Tag: featured (Page 1 of 2)

Awesomeness in NEPA

NEPA BlogConThere are a lot of cool things happening in NEPA in the next few months and I’m thankful to be a part of several events that are sure to knock your socks off.

NEPA BlogCon: I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to be working with a group of smart, funny, and tech-savvy women from NEPA on this event. We call ourselves the Fearsome Foursome and we are: @mandyboyle @karla_porter @mhyrvnak and @darlingstewie. In a nutshell (pun intended), we squirrelly girls are putting together the 570’s first blogging conference. It’ll be held on September 29 at LCCC with all proceeds going to benefit the NEPA Multicare Alliance and the Arc of Luzerne County. Stay tuned for more updates as we ramp up for our site launch and other schweet shindigs. You can learn more and sign up for updates at NEPABlogCon.com. It’s going to be HOT.

Scranton StorySlam: A few months back, I had the pleasure of attending Scranton’s first StorySlam. The only way I can describe this event is pure energy. Each performer (there’ll be 10 total) will have five minutes to tell a true story from memory, centered around a theme (the upcoming slam theme is “dirty laundry”). The best story, as determined by a panel of judges, wins.  This next Scranton StorySlam will be on June 30 at The Banshee in Downtown Scranton and I’m honored to be on the storytelling roster.

Pecha Kucha Night Scranton: Back in January, the Electric City welcomed Brad Peniston and his brother on their annual trip to somewhere interesting. But they brought something special with them: Pecha Kucha. It’s a show-and-tell format for the 21st century where presenters get exactly six minutes and 40 seconds to tell their story in a speed presenting format. You get 20 slides and 20 seconds for each slide. It’s intense, but a heck of a lot of fun. Brad passed the torch of Pecha Kucha Night Scranton onto Brent and I, so we’re gearing up for the next one in July.

I’m also cooking up a new site/blog/venture idea. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile, but recent events (and the advice of an AH-MAZING entrepreneur) has lit a fire under my ass. I’m ready to roll. Stay tuned.

NEPA Blog Fest, Story-Filled Weekends, and Feeling Reinvigorated

Mandy and Mike at Bowl for Kids' Sake

My co-worker, Mike, and I at Bowl for Kids' Sake on Saturday.

Weekends like these, I’m reinvigorated.

On Friday night, I met up with some of NEPA’s finest at the bi-annual NEPA Blog Fest. For a recap of the event, you can check out some of these accounts from fellow bloggers:

The evening included lots of handshaking, a few business cards, meeting my face twin (Hi, Leslie!), and a gigantic inflatable pig. There were a few more colorful characters who took part in the evening, but hey, variety is the spice of life. It was good to put faces to URLs and Twitter handles. Plus, it sparked some ideas for an interesting project. Let’s just call it the Fearsome Foursome for now. Stay tuned!

Yesterday was busy. I started out by bowling with some members of the Solid Cactus crew at Bowl for Kids’ Sake. One hundred and twenty three pins later, I raised a little over $125 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Awesome cause – and so well organized! That event ran like a well-oiled machine and everyone had a great time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Afterwards, I visited my grandparents, went to a retirement party with my Dad for a family friend, and then booked it back to the Electric City for the Scranton Story Slam. It was AMAZING! The stories, the energy…I couldn’t believe how many people came. I’d love the chance to be a storyteller next time around. It looked like so much fun. It also got me thinking about the next Pecha Kucha Night Scranton, which is in its early planning stages at the moment. Hopefully, there’ll be some news on that front soon!

Finally, today is one of those days where I’m flip flopping between productivity and complete bum-hood. I’m wearing comfy clothes and huddling under a blanket as the rain makes those little *tink* *tink* *tink* noises on the metal awning. It’s soothing. In between episodes of Scrubs, I’m getting some work done for the day job. March was a crazy month. I’m looking forward to the (hopefully) less crazy month of April.

This weekend also gave me some time to think about my blog. Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time reading through how-to guides, e-books, and even professional blog reviews to get a better idea of what exactly I should be doing with my blog. My problem seems to be focus. I know how to blog for other people (and do so quite well), but blogging for myself seems to be difficult. What should I write about? Should I stick to one topic? Will anyone read it? Will people LIKE what I have to say/write/post?

I’ve been going through the classic self-doubt and confusion that every writer goes through. It’s that moment where you’re like, “Hey! What am I doing? Really? What am I DOING?”

So, I’m going to start from scratch. Here’s what’s on my mind. I’d love to get your feedback:

  • For awhile, my blog has been a blend of personal branding, communications, and then whatever tickles my fancy. So far, it works, but it doesn’t draw a consistent readership or even a consistent amount of engagement. Communication (i.e. PR, marketing, writing, SEO, social media) is what I KNOW and what I do in my day job. I’m passionate about it and I share my knowledge of it on a few other blogs – but should I be sharing it here? Or should this be a place for something else? Maybe another interest?
  • I’m not 100% happy with my blog design. I like it but I don’t like it. It could be because I’m just feeling antsy. Maybe a few tweaks and I’ll feel better. Thoughts?
  • I’m REALLY comfortable guest blogging. Right now, I’m guest blogging on an internet marketing site, an SEO blog, a personal finance blog, and a few others. That’s working for me because it allows for my scattered brain to indulge in its varied interests. But what do I  make THIS blog about? Do I continue tying in what I’m already writing about or do I do something completely new and different? Speaking of which, does this post format work, where I just write about whatever is on my mind at the moment?

All in all, it feels like I’m looking for someone to just say, “Here’s what you should be doing.” Part of me knows that the answer has to come from within myself. It’s my blog and I need to actually like what I write about. But I want to write for me and for YOU.

I’ll think on this for awhile, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore

When I was a small child, my great-grandfather introduced me to the movie business. It wasn’t in any sort of dramatic way. Mostly, it was looking through his old photo albums at pictures of him standing in the lobby of the Comerford, Ritz, and Gateway Cinemas. Men in suits lined up with movie posters in the background. As my aunt likes to say, “The Boys Club.”

My great-grandfather was in the movie business for many years. He started out as a footman and usher and worked his way up to a managerial position for several movie theaters. He had a great run and looked back on his memories affectionately. But there was one thing that he always used to say that stuck with me: “They don’t make them like that anymore.” Movies.

While I was growing up in a world of push-the-boundaries plot line, special effects, and the beginnings of computer animation, he was looking back at cinematic epics, Technicolor, and the famed movie musical. As a result, I got exposed to a different time.  He and I would watch old films together whenever they aired on TV. I can remember the first one we watched together. The Wizard of Oz with the fabulous Judy Garland. I was in love. Ever since I can remember my Poppy talking about the movies and watching them with him, I was hooked on that silver screen.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of what made me fall in love in the first place. I went to see The Artist.


Trailer #1

The Artist

— MOVIECLIPS.com

 

 

 

Today’s movies tend to assault the senses. Incredibly loud sound effects, special effects out the wazoo, and camera work to make your head spin. Unfortunately, many are thin on story. But then, every now and then, you get a stunner. What I loved most about The Artist is that it told a story – beautifully – without spoken dialogue.

I’ll admit – it took a few scenes to get used to the fact that this was a “silent” film.  It was odd not to hear John Goodman’s booming voice when I saw him on screen, or hear the tap tap tap of heels on pavement. But then again, I didn’t need to. After the first few scenes, I caught on to the magic of the film and just ENJOYED myself. No expectations. No predictions on how the story would go. I was just completely captivated – and that’s what reminded me of why I love movies so much.

It’s easy for a movie to tug at my heartstrings, and with The Artist, it did so in more ways than one.

I’m a movie crier, so if there’s a trailer featuring a running horse or an emotional montage, forget about it. I’m gone. Break out the Kleenex. The Artist was able to make me cry and I didn’t need to hear anything besides the music or alternately, the silence, to be moved. But I left the theater with a sense of hope, having smiled through one of the best scenes in the film (I won’t spoil it for you). Not to mention, The Artist was rare in that it could make me both genuinely laugh and cry all at once. You laugh, you cry…what more could you ask for your price of admission?

But besides the power of what was happening on the screen, I was also moved by the memory of sitting with my great-grandfather, watching The Wizard of Oz. Like the transition from black and white to color as Dorothy enters Oz, The Artist tells its story in a way that’s so unique from what we’re used to. So lively but simple.  It reawakens our senses with just a few lines of spoken dialogue right at the end, reminding us that stories happen everywhere, in every medium.

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10 Ways to Piss Off Your Twitter Followers

Ah, the joys of Twitter. Some days, Twitter can be a great place for information and conversation. On other days, it’s damn annoying. It’s amazing to me how so many people haven’t picked up on what works and what doesn’t work on this social network. As for what doesn’t work, well, here are 10 easy ways to piss off your Twitter followers:

  1. Auto DMs. That’s all I’m going to say.
  2. Only retweeting other people’s tweets. C’mon. Say something! Anything!
  3. Never following anyone back because you a.) don’t know how to use Twitter or b.) are a snob.
  4. Include the words “guru” or “expert” in your bio.
  5. Leave your default user picture as an egg.
  6. Tweet the same message on 6 different accounts.
  7. Make three tweets a year.
  8. Tweet only links. All day, every day.
  9. Retweet something without actually opening the link, watching the video, reading the post, etc.
  10. Only tweet about yourself, your work,  your achievements, you, you, and more you.
Now, we’re all not perfect. In fact, I bet all of us have done at least one of these things at one time or another  – especially retweeting without reading or only making time to retweet without adding to the conversation.
Forget about the Klout score and what the “experts” are telling you to do.The easiest way to succeed (and enjoy yourself) on Twitter is to not over think everything. Just be yourself, have some fun, and actually join in on the conversation. Share things of value. Respond to other people. Ask questions. Take a step into the stream.
Treat Twitter like a party. Don’t be the drunk girl that falls down stairs. Don’t be the guy that tries to sell you something as soon as the handshake is over. Don’t be the person who stands in the corner staring at the punch bowl all night long. I can’t promise that it’ll be a great experience every time, but I can promise that you’ll feel better about Twitter if you make yourself more of a party guest (or a party host) instead of someone who becomes the uninvited later on.

 

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Building The Brand: LinkedIn

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

So, when I sat down to write this post on building a personal brand using LinkedIn, I had a few false starts. Over the course of the past few months, LinkedIn has played a pretty big part of my activities online, so I needed to find my focus before writing about how I actually utilize this network. First, it started with someone sending me information about a job that I should apply for. Then, a friend asked me about how to beef up her profile and another asked for help on using the LinkedIn advertising network. Finally, last week, I got a promotion at work. Needless to say, my profile needed to be spruced up.

As for what to do with your LinkedIn profile, well, therein lies the challenge. If you’re already active on Facebook and Twitter, you might not want to jump right in to being active on another network. But if you’re job searching and want an opportunity to get some attention, you should absolutely be a presence on LinkedIn. For me, LinkedIn is where I get my industry questions answered. It’s also a place for me to establish a bit of credibility because really, at the end of the day, that’s what your online reputation is all about.

So, let’s dive into the three main parts of LinkedIn that I think are critical to personal branding: your profile, LinkedIn Answers, and LinkedIn Groups.

The first thing that you should know about LinkedIn is that it allows for you to announce your skills to the world, as well as the network you’ve built on there. Skills such as public speaking, writing, and marketing are just a few of the things you can emphasize when you put together your LinkedIn profile and luckily, this is a network that is very flexible. With tons of apps to be added to your profile, searchable skill sets, a resume-like setup, and the option for people to recommend you with testimonials, LinkedIn is a job searcher and networker’s best friend.  This is where professionals find each other. 

So, if you:

  • Are looking for a job,
  • Want to expand a skill set,
  • Need to build up your network,
  • Just graduated and need to start building a personal brand,
  • Want to improve your online visibility and reputation,
  • Want to establish yourself as an industry expert,
LinkedIn is the place to be.

LinkedIn Answers

One of my absolute favorite features of LinkedIn is the answers community. It’s sort of like Yahoo! Answers, only without the teenage drama. Most of the questions are industry or professional base, so in a way, you get to use this feature to pick the brains of people in the business without having to pay for a consulting fee. In the past, I’ve asked questions about copywriting, public relations pitching, and what books I should be reading outside of school, but really, you could ask about anything. If you have a question about what you should be doing or how to handle a professional or work-related issue, then this is a wonderful and free resource to consult. Plus, it’s a great way to expand your network.

When you participate in the LinkedIn Answers, you have the option to not just ask questions – you can answer them too. Answering questions and connecting with other professionals in this community is a great way to expand your personal network and show off your expertise. If someone sees that you’re a frequent presence in the Answers, they may come to know you as an expert in a particular subject or a resource in another. If they see you asking lots of questions, they may think that you’re someone who is always learning and inquisitive – two skills that can be a great match for a variety of positions. I mean, there’s no way to really tell how you’ll be perceived, but one thing is for sure: activity on LinkedIn will keep you at the forefront of your network’s minds and if you’re looking for a job, being on someone’s mind is a good thing.

Also, people want to connect with other knowledgeable people in their industry. When you show that you’re knowledgeable, people notice and may seek you out to connect with you to pick your brain, offer you a job, or just say, “hello.” All good things.

My Profile

Now, when it comes to your LinkedIn profile, this is where the personal branding business comes in. If you look at my LinkedIn page, you’ll see that I’ve filled it out almost in its entirety. Taking advantage of the space it offers is a good thing for me, since it gives you a much more well-rounded and complete picture of someone. There’s only so much a resume can tell you. LinkedIn lets you be creative and more importantly, expand upon those resume items that you usually note in your online profiles: position name, company, dates worked.

As for best practices, here are my biggest takeaways:

  • Underneath your name, in the headline, that’s reputation gold. Most LinkedIn users will notice your headline, name, and photo in quick succession and those are the things they remember (in my ultimate geekyness, I actually read a study about this a few weeks ago). So, for that headline, make it count. Most people go with their current job title, but you can also get creative with it.
  • In your profile, I think it’s also good to list some of your responsibilities and experiences to go along with your job, just like you would a resume. Maybe put 3-5 or so points below each position held, detailing what you did as well as any significant successes (e.g. Aided in coordinating Project X; grew budget by 50%, etc.).  This gives dimension to the jobs you’ve listed and can be a great way to emphasize what you can do.
  • Don’t forget about the Skills section. Add in specific skills, like Microsoft Word, as well as more “abstract” skills, like marketing, communication, project management, organization, public speaking, etc. These are things that people look at and say, “Hey, this is someone that could really fit well with the organization.”
  • Choose a professional picture. For the love of God, this is not Facebook. A simple head shot where you can clearly make out that it’s you will do. Aside from the headline and your name, this is one of the most heavily viewed areas of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Beef up your additional information too. Don’t be afraid to share a wide array of interests. If you love cake decorating, say so! Really into yoga? Note it! Again, this is something that people can connect with you over. Plus, it gives a much more “human” side to your professional achievements.
  • Link to your Facebook, Twitter, website, etc. If content is part of what you do,  having touch points for people to find it is important.

You can also play around with different LinkedIn add-ons, like WordPress, SlideShare, Amazon Book List, etc. to add dimension as well as portfolio material. Anything that you can share to show another user who you are and how you’d fit in their network makes a difference.

Using the SlideShare LinkedIn app, I’ve added a copy of my portfolio. Granted, my portfolio is always a work in progress, but this was a great way for me to show a little bit more about the work I’ve done without cluttering up the page. My portfolio is just your basic PowerPoint presentation. I’ll get into my portfolio in more detail in another post, but the goal is to convey examples of some of my best work in a variety of media. That media option is HUGE when  you’re job searching because it eliminates that extra step for people finding your work. You put everything you want right in front of them. Convenience is a powerful thing.

Finally, get some recommendations.  People may give these to you without asking, but don’t be afraid to ask for them if you need them. You’ll want to reach out to your connections and try to get recommendations for your work personally, academically, and professionally. There’s a reason that word of mouth is so powerful. Recommendations make you more than a resume – they make you a person. They establish trust. They give a feel for what you’re like.

LinkedIn Groups

I love the groups feature. Just like Facebook Groups or Facebook Business Pages, LinkedIn groups is a place where you can connect with others, expand your network, and again, show off your industry expertise. If LinkedIn Answers is like the library, then LinkedIn Groups is like that coffee shop you really like. Conversation is the name of the game in Groups, so if you want to have some more in-depth discussion on a particular industry issue or get some thoughts or feedback on some of your recent work, a Group may be the place to do it.

Most groups are divided into categories based on geographic location, industry, interest, professional society, etc. There is no shortage of opportunity for you to connect over something you have in common with others. Groups (as well as Answers and your profile) can sometimes lead to job offers or introductions to new people. They can also result in real-life connections, speaking invitations, collaborative projects…the list really goes on and on.

I’m sometimes bad about participating in groups. I would say about 80 to 90 percent of the time, I’m a lurker. I’m observing the conversations taking place. I should really chime in more, but sometimes, it’s just nice to listen.

As for developing your LinkedIn presence, I could write about how I manage my page, how I expand my network, etc. But I’ll save those topics for other posts in the future. These are really the three core features that I feel are most important if you’re just getting started with LinkedIn or want to start making something of your page.

Thoughts? Feedback? Discussion is welcomed!

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My Favorite Ads of 2011

When I was an undergrad, one of my favorite things to do was critique ads in my classes. Usually a solid sampling of good, bad, and ugly, the ads we critiqued were great examples of what to do and what not to do in advertising. When I taught an introductory advertising class last spring, critiquing ads was a big part of what we did in class. I wanted students to have the same experience I did because the way I look at it, you learn a lot when you actually engage with something and think about it beyond the point of memorization. So many students just memorize things to get by the exam. I’d like to think that it’s more effective to actually THINK about something when it comes to learning, but hey, that’s my opinion.

So, when I was sitting down at Brent’s parents’ house in Vermont thinking about what to write, I got struck with a good idea. Well, actually, Brent’s Dad was sort of where this one came from. He was talking about how there are so many terrible commercials but every now and then, one or two come along and are really, really good. The one from 2011 that came to mind for both of us was the Volkswagen Darth Vader ad that aired during last year’s Super Bowl. If I had to pick the best ad of 2011, that would be the one. And I’m not alone on that one.

After deciding on my favorite ad of the year, I started thinking about some of the others I’ve enjoyed over the past 12 months. BAM! There was my post idea. Here are my favorite ads of 2011 as well as a few thoughts on each.

Created by Deutsch Los Angeles and entitled, “The Force” this ad was by far the best of the bunch for the year. What I loved most about the ad was the sense of fun. Appealing to a wide demographic with two of everyone’s favorite things, Star Wars and kids, this spot told a story that simple and charming. You remember what the ad was for (the VW was clearly featured) and that warm, happy feeling you got while watching it stuck with you. When it all comes down to it, the best ads are those that tell stories. This was a story I enjoyed being told.

Plus, the stats on it are pretty sweet. Adweek reports that the spot had 44 million views on YouTube, a reported 6.8 billion impressions worldwide, and more than $100 million in earned media. Wowzers.

Wieden + Kennedy’s “Born of Fire” ad for Chrysler was one of those ads that didn’t strike me as good at first. The first time I saw it during the Super Bowl, I thought it was a little overdramatic. But after seeing it a second time, I saw it for what it was: one of the best ads of the year.

This ad won the 2011 Emmy Award for best commercial and as Adweek noted, this was the “year’s toughest, proudest, most defiant advertisement.” Imported from Detroit was the tagline, blending together the two core concepts the ad wanted to convey: luxury and American heritage. It’s dramatic, yes, but not in a way that’s overdone. It comes in with a swagger and you can’t help but be impressed.

When Google came out with it’s “Parisian Love” ad for the 2010 Super Bowl, I saw one of my favorite ads of all time. I’m a sucker for sentimentality, but this was an ad that wasn’t overly sweet and sappy. It was creative and understated, telling a story of a romance through screen shots of Google searches. This was part of the Search Stories campaign (one of my favorite campaigns of all time) and was really, really badass – especially for someone who works in search.

In 2011, Google hit another one out of the park with “Dear Sophie”, a collaborative piece between Google Creative Lab and Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York. This ad showed a young father using Google tools to fill a digital scrapbook with keepsakes of his young daugher, which he wants to share with her someday. It’s a very human ad and it’s easy to get choked up.

Okay, okay. This is technically an ad from 2010, but I love the Old Spice guy and his integrated marketing campaign. Speaking of integrated marketing, how ’bout those Muppets?! The Muppets had one of the finest marketing campaigns I’ve seen all year, and I’m not the only one who thinks so:

When I heard that they were making another Muppet movie, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. For one thing, I was really disappointed with some of the Muppet movies they put out in the 1990’s. My mind was changed when I started seeing this campaign. Viral YouTube videos, media appearances, Google+ Hangouts, a powerhouse Facebook page, sweet merchandise and The Green Album? THIS was The Muppets for my generation and lately, I’ve seen a lot of crappy campaigns targeted right at my age group. This was a campaign that worked because it was grown up, not overly complicated, and best of all, fun! It reminded me of why we fell in love with The Muppets in the first place.

You know that episode of Mad Men where Don talks about nostalgia while pitching Kodak? Well, he’s right. When we look at things like Star Wars, The Muppets, digital scrapbooks, and our scrappy histories in commercials, we’re connecting with parts of our past – of our selves – that we miss. And that, in my opinion, makes a good ad.

Which ad from 2011 was your favorite?

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Doors Open with Blue Keys

Blue Key CampaignIn high school, I dedicated myself to several worthy causes. I donated time at The Back Mountain Library Auction. I scared people (believe it or not) in a haunted house to raise money for a volunteer fire company and an organization dedicated to helping the youth. I gave blood to the American Red Cross. It wasn’t until I got to college that my eye wandered beyond my own backyard to help people. Organizations like charity:water, Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam International, Direct Relief International, and ONE caught my attention. I gave time and money. I became aware of issues outside my comfort zone.

Then, a few months ago, my friend Rachael Seda emailed me. She told me about a campaign she was working on and asked if I’d be interested in helping out by becoming a Champion. I agreed and now, today I’m holding a blue key. Believe it or not, it opens a door in a lot of ways.

Firstly, it opens the door for those in need. When Rachael asked me to be a Champion, she was asking me to show my support for The Blue Key Campaign. What is the Blue Key Campaign? Well, they can say it better than I can, so I’m going to quote them:

USA for UNHCR launched the Blue Key campaign as a way to raise awareness and funds in the U.S. for the plight of refugees worldwide. The statistics are heartbreaking – more than 43.7 million refugees worldwide, many of whom are women and children, may never have a place to call “home” again, unlike you and I.

The campaign symbol is a “blue key” pin or pendant; a key, because it’s the one thing that refugees may never hold in their hand again. Purchasing your own key for just $5 is a great way to show support for refugees, as well as for the tireless work of more than 6,000 UNHCR staff worldwide, who work 24/7 to provide the protection, food, shelter and relief refugees need.

The campaign’s goal is simple: to spread awareness and grow support for this critical issue by getting 6,000 people in the US to sign up for their own Blue Key by December 31, 2011.

It’s amazing how we take for granted the idea of home. Most of us have a place to go at night when we finish with school or work. Millions don’t. And we rarely even think about it.

According to the UN Refugee Agency’s 2010 Global Trends Report, an estimated 25.2 million people — 10.55 million refugees and 14.7 million internally displaced persons — were receiving protection or assistance from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) at the end of 2010.

By buying a blue key, I helped someone.

It’s a powerful thing to help someone. And I know that some of you, dear readers, may be asking yourself why I’m worrying about people all around the world when I should be worrying about fixing my own country. Don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten about the messy good ol’ USA- but there are things outside of our own lives that we don’t pay attention to and that doesn’t make the problem go away. For right now, I’m CHOOSING to look beyond my borders at something bigger. That’s my choice. You, dear reader, have a choice too.

Secondly, having a blue key opens a door to giving as an adult. I no longer have my college community to steer me toward different causes. I have to seek them out on my own, which is both a beautiful and terrible thing. There are too many groups I’d like to give to and too many people I want to help. I just have to remember that I have my whole life ahead of me to give to others. Every little bit helps – even if it comes a little at a time.

But giving has reminded me of what I have. I’m very lucky. I have student loans to repay, responsibilities, and all of those grown up expenses that we tend to complain about. But I also have food in my kitchen. Hell, I have a kitchen. I have a roof over my head. I’m surrounded by family and friends. I have love. Most of all, I have hope.

Not everyone has those things – but we all have the power to give them in one way or another. 

Get your blue key. 

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The Scranton #BlueKey Tweetup

If you’d like to join me in supporting the Blue Key Campaign, I’m organizing a #BlueKey Tweetup in Scranton. It’s a little get together to help raise money for the Blue Key Campaign. If you’d like to come out to just meet some of your fellow NEPA tweeters, then this is a great opportunity for you to do so.

The Scranton #BlueKey Tweetup will be held on December 14, 2011 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at The Vintage Theater in Scranton. Nothing fancy, just a regular tweetup where you can meet people, chat, and just enjoy the evening.

The cost is $6.12 and this covers the cost of your very own Blue Key, to be picked up at the event, and Eventbrite’s service fees. There will be goodies and delicious beverages also available for purchase fromThe Vintage Theater cafe.

I hope you’ll join me. If you can’t no worries! I’m just glad you’ve taken the time to read this post and maybe, you’ll walk away knowing a little bit more about The Blue Key Campaign, and more importantly, what giving can do for you and others.

Here’s where you can register for the Scranton #BlueKey Tweetup and learn more about the event: http://bluekeyscranton.eventbrite.com/

Thank you for your support!

 

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Building My Brand: Twitter

Free twitter badge

Image via Wikipedia

I have two Twitter accounts. @mandyboyle is my personal/professional account. @Cactus_Mandy is my Solid Cactus Twitter account.

On @mandyboyle, I’ll post personal updates, conversational tweets, photos, blog post links, and references to material that I find interesting. Subject covered can rage from recipes and comics to public relations and marketing. It’s a lot like my blog: a patchwork of topics. This account has allowed for me to connect and build upon my relationships with other NEPA bloggers, friends, colleagues, and industry professionals.

On @Cactus_Mandy, it’s mostly SEO and internet marketing tweets. My @Cactus_Mandy account is used for work, so this is an account that has connected me with e-commerce merchants, colleagues in the industry, and current SC clients. I also don’t update this as much, so from a branding perspective, this isn’t always the best reflection of me.

For the sake of this post, we’ll take a closer look at @mandyboyle since it’s the one that I use the most. I usually update this a few times a day, sometimes missing a day and not posting very much on the weekends. I like to unplug somewhat on the weekend, so if I use Twitter, it’s usually from my phone or late in the evening when I have some down time.

Being Human

There’s no magic number of tweets to send per day. Some people have built a successful personal brand on tweeting 100 times per day. Others get the same impact from tweeting 19 times per day. In my case, I only post when I feel like I have something to share – even if it’s just what I ate for lunch today. Tara Hunt wrote an AWESOME post about minding the gap between business and personal and I have to agree with her. Seemingly boring posts can actually reveal a lot about ourselves, so keep that in mind the next time you’re following or making an update. What you eat, what movie you saw, or where you just were can give you an opportunity to connect with someone over a common interest just as much as a blog post you wrote. When I tell you about where I was, what I ate, or what I wore, I’m letting you know that I’m human. I’m not just a blog post tweeting machine who only cares about marketing and SEO. I also like Star Wars. And cooking.

Twitter in a Crisis

Subject matter in tweets is important, so I always make sure to proof a post before update. Like I said in my previous post, all it takes is a few seconds to ruin a reputation. There are countless case studies and examples of what not to tweet about. Remember Kenneth Cole and the Cairo tweet? Yeah, not good. But then again, there’s also the case of the American Red Cross and #gettngslizzerd. I guess the biggest take away from comparing these two cases is to consider what you post and if you make a mistake, deal with it in a way that doesn’t ruin your rep. Sometimes, that means an apology. Other times, it means laughing something off and just moving on. You’ll have to use your judgement in those cases.

On Content

Content is also a big part of personal branding on Twitter, so I try to post a variety of things. Most of my updates are links to things I find interesting, but I also offer up some thoughts here and there too. I’m from Northeastern Pennsylvania so often times, you’ll notice that I’m tweeting about a local event I’m attending or looking forward to. Here are some of my thoughts on tweeting topics:

  • If you build your personal brand around a business, be transparent. Show off your good work and let people know what you do, but don’t turn your stream into an endless plug.
  • If you’re local, tweet about local events. It gives you a way to connect with people nearby, which can be just as cool as connecting with people who live in another part of the world.
  • Don’t be annoying – and don’t try to constantly sell people crap. Just doesn’t work.
  • Be mindful of your reputation. Just like Facebook, Twitter can be indexed by search engines and found by employers. And yes, Twitter can get you fired.
  • Use hashtags. It’s a great way to start or participate in larger scale conversations. Plus, it’s fun to be part of the crowd from time to time.

The most important thing to remember about content is to be true to who you are. If you find something interesting, share it. If you don’t, don’t. It’s really that simple. By only sharing what you find valuable, you’re using social media the right way. There are far too many people out there who just RT a post for the sake of joining the crowd without ever bothering to read it.

Conversations Make It

Speaking of crowds, Twitter isn’t about the number of followers you have. It’s more so about the conversations you can have with people. Chris Brogan recently wrote about how he went back to zero after trying to keep up with thousands of people. It’s difficult. No, it’s impossible. There is no way for you to be able to catch every tweet and respond to every message when you’re working with a crowd that large. Instead, my advice is to follow people you feel you can connect with or get value from. Right now, I’m pretty comfortable with the amount of people I follow. I have lists that make it easy for me to sort through the din and I can jump into streams of conversation whenever I feel like it. That’s the really fun part.

Conversations are what makes Twitter for me. I’ve been able to get feedback, ask questions, have a few laughs, and even meet people. Like any other social network, people make it truly worthwhile. It’s not about how many times you update, what you post about, or how cool your background looks. It’s about the people that you get to share and interact with.

10 Twitter Confessions

    1. I’ve been on Twitter since 2008. Originally, my username was @mlb217, which wasn’t a great branding move for me. After people getting confused about who I was and thinking I was a baseball fan, I switched over to my name instead. Since that switch, it’s been easier for people to find me and trust that I’m a real person. Most spammers tend to use random numbers and letters in their usernames so at first glance, my original approach looked like spam. I’m glad I switched.
    2. My user picture is an actual picture of me. I’ve found that in my travels across Twitter, I can spot a spam account based on the stock photo – or lack of any photo for that matter. Putting a real picture up can build some trust. Plus, people want to know what you look like.
    3. I’ve made about 5,098 tweets since starting my account. It’s a lot, but there are times when I wish I would have made more. But I have to remember that social media is very instantaneous and that there will always be more opportunities to share.
    4. I have about 1,900 followers. Most of these people have never met me in real life. A fair chunk is probably spam, but hey, that’s unavoidable. I follow most of these people back because they’ve connected with me for a reason. They either know me personally, have something in common with me, or can offer me value. As for etiquette on following, it’s all up for negotiation. Some people say follow everyone, other say follow only people you know. I follow companies as well as individuals. I say it’s pretty much the same thing as your Facebook: follow what you find interesting. 
    5. My bio is pretty short and sweet: “SEO Manager for @solidcactus. Freelance Writer. Marywood Grad. Cupcake enthusiast. Resident Nice Girl. In Love with Communicating. From NEPA.” I have a really hard time writing about myself. I think bios are probably the most difficult things to write, so if you have any tips or feedback for me, I’d love to hear it! As for what to do with your Twitter bio, fill it out with something. It’s essentially your elevator pitch for any possible connection.
    6. I have a personalized background. You can get fancy with something branded or  you can keep it simple. The key thing to remember is that your background says something about your personality.
    7. I participate in Twitter chats from time to time, namely, the #PRStudChat. It’s a public relations chat that connects students, professors, and industry professionals. If you’re new to Twitter and are looking to build some new connections, Twitter chats can be a great way to do that. Plus, it’s an awesome way to show that you know your stuff, which connects directly back to your personal brand.
    8. I don’t pay a lot of attention to Klout. I’ve seen Klout, Kred, and other social currency platforms debated back and forth. In my mind, I think it’s unfair and a little subjective to assign someone a number that represents how influential they are. I think if you know your community, you should be able to tell that right off the bat. Plus, numbers like these can always be incorrect or changed. Why should a number indicate whether or not someone is worthy to connect with? That, to me, isn’t what Twitter should be about.
    9. I use URL shorteners when I post links. It makes my posts RT-friendly and easier to digest. I’d recommend bit.ly or t.co, but Hootsuite’s built-in shorteners (ow.ly and ht.ly) are great too, especially if you want analytics to go along with your shortened links.
    10. If someone says they’re a guru, expert, maven, or otherwise, I probably won’t follow him or her. In my experience, 99% of those people aren’t actually experts – they just like to think they are. Plus, nobody likes it when you’re social media douchebag.

Twitter Takeaways:

  • Be human.
  • Be transparent.
  • Tweet when you have something to say – not just for the sake of tweeting.
  • Don’t be spammy.
  • Proof your posts before you hit update.
  • Made a mistake? Apologize and laugh it off if you can. The point is to keep moving forward and do right by your followers.
  • Follow what you find interesting.
  • Participate in the conversation.
  • People make it all worthwhile.

 

Additional Reading

Personal branding on Twitter is a big deal and there are other bloggers and writers who have covered the subject much better than I ever could. Here are some great posts with additional info:

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Building My Brand: Facebook

I have your basic Facebook personal profile, like most people. On here, you’ll find my interests, favorite quotes, connections, links to my website, a short bio…basically the essentials for a social media page.

Facebook wasn’t my first social network. Before I went to college, I had a Myspace page and a LiveJournal account. At the time, it’s where all my friends were and I wanted to be part of that. I, like every other teenager, slathered on the angst and went to town with emoticons, surveys, and quiz results. It was a messy time, but looking back on it now, it was my first foray into personal branding.

I picked usernames that hid my identity but still “said” something about my personality. They were usually similar to my AIM screennames and could best be described as words mashed together. I wasn’t much of a numbers person, so I left off the customary digits at the end of my name. The way I looked at it, everyone else was using numbers and I wanted to be different. I kept it simple but lofty. Oh yes, I was quite the lofty teen. All those poetry books…

When it came to content, I was a sparse publisher. I had friends who would post to their online journals or Myspace pages daily. I was more of a weekly or whenever I would remember sort of person. As time went on, pages were abandoned and I became bored. The things I had created were basically out there in the ether and based on my comments and page hits, no one was reading.

I moved into Facebook at the start of my freshman year at Marywood. Some of my classmates talked about Facebook, saying it was a better alternative to Myspace because it was only for college students. Fewer creepers and less spam. Sounded good to me.

I signed up for an account and started adding friends. I filled out a pretty thorough bio and added a user picture. As time went on, I’d join groups, create events, and share things with my friends and professors. By this time, I had learned that Facebook was an awesome way to network and communicate with other students, teachers, community leaders, industry professionals, and yes, businesses.

I majored in Advertising & Public Relations in college, so I was no stranger to discussing social media in the classroom. Most of the time, we looked at Facebook through a lens of it being a communications tool. How did it perform in a crisis? Which brands used it well? Which ones didn’t? Who held the copyright for the photos posted? How did creativity and digital publishing come into play?

As I started using Facebook regularly, I became much more conscious of the things I posted. Maybe it was because I spent time talking about it in my classes and how my Facebook page would impact me getting a job or internship. I spent time looking at my profile, finding areas that could be tightened up to sound more interesting, or at least make me sound more interesting. I began to transition from strictly personal to more professional updates. Around this time of transition, I also started working in internet marketing. That’s when my eyes got opened.

Working with client pages gave me awesome experience in social media. I got to update statuses, post photos, and best of all, watch how those updates affected web traffic, leads generated, or conversions (TRANSLATION: YOUR ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES). It was pretty awesome for a geeky chick like me.

This experience in social media for business equipped me with a lot of tools to use when it came time to start developing my own personal brand more. As I was given more opportunity to showcase my skills and experiement with new communications tactics, I saw a need to become more noticeable. I meshed together what I learned in the classroom about public relations with what I was doing at work in the social media sphere. As for what popped out? Well, that’s what we’re discussing. Trust me. I can go on about this for days.

But to keep things simple, let’s just dive into the biggest part of my Facebook brand: my profile page.

My Facebook Profile

If you look at my Facebook profile, you’ll notice I’ve done a few things to enhance my visibility and at the same time, paint myself in the best light. We all want to look our best. It’s just the way we are. Anyways, when you look at my profile, you’ll notice some of the following things (and lessons for personal branding):

  • My Photos:Yes, I have embarrassing photos of me on Facebook. I’ve been photographed in scenes that are less than flattering, but not so much that I have to worry about my professional reputation or career. Most everyone understands that people get caught in unflattering positions from time to time. We’re human. We look like complete idiots on occasion – but that’s okay. However, there’s a fine line.A few posts back, I wrote about social media following you well after you’ve posted. When it comes to the photos, there’s definitely an argument there for keeping things clean. Teachers in particular are faced with harsh scrutiny over the kinds of pictures posted on their pages. We’ve seen photos lead to lost jobs.My perspective on photos is to keep things professional, but still show some personality.If you are covered in vomit and look like a hot mess, don’t post it. If you’re doing something illegal or if you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be, don’t post it. If you’re scantly clad doing a keg stand, don’t post it. If you’re marveling at your physique in an Anthony Weiner-esque moment, you probably shouldn’t post it. Unless you want a scandal on your hands, of course.
  • My Info: I give links to my website and list my interests, as well as my relationship status, schooling, employment, and a few other tidbits. It’s basic information that serves as my elevator pitch. Anyone who looks at my info tab can get a pretty good overview of who I am and what I may know about.So, when it comes to your info tab, say something. Anything. It drives me crazy when people leave all bio information blank. We, as human beings, thirst for more information. The more you provide, the more we’re likely to consume. So, when it comes to your personal brand, be aware that your bio is one of the first forms of information consumption, next to your photos. Take the time to put something together that’s worthwhile or in the very least, put a link to your website so people can learn more about you.
  • My Links: I give links to my other social media profiles, my work, and my website because it’s good cross promotion. I get a fair bit of traffic from Facebook, so something is telling me that it works. If you have an online presence on other sites or have good work to share, post a link – but do so in moderation. I’ve followed marketers and marketing agencies that just throw craptons of links at me. I hate it. I know all of their other connections hate it too. So don’t be that guy. Post links to your stuff and give yourself a shameless plug every once in a while – but don’t make it a habit.
  • My Status Updates:I tend to update a few times per week. When I was in college, I updated daily. No, several times per day. Now that I’m in the 9-5 world, I have less time to update my Facebook. Instead, I update other people’s Facebook pages for a living…hehehe…Back to status updates: keeping your Facebook page updated is a great way to demonstrate your humanity. The things you post can relate back to your expertise, your knowledge, your interests, or even what you’re doing that day. All posts are a gateway to connection and making an impression. If you want to brand yourself a certain way, think about posts that go along with the image you’re trying to promote.Also, be helpful. I’ve built my personal brand around being a helpful person, so you’ll usually find me answering questions, posting resources, or giving feedback when asked. I’ve seen the rewards of being helpful come in a variety of forms. Give it a try. In the meantime, focus on posting updates that reflect YOU. If you’re a writer, post a link to your latest blog post. If you’re an artist, post a photo of your latest work. If you’re a marketer, share a tip. There are plenty of ways for you to demonstrate who YOU are.
  • My Contact Information: This is where personal privacy and preference come in. You’ll have to use your judgement, but for me, I only give some social media networks and an email address to contact me. I don’t want to give other information because, well, it’s just too personal. From a branding perspective, I think giving an email address or an alternate social media profile should suffice. There should be one alternate way to contact you listed besides Facebook.
  • My Likes and Interests:My likes are pretty diverse. You’ll find that I like musical theater and blogging. But I also like Blair Candy. The brands I’ve chosen to like on Facebook are ones that I’m connected with in one way or another. Sometimes it’s a client that I’ve worked with at SC. Other times, it’s a brand I’ve purchased and was pleased with.  Like it or not, people make assumptions and judgements based on the brands you like.People who like Apple products are a great example. Apple has found a way to make their products appear cooler than all others on the planet, and because of that fact, they have troops of brand loyalists spreading iGospel. Anyways, your likes say a lot about you, so consider them when you’re building up your Facebook presence. Seeing that someone “likes” a page can be a great segue into discussion and interaction.
  • My Friends: My great-grandmother use to tell me, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.” A phrase like that sticks with you, so when it comes to my Facebook page, I’m conscious of who I connect with. If you have a friend who keeps posting things on your wall that make upset, you don’t have to be connected with that person. If you have a Facebook friend who thinks it’s funny to tag you in an obscene photo, well, have your 15 seconds of laughter and then deal with it appropriately. The friends you surround you on Facebook are just as important to your online reputation as you are. Trust me – people notice those posting around them.
This is what works for me in terms of my profile. What’s been working for you?

Why I Keep My Page PG-13

The thing about my Facebook page is that I’m connected with a variety of people. Family members. Friends. Classmates. Clients. Co-workers. Industry professionals. Friends of friends. These are people who all hold a stake in my online and offline reputation, which I think most people fail to realize. Everything you put out there on Facebook is there. It will be seen and in some cases, it will be indexed on Google. I tend to keep things light on my Facebook page and always make sure to reread what I post. Some statuses are better left unposted.

Some people may think I’m weak of opinion because I censor my comments. I do use slang and occasional profanity, but for the most part, my Facebook is PG-13. That works for me. Some people build a brand around saying whatever is on their minds, like Redhead Writing. Other people choose to stay pretty vanilla. Personal branding is all about what works for you.

When I do express my opinion, I provide an argument to back it up. When I post about things that are controversial, I make sure that I’m passionate about it first. I’d rather see my Facebook connections disagree with me over something I’m passionate about then start up a personal branding mess with a subject I’m indifferent about.

A solid reputation takes years to build and only seconds to destroy. I wouldn’t want to throw something like that away because I couldn’t control hitting the update button.

Personal Branding Takeaways

I know I just dumped a lot on Facebook and personal branding in this post (and rambled), but the key takeaways you should remember are:

  • Be careful with what you post. Every photo, status update, comment, and interaction with your connections is a direct reflection of who you are. Make sure you’re sending the right message about yourself.
  • Take time to fill out your Facebook page. Give us a picture of who you are by providing us, your connections, with information. You don’t have to give your life story, but at least write down a sentence or two about who you are.
  • Actively network. Facebook is a social network –  so get social! Most Facebook users are lurkers, using the network to check in on old classmates and ex-boyfriends. Instead, maybe make a comment or two. Wish someone a “Happy Birthday!” Like the page of your favorite TV show. You get the most out of Facebook when you actually participate.
This may have been quite the rambling post, but I’d love to get your take. What’s your experience when it comes to building your online reputation and brand with Facebook?
P.S. – You can see (and connect with) my Facebook page in action here: http://www.facebook.com/mandy.boyle
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How I Build My Personal Brand

Research on Iran. by Negar Mottahedeh Social M...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about personal branding, but it seems like now is the perfect time to do so. After completing the #Trust30 Challenge and writing a few reflective posts, I’m ready to get back into marketing, social media, and branding. It’s what I know best and feel most passionate about.

In previous posts and in some of my guest posts, you may have read about ways to strengthen your presence on LinkedIn, blog successfully, or utilize social media tools like Facebook to grow your brand, either as an individual or an organization. In this next series of posts, I’m going to share a behind the scenes look at what I use to grow my own personal brand, both online and offline.

Here’s what you can expect to hear from me:

  • Why I keep things PG-13 on Facebook
  • What social network I’m still exploring
  • Why I have two Twitter accounts
  • What’s in my portfolio
  • How I pay it forward
  • How I was a guest poster even before I got into blogging
I’m not a celebrity in social media by any means. What I’m writing about isn’t gospel, but it’s what’s working for me right now. I’m just sharing my perspective. Other opinions and points of view are welcome!
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