Traveling via Twitter

On March 1, Twitter user, Paul Smith, started a 30-day journey to travel to New Zealand without spending a dime. Instead, he decided to rely on the generosity of the Twitter community to see how far he could get. The “Twitchhiker” succeeded in traveling 11,000 miles relying solely on donations from other users.

On his blog, Paul writes about his experiences during the trek and posts some amazing photos of the journey, allowing users to see what he sees and interact with him as he travels; all the while raising money for Charity:water, a non-profit organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

Paul met quite a lot of Twitter users along the way that helped him by giving him rides, food, encouragement, and financial contributions. In his own words, Paul says:

“The Twitchhiker project showed that kindness is universal, that the whole can be infinitely greater than the sum of its parts, and that social media may begin online but it will converge with the real world whenever and wherever you let it. Twitter proved without a shadow of a doubt that it is much more than a social network, but a user-defined network that can be harnessed to change lives and expectations, and provide unique experiences and viewpoints.”

Paul’s story offers a unique view at how powerful connecting through social media can be. Maybe your goal isn’t to travel to New Zealand, but whatever it is there are newer, more creative ways to spread your message. If you’d like to learn how you can do that for your brand, feel free to contact The Cyphers Angency, we’d love to hear from you.

Defining Social Media Experts

Many people have written about the influx of social media “experts” that Twitter and other social media tools seem to have attracted. You may see them refer to themselves as specialists, experts, mavens, consultants, etc. But, with so many “experts” out there, how do you know which ones are real, and which ones are abusing the label? One University is now trying to make the distinction official.

Starting this September, Birmingham City University will be offering a year-long Masters in Social Media course attempting to “explore the emerging area of social media through scholarly research or practice.”

According to Jon Hickman, the course convener:

“During the course we will consider what people can do on Facebook and Twitter, and how they can be used for communication and marketing purposes. There has been significant interest in the course already, and it will definitely appeal to students looking to go into professions including journalism and PR.”

Dr. Hickman offers this video to outline how he sees the MA program:

Is a Masters degree what it takes to prove you are an “expert” in social media? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

MySpace Gets “Married”

MySpace recently announced its new venture into reality TV by way of its web-based reality show, “Married on MySpace.” The show will follow one couple’s experience leading right up to their wedding day. What makes this show unique, however, is that MySpace members will be in control of the decision making and planning of the event.

Couples can submit their own video where users can vote on who they would like to be featured on the show. From there, users will vote on various other details of the show and the event like location, when and where to celebrate bachelor and bachelorette parties, what everyone will wear, etc. MySpace is planning 13 total episodes to air exclusively on the site.

For a social networking site that has recently fallen behind the rankings when compared to giants like Facebook, anything they can do to engage their community is a step in the right direction. We’ll be following the development of this project and we’ll keep you updated. For now, here’s a look at the trailer:

Married on MySpace Trailer

Are you More Social than a 5th Grader?

According to UK newspaper, The Guardian, Children across the nation will be taught the ins and outs of a number of social media platforms including Twitter, Wikipedia, blogging, and podcasting tools. These changes are part of a draft proposed to to overhaul the primary school curriculum.

The new curriculum would reflect the biggest change to primary schooling in the past decade. The plan, which strips away hundreds of traditional specifications to allow schools and teachers much more flexibility in what they teach including more modern media and web-based skills.

With the speed at which technology and society shift, schools are often well enough behind the times. This shift in the focus of education marks a HUGE change for the UK school system, one that I personally would love to see here in the U.S.

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

StumbleUpon Adds Share Feature

StumbleUpon seems to have added a share feature that allows you to share a bookmark with your entire list of friends instead of sending it to them one-by-one. I’m not sure when this feature was added, but it is quite helpful and definitely something users have been asking about/waiting for. It’s not obvious, but it’s there and here’s how you do it:

First, go to your favorites page:

Second, hover over the image for the page you want to share:
Bookmark pre-hoverBookmark post-hover
Third, click the share button and the following window will appear:

Lastly, check the users you want to share with and send it:

Prior to this, the task of sharing bookmarks with other users was quite daunting. For those of you that have tried, you may know what I mean. This new(?) feature saves time and allows users to easily share their interests with others.

Feel free to be our friend on StumbleUpon by visiting our profile and adding us as a friend, we’ll add you back 😉

Teen Uses Web for Tuition Help

Michigan high school student, Rachel Harris, recently launched her website, in an effort to raise enough money to attend the University of Notre Dame. Her grades are there, she’s got the recommendations and all other qualifications, but the only thing holding her back is the $40,000+ tuition to attend and she has turned to the web for help.

Inspired by the Obama campaign’s use of the Internet to affect change, Rachel hopes that her website will attract people that will help her cause. In her own words:

“Currently I am a senior at Reeths Puffer High School in Muskegon, Michigan. I plan on attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall, to study Biomolecular Engineering, with the ultimate goal of attending medical school and becoming a pediatric endocrinologist. I want to do this because I am a type 1 diabetic, and I want to help children who are going through what I have been through.”

On her site you’ll find her transcripts, letters of recommendation, her application and essay, a bio and details of her academic achievements. Here’s how you can help.

The way in which we use the web and communication is changing. How do you use the web to achieve your goals? If you need help determining successful ways to do that, we here at The Cyphers Agency would love to hear from you.

Digg Founder Launches WeFollow

Kevin Rose, founder of has recently launched WeFollow, a Twitter directory. There have been many other attempts to build a complete user directory (see also: Twellow, Twibs, and many more) but based on the ease and early popularity of WeFollow, it just might succeed.

This weekend, Kevin Rose used Digg to announce WeFollow. The post, which of course made it to the front page, attracted thousands of users to start using and listing themselves on the directory. It’s quite simple to use, simply send a tweet that looks like this (just replace the tags with whatever you want).

WeFollow scans Twitter and will organize users based on the tags they tweet. Each user can submit themselves to a maximum of three different tags (at least for now). Then WeFollow organizes the users by category listed by the number of followers each user has. Here’s an example of the social media category:

Because WeFollow only lists users by number of followers, those seeking to use the directory to connect with users like them or that they would like to connect with, WeFollow may be limited. Of course if you want to connect with top social media “authorities” then it may be great, but good luck really connecting with those individuals. It seems twitter.grader gives a more valuable directory of users per category using its grading system, simply type in any “tag” you want to search.

Feel free to let us know what you think by posting your thoughts in the comments section below.

Spending your Time Wisely

I had the privilege of speaking at a New Media Seminar this week in Richmond, VA. I met a lot of nice people and got to share a little bit about choosing the right social networks and some basic social media Dos and Don’ts. My co-presenter and host of the event, Dave Saunders brought up a good point: If you don’t have anything to blog about, don’t have a blog. Although using social media to connect with consumers is free, the time it takes to pull it off is often an afterthought. Here are some tips on managing your time…

  1. Identify your goals (video views, location-based awareness, networking, sales leads etc.)
  2. Choose only networks that help you reach your goals (i.e. LinkedIn for professional networking)
  3. If you don’t have anything to blog about, don’t blog (don’t do something just to do it, there should be a purpose in everything you do or else you are just wasting time and money)
  4. Search for guides to help you use networks better (rather than taking the time to discover it on your own)
  5. Look for current trends and see if you can leverage them for additional awareness for you or your brand

Viral Believability

Does how believable something is determine how successfully viral it will become? Or does believability matter at all? Maybe the raw entertainment value is what propels something to total viral glory. Let’s take a look at a few examples and discuss…

It seems for a while there, “viral” was the hottest word in the marketing language. Now, although it may not be the hottest word, it is definitely still an important achievement advertising and marketing experts strive for when creating content to generate buzz. However, because virality is and should be organic by nature, creative experts are asked to come up with things that look natural and also have such a high level of entertainment value that it spreads like wildfire, bringing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of eyeballs worth of attention to a brand.

Take a look at some of these “viral” videos and decide for yourself. Which are real? Which are fake? Does that even matter? Did you know that it was created by a brand with the intention of going viral? Some of these are new, and some are old. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Also, if you’re looking for ways to get people talking about your brand, The Cyphers Agency can help. Feel free to contact us anytime, we’d love to chat.

An Inside Look at Likaholix

Two ex-Googlers have just launched a new social platform and recommendation engine called Likaholix. With social sites seeming to pop up all over the place, it’s hard to stay on top of who’s who and which services do what. Here’s some more informaiton on Likaholix and how you can use it.

First, a little explanation of what exactly Likaholix is (from their website):

Likaholix is a fun and easy way to share and discuss your likes and discover new ones with people you know. You can like anything from a great book you have read to your favorite food to some art work that you love.

We have found that recommendations from friends, whose tastes, you trust are usually much better than most reviews on the web. Most people, when they are out on social occasions with friends, find themselves exchanging notes and discussing things that they like. We hope to bring the same experience online with Likaholix. Likaholix serves as both a self-expression and a recommendation tool. We provide personalized recommendations based on the people, topics and items you like.

How to “like” something:

Liking something is extremely easy. Simply type whatever it is that you like into the search bar and hit search. The site will then return multiple results. When you select what it is you want to like you’ll see the box below, simply fill out each field and add relevant pics and/or videos from the right and hit submit. That’s it!

Once you’ve liked something it will show up in your profile for other to check out, like, comment, and share. Here’s what it looks like:

Likaholix, it seems, has found yet another new way to build a community through social bookmarking. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to check out the quick tour over at Likaholix, and of course because it is still in private beta, if you’d like, you can request an account here.