You Might be a Social Media Guru if…

There is an inherent hazard to being involved in the social media world that few people publicly talk about. We snicker about it, exchange knowing glances, agonize when our clients have been bamboozled by it, and blast out cryptic tweets when we come across it, but few of us put this pervasive evil on display to allow the world to enjoy a collective eye roll at its expense. What is it that I’m talking about, you ask? It’s the Social Media Guru, of course!

I think it might be time to build a public profile of these imposters who certainly don’t get it and would do everyone a favor by ceasing to share their particular brand of Koolaid. Without further ado… ten signs that you might be (or have encountered) a Social Media Guru:

  1. You might be a Social Media Guru if you begin every conversation with your Twitter follower count, Facebook friend count, or with the phrase “I’m huge on [insert social network of choice here].”
  2. You might be a Social Media Guru if you claim, and actually believe, that you can teach anyone how to “do Social Media” in a day for just $30.00.
  3. You might be a Social Media Guru if you use name dropping as a substitute for a quality portfolio of work.
  4. You might be a Social Media Guru if you use auto DMs and insist they actually work for you.
  5. You might be a Social Media Guru if you think the first step to blogger relations is throwing free crap at them. Because, hey, bloggers can be bought.
  6. You might be a Social Media Guru if at every networking event you attend the people you meet have suddenly run out of business cards.
  7. You might be a Social Media Guru if “automate” and “broadcast” are the two most frequently used words in your vocabulary.
  8. You might be a Social Media Guru if you secretly admire a Twitter-bot’s ability to accumulate so many followers so quickly.
  9. You might be a Social Media Guru if you self-identify as an influencer, even though you’ve never created a unique piece of content in your life.
  10. You might be a Social Media Guru if you think the mere presence of “Guru” in your title will convince people that you actually know what you’re talking about.
  11. Have you come across any other tell-tale traits of the Social Media Guru? Share them in the comments!

PS: Check out my friend Maria’s blog post for an inside perspective on the ways of the South Florida Social Media Gurus and the destruction they’re capable of.

Eating Social: The Intimate Relationship Between Food and Our Social Networks

Eating is probably one of the most social things we do in our day. Regardless of how “plugged-in” we are, most of us can pry the iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android from our hands for long enough to enjoy a meal with our friends. But not before we source a restaurant from Urban Spoon, Yelp, or our trusty Twitter and Facebook communities. And then there’s the obligatory check-in on our location-based poison of choice when we arrive at the restaurant, followed by a quick scan of available tips to help us determine “what’s good here.”  We usually relinquish our online social selves once we take our seats, at least momentarily, until the food arrives and we snap a quick picture of what we’re chowing down on and share the snapshot on Twitter, Facebook, our blogs, or wherever else we share content.

According to a recent Foursquare blog post, Foursquare check-ins categorized in the “Food” category far outranked check-ins at any other type of venue.

Foodspotting, an application dedicated to visually sharing the most scrumptious food we come across to our followers so they can “Nom,” “Want,” and eventually claim it for themselves, reached over 450,000 users last year. BlogWorld Expo, a conference known for having its finger on the pulse of blogging trends, offered a food blogging track for the first time in 2010. There’s also a ton of other conferences dedicated solely to the art of food blogging (check out this great post from NamelyMarley for a list of the 2011 events).

You could say 2010 was a big year for food and how we consume it. It crossed over from being an old-time staple in our offline social lives, to the shiny, new main event in our online social communities. Our eating experiences are no longer confined to the restaurant table. Instead, they’re immortalized online in photos, tips, reviews, and blogs to be viewed, shared, and admired by the social web. Eating social is my favorite example of how our online behaviors and connections fuel our offline actions which, in turn, influence the content we create and share with our social networks.

So, with all this eating we did in 2010, do you think our offline attempts to burn the calories will creep into the content we share online? My friend Mike LaMonica noticed the social fitness trend starting among South Florida Tweeters in 2010, but I haven’t seen the same prevalence in my new Providence ‘hood. Yet. Great apps like RunKeeper and Nike’s fitness application make me think this year will be the year we feel the burn, even in the midst of the Northeast’s bitter cold.

Facebook Press Conference: Announcement of Features or Brand Positioning?

By now most of us have either watched the live stream of the Facebook press conference yesterday or sifted through the recap blog posts today (Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and All Facebook have some nice recaps and follow up interviews). While the revamped “Groups” are pretty exciting for focusing and improving conversations on Facebook’s social graph and the “Download Your Information” and “Applications You Use” are solid steps forward for users who want easier access to their information, it was Mark Zuckerberg’s soliloquies (minus the “and, ums”) about “what Facebook is” that were most interesting to me

Watching Mark speak reminded me of sitting in the classroom furiously scribbling down notes while the enlightened PhD opened my mind to new ways of reading Faulkner or Shakespeare. He truly has vision when it comes to the social web and for the first time in awhile he closely aligned that vision with the Facebook brand, using just a few words: Facebook solves social problems. That’s what Facebook does. The Facebook team sits in Silicon Valley, engineering algorithms and building the platform and applications that connect us, finding ways to break down the barriers that divide us. When we run into frustrations on the social web Facebook will be there to ease our annoyances.

Seems like a pretty drastic departure from the big bad privacy violator Facebook was just a couple of months ago. Or the egocentric, pet project, of a shady Harvard kid that Facebook was, well, just a week ago. And the best part? The presses largely agree. Tons of fawning posts steadily streamed out over the past 24 hours and none of my emails subscriptions featured links to pesky movie reviews.

Props to the Facebook PR team for crafting some targeted messages that allowed Mark to steer the conversation away from the controversy and back to the revolutionary ideas and social products his team is cranking out.

Refresh Lauderdale and Refresh Miami Team Up for Demo Night

Last night Refresh Miami and Refresh Lauderdale hosted a joint meet-up at FAU for an Ignite-style Demo night, featuring Jonathan Bradley from, Jonathan Marcus from, and Mike Cuesta from

Here’s the breakdown of what these kids were selling:

Essentially a multimedia version of FML where you can post epic monologues (500+ characters allowed), photos, and videos to embarrass anyone you feels deserves it. Why anyone would devote this much time to poking fun at someone else’s stupidity I’m not sure, but the founder is pretty excited about the idea. At this point it’s more of a basement project than a real live start up, but Johnathan had some great input in regards to best practices for rapid development so you can get your idea out there quickly, namely using an existing framework for your site that you can build off of, instead of going with a custom solution.

Oh, Flavors. I don’t want to like you. You remind me of those trendy kids with haircuts that don’t make sense, neon closets, and peculiar piercings. Alas, I kind of love you. Flavors is a great solution for anyone looking to aggregate their social web presence. Free accounts allow you to aggregate your social feeds from 4 different sources, while the $20 a year accounts let you aggregate from over 20 + sources like Etsy, any popular blogging platform, YouTube, Twitter, etc. It’s an easy, stylish solution for all of you life-streamers out there and a unique way to build a portfolio site for all of you social media job seekers.

I don’t claim to understand the intricacies of the CareCloud product, but I totally dig the effort CareCloud has put into streamlining the online user experience for patients, doctors and insurance companies so they can, as Mike Cuesta so elegantly put, “communicate on a human level, and transact on a business level.” There was an audible gasp with Mike said the project has over 4.5 million dollars in funding, making it the stand out, all-star start up of the night. It’s apparent that these guys are on to something, especially with the Obama administration’s push to get medical records online. I appreciated Mike’s thorough knowledge of the product. He’s pretty dev savvy for a UX guy.

Overall, the combo Refesh meetup was a great success. Would love to see more of these in the future.

This isn’t your First Grader’s Brainstorm

Sitting in my first grade classroom I had visions of towering thunder clouds intertwining with hippie-esque waves as my teacher carefully drew a map on the chalkboard and explained the “brainstorming” process we were about to experience. I don’t remember what the purpose of my first brainstorm was, just that the idea felt so wild and unrestrained that I couldn’t understand why the teacher insisted on trapping our thoughts on a stick and bubble diagram.

Then comes the agency world where brainstorms jump off the chalkboard and become tangible, real life creations. Sometimes they manifest themselves as larger than life brand personalities like the Burger King or the Old Spice guy. Sometimes they lay the foundation for fund raising initiatives that save lives. But regardless of their purpose, they are perpetual enemies to the stick and bubble diagram.

The participants don’t sit quietly in their desks, they pace around the room trying to feel out their thoughts. Dry erase markers fly across white boards in a chaotic attempt to document the genius moments. You laugh at the clever ideas, furrow your eyebrows at the complex ones, and fall silent when the epiphany finally comes. Your brain is firing on all cylinders and when you’re done you feel a sense of satisfying mental exhaustion.

There are few experiences that transform into something even more magical than what they once were in childhood, but brainstorming is definitely one of them.

The At-Home Fashion Show Goes Social

We all learn at a young age what “hauling” is, typically around the hectic “Back to School” time of year. Our parents loaded us up, took us to the mall, and piled clothes, school supplies, and other must-haves into the shopping cart(s). Mom swiped the credit card, Dad cringed at the price tag, and we got to show off our new outfits and gear in the all-important at-home fashion show.

Some of us grow out of our “hauling” habits as we get older, but most of us maintain them, whether it’s a Friday shopping spree at Macy’s or a snack food overload at CVS. I’ve often felt guilty about my own hauls at Forever 21 as I pile the extra large shopping bags into my little Honda.

But today I found out I’m not alone. An army of 14-18 year old girls are taking their hauls and their at-home fashion shows online in impressive numbers, creating 5-8 minute vlogs documenting their purchases. And they not only have viewers (one of the more popular videos has almost 800,000 views) they have fans who tweet in with questions and requests.

NPR claims that several thousand “hauling” vlogs are uploaded every month in an excessive flood of “Materialistic PG Porn” for young girls. Glamour takes a different angle, suggesting that is oddly rewarding to get an inside peek into a stranger’s closet, as well as getting some insider info on sales and best buys at our favorite stores.

Whatever your opinion, savvy retailers are noticing and partnering with some of their more influential “hauling” vloggers. JC Penney will partner with a group of vloggers to promote Back to School sales and build relationships with the young female demographic.

SMCSF: Facebook “ The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Tonight Social Media Club South Florida hosted a meet up at Beber Silverstein Group (If you ever get a chance to “look behind the bubbles” at their office you totally should. Very cool space.) to discuss “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” of Facebook. Panelists included Matthew Chamberlin, Patrick Barbanes, William Plasencia, Niala Boodhoo and Gary Bahadur.

There was a great balance of input from the panelists and the crowd and while there was the good intention of starting out with the benefits of Facebook for small and large businesses (Will cited Latin Burger as a great local example), the conversation quickly turned into a debate about Facebook’s ever evolving “privacy” philosophy and who has what responsibilities when it comes to protecting users.

The crowd seemed to mostly agree that it is up to users to read and understand Facebook’s terms of service and that they should expect that there would be some “cost” to using a free social network, whether that comes in the form of interruption marketing from ads, brand fan pages, or a loss of privacy.

There were some people who rallied behind Patrick Barbanes’ idea that it is not only Facebook’s responsibility to educate its less internet savvy users on their policies, but the internet savvy “uber users” responsibility to champion change when Facebook’s infringes on what we perceive to be our rights.

While the debate was interesting I think it lacked the proper framing. What does it mean to maintain “privacy” on the social web? Are our expectations of what privacy means on the web different than what we expect in the offline world? Who gets to decide what level of privacy we can achieve on the web and is that truly debatable when we don’t own our own data or our social connections?

These questions span the entire social web, not just Facebook. However, what is most unsettling about Facebook’s recent moves is that they are deciding the answers to these big questions without even pretending to gather user input first. And why would we expect them to? With a CEO that doesn’t care about privacy and an unabashed commitment to pursuing the business model over the user experience, Facebook has made it quite clear what their intentions and priorities are.

So what recourse do we have as users? I agree with the every man for themselves approach. As technology and connectivity invade even more facets of our lives, it will no longer be acceptable for people to cite inexperience, age, or apathy as reasons for their missteps online. The revolution of the educated user starts now. Understand what you are committing to when you post information online, understand that networks evolve and change (and so will your commitments), and know your “walking away” point.

Don’t Lose Your Style Downtown

Downtown Miami is a conundrum. What other major metropolitan city can say the core of where the magic happens during the day is totally deserted at night, no one is really interested in living in the beautiful buildings constructed by some of the Western Hemisphere’s most talented architects, and that the people who do show up for the show are usually tourists who have lost their way between the airport and South Beach?

Downtown is slowly starting to make a comeback though. A visually stunning and strategically creative marketing campaign by the Miami Downtown Development Authority uses online, print, and events to paint the future of what this neighborhood will one day look like. Window stickers liven up the vacant shop windows encouraging small business owners to relocate to Downtown. The DWNTWN concert series in Bayside Park has brought popular South Florida acts like PALO! and Inner Circle to a mostly young professional crowd looking to unwind with their neighbors on a Friday night. The DWNTWN website features a thorough guide on the hip places to eat and shop. They are working on a social media presence with a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook fan page, but none are updated regularly and focus more on announcements, press releases and articles that tout the “Downtown is the new hot spot image” they are shooting for, instead of building online relationships with current and potential residents.

As a resident of Downtown Miami I can tell you that we aren’t quite the hot spot a press release might make us out to be, but we’re getting there. The DWNTWN campaign is catching the interest of apartment seekers and small business owners and as my elevator rides in the morning get more and more full I’m also finding more Downtown gems like Salsa Fiesta and Sparky’s Roadside Barbecue, both have awesome food and awesome service, a rarity in Miami. Downtown is poised to be a refuge for those of us tired of the electro-feel of South Beach and not committed enough to embrace the Midtown-Design District eclectic style. The intrinsic beauty of Downtown paired with the laid back flip-flops over stilettos and jeans over power suits people will make it a lovable neighborhood that’s an oasis for new small restaurants and shops.

So my plea to you Downtowners and business owners alike is: Don’t make Downtown something it’s not. While MIA has been heralded as one of our main attractions, it’s nothing more than a South Beach transplant. You’ll have a much better time at the White Room or the Vagabond where the music is fresher and the people are more interesting. While we cherish our fine dining we’re happy that it’s places like Miami Chophouse that occupy that space instead of the Latin American fusion restaurants that have overtaken South Beach.

Hey, we all have our awkward years. But Downtown has it’s own style that will one day rival the current hip kids (Brickell and South Beach), it just needs time to get there.

Then There was a Tassel

It’s been over a month since I blogged and in that month I have finished out my tenure as the Business Manager of The Miami Hurricane, dragged myself through my final exams, furnished and cleaned my apartment so I could fool my visiting family into thinking I actually spend time there, and, oh yeah, I got this snazzy green and orange tassel which makes me a college graduate. Well I guess the diploma that still hasn’t arrived in the mail makes it official, but that tassel is what I have on my nightstand right now so it’s what I’m going with.

I must admit that this is the first time in two weeks that I’ve felt comfortable with the idea of declaring my status as an official grad to the cyber world. A milestone I thought would easily come and go with a little family hoopla ended up turning into something more significant. Instead of just being the next step in my five-year plan it has been a time for self-reflection and evaluation. Where exactly have I been over the last four years?

My time at the University of Miami introduced me to people from all over the world with unique experiences and passions. I’ve shared an apartment with a part Jamaican, part Chinese chick who was the first person to make me realize how lucky I was to attend such an amazing (and pricey) institution like UM and to take no nonsense from those Jersey girls. I’ve served as a source of culture shock for plenty of my friends who ride comfortably in their Mercedes while I cruise in my newly acquired 1995 Honda Civic who I named Betsy Lou. My professors have served as both the pinnacles of professional wisdom and out-dated-ness, sometimes encapsulating one or both of those titles at the same time. I have learned that a person can survive on a lot less sleep than they thought they could for a lot longer than they thought possible.

Most of all I have learned how to stick with something that was wonderful, terrible, hard, easy, and ultimately worth it for four years. That’s not a badge of honor that everyone earns.

How well will my Bachelor of Communication degree serve me in the future? Who knows. But the process taught me how to earn something, fight to keep it, and add to its value by seeking opportunities in the classroom of life whether that was by taking on second and third jobs or finding time to read a New York Times article in the middle of some of Faulkner and Shakespeare’s greatest works.

As for the immediate future, I will be starting full-time with (add)ventures as the specialist, strategy/social media in the Miami office. I’m looking forward to the next steps of this crazy journey and hoping the tassel on my nightstand will help me overcome the hurdles and appreciate the successes of the next four years.

Facebook’s Arrogance

I spent the morning reading up on the details of the new features Facebook announced at their annual F8 developers’ conference. The new features include: Social Plugins, which allow websites to add Facebook-style social interaction; the Open Graph Protocol, a way to let Facebook users add external Web pages to their profiles and to provide developers with access to Facebook analytics data; and the Graph API, a rewrite of Facebook’s core developer code to allow easier development on the Facebook platform. Information Week gives a great business and web impact breakdown here.

This announcement has huge ramifications for users’ privacy, marketers ability to achieve social interaction on the web, and of course the part Facebook wants you to focus on the most, the user experience.

Once again Facebook has thrown concerns for their users’ privacy out the window. In a move that makes the epic “Beacon” roll out look like child’s play, Facebook is opening your and your friends data up to the entire web. Anyone who can figure out how to insert an I Frame into their website and entice you to like what they’re selling or showcasing has a foot firmly in your social network. When I visited CNN and Pandora this morning the “Big Brother” feeling was palpable as I browsed through what my friends had been reading on CNN and saw what great (and sometimes embarrassing) tunes they were listening to. Since this feature is opt-out, not opt-in, my guess is that my friends were largely unaware that I was accessing this information. Now to lend some perspective, getting a peek into my friends’ radio stations is something I could just as easily do by sitting in the car with them, but there is something unsettling about being allowed to access this information when they aren’t looking.

These new features are exciting for marketers who want to build websites and online presences for clients that are more than just one-way communication, but two-way social interactions that enrich content and give it legs and presence in the once elusive social networks of their target audiences. Hubspot gives a good summary of these implications here. Facebook’s social plug-ins will allow developers to easily add this layer of sociability and ride on the coat tails of the 400 million user base Facebook has cultivated. There is merit to the argument that this social layer will give credibility to websites and blogs you visit because you will be able to see the footprints your friends have left behind. It will also instantly allow one-dimensional websites to become familiar to users and have interactivity capabilities that would have otherwise taken years to custom build, launch, and debug. The downside of course is that the interactions won’t be unique, they will be the same as your interactions on Facebook. The NHL is using the “like” plugin which will allow you to select the players you like and post the story to your Facebook page. A custom plug in and dedication to building their own online community could have allowed the NHL to let that button link you to the player’s discussion group within their own website so you could instantly connect with others outside of your own network who shared your same passion. Instead, as I discussed in an earlier post, users will be confined to their own past-oriented and often backwards-looking Facebook network when they share these stories, making them less socially useful.

Oh the Facebook user experience. Fodder for fan pages and groups alike who protest the roll out of new features, usually unsuccessfully, and frustrating for a maturing user base that is tired of the Mafia Wars notifications and the “please write on someone’s wall today” notifications. Facebook’s social plugins will allow it to bring in new and unique information into the network that will hopefully solve the users frustration of stale content and Facebook’s frustration with an increasingly apathetic audience that makes data gathering difficult when users aren’t sharing. I think this move will give Facebook another 5 years of relevancy as users are able to connect and interact with their friends based on their web presence rather than their cookie cutter Facebook profile page. The day will come, however, when users will flock to niche networks that are more relevant and useful to them.

Facebook is taking risks with this move, both with their users’ privacy and with the assumption that users like the Facebook model of interaction so much that they will embrace it across the web. I predict that they will be successful with these moves and largely unopposed for their privacy transgressions, but these moves won’t fix the limited nature of your social network with Facebook, the new features will just make it more interesting for the next few years.