Facebook Friday: Sponsored Stories

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Facebook will turn friend activity into a new ad format with “Sponsored Stories.”

Sponsored Stories is “a way for marketers to sponsor activities that happen throughout the News Feed,” Facebook Product Marketing Lead Jim Squires told Mashable. Companies can choose to take certain user actions — such as checkins or actions within Facebook apps — and feature them in the column on the right side of the News Feed.

via Facebook Turns Friend Activity Into New Ad Format.

So if you check into Starbucks, for example, it can appear in the sponsored stories column on the page of any of your friends. . . whether you want it to or not.

Likes, check-ins, page posts, and actions within certain applications can be turned into stories.

It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.

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

Twitter Tuesday: What’s a Hashtag?

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When I try to explain Twitter, hashtags always baffle people. So I thought, “What a great idea for a Twitter Tuesday post.” Hashtags are such an important aspect of this social network, especially if you want to get serious about Twitter. If you have no idea what a hashtag is, or the concept evades you, read on!

WHAT IS A HASHTAG?
Simply put, a hashtag is a keyword. It is often preceded by the number sign (#hashtag). Sometimes, memes will go around Twitter using these hashtags (#tweetyour16yearoldself comes to mind). Hashtags can be used to find people talking about a particular topic. For example, if you want to connect with people in #Eugene, you can search for that hashtag. I had a public relations course at the University of Oregon where the professor assigned the class a hashtag and we could tweet her our questions. Other students could also chime in on the conversation.

If enough people use a hashtag, it can become a trending topic. When this happens, it will show up on the righthand side of the Twitter homepage under the trending topic list.

The point is, if you want to connect with people on Twitter, you need to use hashtags.

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Do you have anything to add about hashtags? Let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to ask me your Twitter questions.

Grammar Tip: “I couldn’t care less”

For today’s post, I want to talk about one of my top grammar pet peeves: I could care less.

Here’s the thing, if you say “I could care less” it is implied that you do care to some extent. Basically, if you care at all, it is possible to care less.

So what do you say?

You say “I couldn’t care less.” This implies that there is absolutely no level of caring. If you don’t care at all, you can’t care any less.

Get it? I hope so . . . it drives me crazy when people use the wrong phrase.

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Got a grammar question? Ask me and I’ll answer it in a post!

What You Should Know About Spam

Today I want to talk to you about spam. I’ve been getting a lot more of it than usual lately, so I did some research on it.

AKISMET

Free WordPress blogs—like mine—use a service called Akismet. Askimet uses a filter that automatically detects trackbacks and spam comments. It can mark legitimate comments as spam, so check your folder at least every 15 days (as this is when the spam is deleted).



WHAT DOES A SPAM COMMENT LOOK LIKE?

Spam comments will often have multiple links in the text. However, my most popular type of spam comment appears to be innocent at first—like this:
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At first glance, this seems great. But when I dive in deeper, I notice the red flags—namely the website and the IP address. Spammers will post comments like this to get people to click on their link and to



HOW DO I CHECK FOR SPAM?

I make an effort to read through and look at every comment on my blog. When I get spam messages, I look at the name, website, comment, and IP address. Spammers will often leave multiple comments under different names from the same IP address. If I see that, I skim the messages and delete them.

If I am not sure about a comment, I will check the website to see if it looks legitimate. If the comment looks okay, but I don’t like the website, I will delete the site but leave the comment. Other than that (and possibly editing out bad words), I do not change the content of the comment.



HOW TO NOT GET MARKED AS SPAM

  • Leave a comment related to the post. General comments about the blog are better emailed to me at amy@amyerickson.net or placed on one of my pages.
  • Link to a real website, blog, or Twitter account. This way I can see if you’re a real person. Most spammers link to a pharmaceutical site or something similar.
  • Email or tweet me if you are concerned. This extra step will go a long way in proving that your comment is legitimate.

Of course, I will keep looking over my spam, so don’t worry too much.


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How many spam messages do you get on your blog? Let me know in the comments below.

Twitter Tuesday: 2010 Trends

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Twitter can be a powerful tool for communication.

The site recently released a list of its top trends and tweets for 2010. This information is all courtesy of Twitter and can be found here. The things in this color are items that I remember tweeting about.


Overall Top Twitter Trends for 2010

  1. Gulf Oil Spill
  2. FIFA World Cup
  3. Inception
  4. Haiti Earthquake
  5. Vuvuzela
  6. Apple iPad
  7. Google Android
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
  10. Pulpo Paul

10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010

1.


2.


3.


4.


5.


6.


7.


8.
http://twitter.com/#!/foster208/status/29551172941
9.


10.

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What are your top trends or tweets for 2010? Let me know in the comments below!

Twitter Tuesday: Retweeting

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WHAT’S A RETWEET?

If you actively use Twitter, then you already know the answer to this question. But if you’re just starting out and trying to learn the lingo, read on.

A retweet is when a tweet is reposted by another person (giving the original poster credit). The term retweet is often abbreviated to RT. There are two kinds of retweets, an “Old-Style Retweet” and a “New-Style Retweet.”

 

“OLD-STYLE RETWEET”

The “Old-Style Retweet” allows you to edit a tweet before sending. It looks like this:

Please note how you can add a comment to the tweet before sending. Some Twitter clients will post retweets like this:

This is actually a retweet of a retweet. Note the (via @username) at the end of the tweet, as that is what I was trying to show.

 

“NEW-STYLE RETWEET”

The “New-Style Retweet” does not allow you to edit a tweet before sending. It looks like this:

It’s faster, cleaner, and looks almost exactly like the original tweet. The downside is that you can’t comment on what you post. Because the tweet doesn’t add the @username or via @username, the it contains less characters than the old-style retweet.

 

WHICH ONE DO I LIKE BETTER?

They both have their advantages and disadvantages. I have the old-style retweet set as the default on TweetDeck because I like to comment on a tweet before sending it. The new-style retweet does have its advantages, and I will use it when it makes sense to (for example, when reposting a long tweet).

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF RETWEETING

  1. It helps you feel involved in the community.
  2. You can communicate with other users. Most will appreciate having something retweeted.
  3. It spreads the word about a link, post, comment, etc . . .
  4. Others might return the favor.

So start retweeting! The Twitter website and many applications have easy-to-use retweeting buttons.

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Do you feel that retweeting is important? Let me know in the comments below. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @amye_

My Opinion On: Google eBookstore

Please note that I actually wrote this article a few days ago, so when the store launched, I had to change some things around. As it is more of an opinion piece than anything, I feel that my original post is still valid.

Google eBooks (formally Google Editions), an online bookstore, launched today in the United States.

Google Editions will have a significantly different sales model from most competitors, such as Amazon’s Kindle store or Apple’s iBookStore. Instead of purchasing books through a single online store, Google will let users buy them either from Google or from independent bookstores and then tie them to a Google account, which will enable them to read the books anywhere and on any device they please.

via Google’s Book Store Is Coming Soon [REPORT].

I like the ability to purchase books through several stores and read them anywhere, but what happens if you get locked out of your Google account for some reason?

As much as I love technology, I don’t know if it can replace the physical book for me. I like the way books look on a bookshelf, I like the way they feel, I even like the way they smell. You don’t have to depend on a battery, and it’s easy to share them with friends. If I traveled more, I’d consider reading more books digitally. But for now? I think I’ll sit back and keep an eye on how they’re evolving.

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What do you think about digital books? Are you excited about Google’s eBooks? 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!

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!

If You Liked Harry Potter Read . . . Percy Jackson

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I was sad when I read the last Harry Potter book, but luckily there are plenty of other books out there set in amazing fantasy worlds. This series will let you know about some of my favorites. It was originally going to be one post, but it was so long I thought I’d do one post per series instead.


Today I want to talk about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I actually read this series at the recommendation of my 12-year-old cousin, but I think it’s entertaining no matter what your age. For the record, my mom likes the series as well.

I think that this is a great series of books for someone who likes Harry Potter and should appeal to many of the same readers.

Even if Percy Jackson is about Greek gods and goddesses and Harry Potter is about witchcraft and wizardry . . . they are quite similar. To start with, Percy Jackson didn’t know that he was a demigod until the books began and Harry Potter didn’t know that he’s a wizard.

Here’s a quick little comparison:

Percy Jackson Harry Potter
Appearance Black hair, green eyes Black hair, green eyes
Age range 12-16 11-17
Number of books 5 7
Female Friend Annabeth—smart, bookish Hermione—smart, bookish
Male friend Grover—goofy, comic relief Ron—goofy, comic relief
Main setting Camp Half-Blood Hogwarts
Prophecy Yes Yes

The characters have a similar since of wonder at discovering a new world, and are thrown into ordeals that they can only survive with the help of their friends. Furthermore, both children might be the subject of a prophecy.

I’m not trying to imply that Percy Jackson copied Harry Potter—I think that it’s inevitable that books will resemble each other to an extent. I honestly enjoyed this series.

Overall, I say try it. It’s a fun and entertaining read.

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Have you read the Percy Jackson series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!