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social-crowdIf you’ve ever wondered whether or not social media can help you as a freelancer, the simple answer is — absolutely. Being social on the web has many rewards; including connections, community, interaction, exposure, and trust. These five elements are critical for a business to survive, and with social media you can make sure you are building all of them.

If you’re new to the idea of social media for freelancers, or aren’t sure how it can help out your business, I recommend you look into these social media basics to get a better idea of what this is all about.

Once you’re familiar with the idea of using social media for your business, then this post is for you. Here are 5 simple tips that can make a big difference to your success with social media.

1. Pick a Name and Stick With It

Before you even open an account on any social media platform, you’ll want to make sure you pick a name that will stay consistent. This is one of the key things that many people don’t seem to realize. If you have the same “profile name” on multiple platforms, it makes it much easier for others to find and remember you. It also helps you create a better personal brand if you become popular on these networks. For example, My user name is ritubpant on all social media/networking platforms. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, Flickr, LinkedIn among many others as ritubpant. This makes it much easier for others to find me if they need to connect with me on different platforms.

Tip: You can follow this tip for your profile picture as well. If your picture is consistent throughout different platforms, it’s much easier for people to recognize you. Think of your profile image as a business logo.

2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

Many freelancers dive into social media and end up putting all of their energy and effort into one social media platform. This is not a great approach. Although it is good to stick with platforms that are popular in your industry, it’s key to build a community and a brand in different platforms. Make sure you are seen throughout the web. Some services may have millions of users while others may have only a couple thousand. Don’t go for the number, rather go for the quality network and community that you can build on these platforms. Having a presence on different accounts gives you a chance to connect to more people and eventually will help you grow your freelancing business.

3. Choose and Execute

Although this point may sound contradictory to the one above, it’s really more of a complimentary approach. As I have mentioned above, you should have a presence on several different social media platforms — however, you should also be able to maintain that presence. There is no point in creating a profile on 50 different platforms if you can only use five platforms actively. It is important to have a presence on different platforms, but engagement and participation is the real key.

Make sure you choose platforms that are relevant to you. Don’t spend a lot of time creating a profile on a social media platform that you will end up abandoning. If you never participate with that particular community, there is no reason to have an account there. Besides, if someone ends up looking for you in these platform and finds you inactive for months, it might give someone an idea that you are not worth following or keeping up with. Don’t give anyone a chance to think negatively about you or your brand. It’s better to not have a presence than to have one that is abandoned.

4. Active Doesn’t Mean Obsessive

In order to get the most out of social media you have to be active on the networks you’ve chosen. Being active, however, doesn’t mean you have to be obsessed. I use many different platforms each day and I am quite active on these sites — even still, there is no point in updating a Facebook profile or Twitter account just for the sake of it. As they say in blogging — if you have nothing to say, it’s better to say nothing. Follow that rule on social media platforms as well. A couple twitter updates each day is normal but on LinkedIn once a week is more than enough (or a few times if you are active on LinkedIn groups). It’s important to be active on different social media platforms, but make sure your participation brings value to other community members and is not a nuisance to yourself or others.

5. It’s All About Interaction

Social media is all about interaction. If you want to be seen and want others to take interest in what you have to say or do, you have to be an active participant. Whether it’s Facebook, twitter or any other platforms that you utilize, participation and engagement is the key to succeeding in social media. Social Media is often seen as a free tool to help you when it comes to exposure and creating a name for yourself or your business, but you need to keep in mind that it costs both time and effort.

This is the reason that I mentioned earlier that you need to choose the specific sites that you want to use. If you don’t think you can actively utilize a platform, it’s better not to be there at all. It’s all about the community, participation, and engagement. The more you give, the more you get. The more you engage, the more exposure you will gain.

Add Your Tips

These are some of my favorite tips for succeeding on social media, but there is a lot more out there. If you’re very familiar with social media (and I know a lot of you are) then why don’t you offer a favorite tip or two for our readers who are just getting started?

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Many business people are suddenly starting to show some interest in the phenomenon that is social media, much to the thrill of their marketing personnel. But there is still a lot of confusion about this new medium, and objections abound. Below I take on a few of the most common ones.

Recruiters will poach our people. I hear this a lot. And it’s pretty easy to overcome. First of all, if your employees are that easy to poach, you need to look at your policies and see why they are so willing to leave. Secondly, there are many other ways for recruiters to find your people, and don’t think they aren’t getting calls from them on a regular basis. If you create a culture where people want to stay, it won’t matter if recruiters have another way to reach out to your staff.

We don’t have time. This is a valid concern, because if social media isn’t done correctly, it can be a huge time drain. However, if you manage your presence correctly, you can reap the benefits with a minimal time commitment. There are many tools available that can help you manage your various social media outlets. Hootsuite and SocialOomph are two great ones that allow you to schedule your tweets for a future time. So when you read something you think your audiences will find interesting, schedule an update. I find this allows me to maintain a connection with my followers without taking nearly as much time.

We don’t want our employees wasting time on social media. Again, a valid concern, but one that can be easily overcome by establishing a clear social media policy. Social media is like any other marketing tactic – it should be strategic and align with all your other marketing activities. Create a policy that allows you to gain the benefits from it while still maintaining a modicum of control. Train your employees on your policy and have it available for them to reference as needed. If they are busy with work, they won’t have time to spend chatting on Facebook. I personally think that the occasional visit to these sites has become the cigarette break of days gone by. It’s a quick moment to rest your mind and take a breath between tasks.

This is just a phase. Technology is always evolving. The current social media sites may not be here forever, but the concept is here to stay. (See the article entitled, “If the Pope is on Twitter…”) At one point email was considered to be a phase, but now you wouldn’t even think of not having an email address for each of your employees. The beauty of many of these social media sites is they allow you to establish a community of people – clients, prospects, colleagues, press – and create and maintain relationship with them. It simply makes it easier to reach people you’d never have access to through other methods.

LinkedIn is only full of people looking for jobs. There certainly are people who use LinkedIn to find jobs, but there are a lot more who use it to connect with colleagues, prospects and others in their industry. It is a treasure trove of information for anyone in business, regardless of what you are seeking. Don’t fall into the trap that many do and just set up a profile and leave. Create your profile with accurate information, and indicate whether you want to get job requests or not. Use the many tools on the site too. The advanced search feature can help you find business prospects more easily than any other traditional method. Join groups of like-minded people, and watch the connections start to form. It can be incredibly powerful.

In the end, the benefits far outweigh the concerns. You just need to do it in the correct way. Establish a plan and an owner for your company’s social media presence and make sure you are consistent. I’ve personally reaped the benefits of being on LinkedIn and Twitter, and know you will too.

Let me know what you think. What objections have you heard? How have you overcome them?

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I have lots of friends, followers and connections on various Social Networking sites. Too many? Well, I’ll let the Social Media gurus tell me that. I like keeping up with people. Seeing where they have been, what they done, seen, etc. I like hearing what people have learned, tried and failed at. To me, Social Media is a way to extend a group of friends/acquaintances far beyond my town, business or vacation trip locations, etc. I value my Twitter, Facebook and other peeps, except for “those people”. #fb

“Which people?” you ask.

Oh, you know, “those people”. The people that post that one topic, over and over again. It may be a great topic, like their business, political or religious beliefs, famous quotes from famous people, etc. One topic, posted by “those people,” over and over again.

We’ve all met “those people,” in real life, too. The person who only talks about 1 topic the entire time. You try to change the subject, but somehow, they find a way to bend the subject change back to the topic they were on, and it continues, for all time. Being passionate about something is great. It drives us to better ourselves, our families, and sometimes our planet. However, there is balance.

Balance. Not too far “this way,” or too far “that way”. Balance.

Getting back to my Social Networking connections. I can give people a few infractions of “Buy my stuff!” “Listen to my show!” or “Never sit with your back to the door. Abraham Lincoln”. I use Social Networking sites to promote my projects, as well as my friend’s projects, so I know I toe and cross the line at times, but I try to keep it balanced. Be yourself first, then express your passion, second.

I love to catch up with friends. They tell me how they are doing; their job, family, pets, almost winning the lottery, etc, etc, then they mention a new venture they are involved in. That’s great. A full picture approach. I’m always interested in the person. Sometimes mundane information about the child that put raisins up their nose, the dog that barks the Love Boat theme, the long overtime hours someone is working. I like it. That helps me connect with the person. I know them better now. A person sharing their life (even mundane) information, helps me connect on an emotional level. I care at that point. When I care, I let my guard down to listen completely to more. That “more” is their passion.

When someone walks up and asks you for money, you normally pull back. “I don’t know this person,” “What will they do with the money,” etc, are the things that cause us to be wary. Becoming emotionally connected (even reconnecting) makes us more interested in someone’s passion. When we emotionally connect, we now trust, then we listen and care, too.

I have blocked some Social Networking folks for the business posts, over and over again. Perhaps they don’t feel that their life (even the small segment they feel comfortable sharing with the Social Networking group) isn’t interesting. I have news for them – it is.

Your life matters, and is important and is interesting to me and others.

You, are not just your beliefs, business, or political thoughts. You are the day to day events in your life. The grumbling at traffic. The wandering to find where your car was parked. The dinner you created from “what’s in the cupboard”. The laughing so hard it hurt, after you realized that singing the songs from the commercials with your children might bother the neighbors. The good, the bad, and the ordinary, because what’s ordinary to you, may be a dream for someone else.

Blog You. Post You. Tweet You. You will see people start to connect with you on deeper levels that aren’t just about your business or beliefs, but about you.

Once they know you, they will gladly hear what else you have to say.

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Social media has become somewhat of a buzzword nowadays.  From corporate marketing strategies to presidential election, the awesomeness of social media power seems to have spread to every corner of our society.   However, there is one thing that most social media users might have neglected, which is to use social media to do social good.  Here I will list seven tips of how I use social media for the purpose of social good.

1. Tweeting/blogging for news.

Twitter is the new breed of social media which exists as a micro-blogging tool. Twitter has the potential to broadcast news fast, on time, and in a mass scale.  One recent example was related to the Iranian election.  Twitter users are even faster than CNN journalists to deliver timely news.  The hashtag #CNNfail has been adopted by Twitter users to indicate a lack of news coverage from the mainstream news media.

Another example is the 7.8 earthquake in China back in May, 2008.  Twitter was very fast in delivering the news.  If you had tried to search for the word “Earthquake” in Twitter Search, you could literally see hundreds of updates within minutes.

In addition, some bloggers have been actively blogging about the earthquake and therefore raised tons of awareness.  According to a post from ReadWriteWeb, Forrester Analyst Jeremiah Owyang used his blog as a platform to inspire people to donate money to the Red Cross.  He took a trip to China personally, and then posted all the photos he took about the earthquake in China on his blogs.  This has allowed his audience to see how badly some people were affected by the earthquake.  His initiative through social media has significantly made a difference.

2. Building tribes.

Seth Godin’s book “Tribes” illustrates how important it is to leverage modern technology, namely social media and Internet, to build your own followers. It has come to my realization that this type of network not only can provide religious, social, and spiritual supports for the “tribe” members, it will also become the fundamental bonding power for our entire society.

For example, if you had a Facebook group or a fan page that attracts environmental fans, it would be easy to assemble a global army of like-minded people in this particular field, without concerns of geographical barriers.  The bigger the group gets, the more advocates there are, and the more it will benefit the society.  In essence, this “tribe” mentality now has spread to every corner of the society.  Instead of resisting and fighting it, we ought to all embrace this hugely powerful tool to do social good.

3. Empowering others.

Personally, I like to transform my inner beliefs into quotes and then distribute them in my community.  Besides being able to influence and inspire others, this kind of behavior reinforces my own faith by simply sharing something I deem as valuable and useful.  After all, social media is all about “Sharing.”  Instead of saying something trivial that others don’t even care, why not transform your beliefs into something tangible that others can benefit from?

Now granted, not everyone will understand your initial attempt and appreciate your good deeds.  This happens in almost every situation of life.  But it’s important to stay consistent in what you do so you can influence those who do want to be helped.  So be patient.  One post at a time.  Eventually, consistency and commitment will make a difference.  I like to call this “Personal Development Training Made Easier.”

4.  Facebook “Cause” Application

As I am writing this post, the Facebook “Cause” application has about 24 ½ million monthly active users. Causes is one of the most popular Facebook apps.  The official definition, according to Facebook, goes like this – Causes empowers anyone with a good idea or passion for change to impact the world. Using our platform, individuals mobilize their network of friends to grow lasting social and political movements. It includes categories such as Animals, Education, Environment, and more.

This app allows Facebook users to create a cause and link it to a registered non-profit organization in the US or Canada.  In general, this app has been a very useful fundraising tool for a lot of charities.  It also has drastically raised people’s awareness about some pressing issues in the world.

5.  Blogging for a Cause

This summer (6/1 through 8/28), Mashable launched the first large scale online charitable campaign called “Summer of Social Good.”  The goal was to raise funds strictly online through the power of Social Media and the Internet.  Throughout the previous weeks, this program had made some major progress by featuring inspiring tales from real people, encouraging people to participate in this program by offering incentives.  Mashable also listed examples on how some charities use social media to raise money.

Another example involves a site called “Make The Difference Network”  founded by Actress Jessica Biel and her family.  As social media continues to evolve, more and more websites and blogs will feature this type of content.

6.  Social Bookmarking for Better Efficiency

Social bookmarking sites allow Internet users to organize and manage bookmarks of web pages by tags.  Sites like DiggStumbleUpon, and Delicious have become more and more popular because it allows better user efficiency.  Take Digg for example, the Digg voting system allows people to vote for submitted stories.  The functions are called digging and burying .

With social bookmarking websites, I could simply browse through the category I am interested in, and sort stories by popularity.  Now, I am not saying that those popular stories are exactly the ones you are looking for.  But social bookmarking sites do provide a viable reference point.  In general, this type of service can save tremendous amount of time for its users.  Therefore, it fulfills our “social good” purpose.

7.  The revolution continues….

Social media is taking on a major role of leading the trend of our society. Facebook was launched by Mark Zuckerberg in his college dorm on February 4th, 2004.  Then there is Twitter, which was publicly launched into a full version in July 2006.  What’s next?

For every trend, there are early adopters, the majority and the laggards.  Luckily, social media has the awesome power to lead our thinking as human beings.  This, in a large scale, is good for our society, because the society is jumping curves.  Instead of evolving on the same curve, the society revolutionizes with the most popular social media trends.   Eventually, this phenomenon can lead to frequent update of newer technology that allows for better effectiveness/efficiency and change the world.

So how do you use social media for social good in your daily life?  You can let us know by commenting this post.

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201 twitter list.jpgAs individuals start the dividing their Twitter Following sections into lists, companies specialising in social media are going even deeper and one – SimplyZesty have decided to split up Twitter users by country starting with England and Ireland. Currently limited by the amount of users you can have in one list (500 at the minute) this isn’t going to be terribly useful until Twitter changes the rules.

Will they?

In principle – it would be useful to have companies methodically creating Twitter directories i.e. plunging into the millions of Twitter users and creating massive reference lists so you don’t have to.

However, will Twitter increase the number of people allowed on a single list? It has done quite well out of setting limits on things – characters in an update, to take an obvious example.

A list of say, 6 million people – perhaps the number of Twitterers in any given large country – would be too big to be useful for any individual user. Though, the information on Trending topics etc could be usefully split by location and thus might be of use to advertisers.

It seems SimplyZesty have found a way to automate adding people to lists, which you’d need – otherwise some phenomenal manhours would be involved in filing all of Twitter’s millions of users.

And for everyone who’s still got their profile location set to Tehran… or nowhere, they’d end up being wrongly listed.

A lot more of these stories coming soon I imagine: Twitter lists ain’t going away.

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Twitter lists eh? Setting those up is going to take hours isn’t it? Should I be that bothered?

194 twitter list.jpg

Yes you should be bothered. This is Twitter’s biggest update since the damn site launched and it should make the whole experience a lot better. A whole lot better.

How much better?

You may have noticed that there’s a lot of stuff going on Twitter and even the site’s biggest fans will admit that not all tweets are useful. And even if lots of them are useful, sometimes they get lost in the rapid fast-flowing torrent that you get if you follow more than 50 people. So, the Twitter reasoning goes, split the stream up into useful little lists and it all gets more manageable.

Of course if the respected technology journalist you put on your Technology Journalist list tweets about their lunch, you will still hear what they had for lunch, but you won’t see Stephen Fry’s lunch updates mixed in there. He’ll be on your Celebs list. You see. So: Twitter lists won’t make Twitter the perfect source for targeted up to date information but they will make it a better place.

In theory your Twitter feed could already be a carefully selected list, but in practise with so many interesting people – why the hell would you limit yourself to following 20 people. Not the point of Twitter.

So how many lists can I have?
Each account can create up to 20 lists, and each list can include up to 500 users. You can make your list public – in which case other people can use it as a useful resource or make it private, in which case you are less likely to risk upsetting people with your defintions of them.

You can of course group the people you follow in any combination you want and give it any name you want. You don’t even have to follow people to put them on your lists.

Twitter list faux-pas?

The obvious… be a little careful with the public lists. You know, ideally don’t make: “Annoying People I follow only out of sheer politeness” a public list. Even the “funny people” list could get a little contentious as friends and acquaintances start to wonder why you don’t find them funny.

Listiquette questions are already buzzing around the twittersphere:
Is anyone going to be upset if I add them to my twitter list “Things I would sleep on?” from rumorator
Oh. I see. I’m not on your “Funny” Twitter List. No, I’m not hurt. Do I look hurt? Am I holding this gun right? from angryczeck

So it makes the tweet stream easier to manage – any other uses?

Yes!
1. Other people’s lists are great for browsing and finding out new people you are interested in
2. Embed a Twitter list into your website and provide a flow of focussed real-time information into your website. Use the Lists API: the Huffington Post already are.
3. You can keep tabs on a much greater number of people than you could previously handle

How do I go about setting up a list?

1. Log onto web Twitter.
2. Go to the Lists option on the home page and click Create New List
3. Name your new list and set it to public or private
4. Add people to your list, either by going to their profile and adding them to your list or by bulk adding from other people’s Following Lists.

If you want to use Twitter lists professionally consider a service like TLists (recommended on Twitter’s blog).

The problem is that most people use Twitter in multiple clients – say Tweetdeck or Hootsuite on their computer, and a whole range of different apps on their phones. To date only Seesmic has adopted lists, of course the others will follow, but the full usefulness of lists won’t be felt till you can get them across all the platforms you use Twitter on.

Wait till your Twitter client of preference adopts them: Tweetdeck, according to their blog are masterminding some update to incorporate lists. Surely smartphone twitter apps will follow too. Be sure to check your phone’s app updates.

How do I find good lists?

Look at the lists of the people on your lists (if that doesn’t make your head explode). Or check Listorious a directory of good twitter lists.

Parting tip: remember to take regular breaks and drink plenty of water. Twitter lists make Twitter easier in some ways – they also just pave the way to making Twitter even more vast and complicated than it already is…

“Exploring lists is dangerous. Now have dozens more people to follow and around 50 Twitter windows open. Oh oh.” Mikewhills http://bit.ly/3hZWAR

Okay, time to tweet this story. We’ll release a few Shiny lists shortly.

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The Twittersphere came under a phishing attack Wednesday that sent direct messages to Twitterers. The messages, which appear to be sent by a follower, contained a link that asked the person to type in personal information and password.

Some of the messages ask Twitter users to click on a link to view a video. Others ask for personal information, including passwords. Amy Marshall (@amystweeting) based in Sigonella, Sicily, Italy wrote: “Twitter virus? I got an email saying I signed up for a twitter app subscription which I DID NOT! So I didn’t click the link.”

@andtwinsmake5 was sent more than seven phishing direct message links from followers. @benlucier wrote: “ifortune4u.com virus/phishing/spyware mess on Twitter right now. Lots of DMs from peeps. Be careful out there, wear your Twitter condom!”

ClickForensics (@ClickForensics) sent an apology to its followers after the virus gained access to its password and took over the company’s Twitter account. “Twitter DM was attacked today. To all who received DMs from us … apologies … we did not DM our followers. We got lots of spam, too,” the post read.

Steve O’Brien, ClickForensics’ vice president of marketing, doesn’t quite have a handle on the scope of the attack, but surmises it involves “hundreds of thousands of accounts” based on the chatter on Twitter and his experience.

At 11:12 a.m. PST O’Brian received a direct message from another corporate account he follows on Twitter. The message read: “I think I see you here in this video.” It also provided a link. O’Brian clicked on the link, which took him to a page that resembled a Twitter log in page that asked for an account name and a password. When he entered the information, a fail whale page came up that read: Twitter is overloaded. Come back later.

Both Anchor Intelligence Product Marketing Manager Carrie Bourguignon, and Vice President of Product Management and Marketing Richard Sim say the virus was part of an organized effort to lift data. “Say Joe’s computer has been infected with spyware,” Bourguignon says. That spyware has logged the keystrokes for Joe’s account credentials and uses them to access his various accounts, including his Twitter account. It is then easy for the fraudster to write a script to go through Joe’s list of followers on Twitter and insert text into a direct message for all of those followers.”

That text likely has a link to a malicious site that will deliver executable code to Joe’s followers’ computers through a virus. It occurs through a trusted relationship, so the infection rate rises for email spam or ads. The use of shortened URLs, such as those created through bit.ly and TinyURL, also contributes to the process because the shortened URLs easily mask the follower’s destination, Bourguignon explains.

Joe’s machine need not have been infected for this downward spiral to occur. A Twitter breach, if a fraudster hacked into Twitter, is another way for the person to have gained access to Joe’s account.

“We saw similar activity when I was at Hotmail,” Sim says. “Hacked accounts are a goldmine for perpetrators looking to distribute their infections. The ‘trusted relationships’ involved in email, Twitter, Facebook and others make the infection rates through these channels much higher than through spam from anonymous addresses.”

Ironically, Twitter’s API Guru Marcel Molina tweeted about adding a “Report as spam” button to twitter.com to now “also simultaneously block and report a user as a spammer via the API.”

“Realize that no automated action is taken from the report being created, but know your request has been received,” he writes.

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