Category Archives: Social Media Observations

A room full of tweets

I’ve been thinking about Twitter. Specifically, about the use of Twitter at conferences.  And then I read this post by Joseph Jaffe, in which he states his strong opinion that Twitter should be banned at conferences.  I couldn’t agree more. But I think he misses a few important points.

A little background.  I recently spoke at a conference where there was a lot of tweeting going on. This wasn’t surprising, as it was a social media-related conference.  To be fair, there were no horribly negative experiences, like this this one.  People were respectful, and were complimentary of my presentation in their tweets. But still, I came away with the very strong opinion that conference organizers should respectfully ask the attendees not to Twitter during presentations, and that the organizers should not facilitate the use of Twitter. I want to say emphatically that I am not criticizing the organizers of the conference I attended.  And I’m not even criticizing the conference attendees who were tweeting. Twitter is still relatively new, and everyone is still experimenting with what works. Further, conference organizers are under a lot of pressure to incorporate social media elements into conferences. I also have to confess that I sent a few tweets myself during the conference. Not a lot. But a few.

But having seen twitter in action (and having had the experience of presenting while people were tweeting), here’s my list of why Twitter should not be used during conferences:

1.  It’s rude.  When people go to the trouble to prepare a presentation for a conference, the audience should have the courtesy to pay attention. And when you have your head in your laptop or your Blackberry, you’re not paying attention. It’s really frustrating to look at your audience and see the tops of people’s heads.

2. It’s disrespectful. It’s too easy to be mean on Twitter.  To type something that crosses the line of funny into snarky. And makes the presenter look foolish. While she’s presenting. So as the presenter, you get paranoid wondering what people are tweeting about you.  And worst-case, if people are tweeting nasty things, the presenter can lose control of the audience. (See above example.)

3. It doesn’t add any value. I understand that the idea of the “backchannel” created by Twitter is to allow people who aren’t in attendance to share in the learnings of the conference, and for conference attendees to build on the ideas presented at the conference. But at the conference I attended, the overwhelming majority of tweets were one-line quotes that the presenter said.  And without the context of the rest of the presentation, I don’t see how that’s going to be of any value to anyone not in the room.  And even if there are nuggets of information, how many people are actually going to wade through hundreds or thousands of tweets to get them? And as for the people in the room, they’re hearing it live, so why would they want to read it again on Twitter?

4. It’s a circle-jerk. (Pardon the expression.) So think about it.  You have people sitting in a presentation tweeting. And the majority of the people who are reading the twitter feed are other people who are sitting in the same room. If anyone outside the room was really that interested, they’d be attending the conference, instead of trying to get snippets of information from the Twitter feed.   So the group is in effect tweeting crap to itself. What is the point of that? Why doesn’t everyone just pay attention instead?

5. It will make conferences less valuable in the long run. Because people who have valuable things to say will stop presenting at conferences because it won’t be worth the risk of humiliation.

And those are my 5 reasons to stop the use of Twitter at conferences.



Filed under Social Media Observations

A Face from the past…and present

A question from my sister yesterday about how I use Facebook got me thinking.

I guess I’ve been on Facebook for almost a year. I don’t remember when I joined, and I’m not interested enough to go back and look it up.

It’s not what I expected when I joined. It’s more like a series of big noisy cocktail parties than small, intimate dinner parties.  Big, noisy cocktail parties with an invite list of an interesting mix of people from my past and my present – people I’ve known since I was born, people I’ve known for 20 years, people I lost touch with, people who’s offices are currently very close to mine (close enough to hear me typing.) Most times, I stop into the party for about 10 minutes to see who’s there, and chit-chat with several people.  Other times, I have longer “conversations” with people, looking at photos, reading notes, looking at quiz results, taking a quiz here or there.  

Some of the people I have the most interaction with on Facebook are people I didn’t know very well in high school, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know a bit better through our “conversations.” Some of them are people I lost touch with from college and grad school and am so grateful to have in my life again, even in this limited way. Some of the people are people I know in real life today, but I find out things about them on Facebook that I wouldn’t find out through our off-line interaction. 

I have my own set of rules – I rarely send flair, gifts, drinks or flowers (and I ignore them when people send them to me.) I don’t enter into conversations about politics or religion (the Episcopal church, yes. Religion, no), as those topics are too complex to discuss in this forum.  I try to keep my updates and comments positive. I try not to be mean, although I’m probably a bit too snarky sometimes. I don’t have arguments with people. I don’t share intimate details of my life.

With a few exceptions, I’m only friends with people I’ve met in real life. I usually accept friend requests. I enjoy reading comments from people whose political and religious views are different from mine, as long as their comments are respectful (they usually are). I have unfriended people who appeared to be mentally unbalanced and/or had nasty, public arguments, or who shared things I wasn’t comfortable hearing about in this public space.  

I’ve had a few disappointments.  Some people whom I was excited to reconnect with quickly disappeared, or don’t participate much.  Some people unfriended me, and I don’t know why. (And it’s really, really bugging me!!) I fear that I offended them in some way, and I wish I knew why. My biggest frustration is that I’d love to have more in-depth conversations with people about some of the things they post (or just about life in general), but it’s not the forum for that.  

But overall, I enjoy it. Very much. Thanks to all my Facebook friends – I am grateful to you for participating in this interesting cocktail party that connects my past to my present.

What are your thoughts about Facebook? What are your rules? What has surprised you – good and bad?

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Filed under Friends, Social Media Observations


Not much blogging going on this week.  I hurt my back and am pretty crabby and don’t feel like doing much.  But here are a few random things I found interesting in the last few days:

1. Very funny Facebook parody on YouTube:

2. For you Snuggie fans, here’s a parody from YouTube. (It’s just a blanket with sleeves, folks. Really.)

3. Interesting (to me, anyway) article about Twitter from New York magazine.

4. An upside to the recession, as Muzak goes bankrupt?

5. My favorite line of the week from 24.  President Taylor asks Jack why she should trust him.  Jack says, “With all due respect, Madam President, ask around.” I love Jack Bauer.

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Super waste of money









This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post.  But we got our picture taken at church on Sunday, and I wanted to post it, and hey, this is my blog, so I can do what I want. I love the expression on David’s face.

No, this blog post is about the Super Bowl.  The Super Bowl ads, to be precise.  All of the buzz around the ads got me thinking, do the Super Bowl ads actually get anyone to buy anything?  I know I’m probably not a typical American consumer.  I don’t buy Doritos or beer (and if I bought beer, I wouldn’t buy Budweiser.) I’m not in the market for a new car, and I’m not looking to get a new job. I don’t go the movies.  I don’t have a lot of gold, and I’m not looking to sell the gold that I have.  I already use on a regular basis, and I’d be ashamed to tell you how much Diet Coke we buy (and consume) on a weekly basis.  Our insides would corrode if we drank any more.

So I’d really be interested in hearing from you about whether you saw any Super Bowl ads that made you want to buy something.

Despite all the hype generated by the Super Bowl ads, the purpose of advertising is to get people to buy stuff.  Or get them to buy more stuff they’re already buying.  Or take some action that will get them closer to buying your product. (I know, I know, a lot of people went to the site to see Danica Patrick, but how many of them were interested in Web hosting? Not many, I’d guess.)   Believe me, I know that advertising has a long-term brand-building effect as well.  But if all you’re doing is getting people to think more highly of your brand  (and I would argue that most of the Super Bowl ads didn’t even do that effectively), then you’re wasting your money.

Do I think that advertising on the Super Bowl is ever a good idea? Sure.  I think that if you have a major new product introduction (like something on an iPod scale), it’s a great way to get your product seen by mega-millions of people, both during and following the game. Ditto if you have a major product improvement.  If you want to drive people to a Web site to take some kind of action (some kind of action that relates to your actual product or service, that is), I think it makes sense.  Or if you have a special, short-term deal you want to announce – like “free breakfast at Denny’s before 2:00”, it can really spread the word.

Or if you have a product that will make my almost 3-year-old use the potty, or get my kids to stop fighting.  I’d buy those in a second.

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Filed under Current Events, Social Media Observations

Random Friday

The newest Cabbage Patch Doll

The newest Cabbage Patch Doll

I’ve run out of variations on “odds and ends”, so I had to come up with another title.

1. Interesting article by David Pogue on twitter. (I’m getting really good at this live links thing, aren’t I? Huh?…Huh?) 

2. Another great post from Bob Hoffman, the Ad Contrarian, on social media and its potential for marketing. Any marketer who reads this is now scared shitless, as we’re all putting more and more resources (money AND people) in social media.

3. Whatever it is, I’m against it. (A little Groucho Marx on a Friday afternoon.)

4. The octuplets’ mom already had six children. Not passing judgment. Just wondering why you would subject yourself to fertility treatments (or would even want them, for that matter) if you already had six children. I’ve had fertility treatments, and it’s no picnic. To me, having more than six children would be no picnic either, though. Again, not passing judgment. Just saying.

5. For the second year in a row, we’re having a pretend  Super Bowl party.  We’re not actually having anyone over, because they would talk too much and then I might miss some of the commercials. We’re just making food as if we were having people over.  Wiener dogs, chips and salsa, veggie tray (with lots and lots of olives. I love olives), and pizza rolls. Yum. 

Go Steelers!

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Filed under Current Events, Funny Things, Social Media Observations

Odder ends

1. Last week, Governor Blagojevich compared his arrest to the attack on Pearl Harbor, and said that the whole thing is part of a conspiracy on the part of Illinois lawmakers to raise taxes.  Today, he said that he thought about selecting Oprah to fill Obama’s senate seat.  Hey, why not throw in Cardinal George, while you’re at it?

Further evidence that he’s a special kind of crazy, and there ain’t no medication for it. Can we just get this trial over with, please, and move on?

2. It’s called “social media” for a reason, folks.  Two weeks ago, an account VP from the Atalnta office of Ketchum, a very large PR agency, landed in Memphis to meet with FedEx, the largest client of the Atlanta office.  Upon landing, he tweeted something to the effect that if he had to live in a place like Memphis, he’d kill himself.  Well, unfortunately, some of the FedEx people he was about to meet with were his followers on Twitter, and they took great offense.  The full story is here. Just a reminder that everything we say in the social media world is public, not private. I don’t know what I would do if I were Ketchum..but I’m very glad I don’t have to make the decision.

3.  I made Shepherd’s Pie in the crock pot tonight, but I’m going to spare you this one, because it wasn’t very good.  My family just wishes that I had spared them.

4. I just found out they pushed back the date of the digital TV change-over, and we’re going to have four more months of hearing about it.  Please, let this end.  The people who haven’t heard about it yet are not going to hear about it in the next four months, and I’m still going to hear about it every day.

5. If January doesn’t end soon, I think I shall perish.  Further, if February is anything like January, I think I shall perish.

6.  I think that one of the most dangerous jobs in the world is “former girlfriend of a famous athlete.” I don’t mean to sound harsh, but they seem to have a high mortality rate, for whatever reason. I’m just saying.

7. The TiVo did not record tonight’s episode of “24”, so I have to implement a total news black-out until tomorrow night when I can watch it on hulu.  Don’t tell me what happened!

This was particularly “stream of consciousness” tonight, wasn’t it?


Filed under Current Events, Social Media Observations, Uncategorized

Twittering the time away

I still can’t figure out Twitter.  I mean, I know how to use it.  It’s pretty simple.  It’s social instant messaging using a 140 characters or less.  The technical description for it is “micro-blogging”, where people send messages to their “followers”.  You sign up to follow people, and then people sign up to follow you, and then it starts to get weird.  Let me give you an example.  John follows Mary, and Mary follows John.  Susie follows Mary, but not John.  So John sends  a “tweet” to his followers, and since Mary is a follower, she sees his tweet(which Susie doesn’t see, remember, because she doesn’t follow John.) Mary thinks John’s tweet was thought-provoking or hilarious, or both, and she decides to respond to his message with something equally thought-provoking and/or hilarious, and both John and Susie see Mary’s tweet, because they both follow her.  And Susie has NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL MARY IS TALKING ABOUT, because she didn’t see the original tweet. See? I said it was weird.

I  have exactly 150 followers on Twitter, and I follow 178 people.  Which means I get about 1000 tweets a day, of which I maybe read skim 100.  If that.  I send about one tweet a day, usually either in response to something someone else tweeted (thereby causing confusion for the people who follow me, as I illustrated in the example above), or commenting on some random thing in the news or at work. I don’t know how I got 150 followers.  Mostly, it was in response to people who started to follow me.  (This is common courtesy on Twitter. You follow people who follow you, unless they’re spammers or Amway representatives.) I don’t know how 150 people knew I was on Twitter.  But as I said, it’s weird. 

I joined Twitter to see what all the fuss was about.  I started by following experts in social media, but I’m finding that many of them annoy me, because they have huge egos.  Now I find that my favorite “tweeple” (sorry, I meant “people”) to follow are actually journalists.  I like getting my news the moment it happens. 

Speaking of which, an interesting thing happened on Thursday, when the plane crashed into the Hudson River.  I started getting “tweets” about 2 minutes after the crash happened.  Twitter scooped the main-stream media big-time.  People saw the crash from their apartments and started tweeting. And then other members started re-tweeting (re-sending the same message, and crediting the person who originally sent it.)

Now I have no idea what the implications of this are.  Would anything about the crash or the aftermath have been any different if it had taken people 20 minutes to hear about it on CNN Breaking News instead of hearing about it instantly on Twitter? I highly doubt it.  But it was fascinating to watch. 

I haven’t figured out yet whether Twitter is an important tool for recruiting students.  So far, it’s not being used extensively by universities.  And it’s certainly not clear that those that are seeing results from it.  Time will tell.

But it does look like it’s here to stay.  For those interested in learning more, or those who are still at the “I think Twitter is really dumb” stage (which I still revert to periodically), here are the 5 stages of Twitter acceptance.

If you’re on Twitter and you’d like to follow me, I’m @debmaue.  I’ll follow you back.

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