Archive for the ‘social media’ Tag

Twitter Power Tools

Now that the hype has settled and the new website smell has faded, let’s take a look at Twitter and how to maximize it’s effectiveness via third party Twitter tools.  These tools come in various forms; from websites, desktop apps to mobile phone applications, there are many ways to get your tweets in order.

Seesmic Desktop, along with Tweetdeck, is one of the exciting Adobe Air desktop apps to try for Twitter.

Seesmic Desktop, along with Tweetdeck, is one of the exciting Adobe Air desktop apps to try for Twitter.

Multi-Account Management

Twitter is a great tool, but their website is pretty simple – and that has it’s pros and cons.  The pros being the ease of using it.  For casual Twittering, it handles most of what you need.  But what if you have a personal Twitter account and a work Twitter account – or even more Twitter accounts to promote various aspects of your business.  Now having various browsers open to manage all those accounts at once is not efficient – time for a tool that allows you to manage multiple accounts at once in one user interface.  Their are numerous choices out there, but the ones I recommend looking into the most are HootSuite.com, TweetLater.com, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop and Twhirl.  All these tools are fantastic to easily post a tweet from different accounts without switching browsers or logging in and out of the Twitter website.

Beautiful interface, great features, lots of fun to use - HootSuite is a hoot!

Beautiful interface, great features, lots of fun to use - HootSuite is a hoot!

Following more than a few hundred people on Twitter but have only a handful whose tweets you really want to read?  TweetDeck and Seesmic Desktop let you group those you follow into smaller more manageable lists.  You could create a list just of family members and friends, just of business contacts or whatever other criteria you wish.  Then you can just view one of these lists so it is easily to see these posts without them getting lost in the Twitter stream.

One of the biggest problems I have with Twitter is having the time to Tweet.  My day is busy and I can’t spend my time at work managing my Tweets.  This is where TweetLater.com and HootSuite.com shine.  You can load up a number of interesting tweets when you have 15 minutes available and schedule these tweets to get spread out throughout the day.  Now you can look like you’re busy tweeting throughout the day!  Busy Twitterers are more likely to gain more followers and get more visibility within their current Twitter network.  HootSuite.com even allows you to track stats of your post’s links so you can find out how many people are clicking on the links you are sharing.

Manage Followers/Unfollows

When you get to hundreds of followers, at some point you’ll realize you are following a lot of people you don’t really need to be following.  Maybe you followed them simply because they followed you.  But their posts have nothing to offer you or are so infrequent you never see them.  You try and track them down in your followers list, but all that scrolling through pages is not an effective use of your time.  With a tool like Twitter Karma, you can easily see all your followers and those you are following on one page.  And unlike the Twitter website, you can see at a glance if the following is mutual.  What’s that, that person you were thinking of unfollowing is not following you anymore anyway – Twitter Karma is a good way to find those tricky individuals that follow you first to get you to follow you back only to then unfollow you afterwards to make their numbers look better.

Twitter Karma is an easy way to manage your friends and followers on Twitter.

Twitter Karma is an easy way to manage your friends and followers on Twitter.

Grade Your Performance

What is your influence on Twitter?  How do you rank overall?  Hubspot has a clever little tool to help you get an idea of your level of influence on Twitter.  Go to http://twitter.grader.com to see how you stack up.  This is mostly for fun, but you can pick up some tips on increasing your Twitter influence and find other Twitter users of interest in your area.  Best of all, it gives you a goal to try and beat which encourages more Twitter activity.

Secure Your Tweets

You have to have a backup plan for when things go bad.  That Twitter Fail Whale could surface at any moment and eat your tweets and followers.  Stories have been told of users accounts getting wiped out, either in full or partially, for no other reason than a Twitter technical issue.  So, if you are investing valuable time in your Twitter account, then it makes sense to get it backed it just like any other valuable data you have.  A tool to do this easily is TweetBackup.com.

Share Media

Yep, you can do more than just share 140 characters on Twitter.  The most well know media sharing tool for Twitter is TwitPic which lets you share photos.  TwitVid.io is a newer one that lets you share video.  The video you share can be an uploaded video or one you take on the spot from your computer’s webcam.  You login to TwitVid.io using your Twitter login and post you video to Twitter directly from the TwitVid.io website.  Another cool service is TwitDoc.com which allows you to share files on Twitter.  It works in the same manner as TwitVid.io, but it also has a Desktop Application available.  Say you want to post a PDF document of a business flyer up for your followers to see, TwitDoc.com allows this – just make sure if you’re on the receiving end of a TwitDoc that it’s from a trusted source.

TwitVid.io - a good site to share video on Twitter.

TwitVid.io - a good site to share video on Twitter.

Take Your Tweets With You

On the go a lot?  Have a smart phone?  Then get a Twitter application for your phone so you can Twitter from anywhere.  I can only speak for iPhone apps as that’s the phone I use, but I’m sure if your phone is smart, it has a Twitter app available.  The iPhone Twitter app I like best is TwitterFon.  It is easy to use and even ties into TwitPic if I want to tweet a photo from my phone.  Many of these apps are free, so try a few and decide for yourself.

Promote via Twitter

Got a great blog post or webpage?  Use TweetMeme.com to make it easier for your viewers to retweet the content by placing a TweetMeme “retweet” button on your blog or webpage.  If a viewer likes your info, they just need to click the “retweet” button to broadcast the content to their followers on Twitter.  In addition, your TweetMeme retweets get tracked and if you get enough viewers clicking on your TweetMeme retweet button you will get extra publicity on the TweetMeme website (can you say “Digg.com”).

Build Community

If you really want to connect with your Twitter community, try Mr. Tweet.  This is a great tool for two reasons; 1) you can recommend other Twitterers (people love getting recommendations) and 2) you can get recommendations of other Twitterers that you may wish to follow but aren’t yet.  When you recommend someone on Mr. Tweet, it is recorded on the site and you can also have your recommendation tweeted on Twitter.  Also, Mr. Tweet only looks to recommend people you should follow that have recommendations from others you already follow – in other words, recommendations from Mr. Tweet are really recommendations from those you already know on Twitter.  This leads to having a higher quality of overall friends in your Twitter stream.

I pity the fool who don't use Mr. Tweet.

I pity the fool who don't use Mr. Tweet.

Got More?

This is a very short list of all the Twitter-related tools that exist.  You may find some that work best for you differ from this list – if you do, tell me what it is and how you’re using it?

Can You Join Too Many Social Media Websites?

Can you join too many social media websites?

Yes.

But how many is too many will vary from one person to the next.  There are so many new gotta-join-it social media websites that start up each day, it can be hard to keep up.  Focusing on which ones work for you and limiting yourself to those will yield you better results than being spread too thin on too many.

The important thing is that you are on at least one.  If you can handle 26, that’s great too!

Stay At Home Moms Vs. Corporate CEO’s – All’s Fair in Love and Social Networking

Here is an interesting article I wanted to point out as it features two talented individuals that I have recently made acquaintance with via social networking – Michele Woodward and Liz Lynch.  Michele is a successful life coach and writer who has an extensive background in various business endeavors.  Liz Lynch is the author of an interesting book on networking called “Smart Networking: Attract a Following In Person and Online” that I have started reading.

The article is really an interview of Liz by Michele on Michele’s blog.  Here is an excerpt:

“What’s really great about networking now is all of the online options that are available that you can do on your own time and without having to leave the house. An at-home mom can start to build her online network on LinkedIn and Facebook, and connect with folks she already knows. That way she gets on the radar screens of her old colleagues and can reach out to them much more easily once she’s ready to start exploring her options. She can also start a business blog where once a week she can comment on news and trends in her industry. This is important because once she gets into job mode again, hiring managers are going to Google her. When her blog comes up and they read her insights and wisdom, it might just tip the scales in her favor.”

Blogs and social media are playing more heavily into the hiring process of many businesses, both large and small.  Liz points out how these tools can help build credibility in the job hunting arena as well as with potential customers you are looking to woo.

Read the interview here.

The Best Social Media Platforms For SEO

I saw an interesting poll on SEOmoz.org where they asked what social media platforms netted the best SEO return on investment.  An informal poll, but the results are interesting none the less. Here is the results so far:seopoll

Social bookmarking websites, such as StumbleUpon, was the big winner followed by social networking websites and social news websites coming in a close third.  Social Microblogging is just squeaking in a 4th place ranking, but expect this platform to continue to increase as sites like Twitter become more mainstream.

Twitter Cured My Hiccups

I had a bad case of the hiccups this evening – couldn’t get rid of them and my chest was really starting to hurt (I don’t get them often, but when I do, they’re massive).  I was sitting at the computer and thought “I’ll send a tweet (post) out on Twitter about my hiccups”.  Sure enough, in less than 30 seconds I got a response from one of my followers saying to exhale slowly for 30 seconds and then inhale slowly.  I tried it and bingo, my hiccups where cured.

Online social networking really doesn’t have any limits as to what is possible.  My silly little hiccup situation made me think about the use of social networks as a research tool to discover new information.  Much like search engines 10 or even 15 years ago, most people didn’t really grasp the impact they would have on our lives.  Instead of going to the library when seeking information, we just “google it”.

The next phase in information research just might involve “twittering it”.  More and more high profile users are showing up everyday.  Depending on who you follow on Twitter, you can get business tips from CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies, inside scoops on new products from major manufacturers, investment advice from a famous book author or even dance steps from MC Hammer – yep, he’s on Twitter too.

Build Your Network Before You Need It

I was reading an article by Jeremiah Owyang and read the following line that I thought was pure brillance:

Grow your network before you need them.

Now, Jeremiah was referring to building up a network of business contacts to protect yourself if faced with sudden unemployment in today’s economy, but I thought of it in a different light.  My thinking is to grow your network in the face of less sales prospects.  The last thing you want to face as a business owner is waking up one day and realizing business is too slow to keep the doors open.  That moment is not when you suddenly want to rush out and try and quickly figure out this whole online social media thing and how to make it work for you.  You wouldn’t wait to run out of gas before figuring out where the nearest gas station is, so start filling up your network tank now and revisit the pump often.

Further Exploring of Twitter

I wanted to do a post on Twitter highlighting all the pros and cons and then remembered Chris Brogan has already written an excellent article on this very topic.  Twitter is one of those social media tools that you can get a lot out of if you take the time to use it and get over the initial uneasiness of telling the world what you’re doing at that exact moment.  But at the same time, it helps to know what you can expect to get out of it before jumping in.  While I find Twitter a great tool, I realize it is not for everybody – but it is for mostbody!

Chris Brogan is a top user of Twitter and a high profile blogger.  As a Twitter user myself, he is part of my collective Twitter knowledge stream since I follow him and he also follows me.  To me, this is the most powerful aspect of Twitter in that I have instant access to resources that extend my own knowledge base.  Who you pick to follow determines how successful your venture into Twitterland will be.

Here’s Chris’s article:

http://www.chrisbrogan.com/50-ideas-on-using-twitter-for-business/

StumbleUpon More Traffic For Your Site

After more experimentation with StumbleUpon.com I’ve come to the conclusion that it is one of the best secret weapons to help quickly boost your site traffic.  And the best part is it is really quite easy to use.

Ok, so what exactly is StumbleUpon.com?

In simplest terms, StumbleUpon delivers up random websites on related topics that you can either give a thumbs up or a thumbs down rating to.  Sites that get more thumbs up ratings are served more frequently to other users of StumbleUpon.  I call it “Pandora.com for websites”.  You can put any site in the StumbleUpon queue by first creating an account with StumbleUpon and then installing their StumbleUpon toolbar (yep, another toolbar) and finally going to the site you want to get “stumbled” and then click the thumbs up icon in your newly installed StumbleUpon toolbar.  If it is the first time StumbleUpon has seen the site, it will ask you to fill out a basic description of the site.  Then it will toss the site into the StumbleUpon waters were it will quickly get alot of visits.

Make sure to track your webstats during the process if you are “stumbling” your own website so you can find out if the results are positive.

Social Networking with Rick Itzkowich – A 3,000 Mile Interview

Rick Itzkowich

Rick Itzkowich

Today’s post is an interview with Rick Itzkowich, the co-founder of Productive Learning & Leisure LLC in La Jolla, California, author of The Xtraordinary Living Blog and creator of Quote Actions.  I first meet Rick on Biznik.com where he has a number of excellent articles posted.  After furthering our communications via Twitter and LinkedIn, I knew Rick had some useful insight on marketing that would be beneficial to my readers.

Brent: You mention on your website quoteactions.com that businesses can lose 50% of their customers in 5 years, which I thought was a pretty humbling statistic. Why does this happen and how does a business keep this from happening?

Rick: Primarily because there is a lack of attention given to the customers. Think about anybody you’ve done business with – how many people have you done business with and never heard from them again?

Brent: Lots of people.

Rick: With service providers, I can count on one hand the companies that do follow up or stays in touch with me, except every now and again when they phone to try and sell me something. For the most part, people just get ignored.

There are certain factors that are out of your control, people move, people die, people no longer have an interest in what you do, so there is going to be an attrition no matter what. But I would say, at least 30% to 40% of lost customers could be retained if more attention was paid to them. And more importantly, if there was a system for people to stay in touch and stay connected. Most small business owners do not have any kind of systematic way to stay in touch with their customers. Those that do, have a few e-zines, a few… I did a survey about 2 years ago, and almost 8 out of 10 didn’t have anything formalized. Of the 20% that did, I would say anyway from 20% to 40% of them were in touch with people once a quarter.

Brent: We try to stay in touch once every month or two, but it’s not always that easy.

Rick: You would be among the top 10% of small businesses. Do you have some type of system that you have put in place?

Brent: We do, but it is admittedly hard to keep in place without slipping.

Rick: Another thing that is good is varying the channels, like if you have…. For instances, have you ever gotten a card on your birthday from Southwest Airlines? Southwest is very good about doing that.

Brent: I haven’t personally, as I don’t have much experience with them but I know a lot of people that really love their service so I wouldn’t be surprised that that is something they do.

Rick: Yeah, it is. It is something that they do and it is part of their system. It’s noticeable – even that you know it is a computer that sent it, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, if you do things like that… for example I get an anniversary card from a company I do business with every year of the date a I first started doing business with them and every year they would send me something. You know it’s all computerized and it’s a system, but so what.

Brent: Yeah, somebody had to think it out and put the time in to do it in advance.

Rick: That’s exactly right.

Brent: Say, if you’re staying in touch with a customer through an e-zine newsletter, do you find that an HTML formatted email or a text based email work better than the other?

Rick: It depends on what you are using it for. If you are just using it for information and it’s short and sweet people prefer plain text. But if you are using it to create an image or using it because the visuals are a big part of it to make it interesting and you want people to spend some time then HTML. The problem is that HTML is much more likely to get flagged by spam then text – so there’s that factor too.

Brent: In your case, which do you tend to use the most?

Rick: Our system can deliver both, so the ones that can only receive it in text get text and the other ones get it via HTML.

Brent: So you give the user the choice?

Rick: Yes, whenever possible.

Brent: Is there a universal marketing plan that you think businesses can adopt? If not, how much would it differ – say business-to-business marketing vs. consumer?

Rick: Well, I think custom always works better than universal, because businesses are really different. The more you can afford to direct your marketing efforts the more it’s going to pay off in the long term. There is a direct relationship between doing that. It is not always going to pay off immediately – it’s not like direct sales where you send something off and immediate know the results – it pays off over time.

I’ll give some examples, this year alone we’ve had 3 people… one of them was a client with us back in 1995 and hadn’t done anything since and 13 years later she came and signed up for a $6,000 course because we’ve stayed in touch with her through e-newsletters. And 2 people that have never done a class, and they’ve been in the database for 10 years – this year also they came and signed up for one of our learning vacations, each spending $6,000. So that’s $18,000 from 3 people because they’ve seen our messages over and over for 10 years. And if you had asked me about those people, I would have said no, they’ll never do anything. You just never know.

Brent: It’s funny, I used a quote I made up the other day on somebody – “Just because there’s silence, doesn’t mean nobody is listening”.

Rick: laughter I love that one.

Brent: laughter I think that’s the same thing in that we give up on people because we don’t hear from them but don’t realize they’re really hearing what we’re saying but we’re just not checking in with them to find out if they really are hearing.

Rick: You know one of the statistics that I also found fascinating is from Chet Holmes who writes in his book “The Ultimate Selling Machine” that according to research he conducted, only 3% of the people are in the market to buy your products or services in any given time. And there’s another 7% that is considering buying what you offer. So if you take those 2 combined that’s 10% of your market that’s ready to buy from you right now. The other 90% is either going to be divided equally into thirds: those that are not interested, those that are neutral –neither interested or disinterested- and those that think that they’re not interested. Which means if you don’t have some kind of a way for you to stay connected to them in-between the times when they’re not in the 3 to 10% ready to buy, you’re missing tremendously.

Brent: What social media platforms available do you see as offering the highest value to businesses looking to promote themselves?

Rick: You know, it depends. I can only speak from experience on that one. It all depends on the business and what they are trying to accomplish. For the solopreneur or the small business person who is doing everything himself, it doesn’t matter what they use as long as they find something that works. For example, I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik.com. But the primary reason I have gotten tremendous results out of Biznik, I believe, is because of the approach that I take. And it wasn’t until recently that I changed my approach – and with my previous approach on one of the others sites I was using I would be bombing out at Biznik too. This is more because my approach than because of the site. The approach that people need to understand when it comes to social media and networking is that you’ve got to go in from the point of view of farming instead of hunting.

Brent: That’s an interesting way to look at it.

Rick: (Previously) I was going into hunting – I was going into sales mode. It’s all about building relationships.

Brent: Cultivating the soil.

Rick: Yep, and when you start doing that – that takes time but… For instances, look at us. We started from nothing but here we are chatting – I’m helping you out, you’re helping me out. You’re finding out a little about what I do. It’s all working but if I had tried to come right out and sell you something we would never be having this conversion because it would have been a total turnoff.

Brent: Exactly, I’d have tuned you out.

Rick: But, because I’m putting up articles, putting up useful information, I’m offering the quotes, the actions, the way for people to get to know more about me and something hopefully that they will enjoy then now we have the basis for a conversation. So, going to the social media, if you bring that approach, I think any platform that you use, whether it’s LinkedIn.com, Biznik.com or Facebook.com – you’re going to be far more successful (offering valuable information) than if what you do is go in there with a hunting mentality.

Brent: That is a good way of looking at it and it goes into a follow up question – say for example there’s a person who’s a locksmith, someone who’s only called upon in a time of need – there’re not really a day to day service that is provided. It seems that would be a hard business that can be marketed through social networking?

Rick: Well, not really. Here’s an example, if they were to create a blog, solving people’s problems with locks, like giving information that these locks are good for this and these locks are good for that, this is want you can do if your lock gets jammed, or whatever. What they are doing is starting to position themselves as someone who is giving good information as an expert and when the time is right… say the search engines may now be able to rank them higher. Secondly, if people subscribe to them, they already will have built a level of trust. So, they still can do (social media).

Brent: So even though they are serving a local market, it can still help because you mention the search engines can be impacted positively from social media so if somebody needs a locksmith and they happen to go on the internet – even on their mobile phone or whatever – this type of business can still have a payoff for doing social networking.

Rick: Yes, they can still have a payoff, and there may even be some people that subscribe to their blog because maybe they’re interested… the business can gain creditability.

The other thing that’s amazing is the questions that people are asking on LinkedIn and Twitter or some of these places – people are asking all kinds of questions and instead of Google’ing sometimes they’re (using social media sites) and you can actually put it so that if certain search words are typed in or put in you get notified. So somebody who’s scanning on that, say the locksmith, can identify if somebody is asking a question about that and immediately respond. So that is another avenue somebody can start using.

Brent: You’re a strong advocate for having a positive attitude in the things that you do – what I’d call a Zig Zigler attitude – but with all the hectic news that we are bombarded with everyday, what would be your advice on keeping your chin up and your focus strong?

Rick: My suggestion, first and foremost is stop listening to the media. The media will not report anything good. If you can’t quit cold turkey, then just scan the newspaper to find out what’s going on but stop paying attention to it. Other things that you can do is start doing different things than what you are doing. Right now when people become fear based, they go into what I call protection mode. When you’re in protection mode you’re not in growth mode. You need to go into growth mode – learning, changing, trying different things instead of doing the same thing you’ve always done. You’ll experience some success even if they are not monetary in some instances. Thinking of social media, someone links to you – adds you to their personal list – you’re accomplishing certain things and it will give you far more confidence as opposed to just focusing on everything that is not happening.

Brent: Sometimes the negatives can test you and make you up your game.

Rick: That’s exactly right. I’ve gotten some communications, people canceling stuff, nothing was happening and then all the sudden I got an email from somebody who had accepted one of my subscriptions and I went, that’s great and then one of my articles was published and that’s great and all of the sudden everything turned around.

Brent: I’m seeing the same thing in just what I’m doing with social networking and everything and just staying positive instead of worrying about what is going on. You know, making my future instead of waiting for someone else to make it.

Rick: That’s exactly right. And then you have, for instances, Quote Actions – those messages… they come in and if you do the action they have you focus on something positive and give you some perspective and it’s just about feeding your brain with that kind of stuff instead of some of the doom and gloom that’s out there.

Brent: Thanks Rick – I hope all my readers will join us online.

LinkedIn.com – I Told You It Was Cool

Just when I thought I was going to leave LinkedIn.com alone as a blog topic for awhile since I have a few recent posts on it, LinkedIn has to go and introduce a cool new feature.  Now you can plug mini applications (widgets) into your LinkedIn profile.  These applications range from auto-embedding your most recent blog posts, displaying Power Point presentations, embedding Twitter activity or sharing documents among other apps.

The power in this is that you further engage visitors to your profile and give them a bigger picture of who you are and what you are all about.  Since LinkedIn is a networking website, the more you can impress visitors on the frontend, the less selling you have to do to get them to join your network.

It looks like there is still some bugs with the release of this new feature (at the time of this blog writing, my LinkedIn WordPress application is not displaying anything).  However, these bugs are bound to get ironed out soon, and I have no doubt many more applications will get introduced over time.  If you don’t have a LinkedIn account setup yet, you are soooo yesterday!  😉