Category Archives: Social Media

How to Use an Online Review

With online searching becoming so much of a standard in looking for everything from a new doctor to a plumber or a great restaurant or book, it is important to know how to decipher reviews to ensure you are able to make the very best choices for you and your family.  So whether you check out Google, Amazon or Yelp reviews, ask yourself these questions before making a decision.

  1. Is it relevant?Gold star

Make sure that the review speaks to the issue or needs that you have.  It’s nice to know that a repairman has a great smile, but that doesn’t tell you anything about his repair skills.

  1. Is it specific?

Another issue I’ve encountered is people telling you someone is “really good” but not telling you WHY they think so.  I want to know exactly what service the company performed for you and what the positive (or negative) outcomes were.

  1. Is it dated?

I always read the most recent reviews first.  I’ve found that organizations can change (just like people, imagine that!) so I tend to give more weight to the most recent reviews and will generally not look at anything much over a year old.

  1. Does it include credentials?

I’m looking for information on years in business, training, certifications or excellent end results so that when I pick a company I am confident that they have the resources to do a good job for me.

  1. Is it rational?

Unfortunately, for some reason there are some individuals that will decide to “flame” a company.  I have learned to filter out multiple negative rants that appear to come from the same person or group of people.  If the reviews seem a little too over the top, then I generally try to do some additional research.  A good clue is name calling or profanity.

  1. Is it too good to be true?

Occasionally I will come across a set of reviews that swing wildly from bad to good and back again. That is my clue that the company is having someone write good reviews (usually a family member or employee) to try to cover up the bad ones and push them further down the list.  I consider this  an act of bad faith.  I don’t mind having companies answer the accusations in a bad review and I usually even give them extra credit if their answer is polite and even-handed, but I will completely eliminate reviews that try to bolster a company’s rankings.

Reading reviews is a great way to find your next fabulous pet sitter or lawn care company, just be sure to apply your critical thinking skills to the process so you can have an awesome outcome!


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December 13, 2013 · 2:35 pm

The Disaster that is my Twitter Account: Twitter Rules

Over the past two posts I’ve shared some of my “rules” for how I connect to others via social media. I’ve saved Twitter for last because I use it in a very specific way–for disasters. No, not of my making.

As a Red Cross public information volunteer, I primarily use my @RedCrossPRChick Twitter handle for sharing disaster preparedness and response information. Besides the obvious use of Red Cross in my Twitter handle and the care and attention to the brand that implies, I’ve found that I can only really manage about two types of social media at a time. Although I could tie all my accounts together, because of my varied rules for each type of social media, my audiences are very different and don’t necessarily want or need to know the same pieces of info or even have the need for the same frequency of interaction. So I save @RedCrossPRChick for sharing information when a disaster hits–whether I am deployed OR re-tweeting information from colleagues in the thick of things on the ground.

I try to stay engaged just enough between disasters to provide some value and stay front of mind, but reserve most of my interactions for times of disaster. Because of this, I tend to follow others on Twitter who are in the disaster response arena and can help me amplify my message when a disaster strikes.

As  for who follows me, because I want to push out disaster related messages, my profile is open and anyone can follow me. My followers are a bit varied and fall into international business professionals, communications/marketing/PR folks and then all the disaster related professionals.  However, I’ve noticed that the Twitter lists that I am on are mostly for Red Cross, disasters and non-profits.  Although I’d like to thank Nicole Underwood for naming her list “Commgurus” even if it is primarily for Red Cross Peeps (another of her lists that I am on), it’s a nice change of pace and very flattering.

That’s it, the last of my rules for the social media that I use regularly! Hope this made you think a little about how you use social media and your place in the SM world.

Before the next disaster strikes, be sure to follow me @RedCrossPRChick and be prepared!

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Looking for Business in All the Right Places: LinkedIn Rules

My last post was about finding that delicate balance between friends and foes on your Facebook page.  Today I want to address my personal rules for who I connect to on LinkedIn.  Again, these are my rules, feel free to create your own or leave (nice) comments on mine.

The Business of LinkedIn

I consider LinkedIn my online business persona and as such, I am a little more careful about what I say and do there.  Following one of my mentor’s pieces of advice about dinner parties, I generally avoid discussing any of the “Big Three” topics on LinkedIn:  Politics, Religion & Medical Procedures (especially Autopsies, you’d be surprised how often that comes up at our house). While I am certainly not opposed to sharing my views on any of these items, they a) just seem very personal and b) are a good way to turn a prospect off.  I figure that my professional competency should stand on its own and not be cluttered by my personal views which, while they may be flawed, are my own.

In terms of who I will connect to, I take a little broader based approach than I do on Facebook. I’m willing to connect to you if I have personally met you and if I trust you and your business. By being linked to someone in the business world, you are borrowing a little bit of their credibility and vice versa, so you want to be confident that they are someone who you can see doing business with. I have, on occasion, un-linked myself from someone who I discovered had business practices I could not support.  But in general, I will always default to assuming that people are being ethical businesspeople until proven otherwise.

I certainly know people who will connect with anyone, and that is a choice many people make.  While I think it can dilute the quality of their referrals and connections, I can understand why someone in the public eye (best-selling authors, top-level speakers and other highly visible folks) would adopt an “all-in” approach. Not only does it make sense from a time management perspective, it also allows them far greater reach.

It also helps to get over the “I need to have a certain number of friends/connections/links to be important” mentality. We are all a little vain and I certainly went through a phase where I thought I had to have a certain number of online contacts to be successful, but I think admitting it was probably the most important step to getting past it.

On the other hand, I will tell you that in business, from a quantifiable results perspective, I do think you need to have about 250 folks that you know, like and trust in order to keep the business fires burning.  That doesn’t always translate into online links or friends, but someone doesn’t have to embrace social media to be a valuable referral partner. If you have a lot more links than that, it’s fine, but it is hard to keep up close contact with many more than that, so you may have to prioritize.

Next week we’ll talk about my alter ego on Twitter and how I manage that medium.

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Looking for Friends in All the Wrong Places: Facebook Rules

I am frequently astounded when people post hate-spewing diatribes against unnamed but “you know who you are” friends on Facebook. Leaving aside the issue of the right time and place for everything, Why even converse with (or spew at) people who you don’t care for?

If we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with (thank you Jim Rohn), then why on earth would you choose to surround yourself with any less than the very best of people, either online or off?  Here are a few ways that I ensure that my online life is filled with productive and positive people.

As I have mentioned before, I must have rules in my life or else I tend to get carried away and say yes to everything (including several unfortunate shopping incidents). So I have created a set of rules that guide my online interactions and make my life generally pleasant and upbeat. While these might not good rules for you, I do hope they serve to get you cogitating about how you approach your social media persona so you don’t become non grata.

Facebook Rules

I have two rules for accepting friend requests on Facebook 1) I have to know your middle name or 2) I have to know something that I could potentially blackmail you with.  WOW!  Didn’t I say we are the average…etc. and here I am discussing blackmail–how hypocritical is that?

Not at all, I simple think that we all behave a little nicer if there are things we would prefer not have made public (and that may include middle names in some cases).  The point isn’t that I ever will blackmail someone, it’s just that I know them well enough to have some “dirt” on them and most likely, conversely, they probably have some dirt on me.

As for those who spew at others?  Everyone gets one “get out of jail free card” and then they come off my friends list. Life is just too short.  But because I have been so diligent in following my home-grown rules, I can proudly say I’ve only removed two people from my list in as many years.

Next week I’ll explain my entirely different set of connective rules for LinkedIn.


Filed under Life Hacks, Social Media

Crisis Camp Haiti LIVE Feed

Below is the link to the live feed that shows the very cool projects that have been/are being created by the Crisis Camp Haiti team. Techies from all over the country got together yesterday to use their powers for the greater good.  Over the course of one day they created a variety of tools that will help in the disaster relief mission in Haiti. Some of the projects that they worked on include an iphone app for English/Creole, a localized, real-time, texting program for first responders in Haiti and a mash-up of Red Cross/Google mapping to help find missing persons.

I am amazed by what a small group (more than 400 people) can do when they apply their time and talents to solving the worlds problems!


Learn More about Crisis Camp

*Thanks to @planetrussell & Cover It Live for sharing this resource.

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Filed under Disaster, Social Media

Social Media Vacation

After that headline you are probably envisioning another one of those crazy “niched” cruises filled with only people of a certain age or who like a certain band… Unfortunately, that’s not at all what I did.  Instead, I made a conscious decision to take a little over a month off from each type of Social Media that controls my life, …er, I subscribe to.

In order to avoid some type of septic shock to my system, I only took time off from a few of them at a time.  That is, until the last week of December…then I went, more or less, cold turkey.  Here’s why:

I realized I had gotten into this weird loop of living my life as though it didn’t count until I tweeted, posted or wrote about it.  Talk about screwed up!  I was so focused on thinking about how I would share what was happening to me right that minute, that I was missing a lot more interesting minutes.  I clearly needed an intervention!

However, the problem is, no one thinks that any of this is weird or wrong or even OCD anymore.  We have created this norm where it’s OK to text while having dinner with your spouse, it’s fine to post stupid (blackmailable) photos of your friends and people who we have never met in person are now our new best friends.

So, I did my own intervention.  I decided I had better get out there and live my life as though it mattered only to me.  I put down my Treo

Keep your iPhone, I love my Treo!

(I know, how unhip) and stepped away from my netbook and just went nuts!  It was really fun to BE in the moment.  Enjoying the fun and companionship for its own sake, instead of FaceBook’s.

I actually LEFT MY PHONE at home! Which, I have to admit, initially caused a kind of frightening deep-seated panic similar to thinking I might have left the stove on and the house would burn down.  But overall, it was good, really, really good!

And now, I’m back on the social media bandwagon (addiction) because it is important to my job & professional life.  But I think that I’m a little more restrained and perhaps you won’t hear as much from me in the evenings or on weekends.  I suppose you’ll just have to imagine what kind of trouble I’m getting up to–and that’s not a bad thing!

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Filed under Life Hacks, PR, Social Media

Student of Social Media

You’ll never hear me call myself a guru of anything.  I’ve always been a life-long learner type of person…curious about the things I don’t understand. Constantly questioning (much to my husband’s chagrin) everything.  I’m fascinated by details and problems and potential solutions.

That’s why I think that it would be more apt for me to be a student of Social Media, not a Guru, a Founder or even an Expert.  That way I can employ the mindset of exploration and, at the same time, keep close to the pain of learning that so many of my clients are experiencing with Social Media.  After all, I’m probably one of the few PR people willing to admit it IS overwhelming.

Every single day there is something new created and unleashed in the world of technology–be it good, bad or ugly–it’s there taking up space and time.  And so many of my clients don’t have time to figure it out.  That’s why I’m paid to be the voice of reason and in many cases tell them, “yes, it’s cool, but no, it will not have a positive impact on your business.”

Or worse yet, it IS cool and it CAN have a positive impact on your business, but ONLY if you give it time and attention.  Those two items are in short supply for everyone, but even more so for entrepreneurs.  I think that it may actually be required that you be ADHD in order to start a company (although I’ve found with enough coffee, I can recreate some of the same symptoms).

However, back to my post.  I think I’ll just focus on being Curious Jill and leave the guruing to someone else…

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Filed under Social Media