Category Archives: Social Media

Career Advice for New Grads in 140 Characters (more or less)

Has another year really gone by so quickly?  This post first appeared on May 14, 2010, but the advice still applies to 2011 grads.  If you contributed in 2010 and would like to update your advice, tweet at me using #Advice4Grads or leave your comment here.  Thanks again to everyone who contributed last year and best of luck to the Class of 2011!

The class of 2010 is graduating on Sunday. In their honor and in the spirit of true alumni networking, I asked many of the alums I interact with on Twitter to tweet me their best career advice for 2010 grads, in 140 characters or less.  

I got a great response and each is a little bit different.  Some of the alums couldn’t stop at just one,  and I included them all.   Us twitter folks are very good at writing concisely, and that is evident as you read through these snippets of advice.  Obviously, 140 characters of advice is not going to land you a job, but it can help you tweak what you are doing in your job search or how you behave in the workplace, to make that experience more successful.

Instead of providing the names, grad years and majors of these alums, I offer their twitter handles.  If you are interested in hearing more of what they have to say, follow them on Twitter; the vast majority have a link on their bio to a LinkedIn profile, website or blog.

You will also see a couple of longer bits here from a couple of alums who e-mailed me their advice, and a few more from some Non-SU alums, but nonetheless great people who I know from Twitter and wanted to help out.

Many thanks to all my Twitter friends who contributed to make this possible!  Many of the alums quoted here I have met on campus or at one of the SUccess in the City events, or spoken with on the phone.  Some I only know through Twitter.  All are wonderfully giving people who wanted to share what they have learned with you.  I would love to have your feedback in the comments section ~ let me know what your favorite bit of advice is and why.    (you’ll probably be able to guess what my favorite is 🙂

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What’s Instagram & Why is it so Popular?

Although Instagram has only been around for a little over three months, you’ve most likely heard of it, if not used it.  For those of you in the former category, I’ve got an overview for you of what it is and why I think it’s so wildly popular. Instagram is a photo-sharing app for iPhone.  Sorry Blackberry & Android users, it’s not available for you yet.  One of the reasons Instagram is based on the iPhone is because of its amazing camera.  So people are already taking lots of great pictures with their phones, why not try to make them more interesting?

Here’s a bit about the brief but amazingly quick ascendancy of Instagram:   

  • Launched on October 6
  • #1 in the App Store within 24 hours of launch
  • iPhone App of the Week
  • Holds the record as quickest to reach 1 million downloads, occurring on December 21
  • Launched 7 new languages
  • An Instagram photo made the cover of the Wall Street Journal

So why is everyone flocking to Instagram?  What does it actually do?

Easy to Get Started:  Got to the App Store, Download, Set up account, choose a username and upload a profile pic.

Photo Sharing:  You can take pictures within the app or use photos that already exist in your camera roll.  You can give your photo a title, which is helpful and fun.  Photos can be instantly shared, not only on Instagram, but also facebook, twitter, Flickr, Posterous and Tumblr.  You can also connect with your foursquare account and tag your photos with location.  By default, photos are public on Instagram.  If you want people to have to ask permission before they follow you, set to private.  To date, I don’t follow anyone with a private account.  That’s what facebook is for.

Photo Manipulation:  The ‘cool’ factor of Instagram is the fact that they have 11 different filters you can use to up the interest of your pix.  Even boring photos can look amazing with some of these filters.  Instagram has tweaked their filter selection since launch and there are indications that eventually you will be able to purchase additional filters.  Filters range from retro to futuristic.  When you factor in other photo manipulation apps like Diptic, Camera+, Photo Mess and 360, the possibilities are endless.

Social: Instagram, like any other social network, is based around having friends or followers.  On Instagram you ‘follow’ people.  At the top of your profile (or anyone’s profile) you will see the username, profile pic, how many photos have been uploaded, how many followers the account has, and how many they are following.  When you follow someone, their photos show up in your stream. The only other things you can do are ‘like‘ photos and comment on them.  Both are appreciated.  People ask questions in the comments, like ‘where was this taken’ or ‘what app did you use for that?’.  Once you get into using Instagram, you will see how laid back people are and how much fun they are having.  It’s currently a very friendly community.

Finding People to Follow: Instagram lets you see which of your twitter and facebook friends are using instagram and easily start following them.  There is also a ‘Invite Friends’ feature, but that simply links to your address book ~ and the rest is up to you.  Instagram will also suggest users if you like.  My two favorite ways of finding people to follow are 1) the Popular Page and 2) Seeing who is leaving interesting comments on pix I like.  The Popular Page shows you which pix currently have the most Likes.  You will inevitably find 2 cat pictures, 3 sunsets and  4 with really amazing lines (people seem to like symmetry).  You can click on any photo on the popular page and see all the other photos posted by that person, and many times you will want to follow.  It takes a lot of followers to end up on the popular page, so they’re usually pretty good photogs.  From there, I might look at the pix of some of the people who are leaving comments that I think are a) funny or b) similar to my thinking.  Following may ensue.  I also tend to look at the pix of people with interesting user names like ‘kyotosong’ or ‘lioness_in_maui’.  In general, Instagram is not about ‘promoting your personal brand’.  You will, however, find some superstars on Instagram, if you consider tech geeks to be superstars.  Scobleizer and Paris Lemon have accounts, as do Jack Dorsey and Ev Williams.  And a must follow is NPR ~ amazing pix.  National Geographic joined Instagram but has yet to upload a photo. They are, however, taking comments on what you would like to see.

So that’s the gist of how Instagram works.  What makes it so wildly popular?

The photographs.  You will find some of the most amazing photographs you have ever seen on Instagram.  The tools we now have allow almost anyone with a decent eye to take beautiful, crisp shots.  That’s not to say you won’t find the everyday and mundane on Instagram, because you will.  But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  All the more important to be careful who you follow on Instagram, because its all about who’s in your feed ~ what do you find interesting?  Some people take shots of nothing but weddings, or landscapes, or horses.  Determine what is is you want to look at, or look at whatever strikes your fancy.

There’s no Klout on Instagram. Just because you’re Paris Lemon doesn’t mean you’re going to have a million followers on Instagram.  It’s all about the pix.  So post the pictures of your dog, or the socks you’re wearing or the street signs you pass on the way to work.  It’s OK here.  And no one cares if your follower/following count is upside down, in fact most people’s are.  You can go away from Instagram for a week or two and nobody will notice.  You can peek in and take a look when you want…post some pix when you want.  No one is going to unfollow you.  And if they do, big deal.  No pressure here.

A running documentary of your life. I’ve post 150+ pix in the past two months and I like looking through to see where I’ve been and what I’ve done.  You’ll like it too.

The Community. My experience on Instagram has been extremely pleasant and enjoyable.  I’ve never seen negative comments on people’s pix.  But I have seen people with large followings using those followings to try to do something good ~ ie raise awareness and possibly donations towards those affected by the flooding in Queensland, Australia.  I’ve talked to other Instagram’ers from China and Hawaii, and follow people from Amsterdam, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  It’s a very global community and has a flat-world feel.

An Education on our Shared Humanity. This is my favorite part of Instagram.  Getting a glimpse into the everyday lives of people who I’ll  never meet, who live in completely different cultures than I do.  What I’ve found is not so much how different we are, but how alike we all are.  People all over the world celebrate weddings and birthdays, cherish their children and pets, appreciate a nice sunset or beach scene, like to drink (yes, they do) and are obsessed with food.  I love looking at pictures from China and seeing the dichotomy between Old China and New China.  And you can find something that fascinates you as well.

Instagram is a keeper.  If you like using Instagram, share with me how you use it or what you’ve learned from looking at all those pix.  If you have a question on using Instagram, or suggestions for some great people to follow, I’d love to hear from you too.


Posted by on January 13, 2011 in Mobile Apps, Social Media, Uncategorized


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Are Social Media Community Managers the new 411 Operators?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my colleagues and I are forging a new profession and figuring things out as we go.

One question I have is, how do we sustain an activity that is essentially a 24/7, 365 days per year job?  Have we painted ourselves into a corner where we are at the beck and call of our social networks round the clock?  Have we become the new 411 operators?  

As you approach Thanksgiving and the December holidays, what is your plan for monitoring and participating in your social media accounts?  Are you taking some time off?  Is that allowed?  Will you schedule tweets and peek in to see what’s going on once in a while?

What about your personal accounts?  With Klout scores now updating daily, can you afford to be off the grid for a few days?

These are just some of the questions that I have been pondering.  Would love to hear how you are handling the holidays and social media, whether or not you’re a community manager.

Best wishes for a relaxing Thanksgiving and lots of Black Friday Foursquare deals!


Posted by on November 22, 2010 in Social Media, Uncategorized


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Is The Study of Philosophy Meaningful for Social Media Success?

Yes. You can succeed at networking via social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook by studying and following the teachings of classical Philosophers. Many philosophy quotes that fly through the Twittersphere are either directly from a philosopher or an abstraction of a thought by a philosopher. The best way to resolve the paradox of marketing yourself without marketing yourself is to conduct social case studies of Twitter users themselves. Study what tweets are retweeted; study the A-lister’s actual work habits not just their blog posts and tweets of wisdom. In addition, study the people who do it wrong. After all, we learn what is by determining what is not.

Success is arrived at through a series of habitual actions

While many say success is a journey and not a destination, I’d argue that there is one ultimate destination in life: happiness. On the road to happiness are many stops that require taking a journey. According to Aristotle, happiness is not an emotion but a state of being reached upon complete fulfillment of desires. As long as those desires are not led by emotion and are based on good intentions, they are, therefore, virtuous. Virtuous behavior being a necessary element of happiness, it is vital to behave this way.

The following images are tweets pulled from Twitter users illustrating the link between philosophical thought and Social Media optimization.

Tweet on Aristotle and habit

Tweet from Amber Naslund on blogging habit

The Knowledge Paradox and Social Media Experts

Social media experts are like the Sophists of their time. Paid to teach their wisdom, they became scorned by the true Philosophers who refused payment for their noble teachings. Like the Sophists, social media experts claim to hold the keys to the wisdom employers are seeking. Guess what? There are no social media experts, gurus, etc…. We are all learning with and through each other. Those who take the wisdom they have learned and apply it to their various fields are qualified in their industries, thus deserving pay. However, expecting pay for knowing how to use dirty marketing tactics will have you ridiculed by those who can deliver quality results, not just meaningless numbers.

Philosophy quote from Socrates on knowing nothing

Twitter expert tweet get followers

A tweet on hating twitter experts

Experience is Enough

The only way to establish yourself as knowledgeable in the realm of social media is to do what it is that you say you know how to do. Without lived experience it is not possible to understand the intricacies of human nature as it relates to the business of marketing. However, no one is just going to give you the experience. A good way to get it on your own is to study individuals. There is little better place to do that than through social media networking platforms. Philosophical tenets have proven themselves to be everlasting. Technological advances and changes in culture have yet to make vast differences in basic human behavior. A study of a few philosophical principles such as the ones listed earlier will start you on the path to developing insight into individual behavior and finally figuring out the answer to how to get more followers. Lived experience is not enough, but it is a good start.

Chanelle Schneider, also known as @WriterChanelle on Twitter, runs There From Here where she often writes on the topic of adult internships and other career and life advice for Generation Y with a specific focus on non-graduates, the students who had to leave school but didn’t drop out. Chanelle writes for as the Washington, DC Social Media Examiner, and is the founder of the generational chat: #GenYChat on Twitter.

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Posted by on November 2, 2010 in Networking, Social Media


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Twitter and (the illusion of) Free Speech

This post appeared today on the Brand Camp University blog:


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Why Wegmans is a Trust Agent [and your Brand should be too]

Everyone knows that Wegmans is the best grocery store in the country. We in Central New York take this for granted because they began in Rochester and have been in the Syracuse area since the John Glenn Boulevard store opened in Liverpool in 1968.

Image courtesy of

If you’re unaware of the wonders of Wegmans, allow me to provide a brief overview.  Way beyond a grocery store, Wegmans is a total experience.  From the beautifully displayed fresh produce (of which there is more variety than you can imagine), their delicious prepared food items and  their friendly and knowledgeable  employees, Wegmans is three cuts above the competition.

Now Wegmans is becoming known for their prowess in another area: social media.  The @Wegmans twitter account is leading the way with 8,700 followers and a Klout score of 45.  What is Wegmans doing that is making them so successful at social media?  Let me tell you.

[At the end, I will share with you my personal story of why I will be a Wegmans customer for life.]

Offering Content their Followers Can Use. What would you want if you were following a grocery store on Twitter?  Wegmans knows.  They share a recipe of the day, information on new products, tips for using a variety of fresh ingredients and news about upcoming store openings.  Wegmans also posts links to well-written articles and quirky videos from their blog Fresh Stories on topics ranging from food and wine pairings to profiles of local farmers who they partner with.  If you’re following a grocery store, this is probably the kind of content you’re looking for.

Joining the conversation. @Wegmans bio on Twitter reads “Can’t wait to talk to you!”  And they really can’t!  If you mention @Wegmans, be prepared to get a response.  I have not seen one instance of a Wegmans mention going unnoticed.  They are consistently ‘on’, and they are listening to what their customers have to say.  In social media, if you’re not talking to people, you’re sunk.  This is a far cry from what Wegmans local competitors are doing in social media.  @PriceChopperNY doesn’t really do much conversing on their account, and they’re follower:following ratio is pretty low.  But at least they’re trying. P&C on the other hand, seems to be a lost cause.  They don’t even have a social media presence from what I could gather from their website.

Having a consistent voice. Even though they haven’t told us who’s tweeting for Wegmans, you get the feeling there’s a real person behind the account.  This is not easy to do when you are representing a brand, trust me.  And not only do you get the sense that it’s a real person, you get the sense that it’s the SAME person.  The tone of the conversation is always consistent: easy, friendly, engaging, without a hint of sarcasm.  You don’t get a young, bubbly voice one day and then a boring monotone the next.  Wegmans is always pleasant, and this fits perfectly with their brand.

Showing they Care. I was going to divide this into several sections focused on what Wegmans does right with their account:  following up, doing what they say they will do, being polite.  But then I realized that they are all about the same thing:  showing your customers that you care.  This is what Wegmans is best at, and it puts them head and shoulders above not only their competition, but most companies using social media.

I promised to tell you my Wegmans story. It’s the reason I wrote this post – and why they have me as a customer for life.

I found a new product that I really liked when I was on vacation in South Carolina recently.  Starbucks doubleshot Energy + Coffee in 15 oz cans.   When I got home, I went to Wegmans and searched the aisles for what I call ‘my new love.’  Hmmm, not finding it in the store.  I found a few similar items, but not the one I really wanted.  Having interacted with Wegmans on Twitter many times, and being the social media junkie that I am, I asked @Wegmans instead of going to the store manager. Then this happened:

1.  They asked me for specifics on the product.  I sent them this image.

2.  They responded that they would check with their supplier and get back to me.

3.  When I tweeted about it to my followers, they responded that they couldn’t promise anything.  That’s fair.

3.  They contacted me a few days later and said, sorry for the delay, we are still working on it.

4.  I got a tweet from Wegmans asking what store locations I usually shop at.  I gave them my #1 and #2 stores.

4.  I got a DM from Wegmans asking me for my email address.

5.  I got a very nice letter from Michelle, a Consumer Services Specialist.

6.  The products will be in both of my store locations of choice by the middle of next week, and I have a contact name in each store to follow up with if there are any questions or concerns.

7.  Customer for Life.

In their best-selling book, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith say this about the emergence of ‘Trust Agents’ in social media:

“People who humanize the Web are trust agents.  People who understand the system and how to make their own game are trust agents.  People who connect and build fluid relationships are trust agents.”

Wegmans has become a Trust Agent – and thereby my loyalty and devotion to their brand.  Isn’t that what every company wants?

Do you have a great @Wegmans story? or a story about another company who has your allegiance because of their astute use of social media?  Share in the comments.


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Is #FF worth it?

Is Follow Friday a Waste of Time?

Last Friday, as I spent what seemed an inordinate amount of time working on my ‘Follow Friday ritual’, I had to ask myself (with a nod to Carrie Bradshaw), is #FF worth it?

Follow Friday, or the now more popular #FF, started out as a way to help newbies on twitter find interesting people to follow.  If I follow someone who I think you might also like to follow, I post an #FF and let you know how great they are.   However, what I have seen evolve over time is an ever-increasing love fest that really doesn’t yield many new people to follow at all.

When I was first on Twitter, I was super-excited to receive a Follow Friday from anyone.  I would wake up on Friday morning and check my @’s and seeing my #FFs would make my day.  The more followers I have gotten, the more #FF’s I have received.  And while I am still thankful for the mentions (and still checking for them), I’m starting to wonder if the effort is worth the return, for either party.

You may ask yourself, what effort is involved in #FollowFriday?  Well, I’ll take you through the steps of my Follow Friday.

1.  Track @ mentions on Tweetdeck for who is giving me props via an #FF.  Separate #FF’s from RTs and other mentions and conversations.

2.  Near the end of the day, write down all the twitter handles of the people who have #FF’ed me, not including the ones who have RT’ed the #FF from someone else.  (This seems to be the latest fad ~ and the quickest way for you to receive another mention).  Last Friday I received 23 #FFs.

3.  Thank all the people who #FF’d me.  I like to do this in one fell swoop, instead of RTing to all my followers every time someone #FF’s me.  This gets kind of redundant.

4.  Figure out who I am going to #FF.  I usually like to do a couple special lists, ie West Coast Tweeps, Tweeps Wearing Shades in Their Avatars, Media Companies I Love, etc.  After that I usually do a list of Syracuse University tweeps (can be colleagues, alums, students) and then some locals (Syracuse/CNY).  I usually put a star next to, and #FF, people who have #FF’ed me for the first time that day, or tweeps of particular interest (ie w/large followings) or people who I want to build relationships with.  I also take a scan through what I have favorited for the week , and see who shows up there.  (Those are valuable tweeps)  For me, this takes time, effort and thought.

So that’s the ritual.  What is the ROI?  I know social media people don’t like that question.  But I tell you what.  I have seen the ROI of #FF go down in direct relation to its popularity.

In my estimation, what began as a good way to introduce your friends to each other has just become a bit of a nuisance, and something that a lot of people scroll right through.  The ONLY time I start following someone new based on an #FF is when a particular name catches my eye…and there’s no rhyme or reason.  And those are usually based on #FFs in which I am included in the list. I figure if someone likes me, they must like other people LIKE me.  So I will click on their name and see if I like their bio.  If that passes muster, I check out their profile page.  If all they have is a continuous stream of FF’s, I’m probably not going to be dying to follow.  So that’s not very effective for them, is it?

The other thing (and this one is probably going to get me in trouble) is that when the same people #FF all the same friends every week, who is that really reaching out to?  Why not throw a few new people in the mix and let us see who else is out there?  That’s what Twitter is all about, right…building relationships?  I already have a relationship with you…if you want to do something nice for me, retweet a blog post or give me a #FF once in a while.  I will appreciate it more, and I think it will be more effective for both of us.

I know we will all continue to #FollowFriday and it does have some value.  If you’re new to Twitter, I think it can be really valuable in terms of finding people to fill out your tweetstream.  For me, in addition to the *fun* aspect of it, I always do find a couple interesting new tweeps to follow, and get a few new followers as well.  But that usually happens organically, on a daily basis, without going through the #FF Ritual.

So what do you think about #FollowFriday?  Have you found interesting new people?  Do you have your own #FF ritual?  Do you think it’s become overkill?  Share….


Posted by on June 17, 2010 in Social Media


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