A Sonnet to Social Media

It all began as it began for all,

Online I went to build myself a place.

From text and pics, my feats were all but small,

But code helped me create my first MySpace.

It wasn’t long before a new tool came,

To woo me from the Comic-Sans type look.

In no time came a new dot-com to fame.

As I and millions flocked to try Facebook.

The game was on, as more ways to connect

Poured forth onto the web for all to greet.

Masses flocked to the tools to post unchecked,

To Vine, Snap, Pin, Meerkat, YouTube, and Tweet.

Walls fall as people reach out to engage;

Let’s change our world, now that we have a stage.

Out of the mouths of babes - parenting moments by Rachel, Really (image: "Mom, guess what?")

Out of the Mouths of Babes. Very Naive Babes.

Today, I was driving my daughter to a place where we could eat dinner while her brother was on a field trip. I was on a call with my dad, she was sleeping in her seat, and we were tooling along the highway through Denver Tech Center. Suddenly, as we passed IKEA (which you can probably spot from Google Earth), her little voice pipes up in the back: “Mom, can we stop by IKEA and get my reading light?”

She had been promised a reading light, just like her brother’s (also acquired at IKEA), for several weeks since she has been able to read consistently. We were in the right place, had enough time, and thus our path was set.

Later, on the way out of IKEA, she told me, “Mom, you’re the best mom ever.” In my usual fashion, I jokingly agreed but then qualified that I’m just a regular person who tries my best, messing up all along the way. Which is when she dropped this gem:

“Mom, I don’t think you ever mess up.”

When I was done chuckling at the hilarity of her statement, I assured her that, while her sentiment was entirely appreciated, I would let her know the very next time I made a mistake. Needless to say, the occasion to do just that arose less than an hour later.

I love that my child can reach levels of satisfaction and happiness to the point where she believes I can do no wrong. But I don’t love it so much that I forget how crucial it is to teach her that to err is so human. If I can teach her and my other child how to handle messing up with grace, I’ll call that really, really good… maybe even worthy of the “best mom ever” badge.

TAG. Your content is it. - Rachel, really (featured image)

Tagging is Happening… and It Works

How often have you spotted a great article or meme online and instantly wanted to summon your friends to see it?

Welcome to tagging: a very effective alternative to sharing a post.

If you’ve seen the latest commercials for State Farm, you’ll grasp how tagging can work. Each time a person in those commercials gets in a snag, they simply repeat the State Farm jingle and instantly their representative is summoned to their location. Tagging functions as a summons to other users to come see where they were tagged and why.

Tagging is easy.

If you know another user’s name or handle on a social media platform, you can tag them in a post, comment or even a media image like photo or video. Most times you can just start typing in their name as you know it, and the site will auto-fill in the possibilities and give you a selection of who you want to tag. Other sites work best with the @ symbol typed in first to kick in the tagging feature (on Twitter, the @ is required).

Screenshots of tagging in Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter by Rachel, Really (image)

Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter let you tag other users.

Facebook allows you to tag images and videos (based on the permissions set by the person who posted the media). Once you click on the tag symbol, click on the person you know in the image and start typing in their user name to select them to be tagged.

Tagging gets it done.

I have yet to encounter a post or image that didn’t get exponentially more reach from tagging than those which weren’t tagged. Social media is about a network larger than you can see, and each person you connect to has a unique circle they connect to, and so on. Even on my personal Facebook profile, tagging a friend in one of my photos has often led to a vast number of strangers to see my content because they are so-many-degrees from the person I tagged. The same has held true for professional or brand profiles which I have managed.

Tagging should be taught.

If you manage social media for a brand and post images or updates referencing actual people, teach staff and your audience to tag the content. When you’re acting as the Facebook Page, as the brand you can only tag other Facebook Pages on your post or media; however, personal users can tag other personal Facebook profiles on the same post or media. Encourage them to do so! Social media users tend to want to see and be seen; bank on that desire by educating anyone who interacts with your profile to tag with gusto.

Is sharing better than tagging?

While having content shared has always been the supreme goal for social media managers, I’d content that tagging is sharing. Even better, if someone shares your content and tags their friends while they’re at it, your content has a better chance of gaining eyeballs. The more you can do to train your supporters and staff to tag content, the more broadly your content will be shared.

Share your experiences with tagging in your own comment below. Is tagging working for you?

youth on social media smartphone (image)

5 Tips to Teach Children How to Use Social Media

Admirable attempts by fellow adults have been made to teach developing minds about the dangerous side of social media. For our kids, who daily seek approval and attention from anyone, social media is all too tempting of an outlet. And if your child has a smartphone, they’re on social media.

If you have or know a child, start teaching them how to use social media:

  1. Show kids how and what you share on social. We’re staring and jabbing at our smartphones each day… Yes, our children are watching and know it must surely be an amazing gadget. Use that rapt attention to let them lean in and watch you compose a post or share a photo on Facebook. Let them make suggestions and guide their choices.
  2. Strangers are online just as they are in real life. Show your child that the person who just liked your photo on Instagram is someone you’ve never met before. Stranger-danger is just as risky online as in real-life; perhaps more so since kids often share too much information with strangers. If you are on social platforms where you often decline requests by strangers to connect, show your child where and explain why.
  3. Mean words hurt just as much. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a less-than-friendly comment, show it to your child. Talk about how it felt to read it. Explain that there is always a real person reacting to every word you post online. Let them watch you compose a comment on someone else’s profile and see how carefully you choose your words. Louis C.K. has a great commentary on why online messages can be so hurtful (not safe for children).
  4. Teach kids how easy it is to save and change content. Find one of your posts and screenshot it. Use a free photo editing tool (most smartphones have one built-in to their camera tool) to crop or adjust the image. Get creative with your manipulation: your goal is to show your kid how easily anyone can grab something on the internet, change it, and re-use it for their own purposes.
  5. If they’re on social media, install the same apps and follow them. Just as you would check their homework or their clothing choices for a social event with friends, check how your child uses social media. Also, you’re entitled and advised to do unannounced checks of their smartphones (especially if your name is on the bill!). If they’re using a new app, download it and get familiar.

*If you don’t know how to do these things, try them out now. Your child, growing up as a digital native, will most certainly learn if you don’t teach them. Be their first and primary source for best practices.

“Use social media. Don’t be used by it.”

Do what you do best for your child: parent them. Show them how to treat others in real life: how to say “please” and “thank you,” how to hold back their honest opinions about someone’s appearance, and how to treat others as they want to be treated. If you’ve done and are doing that well, showing them the capabilities of social media will provide them with a new tool to be a good person rather than a weapon to be a bad one.

What have you tried and learned as a parental user of social media? Share your own tips below; we can help each other help our kids.

Need more help than these 5 tips? Request a training or presentation for your group by Rachel, Really.

4 Ways to Keep ‘Em Laughing

If I touch your funny bone, I unlock your barriers. Humor is the instant disarmer in any gathering, which is why it’s so useful in marketing.

Yeah, but not everyone is a comedian. How do you bring the funny to your game?

Listen to funny people.

Remember that as a growing infant and toddler, you learned how to be a little human through absorption of what was around you. Even if comedy isn’t in your nature, you can nurture yourself to recognize humor and wield it yourself.

Find a podcast that is not only interesting but consistently makes you chuckle. (One of my favorites is “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”) Listen to the cadence used by who’s talking. Notice the inflections in each phrase. Pay attention to how a slight twist of words can turn something “meh” into something that cracks a smile.  Repeat back what it was that made you laugh so you can assess all of these pieces which made the joke.

Read, read, read.

Knowing how to use words couldn’t be more key to knowing how to create humor. Think about your favorite stand-up comedians. I can’t think of one that, in spite of using slang or even skewed grammar, isn’t incredibly well-spoken. They spin those rules on purpose because it makes a joke, not because they don’t know how to form a sentence.

If you read a lot, you give your brain fodder for the funny. Keep the pipeline for your humor practice strong with a solid use of your library card or ereader device.

Try it outloud.

Before taking on this step, make sure your self-esteem is firmly in place. Testing out jokes on your circles means that you’ll inevitably “bomb” and feel the full awkward of missing the mark. That’s OK. If you think about it, life is full of those moments which is how you shape your approach to do better next time. Being funny is no different, and there’s no better testing ground than instant reaction.

Know your audience.

And we’re back to Marketing 101. To illustrate this important and final point, I defer to a man who kept television audiences laughing for over a decade and has his one-liners repeated daily by millions. Yet even he knew the value of knowing his audience before cracking the humor.

Humor takes risk, time, and work. It’s so worth it. I’d love to read some of your own wit-wielding if you’ll share it below! You may inspire others to find their funny.

My Kid Just Learned that People Suck.

I knew it would happen sometime.

“The kids in my group made fun of my teeth. And I can’t do anything to change it, so… yeah.”

So begins my son’s experience in the reality that people suck. In his case, it’s little people. Kids, who might otherwise be pretty nice and decent, often lack some inner monologue and certainly any real tact. Somehow in the middle of a physical activity, some words were let loose which my son had to hear. And he hung on to them all the way until bedtime.

He was right.

My son inherited his teeth from his dad and me, so it’s no wonder his teeth are destined for braces. He also has a baby tooth up front that hangs on for dear life and looks funky next to his adult teeth growing in haphazardly. Nothing he can do about that, though eventually we can have them worked on… though that’ll lead to the new fun of “brace-face.”

He was wrong, too.

Trying to make lemons out of lemonade, last night was a good opportunity for a few reasons:

  • I was an open door to my son’s angst, ready to hear whatever he had to say about how he felt.
  • I was a voice of experience which could stand there, in the flesh, to prove that words don’t have to have a lasting effect.
  • I was a redirect to focus him from what he can’t control (his teeth) to what he can (his inner workings and attitudes about what was said to him).

He was honest.

“Mom, that doesn’t help.”

Okay. I think that’s probably true in the immediacy of how he was made to feel. But I still think all of the above might have planted a seed that will serve him well in the disappointments yet to come.

Because, no matter what happens in this world or how my son’s teeth improve, two truths remain.

People suck, and dentistry is a very secure field.

Who are you, really?

Who Are You - Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland

If you’ve had the pleasure of taking a personal assessment test, you may know who you are. You know, or have been told, what makes you tick.

This last week, I learned that I’m a Strategist-Activator-Relator-Positive-Wooer. For good measure, my Myers-Briggs is ENTJ.

I always have to chuckle a bit at the notion of these types of assessments. We all want to revel in a definition of our identity, even if it’s virtually impossible that such a result can truly encompass all that we are and offer.

“But that’s my type!”

Sweet. That gives me a general guidebook to who you are, but it’s not enough to rely upon wholly. Getting to personally know each other gets us to the ticks: what are the quirks and sharp turns which comprise our person?

Personal assessment results provide a silhouette. Personal relationships fill in the details.

What’s your type, and is that accurate to who you are? Let’s get personal below.