All posts tagged “social media”

Do You Use Twitter?

Twitter logo initial

Image via Wikipedia

Today is Twitter’s fifth birthday. Happy Birthday, Twitter!

For me personally, Twitter has been a major component in connecting with others in my field, connecting with potential clients, and keeping a pulse on trends and topics that are relevant to my business.

In fact, I’ve got a call this afternoon to discuss a project with a client that I initially responded to on Twitter a few years back. He was complaining about his then current web developer. I stepped in and offered my services. We struck up a great working relationship and are now onto new projects.

I still remember my Twitter “aha” moment that started soon after I started freelancing full-time. I even wrote a post about my initial discoveries.

So, do you use Twitter? It almost seems like a silly question. I know most of you probably do, but maybe some of you don’t. Why or why not?

If you DO use Twitter, how has it helped you and/or your business or career? Has it ever hurt your brand in any way?

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The Benefits of Doing Daily Photos With ShutterCal

For the past month or so, I’ve been using ShutterCal to upload a daily photo. ShutterCal then displays photos in an actual calendar format making it easy to look back over the past month of photos. As a person who works from home, I discovered some really neat advantages to doing this that I hadn’t thought of prior to using it:

  • It forces me to get out of my PJs and into “real” clothes every day as well as comb my hair. Well, maybe not comb my hair. But I can look back and figure out when I last had a haircut. No more going two months between cuts.
  • It acts as a daily journal. I can go back and look at past days and look at the context of the photo for an idea of what I did that day.
  • It gets my creative juices flowing…easily. Most of the time I shoot my daily photo simply using the webcam on my MacBook. Easy, but creatively challenging to make each photo different somehow.
  • It gets me out and about. Looking back over a monthly calendar of photos, it’s easy to spot trends. If too many photos in a row are me sitting in my house, then it’s time to get out.

These are all great things for someone working from home. If you decide to join me on ShutterCal, you’ll find my calendar here. Let’s be friends! :)

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Everything Is Amazing

Did you ever see the clip of comedian Louis CK talking to Conan O’Brien about how everything is amazing, yet nobody’s happy? If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to watch it before reading the rest of this post. First of all, it’s hilarious, and second, it’s 100% true.

Two nights ago I realized how amazing things are. Specifically, I realized how amazing it is that I can do what I do and interact with the people I do.

I was sitting in our local Caribou Coffee getting some extra work done for the day. Okay, first amazing thing: I was getting work done from the place that serves my favorite coffee. Caribou is awesome, and the only thing more amazing that being able to get work done there would be for them to give me my own dedicated Dave-only table that I could use all-day every day. I think I’m pushing my luck, so I’ll continue…

The second amazing thing was that I was having a few conversations on the side using Twitter. Just think about that: I am able to have casual conversations with folks, most of whom I’ve never met, who are hundreds and thousands of miles away. Twitter is an amazing tool. I’ve met many new friends and clients using the platform, and I’ll say it again: it really is the world’s largest water cooler.

Okay let’s continue down the social media path for a second. Not only is Twitter amazing, but the social media concept in general is amazing. It’s so flippin’ easy to find folks with the same interests, hobbies, career, and concerns as you. It’s so easy to keep in touch with people you haven’t seen in years. Personally, there are a ton of past friends I interact with on Facebook that I might never have talked to again just because of geography and losing touch. It’s amazing!

Lately I’ve been making it a point to use Skype a lot more. It’s been much easier on my MacBook than it ever was on my PC, for some reason. Skype is amazing. I feel like I’m almost in the same room as the person I’m talking to. It blows my mind! Tuesday night I was on Skype with a friend (from Twitter, whom I’ve never met in person) and he was on the road for his job. He jokingly said that if I was the AnywhereMan, he was the EverywhereMan. Having Skype allows him to interact with his wife and son in a way that’s a lot more personal than just an audio-only phone call. It’s not a replacement for actually being there, but it sure helps.

Any plain old chat application is amazing. When I was sitting at Caribou on Wednesday night, a chat message from my wife popped up in Google Talk. “Did you unhook the computer from the TV?” she asked. Being able to ask that question with just a quick little message versus a disruptive phone call is pretty slick. And yes, we’ve got an old Dell PC hooked to our TV and we watch our Hulu shows on it each week. That is also amazing.

Finally, the Work Anywhere concept is blow-my-mind amazing. I sit in the basement office of my small house in Grand Rapids and shape and mold the interwebs for clients who are mostly NOT in Grand Rapids. In fact, the largest concentration of Lift Development clients is actually in California. I’m in my shorts right now prepping to do some work for a bunch of them, my kids are upstairs playing, my wife is making coffee, and that is just plain amazing to me.

While there are always plenty of things to bum us out, focus on the little amazing things you might have never taken notice of in the past.

What’s amazing in your life?

Even if you don’t have a Work Anywhere career, there are still plenty of amazing things if you just look around. If I still had to commute these days, I guarantee being able to automatically download podcasts to my iPod Touch on a daily basis and listen to them during the drive would be among my list of amazing-ness. In fact, I kind of miss that…just a little bit.

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Twitter: Is Anybody Listening?

On Twitter, everybody’s trying to get more followers, get re-tweeted, get responses from famous or semi-famous people, launch marketing campaigns…but is that what it’s all about? What if nobody really is listening to you? Does that even matter?

Nope. I think the important thing is that YOU are listening to THEM. I think Twitter is a lot more useful as a listening tool than a broadcast tool, and I discuss that in today’s video.

Thanks to Jeremy Lattimore for asking the question.

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Keep Up With Your Contacts Using Gist.com

How much do you really know about the people you know?  

 

Gist (www.gist.com) is a brand-spankin’ new app that allows you to import your contacts from several sources such as Gmail, Outlook, LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, and MORE, and then browse fresh news, blog posts, and Twitter updates with content relevant to those contacts.  It takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you have the contacts you want set to high-priority, the functionality is priceless.  Think of it as part contact management/CRM, part news aggregator, and part Google Alerts.  

A few of my favorite features:

  • Add new contacts or companies to watch directly
  • Share interesting bits on content on Facebook, Twitter, or through email
  • Set various priority levels so you’re assured of seeing the news relevant to your highest-priority clients
  • Items that you haven’t read are marked as un-read, similar to checking your email
  • Profile tagging to create groups
  • If you import actual email messages, Gist will keep an archive of them

As a freelancer, being able to keep an eye on not only my current clients but potential clients through Gist is priceless.  The more you know about a client and their organization, the more they are going to trust that you will be able to take care of their needs.  You may also find opportunities you might never have noticed before.

One other recommendation with Gist is to make sure you’ve got a profile set up to track yourself.  It’s good to be aware of what content is being pulled that has you or your company’s name in it.  

Also, give Gist more than just a  quick glance. It’s in beta right now and the UI took a little bit of effort for me to learn, but the more you tinker with it, the more you’ll see the potential Gist has to be a major part of successful networking on the web. Check it out at www.gist.com.

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What I’ve Learned About YouTube, Vimeo, and Viddler

You may have noticed that recently I started using YouTube to show the videos on AnywhereMan instead of Vimeo.  The reason for this change was a glitch I encountered with Vimeo and its inability to properly encode the .wmv files that I was uploading from my new webcam. The problem was the files’ 15 fps frame rate, and YouTube handled this frame rate much better.  

However, it now looks like Vimeo fixed whatever was wrong and I am able to upload those .wmv files for correct encoding.  I’m at a point where I’m uploading to both YouTube and Vimeo for each video, both for dependability and for having multiple ways for people to find AnywhereMan.  I thought it might be good to give a breakdown of the apps I view as the “top three” video hosting services out there right now, and my opinion of each one.

Vimeo – The Artist’s hideaway

vimeo_logoVimeo is my favorite video hosting service out there, for many reasons.  First of all, it has the best HD handling and overall video quality (watch the videos on the Canon HV20/30/40 channel for proof).  It also has the cleanest interface, the best player, some awesome social media/community features, and it lacks much of the garbage videos cluttering up YouTube.  Vimeo has explicit rules about making sure you are uploading original content, whereas YouTube is completely full of old TV show clips.  Vimeo also doesn’t have the 10 minute limit that YouTube does.  This was appealing to me as I’m considering doing some short documentaries.  The other thing I love about Vimeo is the ability to create groups and channels, such as the AnywhereMan channel.  

The negative aspects of Vimeo service are things such as the occasional problem like I had with the .wmv files and the time it takes to get your videos encoded…if you have the basic free subscription.  I like Vimeo enough to buy a Plus membership which allows for very quick video upload and encoding among other perks like 5 GB of upload per month and HD embedding.  I really like it and the cost has been worth it.  The other negative is that I can’t watch my Vimeo vids on the iPhone or iPod Touch.  However, since I dually upload to YouTube, that takes care of that issue.

Here is a sample of a video on Vimeo:

 

 

YouTube – Where all the kids hang out

YouTube_Logo.svgMy second-favorite video service is YouTube simply because it’s one of the biggest video destinations on the web and it does a great job of getting uploads indexed in search engines.  I don’t love its encoding, but it gets the job done.  Whereas Vimeo is where I see more film-makers, musicians, and photographers hosting their original content, YouTube is where I see a lot of high-schoolers posting videos of their friends getting hit in the crotch with skateboards. It has a lot of legit content too, but there’s a lot of competition.  Again, it’s big and it gets the job done, but whereas I’m willing to pay $60/year for Vimeo, I’d maybe pay $3/year tops for YouTube.  I’m not too loyal to it.

Here is a sample of a video on YouTube:

 

Viddler – Business time

viddlerThe final service of what I view as the Big Three of video apps is Viddler.  I list it here only because I see a lot of others (like Gary Vaynerchuk) using it.  The thing that Viddler really has going for it, especially for businesses, is the branded player option.  You can actually upload a copy of your logo and brand the video player.  You can tweak the colors to match as well.  In a way I view Viddler as the perfect complement to Vimeo: Vimeo is trying to be as non-commercial as possible, while Viddler is probably the best-suited for business content.  I am not sure if I consider AnywhereMan “commercial” or not, so Vimeo wins my love. Of course.

I’ve heard that Viddler can support HD, but I haven’t seen it on the HD videos I’ve tried uploading.  It looks like they are offering paid accounts now, so I’m guessing that’s a feature on those.  

Here is a sample of a video on Viddler:

 

There are plenty of other video services out there and I hope to highlight some more in the future, but I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of the apps I’ve had experience with.  I’m doing more and more video and I’m really enjoying it!

If you are producing video content, what are you using to host your videos?


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Communicate as a Telework Team Using Yammer

yammer-timeThe Twitter phenomenon has been absorbed into the daily lives of most of us, and as someone who works from home, it has become my “water-cooler” outlet (as I’ve mentioned before). The idea of keeping followers updated on “what’s on your mind” has become a staple of the web today.

Apply this idea to a team of telework professionals all working for the same company but in different locations.  Imagine being able to constantly keep each other updated on what everyone is working on at any point in time.  The public (and spammy) nature of Twitter wouldn’t work well for this.  

Enter Yammer,  the “internal communication platform” (and a great social network for virtual teams).  Here’s a quick description from the Yammer website:

Yammer is a tool for making companies and organizations more productive through the exchange of short frequent answers to one simple question: ‘What are you working on?’

As employees answer that question, a feed is created in one central location enabling co-workers to discuss ideas, post news, ask questions, and share links and other information. Yammer also serves as a company directory in which every employee has a profile and as a knowledge base where past conversations can be easily accessed and referenced.

Anyone in a company can start their Yammer network and begin inviting colleagues. The privacy of each network is ensured by limiting access to those with a valid company email address. Information is never shared with third parties.

In a way, Yammer behaves much like Twitter, but instead takes place within the safety of an organization. In fact, Yammer offers a way to create an org chart for those involved with a particular account.  How does it know who should be in an account? It uses the domain on the member email addresses.

For example, I signed myself up to try out the service. The domain on my email account is liftdevelopment.com.  It then created a central “Liftdevelopment” account, and any other users who sign up with a liftdevelopment.com domain will get added to that group.  

Those that are signed up can then publish their status throughout the day and view statuses of others.  Files can be attached to statuses, messages can be bookmarked, and RSS feeds can be added.  Within a specific account, groups can be created.  Plus, there are desktop, iPhone, and Blackberry versions of Yammer available to take the tools just about anywhere.

Yammer is free, but there are premium paid accounts available that allow you to set up a central admin profile.  Companies with one of these premium accounts can manage users, delete messages and files, export data, remove former employees, etc.

For a one-person company like mine, the functionality of Yammer isn’t something I need. However, for a scattered team of individuals, I can see the collaboration features bringing value to communication and collaboration.  If you fall into this category, be sure to at least check it out as Yammer is getting a growing amount of buzz.

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Profile: Jason Sadler at IWearYourShirt.com

Jason at IWearYourShirtHe loves social media. He loves promoting other companies. He loves taking pictures and making videos.

He loves shirts.

Of all the discoveries I’ve made on Twitter in the past year, none have been as entertaining nor engaging as Jason Sadler. Jason wears shirts, just like you and me (or most of us). But the thing is, he actually gets paid to wear shirts, starting with $1 on January 1st steadily increasing by $1 each day until he hits $365 for December 31st.

If you do the math on that you’ll realize Jason will be making a nice $60,000+ salary this year.  And that doesn’t include monthly sponsorships which cost $1500/month. 

So what does the price for a day get you? Jason will Tweet about you (to his 15,000+ followers), talk about you on Facebook, write you up in his blog, do a live video on Ustream, put together a daily recap video (always entertaining!), and take pictures throughout the day and post them on Flickr…all while wearing whatever shirt you want to have him wear. 

Oh yeah, and don’t bother trying to book him to wear your company’s shirt this year because he’s all sold out. And so is almost half of 2010 already. (Act fast to get in on the action!)

Did I already mention he gets paid to wear shirts? Why did you or I not think of this?

The reason I’m introducing you to Jason here on AnywhereMan is that he is the perfect example of someone living the Anywhere Lifestyle. Since he is getting paid to wear shirts, and a person can (and generally should) wear shirts in all locations, Jason is able to take his “work” with him. Just this past week he was in New York City and was able to do his daily social media routine there. In the past he’s taken vacations and gone on other trips without missing a beat. All the guy needs is web access and a shirt and he’s good to go.

I encourage you to check out IWearYourShirt.com, get involved with Jason’s shirt-wearing antics, and even tune in for his daily Ustream show.  Plus, the guy gives a lot of stuff away…or at least his sponsors do.  You’ll have to check out the winner of the June contest.  That being said, I look forward to meeting Jason in person this coming week at BizConf! (as well as his buddy Evan who will be sharing shirt-wearing duties with Jason in 2010)

Jason’s business idea is something that inspires me, the AnywhereMan. Just think of the risk of selling a day of shirt-wearing for $1 on January 1st in hopes that doing it for cheap then would result in the reward of people being willing to pay $365 by the end of the year. That risk has paid off, Jason is able to really mold his work around his lifestyle, and his followers are getting an entertaining dose of super awesome antics…and shirts.

PS – Vote for Jason in the StartupNation Home Based 100 contest.

IWearYourShirt Sample Platter:
 

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Twitter and the Anywhere Lifestyle – Part 2

In Part 2 of my Twitter response, I continue with my discusson on how Twitter relates to the “work anywhere” lifestyle and how I personally incorporate it into my daily workflow and free-time.  Most importantly, I answer Jake Olson’s honest question: Does my wife think my Twittering is a complete was of time.  

Hopefully my wife doesn’t see this. 

So, do you think Twitter is a waste of time? Do you use it more for work or play?

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Twitter and the Anywhere Lifestyle – Part 1

Today I respond to some viewer questions about Twitter and how I incorporate it into my flow as a freelancer.  Thanks to Jake Olson (who lives and works in Turkey!) for emailing some great questions.  If anyone else ever has questions or has a topic they would like me to cover, go ahead and email me at dave (-at-) liftdevelopment.com or post it in the comments here on AnywhereMan.  

This is a 2-part response, and I will post part 2 on Monday. 

Okay Work Anywhere-types, how are YOU using Twitter?


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