A long-time colleague who I respect a lot recently published a book. He was kind enough to send me a complimentary copy. I liked it so much, and agreed with it so wholeheartedly, I decided to write a review.

5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint’

Changing the World One Conversation at a Time

By Eric Bergman

Petticoat Creek Press, 2012

5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint’ – Changing the World One Conversation at a Time      tackles our obsession with popular slideware programs head on while providing an easy-to-follow framework for presentations that inform and influence.

Author Eric Bergman pulls no punches: “. . . slides are not working. They stifle discussion. They impede understanding. They hinder decision-making. They crush audience participation. They smother critical thinking. They leave boredom and lost productivity in their wake.”

I create and deliver presentations all the time, and I teach people how to present. After reading the first chapter, it was crystal clear it’s been far too long since I’ve thought about the process I use.

This book provides a well-reasoned argument for limiting if not eliminating slides in presentations. It is based on social science research, but easy to read and apply—scholarly in content, but pragmatic in tone.

Bergman maintains that to be effective, all face-to-face communication must be a true conversation: “If you treat people with respect and create a two-way process in which they can absorb your information and you can answer their questions clearly and concisely, you stand a better chance of having them apply or act on your message than if you stand in front of them and dump data while talking to your slides.” His advice could be applied equally well to a one-on-one pitch, or a plenary at a major conference.

By the end of 5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint,’ I was completely sold. I’ve already downloaded the free workbook from Five Steps to Conquer; and I plan to use it.

Eric Bergman, ABC, APR is a prominent Canadian speaking and media relations trainer. He is also the author of IABC’s Media Training with Excellence: A Balanced Approach and the creator of Present with Ease and At Ease with the Media.

5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint’ is available from Amazon.

Writing a Book Review

I have posted this review on Amazon as well—the first time I have ever done so. In preparation, I read this excellent post from Anne R. Allen’s Blog, A Reader’s Guide to Amazon Reviewing. I also checked out Amazon’s Review Creation Guidelines.

Recommend a Book, or Ask Me to Review One

Got a public relations, communications, social media, or marketing book you’d like to recommend? Have a book you think I should review? Just leave me a comment. Be prepared, though. I call ’em like I see ’em.

Hedley is a popular, mainstream Canadian band whose audience is mostly very young Canadian women. Its lead singer is Jacob Hoggard, whose career took off after he placed third during the second season of Canadian idol.

The four young, male band members have built a persona that’s just “bad boy” enough to appeal to those very young Canadian women. Although the fact that Hedley band members are ambassadors for Free the Children, the world’s largest network of children helping children through education, suggests they aim to be viewed as something over and above bad boys.

These guys are a “big deal” in Canadian pop music. Hedley has three consecutive double-platinum certificates, over a million downloads, and ten straight videos that reached number one on the MuchMusic countdown. In 2010, Pollstar named them one of the hundred top touring artists in the world.

On the surface, it appears that Hoggard understands that Hedley’s success is dependent on the goodwill of its fans. This is what he said in the band’s website bio:

I never want to assume that because someone’s our fan, that they’ll love whatever we’re doing. I understand that no has any obligation to listen . . . When you start going, ‘Our fans will eat this shit up,’ you show down and get less attentive, less hungry  . . . https://www.facebook.com/HedleyOnline

What the Pop Star Did

On Friday, May 25 Hedley played a well-reviewed, sold-out show in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Afterwards, at least three of the band members went to a very popular downtown bar.

Kayla Andrews, a diehard Hedley fan who loves their upbeat, positive message, approached band members Dave Rosin and Tommy Mac at the bar; and they graciously posed for pictures with her.

At 1:30 a.m. she spotted Hoggard. She tapped him several times on the shoulder until she got his attention, while holding her camera at the ready. How did he react? By saying, “Hey, look. It’s a midget!” Then he burst into laughter and turned his back on her.

Andrews, who stands just 4’ 7,” was shocked and humiliated. As a child, she was often bullied because of her short stature. Born prematurely, she suffered renal failure and was forced to endure a kidney transplant at age four.

Now Andrews freely admits to what she did. Not ideal perhaps, but not surprising from a star-struck young woman, who is not, after all, a public figure.

Story Goes Viral

On May 28 Andrews, who was still smarting from the incident, decided to leave a comment on the facebook page of a popular local FM station. That’s where Geoff Meeker, who writes a professional blog for a daily paper, first picked up her story.

Meeker contacted Andrews, who agreed to let him write about it. The next day “Rude Encounter” appeared in Meeker on Media http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/22094/Rude-Encounter.

By May 31, Meeker’s entry had more than fifteen thousand page views and had been shared more than two thousand times on facebook. The comments were mixed, from “what did she expect, it was 1:30 a.m. in the morning, in a bar, he was drunk, he was tired, she was pestering him, he’s a celebrity.  JACOB HOGGARD RULES. HEDLEY RULES.” Through “She’s just an attention seeker.” On to “That never happened.” And finally, “He’s a pig. Doesn’t he know it’s fans like Andrews that put food on his plate.”

Many of those who attacked Andrews are avid fans of Hedley. Many have yet to go through puberty. They could use some lessons in manners and empathy. They, however, are not dependent on the goodwill of fans for their bread and butter.

A Less-Than-Gracious Apology

That same day Hoggard finally responded on Hedley’s facebook page. Here is what he said:

Our fans are our number one priority. The reason we’re where we are today. This is why it saddens me to hear a comment I may have made in St. John’s was hurtful to one of you, and for that I am sorry. Those who know us, know that we always try to go above and beyond for our wonderful fans and it was never my intention to alienate or offend anyone. If someone knows who we can reach Kayla, please let us know. We would like to fly her and a guest to one of our Canadian festival dates this summer, and apologize to her personally. Sincerely, Jacob

On June 1, the day following Hoggard’s apology, Meeker picked up the story in “Apology Accepted” http://www.thetelegram.com/Blog-Article/b/22129/Apology-Accepted. Andrews had accepted the apology but declined the free trip. “If he would like to, I would rather he donate the money to the Kidney Foundation,” said Andrews, adding she had been seeking neither compensation, nor fame.

It was a discussion of this incident with one of my teenagers, who is not a Hedley fan, that prompted me to write this entry. She felt Andrews had acted inappropriately in the bar, got what she deserved, and was only seeking attention (and possibly compensation) when she posted on the radio station’s facebook page. Clearly I have work to do as a parent, but perhaps I can do a better job counselling those who are dependent on public goodwill for their livelihoods—hence this case study.

As of June 2, when this was written, Hoggard’s facebook apology had generated 494 comments, 2273 likes, and 65 shares.

What’s wrong with this picture, from a public relations perspective?

Well, there are still some who feel any publicity is good publicity. And I am sure there are some who would say that, if anything, this has enhanced Hoggard’s bad -boy image with his fans, many of whom are very young and, based on their willingness to rush to his defence online, not in the least put off by this incident.

I personally wonder what the fans’ mothers make of it. Can they envision the day when their daughters are the ones Hoggard calls “piggy” or “beanpole” or “dogface.” Because many, many of those $60 concert tickets are paid for by mommies since their daughters are too young to have incomes or credit cards. Or drive a car. Or go to a concert without a parent (read mommy) to accompany them.

In an ideal world, Hoggard would never have uttered those words. In an ideal world, he would learn from his mistake.

If Hoggard wants a few drinks without being bothered by his fans, he should host a private party instead of going to a popular bar on a Friday night just five minutes’ walk from where a Hedley concert has taken place.

In many, many social media comments, fans said that Hoggard is known for being “less than diplomatic” when drunk (restraint mine). So perhaps if he wants to go to a bar to be around his fans, he should moderate his drinking when he does so.

What Hoggard (and Hedley) Should Have Done

That said, he did what he did. And he’ll probably do it again. Here are the reputation management “takeaways” he needs to learn. Same goes for all other public figures.

  1. Listen. If someone was listening on Hedley’s behalf, why did it take 48 hours to respond after Meeker’s first blog entry. That’s an awfully long time in the social media universe.
  2. Admit you did something wrong. Not “a statement I may have made in St. John’s was hurtful to one of you” but “I said something hurtful and unforgiveable to a fan in St. John’s, and for that I am truly sorry.”
  3. Apologize to the one you wronged first. Hedley had the resources to track down Kayla Andrews personally.  Andrews deserved to hear the words from Hoggard’s lips (or the social media equivalent).
  4. Ask what you can do to make it right. Hoggard offered a trip for her and a guest to see a Hedley show. He should have asked what he could do to make it right. And he should have promised to try to do better in the future.
  5. Don’t ask for anything in return. This is the one thing that Hoggard did entirely right.

If you liked this, you might also like:


Check out my review of 5 Steps to Conquer Death By #PowerPoint by @ericbergman http://ow.ly/bPOKC #PR #presentations #communications

With 161 million users in over 200 countries and territories, 5 million of them in Canada and 63 million in the US, it’s obvious why you should consider LinkedIn. This post talks about who is using LinkedIn and for what, then gets right down to the nuts and bolts of using the free version of LinkedIn.

How Many People Use Linkedin, and Where Are They?

I went directly to the nice folks at LinkedIn for usage info. Unless otherwise stated data is as of March 31, 2012. http://press.linkedin.com/about

  • LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the internet with 161 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
  • People are signing up to join LinkedIn at a rate of approximately 2 new members per second.
  • Sixty-one percent of LinkedIn members are located outside of the United States.
  • There were more than 5 million LinkedIn users in Canada as of January 19, 2012.
  • There are just under 63 million LinkedIn users in the US.
  • LinkedIn is currently available in seventeen languages.

FACTOID: In the last week of March 2012, 22 per cent of unique visiting LinkedIn members came from mobile devices.

What is LinkedIn Used For?

  • The most common uses of LinkedIn are job searching, hiring, industry networking, networking with co-workers, keeping in touch, and business promotion, with usage differing at different career stages.
  • Recruiters use LinkedIn to find and screen candidates.
  • LinkedIn members did nearly 4.2 billion professionally-oriented searches on the platform in 2011 and are on track to surpass 5.3 billion in 2012.
  • LinkedIn members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than one million LinkedIn Groups.
  • More than 2 million companies have LinkedIn company pages. LinkedIn members are sharing insights and knowledge in more than one million LinkedIn Groups.


Entry Level

Top Executive

Job search



Co-worker networking



Industry networking



Keeping in touch



Business promotion






How do I Get Started on LinkedIn?

Superficially, your LinkedIn presence consists of your profile and your LinkedIn connections. You search your connections to find jobs, people to hire, consultants to retain, experts to consult, and references. Other users search their connections for the same things.

Getting Ready for LinkedIn

  • Go get a professional headshot (by definition, that’s a close-up) and don’t forget to smile. Dress as you would for a job interview or meeting with a potential client. Don’t get a glamour shot unless your industry is, well, glamorous.
  • Dig out your résumé or cv. Cross off jobs that are irrelevant to your career path. You won’t be needing those on LinkedIn. Make sure it is up to date.
  • Identify potential references—lots of them. Figure out what you’d like each one to say.
  • Come up with a list of keywords that describe your expertise and skills.
TIP:  LinkedIn formatting is automatic, and LinkedIn does not have a spell check fashion, so I prefer to create long sections in Word, then cut and paste. The only Word formatting I have found to carry over is the bulleted list.
Creating Your LinkedIn Profile

Once you set up your LinkedIn account, you will need to create your profile.

Your public profile includes the following:

Your Name The name you are known by professional. You have the option of adding your maiden name.

Display Choose to display YOUR FULL NAME.

Headline Describes what you are. Be sure to include your most important keywords. Mine says “PR and Marketing Consultant.”

Location and Industry

Open Link Joining the OpenLink network allows anyone on LinkedIn to send you a message or job opportunity for free, without an introduction or InMail (paid service).

Update This is where you post your news – stuff like a new blog post or publication—you get the idea.

Current Your current position

Past List of your previous positions

Education Just what and where and when—no other details

Recommendations These have to be created for you by other LinkedIn users. More on this in a later post.

Connections The number of LinkedIn users who have agreed to be part of your LinkedIn network. Later on in this post, I discuss how to get your first connections.

Links to your websites This is where you list your professional websites and blogs. Right clicking on “other” opens up a new field where you can personalize the name of your website. This could be your company name, website name, call to action, or a description of your website. Mine says “Social Media for New Users.” It could say “Click here to learn social media basics.”

Link to your twitter account

Public Profile. This is your LinkedIn account address. Take a minute to personalize it. Mine is http://ca.linkedin.com/in/judymsnowprandmarketing

The following information is only visible to members of your LinkedIn network.

When you create your profile, you can rearrange the order of the following parts to present yourself in the best light possible.

Sections Fill out the sections that apply to you.

  • Certifications
  • Courses
  • Languages
  • Projects
  • Publications
  • Test Scores

Applications Choose any applications you feel might prove helpful.

  • Blog Link
  • Box.net Files
  • Creative Portfolio Display
  • E-Bookshelf
  • Events
  • Google Presentation
  • Lawyer Ratings
  • Legal Updates
  • My Travel
  • Polls
  • Projects and Teamspaces
  • Reading List by Amazon
  • Real Estate Pro
  • SAP Community Bio
  • SlideShare Presentations
  • WordPress

Summary You have 1000 characters in which to tell—and sell—your story.

Experience Current and previous employment relevant to your career path. Here you can add details about what you did in each position.

Skills & Expertise Keywords, keywords, keywords!

Education Once again, you can add details here.

Honours and Awards

Organizations Your professional and business affiliations

Volunteer Experience and Causes

Additional Information

  • Websites
  • Twitter
  • Groups and Associations—These are LinkedIn groups, which I will discuss in a later post.

Personal Information

  • Phone Number
  • Address
  • IM
  • DOB
  • Marital Status

Contact For

In this section you flag the kinds of contacts you are willing to entertain on LinkedIn.

  • Career opportunities
  • Consulting offers
  • Job inquiries
  • Expertise requests
  • Reference requests
  • Getting back in touch

Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. Errors in spelling and grammar are a big turnoff for potential employers and clients.

How to Find Your First LinkedIn Connections

Go through your address books, and identify potential contacts. Look over your résumé or cv to remind yourself of contacts with previous employers and schools. Make a list of your previous clients. Go through membership directories for the organizations to which you belong to identify people you know. Now search for each individual you have identified on LinkedIn. Whenever you find someone, invite them to join your network. Personalize each invitation to remind them of how you know each other.

When someone accepts your invitation, you can see their full profile, including their list of connections. Each time someone accepts your invitation, comb their connections for people you know. Then invite those people.

Invite people who are relevant to your career path, including potential references. You can only issue 3000 invitations.

TIP: Don’t connect your Twitter account to your LinkedIn account as most of your LinkedIn connections will not want to receive all your tweets. (If they do, they’ll follow you on Twitter!)

Next Time

LinkedIn Groups, Recommendations,  LinkedIn Experts to Follow on Twitter, and the importance of consistancy.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions about starting out on LinkedIn, or any suggestions for improving the early LinkedIn experience.

This post is entirely off topic; however, I have been watching this public relations SNAFU unfold around me. What follows is a cross between a case study and a cautionary tale.

The volunteer president of an animal welfare group was pissed because a severely abused puppy had to be euthanized. Perfectly understandable. I would be too.

Next to a picture of that puppy on the organization’s facebook page, this is what she posted:  “As far as I’m concerned, if a bomb went off and wiped this community off the face of the earth . . . there would not be too many tears shed. There … I have said what everyone is thinking! How many animals have to needlessly die at the hands of those assholes!” That was May 18.

Then in a post to the thread, the volunteer director of public relations for the animal welfare group identified where the puppy had been taken—a neighbouring native community.

No question, at that moment the president of the animal welfare group truly hated that community.

And it took off from there.

A subsequent post by another member of the facebook group read “Is (name of community) a alcohol free reserve?? or are they just plain savages walking around in a human like form.” In all, over 100 posts. I did not read them; but according to a caller to a news outlet’s feedback line, they went so far as to suggest mandatory sterilization of the native group. The same caller said 81 posts were made, including numerous comments from the president, before she made a post to the effect that her comments were aimed at the perpetrators of the abuse, not the entire native community.

Perhaps she would have hated the people of that community regardless of their race—only she knows for sure. I am reasonably sure she would have felt the same way about any community where she found numerous incidents of animal neglect and abuse. Regardless, her hatred was ugly, something better kept to herself. She, however, chose to make it public.

Understandable at some level perhaps, but the wrong thing to do from her organization’s perspective.

Some of the group’s other posters, however, were unabashedly racist. Not at all understandable. Also the wrong thing from the organization’s perspective.

How did the animal welfare group react as an organization? Initially, it deleted the thread and tightened up its monitoring of what was said on the page.

But by May 22 a facebook group called “Shame on (Name of Animal Welfare Group) Negative Comments on (Name of Native Group)” had more than 550 members.

On May 23 the animal welfare group suspended all activity on the facebook page in question. Still, their director of public relations publicly maintained their president had the full support of the board.

Meanwhile, the chief of the native community called for the president to issue a formal apology.  She has since written him apologizing for her comment about wanting to “blow them all away,” saying that she didn’t mean to disrespect the community itself. But clearly, that is what she did. Not all residents of that native community abuse or neglect animals, yet she talked about wiping out the entire community. She liberally tarred them all with the same brush.

The animal welfare group has received threatening calls and e-mails. A single female employee was confronted by two truckloads of people, purportedly from the native community, hurling obscenities.

Media coverage has fanned the flames. Animal welfare people have been called racists. Native people have been called animal abusers (and worse).

I know the animal welfare group in question does a lot of good work. I can appreciate that animal rescue work is brutal and unrelenting and frustrating. The volunteers who do this hard work with the support of one paid staff don’t deserve to have their efforts tarnished.

So from a public relations perspective, the real question here is how this could have been prevented. And how can the animal welfare group ensure nothing like this ever happens again.

Where to from Here?

Develop a social media policy. If an organization uses social media, it needs a social media policy. At the very least, the policy should set out

  1. who can speak on behalf of the organization
  2. what can and can’t they say (libel, hate, threats, bias are all on the no-fly list)
  3. who preapproves comments made on behalf of the organization

Someone could have, should have prevented the group’s president from posting in anger. Someone can, and must, ensure nothing like it happens again.

Appoint a moderator or moderators for the group’s media accounts. If an organization deals with highly emotional issues, comments on its social media accounts need to be moderated. I understand posts about lost and found animals and requests for emergency assistance are time sensitive. That is why this organization needs a moderator or moderators, so there’s no huge delay in making those posts. But no post or comment—whether from an internal or external source—should go up before it has been vetted and approved.

Can the Existing Wounds be Healed?

 The animal rescue group has taken a black eye. The people of the native group, and other members of their race, are hurt.

The director of public relations would have served the organization better had she said that while the board of directors understood the president’s anger, her comments were wrong, and hateful; and the organization was truly sorry. Instead, she allowed her comments to be coloured by a sense of righteous indignation.

But the bulk of the responsibility rests with the president. It was her initial comments on facebook that fanned the flames, and her failure to intervene earlier in the thread that resulted in the fire storm.

The president needs to make a sincere, very public apology. No back peddling. No trying to explain things away. Not trying to mitigate what she said. Just: “What I said was wrong. It was wrong to threaten the community in that way. I’m sorry that my comments instigated a lot of hateful comments about the residents of that community and aboriginal people in general. And I’m sorry I didn’t step in earlier to stop it. I was upset about what had happened to the puppy, but that doesn’t excuse my behaviour.” Full stop.

She started it. She has to end it.

Things won’t be perfect, but they’ll be better.

Ok. Ok. I know a three-part series is supposed to have like, three parts. But as I was clueing up number three, I found more interesting stuff; and I just had to share.

How to Get More Retweets

According to @danzarrella of Hubspot, his analysis of a significant amount of data shows the following 6 things affect the likelihood of being retweeted:

  1. Tweeting links (60% to 80% of your tweets should contain links)
  2. Tweeting about Twitter
  3. Tweeting something new – either the content or the language should be unusual
  4. Asking for the retweet (I personally don’t agree with this one, unless it’s for a good cause, because I think it breaches the unwritten rules of Twitter etiquette.)
  5. Tweeting when Twitter and other social media are relatively quiet (see below)
  6. Tweeting about something other than yourself

Did you know according to bit.ly, the half-life of a link on Twitter is 2.8 hours?

Best Times to Post (According to bit.ly)

Based on the amount of traffic that links posted through bit.ly received, bit.ly explored how content goes viral on Twitter, particularly how the day and time something is posted affects the amount of attention it gets.

Posting in the afternoon earlier in the week is your best chance at achieving a high click count (1-3pm EST Monday-Thursday). Avoid posting after 8pm EST. And according to bit.ly, don’t bother posting after 3pm EST on a Friday since “as far as being a gateway to drive traffic to your content, it appears that Twitter doesn’t work on weekends.”

The peaks of Twitter activity fall before the optimal time to post. The peak traffic times for Twitter are 9am through 3pm EST, Monday through Thursday. Posting on Twitter when there are many people clicking does help raise the average number of clicks, but it in no way guarantees an optimal amount of attention, since there is more competition for any individual’s attention. An optimal strategy must weigh the number of people paying attention against the number of other posts vying for that attention. This is why I think posting on the weekends may have some merit.

For the most complete guide I have found on the best time to tweet, check this out: http://blog.tweetsmarter.com/retweeting/when-is-the-best-time-to-tweet/ I found the advice on using tools to check when your followers are online and active particularly helpful.

FACTOID: The UK now has 10 million active Twitter users, and 80% of them connect via mobile. http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/twitter-uk_b22568

A Simple and Realistic Approach to Measuring Your Success on Twitter

Dave Larson of @tweetsmarter suggests using your RCEF to measure your success on Twitter. Your RCEF is calculated as follows:

  1. (R)etweeted
  2. (C)licked on your links
  3. (E)ngaged, commented, or replied
  4. (F)avorited

Wanna Learn More About Twitter? Follow these guys 

10 Things that Affect CTR (Click Through Rate)

Once again, I turn to @danzarrella of Hubspot. After analyzing 200,000 link-containing tweets, these are Dan’s conclusions.

  1. Using hashtags in Tweets makes little or no difference in CTR.
  2. Daily is out, the signature of popular content curation service paper.li, drives CTR. Check out http://paper.li/introduction.html for more information about paper.li.
  3. Using via increases CTR.
  4. Using the @-mention increases CTR. paper.li tweets typically contain 3 @-mentions.
  5. Using RT drives CTR.
  6. Please increases CTR.
  7. Tweets using check as in “check out such-and-such a link” have a higher CTR.
  8. Tweets with @addthis have a lower CTR.
  9. Using marketing in a tweet lowers the CTR.
  10. Tweets with @getglue also have a lower CTR.

So in theory the following hypothetical tweet should create the perfect Twitter storm:
RT @judymsnow Please check out Daily is out! bit.ly/xxxxxxx via @danzarrella

A Little More Twitterspeak

Twitosphere: All Twitter users in the community of tweeters.

Twitterage: When an individual or the community displays rage at a twitter post

And my personal favorite, Twitterpated: Overwhelmed with Twitter messages

Where to Get Those Text Symbols

Ever wondered where people find those text symbols? Check out

Next Time

And I pinky swear my next post will be about the best way to start on LinkedIn.

This blog chronicles my journey as a 23-year veteran of PR and marketing as I come to terms with social media. This is part 3 of my 3-part series on using Twitter.

Part I, 6 Steps to Embracing Twitter Successfully or Don’t Be an Egghead, talked about
• the best way to set up a Twitter account
• how to listen to the Twitter stream
• how to Tweet

Part 2, So You’re on Twitter—Now What? addressed
• how to write a good tweet
• how to retweet
• the importance of setting up notifications
• saying thank you
• favorites
• gaining followers
• hashtags
• trending topics
• common Twitter jargon
• the best time to tweet

This final instalment deals with organizing your followers, making the most of 140 characters, and the least (and most) retweetable words.

Organizing Your Tweeps (Followers) with Lists

I don’t know about you, but I follow a wide variety of people on Twitter—reporters, news outlets, PR types, bloggers, social media types, marketers, publications, politicians, people who talk about politics, people from the part of Canada where I live, funny people, and a handful of celebrities.

I follow more than a thousand tweeps, many of whom communicate for a living, so they tweet a lot. Let’s just say listening to the whole disorganized steam is overwhelming.

I’ve been looking for something to help me manage my Twitter account. I gave Tweetdeck a try, but I just couldn’t get the lists to work for me. So based on a recommendation from Memorial University marketing professor @lylewetsch, I signed up for the free version of HootSuite.

What HootSuite Does: HootSuite is a social media management system created by Ryan Holmes of Vancouver, Canada in 2008. In HootSuite, you interact with a dashboard, which allows you to manage multiple social media accounts. Currently HootSuite supports Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, Mixi, MySpace, Ping.fm, and WordPress. Using HootSuite’s App Directory, you can also use HootSuite to manage Tumblr, Trendspottr, Constant Contact, Digg, Flickr, Get Satisfaction, InboxQ, and YouTube. While I have loaded all my social media accounts into HootSuite, so far I am only using it to manage my Twitter account.

According to Wikipedia, as of January 2012 HootSuite has over 3 million users and over 700 million messages sent. In other words, it’s popular. Amongst other things, that means there’s lots of support.

Get Going on HootSuite: Once you’ve signed up on HootSuite, you begin by creating a tab on your Hootsuite dashboard for each of your social media accounts. You’ll need to sign into each account and give HootSuite access. Within each tab, you can create 10 lists. The default Twitter lists are your Home Feed, Mentions, Direct Messages, Sent Tweets, and Your Tweets Retweeted. Besides managing your Twitter stream, you can tweet, shorten links, and schedule tweets from within HootSuite.

Personally, I’d really like to know if there’s any way to create more than 10 lists for the same Twitter account within HootSuite. Suggestions? If so, please leave a comment!

HootSuite Lets You Manage More Than One Account on a Network: If you have more than one account on a social network (say Twitter accounts for personal use, school, your employer, and for freelance work), you can manage them all from the same HootSuite dashboard.

Setting Up Lists on HootSuite: Set up lists by clicking on Add Stream on the upper left-hand side of the dashboard. Start by selecting the profile (account name) and the type of stream (eg., home feed, mentions, direct messages). You can also choose to set up lists in which to carry out searches, search on keywords, or create your own lists.

If you choose to set up your own list, you can make it either public or private. If you choose to make a list public, your contacts will be notified that they have been added to your list and the name of the list to which they have been added.

Add Your Contacts to Your HootSuite Lists: When you have created your lists, add your contacts.

1. Click on contacts on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
2. Select the Twitter account from which you wish to create the lists
3. Your list of followers and the list of people who you follow will appear.
4. The names of the lists you created will appear.
5. You can add people to your lists by clicking on their avatars and dragging them to the desired list.

TIP: Set up your HootSuite account now before you add any more tweeps. Let`s just say that sorting more than a thousand followers into lists took hours, and hours, and hours.

Making the Most of 140 Characters

140 characters is not a lot of words. And with those handful of words, you are trying to create the kind of content people want to retweet. So I thought I’d share the most and least retweetable words and phrases.

The 20 Least Retweetable Words as identified by award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella in a study he conducted in 2009:

• Game
• Going
• Haa
• Lol
• But
• Watching
• Work
• Home
• Night
• Bed
• Well
• Sleep
• Gonna
• Hey
• Tomorrow
• Tired
• Some
• Back
• Bored
• Listening

The 20 Words and Phrases Most Likely to be Retweeted as identified by award-winning social, search, and viral marketing scientist Dan Zarrella:

• You
• Twitter
• Please
• Retweet
• Post
• Blog
• Social
• Free
• Media
• Help
• Please retweet
• Great
• Social media
• 10
• Follow
• How to
• Top
• Blog post
• Check out
• New blog post

Next Time . . . Getting Started on LinkedIn

Are you already on LinkedIn? Do you have LinkedIn tips to share? Do you have LinkedIn challenges you’d like solved? If so, please leave a comment . . . I’d really like to know.

A little over a month ago, I began this blog by explaining that as a 23-year veteran of communications and marketing, it was about time for me to wrap my head around social media. Along the way, I would share what I learned on this journey.

I started with a Twitter account. No one followed me, and I followed no one. My last entry talked about how to properly set up a Twitter account, how to listen to the Twitter stream, and how to Tweet. This post builds on that information.

Anatomy of a Good Tweet

We all want to be popular. We all want to be influential. We all want to have followers. On Twitter, the key to all these things is to write good tweets. A good tweet stands out in the stream. Step one in learning to write a good tweet is to listen to the Twitter stream, and pay attention to the tweets that appeal to you. Here are some additional suggestions to help you write good tweets.

  • write a good headline or hook
  • provide valuable content
  • be helpful
  • include a call to action
  • don’t blatantly self-promote
  • use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • don’t use nonstandard abbreviations
  • don’t overuse abbreviations
  • add a link to useful information (but check to ensure the link works before you send your tweet)
  • don’t exceed 120 characters (unless you do not want your followers to retweet it to their followers)
  • don’t ask for a retweet
  • give credit to your source, if any (This is particularly true if you used a link shortening service as the link will no longer give any indication of its source.)
  • don’t use profanity
  • don’t exhibit bias or hatred
  • give your perspective
  • be polite
  • let your personality show
  • include one or two hashtags (see below)

How to Get Retweeted

  1. Tweet an interesting quote. Quotes are the most shared content on Twitter.
  2. Tie your tweet to a trending topic.
  3. Write a good tweet. (See Anatomy of a Good Tweet above for help.)
  4. Retweet other people.
  5. Thank the people who retweet  you, and try to reciprocate.

Retweeting—How to Share Someone Else’s Tweet

  • Copy the original tweet.
  • Shorten any links, making sure the tweet still gives some indication of what the link is about.
  • Add your comment to the front.
  • Follow your comment with RT @handleofpersonyouareretweeting OR end the tweet with via @handleofpersonyouareretweeting.
  • To make room for (1) your own comment and (2) identification of the original tweeter, you may need to shorten any links contained in the tweet using a link shortening service. I have been using http://bit.ly. As a shortened link will no longer give any indication of its original source, make sure the tweet credits the source of the link in some way.
  • You can also just hit the retweet button. The resulting tweet will be identified as having been retweeted by you.

Set Up Notifications

If you do just one thing today to improve your Twitter performance, go to settings and make sure you have asked to have Notifications sent by e-mail when:

  1. you receive a Direct Message
  2. you receive a Reply
  3. someone Mentions you
  4. someone new Follows you
  5. someone Retweets one of your Tweets
  6. someone Favorites one of your Tweets

You want to be notified when these things happen, because they require a response.

Thank New Followers

Use a direct message to thank a new follower.  You can use a standard message like “D @handle Thanks for following me, Pat” or you can personalize a message to someone with whom you are already acquainted or based on their profile and tweets.

TIP: You can only direct message people who are following you, so if Twitter won’t let you send a direct message to that new follower, it means they have already unfollowed you.

Thank People Who Retweet Your Tweets

Every day or so, send out a tweet thanking the people who have retweeted you, naming them by their Twitter handles.

Thank People Who Make Positive Comments on a Tweet and People Who Mention You

This goes without saying. Make sure to use their Twitter handles.


Twitter gives you the option of marking a tweet as a favorite. While using the term “favorite” would seem to imply you “like” a particular tweet, similar to the way you “like” something on Facebook, most users mark a tweet as a favorite so that they can go back and find it later when they have time to read an interesting link. In other words, they use it as a form of bookmarking. So in my opinion, there is no need to thank someone for favoriting your tweet, but I stand to be corrected.

How to Get More Followers

Your Twitter stream will often include Tweets that offer ways to add 5,000 followers instantly, or something along that line. Don’t be fooled. These followers will artificially swell your number of followers. They will have little or nothing of value to share with you, and they are highly unlikely to be interested in what you have to share.

Here are some suggestions for growing your followers organically, which in my opinion is the best way to build a genuine community on Twitter.

  • Retweet people, either by simply sending it on or by sending it on with your added comments.
  • Comment on other people’s tweets.
  • Reply to people’s tweets when you have something to add to the conversation.
  • Congratulate people on their accomplishments.


Hashtags are a way of helping people quickly identify the topic of your tweet. Using #hashtags also helps your tweets show up in Twitter search. Hashtags go before the keyword. There is no space between the hashtag and the keyword. You can put a #hashtag anywhere in a #tweet.

When you click on a hashtag in a tweet, Twitter will show you all other tweets containing that hashtag—sort of a “more like this” function. If you have a public Twitter account, using a hashtag in a tweet allows anyone in the Twitterverse who searches on that hashtag to see your tweet—not just your users.

Trending topics, which I talk about more later on, are often marked with hashtags. If they didn’t start out that way, they frequently end up as hashtags.

A couple of cautions: (1) If you use a hashtag in a tweet, it should accurately reflect the topic of your tweet and (2) using more than two hashtags in a tweet can be considered spamming.

#ff (Follow Friday) is the hashtag associated with a unique Twitter practice. Users who choose to participate in Follow Friday tweet the Twitter handlers of followers they recommend. Usual #FF tweets look something like this:

#FF @judymsnow @2ndhandle @3rdhandle @4thhandle

I have seen people allocate a full tweet to recommending a single follower, and I think that’s a much better approach. This is how that would look:

#FF @judymsnow tweets about #publicrelations, #marketing, #socialmedia. Blogs at https://ishouldhavedonethisyesterday.wordpress.com.

Twitter itself recommends http://www.hashtags.org as a source about common hashtags. I don’t find it particularly helpful. Suggestions for something better would be truly welcome.

Andrew M. Scott @PRMillennial has some good suggestions regarding hashtags for PR pros to follow http://mrpublicrelations.blogspot.ca/2010/11/35-big-twitter-hashtags-for-pr-pros.html.

Anyone can create a hashtag. If you want to introduce a new hashtag, try searching on it first to ensure it isn’t already being used for something completely different. For example, #NL represents Newfoundland and Labrador, where I live, and The Netherlands.  Given that an entire tweet has at most 140 characters, it’s a good idea if you’re creating a new hashtag to keep it short.

Like all language, twitter speak evolves. Increasingly you will see people add hashtags to tweets to reflect tone such as #justkidding  or #lol. Sometimes this use of hashtags is ironic—the equivalent of #justkidding #NOT!

You will also see hashtags used occasionally for emphasis.

Trending Topics

Twitter uses an algorithm to determine trending topics in major cities. Whether or not Twitter produces trending topics for where you live is based on the volume of Twitter traffic your geographic community generates. I live in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has a population of 530,000, yet despite the fact that an insanely high percentage of people here use Twitter, Twitter does not track trending topics for my area. The geographically closest city for which I can get trending topics is Toronto.

Trending topics show up in something close to real time and can change several times during a twenty-four hour period. The algorithm takes into account not only how many tweets are about a topic, but how many users are tweeting about the topic. Twitter also looks for variety of discussion about the topic.

Trending topics show up on the left-hand side of your Twitter home page. You can reset the location for any area in the world where Twitter tracks trending topics. Some trending topics have hashtags, while others do not.

Some users try to tie their tweets to trending topics by inserting them into their tweets. It is considered spamming to use a trending topic in a tweet that is actually about a different topic, particularly if that different topic is a sales pitch of some kind.

For various reasons, some users want to be responsible for creating a trending topic. Best strategies for doing this utilize a unique hashtag, the cooperation of multiple users with many followers, the support of one of more influential users, and a good variety of tweets on the topic. In other words, you need a plan:)

Common Twitter Jargon

Most of this discussion of twitter jargon is based on Sprout Social’s @SproutSocial “Twitter Terms Defined” http://sproutsocial.com/insights/2011/03/twitter-term-definitions/.

Followers or tweeps—You follow someone on Twitter, you are their follower. Someone follows you, they are your follower. Followers are occasionally referred to as tweeps.

Tweet—Both a noun and a verb. A Twitter message is called a Tweet. You also tweet a message on Twitter.

Retweet—Forwarding someone else’s tweet along to your followers.

Mention—Integrating another user’s Twitter handle in your tweet. When you insert someone’s Twitter handle at the beginning of a tweet, the tweet goes to the followers you have in common with each other. It will also show up in the @Mentions section of that person’s Twitter account. When you insert someone’s Twitter handle elsewhere in a tweet, it goes to all your followers.

Direct Message (DM)—A private tweet. You can only send a direct message to someone who is following you. DMs are also limited to 140 characters.

Engagement—Conversing back and forth with your followers and those you follow in a way that leads to establishing a relationship. This term is most commonly used in discussions about how to establish a Twitter community and how to use Twitter for public relations and marketing.

Feed or Stream—List of tweets, usually organized from most recent to oldest. Your home page lists tweets from the people you follow. Your profile page is a feed of your own tweets, while Twitter’s search results are a stream of tweets containing the terms you searched for.

Twitter Chat—A meeting or gathering of Twitter users on Twitter. A Twitter Chat is often moderated and usually has an established agenda. It has a set beginning and end time. Participants can listen or participate. Participants incorporate the hashtag associated with name of the Twitter Chat to identify their tweets as part of the conversation. There are a number of tools available to help filter out the noise of the Twitter stream to allow participants to concentrate on their chat.

Twitter Chats for PR Pros—Petya N. Georgieve @pgeorgieve has some good recommendations http://higher-and-higher.com/2010/12/07/13-twitter-chats-for-pr-pros/ .

Tweet Up—A Tweet Up is a face-to-face gathering of Twitter users, most often social, organized via Twitter.

And the Best Time to Tweet is . . .

People seem to pay the most attention to the Twitter stream at the beginning and end of the work day. Users are most likely to click on Twitter links at the end of the week and on weekends—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Pay attention to the time zones where your followers are located, bearing in mind that some 80 per cent of North Americans live in the Eastern and Central time zones. Generally speaking, you should send 5 or 6 tweets a day, weighted toward the beginning and end of the work day, seven days a week. You can gain an appreciation of the best time to engage with your followers by monitoring your own followers to see when they tweet. There are a variety of apps that can do this analysis for you.  Matthew Royse @mattroyse is my source for much of this information. He also provides a very good overview of tools that will help you figure out the best time to tweet and that will allow you to schedule your tweets http://www.ragan.com/Main/Articles/The_best_times_to_tweet_an_essential_guide_44617.aspx.

Status Update

As of today, I am following 973, I have 465 followers, and I have sent 426 tweets. To date I have had very little success with being retweeted. That is my next goal.

A rough analysis of my first 250 tweets showed that 10 per cent were original content, 20 per cent were responses to other people’s tweets, 35 per cent were retweets with comments, and 35 per cent were straight retweets.

Topics of my first 250 tweets included politics, social media, public relations, marketing, the media, contests, help, congrats, business, language, music, women, the Titanic, icebergs, music, cool stuff, quotes, and the weird.

Next Time

How to write a good headline, 20 words least likely to be retweeted, 20 words and phrases most likely to be retweeted, and organizing your tweeps into lists.

I’ll Research and Answer Your Questions

Have a question about Twitter? I’ll research and answer any questions with the help of my tweeps.

When I started this blog, I thought I’d be pumping out entries left, right, and centre. Then I fell for the siren call of Twitter. After several interesting weeks, I’m back at my blog. And at least now I can claim to have something to say about Twitter.

Be warned—I love puns. The worse they are, the more I like them. So it’s inevitable that I’d start by saying something like this—what’s all the Twitter about? Well, on March 21, 2012, Twitter’s 6th birthday, it had 140 million active users who were sending 340 million tweets a day. Clearly Twitter is a force to be reckoned with, particularly for those of us who work in public relations or marketing.

I had a Twitter account long before I started this blog; but I was following no one, and no one was following me. Just as well as I was neither tweeting nor listening to other people’s tweets. And yes, I said listening. Following the Twitter stream is a great way to find out what’s on people’s minds; and it that’s not listening, I don’t know what is.

Roughly a month in as an active Twitter user, and I now proudly follow 765, and 287 follow me. To date, I have sent 265 tweets.

Based on my own experience, this is how I recommend you approach using Twitter.

1.  Get a Decent Headshot

If you’re going to take part in the world of social media, and that includes twitter, get a decent headshot. And if any of your social media accounts are going to have any relationship to work, dress in a way that best reflects your professional self. Not a glamor shot, but not too stodgy either

Why is it so important to have a decent headshot? Well on most social media, and especially on Twitter, we’re limited to the sense of sight. People can read our words and see our pictures, but they can’t hear our voices or read our facial expressions or our body language. So it’s important to take full advantage of what there is. And one of those things is your own sweet mug. Here’s mine:)

What about using your company logo or wordmark instead of a head shot? If your logo or wordmark is very well known, you might choose to use it. I’ve come across a few people who have chosen to hedge their bets by combining a headshot with a logo or workmark; however, in my opinion the image as it appears in the Twitter stream is too small to do this successfully.

In the Twitterverse, the avatar that appears next to each tweet you send is about the size of a postage stamp when displayed on a notebook, tablet, or desktop, or the size of a pencil eraser when viewed on a mobile, so it’s important that your headshot look good small. There is a caveat, however; if someone chooses to click through to look at your profile, your headshot will appear approximately four times as large, so the resolution needs to be reasonable.

2.  Choose a Name that Reflects Your Brand

Once you have a headshot, sign yourself up. If you can at all, use the name you’re known by or your company name as your user name or handle. It will make it easier for people to find you; and for those of you who are concerned about branding, it maintains a level of consistency with your brand.

Then before you do anything else, upload your headshot. If you don’t, your avatar will appear as an egg. Many people assume the account attached to an egg is a Spam Bot—not a real person—and no one wants to follow or be followed by a Spam Bot. Users are much more likely to engage with another person. We know what people do with eggs:)

3.  Create a Stellar Profile

Next, and this is really important, fill out your profile. Many people base their decision to follow someone on their profile, so make sure yours gives a clear indication of your interests on Twitter and hints at your personality. You can also choose to add your location to your profile. Usually, sharing your location helps people put you in context; however, if you do business globally there are instances where you might be better off omitting your location. If you have an employer, and this is your personal Twitter account, you need to make it clear in your profile that the opinions expressed are your own not you employer’s, or you may run into trouble at work. Your profile is also the place to direct people to your blog, website, tumblr account, and facebook page. Make sure, however, that these things line up. If you’re tweeting professionally, you may not want to share a facebook page that focuses on kids, puppy dogs, and Farmville with your followers.

This is what my Twitter profile says:

Public relations and marketing veteran, advertising junkie, and mother of teenagers.
NL, Canada • www.ishouldhavedonethisyesterday.wordpress.com

Don’t link your Twitter account to your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts because

  • Many of the things you Tweet don’t make sense out of the context of the Twitter stream.
  • Even if your Tweet can stand by itself, the subject might not be suited to your Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections.
  • While the subject of your tweet might be suited to your Facebook and LinkedIn audiences, the tone that’s suited to Twitter isn’t likely to work on Facebook on LinkedIn.
  • If you’re a frequent tweeter, all those messages are just going to piss off your Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections, who are not accustomed to being inundated.
4.  Start Following People

I started by following reporters, professional associations, news outlets, good causes, people who blog about public relations, marketing, and social media, some of the better known social media gurus (the good ones almost all seem to hate being called that), and a couple of celebrities.

Here are some suggestions from those I follow:

@PRSA @IABC @PRDaily @OnlinePrMedia @AdWeek @MrMediaTraining @helpareporter @prconversations @MarkRaganCEO @socialmediaclub @jeffbullas @SocialMedia411 (Social Media Insider) @SocialMedia Rvl @SocialNetDaily @PamMktgNut @BlogHer @WmJHartman @Reuters @AP @TheCdnPress @tw_top_news @NewsHour (PBS) @washingtonpost @TIME @nytimes @cnnbrk @guardian @NewYorker @Tweet_Leap @TweetSmarter @HuffingtonPost @historyweird @AncientProverbs @BillGates @Oprah @DalaiLama @ladygaga

You can use the search feature in Twitter to find people. You can sign up to follow many bloggers from their blogs and many companies from their blogs or websites. More and more, people are adding their Twitter handle to their e-mail signatures. Furthermore, when you are on your Twitter homepage, there is a suggested list of people to follow, some of whom are sponsored (i.e. they are paying to be promoted in this way).

And of course you can follow me @judymsnow.

When you are thinking about following someone, clicking on that user’s name will allow you to see their profile, number of tweets sent, number of people they follow, number of people who follow them, and their tweets. General wisdom is that you don’t want to follow someone who has no avatar, who has not tweeted, or who has no follower, although sometimes this may just mean they are new to Twitter—perhaps you can start your journey together. When a Twitter egg is attached to an account that tweets a lot, follows lots of people, and has next to no followers, it is safe to assume you have found the account of a Spam Bot, so don’t follow it.

Not everyone you follow will choose to follow you back, so don’t take offence. The Dalai Lama has more than 4 million followers, but follows no one. When you are notified that someone is following you, check out that person’s profile. You can choose to ignore them, follow them, or if they make you uncomfortable, block them.

Bear in mind that everyone can see who you follow and who follows you, and you may be judged by the company you keep.

5.  Start Tweeting

It is important to get a few tweets under your belt fairly quickly so that people who look at your account can tell that it is active and get some kind sense of the kind of content you share. What to do?

You can start by using the built-in retweet function to retweet a tweet that you like. You can also tweet a favorite quote. (FYI, quotes are the most popular content on Twitter.) Or you can just tweet your own comments—something interesting that you’re doing, or the topic du jour. You do not have to be 100% consistent in the kind of content you tweet, although received wisdom is that you’re more likely to be followed, to retain your followers, and to have your tweets shared if you’re not all over the place. I’ll talk more about that later.

Keep it short! Your tweets cannot exceed 140 characters, including spaces. Twitter will tell you when you go over. Tell free to use commonplace abbreviations to get your count down. Most experienced Twitter users try to keep their character count down to 120 or less, because it allows people to add a little something if they decide to retweet.

Be careful what you say about your employer, clients, and customers. If you wouldn’t want it published on the front page of your community daily, don’t say it on twitter.

Most people who are actively engaged in social media are happy to have you share their content; however, be sure to give credit where credit is due by adding RT @twitterhandle or via @twitterhandle to your tweet

6.  Mind Your Manners

Unless you are never going to need a job, a client, or a customer, you need to mind your manners on Twitter and present yourself professionally as realistically speaking your tweets are available for all to see, not just those you choose to see them. (More on this later.)

Next Time

Next time I’ll talk about Twitter trends, #hashtags, basic Twitter jargon, writing an effective Tweet, how to get retweeted, growing your number of followers, and the best times and days to Tweet.

As a 51 year old who has worked in communications and marketing for 23 years, I am ashamed to admit how little I know about social media. And it is cold comfort to know I am not the only communications professional to find herself in this boat.

I am one of those PR/marketing types who subscribes to the school of “everything is marketing,” from the sign outside your shop to the way you answer the phone to your YellowPages listing (snicker). So for me to lack a command of social media is embarrassing, to say the least. Career limiting, you might say. Clearly, this has to change.

So this is where I am right now.

Websites. The grand-daddy of social media. Websites I get. I developed my first big website in 1996, and my second in 1999. Many more have followed. Websites are about words. They’re about logic. They’re about content and links to other, related content. With a few great pictures tossed in. And by 2001, I had even managed to grasp the [now] obvious benefits of advertising on other organizations’ websites—organizations that were popular with and followed by my audiences/publics/segments, whatever the hell you want to call ‘em. Thanks to my ex-husband, I developed a rudimentary understanding of SEO (aka search engine optimization for my fellow Ludites) early on. Just don’t ask me about Google Panda, ‘cause I got nothing to say. Yet.

E-mail. One of my true loves. Direct mail without all those envelopes, labels, and stamps to lick. Why god created Blackberries. That and texting, which I reserve for communicating with my teenagers [insert eyeroll here]. I am relieved to hear e-mail is alive and well as a marketing and communications tool. What I need to learn is how to tie it together with everything else.

Facebook. That’s where I go to share funny pictures, good jokes (especially jokes about language, pr, and marketing), and to comment on, and share, news stories I find interesting. With my FRIENDS. You know, people with whom I am well acquainted. But use it for work. Not a clue. This . . . must . . . change.

YouTube.  I really enjoy watching videos of animals doing ridiculous things. Yup. I’m one of THOSE people. Obviously, I do realize that businesses and causes exploit YouTube to great effect. Something else I need to get my head around.

LinkedIn. 64 connections and counting. Pretty good profile, if I do say so myself. Nice headshot. I do work in PR after all. Pretty soon I hope to start using it as something more than a place to park my cv.

Twitter. I know Lady Gaga (20+ million followers) and Justin Bieber (18+ million followers) are the people to beat! That’s the competitive, marketing type coming out in me. I’ve signed myself up for a twitter account. I follow a company, and I had (please notice the tense) a follower.  Years ago when I decided to set up a personal e-mail account, I used my somewhat unusual maiden name judy_cheater@yahoo.ca. This is the e-mail address I used for my twitter account. Based on my e-mail address (how do they do that?) I acquired my one-and-only follower @YouGotCheatedOn. Today I will start following people. Tomorrow, perhaps someone will follow me.

Pinterest. Got an account there, too. Figure I’m going to post the memes I like from www.icanhascheezburger.com on Pinterest. Duh. Thanks to my thirteen year old for explaining what a “meme” is. Suspect this will be the last tool I add to my professional kit.

And that leads me to blogs. I don’t blog. Even more embarrassing, I don’t read other people’s blogs with the exception of two great Newfoundland and Labrador blogs, “John Gushue Dot Dot Dot” (www.johngushue.typepad.com) and Ed Hollett’s “The Sir Robert Bond Papers” (www.bondpapers.blogspot.com). How old am I? I’m so old my second version of the CP Stylebook makes no reference to blogs. I read books and magazines (and not, for the most part, the serious variety that improve your mind). I watch and read and listen to news, mostly the real kind. I read all kinds of stuff about marketing and communications. I even read some websites. But  I don’t understand why people blog or why people read blogs. Now it looks like I’m going to have to eat those words – and post them. So here I am. And here you are.

As the 100th anniversary of the Titanic approaches (www.receivingtitanic.com),  I am determined not to go down with the ship. I figure I have at least 15 good years of work left in me, so would somebody please throw me a life buoy.

There’s the rub. Nobody’s going to throw me a life buoy.  Instead, I fear I’m going to have to build myself a nice, cushy social media raft.

So this blog is about that journey, a journey to discover how to master social media as a set of tools and integrate them with all the other marketing and communications tools in my possession. I’m hoping some of the old hands – the masters of these tools—will throw me an occasional lifeline. And I hope I can be of some help to others who relate all too well to my little diatribe, those who want and need to make this trip themselves, the trip to communications in the 21st century.

So from here on in I promise a lot less personal revelation and a lot more simple, concrete suggestions for how those of us with our feet stuck in the 20th century can sink our teeth into the 21st.