Ah – just another week. I can’t believe it’s Friday already. What? Wait. Today is Sunday, not Friday! What happened?
Well you know how it goes. Sometimes days (and weeks) can just get away from you and this was one of those weeks! Super busy – especially helping one of our clients, Transfer Master, manage and promote its cool Valentine’s Day contest via Facebook. The company is giving away one of its adjustable electric beds to an Iraq Afghan war veteran and is asking spouses, sweethearts and supporters to nominate their favorite veterans on Transfer Master’ Facebook page. It’s been both inspiring and touching to read the entries. If you get an opportunity to do so, I encourage you to check them out. It’s a powerful reminder that its not only our soldiers who are sacrificing so much to help keep our country safe – but their families and loves ones too.
"An Aussie Girl Living in London" - Janina can be followed on Twitter (@girlj67)
Now onto this week’s Kaufer Follow Friday Featured Profile (albeit a couple of days late). This week we get to jump the pond – and find Janina Lockett from London (via Australia). I met Janina via Twitter nearly two years ago – I think we discovered we were following many of the same people sharing similar political, human rights, business and environmental views. Janina was one of the first friends I knew who used photos extensively with her tweets. Whether it was a picture of a multi-course meal she prepared for a dinner party or photos from a boat holiday along the canals and rivers of the UK, it was always fun to see what she was up to via her photo tweets and added a deeper texture to the communication.
As is often the case with my Favorites, Janina is also wicked smart and super funny. She is in the midst of a very interesting and successful career and in a leadership role within an large international company, working in the heart of one of the financial capitals in the world. She offers some great and thoughtful answers and insights into social media. I hope you enjoy this week’s edition of my Kaufer Follow Friday Feature Profile – it is definitely one of my favorites (and worth the wait!).
Which social media networks do you use consistently?
Facebook – which I now use for staying in touch with friends & family, I only joined about 6 months ago – after being nagged for ages by family & friends in Australia to share photos.
Twitter – which I use to hear what’s happening out there, get up to date news and just have fun socialising in, I’ve been on Twitter for a few years now
Linked In – which I use for professional purposes only; I think I’ve been on that for about 5 years now.
What was your “Aha” moment regarding social media (when/why did you decide to become engaged)?
When I got my first IPhone about three years ago and could connect to the Internet on the move. Outside of work, I don’t spend too much time in front of the computer, so the IPhone literally transformed my life! I was hearing all my tech-savvy friends talk about social media & Web 2.0 technologies a few years ago – I knew what they were but had not participated really – I believed then (and even more so now) that this social phenomenon is transforming the way humans connect to each other, work together and hence, our culture. So I decided to “investigate,” set myself up on Twitter and became instantly hooked!
How has Social Media impacted you personally? How about professionally?
Personally, it has allowed me to truly stay in touch with all my friends & family overseas, as I can constantly share what is happening with me and can see what is happening with them. The Internet is by far the cheapest way to stay connected with people overseas – skyping instead of phoning, messaging via Twitter & Facebook instead of text messages. I’ve also made some wonderful new friends through Twitter – people I would never have met otherwise, as they live in different countries and lead very different lives but somehow through Twitter we find we have something in common; it’s the breadth of topics that continue to amaze me – from caring about the people fighting for freedom in Iran, sharing a passion for R&B music, to watching a couple of TV show judges, Karen & Jason, argue on the UK TV Show Dancing On Ice!
Does your husband use social media as well? Are you as social media power couple?
No – definitely not! He has a Facebook account that he used only to monitor the kids when they were young. It’s quite a funny situation really, as he is always saying “Are you wasting time again on Twitter/Facebook?!?” Yet when he needs to contact someone he is always asking me to send that person a message via those two tools! 🙂
How do you use Twitter? How about Facebook? Do they serve similar or different roles for you?
They do serve very different purposes for me and I keep them separate.
I use Twitter to get news, information and meet interesting people. My account on Twitter is public, so just like Linked In, I know anyone could be reading about me and hence, I treat it as such. As much as I believe there are many wonderful people out there in the world and that the Twitter community can be a fantastic way to connect to like-minded people; at the same time the world is also full of devious and dangerous people, who use Twitter to scam, rob & hurt people. I’ve often heard people talk about Twitter like it’s the world’s biggest & longest cocktail party, which is what I love about it and why I am there. Well you wouldn’t give all your private & personal details to someone you just met at a party so why do that on-line, where it’s recorded forever, for anyone to see? So Twitter is just another facet of my public self and I always tweet with that in mind…
Facebook is much more private for me – as I use it to share photos and keep in touch with family & friends – I think I have it set to maximum privacy settings as I don’t want just anyone to see my photos & what I’m doing. I also have many friends who value their privacy and would not want my photos of them in the public space, and I totally respect that.
How do you divide your time between different social media networks? Or do you mostly use one over the other?
Good question! When I first got on Twitter, I got so excited and was constantly on it via my IPhone – tweeting on a daily basis and meeting great people. I found that hard to maintain, especially during the week, when I am very busy working long hours. So I quickly became a “Tweekender”, as I call it, using it primarily on the weekends or when I was on holidays. There have recently been some long periods where I didn’t log into Twitter, especially when I first joined Facebook. But those periods are never too long now, as I find I miss “hearing” from some of my favourite people on Twitter…
Now that I’m on Facebook, I spend more time on that. I think that’s because I find it more interactive – people are always sending me messages, commenting on pictures or posting to my wall – so I know they are “listening” to me – with Twitter you don’t always know if anyone is…
I would say the split at the moment is 35/65 Twitter/Facebook – but that is just as liable to change in a couple of months!
How has social media changed your life?
Completely! Living in a different country, with friends and family all over the planet, can make me feel very lonely at times. I miss my family & friends in Australia and elsewhere very much so the ability to instantly connect with them, share photos, stories and just the small day to day stuff is great. I feel much closer and involved in the lives of those who are on Facebook, as I can see what they are doing, thinking and vice versa. The problem with living in different countries is that when you only catch up once a year and ask what’s happening, the response is mostly sharing a couple of big events/changes (if there are any) and “same old, same old, life moving along”. And that makes sense as it’s hard to remember all the little things we do that make up our lives – so social media makes my connections to others I care about richer, more complete.
One of my favourite memories was when you rented a boat for a holiday and tweeted photos of all of the sites throughout the trip. For me, it really opened my eyes as to how social media could be used in new ways while travelling. Where did you get that idea and what kind of feedback did you get?
Thanks! Yea – that was so much fun!! I don’t remember getting the idea from anywhere but I am a natural story teller I think, plus I love to share joyful moments & new, exciting experiences with others – it’s what makes life worth living! So the combination of my IPhone & Twitter allowed me to share my wonderful journey on the canal boat around London. I like using pictures to help tell the story – I think people can relate or connect better to what you are doing when they can see what you see. It’s especially important for Twitter where you only have 140 characters to say something, that’s when a photo helps!
The feedback was amazing – so many people commented on the pictures and asked me questions about where I was and shared their experiences of being on a canal boat or in London. People seemed to especially liked the swan pictures – I think I gained about 100 new friends/followers just from the swans – who knew so many people loved swans!
Do you have plans to do anything similar with future holidays?
I would love to do more holidays on Twitter – at the moment they are more confined to Facebook. There are a couple of reasons for this – firstly, I’ve heard about people whose houses were burgled after tweeting from their holiday destination, basically advertising that the house was empty. So I am cautious about that and tend to delay the timing so that I tweet about a holiday once I’m back home. Secondly, the boat trip was a holiday in the UK where I have almost unlimited access to the Internet from my IPhone so could tweet and upload photos to my heart’s content. For overseas holidays, where I am going to pay outrageous fees to connect & upload a photo, I am more careful and access the Internet less often.
How do you think innovative businesses are using social media? How do you see that changing or evolving over time?
I think there are some really savvy companies out there, using social media very cleverly – both inside their firm and to interact with the public. From what I’ve seen, it’s primarily the giant techie companies like IBM, Google, Virgin and Microsoft or the smaller/start up firms like Innocent that use it well as they understand it better; I also see many individual consultants use it to build their brand and promote their business. Having said that, for every business that uses it well there must be 1000 others that don’t get it and seem to use it purely as another channel to sell/market in a very one-way approach, never interacting with their customers/potential customers, defeating the whole purpose of the tool!
It’s been very interesting to watch the response of corporations to the use of social media – such as when everyone was scrambling to hire social media experts when Pizza Hut had that disastrous You Tube video that went completely viral due to Twitter, costing them millions and forcing them to eventually close that specific store. It demonstrated to me that there must be many CEOs & corporate execs than I thought, who fail to look “outside” at what is happening in the world and ask themselves “What does this mean for me and my company, my industry? Is this a threat or an opportunity and how do we respond to this/that?”
I think the successful companies of the future are asking themselves these questions, paying attention to the answers and harnessing social media to drive their business forward in a way that works for them, rather than simply ticking a box “Social Media Expert hired – Check. Restrictive Social Media Policy in place – Check. Right. Now let’s get back to business as usual…”
You work in Human Resources for a very large firm. How has social media impacted your job (or HR in general)? Are companies scrambling to put into place social media policies?
It hasn’t impacted too much on my job just yet but I am starting to see the (right) signs…as you know I work in Learning & Development, so we have been investigating how to use these tools to enhance the learning experience and connect people across the globe and to collaborate across our business areas to drive our organisation forward. We have conducted a couple of successful pilots over the last 18 months, working closely with our IT E-technology depts, and 2011 looks like the year we will finally start to roll these tools out in a major way, which will transform how people work together and connect across the organsiation. To be fair, in many ways, I think we have had to wait for a critical mass to get comfortable using social media, before we can simply shove new tools under our people’s noses…so now that so many people are using these tools in their personal lives it becomes very easy to launch internal tools successfully that have the same look & feel.
I think all the large blue chip organisations like mine have had these policies in place for some time now, but they were restrictive and it was all about protecting themselves from the dangers of social media, so they are now scrambling to update them in a way that allows staff to collaborate and share internally as well as connect to generate business or create closer, stronger relationships with their clients. Many businesses, especially service ones, state that “people” are their competitive advantage, so it makes sense to use this people-related technology to leverage that competitive advantage. Only a few companies at the moment are walking the talk in this area, but I think their numbers are increasing as successes become more public and other companies realise they need to play catch-up and shift their views of what social media is and how it can be used to enhance their business.
You’re starting to hear about companies now using social media as a research tool when screening new candidates. How seriously do you think people need to take this?
Yea – that’s an interesting one. I think that companies have always wanted to get as much information as they can on a candidate – due to social media, the internet has simply become another public space from where we can source that information.
I think people should take this as seriously as they would any other activity they do in public. If you wouldn’t fight with someone in the street, then don’t do it on the internet! It’s about having some common sense and judgement. Freedom of expression is not just the right to say whatever you want and dammed be the consequences, it also carries the responsibility to treat others with respect.
Personally, I would not hire someone into our company who posted on the Internet, for all & sundry to see, a statement full of expletives, about how screwed up they thought their place of employment was. Not because of what they said – I think it’s perfectly legitimate to think this and share with others in private – but because they demonstrated a lack of judgement, a quality I don’t want in someone working with me. Having said that, it would also depend on whether the comment was a one-off as opposed to a continuous theme in their blogs, tweets, posts, etc.
The other “happy’ side of the coin is that people can use their public Internet profile to create a powerful & positive personal brand – so I recommend that people should always think about how they want others to see them, both now and in the future, before posting.
Some professionals are leery about becoming “friends” on Facebook with customers, peers, co-workers, etc. – how do you handle this? Do you “friend” professional contacts or keep things separate?
That’s a tricky one. It depends on my relationship with the individual in question.
I primarily use Linked In to connect professionally with clients, peers & others in my industry, I think it’s the best tool for that purpose.
I don’t like connecting to people on Facebook who I see mainly as work colleagues or other professional contacts, as that is not what I use Facebook for. However, over the years some people I’ve worked with professionally have become great friends and I happily connect to them on Facebook.
Do you ever think it’s odd/funny how virtual relationships can evolve into real relationships via social media? You seem to have friends all over the world courtesy of Twitter.
Relationships are complex and evolving connections we have with other human beings, contingent upon & effected by surrounding circumstances/situations and I see social media as just another medium I can use to connect to people. The only difference to me is that I get the opportunity to do this with people that I might otherwise have never met, such as a priest in Nebraska, a documentary film maker in LA, a student in Malaysia or a graphic artist in Helsinki! I think it’s amazing when the circumstances & timing are right and you meet someone on-line, just like you would in person, with whom you feel a connection, share something – it’s a great affirmation that we are all human beings, with things in common, despite our differences. It’s about minds meeting minds really – so I think it can happen in cyberspace as easily as it does in person.
And if the circumstances are right, then that connection can grow, just like any relationship. I think it’s important to be open to the opportunity to meet people that you can learn from, laugh with and just share life. If you come to any social medial space with an “agenda” and only wanting to get rather than give, then others will quickly sniff that out, whether in person or virtually, and quite rightly, not be interested in connecting.
You’re an Aussie living in the UK and you have many American friends. Do you see a difference between how social media is used by Aussies, Brits and Americans?
I think how people use social media is more influenced by other factors than what country their were born in e.g. age, education, personality, etc. however I have noticed some differences that I think are related to the cultures of those countries, and I would expect to see the same thing happen in person if I was at a cocktail party in those countries.
I think the Americans are more community minded in general and happy to share their views & thoughts in public, hence use social media to connect & talk with like minded people and are very happy to really open up and pour out quite personal stuff in a public virtual space. Nothing is off limits – politics, religion, etc. They are a very earnest bunch!
The English appear to be much more private and tend to use social media to make witty comments, show off how clever they are and if single, very open about looking to meet other singles (if you get what I mean).
The Aussies are more outspoken & direct and just there to have fun, reminding us all not to take life or ourselves too seriously!
How do you decide who you’re going to follow?
Another good question – it depends. On Twitter, I read through their profile and tweets and if they are funny and/or genuine people that have things to say about topics I am interested in then I follow them. I’m not that interested in following famous people, most of whom are boring on Twitter, but I love the “Fake” Twitter accounts of famous people, real or fictional, such as @Satan or @darthvader. When I first joined Twitter I also found it useful to follow people who were Twitter “gurus” like @zaibatsu & @Jason_Pollock, who were very happy to share their savvy about how to use the tool.
I get really turned off by those looking to simply market/sell something and not interested in honestly connecting – this includes celebs!
You’re anonymous on Twitter, why is that?
It’s too public a space to reveal too much about myself and my family, which isn’t fair to them, as they don’t want to be on Twitter and they would be by proxy if I was too open.
What is your most memorable social media experience?
Getting a phone call from Reg (@zaibatsu) – it was like talking to God or the Wizard of Oz! You know, WOW – a member of Twitter royalty as deemed me worthy enough of his time to call and talk to me! It was night time where he was and I was pottering around in my garden on a sunny summer day in London while talking to him on the phone – most surreal.
Are you a fan of Australian Rules Football? Who are tougher athletes – American or Australian football players?
LOL – why am I not surprised you asked this question! Well Aussie Rules is one type of football in Australia but Rugby League/Union is much more popular and much more violent. I like all three versions of footy (that’s what we call it in Australia) but I most love Rugby. Think of ice hockey without the padding…it’s brutal & bloody with skill! American Football looks tough too – but those guys have all this protection – helmets, padding, etc. In Australia you would be called a “wuss” for wearing that much protection when I was growing up! Plus the US game has loads of time outs – not as fast paced as the Australian versions.So on balance, I think the Aussie guys are tougher, but then I have to say that and fly the Aussie Flag!
Have you met any fun/famous celebs?
Yes – some, depending on how you define “met” and “celebs”. I think Kirstie Alley and Stephen Fry are really cool and connect with people brilliantly! I also think Alyssa Milano is great – a very sweet person. Bill Zucker is also hilarious! There are some very popular people on Twitter who are Twitter celebs but would not be known outside of social media circles – I think most of them are much more interesting to follow.
Have you tweeted with many? Which is more fun?
Not many – I’ve commented and responded to them on questions they send out – they often come back with a general reply since so many people are responding along with me, so I’ve not had a personal response except occasionally with Bill Zucker. As I’ve mentioned above, I think the fake accounts are much more fun – such as @fake_vyvyan!
Funniest Social Media moment?
A couple of years ago there was a mix up in a link to a photo I posted. Somehow, through a technical glitch a photo I posted of something quite harmless e.g. something I was doing at the time like gardening, walking through the park etc ( I can’t quite remember now) got replaced with another photo…of a semi-naked women posing in front of the mirror all sexy & steamy. I had tweeted something like “Check this out, look what I am doing now” and I didn’t know until someone tweeted me that something was wrong. When I saw the photo I thought it was hysterical – I quickly reposted the correct photo & explained what had happened but I am sure I gained a load of new male followers who thought their lucky day had come!
Biggest Social Media pet peeve?
People only there to sell/market plus those who think it’s all about having loads of followers and send tweets like “I got a trillion new followers in 20 seconds, click here so you can too” Oh and those horrible porn spammers who keep following me with profile pictures of women performing sexual acts – don’t they even check what gender I am? They could at least have the smarts to have a profile picture of a hunky guy 😉
Any parting shots?
Sometimes it can be like being back at school and people are treating it like a popularity contest and behaving like teenagers on Twitter – honestly, people, just grow up!