Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Celebrities and Twitter Trolls: To ‘Out’ or Not To ‘Out’?

If Twitter has a dark side, then it is surely the emergence of a species of shady, aggressive, socially impoverished tweeters known as trolls. Their appearance has, on occasion, transcended the world of celebrity gossip and made headline news. Just this week we’ve witnessed a flurry of racist tweets directed at the victorious President Obama. Perhaps even more sickening were the truly nasty tweets directed against the singer Adele and her new born baby. As with the Obama tweets, Adele’s legion of dedicated fans reacted with swift and righteous fury. In both these examples, what impressed me most was that the victims did not over react. Adele is not known for holding back when her patience is tested, but to her credit she did not engage in any ugly online sparring.

Not all celebrities have shown such grace. In the heat of the moment, many have fought back, and this has only ever fed the trolls in their need for the limelight. During this summer’s Olympics, we saw the inspirational young Team GB diver Tom Daley get pulled into an online spat with a single misguided young troll. Tom’s quick retweet of the original message to his vast group of devoted followers resulted in a huge escalation of the situation and to the eventual arrest of the troll by the police. This leads me to consider how we respond to trolls and to cyber-bullying, and in particular how celebrities (now including a huge number of celebrity athletes) need to be aware of their responsibilities.

For what it’s worth, my advice to anyone receiving an offensive tweet is DO NOT REPLY. Notice that I have not said IGNORE them. Nor did I say DO NOT RESPOND. The whole issue is more complex than it first appears.

Many people have asked about whether or not celebrities should be on Twitter or other forms of Social Media in the first place Of course they should! I have argued elsewhere that nobody should be on Twitter unless they are there to engage with and interact with their followers. Of course if you have tens of thousands of followers then meaningful individual engagement is just impractical. I do believe, however, that it is still possible to interact with them as a group, and some celebrities do this very well. A celebrity tweeter closes the gap between themselves and their followers in a way that they never could before. Fans get to know them both professionally and personally. We all get to peek behind the scenes in the lives of our favourite celebrities.

But Twitter does not offer any immunity from the realities of life. Just consider the whole group of real people that our paths cross in everyday life. There will be those who know, like, or love us. There will also be many who dislike us, envy us, criticise us or just say nasty things behind our backs because that’s what they do. Celebrities must accept that if they invite their fans into their lives they will experience all these things and possibly worse. They have to learn to take the rough with the smooth. Many people correctly see Twitter as a great way to promote themselves or their work.  They must accept that with this opportunity comes great responsibility. The way that celebrities deal with their detractors says a lot about them. They are ambassadors on many levels and they must act as such.

This year many athletes have achieved celebrity status as never before and social media has connected us in ways never dreamed of even at the time of the last Olympics four years ago. Recent news stories regarding athletes, particularly cricketers and footballers and their blundering use of Twitter, has exposed a situation which needs addressing. The unfortunate incident involving Tom Daley during the Olympics is a great example of why we need to step back and apply some common sense and find strategies to support a less antagonistic response to the trolls.

The Tom Daley incident is well documented elsewhere, and in retrospect it is easy to say that Tom should have ignored the original misguided Tweet. However, in all honesty can any of us say how we might have reacted in the heat of that particular moment with all the pressures of the Olympics resting on grieving 18yr old shoulders?  What it did for me was to confirm that celebrities need help, support, advice or training on how to handle the responsibilities and realities of Social Media and Twitter in particular. Of course whatever the outcome, the blame for such an incident rests squarely on the head of the troll. But at the end of the day, trolls seek the limelight and so the best response is to ignore them. DO NOT REPLY. Nor should you bring them to the attention of your followers. This, as we have seen, can turn them into a posse of vigilante cyber-bullies, no better than the troll who committed the original sin. I firmly believe that Twitter itself needs to take a stronger line in these cases and act much more speedily to close or at least temporarily suspend any offending accounts. Of course if the Tweets are racist, homophobic or seriously threatening then they should be reported to the police immediately.

So we need some practical suggestions, supportive guidelines for athletes and celebrities who wish to have an engaging presence on social media. Twitter in particular is all about instant, real-time communication. In moments of anger, frustration, madness or even elation, it is quite possible that things might be said which will be regretted when calm descends.

My first suggestion then is simply not to react. Pause and put the phone down or switch off the computer. Then go and find somebody to hug, have a good night’s sleep. The next day you can decide if the troll is worthy of any of your time, and I doubt that they will be!

I have elsewhere detailed my core principles for all tweets. Those who know me know all about F.I.R.E. where all your tweets should be Fun, Interesting, Relevant and/or Expert. If your intended tweet does not meet one or more of these criteria then don’t send it. If  temptation is still pulling at you, then try these ‘high level’ filters.

  • Would I say it to his/her face?
  • Do I still want to say it after a cup of tea?
  • Do I still need to send it after a real hug from a true friend?
  • Would I say that to my Mum?

Am I joking? Well, maybe. But does it work? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t send the tweet! Sit yourself smugly on the moral high ground and get back to engaging with all those devoted followers who love you for your hard earned success.

Wealth Health #2: Financial Clarity

In this second part of my ‘Wealth Health’ series, I want to continue to focus on the reality of your financial situation. If you got through all the ‘Questions to Ask Yourself’ in Part 1, then you may have already started taking some action to clarify things. So much the better if you have!

Another way of looking at the reality of your personal finances might be to carry out a SWOT analysis of your current situation. For those who haven’t seen this before, it is a very common business planning tool which can be adapted to a wide variety of situations – including personal finances. SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In his book You and Your Money, Alvin Hall gives the following clear example:

STRENGTHS                                                    WEAKNESSES

Good spending habits                                        Bad spending habits

Knowledge of financial situation                          Emotions/thoughts (e.g. shame,  fear, anger)

Earning capacity                                               Lack of financial knowledge

 

OPPORTUNITIES                                             THREATS

Inheritance                                                      Lack of cash

Promotion                                                       Interest rate increases

Renegotiating Interest Payments                       Possible redundancy

 

This could be written into a grid of 4 boxes (2×2), or you could use the four headings written at the top of four pieces of paper and then add your own notes and ideas. Remember that as before, this exercise is for you alone, so be true to yourself when completing it.

While working through this task, you could start to ask yourself about your attitude to money and finances. What are your beliefs about money? This will be the subject of part 3, when we will look at some of your deeply-held beliefs and feelings regarding money.

In the meanwhile you can follow my tweets for tips, quotes and more questions regarding your personal or business finances. Be sure to also follow my #WealthWealth and #WedsWisdom hashtags!

Make The Impossible Possible

Guest Blogger: Safaa Aldulaimy

This was the main concept of the recent TedxBaghdad event. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a well-known global organisation that is spreading around the world. TED is now in 98 different countries and it is getting even bigger every day. The theme of the global TED is ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’ and the aim of this event in Baghdad was to bring inspiration and hope to the community, focusing on remarkable stories, and creative people and leaving Iraq with hope for a brighter future. The X means that this is an independently organized TED event, and for those who attended it was a life changing experience, and independently Royal.

I had the pleasure of attending this event on 12/11/11 along with 600 other delegates from different countries and cultures. There were people from Holland, USA and many other countries. It was amazing to see 600 young Iraqi people, sharing the same goal of building a new future for Iraq. We spent 8 hours being filled with hope, talent, inspiration and love.

The event featured so many impressive presentations; in fact they were too many to write about in just one blog, so I will mention some of the best talks from the event, and some of the exceptional speakers who delivered them.

First of all I must mention the remarkable person who was the creator of all this, Dr. Yahay Alabdeli. His dream is to bring inspiration to the Iraqi people. Living in Amsterdam Yahay always wondered how to make a worthwhile contribution back in his country. Yahay worked hard to get the license to bring TED to Baghdad and he describes  how he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the email of approval. He said “This can’t be true. I had a black out. I had to print the e-mail, because I couldn’t see clearly. I closed my eyes and visualized what would come. It was a life changing moment. I told my wife: I’m going to do this.”

Next we have MANHAL AL-HABBOBI, an Iraqi architect. His rendering of the General Secretariat for the Council of Ministers in Baghdad was chosen from the entries of over thirty world-renowned architects to win the WAN Award 2011. Manhal always had a passion for the art and beauty of the Mesopotamian civilization and he told us the story behind his motivation for his great achievement.  “ I was in Italy when I heard about a massive series of bombs in Iraq. I was very sad and devastated.  I almost lost hope, and then my friend’s 6 year old daughter came to me and said, Don’t worry, you will recover, because Mesopotamia is 5000 years old!”.

Next I must talk about the very impressive story of American Philanthropist, JEREMY COURTNEY, the Executive Director and co-Founder of the Preemptive Love Coalition. The goal of the coalition is to help Iraqi children with heart disease.  Jeremy started raising the money from selling an Iraqi father’s handmade shoes and he has now helped fund lifesaving heart surgeries for 180 Iraqi children. Jeremy puts his whole idea in few profound powerful words, “Violence unmakes the world, Love makes the world, Love unmakes Violence”

Another great story is ALI MAJID, a plastic surgeon based in Baghdad. Dr. Ali was affected by a medical case that made him determined to do something about the challenges he was facing. He invented a simple but very functional device to help overcome the problems and difficulties faced in oral surgery.  This device is now working properly and while still under development, he has high hopes that it will soon be in use as a life changing invention.

Having people from other cultures in the event moved something in me. I wanted to know their opinions and hopes for Iraq and what they thought about it all, so I talked to some of them. They all had positive thoughts and hopes for my country, and they were impressed by the work and talent of these Iraqi people and by the efforts they had put into this event.

I’ve always had faith in Iraq, and in its people, but now I am very sure about it. I know that Iraq will soon be a center of knowledge and optimism once again.  This whole thing made realize that I am not alone in this belief and that there are others wanting Iraq to be a place of peace again.

It is time to show the world that young people are not as some see us. We can work miracles, and this is a message that we want to send to the world. Whatever you think of us and whatever happens between us, we will always strive to make the impossible possible, and we will always work together full of hope for Iraq.

Saffa Aldulaimy, 13/11/11

I am both proud and delighted to feature another guest blogger from among the remarkable young men that I wrote about in my September posting ‘Young People: Our Promise for the Future’. Safaa has recently graduated from university in Damascus, Syria and now he is back home with his family in Baghdad. Last week it was clear to me that he was getting excited about the TED event but that was nothing compared to his bubbling optimism at the end of it. Safaa said that he wanted to write about the experience and so I asked him to consider contributing a blog here. I was moved by the result – so full of hope and optimism for the future of his country.  

Twitter Thursday #12: The Perfect Tweet – How

In the previous Twitter blog I looked the reasons why your Tweets need to be perfectly written. In this post, I’ll go through the techniques that you need to master if you want to craft the perfect tweet.

1. Be a Beacon of Excellence.

If you’ve been using Twitter for any length of time, you will have already started to become a selective reader. With no hope of reading all the messages streaming into your timeline, you will have started to scan the column for the avatars (pictures) or usernames of your favourite profiles. Even then you will not read everything written by your best friend or biggest client (although maybe you should). We are not Twitter auto-bots clicking on everything ‘just because’. Try to notice what it is that entices you to stop, read, and click on the link.

This same filtering applies to new followers. We notice their Tweets because they are new, but only if they write well will they become an addition to our mental list of worthy Tweeters to follow closely. Of course if the quality of their engagement falls off, we may lose interest and unfollow them – even if only in our heads. You need to be excellent to get noticed, but you need to be consistently excellent to stay noticed. The best beacons shine out in all directions. Your well-crafted Tweets need to get re-tweeted in all directions too.

2. Know Your Audience.

Apply FIRE to everything that you do on Twitter. Remember that you are writing for an audience of critical readers. This may seem obvious, but you are not the target of your own Tweets – your online community is.

Twitter itself is not your sales counter. Do not attempt to be a Twitter salesperson. Likewise, be wary of too much self-promotion. By all means provide links to your own content and use Twitter to drive people to your website, but be subtle. Any attempts at direct sales or blowing your own trumpet too loudly will lead to you being thought of as little more than a source of spam. As Jim Rohn says “Don’t blow your own horn, or you might just miss the music”.

3. Optimum Number of Characters.

Of course we are all well aware of the 140 character limit for Tweets but there are two very important additional considerations here.

Firstly, for your messages to be re-tweeted you need to allow enough space for the re-tweet details to be added. This may take 20 characters, so your message is now down to a total of 120. Secondl,y if you are adding a link this may need another 20 characters so you need to refine your message to be well-crafted and only 100 characters long!

Of course there may be times when the ability to re-tweet may be risked for the sake of good copy, but beware; if this happens too often, your community will stop trying, or worse, your perfect Tweet maybe deformed by “txt spk” before being sent on. Of course as a re-tweet, everyone will assume that you wrote the abbreviated version!

4. Grab the Attention.

You need to grab your follower’s attention, making them want to read your Tweets and click on your links. Remember, obvious selling should not be an option. Most people hate the idea that they are being sold to, especially in social media, so be artful and make it look like you’re doing something else.

No matter how consistently good you have been, your followers still need a good reason to read your work. Take a look at your Twitter screen. Things happen fast, and you will be faced with multiple Tweets, therefore multiple choices at any one time. More so if you are using groups and column feeds. Your follower need only refresh the screen once and your tweet is gone from their attention for over.

Remember that even if your only intention is to get people to read your latest blog, you have to ‘sell’ the link. You also need to be aware that people don’t buy products, they buy benefits, so what is the benefit (reason) that will get them to click on your link?

It is worth noting a couple of strange Twitter behaviours here. Firstly, well-written Tweets may well get re-tweeted even if your follower has not clicked on the link or read the content themselves. Take it as a compliment that they trust and believe in you that much. Secondly, by the same token I would warn against ever re-tweeting a link which you have not checked first yourself-unless of course you wish to be a friend to spammers everywhere!

5. Perfect Spelling.

Maybe this is the school teacher in me, but I believe that the next three points are fundamental to professional, readable Tweeting. I make no apology for this but if any of it scares you then number 8  below will hopefully throw you a lifeline.

Like it or not you will be judged on how you write and how you spell.  This may seem patronising, and you will say “but so-and-so has 2 million followers and they can’t spell”. This  may be true, but if ‘so-and-so’ is a celebrity, people will follow them no matter what they say or how they say it. You and I, dear mortal being, do not have that luxury, so let’s make do with excellence instead. Please consider typing your tweets into your favourite word processor first and spell-check them. Avoid ‘txt spk’. You may think it’s cool, but it can make you appear at best lazy and at worst in possession of a limited education.

6. Flawless Grammar.

  • Make sure that every Tweet and every sentence in a Tweet starts with a capital letter.
  • Give every proper noun (name) a capital letter. Please note that Twitter and Tweet are names.
  • Leave one space after every full stop.
  • Use apostrophes properly and learn the difference between its and it’s, your and you’re and also their, there and they’re.
  • Don’t type in UPPERCASE as it will look like you’re shouting.

7. Impeccable punctuation.

Whatever your personal feelings about accurate punctuation, it is the feelings of your followers that matter. Enormous numbers of people get very irate about incorrect punctuation. I’ve covered some points already, but in addition to correct sentence structure, use commas and speech marks correctly and avoid using too many exclamation marks. Also use hyphens and semi-colons sparingly but effectively.

A good self-check is to read your tweet aloud to yourself. Are the natural breaks and breathing spaces punctuated.

8. Find a Twitter Buddy

Be honest with yourself regarding spellings, grammar and punctuation. If you are at all unsure of your own abilities (and perhaps if you’re not), then seek out a Twitter buddy. This person will take on the role of your very own copy-editor, checking over your Tweets, where possible before you post them. A fresh pair of eyes will often see things which we have missed ourselves.

9. Shortening Links.

Twitter will automatically shorten URLs if you include them, but the bulk of the link will remain intact. In order to shorten the link as much as possible it is worth using one of the third party applications. For the serious user I would recommend using bit.ly for very clear reasons. Not only does Twitter handle bit.ly shortened URLs very well, but there are added benefits too. The stats pages are great and can provide a wealth of useful information about the use of your link. Scroll down the page to show your shortened links and then click on the ‘Info page +’ next to the link. This will open a new page of very clearly presented information about the link.

10. FIRE up your Content.

All this may seem like hard work when twitter is supposed to be ‘instant’ and ‘fun’. It can still be fun, but a little consistent work now will pay great dividends and the effort will soon become second nature. You will gain respect within your network and this will add to your online social capital.

Above all don’t lose sight of your twitter content. Make sure it passes one or more of the FIRE tests. Is your Tweet Fun, does it Inform or Inspire, Is it relevant and/or is it Expert information?

Twitter Thursday #11: The Perfect Tweet – Why?

One of the best things about writing my regular Twitter blog has been the questions which it generates. Indeed, the series has developed partly to respond to emerging themes in the feedback I’ve received. This current posting is a good example and comes in response to a host of queries about the finer points of writing Tweets. I’ve had questions about the importance of spelling, grammar, punctuation, number of characters, content, readability and when to include links. They all come down to the same issue: how to write the perfect Tweet.

I have argued previously that Twitter is pointless without engagement. Even your closest friends and followers may soon tire of your broadcasting if you have not made the effort to build your own interactive online community. In order for this to happen, as my regular readers now know, there are four guiding principles that I use for all Twitter activity. Yes, it’s FIRE again! Are your Tweets Fun, Informative, Relevant, or Expert? By testing against these principles, your Tweets will reach their two main goals, namely READABILITY and RE-TWEETABILITY.

Whether you have purely personal, social or business aims in mind, Twitter is now fast becoming the most effective platform from which to engage with real people online. These may be friends, colleagues or clients, but twitter has given us the means to engage with them all. We can start accumulating social credit with our community of loyal potential advocates.

Of course these same advocates can soon become jaded followers or even influential critics. To avoid this you need to know your readers and always give them the very best Twitter experience. Your Tweets should be given the same care and attention as a poet does to a well-crafted verse. Only then can you be sure that all your followers will read your words and want to pass them on.

By the way. How about a quick maths lesson to finish? Let’s say you have 1000 Twitter followers hanging onto your every word. Even if they only have an average of 500 followers each, if they read and pass on your messages then you have a potential readership of half a million people! Food for thought?

In my next Twitter blog we will look at how to craft the perfect Tweet:

· Be a Beacon of Excellence

· Know your Audience

· The Optimum Number of Characters

· Grab the Attention

· Perfect Spelling

· Flawless Grammar

· Impeccable Punctuation

· Shortening Links

· Get a Twitter Buddy

· FIRE up your Content

Twitter Thursday #10: Twitter Management Tools

You will not be using Twitter for long before you start to feel overwhelmed by all those tweets. There are several third-party twitter management tools out there, and I’ve had a lot of questions asked about them. So let’s take a look! Here are some of the most notable tools:

HootSuite.com: This is a great tool for managing multiple Twitter accounts as well as Facebook, LinkedIn and others. You can set up personalised columns for these feeds, and you can also compose messages before choosing which social account to post them to.

CoTweet: This comes in a standard free version and a paid premium version, and is aimed at the business market. CoTweet manages up to five Twitter accounts, allowing brand and keyword monitoring using Twitter search. There are useful workflow management capabilities for use with a group of co-users.

TweetDeck: This is your personal, real-time social media browser. It connects you with all your important contacts across Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Google, Buzz and others. It’s also great for managing multiple Twitter accounts.

There are many other Twitter management tools such as EasyTweets, Seesmic, splitweet, Tweet-visor, Echophon for Firefox users and Silverbird for Chrome users. There is also MarketMeSuite, which I will return to later as it deserves special mention.

The extremely helpful Tweetdeck welcome screen.

My ‘dashboard’ of choice is TweetDeck, so that’s the one I’ll look at in more detail. It is also important to note that as of May 2011, TweetDeck has officially become part of Twitter after Twitter recognised its potential by purchasing the company.

Iain Dodsworth, a London-based programmer, set his mind to organising everything that was happening on Twitter. the result, in 2008, was TweetDeck, which comes in the form of a ‘dashboard’, allowing users to monitor in real-time what others are saying. Particularly useful for power-users, TweetDeck provides a platform from which to monitor and track all the real-time conversations that matter most to them. This makes true engagement with other Twitter users much easier.

The principle feature of TweetDeck is that the user can create groups and so extend the Twitter service. Through these groups, it is possible to check the Tweets of a subset of the user’s followers. These groups appear as columns on the screen, and they can be used to display Friends, News, Mentions, Business tweets or whatever group heading the user chooses to set up.

Additionally, TweetDeck now has the ability to synch groups and settings between the Desktop standalone version of the program and the free iPhone app. Thus you can access the same TweetDeck information at home or on the move.

I mentioned MarkMeSuite earlier. This is another Social Media marketing dashboard designed with business users in mind. As a great bonus, its premium service is now completely free. This application not only allows for Twitter management, but has a wide range of other tools, allowing such things as brand management and unlimited team members (multiple users). It is well worth a look for serious business users.

Young People: Our Promise For The Future

For a while now, our youth have been dominating the media headlines. All too often it appears that they are presented in a negative way. This has been made worse since the recent riots in London and around the country. Far too many adults have become armchair sociologists, who all seem to know exactly the reasons why our young people have lost their way. Worst of all are the ‘professional’ amateur sociologists (e.g. politicians) who are generous with their opinions and their distribution of blame!

There is a reckless presupposition involved here. Are they ALL so bad? Over recent months, while young people in general are being marginalised, my life has been touched by several amazing young people who prove the stereotype wrong. They have not so much restored my faith in our youth (I had never lost it), but they have shown me that in their hands, the future of our society is looking bright.

I have also come to realise that many amazing young people are being ignored in favour of their less focussed peers but they deserve better!

As a school teacher I feared that the education system was failing our young people. As a coach I have had the privilege of getting to know a variety of young people who have proven to me that, given the right attitude, they can achieve whatever they desire. It is also clear that they can do this either in, or outside the education system. In fact, I am convinced that our tertiary education system has been so hijacked by commerce and politics as to disable it. Our colleges and universities are being forced to turn out students who are ‘fit for purpose’ (commercial) but who are often not fit for life in a rapidly changing world.

I know I am venting here, but I am at heart a believer in action, so let’s look at some examples of the kind of young people who I see as shining beacons for the future. Then I want you, dear reader, to look about you and find other examples to be proud of! Let’s move to a culture of positive thinking about young people and their potential.

I have had the honour of coaching, mentoring or befriending several young people who are moving towards a goal oriented future whether through focussed study or on the job training and experience. None of these come from a privileged background, nor are they being groomed by pushy parents. In fact it appears that they are following their chosen paths in spite of their histories and not because of them! I will give details for some of my examples in the hope that you might look in on their work or achievements. Others will be allowed some anonymity for reasons I am sure you will understand.

First among these are my own wonderful nieces all moving through school and into university one by one to follow their dreams through careful planning and sheer hard work.

Next the spotlight shines on an amazing, hardworking young Irishman. Sean lives with his family in a small town in Ireland but there is nothing small about his ambitions. Sean is passionate about literature and writing and is an aspiring author. I have read a good deal of his work and the teacher in me has been mightily impressed by the quality of his work. Sean graduated from a prestigious Irish university this year with a great degree and was immediately offered a place on their post grad MA course. After testing this opportunity against his personal goals, Sean decided that what he needed was time to write and polish his craft, not more studies. Like many of his generation Sean has immersed himself in the internet and is a regular contributor to his own and other blogs and web based book review sites.

Sean has now found a job to support himself (no mean feat in present day Ireland) and he makes time to write every day. His first full length novel is almost finished and I wish him every success with it. While many of his peers might choose to riot, Sean’s strong opinions are delivered from his keyboard and are well worth reading.

Now the spotlight shines on a young Arab with a remarkable story. This is a profound example of one’s past being no model for any goal driven future. Safaa is a young Iraqi lad whose parents feared for his safety in Bagdad during the Iraq war. A bright intelligent 17yr old with a passion for music and sport he could have carved out a future in either arena at home. In fact he was well on the way to being able to represent his country playing tennis. This was not to be since his family sent Safaa into exile rather than risk his life at home. This was a huge wrench for a boy devoted to his family but Safaa travelled to Syria and started university where he too graduated this year with a great degree in IT engineering. Of course living in Damascus he is once again in fear for his life but his ambitions are undimmed and he has not left his goal driven path. I find such strength, self-motivation and drive in one so young, to be truly inspiring!

Now I want to highlight a newer breed of young person. There are a growing number of passionate, young entrepreneurs who are not following any traditional path. Instead from an early age they are carving their own way and inspiring everyone they meet. I am not referring to any bright young things working in ‘the city’ earning huge salaries and leading cash hungry lifestyles. Instead these are the kind of young men and women who each have a personal mission. They have huge ambitions, but serious goals and an action oriented work ethic.

The first of these young entrepreneurs is Jamie Dunn from Birmingham. This remarkable teenager is already Managing Director of his own company called Made By Young People. Jamie is already an international speaker, a Youth Ambassador for BXL charity and has been recognised with a prestigious Youth Excellence Award. It is well worth reading Jamie’s story on his website, from his first business at the age of 12 to his current venture challenging and inspiring fellow teenagers. Jamie also uses social media, but unlike so many he does not just broadcast on Twitter. He truly engages with his many followers. This young man is just the kind of role model we need to promote!

Finally we come to Josh Chandler from Lincolnshire in the east of England. Josh is the founder of ‘Windows Media Player Updates.com’ a truly excellent user support website. However Josh is so much more than a clever IT guy. His real passion is social change and Josh has a real desire to highlight issues and to influence both community development and social change. Having already established his online credentials and his credibility as an entrepreneur, Josh has decided to now further his education and is about to study business management at Leeds Met University.

Both Jamie and Josh are well aware that real success cannot be based on luck or a youthful smile. Over this last weekend while so many of their peers were out enjoying the last holiday weekend of the summer, both lads were hard at work, mostly alone, writing business plans, goal setting and strategizing for the future.

Let’s stop looking for reasons to knock the youth of today. Look around and search out those young people who are carving out their own positive futures. Congratulate them, support them and be proud of them! Do let me know of any individuals worth highlighting and watch out for planned interviews with some of these beacons for the future.

Links:

Sean: www.seanwills.com Twitter: @seanwillsalt

Safaa: http://www.facebook.com/Safaa Al-dulaimy  Twitter:@safaa_Aldulaimy

Jamie: http://www.madebyyoungpeople.co.uk/ Twitter: @JDEntrepeneur

Josh: http://twitter.com/@joshchandler Use this link while Josh’s main site is being rebranded.

Happy Birthday to an Amazing 20yr Old!

Two days ago, on 6th August, my first tweet of the day included a birthday greeting to the World Wide Web. Is it really only 20 years old? The internet itself had already been around for over 30 years when the web was invented, but it was a tool of academia and the military. It was neither accessible nor comprehensible to the outside world.

After much hard work by a team of experts, a 36 year old physicist named Tim Berners-Lee published the first ever website on a computer at the CERN facility in Geneva, Switzerland where he worked. On 6th August 1991 the world changed forever. The website was info.cern.ch and the first web page, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/www/theproject.html, was a very basic set of links to technical information about the project. The original page no longer exists, but a 1992 copy of it can be found on the World Wide Web Consortium website:

The inventor, now Sir Tim Berners-Lee, could never have predicted the way his baby has grown over the past 20 years. The Web permeates to every corner of the world and every facet of human behaviour. It took about 2 years before the web entered the public domain but its growth since then has been staggering. We tend to take for granted that the World Wide Web is now the place where people meet and engage, knowledge grows rapidly and creatively and businesses trade and expand. We see revolutions rise by the power of the web and of course we watch animals, children and drunks do the funniest things!

The web has many detractors and we are always being told that it is about to collapse under the weight of spam or porn residing on it. However, only 12% of websites are porn and 25% of searches are porn related. Legitimate (?) use far outstrips this. I think we can take great comfort from the fact that Sir Tim is still actively involved in nurturing his baby and he remains excited about its future.

Many are worried that a few large companies are dominating the web and even attempting to ring fence parts of it for their own personal gain. The history of the web, however, tells us that nothing is certain. One of the best features of the web is the speed at which new things can come along and very quickly change what has gone before.

It may appear that Google dominates, but there is always the rumble of the next big thing about to march over the horizon. It is a sobering thought that there are still some 6 billion web pages in Mandarin which are as yet not indexed by the search giant. In China the search engine of choice is not Google but Baidu which accounts for 75% of all searches. The ‘Twitter of China’ is a relatively new site called Sina Weibo which accrued some 40 million users in its first 2 months. The online population in China has so far this year risen by 6% to 485 million, but some two thirds of the population have yet to go online!

What of the future? It is impossible to predict what will happen on the World Wide Web over the next 20 years or beyond. Will ‘Apps’ or the ‘cloud’ be the vogue? One certain development will be the increased use of web addresses using other languages and other alphabets. The ability to access the web using languages other than English will open it up for a vast, as yet unconnected, portion of the global population

Developments in technology will allow the web to become ever more mobile and to be accessed by devices far removed from any traditional computer. Interestingly it appears that web developments in China tend to be about creative use of the web itself and not about any particular technology.

The biggest question being debated now is whether or not the Web is changing the way we think and behave. Is it changing the way our brain works? Are we moving away from learning a lot of factual information because we can always find it on the web?

The simple answer is yes! Technology has always had a hand in changing the way we think and behave. I would argue that every significant change in human development has been triggered by the development of new technology. Early on it was fire and the wheel. Then it was Roman roads allowing the spread of civilisation on the new ‘network’. Of course there was the printing press too. What defines us as human is our ability to reflect and to adapt; developing new skill sets to cope with these changes and to take advantage of them. We may no longer need to learn lots of factual ‘stuff’ but we need to develop our skills of review, critique and creativity.

One thing we can be sure of is that when we come to mark the web’s ‘coming of age’ a year from now we will be learning to use web based tools not even invented yet. Will I be writing a 21st birthday blog in a year’s time or will I have moved on to a newer way of engaging with you all? Whatever exciting new tool/app I use it will be dependent on an even bigger World Wide Web.

Twitter Thursday #6: Managing Followers

Now that we have looked at whom to FOLLOW, it’s time to consider our FOLLOWERS and how to manage them. If you’ve been using Twitter for any length of time, you will have already started to follow a few people or organisations. You may also have looked with envy at some of the ‘celebrities’ you are following and the huge numbers associated with them.

I know that these are exceptional examples, but even so: Stephen Fry is heading for a following of 3 million whilst he chooses to follow about 53,000 of them. How many tweets can he be expected to read every day, let alone interact with? President Obama has close to 9 million followers, of which he follows 700,000. Really? Do you think he is sitting in the Oval Office engaging with the tweets of all those people?

It is useful from the start to have a clear strategy to help you to decide who to follow. Many ‘old hands’ on Twitter would have us believe that the only ethical strategy is to FOLLOW-BACK everyone who follows us. Yeah, right. Barrack Obama following 9 million tweeps makes a lot of sense. When you actually look at how these people manage their accounts, we soon see that the bulk of those they are following are confined to a general Twitter stream that is never looked at. Where are the ethics in that?

Let’s not forget that Twitter is SOCIAL MEDIA, and as such we surely want to build a community with whom we can ENGAGE and INTERACT.

When deciding who to follow, my strategy is very simple. It will come as no great surprise to my regular readers that I apply my FIRE principle here too. I want to follow people who are Fun because they brighten my day. I also want to read Interesting tweets on a whole range of different topics. Otherwise I want to read tweets that are Relevant either to me, my life or my business. Finally I want to follow people who are Experts in their chosen field. By applying this strategy I know that I am building a small but valued following who are adding value to my life, as I hope I am to theirs.

Yes, I do follow some people who are not so much engaging as BROADCASTING. That’s because they broadcast good CONTENT, so the FIRE filter is happy. I follow those who I respect as gurus in their field e.g. Social Media. A word of caution about gurus, however: I get to decide who they are, not them! If anyone declares themselves to be a guru then they are likely to be suffering from terminal vanity and not worth the follow.

My measure of value in all things is ‘have I learnt something’? From Twitter I am learning new things every day.

Some broadcasters are simply pushing themselves, their products, or their angst, so they fail the test of FIRE. These people are using Social Media for self-promotion and forgetting to be, ah yes…. SOCIAL!

I would recommend regular spring cleaning of your FOLLOWED list. I will happily UNFOLLOW anyone who has:-

  1. No picture – the ‘egg heads’
  2. No profile
  3. Not tweeted for a month or more
  4. Spammed

By spamming I mean anyone who

  1. Sends meaningless tweets
  2. Wastes any of their 140 characters on frequent profanities (we all have special occasions)
  3. Attempts direct sales/marketing
  4. Buys lists of followers – they are easily spotted.

If you are looking for likely FIRE worthy followers, then start by looking at the FOLLOW lists of those that you already follow. Also take note of anyone who they choose to RETWEET.

Of course you are now well on the way to the first 100 valued tweeps in your interactive and engaged community. You might be starting to wonder how you’re going to cope with all this Fun, Interesting, Relevant and Expert information streaming in. There are many third party software applications to help with this. My personal favourite is Tweetdeck…but more of that next time!