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Just logged on to Bloglines to see what my favorite bloggers are writing about today and I see this:

bloglinesHow horrible. How can we possibly survive without our blogs. An atrocity!

Social media dependency at it’s best.

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shankman111208Those aren’t my words, but the words of PR and marketing guru, entrepreneur extraordinaire, author and all around crazy man, Peter Shankman who you may know as @Skydiver on twitter.

I attended an TIMA event in downtown Raleigh today where Shankman was the speaker. Having served on a panel with him at the same venue just one short year ago I knew that we were in for some innovative trains of thought.

So, Shankman declared in a room full of mostly interactive sales and marketing folks that the beloved press release will be dead in 36 months. He asked if anyone in the room had even read one recently, and the number of hands that flew up were slim. He drove home four points:

Transparency, relevancy, brevity and “top of mind presence.”

He says if your clients can’t send their message in 140 characters of less, it needs to change. He also said PowerPoint is for the weak, but that’s a topic for another discussion.

Interested in some of Shankman’s other colorful quips and trains of thought? Here are all of my tweets from the event in chronological order: BTW, I’m @communitygirl on twitter.

  • communitygirl: @skydiver tells me he has no idea what he will say to this audience of 100 plus.
  • communitygirl: @skydiver has taken the podium. He is a wild man. Says powerpoint is for the weak!
  • communitygirl: @skydiver says social media doesn’t exist. Gives the power to screw up many times over.
  • communitygirl: You can’t make something viral. You can make it good and it becomes viral. @skydiver
  • communitygirl: Social media is more like human nature per @skydiver. He helped launch the AOL newsroom without a clue.
  • communitygirl: Too many self proclaimed social media experts says @skydiver.
  • communitygirl: @skydiver says google will be the winner of the profile war. People in this audience say LinkedIn is more professional than facebook.
  • communitygirl: @skydiver predicts the press release will be dead in 36 months! Anyone agree?
  • communitygirl: Teach clients that if they can’t send the message in 140 characters it needs to change. Per @skydiver
  • communitygirl: You have to like social media. If you don’t it will be obvious. If the PR guy blogs for the CEO people know it. @skydiver
  • communitygirl: @skydiver says the personal vs professional profile will go away in 12 months. You will have one profile on whatever network wins!
  • communitygirl: Ever heard of unjust tagging? How about facebook purgatory? I will blog about it later. @skydiver is a fun speaker. Hilarious!
  • communitygirl: Kids growing up with technology will be smart about it. No need to pity them at all says @skydiver.
  • communitygirl: @skydiver is now talking about top of mind presence. Use social media to the point of “remembering.”

I couldn’t tweet everything, as i also needed to eat lunch, but those are a few highlights. Tomorrow I will blog about two concepts Shankman shared: Facebook Purgatory, and Unjust tagging. Pretty funny stuff. Yeah, he’s definitely a wild man.

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After blogging pretty regularly and sharing my thoughts on everything from online journalism, and social media savvy to the downward spiral of newspapers and the importance of comments on news stories, I finally got around to writing an e-book.

Here it is: 18 Ways to Engage Users Online

I hope you find it useful and share it with your colleagues and peers. I’m planning two more e-books: One for non-profits and another for furniture industry professionals. I’ve spoken to a lot of people in both industries recently and they are eager to jump start their social media strategies.

So, do me the honors of checking out the ebook and tell me what you think.

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Those are the words I heard from one furniture industry professional after a presentation I gave last week in High Point, North Carolina to members of WITHIT, an organization for women in the home furnishings industry.

Everyone in the audience seemed pretty pleased with what they’d learned and were quite eager to start blogging, showcasing their products and services in a new way and considering all of the other options presented during the session.

The questions came rapidly, which is always a good sign but I also heard lots of questions steeped in reality. Their reality, as told to me after the session by a very major player in the industry includes seeking buy-in from the patriarchs of family-owned businesses, who are on many fronts quite averse to change. . This is no easy task, as some of these patriarchs do not even use e-mail. And for those who do have an e-maill account, getting them to actually open an e-mail can be akin to climbing to the top of Mt. Everest.

So, what professionals in this industry need to do, as did those before them is illustrate the benefits of social media and how it can connect them to existing customers, lead them to new ones and help them create and grow an online brand that is equal to or better than their offline brand.

Just as I learned of the struggles of the non-profit sector last month, I am now very concerned about the plight of furniture industry professionals faced with the curmudgeon factor, that could prove to be a major barrier to entry.

What they may have to do is start making those connections on their own, get out in the social media world and see what happens. Prove that it works on your own, because sometimes you have to forget about permission and ask for forgiveness instead.

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obamaThis is a question I don’t want to ponder, and unfortunately I believe I know the answer. I wish I didn’t but I do. I’ve seen it in full effect since the election of Sen. Barack Obama two days ago and it is truly disheartening.

While we as a county have certainly opted for change and the racial lines seem to be blurring, this change is clearly an atrocity to some who will likely use the web and the “cloak of anonymity” I’ve mentioned many times before, to share their anger and spread their hate.

Among some of the content I’ve dealt with today were comments about black criminals getting off easy now because they will have backing “straight from the top,” watermelon seeds being planted at the White House, appointing “Reverend Ike” as Secretary of the Treasury, and Richard Pryor, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin to other positions in his Cabinet. Not to mention all of the other stereotypical madness that is so easy to deliver via keyboard.

Am I writing this blog while emotional? Yes, and that could be good or bad. You decide. But as the Managing Editor of User-Generated Content at WRAL.com and GOLO.com, it is my job to develop guidelines for how we manage UGC and I deal with a great deal of it. So this is affecting my job. It’s affecting something I believe in.

So yes, I’m emotional but this is my blog and this is where I chose to vent today. So thank you for hearing me out.

Now, I will go home, reapply my thick skin before bed and come in tomorrow to live and work another day. There is no alternative, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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In 24 hours I’ll be knee deep in a live election night blog which I’m hosting for members of my online community. It’s open for anyone who comes by, but the idea is something the members of the community have come to enjoy. It started with the live debate blogs, which were highly popular and soon everyone was asking me about election night.

I wasn’t so sure at first, knowing very well that it could go well into the wee hours. However, no good community manager willingly disappoints the community, so the show must and will go on.

It’s quite amazing to see the role that social media plays in the most significant areas of our lives and the continued development to make the tools even more relevant.

Among some of the online social media tools that will likely be in high use tomorrow night as listed on the TV blog Lost Remote: Msnbc.com’s election results widget, CNN.com’s Your Races tool, The New York Times’ text service for mobile updates which will provide congressional results based on zip code and an election night party co-hosted by Digg and Twitter. And that’s just to name a few. For a glimpse of the social media campaign results of our two Presidential candidates, check out Jeremiah Owyang’s detailed post.

Thanks to social media, the average consumer can find anything and everything we need with a computer or cell phone and have it delivered directly to us with little or no effort.

The election party is now wherever you want it to be, and many of us will experience it with thousands, while sitting in the comfort of our own homes.

You can’t beat THAT with a stick!

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What do you do when you realize user-submissions are getting low, or your community members seem to be slacking in the photo uploading department? What about when the quality of blogs seems to be tanking and decent conversations are nowhere to be found?

You could complain about it, pour over last months stats and simply hope that things will get better, or drown your sorrows in a series of diet cokes or another beverage of your choice while staring at your monitor. Or, you can ramp up and move into overdrive.

As the community manager it is your job to engage users, so engage. Keep in mind that people love to talk about themselves and share their opinions. They also like to tell what they know, so why not ask them to do all three?

I’ll give you the beginning of several questions and you fill in the blanks based on what’s happening in your community, what people are talking about or anything you find interesting.

What’s your favorite ____________?
What do you think of _________?
Have you seen the new movie, _________?
Do you plan to visit __________?
How much money do you spend on _______?

And if it’s photos your after, be specific. The holiday’s are coming so ask for holiday photos.
Draw out the competitive spirit and ask for pictures of holiday decorations. Put on a contest if you want to get things moving quickly and offer a cool prize.

It can be tough when you depend on others to produce content, but if you make it worth their while and make sure they know how much you value the time they take to do it, things begin to look up fast. I’ve already got several ideas in the works and recently put on a contest called “November madness.” Anyone who picks the winners in the federal and state races will win a prize. People love prizes, so give them what they want.
What you’ll soon find is, it will ultimately get you what you want.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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