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How to be a better Twitter user

17 Aug

Twitter is not for everybody because it takes some time and skill to use it to its full effect.  Since there are so many conversations and so much information being shared, its easy to get lost and not see any usefulness.

First, define what you want from Twitter. Do you want to follow like minded people? Are you a news junkie and want the latest breaking news? Do you want to get your name out there?

Once you have defined what you want, you can then choose to be a “lurker” or a participant. Lurkers just listen and gather information without adding anything to the conversation. They generally don’t start conversations nor share ideas.  Participants are more active–choosing to share links, engage in conversations, re-tweet content.

Obviously, you will get more in the way of real connection by participating actively.

Second, understand how Twitter works.  Twitter is real time conversation. People are talking to each other right now. And they are talking to many people. Sometimes, newbies just respond to a question someone has posted hours ago, without any reference to the original question. That is confusing.

Third, get a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. It is far easier to see what is going on using a Twitter client than it is to use the Twitter web interface. You can see your @ responses (responses that mention you) and you can create specialized feeds for different subjects or groups of people.

Fourth, monitor Twitter for @ responses or for Tweets mentioning your name or product. There is nothing worse than lack of response or super delayed response. I posted something five months ago and someone is just getting back to me. That is not timely…and it shows a complete lack of understanding on how to use Twitter.

Fifth, understand and use hashtags wisely. Hashtags that define a topic are useful when conducting searches or grouping tweets into one heading. Some people love to make up hashtags and use many of them on a single tweet. I say choose one that encompasses the topic, if you want to have a greater presence around that tweet.

Sixth, interact! If you have chosen to participate in Twitter, make sure you are interacting with other people. If you see something that is interesting, re-tweet it. Answer people’s questions, comment on their posts.

Seventh, don’t just sell, sell, sell or self-promote. Nobody wants to see a sales message all the time or your bragging. Twitter allows you to unfollow people quite easily.

This is not the Twitter Bible. I am sure there are other things to keep in mind…what would you add?


And another thought on social media ROI

12 Aug

Social media is about connecting with people on a more intimate and individual level than mass media. In the past, companies spoke at their audiences through advertisements and other marketing forms. Now, companies can INTERACT with their audiences, in fact making communications more of a two-way phenomenon.

With that in mind, the closest comparison to social media is in-person networking. I wonder how many companies calculate the ROI of sending a company representative to a networking event. If the person makes ten connections but no sales is that considered bad ROI?

Networking, and social media, is about building connections. There may or may not be a dollar value that can be attached to those connections.


Some thoughts on the ROI/ROE of social media

11 Aug

Increasingly, I am seeing articles out there about measuring the Return on Investment (ROI)/Return on Engagement (ROE) in social media.  This morning, I read an article that went so far as to show you how to calculate the dollar figures of investment and the projected value of any customers you may get from your blog.

The thing is this: what are you using social media to accomplish? Without knowing the answer to that, there is no measurement available. If you are indeed using your blog simply to generate sales, it is easy to calculate if you are getting a decent ROI.

However (you knew this was coming), using social media can help you/your business accomplish many goals, such as:

  • Thought leadership
  • Image/branding
  • Name recognition
  • Networking (as in actually meeting other people)

These are not so easily measured in numbers and certainly not in dollars, and yet they all have value.

My conclusion is that you should not waste your time trying to measure your ROI/ROE but instead ask yourself if your social media use is generating value for you. If you are spending hours and hours a day on social networks and haven’t made one solitary connection, it is clear that there is no value for you. If you have made connections, improved your image, heightened your name recognition, perhaps that is the value you seek.

What are your thoughts? What makes you use social media for business purposes?

Just because its on the computer doesn’t mean you can’t act human

4 Aug

Be warned: this is a rant.

Lately, I have been getting followed and unfollowed on Twitter by a guy who has a networking group here in DC.  He happens to have many Twitter handles (and a surprising number of followers).  He has used at least five different handles to follow me, and then, I take it because I haven’t followed back, he unfollows me. Is this a good way to get me to follow him? NO!!!

Say this interaction was taking place on the phone instead of on Twitter. It would go like this:  He would call from his cell phone, and hang up once I answered. Then he would call from his office line, and hang up again. And so forth. This would be very annoying, and bordering on perverted behavior (if there were any heavy breathing involved).

If he actually wanted to talk to me, he might call and say “Hello, I really think you have some great ideas to share, and I would like to talk to you some more.”  But apparently, he is either unaware of how to behave like a human, or is just interested in numbers.

There is no great mystery to getting Twitter followers: it is simply about behaving courteously and human. That is, showing interest, re-tweeting content to show support and giving credit, and INTERACTING.

Why do so many people forget they are dealing with other people on the Internet? You would not walk into a store and yell obscenities, for instance.  And yet people do this on Twitter as a matter of course.

A computer is just a tool. It need humans to run it.



Beware the social media echo chamber

25 Jul

Sarah Palin may be forgiven for thinking that many people in the U.S. agree with her viewpoints–after all, she gets confirmation all the time from her Facebook fans.  Last week, Politico reported that Palin posted a criticism of President Obama on her Facebook page. If you check out the entry, you will note that there are dozens of supporting comments and more than 19,000 people liked her words.

You could also be excused for thinking that Sarah Palin has lots of support. But you would be wrong. What she has is support among her supporters–that is, she is preaching to the choir. She is not going to get push back from people  on Facebook, because after all, they (presumably) have indicated that they “like” her. Sure, there are probably several people in there who “liked” her to follow her moves, but overall, these are her fans, her base, her echo chamber.

Politicians–and marketers–need to be careful that they aren’t getting to overenthusiastic about the echoes they are hearing. Your supporters will mostly always like you and agree with you. But if you are always listening to those who like you, you will be unaware of why those other people out there don’t.

Social media, especially the concept of Facebook pages, is the very definition of an echo chamber. You are sharing content with those who are already predisposed to liking what you say and do.  Same thing happens with your Twitter stream–you have chosen to follow and be followed by certain people. If someone in your Twitter stream annoys you or doesn’t agree with you, you can block him/her.

I am not saying that brands should not have Facebook pages, or that you should not select your Twitter stream. What I am saying is that you have to be aware that you may be speaking in an echo chamber–hearing back what you want to hear.

What do you think? Do you find yourself in an echo chamber?



Getting more readers and getting unfollowed

18 Jul

Check out my guest blog post at the Downtown Women’s Club blog: 5 ways to get more readers to your blog. Hint: it has to do with being consistent and getting the word out. Special thanks to Diane Danielson for giving me the opportunity!

On social media and blogs, we are all trying to get more readers and more followers. If we are in business or marketing, we are also trying to convert some followers/readers/likers into customers. Right?

Lately, I have been cleaning up Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Basically, I have been reducing the numbers of people that I follow or am connected to. Let me tell you why.

It’s personal

On Facebook, which I consider a personal network, I have been “unfriending” anyone that I don’t know very well, or only know through business encounters. I tend to share my personal views and activities and really, would rather have fewer “friends” on Facebook than thousands of people with insight into my personal life.

It’s business

On LinkedIn, I have removed a few connections because I just don’t know enough about them. LinkedIn is a business network, and when you connect with someone, you have access to his/her connections. I want to be more careful with this network and not give away my hard-earned connections to people who are just trying to expand their own networks with little regard for what I do.

It’s common sense

I have been unfollowing lots of people on Twitter lately. Why? Because there is only so much time in the day, and there are so many tweets that I want to make sure to follow folks who are offering stuff that is relevant and/or interesting. I am on Twitter to share and to learn, but I don’t need to learn about what you did at the gym or whether your cat is at the vet. On Twitter, I definitely stopped following anybody who:

  • Self promotes endlessly
  • Uses crass expressions/language ALWAYS
  • Doesn’t ever share anything valuable (as defined by me)
  • Seems to be in a quest to get the most tweets per day ever
  • Who never ever interacts with me or re-tweets or even acknowledges my re-tweets (unless the person in question is a journalist/politician/world leader)

So yes, we are all trying to get more followers and to do that, you need to be aware of what gets you unfollowed.

Your thoughts?


Putting back the social in social media

22 Jun

It’s been discussed to pieces but social media is just a channel for communicating with other people. It is not the be-all-end-all. Yes, it can be used for marketing (just like that ad you just saw on your way to work this morning) or to incite political action (as in Egypt) or to let people know when the next event is.

Recently, I was at a women’s business networking event  and we were told to discuss resources we recommend for new businesses, and our own goals and achievements.  When I talked about blogs (I write blog content for clients, among other things), many of the women started saying things like “I am not on Twitter/Facebook, and I just don’t get it.” My response was this: well, you better learn because people are using these channels to communicate much the way you use the telephone or we used to use the fax or the telex even longer ago.

Social media has become the communication channel of choice for many people. Will people still use the phone? Yes. Will some use the fax? Maybe. Telex, no. In a few years, we will be communicating some other way (not on Twitter or Facebook).We will use what other people are using.

Communicating on social media is just a phone conversation on steroids.

It is about people speaking to other people. Yet, there are many people out there scheduling their tweets, and broadcasting irrelevant news and/or sales pitches. There are people who never attempt to learn anything about the PERSON at the other end of the avatar.  People who are too busy looking at their screens to interact with other people at an event. (As an aside, a few weeks ago I was at an event regarding social media, and one of the organizers never introduced herself to anyone and barely looked up from her laptop. And she is supposed to be a social media whiz.  Apparently, she knows how to use the tools of social media but not how to be social in real life with actual people.)

Last week, I made a point of having coffee with someone I regularly chat with on Twitter: Diane Danielson (founder of the Downtown Women’s Club). I had traveled up to Boston for my college reunion, and asked Diane if she would like to meet up. It was nice to be able to talk face-to-face, and make a more tangible connection.

In my opinion, the real goal of social media or any other communication channel is to connect, whether it be to converse or  to exchange information or to perhaps to sell (products, ideas, services).

So, try to put the social back into social media by realizing you are using it as a way to communicate with other people.