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Exploring Social Media Tools Series

Articles about blogging tipsIn October of 2008, I started a series called “Exploring Social Media” on the . The challenge was to dig into the myriad choices and options to dance the social dance online, to network, share, inform, and educate with the various tools available.

I began by asking people to define social media, since it is often hard to explain as well as define. What is it really? Do you know? Or do you just think you know?

We use the word “social media” like a favorite trendy phrase. This past year at Blog World Expo, instead of being a room full of bloggers and web consultants, it felt like every other person I met specialized in social media. It was the buzz word of the conference, and all the conferences I’ve been to for the past year. Everyone’s talking social media, but few understood what it really is.

The best definition came from a comment by Alistair Shaw:

Tools that help connect people.

Social media tools connect people. The challenge is which one to use. Which social media tool will connect you to the “right” people – the people you need to know and who need to know you.

Some people rely solely upon their blog and , but Twitter doesn’t reach everyone in the world, only those using Twitter, and then only those who follow you or someone you know. Over the past few months, I’ve started to explore what other options are out there besides Twitter, as well as explore tools which help you use Twitter better, such as the article I did recently on creating future tweets with TweetLater like I rely upon future posts in WordPress to keep this blog running without me.

In “It Starts With One,” I wrote about how a community doesn’t start with millions. If your goal is to reach out to the masses, you are using social media wrong. It starts with one. If you serve the one, the one will tell one, who will tell two, who will tell six, and your community will begin to build. If you don’t serve the one, and each one after that, bye bye community.

In “Start With the Basics” and “One Size Does Not Fit All,” I wrote basic introductions to help you get started thinking about what social media tools you might use to meet your personal and professional social media needs.

It begins with having a “name” be it your domain name, business name, brand name, or whatever name that represents who you are on the web, how to develop a web presence, how to be found on the web, visual brand identity with avatars and/or Gravatars, how to track your social media success, and more basic tips on how to start building your social media network and tools. From the basics, it’s about learning what tools are available and how to build your community – in other words, which tool is the best for your specific needs aud audience.

I’ve covered a wide range of topics, from the how to use social media tools to current events tracked or influenced by social media and what we can learn from them, such as the “The Motrin Moment Impact of Social Media” and “Live Citizens Press Conference on Twitter.”

In “Shortening Those Links,” I offered tips on how to create tiny or shorter URLs. Other social media tips articles include “The Power of the Link Needs Content” and “Promoting Your Link Backs to You.” I also had fun reporting on the trends in cussing and swearing on Twitter in “Measuring the Curse of Social Media Tools.”

person choosing from all the various social media toolsThe latest article in the series asks if it is time to create a web apps matching service, that helps us find the right social media and web application tool that matches our specific blogging and business needs, in “Exploring Social Media: Time for a Web App Matching Service.”

I hope you enjoy the series so far. Coming up next, I will be exploring a wide range of Twitter third-party apps which help you use Twitter better and learn how to track and understand your social media network with Twitter. I am testing and researching a wide variety of social media tools, checking out the communities and understanding how they work differently from each other and testing their demographics.

I’ve been speaking at a variety of social media functions, meetups, meetings, and conferences, and including social media tools in my various workshops and training programs for the past few years, helping participants understand all the options for connecting online. The feedback on how people are using the web for their business and social needs is amazing, which I’ll share more in future posts. I’ll also be writing about the various social media groups and associations that have started up in the past two years. The face-to-face of social media is often the most powerful networking you can do, and I want to encourage you to get involved with your local social media group or tech meetup, especially the many WordPress events such as WordPress Meetups and WordCamps.

If you have a specific question or topic you would like me to cover on the in the Exploring Social Media article series, let me know. I’ve just scratched the surface.

Exploring Social Media Series

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted March 7, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    In regards to 3rd-party web applications using the Twitter API, a lot of the talk is about what they can do for the user (time saving, novelty, tool, whatever). Nothing is ever mentioned about what they can DO to you.

    Considering the latest rash of hackings at Twitter, it is very evident that something needs to be done to securely use their API without exposing your login credentials. Of the 700+ people who’s accounts where hacked the other day, I am sure a majority of them did not know what was happening until they received the password reset notice via an email.

    Problem is anyone can use the API via basic Http authorization. All you need is an account login, no API key needed. And people just hand their login credintials over to them.

    I think it should be the responsibility of bloggers & twitterers to not actively promote any of these 3rd-party services. At least, without proper vetting of who are behind them.

    Twitter at a minimum, and in the short-term, should require an application for an API key to at least identify the entity using the API. Sure, oAuth is in the works (private Beta) but is still a long way off — I can see the problem getting worse, before getting any better.

    • Posted March 7, 2009 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      Online security is always a concern. Luckily, recent attacks have been limited to only a very few compared to the total number of users. I agree that improvements in security are critical, for everything not just Twitter. The more dependent we become on all these various integrating social media tools, the more cautions we need to be about protecting our privacy and security.

  2. Posted March 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I like the simple definition you came up with. It IS about connecting people. The trick is being someone people would like to connect with 🙂 A lot is changing because of social media.

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