Tweeting for the Newbie

23 08 2010

I’m a huge twitter fan – it’s an incredible source of information, a good discussion forum, and all-out entertaining to boot! My passion seems contagious, because recently a number of friends have asked me how to get on twitter and what to do once they’re on… So here are my seven easy steps for getting started. And once you’ve started, follow a few people like @TweetSmarter and @twitter to learn more quickly.

1. Go to and create your account. On the ‘Account‘ screen your username will be what people see when you tweet (mine is ImAmyO). Then go to ‘Profile and fill out your bio with some interesting stuff about yourself and post a pic. No need to mess with the mobile settings or your screen design – always time later for that…

2. Follow someone. Are any of your friends on twitter? Or find someone famous that does something interesting (I follow @MarthaStuart cuz I like to know what she’s eating). Follow the news (I like the CCN Breaking News feed @ccnbrk). Follow someone in your industry, again if they’re posting cool stuff. Use ‘Find People‘ in the upper corner of your screen to look for people. Go to and enter a word that is important to you – on twitter the word is called a hashtag cuz you can put it in your tweets as a flag so others can easily find info on a subject. Twubs will show you a bunch of tweets on the subject – you’ll see #<the word you entered> in the tweets. Follow some of the people tweeting on your topic of interest. Then go to the profile of each person you follow, by clicking on their name in your following list, go to their following list, and follow some of them! Look for people who tweet topics of interest to you, and especially people who include a lot of links to other site – that’s where twitter starts to become a good knowledge-base.

3. Tweet something. Come on. What are your reading? What have you seen? What do you know that would help others? Post a link in your tweet to something you read online. Post a link to a picture. And here’s a tip – since a tweet can only be 140 characters, you don’t want to waste them on long links. So go to and enter the long link (sometimes I post links to NYT articles that are almost 100 characters) and will give you a short link instead.

4. Retweet something. Huh? Yup, this is the essence of twitter. When someone you follow says something interesting, you can retweet it so that all your followers see it. Now don’t get too caught up in the fact that you probably don’t have too many followers yet, retweet anyways cuz on twitter retweeting is seen as the highest form of flattery…

5. …besides following someone who follows you – that’s also a twitter form of flattery. As time goes on and you tweet / retweet more, and follow more people, people will start to follow you. They’ll find you because of your bio, what you tweet, and who you follow, and who’s following you (just like you did in step 2 above). So what should you do? Follow them back. For sure, not always, but click on their twitter handle and go to their profile page. Check out their bio, and what they’ve tweeted. If it’s interesting, follow them! That’s how the network builds.

6. Be informed and entertained. You can watch your twitter feed (that’s all the incoming tweets from people you follow) on, but I like to use a different twitter app called TweetDeck. Download it from and you’ll see that you can arrange columns with different searches. I also love the way it pops the latest tweet up in the corner of my screen; I can scan to see what’s going on and quickly decide if I want to check the tweet out further. Retweets are easier in TweetDeck too, and there are TweetDeck apps for your smartphone as well.

7. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in random order for infinity. You’ll be engaged, enlightened, and entertained. Enjoy!


The Influencer Project

21 07 2010

60 speakers in 60 minutes? Yup, about a week ago I attended the shortest marketing conference ever – 60 speakers in 60 minutes discussing how to increase your digital influence. The Influencer Project, presented by ThoughtLead, featured key insights from people who spend lots of time using and thinking about social media. I took a few minutes to write down keywords these influencers used over and over during the conference. I attached a not-too-scientific weighting to each word, based upon number of times used directly and in context. With a little help from wordle, you can see how content, relationships and passion pop out. Kinda important for success in many aspects of life, even your digital influence. Interesting conference… Kinda like speed-dating for marketeers 🙂 I highly recommend a listen in here – it’s an hour well spent.

Time and Space

12 07 2010

When I missed my sister’s phone call, she yelled at me on facebook “ur 2 busy blogging, twittering, fbing…2 p/u the old fashioned phone…” Truth be told, I often prefer online forums over voice conversations: the asynchronicity, the one2many-ness and many2one-ness, the visuals, the links, the networks. A community with subcultures that affect how we interact. Subcultures created by time and space.

Consider differences in the state of technology at the time of adoption. My daughters don’t naturally use the ‘comment’ and ‘like’ features on Facebook because those features didn’t exist at the time they started on FB years ago. Matter of fact, the news feed didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until FB opened up outside schools that those features were added. Go to the wall of 19-22 year old these days and you’ll see one side of a conversation – the other side is on someone else’s wall. Go to my wall and you’ll see interactive conversations among a disparate group of friends, all using the ‘comment’ feature to engage in a conversation. Same technology, adopted over different periods of time, causing major differences in the subculture among users.

And then there’s space. HBR just published a map showing social media usage differences by space, or locale. Internet users in India and China tweet 3x as much as those of us living in the U.S. Some our lower usage can be traced back to the reliability and relatively low cost of our old phone network; we think nothing of just picking up the phone here. But in developing nations, wireless and cellular networks often emerged before – and sometimes instead of – local phone networks. And by the time the Internet was available in many locales, microblogging technology had matured. With less predisposition for the phone, those users turned to the social network.

And then there’s Japan, where social networking is used to communicate among close circles of friends, not to extend those circles. And South Korea, where users approach social media from a gaming perspective. And France, … but you get the picture. While it may be one network, it’s certainly segmented by time and space.

I’m gonna sign off now and go call my sister on the old fashioned phone.

It’s the content, stupid

28 06 2010

Linotype Machine

Not to point out the obvious, but with the low barrier to entry for using social media it’s pretty easy for anyone to say anything to anyone about anything these days. In contrast, my dad was trained as a printer in Ireland, and spent decades here in the U.S. working the night shift to produce the newspapers we relied upon for the news each morning. Reporters hunting down the scoop by day, editors fine-tuning the story in the evening, and my dad toiling through the wee hours setting the type. I loved waking up to the news he brought home each morning in that freshly printed paper.

These mornings I roll over and grab my iPhone off the nightstand. I click one of multiple apps to see what’s happened overnight. I check in on blogs, scan my twitter feed, make sure my facebook friends aren’t having major issues – all before I lift my head from the pillow. It’s over coffee that I turn to traditional media for more news: wsj, theregister, nytimes, … While I trust my friends to offer up their views on just about everything, I want their opinions supplemented by reporters hunting down scoops, backed by intelligent and thoughtful editors working the story.

That’s why I’m so intrigued by the Atlantic’s recent article on Google’s attempt to save traditional media. User generated content is often ad hoc, and it works best for me when supported by a system of professional journalists working the systemic stories.

The Sunday paper best exemplifies the traditional journalistic business model. All that news is paid for by the huge bundle of colorful ads that sit in the center of the folded paper. But in new media, the news doesn’t arrive in one convenient bundle that advertisers can use to push their message. And that one convenient bundle represents the traditional journalistic business model. But it’s not a question of whether we still need professional journalism, it’s a question of how to change the traditional media business model to support that profession.

Google acknowledges that they need the content produced by professionals to sustain the Google business model. And those professionals need to adapt as well to these changing times. The first thing to go will be the print, as more and more journalism goes on-line. That radically changes the cost structure of the news business. The second change is news aggregators, like Google News, directing traffic through content excerpts. And finally, the news will again be supported by ads, not in a bundle this time that falls out of your Sunday paper, but in on-line ads tailored to your interests via clickstream analytics.

So my dad no longer needs to set his linotype (good thing, cuz he retired and is now happy volunteering at a local cancer center), but we do need the journalists to feed content into our news ecosystem.

A marketeer’s dream

21 06 2010

I’ve lived a marketeer’s dream for the past few months. I had a product that everyone loved and an event that everyone was looking forward to attending. I had a community of people who wanted to share. And I was tasked with raising awareness, strengthening the community, extending its reach. In marketing speak that’s basically strengthening the brand, driving retention, and generating more demand. Oh, and here I am living in the age of social media.

The product: a charity that brings happiness into the lives of seriously ill children. The event: a weekend-long bike ride that gives 100% of its donations to that charity. Dan's legThe community: a special group of volunteers, riders, and sponsors connected by a series of stories. Stories about their own children helped by that charity. Stories about friendships made over years of riding. Stories about helping one another through the good times and bad. Stories about fundraising. Stories about training. Stories about life and love. In marketing speak, that’s content the likes of which is rarely seen. Oh and did I mention the community is so dedicated to this charity, a few members even had the logo tattooed on their leg? Now that’s brand affinity!

Here’s where the road meets the Internet. We created an information architecture for this community, using its website for logistics info, using facebook for informal chatter and discussion, twitter for event updates, and an email newsletter and blog to share the stories. We took the online community from zero to several hundred in a couple months. Our riders and volunteers contributed more stories and pics and videos. We extended the event from one weekend to year-long. Because the community is more than the day of the event. Because social media extends the bounds of space and time.

As Seth said so well, you’ve gotta have passion about what you’re marketing. So yup, I’ve lived the marketeer’s dream.

DeSchooling for the Geek in High Heels

12 06 2010

When my daughter started unschooling a few years back, she went through a decompression period called deschooling: “the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment, when the ‘school mindset’ is eroded over time. Deschooling may refer to the time period it takes for children removed from school to adjust to learning in an unstructured environment.” High Heels

I have been deSomethingOrOther-ing for the past few months. Getting a tough acquisition out of my mind; shaking off the bad vibes from a year of layoffs; turning to non-profit work, an executive MBA program, and assistant teaching about IP protection. The smile’s returned to my face, the light to my heart, and the energy to my blog.

I hope in my next life to return as an inventor, a Nobel Prize winner, or a RedSox starting pitcher. But in this life I am satisfied to surround myself with geeks and enjoy my role as a Geek in High Heels. So I’ve moved my Sun posts over here to WordPress, and will continue the journey chronicling my encounters with the geekiness around us.

P.S. Sun provided a license option for content originally posted on This content was licensed to both Sun and the blog author, which allows for legal re-posts.

Smiling Communities

27 05 2009


Next Monday we are sponsoring our CommunityOne West event, where developers, technologists and students come together to share experiences about open platforms, tools and services. The day is stuffed with over 70 technical sessions, over 40 lightning talks and some hands-on labs. Cloud, web, social media, mobile, operating systems and platforms, and more. And after all that, there are some rocking parties in the evening to light up everyone’s smiles – like the one last year where I tried hitting a piñata blindfolded.

But an event does not make a community – Monday is not the beginning or the end of this technical community. CommunityOne simply provides a time and place for community members to meet and strengthen the work they do together all year round. The work that goes on in community forums on-line (like Sun Developer Network), in local events (like Sun Tech Days), and in the many blogs, tweets, skype-facilitated meetings, and so on and so on, round-the-world, round-the-clock, year-in and year-out.

This past weekend I had the privilege to join a different community at their annual event: the AngelRide. Where over 400 riders and volunteers come together with a common goal: to fund a hospital outreach program that brings joy into the lives of children with cancer. The outreach program is an extension of the Hole in The Wall Gang Camps – a wonderful set of camps around the country for youngsters with cancer to have some fun, to find some peace, and to feed the spirit they need to face their cancer battles. What I found this weekend was a strong, loving, and dedicated community of people who work year round to ensure the AngelRide logistics are seamless, to offer a web site and pictures community members can use to communicate their mission, to sweat and train hard so that the 135 miles of Connecticut hills don’t look so impossibly daunting, to deliver to the ultimate goal – raising the most money to makes the kids lives easier.

While this past weekend’s AngelRide was a beautiful event, the true beauty could be found in the smiles on the Angel rider’s and volunteer’s faces… Because the community once again raised funds for an outreach program that puts smiles on kids faces… And that’s over 14000 kids the AngelRide has smiled upon so far.

Smiles All Around Fred! Smiling Volunteers