Halley Knigge (Griffin)

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Instagram now a factor in Klout scores

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Instagram now a factor in Klout scores

Social influence measuring site Klout added influential moments from Instagram feeds today. According to Klout, one user saw a 35 point increase in his score! Did anyone else see a bump in their Klout scores? I already knew I was influential in wine, eating, and selfies with puppies, but now Klout will know too.

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New view for Facebook timeline

Looks like the new Facebook timeline view is rolling out this week. It looks fairly similar to the current set-up, but with posts in the right-hand column, and info, likes, friends, etc. on the left. Does anyone else have it yet?fb


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You are not a guru

Hey, you. Yeah, you. With the 304 Twitter followers, and the word “strategist” in your bio.

I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you. I’m sure you were really great when you helped your aunt adjust her privacy settings on Facebook. But writing it in your Twitter bio doesn’t make it true.

You are not a guru.

Not a guru.

Not a guru.

Or a ninja. Or a whiz kid. Or a maven. Are you a Hindu spiritual leader? Did Master Splinter teach you martial arts? I didn’t think so.

It’s really great that you have both personal and professional social media experience. It’s pretty cool that you are 24 years old. I’m sure you’re all over Instagram trends, and are REALLY FAST at Tweeting from your smart phone. Maybe you’ve even had administrator privileges on a Facebook page or two.

But it’s time for you to pipe down. Facebook’s been around for nearly 10 years now. This is no longer a game reserved for the young. In a world where Dr. Ruth is killing it on Twitter, you can no longer slap “guru,” “expert” or “master,” and hope that will be enough to land you a job in a field that people are still trying to understand.

You want a job? Put your money where your mouth is. (And for the love of social, edit your Twitter bio!)


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3 tips for sharing better images on Facebook

Images are king on Facebook. Not only do photos take up more real estate in your timeline, but Facebook’s own EdgeRank algorithm favors images above all else, and is more likely to show them to more people than a status update, video, or link. (Not to mention, images are currently the only type of content that remains editable after it is posted.) Knowing this, how does a brand put its best foot forward? Here are three quick tips to help you share better images on Facebook.

1. Crop it

Square images play best on your timeline and on mobile devices, and are ideal for sharing on multiple platforms. A normal image post will show up as 403 by 403 pixels, so make sure your images are high enough quality that they enlarge well. Nothing says “I don’t know what I’m doing” like a teeny tiny picture in a big, black shadowbox. If you post a rectangular image, make sure to take advantage of the “reposition photo” option to show the best 403 by 403 pixels of your image.

tiny football

2. Brand it

One of the reasons images are so great is because they are sharable. (Who hasn’t seen at least three user-generated Some-e-cards posts today?) If 20 of your fans share an image, you want every single pair of eyes to know exactly where that image came from. Creating a simple template for sharing images on Facebook is a great way to build brand recognition by reinforcing a consistent look. The Cleveland Clinic does a great job at this.

cleveland clinic example cleveland2

3. Link it

Don’t forget the link back to whatever you’re promoting! Remember, social marketing is not just about having a great Facebook page, or a chatty Twitter feed. Great social marketing is just one piece of a broader marketing strategy, and any platform (be it Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, or whatever comes next) is just a medium for your broader marketing message. A truly great Facebook post will include engaging, visual content, and a link to more information. Each of the Cleveland Clinic’s branded images links back to a related blog post, article, or page on its website. And hey – don’t forget to use a link shortener. No one wants to look at a photo with a 50-character link in the description. Bit.ly is a fabulous option that also provides simple analytics.


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Real Armaweddin’

small-save-the-date

[The Huffington Post, Dec. 8, 2012]

There aren’t a lot of how-tos for planning a wedding at the end of the world.

My fiancé and I chose the theme early on, and for the past eight months, we’ve been making it up as we go along.

Like many of my most brilliant ideas, this one started out as a “Wouldn’t it be funny if …”

That’s how I ended up with a dog named Grandma Moses, chalk art of a great white shark on my dining room wall, and yes, an apocalypse-themed wedding scheduled for Dec. 22, 2012 — the day after the world (or just the Mayan calendar) is supposed to end.

It’s no great secret that my fiancé and I are not the most traditional of couples. He’s an artist, and I’m, well, I have a lot of notions about “things that would be funny.”

Don’t get me wrong — we like pretty things too, and wrote off a good number of our early ideas with my 85-year-old grandmother in mind. The reception in the abandoned warehouse, for one. “Road Warrior” dress code, for another.

Chuck also poo-pooed my idea of a dried and dusty bouquet. Because, hello, flowers are not going to survive Armageddon with the Twinkies and the cockroaches.

“I want you to still look pretty at our wedding,” he said. On second thought, I realized that I, too, would like to look pretty at our wedding.

So a new phase of planning was born. We would reference the apocalypse at every occasion, but try to avoid the literal.

We’re planning an apocalypse-themed party, after all. Not the apocalypse itself.

“What are your wedding colors?” asked the caterer, my bridesmaids, the florist. I’m not sure any of them really anticipated the answer.

Fire and brimstone, naturally.

We scheduled our engagement photos for a Sunday in August. Earlier in the summer, I’d procured two civilian-issue gas masks on Amazon.com, which we toted along to our photo shoot in the park. We took some pretty photos first. For my grandmother. Then our sport of a photographer sweet-talked a sunbather into donning one of the masks, and the real fun began.

My fiancé drew our save-the-dates. Me, Chuck and our dog Grandma Moses in our best wedding attire, with a backdrop of oozing volcanos. Our invitations feature a bride and groom walking away from a mushroom cloud. The hashtag is #ARMAWEDDIN.

“Are you disappointed that it’s not, you know, a normal wedding?” friends asked my fiancé’s mother. “It doesn’t matter to me,” she told them. “It’s all about Halley and Chuck, and this is who they are.”

Yes, we’re a bit kooky — I’ve learned (courtesy of Pinterest) that I fall into the category of “offbeat bride” — but here’s a secret I’ve learned in my eight months of Armaweddin’ planning. Wedding planning is so fun and easy when the theme is “end of the world.” It’s just like planning a really big, really expensive theme party.

Chair sashes? Pfft. Like anyone’s going to have time to grab those when the world’s ending anyway. And when a wedding craft doesn’t turn out as planned? No big deal — that just makes it all the more apocalyptic.

Our dinner will be grilled cheese, soups and stews. Comfort food, for a post-apocalyptic world. I’ll walk down the aisle to a pretty string quartet version of R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It.” The flowers will be crazy, spiky, fiery.

“Is it safe to say ‘quirky?'” the florist asked tentatively, nervous to offend. I’d just finished describing an elegant calla lily bouquet I’d seen at a recent wedding and told her to please make mine the opposite of that.

Our wedding centerpieces were designed around the theme of “things you’d forage for after the apocalypse.” I think “quirky” is a safe description. Drippy, red and orange tapered candles in wine bottles painted matte black, clustered on mirrored tiles a girlfriend and I spent a morning distressing with muriatic acid.

My dress is the real deal. Ivory lace with a chapel-length train and its fair share of bling. That’s a little girl fantasy I wasn’t willing to let go of. Chuck and his groomsmen have slate gray suits with black shirts. We briefly entertained wilder fantasies, but couldn’t quite fathom how we’d explain leather and shotguns to our future grandchildren.

I’m not yet sure how we’ll explain the Fallout-esque bottle caps strewn around the room, or the survival tool favors with the radioactive diamond ring symbol Chuck designed, but we have a few decades to hammer out those details.

For now, all that matters is that later this month we’ll be facing down the apocalypse together, and there’s no one I’d rather have by my side. It’ll be the end of the world as we know it — and I feel fine.


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Hotel in Seattle’s French sister city lets you live life of hamster

hamsterrry
[
KOMO News, CNN.com, April 19, 2012]

We’d had the reservation for nine months when April 2 finally rolled around.

Terrified of repeating my mistakes in late, lackadaisical booking of summer 2010 and missing my chance to live like a hamster two Europe trips in a row, I’d frantically emailed the proprietor of La Villa Hamster the same day we booked this year’s tickets to France.

A rodenty night for two in April 2012? Booked in July 2011? No problem. My bimonthly email confirmations were overkill, perhaps, but set my mind at ease.

I’d been dreaming of a trip to the famed hamster hotel for years. And by years, I mean ever since this November 2009 Guardian article first caught my eye.

The vision was realized by Un Coin Chez Soi, a company that hosts a variety of offbeat guest rooms, with themes like school, Captain Nemo’s voyage, and, of course, hamster, throughout the city of Nantes. (An otherwise average Bretagne city, Nantes is known mainly for being the birthplace of Lu cookies. It’s also one of Seattle’s 21 sister cities and regular host to a University of Washington study abroad program.)

The arrival

It wasn’t particularly simple to make a one-night detour to Nantes as we made our way from Italy back to Paris, but I was bound and determined to finally have my night in the hamster hotel – and my patient fiancé Chuck knew better than to argue.

We arrived in Nantes on a Monday afternoon, busing our way to the city center and dragging wheeled suitcases through winding cobblestone streets (even better than the Shake Weight, I tell you). All we had was an address and a printed email with cryptic French instructions.

On your left when you enter the courtyard, you will find a small crevice in the wall, containing a small lockbox. Enter the following code to find the key to the Villa Hamster. When you depart, simply leave the 109 euro on the counter, and return the key to the lockbox.

We knew we were on the right track when the lockbox popped open to reveal a key simply labeled “Hamster.” A few steps into the courtyard, and we found ourselves facing a nondescript door with a small red sticker of a hamster over the handle. Bingo.

La vie hamster

From the moment we stepped through the door, the villa was more hamstery than we had ever imagined – right down to the musty hamster smell. We immediately donned the furry hamster headdresses, opting not to touch the hamster tail belts that were also provided for us.

A human-sized exercise wheel fills most of the room, strategically locking and becoming a bench to maximize space.

Next to the wheel is a ladder extending up a bed that hangs suspended over the room. A plastic headboard filled with sawdust and a pile of blankets with the instructions “faites votre lit comme un hamster,” or “make your bed like a hamster.”

Sawdust, cages and hamster toys decorate the rest of the tiny studio, which also features a corner water trough so you can drink like a hamster.

A sprinkle of sawdust splays out from the sawdust wall behind the toilet, dusting the plunger, toilet brush and scrubber with delicate shavings.

A frightening piece of hamster art in the corner features a giant, metal rodent face with two LED as eyes.

The villa is centrally located and fully equipped with a kitchenette, so hamster-loving guests could conceivably live there for weeks.

We spent a good portion of the evening mulling over the perfect farewell message to add to the chalkboard wall, already covered with chalk illustrations of hamsters and scrawled messages from visitors all over the world.

“Vive la vie hamster!” declared one.

“I don’t know whether to use the sawdust or the toilet,” wondered another guest, giving Chuck and I pause while we considered the potential sources of the villa’s musty scent.

In the end, we opted for simplicity – and then promptly forgot what we’d chosen. Surely it was poignant, whatever it was.

One night was more than enough hamster for us, but now we’re haunted by the question: “what next?” A night in the Jules Undersea Lodge? Zip-lining through the tree tops at the Treehouse Tresort?

For now, we’ll just keep dreaming in hamster.


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Why I do what I do

When I was in third grade, I loved math. I’d race through logic puzzles and math worksheets because it was a matter of pride to beat the boys. That kind of blatant, in-your-face, “I’m smart and it’s okay” attitude is not so common these days. In fact, it’s pretty rare – especially in girls.

What I had that other third-grade girls didn’t, was a place where I could be smart without the pressure to fit in. Where it was cool to raise your hand in class, or win every round of Brainquest (remember those?).

I had Seabury, a non-profit independent school for gifted children in Tacoma, Wash. I graduated from Seabury School in eighth grade, and went on to public high school, the University of Washington and a stint as a journalist in Moscow, Idaho. But last fall I decided to throw my life plans to the wind and move back to Tacoma to work at my old elementary school.

Why? Because I love this place. I am passionate about what we do here – providing a safe place for academically gifted students to learn and explore without having to fear being misunderstood, under whelmed or left out. I’m in charge of new and traditional media relations, and I love what I do. As a journalist, I always said I could only become a flak if it was for an organization or a cause that I was truly passionate about. Well this is it.

I run our school’s Twitter and Facebook pages, along with a personal Twitter I use for networking in Tacoma and the South Sound. I am our resident blog guru and help teachers design, tweak and update classroom blogs. I have several personal blogs as well, but everything I do comes back to wanting to spread the word far and wide so we can find every kid who needs us.

It’s not so cheap to run a school – teachers are paid for through tuition, but tuition also pays for a huge amount of financial aid. Need and aid are increasing every year, and lately it’s hard to find an extra dime to spend. That’s why social media has been so valuable for us. Suddenly there’s a way to network with other gifted educators and advocates for free every Friday (through #gtchat), sharing resources and tricks of the trade. There’s definitely not money in our budget for another conference this year, but I can’t stop thinking about all the new tools and tricks that’ll be ripe for the learning.

Send me Tungle, you’re my only hope. And really, who else can promise you an envelope of adorable thank-you letters from a school of adorable gifted children?



(This post was written in the hopes of securing a Gnomedex pass via Tungle.me)