I am old. I WANT to die.

I have been thinking about this blog post for a while now. But I have hesitated. My own feeling on the subject as still confused.  Also because I don’t want my blog to be seen as a “downer”.  But the reason I started my own blog was just for these type issues. Real Life.  And boy, I was dealing with real life NOW.

I have been changing a lot of diapers lately, not on a cute newborn baby bottom, but an old wrinkly one.  My father-in-law no longer has control of his bladder or bowels.

The worst thing is that he knows what is happening.  He is still pretty damn sharp for a 96 year old.  He asked me last night if I “had ever thought I would be cleaning an old persons butt?” I tried to make a joke of it, asking him not to fart on me…it made him laugh but it did not really cover up the sadness involved.

My father-in-law and I have been talking quite a bit lately. His sitter was sick and my husband and I have been doing sitting duty. He told me “ I am ready to go, I have lived long enough! I am ready to die ” I don’t think he really wanted a response from me. At least I hope not.

I have been re-reading a book called “How We Die”.  By Sherwin B. Nuland. It was a National book award winner. I purchased the book about fifteen years ago when my grandmother had Alzheimer’s. We had recently put her into a nursing home and I wanted to learn as much as I could. I wanted to know how long before she died.

It may make me seem heartless but I have to wonder, how long before Ben dies? He is ready to go, and to be perfectly honest so are we. I know how horrible that sounds. Selfish, probably.  I do not want to see him to continue to decline. To be embarrassed. To hear him say how thankful he is to have us. It makes me feel ashamed. I don’t feel like I can bare the weight of his gratitude.

Have you thought much about your old age? I have. I have already expressed that I do not want my children to take me home. I do not want them to feel the mixed feelings of love and anger Love and responsibility. I want to be put in a rocking old folks home if possible.  What about you?

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Life in Rural America: And other weird stuff

As some of you may know, I am part of the sandwich  generation. My husband and I are newly childless. (The last entered UNC Chapel Hill  last year.) We moved back home to Nashville after nine years in the Carolinas to start our marketing company and to be closer to John’s father who is  96 years old.

We are suffering all the trials and tribulations of business owners and the necessity of caring for John’s dad, Ben. Ben lives in Bruceton, Tennessee about an hour and a half west of Nashville, between Nashville and Memphis..  He lives on the 100 acre family complete with horses, chickens, etc. I lovingly call it meth-lab country.

We are fortunate that we can control our schedule for the most part and have set up a system of sitters, home healthcare and us.

I am not much of a farm girl but I am learning. I have decided to begin writing down the stories I have been hearing for years and the new ones that pop up every day. Enjoy!

This is what happened when we arrived at the farm Wednesday night.

Bruceton Farm Breaking News! 56 year old Joe Smith (name has been changed) was apprehended by the Bruceton police department trying to out  run them on Rolling Mill Road about 8 pm last night. Earlier that evening he had borrowed money for one gallon of gas at Q-mart. After hearing a loud bang (he hit a utility pole and darkened the entire neighborhood,) he was caught.

Fortunately no one was seriously injured. Earlier this year he walked into the Center Point Baptist Church with a shotgun and invited the parishioners to his Daddy’s funeral. Unfortunately, his Daddy had been dead for over a year.

He had an earlier run-in with the law after being caught with 2 small raccoons on his three-wheeler. It is Illegal to hunt wild game . It is our hope that when he is released he will once again be seen riding a lawnmower up and down Rolling Mill Road. You don’t need a license for a lawnmower in Carroll County.

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Healthcare: It Is Getting Personal Now

This is the first post under my new name, Christine’s Memes.  I would like to take credit for the name but my daughter Alex was the creator. (I am so proud).

According to Wikipedia A meme (pronounced /ˈmiːm/, rhyming with “cream”[1]) is a postulated unit of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.

My definition is a meme is anything I want to talk about. I changed the name so I could differentiate my personal blog posts versus my JTMarCom posts.   There will be duplication but I feel that this is a better format for more personal  thoughts and ideas.

My original thought for this first post was to talk about my learning curve in social media after being a traditional marketer for over twenty years.  My learning curve was no curve at all but a straight up rocket. And it has been a fantastic ride.

But all of a sudden life has gotten in my way.

So if you are squeamish stop now. 🙂

I  had to have a radical hysterectomy on March 8. And I was not happy about it. My hysterectomy included the removal of my uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes.  Fortunately, I am finished with my child rearing. I have two wonderful daughters, Alexandra and Victoria  ( Alex and Tori.). Why the surgery? Well, I did what all smart women should do. Get a regular OBGYN check up and found out that I had an “unidentifiable mass”.

Yes, I was freaked out.  I was scared. But more than that, I was and am pissed! Our COBRA insurance runs out in a month.  An unidentified mass was the doctor’s way of saying it could be cancer, which means I cannot switch to the insurance company I planned to.  My mass was considered a pre-existing condition. The medical and insurance company had limited my choices.  I could not try alternative treatment because if it didn’t work I would not be covered at a later date. I have even been told that mentioning the word cancer in my blog could hurt me in obtaining insurance.

Why am I telling you all this? I need your help. How can we as the social media, marketing, public relations community address this issue? I am embarrassed to say I have been so busy building a business that I have not participated in the healthcare debate in our country.  I will take a guess that neither  have you.

I for one, plan to change that. Getting the GREAT news that I did not have cancer has given me a much needed wake-up call. I will no longer put up with mediocrity either within myself or others. I can bitch and moan or I can do something.  I will be doing research over the next few weeks, to see how I can be more involved. I do not care about political parties, red or blue.  I do care about my and my family’s future. The question is where do I start?

I know that the healthcare bill just passed. I want the details and I intend to get them. I am looking for sources….NOT political rhetoric.  Life is too short to be mired in useless words. Do you think getting the facts is possible?

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Twitter Basics

Twitter

If you’re already on Twitter, you know it’s more than just talking about what people have for breakfast. It’s more like “conference call IM” to me. Link sharing, conversation, personal connections that break the ice before in-person meeting, professional networking.

If you’re just getting started on Twitter, you’re probably a bit overwhelmed and looking for a few ways to help optimize your experience. So here’s my take on Twitter, how I use it, and what I think you should pay attention to.

Getting Set Up

Use your real name and a picture on your profile. It lets your followers know that there’s a real person behind the profile. I’m not a big fan of business names for handles (i.e. your Twitter name), but they can work if you have a real picture. In general, I’m of the mind that you should use something related to your real name if not your name itself, and stay away from things with tons of numbers (they can smell spammy to the casual observer).

Let your bio be a little fun, but have it there regardless. We want to know who you are. I encourage people to use their bio they way they’d introduce themselves in person, not as a 140 character “elevator pitch”. That turns off followers that might like to connect with you, especially if they think they’ll get pitched if they follow you. (Unless it’s a purely business account, in which case a description of your company is probably the best approach.)

Following and Being Followed

When you’re just getting started, you can search Twitter for people you know by entering their name. Twitter also has an option to search the contacts you have on Gmail, Hotmail, AOL and some others. Also, there are tools like Twellow, Twitter Grader, SocialOomph, Mr. Tweet that can help you get connected with people with similar interests or that are local to you. Use Twitter Search to plug in topics that interest you and see who’s talking about them. There is a local app that I am currently looking at called TweetSurge.

As you get more followers, check out who *they* follow and connect to others you see them conversing with on Twitter. To me, that’s the most organic way to build your network, and the way that I did it. If you do use an app to build followers be sure and check for spam and porn. I am relentless with the “block” key.

Be aware that if you run out and follow a slew of people out of the gate, Twitter is very likely to mark you as an account with spam potential and suspend you. It’s not a race. Follow a handful of people, start talking to them. Grow from there.

I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that more is better. I have a large network personally, but I built it connecting to people slowly over time, and it matters much more to me that I’m having a conversational, interactive experience.

I don’t put much stock in ranking/scoring/grading tools that claim to say who’s a good follow and who isn’t. And I don’t fret if someone unfollows me; again, it’s about each person’s personal experience, even if I’m not their cup of tea. I encourage you to consider following people as reaching out and shaking hands, connecting individually rather than just an accumulation of numbers. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s a communication experience.

Participating

The best advice I can give here is to treat Twitter like a conversation (because largely that’s what it is). Start with 30 minutes, twice a day (say morning and after work). There’s no “right” way to use it and your own feel for it will emerge over time, but there are a few tips. 90% of what I do on Twitter is conversing with other people. If you look at my profile page, you’ll see that “@ replies” comprise the bulk of my interaction. The other 10% is sharing links I find across the web that I think are interesting or useful, and about one out of a dozen times, I’ll drop a link to my recent blog post. The important thing is that your links are much more likely to get attention – yours or otherwise – if you’ve spend the time to build the relationships behind the connections before you ask people to look at your stuff.

The best way to build relationships and a community on Twitter: participate. Spend some time sitting back and listening, then join the conversation. Jump on in, say hello. Don’t beg for followers – trust me when I tell you that if you’re interesting and interested in others, they’ll show up. It’s really that simple. Talk, share, contribute. And above all, have a little fun.

The Lingo

Twitter has it’s own lexicon of sorts. Here are a few terms you might see tossed about.

@ replies: This symbol precedes people’s “handles” or screen names on Twitter when a tweet is directed at them. Want to reply to someone’s comment? Start your tweet with @<their twitter name> so they’ll know your reply is meant for them. You can track your own replies in the “@ Replies” tab on your Twitter page, or many of the Twitter clients will do so automatically for you.

RT: Stands for “retweet” and means that the tweet is being reposted from someone else. If I retweet something of yours, that means I’m passing it along for others in my network to see. When you see a tweet that starts with these letters, it means that the person is passing along something that someone else wrote. Many of the third party applications have a one-click button to retweet a post.

hashtags: You may often see tweets that end with a hashtag, or a pound sign followed by a term, such as #marketing. The purpose is to keep track of tweets that are all part of a single subject, event, or topic. If you head to Twitter Search and type in the full hashtag, you can track all the tweets related to that term. You don’t need to do anything special to use a hashtag, just make one up and tell folks to use it if you want them to tag their tweets for your event or discussion.

link shorteners: Twitter’s 140 character limitation makes posting big links impossible. So you’ll see shortened urls from services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, is.gd among others. They take a long URL and condense it down to a short version. Again, clients like TweetDeck, Seesmic and Hootsuite have this built in, but you can use the web versions as well, many of which have a bookmark button you can use in your browser. Personally, I use HootSuite.  It allows me to track analytics.  My most popular tweets by clicks, date, time, country, etc.

DM: This stands for Direct Message and is Twitter’s version of a private message. If you DM someone, you send the message directly to them and no one else can see it. To send one, type the letter and a space followed by the person’s Twitter name (or use the Direct Messages tab on your profile page). The recipient of the DM needs to be following you for the message to go through.

Favorites: If you “favorite” a tweet, it’s like your bookmarking it for yourself. You can see your favorites on a separate tab on your profile, and others can see them too.

Most of the above post and additional information can be found below.

Altitude Branding

More Twitter Apps

How to Power Up Your Twitter

Top 10 Websites for you to post more than 140 Characters on Twitter

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I’m Dumber Than I Thought.

I have always believed that the essence of a good leader was to recognize what you don’t know and hire people who are smarter than you.  I still believe that is mostly true.  However, I learned  this past year that  my lack of detailed knowledge hurt me and my ability to give clear and precise directions to my vendors.

My New Year’s Resolution is to change that.

Tamara Weinberg just gave us (for her birthday) a great list of the Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009 and I am methodically re-posting each article on the JTMarCom Facebook FanPage. As I do that I am reading all the postings.

One posting from Louis Gray is:

40 Key Elements to Getting Started In Social Media

Tip number 5 is where I am starting.

1. Familiarize yourself with the basics of web-mastering. If you have not already done so, learn how to use FTP.

2. Learn the basics of HTML, and  the basics of  DNS how to configure it for your domain names. (How to Guide)

3. Learn how to configure a POP email account, and how to take a screen shot and edit and resize images.

The less you have to rely on someone for these basic tasks, the better off you will be and you might even save some out of pocket expenses.

I know may know most of this but as I go through these list I always learn that I am not as smart as I think I am.

What do you want to learn or re-learn this year?

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4 Sites to Get You Started in Social Media

There are so many great resources to help you get started with social media it can be very overwhelming. Below are a few places that I like. What are your favorites?

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Twitter-Tracking Key Words and lists

How to Track a Keyword within a Twitter List

I recently saw a post on “Search Engine Journal” about Listiti is a new tool that sends you an email alert once a word is used in Twitter list.

Here’s how it works:

1. Create a Twitter list of people who Tweet about the topic you are interested in;

2. Go to Listiti and create an alert by providing:

The Twitter list slug,
Key terms (you can choose to track the exact match or any of the words);
Your email to send the alerts:

3. You should now go to your email box and confirm the alert:

4. After confirming you will see your alert status:

5. Now, once the Twitter users within the list (or any of them) mention the word you are tracking, you’ll receive an email alert.

I am still in the process of using this feature and developing list and key words to follow. I will let you know of lists I have put together as they are developed.

I am (@chrisgtaylor) currently creating a list of “mommy bloggers” and influential Twitter users who may be interested in my clients Pacifier-B-Gone product.  Pacifier-B-Gone just won the PTPA award. (Parent Tested Parent Approved). We are very excited.

If you have a great list I’d love to know about it.

Christine

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JTMarCom and Twitter for Business

Friday, November 27, 2009  |  Modified: Sunday, November 29, 2009, 5:00am CST

Businesses using Twitter to build brand, bring in customers

Nashville Business Journal – by Eric Snyder Staff Writer

 

James Yates, Nashville Business Journal
Mitzi Maynard, left, and Lori Paranjape of Redo Home and Design in Franklin update the store’s Twitter status. The retailer is an avid user of ‘micro-blogging.’

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Just as the image of Santa Claus has continuously evolved — from the skinny patron saint of Greece and Russia into today’s jolly-sized chimney diver — merchants have continued to find new ways of connecting their wares with the public.

This holiday season, many local retailers will continue reaching out to shoppers where they live — and via Twitter feeds, where they work, play or pick up grocercies.

Twitter is a free “micro-blogging” service that allows users to send bite-sized info blasts to subscribers, more commonly (or ominously, depending on your perspective) referred to as “followers.” Tweets can be sent or received via computers or smartphones.

Spurred by breathless media coverage and celebrity adopters like actor Ashton Kutcher and NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, Twitter has enjoyed exponential growth. According to eMarketer, more than 18 million American adults will have used the service this year, compared to 6 million users last year.

And while reports suggest Twitter’s growth may not be sustainable — up to 60 percent of users quit after one month, Nielsen Online said in April — many local retailers say you have to remember one thing: It works.

And it’s free.

“It is, by far, our best (return on investment),” said Lori Paranjape, a partner in Redo Home & Design in historic Franklin, citing a primary reason it has proven popular with retailers.

Lori immediately began “tweeting” when she joined the business in January, thinking the company might just put a toe in the water. No longer.

“When we get new inventory, we tweet. When we get an interesting new client, we tweet,” Paranjape said. “It’s just how we communicate.”

Paranjape said Redo got multiple clients, whom they had never previously met, via Twitter. When Redo joined A Shopping Soiree, a Franklin fundraiser for several local charities — an invitation they received via Twitter, of course — they tweeted. They’ve tweeted Christmas shopping tips and holiday gift guides.

She doesn’t, however, make the same mistake some retailers do; Paranjape’s advertising button isn’t always on.

“There’s consequences in the Twitter world,” Paranjape said. “It’s not all business.”

It may seem paradoxical. To receive messages via Twitter, you must sign up for them.

But they also want to be entertained, or innocently informed, not just sold to.

“There’s a kind of 9-to-1 rule,” said Christine Taylor, vice president of social media marketing for local firm JTMarCom. “You need to be marketing other people nine times more than you’re marketing yourself.”

Taylor said clients sometimes have a hard time wrapping their heads around the concept, but she used the example of a big-box store pointing a customer to another store if they don’t have a particular item in stock. Perhaps the competing store gets that sale, but the original business earned trust and built a relationship.

“You have to develop a relationship with your customer base,” Taylor said.

Even if it is transferred over a so-called social media, traditional advertising will be found out.

“We have a good b.s. radar,” Taylor said. “Traditional advertising is tuned out.”

Paranjape, tweeting for Redo under the account redodesign, promotes other events around Franklin, solicits advice from followers on things to do and offers moments of levity, as she did in response to a jogger that ran past the shop window: “Please stop jogging by our door. We get it. We should jog, too. At least say, ‘Hi.’ Don’t just fly by all exercisey.” (Paranjape also advertised this article, twice, tweeting on Nov. 23, “We’re awkwardly having our picture taken right now by the (Nashville Business Journal) for article about Twitter.”)

A quick perusal of Twitter reveals numerous Nashville businesses advertising everything from contests to coffee, including Dunn Bros Coffee, Fido, 12th and Porter and Sambuca, among others.

Taylor said some companies, particularly larger ones more entrenched with traditional, top-down advertising, find Twitter intimidating. While JTMarCom also advises several clients on how to wield their Twitter accounts, Taylor herself manages the accounts of nine clients, ranging from a pet food company to an executive coach. While that does negate a prime benefit for some retailers — the fact that Twitter is a free service — help from Taylor saves the businesses another, if less tangible, investment of time.

“You have to nurture it once you have it,” she said.

Rachel Lowe, owner of Two Elle, a boutique home and clothing store that recently moved into Green Hills’ Hill Center, feels no intimidation from Twitter.

With a love of writing, and an English degree from Columbia University, Lowe said she uses the Two Elle Twitter account, twoellerabbits, to reinforce the personalities of their sales staff.

“We would never just say, ‘This T-shirt came in,’ end of sentence,” Lowe said. “It always has to have a story behind it.”

Like Paranjape, Lowe said Twitter is her store’s most effective form of advertising. While she tweeted constant updates about the store’s relocation this summer, Lowe said the business didn’t run any print ads announcing the move.

As Paranjape put it, with Twitter, “We are our own press coverage.”


You can reach Eric Snyder at esnyder@bizjournals.com or 615-846-4254.


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Examples of Social Media Policies

According to a recent article on social media by the blogger HrBartender /Sharlyn Lauby , there are generally two approaches to social media policy making. Some organizations handle social media in an evolutionary way. Chad Houghton, the director of e-media and business development at the Society for Human Resource Management, told me that he thinks, “it might be beneficial not to create some arbitrary rules without first seeing where the opportunities and risks really are.”

Other organizations, meanwhile, feel more comfortable establishing a clear policy from the outset. IBM, for example, has published their social media guidelines publicly for anyone to read. It’s a great policy, though rather long.

One thing is certain — clients are asking for where to find examples of current policies used by all  types of organizations. I was really excited when I came upon the best site I  have found so far the : Online Data Base for Social Media put together by Chris Boudreaux.  Chris has organized a pretty comprehensive social media policy database. The database currently has 106 policies with the policies being sorted by industry, organization and title. More are being added daily.

Among the companies whose social media policies are available on the site are About.com, the BBC, Dell, Dow Jones, Gartner, Microsoft, the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. Air Force, Wal-Mart and Yahoo!

So if your organization is fretting about social media and you want to get them into the modern age, show them this site.  And if your company already has a social media policy and wants to show it to the world, it can submit that policy for inclusion in the Social Media Governance database.

Does your company have a policy? If so please share.:)

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I stalked Chris Brogan:)

T-shirtThis is an image off of a t-shirt my husband John bought me as a joke from Despair.com. I thought it was pretty funny.  It captures  brilliantly the three behavioral disorders propelling the continued phenomenal growth of today’s most widely-trafficked social media sites. And the personality dysfunctional forces of Narcissism, ADHD, and Stalking  that reside today’s in the fast growing area of social media.

As a social media practitioner I freely admitted to the ADHD, (not a bad trait for a multi-tasker). Narcisissim not so much, but I must admit I do like it when my posts are re-tweeted. ( I call it being informative.) But I didn’t get the Stalking category.

I do Now. I am a big fan of Chris Brogan and read his blog eagerly every morning as I drink  my coffee. When I heard that his book “Trust Agents” needed a launch push and he offered to be a speaker for anyone willing to buy 200 books. I jumped at the chance.  I pulled out my credit card and bam, I had 200 books.

Then the shock set in. How was I going to move 200 books? Well the Nashville tech community came to the rescue.  Lynn Bennett at Stage Post Studios offered to host the event. Social Media Club of Nashville (who JTMarCom is donating some of the proceeds to) has helped promote the event with Jessica Murray and Georgia Cross of SMCNash helping any way they can. And most of all, Chris Brogan and his great mother Diane Brogan have helped pull this all together.

Below is our press release: Three days and counting. I am nervous and excited. We could not have done this without many fine people involved.

It’s not too late to sign up HERE for the live portion of the event and if you live elsewhere please tune in HERE to the  Free Video Web Cast provided by Author’s Way.

RELEASE

In their new New York Times best-selling book, “Trust Agents” co-authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith make the case that the Internet has made it easier than ever to reach your customers.  It’s less likely, however, that they’ll listen.  Today, the most valuable online currency isn’t the dollar, but trust itself.

In the video streaming webinar, Brogan will discuss how social networks and personal connections have far more influence on consumers than a company’s marketing messages ever well –unless your business knows how to harness them.  He will provide valuable insights on how to tap into the power of these networks to build your brand’s influence, reputation, and profits.

Brogan contends that trust agents aren’t necessarily marketers or salespeople; they’re digitally savvy people who use the Web to humanize businesses using transparency, honesty, and genuine relationships.  As a result, they wield enough online influence to build up or bring down a business’s reputation.

During the first two hours of the webinar (10 a.m. to 12 noon EST), Brogan will discuss how to build profitable relationships with trust agents and his six basic principles for becoming a trust agent yourself.

During the final hour of the webinar (12 noon to 1 p.m. EST), audience members will have the opportunity to pose questions to Brogan  via phone, Twitter and email.  He will respond to as many questions time permitting and will sign books for these individuals.  Brogan’s book and a DVD of the webinar will also be available for purchase to all audience members through Authorsway.com.

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