University of Louisville grad student / Otterbein University alumni / Musician / Sci-fi nerd / Free thinker / Bourbon drinker.
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"Oh excuse me!" A lesson in finding your inner weirdo

Mark Murdock (Twitter: OhExcuseMe) was todays guest speaker in our social media class, and he won me over in the first five minutes by proudly proclaiming himself to be a “weirdo,” then referencing “death by powerpoint” (a commonly overheard phrase in the Army), The Matrix, and George Orwell/1984/we’re all slaves to the system.  I was impressed, but determined not to be outdone on the Weird Scale.  So I jumped on Twitter and asked my bro Palpy for his opinion.


Palpy and I go way back.

Anyway, Mark continued to impress the class with a magic Twitter trick he performed two or three times.  As soon as he was done talking about a subject, a link relevant to the topic would suddenly appear on his Twitter page…. but he never touched his phone or computer.  He told us he’d made a playlist for our class on Spotify just for fun, and thirty seconds later a link to the playlist appeared on his Twitter page!  Wizardry, I say!  Actually he was just using the oft-overlooked social media trick of scheduling a post for a later time.  But he did it three times in a row, and it was neat.

Mark has extensive experience in the media world.  You name it, he’s done it.  Online media, social media, media analyzation, media marketing, and one thing that he and I have in common: broadcast media!  We’ve both done time as radio DJs (and we both have a lingering bitterness over the way Clear Channel does business).  Mark is also a co-host of an internet podcast called “The Ice Cream Headache.”  His listed skills include landscape analyzation, competitive analysis, content curation (w/photos & vids), coordinating social spending, and engaging fans/followers/customers.

His advertising clients include Big-O tires in the KY/IN area, Four Roses Bourbon, the fledgling Renaissance Academy in Indiana, Transit Authority of River City (TARC), and over 500 McDonald’s locations in Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois.

More from Mark on the subject of being a weirdo: ”Weirdos see the world as a blank slate for them to paint their masterpiece. Weirdos don’t care what other people think.  Let’s not stop until weird is the new normal.”

Why Weirdos Outperform Normals (Michael Lazerow via LinkedIn)

Mark asked the rhetorical question to the class, “Is social media a job or a skill?”  I’ve thought about this question before, since part of my job description as a Unit Public Affairs Representative is to operate social media platforms for my unit (read: the DoD sometimes pays me to post Army things on Facebook).  I don’t often feel like it’s a job because I have an outrageous amount of fun with it… but I get paid… so it’s a job, right? I can’t decide!  *head explodes*

Mark ended the hour with some real-world advice: “Make sure you work for someone who really enjoys their work. Don’t go work for soul-suckers! … At the agency level, ‘engagement’ is customer service or amplifying your brand’s awesomeness… being positive, fun & upbeat is key.”

By silent agreement, Dr. Freberg’s class proclaimed Mark to be the most interesting and entertaining speaker we’ve had all semester.  I hope our paths cross again in the future; I will happily trade bourbon for trade secrets!

In the world of “social,” everything is possible

We brought the guest lecture series to a close this weak in Dr. Freberg’s social media class with visits on Monday and today.  Monday’s visitors were Mr. Dennis Yu and Mr. Alex Houg, who joined us via Skype.  Mr. Yu and Mr. Houg are two high-ranking executives with BlitzMetrics, which is a social media marketing and analytics company.

Alex, at just 20 years old, is the CEO of Blitzmetrics after already spending six years in the world of social media advertising.  Dennis serves as Chief Architect, social media know-how, and has co-authored a very thorough set of online introductory modules for Facebook and social media knowledge and use.

One of the first things Dennis said to our class on Monday was “In the world of ‘social,’ everything is possible.”  Dennis used Alex as an example to illustrate to the class that with social media and online marketing, a person’s demonstrated ability matters a lot more than his or her age or the contents of a resume.

"You can be under legal drinking age and be invited to conduct analyses for Google, present reports to Facebook high-ups, whatever.  If you show your passion, these companies will come to you."

BlitzMetrics is in the market for young professionals in the social media advertising world; if you’re interested in learning more feel free to contact Dennis and Alex on Twitter!  

Signing off from Freberg14

At the end of semesters at U of L, students are encouraged to log into Blackboard and answer a review survey about their classes.  In keeping with all of the social media-based material we’ve covered and learned about during this semester, we get to put our reviews for that class on our blogs instead!  

Dr. Freberg’s Social Media course has taught its students about social media management with various platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and more), social media strategy, the importance of knowing the scope of your social media influence (Klout), personal branding and online persona, privacy and legal consequences of online content, and more.  As the social media administrator for my Army unit, I’ve been able to adjust and specify content on Facebook and Twitter for the unit as well as for myself, increase the amount of traffic and followers, and expand the scope of online presence.  After graduation I’d like to go into a line of communications work involving social media advertising and coordination, so this is probably going to be one of the most valuable classes I take in my grad program.

Although not nearly as much as classmates like Maggie (IndecentexposHER) and Molly (GollyMoldstein) who have seen their class-mandated blog posts read by fans around the nation and in several other countries, some of my blog posts have gotten some attention from communications and advertising professionals in the business, which has generated some back and forth and been a lot of fun to be part of.  I haven’t been as on point with my “bourbon of the week” posts as I’d have liked, but this is the first time in more than seven years that I’ve had a full-time academic schedule.  I haven’t had much time for Kentucky’s favorite pasttime!  Hopefully within the next month I will have the chance to make up for that lost time.  I’ve also gotten experience and new methods for taking my nickname, expanding it into a brand, and fostering a unique online persona which no one else has!  I owe a lot of this success to Dr. Freberg, her class, and my classmates.  I look forward to seeing who keeps their social media work going after this semester and after graduation.

Anyone who reads this and wants to jump in on the fun (I’ve gotten praise from many corners for the entertainment factor of my social media posts), follow me on Twitter or Instagram (WhiskeyBen)!  I’ve got a diverse background, a cynical sense of humor, and a loud mouth.  Twitter would be a [slightly] less interesting place without me.

Also make sure to jump on the “band”wagon by following the 100th Army Band on Facebook and Twitter!  Contact us and we’ll come play a concert for you (for free!!)!

And if you have even the slightest interest in staying updated on current events in social media, communications, or marketing, make sure to follow our course instructor on Twitter, @KFreberg.  Tell her WhiskeyBen sent you!


This is it, kids.  Tonight the entire state of Kentucky (and most of the rest of the basketball-watching nation) will be watching the next chapter of one of the most legendary college sports rivalries.  It’s the Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats squaring off in Indianapolis at 9:45pm.  You can watch the game on CBS from your living room, or do what I’m doing and grab a few people and head out to your favorite watering hole!  Bardstown Road is sure to be jumping, so follow me on Twitter and Instagram to catch the fun! 

The month of March is always an exciting time to live in central Kentucky.  This morning I was driving to campus amidst a multitude of cars sporting UK and U of L window flags, license plates / plate frames, and the ever-present “UK / U of L: House Divided” flags.  I was one of the last people to get to class (I’m blaming traffic), and walked into a classroom almost completely populated with students who were almost entirely sporting red and blue t-shirts.  

The NY Times put out a pretty spot-on review of this interstate beef which has existed for decades: A fierce rivalry divides a Kentucky united by basketball.  (Sidenote #1: even as a Kentucky native and basketball fan I thought that Richie Farmer’s jail extension was a little ridiculous. Sidenote #2: The article mentions a restaurant which is dying its spaghetti red in preparation for the big game. That restaurant is Skyline Chili, and I stopped there today and got a 3-way for lunch.  And it was fantastic.)


This Sweet Sixteen Bluegrass matchup is giving other local and historic Kentucky businesses the chance to make their preferences known.  Here’s a great picture of Churchill Downs getting in on the action last night, when they put up red and blue lights in the historic Twin Spires!  Everybody’s getting into the spirit!


Louisville fans are looking ahead this month, hoping for a repeat of history: Louisville wins the 2013 NCAA Championship (SbNation)

And here’s a reminder of how UK celebrated their Final Four win over U of L in 2012 (sorry, I couldn’t resist): UK students riot after UK beats U of L in 2012 Final Four (Huffington Post)

And lastly, this one is a release put out to the UK student body by the college administration in anticipation of tonight’s game: UK officials to students: don’t get too rowdy this time ( via the Lexington Herald Leader)

And lastly, a message from the U of L Housing Administration to its own student body: “….. Don’t be that guy.”


Enjoy the game, and GO CARDS!

Guest Speaker: Melissa Agnes

This morning our Social Media Class hosted a guest speaker from Montreal.  Melissa Agnes is the president of the Crisis Intelligence firm Agnes + Day, and spoke to us for an hour via Skype.

One of interesting points Melissa made was explaining the difference between an “issue” and a “crisis” from a PR standpoint.  The distinction is the occurrence (or threat) of a “directly negative impact.”  An issue is “a negative event that does NOT have (or threaten to have) a direct, negative impact on an organizations reputation and/or bottom line.”  A crisis, on the other hand, is a negative event that DOES have an impact on a reputation or bottom line.  Melissa also listed the Ten Rules of Crisis Communications which her company incorporates into its practices.

Melissa talked about the media as it relates to social media, telling the class “Twitter is where the media is. Twitter is where they look for headlines.”  She also told us something that I’d never heard before: Twitter has its own variant of a jail!  Twitter Jail is where your account is sent if you tweet more than 100 times in an hour, more than 1000 times in a day, or send more than 250 direct messages in a day.  Your account is locked down for anywhere between an hour to a full day, or maybe until the Twitter powers that be get around to releasing you from your “confinement.”  Before you find yourself on the wrong side of the Twitterverse, maybe you should check out these 13 Steps to Getting Out of Twitter Jail. (wikihow)

Hootsuite University

Hootsuite is a social media monitoring platform.  It’s a website to which you can link some or all of your social media accounts, and the website will create a dashboard which will show all of your social media content at once, in one location.  I have my dashboard set to Twitter and Facebook, and this is what my Twitter dashboard looks like:


Hootsuite University is an online social media certification program, and part of our curriculum in my social media course at U of L.  Through use of video instruction, practical application, and course exams, you can earn the right to add a bullet point to your resume that reads: “I know how to make social media do my bidding under any circumstances, and if you hire me you’ll have Facebook fans of your business from around the world by the end of the week!”

HootSuite Certified Professional

Here’s a blog from Hootsuite University which gives information on how this material is taught at U of L: How the University of Louisville teaches Social Media to COMM students

Hootsuite can be an incredibly effective tool for knowing the status and content of all of your social media accounts at a glance.  You can create and schedule content to be posted at a later time (when you might not be near a keyboard).  If you work as part of a group that uses social media as part of its business, you can organize your coworkers’ social media sites and Hootsuite accounts on your dashboard, separating them by team, department, or however you choose.  You can also search every social media network simultaneously for a keyword, phrase, or specific topic to see what’s trending or popular.  The website compiles and keeps record of statistics for your personal or business social media sites.  For example, your Twitter profile stats will give you updates on things like the number of times your brand is mentioned on Twitter per month, and how many followers you gain per month.

I learned a great deal from the certification process.  Since I don’t have a brand or business to represent at the moment, the best thing I’m likely to take from this instruction is the feature to delay and time your posts for when you can make sure you get the highest level of impact.

For some social media monitoring variety, check out these other seven places to earn an online certification in social media which would look great on a resume: Social Media Certifications: 8 Places to Get Certified in Social Media

Back from break with a bourbon!

I’ve discovered firsthand the difference between undergrad and grad students, with regard to Spring Break:

Undergrad: “I’m going to the beach!”  

Grad: “I have a week without classes, so I’m going to catch up on all the things I’ve fallen behind on during the semester.  I’m going to vacuum.  I’m going to do dishes.  I’m going to go to work.”

One of the fun things that happened over spring break was St. Patrick’s Day, and while bourbon isn’t of Irish design, they definitely have a good market on whiskey!  So here are some fun facts about bourbon AND whiskey, posted in salute to one of my favorite holidays.

Whiskey Trivia (Genius of Drinking)

Seven Things You Should Know About Bourbon (MentalFloss)

18 Facts You Must Know to Sound Smart about Whiskey (BusinessInsider)

Here’s something fun I didn’t know: The generally agreed-upon difference between ”Whiskey” and “Whisky!”  (Also known as: “The Tale of the Telltale ‘E.’”)

Happy Whiskey Wednesday!  That’s a holiday I just made up.  Go celebrate!


Let’s have a chat.  What’s your favorite bourbon or whiskey, and what do you like about it?  Let me know on Twitter

Social Media Monitoring

So maybe you’re using social media to advertise or help run your business or organization.  Being an administrator of a Facebook fan page gives you access to information about how well your posts are received and shared with your fans and other users.  Other social media tools are available to let you know about the responses or feedback earned by your posts, such as Klout, TweetDeck, and Hootsuite.

Social media monitoring can be an essential tool for preventing a social media crisis before it happens.  And don’t make the (disastrous) mistake of thinking that your online reputation doesn’t matter, or can get along just fine without you.  The BrandWatch article below highlights the consequences of social media neglect: “There are numerous examples of when companies neglected the negative feedback they were receiving from customers via social media sites and, consequently, individual posts got astounding numbers of shares, creating negative buzz and harming the company’s reputation.”

There are some very easy ways to increase the response to your social media posts

~ Vary the content of your posts.  Keep it interesting and engaging, whilst still focusing on the content of your brand or message.

~ Don’t just connect your social media accounts and think you’ve got it covered.  Making a Facebook post that directly appears to Twitter and Instagram just makes you look lazy.  Pay attention to the fan bases you have on each social media platform, and tailor your posts and responses to those platforms individually.

Related reading:

5 Reasons why social media monitoring is essential from a PR perspective (BrandWatch)

5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify your Marketing (SocialMediaExaminer)

One often overlooked benefit of social media monitoring (ExactTarget)

Instagram-am-am-am-am-am you oughta know by now…

If the title of this post didn’t put a worm in your ear, you need to expand your music library.

"Instagram?  That picture website?  Isn’t that just like Twitter except with more emphasis on pictures than words?"

Well… yeah, kind of.  But it’s still a lot of fun.

Twitter is an extremely effective tool for sharing up to date or real-time information about people and events around the world.  Instagram is a neat way to share aspects of your life to followers using pictures and short messages.  You take a picture with a smartphone, apply one of about a dozen filter options to make the picture look different (brighter, contrasted, more vintage-style, etc), then post it with a caption and hashtags of your choice.  

As of October 2013, Instagram had more than 150 million users (Twitter was still ahead at 250 million). Since last month it looks like Twitter is experiencing a slight stall in user growth (2% increase in the last 6 months), while Instagram is still on the fast track (23% increase in the last 6 months).  Hey, I started my Instagram page last month.  I am the 23%!!!  (by the way, Facebook’s results on that study showed a decrease of 3% in user activity.)

I’ve had a lot of fun with Instagram over the last 6 weeks, and I’ve found a lot more of my friends on there than I thought I would.  It’s a free app available for download, and can be just as fun of a diversion as Twitter, Facebook, or Flappy Bird.  Give it a shot!  In the meantime, here’s some quick reading about the growth of Instagram, why it’s a good idea to jump on the bandwagon, and some tips on “social etiquette” to maximize your return and positive feedback.

Social Media growth in the last 6 months (MediaBistro)

Tips on using Instagram for your business (SocialMediaExaminer)

Instagram etiquette (

WhiskeyBen on Instagram (hint hint)

Google Transparent Aluminum

Google Glass is just one more example of recent technological development that I’ve been aware of since the late 1980’s.  I’ve known about Google Glass, flip phones, tablets & iPads, video chatting, and transparent aluminum since the late 1980’s.  If you can’t guess how I knew, I have a string of movies and TV series on Netflix that you should go watch.

(Hint: putting “transparent aluminum” on the list should have given it away)

(ganked from Youtube)

If the video didn’t do the trick, here it is in plain English:


(ganked from Reddit) (I claim no responsibility for the misspelling of the word “wearable” in the above meme)

Google Glass is an interactive information display worn in place of (or sometimes on top of) glasses.  It’s designed to have internet access, function much the same as a smartphone (touchpad, display, 720p camera), and be accessed by voice command.

Dr. Karen Freberg, the instructor of my social media course at U of L, is involved with Google Glass as an “Explorer” of the technology.  She gets to wear a Glass headset before the rest of us do!  It makes her look kind of like this in class:


(ganked from Jean-Luc Picard’s ready room)

I think that the most tedious part of being a Google Glass owner has to be the reactions you’d get from people who can’t tell if you’re talking to them or not. But you’re in luck!  Google has included with its user manual a list of "Google Glass Do’s and Don’ts" to ensure that proper etiquette is observed at all times while wearing this contraption.

Frustratingly, Google Glass is also the latest example of a media platform that can see its wear-out date almost before it hits the shelves. I found this article from InformationWeek already asking "Is Google Glass obsolete?"

Obsolete?!  It’s not even available to the public yet!!!  And anyway I bet the guys over at the NSA are going to make sure it stays around for quite a while to come.