Getting My Nerd On…or How I Came to Love Social Media Data

Last week, my wife hosted “Nerd Day” at the children’s theater summer program she runs. All the kids attending the program were encouraged to wear funky glasses, dorky pants, and very unusual shirts. Naturally, as someone who has been known to get his “nerd on,” I was pretty upset I couldn’t participate.

But, fortunately, I was able to get in touch with my inner nerd a few days later through the social media “Year in Review” I assembled.

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Burning Social Media Questions Answered!

Last week, at the invitation of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), I delivered my first ever webinar.

The topic of my presentation--balancing your social media work with everything else on your plate–was inspired by a blog post I wrote on the same topic a few years ago. Following the webinar, I fielded nineteen questions from the virtual audience–a number, which the coordinator of the webinar later informed me, was a record for PRSA webinars on social media.

Audience queries ranged from the broad (“How do you measure social media ROI?”) to the specific (“How do you use LinkedIn in your work?”) and in this post I’ll share my thoughts on some of the most topical questions that were raised.

I hope my feedback is helpful, and please let me know if you have a different take on any of the questions and/or you have any of your own.

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Sticky Social Media: Why it Matters and How to Make it Happen

If you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I’m easily impressed.

Whether it’s a towel at the Harvard Business School (HBS) gym or complimentary donuts during “Free Donut Day,” I get irrationally excited about seemingly trivial things. So, when my wife called me at work one day and informed me that Boston’s Museum of Science was giving members, which we are, an early, first look at its new Pixar exhibit I was pretty excited….um, for our kids, that is. Yes, for our kids.

Once I hung up the phone, I called the museum, plunked down $20 bucks for the family, and reserved our spot for last Sunday.

The exhibit itself was great. We spent some (digital) quality time with Sully, Mater, Joy, and the gang, and learned a lot, such as….

  1. Making a single Pixar film requires, like, 8,000 people. Okay, it’s not that many, but it’s quite a few.
  2. There is A TON of math involved in making Pixar movies.
  3. Because of #2, there is no way I could ever work at the company. (I also couldn’t work there because I’m an epically bad artist, don’t have cool hair or spectacles, and definitely cannot, especially compared to the employees profiled in the exhibit, rock any cool computer programs.)

Soon after we left the museum, with two very tired children in tow, I took to Twitter and expressed— including the handle of the Museum of Science in my tweet— how much I enjoyed the exhibit.

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To GIF or Not to GIF

Working at the Harvard Business School (HBS) is pretty sweet. The facilities are top notch (the gym has wood-paneled walls AND they give you your own towel during each visit!); the faculty are “wicked smaht,” and the students are a diverse and impressive lot.

But, for me, the best part of HBS are the people I work with. Each day, I’m impressed by the creativity and talent they bring to each and every project, many of which I’m involved with in some way.

So I was intrigued, naturally, when my co-worker knocked on my office door recently and said, “I have something you may be interested in.”

This “something” was a GIF he had created for an article he had penned for our alumni magazine. Before this impromptu meeting, I hadn’t given much thought to GIFs or how I could use them in my social media work; I had been much more focused on finding ways to integrate video into efforts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Hacking Facebook…or How I Got 40+ Comments to a Single Post

Me and Facebook have a “tortured” history.

Before I came to the Harvard Business School (HBS), I used Facebook sparingly. I would jump onto the platform once every few weeks to see what was happening and to post a photo or two. At the time–early 2010–I didn’t have much use for Mark Zuckerberg’s creation. As a senior writer/communications manager for the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), I was responsible for, among other things, the social media presence of the school. This “presence” included Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr. We stayed away from Facebook, though, assuming that graduate students didn’t want us “invading” this space. With no opportunity to use Facebook on a professional level, I didn’t see much reason to use it from a personal one, either.

This all changed when I joined HBS in early 2013 and took over management of the school’s alumni Facebook page at The next two years were marked by great successes and epic failures. For every post that performed like this one, there were multiple ones that performed like this. I don’t know why some posts hit the mark while others didn’t. Maybe it had something to do with changes Facebook made to its algorithm or bad post timing on my part. Whatever the reason, I was getting increasingly frustrated with the platform’s unpredictability and in March 2015 I decided to do something about it.

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Can’t-Miss Tips for Social Media Community Building

I worked for the Tufts University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) for thirteen years. I started as a project coordinator and by the time I departed in late 2012, I had risen to the level of senior writer/communications manager. There were many aspects of the job I enjoyed. Along with gaining valuable writing experience, the school subsidized my graduate degree, helped foster my enthusiasm for higher education, and provided me with my first exposure to the world of social media.

But there was something I struggled with throughout my tenure at GSAS.

Community building.

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