Three Reasons Not to Auto-Tweet from Facebook

You’re a busy person. You’ve found time to add social media to your day, but just barely. You want to automate and you’ve seen how easy it is to set you Twitter account up to share your Facebook posts. 

Resist the urge.

Twitter and Facebook are not chocolate and peanut butter. They are not two parts of the same whole, meant to be mixed in any quantity. Below, three reasons to reconsider automating your Twitter account.

Your Message Will Be Cut Short
As you’re well aware, Twitter only allows 140 characters. The current Facebook status update limit is 63,206 characters.  Most Facebook posts are significantly shorter, but many go beyond Twitter’s 140. If you connect the two, the result will be a shortened version of your post with a link back to Facebook. 

Like a lot of Twitter users, I spend most of my Twitter time on my phone. Hitting that link to Facebook takes me to a page that takes longer to load than I care to wait. Any initial interest I had in your post is likely gone…or, at least, my patience has been exhausted.

I posted a new photo to Facebook ******
I posted a new photo to Facebook *****
I posted a new photo to Facebook ******
I posted a new photo to Facebook *****

Annoying, right? Aside from the links to nowhere, Posting a group of photos only adds text to the initial photo (unless you make a point to caption each image). You’ve just posted a list of links with no context, making the average person wary of clicking. Facebook may be safer than the random, but almost any image could be on the other side of that link.

It Makes You Look Less Engaged with Twitter
…And you are. Which is fine, except you’re posting there trying to engage their audience. Channeling everything back to Facebook implies you’re not willing to engage on Twitter. Are you? If someone responds to you on Twitter about your Facebook post, will you be in tune enough to realize it? 

So what do you do? Well, if you must automate, automate with care. Try using a service like HootSuite to schedule your posts, and make sure you check your mentions often to say connected. 

Three Excellent Uses for Google Voice

imagesIn light of news that Google Voice is not long for this world, it might seem strange that I’m choosing to sing its praises this week. Though the sky may not exactly be falling (most functionality will still exist, rolled into a Hangouts app), I’ll be sad if this faux death knell begs people off one of my favorite Google products. So, for now, and hopefully for the future, here are my favorite Google Voice uses:

  1. Crisis Communications…or any organized communications effort, really. Do you have a team of spokespeople in the field that need to be available to the press or stakeholders in a timely manner? Don’t hand out a list of seven different cell phone numbers or rely on a receptionist to play middleman. Use one Google Voice number to immediately connect callers to the first person available.
  2. Craigslist Postings Craigslist is invaluable for many reasons, not least of which is as an online marketplace. But let’s face it: some of the people you come in contact with are downright sketchy. Or maybe you want to list something, but don’t want your phone ringing off the hook with potential buyers while you’re busy working. Use a Google Voice number and set it to do not disturb. You’ll be able to sort out the calls on your own terms, and no one will have your “real” number, either.
  3. Good Old Free Texting Ditch your paid talk and text plans and use Google Voice instead. Never used Google Voice before or just want some tips? Lifehacker has pretty much every tutorial you’ll ever need.

Finally, a hat tip to Steph Baker for inspiring me to dig deeper into Google Voice.

Social Media: The Benefit of Quality Followers

People standing in line

Are your followers just numbers?

When envisioning what a successful social media account looks like, it’s natural to assume that a massive follower count is a positive sign. It’s true, to some extent: big numbers equal big page views–and, more importantly, a quantifiable result you can show your skeptical boss. I know that in my last job before I started consulting, my boss tolerated my “screwing around on Facebook”…until my first account hit 10,000 followers.

To be sure, there’s something to be said for quantity. But online numbers don’t mean a thing if those users don’t interact with you offline, too. So what makes a quality, rather than quantity, follower?

They Remain Engaged
Have you ever liked a page or followed someone, then realized the content didn’t interest you? There’s a good chance that instead of unliking or unfollowing, you just hid their updates…or scrolled past, meaning to get rid of it later? It’s your job to consistently post engaging content, but pay attention to those that are interacting with you and what they’re saying. They are your core.

Dart board

Aim for those most likely to stay engaged.

They Share With Their Friends
A follower you can really count on takes your content beyond their feed. They clue in their social circle to the awesome stuff you’re posting. No algorithm can replace the success of a word-of-mouth recommendation.

They Walk the Walk
Most importantly, they get out from behind the keyboard and give you their business.  People bemoan the toll social media has taken on human interaction, but if you’re cultivating quality relationships, these online interactions encourage rather than replace offline connection.

So, don’t take slow growth as an immediate sign of failure. Look deeper and use quality as your guide. Quantity is likely to follow.

New Year, New Beginnings

2014 banner

A belated Happy New Year!

Back to the blog! It’s late February and far past time for a New Year’s Post. I’m on a new path: After seven years working for someone else, I’m now consulting. The first two months have been really exciting and personally rewarding, and I’m really enjoying the work I’ve put together for my first client.

Now that I’ve settled into my new routine, I’ll have more to contribute to this blog, to Twitter, and to all the projects that have been on the back burner as I transition from one path to another.

More to come!

Millenial Hate (or, In Defense of Gen Y)

hole-kartenlocher-62897When I saw the headline for Salon’s “How baby boomers screwed their kids — and created millennial impatience,” by Simon Sinek, I was excited. I’ve long agreed with what I first read in The M Factor: How the Millenial Generation is Rocking the Workplace: that the Baby Boomers, as parents of Millenials, had contributed to the latter generation’s supposed sense of entitlement. Sinek rightly points out that this “entitlement” is in fact a desire to advance quickly, fed by our Boomer parents’ roles as raising us to expect success quickly.

However, as far as the rest of the article goes, I have beef. First, the Millenial (sorry, it’s the most recognizable term for the generation I’m at the oldest pole of) generation as a group does believe most types of success are available to us. That doesn’t mean, as Sinek states, that we have a “horrible short-circuit in [our] internal reward systems.” What it means is that we expect our work to be recognized at the same scale of our peers–and that we do see the older generations as our peers if we share an office with them. It can be chafing for those other generations to know we believe we’re equals (or should be, anyway) in the workplace. We’re just the “self starters” every workplace claims to want.

What worried me more, however, was Sinek’s assertion that Generation Y has “confused real commitment with symbolic gestures.” It’s a view I find absolutely false. I choose work based on its good for our society, and encounter others of my generation that have done the same daily. This generation puts their money (or energy, as it were) where their mouth is. Just because they choose to do it differently than another generation doesn’t mean the dedication is any less genuine.

Then, of course, there is the inevitable section of the article about technology, distraction, and isolation. That topic deserves a post of its own, but in brief: that’s not just a Millenial problem, if it’s a problem at all. As an introverted person, I feel more connected, not less, by the availability of communication technology.

Sinek’s point is that these patterns of instant gratification and isolation are tied to high suicide rates and school shootings by effectively cutting off this generation’s coping skills. I’m not a psychologist, but I think the direness he imparts is histrionic. These same “isolating” tools help people find the very tools and outlets that could save their lives.

This year’s most popular posts

I started this blog six months ago as a combination writing-exercise and as a way to share the useful bits of information that I’d learned as a result of my time mashing keys. Though it’s still quite modest, I’ve been surprised to see how a few of those posts have gotten more traction than I’d expected (there are so many blogs out there, I didn’t expect any traction at all).  In the new year, I may expand my focus to ensure I’ll have enough to write about, but for now, here are the four most popular posts I wrote in 2013:Sparkler (fireworks)

Five Quick Tips for Cleaning out your Inbox
The privacy problem with posting photos in social media
Social Media when you don’t have the time
Flexing your muscle when everyone’s an “expert”



Keeping up with your online life during the holidays

After talking about the importance of taking short breaks from ongoing projects, I’ve taken another break myself. I’m back now to discuss ways to keep up with your online life.

Thanksgiving has just ended, and I’ve found that I’ve become disconnected from my social media accounts. I’ve been busy with family events, and by the time I get back to my phone or computer, the information I’m processing seems so dated that I feel I’ll never catch up.

As I’m catching up, these are the three watchwords I’ve used to revisit my online life:

Prioritize Decide which of your accounts or what subject matter is worth catching up with. If you want to keep up with friends, obviously Facebook is the way to go. News junkie? Choose a few hashtags and head to Twitter.

Skim Luckily, most current short-form social media depends on photos, making quick scans a lot easier. If it looks interesting, stop and check it out.

Relax High priority items are apt to be repeated, with updates on progress–think births, new jobs, etc. Don’t worry about missing the news, as you’ll have a chance to catch up the next time it’s mentioned.

…In Which I Get Schooled on Instagram

I went to dinner with my friend and her daughter tonight. When the impressive-looking dessert came, my friend wanted to take a picture for Instagram. As my friend set up the shot, her daughter wriggled anxiously in her seat, clenched and unclenched her fingers and emoted “You’re not DOING it right!”

“What’s to get wrong?” I thought. Take a picture, add a filter, and post, right? Wrong.

Teenagers are leaving Facebook and turning to Instagram (or Tumblr) instead. So I decided to ask my friend’s daughter about the “right” way to use Instagram.  The answer? Super-simplified, it’s the use of outside filters, like those offered by Aviary or Pixlr.

Aviary offers more sophisticated photo editing tools, the aforementioned filters, and the ability to upload directly to Instagram.

Pixlr (two apps, consisting of Pixlr Express and Pixlromatic) has a ton more filters than Instagram and offers several catalogs of extra filters available for in-app purchase. I, however, am too cheap to try them out…though I’m incredibly curious about Pixlromatic’s “Too Old” set of filters. Pixlr Express appears to focus more on editing and creating multi-picture collages.

Is all of this old news? Probably. But it took a fried ice cream to reveal it to me, so maybe it’s helpful to others, too.

Why buy your name as a domain?

I’m not the only Lindsay Oxford online. There are three or four of us that show up in the first few pages of a Google search, and I share the first page with just one other–the Lindsay Oxford from Texas, a pro bodybuilder.  Does it matter? No, not really: you can still find either of us (plus a few others) in a basic search, and Lindsay has become a fairly common in the past few decades. There are bound to be a few of us.

So why did I buy It’s what’s known as a vanity URL, meaning there’s an inherent vanity to it. I like to think I’m not particularly vain, but that must be an aspect. It’s fairly natural to want to be THE ______ _______, not one of many. But what are the other reasons?

Search Engine Optimization = Ease of Search
When you want to be found online, why not make it easier? Having a site with your name in the title and searchable in the URL makes it easier for your site to be found, and getting your own .com or .net address facilitates that.

Feel Less Silly When Networking
Networking itself can make you feel silly if you’re not the extroverted type. Why make it more awkward by telling someone they can find you online at geocities slash blah blah blah? If they remember your name, they’ll remember how they can contact you.

It’s Dirt Cheap
You can redirect a URL to another site for a few bucks a year nowadays. Why? Because you can.