iSpy Something with My Little Eye

What is the greatest length someone has gone to spy on you?
Online harassment is not child’s play!

Although there are frequent reports of people being tormented by stalkers, most of your “average, everyday” folks go through life without being unknowingly pursued. Or do they?

An article by Ron Gil published on About.com referenced the University of Bedfordshire’s Electronic Communication Harassment Observation Study. The results were alarming. Cyberstalking is now more common that physical abuse. So for every domestic violence case you hear about, read about, or see documented, there are MORE victims of this new form of abuse. Cyberstalking is not to be confused with cyberbullying, which has recently received more media coverage due to teen-related acts of internet aggravation.

What exactly is cyberstalking? It is defined as a very serious form of online harassment. It involves the sending of repeated annoying and unwelcome messages. But cyberstalking goes far beyond cyberbullying in terms of motivations and tactics. Cyberstalking involves a disturbed obsession with the target, and a perverse desire to control that target in some way, even by attacking the target’s family members. Cyberstalkers do not wish to just torment someone for an adolescent power rush… stalkers want to force the target into some kind of submission, and are willing to involve other targets to achieve that disturbed result.

Mr. Gil goes on to explain that most cyberstalkers commonly have four objectives, including manipulating their prey. (Their prey could include the target, the target’s family, friends, and coworkers.) Cyberstalkers range from ex-significant others or someone you went to high school with to a coworker or a complete stranger. In the end, cyberstalkers are regular people with very irregular psychological problems.

I am pretty active online. Aside from this blog, I manage several social media pages and websites as well as my personal pages. I enjoy engaging in conversations, sharing helpful tips, and using it for business marketing. I have even met some great friends through Twitter. I have always been a supporter of social communities, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when I encountered my first cyberstalker. But I was completely shocked.

I know my stalkers. And they know me. What I do not know is how long this has been going on. I remember an incident that may have triggered it, which happened in 2011, but in hindsight the spying may have taken place prior to that. There were far too many ambiguous tweets and Facebook posts to count. I confronted my stalkers on multiple occasions and of course they denied that their comments were directed toward me. Over time, their disguised backtalk became so childish and bad-mannered that I decided to stop following/unfriend them. In turn, they chose to block me. I thought that my worries were over. Unfortunately, it was just the beginning.

Over the next 16 months, I made no attempt to contact these individuals but have received random text messages from one of them. It did no good to try to converse with her. The texts were far more discourteous than any public comment had been. It was obvious that she was simply trying to pick a fight or cause problems. I stopped responding, hoping the messages would stop. They didn’t. I also found out about slanderous accusations that were being made by the stalkers toward me. One stalker even attempted multiple requests to re-followed me on Twitter and I eventually had to block both of them. I would occasionally hear from other friends who still communicated with the couple on social media that the cryptic tweets continued.

Last week, I was followed by a “new Twitter user” that was pretty suspicious to me. The account had no location, no bio, a generic profile pic, and only a handful of followers. When I glanced to see how they may know me, I saw that they were following several of my friends and other accounts. I probably would have never given it a second thought, but the person responded to a tweet I had written about the new computer systems at work. Their comment was very vague and had grammatical errors that I have only seen my cyberstalkers use! Minutes later, it was confirmed that this fake account was IN FACT created by and ran by my cyberstalkers. And they weren’t just spying on me, but several of my friends as well.

I knew they had no idea that I had figured them out, but I still chose to block the account. I have been monitoring this account over the past couple of days. It is so disturbing to see my stalkers carrying on conversations WITH THEIR OWN TWITTER ACCOUNTS in an effort to hide behind this facade. I simply cannot believe the lengths to which cyberstalkers will go.

And there is a part of me that feels really sad for these stalkers and their psychological state. And I think about how much better the world would be if the time and effort taken to do bad, would be done for good instead.

My last resort to rectify this on my own is this blog. After many attempts to end this, requests to be left alone, and actions taken by me to prevent further contact, I fear legal action is the only conceivable next step. I have enough evidence to firmly stand my ground. However, I am simply asking for them to forget my friends and I ever existed. I just want this ridiculousness to end.

If you have ever been in this predicament and can share advice, please comment below publicly or email me privately.

If you are currently in this situation, please read Ron Gil’s article for more information and/or research legal actions in your state to protect yourself.

No one should be belittled, disrespected, or patronized because of someone else’s insecurities or condition.

Italicize verbiage is straight from Ron Gil’s article on About.com.

Mandy’s 12-Hour Challenge

There were three promises (Not resolutions, because who can keep those?) that I made to myself at the end of last year; 2012 would be the year that I step back from everyday social media, spend more time reading, and really focus on writing. For what it’s worth, these promises should have been resolutions… because I’ve done a poor job at seeing them through.

I have fought a pretty good battle though. I did read five books before I started to “not find time to read” and although I have done a terrible job at keeping this blog current, I did launch an online Christian women’s magazine where my friends and I regularly publish articles twice a week. Not too shabby for the first tertile of the year, right?

What about the social media portion, you ask? I would like to avoid that topic because, if anything, I use social media more now than ever before! I confess here before everyone… I am a social media junkie!! I somehow managed to delete my Google Plus and Path accounts, but that is as far as things progressed. I check Facebook at least once an hour, be it on my computer or one of my mobile devices. I check Twitter more frequently than that. I absolutely love Instagram. Depending on where I am or what I’m doing, I will check in on three different apps: Facebook, Foursquare, and Get Glue. I am rarely seen without my iPhone in my hand. It’s an addiction… borderline disease!

I find myself being burdened with this constant need to stay connected. I understand that I have an unhealthy relationship with social media, and I want to change that. Day by day, I have hoped for a solution. So when I saw the 12 Hour Challenge post from Mandy at Biblical Homemaking, I knew this could be just the key for me.

“The 12 Hour Challenge is simple: turn off the internet for 12 hours each day. We only get one chance to spend time with our families- let’s not waste it…” — that is the description on the new Facebook group page that Mandy created for this challenge. She has chosen 10am to 10pm as her time offline (or as I like to call it, the dark hours). I will be most challenged by going ‘dark’ from 8am to 8pm, so I am adapting the time to best suit me. Mandy encourages those interested in the challenge to, “Join in whenever you can! It’s about the heart of being present, and there are no real rules in that.” We are allowed a couple of 15-minute breaks during our ‘dark hours’ as most of us receive too many emails to neglect them for 12 straight hours. And we’re encouraged to post on the Facebook wall after our ‘dark hours’ are over in an effort to hold ourselves accountable on a daily basis. If you would like to read more details about the challenge, check out Mandy’s “10 to 10” blog post here.

My 12 Hour Challenge begins tomorrow, May 2. I already know that I will run into an obstacle this weekend, as I am out of town for a 3-day conference. Usually I am most socially active during events, so I am trying to prepare ways that I can avoid over-using social media and instead actually engaging with the folks I meet in person. If you have any suggestions for me, please comment below.

How do you manage your online time? Would you benefit from taking this challenge?

Look for a follow-up post from me to highlight any struggles or accomplishments that I encounter over the next week or two.

Don’t Allow Social Media Contests to Throw Your Reputation to the Dogs.

I guess it is common for individuals to hastily jump on the social media wagon. I did it, and several years later, I still learn something new every day. For some reason, though, it surprises me when some businesses are quick to climb aboard and hire folks who say they’re Social Media Specialist without having any Marketing or Customer Service skills.

Social media is such a broad term. It’s fun to engage in it. Everyone wants a part of it. We may even benefit from it. Yes, it’s free… and literally just about anyone can do it. So why should businesses be any different, right? Why should they care if their Social Media Manager has no idea about Brand Identity, Creative Strategy, or Holding Power. Is it really necessary for them to practice Conflict Resolution or Stress Management skills? Would it matter if their Copy writing and Editing had errors? Some businesses are actually okay with their prospective employee simply having 500 followers, a blog in their own name, or a Facebook page history of 3 years.

I find that there is usually a noticeable difference between a business page run by a true social media professional versus a self-proclaimed guru.

I feel I should state here that I am neither. I have worked in Advertising & Marketing since 1999 and Customer Service for nearly 20 years. Even as an Art Director, I felt that I was never a guru in anything. However, daily I bring a new outlook from both Marketing and Customer Service that I try to convey in social media. I use social media in my line of work; social media is NOT my line of work.

The current fad on social media sites, like Facebook, are contests. I actually have one running right now through JennB.Creative. Contests generally are not a bad thing. It’s a great way to gain Likes or Followers, and create a buzz for your business. Where I feel businesses go wrong is selecting contests that are too far removed from the services that they offer, and failing to maintain the contest throughout its course.

I recently stumbled across a social media contest from a large car dealership. The dealership wants to give back to their community, so they created a 4-week Animal Rescue Contest. In researching their page, I was unable to obtain a written copy of the official rules. (Mistake #1 – Rules should always be clearly posted.) It appears organizations are allowed to post multiple photos of animals on the dealership’s wall as a means to campaign for votes. One participant even questioned if she was allowed to also post photos of animals that her rescue group had up for adoption. The dealership replied that it was okay to advertise the animals. (Mistake #2 – Limit the amount of wall posts from an organization to avoid a Spam-like appearance.) What I found most bothersome by this contest was the fact that – if I were a customer of the dealership who may frequent their page for oil & filter specials, recall information, or to preview their new car releases – all I see are photos of dogs. What do dogs have to do with this dealership? Is it really worth losing the Likes of loyal customers in order to gain 100 new Likes, who may Unlike you once the contest is over? I think the contest is truly a nice gesture. I am just not sure that it was well thought out from a Marketing and Customer Service standpoint. I literally had to scroll through weeks of photos and contest posts in order to find the last post made by the dealership. (Mistake #3 – Manage the contest and page as frequently as necessary in an effort to maintain the value of your page prior to the contest.) Contests should not inconvenience your customers or potentially damage your social media reputation.

Social media is a constantly evolving avenue that no one may fully master. However, the basics behind social media – Marketing and Customer Service – are fairly cut and dry. I encourage companies to not lose sight of these two important business factors. Remember to use social media as the tool that it is and not the lifeline that many want it to become.

The Downside to Social Media

I sat down at the computer tonight to blog about Social Fresh and the tiny couple of seconds it felt like I was involved in the two-day conference, when I noticed a Tweet in my stream that stated, “All: @NBCNEWS was just hacked. DO NOT RETWEET THEIR TWEETS. They are FALSE…” I stopped in my tracks and went straight to the NBCNews Twitter account. What I found were Tweets from a band-of-idiots who had illegally-accessed the account and stated an attack had been made on Ground Zero.

This being the weekend of the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, I immediately became disgusted by the hackers, their comments, and sadly, yes… social media. Who finds it comical to make such terrible accusations? Who has so much time on their hands that they sit around guessing the password to accounts? And why is social media such an open target for these opposing situations?

Lately I have noticed an increase in negativity via social media. Let me be more specific; this isn’t the hate that an angry teen posts on her Facebook status about her cheating ex-boyfriend. The conflicts that I mention are those that impact society on a far wider scale; conflicts that are created by malicious hackers, devious businesses, or even so-called-gurus. Although we all see the potential that social media has, we cannot lose sight that it is simply a FREE, open forum with no real rules, just waiting to name its next victim.

Don’t get me wrong. From a marketing and customer service stand point, the world has really struck gold with social media sites. It allows us to engage with our audience of clients and potential customers in a quick and cost-effective way. Yet, I feel the industry is largely, if not solely, relying too heavily on these sites. I’m not saying those of us who use social media for the good are at fault, but we have to question if we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

What are some of the problems that we face by using these free, open sites?

  1. Although some of us use social media from a business standpoint, there are plenty of folks on these sites, bored and ready to cause problems. Take for example, the hackers who compromised NBC’s Twitter account. We cannot take any material on social media sites for more than face-value. You may ask, “Doesn’t this contradict using social media to promote the validity of a business?” Yes, to a degree. This is why we shouldn’t depend solely on Twitter, Facebook, etc. until there are ways to control them.
  2. Prior to social media, businesses primarily gained visibility by means of radio spots, television ads, or print space in a magazine. All of these marketing efforts cost a significant amount of money, required skill to execute, and were heavily managed. It made retaliation difficult, which made a business really “think before they spoke” negatively. Although word-of-mouth cannot be regulated, it takes a great deal of time for your opinion to reach an audience of 100 people. An individual or business can now say whatever they want about a business to a broad audience, whether their statement is true or not, changing the actions of their peers almost instantly.
  3. Some self-proclaimed social media ‘gurus’ have a tendency of sharing information, often aggressively, in an effort to sway friends, followers, or clients into believing that their way is the “right way” to use social media. The only right way to share in social media is with effectiveness and etiquette. After all, the last time I checked there is no written rule of how Twitter must run, or how often a business (or individual) MUST use their accounts. We should share why it would benefit an individual to use social media etiquette – i.e., too many similar posts will look like spam, avoid language that could be offensive, etc. – or how effective it can be for a business to engage with their followers. There are many people who are still unsure about social media and someone coming across as the Twitter or Facebook police, only looks arrogant.

Social media makes it very simple for an average Joe to express their opinion and influence a large crowd. What once took organizing a rally in a large area with a p.a. system (and guts) now only takes 140 characters and the click of a mouse. We are a far braver society now that we can voice our opinions while hiding behind our computer screens, smart phones, and tablets. We need to be reminded, as professionals and as humans, that our words can be hurtful when presented irresponsibly. I am just as guilty of this. Who hasn’t had an email they’ve written be misinterpreted? Who hasn’t Tweeted bitterly about poor service in the midst of disappointment? Who hasn’t told a little white lie as a joke, not considering the consequences?

I will find myself, at times, being disgusted with social media. The term alone “Social Media” can turn my stomach on certain days, like today. Why are so many people comfortable with it? …so reliant upon it? …completely fascinated by it?

Then I have to remember, this is all still relatively new… the businesses and even the social media professional are still learning. Sure, the shiny-new has worn off to some of us but others just created their account last week. There are even businesses who jumped in, completely oblivious to social media and struggled, and left their accounts dormant while re-evaluating their decision. For myself, in just two short years Twitter alone has brought me so many positives to my life. I have met so many terrific people, learned so many wonderful things, and been a lot of great places because of it! However, I once abandoned my account too. It was the encouraging words of my brother, not a series of aggressive or negative Tweets, who coaxed me back on to use the site to it’s full potential. Had I received from him the response of “You’re doing this all wrong. You suck. You’ll never get it.”, then I would have missed out on a lot. There is no capacity for social media. We shouldn’t try to scare off people who aren’t as knowledgable as we are, we should help them.

…which brings me back to Social Fresh. It’s a conference spear-headed by some of the most helpful faces of social media. You can truly see the real professionals shine during conferences like this one. They stand out.

Although I was offered a free ticket by one of social media’s brightest stars, DJ Waldow, I regretfully still wasn’t able to rearrange my schedule on September 6 & 7 to attend. Instead I waited patiently on Tuesday for the first Tweets to start popping into my stream, and shortly after lunch, I was already recapping the events from earlier that day. Around 4:30pm, I left work and headed to Charlotte. I had planned to meet my dear friend, and social media’s most sparkly star, Stephanie Wonderlin (whom I hadn’t seen in nearly a year) for dinner. We were joined by my brother, Dean, and a table-full of outstanding folks from Justin Levy and Carly Durham to Eric Boggs and David Horne. As I sat across the table from Stephanie, catching up on [and giggling about] real life, I wondered what my life would be like had I never started using social media. I hope that the positive impact Stephanie and some of the others have made on me, I am making on someone else. I really love to learn but I equally love sharing my knowledge with others. There is no reason to be negative in life… and certainly not in social media. If you have time to hack into an account and Tweet poorly-executed jokes or blog about how terrible someone is for not being as cool (i.e.; knowledgeable) as you are on Facebook, then perhaps you should step back and re-evaluate yourself. The time you spend being negative could be spent, instead, teaching others about social media, offering your time to show someone how Twitter or YouTube works, volunteering your time in the community, or spending time with loved ones. There is always a handful of positive options to counteract one negative effort, even in the midst of social media sites not having sufficient rules to keep others from being negative. Thank you to the crew of Social Fresh for pulling me out of my disgust and allowing me to see the good in social media often outweighs the bad.

Since my blog took a turn from it’s original path, please take the time to visit the Social Fresh Facebook page to read more about the sessions that took place on Tuesday & Wednesday in Charlotte. Hopefully you will take from this blog, and their notes, the positive impacts that social media can have in our society if we choose to share it.

SoGeeky South

I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you three upcoming social media/technology conferences that you may find worthy of attending:

SOCIAL FRESH Charlotte 2011
via www.socialfresh.com

During Social Fresh Charlotte’s two days of training – September 6-7, 2011 – our educational track can be broken down into a few core focus points:

Training Topics — Social Fresh is adding more and more training opportunities. Our sessions focus more on teaching actionable lessons and less on broader strokes or concept discussion. Attendees told us they wanted more hands on training, so now we have including training topics for teaching tactics and strategy throughout the entire conference. We avoid talking ABOUT social media and focus on showing you what you can do today.

We select the topics and sessions we think you will learn the most from. We include brand lessons that will teach you. Attendees from Social Fresh can hit the ground running after the event. They take away tons of notes and insights that can be implemented right away.

Better Speakers — I don’t know of a training event that can say they have the experience that Social Fresh has with finding the right social media speakers and topics for an audience of marketers. We have hosted hundreds of top industry speakers. The best speakers are one part high level insights, one part first hand knowledge, and one part not boring the attendees to tears.

We know who can convey the best social media lessons and brand lessons. We know who is rated the highest by your marketing peers, event after event. And we know which speakers can actually send people away inspired and more confident, as opposed to more confused and wanting more.

Our Charlotte conference has the best line up of smart speakers that we have ever put together. These thought leaders get it and put this stuff into practice for clients and big businesses every day.

WHY IS SOCIAL FRESH DIFFERENT?

Focus on Networking
Focus on Fun
Focus on Actionable Content
Focus on Case Studies

Hosted by Jason Keath and Corey Creed. Please visit the Social Fresh Charlotte website to read more about the event and speakers. Click here for ticket information.

ConvergeSouth 2011
via www.convergesouth.com

ConvergeSouth is the annual tech users conference held in Greensboro, NC. Entering our 7th year, the conference is organized completely by volunteers. Originally based on the “blogger-con” concept, ConvergeSouth has grown as technology has developed and has tried to meet new needs of our community via Social Networking, Social Media, App Development and more without ignoring new users’ needs – that’s why there will always be a “101″ or Beginners Track at ConvergeSouth.

Mark your calendars for October 6-7, 2011 in Greensboro!

ConvergeSouth has also added a one-day Nonprofit Track this year to draw in tech-savvy nonprofits who do so much for our communities. The three special sessions are designed at the introductory (101) level to assist nonprofits move deeper into the tech world.

Thursday’s keynote speaker is a globally-recognized blogger, educator, business consultant, and author who blogs at {grow} — one of the AdAge Top 50 blogs of the world, Mark Schaefer. Mark has worked in global sales, PR, and marketing positions for nearly 30 years and now provides consulting services as Executive Director of U.S.-based Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

He has advanced degrees in marketing and organizational development and holds seven patents. Mark enjoys teaching social media marketing courses at several colleges and is a faculty member of the graduate studies program at Rutgers University.

Mark is the author of The Tao of Twitter and has a new McGraw-Hill-published book arriving spring, 2012.

Please visit the ConvergeSouth website to read more about the event and speakers. Click here for full-event ticket information or here for Non-Profit Day registration.

GEEKEND 2011
via www.geek-end.com

Geekend is the interactive conference phenomenon you have been waiting your whole life for. It is your chance to interact with people taking the tech and creative industries by storm.

Geekend is the annual gathering of the geek tribe. Geekend is what you might call an interactive conference with some truly awesome parties. It’s the kind of event that you’ll be texting, Tweeting and Facebooking from, while making all your friends back home super jealous.

Geekend is a mashup, a meetup, and a Tweet-up all mixed together in a delicious Low Country boil of innovative ideas. It’s networking, Savannah style. It’s a veritable supermarket of fresh thoughts and delicious camaraderie. To sum Geekend up in one word is really quite impossible, but we tend to use this one: Fun.

Join us this October and November as the brightest geeks, designers, developers, artists, and social media mavericks flock to Boston and Savannah for several days filled with cutting edge speakers, fun-filled after parties, and amazing networking opportunities.

Go to our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for all the Geekend details and updates.

Our Mission:

To bring together the brightest geeks, designers, artists, social media mavericks and forward thinking entrepreneurs.

Founded by Miriam & Jacob Hodesh and Sloane Kelley, you will be blown away by the events Geekend 2011 has in store for you. Visit Geekend’s website to checkout the schedule and list of speakers. Please click here for ticket information.

You will not want to miss these three conferences. Why are you waiting? Get your tickets now! Comment below if you already have your tickets and plan to join me. See you there!

Pet Peeves

No one is perfect, thankfully. Could you image the pressure of having to uphold perfection? I certainly wouldn’t want that stress. Perfection among a society could also lead to boredom. Without individual quirks, I’d imagine things would be pretty dull.

However, having worked for 10 years in Marketing, there are a few things that annoy me to a greater degree than others. I wanted to take the opportunity to blog about my pet peeves simply to get things off of my chest; although secretly I hope this will also raise awareness to the community.

THEN versus THAN

For some reason, society has forgotten the definition of these words. There seems to be an increase in misuse over the past years. The error has become so common lately that, for a second, I actually questioned my use of the words!

THEN is defined as a place in time; as in immediately, soon after, or next in order. It is an adverb. Used in a sentence, it would read We ate dinner, then started home.

THAN is a conjunction. It is a function word used in comparison or to express choices. Used in a sentence, it would read Easier said than done.

To read “We can go to the mall than go to the movies.” would – although poorly stated – actually indicate a choice (either mall or movies) and would not indicate a sequence of events.

The only time than can be used in timing is when it is replacing scarcely or hardly. For example:
No sooner had we arrived than the class starts.
Hardly had we arrived when the class started.
However, please keep in mind that hardly and than should never be used in the same sentence.

So rather THAN continuing to consistently make errors concerning these words, please reference these definitions above, THEN make the correct choice in your emails, texts, Tweets, or blogs.

BACKSLASH versus SLASH

It is common occurrence to confuse these two words, as well. I understand that not everyone is educated on this type of terminology. I hope that this brief discussion will encourage you to share the information in an effort to raise awareness. The correct use of these words is crucial when sharing your URL or giving a website to someone.

BACKSLASH is the mark and is typically used in computer programming. On a standard American keyboard, it can usually be found above the Return/Enter key. It shares the key with the mark |.

SLASH is the mark / which has multiple uses. It is sometimes referred to as a forward slash. Typically it denotes “or” as in the sentence above where I mentioned Return/Enter or “per” as in Miles/Hour. It is also the mark commonly used in URL (website) addresses. It can be found on the same key of a standard keyboard as the question mark (?).

To state that your website is jennbcreative-dot-com-backslash-jennb would result in the following: www.jennbcreative.comjennb  You will find that if you enter a backslash, you will receive an error message. Please remember when sharing URLs to properly state “slash” when the / mark appears.

PROOFREADING

I am notorious for making typos, especially if I am using my iPhone to communicate. Aside from auto-correct issues, my fingers simply struggle to reach the correct keys at times. This happens most commonly when I am in a hurry. Typos are simply going to happen.

However, when managing a business’s Twitter/Facebook page or being heavily involved in blogging, typos and other grammatical errors should be kept to a minimum. This should specifically pertain to folks who consider themselves writers, blogging specialists, or social media gurus. Proofreading is critical. Without it, our publications can look hurried, sloppy, pointless, or uneducated.

Blogs are written to express our feelings or to share knowledge within a community. We want our posts to convey accurate information right down to the punctuation. I like to think of it as this; blogs allow us to publish our own online newspapers with articles specific to our own liking. Imagine if you purchased a NY Times and found words out of place or misspelled. It would be difficult to take from it what the writer was actually trying to communicate. If my NY Times read like many blogs I have seen, I would demand a cancellation of my subscription and a refund in full.

Often when I write a blog, I want to put everything down as quickly as I can, for fear of leaving out details. Sometimes I type faster than I should, or my brain jumps ahead of itself. I have been known to omit words and even sentences. Because of this, I save my blogs as a draft. I then take a break and revisit the blog at another time. If your schedule does not allow for a revisit, take your time selecting the words of your blog. Don’t rush through it. If you don’t take the time to write it, do you think your guests will take the time to read it?

I also take advantage of the Thesaurus and Merriam-Webster websites. The Chicago Manual of Style is even online! We really have resources at our fingertips. In college, I remember having those books scattered across my desk during English and Creative Writing courses. Now, I simply keep these websites up as tabs. When I struggle to find a word, I will click on the thesaurus tab. Within seconds, I have found a better word for my blog. As silly as it sounds, I also find it helpful to re-read your blog aloud before publishing it. It is easier to find misplaced words and misspellings that way.

I hope that this post will enlighten just one person, who will be moved to share this information with someone else. This isn’t to point fingers at anyone but is simply to remind us that – although computers have simplified our lives – technology doesn’t necessarily make us smarter writers. We need to still be aware of what we are publishing and utilizing resources when we need assistance.

Put into your blog what you want someone to take from it, and never stop learning.

Mission Statement

It seems as though I have had some struggles lately… pondering my life’s purpose. I was on a mission to determine how I could make the most of my years and figure out just why God has lead me down the path that He has.

I woke up one day – figuratively – when I realized that graphic design wasn’t satisfying my desire to help people. My solution was a job in the medical field. Certainly that service-oriented career would appease me. After going back to school and receiving certifications in Medical Office Administration, Medical Billing & Coding, and Nurse Aide, I quickly realized how badly I missed the creative release found in my previous art positions. Still trying to find my niche, but forgetting often to pray for guidance, I spent the course of 5+ years becoming more involved in community groups and national nonprofits.

Each year I donated more and more of myself, from designs to cash to time. I spent hours folding tshirts, selling ads, and raising money. I fell in love with the idea of turning this new-found hobby into a career, and started to apply for area organizations. With my marketing experience and my years of volunteering, I was called in for some interviews but all-in-all was unable to secure a position. This made me start to question my involvement… was I donating myself for the right reasons? …were the nonprofits I helped close to my heart? …did the money I raised or donated truly go towards the purpose I had intended?

After establishing my freelance business, I felt like I should start focusing more on faith-based or small local organizations, especially start up nonprofits. I was disappointed with the way larger nonprofits lost their focus and were filled with too much drama. I wanted to help on a smaller scale, in hopes of making a larger impact.

Jump ahead a few months. After making a VERY difficult decision to walk away from my most comfortable nonprofit (and the group of folks who I felt had become an extension of my family) I began praying that I would be introduced to whatever it was that was meant for me to serve God the best. I knew only He could provide me with the organization that would pull all of my strengths and fulfill my passion to help others. I was tired of trying to make things work on my own. I was bored with the limitations. I was annoyed with the drama. I was ready for a change. I was ready to make a significant difference!

Today I received a phone call from a friend. A friend, whom I have actually never met… and was only introduced to six short months ago. He (JW) was calling on behalf of his sister Ginny, whom I have also never met and have known for even a shorter amount of time. It’s one of those cases where I feel like I’ve known them longer than I have, and I just never stop to question it.

Ginny lives in Haiti. She is an RN from Ohio who has put a halt on a comfortable life here in the States to serve in a third-world country  devastated by earthquakes in Jan 2010 – the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Ginny spent most of her time in Haiti working as a Missionary Nurse for a nonprofit based out of the midwest USA. During that time, she was introduced to and later granted guardianship of her daughter, Odessa. The first time I heard her story, I actually was a bit jealous. A nurse, living on an island, helping people – AND the adoptive mom of one of the cutest kids I’ve ever seen. I joked that she was living the life that I thought would best fit mine!

However, the more I learned by reading her blog, the more I realized how strong Ginny is and how weak & unprepared I am to take on such roles. My biggest set back was that I never finished nursing school due to financial reasons. I didn’t feel that I had anything to contribute, even for a short-term mission. However, I couldn’t help but feel like she and I had been introduced for a reason.

The phone call today was brief, but covered a lot and can probably be considered life changing. Ginny has decided to start her own mission in Haiti. She wants to offer microloans and vocational training to Haitians as a way to build their trade skills and boost the economy. Initially I was asked to design the logo and assist with social media marketing. Before I could jump at the chance to scream YES! the conversation went a little further. I couldn’t believe what JW was asking. He said that Ginny wanted me to sit on the mission’s Board of Directors, if I would be interested. He said that if I agreed, Ginny encouraged me to start planning a trip to Haiti within the next year and explained that her mission would be built around the principal that everyone has something to contribute to the country. Having lived in Haiti for the past 3 years, Ginny has seen first hand the need for more than just medical and construction missionaries. In this 10 minute phone call, everything practically fell into place. God not only puts people in your life for a reason, but He uses them to answer our prayers.

I am so excited to see where this adventure takes us all. I hope that it will provide a chance for me to meet these friends, to gain new friends, to travel, to advocate, to help make a difference in Haiti, and most importantly to serve God!

Our first step is to actually name the mission, and establish the board members so that we can request nonprofit status and a 501c3. I’m sure I will be posting regular updates as this thing unfolds. Please keep Ginny & Odessa in your prayers, as she is the heart of this mission & the only one on the board living in Haiti, and pray for our mission.

GetGlue: It’s Like Foursquare for Your TV …and More!

GetGlue is the latest fad to reach the world of social media. It is a networking tool that allows its nearly 1 million users to “check-in” to various forms of entertainment, such as: TV shows, Music, Movies, Books, Video Games, or other topics. In return, the user receives perks ranging from virtual stickers to actual discounts from entertainment companies like ABC Family, HBO, Sony, Warner Brothers, Xbox, and more. The service was created in 2009 by AdaptiveBlue, a NYC-based company.

In January 2010, GetGlue reported 1.3 million check-ins. One year later, the same month saw the service growing at a rate of nearly 10 times, with 12.1 million check-ins. What may have encouraged this substantial growth? The GetGlue App, similar to other social networking sites like Foursquare and Gowalla, shares the users’ check-in with friends on Twitter and Facebook. “Collectively, check-in and sticker shares reach tens of millions of friends and followers…”, explains AdaptiveBlue. That is approximately 25,000 Tweets and 25,000 Facebook shares per day.

In November 2010 GetGlue was called a leader in the emerging social entertainment market by Bloomberg. But with any start-up idea, GetGlue couldn’t really claim fame until they had competition. It’s safe to say that they have officially hit the big time, as there are now similar Apps like IntoNow – a TV listening App that doesn’t require check-ins.

It will be interesting to see where GetGlue and closely-related social networking sites go from here. Will there be more interaction or will they start to fade away? What are your opinions on these Apps?

GetGlue is available via their website, www.getglue.com, or via Apps for mobile devices in the Android Market or iTunes App Store.

My Fav.es

Check out this cool new way to have links to all of your favorite websites in one convenient location; your homepage!

MyFav.es is a free, elegant, & customizable start page for your favorite web browser, iPad, or iPhone.

MyFav.es is a modest website that allows users to personalize their homepage by selecting preloaded sites (such as Twitter, Hulu, or Google) or by adding their own sites. The result is a minimalistic “bookmark” system that uses simple, well-known icons.  The basic design is user-friendly and time-saving. The user can even choose layout options to not only make the site more manageable, but to add a sense of style. Once the user has selected their websites and layout options, set MyFav.es as the browser homepage to allow quick access to any site through an immediate click of the mouse. By using MyFav.es, checking social media sites and browsing the internet just became even more convenient.

In January 2010, MyFav.es was created by Jack Lukic and Daniel Box as a start page replacement, giving speedy access to all of the websites they frequented. Thanks to this clutter-free icon design, users can quickly find what they need… especially for those of us who manage multiple accounts.

You do not have to create an account in order to use MyFav.es, and no traditional registration is offered or required. MyFav.es uses cookies from your browser to maintain your site information. Icons found on the website as soon as the user arrives can be edited to the users specifications. There is a sign-up option for New Users in the top right-hand corner of the site, labeled “Login Now”, where the user can choose to login using an existing account such as Facebook. However, there is a small link at the bottom of the site that will take the user to the Help Page. This page will explain how to edit your MyFav.es homepage without signing in with another account.

Since MyFav.es is FREE to use, I think this site is perfect for anyone who is online for an extended amount of time. From users who manage multiple sites or those who like to surf for shopping deals, to researcher and small business owners; anyone can appreciate the convenience and organization that MyFav.es will bring to their homepage.

Spotlight: Tweetheart TV

To paraphrase Wikipedia; creativity is the phenomenon where a person brings about something new, and that new thing holds a significant value.

My friend, Stephanie Wonderlin, has done just that!


On January 4, 2011, Stephanie Wonderlin, creator and host, unveiled cutting-edge creativity when she launched the first interactive social media show on her channel, Tweetheart TV. What once provided social media information in the form of exceptional, well-edited videos, Tweetheart TV has broken the creative barrier to now offer its viewers the choice of which segment they would like to watch! At the end of each segment, the viewer can choose to return to the main menu to choose another available segment. Episodes of Tweetheart TV promise to be packed with social media tools, interesting sites and gear, social media tips and tricks, and a little bit about the host, herself. Since this unique style of show is brand new to the industry, it can currently only be viewed on a computer and not on a mobile device. I feel certain it is only a matter of time before the creatives at Tweetheart TV resolve this minor exception.

Take a moment to enjoy this NEW interactive show below. If you enjoy it, please share my blog with others… and don’t forget to subscribe to Tweetheart TV!

Stephanie is a significant voice in the social media world. She is a great mentor with a wealth of knowledge and fabulous personality. If you aren’t already, consider following Stephanie on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  Stephanie also works as Director of Social Media for Digital Street, and was chosen as one of only twenty women bloggers to participate in the Nike Make Yourself Movement.