Alexandra Samuel's blog

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The Trojan Horse leaves the office

12 questions for meaningful online conversations

Geeks with gifts

When companies adopt social media, they get more than just the marketing juice they're typically seeking: they're inviting in a Trojan Horse full of questions about their offering, their approach, and even their fundamental value proposition. My recent blog post for Harvard Business Online looks at how companies can best engage the Trojan Horse of social media, and it's drawn some insightful comments.

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Mac usage has its privileges

4 Mac applications that make you more productive


This post is part 4 of a series, Coming out as a Mac user.

Switching platforms is disorienting, at least until you get up and running with the core software that gives you all the tools you had on your old machine. But you didn't switch to a Mac just so you could do the same old stuff. You switched because you wanted to rock the house, set the world on fire, and bravely go where no Windows machine has gone before. Here are four Mac-only apps that should fill your heart with joy at your newfound powers.

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Blogging like it's 2009

18 tools for effective social media participation on blogs and beyond

Keyboard with wrench

What are the essential tools for blogging and online conversation in 2009? Social Signal friend and advisor Leda Dederich recently asked me for an update to the post I wrote on this topic four years ago. Happily, SoSi staffer Karen Fung recently wrote an excellent post that ran through the specific tools I reviewed in 2005. But I thought I'd step back and offer an answer to the underlying question: what tools do I need to participate effectively in the thriving world of social media?

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Use protection

5 ways to protect your Mac's looks and performance

Apple condom

This is part 3 in a series, Coming out as a Mac user.

Like any passionate affair, your romance with a new Mac can fizzle when you discover the limitations of your beloved. Your new Mac is much less likely to drive you crazy than that old machine running Windows Vista, but it's not without the occasional quirk. Here are five highly recommended investments that will help protect you from software frustrations or hardware failures:

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Engagement planning worksheets to engage your users and move them to action

Engagement mapping worksheet

How can you use the web to engage your members, supporters or the public, and move them towards a specific action?

That's a common question from nonprofits who are diving into social media. Whether you're looking for your online visitors to contribute photos, forward your issue alerts, make a donation, or contact policy-makers, social media can be a powerful way of engaging your audience and driving them towards action.

But it's often hard for nonprofits to figure out how they can engage people effectively online. It's hard enough to get visitors to your site or social media presence, let alone drive them effectively towards action. In our session at NetSquared today, we used Social Actions as a case study in engaging online community participation, and shared two strategy tools that can help you make your nonprofit site more engaging.

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The shiny one or the cross-platform one?

The 9 software choices every Mac user needs to make

Apple or orange?

This is part 2 in a series, Coming out as a Mac user.

As you embark on your new Mac lifestyle, you'll be faced with choices that challenge you to think about who you really are, and what's really important to you. Are you an iconoclast, a design freak, a fashionista who does everything with style and flair? Or are you a conciliator, a mediator, the kind to bring people together and bridge between worlds?

Choosing the right applications for your Mac often feels like a choice between these two different identities: the choice between a shiny, stylin' Mac-specific app, and an often less-shiny, cross-platform-compatible alternative.

But you don't have to choose between personal style and social substance. You can the coolest kid on the block and play well with others, as long as you've got your Mac kitted out with the right tools for every job.

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Coming out as a Mac user

Getting the most from your new Mac

Rainbow Apple logo

Rob and I have each been responsible for a few switch-hitters in our time, and we know it's not easy leaving the comfortable majority to be part of what is all-too-often seen as an "alternative lifestyle". You've been part of the 90% majority; now you're the one-in-ten.

We've spent many hours helping friends through the personal and professional implications of crossing over to the other side, and we've learned about how to make the switch a bit easier. In fact, we've found that for those who embrace their new identity, the switch is a process of discovery and celebration.

No, this isn't the post about our new logo: it's my guide to switching to the Mac. Over the next week, I'll walk you through the five steps to becoming a happy and fulfilled Mac user after years in the PC closet.

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If you can e-mail you can blog. If you can blog you can tweet.

When and how to communicate online

The spectrum of communications

Don't e-mail what you can blog. Don't blog what you can tweet. Don't tweet what you can DM. Don't DM what you wouldn't publish.

Or so I twittered this afternoon. It turns out that the flip side of this social media hierarchy (which I hereby dub "smierarchy") is, "don't tweet what you need a blog post to explain". And as it turns out, it does take a blog post to explain this one. So here's the explanatory blog post:

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Everybody says don't

5 time-wasting Internet rules that you should think about breaking


Internet sages are full of rules about stupid things you should never do. But like most recommendations delivered as inviolable laws, the cardinal Don'ts of life online mostly distract you from Do's that would be more rewarding. Here are some don'ts I believe in breaking, and some dos you can undertake once you've let go of these time- and worry-wasters.

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12 kid-friendly iPhone apps for toddlers and young kids

Lil Sweetie's message to Steve Jobs

Update & Saliva Warning: I took my iPhone in for a repair this week and was told my warranty was void because a small paper tab Apple implants in each iPhone showed the phone had been exposed to liquid. Since this phone has never gotten wet, we suspect that the moisture detector (which is just inside the dock port) was triggered by excess saliva from the kids playing Ocarina and Balloonimals, both of which involve blowing into the phone.

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Work Smarter with Evernote

Get more out of Evernote with Alexandra Samuel's great new ebook, the first in the Harvard Business Press Work Smarter with Social Media series!

Available on Amazon, iTunes and HBR.

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