Come to Blog World Expo

Checking in at Blog World Expo 2011 by Louise DiCarlo & Basil C. Puglisi

Section by @lovelylu

If you aren’t doing anything this morning, you should take the time to visit the Javitz Center. I am currently on the train heading in to see two of my favorite guys — Lewis Howes and Sean Malarkey of Ohio – Linkedin and Twitter superstars.

I have worked virtually with them for two years and we are finally going to meet in person. The online world once again converging to real life.

More to follow……

Blog World Expo New York
Lewis Howes
Sean Malarkey

Section by @basilpuglisi

Blog World Exhibtors:

While there is an emphasis on the speakers and there sure seem to be a few good ones, I think we should take a quick look at some of what you can expect from the exibition areas.

WordPress! Expect to see Automatic with a cozy area and lots of staff! Rumor has it they have the largest booth and have it staffed with experts to help you navigate and I expect the usual cozy area to relax and the giveaways, but with this being blogworld you never know what the booth may have in store.

Tumblr! While Tumblr is not expected to have a big booth, they are the fast growing platform that is threatening to pass WordPress in the near future, I have been told they ave a few nice giveaways and while they may not have the lounge, I expect to get every much out of working with them.

WebDoc! I was told this is a must stop as a group from Sweden will be displaying their drop and drag facebook application for custom tabs.

Podcasting! Rumor has it they had three areas podcasting yesterday, so I keep my eyes peeled to see what the hot topics are and if we can pick up some pointers for you podcasters.

[Read more…]

Families Stay Connected Through Skype

People, both young and old, are able to communicate with loved ones via video chat.
There was a time when going off to college or war meant being cut off from family for  weeks and months on end. With computers, smart phones and social media, that is no longer the case and Skype makes it easy.

Lily Zajc of Setauket first started Skyping when her middle son went off to SUNY New Paltz three years ago. She found it made the transition of him leaving easy when she “was able to see his face and know that he was doing well.”

When her three children were in Europe this past summer, they found an Internet café in France and Skyped from there. “It was a relief and joy to see them in their hostel, and at least for those few moments erased my worries,” Zajc said.

It’s not only parents who want to keep track of those kids. Zajc said, “my friends with aging parents who want them to see their grandchildren Skype.”

Having a loved one in the service can be stressful, but being able to communicate with them eases that a bit. Blake Ramsey from East Setauket was stationed in Iraq when he first started using Skype to see and talk with his mom in 2007. Now that he lives in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., he uses Skype about one to three times a week to keep in touch.

When family lives overseas, it could be years before you see them. Eleanor Skopelitis, who works for St. James Roman Catholic Church in Setauket, misses her sister Marie, who lives in Scotland.

Four months ago, while on the phone with Eleanor, Marie was telling her how she Skypes with her daughter in Connecticut and her son, who lives in New Zealand. Since it had been more than six years since Marie and Eleanor had seen each other, Marie convinced Eleanor to give Skype a try.

“I was talking with her on the phone and told her I set it up” said Eleanor. They went on the computer and found each other. “It felt great seeing her and my brother-in-law,” Eleanor said of her experience.  “We had a great laugh over it.”

Eleanor is now trying to convince her daughter, who lives in Plattsburgh, to set up Skype so she can see her grandchildren Quinn, 3, and Cassidy, 2.

Keeping in touch with parents and grandparents is a popular use of Skype. Brianna Reynaud, senior PR manager of Skype, says that only 37 percent of Skype use is for business or business-related purposes. In 2010, video calls accounted for approximately 42 percent of Skype-to-Skype minutes.

“We hear about parents who keep in touch with their kids who are away at college or studying abroad,” Reynaud said. “With Skype video, they can meet their children’s roommates or friends and see what their dorm room looks like. Skype is also useful for grandparents who aren’t able to travel as often.”

Vincent Fitapelli of Stony Brook regularly Skypes his grandparents who live in Florida. “They only get up to New York about once a year now, so when there are big events, we Skype them in and leave it on so they feel like they aren’t missing out, and they can be with us,” Fitapelli said.

When Emily Morabito left Stony Brook in 2008, she first started Skyping so her tutor from home could help her while she was away at college. “I eventually used it for my family and friends,” she said.

When Emily’s boyfriend was away at college, they would use Skype every day. She recalls a funny call she had with him one night. “I would finish all of my homework, and I wouldn’t get on to Skype until after midnight,” she recalled. “We would talk and both lay in bed. One night we both fell asleep with Skype on, and woke up in the morning still on Skype. It was pretty cute actually.”

Although she finds it easy to use the platform, her mom finds it a little difficult.

“My sister sets it up for her,” she said. There are a few times her mother “got rid of the camera and then wondered where she went. She must have clicked the video button while we were talking. Then her little box disappears and she gets all flustered.”

It may take parents and grandparents a bit longer to master the technology but that doesn’t stop them. “They would keep calling us and then talk, but we couldn’t hear them,” Fitapelli recalled of his grandparents’ first few tries at Skype. “They just couldn’t get their camera to work right. Then they’d get it working, but they’d be too close to the camera. It was really funny at first.”

Whether a novice or expert, Skype is a great way for Three Villagers to stay close to those they love.

Connecting with the Human Side of Social Media

Connecting with the Human Side of Social Media

Online communities can foster meaningful relationships offline, too.

Carolyn Benson singing at Bliss
Food collected for Island Harvest
TweetGirls @MissBeckala, @LovelyLu, @SueanneShirzay, @Truffuls, @ChicMom and @TwittyWoman
A few of the students from Kathy Whelan's Class

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, the day will involve some sort of giving thanks. Thanks for family, for health, for the food on the table. Thanks for the blessings of the year or just for being alive.

One of the things many are thankful for are the opportunities that arise through social media. Not just for the job opportunities that may arise, but for the virtual communities that become an extension of family.

“I am thankful for social media because of the many life long friends I have made,” said Becky Kopprasch, a.k.a. @MissBeckala on Twitter. She has had an incredibly trying year, one that would keep anyone down, but through the online community she built through Twitter, Facebook and her blog, she became a virtual dynamo.

Kopprasch’s back story may be unique, but her social media experience is common. Virtual communities are tight knit, giving people the opportunity to connect to those that they would not be able to meet in conventional ways.

Mary-Jo Peritore, the East Setauket mom behind MerCurios, said she has been able to spread brand awareness and connect with her customers on a personal level through Twitter.

“They know what’s happening with MerCurios, me personally and the daily goings on with my family and especially my four-year-old son, Gabriel,” said Peritore (a.k.a. @MerCuriosJewels). “Twitter also keeps me on the pulse of what’s happening NOW which is important in a society where everything is available at your fingertips. With Twitter I never miss a beat.”

In Peritore’s experience, she is thankful that social media has enabled her to close another gap – the distance gap.

“Facebook is a wonderful tool that keeps me connected to family that I don’t see or speak to nearly as often as I would like,” she said. “It keeps me in the loop as to what’s happening and I don’t feel so far away or disconnected. Facebook closes the gap on distance.”

Carolyn Benson of East Setauket knows how useful Facebook is for communicating, too. A popular singer at Bliss on Sunday evenings, Benson didn’t have a following when she started out a few years ago in what she calls her “mid-life career.”

“Facebook has allowed me an opportunity to ‘advertise’ where I am going to be singing on a given weekend without the huge costs of running a print ad,” Benson said. “Another great aspect of FB that I am thankful for is it also allows me to get to know these wonderful people who come to see me every week. I have made some great new friends and strengthened many old friendships, too.”

Virtual communities can span the world, but what happens when your virtual world turns up neighbors? You host a “Tweetup.”

A Tweetup is an offline gathering of those in your community. They are usually social in nature and can involve a few or many. When @TwittyWoman, @LovelyLu, @SueanneShirzay, @MissBeckala and @Truffuls found out they were all on the island, they had a Tweet Girls gathering. It was the beginning of a very close friendship.

Tweetups can also provide ways for people to give back to their communities.  #LITweetup Helps is a popular Long Island hashtag (the hashtag ‘#’ is a way to keep track of a conversation on Twitter) utilized by a group of people online who met offline for the first time over a year ago. Although it started off as a social gathering, it quickly evolved into an active community service group. In October, they hosted an island wide food drive to benefit Island Harvest.

Lily Zajc (@DixieLil) of Setauket gladly joined the effort when her “tweeps” informed her of the food drive.

“Participating in Island Harvest’s food drive gave me a chance to help out the growing number of Long Islanders in need, because of dire economic times,” Zajc said. “Since losing my job, I related to the increasing number of unemployed L.I.’ers who must now face some challenges in feeding their families.”

Along with Zajc and other adults from the area, Kathy Whelan’s seventh grade religion class from St. James Church in Setauket participated too, collecting an astonishing 303 pounds of food. Through a simple email, she accepted the invitation. “The children went outside of their comfort zone and really came through,” Whelan said.

“I’m thankful that LITweetup brought together an amazing, eclectic group of people that share ideas and knowledge,” said Dani Muccio, who as @Dani3boyz went on to become the Islanders’ social media coordinator because of her online presence supporting the Islanders. “It’s helped us all grow socially and professionally and, in turn, inspired us to delve into other ventures with each other’s support.”

Muccio cited NHLtweetup, inspired by LITweetup, as “a way for hockey fans to get out from behind their keyboards and network in real life.”

“That’s a gift that keeps on giving as I get to watch real-life bonds grow between people that may have not met otherwise,” Muccio said.

I am so grateful for all of the incredible people I have met over the years thanks to social media, so on this day of gobble gobble, I prefer to say Tweet Tweet!

Restaurants are Eating Up Social Media

Restaurants are Eating Up Social Media

Many local eateries are capitalizing on social web presence to interact with customers.

If you’re going out for dinner, you might want to check your computer or mobile device before you leave to see what the specials are for your favorite restaurant.

Restaurants have been taking advantage of the various social media to showcase their menus. It is not enough just to have good food to survive in today’s economy and local restaurants are engaging with their customers to not only make sure they give them a try, but to guarantee they are repeat customers. By using the different tools that are available to them, they are able to make connections with the people who visit.

“The initial fear,” said Steve Haweeli, president of Word Hampton Public Relations, “was that customers would post about a bad experience. Owners quickly realized that you have a chance to make good in public. You see how things work. It is a great opportunity for customer service best practices.”

He also said that although some restaurants yell “Come on down, come on down” with no interaction with the public, most restaurants now use their accounts to create relationships with their customers. Besito in Huntington asked their Facebook fans, “What tequila do you like?” They received 57 responses. When you sign up for Besito’s fan page on Facebook, you receive a coupon for admission to their Facebook parties, where you also get complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a margarita.

Mirabelle Tavern in Stony Brook recently posed a question to customers via Twitter: “What kinds of stress makes you need Wine Down Wednesdays here at Mirabelle Tavern?”

When Toast Coffeehouse in Port Jefferson finally got approval on an expansion proposal from the zoning board, they celebrated by posting it on their fan page.

And Se-Port Deli often uses Twitter to post pictures, retweet reviews, and engage in conversation with customers who follow @Seport.

The fifth annual Long Island Restaurant Week, set for Nov. 7 through Nov. 14, uses Twitter and Facebook as well as its websites to advertise the restaurants that are taking part. For one week, Sunday to Sunday, all participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe for $24.95 per person all night, except Saturday, when it will only be available until 7 p.m. Each restaurant offers its own unique menu. Click here for a list of local restaurants.

The food industry knows how important social media is. According to Smart Blog on Restaurants:

  • Restaurants are ahead of the curve: 81 percent are currently using social media, compared with 60 percent in other industries.
  • 52 percent of restaurants have seen more positive mentions as a result of their social-media presence.

Location-based applications allow users to choose and rate restaurants on the go.

Yelp helps people find places to eat, shop and drink based on the opinions of others.

Can’t decide where to go? Leave it to fate, or a shake of the device and Urbanspoon will pick a local place for you. You can also search by location, type and price.

What’s next for restaurants and social media? is another geo-based mobile media application that allows users to “check in” to the places they visit. Some places such as Starbucks reward frequent visitors with discounts via their foursquare check-in. Check in at Chili’s Grill & Bar in Stony Brook and you can unlock free Chips & Salsa on every visit. All you have to do is show your screen to your server to get the special.

Placepop is a geo-based application that gives customers a virtual loyalty card that lets any local business reward you as an individual for your loyalty, or as a group for your collective visits. The next step for geo-based apps in the restaurant business is for businesses to see that you have checked-in and purchased something, which will validate the transaction on a deeper level. The Placepop app also allows you to request reward programs to the venues you frequent.

So now you’ve Yelped your way to the nearest restaurant and have ordered a scrumptious meal. Don’t keep it to yourself. There’s a new kid on the block, and its name is FoodSpotting.Foodspotting lets you find dishes, not just restaurants, thanks to foodspotters who report sightings of foods they love. If you subscribe to Foodspotting, you take pictures of the meals you order and then ‘pin it’ to the restaurant you ordered it from. You also receive updates from the people you friend on the application and can be notified when they “spot” a food.

With social media marrying the epicurious world with technology, foodies and techies are a happy bunch. As for me? I’m hungry!

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