Tuesday

Help Mom & Dad Get Connected at my Free Microsoft/AARP Workshop in Spokane 12/1

Do you want your parents to know more about social networking, what it is and how to use it safely?

Aarpspokane001
Join AARP, Microsoft and Marsha Collier, author of “Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies”, at the Spokane Convention Center for a free workshop on Facebook, Twitter, Video Chat and Safer Socializing on the Internet.

The event is designed for new or experienced computer users and will be held on Dec. 1, from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center (334 West Spokane Falls Boulevard – Ballroom 100A).  Doors will open at 9 a.m. for refreshments and resource information.
 
This workshop will show you how to connect with old friends, make new ones, get connected with AARP and communicate with the grandkids. You’ll get tips on safer socializing on the Internet and learn how to make your computer easier to see, hear and use.

“While some people may shy away from new technologies, our members have been clamoring for information on how to log in to the social media world,” said AARP Communications Director Jason Erskine. “”We’re excited to offer this opportunity with Microsoft on Dec. 1.”

Attendees on Dec. 1 will also get a continental breakfast, lunch and plenty of free information and resources. The event is free, but space is limited. Register by calling toll-free 1-877-926-8300.

How to monitor social media mentions in five minutes a day

One of social media’s biggest obstacles is the amount of time required to do it properly. But it is an obstacle that can be overcome if you put some simple and effective processes in place.

In this tutorial I’m going to walk you through a system that will help you stay on top of the bulk of your social media mentions. The best part? Once set up, you only need five minutes a day to make it work for you.

Step One: Set up a ‘monitoring’ folder

monitoring 220x136 How to monitor social media mentions in five minutes a day

The system I’m going to show you makes the most of the bookmark folders function within all major browsers. Head to your bookmarks bar and create a new folder.

In this example I’ve called it ‘Monitoring’ and this is where I’ll store my tools and pre-set searches (the reason for this will become more apparent later in this post).

Step Two: Gathering your tools

Now that our folder is set up, we can start to pull in the various tools we’ll use for monitoring purposes.

The tools you’ll need include:

  • Addictomatic – a multi-platform buzz dashboard
  • Social Mention – a slightly more sophisticated multi-platform buzz dashboard
  • Samepoint - another dashboard that includes some additional platforms the others don’t offer
  • Twazzup – a real-time news dashboard (with a bias towards Twitter)
  • BackTweets – a tool which tells you who has been sharing your content on Twitter
  • Blogpulse – a tool that searches blog posts for specific mentions
  • Google (weekly in date order) – this will take you to the advanced search box but we’ll make this even more useful during the next phase

You’ll notice that some of these tools overlap – this is intentional to provide the best possible opportunity of capturing the right information without it getting overwhelming.

We’re after relevant data, not data for the sake of it.

Step Three: Tailoring your search parameters

This is where we bring the ‘storage system’ and tools together.

Let’s start with Addictomatic.

  1. Type your search item into the bar and hit create.
  2. Make sure you enclose your query in quotes as this will give you the most relevant results.
  3. Once you get your results back, you want to save this search (in this case I’ve used the bookmarks star) and save the search into the monitoring folder.

addicto 520x323 How to monitor social media mentions in five minutes a day


While this might seem a little laborious at first, you only need to do it once. I now have access to that saved search whenever I want at the click of a button.

Addictomatic updates the results as they appear so I’ll always have access to the latest results. Repeat this process with the next tool.

Before we get to the final product which is where the magic happens, let’s set up one more search that will become an invaluable part of your toolkit.

Head over to Google and run your search.

When your results are returned, they’ll automatically come back from ‘any time’ and in order of relevance.

We want to drill this down in more detail by activating two variables.

google2 520x339 How to monitor social media mentions in five minutes a day

  • Go to the left menu bar and click on ‘more search tools’
  • Another menu will drop down – select the ‘past week’ option
  • Another menu will appear – select ‘sorted by date’
  • This will give you results like the example to the right.

    Note: When you are setting up your BackTweets search, enter the URL you are interested in monitoring as opposed to the brand or keyword.

    Step Four: The finished product

    Now, if you’ve followed this templated process for each tool, you’ll end up with a folder that looks like this.

    monitoring folder 2 520x231 How to monitor social media mentions in five minutes a day

    Step Five: Making it work for you every day

    By this point you will have set up your folder with all your pre-set searches. This means that you can scan all your searches from the one organised location.

    A routine you might want to follow could involve a check of each preset search in the morning, at lunch and then in the evening.

    This system will give you a free and easy way of staying on top of your mentions all over the social web.

    Some good tips and new tools. Well worth the read!

    Saturday

    2011 Los Angeles Metrolink Holiday Toy Express Santa Train

    Santa’s glittering train, the Metrolink Holiday Toy Express, once again travels from city to city to entertain families and help to collect toys for the less fortunate. This year’s 32-city tour, which passes through six counties (San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura, Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego counties) brings a brightly packaged gift – a 450-ton train decorated with holiday displays, a musical performance and 50,000 twinkling lights – and of course, Santa!.

    Families who come to the station to enjoy this special holiday treat are encouraged to bring new unwrapped toys. Local firefighters typically collect more than 100,000 toys for the ABC7/Spark of Love Toy Drive during the season on nights the Holiday Toy Express is in town. These toys are distributed in their local communities to families who may not be able to provide gifts this holiday season.

    You can check the schedule here: http://www.metrolinktrains.com/news/?id=7144

    Friday

    Who is the Fastest Growing Demographic in Social Media? Join us 12/1 in Spokane

    Who do you think make up the fastest growing segment of people in Washington state joining Facebook? The answer: people age 65 and older.

    That's according to a new survey commissioned by the AARP. Author and social media expert Marsha Collier and AARP volunteer Sis Polan joined Margaret to talk more about social networking and baby boomers and to promote an AARP-sponsored event taking place at Microsoft called "Get Connected."

    That event was sold out, but there is another event scheduled for December 1 in Spokane. But ...

    Join AARP, Microsoft and me, (I'm the author of “Facebook and Twitter for Seniors for Dummies”) at the Spokane Convention Center for a free workshop on Facebook, Twitter, Video Chat and Safer Socializing on the Internet.

    The event is designed for new or experienced computer users and will be held on Dec. 1, from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center (334 West Spokane Falls Boulevard – Ballroom 100A).  Doors will open at 9 a.m. for refreshments and resource information.
     
    This workshop will show you how to connect with old friends, make new ones, get connected with AARP and communicate with the grandkids. You’ll get tips on safer socializing on the Internet and learn how to make your computer easier to see, hear and use.

    “While some people may shy away from new technologies, our members have been clamoring for information on how to log in to the social media world,” said AARP Communications Director Jason Erskine. “”We’re excited to offer this opportunity with Microsoft on Dec. 1.”

    Attendees on Dec. 1 will also get a continental breakfast, lunch and plenty of free information and resources. The event is free, but space is limited and your must pre-register to attend. Register online or by calling toll-free 1-877-926-8300.

    Check out their website by clicking here. You can also follow them on Twitter: @AARP - and ask questions by using the hashtag: #aarptech

     

    Thursday

    Gift Givers & Online Sellers: USPS 2011 Holiday Shipping Deadlines

    Nothing worse than missing the mailing deadline!

    Usps-boxes-300x197

    This Holiday season, let the United States Postal Service® show you how easy it is to ship all of your holiday packages.  With many choices for flat-rate shipping, free package pickup, new holiday forever stamps, select Post Offices™ and USPS.com® are carrying a wide variety of products for holiday gift giving, gift wrapping and gift sending.  Please consider using Postal Service™ products and services to make your holiday shipping less stressful and hectic.

    The Postal Service wants to make sure that you send all of your holiday mail in time for your family and friends to receive and enjoy for the holidays.  Therefore, in order to ensure timely delivery of your cards, letters or packages, please note the shipping deadlines for the following different types of mail:

    DOMESTIC MAIL DEADLINES

    Domestic Mail Class

    Deadline

    FIRST CLASS MAIL®

    DEC. 20

    PRIORITY MAIL®

    DEC. 21

    EXPRESS MAIL®

    DEC. 22 (Check your local Post Office)

    PARCEL POST®

    DEC. 15

    Following is a list of related holiday dates:

    • First night of Hanukkah (Chanukah ) - Dec. 20th at Sunset
    • Christmas Eve - Dec. 24th
    • Christmas Day - Dec. 25th
    • Kwanzaa - Dec. 26, 2011 - Jan. 1, 2012

     

    Tuesday

    Get Quality Photographs of Coins & Jewelry for eBay and Online Selling

    Some of the more challenging types of eBay merchandise to photograph are coins and jewelry. A common problem is that when you use techniques that work fine for most items, silver can appear gold, and vice versa. Fortunately, the solution is simple: use ambient, or naturally occurring, light. Ambient light is the best light for photographing many types of items, especially shiny ones.

    An easy way to bring ambient light into your photos is to use a Cloud Dome, a large bowl that you place upside-down over the object you want to photograph. This bowl evenly diffuses ambient room light over the surface area of the object. This way, you can produce quality digital images in average room lighting. The cloud dome also helps with the following:

    • Eliminating camera shake: When taking close-focus, highly zoomed-in pictures, holding your camera steady is of utmost importance. Using a tripod is difficult with close-up pictures, so using a cloud dome is the best option because your camera mounts directly to the cloud dome and is held as still as if you were using a tripod.

    • Consistent lighting: When you use flash or flood lighting alone (without a cloud dome) for pictures of metallic objects, your photographs can include shiny hotspots from reflections (off walls and ceilings), washed-out areas from the glare of the lights, shadows, and loss of proper color.

      A cloud dome being set up to photograph jewelry.
      A cloud dome being set up to photograph jewelry.

    Follow these steps to take a picture with the Cloud Dome:

    1. Attach your camera to the dome’s mount with the lens positioned so that it peers into the hole at the top of the dome.

    2. Place your item on top of a contrasting background.

    3. Place the Dome with camera attached over your item.

    4. Check the item’s position through your camera’s viewfinder or LCD screen.

      If the item is not in the center, center it. If you feel you need additional lighting to bring out a highlight, use a lamp or two outside the Cloud Dome.

    5. Focus your camera and shoot the picture.

    Many items benefit from being photographed through a Cloud Dome, especially the following:

    A quartz stone with gold inclusions and diamonds, photographed with the cloud dome.
    A quartz stone with gold inclusions and diamonds, photographed with the dome.
    • Jewelry: Taking pictures with the cloud dome keeps the gold color gold and the silver color silver. Also, using the cloud dome helps your camera pick up details such as engraving and the metal surrounding cloisonné work. It also gives pearls and gold their unique luster and soft reflection.

    • Gems and stones: You can take beautiful pictures of gems and stones with the cloud dome. To achieve a special look, you can use a cloud dome accessory, a reversible gold-and-silver reflector. Especially when you use the silver side, facets of diamonds glisten as if they were in the pinpoint lights at the jeweler’s. You may also want to focus a floodlight or lamp on the outside of the dome for extra sparkle.

    • Coins and stamps: The cloud dome allows you to hold the camera steady for extreme close-ups. It also allows you to photograph coins without getting any coloration that is not on the coin. For both coins and stamps, the cloud dome helps you achieve sharp focus and true color.

    • Holographic or metallic accented items: If you’ve ever tried to photograph collector cards, you know that the metal accents glare and holograms are impossible to capture. Also, the glossy coatings confuse the camera’s light sensors, causing overexposed highlights.

    • Reflective objects: Items such as silverware or even computer chips reflect a lot of light. The cloud dome diffuses the light so that the pictures become clear.

    For more tips on photographing merchandise for eBay or online sales, please check out this article.

     

    What's Your Definition of Rude? 15 Mistakes to Avoid in Small Business Customer Service #custserv

    Sometimes it seems like rude customer service is the rule rather than the exception. But there's rude — and then there's rude.

    When it comes to getting customer service, what's your definition of rude? What unprofessional behavior irritates you the most when, as a consumer, you are interacting by phone with another company?

    Sometimes, customer service that is perceived as rude is not intentional and often is the result of absent-mindedness or carelessness on behalf of an employee. Either way, bad customer service can translate into lower sales and lost business, says Nancy Friedman, president and founder of the Telephone Doctor, a St. Louis-based customer service training company.

    Based on its own surveys, the Telephone Doctor has compiled the 15 biggest sins of customer service employees today. They are listed below, along with Telephone Doctor's guidelines (in parentheses) on how to do it right.

    If your company's customer service managers and front-line employees are guilty of any of these, it's time for some action. Otherwise, you may have an image problem that could sabotage your effort to produce and market great products.

    1. Your employees are having a bad day, and their foul mood carries over in conversations with customers. (Everyone has bad days, but customer service employees need to keep theirs to themselves.)

    2. Your employees hang up on angry customers. (Ironclad rule: Never hang up on a customer.)

    3. Your company doesn't return phone calls or voice-mail messages, despite listing your phone number on your Web site and/or in ads and directories. (Call customers back as soon as you can, or have calls returned on your behalf.)

    4. Your employees put callers on hold without asking them first, as a courtesy. (Ask customers politely if you can put them on hold; very few will complain or say "No way!")

    5. Your employees put callers on a speaker phone without asking them first if it is OK. (Again: Ask first, as a courtesy.)

    6. Your employees eat, drink or chew gum while talking with customers on the phone. (A telephone mouthpiece is like a microphone; noises can easily be picked up. Employees need to eat their meals away from the phone. And save that stick of gum for break time.)

    7. You have call-waiting on your business lines, and your employees frequently interrupt existing calls to take new calls. (One interruption in a call might be excusable; beyond that, you are crossing the "rude" threshold. Do your best to be prepared with enough staff for peak calling times.)

    8. Your employees refuse or forget to use the words "please," "thank you" or "you're welcome." (Please use these words generously, thank you.)

    9. Your employees hold side conversations with friends or each other while talking to customers on the phone, or they make personal calls on cell phones in your call center. (Don't do either of these.)

    10. Your employees seem incapable of offering more than one-word answers. (One-word answers come across as rude and uncaring.)

    11. Your employees do provide more than one-word answers, but a lot of the words are grounded in company or industry jargon that many customers don't understand. (If you sell tech products, for example, don't casually drop in abbreviations such as APIs, ISVs, SMTP or TCP/IP.)

    12. Your employees request that customers call them back when the employees aren't so busy. (Customers should never be told to call back. Request the customer's number instead.)

    13. Your employees rush through calls, forcing customers off the phone at the earliest opportunity. (Be a little more discreet. Politely suggest that you've got the information you need and you must move on to other calls.)

    14. Your employees obnoxiously bellow "What's this in reference to?" effectively humbling customers and belittling their requests. (Screening techniques can be used with a little more warmth and finesse. If a caller has mistakenly come your way, do your best to point him or her in the right direction.)

    15. Your employees freely admit to customers that they hate their jobs. (This simply makes the entire company look bad. And don't think such a moment of candor or lapse in judgment won't get back to the boss.)

    In defense of customer service workers, customers can be rude too. And customer service jobs can often be thankless, with little motivation or incentive to do the job right.

    But the problem here is that life for customer service employees may not be fair. Customers can be rude and get away with it. Employees cannot — if they want to help their companies to succeed and keep their jobs as well.