Gossip Genie Blog

Viewpoint: I’m a Social Media Addict

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socmediaaddFor some of us who work in social media, the term “social media burnout” is all too real. Headaches; sleepless nights; mood swings: there are many times where I don’t want to look at another post, another tweet, or another ‘like,’ but in the end, I always find myself gravitating towards my mobile phone and/or laptop, eager to pick up where I last left off. Tiresome as it may seem, being “connected” is an addiction for me.

Do you find yourself in this position every time you’re about to go to sleep?
article-2335775-1A24D961000005DC-610_634x410Unfortunately, I do… but I’m promising myself to be better about it. All those late nights staring at my phone brought me to ask myself: Am I addicted to social media?

Like social media burnout, social media addiction is real, and you don’t have to work in the industry to experience it firsthand. In a 2011 experiment to document the realities of addictions to social media, CNN producer Kiran Khalid tries to spend five days off social media. As a challenge, she vows not to read or post updates while on vacation and also locks her Blackberry away in a safe.

Some moments from Khalid’s 5-day experiment include:

  • “Resisting the urge to cheat — it’s daunting dining alone, without an electronic companion — I take out my journal and start writing about my day. So far, so good, I think.”
  • “Every time I go for a swim, come back and lie in the warm sun, I reach for my BlackBerry that’s not there — it’s become second nature.”
  • “This [reggae party] would be exponentially more amusing if I could tweet it or take a picture and post it to Facebook, but I resist the urge.”
  • “So I cheat, sort of. I opt to e-mail a group of close friends to let them know about this life-altering upgrade, you know, in case they went looking for me at the wrong resort. One friend immediately replies, ‘Aren’t you supposed to be off the computer?!'”
  • “OK, so that whole “I don’t miss social media” stuff isn’t true.It’s been four days since I logged onto my accounts and I’m anxious to see what my friends are up to and fill them in on my reclamation-of-sanity tour here in Antigua.”

Nearing the conclusion of her trip, Khalid reminisces:

“…I feel rested–I do think there has been a beneficial disconnect.”

Khalid’s takeaways are some many people can relate to, but don’t actually realize it. I’ll admit this to the world: I’m a social media addict. Writing this blog post has given me another platform to reflect on how it is altering my life. I’m not trying to generalize, and it should be noted that not everyone who works in social media (or anyone for that matter) experiences ‘burnout’ or has an addiction; many people know how to balance their lives – maybe I’m just all over the map?

But it stands to reason that many are deeply connected in social media and need to find a way to disconnect somehow, whether it be for one day, one week or one month. Why? Because there is a world outside of social media. Because conversations carry great weight when they’re had in person. Because it enables people to get outside and appreciate what the world has to offer – exercise, anyone?

When Harvard is conducting studies about social media addiction and videos about social media ruining our lives are going viral, it should alarm you a little.

How am I going to start my detox? For starters, I’m going to use this blog post as a reminder that there are places to go, people to see and things to try… that don’t need to be shared on social media. I urge you to do the same.

* The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer.


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Recently, someone very wise told me that gratitude is the foundation of happiness. If we apply it to everything we do, we will live a richer life. Tragedy will always inspire this mentality but what about just an average day, week, month, year? Make it a point to wake up each day and be appreciative of the fact that you are waking up to live another day.

I am not the preachy fake happy type of person but I have a lot to be grateful about and I have made a point of just trying to start each day with being grateful for waking up to live another day. Okay, okay, I am sure I lost some of you at my mushy-ness but seriously, here are few digital tips to be happier.

Pharrell was on to something!


1. It has been proven that Facebook can cause depression but it doesn’t have to. Ask yourself before you log on to Facebook if you are going to compare yourself to the perfect lives your friends portray on Facebook. If so, maybe you should avoid the network until you are in a better place yourself. Remember, the happiest people are the ones that are genuinely happy for other people when good things happen to them. This is easier said than done because jealousy is not something most of us can control but to offset any jealousy, try the gratitude approach.

2. Remove the negative influences from your social surroundings. Bullies on Twitter, Debbie Downers on Facebook, Kim Kardashian on Instagram. Embrace the friends that are experiencing happy milestones, achieving their goals and putting positive energy out their by supporting them. I am certainly not really friends with all of my friends on Facebook. To be honest, there are a few on there that I have never been fond of for one reason or another. Recently, one of those people ran a marathon and lost a good amount of weight. She was very happy about achieving her goal and therefore, I was happy for her. She may have heavily hazed me during my sorority days and I would easily classify her as a mean girl but I am over it. I am happy that she is healthy and I wish her the best. She posts a lot of positive and motivational quotes and I enjoy reading them.

3. Start putting your positive energy out into the Universe and it will come back to you…write a blog post about the things you are grateful for!



Book Review: Gary Vaynerchuk’s “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”

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I recently read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World. Vaynerchuk is a New York Times bestselling author and social media expert and his latest book is a blueprint of sorts for social media marketing strategies. It really makes you rethink how you market and sell to your customers. I would definitely say it’s a must-read for anyone working in marketing or social media and anyone who wants to understand the power of social media marketing. I particularly enjoyed the numerous examples of how companies like Dunkin’ Donuts and Lacoste have successfully (or unsuccessfully) used social media to market themselves.

Referring to the title, “jabbing” is creating content for consumers and engaging with customers to build relationships. The “right hook” is developing and implementing that next campaign that will produce profits and convert traffic to sales, easily showing a return on investment. In the book, Vaynerchuk explains how important it is to focus on not only developing high-quality content (jabbing) but truly engaging with customers and adapting your message across the various social media platforms (the right hook).

The main message in the book is that you need to emotionally invest in your customers for them to care about you. If you sell too hard on social media, people will ignore you, but if you support your community, they will want to do business with you. At Gossip Genie, we are continually developing relationships with our audiences and listening to what they have to say.

After reading the book, here are some quotes that stood out most to me as a social media manager:

On the power of social media: “It took thirty-eight years before 50 million people gained access to radios. It took television thirteen years to earn an audience that size. It took Instagram a year and a half.”

On social media marketing: “The incredible brand awareness and bottom-line profits achievable through social media marketing require hustle, heart, sincerity, constant engagement, long-term commitment, and most of all, artful and strategic storytelling.”

On Twitter: “It closes the six degrees of separation to one degree of separation”

On Facebook: “One out of every five page views in the United States is on Facebook!…On Facebook, the definition of great content is not the content that makes the most sales, but the content that people most want to share with others.”

On listening to the consumer: “I pride myself in listening. When you have people paying attention to you, your biggest job is to listen what they want. Deliver what your community wants. Social media has much more upside when you’re actually listening and responding and reacting.”

On followers: “It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many care.”

On tapping into your market: “You’ve got to tell your story to the customer where the customer actually is…head-down, in their mobile device.”

On creating content: “Creating content that allows us to share our experiences, thoughts, and ideas in real time is becoming an intrinsic part of life in the twenty-first century.”

On the importance of context: “Today, getting people to hear your story on social media, and then act on it, requires using a platform’s native language, paying attention to context, understanding the nuances and subtle differences that make each platform unique, and adapting your content to match.”

On creating connections: “Your job is to create a connection. You can talk, talk, talk all day long and never make one honest, real connection with another human soul. But you’ve only got one real job online… and your job is to “create” a connection. Your job is to find the connection between you and that “one” follower at a time, heart-to-heart, soul-to-soul. If you focus on that one connection until it clicks and sticks, then others will watch, listen, and follow you, too. Your only real job is to find, create and nurture that one connection. Once connected, simply do it again… and again…”

On life: “Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.”

The Social Celebration of Earth Day

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Happy Earth Day! Here are some great examples of companies embracing Earth Day via social media.

1.  NASA is using social media to promote Earth Day from an astronaut’s point of view. Astronauts have captured some of the most astoundingly beautiful images of the earth, therefore, NASA is encouraging its followers  to take an outdoor selfie as part of the agency’s #GlobalSelfie campaign.

You can either post your selfie to NASA’s Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram or Flickr account or share it on your own account with the tag #GlobalSelfie on April 22. The agency will use the images gathered to create a mosaic image of Earth that will be released in May.

2. TDS Telecom has deemed April, Earth Month. Throughout the month of April, TDS has posted tips for a greener office on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Google+. Their blog has had several Earth Day themed posts throughout the month and they even changed their cover photo on Facebook to reflect the initiative.

Earth Day Cover Photo







3. Mashable is encouraging its followers to honor Earth Day, socially:

“This Earth Day, whether you take a moment to just appreciate the flowers on your walk home, or teach a kid how to be a little more conscious of their impact on the world, please share that moment with the Mashable community. We’d love to see your photos, Vine videos, Snapchat doodles, and Instagrams, and we’ll round-up the best throughout the day. Just be sure to add the hashtag #MashEarth when you post!”


Worst social media advice, ever

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Have you ever been given bad social media advice? You may have been spoon-fed terrible guidance without even really knowing it – Even worse, you may have accepted bad instruction and acted on it.

If you’re a social media newbie seeking some social guidance for your business, here’s a little tip: Don’t ever take the following social media suggestions.

Ignore negative comments

Would you ignore service or product complaints or concerns? Social media acts as a customer service forum; people turn to Facebook, Twitter, etc. to voice concerns or to share with others negative or positive experiences. Acknowledging negative feedback, and allowing people to see that you care and are trying to right the wrong, you will gain the respect and trust your business craves.

Social media doesn’t call for strategizing

Diving into social media for personal use – sure – you don’t need a contingency plan. When using social sites for your business, however, you should not only have a plan in place, you should have goals set. Most importantly, you should know your target audience, and how to engage. Discuss the voice of your business and what type of material, news you want to share. A business is built on strategizing, why should social media be immune to it?

Advertisements are a waste, don’t bother

Social media advertisements can help you further brand awareness and reach the audience you desire, no matter how precise that target market needs to be. These advertisements can help you gain potential clients and interest from a pool of millions already using social networks every single day.

You don’t need social media, your prospects aren’t using it

To get a taste of about how many people are on social media, take a look at this infographic from Search Engine Journal. Bottom line, with these population numbers, you’re destined to hook a few parties. If you’re still having doubts, mock-up a Facebook advertisement, for example, and you’ll see how many people fit your specific target audience. You may be surprised by what number pops up.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.18.27 PM

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 3.17.49 PM

Just choose one outlet

Keep in mind that no single social media outlet is considered the Holy Grail. Truth be told, each social site attracts millions upon millions of people – That’s a lot of folks. So, why only dip your toe into one pool? By testing the water with several social outlets, you have the potential to reach a whole lot more people, and gain so many more opportunities.

Send an auto DM to all new followers

Just say no to auto DMs. They come across as impersonal, and quite spam-like.  You want to connect with your audience; build a trusted relationship with them. Shoving an automated response in their face will irritate them and surly not convince them to follow your business or listen to what you have to say. On Twitter, you only get so many characters, so make em’ count.

Auto publish your posts to go out on all social networks

Each social media platform is different from one another, so why revert to a “one size fits all” publishing strategy? A tweet looks completely different than a Facebook post in terms of character space and tagging, for example. Each post should be uniformed based on which outlet it’s for.


Have you ever been given any of these suggestions?

This Film Could Be The Blockbuster of 2014 Thanks to Social Media (Part II)

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Eight months ago I wrote a blog post about how social media had the potential to help one film become the blockbuster movie of 2014. The movie? X-Men: Days of Future Past. And for the past eight months millions have been on the rollercoaster ride of a lifetime that are X-Men director Bryan Singer’s tweets.

Bryan Singer is no stranger to Twitter. In an interview with the Huffington Post, Singer explains why he chose Twitter to connect with his fans:

“I decided that the next time I got myself involved in a movie that had a huge amount of attention already that I would use Twitter. As a way of connecting with fans, principally. And also as a way of clearing up misunderstandings so that people know. You know, they may hear that an actor is cast or hear somebody is going to be in it, but until I say it’s so, that’s the confirmation.”

And so far, the results have paid off for Singer and parent X-Men owner Fox Studios.

Far removed from even showing an actual trailer through traditional media, Singer and Fox Studios went where everyone is – social media. And over the course of eight months, we’ve seen a bevy of behind-the-scenes photo tweets from Singer, mini-teasers on Instagram from the film’s official account, a viral video about the antagonist’s company and lastly, a very well thought out marketing idea titled The Bent Bullet that suggests Magneto (one of the film’s characters) was the individual who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.

And all of this buzz was for a film that had yet to release a single action-packed trailer and promoting solely through social media. What are critics saying? Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson agrees that the X-Men mini-teasers show the future of marketing:

In this age of saturation-level marketing often months in advance, where copious trailers are followed by copious television spots and a deluge of online clips, Fox must be and should be commended for holding back.”

While that is great praise from a marketing standpoint, the other side of the coin asks how effective has the film’s social media marketing strategies resonated with moviegoers? Popular movie/TV database Rotten Tomatoes has it’s audience’s ‘want to see’ percentage at one hundred percent!

Social media has played a huge role in the marketing of X-Men: Days of Future Past. It not only gave fans a real-time look at how the film was being made, but the real win is the word-of-mouth marketing that was spawned without the help of traditional media – who says social media doesn’t work?!

The film is now in post-production and opens in theaters on May 23, 2014. Will it become the blockbuster film of 2014? I’ll let its newly action-packed trailer do the talking…

30 For 30

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This will probably be my last blog post before I turn (gulp) 30!! Therefore, I want to share the top 30 things I love about social media.

30. Birthday reminders – some people strictly join Facebook for the sole purpose of being reminded about the birthdays of family and friends

29. Instagram is a candid sneak peak into the lives of your favorite celebrities. It’s the only network I use to follow celebrities because it’s genuinely the celeb posting the pics, evident in the selfie camera angle. I could have done without this pic but Kim Kardashian is certainly entertaining because we all love to hate her.


28. If you’re selling something, you have an extra outlet to get the word out. After weeks of trying to sell my furniture via Craigslist, I was able to do it within 30 minutes of posting it on Facebook.

27. Hashtags – I have a love hate relationship with hashtags, I hate myself for feeling the need to use them in texting conversations but I love when I can appropriately apply a great hashtag to better index a tweet.

26. Cyber stalking – We all do it! Think about the additional detail you find out about a person by scrubbing their social presence.

25. Filters, we can all admit that a filter takes picture from good to great.

24. Validation – Every like on your Facebook status, every heart on your instagram photo, every retweet of your tweet, you know the more attention your social posts get, the better you feel about yourself.

23. Documentation – with the evolution of social media, we have visual documentation of the various stages in our lives. Every photo you add to Instagram (if your location information is enabled) is a documented memory of your experience.

22. Photosations – learn more from Darryl’s post

21. #HavaneseOfInstagram


20. Being able to transport yourself to the past via social media – check out this fun little tool and travel back in time to revisit your first tweet ever. I have to admit I was really disappointed in myself for my first tweet – I am an open book so I will share but please don’t judge!

#LameScreen Shot 2014-03-25 at 11.07.14 AM

19. The fact that social media has been a major help in police investigations. Anthony’s post on the use of social media in police investigations is a must read!

18. Canva – Elizabeth describes the fantastic app in this post.

17. Geotargeting – I love that we can generate geotargeted leads for clients via Twitter by searching for relevant keywords and phrases within a specific radius. If you’re a dentist in Lincoln Park, save a stream on Twitter (“toothache” within 10 miles of 60614). It’s a great way to recruit new patients.

16. Milestone announcements – I know some people hate this but I have to admit I kind of love it. Engagements, pregnancies, new jobs, new homes – it’s fun to follow friends through the exciting times in their lives.

15. Social Capital – Read my blog post about Leveraging Your Social Capital.

14. Foursquare badges

13. Pinterest Recipe Fails 

12. The KISS Principle as explained by Charles

11. Facebook offers

10. Zach King’s videos on Vine

9. Watching a business’ response to a crisis situation via social media. Read Stephanie’s post: Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight: The Social Media Response. 

8. YouTube “How to” videos (ex. how to tie a bow tie, how to perfect the smoky eye, how to train your dog to play dead)

7. The aggregation of news and the accessibility of breaking news. The first thing I do when I wake up is scroll through my Facebook feed and sure enough, I am up to speed on all current events and hollywood gossip, thanks to my share happy Facebook friends.

6. Sense of Community. Our winter has been really bad in Chicago and I feel a sense of community when others complain about it via social media. It’s a misery loves company mentality.

5. Reviews: How did we ever live without the unbiased reviews from our fellow Yelpers?!

4. The unanimous hatred for Google+ amongst social media industry professionals.

3. Social Media Week 

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 2. Support. If there is one thing social media can do faster than anything other mechanism, it’s unite people for the common good, for charity, fundraising or to garner support for those in need. Read Tara’s post about the social fight against bullying.

1. Social Media was the impetus for Gossip Genie which has connected me with some of the most wonderful people I have ever met.

‘Rice’ is the New Way to Trade Stuff

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Type in the phrase ‘social trading’ into any search engine and ninety-nine percent of the time you’ll come across mounds of information about financial investing. But one company wants to change how social trading is defined (and used). Led by Toronto-based co-founders Rishabh Varshney, Aubrey Jesseau and Francis Lata, Rice is a prominent startup who has created a mobile app that allows location-based trading of goods–think of it as the ‘freebie’ section of Craigslist, only in a more streamlined and fun way.

How It Works:
“You send and receive offers with the people around you using items you have uploaded to the app,” says Jesseau.
Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 12.10.27 AMrice

“The items can be anything from collectibles to imports; the harder it is to get, the more value it will have in a trade. Users can populate their profiles with meaningful items that tell a story about themselves or to simply try and trade away an old guitar.

In its purest form, Rice reminds me of the good ol’ days when trading cards stood up their very name and it was common to have a friend you found yourself trading items with. And based off the amount of beta invite requests Rice has seen so far, 2014 could be the year of what Rice hopes to be the newly defined ‘social trading.’

Want to get in on the fun? Sign up for your beta invite now! Hurry, invites end April 4th!

Are Teens Leaving Facebook? Does it matter?

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When meeting with prospective clients, one of the most common questions I seem to hear is “Are younger people even using Facebook anymore?” They’re mostly referring to the recent study that came out that declared teens are leaving Facebook at an alarming rate for newer social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram.

First, let’s look at the numbers. 

According to iStrategyLabs, 25% fewer teens in the United States are using Facebook than they did in 2011. Those numbers, drawn from Facebook’s Social Advertising platform, which are presented in a chart comparing users from January 2011 and January 2014, show that the amount of teens on Facebook aged 13-17 has fallen 25.3%. Those in high school over the same period fell 58.9% and college students on Facebook decreased by 59.1% over the same period. iSL tracks users through Facebook’s advertising interface, in which advertisers can slice and dice segments of users and buy whatever audience demographics they want. In 2011, there were 13.1 million teens available for advertisers to target. This year, there are only 9.8 million users aged 13-17 available, iSL says.

(Source: Business Insider)


But, does it matter?

While these numbers look alarming at first, when you compare them to Facebook’s overall dominance in the social media field, they hardly spell doom and gloom for the social networking giant.

Currently, there are 1.23 billion monthly active Facebook users in the world and 128 million daily active users in the United States. For advertisers, the coveted 18-34 demographic is still strongly active on Facebook, with 66% of 15-34 years old engaging daily on the social network.

The 25-34 age range is up 33%, the 35-54 demographic is up 41% and those ages 55+ on Facebook has increased by over 80% from 2011 to 2014. These are the age demographics that are ultimately buying into the businesses or products being advertised on Facebook. As a business and advertiser, to ignore these rising demographics (ultimately, the age of people making the purchasing decisions) would come at a significant loss.

(Source: Facebook User Stats)

Consider who are you advertising to. 

It all depends on who you are targeting on Facebook. Advertisers covet younger audiences because their taste in products are more malleable. But advertising on Facebook isn’t just about its massive reach with younger users. A big part of Facebook’s advertising is that it has so much information about its users to pull from that you can effectively target ads to those who will be responsive to the content.

At Gossip Genie, the conversion rate for most of our ads for our clients is close to or over 100% because of the specific targeting we are able to do through Facebook. If your target audience is solely younger teens, then maybe this decrease in users will matter to you, but it all depends on who you want to target. And while the 55+ plus crowd may not be as sought after by advertisers as the 18-34 age range, neither are the 13-17 year olds.

Also, consider the source.

The decline in teen users isn’t backed up by any actual Facebook numbers. They were pulled from the advertising platform on the site and therefore aren’t accurate predictors of actual Facebook user numbers.

On the company’s Q3 earnings call in October 2013, Facebook CFO David Ebersman said:

I want to say a few words about youth engagement on Facebook. As we’ve said previously, this is a hard issue for us to measure because self-reported age data is unreliable for younger users. So we’ve developed other analytical methods to help us estimate usage by age. Our best analysis on youth engagement in the U.S. reveals that usage of Facebook among U.S. teens overall was stable from Q2 to Q3. But we did see a decrease in daily users specifically among younger teens.

While there is definitely a decrease in younger users, there are no definitive numbers to back it up. And, according to a study done by Singapore and UK-based market research firm GlobalWebIndex, Facebook is still the dominant, most popular social network on the planet among teens with 67% more active teen users than the nearest competitor, YouTube, which is regularly used by 29% of 16 to 19-year-olds. Twitter is third most popular social network with 26% of 16 to 19-year-olds around the world using it on a monthly basis.

A shift in Facebook’s image.

Many suggest that Facebook’s fading cool factor with teens comes from the fact that the young teen demographic is the first group of people who’ve had their lives documented online from birth. They are keenly aware of their “digital footprint” and are looking for apps and sites where they can share content freely and privately (aka Snapchat where the image is gone in a few seconds or Instagram where their parents probably don’t have a presence).

Does that matter for Facebook advertising? A new report from Creative Arts Agency’s The Intelligence Group suggests that while young people might be using Facebook less than they used to, the social media giant might still be the best place for brands to target them.

The Intelligence Group found that a dominant 55% of the 900 millennials it polled said they would most prefer brands to communicate with them on Facebook rather than rivals YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Facebook’s next closest competitor in the poll was YouTube, which earned 20% of the vote.

Sure, younger teens may be heading to newer things like Instagram, the fastest growing social network, but there are only 150 million Instagram users compared to Facebook’s 1.23 billion. And don’t forget, Facebook owns Instagram now.

As long as you provide value, relevancy, great information, and something you can’t get elsewhere to your specific target market, your presence on Facebook is still hugely important to your brand.