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“Six-year-old Jenny gives two thumbs up as her wish to swim with dolphins comes true.”

“Nine-year-old Jeremiah grins from ear to ear as his wish to go on a shopping spree becomes reality.”

“Seventeen-year-old Karissa, who wished to visit Australia, stops to pose with a koala bear.”

[insert photo of cute wish kid who grins from ear to ear]

While working for a local non-profit I was tasked with providing daily Facebook updates for the Foundation. In general, finding things to write about was easy. We granted wishes for children facing life-threatening medical conditions. As long as the family had given the thumbs up for publicity, there was usually a recent wish recipient I could write about. The pictures we received showed children who had found hope, strength and joy during the wish process. It was easy to generate ‘likes’ from our fans, due to the simple nature of the mission we supported. But it was also easy to start sounding like a broken record.

In order to break up the regular posts featuring the wish kids I found other ways to keep our followers engaged. I wrote about donors. I wrote about ways our followers could get involved. I wrote about things going on around the office.

HalloweenBy working for a children’s charity we were always looking for excuses to dress up (or dress down). Basement needs cleaning? Guess we’ll have to wear jeans. Boss is out of the office? Sounds like a jeans day to me! Halloween is just around the corner? You better bet we’ll be tracking down the best costume in town. Festivus for the volunteers? Better pull out the ugly sweaters.

Then I had the crazy idea to turn that ugly sweater contest into a Facebook contest. I had no idea that we were about to launch our most popular post to date.

Each staff member wore an ugly sweater to the volunteer Christmas party, and then we posted pictures online and asked our fans to vote for their favorite. The ‘likes’ quickly added up. Volunteers, wish families and friends of staff members each had their favorite person in the office, and no one was going to let someone else win. Within 24 hours the voting slowed, but the Insights page showed activity on our page had skyrocketed. The post had nothing to do with the mission we all worked so hard to support, yet generated more online activity for the Foundation than any other post we had shared since the page was created.

Are you stuck in a rut with your status updates? Do you find that you are not sure what to share with your fans? Have you noticed that it’s the same group of people who ‘like’ each thing you post? Perhaps today as you wear your Halloween costumes to work you might consider posting your photos online and asking fans to ‘like’ their favorite. Want to get even more activity on your page? Turn the post into a contest for your followers; offer a gift card or service discount for one lucky person who votes for their favorite photo.

I’m convinced that a simple change from the regular posts you create each day will greatly help the activity on your Insights page. Be sure to report back and let me know how it goes – I can’t wait to hear all about it!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

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Ten days ago the guys in charge over at Facebook announced that users can now promote posts for a one-time fee of $7. It comes a little more than a year after the guys at FB responded to a viral hoax, alleging that Facebook would start charging users to use the social site’s new platform.

“A rumor on the Internet caught our attention. We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It’s free and always will be.”

Guess they changed their minds.

facebook promoteWhen you update your status you now have the option to promote your post. By doing so, your post will appear at the top of your friend’s feeds, helping it to gain more visibility.

facebook promote termsBut be warned. As soon as you click that 7-letter word your credit card info is called for.

I actually read about this announcement the day it was made. I’ve spent the past week and a half pondering the news, and in the end I’ve decided it’s a good thing. This is why:

top storiesSome time ago Facebook changed the way the Newsfeed scrolls by giving users the option to view Newsfeed posts one of two ways ~ “Top Stories” or “Most Recent”. Being the FB junkie that I am, I prefer to read my posts in chronological order. But FB nearly always defaults to “Most Recent”, so after I log in I have to click the “Sort” button and change my settings. That’s common sense for me. But again, a lot of my friends don’t get online as often as I do, therefore they don’t catch every post that has been listed.

On that note, a promoted post will gain more visibility as it will have the opportunity to loiter at the top of a friend’s feed – hopefully long enough that those who only log on once or twice a week will have a chance to see the big news. It will also be beneficial for those who have a lot of Facebook friends. I happen to keep my Facebook circle tight, only some 200-300 friends are connected. But there are those who chose to become friends with anyone and everyone they’ve ever met. So, for all the high school kids who have some 700-800 Facebook friends, they too will now have the opportunity to see the big news when Johnny pays $7 to promote the news that he’s now ‘in a relationship’.

This is why Facebook drives me nuts. Not all of my friend’s status updates show up in my newsfeed. FB filters posts and only publishes the ones that are most relevant to me. Maybe my friend Jared’s posts don’t show because we don’t often interact. My friend Julie’s posts might not show because I have her flagged as an acquaintance. So right off the bat, even though I scan my Newsfeed several times a day, there are still posts I miss.

Facebook clearly recognizes the problem, and now they are choosing to ‘help’ users by charging a fee. So much for being free, right?

Let me share a personal example that demonstrates how a post could have benefited from being promoted.

Earlier this year I found out I was going to have a baby. I think that’s worth announcing on Facebook. In fact, in my opinion, not many other things trump an addition to the family. It was Valentine’s Day, so I chose to share a family photo from a recent vacation to Las Vegas. Under the photo I wrote that we were taking ‘bets’ to find out whether baby #2 would be a girl or a boy.

Within minutes of posting my news the comments started rolling in. Lots of ‘woohoos’ and several more ‘Congratulations’. One or two even told me they had been speculating, because my growing stomach was already starting to show. (To be fair, I was already 20 weeks along. In fact, I already knew it was a girl). When the excitement slowed down I had some 50-60 comments and/or likes, a ranking of roughly 25% of my friends. To be honest, I was a little hurt that more of my ‘friends’ didn’t congratulate me on the news. So I followed the big announcement post with this one:

cleaning houseOh boy. That did it. If I hadn’t woken the sleeping giant before, he was wide awake and coming after me now. People begged me to keep them around (funny how people take a clean up so seriously). They got defensive. They explained why they hadn’t commented the day before. Some were supportive. Others… well, take a look for yourself (Last names have been removed so I don’t lose the rest of my friends):

Jenny: In the words of Frank, tell those non-commenters/non-likers to “Get out of here!”

Sondra: I can’t remember if I liked or not, but I did see your big announcement (Congrats!) but I am also 36 weeks pregnant sick with the flu and every time I get a second to sit the computer my kids distract me and I forget what I am doing. Just don’t get rid of us totally overwhelmed people….

Christie: You sound a tiny bit hormonal here!? LoL I change my guess to a girl

Krachel Greenwood Not hormonal – just keepin it real.

Cami: Congrats! Missed it yesterday but I say another girl.

Christie: Its true there’s a lot of non commenting lurkers out there… I don’t like the ones to just read the gossip but never post anything of their own!

Geoff: DO IT!!

Cindy: I saw all the comments and you have a lot of fb friends that commented. You mean you have even more than those who didn’t comment. Excited about the announcement. I’m thinking another girl!

Jill: I missed it yesterday too. Congrats! I don’t get on Facebook everyday. Sometimes only about once a week. Probably alot of the non commenters out there just don’t get on all the time, so maybe they missed the big announcement? I would have if I didn’t get on tonight. Anyway, congrats! I’m so excited for you. I say boy to help Matt out a little. Have to balance the hormones out you know!

Kandis: Don’t delete me!! And I think you’ll have a boy.

Krachel Greenwood I know there’s a lot who don’t get on daily. But there’s also a lot who do… Yet try to stay anonymous. Chances are if we’ve chatted in the past – you’re probably safe.

Terri: Great, I am safe. I can sleep better tonight.

DiAnne: Oh…good thing I just got back from Nashville and Yellowstone and Big Sky MT……don’t make me go away! I understand how you feel, however. I had to “unfriend” a few a couple weeks ago. I kind of like a R.I.P. message to them. JOKING! Maybe send them a private msg that you are wondering how they are doing?…if nothing….push the red button. Just thinking. XO

Angela: Hey, I LOVED your post yesterday

DiAnne: Remember…life is too short to feel emotionally bogged down by issues. If it doesn’t feel good for your life, then make a change…whatever that may be. Emotional or physical….having internal peace is key. Do what is right for you. XO

Dana: I missed it… Sorry! that’s awesome! I always miss the good stuff. many congrats!

Wendi: I get it everyday…oh, but you are talking about fb. I am going to say boy. They are the ones that makes us feel bad and unloved.

Brad: I’m still mad you jinxed the pats………..again!!! Damn you and Matt’s love making patterns

Angela: What if I was too busy gettin busy to see your announcement yesterday?

Angela: Congrats btw!

Frank: PHEW! so glad i commented yesterday!!

Robert: As someone who used to work in the news business, I hope you’ll understand and forgive me for having a rather hectic couple of days at my station, and failed to comment on your photo.

Now, that being said…Congratulations! Are you guys hoping for a boy or a girl? One of each?

Mindy: Uh oh. I just commented. Hope I make the cut. If I could triple like your announcement, I would. Such exciting news!

Hugh: As a father of eight, two of them boys, I must guess it will be a girl. Mood swings considered?

Kristin: You opened a can of worms here lol I didn’t comment either but am so thrilled for you. I’m guessing a girl so your older one can have can have a little sister. I say you can never have to many friends to love and support you. You never know when you may need them.

Jeana: Wow missed the announcement but just checked it out. Congrats! What a cute way to announce! My vote is another girl…

Jeremy: umm. congrats.

Aaron: Missed the announcement. Congrats are in order.

John: Your updates don’t always appear on my feed.

That said, Jaqueline and I DID congratulate you in our own conversations, just not on your page. Love to hear you guys are making another baby. Or MADE another baby as this case may be. Atta girl. Or boy.
February 16 at 5:05am · Unlike · 1

Timothy: Congrats Krachel. I guess Matt helped a little…well maybe not a little. Mom told me last Saturday you were expecting in July. Sounds like a road trip out west is in the future.

Nika: I liked it. I’m happy for you, please don’t break up with me. PS how are you feeling?

Tricia: Congratulations to you and your family! I don’t always see or comment on every post but love to check in and see how everyone is doing. I’ll say twins – a boy and a girl!

Brittany: ahhhh I just saw your post. CONGRATULATIONS! please don’t delete me

Melissa: i didn’t even see the announcement!!!! congrats! how far along are you?

Travis: Congrats krach

Krachel Greenwood Hey – to be fair – we all clean house here and there – I just chose to give a heads up!

Heather: I agree with jill. Some of us may have missed it because our feeds turn over quickly or we don’t check fb every day. Congrats btw!

Mindy: Must have missed but after reading other comments you must be expecting. Congratulations!! I say boy since that’s what your sister is having so the cousins will play together

Katie: And everyone who loves you and checks Facebook regularly deserves to stay. Please keep me, as I commented from Germany!

Rebekah: It’s good to clean house every once in awhile!

Joy: I agree!!!

Michael: I’m coming in late to the conversation….Keep me!!! And congratulations!!!

Jami: Sheesh, glad I got on FB yesterday!!!

Sandy: Hey, congratulations. So exciting. I guess this means you wont be able to catch for softball. im sad about that, but so excited your 3-yr-old will be a big sis. good luck !

Shauna: Oh my…..i guess I’m TOTALLY OUT!! congrats krachel and matt!! How fun to be having another baby! Oh how I hope he wears the kilt to bless new baby greenwood!!! I’m so excited for you guys!!

The truth is – I had to take a step back and realize that not everyone gets on Facebook as much as I do. Then again, most people don’t get PAID to be on Facebook (like I do). So to sum it up, sadly, I believe that promoted posts are a good idea. Who knows? You might just see me pay to announce baby #3.

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So it turns out I have a new hobby. A new way to kill time. Yet another way to connect with colleagues, friends and co-workers. I PUSH the little plus sign when I visit their Linkedin profile. That’s right… I ENDORSE my contacts. And truthfully, it IS that easy.

Different from Linkedin’s ‘Recommendation‘ feature, an Endorsement allows those who know you best to ‘Endorse’ your areas of expertise.

ImageFor example: I have experience using Raiser’s Edge, so a former supervisor has endorsed me… she has clicked the plus sign and by doing so acknowledges that this is an area I am competent in. (She was also kind enough to endorse me in quite a few other areas, including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Non-profits, Fundraising, Community Outreach, Social Networking, Media Relations, Public Relations and Public Speaking – to name a few. And she would know – SHE was my boss!)

Endorsements are a new idea, but I really like them. For someone looking for a new job, the endorsements feature allows employers to browse the individual’s skills and see which areas have been endorsed by others. For this reason I take my endorsing very seriously. While I know that my cousin is a teacher, I won’t endorse him as a teacher because I haven’t worked with him in this role. But I’ve seen his stand up comedy acts at family parties, so I might endorse him as a stand-up comedian. I know that my friend from church works in sales, but I’ve only worked with her on volunteer matters that are church-related. So I wouldn’t feel comfortable endorsing her work in sales, but I’d be more than happy to endorse her as a volunteer. A former co-worker has changed careers, so I would feel comfortable endorsing those skills that she shared when we worked together, but I can’t speak for what she does now as the work we do no longer shares a common interest. You get the idea.

ImageTo start endorsing simply log in to Linkedin and visit a colleague’s profile. Across the top of the page you’ll get a pop up box asking if your colleague has the following skills or expertise. Note that this is just a sampling of skills, not necessarily all of the skills your colleague has listed. What I love about this is the flexibility you have in endorsing. In my friend Steve’s case, if I don’t feel comfortable endorsing him in ‘Sales Management’ I can simply click the ‘x’ and close that skill, then go ahead and click the ‘Endorse’ button, and endorse the other four skills all with one click of the mouse. If I want to add to the list I can click in the box where it says ‘Type another area of expertise…’ and add another skill that I want to endorse. This is a great feature because Steve may have overlooked a skill that I really feel should be added to his profile.

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If you prefer to endorse skills one at a time you can just scroll down your friend’s page and look for the list of skills. Simply arrow over to the right side of the page and click the + sign for each skill you’d like to endorse.

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If you do chose to endorse a friend by clicking multiple skills at a time, once you complete your endorsement your screen will update to a grouping of four different colleagues. This is where you can really start to have fun. It’s a lot like playing a card game. You go through and click ‘Endorse’ on the ones you feel comfortable endorsing, and once you do the card will update to a new contact. Better yet, click ‘Endorse all 4’ and then get four new faces all at once. Go ahead. Give it a try. I DARE you to tell me it’s not addicting!

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As popularity of the Endorse feature grows your colleagues will soon catch on. The hope is that not only will they benefit from being endorsed by you, but that you’ll soon benefit from all of those who return the favor.

So go ahead and visit your Linkedin account and start endorsing. Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.

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Late last week Twitter launched a design which features a cover photo – similar to the Facebook idea of putting a large horizontal photo across the top of your page. Also like Facebook, Twitter will keep a separate photo option for your avatar image.

After updating my own page I received several compliments but also a few questions from a few who wondered how to create the new header image.

Here’s a quick 5 Step Guide to show you how to do it:

1. After logging in to Twitter, scroll across the top and click on the icon that looks like a gear. A drop down menu will appear. Scroll down and click on ‘Settings’.

 

2. Move over to the menu on the left side of the page and click on ‘Design’.

Scroll down the page, past the ‘premade themes’.

3. Under ‘Customize Your Own’ click on ‘Change Header’ next to the Header box.

4. Click on ‘Choose existing image’.

5. This will bring the pop up box that allows you to browse your photo library and choose a new photo. Once you select your photo you will have the option to move a little scrollbar across the screen, cropping your photo to only show the things you want to appear in your cover photo. Then click ‘Save’.

“Note that when choosing photos you should pick something that represents you or who you are achieving to be. Rich, bold colors will really make your avatar image pop. Or, just the opposite. A cover photo with dark colors will really make an avatar with bright colors pop. You can never (almost never) go wrong with good old black and white. And you’re always safe using a landscape image of your favorite mountain, grassy knoll, cityscape or setting sun.

In my own case I chose to profile a Milwaukee skyline as I live in the area. The text in my ‘Profile Bio’ mentions that I’m located in Wisconsin, thus tying the two together.

Good luck and leave a comment when your cover photo is complete. I’d love to see what you come up with!

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