RAQ: Do Seniors use Social Media?

Here’s a recently asked question from Sturle Monstad (@sturlemo), from Bergen, Norway:


Thanks for collecting such a wealth of info on your SMUG site. I am using the resources in my work with health promotion for older adults. I have a contract with Lions Club in Norway on a programme they are setting up a web site for them. I am now trying to include social media for marketing and community building.

They are a bit skeptical, but well see how things work out. We see that seniors are getting more active on Facebook, and I think the interaction may be positive for many. Have you written anything about social media/seniors?


First, thanks for helping to put the “Global” in SMUG!

As I say in Thesis 23, almost everybody uses social media today, whether they know it or not. You point out correctly that Facebook is growing rapidly among those over age 55, having increased by more than 900 percent in 2009.

I also can tell you that on our Mayo Clinic YouTube channel, almost 30 percent of video views are from people age 55 or older.

As these tools are becoming ever easier to use, the growth of social media will continue. I believe women over 55, for example, are the fastest-growing demographic in Facebook.

It all comes down to whether the content or subject matter is worthwhile and interesting.

My dad turns 79 on Saturday. He’s on Facebook, too, because it’s a way to see video and photos of his great-granddaughter.

Social platforms, from blogs to Facebook to YouTube, make it easier for anyone to share information that others will find interesting.

What do you think? What other statistics or arguments about senior citizens and social media can you offer to Sturle? Do you have any personal examples or case studies to share?

RAQ: What platform do you recommend for Twitter chats?

This question comes from Chris Patota (@WestchesterPR), and is shared with permission:

I just came across your blog today, and I think it’s a great resource for people like me who are trying to leverage social media for business. I have a quick question for you…what is your preferred Twitter Chat technology? I would like to use a Twitter chat for one of my clients’ events, so I wanted to see if you had any recommendations.


Thanks, Chris. As I describe in this post on “3 Steps to Joining or Leading a Twitter Chat,” I’ve mainly been recommending using the basic Twitter interface, because it requires less training than some other options.

Especially for newbies, that seems to be the most straightforward, so users don’t need to install Tweetdeck or some other application. There is enough to learn without complicating the process with another application.

Tweetchat.com is OK too, and saves the need to enter the hashtag each time…but to me the Twitter interface has gotten good enough (with a saved search, as described in Twitter 116) to make that work well.

I personally like to use Tweetdeck, and just create a search pane for the hashtag. This is especially helpful for chats that recur from week to week, such as #hcsm, or otherwise have some ongoing activity. That enables me to check at a glance whether there is anything new, instead of having to remember to click the #hcsm link on my Twitter interface.

I also would advise you to have new Tweeps sign up for their accounts and do a few tweets in advance, because I’ve noted that sometimes new users’ tweets don’t show up reliably in Twitter search. So you might want to have them do a few tweets using your proposed hashtag.

If anyone has a way to ensure the inclusion of new users’ tweets in Twitter search, please share it in the comments on this post.

RAQ: How do I set a Vanity URL for my Facebook Page?

Note: This post is part of the SMUG Facebook curriculum, and is Facebook 230.

A participant in a recent Webinar had a question about how to create a vanity URL for an organization’s Facebook page, similar to what we have for Mayo Clinic, which has now been shortened to:


So I’m demonstrating it with another “fan” Page I’ve set up for myself as a writer, speaker, etc. If you are administering a fan page in Facebook, here’s how you can get a shorter URL, without the long string of numbers that is part of your basic URL.

Go to http://www.facebook.com/username/

If you haven’t set a vanity URL for your personal profile, you will have an opportunity to do it. But if you have already set a personal URL, as I have, and if you are a Page administrator/owner, you will see a message like this (click to enlarge):


If you click on the link that says “Set a username for your Pages” you will see a drop-down menu like this (if you have multiple Pages):


Then you will get a chance to select your username for the page, and check its availability:


If it is available, you will see a message like this that warns you sternly that this is not something to take lightly:


When you hit Confirm, you see a message like this:


And then, in my case, if people go to http://www.facebook.com/SMUG.Chancellor they will see this:


If you’d like to become a “fan” I would of course be honored.

But otherwise, I hope you will find this helpful in setting your own vanity URL, either as an individual for your profile or for your Facebook fan pages.

Did this work for you?

RAQ: Should I upgrade my iPhone instead of getting a Flip?

Here’s a recent question from Mara Herschbach in the SMUG Facebook group:

Hi Lee! Love the Keynote this morning you did for Life Science Alley. One question, would you go Flip Camera over the new iPhone 3Gs? I have an iPhone 3G and was not planning to upgrade, but if the cost is similar and I did not have to carry another gadget…

Thanks again for all the info. Looking forward to checking out SMUG.

Here’s my answer:

I think the one reason for concern about iPhone 3Gs video would be whether you can use it with a tripod. Keeping the camera steady is extremely important, and you can’t do that without a tripod, no matter how steady you think you are. So unless you can use the iPhone with a tripod, I still think you need some other kind of camera, whether it’s a Flip or something else.

I’m going to be taking my daughter to the Apple store tomorrow to get her a MacBook Pro as she goes off to college, and I will ask there about whether Apple has a tripod option for the iPhone 3Gs. If not, I think that still means if you want to use video professionally within your blogs or YouTube channel, you need another video camera – whether it’s a Flip or something else.

Does anyone else know whether there is a tripod option for the iPhone 3Gs?

RAQ – Related Posts

In the comments about my post on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, Peggy Hoffman asks:

Question (and yes great book) can you share with us how-tos on the related post widget you are using here that produces automatically generated material.

It’s really easy. In your WordPress dashboard (and I’m glad I’ve waited until WordPress 2.7 was released before I did my overview of the dashboard for Blogging 111; that’s coming soon), you click on the Appearance link on the left side:


And then choose Extras:


At which point you will see a set of options like this:


All you need to do is make sure the last option, “Hide related links on this blog, which means this blog won’t show up on other blogs or get traffic that way” is unchecked.

So, on WordPress.com, having the automatically related links is the default option, I believe. You can decide you don’t want to have it, but as Peggy points out, it can be really helpful to your readers.

They are automatically generated, so they aren’t guaranteed to be related, but on balance I think this is a good option. I’m sure some SMUGgles found their way to our University originally because of a possibly related link on someone else’s WordPress.com blog.

If that’s your story, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Please let us know if the automatically related links helped you discover SMUG. That will help our fellow SMUGgles see the value of this feature as well.

While I was doing this post I saw another feature that has no useful point, but I’m turning it on just for effect. Let me know what you think of the falling snow. Only available on WordPress.com, and only until 1/4/09.