BOOK REVIEW: Start Something That Matters

  1. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about being selected to participate in the TOMS Shoes’ “Books for Bloggers” promotion. I received two copies of TOMS’ founder, Blake Mycoskie’s, new book “Start Something That Matters.” One copy was mine to read and review, while the other was meant for me to give away. While this post is about my review, details on the giveaway can be found here.
  2. I read the bulk of “Start Something That Matters” while commuting to and from work on Chicago’s el. As I was reading, I tweeted the passages that most resonated with me…here are the quotes and context, compliments of Storify:
  3. “Increasingly, the tried-and-true tenets of success are just tried, not true.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 17, 2011 7:07:36 PM EST
  4. This quote was found in SSTM’s opening pages and its quirky word play was what inspired me to tweet out interesting passages as I came across them. Though I usually abhor puns and think they scream “GIMMICK,” I believe that Blake has truly touched on something valuable; today’s business world is long on advice, but short on originality and risk-taking. The same can’t be said for Blake himself, nor for TOMS Shoes…which should become apparent as you continue to read.
  5. “Stories are the most primitive and purest form of communication.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 21, 2011 9:08:11 AM EST
  6. Blake is big on story-telling and attributes it to TOMS’ success. Anyone can make a cool, comfortable pair of shoes…but TOMS was able to connect product with passion. Their customers feel like partners and ambassadors, all because of a compelling and inspiring story.
  7. “If you doubt your own authenticity, it will sap your passion.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 21, 2011 7:12:06 PM EST
  8. Think about your contacts in the business and/or nonprofit world. Now think about the people who personally commit to their product/mission…and think about the ones that “just” do their jobs. My guess (and Blake’s hypothesis) is that you’ll see two distinct groups emerge — one that’s passionate and successful, the other that’s ambivalent and middling.
  9. “What distinguishes the ultimate successes from the ultimate failures is what you do with them.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 22, 2011 9:04:31 AM EST
  10. Sometimes, there’s a fine line between good and bad…between pass and fail…between success and failure. Blake suggests that it’s not so much the idea that dictates a project’s success, but the drive and reactions of the person or people implementing it.
  11. “I surround myself with inspirational quotations.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters #meta
    November 22, 2011 9:12:36 AM EST
  12. Each chapter starts with an inspirational quote. I guess it’s no suprise, then, that Blake wrote a book filled with inspiring words from his own mind.
  13. “Lack of resources inspires creativity… It’s one one of the reasons @TOMS succeeded.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 22, 2011 6:35:22 PM EST
  14. One of the most compelling (and easy to replicate) parts of the TOMS story is how the company started on a shoe-string budget and found success before it was logistically ready to handle it. How did Blake avoid business disaster? By staying simple, exploring every possible cheap/free option and resisting the urge to burn capital (ahem, pets.com) simply because it was available.
  15. “Simplicity is simple. Perhaps this sounds redundant. But it’s true, and it’s important.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 23, 2011 4:12:28 PM EST
  16. ‘Nuff said.
  17. “Ur org’s next great idea may come from…the top down, bottom up or zigzagging thru the middle.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 25, 2011 4:46:01 PM EST
  18. Power to the people! Organizational hierarchy is often important, but Blake suggests that it not come at the expense of innovation. Often, the best insights can come from those employees with ears closest to the ground. Make sure you set up a system in which their observations are collected, appreciated and acted upon.
  19. “Being clear about where your donors’ money goes is the best way to build their trust.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 25, 2011 5:02:23 PM EST
  20. This is gospel to fundraisers, but cringe-inducing to many of our accounting offices. Yes, transparency requires a lot of extra effort…effort that will be rewarded tenfold by loyal, appreciative and increasingly well-educated nonprofit donors.
  21. “Compliment publicly and criticize privately, but do both directly.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 12:09:11 AM EST
  22. What a great business tip! This one has already gone into my rotation.
  23. “Incorporate giving in2 ur business model & give ur business a mission larger than ur bottom line” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 23, 2011 9:16:37 AM EST
  24. “Giving feels good. But…giving is truly good for business as well.” – @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:23:28 AM EST
  25. “When giving is incorporated into ur business model, customers become product marketing partners.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:26:19 AM EST
  26. These passages appear in different sections of the book, but I’ve united them here because the message is a common one.While not every for-profit business can or should work on TOMS’ “one for one” model, Blake (and a growing number of other business leaders) suggests that to build loyalty among customers, today’s companies need a connection to social good. You may not be able to give away a million pairs of shoes to children in third world countries, but your customers will appreciate and reward your genuine efforts to make a difference in your local community. And really, can’t every business do that? Shouldn’t every business do that?
  27. “I firmly believe that every person alive can make this world a better place.” @BlakeMycoskie #StartSomethingThatMatters
    November 26, 2011 10:45:04 AM EST
  28. Carpe diem, Blake. Carpe diem.
Advertisements

The Difference Between Charity and Philanthropy

The words charity and philanthropy are often used interchangeably, but it is the difference between the two that makes the biggest impact on the world around us.

Charity is ingrained in America’s cultural fabric – we give to charity because we feel a moral or religious calling to do so. Charity is how we show compassion for people displaced by natural disaster, or our support for victims of crime or violence. Charity is the change we leave behind in the jar to find homes for abandoned animals, or the extra dollar we contribute to fight poverty in third world countries.

Goodwill Industries is an American institution (and a former two-time employer of this blogger) that relies on charitable contributions to help support its services. And yet, its founder, the Reverend Edgar J. Helms, believed that Goodwill should be “not charity, but a chance” for people in need.

How does that chance happen? The answer is philanthropy.

Steve Gunderson, former president of the Council on Foundations, helped distinguish the difference between the two ostensibly interchangeable ideals:

Charity tends to be a short-term, emotional, immediate response, focused primarily on rescue and relief, whereas philanthropy is much more long-term, more strategic, focused on rebuilding. One of my colleagues says there is charity, which is good, and then there is problem-solving charity, which is called philanthropy, and I think that’s the distinction I have tried to make.

Whereas charity is essential to address immediate needs, philanthropy is the means by which individuals and nonprofit agencies achieve their greater missions. Philanthropy is breaking down the stereotype that an ex-offender can’t contribute to a business and society at-large. Philanthropy is building a well for a remote village in East Africa. Philanthropy is changing hearts and minds and cultures, it’s righting wrongs, it’s making the world a better place.

Charity is giving…philanthropy is doing.

Modern philanthropy paraphrases another of Reverend Helms’ favorite sayings. Charity can be a vital hand out to someone in need, but philanthropy is the hand up that allows that individual to find lasting success.

Few of us can make the kind of gift that adds a wing onto a hospital or builds a new library at our alma mater, but almost all of us can – with a little planning – be philanthropists that make a difference in some small (or large) way.

The difference between charity and philanthropy is one we can all define, if we take a little effort to make the distinction. Are you up for the challenge?

CEO Leadership Tips for Young Professionals

  1. Julie Smolyansky was the youngest ever female CEO of a publicly held firm when she assumed leadership of Lifeway Foods (NASDAQ: LWAY) in 2002. On November 16, she joined the Young Professionals of Chicago for a breakfast conversation about leadership, overcoming challenges and achieving success as a young professional.
  2. Not one to hide behind podiums, Smolyansky immediately endeared herself to the audience by making herself accessible (sorry for the poor photo quality).
  3. CEO of @lifeway_kefir, Julie Smolyansky #YPCceo http://lockerz.com/s/156663287
    November 16, 2011 8:36:09 AM EST
  4. Smolyansky was thrust into CEO position when her dad died suddenly. Stock crashed next day. “It totally pissed me off.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:50:23 AM EST
  5. Smolyansky’s father was the founder and CEO of Lifeway.  After his sudden heart attack, she was asked to fill his very big shoes. She had to simultaneously grieve AND lead — a responsibility made difficult by the fact that few people seemed to think she was capable of sustaining the company’s growth. Her anger may have provided the initial fuel, but Lifeway’s subsequent success can be attributed to rational leadership.
  6. Smolyansky on thinking outside the box: “the rules aren’t what you assume they are.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:42:16 AM EST
  7. Smolyansky: “your skill set is your skill set, but your passion & tenacity can take you anywhere.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:50:31 AM EST
  8. These two leadership quotes sum up Smolyanksy’s leadership style; she feels very strongly that her passion and daring made up for any shortcomings in her leadership resume.
  9. On company’s natural foods vision: “how you treat your body is how the world treats you.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:52:03 AM EST
  10. Smolyansky: “The core of what we’re doing is healing the world through food.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:54:14 AM EST
  11. “It’s good business to find ways to help society.” Nice that @juliesmolyansky knows giving back is about more than tax write-offs #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 9:10:29 AM EST
  12. “The next generation of people & companies bears the responsibility to actively make the world better.” @juliesmolyansky #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 9:01:57 AM EST
  13. Smolyansky frequently peppered her advice with words like “karma” and “doing the right thing.” She expressed her obligations not only to stockholders and consumers, but to spread the gospel about healthy, sustainable and local foods. More on Lifeway’s corporate social responsibility
  14. Smolyansky: “It’s up to every [young] professional to find their passion and make it their career.” #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:55:15 AM EST
  15. “There’s a leadership gap in the modern business world. Young professionals need to step up to the challenge.” – @JulieSmolyansky #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 8:59:54 AM EST
  16. Perhaps she was just telling the room full of 20- and 30-somethings what they wanted to hear, but Smolyansky urged her audience to step up to leadership, rather than wait for the opportunity to be handed to them.
  17. “If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. We’ve never been comfortable.” @juliesmolyansky #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 9:15:23 AM EST
  18. A great leadership mantra. Smolyansky implored her audience to do what she asks her employees to do — experiment outside their comfort zones to achieve maximum success.
  19. “The future of corporate social responsibility isn’t cash donations…it’s building business models around doing good.” – Smolyansky #YPCceo
    November 16, 2011 9:24:06 AM EST
  20. When asked about Lifeway’s philanthropy, Smolyansky said she thinks the future isn’t in a conventional grants model. She is fascinated by micro finance and seems focused on social entrepreneurship more than old-school charity.
  21. *****

After the event, Smolyansky and I exchanged emails and I asked her for a few closing words for young professionals (since my live Tweets ended abruptly). She was kind enough to humor my request, so I’ll let her words serve as a conclusion:

If you have any doubt about your abilities to lead, to contribute…let them wash over you now and get on with it. We don’t have time. The time is now. We need you to step up, challenge yourself, innovate, be who you were meant to be. Join a movement you believe in or create your own. Just do it. The world is rooting for you.
x
Pretty inspiring stuff, no?

Secret Strategies to Maximize Fundraising Event Revenue

  1. On November 15, Shanon Doolittle (of the Group Health Foundation) hosted a fundraising event webinar as part of the National Fundraising Event Series. When I read the webinar teaser, signing up was a no-brainer:
  2. In this new economy, event fundraisers have to work even harder to sustain or grow their event revenue. But what if instead of working harder, you had the tools to work
    smarter? By focusing on activities that will drive event revenue, you’ll
    maximize your impact to raise more money for your cause. This webinar will spill
    the beans on specific techniques that can help you efficiently achieve better
    financial results. From audience development to auction procurement, you will
    learn new strategies for helping your nonprofit maximize its event revenue and
    other best practices are now trending in our industry.

  3. And guess what? The session was even more valuable than I imagined it would be!

  4. “Which revenue bucket makes you want to scream into a pillow at night?” – this is how I know this webinar is for me @sldoolittle #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:44 PM EST
  5. Our hostess with the mostess, Shanon Doolittle, started the webinar by asking about event fundraisers’ most common frustrations. Clearly, she “gets” it.
  6. Trouble securing event sponsors? Figure out the month when their funding decisions are made. Solicit on their schedule, not yours. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:16:24 PM EST
  7. NPO event sponsorship: get in touch w/ prospect and ASK when they make funding decisions- plan accordingly #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:18:02 PM EST
  8. Often, our pitches are good enough to warrant funding. But if the corporate prospect makes funding decisions in March, the world’s greatest ask won’t work if it’s delivered in December. How do you know when your prospect makes a funding decision? Shanon says it’s not complicated…just ask!
  9. Create entry-level (lower $) sponsorship opportunities. Opens door for new sponsors at accessible investment amounts. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:19:08 PM EST
  10. event sponsorship is like dating. don’t ask them to marry you on the first date. ease in and provide entry level sponsorship opps #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:26 PM EST
  11. An idea so simple you’d be amazed how many people miss it. Not every sponsor can be a platinum one; create an entry-level opportunity and you’ll get more sponsors, increased revenue and better relationships!
  12. Table sales: create a committee and gamify/incentivize the process. Competition breeds success! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:20:45 PM EST
  13. NPO event table sales: top salesperson from ur org who sold most tables- give em gift, let em choose where they wanna sit etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:21:26 PM EST
  14. Selling tables can be a challenge, but Shanon suggests creating a committee to focus only on table sales. Offering those volunteers an incentive is a great way to get the best results.
  15. NPO event table sales: offer smaller size tables 4 those who can’t afford full table. get em in door & next yr will be easier #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:15 PM EST
  16. Don’t just offer tables of 10/12. Offer a small table option too…you’ll fill the room easier! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:22:17 PM EST
  17. Some people just can’t afford and/or can’t fill your standard 10- or 12-person table. Sell a half table, says Shanon. Part of an event fundraisers’ job is to reduce opportunities for prospects to say no!
  18. NPO event ticket sales: offer discounted prices 4 young ppl. and YES- this totally works!!!!! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:23:57 PM EST
  19. Many organizations are trying to reach the young professional demo. If you want to capitalize on their energy and networks, why not offer 20- and 30-somethings a discount to your event?
  20. use your invitation to share your story. make an emotional impact. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:33 PM EST
  21. NPO event invitation: treat it like direct mail- tell ur orgs story!!! if some1 cant go 2 event- invitation should make em wanna GIVE #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:25:44 PM EST
  22. Love this. “Treat your event invitation like your direct mail.” Another great opportunity to tell your organization’s story. #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 2:27:11 PM EST
  23. Event invitations are often the most boring mail we receive. Why not design them with your marketing eye? Doing so can only help drive event revenue AND brand awareness. If you already do direct mail, you should have an idea for what works and what doesn’t.
  24. NPO event invitation: include matching gift info #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:26:29 PM EST
  25. Include matching gift information on your invitations. You’re wasting an opportunity if you don’t include the option. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:26:49 PM EST
  26. It logically follows that if you start treating your invitations like direct mail, you should also include matching gift information (like you do in your direct mail pieces). Different donors will want to give in different ways; make sure you’re opening up every possible avenue.
  27. NPO event raffle: u can pre-sell tickets b/c person doesn’t need 2 be at event to join raffle. helps build buzz 4 event #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:28:09 PM EST
  28. Offer multiple raffle items that people can choose from! #nfe11 @sldoolittle
    November 15, 2011 2:29:29 PM EST
  29. Shanon’s charity raffle tips include pre-selling to ensure you maximize revenue from people who can’t attend your event. Also, create multiple prize packages/buckets so people can choose which prizes they’re eligible to win.
  30. If you’re doing a charity auction, use a professional auctioneer. Don’t let a volunteer do it…you’ll leave money on the table. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:03 PM EST
  31. NPO event auction: limit number of items; use professional auctioneer- u may be leaving $$ on table. they know how 2 get more bids #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:33:10 PM EST
  32. While your Board chair may think he can run your auction, a professional auctioneer will instinctively know how to maximize the bids for each item…and keep the event from devolving into chaos.
  33. Doing a “raise the paddle” event? Pre-solicit starting donations. The worst thing you can do is get ZERO bidders on items. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:34:13 PM EST
  34. It looks really bad if you can’t get anyone to make a starting bid. Talk to your major donors/leaders prior to the event and get them to agree to start off the bidding at a comfortable level. In most cases, other bidders will follow.
  35. use #donation cards to capture your quiet donors at the end. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:37:08 PM EST
  36. Don’t forget to put a donation card on the table. Not everyone wins the auction/buys raffle tix. Create another donation opportunity! #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:36:04 PM EST
  37. I love this idea of the “quiet donor.” Putting a donor card at every seat ensures that EVERY guest has one more opportunity to make a gift.
  38. Post NPO event: send event summary as quickly as possible after event, could be titled: Join us at our Virtual Table w/ donate button #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:39:59 PM EST
  39. ask non-attendees to join you at a post-event “virtual table” … and yes, follow-up with an ask. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:06 PM EST
  40. After your event, email an event summary to both attendees and non-attendees and feature the DONATE button. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:13 PM EST
  41. Post NPO event: u CAN make an ask after event, send e-appeal 2 ppl who didn’t RSVP or come- let em know ur org still needs their help #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:40:57 PM EST
  42. After your event, you should STILL be asking for donations (from both attendees and non-attendees). Shanon invites people to join a “virtual table” at which they get an event recap, see pictures/video and hear another call to action (the ask).
  43. Let your event dictate the technology you use; don’t let “cool” technology drive your event decisions. #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:49:56 PM EST
  44. There are a lot of exciting tech toys available to event fundraisers. Make sure you’re using the tools that make the most sense for your org and event…not the ones that are the shiniest.
  45. NPO event sponsorship: RESEARCH UR PROSPECTS!!!!!! if u cold call, let biz know u understand what they do, engage etc #nfe11
    November 15, 2011 2:58:59 PM EST
  46. No one likes cold calling (or being cold called). But you stand the greatest chance of success if you let corporate prospects know that you understand what they do and why they do it. Research their philanthropic agendas thoroughly before you ask them to contribute.
  47. You rock my world. Thanks for live tweeting my little webinar, @fundraisinisfun @matthewsm1th @jesstaback @mackenzietl @kantifaeff! #NFE11
    November 15, 2011 5:11:52 PM EST
  48. No, Shanon, you rock OUR worlds.
  49. I’m hoping someone is going to storify @SLDoolittle & #nfe11 awesome info! Event fundraisers need this info in the playbook!
    November 15, 2011 2:42:21 PM EST
  50. Done and done! 🙂

5 (More) Fun Ways to Celebrate National Philanthropy Day

November 15 has been declared National Philanthropy Day – a day meant to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities and our world. My friend, Nathan Hand, posted 10 fun ways to celebrate NPD on his blog. It was a great list…but I think he could have gone even further.

So without further ado, here are five more ways you can celebrate National Philanthropy Day:

  1. Watch the National Philanthropy Day official video…and share it across your social networks– ready to be inspired? Watch this three minute video:
  2. Follow the high-level conversation on Twitter – all day, the White House is convening a forum on nonprofit leadership. Though closed to the public, this event – featuring discussions led by White House officials and business and nonprofit leaders – will be Live Tweeted at the hashtag #NPlead.
  3. Research and recognize philanthropy’s all-stars – the Association of Fundraising professionals today released the names of its 2012 Awards for Philanthropy winners. These amazing people and organizations deserve to be publicly lauded!
  4. Talk about philanthropy – our personal and professional lives – while often fulfilling – are a constant drain on our energy and attention. Maybe we can’t always afford to think and act philanthropically, but for one day, we can talk about it. Mention philanthropy in your next conversation…chances are, you can be an inspiration!
  5. Blog about National Philanthropy Day – see what I did there? Let’s all keep spreading the word!

Have any more celebratory ideas? Post a reply below!

Start Something that Matters…and Win a Free Book!

This blog is just over a month old, so it’s high time that I give something back to my tens of loyal readers. And what better for a social media/philanthropy blog than a philanthropy-themed contest promoted via social media?

Let’s back up a few steps. Yesterday, I was thrilled to get an email from one of my favorite for-profit companies, TOMS Shoes:

I was fortunate enough to hear TOMS founder and Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie speak at the 2011 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference and was so inspired that I bought a pair of TOMS that night (I even wore them during my wedding two months later!).

Photo via Dawn E. Roscoe Wedding Photography (that's me and my TOMS on the right)

So now you’re probably saying, “Enough about you…didn’t you say something about a contest?” Fair enough. As part of the Books for Bloggers program, I will be giving away one copy of Blake’s book, “Start Something that Matters.” Here’s how you can win:

I want to hear how you’ve done something that matters – something in your community, regionally, nationally, globally, or even at a one-on-one level. The winner won’t be selected because of the number of people he or she influenced, but rather by the originality of his or her inspiration. Frankly, you could have even been unsuccessful in your efforts…results don’t matter as much as passion.

Enter this contest by posting a synopsis of how did something that matters in the comments section below (note: your candidacy will be given a boost if you can document your efforts). While I’d love to hear entries via the blog’s Facebook page and/or through Twitter, only those entries submitted as a comment on this post will be considered. I reserve the right to subjectively choose the winner (please be prepared to share your real name and mailing address if you win). This contest will end on December 31, 2011.

“Start Something that Matters” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and most everywhere books are sold. No retailer compensates me for referrals, so I’ll let you find the links on your own. Good luck!

Sharing Information or Shameless Self-Promotion?

Maybe it’s a generational thing, as Gen Xers were told from an early age that we were special, our thoughts unique and we could grow up be anything we wanted. Maybe it’s a technology thing, as the prevalence of social media mediums has given all of us opportunity and impunity to broadcast our most mundane opinions. And maybe it’s just a me thing – maybe I’m just self-absorbed and obsessed with tools that let me focus on my favorite subject (hint: he’s got blond hair, blue eyes and wears a smirk like nobody’s business).

Whatever the explanation, there is no arguing the fact that our online interactions have become increasingly bombarded with self-promotion…and really, why shouldn’t I fall in line with the masses? Today I’d like to share with you two tech tools that I will be using to communicate both my ideas and “matthewsm1th” brand.

The first is paper.li – billed as a content curation service that enables people to publish online newspapers based on topics they like. I’ve seen various “Dailies” on my Twitter feed and decided to create one of my own. For all your philanthropy, social media, nonprofit communication and related reading, I encourage you to check out the matthewsm1th.com Daily. This electronic newspaper will update each day, so bookmark it and return regularly.

For some, my Daily may be a bit broad. I have limited control over what the algorithm selects and have neither the time nor inclination to read every article published. Clearly, I can’t exactly expect anyone else to do so. That’s why I’m super excited about Twylah – a site that catalogs all my Tweets and organizes them (by topic and hashtag) into a sleek newsletter format. The result is something that, at first blush, resembles my paper.li Daily. Upon further review, however, you will notice that my Twylah page contains only the content I intentionally pushed to my Twitter followers. Still in beta testing, this tool provides a sleek way to organize and monitor content, while “showing the world who you are and what you’re about at a glance.”

Again, it’s entirely possible that these sites appeal to me simply for their power to broadcast my thoughts, inspiration and smiling face all over the interwebs…but it’s also possible that there may be some genuine value contained within. Check out my Daily and my Twylah and tell me what you think!

Is it Ever OK to Share your Foursquare Check-in on Twitter?

Yesterday I posted a rather lengthy diatribe about the over-sharing of foursquare check-ins across social media networks. My point was that there is no reason to cross-share a majority of 4sq check-ins on Twitter or Facebook. In fact, I think that most of the time, doing so is both rude and redundant.

And yet, there is a time and place for sharing your foursquare activity on other networks. Here are three examples of occasions in which you should feel free to share your check-ins across multiple social media platforms:

  1. You’re at a conference, class or event – yes, apps like Sonar will help you find and meet other attendees, but if your network may have a legitimate curiosity about where you are and why you’re there, I say share away.
  2. You’re somewhere relevant with someone relevant – you don’t have to be doing something interesting to warrant a 4sq check-in, but we’ve already covered why those activities need not be shared. Do something WITH someone interesting, however, and almost any mundane activity becomes pertinent for others as well.
  3. There’s swag at stake – many businesses give perks to customers who check-in on foursquare; often, you simply have to show your phone to a staff member and the freebie is yours. However, some businesses demand to see that you pushed your check-in to your Twitter or Facebook feeds. Though your friends may suffer from your oversharitis, anything goes if it nets you a free appetizer.

That’s it. Your home, office and/or favorite coffee shop – lambasted yesterday for stupidity of shared check-ins – may even apply. Just use your head, a sense of decency and remember that your social media activity should always be personal, never automatic and as relevant as possible to people not walking in your shoes.

Because otherwise, what’s the point?

Stop (Over) Sharing Your (Stupid) Foursquare Check-ins

Twitter is the source for a large majority of my blogging inspiration. That’s why I want to draw your attention to a Tweet from one of the most brilliant and handsome people communicating 140 characters at a time:

I told you he was good.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Foursquare. Hell, I even use Foursquare (to excess). I simply don’t understand why people feel the need to share their check-ins across multiple social media outlets. I’m so fired up about this that I feel the need to explain how you may be using Foursquare incorrectly…and how to change your evil ways.

We all know them when we see them, but I’ve taken the liberty of listing the virtual world’s three most over-shared, annoying and pointless Foursquare check-ins:

  1. Your office – yeah, I know where I can find you during normal work hours – it’s printed on your business card. Unless your employer uses Foursquare in lieu of a time clock, spare us the update. It’s interesting to see when John and Jane Q. Public come walking in your business’s door; it’s pointless when Ted from Accounting shares his cigarette break comings and goings.
  2. Starbucks – got a craving for a half-caff nonfat venti cappuccino? No one cares. Your daily errands may help build your Foursquare score and clout with businesses, but who’s so arrogant as to think their contacts care? If your check-in is all about you, best keep it to yourself.
  3. Your house – how desperate are people to “game” the Foursquare system that they create a location for their homes and check in every time they walk through their front doors? Before Foursquare recently changed their privacy settings for residences, I was fond of checking into obvious “home” locations and posting statuses like “going through the underwear drawer” or “nice Bieber memorabilia!” What can I say? I’m a class act.

Perhaps you think I’m missing the point about Foursquare. Sharing check-ins is a great way to build commonality across networks, meet new friends and learn what’s happening to contacts in real-time. Here’s the thing: I’m not missing it. I get it completely. You can utilize Foursquare perfectly and still not be an annoying, over-sharing attention whore.

“But,” you whine, “if I’m not sharing my Foursquare check-in on Twitter, how will anyone know where I’ve been?” That question deserves a detailed answer, one that you can provide by asking yourself the following:

  • Is there any reason someone would WANT to know about this check-in?
  • Am I connected on Foursquare to the people whose knowledge of my check-in I so desperately care about? Why or why not?
  • How will people find out about something important if I don’t share it?

If no one has a reason to care, it should be pretty clear that your check-in doesn’t need to be shared. If you believe they may care, invite them to connect with you on Foursquare. That way, every one of your check-ins can be accessed without overwhelming all of your connections’ timelines. If they don’t choose to connect with you, they’ve told you they don’t care.

The last question should steer you in what I believe is the direction best suited for location-based social media. You can still build your network through shared experiences – amongst friends and random strangers alike – without pushing pointless updates across platforms. I do so with Sonar – a mobile application that uncovers the hidden connections shared with nearby people. Linked to my Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, Sonar tells me when I’ve checked into the same location as another contact…or when I’ve checked in to the same place as someone I may/could/should know (“Jane has also checked into Whole Foods. You share two Twitter connections. View her profile here”). Best of all, Sonar runs unobtrusively in the background of my iPhone and pushes me relevant notifications without bothering anyone else (the Android app is on the way).

Isn’t this a much better option than the endless amounts of location-based bait dropped in the faint hopes of catching new connections? Why, in a world of Sonar (and similar apps), are people still sharing insignificant check-ins across multiple platforms? If ignorance was the excuse, I hope you’ll reform your bad habits. If you have another reason, for the love of God, please share it in the comments section on this post.

Just don’t post your rants on Twitter. My feed is already crammed with worthlessness.

Coming tomorrow – proof that I’m a hypocrite: the Foursquare check-ins I approve of sharing across social media networks.