My number one advice for writing

Make yourself sit down and just do it…

Some find the thought of having to write something very daunting, painful like going to the dentist.

However, you’ll find if you make yourself sit down and just start, you’ll get involved with the process and may even enjoy putting your thoughts into words.

You may scoff at this notion but consider this… inspired writing doesn’t necessarily have to happen during traditional work hours. Some write best after the kids are in bed and some write best early morning. Try to write when you feel you are in the best frame of mind and you can give your writing your undivided attention.

Don’t worry about having it perfect immediately. Write/type all your thoughts and then rearrange and edit. When you think you’re getting to the final draft stage, read it out loud to see how it sounds.

I realize I’m biased, I enjoy writing as opposed to say… doing calculus… but know that it doesn’t have to be so painful, just sit down and do it and start with baby steps, the rest will follow.

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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What is this New Twitter?

What is this New Twitter? Watch the video from Twitter below. They started rolling it out last night, who will be next!

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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Some new Twitter features I can get on board with!

This weekend I discovered some new Twitter features that I can get on board with! I realized @NerdBoyTV was following me and when I went to read his bio, I saw under his Twitter handle “Also followed by…” indicating people who follow him who I’m also following. And, in the right hand menu I noticed “You both follow” which opened up to a “view all” list of people we both follow. I like these two new features because they give me some clue as to the connections we have in common. Very Facebook-like but hey, Twitter users have been asking to find some type of common thread for quite some time. Perhaps this means that @Ev, @Jack and @Stone are listening…

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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Follow Twitter’s @earlybird for special discounts

Twitter's @earlybird logo

According to the Fast Company article “Twitter Offers First @earlybird Exclusive Deal”, Twitter launched its @earlybird account in which advertisers can offer exclusive deals on Twitter.

The first @earlybird special is a buy-one-get-one deal for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. In a blog post, Twitter said it will introduce a new @earlybird deal several times a week.

Twitter reports it has lined up tens of advertisers and hopes for hundreds by year’s end. Advertisers already on board include Groupon and Gilt Groupe.

The @earlybird Twitter account currently has around 54,000 followers. As word spreads I believe it will grow tremendously. People spend a lot of time on Twitter to network and learn. This is a way for users to get a little something back.

Sarah Wallace is a freelance writer helping clients with blogging, Twitter, Facebook, web copy, SEO, e-newsletters and press releases. In addition to performing these writing services, she also provides editing and consulting. To learn more about her work experience and services, click on the tabs above or contact Sarah at sarah@sarahwallace.com

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Free tool helps identify brand trends on Foursquare

For those skeptical about geolocation, speculate no more. Last week, Foursquare secured $20 million in venture funding after passing the 1.8 million user mark and recently reached 1 million check-ins in a single day. Geolocation is more than just seeing where your friends are, it allows customers to be rewarded for its dedication to merchants through specials and rewards. As businesses take geolocation more seriously, Awareness, Inc. (a provider of social marketing management software) has stepped up with its free foursquare Perspectives tool that allows users to help identify trends and insights on Foursquare.

The foursquare Perspectives tool reports key statistics such as total venues, total check-ins, unique visitors and total mayorships, and presents that data through comprehensive charts, graphs and maps to help marketers easily visualize key market trends among Foursquare locations.

With this type of data, Starbucks or any merchant can pinpoint its most popular Foursquare venues and cater its marketing campaigns based on demand. Not only is this tool incredibly useful but it is also incredible that it is free.

This comes right after Awareness announced the addition of a Foursquare channel support to its flagship product, the Awareness Social Marketing Hub, to allow enterprise marketers to manage Foursquare venues and publish tips to all or a targeted segment of venues through a single interface.

Along with foursquare Perspectives, Awareness has published two eBooks available for free download (The State of foursquare2010 and Top 10 Ways Enterprise Marketers Can Leverage foursquare) to any enterprise marketer looking to learn more about foursquare and how they can include it as part of their marketing efforts.

You may follow foursquare Perspectives on Twitter at @4sqPerspectives.

You may also read my notes after seeing Foursquare Co-Founder Dennis Crowley speak about merchant relations at My Take Away From Eat, Drink, Be Social.

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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My Take Away From Eat, Drink, Be Social

I recently attended  Eat, Drink, Be Social, a symposium featuring local and national thought leaders in the restaurant and social media industries, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Hosted by Tyson Goodridge of DIALOGUE, this event covered my two greatest interests… food and social media. I heard so many good points during this symposium but here are some highlights that I took away with me:

Geolocation Glitches

First let’s rewind a bit to the social the night before hosted by DIALOGUE and Awareness, Inc. held at Dante Restaurant in Cambridge. Attendees were allowed to meet and mingle with the event’s speakers. At the social I had the chance to chat with Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder of Foursquare, a very nice guy who was doing a great job of fielding everyone’s Foursquare questions. At one point, he did clarify that  application glitches may be due to deadspots in your network or errors in the maps it is linking to. He explained that there are many pieces to the geolocation puzzle and that Foursquare is always working to improve the coordination of these pieces.

What Restaurants Think of Social Media

Fast forward to the first two panels of the symposium, a literal all-stars of the Boston restaurant scene with moderators and panelists from Zagat, Boston Globe, Yelp Boston, CitySearch, Boston Magazine, @eatboston and Cook’s Illustrated and restaurateurs Barbara Lynch (Menton), Jody Adams (Rialto and Top Chef Masters), Mary Catherine Deibel (Upstairs on the Square) and Jon Olinto of b.good. With these first two panels, my take away was that restaurants are well aware of the added pressure that rating sites bring and their emphasis on hospitality as well as food quality. The panelists said they are open to the feedback while Leighann Farrelly of Yelp Boston asked attendees to think about the words you use in your comments because they do effect livelihoods. I also found it interesting that Jon Olinto of b.good said that he was most responsive to feedback via e-mail and, in some cases, has even gone to customer homes to correct wrongs.

No Matter the Platform, It’s About the Customer

Props to Justin Levy of New Marketing Labs and Caminito Argentinean Restaurant who literally got off the red eye after one hour’s sleep to talk to us. He told the story of how he started helping his friend and eventually became co-owner of his restaurant. He reminded us that no matter what the platform, meeting the customers’ needs is what is most important and that is why his establishment has been successful.

Merchants and Existing Behaviors

The next panel was moderated by geolocation fanatic Mike Schneider (Allen & Gerritsen) and featured Dennis Crowley of Foursquare and Alexa Andrzejewski, founder of FoodSpotting. Dennis told us that Foursquare will be releasing its 2.0 version this summer and how they are trying to focus on working with merchants to offer specials and heightened awareness of the application. He brought with him hot-off-the-press window stickers that said “Check In Here” (see pic above) and “Foursquare Special Here.” He also spoke of trying to bridge the gap between enthusiastic mayors and establishments who have never heard of Foursquare. Alexa pointed out that FoodSpotting basically took an existing behavior and made it a little more formal and fun. I confess, I’m jealous she beat me to it. #foodporn

Tips For Restaurants

The last panel featured Jeff Cutler and Mike Langford of NomX3 ( an online show where they eat lunch and share their experience) who had great advice for restaurants to be more social media and customer friendly; offer free Wi-Fi, make sure all your URLs are visible during a customer’s visit, and (for higher end establishments) reach out in some way to make your restaurant seem more accessible. Oh, and the biggie, make sure your site is not in Flash, otherwise potential customers trying to view your information or menu on the iPhone will not be able to read it. << In my opinion, this advice goes out to everyone, not just restaurants.

Overall Impression

My overall impression… new applications and platforms in social media are trying to bridge the gap and work with merchants who have been around for decades. It is starting to happen and it will be interesting to see how it progresses and ultimately benefits you and me, the customer. Thanks to Tyson Goodridge and DIALOGUE for a great event!

My “Hot” Hotel Tip

Okay, not food or social media related but here’s something I learned from booking my hotel for this trip. For some reason I was totally striking out on Priceline.com (sorry Bill Shatner) so I hopped on over to Hotwire.com. I’d never used this site before but I liked that you could specify amenities. I had a specific hotel in Cambridge that I was hoping for, the Royal Sonesta since it was home to Dante. I noticed that Royal Sonesta had a spa service so I clicked “4 stars” and “spa” and voila! I got the hotel I wanted for 50% off the day before. Wait, what’s that sound? Oh, it’s me patting myself on the back : )

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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How Does Your Website Look on the iPhone and iPad?

As the iPhone and iPad (?) become ubiquitous, it is important to know how your website looks on these devices. If your site is fancy with Flash, it does not mean a thing if people cannot view it.

Mashable just posted an article about a tool called iPad peek which supposedly lets you preview your site through the eyes of the iPad, but it is inaccurate because it allows Flash. Further down in this article, Mashable gives instruction on how to dis-enable Flash in your browser so you can truly view your website through they eyes of the iPhone or iPad.

The reason this Mashable article caught my attention is because last week I was telling my friend about a company that I greatly admired and was trying to show her its website via my iPhone. Unfortunately, even the company’s basic description was not showing up because it was in Flash.  Here is the link to read the Mashable article iPad Peek: See How Your Website Looks on iPad.

Sarah Wallace is a research analyst, blogger and podcaster. To learn more about her, click on the tabs above.

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