Top five social media destinations

Do you live your life in 140 characters are less? Have you almost lost your life several times because you had to get that shot of a crazy cab driver uploaded to Facebook? If this is anything like you, here are five cities you’re just going to love.

NetProspex has ranked the cities in the United States by social media activity, and the results are not at all surprising. Using the NetProspex Social Index (PDF), which the company developed, it was able to rank activity across a number of social media platforms, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Here are the details on the methodology:

The data was mined from their database of business contacts. There are three components to the score. First there is social connectedness: the number of employees with at least one social media profile. Second there is social friendliness and reach: the average number of connections per employee across major social networks. Third is social activity: the average number of tweets, number of followers, and number of users following.

So, who wins? Take a look below:
1. San Francisco: home of Twitter and long-time tech city, is this really surprising?

2. San Jose: okay, like San Francisco but not as cool … pretty easy to see this one coming

3. New York: 8 million people with nothing better to do and plenty to TwitPic

4. Austin: who knew the country’s sexiest city would also be one of its most socially connected? Hot people flock together and like to stay in touch

5. Boston: another tech center, especially the metro area, and there really is nothing better to do up there …

[Thanks @zimmermitch, photo by Laurie DePrete]

Traveling women are Facebook addicts

A new study of female travelers indicates that close to half can’t let go of Facebook when they’re on the road. Unsurprisingly, Facebook is the social network of choice for women on the go.

Ninety-three percent of women who have had an overnight trip in the past month, according to Women on Their Way, have Facebook accounts, and 68 percent of them use it for travel purposes. What do they like to do most? Share multimedia! Fifty-seven percent engage in that activity. Status updates and commentary about the trip are next (38 percent), followed by Facebook Places check-ins (13 percent).

While these activities can happen before or after the trip has come to a close, 46 percent of respondents said they use Facebook while actually traveling, and 77 percent connect to the social media platform via a laptop.

So, if you see some hottie in the hotel bar and want to know if she’s interested in doing something regrettable … well, it helps to be “friends” first.

[photo by Andrew Feinberg via Flickr]

Ask your social network – Dining out tip

If you’re on Facebook and/or Twitter, you already have a host of restaurant tips at your disposal: Ask members of your social network what restaurants they recommend in the city you plan to visit.

Those who live in that city will be able to give you a local’s perspective, and you will also hear from people who live elsewhere but have visited that city in the past.

Who knows? You might even find a dining companion or two!

[Photo: Flickr | Patrick Powers] travel-planning site launches in beta

A new travel-planning website and booking engine is launching this month in beta, and I was excited to give it a test run, having first heard about the site this spring at a EuroCheapo travel happy hour. is a “personalized recommendation engine” that takes your interests, budget, and even social network connections to give you inspiration and help you plan your next vacation. Flights and hotels are pulled from Expedia, with restaurant recommendations, activities, and sightseeing descriptions culled from Lonely Planet, FourSquare, NileGuide, and Yelp.

Let’s say you have a week to travel in early September for Labor Day. Budget is under $1,000 per person for flights and hotels, and you’re interested in culture, beaches, and food. Plug all those into the search engine and you’ll get a series of destinations to review, refine, share, and book. While the site still has a few bugs (budget busters would sneak through the filters, the help feature is not fully enabled), the interface is slick and user-friendly, the features are thoughtful, and the content is reliable.

What’s cool about the site:

  • Since I’m currently based in Turkey, I loved that your point of origin could be pretty much anywhere in the world so I could run searches from New York and Istanbul to get a wide variety of places convenient for different parts of the world.
  • A wide (1,200 and growing) network of destinations gave me some ideas I’d never considered or even heard of (Kalingrad, Russia; Azemmour, Morocco; Krabi, Thailand), as well as some more tried-and-true vacation spots(Sunny Isles Beach, Florida; Mykonos, Greece; Split, Croatia).
  • Weather and news tabs give you an idea of the current climate (could be too hot on that Egyptian beach) and happenings, though you might come up with nothing for more obscure destinations. I also love that many of the news feeds are through Twitter accounts like @visitbritain, giving up-to-the-minute quickie items.

What will be cool about the site:

  • Ability to share trip ideas and plans with friends via email or Facebook is great for planning a trip with multiple people or getting feedback on a destination. Currently, Facebook Connect will tell you who you know in a given place, but I’d probably remember if I had a friend in Lutsk, Ukraine.
  • Festivals and special events come up via Eventful, but on the beta site event dates will pop up well after your search range so don’t plan around that blues festival just yet. There are also plans to add destination reviews, currency converters, and travel tips.
  • After all the searching, sorting, and sharing, you can actually book through the site, though only if you have a US credit card. The booking interface is also easy to use and gives options for frequent flier numbers, seat and meal preferences, and room types.

All in all, Wanderfly is a nifty new tool for dreaming and planning your next trip. If they could find a way to integrate time-sensitive deals, local blogs, and multiple-destination trips, this could be the only travel site you need.

Top five ways to use social media to look like you’re working on vacation

We’ve put some distance between us and the September 2008 financial crisis, but unemployment – and tension the workplace – is still high. There’s plenty of anxiety over whether people appear to be working hard enough, because it’s safe to assume that the budgets being allocated or raises and bonuses are unlikely to be generous. So, in the quest to appear productive, employees need more tools. Thankfully, we have social media: use it wisely, and you can look wholly dedicated to your company and your job while you’re on vacation.

The trick, of course, is to look productive. Work through your vacation, and you give up an opportunity to relax … and risk annoying the friends or family traveling with you. I’ve written about tools you can use to look like you’re working even when you’re not, but the proliferation of social media options gives you new ways to snow your boss.1. Plan your lies
While you’re waiting at the gate or sitting on the plane, write out the tweets and Facebook status updates that make it look like you’re thinking about the office. Use brief mentions of activities that could look like work, such as “Taking quick look @ document before heading to pool”. Write enough so you have three or four a day (you don’t want to overdo it).

2. Schedule your tweets and status updates
Since you don’t want to give up vacation time to even the appearance of working, schedule your tweets and Facebook status updates. HootSuite’s my favorite, but there are other tools you can use, as well. I prefer HootSuite because I can hit Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from the same place and schedule updates for each. Twitter may say you’re “taking quick look @ contract” but you’ll really be sipping something delightful on the sand.

3. “Favorite” tweets for @replying or retweeting later
Unfortunately, this requires that you actually do something while you’re on vacation, but it’s not as hard as it sounds (as long as you use a smartphone). While you’re waiting in line or running off to the bathroom, use a Twitter application (I use UberTwitter) to scan your stream and see if there is anything work- or business-related that you can retweet. Do some immediately, but mark most of the interesting tweets as favorites. When you get back to your hotel room, schedule the retweets over time, so it looks like you’re continually thinking about work.

4. Check in (with the office, that is)
Again, you can’t schedule this sort of behavior, but you can still fake it. During your flurries of @ replying and retweeting, dash off a few direct messages to key people at the office (peers are better than bosses, because I will seem more like real work) just to see how things are going and if anybody needs some help. The only risk is that you could get dragged into a conversation (or worse) if someone really does need a hnd.

5. Hire a helper
Find an unemployed liberal arts grad who’s willing to tweet and post for you for a few days. Pay him or her with access to your garage while you’re out of town and a hot meal when you get back. Hire a psych or philosophy major, and you can probably get away with cold pizza.