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How I Use Buffer App to Maintain My Social Media Presence

Published October 12, 2014 - 0 Comments

bufferI’ve had a few people ask recently whether I sleep.  Of course I sleep!  Sometimes I sleep too much.  But it’s easy to see why someone might think that.  If you see a tweet from me at 2am or 4:30am chances are that you’re going to assume that I’m awake and tweeting for some particular reason.  While it might be a correct assumption on any particular day, it’s probably more likely that what you are seeing is my use of the web service Buffer to schedule my tweets and posts throughout the day and night.  Why would I want to schedule my tweets?  Sometimes my brain is full of silly little things that I’d like to share.  It doesn’t make sense to send them all out in one big bunch.  Better to spread them out.  Twitter is chaotic and most of us follow too many people.  It’s easy to miss something.  Using Buffer I can spread my thoughts out, and schedule them for the times suited for reading.  Notice how those after hours ones generate questions?  People are reading those.  🙂

Another great use of Buffer is the built-in analytics that quickly shows me which tweets were replied to, favourited, or re-tweeted.  It’s nice to see which ones are successful… although the downside is that some tweets don’t quite measure up in the real world as they did in my head  🙂

Buffer isn’t just for Twitter either.  You can link your Facebook, Google+, or Linked In accounts as well.  It’s great for staggering posts across different social media networks, and really allows me to be much more productive.

I’ve put together a short Buffer tutorial.  I’m trying to get more used to speaking during these tutorials, and it’s not as easy as some people make it seem.  Trust me.  The end gets a little rocky, but after no fewer than 10 attempts, this was as good as this one was gonna get!  I’m striving for improvement, not perfection.  So go easy on me if you decide to leave a comment.  🙂

Thanks for reading!

Hi Stephen, could you please follow us… ?

Published October 4, 2014 - 1 Comment

Selfie-poster-season-1-ABC-2014@smbelyea Hi Stephen, could you please follow us so we can send you a direct message?  – @SelfieABC

It’s not every day that you see a request from a verified Twitter account asking for you to follow them – especially one for a TV show.  My first reaction was “Uh oh.. what did I write that pissed them off?”  Sometimes when I sit down to write a tweet (or even a blog post) I’m not always prepared for the reaction I may receive, and I’ve removed more than one tweet/post over the years after more careful reflection.  Tis the nature of the beast, I suppose.  So I began following @SelfieABC and waited for whatever message they wanted to send me privately.  It didn’t take long.

Hi Stephen! We want to use your tweet in a Selfie promo! Can you please fill out our consent form by Monday 9am PST? bit.ly/ABCForm – @SelfieABC

Here’s the tweet we’d like to use: twitter.com/smbelyea/statu…. Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks! – @SelfieABC

Well now.  That was unexpected!  Curious as to what it was that I had originally tweeted that caught their eye, I clicked on the contained link.

Selfie finally aired this week.  Looking forward to seeing it become a weekly show! @SelfieABC pic.twitter.com/olxdx6a4HB

Aaah… OK.  I remember writing that one!  And it’s true… ABC had released the Selfie series premiere online weeks before it aired on regular TV.  In fact, you could actually watch the entire thing from within Twitter.  Not just a link to the ABC page, but the entire show opened up right in your Twitter client and ran flawlessly.  It was impressive.  But then the waiting began.  I wanted more.  The first episode made me laugh.  I’ve always loved John Cho (Harold and Kumar movies, Flash Forward, Star Trek) but until Guardians of the Galaxy, I’d never heard of Karen Gillan.  I guess some fans of Dr Who would be familiar with her work, but not me.  That being said, she’s funny!  And super cute, too.  So I’ve been waiting patiently for ABC to air the premiere, and get on with the rest of the season.

That brings me back to my tweet that was noticed.

There wasn’t much to the consent form.  I was asked for my name, Twitter handle, and the text of the tweet.  And of course the obligatory checkmark that indicated that I had read and understood the 14 pages of legalize that I quickly scrolled past to get to the bottom.

So I’m curious to know what they will do with my tweet.  Because I don’t have cable, I’ll probably never see whatever promo they’re using it for.  But just in case you’re channel surfing and see something from @smbelyea on Twitter… yeah, that’s me!

Twitter super star since 2007.

In Times of Emergency, Social Media Doesn’t Always Get it Right

Published June 5, 2014 - 3 Comments

RCMPI’m writing this as the manhunt in Moncton is still ongoing in the search for a man who opened fire yesterday on RCMP officers, killing 3 and wounding 2.  His name and face have been splashed across the world, but I won’t bother to repeat them here.  I don’t want to give this murderer any more attention than he’s already gotten.  Only to say that I hope this comes to a swift conclusion.

Instead I’m going to write about social media’s role in this story, and how even in a time of emergency, we don’t always get it right.

Last week we heard that a newborn in Trois-Rivières, Que who was snatched from the hospital nursery had been recovered after a harrowing 3 hour search, spurred in great part to a plea shared through Facebook.  Score one for social media!

But last night as I took to Twitter and watched the activity on #Moncton scroll by faster than I could comfortably read, I was alarmed at how social media was not helping, and even harming, the search for the shooter.  I found it incredible that police would even have to ask the public not to post the location of officers as they searched for the gunman.  Human nature makes us want to be part of the story, to be the first to say “Look what I saw!” but that’s not always for the best.  The sheer amount of misinformation being passed around as quasi-fact only leads to confusion or even panic.  Imagine reading that the shooter might have carjacked a vehicle on a road that is somehow relevant to you.  That sort of uncontrolled speculation doesn’t help anyone.  It only feeds the chaos.  And don’t get me started on the internet trolls who occasionally interrupted the continuous stream with their jabs about redneck Maritimers being somehow lesser Canadians than the rest of the country.  Go find another sandbox to play in.

The internet is an amazing tool.  Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter allow us to converse in ways that we’d never even dreamed of years ago.  But for all the advances we’ve made, people are still people.  There will always be good and evil, leaders and followers, smart and stupid.  That’s never going to change.

My thoughts go out to the people of Moncton, and the families of those brave RCMP officers who died protecting them.

Twitter Bullies 3rd Party Developers with new API Changes

Published August 28, 2012 - 3 Comments

After installing a fresh copy of Mountain Lion, I sat down to re-download my favourite Twitter client for Mac OSX, and found it suddenly absent from the developer’s website.  Huh?

I’ve been using Tweetbot by Tapbots on my iPad for about a year now, and find it to be the best Twitter client available for that platform.  Because of that, I was pretty stoked to hear that they were developing a client for OSX.  Ever since Twitter bought Tweetdeck and completely drove it into the ground, I’ve been without a favourite Twitter client.  Sure, the official Twitter client does the trick… but Tweetdeck was head and shoulders above that… Until they sold out.

But Tweetbot… Tweetbot was to be what many of us felt was sorely needed… a powerful Twitter client capable of much much more than simply displaying our random thoughts in 140 characters or less.  If you’ve had a chance to use the public Alpha, you’d probably agree that it’s moving in that direction.  And if you haven’t had a chance to download that public Alpha yet… too late.

So why did Tapbots pull the download link from their website?  You can read their full explanation here.  But the short of it is that Twitter changed the rules regarding 3rd party developers using the Twitter API to develop their own Twitter clients.  Twitter now limits 3rd party developers to a mere 200,000 tokens.. which translates to 200,000 twitter accounts capable of using that piece of software to check and send tweets.  Does this sound like a lot to you?  Sure… but then take into consideration that these tokens do not expire, so if you install a Twitter client and decide immediately that it’s not something you’re interested in, well that token is still in use, even if you delete the program.  For a company like Tapbots, allowing the public to test their software before it reaches the release status… this just does not make sense.  So it’s understandable that they would pull the plug on the download.

Does this spell the end of Tweetbot for Mac OSX?  Not according to the Tapbots blog, which states “Tweetbot for Mac will still be available for sale in the near future”.  

This is great news for those of us who have been waiting patiently for an OSX version of our favourite iOS Twitter client… and for anyone else looking for a great alternative to the official Twitter app, or any of its watered-down clones.

Still… I have to wonder if Twitter is doing a disservice to its users by placing limitations on developers like Tapbots.

Anti-Social Networking

Published August 11, 2012 - 3 Comments

Some people have noticed that I considerably reduced my online footprint recently.  That’s right.  I closed my social network accounts for Facebook (this is nothing new), Foursquare, MyFitnessPal… and my beloved Twitter.  The big question is always the same… WHY?!?

There are many reasons to become involved with social networks… personal, professional, or otherwise… but in my case it seemed as though the magic was fading.  The social aspect had been turned on its head.  In short… it was no longer fun.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some great people out there, and that I don’t occasionally wish that I could fire off some witty tweet to random followers… but for the most part… I think that my social networking experiment is largely done.  I say “largely” because I do have a few Twitter accounts that are directly related to other websites that I have created, but these aren’t used for random silliness that pops into my head.  They’re a little more targeted than that.

Do I miss it?  Sure I do.  Will I be back?  Probably… in one form or another… social networking is not going away.  I’m simply enjoying a much needed breather.

Twitter Break 2012

Published February 25, 2012 - 2 Comments

I’ve been noticing a change in my Twitter habits lately.  I’ve become a little disenchanted with Twitter, and I can’t really pinpoint why.  I don’t know if it’s turned into a clique of sorts, or what the problem is for me… but I just haven’t found it as enjoyable as I once did.

So I’m taking a bit of a break.  I’ve even gone as far as disabling my account (along with my Facebook account) which according to Twitter means that I have 30 days to log back in, or my stuff will all be deleted.  We’ll see how that goes.

I still believe in the power of Twitter as a social media platform… I guess that I’ve just found myself in a little Twitter-funk and I think that I need to focus on a different area with my online time.

Game of Thrones

Published August 25, 2011 - 2 Comments

I don’t know where I was when HBO announced Game of Thrones, but once again I credit the Twitter (joke) with keeping me in the loop, even if it was a little late.  I remember seeing people tweeting about the show, but it was a tweet from Albert about how incredible the ending was that really caught my eye.  So I downloaded it… and still it sat on my hard drive for far too long.  When I finally did get around to watching the first episode, on my Boxee Box (another of Albert’s recommendations)… I instantly started kicking myself for having let it go as long as I had.

This show is awesome!

I’m not going to get into anything that will spoil the plot, but if you like Kings, Queens, Knights, treachery, medieval war… then this show is definitely for you.  I’ve always loved this period.  It brings me back to my days of playing Dungeons & Dragons… This show is like one big movie, and it’s so hard to turn away once you’re into it.  The visuals are spectacular… but more than that, there are times that I want to be part of the story.  There are characters that I truly enjoy.. and then there are a couple that I hate… because I’m supposed to hate them.  They’re so well acted that I want to jump through my TV and strangle them with my own bare hands.  That’s powerful stuff!

Unfortunately the last episode aired in June, so there will be quite a wait until the new season starts up.  Being an HBO show, they tend to have irregular schedules.  I’m going to have to find something else to occupy my time.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is that Game of Thrones is based on a series of novels by George R.R. Martin!  More accurately, Game of Thrones is the first book in a series titled A Song of Ice and Fire. Can’t say as I’m a huge fan of that title, but I see where the author is going with it.

So it looks like I’m going to have to pick up the books if I’m going to get my Game of Thrones fix until HBO is ready to carry on the story.


Star Tours – Darth Vader Goes to Disneyland

Published August 10, 2011 - 5 Comments

I saw this posted recently on Google+  (you know… the other social media network that you should be using) and loved it so much that I tweeted (yes, yet another social network that is better than what you’re probably using) it… but to those people who are stuck in the Facebook era… assuming that you haven’t already seen this (and really.. there’s a good chance that you already have) I thought that I would dedicate a quick post to it here.

Say what you will about Darth Vader… the guy looks great in black!

I’m a Published Article Writer!

Published April 9, 2011 - 3 Comments

When I created my niche site for overcoming relationship difficulties, one of the things that I learned was to focus on natural search engine rankings by creating quality back-links to the site.  This will help push your site further up the listing in a search engine query, and greatly increase the chances of someone clicking your link for their keyword search. You can create back-links by a few different methods: posting on forums which allow website addresses to be included in author signatures, getting other bloggers to link to your site, and through article marketing which creates articles that can then be picked up by other authors and provide links back to you.

I’ve tried the forums.  I’ve joined different ones, and commented on other people’s posts.  I even got sucked into telling my own story.  It’s definitely a place to go to generate traffic, but I grew a little tired of it.

Getting other bloggers to link to the site isn’t as easy as it sounds either.  And the way that Google ranks websites, chances are I wouldn’t benefit a whole lot from the links that I might receive.  I can whine to some friends to include a link, but we’re all running PR1 sites, so it’s really not very effective.

I have had a little success with a Twitter account that I created specifically for that niche site.  I’ve gained a couple of followers, and had some hits on the site because of that.  I think I need to work the social networking angle more.  I actually enjoy social networking very much, although it can be quite time consuming.

The most recent arrow in my SEO back-link quiver is article marketing.  Basically you write an original article on a niche topic, and submit it to an article directory.  If approved, your article becomes part of their giant database, allowing other people to use that article on their site or newsletter, with credit given to you.  You gain links directly from being in the article directory, and from every website or newsletter that publishes your article.  I’ve heard quite a bit about article marketing in podcasts.  “Article marketing isn’t sexy… but it works!” is the line that I remember most.

EzineArticles is supposed to be the best place to get started.  After that you can spin your article using software that will re-work your original article to make it look slightly different and allow you to submit it to other article directories.  I don’t know if I’m sold on that concept or not, but it’s something to keep in the back of my mind.

When I read through EzineArticle’s article submission guidelines, I almost gave up without finishing them!  They are quite lengthy, and very specific.  You can use this particular type of punctuation in your title, but not that.  You must include this in the body of your article, but definitely not that.  Some of the things are common sense… keep self promotion to a minimum…  but then there are other things that I had to be careful of.  Don’t end your title with a period.  Umm.. ok.. why not?  Doesn’t matter.  Just don’t do it.  I started to wonder whether article marketing was right for me.  What if I wasn’t good enough to get an article approved?  There was only one way to find out.

I wanted to write something brand new, but the more I kept thinking about it, the more daunting the prospect became.  So I reached into my bag of tricks, and pulled out an article that I had written last year for another project I had been working on.  The Hapless Romantic.  It was still original.  It was still mine.  I didn’t consider it to be “published” because I think only 3 people other than myself even knew that it existed.  So I polished it up a little, and changed the title to conform to EzineArticle’s submission guidelines.  After I submitted my article I was informed that it would take a week or so before it was reviewed and then I would receive notification as to its acceptance or not.

Last night I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email informing me that my article was accepted, published, and that I was now an “expert author” on their site.  I assume that expert author is given to anyone who has an article published, and not necessarily an indication of my writing skills being any more or less superior to other authors.  Still, it has a nice ring to it.  Expert author.  Expert author.  Expert author.  OK, OK… I’ll try not to let it go to my head.  🙂

One of the things that came as a shock was that EzineArticles automatically posted a link through my Twitter account to the article!  That reminds me… I really need to go see if I can find that setting in their preferences, because I am not comfortable with every article that I write being broadcast under my Twitter account.  There are projects that I would like to dabble in that may or may not work out for me, and I don’t want to publicly advertise to everyone when I am doing something off the wall.

Will this one article really make a big difference in the amount of traffic driven to my niche site?  Probably not.  It’s part of a broader strategy that includes more articles, and some of the other points that I mentioned earlier.  But it certainly has given me a much needed boost of confidence!

And yes, in case you’re wondering what the article is, you can read it here.  Just remember, I wasn’t planning on making the article public because it’s one of those touchy feely subjects that no one wants to read unless they’re experiencing it.  Had EzineArticles not broadcast it to the world (or the people following me on Twitter) you probably wouldn’t even know that it existed.  🙂

I realize that this post is a little long… so if you’ve made it to the bottom…

Thanks for reading!

Blogs on the Move: December ’10

Published December 25, 2010 - 4 Comments

At the start of the month, I changed the links under my Interesting Stuff section to include some of the blogs/websites that I take a look at on a regular basis.  I wanted to highlight them because I feel that it’s important to talk about what other people are doing.  Part of blogging is the conversation… and each of these sites are adding to that conversation in their own unique way.

  • 123LinkIt isn’t a big surprise.  I love this company.  If you’re serious about blogging, then you should love them too…  unless you want to sign up for a bunch of different affiliate marketing networks, and sift through thousands of products to decide what to write about.  123Linkit acts as your affiliate account manager and automatically matches keywords from your blog to their ever expanding list of advertisers.  Then if someone clicks one of your links and purchases a product, you get a commission for that sale.  It’s as simple as that.  Plus, Yasmine (founder and CEO) is super-nice…  You can read more on their blog here.
  • The Canadian Disability Resources Database is a site started by my sister to gather as much information in one location as possible for families looking for disability resources.  Jennifer has discovered first-hand how difficult it can be to locate resources, and how different programs can be from province to province.  This database is constantly evolving as more resources are added.  Check it out here, and don’t be afraid to pass it along to someone who could benefit from this information. 
  • Darren Rowley’s blog is a personal blog, with a mixture of family, fun, and Apple topics.  As I’m a brand new Mac user, I find Darren’s posts very helpful in easing my transition from Windows to Mac.  He has reviewed several software programs that I’ve adopted for my own use.  I found Darren on twitter when I sent a message asking for help finding an RSS reader.  Twitter isn’t just a waste of time.  Finding someone like Darren has been extremely helpful. 
  • Fumbling for Perfection is a personal blog maintained by a really great young woman, Cuddles.  I had the pleasure of meeting Cuddles in the spring, so I have a little more insight into her blog than most people would if they just stumbled onto it… but I think that everyone can get something out of it… especially if they’ve had any sort of breakup.  She normally keeps the blog pretty up-to-date, but I haven’t seen any new posts there in a couple of weeks.  I’m hoping that it’s just that time of year, and that she’s been busy with Christmas stuff.  Still, her blog has been around for a couple of years, so there’s plenty of reading there.  And what a great name for a blog!
  • Jazzalicious85is another personal blog that I check out from time to time.  It’s updated less frequently than mine, but that’s ok.  She’s in Australia, so she’s on a different schedule than I am.  Actually, it was the fact that she IS on a different schedule that brought us together.  I was looking on Twitter for someone in Australia to chat with because my nightshifts coincide perfectly with their day time schedule.  Jazzytook the bait, and we’ve been keeping each other amused ever since!  Now if only I could get her to change her Gravatar, and comment on my blog.
  • Whatever’s In My Head is yet another personal blog from a Twitter-friend.  Erinand I started talking after I commented on her tweet about the #DoubleDown sandwich from KFC.  To those people who think that I have a disproportionate number of female twitter friends, Erin is a perfect example of what I call “Guys Don’t Talk!”… I sent essentially the same message to Erin as I did to a male Twitter user who had also mentioned the #DoubleDown.  She replied to my tweet.  He did not.  Then she replied to my reply.  Now we’re tweeps  🙂   Her blog is an introspective look into her life… It’s fairly new, but I hope that she continues with it.

Those are just some of the blogs that I like to check out from time to time.  I can’t keep up with everything, as I’m sure that very few people follow every word of this blog.  But I like to catch up as best as I can when I have a little time.  I certainly appreciate everything these people do, wish all of them the best of luck!

Oh and if there’s a site that you think I, or the other readers, would be interested in… just leave me a comment!  I’d love to know what other people are reading in their spare time!