Bring Social Media Tourism 2013 to Indianapolis (#SoMeT13US)

This is a little embarrassing. Indianapolis is currently ranked 8th in the Elite Eight in the Social Media Tourism 2013 conference competition.

SoMeT is a creation of Think! Social Media, a digital agency in the tourism marketing world. This is the fourth year of SoMeT, and they are selecting the host city based on a March Madness style bracket system. And Indianapolis has a real chance of winning this, but not if we keep playing the way we did!

To get into the Elite Eight, we barely squeaked into the competition, finishing in 8th with 657 votes. Seventh place Grand Rapids, MI had 735 votes.

Seriously? Grand Rapids?! I don’t even think there are 735 people in Grand Rapids, are there?

Okay, a quick check on Google shows there are roughly 190,000 people in Grand Rapids. But that’s less than one-fourth the size of Indianapolis, and we got out muscled. That’s like IU getting beat by Davidson College at, well, anything.

Here’s how the final votes went down:
1. Huntsville, AL – 2,361
2. Missoula, MT – 1,606
3. Milwaukee, WI – 1,328
4. Cleveland, OH – 1,231
5. St. Pete/Clearwater, FL – 882
6. Branson, MO – 799
7. Grand Rapids, MI – 735
8. Indianapolis, IN – 657

Social Media Tourism Bracket

Seriously? We got 8th?! I swear, if I had a folding chair, I’d hurl it.

Because of our 8th place finish, we face off against #1 seed, Huntsville, AL (183,00 people?! COME ON!) on Thursday, March 21 from 10 am to 10 pm. Whichever city gets the most votes within that 12 hour period goes on to the Final Four. The winners of that bracket face off against each other, and the final winner will play host to SoMeT13 in November.

As the biggest city in the competition, we should not be in last place with the voting. We should be hammering the competition by sheer size alone. We need our people to carry the city. We need you to step up, make the plays, and get the job done.

On Thursday, March 21, please pay attention to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. And when you get the call to vote, we need you to click the link, click the photo, and help bring this country’s tourism professionals home to Indianapolis.

We’re Indianapolis, dammit! Let’s show them how this game is played.

The Elite Eight Tournament Times are as follows:

  • Monday, March 18 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #3 Milwaukee, WI v #6 Branson, MO
  • Tuesday, March 19 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #4 Cleveland, OH v #5 St. Pete/Clearwater, FL
  • Wednesday, March 20 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #2 Missoula, MT v #7 Grand Rapids, MI
  • Thursday, March 21 – 10:00am to 10:00pm Eastern Time – #1 Huntsville, AL #8 Indianapolis, IN

CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR INDIANAPOLIS!

Five Social Media Jokes That Make Me Want to Poke You In The Eye

Please stop making these social media jokes

Some days, I believe anyone can make up their own clever jokes and make the world laugh.

Other days, I weep for humanity.

Humor is a dangerous thing in the hands of people who don’t know what they’re doing. And apparently, that’s a lot of people, especially when it comes to making jokes about current events.

They deliver the line — which, believe me, I’ve heard hundreds of times before — with an expectant grin like they’ve said something hysterical, and they’re waiting for me to laugh.

(Pro tip: If you tell a joke, never use the “TA DA!” face, like you’re pleased with yourself, or are in a recorded-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience sitcom. Act like what you said was not a joke, so that when it bombs, you can continue on like nothing awkward just happened.)

So if you’re making these social media jokes, stop it. Just stop it.

  • Twitterererer: Said with a confused look on the person’s face, like they don’t quite get it or aren’t really sure what to call people who use Twitter. They act like they’re so unfamiliar with the word — even after three solid years of it being a pop culture mainstay even the Amish are aware of — they’re not sure how many “er” syllables there actually are. They’ll go on for five minutes if you let them. Because nothing is funnier than feigned confusion and stupidity.
  • Calling Twitter Users “Twits”: “But people who use social media aren’t actually called. . . oooh, I get it. Ha ha ha, that’s so FUNNY! ‘Twit’ is a name for a stupid person, and you’re saying people who use Twitter are stupid.” Whatever. People who say this think “working hard or hardly working?” is also funny.
  • Saying “Hashtag-__________” in regular conversation: As in hashtag-that’s-funny or hashtag-hilarious. Seriously, hashtag-shut-the-hell-up. I hate it when people use text speak in real life (although I really do like The Instagram Song, below), and I say “O! M! G!” only when I want to make fun of someone for doing it.
  • “Smart phone? No, I just have a regular old dumb phone.”: When people say this, I want to say something I learned in my years of woodworking: “There are no bad tools, only bad carpenters.”
  • “I don’t want to know when people are going to the bathroom:” I don’t know what kind of people you hang out with, but no one I know ever discusses their bathroom habits in polite conversation, let alone broadcasts it to the entire Internet. Maybe you need to hang out with a better class of people. Also, I don’t think anyone anywhere has ever said this ever. But if you think they have, by all means, show me. Dive into the social media deep end, find a tweet where someone said they just went poo, print it out, and show it to me.

 

App.net Could Be a Twitter Killer

It could be the Twitter killer.

App.net, the open-source Twitter competitor, could be the thing that defeats and replaces Twitter, at least for those people who are starting to look at Twitter the same way a married couple begins to realize that the honeymoon ended 10 years ago.

We all assumed — at least those of us who have been on Twitter for a few years — that Twitter had the same do-no-evil attitude that Google did. That they were going to be cool.

But over the last 12 months, the sheen has come off and what were once cute little quirks have become full-blown annoyances.App.net screenshot

  • Twitter bought Posterous for an talent acquisition, not a technology one. Expect your Posterous blog to go away one day.
  • They bought TweetDeck, and we all feared they were going to kill it, but instead, they made it suck.
  • Twitter has been shutting out third-party app and api developers, presumably to bring things in better alignment with their brand.
  • Twitter had a great relationship with Google where you could search for real-time tweets. That relationship was not renewed when it ended. Sort of like an actor whose contract isn’t renewed for the upcoming season.
  • They blocked off Instagram access, meaning you can’t find your Twitter friends on the photo sharing too.
  • Most recently, Twitter shut down the account of a British journalist who was critical of NBC’s crappy Olympic coverage. It was only after a huge outcry that they turned it back on.

Twitter keeps turning more and more into Facebook every day. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Entrepreneur Dalton Caldwell, a rock star prodigy among the A-list tech entrepreneurs, told ReadWriteWeb that these are the “classic symptoms of an online media company failing to fly. ‘Media companies are starving,’ Caldwell says, ‘and that’s why they do crazy things.'”

So I was very excited to hear about App.net (app dot net) as a possible new Twitter alternative.

The best part? It costs 50 bucks a year to use.

50 bucks?! But Twitter is free!

Yes, Twitter is free. Yes, Twitter has more than 500 million accounts on it, and is the most widely accepted microblog on the planet.

But here’s what App.net has that Twitter does not.

  • It’s decentralized. That means no one person can control it or make unilateral decisions that piss everyone off. It’s like WordPress or Firefox.
  • It’s open-source, which means developers can make their own apps work with it any way they want.
  • It’s ad free. So no sponsored tweets. (I don’t find it to be such a big deal on Twitter, but I’m also willing to pay for ad-free.)
  • 50 bucks will keep the spammers away.
  • There will only be serious users of the tool. Imagine, no spam, no porn, no MLMers showing you how to make money in your spare time.

The problem is, these guys need $500,000 in order to launch. You pledge your $50 (or $100 for developers or $1,000, if you’re so inclined), and Caldwell will launch the app. But there are 4 days left — you have until next Monday — and App.net is at $295,500 as of this moment.

If you’re tired of Twitter and wish there was an alternative, check out App.net. If you like what you see, pledge your $50, send Dalton (@DaltonC) a tweet (yes, I’m aware of the irony of that), and once you’re in, start communicating. I’ll be at the Blog Indiana conference for the next two days, sharing what I learn on Twitter, but also on App.net.

Hope to see you there.

Background reading on App.net

Living with a Breakup: Twitter and LinkedIn Are Splitting Up

It was shocking news that had the social media world gasping, hands over their mouths, “They’re splitting up! They’re getting a divorce!” We couldn’t believe it. The unlikely couple who was going to make it against all odds didn’t make it.

Twitter and LinkedIn are splitting up.

Twitter plus LinkedIn equals frowny face

Do you think the breakup note took fewer than 140 characters?

I don’t know if it was the difference in size. I don’t know if it’s because LinkedIn belongs to that crazy cult, and forced Twitter to join. I don’t know if it’s because LinkedIn embarrassed itself bouncing up and down on Oprah’s couch.

Whatever the cause, they’re no longer together. I first heard about the breakup when LinkedIn sent an email to its friends:

LinkedIn and Twitter have worked together since 2009 to enable you to share your professional conversations on both platforms. Twitter recently evolved its strategy and this will result in a change to the way Tweets appear in third-party applications. Starting today Tweets will no longer be displayed on LinkedIn.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!

But just like most celebrity breakups, this only affects a very few of us. And should affect even fewer than it did.

I’ve never been a big fan of automatically mixing social media streams (see Six Reasons You Should NOT Feed Your Twitter Stream Into Your Facebook Stream, so the automatic mixing of Twitter and LinkedIn is not a good idea.

People don’t want to read half of a conversation; a lot of LinkedIn users may not be on Twitter, so they don’t get @replies and #hashtags; and, your Twitter and LinkedIn audiences may be completely different, and require a different tone and personality.

“But I Need to Have My Twitter and LinkedIn Stream Mixed!”

Okay, okay, if you’re one of those special few who needs to cross the streams (*eyeroll*),
Jim Dougherty has a great idea of how to post your tweets to LinkedIn. Jim suggests using If This, Then That or ifttt.com.

“If This, Then That” is a logical construction I remember from my days as a Philosophy major, marking this as the first time in 23 years that I have been able to use my degree in a professional capacity. Basically, it means “If X happens, then Y must occur.”

  • If I am hungry, then I will eat.
  • If my car gets dirty, then I will wash it.
  • If Obamacare is upheld by the Supreme Court, then a lot of angry conservatives will move to Canada to flee socialized medicine.

If you insist on posting all of your tweets to LinkedIn, then you can use the When I tweet, post to LinkedIn recipe. This will push every single tweet you send, including the Instagram photos of your feet, into your LinkedIn stream.

Of course, you can also use an application like TweetDeck (the old TweetDeck, before Twitter bought it and made it “better”), HootSuite, Buffer App, or even Argyle Social.

I don’t recommend that you share every single Tweet with Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s too much information, it doesn’t allow you to be yourself on Twitter, and may even stifle your creativity and personality if you think you have to write tweets that are appropriate for a business setting.

Instead, either use a tool that allows you to share only when you want to — TweetDeck, HootSuite, etc. — or hop over to LinkedIn, write your status updates there only when they’re appropriate and needed.

One More Reminder Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Eggs in Facebook’s Basket

Michael Koploy, an ERP analyst for SoftwareAdvice.com, wrote an interesting article — Adding a Pinterest-Twist to Fix Facebook Commerce — about why companies shouldn’t put a lot of effort into their Facebook pages, like setting up an ecommerce site (or as Koploy calls it, an F-commerce site — ‘F’ for Facebook).Abandoned storefront in Coles County, Illinois

Many experts have weighed-in on why Facebook storefronts are often unsuccessful. A large part of it simply boils down to the fact that Facebook isn’t an e-commerce site. This results in a contextual disconnect.

“Most people don’t go to Facebook wanting to purchase something,” says Josh Davis, social media strategist at ITFO Communications and blogger at LL Social. Davis believes that retailers were initially excited by the advertising potential, but are now realizing shopping-intent isn’t there.

In short, the context for F-commerce is wrong. Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru accurately likened F-commerce to “trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

Facebook’s core focus is clearly stated on its login page: “Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.” Facebook is not about shopping. And it’s not about retailers. But Facebook is good for connecting people to each other.

Last week, we discussed why it’s a bad idea for companies to quit blogging to go with Facebook: Facebook owns the channel, you don’t. When they change their rules and their interface, you’re screwed. When you change your blog, you can decide what, where, when, and how.

But companies like Gamestop, J.C. Penny, and Nordstrom all pulled their F-commerce efforts after failing to receive any kind of pay off. And that’s just a year after investors swore up and down that F-commerce was going to put the hurt on online retail giant Amazon.com.

I hate predicting failure of new ventures, and pointing my finger and going “neener neener” at people who tried something and failed (unless they’re complete a-holes; then they deserve it). But I’m not surprised, and am rather pleased, that these companies got smart and cut their F-commerce efforts before they lost their shirts.

The big surprise they would have had — and it’s the same damn surprise that businesses who put a lot of money and effort into Facebook always get — is that one day, Facebook will decide, “we don’t want you to have X on your page any more, so we’re going to ‘improve’ the network.”

They did it with FBML in 2010 (Facebook Markup Language, which companies spent hundreds and thousands of dollars on to design these gorgeous sites). They did it with Groups, after begging organizations, companies, and loose collectives to spend all their time and effort to get people to join. And they did it with the non-Timeline iFrame pages, after people spent hundreds and thousands of dollars to recover from the whole FBML fracas.

Orangutan feet

Orangutan feet. I don't know what orangutans read for inspiration.

Mark my words, it will happen again within the next 12 – 18 months. Someone’s going to spend thousands of dollars, get their page looking all pretty and just the way they want it, and WHAM! Facebook will change it yet again.

Facebook, like Koploy reminded us, is a place to connect. It’s a place where friends gather. We don’t hang out with our friends at the bar to buy stuff. Companies that are doing F-commerce need to pull out before they get the big F-U.

Put your money into improving the SEO of your ecommerce site, doing more social media marketing, and using Facebook for what it’s intended for: posting Instagram pictures of your feet and gag-inducing GIFs of your favorite inspirational sayings typically found inside the doors of high school lockers.

Photo credit: Abandoned storefrontColes County Tales (Flickr, Creative Commons)
Orangutan feet Macinate (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Bad Idea: Companies Quit Blogging to Go With Facebook

The number of companies that maintain blogs dropped by nearly 25% from 2010 to 2011.

That’s not a very smart move.

But it’s a growing trend. According to an article in USA Today, more companies quit blogging, go with Facebook instead, the percentage of companies on Inc. magazine’s fastest growing 500 dropped from 50% in 2010 to 37% in 2011. And only 23% of Fortune 500 companies had a blog in 2011.

Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, the UMass Dartmouth professor who wrote the report, and world-class social media academic, told USA Today that blogging may not be the panacea that businesses thought it would be.

“Blogging requires more investment. You need content regularly. And you need to think about the risk of blogging, accepting comments, liability issues, defamation,” she said.

The problem is, the companies are taking their energy and efforts to Facebook instead. That’s not a dumb strategy. After all, at 800 million+ users, you have to fish where the fish are. And there’s a whole lot of fish on Facebook. [Read more…]

Employers Should NEVER Be Allowed to Ask for Facebook Passwords

This whole “employers asking for job candidate Facebook passwords” thing is complete bullshit.

Not only is it an infringement of personal privacy, it’s unconscionable that they would make a person’s private life part of that hiring decision.

In some cases, employers are even asking current employees for their Facebook passwords as a condition of their continued employment. It was bad enough when they required employees to friend someone from the company, now they’re demanding total access to the things you wanted to keep hidden from everyone but close family.Doorway to the International Spy Museum, Washington DC

That’s not to say that a person who is wildly inappropriate or shows poor decision making skills should still be hired — if you’re stupid enough to post your half-nude keg stand photos for the entire world to see, maybe you don’t deserve that job as a kindergarten teacher — but if you’re smart enough to keep it private, or better yet, not to put yourself in that situation in the first place, then employers shouldn’t be snooping around.

Employers are free to Google a potential candidate to see what they can find, for the same reason. If you put your stuff online online, you should be willing to stand behind it. And if you wish you had never put it out there, there are ways to hide it. Or at least make sure it’s not seen by people who think a YouTube video montage of you yelling at children and puppies makes you a horrible person.

But as far as I’m concerned, Facebook is like your house with a giant picture window. You would never parade naked in front of the open window, but you have some things that you do that you would prefer to keep private and personal. Those are the things you keep in your desk, in a closet, or under the bed.

Yet, employers asking for Facebook passwords are basically asking for the key to your house so they can root through your drawers, read your diary, flip through family photo albums, look at your bank and credit card statements. They want to see what they can find, to determine whether they should hire you in the first place, or let you keep your job. They don’t have any reason for this search. They don’t think there’s anything incriminating to find, or have any evidence that you’ve done anything wrong. They just want to see if there is.

You would never let the police put a speed tracking device on your car to tell them when you speed. You wouldn’t let them come into your house uninvited for a quick peek. Why would you give employers the open opportunity to waltz in whenever they’d like, to see if there’s anything they maybe ought to be concerned about?

Don’t give me this “if you haven’t done anything wrong, you should have nothing to fear” bullshit either. I haven’t done anything wrong, and yet I’m not going to let anyone into my life, house, or Facebook account to snoop around in the hopes they can find something incriminating.

I’ll admit that there may be some sensitive jobs that require a background check. But the thoroughness of this type of probing make Facebook snooping look like a quick drive-by glance through your front window at 30 miles an hour.

I have not met a single individual who supports this. At least no one who is facing the fear and desperation of unemployment, or the desire to keep their job. Nor anyone whose job it is to professionally argue that Facebook snooping should be allowed. If anyone thinks it’s okay to give your employer unfettered access into your personal life in order to get/keep your job, let me know.

But if you, as an employer, are going to snoop around my personal Facebook account, then by all means, let me snoop around yours. Give me your password, and I’ll poke and prod at my leisure. Maybe I won’t find anything salacious, but do you really want someone poking around to see all your private messages and the photos that you marked “friends only?”

We still have a relatively fragile economy, and people have been unemployed for months, or face a devastating financial loss because of new unemployment. For employers to dangle the golden carrot of survival in front of a candidate in exchange for the ability to snoop into a person’s private life are slimy, underhanded, and extremely unethical. There is no earthly reason, short of working for a federal agency where you’re allowed to carry a gun or know state secrets, that employers should be allowed to become electronic voyeurs into someone’s non-work life.

Companies that do so face the threat of lawsuits from disqualified job candidates, loss of corporate Facebook accounts, and possible legal action as Congress and several states seek to make this against the law.

Photo credit: Tony Fischer Photography (Flickr)