What I want in a blogging platform

I’ve had a self-hosted WordPress blog at dbthomas.com for several years, because I wanted to have control over my content for the long haul, and because, frankly, I thought as someone working in social media, it imparts at least a little bit of geek cred. These days I find myself using Facebook more than anything, along with a new fascination with Pinterest and a lingering obsession with Instagram. I also find myself coming across a lot of excellent and interesting Tumblr blogs. In fact, when I designed this blog on the Thesis framework, I intentionally wanted it to have attributes of a Tumblr blog. I wanted to be able to post quick photos and thoughts, and share images and videos. I suppose I could do that, but I seldom do, except for the Daddyblog posts. It just occurred to me this morning what’s missing: When I go to a Tumblr blog or a Pinterest board or an Instagram photo, I see items that people have shared from other sources, and shared items from people in that network I haven’t yet discovered. Often that leads me to those places and those people, and I find a new source I want to […]

How to survive as a marketing or communications professional in 2012

I’m a little frustrated right now. Over the last several years, quite a few people have asked me for advice about getting into social media. Some of them are good friends, and a lot of them are people with a professional communications or marketing background. My advice has been the same for the last several years: if you’re a professional communicator or marketer, you must understand and use social media if you want to stay relevant in your profession. Some of them have heeded that advice. Some of them haven’t. And that’s fine. I have no problem with people ignoring my advice. I am far from always right. Just take a look at my resume. Or ask The Mrs. Here’s why I’m frustrated: if some of those people had taken my advice when I gave it to them, I would be hiring them right now. I need to find smart, resourceful people who understand the enterprise business world, and also understand how social media fits into it. Those people are few and far between, and the really good ones have really good jobs. The people I’m thinking of as I write this post have all of the requisite skills I […]

A day in the life, via Twitter

Last week, Jamie Sandford began the day with what I’ll call a “metatweet.” I responded. It took off. Here’s how our conversation evolved throughout the course of the day: @jsandford: <something about coffee> @davidbthomas: <something about Mondays> @jsandford: <inspirational way-too-much vim and vigor tackling-the-week tweet> @davidbthomas: <excessive use of motivational hashtags> @jsandford: <ending of day tweet> @davidbthomas: <expressing an interest in a particular foodstuff and/or alcoholic beverage> @jsandford: <general agreement and/or countering with alternative item which is more complex or uses rarer ingredients> @davidbthomas: <enthusiastic agreement, onomatopoeia representing consumption of said foodstuff> @jsandford: <comment related to upcoming TV show, hashtagged> @davidbthomas: <parenting anecdote> @jsandford: <emphatic sport event comment!> @davidbthomas: <support for the opposing team expressed as ridicule of your character> @jsandford: <denigration of your team based on menial historical statistic relating to prior triumph in the series> @davidbthomas: <rejection of the importance of your quoted statistic, followed by equally trivial statistic from earlier contest> @jsandford: <commentary on the difficult nature of putting small descendants to bed and/or humorous pre-slumber saying>

Why Google+ will replace ice cream

Disclosure: Post title is fatuous linkbait. I was on vacation last week when Google+ happened. I kept my email inbox in pretty good shape when I was away, but when I returned I felt like I was a week behind on creating circles and +1’ing and learning all the new stuff. Some folks dove in head first. Chris Brogan, for instance, is all over Google+ and has even replaced his Facebook icon with a Google+ logo with the phrase, “I have moved,” and unless I’m missing something, he’s shut down his personal Facebook wall. He really has moved. I’ve seen lots of useful how-to articles, and lots of posts from people pondering the significance of Google+ for social media in general, business in particular and, inevitably, whether or not Google+ will replace Facebook. That’s a big, thorny question. So I’m going to ignore it. I’ve joined quite a few new social networks over the last decade and a half, starting with a (pre-WWW) forum on the old Delphi network (a competitor of AOL, Prodigy and CompuServe) called “The UK American Connection.” It consisted mostly of Yanks asking Brits questions like, “I watched Cracker last night. What the hell does ‘naff’ […]

Promoting your local business through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube

In my last post I mentioned I had sent a friend a long email in answer to her questions about using social media to promote her orthodontia practice. I talked about the difference between spamming your friends and promoting your business. In the second part of the email, I gave her some specific tips for integrating all the social media channels. Here’s a quick blueprint for what I would do if I were starting a small, service-oriented local business: Try to give your business a unique name that you can own in Google search results, that has the URL available, that you can get as a user name on Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. All of that will make you more searchable. Think about how people might be searching Google to find an orthodontist. There’s a white truck I’ve seen driving around town. On one side it says chapelhillelectrician.com. On the other, carrboroelectrician.com. There’s a small business owner who understands search engine optimization. Once you’ve picked a business name that you think you can own: 1. Buy the URL from someplace like GoDaddy or Network Solutions. Once you buy the URL, you can point it wherever you want, like to a […]

Your name should be your Twitter handle

I have a friend and colleague who is debating whether or not to change her Twitter handle. Right now she’s @Postgrad. She likes the name. She’s gotten attached to it. She feels it says something about her. I think she should change it to her name, Meg Crawford, or some available variation. Why? Because that way people will know what her name is. I follow more than 1,100 people on Twitter. Some use their names, some use something else. I just heard @unmarketing on Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation podcast this morning. I follow him on Twitter and he shares great information. He has more than 57,000 Twitter followers. I have no idea what his name is. Clearly his Twitter strategy is working for him, and he may have reasons for wanting to brand “Unmarketing” instead of his name. Is @Mashable really Pete Cashmore, or is it Mashable, the online tech news site? We already know that @GuyKawasaki isn’t just Guy Kawasaki, it’s a network of people that share information for, essentially, the Guy Kawasaki brand. I met Wayne Sutton close to two years ago. I never had a moment’s trouble remembering Wayne’s name, and that’s no mean feat […]

Little lies we tell our customers

I’m flying home from Ragan Communications’ excellent Social Media Summit, held at Cisco’s HQ in San Jose. It was my first trip to Silicon Valley, and it was both impressive and a little disorienting to see all the well-known company names. Of course I knew that eBay must have a physical presence, but there’s still something slightly odd about seeing the physical manifestation of something that has such a large presence on the Web. It was a bit like the time recently that I saw Elizabeth Edwards in the snack bar of our local Target. Yes, she’s famous and presumably still wealthy, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t shop, or eat. Even I’m a little confused by that simile. As I always do immediately after a conference, I’m running nearly everything through my newly-energized social media filter. So my ears perked up when I heard the flight attendant say, “We’ll do everything we can to make your flight as enjoyable as possible.” Really? How about a foot massage? What would happen if they said, “Folks, there’s a whole lot of you and only two of us. If you need something special, feel free to ask, but we probably won’t be […]

Give me a reason to give you my information

There’s a Southern States store not too far from our house, a slightly anomalous reminder that Carrboro isn’t exclusively a haven of tattooed hipsters and Prius-driving professors. We go there to buy cat food and litter, and plants and planters in the Spring. I just got back and the woman parked next to me was wearing riding boots, so I guess she was there for oats or Pony Chow or whatever horses eat. They generally have very helpful customer service and friendly staff. But there’s one thing that always bothers me about going there. When you go to check out, the first thing they ask you for is your phone number. The nice young woman who checked me out today asked, “Is your phone number in our system?” The woman at the next register applies a different approach. She barked “Phone number?” at her customer. (I’ve gone through her line before.) Generally when they ask I say, “No, thank you,” and they leave it at that. I find it a bit intrusive and time-wasting, but here’s the main thing: I’ve been shopping at that store for maybe 20 years, and not once has anyone even tried to explain to me […]