Creative Strategies

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tweet What You Eat: The Other Side to Over-sharing

Like many people, when I first joined Twitter I didn't have a clue what to write. I knew I didn't want to share my daily activities, as in a journal, because I didn't see the use of that. With many years in the Knowledge Management field, I understood the importance of getting useful information out, so that is the avenue I took. I looked down (and still do to some extend) on people who used Twitter as mass text messaging because I felt they did not see the true potential of the tool and were just producing babble.

But maybe I'm wrong.

Food seems to be a strong subject for many tweeters. Some want to share what they eat. Some want to know what others eat. Some what you to tweet with your mouth closed. Over-sharing and 'Too Much Information' is rampant on Twitter and I thought food fell into that category. I really don't care what you eat, I want to learn from you and converse with you to grow ideas and perhaps do business. Others want to know everything about whom they follow, celebrities or not. Where are they going? Who are they hanging out with? What's the inside scoop to their next show? And yes, even what they are eating.

And maybe that's OK?

A week ago I had a passionate discussion with a loved one about the etiquette of Twitter and what should or should not be tweeted. This person was new to the Twitterverse and was looking for guidance, but my guidance became a bit over bearing. And it made me think, "Am I being a hypocrite?" I was suggesting she not write things (that I had tweeted in the past) because I didn't see value in it for her followers. And then last night on a chat the issue of food and Twitter came up again. This time I found myself supporting the over-share.

Maybe we can learn from what we eat!?

I completely understand not wanting to know what some Social Media darling had for breakfast, but maybe there is something we can learn from it. The topic on the chat last night was musicians. For one thing, artists can find inspiration in food, so why not share? And for an artist on tour for the first time, why not want to know what other artists on the road are eating? It could mean the difference between an amazing performance or a boo off the stage.

Is there transperancy in food?

For people on diets, writing down what they eat and even sharing it with other people is a great motivator to continue losing weight. loseitorloseit.com is an example of a newer weight loss genre where you lose money if you don't lose the weight you want. Why not share what you had for dinner? Your followers are already your support group and will be there to encourage you if you fall off the wagon. I'm sure many people would like to know what Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper (the trainers from Biggest Loser) eat during a day. With other groups like ShareUrMeal, posting what you eat can also help feed hungry people.

Inspire others with what you eat.

Another obvious group to benefit from sharing are chefs. Why not inspire the next generation of master chefs by giving examples of what you create? This is knowledge sharing after all. There is a transfer of information, without having to open your mouth. So while I still do believe that the power of using Twitter is in the information that can be shared, I'm starting to understand where SOME sharing of unconventional knowledge is a good thing.

So what have you eaten today?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Are you USING your technology?

There's using technology and then there's USING technology. It's similar to grade school when a boy would say "I like Olivia, I don't LIKE Olivia." With the lowercase, we just have the power turned on and check our email or run a few computations. With the uppercase, we're pushing the limits of the power supply and computing infinity divided by Pi. (which on a different blog would make for a funny commercial)

So are you or is your organization really USING technology?

The Post-It laptop on TwitpicI was recently at a co-working event put on by Entrepreneur's Entourage when a man sat down with us ("us" being 5 entrepreneur's with phones out and laptops open) and proceeded to layout his "laptop". Ten, pink Post-it notes were stuck to the table in a flow that really only this man understood. He was writing a book and this was his technology. The oddity struck us all, but it's how this man worked.

He was engaged, he was passionate and he USED his technology to it's potential and in a creative way.

As I type this, I have two computers and three screens running. I'm typing, conversing, coding, monitoring, listening and creating, but I'm not sure I'm using my technology to it's potential. Do I have so much technology to help me achieve more? Am I able to do more than I could with just one computer and one screen? Maybe this post will end up being an endorsement for cloud-computing, but I challenge you to sit back for a minute and think if you're really USING your technology to it's potential? Are you using it to complete tasks and make customers happy? Are you using it to create and share knowledge while learning at the same time?

Are you using it to play Bejeweled on Facebook?

Common medical wisdom puts our brain capacity at 10%. That's how much we "use" to remember things and get tasks done. As humans, we do not know how to use more of it. We might break if we use more of it. With technology, we tend to know it's limits. Sometimes technology can be pushed, but still within certain parameters. Knowing that, are you USING your capacity? Are you USING your technology?


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why Twitter is like Stargate Universe

I am a SciFi Space geek. There is really no denying it from my part. I am, however, a selective SciFi Space geek. Firefly = like. Battlestar Galactica = not so much. Star Trek: The Next Generation = like. Star Trek: Voyager = enh. Stargate: SG-1 = years of SciFi goodness.

With Stargate's latest installment "Universe" a few weeks old, I've seen some resemblance with companies just starting on Twitter. As with the show, organizations are stuck in a new place and their surroundings are strange and daunting. They may not have intended on going there, but they're stuck now and there's no turning back.

In SG-U, they're on a spaceship, built by humans, but using an ancient language that few know how to translate. With Twitter, many people do not understand the terminology at first. ReTweets? DMs? Txt spling 2 fill 140 chrctrs? But constant usage with it helps a user learn and start to use the language themselves.

As many companies start on the Social Media path, they lack the resources (people and time) to effectively manage their chosen streams. This lack of power can cause outages in message and customer service, besides the helplessness that is felt when the Twitter service goes down. Destiny, the ship in Stargate Universe, is low on power and resources through the first few episodes. While there are no "Fail Whales" in space, the outages interrupts their chances to figure out what's going on and how to save themselves. Having the right power and resources will help an organization reach their Social Media goals, just as we trust the people on "Destiny" will be safe if they spend time on the issues and work together.

As in most high stress situations, the people that are resourceful and can handle the pressure start to shine as go-to people and as leaders. On SG-U, not surprisingly, the stars of the show are the most creative, educated, and have the best leadership skills. As in your organization, there are people who start to shine when others give up. The same will go with your Twitter account. If you have a team working on Social Media, you'll find that one person who is willing to step up and help push the team forward. And if not, then you'll either go into history with the rest of the first season failures, or an alien race will come save you. Neither has happened on Stargate yet, and hopefully that won't happen to you.

In the end, it's about survival. Organizations have swarmed to Twitter and those that haven't yet are fighting to stay relevant. That may be a strong statement, but do you know of any companies who said "we don't need telephones" that are still in business? It's about communication, and those that don't communicate will fail.

As Stargate Universe continues it's premier season, how will your first season on Twitter turnout? Will you fight through the struggles and stick around for awhile? Or end up on a discount DVD rack?


Friday, September 18, 2009

Three baby steps to start taxonomy and categorization

So you're discovering you have a lot of information stored away, but it needs to be categorized or tagged in some way. STOP! Most organizations just start labeling content without any sort of standardization or any idea of the impact correct tagging has.

Why is stopping important? Because everyone categorizes differently. Here's a small unscientific test I did using my friends on Facebook. I posted a status simply saying " If I say 'Apple', you think. . ." After thirteen responses (again, it wasn't very scientific) four people associated the word with something edible and four people related it to technology. Three other categories also came up. So with one simple word, there were five trains of thought among only thirteen people. How big is your organization?

So what do you do? Initiate. Educate. Communicate.

1. Initiate the program by having a conversation with marketing or a leader in your organization that knows the workings of many departments. Start with a list of what types of content are being categorized. Simply write a list with the terms that make sense to YOU and then get the feedback from a small group of people. Marketing or someone in leadership can be great resources because they often know what terms need to be used with clients. And keeping clients happy is important. But the terms do need to make sense for employees as well, so there will be some back and forth. But it's important, so stick with it. The main idea is to keep things consistent. One group within an organization should not be using one term for something while another group describes it someway else. (i.e. Marketing Materials vs. Brochures) If you need help coming up with different keywords that make work for everyone, check out Google's Keyword tool

2. Educate your staff. Coming up with a final list is one thing, but you have to teach people not only what the correct terms are, but also what they mean. Show examples of what sub categories may fit into a certain area. (i.e. 'desktops' and 'laptops' are subcategories of 'computers') You may have a need for a certain subcategory to reside under multiple categories. . . limit this as much as possible. While there are some words that will make sense in multiple places, limiting this will cut down on confusion.

3. Communicate the reason for and the meanings behind your taxonomy again and again. Many organizations have the habit of launching something, communicating the launch and then never discussing it again. That's how projects die and how accountability is stunted. Remind your users what the terms are and what they mean. Let them know if a new term is added or an old one is renamed or removed. Communicating this information will not only remind staff about the tools the taxonomy is used for, it will help educate new staff and open up new discussion avenues within your group.

It's never too late to start a taxonomy project. Starting late may require more work hours in updating older information, but it's worth it. You'll find information faster, cut down on confusion and inconsistencies in speech internally and externally, as well as gain a better understanding of the different aspects of your organization.



Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is the Media just a big tattletale?

tat·tle·tale
(tāt'l-tāl')
n. One who tattles on others; an informer or talebearer.

tattletale. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved September 16, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tattletale


I just read this article by Robin Abcarian of the LA Times and had a thought. . . "What if we're all horrible people inside, but the media just catches some of us?"

I won't go into what Kanye, Serena and Joe did. . . everyone else already has. But what if cameras and microphones weren't RIGHT there to catch them? I was not around in the time before video cameras, but I have listened to my fair share of baseball games over the radio. If a fight occurs on the field, there are things that the commentators miss or don't report. As a listener, you know there's a fight on the field, you know someone is being held back, but for the most part, you don't hear what words were said. When the cameras and microphones are there, you get this.

With the 24 hour news cycle and social media, is it now the cool thing to call people out when they aren't acting to social norms? (Even though I'd argue no one knows what those are anymore). Are we truly appalled at these people or do we just draw attention to them so no one will notice the candy wrapper we just littered in the street?

All day news and social media can have such a strong impact on the world (if not your business). The elections in Iran have been proof to that. It may not cause change right away, but it will make many more people listen.

So, do we need social norms for social media? Or did we all need to get over the fact, that not only is "Big Brother" watching, but so is everyone with a cell phone and access to social networking sites?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009