Recap: It wasn’t that bad!

The Good

Overall I’m really happy  that I had the opportunity to start a blog. Yes, it was painful at times and I felt bad writing about random topics knowing at least one other person had to read my posts every week (post about birds, etc). But, I learned a lot about social media and blogs. I have four major takeaways from the exercise.

First, I really needed the writing practice. Surprisingly, I did more writing in this class than I did in my writing seminar, so I appreciate the complementary practice. I also really appreciated the thorough feedback from the professor.

Second, understanding the mechanics and requirements for maintaining and contributing to a blog are important. It allowed me to appreciate how much time a good blog requires. Having a basic understanding of a standard blog platform will be helpful as I continue my career and consider important methods for organizations or people to effectively communicate.

Third, I really enjoyed reading my everyone else’s blogs. It was a terrific way to get to know everyone outside of the classroom.  I loved reading about Mariano’s literature reviews and musings, mixed with spicy personal narrative. I learned a lot about animal rights from  “Kmeiser’s”  eBULLient Paws. Blaec shared “stories that need to be told” detailing facts and stories about human trafficking. And, I love Jessica’s blog, Love @1stBite (actually, truth be told, I’m obsessed with this one).

Ice-cream by Jackie Kever

Ice-cream by Jackie Kever, Flickr

Last, this exercise will really help me think about my clients and how they use social media. We learned a lot about writing for the right audience and thinking about who we’re trying to reach. A blog might be a great way for a start-up to test the waters with a casual approach, using a blog as a place to keep everything in one place including Twitter updates, photos, etc.

The Bad

I really should have chosen a theme for my blog before I started. I finally got into the process when I started the Nike Training App Challenge, it gave me something to write about and challenged me to think about various ways to use social media.  Until then my posts were all over the place and lacked direction and purpose.

Works in Progress by koalazymonkey, Flickr

Going Forward

I probably won’t continue contributing the blog unless I need to for a class or a side project. Twitter, on the other hand, has become a terrific tool that I really enjoy using. Maybe once I get more comfortable sharing my opinions with the world I’ll warm up to the blog. It has been a terrific experiment, and I’m not shutting down shop, just closing up for a while!

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Sugar high, it’s everywhere!

Photo Illustration by Kenji Aoki for The New York Times; Prop Stylist: Nell Tivnan. Source: U.S.D.A. 2009 Estimates

A Life-Changing Article:

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about sugar and its pseudonyms: sucrose, lactose and fructose. In the April 13 New York Times Magazine Article, “Is Sugar Toxic” Gary Taubes describes studies by Robert Lustig examining sugar and how it’s processed in the body. Read the article. It’s long, and at times hard to decipher, but it will change the way you think about what you’re consuming. In the article, Lustig defines “sugar to mean both sucrose — beet and cane sugar, whether white or brown — and high-fructose corn syrup.”

What’s the Difference?

I didn’t know the difference between beet sugar, cane sugar or high-fructose syrup. It’s my understanding that cane and beet sugar are both pure-ish sugar (still processing involved), and high-fructose syrup is a group of syrups that are processed and manipulated to achieve a specific level of sweetness.  One of the most striking paragraphs in the article is this:

The fructose component of sugar and H.F.C.S. is metabolized primarily by the liver, while the glucose from sugar and starches is metabolized by every cell in the body. Consuming sugar (fructose and glucose) means more work for the liver than if you consumed the same number of calories of starch (glucose). And if you take that sugar in liquid form — soda or fruit juices — the fructose and glucose will hit the liver more quickly than if you consume them, say, in an apple (or several apples, to get what researchers would call the equivalent dose of sugar). The speed with which the liver has to do its work will also affect how it metabolizes the fructose and glucose.

Life-Changing Visuals, to Supplement the Article:

Image from NYC Department of Health

This reminded me of the disgusting subway ads (above and below) from the New York Department of Health asking New Yorkers to cut back on beverages with sugar by showcasing the “Are You Pouring On the Pounds” campaign. The ads and videos highlight the startling fact that drinking a day’s worth of sugary drinks can add up to 93 packets of sugar a day, or an extra 1400 calories per day. WOW. Check out the videos here.

Image from NYC Department of Health

At the end of the day:

We all have to eat. People say “you are what you eat,” and if that’s true, I certainly don’t want to be high-fructose syrup with two arms and legs. Is anyone else as disturbed as I am? I would love to hear from anyone who saw the article!

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Update: The Nike Training Challenge Social Media Experiment

We’re in the middle of the fourth week of the Nike Training Challenge. Quick reminder, the Nike Training App offers over sixty workouts total, in three levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. The goal is to complete all the workouts and tweet throughout the challenge. We’re trying to find out if Nike will pick up on the chatter over Twitter.


Participants have completed around ten of the beginner workouts and soon we’ll only have two weeks left the first session and participants are enjoying the workouts! People like being held accountable to their friends and co-workers, and appreciate the variation among the workouts. Some people are completing the workouts outside, some in their apartments and some at the gym.  I invested in hand weights and a medicine ball so I have the option to workout at home when I don’t feel like going to the gym. I’m sure my below-neighbor appreciates the jump roping at 6:15am (but I try to be really quiet and land on a yoga mat, that’s ok, right?), not to mention the weird squat and tuck jumps. We’re slowly attracting more people, this week recruited a friend who travels a lot and has been having a hard time sticking to workout plan. She loves it. Today she did a workout in Mali!


On average, I tweet a couple times a week about the challenge. It’s been a great way to make sure I’m regularly tweeting! Also, it’s been really fun to see who else is enjoying the challenge and what friends are saying. YAY Miryam!!!

I tweeted to @JeanetteJenkins about her crazy ab workout, but didn’t hear back. She’s very active and I was a little surprised and disappointed I didn’t hear back – I’m naïve, right?

My colleague, who is a very active Twitter user tweets each time she does a workout and we still haven’t capture Nike’s attention!  Here’s Thea’s feedback on how she likes incorporating Twitter into the workout program: “…it’s so much easier to be committed when there are people in the Twitterverse you’re accountable to but who are also going through the same program. It’s fun to finish a training and hop on Twitter and let your #NikeTraining friends know.”


Over the next week I will reach out to related companies, all through Twitter, and see if we can garner any attention. For example, I will tweet to @Gatorade, @nikeplus and continue to track the #niketraining hashtag.


How can we get Nike to notice our challenge?


Posted in #Nike Training, Assignments, Social Media | 2 Comments

Catch a train, send a tweet!

How Amtrak is using social media



I spend a lot of time with Amtrak, I frequent the Northeast Regional route to Washington, DC, back up to New York and repeat. I also spend enough time on their website and consequently daydream about being responsible for Amtrak’s social media, promptly tweeting when a train will be late, initiating fun contests to get passengers involved while they’re on and off the train, and asking customers to share their favorite train stories. In fact, I’ve come close on multiple occasions to sending them a quick note “just wondering, who is in the charge of your social media? I have some ideas…” Then, thanks to this prompt, I found out they do all this, and more, on their Facebook page:


I’m shocked and pleased! Amtrak has creative contests, the page is colorful and engaging and they’re reaching out to their customers requesting feedback. But, given all the time I spend on their website, how did I miss their Facebook page?  The link to their Facebook page is at the bottom of their main website, and it’s tiny. It sits next to their Twitter widget, but it’s also tiny. It’s impossible to notice unless you were looking. I can barely see it, can you?

The best part is, once you spend time on their Facebook page, you might (or not) discover they also have a YouTube Chanel! And, the welcome video is actually funny. It’s a man, in his cubicle, describing the channel and other ways to keep up with and be in touch with Amtrak!

Another important fact I learned while I was on the Facebook page, is that Amtrak has multiple Twitter accounts, in fact, they have specifically for passengers of the NE Regional route, @AmtrakNEC, alerting customers of delays or changes.  I’m hoping it’s new, they only have 7 tweets.  I’m glad they have this, but why doesn’t anyone know about it?


Amtrak tweets! Their main company handle is @Amtrak, described as:

Official Tweets for Amtrak by Will. Discover the nicer way to travel. With over 500 destinations and plenty of room to stretch and breathe, enjoy the journey.

With over 8 thousand followers, and over 500 tweets total, they’re active on Twitter. Amtrak is using the tool well. They are including catchy lines and questions, including links and promoting cheap train fares.

For example, here’s a tweet from early March:

Amtrak @Amtrak:March Madness has started! Did you know that we can take you to 7 of the 9 first round locations?

But, the only reason I discovered @AmtrakNEC was because @Amtrak retweeted a service report. “Will” seems to be doing well, but the question remains, why do the social media efforts feel so separate from the organization’s website? Why aren’t all these social media tools being promoted on their main website?  It’s clear they’re still finding their way to incorporate social media, but it feels like two different organizations, doing similar things, operating under the same company name.

What do you think? Do you think their approach makes sense? If there’s anything you’ve been wanting to know, I’m happy to include your question in my eventual email to Amtrak!

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#NikeTraining App Challenge – are you in?

My colleague and I discovered the Nike Training App and instantly fell in love. She’s convinced she can replace her personal trainer with her iPhone, and I’m convinced I might have found a workout routine that will keep my attention, especially after we created the Nike Training App Challenge.  We’re pairing our intrigue for the App with a little social media experiment…


Nike Training App, Image from

The App:

The App is specifically for women, and offers 4 categories of workouts:


The first three categories have 30-45 minute workouts in three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced; the GET FOCUSED category contains shorter 15 minute workouts.  Within LEAN, TONED and STRONG there are 18 workouts total.


After completing 60, 240, 420 and 780 minutes of workouts you unlock a rewards badge that reveals an exclusive bonus workout (abs, yoga, etc) or a recipe.  The App allows you to immediately sync your workouts to your profile, then post to Facebook or Twitter.

Rewards, Image from

Our Challenge:

The goal of our challenge is to complete every workout featured on the App (there are over 60 workouts total). We’re starting with all the beginner workouts, and by completing 3 per week we’ll be done with all the Beginner workouts in 6 weeks. After we complete a level we celebrate (details pending), then we move on to Intermediate, then Advanced. The entire challenge will last 18 weeks.

Train, then Tweet!

The last component to the challenge involves social media. In addition to actually completing 3 workouts a week, we must tweet about it, using the hashtag #NikeTraining. We don’t tweet annoying post workout tweets “I feel so amazing, just completed another workout, I’m so strong!” We tweet fun comments, mostly specific to the workout itself “Who is Crazy Ivan and why does he move like that?” (Crazy Ivan is the name of an ab workout.)

The goal is to tell more people about the App, and see if Nike picks up on the tweets.

image from TweetDeck

We’re in the second week of the challenge and so far so good (and sore).  We have a group of 3-4 participants in the office, and would love for you to join us! #Nike Training.

Do you have great workout apps that you love?

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A Feathered Frenzy

Today I realized BIRDS ARE BACK, and they have been for a while. Fair enough, the hashtag made a serious comeback too, but birds are everywhere. Thanks to Twitter, Angry Birds, Rio, birds dropping from the sky and a recent article on Slate, I’m convinced birds are taking over and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

First, enter the famous Twitter bird.


Image from

This little chick is everywhere. Does he/she have a name? Who designed it? I’m not the first person to wonder, the Washington Post wrote a blurb about “The Twitter Bird” in 2009.

Turns out Simon Oxley designed the bird (pictured below), and was paid less than SEVEN DOLLARS.

Simon Oxley, photo credit:Noriko Oxley

Next, Angry Birds

Angry Birds, image from Rovio

This wildly popular app game is from Rovio, the UK based game design company. A description from Rovio:

“Angry Birds features hours of gameplay, challenging physics-based castle demolition, and lots of replay value. Each of the 120 levels requires logic, skill, and brute force to crush the enemy.”

Yes, I noticed. I played the entire game and I’m not the only one – the app has enjoyed millions of downloads.  It’s addicting. There’s a store to buy stuffed animals, people are hosting Angry Birds parties and the list goes on….tattoo anyone?

Like any good starlet looking to take her career to the big league, Angry Birds is hitting Hollywood.

Rio, image from

Rio, the upcoming animated film from 20th Century Fox, partnered with Angry Birds to enjoy some birdy success. In fact, the partnership was so exciting, a secret clue was hidden in the Rio Super Bowl commercial. Also, in anticipation of the film Angry Birds is launching a NEW GAME, “Angry Birds Rio” (insert excited yelp here). You can watch the previews for both the film and the new game here.

As if games, movies and Twitter aren’t enough, birds are falling from the sky. Some wild theories have tried explain the mystery, but the description from National Geographic blaming simple hype seems reasonable. But really, birds are coming from everywhere.

Finally, this Slate article just slapped me in the face “Do Birds Go Through Menopause?” Who knows, but I hope this feathered fad takes a flight south, or north.

Am I the only one seeing birds everywhere? I’m not a bird lover, or a bird hater, but I’m beginning to wonder how much longer can this last? They’re everywhere!

Tried a new salon... by jimharmer

Image from jimharmer

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Altrusocialmedia // PART II!

Tiger Hug, from

Social media giving platforms – so many options. Part 2

Thanks for checking in two weeks ago, when I compared three dominant online fundraising tools: Facebook Causes, Crowdrise and Jumo.

Now I’ll outline a few others that are a bit smaller, without the star power or following, but still worth knowing. Make sure to read my analysis at the end of this post!

Razoo: “Change your world, one donation at a time”

What: A platform for individuals to fundraise for an organization or for a non-profit to accept donations. Razoo takes 2% for credit card processing and overhead.

Who: Founded by Brian Fujito,  the former CFO and partner of, Razoo is based in DC. They have raised more than $42, 000,000 for causes.

What’s cool about it: You can see where other people are giving and very community focused.

TwitPay: “Leverage your social networking investment”

What: A platform for individuals and organizations to execute Twitter based campaigns. People use their Twitter network to raise money and awareness. The donations are based on re-tweets. It charges a percentage of the donations actually paid, including a small transaction fee.

Who: Founded by Ashish Bahl, Founder of Exchange Place, iXL Financial Services, and Harbor Payments. Currently Chairman & CEO of Acculynk. The leadership team are executives at GM and EVP, and Coca-Cola.

What’s cool about it: A re-tweet can raise money for a campaign! But, they appear to only have two success stories profiled on their site, and their latest news article is from Dec, 2010.

ChipIn: “ The easy way to collect money

What: A tool for small causes or campaigns to collect money via PayPal. They market to individuals, bloggers and nonprofits for “blograising” Their hook is the widget: “The ChipIn widget is a Flash application that shows the details of your ChipIn, such as your monetary goal, how much money has been raised, and when your ChipIn ends.” (From ChipIn site). They collect the money and offer a tracking tool. They take a percentage for credit card fees.

Who: Created by Entrepreneur Carnet Williams, also Executive Director of HiBEAM; Associate Dean, Stanford Law School; etc.

What’s cool about it: Fundraisers don’t need to worry about the money handling component and everything is already tracked.

Ammado:Your way to make a difference”

What: Targeting individuals, nonprofits and companies, this platform allows people to give and fundraise. They are based in Ireland, able to accept more than 30 currencies and work with international organizations. They also focus on creating company fundraising programs, offering tools for payroll giving and pay matching.

Who: Peter Conlon Founder and CEO, before co-founding in 2005, Peter Conlon founded Xsil Limited, a world leader in the supply of laser machining tools for the semiconductor industry. They have offices in worldwide.

What’s cool about it: The site looks great. The international focus is appealing, a user can choose to donate to a very specific cause, organization or search by category or country.

NOTE: One more tool –  FirstGiving– was down at the time of this blog entry…

Personal analysis: Without a doubt, Ammado gets my vote for best site, most interesting and most alive! It feels very active, and the option to donate by country, category or cause is very appealing. I see them doing very well in emergency situations, including natural disasters, food shortages, etc.

Have you used any of these? Which one is your favorite?

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