Who says you don't rock? Be your own cheering section!

I work hard. You work hard. We all try our best out there in the world. Some days rock; others don't. But we persevere.

This morning I woke up, ready to take on the world. Then, I got knocked down a peg. I saw a tweet from a new Twitter friend, Erica Allison, saying I should have been on some list. I saw a second tweet from Erica, telling someone else about my Kloutgate: The Battle Between Mean Girls and Influencers blog post.

First off, I was touched by the kindness of Erica's support. Apparently she thought I had been slighted in some way and came to my defense. Pretty darn sweet of her, especially considering Erica and I only really connected a week ago. So, off I went to scour some Twitter streams to see what list Erica was talking about. And, I eventually found it: 32 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Klout.

Now, I'm not gonna lie, after looking at the post, I felt bad that I wasn't included. My Klout post got great traffic and catapulted up to the seventh most read piece on my blog to date. I was pretty proud that it had done so well. But, apparently, I wasn't on the gal's radar who wrote the brilliant bloggers piece. Or, heck, maybe I was and she didn't think I was brilliant. Stranger things have happened.

I traded a few tweets with another new friend, Lisa Thorell, someone else who Erica said should have been on the list. I said to her, "we make our own success" and then I brushed off the hurt feelings. Onward and upward.

Life is full of ups and downs. Some days we're on top; other days we aren't. We decide how we feel. We decide how we act. We make our days happy or miserable. It's all on us.

So, as you go about your day today, do your best. Whatever it is you do, do it as well as you can. If someone notices, great. If not, that's fine, too.

Pride comes from within. And, as nice as it is to be acknowledged, having a sense of self and a feeling of fulfillment is really what it's about. We are frequently our own harshest critics, but shouldn't we also be our own biggest cheerleaders?

Now, seize the day and get out there and impress yourselves. I know you have it in you. And, so do I...

P.S. Congratulations to the talented Erica Allison for making the list and for all her support! 

Old-fashioned food sampling taps into social media

I love out of the box thinking. Better yet, I really dig it when companies stomp up and down on the box and then run away from it at lightening speed. This month, I was delighted to see a brand that was shaking up things big time. 

The team at Pretzel Crisps is giving out tons of free food. Forget setting up a sampling table at the local market, this is guerrilla marketing at its best. They're monitoring people's tweets and then responding with an offer that cannot be refused. Below is a typical exchange from the company's Twitter account (click the image to enlarge it). Notice that the woman isn't even talking about Pretzel Crisps; that is the beauty of this conversation.

Not only is Pretzel Crisp offering people free product, they deliver it right to your front door! No coupons to redeem. No shipping. A cheery, peppy person brings the goodies to your home or office within 24 hours. How cool is that?

Luckily, I was on the receiving end of a Pretzel Crisps delivery. Paige showed up with three big bags of snacks; each tote stuffed with seven different flavors. The idea being that I would keep one bag and give away the other two so my friends and family could sample the product (I particularly enjoyed the Garlic Parmesan and the Cinnamon Toast varieties).

I was so impressed with the brand's promotional campaign, I asked Paige a bit more about it. Apparently, free delivery is offered in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Orange County, Boston, New Jersey, and New York. The marketing folks realize the power of social media and that people rely on their friends and networks for personal recommendations. They know the product would benefit from some good word of mouth, and what better way to do that than to let people sample the low-cal, baked snacks themselves.

Is the campaign working? Well, you know this isn't a food blog, but I'm writing about pretzels. Pretzels! But, more than that, I'm writing about a brand that really gets it. Pretzel Crisps is steering online conversations, creating buzz, fostering goodwill, and establishing relationships.

With the economy still bad, spending down, and many businesses in a tailspin, the folks at Pretzel Crisps are making a bold move by breaking from traditional marketing and advertising. Who needs to buy an ad in Family Circle or Shape, when regular people can talk about their first-hand experience with your product? Booyah!

Kloutgate: The Battle Between Mean Girls and Influencers

How much do people listen to what you have to say? Do they act on your suggestions? Are folks looking to you for answers? Do your online connections talk about you and engage you regularly? These are some of the factors that determine someone's Klout. If you're not sabotaged, that is; but more on that shortly.

For those who don't already know, Klout is a site that measures your online influence. Are you retweeted? Do your friends "like" your Facebook wall posts? Are you mentioned in conversations? Klout looks at these factors, and more, and then assigns you a score that rates your influence.

Although the algorithm is still being tweaked, many people (and companies!) are putting a lot of stock into Klout scores. Their hope is that, if you have a high score and an engaged audience, that people will listen to you if you say good things about their products. Simple enough. But, here's where it gets nasty.

Some folks, whether it be out of competition or petty jealousy, are trying to impede other people's progress on the site. Intentionally taking actions to stall or diminish other people's scores. Can this really be done? You betcha! If you change the way you normally act, you can have a potential impact on someone's score. Remember, Klout judges how people interact with you. In all reality, your followers and friends hold the key to your success. They can make you or break you.

Here are the top Mean Girl offenses that seem to be gaining traction in cyberspace:

  • Not following people
  • Not retweeting someone's tweets
  • Not replying to a person's tweet
  • Not listing people
  • Not liking their Facebook posts
  • Not commenting on Facebook links

But, it's not just the act of not doing those things. The "Mean Girls" used to do these things before Klout came along, but have consciously stopped. Now, it's about the competition. Why bolster someone else and help their score? If you don't, you can get ahead, right? I'm gonna insert a diabolical Mean Girl laugh HERE. (If you don't understand the "Mean Girl" reference, check out the Wikipedia entry.)

Is this sabotage solely geared to neutralize the competition? Perhaps, so the Mean Girls can get perks and offers their friends don't? What about so they can get bragging rights to the best score in their clique? Whatever the reason, the Mean Girl ranks are growing.

Sure, lots of people are still cautious about the accuracy of Klout. And, frankly, since it doesn't incorporate blogs into its algorithm yet, I think that's a major handicap. However, businesses such as Fox, Audi, Virgin America, Starbucks, TNT, Disney, and Nike are using the site in their publicity efforts. Identifying online influencers, giving them samples or promotional items, and then hoping for some good buzz. It's a solid strategy as traditional media gives way to the new world of social media.

So, my friends, beware the Mean Girls. They may not be 15-year-old girls, in fact they probably aren't. In all likelihood, they're 40 year old men or 28 year old professional women, but they're Mean Girls at heart. People who feel good when you feel bad. Folks whose main goal is to outshine you and humble you in the process.

And, as for Klout, it may be in its infancy, but it's laying the groundwork for the future. A time where John Q. Public has just as much influence as Anderson Cooper and Larry King. And maybe more.

Citizen journalist or super hero?

Every day I marvel at the power of the web. If you know the incredible might of this 2.0 world, you also know the amazing ability we all have to force change.

My last blog post was about Romano's Macaroni Grill and how its Twitter and Facebook accounts hadn't been updated in six weeks. I also went on to mention how someone had complained about their official website's feedback form. Well, imagine my surprise when--after 42 days of social media neglect on their part--Macaroni Grill updated everything I had pointed out within just four hours after my post was published! Coincidence? I think not, good citizens of Gotham.

Although the company seemed to leave their social media presence to languish, somebody over there must be keeping up with web search.  Google alert? Technorati search? Who know what mechanism Macaroni Grill uses to scour the web, but they use something. And, there is no doubt in my mind that somebody there saw my post and updated their sites. They even answered the complaining guy that I had mentioned in my post. Kapow! Bang! Blam!

If you're new to all this search and techie stuff, maybe you think I'm full of myself. Yeah, little ole' me scared a big corporation such as Macaroni Grill. Like that happens. Well, it does. And, that is the power of citizen journalism and social media. That is the incredible influence that everyone with a web connection possesses!

If you use the internet, chances are you're a citizen journalist to some degree. Your tweets, your blog, your online complaints are getting in front of savvy companies. Not only are you making your feelings known to your online networks, but there's a very good chance your opinions are landing front and center in a company's search results!

You've got the power, my friends! You can change the world with every stroke of that keyboard. Heck, I know I personally had a hand in making someone at Macaroni Grill set down their cheese ravioli to update their sites and answer that guy. I know how the web works. Whoosh! Thunk!

So, ordinary citizens, remember you all have super powers. Wonder Woman has her invisible jet and her Golden Lasso of truth. You have 26 letters and an internet connection. Holy wifi, Batman! That's powerful stuff!

Now, don that cape and come up with a super hero handle for yourself (I'm thinking of calling myself Keyboard Broad, Alphabet Girl, or Qwerty). There's a world out there that needs to be held accountable and we're just the folks to do it! To the Bat-pole! Shazam! Up, up, and away! 

Citizen journalist powers...activate

When corporate social media gets anti-social

So many big companies still don't get social media. It's not enough just to be on Facebook and Twitter, you need to be a part of the communities there. Why is that so hard to understand?

Case in point: Romano's Macaroni Grill. I love this restaurant and even though the two locations nearest me closed, I still organize a road trip every now and then to get my fix of Fettuccine Alfredo. Quite awhile ago, I signed up for their newsletter and it gives me an occasional coupon or birthday freebie. Good stuff. Today, I received an email from them, promoting their new dishes and, for the first time, I noticed the Twitter and Facebook icons with the words "Join the Conversation". Ok, I'm game. I'll join.

Surely, you can imagine my disappointment when the last tweet that Macaroni Grill sent out was six weeks ago and the last Facebook wall post was also six weeks prior. Six weeks!

How many tweets have gone unanswered in six weeks? How many irate customers were ignored or happy customers weren't thanked? How many things could Macaroni Grill have promoted and didn't?


I offer my social media consulting services for a pretty penny, but I'll give Macaroni Grill this bit of advice for free. Don't open social media accounts and then forget about them. Don't miss out on the daily opportunities you have to interact with your customers and show them you appreciate them!

Ok, Macaroni Grill seems to answer some of their fans' wall posts on Facebook, but not much. As a matter of fact, one customer posted a complaint about his dining experience and went on to say that no one responded when he submitted feedback via the official Macaroni Grill website. Not good.

Whether you use social media for your business or just yourself, you're only as good as your last tweet, wall post, or blog entry. Don't be complacent. Always prioritize your customers, clients, contacts, or community. If you don't steer the conversation, someone else will. And, you might not like the direction it heads.

Is there a restaurant or retail shop you think is doing a good job with their Facebook or Twitter accounts? How about a company that's blowing it big time? Surely, and sadly, Macaroni Grill isn't the only one dropping the ball on the social media stuff.

TweetDeck angers users as it integrates Deck.ly

One of the things I like best about Twitter is its built-in brevity. No rambling. Limited nonsense. Perfect for quick info and to-the-point conversations. One-hundred-and-forty characters is enough for me.

However, if you use a Twitter client such as TweetDeck, you've now officially been empowered to drone on...and on...and on. In the latest version of TweetDeck (version 0.37), launched this week, the company saw fit to install Deck.ly integration. What that means is that you can tweet beyond that 140 character number and a link will be installed into your tweet directing people to the entire message.

Worse yet, the window in which you tweet just lets you go beyond your 140 character limit without making it obvious that you're a chatty cathy. It used to be that the window and text changed color when you went beyond your character count. Now, with the "upgrade", it just puts a tiny "+" sign on the right where your character count is located. One could, very easily, utilize Deck.ly without really realizing it. Talk about annoying.

Fortunately, the TweetDeck support site is blowing up today with complaints about the new feature. Users, rightfully so, want the option to turn off Deck.ly without having to worry that it will automatically kick in. TweetDeck reps say they've heard us and are working on a solution. I'm not sure if Deck.ly paid Tweetdeck for this integration, but I'm sure there's some deal and maybe that's causing the delay.

Yes, these clients are free, but that doesn't mean users don't have a voice. If you don't want forced Deck.ly integration in your TweetDeck application, you have two options:

  1. Don't upgrade if you haven't done so already.
  2. Sound off on the complaint thread HERE

In the meantime, if you use TweetDeck, beware. You may be annoying your followers with lots of Deck.ly links and be talking way more than you intended.

Now, get back to tweeting and be safe out there.

Is social media turning adults into insecure teenagers?

For better or worse, there are no secrets in social media. If it happens in my circle of friends, it gets tweeted or Facebooked about.

This week, I was talking with someone about not being invited to the birthday parties of some mutual friends. People were tweeting from the parties so it was hard to miss the fact that they were together and I was home. In all actuality, though, the people I'm referring to are friendly acquaintances and not true blue friends, so I understand the oversight. No harm, no foul.

However, after this brief discussion with my friend I felt like I was 15 years old again. Just for a minute, but it happened. What do I care if I wasn't invited? Truth be told, I don't care in the least. Honestly. But that young adolescent in me seemed to rise to the surface for just a few moments. The girl who wasn't asked to the dance or didn't get invited to the head cheerleader's surprise party.

Ever tweet someone who didn't answer you back? How about comment on someone's Facebook status only to see him or her answer everyone else back except for you? Have you ever put something really serious out there, only to feel like you're talking to yourself (the many folks who have announced their suicides via social media and only received snide replies or jokes as responses comes to mind).

That takes me to Google. I wrote a blog post a year and a half ago asking if Facebook was making people lonelier. I discussed my friend who was feeling left out and sad because she was ignored by her "friends" on Facebook. I didn't have much of a readership back then, so the piece has been gathering dust in the archives. That is until people recently started entering "facebook lonely", "facebook lonely people", "lonely people on facebook", and "facebook is for lonely people" into Google search.

According to Google Analytics, these search terms represent four of the top 10 keywords people use that ultimately direct them to my blog. All told, that is 50% of my traffic from search! So many people are using those search phrases that my post on Facebook making people lonelier has risen to the sixth most popular post on my blog out of hundreds that I've written. Imagine that. A piece about people feeling left out because they're ignored on Facebook. There's definitely something to that.

In a new world where we share our private lives in the public eye, everything that happens in our social circles is out there for the world to see. Your friend posts a photo album to Facebook that has photos of her last dinner party that you didn't know about. Someone tweets about the drinks he's enjoying with people who you thought were your friends, too, but who didn't seem to include you. When people talk so openly, there are destined to be those who feel left out and have their feelings hurt. Those who will, undoubtedly, revert back to insecure teenagers; wondering why they were overlooked.

As kids, we actually were insecure. Even the popular kids. But, as adults, thankfully we have the good sense to know what matters and what doesn't. We know the power we have to shape our lives and circumstances and that we are not merely pawns in someone else's story. We all know that.

But, strangely enough, whether we're 25 or 60, sometimes we all have a little 15 year old hiding within us. Why is that?

The library is like a BFF who lets you borrow their stuff

February 5th is Save Our Libraries Day. Last year alone I checked out about 25 books and close to 150 DVDs from my local library. All the books were on my Amazon wish list, but I got to read them for free thanks to the city of Los Angeles. I could have spent more than $2,000 to get all that knowledge and entertainment, but I just flashed my VIP card (my library card, that is) and I gotta leave the building without maxing out my MasterCard. How cool is that?

Libraries are one of the few city services which everyone can enjoy. Want to curl up with a good book? Gotta rent a flick for family movie night? Need a computer to use while yours is on the fritz? Have to find a free class so your grandma can learn to surf the web? Look no further than your local library! The reference librarian at my branch knows me by name at this point (thanks for the excellent customer service, Ramona!) and I'm sure the person at your branch can help you track down whatever you need, too.

Still think the library's not for you? How about just doing your part to help support the community then? Donate your unwanted or excess books, DVDs, or audio books to your local branch. If they can't put them into circulation, they can undoubtedly sell them at their next book sale fundraiser!

Libraries are wonderful community hubs. Places where people can come together (albeit quietly!) and enjoy something worthwhile. So why not:
  • Learn something new
  • Expand your horizons
  • Stimulate your imagination
  • Be whisked away
  • Get lost in another world 
  • Find your inspiration

Get your library card today and help save our libraries. Your mind will thank you for it.

Hat tip to Claudia Yuskoff who tweeted about Save Our Libraries Day and, therefore, gave me the inspiration for this post. 
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