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mixed identitiesAs you may have noticed, I’ve been away for a while. In the first two weeks of May I flew back to the Netherlands, since my family was expanded by two new, little creatures which I wanted to visit. It was wonderful: the weather was great, it felt good to be close to my family again and I met up with friends.

Divided
However, walking around in my old neighborhood, dropping by at what I once called the office and talking with friends over diners and drinks, can feel pretty weird as well. There’s not a place that you call home anymore and you’re a visitor in your own country. This makes you realize that you had it all: a career, your own apartment and a great social life in Amsterdam.. But I gave it all up, which made my visit hard as well.

Small steps
On the other hand, it really made me want to go back to Boston, to be able to work on my long term plans again. To continue building my new network and exploring the local industries in Boston. I couldn’t wait to look for new assignments, jobs or projects in the communication, PR or social media field. Since my new me, had to focus on building a life on the other side of the ocean. After several weeks of searching on the web, visiting network events and a drink with a well-known entrepreneur in Boston, the first steps are made.

To be continued..

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On the 4th of April I received a long awaited document. My employment authorization document arrived 76 days after I applied. A  few days later, I went to the Field Office to apply for my Social Security Number, which was delivered one week later. In total, it took me a little less than 3 months to get them both. So from now on, thanks to my J2-visa, I am eligible to work in the USA.

I will start as a self-employed copywriter and PR consultant. Hoping that in the near future I will get to know the local markets clustered around Harvard and MIT a little more.

I’ll keep you posted.

MonsterImagine you’re a publisher with one or maybe two job boards in your portfolio. How do you respond to the way recruiters shift their budget to social media? Do you decrease your prices and wait until this social media hype is over? Or do you integrate Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in your strategy?

Not an easy assignment for media titles that make money out of selling job ads and subscriptions to their resume databases. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, 80% of the recruiters say they are going to use employee referrals and Facebook and LinkedIn instead of spending the money on ads on job boards. And according to my own little research, 48% of the recruiters in the Netherlands say they’re going to cut the budget for job boards this year. No wonder, some job boards therefore consider social media as their biggest threat.

Monster’s social media strategy
On the 22nd social media breakfast, Kathy O’Reilly, Director of Social Media Relations at Monster, explained how the company embraces social media and sees it as an opportunity. She shared some great insights on how Monster is incorporating social media in its day-to-day operations.

First of all, Monster calls itself a powerful job matching engine instead of just a job board. Their social media objective is to increase traffic by engaging with users through Twitter (@monsterww) and Facebook, plus giving them career advise (@monstercareer). Not just by pushing job vacancies to their fans or followers, also by helping out job seekers and employers who experience difficulties using their online services. Like many other companies, Monster integrates social media into their customer service strategy.

Not a vacuum
So who is responsible for these social media activities? According to O’Reilly social media shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. Therefore the social media team is part of the Marketing & Communication department. It exists out of 4 people. In addition they appointed some members in other departments. How she knew who to pick? Simple, a questionnaire was spread internally, which researched the level of engagement on social media of the employees. Those who already interact with audiences on Facebook or Twitter in a responsible and genuine manner, are well on their way to become ambassadors anyway. Why not make them part of the team? Monster is even thinking about certifying certain employees as official ambassadors.

Learn them how to drive
To make sure everybody is on the same page, Monster took the IBM social media guidelines as an example. They organize toast & tweet masters in order to talk about the do’s and don’ts. They give each other tips about what blogs to read, like Mashable, Social Media Today or Social Media Explorer for example. However, you do need one core group within the organization who enables these learning processes. In other words, somebody needs to give them the key so they can learn how to drive.

For my Dutch readers: Lauri Koop, VP eCommerce Europe at Monster Worldwide also explains the way Monsterboard integrates social media on Marketingfacts.

Poster at Brookline HighLast week, I read an article in the New York Times about a phenomenon called ‘sexting’. In other words: adolescents sharing  pictures of themselves via their smartphones. And as the term ‘sexting’ suggests, these pictures usually reveal more skin than is advisable during puberty.

Three teens from Lacey were actually charged after texting a nude picture of a girl to everybody in their contact list. It took them just a few seconds.

While I was walking through the corridors at Brookline High School, this poster caught my eye. I guess the next generation learns the rules of social media the hard way…

Before I left Amsterdam, I had lunch with an former colleague, Michael Minneboo. Out of the blue he asked me if he could interview me about my blog and what it was about. Since it was only five days before our departure to Boston, I wasn’t really prepared for this question. However, Michael managed to make this video out of it. Well done, Michael!

I almost forgot, one of my main questions at that time was whether organisations in Boston integrate social media more easily in their business strategies or not.

My first impression
After three months, I have noticed that I could visit events, meetups or seminars where marketeers, community managers, PR and other communication professionals get together on a weekly basis, if I wanted to. Discussing social media strategies, sharing best practices or other valuable information.

In addition, all restaurants and cafés have a Twitter handle, a Facebook page and provide special offers on Foursquare. Hospitals use social networking tools to inform patients. Social media policies are integrated in introduction programs for employees. An incubator like MIT turns Cambridge into a breeding place for innovative start-ups like no university in the Netherlands is capable of. (I sincerely hope the TU in Eindhoven is, one day). Start-ups and communication agencies all seem to have a blog, which is regularly updated and not only by the junior PR executive. And the entire team, including the CEO, is engaging with audiences on Twitter.

On the other hand,  most corporations still struggle with transparency. 25% of the companies ban social media at work, compared to only 8 % in the Netherlands…

social media ROISocial media tools come and go quicker than ever. On the 22nd social media breakfast in Boston I’ve learned about a bunch of new tools that I’ve never heard of before. Or let me put it this way: there is a lot more out there then Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or Tweetreach.

Because I’m sure many of you might want to know about these social media tools as well, I listed them below.

Some of these tools (try to) measure social media ROI, others provide you with social CRM or are able to schedule your tweets in a smarter way. I haven’t checked them all out myself, yet. So see for yourself what it can do for you and if it works out for your business. And – maybe even more important – find out if it fits your budget, because not all of them are free…

So here they are, the social media tools to check out:

There is no such thing as a tool that meets the needs of all companies. Besides, the possibilities to measure social media engagement can change overnight. That’s why big companies like Monster.com don’t sign up for any long term agreements with vendors. According to Kathy O’Reilly from Monster.com many vendors are willing to provide you with a free-trial.

Other panelists who contributed to this list of social media tools are Janet Aronica from oneforty, Ben Boardman from Marketwire & Sysomos and Forrester analyst Zach N. Hofer-Shall.

Want to add tools to the list? Please feel free to drop a line in the comments.

I have to say, the image of graduates flying over a QR-code and the red frame that is so recognisable for Time Magazine  are nicely blended together by the art director. But as a copywriter it was the wordplay that turned a little smile on my face when I walked by this ad last weekend. Just enough to make me look forward to the next issue. Mission accomplished…