What 8 Years on Twitter has Taught Me

yoda 8th birthday

Today is my birthday. My Twitter birthday that is.

In 8 years, I have learned a few lessons. There are also a few facts I thought I would share.

I have made many friends because of Twitter. Some are the tops in their fields. Twitter broke walls and allowed you to start conversations with anyone. Over the years I have had great conversations and even forged friendships with some pretty amazing people. I have even gotten work because of Twitter. I am afraid to start a list as the list is rather long now.

In 8 years I have tweeted over 88,000 times on topics as varied as personal finance, to recipes, to world events.

I have hosted or moderated hundreds of Twitter chats and Twitter parties.  I started the first personal finance chat in Canada Those parties produced over a billion social media impressions.

The two apps I helped launch on Twitter both grew rapidly. The second one, even got four dragons from Dragons Den wanting a deal partially because of the digital strategy and rapid growth of the app.

I now have a job I love because of Twitter.

So what has all of this taught me?

Seek knowledge. If you don’t understand a new platform, a new way to share your voice learn.

Share. Share great content.

Start conversations. Don’t just share content, have real conversations. Ask questions and listen.

Behind every handle is a real person. Treat them well.

Now over on Twitter this week, I am giving away a $100 gift card. All you have to do is tweet me a lesson I have taught you before Friday, March 24th at 8pm EST. My twitter handle if you need a reminder is @commoncentsmom.





To tweet or Not to Tweet That is the Question


Last night as the news was rolling in about the tragic events in Paris last night, again the question for those of us who live and breathe in the online world and act on behalf of brands was,” Do I Tweet or don’t I”?

It becomes a question, do I stop doing business for half a day, a full day, based on events that are happening around the globe. Too often I seen some people saying stop advertising, stop tweeting, stop sharing online. My question is this. Who wins if we do?

Yes, it’s very important to know what is going on. Even to acknowledge it. I know for me last night when I first heard the news about Paris, I stopped and said a prayer. That is something I can do. I can also acknowledge the tragedy but no I need to stop earning a living? No.

The only time I can remember businesses closing in another city after an attack anywhere in the globe was on 911. Otherwise, locally things are closed and others show support with prayers, love, concern and financial donations.

Business across the globe do not need to close, ads don’t need to stop but we can share support, love and acknowledge but then we need to get back to work. Why? By going on with our day, the terrorist does not win. There is a certain strength by going on with our day.

As well how do we stop, or how do we decide which events we will stop for? Do we stop for something that hits our city, our province, our country, or when a major event happens anywhere? If we were to stop for one should we stop for them all? It seems at least once a week an attack happens somewhere. A tragedy somewhere. A cause that can be taken up.

My choice these days is to tweet. I acknowledge and then I get back to work.I know I can still show my support, love, prayers even while I am sharing brand messaging. I can still care about what is going on in the world without needing to stop earning a living. I can still give a voice to the voiceless among the array of tweets.

Let us  always to be kind and generous online, to show mercy and love. To tweet or not to tweet is a personal choice, a brand choice. In my opinion I say tweet, acknowledge and learn along the way and whatever a brand or person decides to do that is okay. We are all here together so lets be kind, we can express our support in so many little and big ways without giving up doing business where were are.

Let me know your opinion, I would really like to know. Do you tweet or not tweet.


The Girl Scouts Social Media Fail

Girl Scout Cookies © by Merelymel13

Last night I read a post on Steam Feed that outraged me, as a mother, a scouter( I was a girl guide ,the mom to a brownie, and 2 scouts, my mom was a Brown Owl,and my grandmother a early Guiding leader) and as some who works in the digital world every day.

If you have not read this post from Robert Caruso you need to especially if you have ever had a child involved in the international scouting movement. I believe the tweets from the Girl scout stream would have Juliette Gordon Low turning over in her grave. She is the woman who founded the scouting movement in the United States after meeting Sir Baden Powell in England.

First of all a young scouter Emma thought outside the box, and thought of others namely the American soldier (by the way my daughter’s big brother Seth serves in the US military) who might be lonely so she wanted to send them cookies to remind them they were cared about. Great cause right? According to the Girl Scouts Twitter Account they originally thought so too but then they decided the good cause should not be supported because the scout would not be collecting payment in person but would be accepting digital payment.

So they tweeted to Emma, and told her her great idea could not go forward.

What a way to correct a child. A scout. With a tweet. Not a call to her mom. But to correct a child in a public forum. I think Juliette, who encouraged independent thought and leadership who would be shaking as would Sir Baden Powell.

Then there is their reasoning, a digital sale does not teach a child effective communication skills which is paramount to the cookie sale process. This mom calls Hogwash! As a corded Girl Guide in Canada and the step mom and mom of kids who have all been involved in the scouting movement digital communication is just as important in today’s job market as the ability to sell door to door on in a location at a local mall. In today’s society we need to be creating opportunities for children to learn skills that lead to leadership both offline and online.

Now here is another kicker the Girl Scouts in the US have a site called Little Brownie Bakers and I will quote the site here:

Setting high troop goals, building leadership skills, serving the community — these are some of the key learning goals of the Cookie Activity. By helping your Girl Scout learn to set and achieve goals, you are fostering a lifelong skill.”

Emma was doing just this..she was learning a skill that will carry her far, and serving the community at the same time.

As for not accepting a payment unless done in person, well that would mean long distance relatives could not even support their favorite scouters. Grandparents that live far away and want to receive a box of cookies couldn’t. As for a scouter being present for every sale, then no more would we ever see a box of cookies at work. All of this is done on a daily basis.

Dear Girl Scouts I would really rethink your policy.

Dear Emma as a Scouter I am so proud of you and your efforts, lets find a way to get the troops some cookies.

Now on Twitter there is a movement to get Oreo behind the  Cookies for the Troops movement so tweet them if you think cookies for the troops is a good idea, I think it would be a sweet reminder of home.



Making a List, Checking It Twice

Shopping list © by Ex-Smith


I am making a list and yes I will be checking it twice.

As the host of the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter I really want to know what you think.

First I want to know does the 7-8pm EST work for you on Wednesday nights?

Second what topics do you want to talk about in the year ahead? What is important to you?

When it comes to having money conversations what has you stumped? or what do you want to know?

I hope to invite people much smarter than me into the conversation each week and I have truly appreciated all who participated this fall.

So what do you want to see in the new year? I will make my list and check it twice. Don’t be afraid to ask, you may have that conversation that you need.

How To Participate in a Twitter Chat

Twitter Tree © by pandemia

If you have been around twitter awhile you know what a hashtag is ( if not the # symbol followed by words or letters that link tweets from different individuals) it is pretty easy to get involved in twitter chats and twitter parties. Lots want to know how to participate in a twitter party or a twitter chat.

A Twitter Chat is when a group of people talk on Twitter using the same hashtag to link it all together.I recently started the #cdnmoney chat and to join the conversation, you Tweet what you want and add #cdnmoney.to the end of it. It is a great way to network, learn and share what you know. My purpose with this chat is to have Canadians talking money. Now there are hundereds of other chats that do go on each week and the same rules basically apply.

To Follow the Chat – Please do not use the Twitter interface itself.Twitter chats can get very busy and generate hundreds if not thousands of tweets so use an interface such as Twubs .  You can also use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, just make a separate column to follow the conversation.

Get a feel for the conversation. You can do so by lurking just reading what others are tweeting and when you are ready just jump into the conversation.

Use Replies Generously – Things go quite quickly  in a Twitter Chat, and if someone posts something you want to comment on, they may not notice your post. Hence, you need to use the @ symbol in spades. This puts your reply in the person’s mentions bar, making it easier for them to reply.

If you are participating in a Twitter Party there will often be an RSVP for prizing purposes. Make sure you rsvp if you want to win a prize. Most of my #cdnmoney chats do not offer prizing. They are just great conversation and the sharing of tips, tricks and what is working or not working. It is the sharing of community.

There are a few general rules you should follow when in a twitter chat or party. The biggest rule is Don’t spam your blog/website – Now if you have just written a post on topic to the conversation going on, or have a tool that could be useful please do share those links.

Otherwise, just use good old fashioned common sense. Be polite, share, and enjoy. Now I really do hope I see you as we talk money on Tuesdays evenings from 7 to 8 pm EST on Twitter. We use the hashtag #cdnmoney. 

Spheres of Influence and Lists

Yesterday  Zach Bussey posted a list of the 150 Toronto Top Twitter Influencers.  When I first saw this list several thoughts came to mind.

First, was oh no not another list. Whenver I see a list thoughts come to mind like who really decides who is on the list. This list is supposed to be based to Klout scores. So it is supposed to be objective.  If you don’t know Klout does-it measures your influence on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook, and gives you a score. I happen to think there method of giving scores is a little off but that is my opinion, after all it is simply one measure and in no way shows a person’s value or real clout.

I have a Klout score of 64 today. That puts me in the top 50 influencers in the city. I am in the top 1/3 of Zach’s list. But there is a huge problem with the list. It is missing several influencers. All who have major Klout scores and clout in real life.

Does this list matter? No in reality it does not. Unless you want something to talk about or want to compare yourself to others. This list could of also been broken down into niches. Many who are on the list work in social media so one would hope by now they know how to play the number games. Several bloggers – especially Mom Bloggers were left off the list. According to Zach’s list I would be in the top 10 of Mom bloggers in the Toronto.  I know I am not. I would also be the number 1 Muslim Twitter personality in the GTA. I know neither of those things are true. I am good just not quite that  good yet. Klout you see measures just part of the picture. It does not measure the whole picture so we really need to take this list with a grain of salt.

Who’s missing from the list? Who has Klout and clout, especially with me. They influence what I read, and talk about and I have learned much from each of the 21 that should of been on the list. Many over my years on Twitter have become personal friends meaning for me there influence matters just a we bit more.They are those that really have an impact and can move me to act, share, talk about.

1. @unmarketing (pictured when I finally met him after Tweeting with him for 2 years). Scott has the highest Klout I can find in the GTA. Scott started on Twitter not as a brand but as a listener and conversationalist.His score is 81 today. (*I have been told that Scott doesn’t qualify for the list because he is a celebrity-meaning he has a verified account with Twitter-although I think it is important to note he does have the highest klout score I can find in the GTA)

2. @ThatEricAlper- Eric Alper leads those I listen to for music tweets and job leads. His score is 73.

3. @YummyMummyClub– Erica leads the great Mom Bloggers that make up the Yummy Mummy Club. Her tweets are all her own. She is a great gatherer of women who rock this city.Her score is 70.

4. @Journeywoman. Evelyn is the CEO of largest online travel resource for women. Her tweets are mostly about travel. Her score is 68.

5.@herbadmother – Catherine is a great Mom blogger who know social media and blogging. I have listened to Catherine for 5 years now. Her score is 67.Yes that means I listened to Catherine before Twitter.

6. @WonderMoms_CA– I have really gotten to know Tamara the last few months as we have met up at events. She is a sweetheart who happens to own a website. Her score is 67.

7. @Clippo– Alexandria is another sweetheart who gives to the Mom blogging community big time showing that she cares on a regular basis. Her score is 66.

8. @ChickyMara– Mara is a great friend who I happened to sell my Blissdom Canada ticket to last year. She is also one of few people in the blogosphere who have met my daughter in person. Her score is 65.

9.@KelliDaisy– Kelli is another mom blogger who gets the social media game as well. Her score is 65.

10. @nummiesbras– Alison is another mom blogger who owns her own biz, and shares great info and insight online as well. Her score is 65.

11. @lovelaughshop– Sarah’s blog is Wall Candy. Just the name makes me want to shop with her.

All the above have higher scores then me and would knock anyone with a score of lower then 59 off Zach’s list.

Let me go on to note there are another 9 that I follow who all  live in the GTA and have Klout scores of  60 0r above.

They are @joannewallace, @moeturner, (both who have scores of 64-the same as mine), @soulwhispers, @marcyberg, @joshmatlow, @partymummy, @aurielacotta, @TeacherMomofTwo, @SandraEMartin, @ivanvector. They are all real people who tweet for themselves. I have been influenced by all of them. Each has a different niche.

Does the list matter or is it comprehensive? No it is not, nor can be as Klout does not keep a geographic locator so we who try and make lists are at the mercy of knowledge. But we all know knowledge is limited. Where I may know alot about saving money, Aspergers, IT support, and being a mom I do not know every Twitter Influencer in Toronto and either does Zach so the list will always have some biases and some who should be on the list will be left off each and every month he decides to do this.

Does any list matter? Yes and No, a list of any sort will always have biases, and there will always be people left off. I think of Globe and Mail’s list of the best Canadian Money bloggers and I think they have not shared enough options to vote for. Many good money bloggers were not on their list. Yet, It does give a blogger an idea though of where they stand in the community. It also can give those who wish to engage influencers an idea of what they can get for their dollar.

For me yes being on the list strokes the ego. Does it matter when I go to bed?No. Should it matter to you-I think not. But do let me know what you think.

31 Days and 31 Ways to Save: Use Twitter to Save

There are so many great ways to save using Twitter. I have gotten freebies, coupons, discounts and I have even won some great prizes all from Twitter and by doing so I have saved money.

Every Friday there is a hashtag called #FollowFriday. For this Friday I want to introduce you to people I follow just for there ability to help me be in the know and save.

I follow:

1. Kim Clancy otherwise @FrugalShopperCA- she always tweets great ways to save.

2. @Wisebread from Wisebread is another great person to follow to save.

3. @Motherofadeal is another great Canadian site to follow for great saving tweets.

There are a bunch more and I will tweet them out.

If you are on Twitter as well you will want to follow certain hashtags to maximize your savings. The ones I follow:  #coupon, #savings, #giveaway, #freebie all help me to save.

From Twitter alone in the last 12 months I have gotten several free coupons, gift cards from participating in contests and even a playbook from participating in a Twitter based contest.

What are some of you favorite ways to save using Twitter?

Me and Oprah

My twitter friend Erin Bury got retweeted on Twitter by Oprah this week as the OWN Network launched. I was excited for her as I remembered last year when one of my tweets to Oprah was picked up by the New York Times.  I wrote about that last year here.

Erin and I will both admit to a love affair with Oprah. Oprah has been on the air for almost my entire adult life and well most of Erin’s life. I know for me I have been a fan for years. I will be sad to see her go.

I tweeted to Erin yesterday that I almost got to be on the Oprah show after being her buzz kill on Tuesday. She suggested I blog the story so here is  the How I almost came to be on Oprah.

Well it was several years ago. I had just gone through a rather hard and bitter divorce. I ended up in a battered women’s shelter in Carlsbad, NM. That shelter was Rachel’s first home.  Well I made it through 6 months down south and well I brought my baby back home to Canada.

I had to reinvent myself. I went from being married and having 11 homes and a ranch to it being just me and her. I wrote Oprah a letter. This was back in the day when Dr Phil and his common sense approach to helping change lives was just beginning on Oprah. I really wanted to meet Dr Phil as I thought he could help me get things back on track. Little  did I know the show had me in mind for a different show. Gary Zukav ( the author of Seat of the Soul) was just about to make I think like his second or third appearance on the show. The letter I wrote Oprah ( by the way that letter was the very first I had ever written to a show of any kind) caught the eye of one of Oprah’s producers.

I got the call while at work. I had gone to work after coming back to Canada in a call center. I was working for Sitel at the time, the client I was working for at the time was a new ISP that was just launching in the US market. This conversation took place in 2000. When the producer called I was working with a customer so my manager took the call. He then came over to my desk and said you have a message: Oprah called. I looked at him and said “What?”. His reply was well you are to call her producer as soon as you can.

Well the producer and I played phone tag for the afternoon. She later called me at home that evening. We spoke for about 45 minutes about the contents of my letter and what was going on in my life. We talked about the show that she was producing with Gary. She said she would get back to me the next day. She did. They decided to go another direction. She thought I was doing awesome on my own, and suggested I read his book and watch the episode and said my letter might get read on air. It didn’t.

So that is how I almost came to be on Oprah. I have been a fan for all 25 years and I am sure will come to watch a few of the shows she has launched on her OWN Network, after all I do watch her kids Dr Oz and Dr Phil. The reality is though I would of loved to have been on her show, or even to at least sat in the audience just once but as her 25th and final season draws to a close I don’t think that is going to happen.  Unless maybe one of O’s staff is reading, could it be? Or could Dr Phil’s be reading?

Works for me: The Basics Must Knows for Twitter

wfmwbannerKRISTENA number of months ago I signed up for Twitter, at first I felt lost in an ocean of tweets..then one of my tweets was even quoted in the New York times (yea , I was one of those who welcomed Oprah to Twitter and well my tweet made the paper). Then I thought I can master this. I feel I have. Twitter works for me.

Now on Monday night here I went to Halifax Tweet Up with the #halifaxchicks. What a great bunch of women! Now some of them are newbies to twitter, didn’t know what a hashtag or a retweet are so I promised a little lesson on my blog today. So girls this post is dedicated to you! Now on Monday night why did hashtags and retweets become so important. Well the #halifaxchicks are trying to raise $10,000 to help buy new diagnostic equipment for a new state of the art breast health centre here in the Maritimes. We are participating in an event called Bust a Move. We are raising funds, havings our buns, and maybe even breaking 2 world records, we shall see.

So what are the basics for a Twitter newbie? So what is with the lingo?

First the first 5 must dos:

1. Get an avatar up,nothing says newbie more then a blank avatar..

2. Fill out the bio, tell us who you are, why we want follow you.

3.Customize your background, there are many free sites that help you do this. To name a few free ones you can use  Twitter Backgrounds, Twitbacks, and Twitter Gallery.

4. For me this was to download Tweetdeck. I know have over 1,300 followers and I follow just as many. How do I organize them. In Tweetdeck I have lists. RLF( my real life buds), Mommy Bloggers, Social Media, Frugal, Superstars, and now Halifax Chicks.

5. Tweet! and not just what you are eating or where you are at, mix it up, share a link (make sure you shorten it using one of the great shortening tools, if you are using Tweetdeck this is automatic), pass on useful info, most importantly be you.

Now what is with the important lingo and what does it mean for you and for me.

Tweeps– are people who use Twitter me and you

Hashtags– are used to keep track do of discussions, have you ever seen a tweet with a # in it?, that signifys the want for discussion. For us Halifax chicks we use #halifaxchicks. If you want to follow a hashtag conversation you can put #(the topic) into search and then follow along. I do this on tweet deck right now. For us Halifax girls the important two right now are #halifaxchicks and #bustamove. If you want your tweet to be part of the conversation, add the hashtag.

Retweets-you will often see a RT at the begining of a tweet this means some one is passing on a tweet they thought useful. If you want to do the same. They copy and paste and put RT at the begining to give proper credit. In Tweetdeck you simply click on there avatar and then the arrow and hit send.I like to retweet. If you see RT PLZ, you are being asked if you can retweet, sometimes I do and sometimes I dont.

These are the basics that have helped Twitter work for me. There is so much more too learn. Come back on Tuesday as I have decided to post a techy Tuesday post where I will talk about Social media, and other techy topics.

Now I am off to see what works elsewhere. Most important what works for We are that Family who is celebrating there 2nd year online..I am so glad they are part of my online community.

As  I mentioned Bust a Move at the beginning of this post, if you can help women in the Maritimes get a much needed state of the art Breast Diagnostic Center my personal donation page is here and I have blogged about it here.

Works for Me: Using Social Media in Ways that Matter

wfmwbannerKRISTENFor people that know me, they know I love all things media. The more social the better after all I am the social butterfly.

Now when it comes to using Social Media, I will admit I am just learning. After all if I was great at it, my little blog would have thousands of hits a day from people all looking for ways to save.

For me though using Social Media is not just about how to get your brand out there. It is not about how you can make more money, get more hits to your blog, etc, although those things are good and useful in their own right. For me Social Media is about connection and action.

I love the land that is blogs. Bloggerville as I like to call it has so many people that you could connect too and learn from but what I really love is when those connections are used for a greater good. I love when I stop by a blog and the writer not only has a story or a cool take on an issue but they are giving back to the great community. It makes my heart sing. That is what I want my blog to be.

How can you and I use Social Media on a daily basis in ways that matter?

For bloggers-

Write about things that matter! Help people, give them tools that will help them do better, be better, or simply smile. If you are blogging about charity events leave links so people can donate. One thing I love about Bloggerville people are generous not only with words but action.

For Facebookers

Visit with those on your list of friends, communicate regularly, build the the relationships you have. I know I smile every time I login and their is a message or wall post for me. These little things make my day. Share great links with your list, they will appreciate it.

For Twitters-

I have Twitter to be great for so many things. From sharing a link that will make someone smile to raising thousands of dollars in a hr for a charity. Be generous in your use of the 140 characters. Encourage other, use reply and RT often. Build up your followers, and encourage them. Follow back, it is polite. If you are particpating n an event use the hashtag for it.

For me these are the 3 that I use most. Now i know there is Stumbling, digging, and the like and these are a great way to share as well. My philosophy when using Social Media : Kindness and generosity are your keys to a happier, fruitful day and think you and I will of used our day in a way that will matter to someone else.

If you enjoyed this post, please do leave me a comment I would love to hear back from you. You can also always subscribe to my feed.

I am now off to read what is working for others!