Do you Podcast?

Ever heard of podcasting and wondered what the heck it’s all about?

Podcasting is your opportunity to broadcast content through your blog or a social network. Podcasts can be audio only or done on video. Think of it as your own private radio station or television network where you decided what’s “On the Air.”

Bob Garlick and Kim Plumley outside the Garlick and Plum Jam Podcast Tent at Social Media Camp
with guest Sean Moffitt (centre).

If you love to talk with people, then podcasting is a great way to get your message out there. Podcasts can be a single person on mic or on camera sharing what they know. But even better is when two or more people come together to record a conversation. The energy, playfulness and interaction between podcasters can really liven up a conversation. If you’re new to podcasting, check out Kim Plumley and Bob Garlick over at Garlick and Plum Jam – they know how to have fun with their guests and weave in lots of great advice about marketing and social media.

If you want to jump into podcasting, you can start with the tools in your computer already – the built in mic, the built in camera. But if you want to produce something a bit higher quality then you’ll need some equipment beyond your computer.

  • Buy the best quality headsets you can afford. Sennheiser and Plantronics are among the best brands for sound quality. The set I use is from Sennheiser and it cost me about $100.
  • A portable, pocket size video camera that you can take with you anywhere is great way to start video blogging. I use Kodak’s Zi8 (last year’s model) and look forward to upgrading to a Kodak Playtouch soon. I know other folks, including the fabulous video podcaster Rebecca Coleman, prefer the Flip camera. All of these are available for somewhere between $100 and $200. The key is to get a camera that records in HD, offers good sound quality and plugs into a USB port for easy connectivity.
  • A handheld, unidirectional microphone is also helpful. You see me using one in the photo below where I’m interviewing author Jack Whyte. Moving the mic back and forth captures better sound than the video camera’s onboard microphone. This is especially important when there’s lots of background noise. Again, you’re looking at another $100 investment but it’s worth it.

  • Software is also important and I use two free tools – Audacity to record and Levelator to balance sound levels. Have a look at the software already on your computer and see what works for you.

Of course, these tools are not the high end. If you want to you buy a level board, mic booms, spit catchers, lighting, directors chairs, a pop-up backdrop and even book time in a professional recording studio by all means open your wallet. How much you invest has to do with how complicated you want to make your podcast recording process and where your brand sits on the “polished to guerilla spectrum”.

My pal, Peggy Richardson, has taught me much of what I know about podcasting and I subscribe to Peggy’s philosophy that sound quality matters (a lot!) but sometimes you have to capture whatever you can in the moment. So, if I was lucky enough to meet Hugh Jackman on a busy street, I’d gladly record an interview (if he was willing) and compromise sound quality in favour of the unique interview opportunity. The quality you choose to publish is entirely up to you.

One quick word of caution before we wrap up this issue. Recording is easy. So easy, in fact, that you can record lots and lots and lots of content. However, it takes time to upload and edit the content and still more time to create the blog post and share the podcast through Facebook, Twitter, etc. I want to encourage you to give it a try but maybe go slow while you figure out what podcasting set-up works for you.

What’s Your Vanity URL?

You can customize the link people use to get to your Facebook page or profile. It’s called a vanity URL which is a custom link that takes people directly to you on Facebook. This makes it much easier to communicate your Facebook presence in other materials both online and offline.

When you first set up your Facebook presence, you’ll get an URL that looks something like this:

 

Just in case it’s hard to read, here’s the long link to reach Booth Bullies on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Booth-Bullies-Entertainment/127454587324489

You can share that but it’s a long, messy URL that can be easily messed up when people copy and paste it. It’s also pretty much impossible to typeset and no one will remember if you promote it on a business card, banners, flyers or other print materials.

By setting the vanity URL, you’ll get something like:

My vanity URL reads, http://www.facebook.com/BeachcomberCommunications.

In fact, Facebook recently bought fb.com so I could put www.fb.com/BeachcomberCommunications on my materials to make it even shorter. Either way, its much easier to typeset and much easier to remember the custom version.

To set your vanity URL, check to see if you have 25 fans (the minimum required to get a vanity URL) and then go to www.facebook.com/Username. Be cautious as you can set the username for both your Profile and any Pages you administer from this page.


 

As you can see, my profile vanity URL was set as www.facebook.com/CrockerAngela. Once an URL is set, it can’t be changed so pick it wisely. All the pages you administer will appear in the drop down menu and you can select the page you want to name. If you only have one page, that’s all that will appear in the menu.

Before setting the URL, Facebook will check to make sure it’s available. If it’s not, you’ll need to try another option – that’s how I ended up with “CrockerAngela”. Facebook will ask you to confirm and reconfirm before setting your vanity URL forever. Please check your spelling and spacing carefully!

While the vanity URL is set forever, you can change the name of your page while you have less than 100 “likes”. That’s how I changed the name of my page from “Beachcomber Communications” to “Beachcomber Communications with Angela Crocker”. ¬†You can do this from the Basic Information tab when you “edit page”.

Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

With over 100 million professionals on LinkedIn and a new member joining every second (yes – every second!), LinkedIn is a valuable social network for both professionals and businesses. Last week I sat in on Social Media Success Summit webinar called “How to Use LinkedIn to Enhance and Grow Your Business” by Mario Sundar, LinkedIn’s in-house social media guy.

In his presentation, Mario shared some tips on the key things you must do to represent your professional identity and emphasized the importance of focusing on relationships, after all it’s a social networking community.

Take a moment to log-in to your LinkedIn account and then keep reading. Have you done these things?

  1. Include a photo that’s recognizable as you.
  2. Make your connections public (not private) so people can find you.
  3. Update your specialties regularly. What’s true about you today may not be the same as when you signed up for LinkedIn.
  4. Mario also recommended syncing your Twitter, blog and Slideshare accounts to share your expertise widely. (However, I firmly believe you should NOT autofeed your tweets to your LinkedIn status update. It’s ok to share your Twitter link just not every tweet, please.)

To manage your relationships on LinkedIn and offline as well, take some time to do the following:

  1. Synchronize your real world connections to LinkedIn. If your computer is a PC and you use Outlook look for the Outlook plug-in that lets you sync your LinkedIn contacts with your address book.
  2. Use your LinkedIn address book as your relationships in-box. Whenever you can note news and updates from your contacts and comment or connect as appropriate.
  3. Transfer business cards via Card Munch, a card reading app that translates a photo of a business card into a digital contact file. (I discovered this app a couple of weeks ago and I LOVE it! Super easy to use, pretty accurate and zippity do da fast.)
  4. Organize your contacts and add notes to categorize them. Help jog your own memory so you know when you met people and why you want to stay in touch.

One last tip, update LinkedIn profile constantly. Share new information, comment in a group, post a link – whatever you’ve got going on that’s relevant to your community should be shared on LinkedIn. Every time you make a change you’ll show up in the newsfeed of your connections.