Get @TheCityHourApp For Social Networking

Soulati-Screen-Shot.jpgI recently had the distinct pleasure  to speak with Lance Seymour, chief marketing officer with CityHour, in this Google+ HangOut On Air. During that session, I also got to to send Alex Lubinsky, founder of CityHour, in the Ukraine some big love from we in the U.S. See what we get to do in sponsored posts? We can send hugs and kisses on a personal note across countries and oceans to those in strife. Big XO to you, Alex!

Now back to scheduled programming…

Hear About CityHour Here

CityHour is a new social networking tool with a big vision.

Have you ever traveled and had downtime in an airport or wandered aisles at a tradeshow wishing you were meeting someone instead? How about meeting someone totally new who also wants to do the same?

That’s what CityHour app does for iPhone users (coming soon to Android). Within minutes, and I mean minutes, you can hook into peeps you don’t know with your same interests and make connections happen. I’m impressed, and after seeing what Lance has to say below, you are going to be impressed, too!

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Are Google+ Communities A Thing Of The Past?

English: Google+ wordmark

English: Google+ wordmark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is the day I pull the plug on Bloggers Unite, the Google+ community I so eagerly and quickly established to build a place for we bloggers to qvetch, klatch, and ‘raderie.

It worked. For a bit.

In the beginning, as with most things new on the Interwebz, the sharing and energy around Google+ was #RockHot. Everyone wanted in on the action, and my community became a friendly place for peeps to read new material and cascade a few plusses around the sphere.

After that, the invasion of the non-English bloggers happened overnight. One day, we all knew one another, and the next folks from Latin America, Europe, and South America joined and posted blogs in their native tongues.

As owner of this community, it became challenging to support and share blogs I couldn’t read. Yes, someone did inform me to use Google Translation; however, my time is limited.

Segue.

It’s All About Time

What did Google+ communities offer beyond a Facebook group or LinkedIn group? The chatter wasn’t different (in my community, at least). We who jumped in together were already connected on other social channels.

Although I did try to jump start the conversation, it seemed bloggers posted something and took off to greater confines where the engagement was more robust. I get it, so did I!

Amber-Lee Dibble, kindly accepted the role as co-manager of the community, and then she got swamped on a wild horse adventure (no kidding, she lives in the Alaska interior).

Are Other Google+ Communities Thriving?

Like you, I joined some really robust communities back in the day. When I was publishing my first book a year ago, Writing With Verve on the Blogging Journey, (if anyone wants a free copy in exchange for jumping onto my list, let me know!), I joined APE The Book managed by Peggy Fitzpatrick for Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch. With 3,400 members, it’s easy to get lost and lurk.

After I gleaned all I could (it was crazy with information), I had to turn off notifications as it became too much sensory overload.

Viveka von Rosen owns a community of 600 members about LinkedIn, her specialty, and I still see those notices rolling in my in box.

Maybe that’s the ticket to success for a G+ community? Specialty topics everyone wants to learn about?

Could be! And, what do you think? Are you still involved in any #RockHot Google+ communities?

Please list them here and tell us why as I’m now seeking a new home to visit!

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The Business Of Happy Birthday

Just how many people are born in February, anyway? It seems like there are 3-5 people daily with birthdays I know within my little network. How about yours?

Since the snail mail snafus with postage increases galore (who knows the price of a postage stamp right now?), the volume of personal mail has subsided to a dull meow. When it’s your birthday, the tried-and-true BFFs from college send a greeting alongside mom, but everyone now sends global greetings the easy way — prompted by Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype and Google+.

Jayme-Soulati-Martini.jpg

Credit: Jayme Soulati

BTW, thank you EVERYONE for my birthday greetings! I remember about three years ago when I sat in front of my social channels until noon thanking every single person for my birthday wishes; it was a grand feeling for the whole day. About three years ago, it was a huge novelty to say happy birthday to everyone online. Now, you can even send gifts, and my goodness, I got one to NOT Dumb Starbucks (watch Steamfeed for the post I just uploaded on that topic!!).

Several weeks ago, I began to get birthday cards and I knew from the tell-tale envelope it was a personal greeting. Alas, not until I more closely looked at the marketing promo did I see that my birthday cards were from Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, Sunglass Hut, and my financial adviser (who always sends the best home-made cards, BTW.

Inside the retail cards were discounts on goods and services in honor of my special day. I could come on in and spend some money while getting $10 off that $75.

The business of happy birthday has gotten wayyyyy out of hand, but is it smart marketing? Do you rush to the retailer to cash in on the little discount they’re sending, or do you file the coupon? I did manage to use a Chico’s coupon for $10 off only because I was shopping for a business trip — see, still business!

Do you use birthday databases in your business? Tell me if you’ve had success with that and whether you recommend it as a good marketing strategy. I’ve never been a good birthday-rememberer, so I know already it wouldn’t be a strategy I implement, but I sure do enjoy saying happies to everyone else online!

(Please do note the very interesting compilation of blog posts from folks I don’t know writing about anyone’s birthday.)

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12 Most Do Now Online Reputation Punch List Items

Soulati-Media-logo.jpgWhen you sell, buy or build a home, there is a punch list of items on the to-do list to close or complete the deal. Bet you didn’t know social media had one, too? When you engage on social channels, you are building online reputation. You want it to remain pristine. That’s why these punch list items to uphold your personal brand are so important. You should take care of your online self just as you do your vehicle (5,000-mile oil change), your HVAC unit (annual inspection), teeth cleaning every six to nine months, or annual doctor visit.

Every six months or so, consider these online reputation punch list items for your social media presence:

1. Your Avatar Had A Birthday. The little picture you post in all your profiles is called an avatar. If you never change it, you stay forever young. That feels really good as you gaze at a gorgeous you, but what happens when you meet someone IRL (in real life) and they say, “My, you look nothing like your avatar!” What they’re really saying is, “You’re so much older!”

2. Delete Old Photos. While nothing is ever gone from the Internet, you should try to control which personal image you want captured on websites. When you update profile images, ensure the image you’re deleting is nowhere in use on other social media channels. Basically, you’re trying to limit the number of online photos people get to use.

3. Consider Using Gravatar. When you sign up with Gravatar.com, a WordPress.com tool, you upload a photo and brief bio. This photo and personal info populate automatically across the Interwebz (all the online social channels). If someone needs your photo for a blog post or other marketing, they can grab it from Gravatar.

4. Update Your Bio. As you grow professionally, you accomplish more and the list of achievements grows. Every single bio sketch you have ever written must be updated on a consistent basis. If you’re at all like me, I update my bio sketch every few months. This means when you update it in one place you have to keep going and update it everywhere.

5. Delete The Year Of Your Birth. Facebook recently informed me a friend was having a 62nd birthday the next day. Shocked, I posted in my news feed that Facebook was infringing on privacy! No, actually, when you set up your Facebook profile you can elect not to include the year of your birth. That means people can wish you a happy birthday, but they won’t know how young you’re getting! Go to your Facebook settings and delete the year of your birth.

6. Check Privacy Settings. On every social media channel with which you engage, click on settings and carefully review the boxes you’ve checked for privacy. Do you want only “friends” to see your profile and share with you? Do you want to receive third-party junk mail (spam)? Do you want to block the ex-husband or stalker girlfriend from your stream? Be very aware of privacy settings although we all know sharing/living online is nowhere near private (right?).

7. Check Third-Party Apps. When you sign in to a new app or online tool using Twitter or Facebook, you’ve essentially given permission for that app to crawl personal information, friends’ lists and liking behavior. Click the settings buttons on Facebook and Twitter until you find third-party apps or permissions settings. Delete the apps you’re no longer using or engaging with. This is important to pay attention to, and few do.

8. Google Yourself. Everyone should Google themselves! When was the last time you did? You need to see what’s popping up under your name and whether you need to kick into high gear and fix anything negative. If your name is the same as a serial killers, well, that’s going to be a problematic for your online reputation. There are things to do to ensure your reputation remains stellar, and the steps what to do require an entirely new blog post!

9. Update Your Website. Never forget to update your “About” page on your website. You can be a maker of artisanal jewelry or the CMO of a mid-tier company. The information about you is critical, and it cascades across all social media profiles beginning with LinkedIn.

10. Add Personal Info To Comment Systems. When you blog, you get to use a comment system like CommentLuv, Disqus or Livefyre. For each of these, you also can add an avatar (typically automatically taken from an existing photo on Twitter or Gravatar) as well as a tagline describing what you do. Here’s my example to help clarify. I use Livefyre as my blog’s comment system, and I used to have “B2B Social Media Marketing with PR” as my descriptor. It appeared next to my name and avatar. Because I recently updated my professional tagline, this now says “Hybrid PR” with my name and avatar. Do take advantage of things like this; it helps you build your professional brand.

11.Add Your Twitter ID To Social Sharing.Add Your Twitter ID To Social Sharing. For bloggers who use social sharing buttons from AddThis, AddToAny, Shareaholic and others, you are able to customize the retweet content of that blog post share. Let’s say someone wants to share your blog post and they click on the Twitter sharing icon. When it pops up, they see 1) @Wordpress.com 2) @AddToAny or @Shareaholic 3) no personal branding at all. What you want instead is your Twitter ID on every retweet so you can see who’s retweeting your content at various levels of sharing. You’re not owning your content without this type of personal customization; you’re allowing the share bar vendors to capitalize on your content marketing.

12.Use BrandYourself.com. This is the most fun and easiest way to develop an online reputation. See Number 8! If my name was the same as a serial killer’s name, I would run to this website and immediately engage. You add positive links about yourself, your bio, your avatar, and this site tells you how to boost each link for maximum search engine exposure. If you lead a highly professional online life, like me, then privacy is out and working daily to keep a positive online reputation is in.

This post originally appeared on 12Most.com, July 17, 2013 (and it’s still relevant!).

The Happy Friday Series: 5 Always Reasons To Be Happy

Kitties.jpgNew Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. I like the edge of things, the precipice. I like the feeling of a shared global experience. I like that you can say Happy New Year! to anybody you like. It’s happiness you can spread.

The secret to enjoying the new year is not to make resolutions. My family either focuses on a theme, or else I think about life changes in February – when the gym is less crowded.

5 Factors Contributing To My Happiness Right Now

1. Snow. It snowed last night. I love snow when it’s not inconveniencing me. It’s pretty, and I throw a mean snowball.
2. Prevent guest blog crime! I hate the camera, so I was surprised when I had a blast filming this video for the Communications Network (the association for communicators in philanthropy & nonprofit). In their Zero to Ninety Series, you have to give one takeaway for your viewer in fewer than ninety seconds. Watch my video and you’ll find out how to steer clear of guest blog crime. Plus I think the video is really funny and I’m proud of it.
3. Math. My stepson actually enjoys having me grill him on his multiplication tables. What!
4. Kitties. Two new kitties came to my house for Christmas. Their names are Johnny Shutup and Ernie Shutup. They are extremely affectionate. I’m working from home today, and they still want their lap time. Here’s a picture of them snuggling together when we weren’t looking.
5. Seattle. I’m going to Seattle in June for my sister’s graduation. Seattle is my favorite place in the US, hands down. I can’t drink coffee anymore and I still love Seattle. St. Ignatius Chapel, known as “The Gathering of Different Lights,” is my favorite place, hands down. You really should look at the pictures here even if they don’t do it justice.

I’m still thinking about a theme for this year for me & my family. What do you think it should be? I’m sincerely stuck. Maybe the year of no regrets? The year of new experiences? The year of kitties (that’s my stepson’s suggestion). I’ll be even happier if we can figure this out.

Jenn-Whinnem.jpgAbout The Author

Jenn Whinnem has been more than a loyal member of this community, she has been a stalwart (is that a noun?). She is a communications guru, maven, and #RockHot mastermind (there, I used them all) at the Connecticut Health Foundation by day. In other moments, she’s waxing jargon on Facebook and contributing to this blog while working behind the scenes to keep Jayme in top form. Connect with her on Twitter @TheJenn. Love this girl.

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