Jan 14

Redefining the “Selfie”

The “Selfie”. We all know what it is.  It looks something like this:

Yep those are all me. From last March through this past December. That lovely lady in the first picture with me is my rescue greyhound, Fiona (aka Dave’s Party. You can watch her races over at Track Info and see why she now lives the luxurious life of an adopted greyhound) who we brought home in December.

Anyway, we are seeing more and more derisive comments about selfies. Even the urban dictionary definition is pretty snarky:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

There’s even a charity activity going on right now that you can accuse someone of posting a selfie and they have to pay $1 — donated all to a good cause of course: http://selfiepolice.org/ .

The Oxford Dictionary even went so far as to give “Selfie” the esteemed title of “Word of the Year” for 2013. And let’s not forget all of the crazy commentary on this famous selfie:

So leave it to Dove to take this “Selfie” concept in a different direction. Rather than using it as a commentary on a “self absorbed” generation that doesn’t care about anything but image, they’ve called out the self-empowering opportunity that the selfie can provide. In an era of photoshopped imagery, when the so-called beauty or fashion or entertainment industry is telling us every day how we should look and should feel, Dove is saying, hey, let’s see what happens when we encourage young women and their mom’s to take selfie’s as a commentary on their own beauty.

This is part of their continuing branding strategy to be the beauty product solution for “real women”. What is great about what they are doing is they are creating videos that speak to women of all walks of life. Of all ages. It is a painful and sad truth that we all struggle with self-esteem issues.  The marketing team at Dove is capitalizing on that, and in the process creating an interesting dialogue with their #beautyis campaign.  Does it translate into sales for them?  Maybe, maybe not. But it does add another perspective to this idea that social media is just selfish and showing off.

Regardless of the blurred lines of Uniliver/Dove and the many ways in which we could dissect this campaign from an ethical perspecitve, the video and the message is very powerful indeed. I know it struck a chord with me.

Read more about the #beautyis campaign here: http://www.dove.us/Our-Mission/Real-Beauty/default.aspx

Jan 13

Six Things College Students Should Do Right Now to get Ready for Graph Search

On the 15th of January, Facebook announced Graph Search, an expansion of their search feature. Here’s a three minute intro from some of the folks at Facebook:


Pretty nifty eh?  Now Facebook is not just like a chair…it’s like Oprah or Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker. Don’t get my “chair” reference?  Take a minute to watch it.

Now that we have that out of the way, Graph Search has had a great deal of news coverage, at least when it was announced. However the average user may not even be aware that it’s slowly rolling out to people each day, and those people are conducting many different searches.  While Facebook has been clear that your privacy settings drive what people can find about you, it has been my experience that many people are not very thoughtful about their privacy settings, or they set them and then forget them, not realizing that as Facebook makes changes, that they should go back in and update them.

In the past it hasn’t really mattered as significantly as it is now going to matter because in the past I could search for people or organizations by name. Now I can search for “People who work at Champlain College” or “Students who go to Champlain College” and I can get a wonderful visual result of all of those people (my friends first and then others). In the view below I am able to see all the profile pictures in a grid format. I can also choose to see the results in list format.

Graph Search REsults

When I mouse over the individual’s picture I get even further information in a helpful pop up:

Facebook Graph Search Results

So you may be wondering what the big deal is.  Well there are two ways to look at this — and I look at it in both of these ways.

Way 1: HOLY CRAP THIS IS AMAZING! No. Really.  The ability to leverage the social graph of people to find places to eat, individuals with similar interests, pictures my friends or family took in different places at different times is super awesome! It’s like, “Hey Facebook…what took you so long!”.  The fact that it has taken this long to pull this together continues to surprise me.

Way 2: HOLY CRAP THIS IS TERRIFYING! Yes. Really.  If your privacy settings aren’t fully updated and you haven’t given careful consideration to the things you have “liked” and your interests, all sorts of craziness can ensue. Just check out some of these great searches that @tomscott has pulled together and posted on a special Tumblr page.

If I were a college student getting ready to apply for an internship or getting ready to graduate, I’d be a little nervous. What I’m finding is that I have students who feel very confident that they’ve locked down their profiles and so far the only person I haven’t been able to actually find on Facebook has been my colleague @jtrajewski who says he has a personal page, but all I can find is his official page. Of course, Jon is in Digital Forensics and those people are very, very careful about content they share with free social media sites…or with any website for that matter.  By the way, you should follow him. Go on. Go do it now. He’s super smart and knows all sorts of security things.

Anyway here are my tips for College Students (and others) who want to be prepared for the full roll out of Graph Search.

  • Only post what you are comfortable with ANYONE seeing. It’s not just about Grandma. It’s about an employer. It’s about law enforcement. It’s a spouse or a partner. Make sure you keep in mind that just because you share it with your friends doesn’t mean it couldn’t show up in search in some way. Remember, the only true privacy setting you have on Facebook is what you choose NOT to post.
  • Update your Privacy settings. Facebook recently made this “easier”. Just click on the little padlock to get some of the basics, or click on the gear and select Privacy Settings.  I’m fairly intentional about mine as I allow followers and I let people find me via my work phone and email as well as have search engines find me.  I do that because of the work I do. If I didn’t do this work, I’d change it. What follows are some screen shots that might help you to find and consider how you might want to address your global privacy settings.

privacy settings part 1


I’m also careful about my Timeline and Tagging.  I don’t let people post on my timeline, which frustrates them on my birthday, but other than that it’s not a big deal. They can still tag me in posts and comment on my posts so it all works out.  I review all posts that I’ve been tagged in before I allow them on my timeline as well. I use custom settings for “only me” for many things as well.

privacy settings part 2


Take a few minutes to review the help section on Facebook on Privacy with Graph Search: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch/privacy

  • Clean up your photos. This is no easy task. Facebook is not making it easy to do a global switch on the visibility of your images. Remember that cover photos are always public.  Each photo has it’s own privacy settings. If you don’t want things to come up you need to delete them or change the privacy settings on EACH ONE. Conversely if you DO want them to come up, adding in tags and a strong description will help people find you/your photo.
  • Clean up your groups and apps. Super simple. From your news feed just click on “more” next to the groups section in the left navigation (it is hidden until you mouse over it). This will give you a list of all the groups you belong to and you can then easily remove yourself from the groups you do not want to be associated with. Do the same thing for any Apps you are running. To do the same things for pages, you’ll have to go through the Activity Log.


  • Monitor your Timeline: Look through your Timeline and hide things that you don’t want people to see.  Please remember that this does NOT prevent others from seeing them if your friends have tagged you in them or if they can be associated with your friends in some way.  It just hides them from your Timeline.
  • Monitor your Activity Log: Can’t remember what pages or posts you liked? Can’t remember what you commented on? Check out that Activity Log. Consider it the main dashboard for every action you’ve taken on Facebook. This is where you see all the content you have posted based on category, such as the friends you friended and all the songs you listened to (with Spotify or other apps).  Once you remove something from here it is essentially removed from the interface… I won’t say it’s actually removed because, well, it’s the internet and we all know that means there’s a cache of this somewhere on some server. To get to your Activity Log click on that little gear, then click on privacy and then under “who can see my stuff” click on “use activity log”.  You’ll probably find some interesting surprises.

activity log

There you have it. Six things to do to get your Facebook profile ready for Graph Search.  Naturally you should do this every few months or so, or whenever Facebook makes a change (whichever comes first). Or whenever you forget to log out of your account and when you get home your cat is hanging around looking really, really innocent.


Oct 12

The Rise of the Social Media Mob: Social Media Gives New Life to an Ugly Practice

It’s been an interesting week in social media. A week that’s got me thinking a great deal about the ways in which we communicate in a digital age. So many like to say things have changed. That digital tools have changed the way we act, communicate, converse, share.  And yet, every day there is evidence that this is a lie.

Yes, I said it.

Digital tools have NOT changed the way people behave.  They’ve just given us more ways in which to communicate.  Tools like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Path — all let us share our feelings faster and farther — but they have NOT fundamentally changed how we, as humans, behave.  Really.  Humans are inherently social. (Yes even introverts are social.) We like to gather with our friends, we like to share our experiences, we rally to our friends to help them in times of need, we group together to fight a common foe, we unfriend each other, then become friends again later on. We find common cause, we get righteous together, we get mad together  Social media just lets us do all of that faster with a bigger reach —  but face it, if we weren’t already craving social connection as part of our DNA, these tools wouldn’t work.

So now to the point of all of this. The simple fact is that just because  humans crave coming together to right wrongs, to protect the innocent, to see justice done, at what point does the righteous turn ugly? at what point does the protection of the innocent create even more victims? at what point is justice not actually being served, and we enter into the scary world of vigilantes, mob mentality, and retaliation so memorialized in films like Death Wish?

Stick with me here.

Remember my main points:

  1. Social media has NOT changed human behavior
  2. Social media has created a faster way to reach more people

This week is a case in point.

Two things happened which on the surface are black and white. Clear right and wrong. Easy to judge. Easy to rally to both causes. Easy to like. To share. To retweet. To hashtag. To do good while causing the “bad guy” (which coincidentally in both of these examples the “bad guys” really are guys) to scurry for cover.

One happened to a news woman in Wisconsin. One happened to a group of women right here in Burlington, VT. The stories are both inspiring in how the women rose up against adversity, found their voices and stood up for themselves. As a woman myself and one who has, in her lifetime, felt and dealt with situations similar to both of these, I cannot say enough how proud I am of them and their strength to face the people who would tear them down and make them “less than”.

I”m sure you’ve all heard the story by now. Jennifer Livingston, a news anchor in Wisconsin on WKBT News received an email from a sometimes viewer basically telling her that she was a poor role model for young girls because she was obese and had let herself go.  Jennifer’s husband posted the text of the letter on the stations FB page, and then she responded publicly on air. Here’s an article from the HuffPo to give you the details.  Her response was strong, passionate, and highlighted why she is a PERFECT role model for young girls everywhere.

Just a few days ago, a new hashtag in Burlington was born. #btvhickscam. The cliff notes version revolves around a man (aka Stephen Churchill, aka @thevermonthick, aka co-founder of 30inThirty.com, aka Kurt Wright’s Communication Director), how he exploited women in the community both professionally AND personally, alleged misuse of funds, and overall douchbaggery. One woman in particular, a former student of mine, reached her breaking point and took to Twitter to air her frustration and to “out” this person so others would not suffer the same way she had.

Right on ladies. Go. Get. ‘Em.

So there we have it. A wrong done. Women stood up for themselves. And of course people rallied to their causes.

And, this my friends is when it starts to become something we should all take a pause and think about.

Let’s start with the person who sent the letter to Ms. Livingston.  So he had a point of view. Whether you agree with it is not the point. He said what he had to say.  He did not, however say what he had to say in a public forum did he? He sent an email. I’m going to assume he didn’t intentionally think this would go viral. But as soon as it was posted on social media…it was out. He was “outed”. This article over at Jezebel is an interesting example of how people have rallied to Jennifer’s cause. As is this one.  Read the comments.  Here’s a few choice ones:

Anyone want to take bets on what he calls his dick? The Mighty Conquerer? Lance Dickstrong?

I will send 5 internet dollars to the person who walks up to this tremendous, teetering, wobbling jello casserole of asshattedness, and flatly informs him that his body is wrong. The way that it is, is wrong. His body is wrong, and it is a terrible choice that he is making for it to be the way that it is, and also, what will the children think.

Over here in #btvhickscam land, there was a similar flurry on Twitter. First of all, in this particular case, this guy is what I will call an “operator”. It really was just a matter of time for all of this to come out. Vermont is small and many of the women he exploited actually know one another.

Notes are compared, conversations are had, and bang. Done. It just takes one person to let the cat out of the bag as it were.

It’s 10pm. Do you know where your children are? Probably on a date & working free for #BTVHickScam

this is embarrassing but @TheVermontHick also slept with me. Also: I have a penis. Also: I have the herp. #BTVHickScam

So here we have it.

In the conversations on both of these you have people rallying to defend, but you also have a lot of anger and frustration that comes out in not such a good way.  Some of the comments actually start asking the right questions and is what this post is all about. From the Jezebel article about the news anchor:

So, let me get this straight: Calling someone out for being fat is wrong, because we shouldn’t judge people and make assumptions about them based on how they look because people who do that are jerk faces, right? Got it.  So what, then, is this thread about? I am so confused here..

From our #btvhickscam:

I agree with the sentiment (have known this for a LONG time), but is there a solution-based discussion we can have here? #btvhickscam

We remember it as kids (or at least I do) — do two wrongs make a right? Is it ok to attack others just because your cause may be just? At what point is the line crossed from “outing” something/someone who is hurting others, to creating a feeding frenzy and group think that is just as dangerous?

I ask the question because social media does make it super easy to share our first thought. Our first reaction. We don’t need “courage in a bottle” to shore ourselves up before we storm the jail (a little cowboy/western reference there for y’all — I do hail from New Mexico in my past!).  We also have a bit of an echo chamber that makes it easy to feel that there are more people rallying to our cause than actually might be.

Human nature. It hasn’t changed. People get fired up. The question is, when it comes to social media, how do you temper that fire so you can make constructive change instead of becoming destructive. The mob mentality is even more insidious online. So as you all read these stories and consider posting your reactions, take a minute, breath and consider what are you contributing to the conversation.

For our guy in Wisconsin, as a woman who has been moo’d at and who has struggled her whole life with weight, I’d say, “Ken, it’s clear you are a fit, healthy guy who cares about the community. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me.  I don’t know your history, your story, your baggage.  You don’t know mine. You are entitled to your opinion.  Now take a minute and think…really think…about how your words made this woman feel.  Is that what you wanted? You thought you would help her “get healthy” by telling her she’s a poor role model? That guilt would do it? As you think about that, perhaps you could consider a different approach — how about a health challenge for the news room to support activity — a wellness initiative? We are doing that at Champlain College where I work and it’s pretty amazing to watch each person start where they are and improve their strength and health one step at a time. It’s empowering.  Behavior change in anything requires small, measurable actions. Little steps that build and build to the change. Guilt doesn’t work. Hurting someone doesn’t work. Build them up. Don’t take them down.

And to Stephen or Winston or Tim (whoever you are today) right here in VT. As a professional woman who sees former students who have been hurt by you, and small businesses who have been duped by you, I am hopeful that the light that has been shed on your activities will shine bright enough to put an end to your shenanigans. I encourage all the freelance professionals who had dealings with you to contact the BPD, because in the end the more complaints that come in the harder it will be for you to conduct business in our small, very connected state.  I encourage the women who you have hurt to connect with each other, share your stories and be strong. Ladies, I also suggest taking your stories OFF of social media and getting back to basics, meeting in person and helping each other move on. There is, unfortunately a tipping point with this sort of thing, that can quickly bleed into the rest of your life, and this man has done enough damage.

There is so much I love about social media and the ability to connect easily with people I know and care about. However, the dark side of all of this is the dark side in all of us. Quick rushes to judgement, righteous indignation, anger, frustration. It’s a small step to go from support and defense to a social media mob feeding frenzy that has no good outcome.  So stand up for those who need it. Come to the defense and support of those you feel have been wronged. But just remember that social media can make it bigger, faster, meaner, and more serious than you intended. As with most things, we all need to temper ourselves and think carefully about how we use social media when our emotions are high because in the end when you support someone you want to help make a difference and see a positive outcome, not cause even more hurt.

Sep 12

The honeymoon might be over, but the fun has just begun

My ThisisVT imageToday is my last day tweeting as @thisisvt.  What I can tell you is that it has been super fun and I count myself lucky to have been able to interact with so many people this week and repp a state that I have called home for 14 years.

My turn at the helm came at the seventh week.  You know how they say the honeymoon is over when you hit the seven year mark in your marriage?  (ok, I really don’t know who “they” are, but I remember my ex-mother-in-law clearly explaining to me that “they” say that year 7, and every 7 years after that is a big deal.  Maybe it’s an Italian thing…for the record I made it to 14 years.) Well our State’s little Twitter account has reached that point now as well.

In the first weeks of the the account the accolades poured in from Time, New York Times, and Mashable (and of course Forbes, thanks to Larry Olmsted, fellow @thisisvt tweeter) as well as some local reviews, to name a few:

The account began in July and here we are already in September.  But it was during my time (Sept. 3 – Sept. 9) when …. well the critics started to come out. On Sept. 1 the DMN News (Direct Marketing News) called the @thisisvt twitter campaign “lackluster”: http://www.dmnews.com/vermont-tourisms-lackluster-twitter-campaign/article/256303/ (Sept 1) and Jonathan Baskin raked the VT Tourism Dept. over the coals for being “lazy”  and called out those of us who are tweeting as “boring”:  http://baskinbrand.com/?p=926 (Sept 3).


Then the local folks jumped in — with lots of interesting suggestions on who else should be tweeting for the account. I guess we got all our #vtfeathers ruffled.  Locally responders are looking for more diversity in the pool of people tweeting, and yeah, they wanted it to be more risky.  So I’m also going to address that from my POV.

So far we’ve had seven individuals tweeting. We hail from Alburgh, Montpelier, Burlington, Rutland, South Burlington, and an undisclosed location (that’s Larry). We’ve had equal representation from men and women and a variety of professions from College Professor (that’s me!), to Adman (Ken), famous writer (Larry), a healer/tarot reader (Raven), a bookbinder (Elissa), a blogger and owner of a local family web guide (Dana), and a small business marketer/comedian (Ed).

We had some good local suggestions though — like @southunionskunk and @BTVSnowDragon and 20-somethings and 80-somethings. It was an interesting dialogue and I certainly had a good time talking about risk taking (hence the #vtrisky hashtag). We’ve got a great deal of awesome people here in VT so I’m sure that we’ll continue to see a wide variety. Just remember, if you want to take the helm, be sure to nominate yourself! 

FYI, the DM News folks just focused on number of Twitter followers as a metric of success. For those of you who follow my blog you know that number of Twitter followers is NOT a measurement of success.  As to Mr. Baskin — while his blog post has syndicated in many different areas, his chief complaint is that not only are we boring, and the tweets useless, but “the tweets aren’t about Vermont, they’re about the tweeters themselves.”. Ahem. Yep. That there, my friend is the point. The marketers “didn’t give up” — they are providing us all an opportunity to share what we love about Vermont. That is the point of this whole thing.

Yep. It’s about one person, each week. One Vermonter each week. We all bring our own point of view, personality, and interests. We bring part of our life into this and are giving people a glimpse of our lives. But only a glimpse. Essentially, no matter how awesome we are…we are still just people. Ordinary people. With ordinary lives. And that, well, really isn’t that exciting. Sorry to break it to you. From my own experience, I’m not going to “pick fights” nor am I going to toss F-bombs just to make it “interesting”. In my experience that isn’t really worth it. I focused on providing information to people about events, goings on, pictures, history, education, business…those things that I think are great about Vermont.  (I did get into a little dust-up over the merits of VT Maple Syrup vs. MI Maple Syrup though.) Ed, on the other hand called out Texas while he tweeted. Raven focused on some wonderful things going on Rutland.  In other words, we did exactly what the Vermont Department of Tourism is looking for. We were ourselves. We brought our own points of view. We had fun. And that is the point.  On some levels while this is all about marketing for our most awesome Green Mountain State, it is also about giving those of us who love this state the opportunity to show that love.  It feels good to do this and to represent.

I had fun.

So I hope as the weeks go on, people will focus more on each individual person and what they bring to the table to showcase what makes Vermont so frick’n awesome: Vermonters.

Oh, and Cider Donuts (which @stevegarfield ordered from Cold Hollow Cidermill, thanks to me — and that my friends is an ACTIONABLE METRIC!)

From this:


To the big win:


Cold Hollow Cider Mill Cider Donuts received by @stevegarfield

So good luck to all of those who come after me and remember, the fun has just begun!


Sep 12

Repping for the State of VT at @thisisvt

This is VermontToday begins my week at the helm of @thisisvt, what some are calling a social media experiment, modeled after Sweden: the State of Vermont Travel and Tourism Department created a twitter account that they hand over to Vermont citizens each week.

I’m week 7.

Before me has gone:

And now it’s my turn.  A college professor.  I’ve made Vermont my home since 1997. In that time I’ve been the Director of Communication at the State Chamber of Commerce, the Director of Regional Communication at the American Cancer Society, Director of Marketing at Bluehouse Group and then in 2000 I started my new life as a college professor.  I teach digital marketing and a host of other classes at Champlain College, a small, private institution located in the hill section of Burlington, VT. I’ve lived in both Chittenden County and Washington County, and worked in Burlington and Montepelier (and yes, we truly do NOT have a McDonalds in our state capital).  I currently live in South Burlington with my daughter and my two cats.

This week I hope to bring those of you who choose to follow @thisisvt a glimpse of Vermont that includes our colleges (we have a great deal of awesome opportunities for higher education), our businesses (wait, what, there’s more than farms and cows here?) our chambers of commerce (great sources of information) and of course our vistas, landscapes, food, fun, and the quirky that is this most awesome state that I now call home.

I do hope you’ll join me and enjoy this week as I introduce you to my Vermont.

Aug 12

Youth vs. Experience in Social Media: The Ugly Truth


Back in July there was a little bit of a social media shit storm that was created by a post written by Cathryn Sloane over at NextGen Journal (an online magazine dedicated to the “voices of the next generation – our generation”) that called out quite strongly that social media managers should be under 25 and that anyone older than that can’t possibly do it right because, ahem, we haven’t grown up with it.  As many of you can imagine, it did start a great deal of conversation.

Kat French over at Social Media Explorer weighed in as did Mack Collier of Blogchat, and countless others did as well.

I figured there is no reason to put my hat in the ring. Better people than I have responded in interesting ways.  But then, yesterday, a former student of mine tagged me in a Facebook post and she wrote, “Thanks for making it even harder for us to find jobs…? what.”  She was referencing this article from INC entitled “11 Reasons a 23-Year-Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media” by Hollis Thomases. Coincidentally, Danny Brown had just that day also shared a link to a rebuttle by Daniel Agee to that INC article which actually focused on a more important aspect here: It’s not about age, it’s about stupidity.

But back to my former student…

She specifically tagged me which meant…well I needed to respond.

The comments from that one post that Jackie made were very interesting and included many Champlain College students who were justifiably unhappy with that article as they are all … well 23ish.

Here’s their reactions:

“That article is insulting.”

“i agree. it was a headline on linkedin this am… awesome, right?”

“Yeah, that’s a wonderful place to post this. We’re not eager to settle down and become adults? Maybe if we were able to make enough money to afford weddings, houses, and children we would settle down.”

“idiots. the type of 23 year old she describes, nobody should hire anyway. the “not to generalize” preface doesn’t make her sound any smarter. she sounds like a crabby biatch that just got beat out of a social media management job by a 23 yr old that is prettier than her.”

“haha the comments say it all!”

“It’s actually kind of funny because they’re making sweeping generalizations about an entire class of people. That’s like me saying, “Those who can’t succeed in business, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.” Those statements sound reasonable because they’re basically a truism, but they’re far from true for the populous as a whole. I love it when potential clients show me these articles and I show them all the work I’ve done prior… they usually don’t question me after that 🙂 As the saying goes, “Don’t tell me, show me”


“eff that noise. my fav “8. Humor is tricky business. People like to be entertained, on social media as well as elsewhere. Will a young hire understand the boundaries of humor and entertainment appropriate to your target audience, or could your audience wind up being offended?”

” lol and also i always let my friends tweet for me, because, you know, that’s how jobs work.”

“It’s like saying don’t hire anyone over age ____ because they don’t understand computers.”

“this is funny”

” Wtf.”

I have my own point of view on all of this as a College Professor who has been teaching 18-22 year olds for over 10 years.  And I’ve been teaching these young people digital marketing BEFORE there was social media, and I’ve been teaching them social media since there’s been social media.  I sit smack dab in the middle of it all as a 40 something teaching 20 somethings how to incorporate these tools into their marketing repetoir so they are ready for a work world that needs them.

So what’s the reality here?  All of this bru ha ha is about setting up an us vs. them mentality. Youth vs. Age. Experience vs. Inexperience. Why is this going on? The ugly truth of the matter is fear.

Fear of change. Fear of loss of control. Fear of life long learning. Fear that the young person is going to take my job. Fear that the old person is going to take my job. Fear that inexperience will cost me a client. Fear that too much experience will cost too much or is stale.  Let’s look at it this way:

  • The NextGen piece was written by a young woman who was lashing out at a workplace culture that wants her skill, but doesn’t want to pay her for that because she lacks experience.
  • The INC piece was written by a professional woman who was lashing out at the workplace culture that needs her skill, but doesn’t want to pay her for that because she has too much experience.
  • The Punk piece was written by a young man who is lashing out at the silliness of pegging this all on age.

There is a terrible misconception that business people have that doing social is easy.  It’s “just Facebook”.  They relegate it to interns (believe me…I know) until there is a crisis.  The individuals in charge realize just how difficult it is to change a workplace culture and get people to accept things that are different so it’s just easier to hire young, lay off old, and start fresh…if the powers that be (The PTB) can allow the shift.

So what needs to happen here?  And this is where I get to the point for each of the populations mired in this epic battle.

Business owners and managers:

  1. Take Daniel’s advice and don’t hire a #%&*! idiot.
  2. Actually take a look at your marketing in a holistic fashion, budget for social (cause folks this is NOT going away) accordingly. We are talking a 24/7 365 job that requires constant attention, content, measurement, and training. This is not peanuts work and it is far from easy. Come up with a salary that acknowledges that fact.
  3. Craft a job description that is realistic. You want a social media manager, stop asking for a PHP coder and a graphic designer.  That’s like asking for the security guard to do your accounting. Get clear and focused and move beyond the thinking that this is add on work.
  4. Look for an individual who has a good mix of experience that includes CLASSES (where else are they going to learn?), special projects, internships, employment.  Remember you are looking for cultural fit as well as experience that addresses your needs. Don’t assume that because of their age they can do this better or worse. Let’s face it…we all grew up with electricity.  How many of us can rewire a circuit?
  5. Google them. Seriously.  If they can’t brand themselves with social they certainly can’t brand you.  Not sure what I’m talking about? Take a minute and search for Brittany Leaning in Google or Nichole Magoon. I bet you’d hire either of them for anything social wouldn’t you? Doesn’t matter what their age is.

 College Students/Recent Grads aka 20 somethings

  1. Don’t do this work unless you love this work. Social is hard. It takes constant energy and passion, and a deep interest in always learning. Always being connected. How do you know you love this work? It is a thrill when you get a RT, when you see likes, shares, and comments light up your Facebook Insights, when you open up Google Analytics for the first time and see that traffic spike to the landing page that was drive 100% because of social media.
  2. Pick a college that actually teaches this stuff. Teaching that is hands on, current, and super relevant. Naturally I’m biased here.  Pick my program at Champlain College: Marketing with a specialization in Digital Marketing (or one like it…if you can find one). Notice we don’t teach a “social media class” for three credits. That’s because our marketing students start learning social media integrated in their first marketing class. Just ask them. They’ll tell you. They read books like Me 2.0, and CrushIt, and Engage. They build their personal brand starting in the first semester and end with a bang with this assignment in their senior Capstone class.
  3. Look for professors who know their stuff — research is awesome but in the world of digital marketing, marketing experience is key. How are your professors engaged on social media? Do they use Twitter? Are they on Facebook? Can they talk to you about Pinterest?  On your college tour, if they can’t do that, then that is NOT where you want to be.
  4. Do multiple internships with companies who need social media help or are experts in social media.  Here in Burlington, VT we have students who intern with People Making Good and Brandthropology and Union Street Media and Vermont Teddy Bear. They take what they learn in the classroom and then add to it with these amazing organizations. Target your internships to build your skills and learn something new every day.
  5. Build your personal brand while you are in college. Seriously. See that link to Brittany’s and Nichole’s content. Do that. Own it. Prove yourself. This isn’t just me saying it either. Read this from Michel Brenner over at Forbes if you don’t believe me.
  6. As graduates don’t be afraid to take on another internship or work part time to build your experience.
  7. Connect with local organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and The Burlington Vermont Young Professionals (find an equivalent where you live). Network, connect, meet up, chat. Stay active on your social channels.
  8. Blog. Blog. Blog.
  9. Stay current. Read everything you can, sign up for Google Certifications and utilize sites like Hubspot Inbound Marketing University

 Current Employees with Experience (not 20 somethings)

  1. Face it, staying current is hard when you have a ton of other responsibilities and reading a Marketing book, or playing with a new tool often seems pointless within the daily grind. It’s not easy, but if you want to stay in this business there is no other mode but continuous learning…WHILE you get your regular work done.  Your employer is not going to pay you to read Mashable, write your blog, and sign up for Klout.  You should just be doing that anyway.
  2. Get rid of the pay me for it or I’m not doing it mentality.  Do it. Not for your company, but for you.
  3. Go back and read Steps 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9 for the 20 somethings. Do them no matter what your age.
  4. Yep, brand yourself. There is NO tool that you shouldn’t be exploring.  Your goal is to be the go-to person in your organization and to help build a team of go-to people who are valuable assets to the brand.
  5. Set your sights on what is next. The days of the long term employment are long gone. Always build your skills not just for today’s job but for tomorrow’s opportunity (um…this works for you 20 somethings too!).
  6. Lose your fear. Remember to be curious. Remember to have fun.

And now a special note to INC and the writer of the article.  Hollis Thomases wrote, “No class can replace on-the-job training.  Social media for business is really so many things wrapped into one: marketing, customer service, public relations, crisis management, branding. How deep is the experience of a young person in delivering any of these things?” Take a look at what we are doing at Champlain and tell me that the skill sets of these students coming out aren’t exactly what they need to get them ready to do the job faster and better than many. A well conceived degree that is current and relevant, coupled with hands on projects (our students start working with businesses in their first year) and first rate internships absolutely gets these students ready to do more and accomplish more than college students without the same curriculum. Just ask some of those businesses I’ve listed above, or ask some of our grads like Nichole or Brittany or others (just look at the #campchamp hashtag on Twitter).

So folks let’s stop making this an us vs. them. It’s not. Let’s focus on what is really important. Doing excellent work, loving what you do and always…always learning.

Mar 12

WIN Dinner with @pistachio at Champlain College


Heads up Champlain College Students and Alumni!


A must see event: Laura Fitton (you may know her as @pistachio on Twitter) is coming to Champlain College on Thursday, March 22nd.  She’ll be speaking from experience at 7:00 p.m., sharing her experiences as an entrepreneur, writer, and social media expert (she wrote the book…no really…she wrote “Twitter for Dummies”) and runs her own consulting gig.But…not only is she speaking for us all, she’s got to be able to eat!


It’ll be a great meal. Wouldn’t you like to join us?


If you are a current student or an alum here’s your chance.  We have FIVE seats up for grabs.  Sounds like the perfect time for a TWITTER CONTEST!


Top five tweets WIN dinner with @pistachio (and a few other awesome people).  Here’s the details (naturally failure to follow the instructions means you won’t win).


The contest begins NOW, March 15th and runs until Sunday, March 18th. The hashtag for the contest is #eatwithpistachio.  The mission: in less than 140 characters (gotta count that hashtag) is to TWEET why you want to have dinner with @pistachio. Simple enough don’t you think?


Bob Bloch and I will judge the tweets based on originality, creativity, and fun and will announce the winners via the contest hashtag on Monday, March 19th.