Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Social Media on the Road

Recently I took a break from social media while I was out of town. It started with my not feeling comfortable taking photos of the day while on the road and broadcasting to the world wide web that I was out of town. Then unfortunately it spread to a crazy couple of weeks when I first came home, and now, here I am having left my blog silent for a month.

I thought an appropriate return would be a discussion about how everyone deals with social media and vacations. Do you openly discuss that you are planning a vacation, away on a vacation, etc.? I personally am too nervous to broadcast my whereabouts online but happy to share stories and photos upon my return. You always hear these stories on the news about someone putting up on Facebook that they are out of town and then a day later their home is broken into. Clearly this is not something that I want to risk.

So how do you deal with this? Is it safe (in your opinion) to share on social networks when you are out of town?

P.S. I'll gladly share the photos of the day that I did take while up on the Central Coast!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The College Experience via Social Media

This week was the first week of classes at the University of San Diego, where I work. As I had a front row seat for freshman move-in day (my office is literally the floor below freshman dorms) I watched the process of 18 year olds meeting new friends, finding their place at school and connecting with old Facebook friends. Wait…what? Oh, that’s right, these kids actually have “met” before they came to school. As soon as they are admitted, or sometimes before, they start creating social networking groups to determine where they should live on campus (I’m not even going to talk about the fact that they get a choice), what classes they should take, and what organizations they should join. Before they ever set foot on USD’s campus they are already forming social cliques.

I don’t have an issue with this, in fact I think it’s great that students are able to make their transition to college a bit easier through their use of social media, but it does make me think of my own experience ten years ago. In August of 2000 I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to my boyfriend of the time, and drove across country to Lynchburg, Virginia to attend a small women’s college. I didn’t know anyone at this school and had only talked to my roommate once or twice over the telephone to determine who would bring a TV (me) and who would bring a VHS player. That’s right kids, we still had VHS players back then, though truth be told her family did end up sending her with a brand new DVD player as well, which I was unable to use because I did not own any DVDs.

But I digress, what I’m trying to share is the wonderful experience that I had as a freshman, 3,000 miles away from my friends and family, meeting new friends and making a new pseudo-family for myself. This wonderfully scary experience led to a 10 year long (and counting) friendship with one of the greatest supporters of my blogs (she’s also a wonderful friend, if you were wondering). Although we became friends simply because we were assigned to live across the hall from one another, and despite living most of those ten years on opposite coasts, we’ve shared lots of memories that include two presidential inaugurations, countless drives through the state of Virginia (to meet boys at UVA and VMI), a handful of embarrassing experiences (falling down a hill in front of a frat party), one major sickness (mono drove me out of VA), several trips across coasts, and thousands of laughs and smiles.

While I cannot credit social media for the creation of this friendship, today, with our busy adult lives on opposite sides of the country, we do the majority of our communication through social media (and some old fashioned emailing and birthday card sending). I certainly wouldn’t trade my experience, but I also wouldn’t begrudge anyone the ability to start their friendships online. After all, there are some great online communities out there that are created every day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facebooking without a Home

I recently discovered something interesting and rather perplexing. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I’m over-flowing with questions, so here it is. I know someone who is recently homeless…and still on Facebook. They are actively updating their status (about being homeless) on Facebook!

I have so many questions. There are the obvious ones such as how does this individual update their status? Are they using a cell phone? Wait; do they even have a cell phone? Maybe they’re using a computer at a public library. More importantly though, why are they still on Facebook. Perhaps Facebook is their major mode of communication with their friends and family. It might be a luxury or comfort while they are going through a difficult time. Maybe it’s just a habit that is hard to break.

With several questions swirling around in my head, I can’t help but also think about the more important things that this sheds light on. Unfortunately, homelessness is on the rise, and it affects people just like you and me. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you were once affluent, if you owned a gorgeous home, if you have a graduate degree, if you loved your job or volunteered in your community. Homelessness doesn’t even respect your successful social networks. Sigh.

But seriously, many of our communities’ homeless are ordinary people, going through a rough time. And some of them are willing to share their experiences using social media.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet?

A serious question, perhaps. My current dilemma is, after a bad experience at a restaurant, should I tweet about it, hoping to catch the attention of the restaurant? We know that social media gives the consumer an incredible amount of power. With 140 characters (or less) I can share with the world (or at least with my followers) my discontent with a certain soup and sandwich chain, which gave me at most ¾ of a bowl of soup. But what do I really achieve?
I know that if this restaurant has a good marketing team working on social media, they will see my complaint and perhaps respond. But, let’s be honest, my life was not greatly impacted by the fact that I had less soup fordinner. So maybe I was a bit hungry, and maybe I was especially frustrated because after being sick, it feels wonderful to eat real meals, but it’s just soup.

In the end I opted not to complain via Twitter. And I opted to leave the name of the restaurant out of this blog post. But I want to throw the question out there, what would you do? Knowing the full power of mediums such as Twitter to attract attention would you, or have you used social media to voice your customer service complaints? Did you get a response? Was it the one you were hoping for?

I leave you with a couple thoughts. First of all, we have probably all seen the video of “United Breaks Guitars”that got international attention and became a PR nightmare for the unresponsive United Airlines (If you haven’t seen it, please YouTube it). While in my New Media Marketing class at UCSD extension we consider what this type of power means for companies that must respond to their customers via social media, I also question what it means for us as consumers. Is this power a good thing?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is surfing Facebook the new high school reunion?

Last week my high school class held its ten-year reunion. From what I hear, out of a class of approximately 450 people, less than 30 attended. 30 people?!?! To be honest, I never even considered going. It just wasn’t something that sounded interesting to me for a variety of reasons, but when I heard how many of my fellow sultans seemed to share my sentiments I started thinking – what caused such low participation.

Now it’s entirely possible that a lot of people were busy, living out of town, couldn’t find a babysitter, weren’t a fan of the venue, or didn’t want to be reminded of what they looked like in high school with braces, but I would like to offer another possibility. Is it possible that social media, specifically Facebook had something to do with the low attendance? Think about, traditionally a reunion was a chance for everyone to scratch their nosy itch, and find out what everyone else was doing with their lives 10, 20, 30 years out of high school. You could find out who went to college, got married, got divorced, had children, loves their job, traveled the world, got plastic surgery, never grew up…the list goes on and on. But now, in today’s overly connected world, all you need is a Facebook account to learn all of this and much more (in some cases more than you EVER wanted to know).

So I throw the question out there – is social media changing school reunions? Have you attended or do you plan to attend your high school reunions? Do you think social media has made you feel differently about a reunion? Has Facebook mitigated the value of a reunion?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interesting read on Social Media

Just a quick note. I wanted to share this article that Mashable posted about the growth of Social Media over the last 5 years.

A Look Back at the Last 5 Years in Social Media

There is a lot of interesting research out there right now about the impact and growth of Social Media. I will continue to share interesting articles that I find but would love to hear from you as well.

Yes, I am asking you for money but...

While I am really excited to start talking about some of the topics that everyone has suggested, and the different ways that Social Media is affecting our daily lives (often in negative or uncomfortable ways), I am going to pause for a second to offer a more positive example of how Social Media has helped me. This year I am walking for the second time in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. Along with training to walk sixty miles, I also am tasked with raising $2,300 in the fight against breast cancer.

Last year I had a lot of success with fundraising through Social Media. I was able to use Facebook to share my progress and used a widget to promote my donation site. This year I am taking this further by creating a blog to track my progress with fundraising and training, and to share my stories from 2009. You can find my blog at Using this blog I can post photos and videos from last year, share the inspirational stories that I heard, and share my progress as I prepare for another great experience as a 3-Day walker. I am also going to continue to utilize Facebook and Twitter to encourage people to visit my donation site and to learn more about the 3-Day and the fight against breast cancer.

Please take a minute to visit my 3-Day blog. Also, I welcome your feedback on how you have used Social Media to raise funds or awareness for a cause that you care about. Are there any best practices out there that I should consider?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Can we be Facebook Official?

I’m getting very close to my 30s and yet I’ve realized recently that Facebook can take a normally mature relationship and turn it into something that I last experienced when I was fourteen years old. Remember what that was like when you were an adolescent trying to figure out what it meant to date? Would we make out after the football game? Did this mean a guaranteed date to the dance? Would there be long phone conversations involved? What if he expects me to eat lunch with him and all his friends? While I am certainly glad to be past these awkward questions that surrounded my first trials with romance, it seems that Social Media has, in many ways, taken us back to this pre-adolescent period of uncertainty, complete with unnecessary awkwardness.

The big question – when do you change your Facebook status—seems to loom over many adult relationships today. In our real lives and relationships this hardly matters, yet everyone jokes about being “Facebook official.” We all know that it really doesn’t mean anything for the grand scheme of our relationship but there it is, that question of when, in this world of self-publicizing our every action, we declare to our online social network that we are (drum roll please) dating someone.

To further complicate this relatively silly question is the fact that everyone comes at this from different angles. I have friends who feel that it is incredibly important to post that they are “In a Relationship” because they are proud to share with their online friends who they are dating in their non-online life. Others feel just as strongly that it is nobody’s business but their own. To compound all of this, many members of your social network will gush, gasp, and perhaps fall to the floor when you do change your status. How can this much thought, drama, and anxiety come from Facebook?

To be honest, until recently I hadn’t given it much thought, other than in passing reference when a girlfriend and I jokingly said we wanted to be in an “It’s Complicated” relationship together to confuse our friends and family. But then I found myself having “the Facebook talk” and it made me realize that for better or worse, Social Media is affecting our lives in ways we never expected. It’s adding new complexities to our real life relationships on a daily basis.

So, what do you think? How much of your personal relationships do you share online?

I think the best way to deal with it is to send a someecard, laugh about it, and call it a day! Oh yeah, and remember that Facebook will not actually make an impact on your feelings toward one another. Here are some of my favorites:

When your cubicle buddy becomes something more...a Facebook Friend!

In today’s world we are connected to people in our lives through a variety of mediums. We have our traditional relationships, our work colleagues, our online friends, and then there is that gray area, where coworker crosses over to Facebook friend. You know it’s happened to you. You become work friends with someone and then suddenly they send you a friend request. Immediately your palms go sweaty and your mind runs rampant with a litany of questions. Did my best friend tag those birthday photos of me? Are my vacation photos public? Was that political joke I posted offensive? Shit, now my coworkers will know that I read the Onion in the middle of the work day! Or even worse, that I update my Facebook status throughout the day.

One work friend often leads to many more, and pretty soon half your company knows how you spent your weekend and what your drink of choice was during your trip to Mexico last summer. So the question is, how do you deal with this? One thing that I have found helpful is to create numerous groups on Facebook, limiting access to certain parts of my profile. For example, none of my coworkers ever need to see me in a bikini while on vacation, but I’m certainly happy to share photos of my newborn niece with the world.

What are some of your best practices when your Facebook world and professional life start to overlap?

Social Media versus Real Life

Although I am a member of the generation that was in college when Facebook made its appearance, and have therefore been a member since the early 2000s, I’m finding that there are still areas of my life where Facebook, along with other forms of Social Media, just confuse situations, adding new complexities to real life. In this blog I hope to discuss some of these complexities, based off what I experience in my own life and what I hear from friends and family. That said I am definitely interested in hearing from you! Please share any stories or topics relating to Social Media and how your online life is affecting your real life.