Twitter 202: Selectively adding Tweets to LinkedIn

At our Mayo Clinic Social Media Residency, fellow faculty member Meredith Gould (who is a great humanitarian, by the way), shamed several of us for linking our Twitter profiles to LinkedIn, and for having Twitter updates automatically posted to our LinkedIn profiles.

I think that for many of us for whom Twitter is our “mother tongue” among social platforms, having Twitter updates posted to LinkedIn is a way to keep our profiles updated without visiting the site.

Meredith said it is more important that you keep your LinkedIn profile professional than it is to update it frequently, and that many tweets about personal matters will be detrimental to that goal. (And since she has more than 47,000 lifetime tweets, I can definitely see that in her case.)

Having resolved to comply with the Meredith Mandate, I went to LinkedIn this morning. As I reviewed my settings, though, I noted that there is another option, as I have captured in this screen shot:

By checking the middle box, I could limit the Twitter updates going to LinkedIn to those in which I included the #in or #li hashtags.

This seems like a good solution to me. If I think of LinkedIn while I am doing an update, I can just add one of those hashtags and the post would go to LinkedIn.

If I forget about LinkedIn and don’t include those hashtags, I am essentially following the Meredith Mandate.

What do you think? Is that a good solution?


Widgets for a New Project

I’m working on an interesting new project, and we want to include some Mayo Clinic-related widgets in the sidebar. Here’s an example of one for Twitter:

I look forward to sharing information on the project as we’re ready to roll it out. For now, this is just my way of showing colleagues how this widget would appear. Note that the dimensions of the widget can be changed.

Here’s where you go to create your own widget. This one looks for tweets mentioning “Mayo Clinic” OR mayoclinic.

From Lab Rat to Social Media Champion

Chancellor’s Note: For his exemplary work in applying SMUG principles to his work, Jason Tetro (a.k.a. The Germ Guy) is today receiving his honorary doctorate (the only kind we have to offer) from Social Media University, Global. This is his doctoral dissertation.

For the better part of the last 30 years, science was my vocation and I was comfortable with life in the lab.  The job was always interesting and results continued to satisfy me.  If I spent the rest of my life as a so-called ‘lab rat’ I would have been content.

That all changed in 1999.

Ironically, it wasn’t science that prompted me to venture out of the comfort of the lab but rather the sad events that occurred in Columbine High School, or to be more specific, the fallout that came as a result.  Back then, I sported long-haired, a goatee and a trench coat.  Up until that day, I had no problem but afterwards, the reactions of people in the streets, on the bus and even at work concerned me.  I had never once shown an iota of violent behavior and yet people looked at me as if I was a villain, an outcast and worse, a potential murderer.  So I wrote an article for the local newspaper, The Ottawa Citizen, called “Don’t judge a man by his black trenchcoat.”

The article in the Ottawa Citizen

It was not only accepted, but heralded by the newspaper and earned me a plum position and a photo that perhaps wasn’t the most flattering but did change people’s perspective of me.  Instead of being viewed as a threat to society, I was a bellwether for others to speak their mind.  For months, I interacted with hundreds of people, most of whom I didn’t know.  I listened, learned, appreciated and shared.

In a way, it was my first encounter with what was to become known as social media.

A contributor to society

Shortly afterwards, an editor at the newspaper called me up and asked me if I would be willing to write more.  I had concerns but was not about to decline the offer.  For the next two years, I wrote as a community citizen, never accepting a cent in return.  Over time, I learned how to engage others to give them the ability to act beyond the words on paper to make their own differences in the community.

The response was tremendous and I heard countless stories of the human experience, many of which could not have happened without my contribution (or so they said).  Some people treated me like their friend, even though I had never once met them.  Others asked me to become engaged in their cause (I would normally decline as I was still professionally a ‘lab rat’).  But perhaps the most rewarding (and humbling) experience occurred one evening on a bus when I was surrounded by three individuals who obviously recognized me.  They told me that there was a group of twenty-something individuals in the Ottawa area who not only followed me, but developed their course of action based on my articles.  I asked why they didn’t act out on their own without my example sparking them.

The answer still brings goosebumps: “You said it when no one else would listen.”

I should point out that although one might think these experiences may have convinced me to be a leader; they did something completely different.  I wanted to be a communicator or broker of knowledge.  I had a passion to be a hybrid of the 4Es – Entertainer, Educator, Expresser, and Engager.  I wanted to be someone that made differences.

Was I ever naïve.

Looking for an audience in all the wrong places

I was just starting my thirties and honestly believed that it was time to take the rat out of the lab and into the real world.  However, to follow the metaphor, once I was out, there were more shrieks of discontent than appreciation of the effort.

The next years were hard as I explored various avenues of media to continue my passion for engagement.  I tried filmmaking with little success; writing fiction, while interesting to scientists, went nowhere.  None of my attempts to interact with journalists seemed to work either.  It seemed that what I was selling was just not wanted.  I sadly believed that the world just wasn’t interested in science as a part of their daily lives.  It wasn’t until almost 5 years later that I realized I was working ahead of the curve and that my efforts were quite simply misplaced.

From Fun Guy to Germ Guy

In early 2007, I was asked to help in the development of a news article on “Germs.”  The premise was pretty simple:  Germs are everywhere but don’t panic!  The reporter decided to make it fun but still educational.  The result was a success for us and a hit with the public!

Germs on CTV Ottawa Part 1


Germs on CTV Ottawa Part 2

While this was not the beginning of the “Germ Guy” (I was actually known as the “Fun Guy” (homonymous with fungi), it did create the spark.

Less than a year later, I was asked not only to take part in live segments on “Germs”, but also to take live questions.  I had trepidations but was not about to say no.  And so, following my 4E’s, the segment became a popular addition to the noon show, the feedback was always positive and soon, the “Germ Guy” became a reality.

It wasn’t long before I was asked about the location of my website or blog or Facebook account.  I’ll be honest, I had been using the internet since the late 1980s and thought of myself as fairly savvy but in reality, I was well behind the times.  In all the work that I had done in the traditional media, I had yet to explore the avenues of social media.

I couldn’t have imagined what I was missing!

The 5th E – Explosion

My first experience in social media was twofold.  First, I set up a Facebook account although I wasn’t sure about whom to friend or not friend.  I was indiscriminate and thankfully was amazed at the interaction.  Discussion topics were as wide as the greatest panorama and for the most part, were well-tempered.  The second was the initiation of the placement of my segments on the web (many of which you can still see by visiting my website).  Linking to the videos was easy and I was able to bring all my Facebook friends to the site to view the segments.  Soon, I was gaining friends, many of whom were looking forward to talking with the Germ Guy and in many cases, to gain the opportunity to ask questions just like on TV.

Germ Guy 2009

By the end of the first year, I had been bombarded with comments, messages, and queries; it was almost all too much.  Yet it was only the beginning.  When the station held an open house, I was welcomed as a member of the family and placed in a highly visible zone.  I was amazed at how many people I met, how many hands I shook, how many hugs I received.

Despite all the joy, there was a significant downside.  It was becoming clear that Facebook was not the avenue to follow.  The critiques were growing from those who believed that they were as capable as me and wanted to let me know this usually in private but sometimes in the public foray.  In addition, some of the topics I discussed were controversial and at times I found myself on the wrong end of campaigns.  This was no clearer than when one segment, in which I supported the flu vaccine against the H1N1 virus, ended up being shared with anti-vaccine advocates.  Soon I was embroiled in hundreds of messages and comments from these people who served no higher goal than to belie, berate and besmirch me until I broke down and disappeared.  I quite honestly tried to fight, but had to give up.

I learned a hard lesson that day and have realized that it is now a tenet of social media:  if enough people find you to be their enemy, there will be no cessation until you are defeated.

A Student of Social Media

After that horrible experience, I stayed away from Facebook and within a few months, moved to Twitter.  The learning curve was high but I found myself enjoying this realm.  Tweeting, Re-Tweeting (RT) and commenting on tweets were a joy and each 140 character contribution was an experiment in the 5Es.  Much like a graduate student, I tested various hypotheses and had many lessons to learn.  Sometimes I would make a mistake and have to apologize for the lack of judgment or awareness.  Other times a test would end up with nary a mention; the tact would inevitably end up in File 13 such as the following “Hygiene United” avatar idea.

Hygiene United Shield

But there were times that something worked and with some further experimentation, I realized what would make a success.  And so, for the next half a year, I tested various Tweets to hone in on the successes both in the Twitterverse and its interaction with other existing means of social media including blogs, aggregators, videos and presentations.  The experience was enriching but there was still something missing.

Being a ‘SMUGgle’

The first time I heard of the Social Media University, Global, I was actively searching for sites that would help to take my experiences and put them to action.  The site was impressive while the logo, motto and overall atmosphere of the site reflected an academic focus that many seem to miss:  education isn’t dry – it should be enjoyed.  And, besides, who wouldn’t want to be called a ‘SMUGgle’?

Initially, I was taken aback by the wealth of information available and also the spirit with which the topics were presented.  Chancellor Dr. Lee Aase not only provided a strong and yet easily understandable curriculum for learning, but also gave direction as to how one might use their skills and create social media success.  In addition, the collection of easily accessible and readable theses showed how each SMUGgle has used the true power of social media to their success and tips and tricks as to how others can do the same.  To be honest, I didn’t just learn from SMUG, I absorbed.

Over time, with reading, reasoning and reflecting, I acquired the resilience to continue my journey towards being a true social media champion.  I felt that it was time to step out from the social media background and start becoming a leader.  It was time to share my vision, act on my mission and achieve my social media goal.

Chancellor Aase would call this my capstone.

I simply called it #handhygiene.

Tweets Alone do not a Strategy Make

I started the hashtag on May 5th, 2010, the annual Hand Hygiene Day promoted by the World Health Organization.  As I imagined, it started off slow and it took about a month to get into a groove whereby I was using the tag whenever I could.  At first, I gleaned from other hashtag conversations, such as #ptsafety, #infection, #germs and #hygiene, and RT them with the #handhygiene hashtag.  I also started looking for terms that would be related to #handhygiene such as “handwashing”, “hand hygiene”, “clean hands” and even “dirt” and “grime”.  Each day, I would find between 10 and 20 items to RT along with tweets of my own.

By the third month, a few people were using #handhygiene religiously while others were starting to get a feel for the concept of the hashtag.  Many contributors were companies looking for a marketing tag while others were focused on hand hygiene as a tenet in the  maintenance of health.  But I was getting nowhere with organizations, governments, NPOs and others who I believed would benefit most from the hashtag.  It turned out that none other than James Carville who I met by chance explained what was wrong.  To paraphrase his few minutes of schooling:  no one is going to listen to a tweeting “Germ Guy!”

It was clear I needed a strategy.

Blogging – Back to the Beginning

It was clear that I needed a blog to support the work that I was doing with #handhygiene.  A blog could go further than the 140 characters of a tweet and more importantly, could attract and keep an audience.  Not to mention it would provide more depth to the goals of the “Germ Guy” and provide a direction for the future.

In the summer of 2010, I started “The “Germ Guy” Blog: Confessions of a Mercurial Microbiologist.”  I felt the title had the right amount of curiosity and alliteration to bring people to the site regardless of the content.  And the image, which I found thanks to a great webinar on hand hygiene, was just priceless.

I tried to post at least every two weeks but found myself lost.  At times I was just not sure of what to say.  At others, I was just afraid; I wasn’t sure I could engage people with something as simple as #handhygiene.  I felt that the blog might actually harm my hopes with the hashtag rather than help it.

I spoke with several people in social media but there were no answers.  No one had the magical answer and even if they did, they were not about to share it.  I found myself lagging both in confidence and unfortunately interest.  It wasn’t until I attended a seminar and met up with a colleague I had not seen in years that the answer hit me.

The question was simple enough:  “Are you still writing for the Citizen?”

“No,” I answered hoping to return with a bemusing quip.  “I’m writing for citizens.”

“I thought that’s what you were doing all along.”

Turns out I was the one to be mused and my block melted.

I went back to my roots.  All the strategies that I used in my newspaper posts were now the basis for my blog posts.  The techniques of alliteration, storytelling, metaphor and more importantly, positivity came back to me immediately and the posts improved dramatically – as did the popularity.

By the end of the year, the blog was gaining between 20 and 50 views a day (quite an accomplishment for something as anathema and uninteresting as germs).  But more importantly, the original targets for #handhygiene were now starting to not only read but also use the hashtag.  Municipal, state and provincial governments were using the tag as were major information sharing groups.  The number of #handhygiene tweets grew and over the winter holiday season, when I had little to no interaction with Twitter, the tag was sustained.

I have to say that these successes gave me a true sense of contribution.  But the zenith of my joy came when the World Health Organization (@whonews) itself, the ones who provided the spark for the tag, adopted #handhygiene for its posts on World Hand Hygiene Day 2011.

@whonews It’s 5 May, over 13,000 hospitals aim to improve #handhygiene with WHO SAVE LIVES campaign.

It took a year but the capstone was in essence complete.

From Social Media to Real Action

Since May 5, 2011, I haven’t been using social media much.  It’s not that I feel it’s time to move on but rather the fact that the successes I have achieved are now starting to translate into action in the real world.  I am now talking with a half dozen international countries in the developed and developing world that have approached me to develop strategies to improve their health and hygiene.  I am regularly talking behind the scenes with media and my hand and card are always taken at galas and other events.  It’s an entirely new world for the ‘lab rat’ but I am ready to learn and find ways to use the 5Es to attain success and bring the world closer to better health and hygiene and of course, the benefits of using social media.

As I accept this honorary doctorate from Social Media University Global, I would like to express both my gratitude and my wish to share my experiences with you as your new Associate Professor.  I’ve experienced much over the last decade and I cannot imagine not sharing it with the global social media community.

And so, with the blessing of the Chancellor, Dr. Lee Aase, I will, over the coming months, develop a course to facilitate efforts in the 5Es and to provide opportunities for mentorship.  I hope that everyone reading this will enroll in the course and find the lessons to be useful and easily adoptable.  But more importantly, I look forward to hearing of all the successes that are to come.

I thank you for your time and as this is a social media environment, would love to hear your comments.


Weiner, Favre and the 38th Thesis

When I first heard about the racy photo tweeted from Rep. Anthony Weiner’s account, I thought the “I’ve been hacked” defense seemed dubious, especially since Rep. Weiner had not chosen to have law enforcement authorities investigate the alleged crime.

I thought it was much more likely that he had simply made a mistake, and replied to a tweet from the young lady in Washington state instead of sending a direct message with his photo. It’s a difference between typing “@” before her username instead of “d “ – which made the photo link visible to his 45,000 followers, and by extension, to the world.

Following his mistake, we now know Rep. Weiner broke just about every rule of PR and crisis management – making up a story about being hacked, denying that he had sent the picture and evading the question of whether the photo was of him. I thought the low point was when he berated ABC News’ Jonathan Karl for “not understand(ing) how social networks work.”

Monday we learned that the simple explanation was in fact the right one. As The Hill reported:

“Once I realized I had posted it to Twitter I panicked, I took it down, and said that I had been hacked,” Weiner said at a press conference in New York. “To be clear the picture was of me and I sent it.”

In actuality, Weiner had committed one of the classic errors of the micro-blogging platform: tweeting a message that was intended to be sent as a direct message. Direct messages are private messages that can only be sent to a user to one of their followers.

This outcome, especially when considered in light of a similar issue involving former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (OK, he played for the Vikings, too) and the allegations of his “sexting” a female sideline reporter when he played a season with the New York Jets, provides a fitting illustration of a principle I’ve found myself regularly mentioning in presentations, and which I am now codifying as my 38th Thesis:

Social media raise the cost of bad behavior because they make it more likely misdeeds will be discovered.

By the account of Jenn Sterger, the photos Brett Favre allegedly sent her via text message were at least as explicit as Rep. Weiner’s. But we’re still saying “allegedly” in the Favre case, partly because the photos were sent via SMS instead of on a social network like Twitter. And her revelation came about two years after the alleged incident. The first news story about the Weiner tweet, by contrast, showed up within just a few hours.

Twitter is much more powerful as a communication vehicle than text messaging is because tweets can be discovered and spread by anyone, and because for regular tweets (as opposed to direct messages), there are no intended “recipients.”

But the same tools that can be so beneficial when used for good can have devastating effects when mishandled. The Favre sexting controversy took two months to be resolved,  with the NFL commissioner finally settling on a $50,000 fine. The Weiner case took 10 days from tweet to tearful confession.

Of course there were various differences between these two examples, and it isn’t my point to go through these fine distinctions. I just think it’s interesting to see how rapidly the Weiner case developed, and to consider how social media accelerated his decline. Two weeks ago tomorrow he was being mentioned as a leading candidate for mayor of New York. Today he has many of his party members in Congress urging him to resign.

In my presentations I have often suggested that users should apply the “front page” test to all of their online postings. As we’ve seen recently with Rep. Weiner, sometimes those postings really do make the front page.

What do you think? What are the social media lessons you take from this case study?

Twitter 310: Custom URL Shortening Case Study

So you want to get a custom-shortened URL for your Tweets.

How do you do it?

This post builds upon Twitter 210, and provides the answer. By watching the video below and following along with the slide presentation, you will see step-by-step how I created the custom short domain, and how you can do something similar.

It’s not expensive (at least it doesn’t have to be), and you can do it in an hour or so.

So, grab a Slurpee or your other favorite beverage, hit play on the embedded video, and follow along.

Was this helpful? If you use this to guide you in creating your own custom URL shortener, please leave a comment and let me know what short domain you used.

Or if you still have questions, let me know about that, too.

Please also check out my Christmas letter, which I tweeted with this link