HOW TO: Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions Using Social Media

Posted: December 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide

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Mollie Vandor is the product manager for where she likes to make lists about reading, eating and bad-TV-watching. She’s also the media director for Girls in Tech LA. You can find her on Twitter @Mollierosev and on her blog.

Whether you’re looking to make a big change, or just tweak a few little things, the new year gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on your behavior and resolve to do better going forward.

Of course, it’s one thing to say you want to tackle a typical resolution like get in better physical shape, get in better financial shape or — like many of us who work on the web — get your social media presence in order. It’s another thing to actually accomplish those big, broad goals.

So this year, instead of making your goals big and broad, why not take a page from the web world and use analytics to pinpoint the specific stuff you want to change? And, by that same token, why not use data tracking to hold yourself accountable for keeping all those resolutions too?

Read on for some tips on how to use social media to corral your New Year’s resolutions. Let us know in the comments below what tips worked for you, or share your own resolution advice.

Let’s Get Physical

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There’s the freshman 15 everyone gains from collegiate pizza and beer, and then there’s the startup 15 many of us tech geeks gain from sodas and office snacks. Between the time spent sitting in front of a computer screen and the time spent networking over drinks and dinners, it’s easy to put on pounds when you work on the web. Of course, you can always try the startup diet, but that’s not necessarily going to work for everyone.

Keeping a food and exercise log might sound like a daunting task, but it turns out you may already be tracking some of that data without even knowing it. Foursquare actually lets you see your entire checkin history and, if you do a quick search, you can find it so you can easily see whether you’ve really been going to the gym or frequenting your fast food runs.

Similarly, the Foursquare stats page lets you see your own checkin trends in handy graphs and lists. There’s even a site called weeplaces that lets you turn your Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla checkins into graphic visualizations. And, weeplaces will let you filter those visualizations by food-related checkins and parks and recreation checkins, so you can really get a handle on your history.

Google Maps also lets you search your own history, so can get a visual reminder of the places you’ve been searching for, and start picking up on trends in your own behavior. You just have to enable it. And, of course, there’s the age-old pedometer, made a lot easier and more fashionable via a host of iPhone and Android apps that let you easily track how much you’re walking without having to do anything more than a quick download.

Of course, once you establish the things you want to change about your eating and exercising habits, you still have to make those changes stick. Apps like LoseIt, Weight Watchers and LiveStrong let you log calories you eat and calories you burn via your smartphone. Fitango prescribes personalized plans to help you get in shape, and gives you a forum for sharing milestones you meet with your friends. Similarly, Phitter is like a fitness-focused Twitter stream where people share weight loss trials, tribulations and tips to help keep each other going.

Or, you can try something like the Social Workout Challenge, which gives you fitness goals to meet and a community of people to keep you accountable for meeting them. If you really want to take your weight tracking to the next level, there’s even a scale that automatically tweets your weight to the world. While you’re at it, FixNixer and QuitMeter also give you similar tools for tracking your way out of a smoking habit, another great way to get yourself in better physical shape in the new year.

Money, Money, Money

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For many people, the New Year is also a great time to get a fresh financial start. But again, it’s a lot easier to make changes going forward when you know how you’ve been behaving in the past. That’s where a site like can be very handy. Mint aggregates all of your various accounts, including credit cards, bank accounts and assets, and then turns your spending habits into easy-to-read charts and graphs that show you where you’re spending and where you could be saving. It even lets you compare your shopping and spending habits with other people in your area, so you can see how you stack up. Many credit cards, like American Express Blue and Visa Signature, also give you year-end spending summaries that show you how much you’ve spent, how much you’ve saved, how much interest you’ve accumulated and more.

Once you’ve nailed down how your money is going out the door, you can start figuring out ways to keep more of it in your wallet. Again, this is where tracking will be key to actually keeping those resolutions. First, you can establish your financial goals via an online calculator, which lets you figure out exactly how much to start saving. Once you’ve figured out your goals, there are more than 50 great, free mobile apps to help you track your spending. On Facebook, the BillMonk app will help you keep better track of those tricky situations where you’re sharing a bill with friends, and you need to make sure everyone knows what they owe. XPenser lets you record your expenses from any device, including via tweet and e-mail, and TweetWhatYouSpend gives you a forum for sharing your expenditures with everyone on Twitter, so your friends can help hold you accountable when you blow your budget shopping those post-holiday sales.

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Whether or not you work on the web, if you’re reading Mashable, chances are you have a social media presence. And, just like your physical and financial identities, your social media self might be due for a little makeover in 2011 too. The good news is that the data is even easier to find when you’re talking about your personal tech habits. For example, you can use the Top Words app to figure out the topics you talk about most on Facebook. Klout tells you which topics you talk about the most on Twitter, and all sorts of other stats that will help you pinpoint what it is about your social media presence that you may want to change.

Similarly, BackType analyzes your Twitter profile and tells you what percentage of your tweets are replies, retweets, links, etc. Like Klout, it also tells you who you’re influencing and who your influencers are. And, it shows you your most shared sites. All of these are great data points for determining things you’d like to change about your social media presence. Finally, ViralHeat gives you in-depth analysis of the sentiment around your various social network profiles, which really lets you hone in on how your social media behavior is being received by your followers on Facebook, Twitter and across the web.

Once you’ve established what you want to change, you can set up ViralHeat to send alerts and updates directly to your inbox so you can track the impact of those changes on the fly. Similarly, since Klout and BackType both update regularly now, you can see your statistics change as your behavior does, which is a great way to keep yourself motivated. And, of course, make sure you set up Google Alerts to track all the activity around your various accounts.

If your resolution involves blogging more often, there are plenty of apps to help you do that on the go, right from your phone. Another way to remind yourself of things you want to blog, tweet or post about is by using a service like TwittRemind, which lets you tweet yourself reminders to do things throughout the day.

To make the most of your many profiles, consider setting up a hub page via a service like, which lets you showcase all your profiles in one place. Or, sign up for a social network aggregation service to make it easier to make changes on all your profiles at once. You also might want to consider setting up a targeted Twitter list of friends and followers who can help you hold yourself accountable and focus your social media efforts so you can minimize the number of relationships you’re managing and maximize the return you’re getting from all these changes.

New Year, New You

Whether your New Year’s resolutions involve getting yourself in better physical, financial or social media shape, the web can help you figure out exactly what you want to change and how you’re going to keep yourself accountable for changing it. 2011 is a brand new year and a completely fresh start, and, breaking your New Year’s resolutions is so 2010.

More Social Media Resources from Mashable:

10 More Creative Uses of the New Facebook Profile [PICS]
10 Cool Facebook Status Tips and Tricks
6 Reasons Why Social Games Are the Next Advertising Frontier
3 Things Brands Must Do to Reach Millennials Online
How Social Media Can Help With Your Long Distance Job Search

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, DNY59

Reviews: Android, Apps, Facebook, Google Maps, Gowalla, Mashable, Mint, Twitter,, foursquare, iPhone, iStockphoto

More About: 2011, New Year, new years, Resolution, resources, social media, tools

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