Getting More Sociable

I mentioned in my last post that I was looking for a way to add the Facebook “Like” button to my posts, and so I’m experimenting with another plugin from Sociable, called Facebook Open Graph. I had already added Facebook Connect functionality through another plugin, but this one theoretically should be better. I may still have a few kinks to work out, and I was disappointed that it didn’t immediately put the “Like” button on my previous posts.

But maybe it only works with new posts, or maybe I have to edit posts to get this button added.

In keeping with the Spirit of SMUG, I’m just giving it a try with this new post, and we’ll see if it works. I’ll keep you updated as I figure it out.

RAQ: Tips for Starting a Personal Blog?

Today I had the opportunity to do a presentation for a group in St. Cloud, Minn., and afterward Misty Sweeter (@MistyS01), a recent PR graduate, tweeted a question:

Hi Lee, good job presenting at Creative Memories today! Got me thinking about starting my own personal blog, any tips?

A. First, I think it’s great you’re considering starting your own blog. As you’re looking for ways to distinguish yourself, starting a blog is a great way to do it. It lets you show you can write, and to expand on your ideas.

I would recommend using as your platform, because it’s easy, fast and free, but yet gives you a lot of power to develop your own customized look. is likewise free, and some say it’s simpler, but unlike it doesn’t give you the opportunity to move to a self-hosted solution as you grow.

Even though the basic service is free, I would recommend that you spend about $20 for one upgrade.

When you set up your account, your blog’s URL would be something like That’s fine unless you decide later that you want to move to a self-hosted version of WordPress. So you want to take “” out of your URL. You can accomplish this by purchasing a URL (like, if it’s available) and using domain mapping to have that be your blog’s URL, even though it would be hosted on

The whole thing will probably cost you about $20 a year, but the value is that it helps you build your personal brand, and one that can have some staying power. The last thing you want to do is write some good posts, have others link to them, and then move your blog to a new domain, which would mean those external links would be broken.

So buying the domain name will probably cost you about $10 a year, and the domain mapping on also will cost $10 per year.

This course, Blogging 305: Domain Mapping, give details on how you do this.

Beyond that, just think about what you want to write, and whether you want to include video posts as well. I think having some video will show you as a more well-rounded communicator, and having some text-based posts will enable you to showcase your writing and thinking processes.

I’ll look forward to seeing what you do with this.

Why don’t teens tweet?

The Pew Internet & American Life Project came out with an updated survey today, which found that only 8 percent of Americans aged 12-17 use Twitter, and that blogging is much less popular than it was in 2006, when the survey was last conducted. Now only 14 percent said they maintained their own blogs, which is half of the 2006 figure.

I had an opportunity to discuss some of the reasons for this Wednesday, in advance of the public release, with Mary Brophy Marcus (@BrophyMarcUSAT) of USA Today, for her story related to the study.

“To quote my 15 year-old-son, ‘Twitter is lame,'” says Lee Aase, manager of social media at Mayo Clinic. He says Facebook and texting may be satisfying teen chat needs.

“They’re so into text-messaging that that niche is already sort of filled for them,” he says.

Aase also says some teenagers may grow back into blogging as they hit adulthood: “Blogging has become a way to communicate with the world, about more meaningful issues, not just about communicating to friends.”

Read the full story, and get more details on the Pew site.

As I see it, the big thing that has changed since 2006, causing blogging to decline, is the immense popularity of Facebook, which was still pretty new back then. And with Facebook’s chat feature, combined with text messaging, most young people already have ways to do the short message communication with people who matter to them…their friends. There really isn’t much incentive for them to go to Twitter, because most of their friends aren’t there anyway; they’re all on Facebook. Or they can be reached via SMS.

It’s different for adults; many of us actually use our cell phones primarily for voice calls instead of text. And we see Twitter as a way to make connections with people who have common interests.

What do you think? Are there other reasons why teens don’t tweet?

Business Blogging ROI

“What’s the ROI?” is among the most common questions people in business have about social media (right after (Isn’t that risky?”) and as P.F. Anderson says, many of the benefits and costs are intangible.

I’ve previously written about my experience connecting with Tom Vanderwell and how I saw one of his tweets about being a Mayo Clinic patient, which led to me meeting him in Grand Rapids, MI a few days later. This post summarized some of the outgrowths from that first interaction. So I thought it would be helpful to share another video interview with Tom Vanderwell, who has used his Straight Talk about Mortgages and Real Estate blog (and Twitter) successfully in his mortgage lending career.

Tom doesn’t get into the exact dollar return he’s seen through blogging, but he gives examples of the business he’s gotten in states far beyond his western Michigan home base. I would venture that just one of those deals would pay his out-of-pocket costs for blogging for, to be conservative… 50 years.

Of course that doesn’t take his time into account. But in a business like his, where word-of-mouth matters, I’m also betting that some of the loans he has made have led to recommendations for others.

But most importantly, he’s finding a way to grow beyond his narrowly defined geographic base (and one where the economy is even worse than the rest of the country.) And he’s finding an outlet for his passion: he’s able to have a business that’s about helping people instead of always just pushing more loan volume. He can serve his customers and feel good about it.

I say that’s a great return.

The Value of Twitter, Part II: Listening and Connecting

In Part I of this series in honor of @shelisrael and his new book “Twitterville,” I said Twitter is valuable as a “recommendation engine” for interesting Web content. Many people see Twitter as a good way to broadcast messages from your organization, and we’ll get to some of those uses in later posts. But even before you’re ready to take the official plunge into active organizational use of Twitter, you can gather lots of information on what people are saying about your organization.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “You can hear a lot just by listening.”

I use Tweetdeck as my desktop productivity enhancer for Twitter for several reasons, as I describe in Twitter 106. (I like CoTweet and Hootsuite as Web-based power applications, particularly for advance scheduling of tweets.) Tweetdeck is great for listening and immediate interactions, and by setting up a fairly sensitive, highly specific search term in one of the panes (as described in Twitter 131) and putting that next to my “Mentions” pane I can see at a glance whether someone is tweeting about me, Mayo Clinic or @mayoclinic.

Picture 4

That’s how I met Tom Vanderwell (@tvanderwell) in March, as I described in this post at the time. He had mentioned Mayo Clinic in a tweet on a Sunday night, and because it came up in my Tweetdeck, and because I engaged with him in conversation, it led to us having a real-life meeting in Grand Rapids, Mich. just three days later.

What are the odds of something like that happening? I don’t know, but I can tell you for sure that they’re as close to zero as you can imagine if you’re not listening and engaging via Twitter.

But that’s not the end of the story.

Tom and I connected a couple more times in subsequent months…the first of which was when he joined us by phone for Tweetcamp II. A month or so later, when I was looking for examples of small businesses using social media, we interacted again by Twitter, phone and email, which led to this post.

We connected again earlier this month, when I traveled to Tom’s hometown of Grand Rapids to celebrate my granddaughter Evelyn’s first birthday. I tweeted Tom in advance, asking if he would be willing to get together so I could interview him for a couple of stories, and he quickly agreed.

So on Evelyn’s birthday, two weeks ago today, I stopped over at Tom’s home and interviewed him with his own Flip video camera (he had taken my advice from our March meeting and got one!) about his experience as a Mayo Clinic patient, and how he has used blogging and Twitter for his business.

Tom’s Mayo Clinic interview is here on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. The next post in this series will feature Tom’s perspectives on Twitter, and later I will have another post on Tom’s use of blogging.

But let’s quickly review the benefits I’ve seen personally, just in this case, by listening and connecting through Twitter:

  • I’ve made a personal friend. Tom and I have a lot in common, as we’ve discovered in our two face-to-face meetings and via our electronic interactions.
  • I’ve learned from someone who is using social media in another industry, and how he is finding social media practical and profitable. And I’m getting to share those insights with you.
  • I’ve met a Mayo Clinic patient who was enthusiastic about sharing his experiences on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog.

That’s a lot of value for my investment in Twitter…and it’s only one case study.