Christmas Sweets Buzz

I am not allowed to eat for the entire month of January to make up for all of the sweets and food I have eaten over the holidays - bleh.

Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. Hopefully I will have a Happy New Year if our crew can ever decide upon what the heck we're going to be doing.

P.S. This is my new fave commercial... this is me this entire Christmas holiday...


I have a dream...

People always have big dreams... owning a big house, getting a great job that they love, finding the man or woman of their dreams, starting a family, traveling to foreign countries and seeing the world...

Well, I have a dream as well... a dream I've had for as long as I can remember. Something that I've worked hard my entire life to some day be able to obtain...

A dream of....
.....getting hair extensions.

Yes folks, that's right. I have always had a dream of one day having gorgeous, thick, long flowing hair. Hair that I can curl with rollers, tease into a glorious, thick golden mane upon my head...

But to truly understand my dream, you must relive with me my hair-life. You see, I have suffered my entire life from painfully thin, baby-fine hair. Most natural blondes (yes, I'm a natural blonde..although I boost it in the colder months with highlights) have thinner hair. However, usually blondes have either thin hair with pretty good texture... or...baby fine hair, but a lot it.

Me.... I was 'blessed' with both thin and baby-fine hair. I'm not sure where I got it from.. both my parents have pretty thick hair - my dad's is a little thin, but he still has a full head of hair in his 60's! My sister has long, pretty thick blonde hair, and my brother has hair that any female would go crazy to have - he actually grows his hair out and cuts it for Locks of Love...so somewhere out there, there are females who have his hair {cool}.

Some of the pain points of such hair are as follows:
  • The inability to grow ones hair past shoulders - as soon as my hair gets to below shoulder length, it's instantly stringy, and the bottom half of my hair is thin to the point of random strands and does not even match the top half of my hair - so I always end up with a short cut.
  • The inability to wear high pony tails and sometimes low pony tails - if you know me, you have probably seen me joke by pulling all of my hair into said ponytail only to display what you may remember from the 80's - a rat tail. Yes... my hair all pulled together only adds up to a measly rat tail.
  • I rarely, if ever, condition my hair. Conditioner and my hair are enemies and do not cohabitate - if you think my hair is thin now, you should see it conditioned.
  • I dry my hair upside down... every day... for probably the last 15 years of my life - surely that can't be good for my brain.
  • My hair dries on its own - in 5 to 10 minutes. This may seem like a blessing to those of you with lots of hair where it takes hours to dry - even with a dryer. I'll admit, the five minutes it takes me to dry my hair with my blow dryer is pretty nice. However, if I don't get myself under my blow dryer within a reasonable time after getting out of the shower... my hair dries on its own, flat against my head and unstylable.
  • When I sweat, I look like I've been swimming. Enough said.

Look, I could probably go on and on...but I'll try to get to the point. I want hair extensions. I want Kristin Cavallari-like hair extensions. I've dealt with hair that doesn't balance out my big, round head for far too long.. I've teased, used multiple products, and dryed my hair upside down for too long... I want to feel what it's like to have a gorgeous head of hair.

Kristen Cavallari

This February I am going to Vegas with one of my best friends for her 30th birthday party. About a month ago, I was suddenly inspired... this is the perfect excuse to get hair extensions!! And I'm in a pretty good situation financially now that I could probably afford it!! Hooray! I'm going to following my dream!

So I made a consultation appointment with Salon de Capelli in Mt. Pleasant - I sat down with their extensions stylist. He walked me through everything, said it would give me the length and fullness I was looking for. It would only take 4 hours to put them on.. and the hair would match perfectly with mine. I was on cloud 9.. I could see my dream coming to life right before my eyes...

And then I asked about pricing... {insert tires screeching sound here}


I'm just going to let that resonate with you for a minute...feel what I felt when hearing that number.
Ridiculous, right? Even though I tried to justify that price in my head (well it IS real human hair..and they do give you FREE products to use..and a FREE special brush..), I realized that I would feel incredibly stupid and guilty if I spent that much money on hair extensions. Besides I've heard and read that extensions cost between $800 and $1000...so I'm still wondering what the extra $900 is for. :-/

But I want them SO BAD. :(

I will not let my dream die. Surely there's another salon in Charleston that will do hair extensions for a much better price.. So I have a consultation tomorrow with a salon in Mt. Pleasant called Velvet, and I'm on the lookout for others. I'm even considering looking in Columbia because everything is cheaper in Columbia than Charleston...so.. wouldn't extensions be cheaper there too??

An incredibly bad Photoshopped photo of my head on a Carrie Underwood photo - what I envision I would look like with extensions...sigh.

I know it's hard for people to understand why I would spend that kind of money for more hair that will only last 4 to 6 months. I guess it's the same reasoning that women go and get a nose job, or go and get other plastic surgery done - to boost their confidence and feel good about themselves.

But in my case, I don't have to be put under to get it... and if I don't like them, they can be taken right out!


Would you buy this for me please?

Hi...have you missed me? I know I have been slack.. sorry. I will write something inspiring soon. Until then.....

Will you please buy me this dress? Size 6... it's ONLY $224.10. Thanks.


Atlanta Floods..crazy...

[Uncredited Photo - no idea who created this]


Happy Birthday to Me!

So today is my birthday... {insert cheers and claps here}. Not sure I feel my age yet. It's weird to think that I'm already this age. Life moves so fast. It gives me anxiety because I think of all the things I want to do and would like to have done and I'm scared time will run out before I get to everything.

I haven't really had much time to dwell on my birthday, however...because I'm moving to Charleston tomorrow morning. My time has been consumed lately with packing and figuring out the logistics of everything. For the first time in five years, I will have roommates. I'm still a little nervous about it, but I think it will be a good situation to put myself into. Living alone for five years turns you somewhat into a hermit... a little anti-social. So I'm thinking that this will force me to relax more when unexpected situations happen, and force me to have more fun.

I'm really excited about the more opportunities I'll have in Charleston - and the fact that I will get to spend more time with people I care about that I only usually see on weekends.

God has really blessed me these past two months.


Five Social Media Questions

Have you missed me? It's been a while... there is so much going on right now that my ADD has kicked into overdrive and I can barely focus on ten things, let alone my poor, deprived blog. But here I am!

So, it's official. I'm moving to Charleston - sometime late August or early September. It all depends on finding renters for my house (anyone know of anyone looking for a place to live?). I'm keeping the same job, but working out of my company's offices in downtown Charleston. The move is strictly personal as you can probably figure out - and while I'm so sad to leave my house, I am thrilled for this new chapter in my life.

So despite all the craziness going on, I knew I needed to get a new post out here on my blog. Especially since I was asked to speak next week at Social Media Club Columbia's next meeting. I'm going to do a presentation on social media policies - why have it, what it looks like, and who should it cover. I'm really excited to have the opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic and lead a discussion with such a diverse group. If you're a follower of my blog, you know how interested (and vocal) I am in this topic.

Mich Sineath, one of the members of the Social Media Club Columbia steering committee, sent me five questions about social media that they ask every speaker. I decided that my answers would be a great way for me to update my blog and get some feedback from my readers.

  1. How do you define social media?

    There's your typical definitions of social media - the by the book definitions. However, to me social media is one giant conversation. Being active in social media is like being in a giant chat room. It's about sharing ideas, collaboration, and building relationships using all types of online media. With social media I've been able to connect with friends from the past, new friends, and network with professionals in my field and industry that I would never have met otherwise.

  2. Which social media tools or applications do you use, and why these in particular?

    I'm pretty bare bones when it comes to social media. I'm familiar with all of the different tools out there, but I keep it pretty simple and stick to a select few. Keeping it simple helps me to really engross myself in the social networks I use. Twitter is probably by far my favorite social media tool - I use it to network and to get feedback on ideas or thoughts. Twitter has gotten me speaking opportunities with different organizations and has allowed me to share my project successes with hundreds of people. It has also allowed me to connect with professionals in the communications and intranet fields across the globe. I also use Facebook for personal use mainly - there are more privacy settings on Facebook, so I use it to interact with my friends. I still have a profile on MySpace and log in maybe once a month just to check it - I can't believe I used to love MySpace more than Facebook. Does anyone still use MySpace? I am on LinkedIn and I keep it up to date as somewhat of an online resume so it's easy for others to get an idea of my background, but I also use it to share ideas and get feedback using the groups from peers in my field or industry. I also maintain a Web site through Blogger, which I mainly use as an outlet for my increasingly random stream of thoughts and I still can't figure out why people read it. And of course I share my photos and videos of my many weekend adventures. My Web site is like my diary - it just doesn't have a lock on it. :)

  3. With increasingly busy schedules, where do you find time for social media?

    I'm a loud and proud Gen-Y'er. I have been engrossed with social media before it was even called social media. I was using Prodigy chat rooms and instant messenger when I was only 10. After school it was normal to come home and do your homework while also chatting with friends on AOL. When MySpace and Facebook emerged, I just evolved my existing habits with AOL to the new tools - and same with Twitter about two years ago.

    For me, social media is ingrained in my life. I eat, sleep, breathe it. If I don't have access to the Internet via a computer or mobile phone, I go stir crazy. So, it's not so much about finding time for it - it's just a part of my normal routine - this is how my generation and the generations behind me communicate. I rarely talk on the phone anymore - if you've got something to talk to your friends about, you go on Facebook.

    There are so many social media tools available that I could easily get involved in - but it's about finding which tools work for you, which ones easily fit into your schedule.

    Where some people struggle with fitting social media into their schedule, I actually have to adjust my habits to make sure social media isn't dominating my schedule. Especially working at a company where there is such a diverse range of generations - sometimes I have to remind myself to pick up the phone from time to time or go have a face to face conversation. It's a habit for me to just use electronic means to communicate - I think my generation struggles with this a lot.

  4. What advice would you give to local businesses wishing to effectively embrace social media?

    I think social media presents a big opportunity for small, local businesses. Your customers are online talking about you - you might as well be a part of the conversation. I also think you can't jump into social media just to do it because it's so trendy. Businesses need to first develop a strategy for using social media - will you just listen? will you engage? when will you engage? how often will you engage? and who is going to manage it? For example, if you set up a Twitter account, but you haven't figured out what to communicate or what customer tweets to respond to, and on top of that you don't have the resources to update periodically - then it will not be successful.

    I think it's important for businesses to benchmark what other businesses are doing with social media - what works and what doesn't. Setting up Google alerts and following your company name on Twitter is important too so you can get an idea of what customers are saying about you online. Once you have a plan, then go for it.

    I also like the idea of partnerships - seek out bloggers who can blog about your products. Partner with other organizations and groups, like Columbia Convention & Visitors Bureau has done, for cross-promotions and contests.

    All businesses should be looking at social media or they'll miss the boat or be caught off guard. Hungry Howies in Irmo has got the right idea - they recently sent me this tweet that really sums it up for why small biz should get involved in social media.

  5. Where do you see the future of social media?

    I'm very excited about the future of social media - there are so many paths it could take. I read an article in Fortune about Facebook and what CEO Mark Zukerberg envisions for Facebook's future. His vision is "to turn Facebook into the planet's standardized communication (and marketing) platform, as ubiquitous and intuitive as the telephone but far more interactive, multidimensional - and indispensable. Your Facebook ID quite simply will be your gateway to the digital world". So basically you open up your Internet browser, log on to Facebook, and then everything you do online is through your online identity - so if you purchase from Amazon or browse Wikipedia - you're doing it using your Facebook identity. He also envisions that you will one day be able to go online and look up anyone - anyone in the world - and find their online identity and connect. That idea is both exciting and a little scary to me - but really not that far off base.

    My generation and the generations to come expect to be able to connect with companies we do business with. I think we were raised to maintain such busy schedules that the last thing we want to do is go somewhere and wait in line or sit on hold with customer service on a phone call. It's all about instant connections and instant information. I don't think social media is a fad by any means - I think it will only become even more ingrained in our lives - creating more transparency around communication and creating more focus on the collective voice.

    After all, the recent stats on Facebook shows that the largest growth in users is with people 55 and older (513.7% growth!) - so it can't be purely generational. You know social media isn't just a fad when your own parents are getting in on the conversation too.


My TweetCloud.

Click to view larger...


Facebook should buy LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has the right idea - a social network dedicated to networking and essentially a place to post your 'resume' for all to see. However, LinkedIn appears to struggle in keeping up with its growth, while also being a 'follower' of other social networking sites' functionality (i.e. status messages ala Facebook). I never have a good experience with LinkedIn. It's a clunky design, has slow load times, and just doesn't function the way my other social networks do. The news feed just spits out information at you that doesn't have much context or relevance - and for a professional networking site with peers in my field or in my industry, I want more.

Facebook has obviously taken the throne of the best social network - or at least in my mind it is. However, Facebook is my platform for my personal life. It's where I keep up with old friends, current friends, and maybe new friends. I've 'friended' some co-workers of mine and some industry/field peers, but I am very selective with who I let into 'my life' on Facebook. I have set up a 'work' group that I have put co-workers, etc. in. Facebook allows me to not include this group in some of the information I publish, as well as selected content on my 'info' page. But to me the privacy settings for the security groups you create are a very 'all or nothing' situation. I can hide my status messages from my work group, or I can't. I also can't create status messages just for my work group. I can let my work group see my wall with my friends' posts, or I can't. I always have to second guess my status messages and my behavior on Facebook because I know that my coworkers can see some of my content. You can't vent about work in your status message because your co-workers are your friends. And why even connect with your co-workers on Facebook if you're going to hide everything from them?

You might say, "Well just don't add your co-workers as friends on Facebook". But I want to connect with co-workers through a social network, as well as industry peers and folks in my field. But Facebook makes it difficult for the average user to separate their personal life from their professional life, and it usually ends up getting people in trouble - if not fired. I'm not condoning stupidity online, but the fact is that my generation and the generations below me connect socially online. We eat, sleep, and breathe online. Social networks are not going to go away. They are going to become more of the norm and become even more complex and ingrained in our lives. Most of my friends and I stay in touch soley through Facebook. And who doesn't want to complain to their friends about a bad day at work or someone giving you work-pains, without your co-workers 'eavesdropping' or telling on you?

So what we need is Facebook to separate our personal lives from our work lives for us. And instead of starting from scratch, Facebook should buy LinkedIn and integrate their database with their existing profiles. LinkedIn is trying to be your Facebook for your professional life, but like I mentioned earlier, they are failing at it. Consolidating my online lives (sounds sad I know), both professional and personal into one Web site that's consistent in format, design, and functionality would be the ideal set up.

Here's how it will go down:
  1. Facebook buys LinkedIn
  2. Facebook enhances/modifies/fixes LinkedIn to match the existing look/functionality of Facebook.
    - "Facebook Work" (or some other, much more cleverly branded name) works identical to your existing Facebook, but it focuses on professional connections and connecting with co-workers.
    - Your status updates are what you're working on, thinking about, questions, or problems you're solving. Groups are now professional groups (FB can pull in all the existing LinkedIn groups) as well as organizations and clubs - I would love to be able to easily access Social Media Club Columbia information this way...so my event calendar on my "Facebook Work" would feature upcoming events I'm attending (conferences, meetings, etc.) and it wouldn't get cluttered with all of my Facebook friends' birthdays and parties.
    - Applications focus more on work/networking related functionality (industry specific, etc.). Maybe they go through an approval process to keep out the 'quizzes' and other annoying apps. Or perhaps - to keep it clean and simple - no apps.
    - You can use other existing Facebook functionality like uploading photos with tagging, videos, and perhaps a new feature to upload Word docs, PowerPoints, and Excel spreadsheets for sharing (that would be cool!). I could upload a presentation that my manager and I presented at a conference, and then tag her to it.
    - You can 'friend' and connect with other "Facebook Work" members -- and still create segments or security groups to make certain content is only available to certain groups. So I could have a 'co-workers' group and a 'intranet professionals' group, and a 'utility peers' group, etc., etc., etc.
    - Companies can create 'pages' to promote themselves as employers and to help with recruiting. And of course you could also have pages for professional organizations, industry groups, things of interest, etc. I could be a fan of "Project Management" or "Intranets" or "Jobs in Charleston".
    - The Marketplace feature for "Facebook Work" becomes a great new way for companies to buy and sell assets from one another. A large company may be upgrading and could recover on an investment in the old equipment by selling it to a smaller company who can't afford the newest equipment. A new section will also be added for posting jobs -- how easy and convenient would it be for employers and people looking for jobs - and with all of the information "Facebook Work" mines (similar to Facebook now with ads), you could create ads for jobs and target them directly to the users who would be interested or qualified.
  3. Users access "Facebook Life" (personal version) and "Facebook Work" through the same entry way (Facebook.com). Initially, you can log in to your LinkedIn profile (if it existed before FB bought it) by using the same login info you used to login to LinkedIn. This would take you to "Facebook Work". Or you can login to "Facebook Life", your existing Facebook info, using your same Facebook login.
  4. So as a user of both Facebook and LinkedIn, after the merge I want to connect my FB profile (now "Facebook Life") to my "Facebook Work" account (previously my LinkedIn account). Facebook has a setting where I can go in and 'Connect Life & Work" where I enter login information for both -- select 'Connect' -- and then specify one login that will give me access to both.
  5. After 'connecting' your accounts, next time you login to Facebook, you'll see your "Facebook Life" as the default page - and at the top there's a tab that says "Facebook Work". After you click on the tab, you flip to your "Facebook Work" environment - which could be branded Facebook-like, but maybe a new color instead of the usual blue to help delineate the difference between "Life" and "Work". You can also go into the Facebook settings and set "Facebook Work" as your default screen upon login if you prefer.
  6. New users to Facebook would have the option to create just one of "Facebook Life" or "Facebook Work" or both. You wouldn't be required to have both - i.e. High School students or Middle School kids who are on Facebook (so young!) would probably not have use for "Facebook Work" ---- "Facebook School"??? Hmm.. think Blackboard or some of the other Web sites we used in High School and College for our teachers to push assignments to us and where we submitted papers, took quizzes, etc. Wow..that's an entirely separate blog post, but yet another genious idea! Ha!
  7. When posting content to either "Facebook Life" or "Facebook Work", you have the option to post to both "Life" and "Work", or just one or the other. So if I'm on my "Facebook Life" tab -- when I post a status update, if I wanted to duplicate it on my "Facebook Work", I could perhaps check a box or radio button below the status box that would publish the status to both. If the option wasn't selected, then the status would just publish to "Facebook Life". How wonderful to post to both or to be completely selective in what content goes where. I realize that you can mimic some of this functionality using security settings and what not, but like I said before -- it's not granular enough, and most, if not the majority, of Facebook users don't understand privacy settings or how to use them, hence all of the uproar about what gets posted to Facebook.
  8. And perhaps security could even get more granular -- when posting a status update to "Facebook Work", I'd like for only my co-workers to see: "Christy will be holding a training session today on SharePoint at 3:30pm in Room 111". I could select a security group from a drop down under the status box - "co-workers". Bye bye Yammer. And with this type of granularity (word?), this could potentially replace intranets.
Think about it - everyone is always blogging or discussing about how people share too much information on Facebook. That the lines between personal lives and work lives are too blurred. You want to share with your friends the Halloween party you went to, but you know your co-workers will see the pictures and you hesitate. "Facebook Work" keeps you from ever having to second guess. It also helps you with job searches, networking, and engagement with co-workers.

So Facebook... if you're listening..... you've said you want to be the end all be all of our internet lives -- so why not be a part of our professional lives? We're too stupid to separate personal life from our professional life using the existing Facebook tools, and I can't adapt to LinkedIn's wannabe Facebook setup. It's a win for you Facebook - you'd attract all of those stodgy users who are afraid of Facebook because they only hear of the bad exposure. And after using "Facebook Work" and getting used to the tools and set up, the former 'anti-Facebook' grump would most likely set up a "Facebook Life" account as well. More users, more information, more advertising dollars! So help us Facebook... buy LinkedIn and give us another reason to be on Facebook during the day at work, other than filling out our top 5 movies or finding out what 80's cartoon character we are.

Here's a rough...and I mean rough...simple mock up -- click to see larger:


I'm a slack blogger this month -- count May out for me.

So, I realize I haven't updated for almost a month now. May has been an incredibly busy month for me. My sister got married last weekend and preparing for that has been very time consuming. And on top of that, I have a huge project I've been leading for almost two years (the redesign of our intranet to a custom SharePoint intranet) that launches on Monday -- so I've been working long hours and working at night this month to finish up the last minute things.

So needless to say, don't expect much blogging from me this month. June will be better! Rest assured!


Columbia Tea Party

So I went to the Columbia Tea Party at the State House on Wednesday. I wasn't planning on going, but I got curious and walked down there after lunch. I'm really glad I went. As I was walking down Main St., I could see the crowd of people and hear the cheers. It made me lose my breath a little. When I got there and immersed myself in the crowd, it felt really good to be there and be a part of an event I knew was happening all over the state, and all over the country. I took some pictures of some of the funnier signs, and I posted a video to my YouTube channel - as of two minutes ago I had 254 views.

Tonight I was watching random clippings of what CNN, MSNBC, NBC news, etc. were reporting about the Tea Parties. Most of them were calling them right wing extremism and pro-Rebulican, anti-Obama rallies. It's so frustrating, because it wasn't like that at all. It was people from all walks of life and races protesting government spending and the spendulous bills. It really upset me when the White House acted like they didn't even know they were going on that they had just heard about them on the 15th. Yeah right! How is thousands and thousands of people all across the nation in hundreds of cities getting together to protest something not news? or not important? It just shows you how arrogant our government is.

But just to show you that even CNN is falling into the biast reporting, check out this video. You have to watch the entire thing... the first half is what was shown on CNN, and the second half is what wasn't shown on CNN - what really happened. I think it's scary that our news is being filtered to support the station's agenda.


Barack Fools Us (Article from Toronto Sun last November)

Barack fools us
Whole world will pay for America's electoral mistake

A young student friend e-mailed me on Tuesday night.

"Have locked myself in my room because the place is full of little idiots -- who cannot spell Barack Obama's name and could not name one of his foreign or domestic policies -- running around screaming obscenities about George Bush, conservatives and how Sarah Palin is a bitch. I love democracy!"

Even so, the people spoke. A victory for the hysterical Oprah Winfrey, the mad racist preacher Jeremiah Wright, the mainstream media who abandoned any sense of objectivity long ago, Europeans who despise America largely because they depend on her, comics who claim to be dangerous and fearless but would not dare attack genuinely powerful special interest groups. A victory for Obama-worshippers everywhere.

A victory for the cult of the cult. A man who has done little with his life but has written about his achievements as if he had found the cure for cancer in between winning a marathon and building a nuclear reactor with his teeth. Victory for style over substance, hyperbole over history, rabble-raising over reality.

A victory for Hollywood, the most dysfunctional community in the world. Victory for Streisand, Spielberg, Soros and Sarandon.

Victory for those who prefer welfare to will and interference to independence. For those who settle for group think and herd mentality rather than those who fight for individual initiative and the right to be out of step with meagre political fashion.

Victory for a man who is no friend of freedom. He and his people have already stated that media has to be controlled so as to be balanced, without realizing the extraordinary irony within that statement. Like most liberal zealots, the Obama worshippers constantly speak of Fox and Limbaugh, when the vast bulk of television stations and newspapers are drastically liberal and anti-conservative.

Senior Democrat Chuck Schumer said that just as pornography should be censored, so should talk radio. In other words, one of the few free and open means of popular expression may well be cornered and beaten by bullies who even in triumph cannot tolerate any criticism and opposition.


A victory for those who believe the state is better qualified to raise children than the family, for those who prefer teachers' unions to teaching and for those who are naively convinced that if the West is sufficiently weak towards its enemies, war and terror will dissolve as quickly as the tears on the face of a leftist celebrity.

A victory for social democracy even after most of Europe has come to the painful conclusion that social democracy leads to mediocrity, failure, unemployment, inflation, higher taxes and economic stagnation. A victory for intrusive lawyers, banal sentimentalists, social extremists and urban snobs.

Also a defeat for one of the weakest presidential candidates in living memory.

Why would anyone vote for a man who seemed incapable of outlining his policies and instead repeatedly emphasized a noble but, if we are candid, largely irrelevant war record?

He was joined by a woman who was defended so vehemently by her supporters when it was cuttingly evident that she is years away from being, and perhaps never will be, a serious candidate for senior national office.

Most of all it was a terrible defeat for democracy and the United States. A politician of nothing defeated a nothing politician and a credulous electorate screamed in adoration. I fear we will all suffer very much indeed.


They are reading my mind....

So lately, there have been some eerily timely articles and blog posts posted from the different organizations I follow. I'm convinced that possibly I'm thinking hard enough about the topics that my brain waves are transmitting across the Internet and into the brains of the authors.

It all started Wednesday of last week. My manager and I were having a discussion about Intranet policies. We were talking about the future governance of our new intranet (launching in May..woo hoo) and my manger asked the question, "Do we need a policy for our intranet?". I was stumped. I really didn't know. We have an electronic policy, an email policy, a conduct policy - but when it comes to the new realm of collaboration on our intranet, do we need a policy for employees to abide by when using the intranet? We left the conversation with me committing to do some more thinking, research, and benchmarking on the topic.

Well, two days later, IBF (Intranet Benchmarking Forum) posted a blog post on "Intranet governance in the social media age". It walks through the need for governance around information on the intranet, the use of that information, and the collaboration related to the information. If you read the blog post you'll see it nailed the issue I needed help with. I still need to do some more benchmarking and research, but this is a heck of a start wouldn't you agree? So bizarre that this blog post came out only two days after the subject came up here.

Fast forward to this week. Another co-worker, my manager, and I were sitting in my cube discussing the use of social media for our company to connect to customers, especially during storms, etc. We were specifically focused on Twitter. I mentioned that a few months ago I had emailed out an article about some utility (I couldn't remember the name) in some state up north (couldn't remember which state) that had used Twitter during an ice storm to report on outages and connect to customers. I promised to go digging through my sent messages in my email and find the article and send it to them.

Well, about thirty minutes ago, lo and behold, Ragan Communications wrote an article about PSNH (Public Service of New Hampshire) using Twitter during a recent ice storm -- yes, the same company and incident that I was talking about to my co-worker and manager. Literally a day later Ragan decides to write an excellent article on the exact event and company I mentioned. So I was able to easily forward the link to my coworker and manager without having to dig through my old sent mail. The article just reaffirms to me what I was trying to convey last time I sent the article out - that a utility can use social media to connect with customers. PSNH is impressive with what they have done so far - not only are they using Twitter, but they have a YouTube channel, a Flickr account, and heaven forbid... a Facebook page! I'm now a fan of their Facebook page because I want to 'follow along' with them as they learn how to use the channel to push information to customers and have conversations. PSNH is definitely a leader in the industry when it comes to social media (in my mind). I appreciate that immensely.

Call me new fashioned, but with the growth rates of Facebook (especially with the 30+ age group) and Twitter, it seems mandatory to create an identity in this space....at least if anything, to protect your identity before someone else creates one for you!

On a side note, I think all of the communicators (internal and external) who work for utilities should get together and have our own conference. I think we have a lot to learn from each other and we share the same common concerns when it comes to social media - why not hash it out together? Hey NV Energy, can we have it in Las Vegas? :)

So, you see, two eerie 'coincidental' articles have been published. They are reading my mind! Or perhaps the more logical explanation is that these are not issues or topics solely of interest to us -- everyone is having these same conversations with their mangers and co-workers.

Regardless, I'm going to try this again. Ok, let's see.. what do I need? I think I need an article that proves why intranet strategists should be making six figure salaries. {puts fingers to temples} {closing eyes} {humming out loud} {cube neighbor looks my way on other side of wall with annoyed look} {concentrating really hard on aforesaid article}

Ok...done. Two days from now... some reputable organization will post this article. I'm waiting....


Do you have a social media mentor?

I haven't updated my blog in over a month, but gearing up to launch our newly redesigned intranet, wedding showers, weddings, home improvements, etc. has kept me so busy the last month I really haven't had the inspiration or time to update.

I was sitting around tonight trying to think of something to blog about and decided to share a flattering experience I had recently. There is an older gentleman who works in my department, (and I'm not going to dare guess his age, but let's just guess that he can retire if he chooses from our company in the next five to ten years) and he sent me an email the other day and asked if I had thirty minutes to spare to explain social media to him and where I saw it going, especially related to our business. He had just completed reading the book The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott and was excited with the mention of social media in today's communications landscape.

We set aside some time and had a good lengthy chat about social media sites and I shared some case studies I had heard about of how large organizations (Midol) missed the mark engaging with social media and how others (Ford, Dell, etc.) had made great strides in reputation and engagement using social media. We discussed how social media could play a role in large initiatives affecting our company and our industry, and how our company could potentially take advantage. It was a high-level discussion, but I really enjoyed bouncing ideas back and forth with him. It was great to talk to someone about social media who was as open minded and excited about the prospects - especially someone two generations away from me. We agreed to continue to brainstorm from time to time and share ideas as we come across them. He reads A LOT, so I recommended Shel Holtz's Tactical Transparency for him to read as well.

The next day I received a hand written note from him, thanking me for taking the time to talk social media with him. He's asked that I be his 'social media mentor'. What a novel idea. A social media mentor. Often when we think of mentors, we think of an older generation mentoring the younger generations -- but doesn't it make sense for a millennial to mentor a baby boomer on technology and social media? I think it's such a great idea - both parties involved can learn so much. I am constantly looking for ways to educate on the idea of using social media for reaching out to customers, and I have looked for opportunities to share case studies of other companies in similar industries who have had success with social media. What better channel than someone who has been with the company for 20+ years, who has relationships with senior leadership that I'll never come close to having, and who might help influence changes towards engaging (both internally and externally) with social media.

So if you're a millennial who can't imagine your life without social media and sees its potential for business, consider mentoring someone in your company who might not get social media or is just starting to dip their toes in it. With your powers combined, you might be surprised with what you can come up with together - and the influence that the mentoring might have on future decisions around social media in your company -- we've just started, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

After receiving his handwritten thank you, which he noted was appropriate for his generation, I sent him an instant message, thanking him for the note. :)

Related but unrelated:
Interesting descriptions of different generations in today's workforce. I fit the Gen Y (or millennial) description to a T.

I did a google search for 'social media mentor' and found nothing really related...only consultant type services.


Intranet Professionals on Twitter

Today is #followfriday on Twitter. This is where folks on twitter will list a few individuals they follow and the tag #followfriday. It's like a 'shout out' and a recommendation all in one. I have noticed a few Twitterers mention that they wished people would say why we should follow the recommended names along with the tweet. So I started a tweet with 'Intranet Gurus to follow...' and found that I could only fit a few names -- and there's so many great Intranet professionals on Twitter that I've connected with. So instead of limiting my list to 140 characters, I've decided to list them out here as a directory of sorts. These are individuals I've networked with on twitter or individuals who have an interest in and tweet about intranets. A lot of these individuals keep regularly updated blogs on intranet topics and enterprise 2.0. And whenever I throw an intranet-related question out on Twitter, guaranteed at least five of these people will respond.

If you're an Intranet Professional, expert on intranets, or just interested in intranet discussion - comment on this post and add your name and Twitter link.

Intranet Gurus, Professionals, & Addicts to Follow on Twitter
(in no particular order)

@IntranetMatters - Stephan Schillerwein; Intranet Professional trying to improve the way people use and act on information to make the world a better (informed) place

@netjmc - Jane McConnell; global intranet and portal strategy consultant - creator of annual Global Intranet Trends Survey

@tobyward - Toby Ward; The CEO of Prescient Digital Media and author of several blogs including http://www.intranetblog.com/

@intranetwatch - Intranet Watch; IntranetWatch is a Twitter group set up for people who want to exchange ideas, tips, links, ask questions about intranets

@nicprice - Nic Price; Serendipitist. Innovator. Designer of digital things. (Has worked on many award winning intranets over the years)

@helenday - Helen Day; All things intranetty at IBF

@markmorrell - Mark Morrell; A sad, suffering Seagulls supporter who escapes from the misery to try to be a half decent intranet manager! (run's BT's intranet)

@richarddennison - Richard Dennison; Corporate social media evangelist, blogger and dad (run's BT's intranet)

@elizabethmmarsh - Elizabeth Marsh; Twittering about intranets mostly, homemade cosmetics & herby things sometimes, and whatever else comes up...

@ibf - The Intranet Benchmarking Forum (blogs about intranets and best practices)

@paulhowarmiller - Paul Miller; Entrepreneur and Intranet Leader (head of IBF - hasn't tweeted since Oct. though)

@nancyatibforum - Nancy Goebel; (works as the US rep for IBF)

@intranetlife - Roberto Cobianchi; blogger, intranet & content management consultant, beer lover, photographer http://bbltwt.com/p2rnr

@s2d_jamesr - James Robertson; Intranet and content management guru. Prolific author, owner of Step Two Designs, spends too much time on planes

@Wedge - Wedge; Writer, Editor, Internal Communications Specialist and Voluntary Organisation Director. (frequently helps me with advice on intranets)

@edwarp09 - Phil Edwards; Intranet, americana, food, wine and lots of hot loving... (experience with intranets for 10+ years)

@bevinhernandez - Bevin Hernandez; Geek girl, Project Manager, working in higher ed (Project Mgr. for Penn State's intranet redesign, read about launch here.)

@jonthegeologist - Intranets, Digital Communications at Coca-Cola Enterprises.

@shel - Shel Holtz; Communications. Technology. Jam music. Family. Life is good. (Renowned communicator who knows A LOT about technology and internal communications)

@Crescenzo - Steve Crescenzo; Leader in corporate communications (Another renowned communicator who gets the intersection of internal communications and technology)

@jschultz - Jeremy Schultz; Intranet communicator at Intel, writing global news and driving social tools behind the firewall. Food and beer-loving cyclist fighting urge to race again.

@sammarshall - Sam Marshall; Intranet & collaboration specialist

@bklein34 - bklein34; AT&T communicator in Social Media & Intranets, overall emerging comm enthusiast. Oh and chocolate & shoe enthusiast. 2nd job: wife & mom of 3.

@theparallaxview - Russell Pearson; social media inside the firewall / analogue hi fi /internal communications / intranets / Theory

@thinkintranet, @abigaillb - Abigail; Intranut, Motherof2

@thoughtfarmer - Chris McGrath; Co-creator of ThoughtFarmer, an intranet for intranet-haters.

@adenin - Martin Amm; CEO of adenin TECHNOLOGIES, a company that delivers IntelliEnterprise, a complete intranet 2.0 portal suite for enterprises. (I love the demo on their Web site)

@StepTwoDesigns - Step Two Designs; information architecture / usability / intranets / content management

@christubb - Chris Tubb; i/c intranets Orange-France Telecom group. If only everyone else knew that.

@justinavery - Justin Avery; I run website projects and film in my spare time. (works on intranets and always has great advice for me when I have intranet questions)

@jowyang - Jeremiah; Currently employed as Senior Analyst, Social Computing, Forrester Research

@lindabeth - Linda Russell; Marketing/communications professional. Professional passions: internal communications, project management, change. (Intranet Prof. for small company)

@Alex_Manchester - Alex Manchester; Technology, communications, Digital DJ and everything normal life in between...

@wiwiking - Willem Gabilly; Communicator @IBM

@dzhu - Danielle Zhu; IT consultant, web application development, enterprise 2.0, intranet, social computing, education, e-learning, language learning

@gyehuda - Gil Yehuda; Enterprise Web 2.0 analyst, drinks tea, loves music

@rozzer - Chris Rothschild; Digital Commas Manager. Trying to shoehorn Enterprise 2.0 into the organisation..one wiki at a time!

@sharonwilson - Sharon Wilson; Knowledge Management, intranet, enterprise 2.0, expertise location, social networking, global management consulting firms

@RickSpratley - Rick Spratley; Communication Canuck living in Chicago. I love hanging out at the intersection of Communication and Technology. Social Media Addict.

@tocaya - Tocaya; Corporate Communication Master grad; interested in ínternal communication for digital natives, social media, intercultural communication, languages (half in english, half in German)

@ClaudiaMulder - Claudia Mulder; Graphic designer, information junkie, interested in social networks, Web & Enterprise 2.0, poetry, philosophy, SharePoint, intranet & knowledge manageme (sometimes tweets in Dutch)

And last, but definitely not least....................... ME!

@ChristySeason - Christy Season; Intranet Strategist for power company, Comp. Engr. w/ MBA, solutions/problem solver, Web 2.0 obsessed, employee engagement research, ballet dancer & bowler


Social Computing Guidelines - Company Comparison Table

As mentioned before in a previous post about Social Media Guidelines for employees, our company is developing our own set of guidelines for employees. We are in the midst of draft 2, and once complete we have plans to post the guidelines to our intranet to get employee feedback - and then hopefully we will post the guidelines on our external site to share with the world as IBM, Intel, Sun, etc. so generously have.

In the previous post I listed out multiple links to various examples of guidelines from large organizations. At first glance, it's a little overwhelming to read and benchmark each set of guidelines and gauge what may be right for our organization. My very intelligent manager took the time to put together a comparison table which highlights the major sections within most of the guidelines. She then took four of the larger companies (IBM, INTEL, Sun Microsystems, Cisco) and checked off which set of guidelines had which section of content. She also included at the end of the table a column to place our company's name in. The format allowed us to easily go down the list of sections, see which sections were included in each of the four companies' guidelines, and then check in our company's column whether or not we wanted to include the section ourselves.

I asked my manager if I could post it to my blog and share with the Web world since my last post on our guidelines has received a lot of hits. She was very humble about it and said I could but only with the mention that it is a very objective listing. I think it's a great, handy little tool for company's to use when developing out their guidelines.

Social Computing Guidelines – Company Comparison*
Created by Therese Griffin, Mgr. Corporate Communications & Philanthropy at SCANA Corp.

*I've uploaded the document to a service called Yudu because I wasn't sure how else to share it. My company apparently blocks most of the other free file sharing services. Comment and let me know if you don't have access to the link above...it should be a public link.


Jack Welch gets Employee Engagement.

The reason GE was so successful under Jack Welch's leadership is because he gets employee engagement. I've been a big fan of his ever since reading his book "Winning". If you haven't read it, do so asap.

Well last night he was on Hannity on Fox News talking about this new "stimulus" (pork) package that was passed (by zero Rep) yesterday. And again I was reminded why I think this man is so smart. He gets it. Read the following transcript from a part of the interview:

WELCH: My complaint is about the way they've invested in companies. They're investors in the automotive industry, in the banks, over $100 million in AIG, and they're not acting like investors. They're acting like prosecutors. So what they've done is taken my money, your money, thrown it into these companies, and now they're saying you can't merge, you can't give bonuses, you can't do this, you can't go to the Super Bowl.
You can't do these things.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this because.

WELCH: They've got to be out rallying these employees.

HANNITY: You ran one of the biggest best companies in America. You had to make profits for you shareholders. You ought to be successful. Government has bankrupted Social Security, Medicare. They're going into huge debt here, they've destroyed our educational system.
Why should I have any faith the government can solve this economic problem? Why?

WELCH: Yes, but Sean, let's take this -- what I'm talking about. We spent the money, your money and my money. Now I don't want to just leave it there. It'd be like buying a house, and then because you didn't like your neighbors burning the house, not painting it, not doing anything with it.

Sean, we've got to take the AIG's and the banks and Detroit, and we've got to support -- if you don't like the CEOs, throw them out. If you don't like the -- throw him out. But you want to take care of the employees, bill those companies, and we get our money back.


I highlighted my favorite parts of the interview. Employee Engagement. Welch knows that the way for a company to be profitiable and to succeed is to support and reward the employees. He knows that if we invested in the employees, the high performers, we would all get our investment back from these businesses.

He talks a great deal about what he terms 'diversification' in his book Winning. And it makes such perfect sense to me. You reward the hard workers, the high performers, with bonuses, perks, etc. You give them training opportunities and development opportunities. Those high performers in return will work harder, be more engaged, pass up on an opportunity to leave to a competitor...

So when I saw Jack on Hannity last night, I was thrilled to see that once again he pushes for engaging employees - he understands that you can't just throw money at a company and expect it to turn around. It's about the employees - "take care of the employees". You take care of and engage employees, you get better customer service and better results overall.


Be Careful What You Post - Because tattlers lurk among us.

So recently I posted my thoughts on guidelines related to social media, and I talked about how frustrating it is when you have to constantly watch your actions online because someone will tell. Well today one of our leaders at work shared a blog posting with us that was passed along from another leader in our company. "Be Careful What You Post" is a recent (Jan. 15) blog post from Peter Shankman. It describes a recent event where an ad company employee who posted an update to Twitter upon arriving in Memphis, TN that he would "die if I had to live here". The problem was that the ad man was in Memphis to give a presentation to FedEx who is headquartered in Memphis - and evidently chock full of Memphis born and bred employees. A FedEx employee saw the tweet and emailed the ad man a letter defending Memphis.

Before I go further, let me first interject that this blog has nothing to do with any of the leaders in our company who read Shankman's post and passed it along. I'm not disagreeing with anyone or saying anyone is wrong - I'm just 'blogging' about a social media case study and providing my opinion - that.. is not in any way related to the opinions of my company, my co-workers, my bosses, my friends, my family, or my family cat. So now that I've gotten this disclaimer out of the way (rolling eyes), don't tattle on me for blogging about tattlers.

Ok, so back to the FedEx story... like I said, the FedEx employee emailed the ad man and defended Memphis, and described all the good work FedEx is doing in the communities of Memphis. I think this was a good move on the FedEx employee's part - defend your city, share the good things FedEx is doing, and ask ad man to no longer put poor Memphis down.


The FedEx employee did not just email the ad man... oh no, he couldn't just discuss one on one with the ad man - no, he wasn't satisfied unless he really made the ad man sweat (for only saying Memphis wasn't his favorite place). The FedEx employee CC'd the email to the FedEx Corporate Vice President, Vice President, Directors and all management of FedEx’s communication department AND the chain of command at Ketchum. Really?

Does anyone have a sense of humor anymore? Look, I understand that ad man should not have made a crack on Memphis while traveling to the city to meet with a customer who happens to be headquartered there. It was bad judgment. I get that. But at the same time, are we really going to glorify goody-two-shoes FedEx employee who makes a point to copy every higher up he can think of on a 'shame on you Mr. Ad man...we're watching you' email?

This all goes back to my frustrations with the old school way of thinking. Is it really such a big deal that ad man just didn't like Memphis? Is it really such a big deal that he expresses his opinion? Again, I get it... bad judgment from ad man since it was a business trip, but again, I just get really annoyed with the self righteous tattle tales that work among us. Like I said in my previous post, if I see a coworker's opinion online or a picture of them - I don't judge. I don't jump to assumptions. I don't tattle on them.

If I was the Fed-Ex employee, here is what I would have done: I would have sent the same exact letter defending the city and mentioning to the ad man to please be careful in the future. I would have MAYBE copied my direct boss and that would be it. It's not my place to judge other people and get them in trouble. If the ad man had tweeted, "FedEx is a horrible client..I can't wait until this project is over", then that is a reason to copy the higher ups - but copying VP's and Directors because of a 140 character sentence about a city?

I live in Columbia, SC. Defend it all you want, but it's not the best place to live. Wouldn't most of us rather be living on the beach in Charleston (don't lie)? When I first moved to Columbia, I hated it. Not only is this the hometown of the hateful gamecocks, but it's concrete everywhere. Homeless people and bad drivers. But after living here for almost four years, it's grown on me. I really like the company I work for and my co-workers (and no, I'm not just saying that because they may be watching me online). I love my house, and after yesterday and today's weather, I'm thankful I never moved to Minnesota (thank you, thank you, thank you). I'm a two hour drive from the beach...a two hour drive from Clemson...a two hour drive from Charlotte...and a three hour drive to Atlanta. Sure, I hate how truly awful the heat is here in the summer, but it's not so bad. BUT, if someone cracks on Columbia on Twitter - I'm not going to get up in arms...even if it is someone from an agency visiting us. Honestly, I'd laugh it off and say, "Yeah..but it grows on you" or "Yeah...it's hot as hades, but you should really visit the Riverwalk or hang out in the Vista...it might change your mind." Why not take ad man to your favorite Memphis restaurant, or take him sightseeing to local attractions - show him the Memphis you so strongly defend. I wouldn't chide the person and email the entire senior leadership at my company. I just feel like our CEO would email me back and say, "First of all, who are you? Secondly, why are you wasting my time? Thirdly, what the heck is Twitter?"

And before you say to me, "Well Christy, you didn't grow up in Columbia, you don't have that connection to defend it." Let me just tell you.. I grew up in Birmingham, AL ok.. and I can't tell you how many times I've heard "Hey, I drove through Birmingham on my way to [New Orleans, Texas, etc.] and wow, not much to see there." I've gotten the redneck thing, the marrying my cousin thing, the racist thing ("You're from Birmingham? Wow, I heard they are stuck in the 60's and schools are still segregated")... you name it, Birmingham is a pretty easy target. But I don't get upset if someone just doesn't like Birmingham... I shrug and let it roll off my shoulders...

So to make a long blog post short, I will state my opinion (imagine that) and say that I do agree that better judgment should be made when it comes to social media -- again, don't post something you don't want your mother to read. But I also think that there are people out there who just might look a little too hard for 'bad judgment' and then make a mountain out of what was really only a hill. A letter should have been sent to the ad man from Corporate Communications at FedEx, and then ad man could have apologized and of course state the obvious that he meant no offense to the client.

Bottom line is you just can't be too sensitive about things you see online because sarcasm, tone, etc. do not read well online. So, yes, be careful what you post - but also, be careful how you interpret and react to what you see in social media. Can't we all just get along?


christyweb now has video!

So I got a Flip Mino for Christmas. And while I still can't get the software to work on my stupid computer, it works on my work computer - so, I've created my own YouTube channel and will now start capturing video to go along with my infamous photography. I know you can barely contain your excitement, so I won't keep you waiting -- christyweb on YouTube. I've also added the link to my list of links - look to the right.

Keep in mind, I'm still an amateur when it comes to video shooting -- I'm pretty much a pro at capturing all my friends in their most embarrassing moments with digital photos, but my video skills are still shaky - but it will only be a matter of time before I'm an expert.

Here's a little preview... Jacksonville Landing on New Year's Eve on the stroke of midnight:


My New Year's Resolutions

I haven't updated my site in almost a month. The holidays were full of travel and I never had anything to write about. So I decided that it's about time to update and what better post to start the new year with than a post on my New Year's resolutions. I have a lot... but I'm not sure they will all come to mind right now, so this post might be a work in progress.

My New Year's Resolutions for 2009
  1. Lose 8 pounds, because 8 is my lucky number and me minus 8 pounds would be nice
  2. Quit smoking - I'm not a smoker, but I smoke...especially when alcohol is involved. None of my friends smoke anymore and none of the bars allow smoking. So unless I want to continue to be the reject who has to go outside and smoke, I need to quit.
  3. Start to let go of a lot of anger I hold onto for things that happened in the past - high school, college, grad school -- lots to let go of
  4. Pray more
  5. Get to bed earlier
  6. Get to work earlier
  7. Try not to let work stress me out, at the end of the day it's just a job
  8. Buy less clothes and wear more of the clothes I have
  9. Take more time to read more books
  10. Make more time for Mii -- on my Wii
  11. Get back into painting
  12. Work on my flexibility so my ponche stretch is 180 degrees like all the 16 and 17 yr. olds in my ballet class
  13. Come to terms with the fact that I'm not 16 or 17 anymore, so I can't expect my 27 yr old self to dance ballet like I did when I was 17 (but I sure as hell can keep trying)
  14. Take care of my house: sod my yards, fix up my bathrooms, fix my deck, and other landscaping to my yards
  15. Be more cautious about my finances, save more
  16. Work on hiding my frustrations when people get on my nerves
  17. Work on calming down my road rage
  18. Re-learn German with Bradley
  19. Do more active things on the weekends, less laying around
  20. Be better about staying in touch with family and friends -- force myself to talk on the phone, even though I avoid it
  21. Grow my hair out as long as I can get it, and when it fails because it's too thin (like it always does) invest in extensions - the Jessica Simpson affordable ones
  22. Try not to care so much about what other people think and at the same time try not to take things so personally
  23. In addition to resolution 3, stop asking Bradley if we are ok and stop constantly seeking validation -- leave the poor boy alone and let him love me
  24. Wash my car more - inside and out. It's seriously deprived.
  25. Spend as many weekends as possible in the summer in Charleston, on the beach.
  26. Get a puppy - a mutt with a little Chow in her

  27. Play the lottery.
  28. Work on my back posture, especially when sitting at my desk at work. I'm thinking of bringing in a balance ball...seriously.

  29. Find more resolutions...
Yes, I know that's a lot... but it's a new year and I'm ready for it.