Posts Tagged: Social Networking

The Google+ Project

It’s been a couple weeks since giant Google launched their latest effort in social, Google+. The search giant has had a couple false starts in their attempt to go social with both Google Wave and Google Buzz failing to catch users’ attention. However, from the buzz around the web, Google+ might just have the potential to rival the leader of social, Facebook.

What is Google+?

In short, Google+ is Google’s latest attempt at a social network. The official Google blog stated that,

“Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.”

To facilitate ease of sharing, Google is integrating many of their current features and products into Google+ in the form of Circles, Sparks, Hangouts, and Mobile. They’ve also included a ‘Stream’, analogous to Facebook’s newsfeed or the Twitter stream – something social savvy users will find familiar. The constantly updating stream will aggregate updates and postings from all your friends in one place.


Circles are similar to Facebook lists, but easier and more intuitive. The premise behind circles is that people don’t want to share everything with everyone. For example, you most likely share different things with your friends than you do with you family, and you probably want to keep your weekend escapades separate from the information you share with your work contacts. You can easily do this by separating your contacts into different circles, such as ‘friends’, ‘family’, ‘work’ or a customized circle. To do this, simply click on a contact and drag them into the appropriate circle where they will only see the information you want them to see.



Sparks brings content to you automatically based on whatever ‘sparks’ your interest. Maybe you’re interested in cycling, dogs, cooking, or you’re a car enthusiast – sparks collects interesting content from across the internet and brings it right to you, on a separate page for each topic. It’s easy get started with Sparks, you type a topic of interest, such as ‘social media’ into the search box and, if you like the content that appears, you can click ‘Add Interest’ and social media will be added to your Sparks.

If you later decide you don’t want to follow a certain topic, it’s easy to delete it from your Sparks – simply hover over the topic you wish to delete and click the X.


This is basically video chat, with an added twist of being able to have a multi-person video chat. You can choose which friends, or even entire circles, you wish to video chat with, and anyone in the Hangout can invite their own contacts to join as well.



If you remember group messaging from the days of msn messenger, you’ll quickly understand the Huddle feature. Instead of having multiple similar conversations, you can instead start a Huddle where everyone can chat together. This feature could be incredibly useful for trying to make plans to get any group of people to meet all at one place at one time.

Instant Upload

Photos taken on your mobile phone will be automatically added, with your permission, to a private photo album in the Google cloud. This way, you can share them straight from Google+, without the hassle of traditionally uploading them. Many users fear only having a copy of their photos in the cloud, which is why it’s easy to backup your online images to your home computer using Google Takeout.


You can easily add your location to every post you make in Google+. Or not, the choice is up to you.


Social networks, most notably Facebook, have been notorious for their privacy issues. Google has tackled users’ privacy concerns by making it easy to customize your Google+ profile’s visibility. Your name and photo (if you upload one) are the only things that are public on your profile, everything else can be customized to private. Or, you can assign different levels of profile visibility to different circles. Furthermore, the names of your circles won’t be disclosed, not even to the people that are in them. So, feel free to put someone in the acquaintance circle without worrying about insulting them!

As with Facebook, you can block people you don’t want to interact with, and choose whether or not your profile is indexed by search engines.

How to join Google+

Currently Google+ is in Beta testing stage and  can only be accessed through invitation from a current Google+ user. If you have a friend already on Google+, ask them to invite you! Or, you can sign-up here with your Google ID and be notified when Google is allowing more users access to the testing stage.

If, once you’re a Google+ member, you decide it isn’t for you; you can downgrade your account by following the steps in this guide. Deleting just your Google+ account will leave your other Google accounts unaffected, or you have the option to delete your entire Google Account and all associated services.

Have you tried Google+? What do you think of it? Let us know below in the comments section.


How To Delete Duplicate Social Networking Accounts Properly

Several people have asked Out-Smarts lately what they should do about duplicate social networking profiles. It is normal for people to set up a social networking presence and to forget about it only to revisit at a later date and set up another. This can be true for personal profiles as well as business pages and can be damaging because it confuses those who search for you in these forums. Here is what to do about it.

Determine if you have a duplicate account

To determine whether you have duplicate accounts, simply sign in to the network in question and do a search for your name or company. If more than one result hits the target then you know you have gone a page to far!

Don’t loose out

All of these tools have capabilities that allow you to delete such accounts but before you do you should follow a couple of steps to make sure you don’t loose out:

1.Make a list of your connections on the account you plan to delete and identify those you want to transfer over to your main account,

2.From your main account, send an invite to those connections identified in step one.

We recently asked this question on LinkedIn answers which is a very handy tool for finding answers to questions quickly (but that is another blog post entirely). Thanks to all of those who answered – you can see the responses here. We liked the following response by Frank Feather the best as it is simple to follow. Thanks Frank!

Dealing With Duplicate Profile on LinkedIn.

Each profile is associated with a different e-mail account.

1. If you know the email (but not the Password) of the account you wish to close, try to log in and then click “Forgot


2. If you do not know the Password, then you need to write to or go to the Customer Service link (bottom of page) and fill out the appropriate email form.

3. If you know both the email and the Password, read on …

Unfortunately, you are not able to merge profiles.
Please follow this step-by-step process.

Decide which account/profile you wish to Close out.

Log out.
Log into that account with its email and password.

Export or make a note of any Connections you wish to keep. (Export link at bottom of list of Connections)

Go to “Settings” (top right, next to Help)
Close the account.

Log out.
Log in to your remaining account.

“Import” any Connections from closed account.
Re-send invites, with explanatory note.

Go to “Settings”
Add any additional email addresses you wish
Designate one as primary/default.

Better not to pick work email in case you quit.
Then you won’t again accidentally create new profile.

Out-Smarts Services

Out-Smarts provides social networking training and consulting services to help you use social media tools effectively. Contact us now to find out more.

Social Media Round Up

As always there has been a lot going on in the social media arena in the past week. This is a summary of the major (and minor!) developments.

Facebook Questions

On July 28th Facebook announced that it was going to launch Facebook Questions. The tool is set to allow you to crowdsource the collective intelligence of the 500 million and growing Facebook user base to ask questions and get answers. Set to compete with tools like Ask, Yahoo Answers and Answerbag, you will be able to ask any question and hopefully get the right answer practically instantaneously. The functionality isn’t live yet and is only available to a small number of beta testers but to find out more you can read this Mashable post about the 5 Ways Facebook Questions can be improved.

Google Wave

Google waved bye bye to its Wave product which was launched late last year. At the time there was much clamoring to get on the communication and collaboration tool which was supposed to allow people to easily work together online. Unfortunately, Wave didn’t really catch on and today it is no more. In typical Google fashion though, it would appear that they are turning the failure to their advantage. On a positive note Google yesterday announced that business can now respond to reviews on Google Places. Not before time.

Twitter Fail

The Twitter fail whale was omnipresent for much of the afternoon which prompted diehards to take to Facebook to voice their complaints and comments and to vent to relieve their anxiety withdrawal. This leads me to conclude that the Reuters article in today’s Washington Post highlighting a study that found that social media is costing businesses in the UK billions in lost productivity, could in fact be true across the Twitter world! Twitter is back up much to the disapointment of businesses in North America who saw productivity peak in the last few hours.

Introduction to Bookmarking

Bookmarking sites are sites on the Internet that allow you to share and save your online discoveries making it easier for you to keep track of those gems you discover online and intend to revisit. Not only do bookmarking sites allow you to bookmark the sites you like but they also allow you to connect with others who have similar interested and to share sites with them too. They also have an added benefit in that, if you use them effectively they will increase your online exposure.

Most bookmarking sites allow you to download a widget to your browser allowing you to easily bookmark sites that you like and want to share. Each time you find a site you like you can click to add it and to organize with appropriate tags.

Some of the most popular bookmarking sites are Reddit, Delicious, Stumble Upon and Digg for a more comprehensive list go to Wikipedia. These are all social networking sites: online hubs where people connect, build community and communicate and interact online. Like other types of social networks they can be very effective in driving traffic to your website, building online connections and increasing your online exposure.

If you think bookmarking sites may be a good tool to consider using as part of your Internet marketing strategy, you should take time to take a look at the sites above to ascertain which is most appropriate given your target audience and content (by exploring tags or categories and the type of sites contained therein). As with any social media marketing activity, to be effective you need to add value, be consistent and to connect and build community with others.

Using Social Media to Promote Events

Social Media tools are great for building awareness of what you do, for reaching and connecting with new audiences, for building and maintaining your networks and for driving targeted traffic to your website. Social networks are communities of people that connect and communicate online based on something they have in common. It makes sense therefore that social media tools can help you to promote events such as seminars, networking opportunities, concerts and sales.

You can use social media to promote practically any event but doing so takes time and effort. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind that will increase the likelihood of your success in using these tools to sell out your event.

Target Your Audience

Don’t try to submit your event to each and every event site out there, instead choose sites that are targeted to attract the desired audience. For example, if your event is in Vancouver and use Vancouver events site. If your event is a social one then post it on a “social” network like Facebook but if it is aimed at professionals, then LinkedIn will be a good tool to reach your target audience. If your event is aimed at the tech community then check out Techvibes but if its music oriented then Oscillations might be a better choice. The point here is that like any other marketing or promotional effort, online events promotion should be very specifically targeted to your intended audience.

High Ranking Events Sites

Only list on events sites with a page rank of 4 or higher. The higher the ranking the better from a search engine optimization perspective and the more likely your audience will be to actually find your event. A great multi purpose events site is with a high ranking is MeetUp – with a page rank of 7. It is better to submit to a few sites that get tonnes of traffic than to submit to lots of sites that hardly get any visitors.

Submit Events Consistently

If you start using social media to promote events then you should be prepared to do so consistently. Choose 5 -10 highly targeted events sites with a high page rank and submit all of your events to these sites and do so regularly. You will begin to build a following in these forums and the last thing you want to do is to annoy them with intermittent and inconsistent listings.

Events promotion lends itself well to social media because the inherent nature of an event is social. If you follow the 3 tips above, not only will you drive more awareness of your events but you will also be able to tap into the nature of social communities. If people enjoy your events they will be more likely to suggest them to others in their online communities and so the buzz will build.

Concerned about Facebook Privacy?

Privacy and Social Networking

An article in today’s Vancouver Sun raises the Facebook privacy issue again: the article discusses the increase in bogus online identities and points out that many business individuals are steering clear of Facebook as a result.

Every time Facebook makes changes, like those we mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, the inevitable wave of hysteria follows. Whilst privacy is undoubtedly an issue, it shouldn’t be a reason to avoid social networks completely. Given that 400 million people (and counting) use Facebook, if you are in a professional role where building your network is part of what you do, then it is simply foolish to ignore Facebook completely.

How To Mitigate Facebook Privacy Concerns

Privacy is indeed a concern, as is identity theft, but if you take a few simple precautions when social networking you can really help limit the risk of these eventualities actually transpiring. What better a time then to review some simply steps you can take to mitigate these concerns:

1. Use the privacy settings (in Facebook click on settings at the top right hand side of your screen then privacy) to make sure that your personal information such as date of birth, home address, email etc are not there for all the world to see – dont want to encourage identity thieves or spammers do we?

2. Off the Wall – dont use peoples wall to communicate personal information or communications. If it is longer than a couple of sentences take it to Facebook email.


3. Remember that the first thing recruiters do these days is to check out candidates on Facebook. If you intend on ever applying for another job you should be cognizant of this. Boasting about your drinking prowess to the world will not land you that coveted job. Always do the granny test, be careful of what you post and again use the privacy settings accordingly.

4. Be authentic – upload a profile picture so that people can see that its really you – or what you look like after all these years, as the case may be.

5. Be selective about who you add and which pages you like. Dont add every TD&H who invites you and remember what mother said about strangers! Seriously though, being selective about who you connect with gives you more control if safety is a concern: this is not about quantity – it is about quality.

6. Never Buy Friends or Followers – never use sites that promise you thousands of new followers or views. There is always a catch. (Thanks to the a forementioned Sun article for that one!).

7. Be respectful and dont use profanities too much – you never know when someones kid is watching over there shoulder (take it from me – this happens a lot!).

8. Be true to who you are. Transparency is key to effective social media participation. Dont try to present yourself as something or someone you are not. Imagine how embarrassing it will be when someone crawls out of the woodwork and points out the truth – to everyone.

9. Say It – If it is not worth saying out loud, it is not worth saying on line. This is a good mantra to bear in mind when considering your status updates.

10. Block Em – If someone is rude to you in comments or on your wall, you can block them. Again go to settings, privacy and scroll down to Block List to do so.

11. Applications – you should be aware that most of the games and applications on Facebook are from third party companies you know nothing about and are often set up for the simple purpose of collecting you marketing info. Once you add the application, they have access to your information. Be wary of which applications you add and again use the privacy settings to control this.

Thanks to Tailor Ransom for the great Flickr image!

Using Social Media To Build Your Personal Brand Online

I regularly contribute blog posts on social media to the Entreprenuerial Woman Magazine – here is the latest one on using social media to build your personal brand.

Personal Branding

The concept of personal branding has had a lot of coverage in these difficult economic times as people look to market themselves more effectively in order to stimulate their careers. Personal branding is, in essence, a means to package yourself in such a way as to present a particular image for career purposes. It is the way you market yourself to your peers and prospects.

The idea of having a professional image is not a new one – uniforms have been standard for many occupations for centuries. The difference with personal branding is that the concept is not to make you look like one of the crowd, but rather to make you stand out from it.

When considering your personal brand you should look at many factors: the way you speak, the way you look, the car your drive, your education, and your character, but the single most important aspect to consider when building your brand is that it has to be real. It has to reflect the real you. A personal brand that portrays a false image will be apparent to everyone you come into contact with and will do more harm than good.

Identify the unique aspects of your personality, skills and experience and use those to make “you” stand out from the crowd. By building on a personal brand that it true to you, your efforts will be more rewarded and your image will be more realistic and authentic.

Using social media is an ideal way to build your personal brand, to expand and reinforce your network, but there are risks that you should be aware of.

Tips For Building Your Personal Brand Online

Here are some tips that will help you take advantage of social media to build your brand safely:

1. When networking on Facebook or other social forums always use the privacy controls to limit access to your information (usually you can find these by clicking on “account”).

2. Use Facebook, LinkedIn and other networks to make people aware of what you do or want to do. Highlight your unique experiences in these forums

3. Google yourself or use Pipl to see whats being said about you and do the Granny test on the results – if Granny wouldnt approve then perhaps the content isnt appropriate to enhance your business profile.

4. Use your profiles in these forums to present an appropriate professional image. Include a good headshot that is authentic and dont post any photos, videos or images that compromise your image.

5. Portray yourself professionally (as appropriate to your industry) in all forums.

6. Be true to who you are: transparency leads to trust – if you have a good reputation people are more likely to do business with you.

7. Remember that you have a valid and unique opinion. Dont be afraid to voice it.

8. Always be respectful of others. It is okay to disagree but be polite about it.

9. If you are young and looking for a job be aware that a party boy or girl image may seem cool to your peers but it wont help you get a job or grow your professional network.

10. Online networking is a vital tool for anyone trying to build a career but dont get sidetracked or sucked in. Avoid this by scheduling time for online networking and sticking to it.

11. Dont make friends with everyone and anyone. Be selective. It will help you manage the volume of information and will also expose you to less risk.

Personal branding is being used more and more to help people highlight their professional attributes and experience, grow and enhance their networks, build business and to find new careers. In our next post on this subject we will look more closely at which social media tools to use and how to use them to do this effectively.

Use Social Media to Maintain and Grow Your Network

These days building relationships online is as important to growing your business or reputation as networking in the real world. Not only can you be more effective using social media but you can also get more done in less time.

The Internet is a great way to expand your career horizons and get to know new and influential contacts. Here are a few pointers to bear in mind when using social media to network.

1. Dont try to network in every Internet networking hub out there. Choose those where you get the biggest impact (i.e. those that your existing contacts already use, those that reflect your target audience, or those most applicable to your niche). The most popular are LinkedIn (Professional Network), Facebook (fastest growing) and Twitter but there are many networks that are industry or job specific (like Active Rain for real estate) too so take time to check them out.

2. Leverage existing on-line networks to grow new ones. I use the Out-Smarts’ Facebook Page profile to promote our Twitter account and vice versa and add more contacts in that forum

3. Promote your activity in your chosen forums by including it in business cards, profiles and on your website.

4. Use widgets. Most of the social networks allow you to widgetize a link to your profile. Add this to your site, blog etc and include widgets for other networks in your networking profiles.

5. Always remember to be professional in these forums – ask the Granny question and make sure your content is appropriate to your professional standing.

6. When you meet new contacts in the real world find then on-line and add them to your networks.

7. Trawl the friends of your friends and contacts and add those you know or those gurus in your business.

8. Dont spread yourself over to many networks or allow them to suck up your time. Schedule it into your day.

9. Join groups. Facebook and LinkedIn both offer groups. Join applicable ones and gain access to more people in your field.

10. Participate in the right forums. These should relate to your industry or market and to those of your prospects.

11. Ask and answer questions and use your status to attract new contacts.

12. Blogs can be a great way to build your network too. If you have a blog, always follow up with people who leave comments to connect with possible prospects and peers.

13. If you don’t have a blog then use blog comments as a forum to connect with influential bloggers in your industry, to build awareness of what you do and to add value for their visitors in turn.

Foursquare For Business

Foursquare, the location based social network, is purported to be the next big social media phenomenon despite ongoing privacy concerns. Launched just last year in only a few cities around the world, Foursquare now has over 400,000 unique visitors (in January). Since September there has been a steep increase in activity as users catch on to this popular social networking game and this is only expected to grow since Foursquare went global last month.

Foursquare Growth

Playing Foursquare

Foursquare allows users to check in from their mobile phones when they are out and about at dinner, sports venues, tourist venues and even at the hairdresser. As a user, each time you check in to a location you are awarded points.

Once you start accumulating points or visiting locations frequently you are awarded badges and titles (I am the Mayor of Stock Up, one of my favorite places to have lunch in Kerrisdale). Foursquare apps are available for download to most major smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Palm Pre.).

If you think it sounds like more of a game than a serious business network, you are right but if your business is location based, it is a game you really should be taking seriously. A little friendly competition can do wonders to bring people back to your location again and again and so businesses are beginning to clue in to the loyalty potentially and Foursquare as a tool to spread awareness: many businesses are offering incentives to those who become mayor and to visitors who offer tips about the location.

Foursquare Tips for Business

1. Make sure you are listed on Foursquare. The best way to do this is by joining the community, downloading the phone app and adding a venue from there (read this post from Dave Tailor for more detail on how to do so).

2. Consider offering incentives for those who visit frequently and sign up with Foursquare to promote these. Every time someone signs in to your location, their followers see this, so the more Foursquare visitors you have the better – its like free advertising!

3. Monitor Foursquare to see who is visiting and especially to track tips. Foursquare users can provide tips about your location and since this is user driven you may want to reward positive tips and be prepared to go to bat if someone posts something negative. Most of the tips I have seen to date are positive.

My Perspective

I have been playing around with Foursquare for a few months and it is fun but so far I haven’t been rewarded for my patronage – here’s hoping this post changes that!

Frustrated at the longer anticipated wait for sushi the other week, I posted this warning others to factor in time but there has been no response to that either.

Since Out-Smarts is virtual and not location based, we’re not on there but we do encourage all businesses to be aware of what Foursquare is, to make sure they are listed and to keep an eye on what is being said about their business. If Foursquare does take off, as it is predicted to, then more and more of your clients will be using this tool to share their nights out, business meetings and fun.

Social Media and The Olympians

The Olympics are in town and this city is all a buzz. Following my post last week about how the Olympics use social media, I thought it would be great to follow up on that and take a look at how athletes are using these tools.

According to a Wired Magazine blog post, there is some confusion among athletes as to whether or not they are actually allowed to post during the games. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

But there is no Olympic rule that sets up a blackout period for athletes according to Bob Condron, the Director of Media Services for the United States Olympic Committee.

“Athletes are free to blog during the Games,” says Condron. “And Twitter is just a blog that’s written 140 characters at a time.”

There are some restrictions on what athletes can do online during the Olympics. According to the IOC Blogging Guidelines for the 2010 Games, athletes and other accredited people must keep their posts confined to their personal experiences.

Despite this confusion many athletes are using social media right now. Lets look at which social media tools they are using, how they are using them as well as how you can find, follow and lend your support.


Lots of athletes are using Twitter to share their Olympic experiences. One of the best ways to find them is to follow Olympic lists like these ones.

Canadian Athletes on Twitter

US Olympic Athletes on Twitter

Olympic Winter Sports

True North Media House

Huffington Post Athletes List


Athletes are using Twitter in different ways. Some are simply sharing their experiences in getting to BC and settling in to their new diggs at this point. Many are posting their experiences in their final practices leading up to their events and all are building their fan base. By finding and following our athletes on Twitter we have the chance to share in their Olympic experiences first hand as well as to give them our support.

Many national teams have dedicated Twitter feeds too, to keep fans updated:

Team Canada

Team Great Britain


Whilst Twitter gives athletes a quick and easy way to communicate with fans, many also have fan pages on Facebook to build awareness of their endeavors, to post video content and share their Olympic aspirations. Canadian gold medal contender in figure skating, Patrick Chan’s page links to video clips, fan photos and updates about the skater.

One of the best ways to find and follow athletes on Facebook is through the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Page. Theyrecently asked the question “Hey any Olympic athletes out there? What is your Facebook page?”, here is the response. Another way is to find the national team pages and check out who they are fans of – athletes are usually listed. Here are a few – to find the rest search Facebook for “Olympic Team”.

Canadian Olympic Team

US Olympic Team

Swiss Olympic Team

Australian Olympic Team


How these athletes find time to train and blog is beyond me – I guess that is why they are Olympians and I am not! Here are links to athletes using these forums too:

Dustin Cook – Official blog of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team Member

Speed skater – Denny Morrison.

Good Luck To All Athletes

Good luck to all athletes competing at the games – thanks for keeping us posted on social media. Welcome to BC and enjoy your time here: may it be golden!