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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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March 2014

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February 2013

Sunday March 23, 2014 | 08:00 AM

There have been loads of third-party studies, and even more written, about what makes a "successful tweet." Finally, Twitter has conducted a study of their own to determine which elements in a tweet actually garnered more engagement. Working on the premise that each Tweet represents an opportunity to show your voice and strengthen your relationship with your followers, Twitter looked at more than 2 million tweets from verified accounts in the US. The data was then broken into segments like news, TV, sports, music and government to show what worked in each sector.

Well, it's about time. I've been waiting for this forever.

As you might imagine, there are quite a few factors that might affect the level of engagement of a verified user's tweets. According to Twitter, as a starting point they looked for for tweets with specific, measurable features. These are the “hard features” of Twitter:

- photos

Friday March 21, 2014 | 07:00 AM

We all have social media "friends" we'd rather avoid running into in real life. In fact, I'm sure for many people I am that friend. Well, your problems have just been solved. There is now an app that will help you avoid these painful encounters.

Cloak is a new antisocial networking app that alerts you if any of your social network connections are in the vicinity, so you can avoid them. The app pulls in location information from your social networks to show you where friends are so you can avoid accidentally bumping into people you don't want to see. Specifically, Cloak rounds up users' Foursquare and Instagram geolocation data. According to its App Store page, the company even describes it as an "incognito mode for real life" — a nod to Google Chrome browser's hidden search function.

In Cloak, photos of friends are displayed on a map relative to the user's location. Those that are deemed the most undesirable are "flagged" -- that is, alerts will be sent to users' phone when they're nearby -- presumably helping to avoid them forever.

Whether a block away or two miles away, Cloak users can also dictate the app to notify them of the all their friends' -- or just the undesirables' -- locations at a range of distances, allowing them to get a running head start. CBS News

Wednesday March 19, 2014 | 08:00 AM

I recently decided to unplug completely from social media. As a heavy user of social media, when I made this decision I think it shocked (and concerned) everyone I knew, including myself. I initially committed to one week, but that turned into two. It was quite an experience and I'm here to tell you about it.

I should note that when I made this decision the circumstances of my life were not exactly business as usual. I had some personal stuff going on and needed to take some time away from the daily grind. However, this has certainly happened before and I had never made the decision to back away completely from social media. I have been forced away at times due to things like being in locations without the Internet (so annoying) or being in the hospital (even more annoying), but I can count the number of times I've voluntarily completely unplugged on no hands. Because it simply has never happened. Not for more than 24 hours anyway.

So, let me get started. The first two days were really quite nice. I got to do things like read actual books, something I used to love to do, and watch TV without having to use the "second screen" at the same time. I was also able to really focus on the personal stuff that I mentioned I had going on. Really focus. That part was almost painful.

Tuesday March 18, 2014 | 08:11 AM

I'm the type of person who can easily take on the moods of my friends. Call it empathetic. Or, call it stupid. Call it whatever you like and then call me and tell me about it. Anyway, as it turns out, many of us are that way when it comes to social media. None of you will admit it, but it's true. A very intellectual study tells us so.

New research from the University of California, San Diego, has found that feelings shared on Facebook – feelings from negative or positive posts or status updates – are contagious among online friends.

Using data from more than one billion anonymous status updates among more than 100 million Facebook users in the 100 most populous cities in the United States, the study found that positive posts beget positive posts, while negative posts beget negative ones.

Wednesday February 26, 2014 | 07:30 AM

The idea that smartphones are making us dumber is not a new one. Taking into consideration that more than half of Americans own a smartphone, it should come as no surprise that much has been written about how our dependence on checking them constantly can turn our brains to mush. However, up until now, there has been no solid medical evidence that our smartphones have been guilty of doing anything other than turning us into antisocial zombies.

Take heart, there is now actual evidence proving that your smartphone is making you dumb. Well, at least if you use it the way I do. That's me being dumb in the photo above — sleeping with my iPhone at an arm's length so I can check it at all hours. However, I'm finding a lot of solace in the fact that I can now blame my iPhone for my regular bouts with stupidity.

Two recent studies were conducted of workers’ nighttime technology habits, sleep duration and quality, energy and workplace engagement. Scholars from University of Florida, Michigan State University and University of Washington were responsible for gathering the data and the conclusions were revealed in a feature article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. It all sounds very trustworthy and impressive to me.

Anyway, the studies found that reading and sending work email on a smartphone late into the evening — or whatever other elicit activities you might be using your device for at that ungodly hour — doesn’t just make it harder to get a decent night’s sleep. New research findings show it also exhausts workers by morning and leaves them disengaged by the next afternoon. This would explain my desperate need for a grande Americano with an extra shot every afternoon at 4:00. Bingo.