I’m a bit hungry, even as I write this post. It’s 11:00, and all I’ve had this morning is coffee, no real breakfast. But a few steps away is a fridge with plenty of food. I’ve been, at times in my life, flat broke, struggling to pay bills, worried about finances. There were times when I clipped coupons, ate tinned soup or boxed macaroni & cheese because it was a really cheap meal. But I’ve never experienced the kind of hunger that comes with true poverty. For that, I am thankful. And so today, I’m lending my support to a campaign aimed at providing food to those who have not been so fortunate.
The Pledge to End Hunger was designed to both provide meals and help shine a light on the very real problem of childhood hunger by asking concerned individuals to be a part of the solution. By visiting the website and pledging your support (to donate, volunteer, or just help spread the word), you can provide 140 meals (donated by Tyson).
Find out more, take the pledge, write a blog post, send a tweet or an email, help Tyson make this campaign a success, so that lots of others like it will follow.
I’ve talked about what a great tool TweetDeck is in my previous posts about Twitter (Twitter Tips for Newbies, Twitter Stage Two, and Advanced Twitter). Clearly, I’m a big fan. So when I met TweetDeck founder and developer Iain Dodsworth at the London Social Media Cafe (also known as Tuttle) in early January, I felt a bit like a groupie meeting my favourite rock star.
I caught up with Iain again yesterday at Tuttle, and he gave me a quick overview of some of the new TweetDeck features I’d missed in the latest update. So I thought it might be helpful to share them here, in case anyone else missed them too.
First, for anyone who is on Twitter but not yet using TweetDeck, stop reading right now and download it. If all you know of Twitter is the Twitter.com interface, you’re depriving yourself and stunting your own Twitter development. TweetDeck transforms the Twitter experience from a series of unrelated tweets to real conversations. It makes everything easier and more intuitive, adds additional features, and makes it possible to manage larger following/follower numbers without being overwhelmed. Okay, enough evangelizing, I’ll move on to the newest cool features. I’m just going to highlight the ones I find especially useful to me, but you can get a complete overview (including a how-to video) on the TweetDeck blog (you can also find the video here).
New “Other Actions”
Most of the new features are accessed via a new icon for Other Actions, which can be found in the spot previously used by the Favourites icon. Hover your cursor over the photo/avatar box on any tweet, and it’s the icon in the lower right corner. Click the icon and a box appears with a list of functions you can do right there.
Translate Outgoing Tweets
You can translate a tweet you have just typed into any of about 40 languages. Just click on the icon that looks like a conversation bubble, located next to the hashtag icon at the lower right of the tweet box, then next to it click the tiny arrow, which opens up the list of languages. When you select one, it will translate your tweet. I’ve tested it in several languages and asked native speakers to tell me if they can understand my tweet, and in every case, the answer is yes, but it’s not perfect grammatically. That’s good enough for me. I’m not even perfect in my own language.
Two new features make it easier to use hashtags:
Auto-complete for IDs
This feature is really useful if you want to send a direct message or @ message and can’t remember the exact ID. As soon as you type either a “d” plus a space or the @ symbol, an auto-complete box appears, and as you type, a list appears with possible IDs. This feature, by the way, was added after the others as a separate update, and wasn’t automatically pushed out, so if you want it, you’ll need to download the latest update.
There’s more, including some changes in the Settings choices, so it’s definitely worth watching the video and reading the TweetDeck blog.
My love of TweetDeck just keeps growing, and I’m not alone. According to TechCrunch, TweetDeck is the second most popular Twitter application, and it’s certainly the top Twitter desktop client. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t do all that I do with Twitter if it weren’t for TweetDeck. Love, love, love it.
I tweeted this announcement from Orlando last week, as soon as it was officially announced on the IABC website, but I still want to take a moment to talk about my selection of Neville Hobson, ABC, for the 2009 IABC Chairman’s Award.
Neville (also known as @jangles on Twitter) was one of the first IABC members I met after moving from the US to the UK six years ago. I served under him on the IABC Europe/Middle East Region Board, and we’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of things together. As Shel Holtz, ABC, mentioned on his blog, Neville has a long history of dedicated service to IABC. But I have to confess that my selection of Neville has at least as much to do with how he has influenced me personally as on his greater contributions to the association and the profession. I have learned so much from him, from his tweets and blog and podcasts and presentations, and I’m not alone. I think it’s safe to say that Neville has influenced our entire profession, but his influence on my understanding and use of social media has been profound. Since I was well behind the early adopters, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do. It would have been easy to say, “It’s about time,” or been critical of my fumbling, but instead, Neville guided and supported. He generously shared information, answered my questions, encouraged my efforts. He’s helped make me a more effective IABC Chair and a better communicator.
So on behalf of IABC and the communication profession, and myself, I want to say thank you to Neville for his leadership and mentorship.
Granted, when I get really into something I tend to be a bit of an overachiever, but my progress with Twitter seems amazingly fast. It’s only been seven weeks since I considered myself a Twitter Newbie and posted my tips for fellow Newbies. A week later, when I was up to 800 followers, and felt like I’d reached a new level, I promoted myself to Dilettante (a lovely word that means amateur), and posted my Stage Two tips. The snowball has continued rolling (you can really see it here), my follow/following numbers are both over 3000 now, and it seems time for a promotion (though I’m having a really hard time coming up with a title for this stage), and to share more tips and learnings.
First, I should say that nothing I say here should be taken as “rules” for Twitter, it’s all just based on my personal opinions, preferences, and what I want out of Twitter. As someone pointed out last night, the beauty of Twitter is that you can use it in any way you choose.
General Thoughts About Following and Followers
Who I Follow
Who I Probably Won’t Follow Back
Who Gets Un-followed
How I Manage It All
I’ve always been big on New Year’s Resolutions. Being quite imperfect, I love the idea of fresh starts, wiping the slate clean at the end of a year, sure that I’ll be better in the next. I’m also a big believer in going public with your goals, because it helps you to achieve them. That said, more than a few of my past resolutions have fallen by the wayside well before Valentine’s Day. So it is with a mixture of hopefulness and trepidation that I set down my resolutions for 2009. Here goes…
This year, I will:
Alright, that’s it. And no fair placing bets on how long before I abandon any of them.
Anyone else want to share their resolutions? I won’t turn this into another blog meme chain, but if you do decide to do a similar post, please leave a comment with the link. Maybe we can encourage each other to stick to them.
Update: Minutes after posting, I followed a tweet-link to a great post by Michael Allison on 5 Tips for Sticking to Your Web 2.0 Resolution. It’s worth a read for anyone setting social media goals.
This morning when my weekly organic veg box arrived, I opened it with my usual curiosity. Although it comes with a list of the week’s contents, the list doesn’t take into account any substitutions that are a result of one or more of that week’s items being on my don’t-include list. And since I had excluded radishes (because I have a backlog of radishes), there was a substitution which would require identification. Not always easy. A couple of weeks back I finally gave up and called the provider, describing my mystery veg as looking “kind of like a brain.” After much laughter and several tries, we figured out it was celeriac (which was delicious in the end).
But today, when I was completely stumped by something that looked like a cross between a carrot and a potato, I really didn’t want to have to call them again. So I decided to see if I could tap the “wisdom of the crowd” that social media experts are always talking about. I scrubbed off all the dirt (this is how you can tell the veg is organic, by the way), used my iPhone to take a picture, and attached the photo to a Twitter message asking if anyone could help me identify my mystery veg.
Immediately the suggestions started pouring in, and within minutes I knew my Twitter crowd had solved my mystery, identifying my nobbly little friends as Jerusalem Artichokes. And the tweets kept coming, some from people who clearly hadn’t seen that we’d solved the mystery (the most popular guess, by the way, has been yams), some from people offering recipes for preparing them. I’ve gotten more response from this than anything else I’ve ever tweeted. And the photo has been viewed more than 80 times!
I also happened to see a separate Twitter discussion between social media guru Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan ) and @jjprojects about how food-related posts seem to get the most response. And I’d already noticed over the past few weeks that my own tweets about what I’m making for dinner get more response than anything else I write, and that those exchanges have resulted in ongoing Twitter relationships.
So it all got me thinking that there’s a communication lesson in all this. Here’s what I think it is: It’s the silly things that bring people together, allow us to connect and develop relationships. Frivolous things, like what’s for dinner, what we did last weekend or what music we’re listening to. It’s why social media is such a rapidly growing phenomenon, because along with all the knowledge-sharing and thought leadership, there’s a human-level connection that is mostly missing in a lot of business communication.
Food for thought.
Whether you have made the leap into social media yet or not, if you’re an IABC member (or especially a leader at any level), you should take a quick look at the IABC conversations happening on Twitter. Follow this link, which is just a Twitter keyword search on IABC: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=iabc , and scroll through a few pages. You’ll see everything from leaders to students, promoting local IABC events, sharing info, networking. And that’s just the posts that actually mention IABC, not all the activity by IABC members. We’re rockin’ on Twitter!
Maybe it’s because I put down in writing last week the things I’d learned about Twitter, but this week I began to feel less like a newbie, and more like a… well, not a pro, certainly, but more competent, more knowledgable. I reached 500 followers last weekend, and that seemed like a tipping point. So I changed my description on my Twitter profile from newbie to dilettante (because that sounds so much better than amateur, even though they mean the same thing).
I also realised that I had begun to use Twitter differently. As a newbie, most of my posts were one-way; statements answering the “what are you doing” question. Sometimes that would spark an exchange, but often not. But more recently, many of my tweets were responses to others, including both people I know, and those I don’t. It had begun to feel like the conversation that all the social media gurus talk about. It was another ah-hah moment for me — I “get” Twitter on a new level, and it’s even better. And that made me hungry to take it up another notch. I’ve been in a learning and growth mode all week, listening, reading, connecting like crazy. So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned, in case there are other newbies who feel ready for the next stage:
Gradually Expand Your View
Build Your Following
The Right Tools Make it Easier
So that’s what I’ve learned this week. I’m up to more than 800 followers, and I hope I’m providing value to them. I know the people I’m following are providing value to me.