Use Your Thumb to Plant a Tree

Date April 22, 2008

One more reason why I love StumbleUpon.  Today is Earth Day.  Stumble Upon has set up a page that is tracking thumbs.  For every thumb they get up to 25,000 from now until May 2nd, the National Forest Foundation will plant a tree. How easy is that?
Click on the pic below and see for yourself.

suearth Use Your Thumb to Plant a Tree

Social Media Helped Us Move

Date April 21, 2008

This is a special guest post by Lorna Harris (aka Mrs. Danny Sullivan) 

Most of you probably know by this point that Danny and I are heading back to California in the Summer.  It was a big decision to make and took us several months to get there.

Danny has been really homesick, much as I was when we moved from California to the UK after five years in the States.  Things have changed so much since then.  When Danny and I first met back in 1988, we wrote letters and made phone calls, that was it.  When I moved to California after we were married, my parents would call and shout down the phone ‘is everything ok darling?’ and then hang up.  For their generation a long distance phone call to California was a luxury and they certainly weren’t going to have a long chat.  When we wanted to have children, the idea of being so far away from my parents was really hard, so we moved back.

Now it’s time to head back to California.  But what a difference in terms of keeping in contact with family and friends.  No once a week expensive long distance phone calls.  Instead, I can let them know immediately what I’m doing on Twitter, post photos to flickr, friend them on Facebook.  I just can’t believe the difference from a few years ago. We have friends in the UK, Sweden, Dubai, and they’re all just a twitter away – it’s just amazing. It really helped with the decision, I know I can keep in contact so much easier now.

We’re in California at the moment and our two English boys are already on the turn.  We were at Disneyland getting fast passes and I mentioned to Danny that soon they’d be saying fast pass with an American accent.  It didn’t even take until the end of the day and they were converted.  Farewell our English prep school boys! Our youngest son has been boogie boarding in his Quiksilver wet suit everyday and declaring the waves to be awesome.  Next week he’ll be having a lesson at the Vans Skateboard park in Orange.

I’m going to blog my experiences of making the move and American schools – I’m expecting high school to be like Grease or I’ll be sorely disappointed. They do sing and dance all day, don’t they?  I still don’t get the whole letterman thing but I’m hoping Danny will guide me through. Please don’t tell me that they’ll bring home a cheerleader – what will I say to her?  Nice pom poms?!

To help keep in touch with my friends even better, I’m working on a social news site for women at the moment which should be ready in a couple of months.  Although I love social media, I still don’t feel that I’ve found a home online where I can network with my girlfriends in the way I’d like.  More on that another time.  I’m really excited about the SMX Social Media Marketing show in Long Beach next week and can’t wait to learn more.

One sad thing about social media? In my drawer at home, I have a box full of letters from Danny which used to arrive weekly along with cinema tickets, airline tickets and general things from our budding romance. Can you keep a file on your computer full of romantic twitters?  It’s not quite the same.

We’re moving to the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach and if anyone has any tips on schools, baseball leagues or anything else, I’d love to hear them!

Last year I was driving my sons to cricket camp, this year it’s skateboard camp.  At least they’ll be adaptable when they grow up and be able to discuss David Beckham or baseball players (don’t know any famous ones yet!)   As for me, I know my accent will change and I’ve just resigned myself to it.  After living in California for five years last time, when working back in London, someone rang the office and asked to speak to the American.  I was so depressed, they meant me!

On the other hand, we’ve spent the week cycling along the boardwalk, watching the sunset on the beach, boogie boarding in the ocean.  It’s going to be a very different lifestyle but a very good one and available on twitter, flickr, facebook and more!

What Are You Doing?

Date April 11, 2008

It’s a simple question that is easy to answer and hundreds of thousands of people answer it every day.  Some people answer it every 10 minutes of every day.  It’s called Twitter.

Warning: Twitter use can be highly addictive.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that is kind of like an enormous IM conversation that goes on every minute of every day.  That’s right 24/7 you can log on to Twitter and talk to people from all over the world and tell them one thing…What you are doing.  There doesn’t have to be anything meaningful or memorable behind what your doing, but just telling people gives them a chance to get to know you and what you do.

The way it works is that you get an account (free of course) and then start searching for people you know on Twitter and ‘follow them’.  Once you follow someone every time they update what they are doing, you’ll be able to see it.  

Here’s what a typical day on Twitter looks like…
twitter What Are You Doing?

Now that you are following people, you’ll want people to follow you.  This isn’t as hard as it may seem.  Twitter is still a very new network, so the best way to get involved is to:

Read the rest of this entry »

Blogs and RSS Buttons

Date April 9, 2008

In my industry  everyone knows what an RSS button is for.  Outside…in the real world…most people don’t have a clue.  In fact, it’s confusing and clicking on it could be a catastrophe to someone that is not computer savvy. My thoughts on this though is too bad. Teach your users what it is and let them decide whether or not they want to use it.

Here’s my scenario…I volunteered to build a site for our local pop warner football association.  It turned into adding sites for track and cheer as well. All of these were built on our Wordpress platform (the one that kicks ass).  Anyway, I had a GoTo meeting to do some training with the moms that had volunteered to run the sites.  Hands down, they hated the RSS button.  They wanted it gone and didn’t care that it offered a feature to users that subscribe to feeds.  They said that they had received phone calls from parents complaining because "they clicked on it and ended up on another site, then they couldn’t figure out how to get back".

So fine, we took it off.

This really frustrated me because I enjoy teaching people about the internet and 99% of the time everyone is very receptive to the learning.  So when a group puts up the hand to one of the best things to come out of Web 2.0 it blows me away.  Whatever.

The way I see it the button should be displayed prominently at the top of your blog kinda like how it is on mine:) I can’t stand it when I spend 10-30 seconds trying to find an RSS button. 

The worst are the blogs that have it in a text link at the very bottom where you can barely see it like this:

rssbad Blogs and RSS Buttons 

I’ve built a few feeds in my day and trying to find the feed button is very difficult most of the time.  I have found blogs that are actually SEM blogs and they don’t have a button at all.

So please, if you have a blog display your RSS button at the top so it’s easy for your visitors to subscribe.   Just slap it up there and who knows, you may be pleased at the results.


Useful StumbleUpon Feature

Date April 7, 2008

Stumbleupon has a feature that I really like.  SU users have the option to look at their favorites and other SU blogs in a grid format.

sugrid Useful StumbleUpon Feature
This is either new or I have honestly never seen the link at the top right corner before.

At any rate, the reason I am a fan of the grid is for 2 reasons:

1. Occasionally some sneaky SU users will change the page after it has been stumbled.  The fact that SU now takes a screenshot and displays the original stumble is great for the reviewer.

2. Finding good SU friends is not as easy as it may sound.  Some users only stumble their own sites. If that’s the case, when I click on their avatar to see what they are stumbling, it’s so easy to see all the screenshots and know at a glance that this user is only in it for themselves.

If you are on StumbleUpon, give it a try.  If you aren’t a Stumble user, what the heck are you waiting for?  Get with the program. :)