Freedom has a price, even on the Internet

With the power of the electronic age we live in, news travels faster than ever before.  With this wave of information, we have to keep vigilant and take caution in what we read, trust, click on, and share as we surf the web.  The morning of Monday, May 2 and throughout that day, information rapidly broke about the death of Osama Bin Laden.  As expected, malicious software began to spread based on this incident primarily thorough search engine results, mass emails, and social media.  Even advertisements on websites such as Facebook and Google may have been malicious in trying to trick you with fake offers that may entice you to click them and then linked you to viruses and spyware that infects your computer and could steal your personal information.

By late evening, hackers unleashed a wave of new spam emails, poisoned search results, and specially crafted websites — all designed to mislead people seeking news.  The more common ones promised unofficial photos of Bin Laden’s dead body, videos of the assault and other conspiracy theories surrounding the events.  These links are false, misleading and dangerous.  Do NOT click on them.

Facebook Spam Post Example

The attackers are taking advantage of the curiosity of users and the excitement of the public, and then spreading malware along with it.  If you must look for news and the latest information, stick to well-known sites that may have bookmarked and rely on those.  As no images or video of the operation have been released, any sites promoting them should automatically be considered suspicious.

Always use caution when clicking Internet links you may not be familiar with or knowingly trust.  Also, please use good judgment when searching around the Internet for information.

Top 10 Social Media Moments of the Lehigh Valley 2010

What else is there to do this week than to crank out a Top 10 list about something.  Social media has turned our world upside down and kept us one click or touch away from what is happening right now.  Similar to last year (LINK), here are the top 10 stories of our own Lehigh Valley from 2010 which had a social media element to them.  Thanks to all our followers and readers out there who suggested and nominated some of these items, you see below.  Enjoy!
10 – Readers Choice awards for BFD and Hosfeld Insurance
In August, the Morning Call had a Readers Choice contest where nominations were accepted and top nominees were awarded Readers Choice awards.  With the power of social media and momentum, two long time active participants in social media, Black Forest Deli and Hosfeld Insurance took home awards in their respective categories Best Deli in the Valley and Best Local Insurance Agency.  Maybe you attended one of their parties to celebrate?  Congrats ladies!
9 – More Local Businesses embrace Facebook and Twitter
The number of local businesses that now use Twitter and Facebook is abundant.  While you can’t follow them all (effectively, that is), you can certainly find your favorites.  Businesses are a lot more engaging since the start of 2010 than previously.  Some that come to mind, (the non-award winning ones that is) are Shuze, Moravian Book Store, Brew Works, ArtsQuest, Sands Casino, Morning Call, and the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.  If any others come to mind, feel free to leave them in the comments section.  My apologies in advance.
8 – CelticFest App
Mobile apps was where it was at in 2010.  CelticFest was one of the first to get it out there and made the event jump up a notch.  It kept you up-to-date on everything taking place at the festival and downloads and stored the information on your mobile phone, iPod Touch, or iPad so it works with or without an internet connection. More info on that app at http://www.celticfest.org/info.  Well done.
7 – Lehigh Valley Hospital begins a No Texting While Driving Campaign raising awareness.
In one of the largest public awareness campaigns in the Lehigh Valley and nationwide, Lehigh Valley Health Network lauched http://www.celllimit0.com where they talk about the urgent call to action to stop texting and using mobile devices while driving.  The website states: “Each year, 6,000 Americans die in car crashes caused by distracted driving—and cell phone use is by far the greatest distraction. Studies indicate that talking on a mobile device quadruples your risk for a crash (raising it to the same risk level as driving drunk). “If you’re text messaging, you are eight times more likely to crash,” says health network trauma surgeon Robert Barraco, M.D.”.  As of last week, they have distributed 10,500 magnets and close to 500 lawn signs.
6 – laini’s little books go electronic
These books have been around for a few years now (since 2007, the launch of the 1st Easton guide).  but 2010 saw the launch of a website, blog entries and weekly lists of “9” things to do each weekend.  Not sure why 9, but it’s unique.  Relevant and timely content get pushed to her Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds for all to see (and share / retweet / etc.).   It all mashes up nicely at http://www.littlepocketguide.com, which features a great way to end the year – laini’s list of 9 – New Year’s Weekend!
5 – Foursquare SWARM badge unlocked at Musikfest
One social media intregrated app that exploded on the scene in 2010 is Foursquare.  It’s (in my opinion) the market leader in geo-location based apps out there.  When 50+ people are checked in to a location on Foursquare – it’s a foursquare flashmob!  Not too many Lehigh Valley locations can get 50+ checkins at one location.  We got about 30-some at the LVTweetups from time-to-time.  Musikfest is just the event to make that happen though, and on Friday the 13th.  That night of Musikfest saw the badge get unlocked.  If you were one of the 50+ who did it, congrats!  Here’s @thuk18045’s badge.  http://foursquare.com/thuk18045/badges/4c65efefe1da1b8d3ed899c3
4 – Bethlehem Horses Tweet, Morning Call and NBC10 Philly covers the controversy
How TMZ missed this one, I am not sure.  One staple at Musikfest are the mounted police patrol horses. Suddently, they started tweeting.  As the profile states: “We are the horses who protect you during MUSIKFEST in Bethlehem! Horses can’t tweet, this is a parody. Idiot.” and links to http://www.lehighvalleywithlove.com.  This was covered by the Morning Call (http://articles.mcall.com/2010-08-09/news/mc-bethlehem-musikfest-horse-twitter-20100809_1_police-horses-patrol-horses-john-sarnicky), and then NBC10 even came up for the story and interviewed official PR LVwithLove correspondent George Wacker (Facebook profile) about it.  See the NBC10 clip about it. http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/tech/Tweeting_Horses_Gets_Bloggers_in_Trouble_Philadelphia.html
3 – LVTweetup turns 1, holds 20 Tweetups!
Back in April, we had our 1 year anniversary for LVTweetup.  We even had a cake from Backdoor Bakeshop to go with our pint-glass giveaway.  This year we went to Musikfest, CelticFest, and an IronPigs game as well as the local nightlife scene places.  Look for more great places and event in the coming year.  And thanks to our sponsors for all the great giveaways and promo items.  All your support is appreciated by all!!  Follow the Tweetup on Twitter at @lvtweetup along with the current 1,130 followers.
2 – Callahan and Dent (and Towne) for Congress
The battle for this seat in Congress made #7 in the Stories of 2010 by WFMZ.  http://www.wfmz.com/lehighvalleynews/26304393/detail.html While the candidates did nothing out of the ordinary when it came to social media, it was the power of the people’s voice that kept the social media airwaves going through the fall leading up to Election Day.  Social media is one way that the demographics of Americans that weren’t as active at the polls stay informed and stay motivated to get out and vote each election.  This is where 1992 MTV called to say they are proud of you – back then it was called “Rock the Vote”.
1 – 2 Days in a Cube, 70,000 Text Messages
They said it couldn’t be done (well, maybe they didn’t, but still..) The Tweetup community picked one lucky fellow George Wacker (Facebook profile) to rally behind and vote their way to Mayfair’s Morning Call sponsored 2 Days in a Cube contest to win a 2010 Nissan Cube.  Among the five contestants, George came out on top thanks to a large following of votes, tweets and facebook posts to remind us, and many ancillary viral marketing moments throughout the month of May.
Feel free to leave a comment below with thoughts, opinions, commentary, etc.  After all, isn’t that what social media is for??  Happy 2011 all..  See you online!

What else is there to do this week than to crank out a Top 10 list about something.  Social media has turned our world upside down and kept us one click or touch away from what is happening right now.  Similar to last year’s list, here are the top 10 stories of our own Lehigh Valley from 2010 which had a social media element to them.  Thanks to all our followers and readers out there who suggested and nominated some of these items, you see below.  Enjoy!

10 – Readers Choice awards for Black Forest Deli and Hosfeld Insurance

Readers Choice logo

In August, the Morning Call had a Readers Choice contest where nominations were accepted and top nominees were awarded Readers Choice awards.  With the power of social media and momentum, two long time active participants in social media, Black Forest Deli and Hosfeld Insurance took home awards in their respective categories Best Deli in the Valley and Best Local Insurance Agency.  Maybe you attended one of their parties to celebrate?  Congrats ladies!

9 – More Local Businesses embrace Facebook and Twitter

The number of local businesses that now use Twitter and Facebook is abundant.  While you can’t follow them all (effectively, that is), you can certainly find your favorites.  Businesses are a lot more engaging since the start of 2010 than previously.  Some that come to mind, (the non-award winning ones that is) are Shuze, Moravian Book Store, Brew Works, ArtsQuest, Sands Casino, Morning Call, Starfish Brasserie, and the Lehigh Valley Ironpigs.  If any others come to mind, feel free to leave them in the comments section.  My apologies in advance.

8 – CelticFest App

Mobile apps was where it was at in 2010.  CelticFest was one of the first to get it out there and made the event jump up a notch.  It kept you up-to-date on everything taking place at the festival and downloads and stored the information on your mobile phone, iPod Touch, or iPad so it works with or without an internet connection. More info on that app at http://www.celticfest.org/info.  Well done.

7 – Lehigh Valley Hospital begins a No Texting While Driving Campaign raising awareness

little-girl

In one of the largest public awareness campaigns in the Lehigh Valley and nationwide, Lehigh Valley Health Network lauched http://www.celllimit0.com where they talk about the urgent call to action to stop texting and using mobile devices while driving.  The website states: “Each year, 6,000 Americans die in car crashes caused by distracted driving—and cell phone use is by far the greatest distraction. Studies indicate that talking on a mobile device quadruples your risk for a crash (raising it to the same risk level as driving drunk). “If you’re text messaging, you are eight times more likely to crash,” says health network trauma surgeon Robert Barraco, M.D.”.  As of last week, they have distributed 10,500 magnets and close to 500 lawn signs.

6 – laini’s little books go electronic

These books have been around for a few years now (since 2007, the launch of the 1st Easton guide).  but 2010 saw the launch of a website, blog entries and weekly lists of “9” things to do each weekend.  Not sure why 9, but it’s unique.  Relevant and timely content get pushed to her Facebook fan pages and Twitter feeds for all to see (and share / retweet / etc.).   It all mashes up nicely at http://www.littlepocketguide.com, which features a great way to end the year – laini’s list of 9 – New Year’s Weekend!

5 – Foursquare SWARM badge unlocked at Musikfest

4bbd1ae3675403bb25a55c94

One social media intregrated app that exploded on the scene in 2010 is Foursquare.  It’s (in my opinion) the market leader in geo-location based apps out there.  When 50+ people are checked in to a location on Foursquare – it’s a foursquare flashmob!  Not too many Lehigh Valley locations can get 50+ checkins at one location.  We got about 30-some at the LVTweetups from time-to-time.  Musikfest is just the event to make that happen though, and on Friday the 13th.  That night of Musikfest saw the badge get unlocked.  If you were one of the 50+ who did it, congrats!  Here’s @thuk18045’s Swarm badge.

4 – Bethlehem Horses Tweet, Morning Call and NBC10 Philly covers the controversy

How TMZ missed this one, I am not sure.  One staple at Musikfest are the mounted police patrol horses. Suddently, they started tweeting.  As the profile states: “We are the horses who protect you during MUSIKFEST in Bethlehem! Horses can’t tweet, this is a parody. Idiot.” and links to Lehigh Valley with Love.  This was covered by the Morning Call, and then NBC10 even came up for the story and interviewed official PR LVwithLove correspondent George Wacker (Facebook profile) about it.  See the NBC10 clip about it.

3 – LVTweetup turns 1, storms the Valley monthly.

Our @LVTweetup birthday cake

Our @LVTweetup birthday cake

Back in April, we had our 1 year anniversary for LVTweetup.  We even had a cake from Backdoor Bakeshop to go with our pint-glass giveaway.  This year we went to Musikfest, CelticFest, and an IronPigs game as well as the local nightlife scene places.  Look for more great places and event in the coming year.  And thanks to our sponsors for all the great giveaways and promo items.  All your support is appreciated by all!!  Follow the Tweetup on Twitter at @lvtweetup along with the current 1,130 followers.

2 – Callahan and Dent (and Towne) for Congress

The battle for this seat in Congress made #7 in the Stories of 2010 by WFMZ.  While the candidates did nothing out of the ordinary when it came to social media, it was the power of the people’s voice that kept the social media airwaves going through the fall leading up to Election Day.  Social media is one way that the demographics of Americans that weren’t as active at the polls stay informed and stay motivated to get out and vote each election.  This is where 1992 MTV called to say they are proud of you – back then it was called “Rock the Vote”.

1 – Two Days in a Cube, 70,000 Text Messages, One Winner, One Wacker.

They said it couldn’t be done (well, maybe they didn’t, but still..) The Tweetup community picked one lucky fellow George Wacker (Facebook profile) to rally behind and vote their way to Mayfair’s Morning Call sponsored 2 Days in a Cube contest to win a 2010 Nissan Cube.  Among the five contestants, George came out on top thanks to a large following of votes, tweets, a Facebook fan page, and facebook posts to remind us, and many ancillary viral marketing moments throughout the month of May.

Feel free to leave a comment below with thoughts, opinions, commentary, etc.  After all, isn’t that what social media is for??  Happy 2011 all..  See you online!

Are you crowdsourcing your audience or annoying them?

Social media is about engaging your audience, interacting with them, and creating a relationship or even a “trust” with them.  Something we see happen a lot is people posing questions to a large audience.  This is called crowdsourcing.   Crowdsourcing is defined on Wikipedia as “the act of taking tasks traditionally performed by (an individual), and outsourcing them to a group of people or community, through an “open call” to a large group of people (a crowd) asking for contributions.”  Many times you will find people ask “Where should I go to eat?” or “Is XYZ movie worth seeing?” via their Facebook status or Twitter comment.  This is indeed a great way to get people to respond to you and get input for a decision you have to make.  But when is it too much?  Well, unfortunately, that’s a question you have to answer for yourself.  People do instinctively want to help, which is why social media is a great tool to do that with, but seeing someone constantly just “asking the audience” is going to categorize you as a “noise factor” and your online reputation could take a hit.  Doing homework is one thing, but not being able to ever make a decision is another.  As part of our coaching, Be the Bee looks to help people get over their fear of technology and put them in front of a potential audience to engage, network and even potentially do business with.  The amount of connections we have seen made over the past year is simply tremendous.  The stories we hear offline (and online) could fill a book (note: idea already being worked on!).  It’s important to engage your audience, peers, colleagues, and get them to interact as well as interact back with them.  If you find yourself asking questions constantly looking for direction, insight, likes or dislikes, then ask yourself this “Am I engaging people, or am I starting to cause them to tune out”.  What do you think?  🙂

No Texting or Social Media While Driving – SIGN UP!

After watching last month’s @Oprah show on Texting and Driving, I am pledging to give up texting and social media while driving for lent and beyond.  Join us in not texting, facebook, or tweeting while driving, tweet #NoTextNoTweetWhileDriving or leave a comment to show your pledge!  Spread the word!

Why Facebook Fan pages are better for business

When small businesses first started to market on Facebook, many business owners used their own personal account to broadcast their message to the masses. This was fine. You connected with a person who shared not only personal thoughts and stories, but something about their business. A little later, people started to get creative and create accounts for their business. This meant you became “friends” with a hotel, a bar, or a local plumbing service. This was so-so, but not really the best way to do it. Along came the growth of Facebook fan pages. This is where it is at for businesses to really execute and build awareness to a Facebook community. Simply put here are five strong reasons that accounts need to be actual people with real stories, and administrate and reference business ideas and information on their fan pages:

1. Like we said, Fan pages can be managed by one or more accounts. It means you log in with one account and can go manage several fan pages while logged in as that person. Too much? You can add other administrators as well to help, without having to worry about sharing accounts, or passwords.

2. Fan pages are a one-way relationship. The entity exists whether you have 5 fans, 500, or 5,000. Do you really want to be in the business of having to accept all those requests as a friend request one by one?

3. Fan pages have metrics. It shows you demographics of your fan base, trends of adds, drops, interactions, and article effectiveness. None of this is available on personal account pages.

4. You can always suggest the page to fellow Facebook friends, or post links on Twitter, Linked In, or in your email marketing. Potential fans can visit the page and instantly decide if they want to subscribe or not without waiting for a friend request to be accepted.

5. Separation of business and personal information. Fans of your business might not want every nook and cranny detail of your life, just your business or information on your industry. Or maybe your friends just like you as a friend and not about your business. It allows your friends to be social, your fans to connect with your business, and those that want both, to hear both sides of the story.

Hope you find this helpful. We’d love to hear your comments and thoughts on how you use Facebook to manage content for a business, or how you use that information as a consumer perhaps.

Top 10 Lehigh Valley Social Media Stories of 2009

Nothing completes a calendar year like a good top 10 list.  In reading recent lists concerning top 10 stories around social media in 2009, no one can dispute the growth of Twitter, Facebook or even simply overall online interactivity.  While we can’t ignore how Ashton Kutcher, CNN, Oprah, Michael Jackson, Iran, or the iPhone were in the news, here are the top 10 stories of our own Lehigh Valley which concerned social media.  Enjoy!  Many people brought forward these top 10 based on input from Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn over the last 48 hours.

10. The Bookstore is Exposed

There was talk of this new bar opening up on the Southside of Bethlehem and no one really knew what to expect.  Low and behold, as people made there way in to explore, they talked about it on Twitter and word got out.  The Speakeasy motif was unique and somehting new – a perfect candidate for social media buzz.  The following tweet proves it. By the way, the next @LVTweetup will be at the Bookstore 7-9pm on January 14th, preceeded by Wine and Cheese at @HomeAndPlanet from 6-7pm.

@Silagh: #lv2009 top10 I learned about South Bethlehem’s Bookstore Night Club from local Tweets. Got there first week it opened. Urban Chic~

9. Obama Visits Lehigh Valley, Tweets a flutter..

President Obama visits Lehigh Valley.  Source: Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call

President Obama visits Lehigh Valley. Source: Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call

Friday December 4, the Lehigh Valley saw President Obama fly into LVIA on Air Force One, stop at Allentown Metal Works manufacturing facility, speak at Lehigh Carbon Community College, and eat at the Hamilton Family Restaurant in Allentown.  Through the eyes of the media as well as everyday tweeps and Facebook profiles, we felt like we were there on the runway, in the auditorium, and at the diner.  You could smell the eggs cooking.

8. Local People in the National Landscape Revealed

Many people are “nationally known and locally obscure”, but not when you are on Twitter or Facebook and identify in your bio you are from Bethlehem, Allentown or other Lehigh Valley cities.  You just can’t hide anymore.  Such is the case with two people we would not have heard of or even met if social media wasn’t around.  Two such people, Cindy Ratzlaff (@BrandYou) and Anne Coleman (@CookingWithAnne).

Cindy has developed the marketing and publicity campaigns for more than 150 New York Times bestselling books in her career at Rodale. She was named to the Ad Age Marketing 50 list for her blockbuster campaign launching The South Beach Diet.  After being laid off, Cindy is now a founding member of the International Social Media Association and is one of the first twenty Certified Social Media Strategists in the world.

Anne is a “mother of 7 children and wife to one man”. Her kids range in age from 2 years to 20 years.  In July 2005, she started a blog, Cooking with Anne, that began as a chronicle of her food life at home.  By January 2006, her blog won a Best of Blogs award for Best Food Blog. in November 2006, she was contacted by the Walt Disney Internet Group and asked to write for them at Family.com as Short Order Mom on their blog Cookies to Caviar.

7. Lehigh Valley Zoo Facebook group helps save zoo..

Earlier this year, a Facebook group was developed to save the Lehigh Valley Zoo.  Within a month, 2506 Facebook users joined and it even raised over $800 in a few short hours also with an online campaign on the group page. It can be found at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=43879323058.  Have a look!

6. Southside Burger Company Fire

Bethlehem Fire Dept. at Southside Burger Company fire. Source: M. Andreano (@mandreano)

Bethlehem Fire Dept. at Southside Burger Company fire. Source: M. Andreano (@mandreano)

I remember driving to St. Luke’s Hospital for an X-ray when as I was turning I saw smoke from the Southside. While in the ER, I turned to Twitter and found out the Southside Burger Company building had caught fire.  Everyday people were lined up at the gas station across the street taking pictures, texting and Tweeting.  News broke on Twitter and such faster than the typical media got a hold of it.  @MOB514, a Southside resident, was there to also capture details as they came out from the early morning sirens to the eventual demolition of the building.

5. Bethlehem Skateplaza is Saved

Over 100+ people came to City Hall in support of the Skatepark due to social media outreach.

Over 100+ people came to City Hall in support of the Skatepark due to social media outreach. Source: HomeBase 610 blog

A proposal to pull the grant funding from the Bethlehem Skateplaza was to be brought to the City Council so when Andy Po (@homebase610) found out he got on Twitter he rallied support to keep the funds in place.  the people responded and they got 100+ young residents, parents and business owners through social media who supported the skateplaza to stand by city hall in support of its completion.   The town responded, the City listened and the skateplaza will now be breaking ground early in 2010. Check out the full story as told by Homebase Skateshop owner Andy Po at http://homebase610.com/?p=3497.

4. Geo-location, Mayors and Places to be..

There is no doubt that what you are doing and what is on your mind is what made social media a focal point in 2009, but more and more it is where you are at as well.  Applications like FourSquare and GoWalla came onto the scene and integrated where you are into what you are doing.  Fully integrated into tools like Twitter and Facebook, the adoption of these tools grew.  They are now available not only on the iPhone, but on the Droid and now Blackberry as well.  As use of these tools started, automated Tweets from the applicatoin itself spread about being Mayor of all these establishments where people were going (having been there at least 2 times in 2 months and continuing to be a frequent visitor, moreso than others made you Mayor).  This created a little friendly competition, as well as satire (talk of #fivesquare, being mayor of your house, and other fictional establishments) and ridicule.   Like it or not, it is here to stay, and you will probably see more of it in 2010.

3. MusikFest

Joan Jett plays MusikFest.  Source: M. Andreano (@mandreano)

Joan Jett plays MusikFest. Source: M. Andreano (@mandreano)

MusikFest has been around since 1984 but there was so much buzz around MusikFest online this year, it was almost like you could be there while just looking at your phone.  Twitter and Facebook saw contests, reviews, musical acts, photos, and more all centered around this August event.  Concert tickets were given away, vendors were given the thumbs up (or thumbs down), “wish you were here” pictures flooded online for that whole week.  You could almost tasted the brushed on butter of AwShucks corn as you read what and where people were at MusikFest.  Even the Mullet Count hanging from Spark‘s windows were pushed out to the Twitter users who weren’t there in person to keep track of it.

2. Local Businesses & Bloggers Boom

It’s one thing to talk to your friends online about what you ate for dinner, how your co-worker said something annoying.  It’s also another when you are shopping and the sales people just won’t leave you alone.  Many folks don’t wanna constantly hear about your latest special, or limited quantities, or how you need this NOW.. and buy, buy, buy, buy, blah, blah, blah.  Well, we did see a lot of that online this year, the past years and you will continue to see it in the future, sorry folks!  However, some folks do it right by engaging social media to promote and advertise their business but do it tactfully and by considering the human factor of it all.  They are involved in the community and establish themselves as business leaders and it made their message stick a lot better.  Many local consumers advocate “#buylocal” and Twitter and Facebook had the pick of the litter to choose from.  Businesses like Hosfeld Insurance (@HOSFELDInsuranc) and Black Forest Deli (@BlackForestDeli) are people we got to know online not just for their businesses but as people too.   The rumor is that the hottest sandwich in the second half of 2009 at Black Forest Deli was the MOB, named after Michele of Bethlehem (@MOB514) on Twitter.  What is on a MOB?  It’s a triple decker sandwich with turkey, crispy bacon, avocado, honey mustard, tomatoes and lettuce.  Am I making you hungry?

The growth of blogging locally also came into the fold in 2009.  Three that really took advantage of social media were Lehigh Valley with Love (@LVwithLove) [may be NSFW], LV Scene (@lvscene) and the newest blog The El Vee (@theelvee).  If you haven’t already, check them out.

1. Tweetups for Community and Charity

The @LVTweetup received the most votes by the Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn community in our poll.  There were 8 Tweetups this past year in the Lehigh Valley.   April 13, 2009 was the first one at Allentown Brew Works.  We gave away T-shirts to the 30-some folks that came out that night and took a chance.  Since then there have been 8 total in Easton, Bethlehem, and Orefield.  Many business sponsors kicked in money, food and more, and we gave away t-shirts, beer mugs, golf balls, and sweatshirts throughout the year.  At our December Tweetup at Bethlehem Brew Works, we had over 100 attendees (see our Twitter list for who came), collected a large box of toys for Toys for Tots, and over 7 boxes of canned goods for the Trinitiy Soup Kitchen all in the holiday spirit.  Our silent auction raised almost $400 total for these two charities as well as some for the Lehigh Valley Zoo.

Many friendships and business networking opportunities blossomed as an outcome of these events.  Tim Fortner (@timshady) mentioned “I think of all of the off-line friendships that have been created from on-line introductions.  I’ve meet some pretty cool people that I talk on the phone with and actually hang out with.  It’s easy because you can meet people with common interests.”

Have a safe and prosperous new year.  See you online in 2010!  Follow us on Twitter and be a fan of our Facebook page.

The New Facebook: Deal with it.

Recently, I caught some slack for posting a link on Facebook about a poll I came across on Twitter stating that 94% of users did not like the new Facebook design. I know – a bit recursive, but bear with me. The fact of the matter is that Facebook is merely adapting with the times to keep with the trends of a timeline of information. Checking Facebook throughout the day with the previous design, while a bit better organized, only gave you more of a snapshot of your friend universe. Facebook is making a status update (which they renamed to “What’s on your mind” to be a richer version of “What are you doing?” of course. The newer design gives you more trending and insight into activities and information shared on the site over the past hours or even days. It is easier to integrate media into your status updates as well. Imagine Twitter only giving you the most recent tweet for those you follow. Facebook had no choice but to move with the times. Look at how Amazon has changed its design over the years to adapt to a broader market, recommendation based purchasing opportunities, and a more interactive interface with reviews, etc. Facebook is doing the same thing.

Search the web, you’ll find it’s easier for people to complain than it is to take the time to praise something. When Facebook first migrated to the new design, I did complain a bit too, but after about 30 minutes, I got over it, moved on, and embraced Facebook and my oodles of friends on it. See you out there.