Archives for the month of: March, 2012

My Twitter-data generated Infographic…yep, pretty much nails it!Image

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Becky Gaylord lets us in on the 12 Most Savvy Ways to Get Ahead…

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The company Visual.ly has come up with many incredible tools. But its latest development (I have no stake — monetarily or otherwise) fascinates me as someone who devours all forms of media and data to stay on top of trends and advise clients who want to do the same.

Using the option to create infographics, anyone can see how a topic spread across Twitter in the past 30 days, as indicated by a #hashtag. This feature also shows the most influential Twitter accounts that used and spread the topic’s hashtag.

The implications for research into cultural and media trends are profound. We can see — admittedly though just one imperfect vehicle: a Twitter #hashtag — how information about a specific topic or news item ripples through a social media site with more than 300 million accounts and that handles 1.6 billion search queries each day.

I decided to look at the spread of news about Trayvon Martin by analyzing the use the hashtag #Trayvon. As media reports indicate, Trayvon, a 17-year old African-American teenager from Miami Gardens, Fla., was unarmed when fatally shot last month. George Zimmerman, the man who says he fired in self-defense, has not been arrested as of today. He has been described in different news reports as White and as Hispanic. And the case has sparked widespread outrage and protest. Trayvon’s school has been criticized for not announcing his death to the students until almost a month had passed. The police and prosecutor connected to the case have also been criticized their conduct. And the police chief has temporarily stepped down.

In this case, I input the hashtag #Trayvon in the Visual.ly tool and created an infographic. What appeared surprised me. I expected to see use of the hashtag swell after the shooting of Trayvon. Instead, there was just one reference. That appeared on Feb. 26 — the day of the shooting. And then, weeks went by before the hashtag #Trayvon was used again on Twitter. After that, it rose dramatically.

Many observers of this tragic death charge that the mainstream press delayed and downplayed coverage because of race. This infographic shows that a weeks-long lag in spreading awareness of Trayvon’s death is apparent also through a common social media marker: the Twitter hashtag. By examining this and blogging about it, I hope to illustrate a new way that those of us who care deeply about issues in society and the media can add dimension as we explore and analyze important current events that affect our communities and our relationships with each other. I also wish peace for the young man’s family, friends and community — and for calm as justice unfolds.

#Trayvon Twitter hashtag absent for weeks after his death Feb. 26

If you want to increase the influence you have through social media and attract more followers on Twitter, the best way is to be human: approachable, humble, informative, engaging and a little funny. In other words, don’t try to get more Twitter followers. Instead, try to find people whose work interests you, whose posts inform you and whose viewpoints make you reflect.

Through conversation, connections and the social sharing that happens in creating and posting solid content, ReTweeting and giving credit to others, followers will come.

My experience proves this. I signed up for an account on Twitter three years ago — almost to the day. But until about three months ago, I didn’t update very regularly. I didn’t hang out and learn or actively follow people who posted interesting things.

I really didn’t understand the community that Twitter involves.

I made a concerted effort to jump in and learn more near the end of last year. And I started blogging more regularly. I became more engaged through Twitter and other social media sites. I wanted to be able to apply the knowledge to better help my clients and increase the profile and credibility of my business.

But in the process, I also found empathetic guides who shared selflessly and helped me make other connections. They led me to other social media tools, sites and data. And they still help me. Through them, I have found bloggers I love, as well great Twitter chats, resources, books and other mentors.

The social media community is very welcoming — as long as you’re not a spammer, a plagiarizer, buying followers or ceaselessly selling your wares. It turns out that, by engaging, I also found followers. In three months, my followers grew from 200 to more than 800. For proof, have a look at this chart.

The yellow bars show my Tweets. The red line reflects my followers.

If you’re famous, you’ll get followers anyway. But, if you’re not, and you do want more followers, here’s some things I’ve learned. It’s best to:

  • create and share relevant, fresh content
  • say thanks and give credit
  • follow back most of the time (though I always check out a new follower’s Tweets first, and I never automatically follow because of the ‘bots)
  • be present and be yourself
  • know you’ll make some mistakes and feel like a newbie as you go
  • have fun

Others might have another route, but for me, this is the path I found to be the most productive.

So, that’s the secret: you get Twitter followers by jumping into social media with both feet and an open mind. And it turns out the people already doing this knew it all along.

If you liked this post, feel free to follow me. Chances are good that I’ll follow back and share interesting posts and content from some other great folks I’ve met through Twitter.

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See my entire social presence here: http://XeeMe.com/beckygaylord

Mayor’s school reform plan is critical to students’ success

This is an Op-Ed I wrote that ran in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, March 18. It’s about an incredible public school our second grader attends in Cleveland and why I support a plan by the city’s Mayor to create more schools like this.

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Becky Gaylord shares her experience with 12 Most Powerful Words in Business.

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I do much of my grocery shopping at Giant Eagle. In the warmer months, we get a weekly goody bag of fruit and veggies from a local farmer as part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture.) But most of the year, we’re lured to Giant Eagle because of the discounts it offers regular shoppers and the wide selection of gluten-free and organic food.

I have a rewards-related credit card associated with the company, which bestows discounts at all branded stores. When consumers with reward cards patronize the company’s gas stations with car washes, and grocery and convenience stores — taking advantage of many of the weekly specials — it really adds up. Our family has saved almost $2,000 in the past year. My local Giant Eagle grocery store has a Starbucks inside, too, so I sip coffee as I shop. (And all spending, even on my beloved java, is counted toward a discount on gas when I fill up.) Lovely.

But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about targeted marketing and customized perks based on buying habits. Of course Giant Eagle is tracking everything I buy. Otherwise, it couldn’t offer me every fifth cup of coffee free (which is tracked electronically on my rewards card). And it also wouldn’t know to give me $2.21 off the last tank of gas I filled up with, based on the amount I had spent — and saved on — in-store grocery specials. Nor, would the company be able to tell me that I’d saved $1,996.75 through the various perks and savings and other tied-discounts it offers customers who take the time to look for those deals.

Of course, the company is keeping very close dibs on me, mainly, to serve itself. And I feel more than a little conflicted about this.

In an era filled with consumer scoring, from Klout to frequent flyer perks to special grocery store offers, it makes me a wee wistful for the days when we were all more anonymous. I love the treats that come from being a “regular.” There’s nothing new in that. It’s a concept even older than tabs the barkeep ran for local cowboys whetting their whistles in the saloons. Their chums knew them. The bar keep knew them. But no one else did (except the Sheriff, who likely also knew the shady ones…)

Nowadays, though, we need to realize that to snag perks that come from being “score-able” we trade-off the ability to be unknown. The benefits that come with being a good customer in this era means we have given up enough privacy that our service providers are able to know, accurately, what kind of customers we are. They know when we shop. What we buy. And where we live, among other things. That brings me to the hummus and the organic apples.

Today in the mail (snail mail, interestingly), Giant Eagle sent me coupons truly customized for me. They fit my buying habits. And they give $1 or more on things I already buy frequently, such as “loose organic apples” and “Market District hummus” and other specific items I buy. (They know this, of course, because it’s monitored, recorded and parsed.)

I was pleased and a little freaked out all at the same time. I didn’t ask for these or even know they were coming.

There’s no going back to a time when this kind of thing won’t happen. Now, no matter what the venue, customers who are deemed more valuable, loyal or otherwise influential are wooed. They have more Klout. And technology makes this possible to track and act upon.

Still, it makes me aware that with great advances technology brings, we need to be careful how the data are collected, used and analyzed. It’s innocent enough to give me $5 off my apples and hummus and other items. It’s more complicated and perhaps more concerning, though, as the special deals offered to consumers become increasingly targeted and connected to their behavior and choices — and to their personal information and social scores, online or offline. I wonder if related technology will make more polarized and striated our society, which, to my mind, is already experiencing a too-wide gulf in income and with access to medical care and quality, public education and job prospects.

I just finished Mark W. Schaefer’s excellent book on influence and social scoring called Return on Influence. Undoubtedly, this is why the issue was top of mind. So many aspects of this trend are wonderful and open up opportunities for sellers that make their jobs more efficient and cost-effective and for buyers that make their experiences more fun and rewarding. (Could this technology give rise to marketing that’s so targeted it ends junk mail someday? Well, we can hope!)

Technology and social media enable amazing access and reach. And social media is a great equalizer in many respects — you don’t need an Ivy League degree or the “right” pedigree to influence on social media. You do need to reach and interact with an influential audience that finds you and your content that way, too, and that shares your content and comments on your blog posts. This is among the points that Return on Influence makes so well.

Yet even though the power hierarchy of decades past doesn’t apply in the same way today, segregation between the haves and have-nots or between the influencers and those without influence continues. It just looks different.

I am going to go buy my apples, hummus and other items and happily claim my discount at Giant Eagle. (I’m seeing if I can get my 12 month savings to $2,500. And I’m thinking of approaching the company to tell them about my quest, blog about it and see what else that yields…) But I remain mindful of the power that modern-day consumers can amass as influencers. It’s great for marketers. And great for some consumers. But maybe not so much for others.

As this power gets shaped and grows I believe we should be aware of, if not concerned about, the gulf. I love the concept of using social media for social good, where access increases so the benefits from technological innovations spread. Anyway, that’s part of my goal in working with and through social media.

The question is: Can this be done? And, if so, how?

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You can see my full social presence at http://XeeMe.com/beckygaylord

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Weekly 12 Most Writer Becky Gaylord learns from her experience and dishes with you about 12 Most Inspiring Fails to Make in Your Career.
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Via Scoop.itbuilding community through social media

Becky Gaylord shares her experience with 12 Most Eye-Opening Things to Know About Starting a Consulting Practice.
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When the always wonderful site Mashable reposted this infographic about the social media site Pinterest, it completely captured my attention. I’ve seen a dozen or so infographics on Pinterest. You might have, as well. It seems that everyone is talking about Pinterest, joining it, using it or marketing through it.

Yet, this work, by MGDadvertising, was unique. The data presented are substantial and impressive. At the same time, the way the elements are designed and portrayed, this piece is also extremely easy to follow and digest. Taken together, the aspects of this work are very powerful.

Busy senior executives want data, evidence and support before adopting new marketing or communications tools or shifting the focus of an existing strategy. They want to see substantial return for new investments in marketing channels. Budgets are always tight, and a new approach seems risky.

But if you’re in the position of having to make the case for change, keep in mind the proof can be (and maybe even should be) in pictures. Visuals can be amazing — and far more effective than a written report that makes, essentially, the same case.

This Pinterest graphic is a perfect case in point.

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