I’ve moved this blog!

March 16, 2010

I’ve moved this blog to http://socialmediaobsession.com.

I hope you’ll visit me at my new location!

I’m having a disconnect. 

One of my women’s career networks – one that boasts an exclusive membership of business professionals, lawyers, politicians, scientists, doctors and more, just sent me an invitation to attend a webinar entitled “Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough.”

Huh?

Ok, I’m not saying that this webinar wouldn’t include some valuable information for many of my friends (well, ok,  in the spirit of transparency, for me too) but seriously, what does this have to do with the business network?

     Can anyone actually imagine a situation where a men’s business organization would offer a seminar about how to find Mrs. Right?

     Are they trying to reduce the size of their membership by marrying off their members to the first available guy?

     Or, is this actually a ploy to get women to refocus on their career aspirations and achieve financial security so as to avoid having to settle for Mr. Wrong?

Regardless, it pays to note that the seminar is not even listed on their web site – maybe because it would ruin the credibility of the organization as a place for serious professionals?

…Ya think?

In a country where women are still earning about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men, women’s organizations have a particular responsibility to stop playing into stereotypes and start focusing on topics that can help us achieve the career success we deserve.

Here’s what that means to me…

For starters – let’s please eliminate the beauty and dress-for-success break out sessions at so-called women’s conferences.  

(Digression #1: If you are clueless about what to wear, then pick up a copy of Glamour magazine, enlist the help of a personal shopper, or check out an episode of “What Not to Wear.”  Hint: this might be obvious, but at a simplistic level, just make sure you cover up your belly ring and keep your “girls” in check.)

(Digression #2: And, before you go thinking that I’m all business 24/7, I can assure you that it not the case. I love fashion and make up and all that “girly-girl” stuff.  Want proof? I’m on a first name basis with all the staff at Barney’s and Sephora. Seriously, check it out.  And, if you buy me a martini, I might even admit to thinking Hello, Kitty is super cute.)

Ok, now back to the subject at hand…

Seriously, LADIES! There is a right time and place for everything!

Make-up and fashion consultants, mani-pedis and mini back rubs at conferences make me cringe, as do flowery gift bags loaded with beauty products.  Do men do this stuff at conferences? Uh, no. They don’t.  Do we need this at our conferences? Uh, no we don’t.  Or at least we shouldn’t – idealistically.  IMHO. Feel free to disagree.

Instead, women’s conferences should spend time on substantive topics that could make a difference and perhaps open a few doors, such as:

  • how to negotiate and get the salary or title you deserve
  • how to get respect in a world of old boys’ and their old boys’ networks
  • how to break through the glass ceiling and join the C-suite
  • how to make sure you’re not outdated when you return to work after having a baby
  • how to change corporate culture to embrace more collaborative, women-oriented workstyles and lifestyles
  • how to project confidence and feel comfortable bragging about your accomplishments (come on, we all know it works)
  • how to start your own business, etc.

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I need to dash. I have a webinar to sign up for.

Oh, and one last thing btw, if you’re not doing anything this afternoon, maybe we could meet up at Bloomie’s? I hear they are having an excellent shoe sale.

***********************************************************************

Special Note: For women in Boston, there is an interesting conference coming up on Saturday, February 6, 2010.

 The 19th Annual Dynamic Women in Business Conference – from the Women’s Student Association at the Harvard Business School.  Hope to see you there!

If you know me, you may have noticed that I haven’t tweeted much in the past few months. What started out as just a small break, ended up as an extended Twitter vacation.

 The whole thing became crystal clear one day when I made the following observation:

Only 1 hour of Twitter per day is 365 hours PER YEAR. Just imagine what you could do in 365 hours…you could:

  • Learn Chinese
  • Write a novel
  • Get into the best shape of your life… and SO much more.

Well, I was probably spending a bit more than 7 hours a week on Twitter, perhaps quite a bit more, and that was a depressing thought. So, I decided I needed to make a change.

At first, friends who use Twitter basically thought I was crazy…as in “why the heck would you want to do THAT?”  Friends who don’t use Twitter were simply smug, as in “See, I knew that Twitter thing was stupid and you’d stop doing it eventually.

Actually, getting off Twitter was an excellent way to reclaim my brainspace. After nearly two years of tweeting, my brain was so full of Twitter-related minutia, that I just needed to clear it all out.  While it sounds like a lot of tweets to the nonuser, at only 3000 tweets over two years, I certainly don’t qualify as a heavy Twitter addict (you probably need about 5k per year to get into that category).  However, at a certain point, Twitter was encroaching onto too many aspects of my life and drowning out other valuable thoughts. 

Further, tweets aren’t the only measure of how much one uses Twitter or how much brainspace it takes up. I use Twitter as a great information source, so a lot of my Twitter time is spent reading all the articles that others are tweeting. Also, just managing Twitter can be demanding.  Keeping up with followers, reading profiles, reading tweets, sending and responding to DM’s, checking @replies, trying out the latest tools…it all takes time. 

So, I did what I needed to do and made a clean break. As I said, it wasn’t necessarily intended to be a long term thing. However, after a few days off Twitter, I decided maybe I needed a few more. Then a few more. That became a few weeks more…and well, the rest is history. 

So you’re probably wondering “what was it like?”

At first, it was strange to be off Twitter in a formal capacity…my brain was still forming thoughts in 140 characters. I’d think of a tweet and then realize it had nowhere to go.  If I had a few minutes of extra time, I had to control my impulse to check Twitter. I experienced some negative emotions (anxiety, isolation, sadness) which essentially boiled down to one key thought “what am I missing?”  I felt out of the loop.

However, at a certain point, maybe after the first 5 to 10 days, these feelings were replaced by positive emotions: happiness, freedom, peace of mind.  No longer was I thinking about Twitter when doing other activities. That was a nice change. Also, I reclaimed a decent amount of time in my week which I put to good use. By the end of the first month, I had a perfectly clean house, all my bills were paid, I was back at the gym and I had learned how to sew. I also was able to sit and read quietly, watch a movie or television show from start to finish, go to lunch without checking my phone and have a conversation without thinking about tweeting. It was a relief.

5 Benefits of being off Twitter…

  1. You’re free of the “noise”…when you’re really off Twitter, your brain has time to relax, resulting in enhanced creativity and the ability to focus.  And, with all of that extra “noise” gone, you’d be amazed at how well you can sleep. No more middle of the night thoughts about that tweet you want to remember for tomorrow.
  2. You’re more productive – when you’re off Twitter you can make space in your day for other things – things you probably used to do more of — like seeing your friends, talking on the phone, going to the gym, participating in your favorite hobby or activity.
  3. You’re less anxious – you’re not constantly wondering if you missed anything, you’re not thinking about your next tweet, you’re not wondering why someone stopped following you…or thinking about your follower count.
  4. You’re more polite and you can actually LISTEN. If you’re using Twitter while you’re out with a friend, you’re not being a good friend. Get off twitter, put your phone away and have a real conversation, you’ll be glad you did.
  5. You’ll be more interesting. Seriously, people who aren’t on Twitter could care less about it. They don’t want to hear about how you gained 500 new followers by using Mr. Tweet.

5 Reasons to Get Back on Twitter…

Of course, being off Twitter for awhile also has a few drawbacks. And so, at a certain point, I started to miss some of the benefits:

  1. You’re well informed – if Twitter is good for anything, it’s sharing information. From the latest news to special interest articles, Twitter is a great resource for just about anything.
  2. You’ve got a presence – looking for a job or next consulting gig? When you’re online and active, you’re on people’s radar. Not on Twitter = out of sight, out of mind.
  3. You’re part of a community – if you’re on Twitter, especially for business, chances are you know a lot of tweeps in real life, which makes it easy to walk into any conference or networking event.
  4. You can continue to grow your network…while you were away, everyone else was meeting new people, adding followers and creating new relationships…stay away for too long and you might just become irrelevant and your network will shrink.
  5. It’s fun…Well, it IS.

 

So, what’s the moral of the story? Balance.

5 Ways to find your Twitter Equilibrium…

  1. Don’t let Twitter get you side tracked. Stick with your plans for the day and save Twitter for later.
  2. Set a defined amount of time aside for Twitter. Set an alarm if you have to. But when the time’s up, walk away.
  3. Take an “offline” class of any kind that takes you away from the computer and allows you to create something tangible – pottery, jewelry making, etc. creating and working with your hands is therapeutic and probably helps repair some of the damage that all this social media is doing to our brains (NOTE: this is just my opinion…I’m NOT a doctor nor have I done any research on this topic). 
  4. Close your browser or Twitter client. Don’t have Twitter open all day. Seriously, can you really work effectively when you are distracted by Twitter?
  5. Keep Twitter to yourself…when you’re out and about, focus on who you are talking to. Put away the iPhone and Blackberry and get back to the basics. No one wants to have a conversation with a person who is tweeting while they are talking.

A few months later, while I check Twitter now and again and even tweet occasionally, I’m not quite “back” yet.  I’ll plan to see you back on Twitter in a more serious capacity after the first of the year. In the meantime, what would YOU recommend to help you find your Twitter equilibrium?

It seems like every week there is a new study about the demographics of Twitter users. The problem that I have with these studies is that usually something seems “off” with regard to the analysis.  In fact, the findings often seem misleading and designed to garner publicity instead of answering fundamental questions. This past week, Nielsen published some data from their Nielsen NetRatings panel regarding the growth rates of Twitter users by age group. In this case, to further support the sensationalized Morgan Stanley report about teens use of Twitter based on the habits of their 15 year old intern.  The problem is that most people take the headline at face value and never read the details. Furthermore, they then “retweet” and blog about it without critical analysis until it becomes “fact.”  

Consequently, as a result of this Nielsen NetRatings study,  the twittersphere is abuzz with the headline that “TEENS DON’T TWEET!” trending to the top of the Twitter search.  It sounds so alarming, you’d think the sky was falling. 

In their article, Nielsen makes the following statement:

“Perhaps even more impressively, this growth has come despite a lack of widespread adoption by children, teens, and young adults. In June 2009, only 16 percent of Twitter.com website users were under the age of 25. Bear in mind persons under 25 make up nearly one quarter of the active US Internet universe, which means that Twitter.com effectively under-indexes on the youth market by 36 percent.”

It’s true, the growth of Twitter is impressive and the size of the youth market using Twitter is very small. However, I think the claim is misleading, and I’m not jumping on the “OMG, teens don’t tweet!” bandwagon.  Here’s why:

The Nielsen chart is listed as the Twitter.com Website Growth by Age Group.  While the graph itself shows the growth visually, the only numbers listed are the percentages for June 2009, which indicate the absolute proportion of users by age range. 

twitter_by_age

While this is interesting information, the numbers don’t really tell us what the change in the proportion has been for each segment over time – or the actual growth rate for that group.  That’s an important piece of information — is the proportion of young people less than or more than what it was 6 months ago? Are young people keeping up? Are they accelerating their rate of adoption, despite their relatively small absolute numbers?

The answer is Yes. In fact, it looks like there has been an explosion in the 2 to 24 year old group’s use of Twitter in the past 6 months.  Based on a quick analysis of the graph,  the 2 to 24 year old segment grew from just under 6% of the users in January to 16% of users by June. 

I think that’s pretty huge. The youth segment substantially increased their relative size in the Twitter population. And, somehow, they managed to do this despite the fact that we’re realistically only talking about a 10 year range (13 to 24).  This is in contrast to the vast majority of people who fall into the 25+ category, which represents about a 50 year range! 

Since the number of users in January was substantially smaller than in June, it’s difficult to simply view the Nielsen graph and make an assessment of the percentages. Just a thought for Nielsen — I wouldn’t have had to do so much work if you had simply included the numbers upfront.  To make the calculation reasonably accurate, I put the graph into Photoshop and added a grid to it. I then estimated the audience to come up with the percentages for January. Doing this clearly showed that only 6% of the total were 2 to 24 years old in January, which was about 260k people. By June, the number of younger Twitter users was more than 10 times what it was 6 months ago, whereas the number of Twitter users over 25 was only 3 to 4 times what it was 6 months ago.  So, yes, the absolute numbers are larger for the overall population but the kids are catching up!

 Nielsen chart overlayed with percentages for January 2009

Using the grid overlay, I was able to get a good estimate of the numbers behind this graph… 

Analysis of the Nielsen Twitter Users Chart

Analysis of the Nielsen Twitter Users Chart

I’m attaching my spreadsheet here for anyone who would like to look at the calculations. 

Semantics. Semantics.

As mentioned, on the surface, the study shows that 2 to 24 year olds are under-indexed by 36% when it comes to tweeting. This group represents 25% of the Internet audience and only 16% of the Twitter audience.  I don’t have an issue with that. My issue is that rather than the misleading headline “Teens Don’t Tweet, Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By Youth” it would be more correct to say:

“Teens Are Less Likely to Tweet. Twitter’s Growth Not Fueled By Youth”

or, even better:

“Teens Less Likely to Tweet, But Numbers Are Growing”

or

“Youth Market Finally Catching on to Twitter!”

In other words, take teens out of it, unless you are going to publish a story specifically about teens, who are generally 13 to 17.

Let’s further address the age range. The study aggregates children, teens and young adults. Why do that?  The behavior of these three groups is very different, for obvious reasons. To lump them all into the same category makes for an uninspired and confusing analysis. There are plenty of issues related to this:

Terms of Service:  The Twitter terms of service prevent anyone under the age of 13 from using the site. So, why are we talking about 2 to 24 year olds?  Seriously, are there any 5 year old tweeters? Most 5 year olds are just learning to read, so the idea that they would be on Twitter is ridiculous. They may be on the Internet, but they are doing other activites designed for kids.  Given the recent amount of porn spam, I don’t think I would want any kid under the age of 18 using it.

Public Environment: Twitter is a public place and I can’t see many parents allowing their teens on Twitter — a lot of people I know are still debating when to let their kids get a Facebook account, which is as private as you want to make it.

Again, Nielsen, why are you reporting the age range of 2 to 24? And, more importantly, did that 25% you mentioned actually include kids under 13? If so, you should remove them and recalculate your percentages.

Even still, I’m not sure 13-24 is really that useful of a group anyway. It would have been more interesting to break it out into 13 to 17 and 18 to 24 olds — pretty standard categories in the research world.  I’d like to know more about the differences between teens and young adults and their adoption rates of Twitter. 

Assuming that we’re really talking about teens and young adults, and not children, there are a host of other reasons which have already been brought up about why teens, in particular, don’t use Twitter as much as adults:

  • Teens aren’t in front of a computer all day
  • Many don’t have smart phones, which would make interacting with Twitter difficult and not particularly engaging.
  • They don’t want to use up their text message limits on Twitter
  • Their friends are elsewhere (Facebook and other social networks)
  • It’s public — and they don’t want their parents to see what they are up to
  • They are (generally) not selling anything (which is why a lot of people use Twitter)
  • They are (generally) not interested in sharing and discussing business articles (ya think?)
  • They are (generally) not interested in discussing world events (war, politics, etc.)
  • and so on.

So, as Mashable asks, what does this mean for the future of Twitter?

Well, as presented it doesn’t mean much, for the reasons listed above. I think we should be more focused on the trend and the trend is looking good for the youth market. The base is much smaller, so it’s not surprising that the numbers seem relatively small. However, time will tell.

In terms of young adults, as young people migrate into the workforce, if they are not adopting Twitter – for networking purposes or news/information, then this is something that could be a problem in the long run. However, by that time, all the adult early adopters may have moved on to something else as well.

In terms of teens, if Twitter wants to accelerate the growth of the youth market, then they should develop some features that would make it fun and safe for teens while relieving parental anxiety over public tweeting. Since the parents are likely to be the gatekeepers anyway of some of their teens Internet use, the parents need to feel comfortable with it. 

There is still plenty of growth possible for Twitter so I don’t think we need to worry that teens are under-indexing on Twitter use just yet. Despite all the buzz, we’re still not talking about that many users relative to Facebook, for example. And, until Twitter can provide a stable, scalable platform, do we really want to encourage rapid growth?  Nothing is more of a turn off to both new and existing users than super-slow page loads and fail whales. Just think about how unusable Twitter was this spring when Ashton Kutcher and Oprah got onboard.

Presidential elections are not the only domain for sensational headlines and sound bites, the business community is predisposed to latching onto them too. The problem is that they muddy up reality and most people never get past them. It’s like when the CEO of a company comes to only one focus group and it happens to be the anomaly. He/she will only remember what they saw in the one group and think that this represents the behavior of all customers. Generally speaking, it would be better for everyone if we all bothered to read the full report. 

Let me know your thoughts and take a look at my spreadsheet to make sure I’m not missing something. :-)

I just started testing out posterous (http://posterous.com). So far, I think I’m in love. Although, please note that I refuse to be taken in by their good looks — I’m simply not that superficial.

Posterous is a cool site that allows you to post content simultaneously to multiple social media sites by email. You can attach almost any document or link and posterous will format it for you correctly and even embed the players if necessary. If you have multiple photos, it’ll even automatically create a gallery and reformat the pictures for online viewing, while retaining the full scale photos so that others can download them.

Today, I’m experimenting with posting to WordPress from email through Posterous. Posterous says they’ll format my YouTube link and embed the player. So, here is that super funny wedding entrance dance video that’s going around right now (only 12 million views to date).

You should be seeing the video in the YouTube player if it worked correctly:

As I mentioned above, the site is good looking. It has the type of modern, clean user interface that I love. Even their emails are nice looking. Looks aside, it’s easy to get started on posterous. They have a super helpful FAQ that answers pretty much any question you might have. They have password protected sites if you’re skittish about having your content in the public domain, and they have group sites where you can add the email addresses of your friends or family for group posting.

Also, if you tweet, this is an easy way to post content that is longer than 140 characters, add photos, etc. and have it all in one place. This is helpful, especially when posting from your smartphone. Currently, my photos go to twitpic, my tweets are texted to Twitter and my Facebook status is updated via the Facebook Blackberry app. Doing all of this via email to posterous could be a huge benefit.  Also, you have the option to post selectively to each of the services you’ve added — just by modifying the email address you send to (i.e., twitter@posterous.com for a tweet vs. twitter+facebook@posterous.com for selective post to twitter and facebook only vs. post@posterous.com for everything). 

Though some folks might use this as their blog, because it doesn’t offer all the customization that most bloggers would want, I think posterous would be good as an “unblog” — you know, all the stuff (read: noise, junk, crap) that you want to post and share but don’t really want on your real blog or Facebook.

Anyway, that’s about all I can say right now. I’m going to try out Posterous for a few weeks and see what happens. There are so many features to check out.

Thanks to Ed Richardson who posted a terrific article about Posterous on Social Media Today. http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/112828  It was just the push I needed to get started.

Clicking the send button…now.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Dissatisfied customer who accidently purchased a song lasting only 2:48.

Have you ever downloaded a song from iTunes and thought – damn, that’s one short song. Was that really worth the 99 cents or did I just get ripped off?  After all, in today’s down economy, you can’t afford to waste your money on just any old song.  Wimpy little two and three minute songs songs just don’t add enough value anymore. And, for that matter, neither do 5 minute songs. Frankly, I’m done with anything under 6 minutes.

The iTunes Value Maximization Framework:
 
First: To fully realize your investment, make sure your picks are at least 7 minutes long, preferably more. That’s not to say length is everything. You’ve got to add a little substance too.  And, watch out for really lengthy self-indulgent tracks.  Take Marais la Nuit from Neko Case’s album Middle Cyclone, for example.  I’m sorry, but the next time I want to hear crickets chirping for 31 minutes, I’ll go outside, thank you very much.  It’s technically not a song and I’m a purist, so I’m treating this one as an outlier and taking it out of the average cost per minute (ACM) for my collection.

Second: Delete all the shorter songs in your library. Trust me, you don’t need them. Two minutes goes by really fast. That’s less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee, get the mail or eat an ice cream cone.  And, as you age, time goes faster anyway — so if Stairway to Heaven seemed long to you in high school, give it another chance.  It’s a lot speedier today. Really.

Third: Pledge to check your downloads each and every week.  Don’t forget this step. It’s very important to keep the integrity of your music collection intact and not let any low value songs sneak into the mix.  Kind of like the Farenheit 451 of iTunes collection management — just burn ‘em.

To help you get started, I’m sharing some of my personal picks below. While not necessarily the definitive list on the subject, I guarantee that these songs will help you lower your ACM:

  1. Land of Hope and Dreams  (Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – Live in New York City) Length 9:46
  2. Can’t You Hear Me Knocking (Rolling Stones – Live Licks) 10:02
  3. Disco Inferno (The Trammps  – Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack) 10:51
  4. Movin Right Along (Michael Stanley Band – Stagepass) 9:35
  5. Elegant Gypsy Suite (Al DiMeola – Elegant Gypsy) 9:16
  6. D.M.S.R (Prince – 1999) 8:17
  7. Taboo (Charlie Byrd – The Guitar Artistry of Charlie Byrd) 9:41
  8. Groove Line (Disco Version) (Heat Wave – Best of Heat Wave) 7:29
  9. Riviera Paradise (Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble – In Step) 8:48
  10. I Want Your Sex (George Michael – Faith) 9:04

Special mention: Do You Feel Like I Do (Peter Frampton)  (The best versions of this song clock in at 19:28 on Frampton Comes Alive II and at 14:17 on Frampton Come Alive. Imagine what type of impact that could have! Unfortunately, you can only get them by purchasing the entire album. Note to Apple iTunes: what’s up with that?)

Important note: Older songs, such as these listed above,  generally provide even more value because presumably you’ve already heard them, which contributes to reducing the cost per listen (CPL).  That’s a complicated subject – so a future post will outline in detail how to lower your CPL, complete with step-by-step illustrated instructions.

Much credit goes to @fitzroy for bringing this extremely important subject to my attention.

What are your picks? :-)

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