Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’


Shortly after the special election for US Senate in Massachusetts, I “came out” as the person responsible for creating, advocating and “driving” the #41stVote “hash tag” on Twitter.

I was part of the volunteer “Brown Brigade” and one of the many Scott Brown supporters who realized #41stVote was THE key national value proposition of the campaign. Why else would someone in PA (@AngelaRMLash) , Utah (@LadyLibertas93), Alabama (@Victoria_29) or California (friends of @ChuckDeVore) make calls from home, blog about the race, comment on news stories or click the “DONATE” button on a web site? After all, Scott Brown was a relatively obscure Republican State Senator in a presumed “safe haven” for Democrats. Clearly, and justifiably, people questioned the content, transparency and integrity of the health care bill. They saw that it was in their immediate interest–and the immediate national interest–to force Harry Reid “back to the drawing board” by ending his filibuster-proof “super majority” in the US Senate.

#41stVote organized, categorized and crystalized the message. It bonded individual bloggers, tweeters and patriots who wanted common sense conservatism and good government applied not just to health care and other “big bills”, but to all legislative initiatives. Together, these “regular people” became the media! Their clear, powerful and collective plea was: “Stop right there–we can do better!” The voters of Massachusetts agreed, and on 1/19/10, Scott Brown pulled off a political miracle by replacing liberal icon Ted Kennedy in the US Senate.


I contend that Scott Brown’s unlikely and historic victory could be the beginning of what (the prominent and highly respected political analyst) Michael Barone once termed a “critical realignment” in American politics. Grassroots activism, (on and offline), did not simply disappear with Brown’s US Senate campaign. Energized by victories in New Jersey, Virginia and Massachusetts, proponents of common sense conservatism want to know: What’s next? My hope is that their enthusiasm endures and political momentum accelerates across the nation–that is why I’ve created the #Code41 hashtag on Twitter.

#Code41 is a call to action. It is an urgent beckoning to those “regular people” who helped Scott Brown with #41stVote to “keep that truck rolling” across America. If you reject the dubious premises, policies and tactics of Obama, Reid and Pelosi, I urge you to support your favorite candidates, share great content, meet new friends and promote “online democracy” via the #Code41 hashtag.

#Code41 is not sponsored or formally endorsed by any specific candidate, Party, organization, PAC or special interest group. It is simply a #41stVote “spin-off” created to move the “good government” discussion forward at this critical time in our nation’s history.

#41stVote “went viral” and helped save our country from the ill-conceived, pork-laden and potentially disastrous monstrosity called the health care bill. Let’s do it again with #Code41 and restore transparency, integrity and common sense to the political process!


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For decades, companies have mailed “thank you cards” to their clients and colleagues. Expressing gratitude is both a nice thing to do and a sound business practice. In fact, I still recommend this traditional tactic in certain circumstances. However, many  “greener”, cheaper, less time consuming and more modern versions of the Hallmark approach are now available online.

Let’s look at Twitter as an example. Assuming you’ve joined the “great cocktail party” called social media and opened a free Twitter account, there are four basic “thank you” tools immediately at your disposal. (These tools also serve other purposes which I will address at another time.)

The “Retweet” (RT)

(e.g. RT @jslconsulting)

Nothing says “I hear you” quite like the retweet. When someone posts a comment or link that you like, sharing it with your followers is a compliment. The RT is a great way to say “I agree with you…and thanks for providing good content” to a fellow tweeter. I assure you that RTs are appreciated, remembered and often returned.

#FollowFriday (#FF)

(e.g. #FF @ConsultJohn)

Without question, my favorite day to tweet is Friday. The # symbol is called a “hashtag” and it is a method of categorizing Twitter content. When people mention your Twitter handle after typing #FF, they are proclaiming to the world that you are a good “tweet” to follow. They are thanking you for your content and engagement as well as recommending you to their “friends”. Many “real world” business relationships and friendships have developed because of #FF “shout outs”!

Direct Messages (DMs)

RTs and #FFs are viewable in the public “tweet stream”. For a private and more personal approach, you can send a quick note to individual tweeters. DMs are essentially Twitter’s email. Recognizing someone’s efforts is always a good thing, but I would caution you not to promote yourself in the process. (e.g. Don’t “pimp your blog” in the guise of gratitude.) I would also remind you that if someone has 30,000 followers, they may have a backlog of DMs to review. Still, when used properly, kind DMs are generally well received.


A relatively new tool provides users with the capacity to organize, and share with the public, categories of tweeters. The Twitter “list” feature allows your current and prospective followers to quickly scan areas of mutual interest and see who you recommend in any given niche. Listing individuals by category is most often considered a compliment and reason for continued engagement.

RTs, #FFs, DMs and Lists can be deployed together to bolster your brand and build a following. Use them, (at least in part), to show your gratitude, nurture relationships and spread “good karma” on Twitter.

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Hypothetically speaking…

If the real Jesus Christ were logged on to Twitter today, what would he “tweet” about?  Would you follow him? Would he follow back?  Would he engage or just “broadcast”? Clearly, nobody knows for sure, but it might be fun to speculate.


I know I’m on dangerous ground, so let me preface this by saying that there are no heretical intentions here. I am a believer who tries to live by “The Golden Rule”. My mind simply works in strange ways, and I just thought this particular twist might capture more interest than a piece on “Best Practices for using Twitter Hashtags”. I don’t speak for Jesus Christ and he did not approve this message. My goal here is to inspire creative thinking about social media and make a few people smile in the process. I may go straight to hell for many other reasons, but this post will not be one of them!

Any social media “gurus” interested in this job?

OK, with eternal damnation (temporarily) averted, let’s think together. Assume that Jesus Christ, or “@therealJC”, has decided to open a Twitter account (despite being all-knowing and therefore having no need to do so). What would his strategy be? Who would he target? What would he say? Would he use Tweetdeck to categorize his followers? How would he measure the ROI, or results of his campaign? Again, we can’t possibly know, but I challenge all the social media “gurus” out there to think about how they would help @therealJC grow a following and spread his positive message.

I don’t claim to be a “guru”, so I have no intention of creating a campaign in this post, but I do have some thoughts to share.

I BELIEVE that @therealJC would:

  • “get” the general concept of social media
  • see the benefit of  “going viral”
  • love the testimonials and retweets
  • use many “best practices” to grow his following
  • take the time to engage followers individually
  • inject some humor and personality into the conversation
  • retweet good quotes and links to positive articles and videos
  • follow people who offer “value” and are “real”
  • give lots of #FF “shout outs” to good people and non profits
  • share GREAT CONTENT!

I BELIEVE that @therealJC would NOT:

  • @spam
  • just preach or “broadcast”
  • only talk about Himself (or his Dad)
  • Link to the Bible on every “tweet”
  • pay to get 15,000 new followers
  • purchase teeth whitening products
  • keep following anyone who “auto-DMs” Him
  • tweet excessively
  • follow any politicians (none of them “get it” yet)
  • be negative (He might DM the spammers and false prophets though!)

So what might some of Jesus Christ’s tweets look like?

(forgive me Father, for I may be about to sin)

therealJC Just talked with @DAD. We’re cool now. I saw the big picture and got over the tough assignment. #forgiveness

therealJC @porngal272  FYI…you’re beautiful, but no need for you or anyone else to show me hot pix…nothing I haven’t seen or created before.

therealJC @susanboyle You go girl!

therealJC I still cry every time I watch “Brian’s Song”…how about you? Great movie!

therealJC Love you all, but @chrisbrogan is really a great tweeter! #socialmedia

therealJC #FF shout outs to every community group that helps kids at risk! You know where its @!

therealJC RT @DAD “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”

therealJC @lazarus You’re welcome. Nice comeback! #gratitude

therealJC RT@Job “Patience is a virtue!”

therealJC @Judas @Pontius @orneryatheist All is forgiven.

therealJC Went to a party and they ran out of just about everything. Problem was solved…no harm done…good time had by all. Who needs a caterer? LOL!

therealJC Do you treat others as you would like to be treated? #goldenrule

therealJC @Job — recommend you connect with @CubsFan and share. #sympathy

therealJC Look past the teeth and $– @tonyrobbins makes some great points!

therealJC Want inspiration? Check out http//www.thebible.com (New Testament section is an easier read!)

therealJC Who is @ashtonkutcher and why is everyone following him?

therealJC about to experience a fantastic meal with the perfect wine pairing– “heavenly” –tweet you later! PEACE! #food #wine #happiness

Summary/Apology/Last chance for Redemption

So, having not yet been struck by lightning and not wanting to overtweet on behalf of @therealJC, I end with this. I don’t presume to know what Jesus Christ would tweet. I wanted to use an unconventional method to trigger some creative thinking. If anyone is offended, I apologize. But this blog post was more about #comedy #Twitter #Web2.0 and #socialmedia than #religion.

Sixteen years of Catholic school down the drain. I hope it was worth it. If you read this, feel free to comment…and pray for my soul!

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For those who are seeking elective office these days, social media is all the rage.

Candidates are rushing to build Facebook and Twitter followings to facilitate fundraising and volunteer recruitment. Combined with personal calls, “Robocalls”, street signs, traditional media, networking events, e-newsletters, direct mail and old fashioned “shoe leather”, they see social media as another important communication tool at their disposal. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that very few politicians understand what makes social media effective, and I have yet to see a single campaign utilize Web 2.0 “best practices” to maximize results. I contend that those candidates who finally “get it”, and make the commitment to execute properly, will gain a huge competitive advantage over their opponents.

So, why would politicians not use a potentially winning resource to its fullest potential? Here are five reasons.

1. This is still relatively new.

I’ll start by cutting everyone some slack. There is clearly a learning curve that needs to sort itself out. I don’t expect politicians to “get” the nuance of social media right away. Social media can be counter-intuitive at times, and if you haven’t studied it, your traditional mind set will set up barriers to exploration and discovery.

2. Experienced Consultants

Most candidates consult with “experts” who have run successful campaigns before. This makes sense–go with what has worked in the past. Unfortunately, the internet was not around during the Eisenhower Administration, so that “seasoned” consultant may not even know how to check email, let alone plan and implement a social media strategy. This is not a knock on veteran campaigners–they are still critical–it’s just that non-traditional communications need to be approached in a way that is foreign to them. It’s a different strategic process.

3. Time Sensitivity

Many campaigns get off to a late start. A non-candidate often pull papers when he or she sees an opportunity. This adds to the urgency of building a volunteer “army” and raising money. Consequently, the goals of all communication efforts are focused on these necessities. When the goals are limited, the action plan is limited. Building, nurturing and engaging a following over time through commonly accepted Web 2.0 “best practices”– target audience research, personal interactions, great content, humor, etc.–becomes difficult at best. There is simply not enough time to do it right, so candidates invariably become broadcasters and salespeople rather than participants and value providers.

4. It’s all about “ME”!

Social media has been referred to as a giant cocktail party. People will follow you if they think you add value to the conversation and are “real”. Do you want to make friends with the guy at the cocktail party who introduces himself, hands out a business card and immediately asks you to buy his stuff? Of course not. But that’s exactly what politicians are doing on Twitter and Facebook right now. “Look at my photos…Donate to my campaign…Hold my signs…Make some calls for me…Tell all your friends…Join my followers…It’s all about  ME!” This is just as obnoxious as the guy at the party–and exclusively self-centered social media approaches will only alienate prospective voters in the long run.

5. Resources

Even though it’s free to start, effective social media takes time, commitment, strategy, creativity and expertise. Most politicians are understandably event focused and time constrained. They delegate or subcontract specific duties to volunteers and paid consultants. Budgets and staffs are often limited, but candidates want to get on board with this new marketing phenomenon somehow. Unfortunately, tasking interns to broadcast their every move on Facebook is a poor substitute for a fully integrated social media campaign.

Free advice to political candidates

Given “the nature of the beast”, some broadcasting will always be necessary. With that said, it’s clearly time for a mind set change. While traditional campaigning still works, social media efforts, planned and implemented properly, will yield tangible results–money, volunteers, “trust” and votes. So bite the bullet, even if it’s out of your own pocket and the election is right around the corner. Hire Web 2.0 experts. Work with them and try to understand the key strategic differences between old and new marketing.  If your message is compelling and you are perceived as a decent human being, the return on investment will be astronomical.

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Ah, the cry of the Twitter newbie! I’ve heard it several times now. At first, I just smiled and offered some basic tips; but when I thought about it for a while, I saw some deeper relevance.

Where are you going? That’s a really important question to ask yourself or your company before you start “tweeting”.

Are you on Twitter just to see how it works? Are you just scouting the competition? Are you hyping a new product or service? Are you running for office or conducting personal promotion? Do you want to focus on events only? Do you have a target audience in mind? Is your company special in any way? How do you want your “brand” to be perceived? Are you willing to “engage” or are you just planning to “broadcast”. (I don’t recommend the latter, by the way.) What “value” do you bring to the table?

In short, why are you doing this at all? You must be able to answer that question with some degree of specificity or you will waste precious time and resources on a long, winding road to nowhere.

Social media is revolutionizing the marketing business. I believe it’s one of the greatest tools currently available for both B2B and B2C communications. But without strategic planning and careful tactical implementation, “Web 2.0” is far from a panacea. In fact, you can do a lot of damage to your company or brand if you don’t use this powerful medium correctly.

So whether you’re thinking of using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or any of the others, take the time to first ask yourself what exactly you’re trying to accomplish and why it would benefit your target audience. Focusing on the “what?” and “why?” will help you choose the “how?”. It will limit the parameters of your social media policy, prevent costly mistakes and increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of your campaign.

Like kids who always ask “why?”, Twitter newbies sometimes say the “darnedest” (and, however unwittingly, “profoundest”) things!

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Politics. It’s an ugly word in social media circles. All the so-called “gurus” advise against talking about it.

Too controversial. You could alienate your friends and prospects. Neck and neck with religion, it is the topic to avoid at cocktail parties. Keep everything positive. Be nice. Show people you care about them. Provide value…I get it already!

But some of us who really care think decisions made and actions taken by elected (and appointed) officials are extremely relevant, not only to our business and personal lives but also to those of our children and grandchildren. If that is indeed true, why is the subject really taboo? Are we “burying our heads in the sand” to avoid confrontation?  Are we too busy to become sufficiently interested and informed? Are we so alienated by “government” in general that we see no difference between the parties? Is losing a current client or prospect more important than losing a future?

Admittedly, I’m a political junkie, but I am also a business consultant, real estate broker, homeowner and taxpayer. I’m single and have no kids, but most of my friends are married or divorced parents. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that politics matters to us, and it probably should to you as well. Every day, it impacts our income, health, safety and overall quality of life–and it will continue to do so indefinitely.

Now, more than ever, there are significant differences between mainstream political parties and candidates in the US. To ignore these differences and hope for the best is both naive and dangerous. Are you immune to political outcomes? If you’d prefer a middle ground to an extreme, shouldn’t you let that be known? Don’t you want to be heard? Our choices today will affect us for decades to come. We’d better choose wisely.

In a way, the recent economic downturn and associated rancor has been good for the country. It has opened a dialogue on the role of government in a free and democratic society. It has sparked discussions about liberty, the Constitution, the plight of the poor, business and governmental ethics and many other important issues. For a former political science major who writes a blog called “The Bigger Picture”, this is good news!

The bad news is that as ideological gaps widen, the level of participation increases and an already heated dialogue intensifies. In such an environment, political passion tends to overtake logical debate. This is where I agree with the social media experts who caution me about mixing business and politics on Facebook, Twitter and other venues. Screaming louder won’t solve anything. Personal attacks are both petty and counterproductive. I will lose you if you think I’m a total jerk!

I contend, however, that there is a relatively “safe zone” when it comes to discussing politics via social media. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Socialists, Communists–labels don’t matter in this context. Here’s what does:

  1. Be polite.
  2. Be calm.
  3. Listen.
  4. Be prepared.
  5. Don’t take it personally.
  6. Disagree respectfully.
  7. Find some common ground (if at all possible).
  8. Part as friends (or at least don’t shoot each other!).

I understand that this is a difficult task, especially when diametrically opposed viewpoints collide. If both sides agree to all of the rules, however, it’s the only possible way to successfully mix the “oil and water” called politics and social media.

I would never recommend a focus on politics for my business clients–it’s quite obvious that they should concentrate on their core missions and value propositions. If, on the other hand, a political discussion becomes relevant to their company, customers or community, I would hope that they would feel empowered to express themselves in both a compelling and civil manner.

Taking a stand on key political issues via social media is clearly dangerous in a business sense, but absolutely critical to “The Bigger Picture”.

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One of my ex girlfriends used to speak in cliches. It was irritating and it certainly contributed to our break up, (well, that and the dead bunny…but I’ll spare the details). I mean, really, she could string ten or twelve together without breathing or blinking. Pretty creepy, now that I think about it.

I definitely have to thank her though. (And for the purpose of this piece, I’ll just give her a fictitious name…let’s say… “Glenn Close”). One of her favorite expressions was: “Talk what you know!” I used to find that annoying, especially since I always knew what I was talking about, “Glenn” never did, and she fell back on the cliche to extricate herself from a hopeless, no-win discussion.

But, since I started blogging, I’ve been searching for creative inspiration and this particular personality quirk has lit the proverbial light bulb. I knew there had to be a legitimate reason for me to have dated “Glenn Close”–it just took me a couple of decades to figure it out!

“Talk what you know!”

If you’re with me on Twitter or Facebook, you know I that I pay attention to and comment on politics. I’m often reprimanded by “followers” and “social media gurus” who think it’s inappropriate, mean-spirited or “not in keeping with Web 2.0 best practices”. I understand their point and try to keep my “rants” substantive and polite so I don’t alienate friends or prospective clients.

But every once in a while, (and it has become more frequent as our national debates intensify), someone wants to either argue with me or add supportive talking points “for” me in a public forum, like a Facebook “wall”. To this ensemble of well-intentioned allies, pseudo-intellectuals, amateur comedians and, I’m sorry to be so blunt, total whack jobs, I say: “Talk What You Know”!

If you’re “on my side” and post a publicly viewable, curse-filled short story, complete with 72 misspellings and no supportive data, you’re not helping. Save the babble for your own “wall”! If you want to argue with me, keep to the point, address the subject at hand and try not to spew venom toward me or the referenced “talking head” or political figure.

“Talk what you know!”

If you want to fight about, say, pending legislation, please read it first. If you want to tell me what a jerk I am, please do it privately and back it up with some substance. If you want to make a joke at my expense or criticize another “wall” contributor via comedy, make sure you’re actually funny!

“Talk what you know!”

On Twitter, if you are “tweeting” about “SEO” and you don’t even know what the acronym means, you might want to reconsider. Focus on your area of expertise and provide real value, not “smoke and mirrors”. You will eventually be exposed and “unfollowed” if you ignore this advice! And, (this is one of my favorites), using ALL CAPS does not mean you’re any smarter than the next “twit”.

“Talk what you know!”

I could go on, but you get my point. Whether we agree or disagree, like or dislike each other, a good discussion, opinion exchange or argument must be grounded in fact. Why do you believe what you believe? Prove the flaws in my position. Show me what influenced you when you formed your opinion. I’m a reasonable person…maybe you’ll persuade me…but I’m staying right where I am unless you “talk what you know”.

Thanks for the inspiration, “Glenn”. All is forgiven (except for the bunny)!

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