Twitter for networking business: getting ready to step into a professional world

NU PRSSA, Entrepreneurs Club, and IDEA presented a social marketing event #trendingNU at Northeastern University on March 20. Click for more photos.

While some people are still posting their food pictures on Twitter, others have already started a new way to use social media. For those innovators, Twitter, or any other social media platform, can actually be a powerful networking tool for business use.

Tom O’Keefe, better known as the guy behind one of the most well known Twitter accounts, @BostonTweet, is one of those pioneers. During the past five years, he has been tweeting about life in Boston, sending out guides for food, events, breaking news, as well as job or business opportunities. Using Twitter as a main source to promote startups and local business is his current major career.

O’Keefe started @BostonTweet in November 2008. Because of the economic recession, in the very beginning he just wanted to try it out of desperation. However, with it working along successfully, he decided to continue it as a business.

“What I do is mainly being out attending networking events as well as talking about local businesses and restaurants,” said O’Keefe, who has about 80,000 followers. “Twitter makes it perfect for promoting local business. I can just take quick photos and tweet it in real time, instead of having to go home, write an article or blog post, which happens five hours later.”

Joselin Mane, owner of @BostonTweetUp, also saw the importance of using social media in his career.

“I think Twitter is one of the most innovative tools,” he said. “Once you understand it, it opens up the door for you to be able to connect with almost anyone in the world, especially for establishing your own brand.”

Mane used Twitter to build a new media event planning promotional service, helping companies promote and kick off events successfully. He believed that social media, primarily Twitter, has been redefining the way people connect in the world, and will continue to evolve in the upcoming years.

“I think Twitter is going to be more integrated into the applications or tools we use every day, giving us the ability to get information in real time,” Mane said.

In 2009, Time published an article about the future of Twitter, saying “as Twitter grows, it will increasingly become a place where companies build brands, send information to customers, conduct e-commerce and create communities for their users.” During these years seeing Twitter developing into a more professional platform, people can find a trend that it will be more used for business marketing and networking.

“It’s not really going to be called social media in the future. It’s beyond the communication or social tool. It’s connection tool,” Mane said when talking about the future of social media being used in business world. “It’s a way to do market research, a way to analyze, a way to let you know what’s going on in a certain area, to find out what’s happening among the customers so that you can make the decision on product, on services to provide. It’s going to be integrated in everything we do.”

At the same time, Mane pointed out that there are new challenges for startups who want to get involved in this new world of networking.

“The biggest thing that has changed in last several years in regards to social media is that it is becoming more mainstream and more into our daily life,” he said. “At the beginning it was mostly thought leaders, innovators and early adapters that were communicating. The community was smaller so that more what was being shared was visible. Now because of the quantity of the individuals that are on there contributing to the communication, it’s becoming harder to make strong connections.”

Mane suggested that those starting businesses build a strategy to use social networking system such as Twitter and LinkedIn.

“You definitely could take advantage of Twitter in your career. But it’s not easy,” said O’Keefe, who is also facing the new challenge. Instead of keeping all of his connections on Twitter, he is now starting a new business called BostonAve, to help make either personal or business connections between people in a relatively private networking environment.

Brooke Foucault Welles, assistant professor in the department of communication studies at Northeastern University, suggested college students starting thinking of using Twitter to build their own career path.

“I think it’s a really exciting opportunity for young people. A lot of companies, politicians and individuals are now recognizing that they can use social media to make money,” she said. “Twitter is the platform that you can communicate directly to organizations you might be interested in. So you can start to tweet things and to create your identity on Twitter. In this way when companies search you as a job candidate, they will find you really are someone that is knowledgeable and engaged in this field already.”

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Latitude News: where local meets global

Yesterday our class invited Maria Balinska, the founder Latitude News, as guest speaker to talk about her career path, and how Latitude News covers international news on a local basis.

Balinska started the Latitude News about a year ago. Before that she had worked for BBC for years. I think what makes Latitude News different with traditional international news websites is that Balinska chose to focus on more about American based global news, which makes the demographic of her website to be educated middle-age people, especially women, who want to get more information about what is going on in the world and how do those international news apply to American society.

Other than news articles, Balinska and her team also launched a program: Podcast. Every month they come up with an episode that brings the audience stories about ways in which American lives are linked with the rest of the world.

News sources to learn what is happening in China

The two main sources I use for my blog posts are Sina Weibo and South China Morning Post.

With over 500 million users on it, Sina Weibo is a good place where you can learn what is going on in China and what Chinese people are talking about. It was launched in 2009, and has been growing fast during the past three years. On Weibo, People are always discussing about breaking news, especially those that mainstream media do not report because of censorship. I found their hot topics page very useful. On this page you can search for news either by content (social, financial, political, sports, fashion, entertainment, etc) or by date. I like using Weibo because information and news are updated very fast on it, and you will get to know what is going on even before you hear from any news media.

South China Morning Post is the first and one of the most famous English-language newspaper in HongKong. The newspaper is published in HongKong and not directly controlled by Chinese government, so that it has less bias when reporting news in China. The home page is clear and the sections are easy to follow. There are very few advertisements since it charges about $2 a week for subscription. There is also a Chinese-language website for the paper, but the contents are not as good as in the English version, which is what I hope they could improve a little bit.

Telling stories with data visualization

Data visualization is now broadly used in online news articles, either as a side bar or to tell the story on its own. Here I picked three data visualization examples to see how they are used by journalists to tell thorough stories.

How Some Nonprofit Groups Funnel Dark Money Into Campaigns is an investigation by Propublica, showing how much money nonprofit groups are spending on elections instead of on social welfare. There is a related story based on the visualization, arguing that those groups do very little to justify the subsidies they receive from taxpayers, but put the money into political races. I think this piece is telling good stories because the data is sorted and organized in several ways, so that reporters can find different angles to write stories on how the groups are funneling the dark money. The structure is also very clear with the use of timelines and percentages. It is quite easy to compare between groups in different perspectives.

Where Congress Stands on Guns is also a good example of data visualization that I found tells good stories. They basically put members of Congress on a scale from 0 to 100 to show their attitudes on gun control. I like the use of members’ photos and how they are distinguished by party (blue and red). One can click on every member’s photo to check more individual information. Also the readers have the choice to show the chart by party, chamber or state.

Another one I found interesting is Government spending by department, 2011-12: get the data. Unlike the other two which include links/assortments/searching functions, this one is simply an infography. I like it because it is very visualized. You can tell the major information at the first glance. It directly shows 2011-2012 UK government spending by department. The only thing I think they can do better is to take off some detailed information and make another simple one for readers who only want to get a broad idea of how the money is spent, since the font size is a little bit too small to read.

The growing impact of social media

My final project will focus on how social media, especially Twitter, has been developing during the past five years, and have a discuss about how it will be in the future.

For my paper project I will do a feature story on BostonTweet, who is basically tweeting about life and things to do in Boston. He has been an active Twitter user since 2008, with 20,859 tweets and 78,703 followers. I think he is a good example of using Twitter not only as a social tool, but to aggregate news, bring people together, as well as make a career. This is what we might not have thought about five years before, and it is exciting to see how far it will go and what it will become in the upcoming five years or so. I have scheduled an interview with him on next Wednesday.

For the video and photo project I plan to do a story on a Weibo user who lives in Boston doing the same thing as what BostonTweet does, but on a Chinese platform. I am still waiting to hear from him. If this does not work out, I am thinking to talk to a variety of people, including an expert as media/communication professor, to discuss about how they have been using social media and what they think social media will be like in the future.

Finding burgers in Boston – jm Curley

If you are looking for a relaxed bar where you can chat with friends while enjoy a perfect burger during lunch break or after work at Downtown District in Boston, jm Curley is the place.

A look from the outside.

I arrived there at 12:30 p.m. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed. Hand-written menu boards and old, framed photos of former mayer, James Michael Curley (whom the bar is named after), are hung on the wall. The space was quite empty, with a few people sitting in the corner or at the bar, working on their laptops. Tarcy Latimer, the bar tender, said that the place always gets full on Friday night, when people come in with groups of friends to have food, drinks and fun. At jm Curley, dinner ends at 10:15 p.m., but late night burgers are still available till 1 a.m.

Inside look.

Order at the bar.

I ordered the house burger as recommended, which is a 5 oz. beef burger with griddled onions, cheddar, russian dressing and pickles. The burger was just cooked perfectly – meaty, juicy and flavorful. The bread was soft and fluffy on one side, and crispy on the other. The 5 oz. portion is totally enough for lunch, which costs $7.5 before tax, and their dinner burgers are 9 oz., served with fires for $14. They also serve veggie burgers, and there are lots of options for beers and cocktails. The server and bar tender were nice and the food was served quick.

My House Burger with fries. Meaty, juicy and Flavorful.

What makes it special at jm Curley is their Sammy’s 7 feature board besides the regular menu. Every two weeks they change the menu on the board, providing new specials by creative chefs.

Sammy’s 7 menu board.

“So far we have done lots of different Sammy’s 7 burgers,” said Latimer, “we have done Sloppy Joe Burger, and we have done burgers with peanut butter, fired eggs, you know, those are all pretty good. If you check our Twitter feeds or go on our Facebook page, we always put up a photograph of the menu to let people know what it is before they come in.”

Bubble hockey corner is also open for friends to have fun.

Bubble hockey corner.

Days and hours: Lunch: Mon-Fri 11:30am-2pm; Mid Day Burgers: Mon-Fri 2-5pm; Dinner: Mon-Sat 5-10:15pm; Late Night Burgers & Concretes: Mon-Sat 10:30pm-1:15am; Closed Sundays

Price: moderate

Phone number: (617) 338-5333

Website: http://jmcurleyboston.com/

Address: 21 Temple Place, Boston, MA 02111

Closest T stop: Park Street (Green Line)

Veggie option: Yes

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Recommended: house burger, fried pickles, cast iron cornbread, Sammy’s 7 specials

Mapping as journalism

Is mapping journalism? I would say yes.

Although mapping is always used as a tool or just inserted in the news reports as a supplement, I consider it to be journalism. I think it does the same as what infographics and charticles do.

This is a good example telling disparities in popular vote versus seats won by state in 2012,  and did a compare with that in 2010. Explaining this by mapping, I think, is more visual than telling it in long articles or by simply listing numbers.

Also, here is an example of how mapping can tell more than traditional news reports do. I think mapping is a good way to tell stories in new media era. It does not require a big space, yet can give a lot of information.

One thing I found interesting: in this case, Mark Newman draw a series of maps to show 2012 U.S. presidential election results. It shows that if you use different measures when making the map (by population cartogram or by state or by county, etc), you will get the maps slightly different. So how to keep the accuracy of mapping in journalism might be what journalists need to concern about.