Tag Archives: social networking

Five Tips to Improve Your Social Networking

First, you have to know I’m not a self-proclaimed social networking guru, genius, or miracle maker. I’m a writer, and social networking is largely about writing well. Whether you are a beginner or have been on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Tumblr, Flickr and Pinterest as soon as they launched, these quick tips will make you better at it. Some of the tips may be completely opposite to what you’ve heard. Writers learn differently from other people.

I love this image, but I still believe content is king. Image: http://www.digitopoly.org

1. Social Networking is about content. Cheap, starchy filler may attract followers, but it won’t keep them. Choose something you know about and care about and stick to writing about that.  At a book signing, I heard Martha Beck say, “Information is not power anymore. Attention span is power.” Content commands attention. Comment communicates.

2. Be curious about the world. No one loves a know-it-all. Even if you are an expert, there is plenty left to learn. Keep reading, keep researching, keep being curious. Learn from your readers and your audience. It’s contagious and your readers will love it.

3. Deliver what you promise. If you write a how-to article, make sure you show your readers how to do it. Too many articles that promise “how” simply tell you “what.” Be specific. Include steps. Imagine your how-to article being used to train your dog. If the dog is off chasing a squirrel at the end of the article, you either have a lab or your article needs re-writing.

4. Don’t be a tease. Tweets or Facebook posts that start, “Check this out. . .” or “Here’s what I think. . .” and then a link is not nearly as fascinating as you hoped. Give people a reason to click, a juicy temptation to leave the page they are on. And reward their decision with a great photo or article.

5. Don’t link all your accounts. Twitter is a different medium than Tumblr or Pinterest. If your audience overlaps, they really don’t need to see the same thing twice. Or six times. Automatically re-posting your Tweets on Facebook insults your friends and confuses your audience. If you are too lazy to re-write for a different audience and a different objective, do not expect your audience to find you fascinating.

A bonus tip: Size isn’t everything, particularly in audience numbers. Having a huge number of followers and thinking they care about you is the same as standing on top of the Chase building in Phoenix and thinking you are influencing the Valley just because you can see from Goodyear to Gilbert.

Social networking is about influence, and that’s not necessarily about numbers, it’s about what those numbers do, think or say.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer who finds social media fascinating, weird, unpredictable and wonderful, frequently simultaneously.

QuinnCreative: Changes Coming in July

Usually when I say “changes” people cringe. I’m going to do something different. It may be hard. What if you hate the change? Upcoming changes will make sense to you, because they are, well, sensible.

1. One website. When I began to write the book, I opened a website, RawArtJournaling.com to talk about he book. Then I moved all the creative work over to that site. I had a business website, QuinnCreative.com which covered my training, writing, business coaching. The time has come to combine the websites.

2. What are you going to call it? My business name is QuinnCreative. My one site will be at QuinnCreative.com (There’s no link now, so I can put in the new link when the site debuts).

3. Are you designing it? No. I’m not an expert in web design, so I hired Jen Wolfe, who created my logo, is designing the site. Target date for the new site to open is July 15.

4. One person, one site. For a long time, I thought my business clients would run if they knew I was an artist. Turns out, I show up as a creative all the time, and the clients who appreciate creativity want to bring that part to their business as well.  The clients who don’t want a creative approach discover my type withing two minutes of talking. If they don’t want a creative approach, they will be unhappy working with me.

5. Say goodbye to the newsletter. For years, I’ve had a newsletter. With social media taking the place of newsletters, I’m depending more and more on my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to keep in touch. With the book coming out, I need more time to concentrate on creative work. I want to develop more classes, both online and in person. That requires time, and a way to get back some of that time, is to discontinue the newsletter. I’d suggest subscribing to the blog, either via RSS feed or email.  There will also be a “what’s new” page on my website, allowing you to check in and see updates. More convenient all the way around.

6. Coaching prices are going up, and two gifts. As a gift to current clients, I will keep my coaching prices where they are for now. Coaching prices for new clients will rise (to $350 for 3 sessions a month and $150 for a one-time occasional coach) when the new website opens.

Second gift: To celebrate change, I will hold the old prices ($275 for 3X a month and $100 for a one-time occasional coach) until the end of July for anyone who mentions the blog. The old prices will stay in effect until the end of 2011 for anyone who begins coaching by the end of July.

I hope to see many of you at the new website as well as continuing on with me here. This blog will not move. It’s been here for almost five years and 1,500 blog posts, and it will stay right here.

What I Learned from Social Networking

Social networking hasn’t been around that long, and I’ve been using it for maybe two years. In that time, here are some important lessons I’ve learned, largely from making mistakes.

1. You will not change someone’s mind by replying to a post. This is true about their opinion on politics, religion, food, music, or anything else about their life. Trying to explain it just one more time in another comment doesn’t work either.

Image from: vaibhavtiwari.wordpress.com

2. Do not turn the angry person who posted a nasty comment into a pen pal. Do not answer them at all. Seriously. You will not make them go away or (see #1) change their minds. They will have another quote, another link, another argument. If you don’t answer them at all, their comment will just hang there.

3. Do not get off the high road to wrestle with a pig. You will get dirty, and the pig will enjoy it. The late Gordon Bowman gave me that advice the first week I was working for him, 20 years before social networking.  It was brilliant then and it is still brilliant now.

4. When someone whines, is looking for sympathy, or is proud of an achievement, be nice. Do not tell your own story in the comment section. Empathize with the person posting. Instead of “I know how you feel,” say, “that must have been really [great, awful, fun, no fun].  You may then unfriend them, if necessary.

5. Be useful. Be helpful. Re-tweet interesting messages. That includes your own blogs. “Includes” means there is more than the thing listed. Don’t link to just your blog or website all the time. It’s a big world, find other interesting sites to share.

6. Strangers become friends in a strange way in social networking, but they may not act like friends. Practice one of the following: “Thanks for the feedback,” “How kind of you to offer,” “Interesting information, I’ll think it over.” You really don’t know these people well enough to say, “Are you crazy? You don’t know my mother! That will never work, she will never, ever love me, and you don’t care either!”

7. Say half of what you think. The practical, useful half.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and social network user. She learns slowly.

Social Network as Family Substitute

Every time I read a post that says, “Goodnight tweeps. See you in the morning,” I wince. It seems unspeakably sad to think that people who are strangers, connected by 140 characters of communication, think it creates a family connection, and feel obligated to tell all those connections goodnight, to assure them they will be back the next day.

What would happen if they weren’t back the next day? Would anyone notice? If you follow 10,000 people—or even a fraction of that amount— and have as many follow you, how long does it take you to check up on them all in the morning? And is that really how you start your day–by seeing who checks in and who doesn’t?

Do the people who sign off so tenderly do the same for the people they share a house with? Or do they use Twitter (or Facebook)  because they are lonely? And if we can have a Second Life can we also have a pretend family?

There is no judgment here, just curiosity. When I was a teenager, we listened to the radio—to our favorite DJs, and to the songs they played on dedication hour. It was a community of strangers, much like Twitter, but it was run by one personality day after day, and the main purpose was to listen to popular music. We listened for dedications we had made and those that mentioned friends we saw every day at school.

The people on Twitter don’t know their thousands of contacts personally, so isn’t the connection an imaginary one? Like the imaginary friend my son had when he was five years old?

It’s a new meaning for social networking. It’s a new definition for social. And perhaps its connected with our willingness to give up privacy  for security.

Someone will point out that blog posts are no different, but I think they are. (Of course I think they are, I’m writing them.) But while I’ve gotten to know many of the people who leave comments, there are a handful of regular posters, and I don’t think they are my family. If no one read the blog, I’d still write it. I write it for writing practice, to think things through, to settle my logic.

But it’s an interesting thought: as we get drawn closer to strangers we will never meet, we still feel a huge need for connection in the most personal way.

–Quinn McDonald is a life and creativity coach as well as a writer and writing trainer.


Network Your Way to Anything

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Here’s the good news: you can network your way to a new job, to being interviewed on radio or TV, to a quote in the newspaper, to teaching an art class. Yes, you can. Here’s the bad news: there is … Continue reading


How to Make Twitter Work for You

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Twitter annoyed me at first. I didn’t get it. So brainless, so thoughtless. Who cares what you are eating, wearing or listening to? But wait, that was just the people I was following. At first, I followed everyone who followed … Continue reading


Navigating Twitter

Last time, I gave a quick overview of Twitter. This time, let’s see how to use it. If you have an account (you can sign up at twitter.com) you can post and answer other’s posts. The best way to get … Continue reading

Twitter: The Good, The Bad, The OMG!

If you don’t use Twitter yet, but have a burning desire to know about it, maybe I can help. Maybe not. By the time I click “Publish” on this post, everything may be different. Still, I’m going to try.

Twittering magpie

Twittering magpie

Twitter is a website on which anyone can write about anything as long as it takes up 140 characters or less. (A character is a keystroke.)  Posts are called tweets. People who use Twitter are called Tweeple. Twitter users are a real slice of life–there are serious business people, scammers, stoners, intelligentsia, cat lovers, event-goers, and at least one mature writer-coach-trainer-artist. (That’s me.)

It’s true that no matter who you are (or how old, or how fast you can type with your thumbs) there is a lot of Twitter you won’t care about. Before you sniff snobbishly, let me remind you that the same is true of TV shows, the interwebs, the library, and your extended family. In other words, you can pick and choose who shows up for you on Twitter.

Unlike Facebook, you can follow people on Twitter without being friends with them. Following them means you can go to their home page on Twitter and read what they post. You can also post.  And if someone isn’t what you wanted or expected, you can simply take them off your list without “unfriending” them.

You can run Twitter on your computer or on your cellphone or mobile PDA or all three. If you want to control your connection addiction, run it solely on your computer and check in with it periodically or post when you have something useful to post.

How do you know whose posts to read? Twitter has a search engine, and you can look for topics that interest you or people that interest you. Pete Harbeson (follow him at twitter.com/pharbeson) who comments here frequently, made a great suggestion: in the beginning, follow a lot of people. Trim down the list when you figure out what you want to read.

You can also use Mr. Tweet to make suggestions once you get a start–Mr. Tweet bases your suggestions on your description of yourself and your follow- and following-list.

What’s the difference between Twitter and Google? Google looks back on the contents of documents and arranges it by how many people looked at it. Twitter plugs in to what people are talking about right now.

I promised you the good: Twitter is fresh, you can find out what interests large groups of people, news buzzes, and updates of events you can’t attend.

I promised you the bad: Twitter is the e-version of the cool kids’ cafeteria table when you were in the seventh grade. You will never be cool enough, but you can carve out a niche.

. . .and the OMG!: Right now, “SXSW” is on almost every post. It means South by Southwest and it’s a media, film, and music festival happening in Texas March 18-22. After the 22nd, SXSW will vanish for something else.

Not OMG! enough? OK, here is a random post–a lot of people seem to like to post what they ate for lunch. I’ve left out the name to protect the guilty: “me to matt: what did you have for lunch? / Ramen Noodles / That’s not very nutritious / well, I had cookies too.”

Follow me on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/QuinnCreative

Next: hashmarks, who to follow, and some links to other articles that demystify Twitter.

Quinn McDonald is a trainer, life- and certified creativity coach. She is on Facebook and on Twitter. She was not one of the cool kids in seventh grade, but has carved out a niche.


Cyber Networking Introductions

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New to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? In this cyberspace, where “friend” is a verb (as in “Mary is friending you,”) there are ways to make networking seem more natural. When you are asking someone to join your circle (called “friending” … Continue reading

Web 2.0 isn’t bringing us closer together. . .

Web 2.0 may be a great way to interact personally without ever meeting anyone, but I’m already tired of it.

My phone rings. I’m on the Do Not Call list, so I pick it up, knowing it can’t be a telemarketer. But it’s a charitable organization, using telemarketing techniques. Calling me at dinner.
“I’m on the Do Not Call List,” I explain.
“Well, Ma’am, we are an exception to that list,” the caller proudly proclaims “and your number came up on my screen.”
“Just because you found a loophole doesn’t mean I have to talk to you.” I answer, and hang up.

I get an e-vite for a party. I have to check my calendar and ask my husband, too. Before I get the chance, I get six “reply to all” responses from people who pushed wrong buttons, want to know if I’m bringing a gift, and one from someone who said her party is the same day, but she just hasn’t had time to send out her e-vites yet. What am I supposed to do with that information?

Moving down the list, I’m invited to Link In with someone I don’t know. Dump it. It crawls out of my trash can and informs me I haven’t answered it. I mark it as spam and dump it again.trash

Another invitation to check out some books another person is reading and see if I want to make suggestions on what she should read next. I don’t know this person. I know her website. I may get her newsletter if she’s the person I think she is. I dump the email.

The next day I get a reminder that this person is waiting for me to join her virtual book club and tell her what to read. The least I can do, the email says, is “compare what I’ve read to what she’s read.” I roll my virtual eyes. That could take years. And I don’t. want. to.

I’m perplexed. Web 2.0 has no room for the polite silence of “I’m ignoring you.” And worse, perfectly fine business emails are getting dumped because the ether is clogged with virtual taps on the shoulder. It’s the junk mail we hated when the postal service left it at our door. It’s not more lovable now that it’s called Web 2.0 and gets here faster.

I send an email letting her know I don’t know what she should read next. And I add, “what if I suggest a book and you don’t read it? Is there a page where I can express my disappointment? How about if I suggest a book and you don’t like it. Is there a survey where you can question my taste?”

And I get back, “This is all standard Shelfari text, not mine.” And there’s the problem. She signed up without knowing what the program would send out in her name. Now she wants to be not responsible for it. It doesn’t work that way. If you run into me with your car because you haven’t taking a driving lesson, it’s still your fault. And if you crawl into Web 2.0 with its endless networking, relationship marketing, and “personalized” emails, it’s you I’m going to be cranky at when you can’t control what you signed up for.

Even the Web needs responsible users. Be one.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach. She rides a motorcycle and understands how easy it is to get into dangerous situations without wanting to. See her work at QuinnCreative.com (c) 2007 All rights reserved. Trash can image: panasonicyouth.buzznet.com