Facebook Friday: Cartoon Profile Pictures

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Were you wondering why your friend looks like a cartoon character all of the sudden? There’s a new meme going around Facebook, where people change their profile picture to match their favorite childhood cartoon.

One of my friends posted this as an invitation:

Change your Facebook profile picture to a favorite cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday (Dec.6) there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. It’s for a good cause.

Another posted this:

Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal is not to see a human face on FB till Monday, December 6th. Join the fight against child abuse, copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same!

Now it’s an interesting enough concept on its own, but why are people doing it?

It apparently began in Greece and Cyprus to support a campaign against violence on children. This campaign started on November 16th and will end on December 6th. The United Nations is also running a campaign to fight violence against women and children; it runs from November 25th to December 10th.

I absolutely think this is a good cause, but I fail to see how this meme will do anything significant. Here’s why:

  • I have many Facebook friends who have posted cartoon pictures as their profile picture. Only two have posted an explanation in their status, and only one mentioned the fight against child abuse. They just want to play the game.
  • Awareness is good, but does this cause people to go out there and support a cause? I think a better way to raise awareness would be to post hotlines and websites where abused children can find help.

So instead of posting pictures of my favorite childhood cartoons (incidentally, Doug or Inspector Gadget), I’m going to take my own advice and give some links and hotlines.

If you suspect child abuse, or are being abused yourself, please call a hotline.

  • Childhelp.org is the leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Check out their website for more information.
    If you are in the U.S.A., Canada, or U.S. Territories, call:
    1-800-4-A-CHILD (or 1-800-422-4453)

If you know an organization that I missed, or the hotline for any other country, let me know and I will add it on.

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Twitter Tuesday: Celebrities “Die” on Twitter for Charity

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Do you follow celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, or Ryan Seacrest on Twitter?

Many celebrities will be “digitally dying” tonight to support World AIDS Day on December 1st. They will not get back on social networking sites until $1,000,000 is raised for Buylife.org.

What do you think about this?

This is a very good cause and a fascinating marketing tactic, but will it work? How many people actually care enough to donate for this reason? I guess we’ll see.

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What do you think about this tactic? Will you donate to Buylife.org? Let me know in the comments below.

Facebook Friday: Mom’s on Facebook

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The credit for this idea comes from this post, and this Saturday Night Live video.

For the record, my mom is not on Facebook. Even if she were, I wouldn’t care. I do have many relatives on the site though, ranging from my grandmother to my 12-year-old cousin.

Facebook used to be a place that only college students could join. You had to have a valid college email address (and not every college had a network at first). This was true four years ago, when I first joined Facebook. Now, anyone can join and it has changed the way people use the social networking site.

As a general rule, I only post things on Facebook I wouldn’t mind the whole world seeing. I keep my profile private, but work under the assumption that everyone can read what I post anyway.

Now if your mom is on Facebook and you don’t want her to read your profile, the solution is simple enough.

  1. Go to “Create Group” on the left side of your homepage.
  2. Follow the instructions to create a group for the people you want to exclude from seeing certain areas of your profile.
  3. Follow these instructions.

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Is your mom on Facebook? Let me know in the comments below!

Social Media and Black Friday Deals

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I sat down to do a book-related post, but I couldn’t think of any good Thanksgiving ones to review. However, I do recommend A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn if you are looking for a U.S.-themed book to read.

Instead of writing about books, I decided to do a social media post about how retailers are using social media to promote “Black Friday” deals. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the official “start” of the Christmas shopping season for many. Retailers will often open extremely early in the morning (I’ve seen ads for places opening as early as 2 or 3 a.m.) and offer bargains. Although it is often called the busiest retail shopping day of the year, that is not always the case. In terms of sale volume, the Saturday before Christmas is traditionally busier.

Many retailers will offer Black Friday deals to those who “like” or “follow” them on Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare.

To find deals, follow @blackfriday on Twitter and check out the #blackfriday hashtag. News and updates can be found at black-friday.net.

Here are a few of the deals that I found:

Target—There’s a $25 Target Gift Card Giveaway open. Click on their Facebook or Twitter link to see the contest rules. Check out Target’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Sports Authority—Sports Authority has a contest with 20 $500 gift cards available. To enter, check in via Foursquare to Sports Authority in-store during certain hours on Black Friday and tweet your check-in.

Sears—Sears promises to “unlock great deals” for those who “like” them on Facebook. Check out Sears’ Facebook page here.

Coca-Cola—If you are in one of 10 Simon Malls across the country, download the free SCVNGR app for your iPhone or Android. You can try to accumulate enough points to get rewards such as an American Express gift card and/or Coca-Cola merchandise.

Like I said, these are just a few deals to be found, and some of the ones that incorporated social media. Check your local newspaper or black-friday.net for more!

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Are you shopping on Black Friday? Do you know any retailers who are incorporating social media into their promotions? Let me know in the comments below!

Twitter Tuesday: 5 Quick Ways to Get Involved

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Now that you have a Twitter account, how do you get involved with the millions of other users out there?

Here are 5 quick tips to help you.

1.     Ask questions. You can ask questions to a specific person (@username), your followers, a company (@companyname), or the Twitter universe as a whole. Twitter is great for this because it often generates a quick response.

2.     Answer questions. If you ask questions, you should be prepared to answer them as well. It helps you feel involved and it’s just a nice thing to do (@username).

3.     Retweet useful links, funny tweets, or anything you think that your followers might appreciate (RT@username).

4.     Post useful or funny links. It might be a funny YouTube video you came across, or an interesting article.

5.     Have a profile picture. You will seem more like a person if you do this.

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How do you get involved on Twitter? Let me know in the comments below!

Facebook Friday: Facebook Messaging Revamp

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So for today’s Facebook Friday, I want to talk about the Facebook messaging system revamp that was announced on Monday. I wrote an informal Tumblr post on this a few days ago,  but now I have enough information to go more in-depth.

According to the Facebook blog, users will soon be able to decide how they want their friends to communicate with them—via text messages, email, or Facebook messages. Users will be able to decide how they want to receive their messages. An @facebook.com email address will be available to any user who wants one. This means that users will be able to communicate with people outside of Facebook also. For example, if your mom wants to send you a Facebook message, she can do so from her own email account even if she does not have a Facebook.

However, Facebook email is not the same as regular email. It doesn’t have features like a subject line, CC, BCC, etc . . . but it is still great for people would rather check their Facebook messages than their email inbox. There will be two inboxes, a social one, and an “other” one. All messages from friends will go into the social inbox, and emails like bank statements will go into the “other” inbox.

Now what do I think?

I think that it is fascinating how the way we communicate with people is changing. I interact with people in various ways—primarily through text messages and email. Honestly though, I will rarely, if ever, let my Facebook friends contact me via text message. I would much rather use my email inbox, since it’s easier to stay organized that way.

I will set up a Facebook.com email address, because it’ll be nice to be able to contact my Facebook friends through my email inbox. As it is, I often read my messages from my email inbox first, then log onto Facebook to reply. If I could do this without leaving my Gmail account, I’ll be happy. My @facebook.com email address will probably be for this use only. I can’t see an @facebook.com address looking professional, and I like the features that come with regular email. However, I’m interested to see how this pans out. I’ve already requested my invite for the new messages system and I’ll probably revisit this once I try it. If you don’t want to wait, you can request one here.

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What do you think about the new Facebook messaging system? Let me know in the comments below! If you have a Facebook Friday question or request, feel free to ask in the comments below or via email (amy@amyerickson.net), or Twitter (@amye_).

Twitter Tuesday: Twitter Clients and Extensions

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If you don’t like the layout of the Twitter website, fear not. You can do pretty much everything on Twitter via applications and other clients.

DESKTOP CLIENTS

Desktop clients are a convenient and popular way to keep up on Twitter. Most of them even have a version for your smartphone.

My favorite desktop client—well, honestly the only one I’ve used—is TweetDeck. This is one of the most popular clients for a good reason—you can do almost anything Twitter-related on it. Plus it’s free. I was originally drawn to this program because of the simple interface and the groups feature. The groups feature allows you to sort the people you follow into groups. Each group gets its own column; this makes it easy to keep track of everthing. You can also manage Foursquare, Facebook, Myspace, Google Buzz, and LinkedIn from TweetDeck.

This is what TweetDeck looks like on my computer:

Tweetdeck Screenshot

Hootsuite is another popular client (although it’s one that I haven’t tried . . . yet). There are two versions of Hootsuite—a free one and a paid one. For the casual user, the free version should be fine. The pro-version ($5.99 USD/ month) would be great for a company or if you want to manage more than five social media accounts. The paid version lets you use Google Analytics as well.

Other clients include twhirl, Twitterific ($14.95), and Seesmic.

For me, TweetDeck worked so well that I didn’t feel the need to try any other clients. Of course, if I find one that better suits my needs or if I get curious, I will try it.

WEB BROWSER:

Another way to check your Twitter account without accessing the website is via a web browser extension.

Firefox

My favorite extension is Echofon. It’s a tiny little icon that sits on the corner of your browser and displays new messages. I always have turn it off when I need to concentrate on something, but it’s nice if you want to read your messages as they appear.

In the past, I’ve used Yoono, which put my email, Facebook, Twitter, and IM accounts in a sidebar on the left hand side of my screen. This worked for a while, but ultimately annoyed me too much (you can hide the sidebar, but I’ve found that other extensions just work better).

TwitterBar lets you type a status update from the address bar on your browser. It’s useful, especially if you share links often, but I uninstalled it because it didn’t do enough for me.

I’ve also tried FriendBar, which streams updates from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The version I tried was too bulky for me.

There are many more add-ons available here if none of these suit your needs. To be honest, you sometimes have to just play around to find something you like.

Other Web Browsers:

I’ve never actually tried any add-ons for different browsers, but they do exist for Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.

In any browser, I highly suggest that you try this bookmarklet. Just drag and drop it in the correct toolbar. I use it all the time! It makes it very easy to share links.

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What Twitter apps, clients, or add-ons do you like? Let me know in the comments below. Also feel free to Tweet me your Twitter questions @amye_, email them to me at amy@amyerickson.net or ask them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them in future posts.

Facebook Friday: Ask Your Questions

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I’ve opted not to tell you the long, boring story about why I don’t have a regular Facebook Friday post this week. The gist of it is that real life got in the way and I didn’t have a prewritten post. If you want details, feel free to check out my Tumblr.

This week, I want to invite you to send me your requests for Facebook Friday posts. There are several ways you can do this. You can leave them in a comment below, tweet them to @amye_, or send them to amy@amyerickson.net.


Feel free to send me as many requests as you’d like and to invite your friends to do the same. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to post everything, but I’ll give it my best shot.

P.S.
If you have any Twitter or other social media questions, feel free to ask them. The same goes for if you have any grammar questions or book questions/ requests.

 

 

I Tried Foursquare

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Okay, so who’s been curious about Foursquare? I initially thought it was creepy (and, to an extent I still do). I don’t want people to know where I am at all times! But like most social media trends, I got curious and decided to give it a go.

In case you don’t know, Foursquare is a location-based social media network. You “check in” at stores, restaurants, etc . . . and earn points and badges. You can also share tips with your friends or the community as a whole.

So what do I think about it?

  • I have a Motorola Karma phone, and while it is a good phone and has 3G internet, it is in no way a smartphone. It takes forever a few minutes to access the website and check in. It is possible to check in via text message, but when I tried to do that, it checked me into the wrong place entirely.
  • When I go somewhere, I want to enjoy it. I don’t want to worry about checking in. Maybe this would change if I had the right phone.
  • I often find myself checking into places after I leave them, such as on the way home. This kind of defeats the purpose.
  • None of my friends use Foursquare. This also defeats the purpose. Most of my friends don’t use Twitter either, but at least I can still interact with people.
  • I honestly don’t think it’s a good idea to tell people where you are all of the time.

Foursquare does have some things going for it though.

  • It’s a good way to share tips with other users about a restaurant or a place.
  • It’s good for businesses to see who is checking in, and to attract customers by offering a prize or a discount to the “mayor” (the person who has the most check-ins).

I’m not giving up on it yet, so we’ll see how it goes.

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What do you think about Foursquare? Let me know in the comments below!

Twitter Tuesday: The Next Step

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So you decided to get a Twitter account. You signed up and got the perfect username. What’s next?

Fill out your profile and upload a picture. This will make you look like a real person. Feel free to link to your website, blog, or YouTube channel.

Then start following people. This is the best thing you can do to get started on Twitter. You can learn by watching how other people tweet.

Who should you follow? It depends.

  • If you follow celebrities, maybe your favorite one is on Twitter. Try searching for his/her name. For popular users, accounts are verified, meaning that a blue circle with a while check inside will appear by the username. Here are 50 of the most popular celebrities to follow, maybe it will give you some ideas. This extends to your favorite bands.
  • I like to follow news sources on Twitter. It is an easy way to skim headlines and get breaking news. Here are the 35 top news sources to follow. I also like @revkin, @whitehouse, and @barackobama.
  • Many of your favorite bloggers have a Twitter account. Follow them! The same goes for a lot of YouTubers. There will probably be a link to their account on their blog. Follow me @amye_
  • Follow businesses and companies you like. This is a good way to get the latest updates on products. Follow your favorite magazines/ publications as well.
  • Follow your friends. This is self-explanatory.
  • And last but not least, follow fun accounts. I like @FakeAPStylebook, @GivesMeHope, @OMGFacts, and @FakeEEtiquette.

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Who do you follow on Twitter? Let me know in the comments below!