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    Entries in Social Media (39)


    Three lessons from getting caught offline unexpectedly

    Everyone runs into this at one point or another - a sudden, unexpected, and uncertain as to the duration period where you are knocked offline, out of contact, and unable to do just about any real work. It happened to me this week, and I have to admit I was not really unprepared as to how to make the best (or at least not have it be the worst), of a tough situation.

    These days, even a short stint of being out of contact can quickly escalate into a pretty dire set of circumstances - incoming messages pile up at an alarming rate, people are not sure why you are not getting back to them, (since you didn't know you needed to alert them), and certain folks begin to resort to alternate/additional means of contacting you when Option 'A' fails. To the person who followed up their email to me with a call, text, LinkedIn message, Twitter DM, AND Facebook message - this one is directed at you.

    So what did I learn from the aftermath of being offline and off-guard for a few days that might help me be better able to handle such a situation should it occur again in the future? I can think of three big and simple things, plus one request for a tool that if it existed, would have helped me out immensely.

    1. Making sure I had the actual phone numbers programmed into my phone of the most important 5 people that I am currently worknig with on various projects.  When you rely on email for about 95% of your work communication, and you are forced into a situation where you only have access to a phone, (and no charger), have extremely limited windows of time where you can work,  then trying to get much of anything done in email only for an extended period is just about impossible. Sometimes you have to just connect via phone to get anything done, and not having all of the numbers I needed at hand was a huge barrier to getting anything done.

    2. Figuring out how to set up an 'Out of the Office' auto-responder when having access only to the email apps on my phone. Like I mentioned, I was caught off guard to being out of touch and I didn't know how long I would be essentially out of reach. From the apps I use on my phone for my various email accounts, I was unable, (given my limited time and attention), to set up the classic 'Out of the Office' auto-responders that while not perfect, at least would have given people trying to get in touch with me a general sense of what to do or expect. I need to figure out how to make that work.

    3. Setting up 'smarter' email filtering. In the few moments I had to take a look at my email, I was simply overwhelmed with the volume of 'non-essential' messages I had to sift through in order to find the ones that did, truly matter. I have to take some time, find some add-on tools if needed, and set up a smarter system for tagging and filtering incoming messages to keep the Inbox clean of non-important items and more easily surface what is actually important. When you are working only with a phone, in very short time intervals, you need to only see what is needed.

    So those are the three things I need to do to be ready to handle this situation the next time it comes up. But there is one thing I don't know how to do at all, because I don't think it exists, and that is how to set up the equivalent of the email 'Out of the Office' auto-responder on all of the other ways that people try and connect these days. Like I mentioned, when some emails were going unresponded to, I started getting LinkedIn messages, Twitter mentions, and texts, and there is not any way that I know of to have one, universal, 'Out of the office' that would cover all of these methods and platforms. Which is why, I continue to contend, they are mostly terrible for business communication. So please, someone build a tool (and it has to be an App), that can make the 'Out of the Office' universal across other apps and platforms besides email.

    Ok, that is it. Now back to trying to catch up!


    DINOSAUR ALERT: When the new leader doesn't 'Get' social media

    You know what says 'I am pretty much out of step with most of the major developments and trends of the last decade or so?"

    A quote like this:

    I don't like social media. I don’t like it at all. I don’t know anything about it. I don’t do it, I don’t use it, I really don’t want anybody to know where I’m at all the time or what I’m eating.

    That might be a perfectly reasonable and harmless opinion if it was coming from say, your Grandma, or if it was uttered by someone 5 or 7 years ago when it still was not totally clear that Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and Twitter would scale to the levels that back then would have seemed impossible to comprehend.

    And in business and marketing that might be an acceptable position on social media from someone buried in the innards of the organization, with no external-facing role or responsibility, and limited ability to influence others on social networks. I would still probably argue that most professionals can extract value and work on personal/professional development goals using social media as a tool, but in a big picture sense if the assistant accounting manager doesn't believe in Twitter or LinkedIn, that really is not that big a deal for the organization.

    But the above block quote wasn't taken from a recent conversation with Grandma, or from an article in Time Magazine in 2006, or even from some late night TV show random 'person on the street' skit. No, this quote was from the new Head Coach National Football League club the San Francisco 49ers, a Mr. Jim Tomsula. The new head coach doesn't 'get' social media, doesn't participate, and quite frankly can't understand why any of the rest of us do either.

    And this might not be a big deal, at least taken at face value, in the context of a football coach. After all, NFL head coaches are notorious lunatics workaholics, often spending 80 - 100 hours a week on the job, watching film, preparing game plans, and running practices. When you work crazy hours under crazy pressure like that, who has time to worry about Twitter and Instagram and the like? Cerainly not Jim Tomsula.

    But I think it is kind of a big deal, when a new, high-profile leader in the organization like Tomsula expresses those kinds of dinosaur-like opinions about social media. Sure, he, or any other prominent organizational leader doesn't really have to be some kind of Twitter personality, but in 2015, they need to at least acknowledge and hopefully understand something about the business importance of social media. And as a leader of people, many are very active on social media, (the 49er players, mainly), Tomsula has to be able to take his head out of the sand and at least attempt to relate to these players and understand their use of social media from their perspective. 

    And lastly, when a leader like this expresses these kinds of backwards opinions it begs the question of whether or not they will be open to any kinds of newer, innovative approaches to business, leadership, and their specifc industry. A huge shift in professional sports management over the last 20 years has been the dramatic rise in importance of advanced statistics and analytics for measuring both player performance and in the creationof game plans and strategies.

    Will this modern and new approach be embraced by a leader like Tomsula? Or will he not 'get' that either, and wonder why anyone would waste their time running regression analysis on last week's play selections instead of monitoring the players push around the blocking sled for the 897th time.

    A leader not 'getting' social media is fine. Maybe. But what it might say about the leader's ability to 'get', anything not exactly in line with their view of the world is more troubling still.

    Have a great week!



    On not being active on a social network

    I was having a real business (I swear) conversation with a colleague recently, when the subject turned to another person (Person X) with which both myself and my colleague are very well acquainted. I mentioned that I had not heard from Person X in quite some time, and I wondered why this person had not taken time to contact me (the context, of which the specifics don't really matter), was that in my view this person really should have reached out to me on some things and he/she had not for a long time. 

    My colleague said something along the lines of 'Person X is really active on Facebook. Just post something on their wall if you want to get in touch with him/her.'

    And I kind of cringed for two reasons I suppose. One, I don't really want to do 'business' on Facebook, and two, in truth I don't really want to do anything on Facebook. I have an account there sure, I am not a Luddite, but I don't check it all that often, I never post anything other than my blogs and the HR Happy Hour Shows that auto-post there, and for the most part I just ignore the site. I still am reasonably active on Twitter (mostly for professional reasons) and for personal/social kinds of things, I use Instagram.

    But that's just me. Most folks have their preferred ways of online social interaction, for both their business and for their personal reasons, and I don't suggest that anyone's approach is wrong or right or even that anyone should agree with me.  But to this situation with me and Person X, who is (it seems) conducting a lot of business via Facebook, it looks like unless one of us moves to change our preferred methods of interaction, we will keep missing each other for the most part. I guess that is just how it is.

    That's a long pre-amble to a shorter, more obvious point. We, or most of us surely, if we are actually busy with real work, family, friends, etc., simply can't be that active, present, and aware of all the things that are going on in our industries across the myriad of social platforms (and in-person events), all of the time. After some time of trying to keep aware and active of industry people and news and events and even opportunities on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, (and often using multiple personas or accounts), I think at least for me, that eventually you have to settle on the one or two that you either enjoy the most, or, get the most value from. For me, it is Twitter and Instagram. For others, like Person X, it seems to be Facebook.

    And that small difference, that seemingly insignificant divergence in preferences, (and yes, I know that I could just CALL this Person X, but who does that any more?), actually does become pretty significant over time.

    Back in the day, when you as a 12 year old kid moved away from your home town you basically lost all contact with your circle of friends and had to start all over from scratch in your new town and school. Even though you could have still stayed in touch with your old friends, you almost never did. It just was too burdensome to call or send letters or postcards when you could just walk outside and interact with your new friends instead.

    That is kind of how I look at my old friends/associates over on Facebook now in a way. Sure, I could go over there and see what is going on, but it's just easier to not do that, and stay where I have become more comfortable. So I am missing out, I guess. So be it. That is what not being present on a platform can do to you in 2015. 

    Person X, give me a call sometime.


    Job Titles of the Future #12 - Professional Selfie Retoucher

    According to Business Insider, the reality TV personality Kim Kardashian spends upwards of $100K to keep a 'professional selfie retoucher' on call, who stands (or sits more likely) at the ready, poised to edit, smooth, crop, and apply just the right Instagram filter (I am a 'Hudson' fan myself), to her selfies and other photos prior to posting them to her millions of social media followers.

    If it sounds ridiculous, it is because it is ridiculous. But I think at least half of why it is ridiculous is the kind of silly name this job has been bestowed, and the kind of silly protagonist of the story. Kim Kardashian retaining a professional selfie editor to be on call is comical, but what about an author, sports figure, politician, or CEO engaging consulting services to protect, augment, and improve their online personas? Maybe not so silly.

    It must be a really big deal, and a important part of her business strategy, for Kim to be seen in a certain manner in her social media posts and activity. She must have figured out what her fans want and expect, and paying $100K to make sure she delivers on those expectations must be worth it to her in the long run.

    But in some ways it is not just reality TV stars or athletes or actors that rely on social media image and presence as a big part of their business strategy. Lots of 'normal' people do to. We are all, as long as we participate in blogs or on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, placing some importance (and risk) in how our intelligence, professionalism, and value are interpreted via our posts and pictures and, yes, our selfies.

    And lots of us try to be really careful about what we post. Not just in that 'I better not post that pic of me and the boys doing tequila shots', but also along the lines of 'Does this picture make me look smart/cool/happening/likable/on 'brand'?' You know you think about that. Everyone does. Think about how much you crop and filter and edit those Instagram and Facebook pics before you load them. It isn't just about you wanting to be the next Ansel Adams.

    It's just that you and me and almost everyone else makes these determinations and manipulations of our preferred version of reality for ourselves - it's only people like Kim K. who can dish out $100K to worry about that stuff for her.

    There have been PR agencies and image consultants and even 'personal brand coaches' (that title just made me gag a little), around for awhile, so the idea of a 'professional selfie retoucher' may not be all that new or novel, and just may be the logical extension or modernization of these roles for the social media age.

    But still, something about it, the on-the-nose way it describes the function seems new to me, and thus I officually welcome 'Professional Selfie Retoucher' as Job Title of the Future #12.

    Have a great weekend!


    Your tweets, decoded

    An incomplete list of commonly tweeted sentiments and what they really mean:

    Tweet: 'Prepping for a Conference Call!'

    Decoded: Eating skittles, tweeting, and spending 73 seconds looking at your website before the call starts

    Tweet: It was awesome catching up with @JoeWhoHasNotMuchElseToDoAtTheMoment!

    Decoded: Joe called me, and I felt bad, so I answered

    Tweet: C'mon @MajorInternationalAirline - when is this plane going to leave! 25 minutes parked at the gate!

    Decoded: Crickets, as @MajorInternationalAirline is not compelled to spring immediately to action, not really worried that your 37 followers will rise up in protest.

    Tweet: Join us for #TwitterChatThatConsistsOfTheSame30PeopleRetweetingEachOtherWithLotsOfExclamationPoints at 8PM Tonight!

    Decoded: I don't have much happening right now.

    Tweet: RT @LargeInternationalNewsAgency - Huge blizzard heading to New England states tonight.

    Decoded: Just in case the one person in New England who has not yet heard the news about the upcoming winter storm happens to be following me AND is on Twitter right now at this exact moment, then Phew! they will be warned

    Tweet: RT @EllenShow - If only Bradley's arm was longer Best photo ever. #Oscars

    Decoded: Neither Ellen, or any of the other people in this picture know or care who you are. But thanks for the Twitter love!

    Tweet: Be the change you wish to see in the world. #quote

    Decoded: I have nothing interesting to say. Please read something interesting a different person once said.

    Tweet: The @MySillyTwitterHandle Daily is out! Featuring stories by @EllenShow -  www.noonewillclickthis.li

    Decoded: I set up this 'auto-tweeting daily summary' four years ago, and I forgot how to turn it off

    Tweet: @SuperstarAthleteFromProfessionalSports You stink! You are terrible! You don't know how to play!

    Decoded: If I were only fifty pounds lighter, seven inches taller, and actually possessed some modicum of athletic ability, I would be down balling at the YMCA over 40 league right now instead of sitting on the couch.

    Tweet: RT @SteveBoese - New post: Your tweets, decoded - www.thisisterrible.com

    Decoded: I really need to turn off my auto-tweeting of that idiot's blog posts