content 
What you say, what you look like, how you act, where you spend the night are all potential fodder (and content) for your fellow attendees. Bloggers are always on the lookout for something to write about. 
4. You're judged by the company you keep 
As with most every multi-day conference, people eventually fall into a crowd. A group they meet up with for meals, cab rides, and after hours antics. Others always notice the company we keep, for better or worse. Are you hanging out with the really smart kids or the ones who drink too much?
5. Don't overshare 
Opening up to people is great, but the person who you really like on day one could be your mortal enemy on day three. Do you want them to have all the dirt on you? Remember, don't gossip about others and don't freely divulge anything that could be used against you.

Remember, conferences are great places to learn and to network. The social gatherings are just as valuable as the sessions and the entire experience can help get you closer to your goals. Just make sure that your professional reputation is still intact by the time it's all over. 

* If you're reading this post via email or in a reader, click the headline to see the video that accompanies this piece.
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