symbols

Twitter Demystified

Twitter can look like a stream of chaos or frivolous chatter to the untrained eye. But there’s gold in that chaos. Strategic use of Twitter can harness the power of Social Media like nothing else.

Hashtag2The secret is the #Hashtag, a special keyword that allows you to follow a thread conversation within all the noise.

A hashtag is simply a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, right now if you type #CivilWar you will gather thousands of tweets about the latest Marvel movie, Captain America – Civil War, rather than the 19th century American war between the states.

Other examples

#aCreativeDC is a hashtag to promote arts, events and artists in Washington, DC. #Preakness2016 is for the upcoming Triple Crown horserace. Don’t confuse it with the ‘@‘ sign— that designates a Tweeter. Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist has his own Twitter account: @TheNyquistHorse and my Twitter handle is @ClearlyCreate

Some are just fun: go try #RemoveALetterSpoilABook for some laughs.

Twitter has some good tutorials on the basics, and here’s a bit more on marketing with Twitter.

Go experiment with hashtags and see what kind of conversations you can follow, like a favorite TV show or movie. Discover how businesses are using hashtags to promote their products by following a few B2B and B2C companies.

And feel free to ask questions and share your stories!

Soapbox Time: the Midwest

I was born in Michigan and now live among highly educated East Coast types, who refer to my homeland as ‘flyover country.’  As if that weren’t bad enough, when something happens in Minnesota, they may gesture vaguely north and west and say “out there in Mich-zouri, right?”

Enough with this verbal and geographic ignorance! I can hardly imagine Michigan and Missouri in the same sentence, they are such different places. The American Midwest is an awesome slice of territory, upon which we all depend for food, fuel, industry, and even culture (seriously. click the link).
Most of us are a little vague about what the Midwest is. Fortunately this post from Vox goes into glorious detail about my home region. The current Census definition is based on the area’s evolution from ‘Northwest territories’ to ‘North Central Division,’ which now includes the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Those pale pink states, plus Oklahoma and Kentucky do not qualify.

freighter

we even have our own ships

That is a serious chunk of real estate, smaller than Australia, but larger than Mexico. It’s function as the breadbasket is due to the lucky confluence of climate and excellent soils plowed down by the glaciers which also carved the Great Lakes.

The population is slightly larger than France. And if it were a country, it would have the 6th largest economy in the world, sandwiched between Russia and Brazil.

So, think about that next time you enjoy your corn (in the form of soda, beef, packaged food, gasoline, and so much more.)

Non-Verbal Olympic Protests Fly Below Radar

2014-winter-olympics-5710368030588928-hpThe beauty of visual communication is the powerful impact of a glance. In a fraction of a second our big visual brains read and interpret nonverbal messages like shape and color and symbol.

Google made a big statement today without saying a word. They posted a google doodle made of Olympic winter sport figures on the colors of the rainbow. They did reinforce it with a quote from the Olympic Charter that leaves little doubt of their intention:

“The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

la-sp-sn-pussy-riot-homage-alexey-sobolev-2014-001In a country struggling to define the rights of political and artistic  speech it can permit, Russian snowboarder Alexey Sobolev plainly displayed the bottom of his snowboard, painted with what is clearly an homage to the outlawed punk rock band Pussy Riot, whose knit masks have become a signature of their protests.

Visual statements like these speed messages to the brain and evade the censors, at least for a while. The power of image cannot be denied. Are you using your visual messages to their fullest advantage in your communications?