DAVID B. THOMAS

Twitter list Wordle

This Wordle was created from the names of the Twitter lists I’m on, following a suggestion by Jay Baer, and using the Twitter List Converter. Image from http://www.wordle.net/

Developing your social media muscle

I wrote a lot of poetry in college. (Don’t worry, that was pre-web so I have no links to subject you to). When I was doing it regularly, thoughts would come to me in poetic terms, or a snippet of conversation would spur an idea. The more I wrote, the more that happened. My love of photography also began in college, and carried through to a job as a professional photographer for The Chapel Hill (N.C.) News (which nearly killed my love of photography, but that’s a different story). The more photos I took, the more I saw things in photographic terms. My eyes sought out angles and patterns and juxtapositions and I would mentally compose the photo before I ever brought the camera to my eye. The same principle holds true in social media. The more you participate, the easier it gets. I’ve been referring to it as “developing your social media muscle.” Blogging isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s downright difficult to come up with an idea worth sharing, find the time to write it, find a photo to illustrate the post and do all the little logistical things that go along with it. But you know what? The […]

Twitterary aspirations

This morning The Mrs and I took The Boy to the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (as I was required to write it when I was a reporter) for the North Carolina Literary Festival. The two of them went to listen to children’s book authors and I went to a panel called “Tweeting: A New Form of Writing.” The panelists were Paul Jones, Mur Lafferty and Wayne Sutton. (Clearly they did not agree on a dress code.) Over the last year or so I’ve been in a lot of conversations about Twitter, as well as listening to panel discussions and webcasts about it. But to date I had not been to any Twitter discussions where poets ask panelists questions about accessing their unconscious. It was a different world, and I liked being there. Those of us who are trying to incorporate social media into marketing communications have to keep reminding ourselves, as Wayne reminded me, that social media is about community and conversation. That can be a hard message to spread through any enterprise that’s more used to delivering “messaging” than making connections. But forget about marketing for a minute. As Wayne pointed out, tweeting helps you […]

I’m feeling a little too connected

Six months or so ago I created a FriendFeed account, because lots of people were saying it was better than Twitter. I set it up to pull in all my accounts, including my Netflix queue (why?), then pretty much left it alone. Earlier this week I set up a Posterous account, linked it to all my other accounts and set up all the different email addresses I could use to send posts to whatever combination of accounts I could imagine (Flickr+Blogger+Facebook, Twitter+Wordpress, etc.). Then I realized I don’t really need to do that. This morning I sent an @ reply on Twitter to Louis Gray, who I follow but don’t actually know. It was just a quick joke in response to something he’d said. I got home tonight and saw in my Gmail account a message from him, via Friendfeed, asking if I was both David and Angela. What? I followed the link to FriendFeed where my tweets are showing up in someone else’s stream. After an hour of digging around, I think I figured it out. It’s a feed set up by someone I know to pull in SAS-related tweets around our annual user conference. But if you look […]

Five steps for getting started on Twitter

I got a lot of positive comments on my Four Step Plan for Getting Started in Social Media. It reminded me that people are at all different levels of knowledge and interest in social media. When you spend all day thinking about it and using it, it’s easy to forget that lots of people still want the basics. So, here are some basic steps for getting started on Twitter: What Twitter is good for • Many of the advantages of blogging in a short, quick format. • You can support your other communications channels and activities by promoting them on Twitter. • Hashtags allow you to gain a presence in and around events, conferences and issues. • Twitter search can show you who’s talking about what. • It’s still a relatively small community in many professions, allowing you to make connections. What Twitter is not good for • Twitter is a tool, not a strategy. • You have to be interesting to get followers; it’s not the place for heavy-handed sales pitches. • It’s a firehose, and it’s getting worse. You need filtering tools to find the value (TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Hootsuite). Getting started on Twitter • Create an account, […]

Is social media the new CB radio? 10-4 and negatory.

When I was 11 years old in 1976, I wanted nothing more than a CB radio. The song “Convoy” had come out and everybody was talking about them. I was sure a CB radio was the coolest thing in the world. By wheedling and cajoling and combining Christmas and birthday presents I managed to get my parents to buy me one – a Radio Shack CB walkie talkie, which I liked because it looked like something GI Joe carried. Also, being 11, I did not have a car in which to install one. I took it out of the box, put in the batteries, turned it on… and almost immediately realized I had nothing in common with truckers. I think I got tired of it in about a week. As did many people who bought a CB that year, which explains its persistence as a shorthand reference for fads. But the fact that I stopped pestering truckers for smokey reports I did not need did not affect the CB radio’s usefulness to them (in fact I’m sure it enhanced it). They kept on sharing information about road conditions and weather and speed traps, using it to connect with friends and […]

What three days with a netbook have taught me about Twitter

Don’t bother spending a lot of time and effort on a cool Twitter background. People viewing via a netbook or mobile device either can’t see it, or it’s compressed. If you’re going to make one, look at the design on a small monitor to see what actually shows up. And don’t forget your profile info in Twitter itself. That’s the first thing I look at when I’m trying to decide whether or not to follow someone (especially on this small screen that requires me to take my fingers off their hard-won position on the tiny little home row and scroll down to be able to see much of anything.) That info also shows up when you mouse over a Twitter username in your follower list, so that can be just as valuable, if not more, than what you put in the sidebar of a background. Take a look at your photo, too. People may well be looking at that on a tiny screen. Is your photo tight enough that people can make out your face? How will it look if someone is viewing it on a mobile device and it’s roughly a centimeter square? I’ve also learned that you should […]

SAS Global Forum showcases the value of social media for events

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog I’ve been back from our annual user conference, SAS Global Forum, for three weeks but I’m still amazed at what I saw. Even in this economy more than 3,300 dedicated SAS users came together to learn from each other. It was my first time attending the event, and one of the most remarkable professional experiences I’ve had. This year’s event was a test bed for a number of social media activities as well, and we learned a lot. Here are some highlights. The Crowdvine networking site set up for the event drew more than 200 members, which is a great base to build on. The Netvibes aggregator page brought together all the social media assets (blogs, blog searches, Twitter searches, video, photos, etc.) into one place and received positive comments from visitors. The SAS Global Forum blog at blogs.sas.com was extremely active, with 76 posts as I write this. The SAS video team put in their usual hard work chronicling the event, which also spurred us to create a SAS presence on Flickr, which I look forward to helping develop. I want to single out Twitter as well, since […]

Hard candy shell not as hard as you might think

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog So Skittles threw in the towel. They didn’t have the stomach for profanities and racial slurs showing up on their “homepage,” which they had given over to a Twitter search page showing real-time results for “Skittles.” When I wrote about this yesterday, I was thinking of it as a bold move, and even with all the potential pitfalls it would probably still pay off for Skittles in terms of attention. I wasn’t surprised to see how the public played with the shiny new toy Skittles handed to them. What does surprise me, though, is that Skittles seems to have been surprised. Didn’t they know this was going to happen? They must have had hours and hours of internal debate about the wisdom of this move. I’m reminded of the movie War Games, where the computer goes haywire at the end and the screen scrolls the list of all the possible conflicts it is programmed to consider, like “USSR first strike” and “Albanian decoy” and “Canadian thrust.” In the Skittles war room, didn’t they have a big board with “racist hijack” and “profanity blitzkrieg”? I’m wondering, based on a not-inconsiderable […]

Six reasons I didn’t follow you back on Twitter

Originally published on Conversations & Connections, my SAS social media blog I’m certainly not the first person to give reasons why I choose not to follow people on Twitter, but there are a few Twitter habits (twabits?) that particularly annoy (twannoy?) me, in addition to the habit of making up new words by tacking a "tw" on the front (tweologizing?). 1. You aren’t using your real name. This one bugs me in all social media channels. I know it’s not always possible to get your name as a user name (believe me, David B. Thomas, I know it can be hard to get common names), but you can at least use some variation of a real name. There are very few people I follow who use an alias or nom de twit, and the ones I do at least are very clear in their profiles who they are. In short, I want to follow real people. 2. You don’t have a picture of yourself. And it’s not just that you don’t have a photo at all. I want to see a picture of you, not your pet. And as much as I love babies, I’ll go to your Flickr page […]