Friday, October 28, 2011

I created a social media monster!

If you know me at all you've probably heard me use this sentence to describe some of the people I've helped to understand how to use Twitter. And I've meant it every time. It turns out though that I had no idea what the definition of a monster was. This time I really did create a monster!

BrainyQuote defines a Monster as "Something of unnatural size, shape, or quality; a prodigy; an enormity; a marvel."

On Monday September 26th I sent a very innocent tweet out into the world, "#Guelph tweetup this week, lunch anyday. Whose in?"

I immediately received some responses from the usual suspects, Julie, Mark, Sharon, Bang, Rob, which felt like a success. Great, a nice lunch with some friends I haven't seen in the real world for awhile! That night however as we were deciding where to go our little lunch date turned into a massive outing requiring reservations, menu planning, nametags, a hashtag, a facebook page...

Some people say it's because I was the one who suggested lunch. That's very nice of them to think I'm so influential in Guelph that with one tweet I can round up 30+ people. The reality is that each of those 5 people who originally agreed to have lunch with me all have their own network of people too. I rounded up 5 people to hang out with, and then they each rounded up their own 5 or so people to hang out with.

And with that math equation, Lunch Up Guelph was born.

Our first lunch was at Artisanale. 33 people showed up each with donations of non-perishable food items for
the Guelph Food Bank. In total we raised over 100lbs for them.

On top of that many of us met for the first time after spending months talking online. And even better was how many new people I met for the first time and then started following from that day.

Today is the day of our second lunch. We will be at The eBar this time around. This will be a test of what we've created. Will it be as fun, as dynamic, as community building as the first time? Will Lunch Up Guelph become something more than local people having lunch together? Judging by the activity this morning on the #lunchupguelph stream I think everyone else is as excited as I am!

Going back to the definition of monster, this monster is definitely a prodigy and a marvel. I may have started it with one tweet but the awesome people of this community have made it so much more than I anticipated. Almost everyday I marvel at the power of the people I've met through Twitter. They are truly #Guelphtastic!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who cares what I had for lunch?

I'm always fascinated by which of my status updates create the most feedback, because it so rarely is an important or life changing piece of wisdom I'm sharing. Most recently I posed the question to my Twitter and Facebook friends "Am I the only person who doesn't like fruit or vegetable in my water?"

I immediately got responses from both networks, a few more from Facebook because the new Top Posts feature means my status update lives longer there than on Twitter.

From my completely non scientific poll, cucumber slices in water is no. Lemon or lime in water is yes. But we all take our water very seriously, and we all have an opinion. In the end I received 10 responses, which is not a huge flood of answers, but considering how many tweets or statuses get no response (except hopefully at least a chuckle from the readers), it's a pretty large amount for a completely unimportant topic.

So next time you are wondering what to say while looking at that empty status box remember your most random and real moments are likely the ones people will connect best with.

Also, the catalyst for my question was the apple slices in the jug of water at the cafe I was having a meeting at last night. I was very thirsty and wanted water. Instead I got some awful tasting hint of apple stuff that I could barely drink.

One more also, that particular status update had a typo in it. In fact, it was missing an entire word, "who". Not a single person complained about my too fast typing. So don't sweat it if you make a mistake. Relax, laugh at yourself.

Monday, October 10, 2011

City of Guelph Social Media Guidelines

The City of Guelph Communications Department has just released a report on guidelines for City Councillors using Social Media. Ward 2 Councillor Ian Findlay has posted the entire report on his blog Ward 2 Guelph: The Deuce.

I've often used the City of Guelph official Twitter account, as well as the account of the only Councillor we have actively using Twitter, Cam Guthrie as examples of how much our online community thrives. Not only does the city engage its followers, it answers questions and responds to comments from the average citizen. I believe this is a huge step towards engaging voters as more non-voters see that their voice is heard.

I also believe it moves the public discourse of council meetings to where more people are paying attention, away from televised meetings and towards an online presence.

I'll be honest, when I saw the headline and the subject of the blog post I was truly worried that the City was about to clamp down control on what people in political office and public service were allowed to do with their accounts.

I'm happy to report that doesn't seem to be what the report is saying at all. They've created a 5 point strategic plan and they really get it as you can read from how they've described social media in this quote from the report:

Social media in the public sector is about participating in conversations with constituents and other stakeholders, and engaging audiences in an authentic way to provide helpful information and build relationships which, in turn, help achieve organizational and community goals.

Not only that, they understand that there is no control over what public officials do online and in fact state that this report is not a "how-to" and that this is merely a suggestion.

And some pretty good suggestions they make.

1) Listen
2) Engage
3) Enable
4) Share
5) Participate

Perhaps my favorite part of this report and the part I think all local businesses need to pay close attention to is in the fifth point, Participate. So many businesses are crippled with fear about what they are putting "out there". So each status, tweet and comment go through levels of administration before getting published. The line from the report reads, "If you think a post or comment could compromise your professional integrity or that of the City, check with someone who has some distance from the issue. "

So, instead of each post going through layers of admin put it through one filter, an outsider. And that's only the post that you feel may cross a line. Otherwise, just put it out there.

The reality is your employees are representing your company every day they go about their lives and you trust them to wear your branded logos so why not trust them to do the same online?

Basically their report comes down to Be Authentic and Think Before Posting. That's a great strategy for any business!