Next week is going to be busy: a class and a webinar!

Linkedin Centipedes at 2010 Bay to Breakers.

I have two things coming up next week and decided to share them here!

On Tuesday, I’ll teach a class on LinkedIn for business.

On Thursday, I’ll lead Lunch & Learn Teleseminar: Social Media 101 With Regina Walton – Sponsored by FCN & NAGC.

I’m just excited for both. Check them out!

Now I have to get some lesson and presentation planning in.

Photo courtesy of smi23le on Flickr.

Keeping Technology Simple: August 1, 2011

Photo courtesy of Choconancy, Nancy White, on Flickr.

I was the featured guest on Keeping Technology Simple yesterday. The subtitle for yesterday’s episode was “What’s Your Social Media Strategy?”.

It was fun because Jim Blue interviewed me before. It was good to touch base with someone who talked to me about social media when I was a brand new freelancer vs. now when I’m freelancer who is about two years in.

We talked about a few things. We talked about why I set up my business, what’s changed in the last year, what criteria I use to take on clients, how to learn about the social web and blogging. It’s a short interview, around 30 minutes.

Here it is, so take a listen: Keeping Technology Simple: What is Your Social Media Strategy?

Thanks.

Social Media IS NOT Magic

Photo courtesy of Hryck on Flickr

I’ve just found a lot of people who seem to think that social media is some mysterious and magical thing. That sentiment has inspired me to fire this blog back up.

As someone who works in this very fun field, I get that a lot. I get this will current clients. I get this with possible clients. I also just see it a lot in passing.

The social web is not magic. It’s something that humans have done forever: communicate. I just HATE seeing requests like this:

I am seeking someone who is an expert at this who can take my (whatever it is but redacted because this is a quote) and work your magic.

Look. It’s NOT magic, and, honestly, as much as I love the thought-leaders in this space, we’re all learning as we go. I’m not going to call any of them experts. This is all new and even the people who have expertise are learning and adapting to new tools and resources that are constantly being launched.

It takes knowledge of the tools. It takes knowing how to use them. It takes strategy. It takes trying, measuring, and adjusting, as needed. It takes reading case studies. It takes reading on what people are doing. I’ll also admit it takes sharing what you’re doing (and, yes, I’ve been neglecting that; building a business is HARD.)

However, most important is that a successful social media strategy takes also having GREAT products and/or GREAT content that helps people solve their problems or engages people on an emotional level.

(*Also, before someone wanders in to say people are just using “magic” and similar terms as a figure of speech or play on words and they understand that it takes knowledge and strategy, I’ll agree that maybe that’s the case, for some. However, a lot of people do seem to then there is some mysterious alchemy going on, and that’s not true.)

Social Media: New Year’s Eve Style

Well, at least they’re on it. However, there is no way on this Earth that you’ll catch me in Times Square this New Year’s Eve. It’s already insanely cold out there.  That’s the beauty of social media!

I don’t have to be there. 😉 If you will be there, bring your iPhone!

NewYearsEveWebcast.jpgThe Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment aren’t dropping the ball when it comes to incorporating social media into the upcoming New Year’s Eve celebration, as they will offer a six-and-a-half-hour Webcast via TimesSquareNYC.org, Livestream.com/2010, or Facebook.com/TimesSquareNYC, as well as on a special site for iPhone users, The New York TimesGadgetwise reports.

The Webcast will follow five separate story lines and cover the international participants, the history of Times Square through photos, the story behind the bloggers and other information, and viewers will be able to post photos and comment via Twitter and Facebook, according to Gadgetwise.

Repost: How to Engage your Facebook Fans

It’s been over a month. I know! Over a month.

My apologies, but I’ve been busy working, and that’s an excellent reason to be busy 😉

Part of the work I do is social media management, I thought this was an interesting enough presentation to share. There are a few small grammatical errors in it, but the basics of what they’re discussing is good enough to overlook the small kinks.

Check it out:

IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it

This is a great study on where advertising is going.

It’s not my work. I’m just helping spread the news.

So, again, a partial quote with a link over to the original post.

Enjoy!

IBM Study: The end of advertising as we know it

madmen1

The next 5 years will hold more change for the advertising industry than the previous 50 did.

The information for this post is from an IBM global surveys of more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising experts … the report is titled, The end of advertising as we know it.”

Imagine an advertising world where ... spending on interactive, one-to-one advertising formats surpasses traditional, one-to-many advertising vehicles, and a significant share of ad space is sold through auctions and exchanges. Advertisers know who viewed and acted on an ad, and pay based on real impact rather than estimated “impressions.” Consumers self-select which ads they watch and share preferred ads with peers. User-generated advertising is as prevalent (and appealing) as agency-created spots.

As bait for you to click over, IBM has a report and you can download it from the Social Media Today page.

So get to clicking!

Twitter Makes You Dumb

I’m still up and still reading.  I couldn’t let this headline pass, “Twitter Makes You Dumb”.

Um, okay…I’m just going to say that, at best, this has to be a preliminary study.

Why?  Because this same article talks about other ways to keep your neurons firing like suduko, which I play all the time on the subway (new city, still learning and therefore I’ll play a game or listen to a podcast instead of loud music.) I would agree that if anyone spent most of their day thinking in 140 character increments and communicating in Twitter short-hand, they’re in trouble.

However, for me, Twitter connects me to a larger world.  Frequently, I’m linked to interesting articles or blogs that have a lot of content and interesting ideas.  Either there has to be more to the study for me to take it seriously or they need to dig deeper into this conclusion because it’s going to differ depending on how someone uses Twitter.

Twitter makes you dumb, says psychologist

Guildford, England – Facebook users can boost their intelligence, while microbloggers are tweeting their brain cells away, says a Scottish scientist.

Spending time on Facebook can boost what Dr Tracy Alloway of the University of Stirling calls ‘working memory’, while using Twitter or watching videos on YouTube requires little use of memory skills and can have a negative effect on intelligence.

Playing video war games and solving Sudoku puzzles can also stimulate memory skills, says Alloway, who claims working memory is more important to success and happiness than IQ. In an eight week study of children aged between 11 and 14, the performance of slow learners saw a significant improvement in literacy and numeracy skills and IQ ratings when their working memory was stimulated.

Just feel those braincells dying

”It was a massive effect,” said Alloway, at the British Science Festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford. ”On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct. You don’t have to process that information and your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.”

War games make people use their working memory and keep track of past actions and plan future moves, she claimed, adding that there was evidence linking watching large amounts of TV with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and extensive texting with lower IQ scores.

Sudoku was also good exercise for memory skills, as was keeping track of friends on Facebook, but the instant nature of texting, Tweeting or watching YouTube was not good for stimulating working memory.

What do you think?

Corporate Twittering – Best Practices

After having great Labor Day weekend and, upon my return, a great afternoon nap, I’m up late and reading.  I found an interesting blog post on Tom Humbarger’s blog, Social Media Musings, titled Best Practices for Corporate Twittering.

I had an unexpected amount of comments when I simply reposted Grant Criddle’s “Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why”.  Now the topic of Twitter and enterprise (aka business) catches my attention.  I was surprised that it got sent around Twitter and that people stopped by to comment.  It made me realize that people are curious about how Twitter and social media relates to business.  It’s a hot topic.  It’s still a very new twist on business and it’s something that people are talking about now.  For most, Twitter is new.  In an economic climate where money is still tight, people are trying to figure out how to use this free but influential resource.

Humbarger breaks it down into three simple sections.

  • Getting started
  • Getting your message out
  • Following people

Nothing he says is controversial. It’s just a simple guide to help businesses get started.

He ends with a link to The guide to corporate Twittering.  It’s laid out in a nice table, so you visually inclined folks might like it better.

So do you agree?

Now that I’m Twittering for a business, I have to say I do use tools like Hootlet, which I started off using just to help me improve how I use my personal Twitter stream. I try to make sure to spread news about what the business is up to, but I’m careful to try to balance it with other things people might find interesting. Why not just broadcast? I hate it when  business just promotes itself.  I think of it this way, it’s like being at a party and talking to someone who is self-absorbed. That conversation isn’t going to last very long before I excuse myself and move on.

Also, is there anything you’d like to add?

Twitter for Business and Enterprise? More Risks?

Great pic from TechDust.com! Although, I guess, the bird should have the gun if you think Twitter is risky

Great pic from TechDust.com! Although, I guess, the bird should have the gun if you think Twitter is risky

What do you think about that question?

Let me give you the background on why I’m asking.  An interesting thing happened yesterday. I decided to post a blog post talking about Twitter. I thought was interesting. Basically, the point of the piece is to highlight how Twitter can benefit just about any type of business.

Like I wrote in the subtitle of this blog, “It’s just a conversation.” That’s why the piece resonated with me.

That’s what I truly believe. It’s a conversation on Twitter. It’s a conversation on Facebook. It’s a conversation if you’re having it in your living room with close friends. The only thing that’s different is the means by which we’re talking and the rules that control how we say it. Twitter is really strict. You’ve got 140 characters, period, to get your point across. You can cheat with links to longer content, but you’ve still got to engage that person in 140 characters or less to get them to click.

The piece “Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” is from Grant Criddle’s blog, Plugging into the Social Media. He gives exactly what the title says, seven reasons how a business can benefit from using Twitter.

  1. Build and expand on your network – form relationships

  2. Top of mind awareness with customers and prospects

  3. To learn – about anything and everything

  4. Listen to what people are saying about you

  5. Learn about the competition

  6. Transform your customers into raving fans

  7. Lighting fast customer service

I think that’s a pretty nice list. I have to admit with my mobile wifi provider, Boingo, that’s how they turned me into a raving fan. I mentioned them just in passing on Twitter. I’d never thought to see if they were tweeting.  However, they were monitoring tweets, read mine and responded. Cool!

Then when I was having issues with not getting a signal and wasn’t able to get through on the customer service line, the person manning their Twitter stream was really helpful. They’ve not always been that responsive, but, overall, they’re doing a lot better than other business I’ve mentioned on Twitter. Now I don’t expect every business to do this. When it happens, however, you remember it. When you can get a quick customer service responsive to a simple question online, that makes an impact.

I got one comment from Beirut from the ThoughtPick blog.  She focused on the negative aspects of Twitter:

…it also has the ability to allow for a less secure network at the office, waste employee’s time as well as more room for property loss/theft.

You can click over to the debate she’s having on the ThoughtPick blog: Twitter for Enterprise Debate: Would You Use It For Your Own Business?

I decided, however, to answer her at length here. When I finished, I realized I’d written a blog post ;)So here is my reply:

…can you please give a hypothetical showing how Twitter is significantly different from any other form of communication?

You can have employees blow hours of their time or steal via email or the phone too. However, businesses send press releases and pitches via email simply because it’s made it easier and you have people doing business via the phone constantly.

It’s a new way to communicate, so those risks you mention? They apply to all the ways we communicate.

Business have communication policies and confidentiality agreements that they subject their employees and business partners to. I wouldn’t expect any business to let their employees loose on Twitter without applying the similar and specially-tuned policies and confidentiality agreements for social media. It gets a bit more tricky with business partners but the same can apply in those situations.

I will agree that since the Internet can be indexed and searched in a way that phone calls can’t or that emails can’t that the impact and exposure can be thousands of times more intense IF it goes viral.

But if you’re using Twitter in the same way that you’d use TV, radio or print for advertising, people can record and post that media on YouTube too.

You need to train employees and not let them loose on Twitter. If you do, then, like the early days of email or the telephone, there will be risks that people won’t consider. In fact, people still make email errors and send or forward things to recipients that they ought not.

I, however, don’t see Twitter or any other social media site as SIGNIFICANTLY more risky than more traditional ways to communicate.

The impact of a leak can be huge, but that would have to be intentional. Something like that is easier to see done via email. In fact, we’ve seen sites like Gawker.com publish emails and memos they’ve received from employees who want to expose something or someone.

In the case of a disgruntled employee that tweets a link to a confidential memo or takes a screen shot of an email, it would be the same level of risk to a business as a fax or a forwarded email because now that information can be posted on Twitter, Facebook or put up on a blog.

In fact, a direct leak on a Twitter account would possibly be EASIER to trace back because you have IP addresses and email addresses associated with the account that could be traced, monitored and searched. You’d also have prima facie intent to share that information, if someone sent a tweet.

They would have to upload the memo, shrink the link of the memo so that it would fit in the 140 character requirement and then write (or maybe just send the tweet without text and that might relieve the need to shrink the link). Anyway, that example, shows that it might be a bit more difficult to send out and easier to trace back to an employee if it’s a tweet. If an employee wanted to expose something maybe, a photocopier and a letter mailed without a return address would be better for them because, while slower, it might be harder to trace.

Twitter and other social media sites are just new ways to communicate. They have similar risks. Businesses need to consider those risks, but this is a ship that has already sailed. I wouldn’t advise any business not to use social media. I would advise a business to be smart about it and consider how to make it work for them.

So, what do you think?

“Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why” from Plugging into the Social Web

For all of those businesses that ask why Twitter is relevant to them.  This is a great post by Grant Criddle at the Plugging into the Social Web blog.

I’ll keep my comments short: read, learn and digest.

Twitter Works for ANY Business – Seven Reasons Why

Posted by: Grant Criddle on: August 20, 2009

Twitter is an incredibly helpful business tool if you do the right things with it. People are reading so much about Twitter and how essential it is for business that they sign up without even understanding why or how to use it.  These “experiments” usually don’t last long.

With new things people often jump in, and then they jump right back out when it “doesn’t work” for them. All that’s really needed to get the most out of a business tool is an understanding of why it makes sense.

Here then, are 7 reasons that Twitter is a must have for any business.

1. BUILD AND EXPAND YOUR NETWORK – FORM RELATIONSHIPS

Everyone agrees that business cannot exist without people. We all maintain a personal network that consists of friends, family, work colleagues, professional contacts, customers or clients, etc, and our network grows when we meet new people and form some sort of relationship with them. Twitter makes it possible for you to seek out people with similar business or personal interests, add them to your network, and form relationships with them. The lifeblood of every business can be found in the people who make the business run, and in those who buy from the business. It’s always about people and their networks.

2. TOP OF MIND AWARENESS WITH CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS

If you are willing to put a little of your personal side into your tweets, be interesting and funny while still being informative, you may not have to work too hard at staying top of mind with your customer or prospect base. Next time they need the service you offer, they may think of you and your company just because they remember you from Twitter. They feel like they “know” you, and that you’re part of their personal network. People prefer to do business with people they know.

3. TO LEARN – ABOUT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING

The Twitter community is a diverse one that talks about anything and everything. When you’re in business, you often have questions about your particular market or industry. Twitter is very unique in that you can follow conversations that revolve around specific subjects (www.search.twitter.com), giving you a unique window into how any market development, situation or trend is being perceived. The conversations will also quite often include links to further information or commentary.  I love this capability and search for conversations about interactive marketing often. The only thing I have to be careful about is managing my time – there’s so much stuff! I could spend hours going through it all.

4. LISTEN TO WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT YOU

Twitter provides a terrific opportunity to monitor the reputation of your company or your brand.  Companies may not always like what they hear, but they must at least know what’s being discussed. Let’s face it, people talk. You’re certainly not going to spy on your customers or prospects or bug their phones to see what they might be saying about your company (at least I hope not), but with Twitter you can sort of eavesdrop! You are able to search by keyword to monitor conversations about you or your company, and its products or services. Knowledge is power as the old axiom says. Twitter makes it easy.

5. LEARN ABOUT THE COMPETITION

Can you afford to not know what your competition is doing on Twitter? What is everyone is saying about them? What kind of reviews are they getting, good or bad?  How about who they are following and who is following them? You might even want to follow some of the same folks and read their tweets.  When has competitive research ever been easier?

6. TRANSFORM YOUR CUSTOMERS INTO RAVING FANS

Every company needs customers to stay in business, but the most successful companies transform lots of their customers into fans. You can probably think of someone right now who “swears by” a particular brand or company, Harley-Davidson for instance. If you are doing a great job for your customers and providing a good product and/or service, then you’ve probably got some fans.  If you invest a little time to really take care of those fans, they’ll take care of you.  They’ll not only tell the people in their network about you, they’ll recommend you. They’ll rave about how amazing you are. Twitter provides you with a platform to connect with your customers, thank them, offer specials to them and just plain let them know that you appreciate them. It’s instant. It’s easy and it’s effective – if you’re sincere.

7. LIGHTNING FAST CUSTOMER SERVICE

The main goal of customer service is to help someone resolve their issue. The key to great customer service is the speed and quality of your response – people simply don’t like to wait. Twitter is a lightning-fast platform that can help sift through and solve problems quickly. If it’s a small issue, a single tweet may be enough. For a more complex problem, you can initiate a deeper conversation with the customer. The speed of the first response is what makes people feel like they’re being taken care of. Have you ever been put on hold when you call a customer service line? How does that make you feel? Great customer service gets talked about, and this can lead to more sales and more attention. Twitter is one of the most viral platforms around, which can make one happy customer into a big story.

Is it a must that every business be on Twitter? No, not every business but I would say most. A business shouldn’t use Twitter if not a single one of their customers, potential customers or competitors is using Twitter.  So if you run a business on an isolated tropical island and you sell to customers who don’t have electricity, you might not need Twitter.  However, that doesn’t apply to most of you. Get started and remember to:

  • Make customers aware of your presence
  • Be engaged in the conversations
  • Track the conversation around your company, brand and market
  • Respond quickly and transparently to questions or mentions
  • Be authentic
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