Wednesday, January 30, 2013

6 Reasons to Finally Join Twitter

Twitter has exploded as a social media platform in the past two years. It is a key part of many organization’s social media strategy. And yet there are still many who are unsure if Twitter is for them.

If you are on the fence or haven’t given the platform serious thought why not consider?


1. Is the best news feed: If you’re following a few reputable sources of news you’ll quickly learn that more often than not you’ll hear about the news first on Twitter. Over time you’ll also pick up other good sources of news and before you know it you’ll be as dependent on Twitter for news as any of your more traditional sources.

You do need to be smart and remain skeptical of unlikely sounding news until it is confirmed by multiple sources, but nevertheless for timely news Twitter is hard to beat. You can find some of the most popular news sources on Twitter here: The top 25 most viral news sources.

2. Is a great learning tool: The University of Twitter, if you like. By following people who share good content that is relevant to you, your career and/or your stage of life you get a constant stream of useful information. And, best of all, it comes to you in manageable 140-character bursts – if you want more, you click the link. This article might help: Choosing Who To Follow On Twitter.

3. Allows complete control of what you see: You only see content from people you choose to follow. You can block any people who follow you and you don’t want to be associated with. And best of all it is completely transparent therefore although there are spammers they are few and far between (and often shut down in minutes if not hours).

If someone does send you an "@" message (public message directed at you and you don’t like what they are saying and/or didn’t ask for it) you can tag them as a spammer and block them.

There are also numerous ways to organize your Twitter stream from tools such as Tweetdeck and Hootsuite – see 10 Twitter Tools Used by Social Media Experts – to simpler approaches such as Twitter lists

4. Makes better connections than other social media: You follow people who share interesting content and that is often material retweeted (RT) from someone they follow. This way you can check out new Twitter profiles and find interesting people to connect with on Twitter. One of the biggest differences between Facebook and Twitter is that the former is closed (you have to be friends with others to chat) and on the latter you don’t.

I’m connected to people around the world – many of whom I feel I know quite well although our only interactions for several years now have been via Twitter. When traveling I try to meet these people in real life and it is always a rewarding experience. Here are some tips on how to grow your Twitter presence.

5. Makes you a better writer: Before you dismiss this too quickly, think about this: In Twitter you need to say something of value in 140 characters or less – a lot less if you’re going to include a URL and leave room for others to retweet your message. This forces you to think about word choices (as well as teaching you a lexicon of creative abbreviations). This might be helpful: The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines.

6. Builds communities of interest: Joining a regular tweetchat on a topic you care about will get you in front of others and a chance to find more interesting people to follow. A tweetchat is when people follow a given hashtag (#smgrchat, a social media community manager chat, for example) at a given time each week or month. Someone moderates by posing questions and anyone can jump in with their answers or their own questions. This is a great professional development opportunity. To find a chat on a topic you care about: List of Tweetchats By Day of Week.

One big reason NOT to join Twitter

If you’re only interested in connecting with family and friends you should stick to Facebook. Everything on Twitter is public unless you protect your tweets. If you protect your tweets you won’t get many followers (Who wants to follow a hidden account?), so really, what’s the point?

So, are you convinced? Will you join Twitter now?

Related posts:
Twetiquette: 10 basics for Twitter politeness
Twitter "Expert" or Twitter "Twit"?
10 Tips for Better Business Tweeting

Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Online You, Part 3: Professional Reputation Management Services

Is professional reputation management in your future?
Is professional reputation
management for you?
Cleaning up your online image can be a do-it-yourself project.

Once you’ve found mentions of yourself all over the web and cleaned up the obvious stuff the next step is to take care of undesirable material across search engines and social platforms. But at some point you may need professional help.

This is the third of a 3-part series on how you can assess and improve your online self.

Today: Professional reputation management services

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are services I’ve looked into and felt were worth sharing:

BrandYourself: From its site: "BrandYourself is the only Do-It-Yourself platform that empowers anyone to improve their own search results." A free account gets you a report on where you stand right now in Google search and allows you to connect up to three positive links that can be "boosted" higher in Google search results. A professional account – $49.99 for six months or $79.99 for a year – gets you the opportunity to "boost" as many links you want.

Qnary: From the website: "Qnary empowers you to take control of that data, put the true you on display online and benefit from your personal information." A free account gives you a score based on your publicly available online data and offers a range of "managed services" for a fee. From its site: "People don't ask you for character references anymore, they ask Google. And what Google shows people - accurate or not - is your reputation." The company offers a free quote and paid services including suppression of misleading or inaccurate links, monitoring and protecting you from online attacks, and increasing your online credibility and authority.

Reputation Changer: From its site: “… online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of giving people and businesses full control over their online search results.” The company offers a free 30-day trial and offers services including burying negative content that might show up in search, managing online reputation across search engines and social platforms.

DeleteMe: This service from Abine says it "hides your information on the web." Services start at $99 per year and include removal of photos and contact, personal and social information, monitoring of information about you on the web and a reduction in unwanted spam, phone calls and junk mail. 

Do you know of other services that are useful? Are you concerned about your online reputation?

Previous posts:
A New Year: A New Online You - Part 1
A New Online You, Part 2: Platform by Platform

Friday, January 4, 2013

A New Online You, Part 2: Platform by Platform

Know how to remove information on social networks
Check each social network
And now the cleanup begins! Once you've found mentions of yourself all over the web and cleaned up the stuff you control the next step is to take care of undesirable material across search engines and social platforms. 

This is the second of a three-part series on how you can assess and improve your online self. (For Part 1, see A New Year: A New Online You)

Today: Cleaning up your reputation platform by platform

Google offers a variety of pages that help you clean up content on the web:
   • Steps for removing content on someone else's site from Google Search results
   • Report or remove content from Google’s services
   • How to keep personal information out of Google Search results
   • Request removal of an image
   • Request removal of a cached page
   • To report concerns over YouTube content

   • Check your Timeline for material that should be deleted.
   • Check your Photos folder and untag yourself from any images that you no longer wish to be associated with.

And for "Friends" who insist on posting stuff you find objectionable or feel may reflect poorly on you:
   • Step 1: Sign in to your Facebook account.
   • Step 2: Scroll through the news feed in the center of your home page to find the offensive item that you want to delete.
   • Step 3: Hover your mouse pointer over the top right-hand corner of the post to reveal the down-arrow button. Click the down-arrow button.
   • Step 4: Select “Hide Story” from the context menu to delete the offensive post.
   • Step 5: Select “Unsubscribe From [Username]” in the context menu to delete the offensive post and remove all other posts from the user who posted the item.  

Other tips:
   • If you select the Unsubscribe option, Facebook will stop displaying updates or posts from the user in your news feed.
   • You can also report Facebook members who post inappropriate or offensive material. Click on the user’s name in any of his posts in your news feed. Scroll to the bottom of the left-hand menu under the user’s profile picture. Click the blue Report/Block link. Click the radio button beside Block or Unfriend to completely block the user or just remove him from your friends list. Click the button that best describes why you want to report the user; Click Continue to submit the report to Facebook.
   • Report a Facebook Page for offensive content by clicking the "Report this Page" link at the bottom left-hand corner of the Page.

Linkedin: To hide entire sections of your profile:
   • Step 1: Place your cursor over the menu displaying your name at the top of the page and then click "Settings."
   • Step 2: Click "Edit Your Public Profile" under the "Helpful Links" category near the bottom of the page. Options for hiding your profile's content then appear under "Profile Content" on the bottom right side of the page.
   • Step 3: Click "Make My Public Profile Visible to No One" to hide all profile information from appearing.
   • Step 4: Click "Make My Public Profile Visible to Everyone" to show your profile and selected information to the public.
   • Step 5: Clear the box beside any categories listed below this option to hide different sections of your profile, including your headline, current and past positions, certifications, education, websites, groups, interests and skills. However, you can't hide your name, industry, location and number of recommendations.
   • Step 6: Click "Go Back to Settings" to apply the changes.

To Edit or Delete content inside sections of your profile:
• Go to "Profile" on the top left-hand side.
• Click on "Edit Profile" and then click on the section you would like to edit.
• It gives you the option to edit current information, and add and remove content from the section you choose.

   • To report violations such as harassment, impersonation or name squatting, or breach of privacy

Desperate measures:
   • Tweeteraser allows for specific word searches or by-date searches to find tweets you’d like to delete
   • Twitwipe will erase all of your tweets (or at least as many as it can get to)
   • How to deactivate your account

   • Report objectionable content, spam, a user or a comment

   • Step1: Go to Instagram, click on "Support"
   • Step 2: Click on "Privacy & Safety Center"
   • Step 3: Select the appropriate category

Of course as much as possible you should not ever post anything online that you might regret later. But if you or others have, these links should help.

So what other platforms should you check out and clean up?

Previous post: A New Year: A New Online You

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year: A New Online You

Look at all your online presences
Look at all your online presences
The New Year is a great time to assess how you appear to the online world.

Are there unflattering comments about you on a blog post? Are you tagged in inappropriate images on Facebook? Are there things attached to your name online that give the wrong impression?

You exist online in so many places you’ve likely lost track of how the world sees you. So use the excitement of New Years to do an inventory of your online presences and your overall online image. Then get busy with your online makeover.

This is the first of a three-part series on how you can assess and improve your online self.

Today: Where you are now online and the basic clean up

Step 1: Search for yourself online: Things to remember …
   • Use quote marks around your name and the most-common variations of your name
   • In Google, make sure that the Personal/Global results button (upper right on the Google search window) is toggled to Global so you’re seeing the results that the rest of the world sees
   • Go through at least the first five pages of results – the first 10 to 12 would be better
   • Also look at other services such as 123People
   • Check all results that are unfamiliar/surprising and make a note of the results you’d like to change or delete

Step 2: Clean up the obvious:
For pages and accounts you control:
   • Make sure all of the "About" and "Bio" sections of all online accounts are accurate and devoid of typos
   • Edit and improve your Google profile, which is a public bio that comes up as one of the top search results for your name
   • Delete posts from your blog that don’t show you in the best light

For pages and accounts you don’t control:
   • (From Google) Contact the owner of the web page or the webmaster and work with them to get the problematic content updated or removed
   • (From Google) Work with the appropriate legal authorities to get the content removed from the web

Step 3: Overwhelming the negative: One do-it-yourself approach to getting rid of negative web content is to bury it with positive content. For example, by starting a blog and posting to it regularly.Other ideas:
   • Comment on other, highly rated, blogs
   • Ensure that content you control (your blog, for example) is correctly tagged and the text is search engine optimized
   • Seek endorsements and recommendations on Linkedin (and only display the most positive)
   • Help others on social networks in your area of professional expertise
   • Accept opportunities to be quoted in the media (and therefore on their websites)

These are just a few of the things you can do to improve your online reputation.

Next up: How to work with Google and the biggest social networks to clean up negative or other inappropriate content; to be followed by a guide to professional services that help clean up your online image.

What other steps would you recommend to clean up an online image?