All posts in Twitter

  • Sure-fire Way to Make Social Media Work for B2C Small Business

    Pat Kitano is one of the smartest people I know. I met Pat years ago during my Blogging Systems days when my business partner Richard Nacht and I were trying to convince the real estate industry that blogging was THE thing to do. Pat was/is a seasoned entrepreneur with keen insights as to how social media can be used for marketing.

    Pat recently wrote a post that opened my eyes to how local, retail-oriented small businesses could use social media. It's simple, effective and won't take a great deal of anyone's time. It's involves the use of four social network platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Yelp. 

    Here's how it works (and I'm borrowing some great quotes from Pat's post for context):

    Facebook

    "Facebook is primed to evolve into a massive Sunday advertising circular for local businesses."

    Every local small business should set up a Facebook Fan Page. Why? Because, with over 400 million users, over 50% of whom log on every day, there is a great likelihood that your customer is there. What better way to connect with them than by creating a presence there as well.

    For many small businesses who have either no Web site or an online brochure, for all intents and purposes the fan page could become their new Web site. 

    What do you do once you've set it up? Let me answer that question by asking one. What are you promoting via other forms of advertising (TV, radio, print)? Do the same thing via your fan page. Not only that, use it to create coupons and special offers just for fans. 

    Of course, use it as an interactive medium through which you engage with fans, upload interesting content such as videos, blog posts, photos, etc. Make it your digital outpost inside Facebook. 

    Click here to learn how to use Facebook for business.

    Twitter

    "[T]he new local advertising vehicle is the Twitter coupon…Twitter will develop hyperlocal couponing systems that will be online equivalents of PennySaver coupons and Valpak."

    If anyone has proven the effectiveness of marketing products via Twitter, it's Dell. Through their Dell Outlet Twitter account, the company has sold millions of dollars worth of inventory with only a minimal investment of resources. Even though they are a Fortune 100 company, the principle holds just as true for small business. 

    There are a number of good examples, not the least of which is Naked Pizza in New Orleans, which gained national attention due to their use of Twitter. (Another great example is what Ramon de Leon, owner of a Dominos franchise in Chicago, is doing with Twitter and other forms of social media.)

    It hurts me to think of small business not seeing the value of using Twitter for couponing, customer service, customer relationship building, search marketing, and so on. 

    Click here to learn more about how to use Twitter for business. 

    Foursquare

    "Geolocation is changing the social media by providing nothing more than the tagging mechanism to define social networks by localities."

    Applications like Foursquare, Gowalla and others are hot right now. If you're not familiar, they are location-based social networks that allow users to "check-in" to wherever they may be at a given moment. In addition, there is a game playing element to each. Foursquare, for example, allows users to accrue points each time they check-in to a given location. The person with the most points is deemed the "mayor." 

    "Geolocation is changing the social media by providing nothing more than the tagging mechanism to define social networks by localities. Geolocation facilitates the development of a new, more practical, more intimate Twitter/Foursquare network of friends who just happen to be living down the street," says Pat. 

    More and more businesses are rewarding the mayor with special offers, discounts, or freebies (free drink, free appetizer). Think of the benefit to doing this. It's a great way to build repeat traffic to your location. 

    Not only that, when a user checks-in, Foursquare shares that information with their social network. And, it can automatically publish the information to the users Twitter and Facebook accounts! Talk about viral, word-of-mouth marketing…using social media, it's on steroids! (Oh, and small business owner, you had to do nothing for this to happen except extend a special offer to the mayor.)

    Click here to learn more about how to use Foursquare for business.  

    Yelp

    "[T]he new reviews column is Yelp."

    The fourth social network local, retail small businesses should be using is Yelp, a "rating and review" site that allows consumers to "share the experiences they've had with local businesses and lets business owners share information about their business with their customers."

    Claiming your business profile allows you to:

    • Communicate with your customers– privately and publicly
    • Track how many people view your business page
    • Add photos, a detailed business description, up-to-date information, history, and specialties
    • Announce special offers and upcoming events
    • Recommend other businesses

    It's a way to leverage grass-roots opinion and encourage those who are favorable toward your business to express their pleasure. For those who may post unfavorable comments, by claiming your profile you get the opportunity to turn an enemy into a friend and do so in a public way, which can serve to engender trust by consumers. 

    Click here to learn how to use Yelp for business.

    What role does the company Web site play?

    With all these new outlets, you may think the role of the company Web site is marginalized. To the contrary, I see a unique role as a "hub," or base of operations from which your visitors can connect with you on all of the above. Those that find your first on Facebook, Twitter or Yelp can be directed back to your site. 

    I've said it numerous times, the Web today is all about shared connections, not information silos. Connect your company Web site to all the places you have a presence online and connect from those places back to your site. It will create a unique synergy that will attract the attention of human visitors and search engine spiders alike. 

    What about the time investment? 

    Facebook/Twitter – You will more than likely spend the majority of your time updating your Facebook fan page. It can serve as your social media digital center. From there, you can autopost content to Twitter. Conversely, you can have your Twitter posts publish to your fan page as well. 

    There are some things that cannot be automated, such as personal interaction with fans/followers, but that investment of time is well worth it in the long run. 

    Foursquare – Your responsibility to Foursquare is simply to a) offer a coupon, special offer or discount to the mayor (or offer something to anyone who checks-in via Foursquare; it doesn't have to only be the mayor) and b) monitor check-in activity and comments. 

    Yelp – Claim and populate your business profile, then encourage your best customers to post reviews/ratings there. Each time someone writes a review you will receive an email notification, so you're not having to constantly monitor the site. (Note: Yelp has also launched a geolocation/check-in app for the iPhone.)  

    What if I need help?

    The Handyman is here to help! I can provide anything from social media strategy consulting to assistance in setting up a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter account, or Yelp profile. DM me using Twitter, email me at pchaney at gmail dot com or call me at 337-804-2081 with questions or to learn more. 

    Conclusion

    I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Pat's secret sauce in all of this is the use of what he refers to as the Breaking News Network, a series of hyper-local portals that get lots of traffic and attention via the use of aggregated/filtered localized Twitter feeds. In effect, it is a digital "watering hole" where people gather daily to learn about what's going on in their community. 

    It's a brilliant concept which Pat is taking to city after city (his target is 300 cities). He sees it as just as essential a component as any of the four I've just mentioned. (And, frankly, so do I.) If you'd like to learn more about BNN, contact Pat at pkitano (at) gmail (dot) com. Tell him I sent you! 

  • My Name is Paul and I Am a Recovering Twitter Purist

    image from www.cnaw.bizMary McKnight and I were catching up after a long hiatus and, as social media devotees are apt to do, the discussion turned to Twitter and our use of it.

    Since both of us are self-admitted Twitter purists, I was a bit shocked to hear Mary say she uses auto-DMs when people follow her. OMG!!! Noooo!!!! Not you Mary!!!! Say it ain’t so!

    She explained there are ways to use auto-DMs to foster engagement and traffic to her Web site. Not through a sales pitch, but via the use of humor.

    She’s not the only one. A client of Bizzuka who uses our Internet marketing services division, Bizzuka|Interact, to help with SEO, branding and social media, also uses auto-DMs and asserts that most of the interaction on his Web site comes from that tactic. (DISCLAIMER: I had advised him against such use.)

    Here’s my confession

    Soooo…because I respect both Mary and my client, I’m rethinking the whole auto-DM notion. I also have a confession of my own to make. I use auto-follows.

    I know what you’re thinking. I’m a reprobate, someone not to be trusted ever again. But, hear me out before passing judgment.

    When I first started using Twitter (and for a long while thereafter), I checked out every person who followed me to determine whether it was in my best interest to return the favor. I looked for particular criteria, such as the use of @replies, retweets, a completed bio with a link, and other such markers.

    However, the time came when I could no longer do that. It required too much…time, that is. Being the cordial, courteous Southerner that I am, I couldn’t just not follow people, so I relented and used an auto-follow device.

    (Truth is, I’m finding it takes just as much time to keep the list clear of spammers as it did to vet each one. Danged if you do and danged if you don’t, as they say.)

    Here’s my #unfail

    To Mary’s point, I’ve found that my use of Twitter has changed and evolved over the years (I started using the app in early 2007). At first, I did a lot of listening and little posting. Then I went through a phase of wondering where anyone would care about what I posted or whether it had enough value to be attended to. (Another admission — I have self-esteem issues.).

    Once I got over that, I became a Twitter “engage-a-holic” and felt that engagement was, indeed, the name of the game. The idea of interacting on Twitter solely for the purpose of broadcast was far afield from my purist way of thinking.

    Through continued use, I came to realize “Twitter is as Twitter does.” Best practices are still being determined, and while I feign the use of Twitter solely as a pitch medium, my determination of how it should be used is much more flexible. In fact, I don’t know if “should” is even the verb that, um, should be used. Now, when asked to define what Twitter is, I simply say, it’s whatever you need it to be (within reason, of course).

    I mean, look at how Dell is using it as a way to sell millions of dollars worth of inventory via the Dell Outlet account. What’s the latest figures, something like $6 million plus. Amazing!

    So, how has your use of Twitter changed over the years? What’s your Twitter #unfail?

    I’ll make the same deal as Mary did in her post on the topic. To quote her, “[I]f you join this meme and use the hashtag #unfail on Twitter in the next 36 hours, I will link to you from this post.” Time starts now!

    PS: While you’re at it, why not write a blog post describing how your use of Twitter has changed since you first started.

  • My Take on Twitter Follow Limits

    image from farm1.static.flickr.com
    (Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons)

    I have a client facing the ominous Twitter 2000 follower limit. You know, the one where you can follow up to 2K without the 10 percent rule being enforced, then after it is. 

    The strategy for dealing with that phenomena is well-documented. You can read why Twitter imposed the policy here, get a further explanation here, and learn how to negotiate it here

    Basically, the policy was put in place to prevent spamming and dealing with it involves an often tedious process of unfollowing those who don't follow you, balancing the follow/follower ratio, etc. It can be a pain. 

    We're putting our focus in the wrong place

    Instead of walking the Twitter follow tightrope, we should be focused on increasing our own follower count, not the list of people we're following, for there is no limit on how many people who can follow you. 

    "I’m afraid this has gotten confused. There is no limit to the number of followers you can have," said Twitter co-founder Evan Williams in response to a blog post on the subject.

    I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't follow others. If for no other reason, it is a point of common courtesy and evidences that you are a good citizen of the Twitterverse. I'm saying that, instead of ruining your day worrying about the 10 percent ratio, you should focus on doing the kinds of things that get people to want to follow you. 

    Here are my suggestions:

    Answer the right questions
    Instead of answering the question, "What are you doing?" answer another instead: "What do the members of the community you are attempting to reach care about?" Or, "what resources would this community find valuable?" Address those questions and you are well on your way to getting lots of attention. 

    Provide valuable resources
    Similarly, if your focus is on the people whose attention you want to attract, then you will tune your mental radar to be aware of resources, both your own and others, they would appreciate. These could come in any form, from blog posts to videos to PDFs. 

    Don't constantly pimp your own stuff
    You may think that by only posting links to your own content that people will flock to you. I hate to disappoint you, but the likelihood is they won't. I'd use something like a 5:1 ratio of posting links to other's resources as opposed to your own. Five of theirs and you can reward yourself by posting one of yours. That's fair isn't it?

    Don't spend a lot of time posting quotes
    This is a pet peeve of mine, but I don't see a lot of value in constantly posting quotes. A few every now and then are okay, but unless your particular "schtick" is quotes, less is more. (Again, my pet peeve.) 

    (Important to note: Twitter is a search engine and people are using it to find resources much in the same way they use Google. Why do you think both Google and Bing are now indexing tweets in search returns? I suppose some people would use Twitter to look for quotes, but more often than not, that's not the case.) 

    Spend time engaging the community in conversation
    This is perhaps less a reason people use Twitter now than in the past, but it's important nonetheless. It's what separates you from the bots. Conversations make you real. They allow me to get to know you at least in a perfunctory sort of way. If I know you and I like you, I'll probably follow you. 

    Retweet other user's content
    This is one of most valuable things you can do for two reasons: It sends a tangible message that you are a good member of the community, and it extends a digital handshake to the person you're retweeting. You're giving them an attaboy, a virtual pat on the back. I know that when others retweet my content, it assures me that I've contributed something others find valuable. 

    Become a valuable resource
    Notice I did not say, provide valuable resources. (I've already said that.) What I mean is that your focus should be on building a personal brand such that when others think of you, they immediately ascribe value. (BTW, auto-DMs do not help your cause in that respect.) 

    How do you accomplish that feat? By doing all of the above. What will be payoff be? More followers and inclusion on more Twitter lists which translate into even more followers. 

    Currently, I'm on 165 different lists and the number grows almost every day. As you know, Twitter allows users to follow entire lists, so it amps up the chances of being followed dramatically. Guilty by association as it were. It's a nice "lagniappe," as we say in south Louisiana.

    The inevitable outcome is you don't have to worry too much about that darn 2K follow limit! It will be of little consequence. I know it may sound like a lot of work and I am not suggesting it isn't, but it sure beats the heck out of slogging through dozens of Twitter follows to find those who aren't following you in return…and it's a lot more fun! 

  • Twitter is Coming to LinkedIn, But Should It?

    UPDATE: As usual, Mashable comes to the rescue with the inside scoop on the Twitter/LinkedIn connection. You have the option to have your entire Twitter feed posted there (I don't recommend that) or, as with the Facebook selective twitter status option, you can select which tweets make it and which don't. That's the better option by far IMO. Just us the hashtag #li or #in. 

    ————————————————————

    The New York Times is reporting that Twitter and LinkedIn are joining forces. I can understand LI's incentive for adding tweets, but question whether it's really in their best interest to have tweets like "Time to watch Monk. It's the last season." or "I rode a Greyhound bus once when I was 18 and it taught me to never ride a bus again as long as I live." on what is an otherwise professionally-oriented social network. I mean, really, do we? In my view, this is an oil-water mix. 

    It's not that LinkedIn should be exempt from Twitter mania, other than that it has set itself up as a site for professionals that is strictly business. 

    The Times says, "The partnership with LinkedIn affirms Twitter’s role as a network for professional conversation." That would be fine if all we used Twitter for was professional conversation, but you know better than that. 

    Some questions for you…

    1. Will this integration cause us to be more guarded in what we say on Twitter? Will we be less open to casual conversation? 

    2. Does this signal a shift in the way we view Twitter, seeing it even more as a tool for business-oriented conversations? Has Twitter grown up, so to speak? 

    Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive, said that he wants "LinkedIn to be the hub for all professional conversation," according to the Times article. That's fine, so long as he is willing to accept everything else that comes with it, including what I had for dinner! 

    What do you think? Is Twitter appropriate for a social network like LinkedIn? 

    Posted via email from Paul Chaney's [Other] Blog

  • Evaluating the new RCA Small Wonder EZ209HD camcorder

    (Excuse the shakiness of the video. I was holding the camera in my hand instead of setting it up on the tripod like I should have done. Hard to do two things at once and do either well.)

    Over a year ago I purchased an RCA Small Wonder camcorder. It resembles the Flip video camera that everyone "flips" over, with two exceptions: It has more features and it's less expensive. Those were the exact reasons I purchased it too. 

    Almost from day one I've been an ardent evangelist of the Small Wonder and more than once have stood toe-to-toe with a Flip user in defense of the Small Wonder's many attributes. (Attributes such as an SD card expansion slot which extends the memory, and a rotating view screen that allows the videographer to be in the picture and see what's being recorded at the same time. Oh, and did I mention it costs less? Very important point.) I even talk about it in my new book. 

    EZ209HD_300x300 My devotion to the camcorder finally paid off. In fact, it got the attention of RCA itself, via a member of their PR department, Caitlin Malone. We had a nice, long email conversation that resulted in Caitlin offering to send me their brand new HD model as a gift of appreciation. As much as I would have loved to accept it, I had to refuse. I don't accept either remuneration or gifts in return for my opinion. 

    We did reach a compromise, however. I agreed to try the camcorder for 30 days giving it my honest, heart-felt opinion. And while I'm predisposed to liking it, given my past experience with the model I purchased, I'm going to do my best to give it an objective review. Then, I'll either buy it or send it back. 

    My plan is to use the camera on an almost daily basis for 30 days, checking things like battery life, ease of use, convenience, ease of upload to YouTube and the like. I'll also give points for style, a category where the Flip has trumped heretofore. 

    Some critique at the outset

    RCA has done a less than stellar job in creating marketshare among social media types. For example, the Small Wonder Web site is the same one that's been there since I bought my device well over a year ago. In fact, it still features that same model! That's ridiculous. 

    2009-07-19_1901

    Compare it to the Flip Web site, which features their latest models, the ultra and ultraHD. It's a much more engaging site (once the flash loads). The company also offers the cameras to charitable organizations for use free of charge through their Flip Video Spotlight program. 

    2009-07-19_1904

    I think RCA could gain ground by engaging in social media and create good will through a charitable program of their own (Giving cameras to elementary schools in lower income neighborhoods perhaps?). But, why is there no Small Wonder Twitter account or Facebook Page? Easy enough to set up and inexpensive to run, yet could pay huge dividends. 

    Caitlin has an RCA-related Twitter account which she doesn't really use (she's young; give her time), but that's about it on that front. To its credit, RCA does have a Facebook Page, but not one for the camcorder specifically (which is my point). In fact, that Page has less than 800 Fans and has not claimed its vanity URL either, which says someting about how much stock-and-trade the company is placing on it. 

    Alternatively, what about a micro-site similar to that created by Sharpie, Sharpieuncapped, that pulls content from YouTube, Flickr, the Sharpie blog and other sources. A similar approach would work extremely well here and could replace the dated site that currently exists. 

    I hope you can see from the above that I'm not fawning over the company, as much as I do like my camera. And, if anything, this is a prime example that the best product isn't always the one to win. Flip certainly has the upperhand in the word of mouth marketing department. 

    It may be braggadocious to say, but I think I could teach this company a thing or two about how to use conversational marketing to engage Small Wonder customers, excite word of mouth among them, and maybe even win over some Flip users. 

    So, the experiment begins. My next installment will be a overall review of the camcorder's features, or lack of them as the case may be. I also hope to compare the Small Wonder against a Flip camera. Just so happens our executive assistant owns one. Finally, part of my experiment will include allowing others to try the camera and express their opinion.