In March as winter sunsets, we always head to a nearby beach on Long Island Sound. It’s the kind of beach day that urges you to bring warm coats to break the cool wind. As we walk over the dunes and see the crest of the waves beyond, we can smell the sea air. As the kids stroll onto the jetty, the sky behind them is lit up by a colorful March sky. This month’s night sky is full of wonders, including the winter solstice which we can’t wait to gaze at through our telescope.
The warmth of the sun comforts us, it’s been a long winter here in Connecticut. The beach plums are brimming with buds, waiting to show their blossoms. The occasional insect peaks out as we hike around the boardwalk. As we pass an occasional reminder of New England storm damage, the area is still beautiful and we are grateful that we have this close by.
My daughter is home from college on a break and our seven-year-old son is thrilled to spend time with her. He beckons her to come fly a kite with her. With a colorful kite tail twirling behind him, he squeals with delight. Suddenly I know all is well.
Our footprints show a clear path to who we have become. We took every step and learned along the way. No regrets…. as we would not be the unique and special people we are without each step. Leave great footprints behind for others to follow. A few days ago, I went snowshoeing on a beautiful sunny winter day. As I was stepping through the crust of the crispy snow, it felt like I had no clear path that day. Yet when I turned around to look at my footprints, I noticed that I had been walking a straight path. This reminds me of life. Each step we take leads us to our future. It is important to realize that others, especially our children may follow us. Lead with your path, one step at a time remembering who will follow.
Do you ever feel like you’re a little fish in a big pond when using social media? Well you are! In fact 85% of the population has access to the Internet and hundreds of millions more are getting online each year. There are many credible online sources that can verify the numbers, but my point is that we have this amazing ability to connect to billions of people right here and right now.
Like schools of fish, Internet users benefit from their many connections. We can selectively and instantly connect to 85% of the population, which gives us amazing opportunities that people did not have twenty years ago. We can quickly find resources, employment opportunities, romance, help with problems, cures, old friends and family, and raise awareness for causes to name a few. Most of us have not even started to tap into the resources available to us because the Internet and social media are and still in their pioneering stages. We have so much to learn and more to gain. I often wonder what the digital landscape will look like when my seven-year-old is an adult, how he will use the Internet and if I will be able to keep up with all the new media? The future is exciting and I plan to learn more about new media , and perhaps even invent ways to harness the power of the growing mobile and digital population. I’ll let you know what I find out.
You don’t have to be the Pope, the Army, or the President , to profit from engaging in social media. Small businesses can benefit from using “New New” Media as well.
Today’s small companies are increasingly busy, and many use social media to drive customer traffic to their stores. They also keep track of important messages their suppliers and the competition are sending out. One of the most important steps for any social media plan is to monitor the conversations that are going on in the industry. Small business operators can find relevant ways to take part of the social conversation. Since many small business owners are not part of a larger bureaucracy, they can be flexible and innovative.
Anyone, who has Twitter account, can see how the small businesses have engaged with their customers using Twitter and other media sites to promote everything from driving up coffee sales, offering links to coupons, to hiring employees by using social networking sites.
This is a quick and easy way to connect with customers on a daily basis and deepen relationships with existing customers. By building a social network of followers on Twitter for other social media forums, they also benefit from the networking retweeting their offers and messages.
Take a look on Twitter and you see small retailers tweeting gas points, coffee and breakfast specials with promo codes right in the message. Customers just need to bring their smartphones into the store to redeem the discounted or free items. Some retailers hold contests online where customers can win free gift cards just for following them on social media. While there is an investment for small businesses to engage in social media, the benefits may make it worth the effort. There is a small business social media conference that is targeted specifically to that group. I would recommend it to small business owners as they can attend online. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/oTMSna
Photo Source: Army Twitter Page
It seems appropriate, that since I’ve blogged about social media and politics, also social media and religion, that the Army social media campaigns also need to be mentioned. The official home page of the United States Army (http://www.army.mil/media/socialmedia/) is a page they have designed specifically around social media. Given the average age of potential new Army recruits, and existing members of the Army, this makes sense. The audience is younger and tuned into social media. The Army page has links listed to Twitter, Pintrest, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Vimeo, and Army Live Blog. I’m sure there will be more sites eventually. The dedicated YouTube Channel allows clutter free viewing of Army videos.
What is likely different about this site is that it is subject to Army guidelines and they can remove things that may threaten security, or perhaps their reputation. The Army social media effort is most likely closely monitored. Most of the contacts listed have only Facebook links and not all the other sites listed on the main page.
The most influential organizations use social media with great success. Now more individuals should learn how to utilize it to enhance their own careers, or just their lives.
Today, I noticed that the Pope opened Twitter accounts in seven different languages. It makes sense that he would want a way to instantly connect to the 1.2 billion followers the Church has, and evangelize to those that don’t. I’m not sure what the Pope will do with his Twitter account as he has not sent one message out yet. Image that just by opening an account millions of people will likely sign up in the next few days. That first Tweet will be in the spotlight, in the news, and spread across all social media platforms quickly.
I viewed hundreds of Tweets today to the Pope, some welcoming, some very nasty. I’m sure the Vatican was expecting to open up a dialog, with the World about Religion and other topics. It was a little surprising to me that an institution that has been relatively private (the Vatican) would open its doors to such a public, social venue like Twitter. However, it’s also an opportunity for the Church to reach out to millions with any messages they send out. I’m looking forward to finding out if social media will make the Pope seem more open and less of a figure we only see waving from a balcony. Hopefully, the Pope’s social media effort will show the human side of the Pope.
It’s fun to see what people say after the election of a President of the United States. It’s easy to be a “Monday Morning Quarterback” and sound right. Given the high positions of these high-tech leaders, most of them played it safe when giving their opinions on Twitter. They represent professional organizations backed by investors so their comments were tailored to a more conservative Twitter style.
The slide show, “10 Top Election Tweets From Tech Executives” at http://bit.ly/WvGrem, highlights some of their low-key comments as most of them played it safe either congratulating Obama or encouraging people to always vote. Eric Schmidt played it safe telling Twitter followers to vote and visit Google.
However, some high-profile Tweeters made mistakes complaining loudly, and with anger at the outcome of the election. Donald Trump unloaded his famous comments on Twitter with some inaccuracies to make things worse. He later removed his Tweets but found many people had seen them and copies were sent around. Of course, he does not report to anyone so he can decide what’s best for his image.
The bottom line is that you can’t change the outcome so it might be best to stay away from your smart devices when you are very angry about politics and other topics. If you are in a leadership position in Corporate American that is good advice.
It’s timely that I was taking a social media course this year when an election was held. Not any election, but a Presidential Election that involved Barack Obama, considered to have taken the lead in using social media to win an election. One outcome of the social media blitzes around elections is that many people are introduced to social media beyond just talking to friends on Facebook. By tracking polls, candidates and news around the election, people begin to see how social media can work for them. For example, if social media can help get a President elected, then what can it do for an individual looking for a job? The article below shows how educational institutions used the election to teach students about the use of social media. It also gave great examples of how people change their behavior around social media. For example, “unfriending” people because they did not agree with your own politics. The entire election was a great teaching platform for anyone wanting to learn more about social media.
Photo Source: IDF Twitter Page
The term social media has historically referred to online social interactions between friends, posting photos of family and sharing them. People advanced to using social media to sharing information, news stories, opinions and comments.
Today, social media has taken on a new role in politics and war. Nations like Egypt and Tunisia use social media to help each other liberate their countries from dictators. People in oppressed regions learn from nations who have used social media to solve problems.
Last week however, social media took on a new role when Twitter was used by Israel to declare war on Hamas. An article on the use of Twitter by Israel to declare war said that this Tweet was used, “terror sites and operatives in the #Gaza strip, chief among them #Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets.”
The article (http://bit.ly/QHaXF6 ) discusses how Israel used a Twitter campaign to manage communications about their intent toward Hamas. Compared to other Twitter campaigns that announce new phones or games, we can see that social media campaigns can also be used for war and terrorist activities. As the article states, welcome to 2012.