Facebook Places…hmm, I still like Foursquare

There’s a new feature on Facebook called “Places,” that allows you to share your location with your friends by checking-in at a location. You can even tag friends that are with you which frankly, is what I like most about this feature. Like other location-based platforms, you can see if your friends have checked in nearby – that’s happened to me on several occasions when checking in on Foursquare.

However, unlike Foursquare, Facebook Places doesn’t let you become the Mayor of a location which is really what I think makes Foursquare fun from a user’s perspective. You can win badges, oust the current Mayor, and if you’re lucky…take advantage of customer exclusive rewards like becoming the Mayor of your local Starbucks and getting a discount on your next cup of coffee.

I wonder what the future plans are for Facebook Places…Will it integrate with Facebook’s business pages? What’s their strategy against competitors like Foursquare and Yelp? I guess time will only tell.

For now, I’ll stick to my current guidelines:

  1. Default check-in: Foursquare
  2. If it’s a restaurant: Yelp
  3. If a friend is with me: Facebook Places

However, despite which platform I decide to use to check-in, the funny thing is, it’ll end up on Facebook anyway. 🙂

If you’re on Foursquare, be sure to add Heystephanie. Check you later!

Meet Danny Brown & The 12for12K Challenge

The 12for12k ChallengeIf you thought corporate brands were the only ones diving into the world of social media, you’re wrong. Non-profits are leveraging the social media landscape  as well to optimize their communication efforts, raise funds and maximize awareness for their cause.

In fact, if you’re active within the Twitter community, you may have seen several of your followers with a 12for12k Challenge border surrounding their avatar. The 12for12k Challenge is the combination of social media and fund-raising.

The concept is simple:

  • 12 months of the year
  • 12 charities, a different charity each month
  • $12,000 per charity

To learn more about the 12for12k Challenge, I reached out to founder, Danny Brown, for an informal interview.

1. Tell us about the concept behind “The 12for12K Challenge” (i.e. how you came up with the idea, what prompted you, etc.).

The idea was simply to try and help as many good causes as possible in 2009. For anyone that visits my blog, they’ll see a list of charities I support. I wanted to take this further and help organizations that are great causes but may be suffering from either awareness, support or funds.

The prompt was from reading newspapers and speaking to non-profit friends, about how traditional fund-raising is being hit hard by both the economy and the cost of getting your cause into the open. It’s clear that social media can offer solutions to both these issues, and that’s when the idea started taking shape.

2. How did you (or supporters) spread the word about 12for12K?

We’ve used a variety of tools and mediums to raise awareness for what we’re trying to achieve, and the charities themselves. Twitter has been hugely effective for us, particularly with the use of the 12for12k Twitter avatar. This leads to people questioning Twitter users sporting the avatar what 12for12k is all about, and that leads to conversation. Which is still the best way to promote anything.

We also have a 12for12k Facebook group, the main 12for12k site with blog, the 12for12k promo video, and we’ve recently set up a blogger program for bloggers to get directly involved with 12for12k.

We’ve also held fun events like a Tweetathon, a virtual pajama party and live tweetups, and this month we’re looking at holding a virtual 12for12k karaoke – more details on that soon!

3. What charities have 12for12K supported and what was the outcome (i.e. hit target donation $12K, maximized awareness surrounding the cause, etc.)?

January was WarChild; February was Stop the Silence; March was Share Our Strength; April was Yehu.org; and this month is Hospice of Peel. As far as donations go, we have only broke the $12,000 barrier once (for the March charity) while the others we have raised on average around $5,000.

Obviously we’d love to hit the $12,000 and we will continue to look into ways to make this happen, but I think we’re hugely happy at the support we’re receiving so far. Plus, it’s been a matter of raising awareness about 12for12k, and I feel we’re reaching that now. We have a huge announcement to make for June and November should also be an exciting time as we combine with a great organization.

I know the charities we’ve supported so far have experienced a lot of new people visiting their sites and wanting to find out more, following our partnership. That’s all we ever wished for, so on that front, I think we can be really pleased.

4. Tell us about this month’s 12for12K charity project Hospice of Peel (i.e. how was the charity chosen).

The Hospice of Peel charity is a perfect example of the way the whole 12for12k thing works. We’ve never wanted to be in the mindset of, “Here are our 12 charities – give us your money!”. Instead, we want to involve our supporters as much as possible. So we ask for recommendations of charities we could possibly support.

This is what happened with this month’s charity. Daniel Patricio is a young guy in Toronto doing some amazing things through social media, and is an active supporter and volunteer for the hospice. We’re already connected on Twitter, and Daniel asked us if we could look at Hospice of Peel. It seemed a perfect fit for our ethos, and they do amazing work, so it made it an easy organization to support. 

5. How can our readers help support “The 12for12K Challenge”?

There are a number of ways. Obviously the first is by donating to each month’s chosen charity – you can find out about Hospice of Peel and how to donate here.

We know times are tough, so if you can’t afford to donate, but you still wish to support and have a blog, you can  use our blog badges to display on your blog. These link directly to 12for12k and help raise more awareness.

And, of course, just let your friends, family and colleagues know about us and what we’re trying to do. The more we can make people aware, the more we can help a given month’s charity.

6. How can non-profits get involved?

First, make sure you meet our criteria. We want to make sure we help each charity as much as possible, so we have four guidelines:

  • No more than 10% admin cost
  • Accounts must be available to public on request
  • Need to have a plan for sustainable change in place, and not just offer a quick-fix solution through donations
  • Need to accept Paypal

If that’s you, then we’d love to consider you. Just email charities@12for12k.org and let us know a bit about you, and we’ll definitely look.

More About Danny Brown
Danny Brown provides business branding and social media consultancy services to the consumer and commercial markets, from small start-ups to Fortune 500 businesses.

San Diego 12for12K Charity Event

upload_12for12k_2This past weekend, my husband and I participated in a nationwide Tweetup for 12for12K and Mom It Forward to support the non-profit organization Yehu.org. Yehu is a microfinance organization in the rural coastal region of Kenya for the poor, by the poor. They provide financial services, business opportunities, and skills training for poor rural entrepreneurs in Kenya.

Yehu’s mission is to enable these entreprenuers to save and earn interest while providing these entrepreneurs access to micro-loans which can help them start or expand their business.

To support Yehu.org, 12for12K and Mom It Forward teamed up and hosted special events throughout the month of April with 100 percent of the proftils going towards the cause.

The San Diego 12for12K charity event was held at the Hard Rock hotel’s newly relaunched rooftop bar and lounge, Float, where fellow San Diego tweeps met up to to help raise funds and awareness. It was great to see so much support and finally being able to meet tweeps in person. In fact, a big congratulations goes out to Rachel Kay Public Relations, Downtown Rob of WebWizards.net, Cinthya “Sugar” Jones, and promotions partner Rich and Creamy for hosting a wonderful event. I especially enjoyed the 12for12k-tini, the photo booth, and look forward to supporting next month’s charity. At the end of the night, the event raised $1500. Awesome work everyone!

To learn more about The 12for12K Challenge and support for Yehu.org, visit the official 12for12K blog.

Since the month of April isn’t over yet, you are more than welcome to chip in for the cause.

Credits: Photos courtesy of James Gose and template created by Leiko Beck Designs.

Are Your Customers Ready for Social Media?

Launching the first social media campaign for your company can be intimidating. With so many ways to engage consumers online (blogs, podcasts, social networks, Twitter, etc.), the feeling of anxiety is inevitable. You know it’s important to get involved in social media, but where do you begin?

First, understand who is online and what they’re doing. Participation in social media can differ among men and women and every demographic you can think of. For example, teens and Gen Y are more open to seeking entertainment online through video-sharing websites such as YouTube than older generations and are more likely to download their favorite songs ((http://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/generations-online-use-internet-differently-8145/)).

With this information, how do you decide between launching a social network and adding a review system to your website? Which medium will your customers flock to?

To understand what your customers are ready for, I recommend using Forrester’s Social Technographics® Profile tool available here. Based on Forrester’s survey data, you can research how participation in the groundswell varies among different groups of consumers not only in North America but globally as well.

Read More

Promote Your Top 100 Tweeps

Twitter MosaicLooking for a great way to promote your fans on Twitter or a unique gift for your Top 100 Tweeps? Then you should check out Twitter Mosaic.

Walter Higgins, founder and CEO of Sxoop Technologies, created the Twitter Mosaic tool which lets you create a mosaic of all your followers or friends on Twitter.

Simply enter your Twitter user name and choose what type of mosaic you’d like to create (followers or friends) and in seconds, you’ll receive an HTML code that you can add to your site or blog post to promote your tweeps. The Twitter Mosaic also gives you the ability to remove default Twitter avatars from your mosaic.


Now the fun part…

After you’ve created your Twitter mosaic, you can pimp your Top 100 Tweeps at Zazzle.com with Walter’s two products:

1. On a T-Shirt.

Choose a shirt design for men, women, kids and even babies (prices vary by color and shirt design). You can keep a T-shirt for yourself or if you have room in your marketing budget, you can take advantage of the bulk discounts and send a T-Shirt to all of your tweeps.

2. On a Coffee Mug.

Not in the mood to deal with shirt sizes? Not a problem. Choose a Twitter coffee mug, stein, or commuter mug for tweeps on the go.

And that’s it — pretty easy huh? 🙂 Got any other idea on how to promote your tweeps?

A Gift For The Ultimate iPhone Addict

iPhone Coasters

Now you can have iPhone coasters in your home thanks to the guys at Meninos. For $60, you get all sixteen standard apps that come with the Apple iPhone. Unfortunately,  that means no Twitter app coaster — sorry folks.

Personally, we don’t use coasters around our apartment but that doesn’t mean I don’t want these. 🙂 Instead of using these as coasters, I’d rather turn them into magnets and have them posted on our refrigerator.

(Photo Credit: Junnn)

Plurk From Your iPhone

Plurk is a micro-blogging service that allows you to send and receive updates ( “plurks”) in a timeline view. What’s different about Plurk from all other micro-blogging platforms is that when you start a Plurk, all replies are kept in that single thread making it easier to follow and view both sides of a conversation. No need to search hashtags or search specific keywords/usernames in order to follow a conversation—Plurk threads allow users to interact with one another and reply to each other’s comments on one page. Plurk also lets users express how they feel with verbs and playful emoticons. And now there’s a Plurk application available to both iPhone and iPod touch users at no cost thanks to Ryan Lim. (Thanks Ryan Lim — you’re cool. 🙂 )

With the Plurk app, you can view your timeline, read and respond to plurks, send and receive public or private plurks, and view profiles. You can add emoticons to your plurks as well thanks to the emoticon hints. The only feature missing is the the horizontal timeline view which honestly isn’t a problem for me.

So if you’re already a Plurk fanatic and have an iPhone or iPod touch, check out the new Plurk app and let me know what you think. And don’t forget to add me too: http://www.plurk.com/heystephanie

Interested in Plurk but don’t have an iPhone or iPod touch? No worries, you can access Plurk from their mobile site at  http://www.plurk.com/m/login.

E-Bestsellers and More From Your Local Library

298503_2251If you’re like me, you love walking down the aisles of your local bookstore to see what new audiobooks are on the shelves. By the time you’re done walking up and down your favorite aisle, whether it be Business & Marketing, Romance, or Self-Improvement, you look down at your hands and realize you’ve grabbed five audiobooks — each roughly worth $25.00.

You end up purchasing the audiobook that fits within your budget and leave the others to be re-shelved. “Next time,” you tell yourself and the running list of audiobooks you’ve logged in your memory to purchase  grows longer.

What if I told you that you could borrow audio best-sellers and other goodies from your local library—for free?

All you need is a library card from your public library. You can browse and search hundreds of great titles and download them to your computer, transfer them to a portable device, or burn onto a CD for your listening pleasure anywhere, anytime.

Imagine my surprise when I logged onto the San Diego County Library site and discovered their large selection of downloadable audiobooks in both WMA and MP3 formats—I literally freaked out. I whipped out my library card and checked out all of the audiobooks I had always wanted.

The process was simple and may differ from your local library so be sure to see what requirements you need in order to take advantage of this opportunity.

Step 1: Download & Install the OverDrive Media Console™ software (FREE)

The OverDrive Media Console is available for both Windows® and Mac® users.

Step 2: Register Free Software

Before you can start the check out process, you’ll need to register the OverDrive Media Console software. Don’t worry, you’ll only need to do this once.

Step 3: Checkout, Download  & Enjoy.

Now you can search the library database for your favorite audio books and other downloadable content. When you decide on a title of interest, simply add it to your digital cart to checkout.

You will never accrue late fees with titles you download from this website. At the end of the loan period, titles will expire and be automatically ‘returned’ to the library. At this time, you can delete the expired file(s) from your machine. – San Diego Public Library

So what are you waiting for? Search for libraries using  OverDrive’s service here.

(Photo Credit: a glitch)

Lose Weight With Web 2.0

It’s 2009 and you’ve made a couple of New Year’s resolutions. And if you’re like most “resolutioners” – your number one resolution is to lose weight (myself included 🙂 ).

Great — so what social media tools or communities are out there that can help us meet this goal?

Meet TheDailyPlate.com

The Daily Plate (TDP) allows you to search more than 502,000 food items for calorie counts, total carbs, fat, and protein so you can track what you’re eating. What’s great about this search function is that when you search for a certain food, TDP also provides healthy alternatives  with fewer calories and reviews made by other members. You can even log what you’ve eaten in a free food diary that you can access online, through their mobile site, or via the LiveStrong iPhone application (my favorite iPhone app) which is available for free for a limited time.

Once you’ve registered at TDP, it’s easy to get started. Simply type a food item in the search box and add the item to your daily plate. TDP will calculate your daily calories automatically. You can even track your daily activites (i.e. running, walk, etc.) and log the calories you burn each day.

So if you’re serious about keeping your resolution to lose weight, check out The Daily Plate and see what they have to offer and don’t forget – it’s FREE.

What other web 2.0 tools are you using to meet your New Year’s resolutions?