5 Signs You Suck at Twitter

I’ve been playing around with Friend Or Follow over the last few days, and I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people suck at Twitter.

Friend Or Follow is a Twitter tool that shows people you’re following, but aren’t following you; people who follow you, but you’re not following; and people you have a mutual followship with.

I dumped over 500 people from my Twitter account this week with FOF. I checked out each account I unfollowed, and frankly, some of you people are just doing it wrong. That’s why I unfollowed you. Not sure if this includes you? Then check out the…

Five signs you suck at Twitter.

    • You claim to be a social media consultant/pro/expert/guru (CPEG), but your following to follower ratio is 10:1. That is, you’re followed by 5,000 or more people, but only following 500. Social media consultants looove to say “have conversations with people.” But shouldn’t people who truly value conversation be willing to, I don’t know, have them?. Or at least fake like you are? If you’re a CPEG, you should have a ratio fairly close to 1:1. This is not to say that everyone should have a 1:1 ratio. Just the CPEGs. (Pro tip: you’ll also have more than 200 followers. I’m just sayin’.)
    • Nearly every one of your tweets is some motivational or inspirational message. Why do I need to get ten motivational messages peppered throughout the day? If it didn’t help me at 8:30 — 29 minutes after your HootSuite-scheduled “Good morning, my tweeps! Make this an excellent day!” — then it’s not going to help me at 9:30, 10:30, and so on. Don’t regurgitate someone else’s cleverness, show me yours. If you really want to motivate me, tell me about the cool stuff you’re doing.
    • You’re trying to amass as many followers as you can. If you’re a celebrity, a public figure, or someone who’s really, really interesting, that’s great. If you grew your network through hard work and earned those followers, more power to you. But if you resort to computer scripts, trickery, and joining follower-building networks to boost your rankings, then stick with being a LinkedIn LION. Twitter is not a competitive sport. Despite what you’re already doing to LinkedIn and Facebook, Twitter isn’t just one more race to the bottom of mediocrity and uselessness.
    • Your Twitter bio has the words “money,” “fast,” and “make” in it. I spam-block every single person whose bio says they have some money making system they want to share with me. Stick to peddling penis drugs and fake watches by email.
    • Your time between tweets can be measured with a calendar. You don’t have to tweet many times a day, but at least once a day wouldn’t kill you. Even every other day would be fine. But when you’re only tweeting every 3 – 4 weeks on a regular basis, then Twitter isn’t a communication tool, it’s an afterthought, like calling your mom the day after Mother’s Day.

What is your Twitter pet peeve? What sort of annoying behavior have you seen?

Do Small Businesses Need a Social Media Person in Marketing?

A reporter posted a question to an email list I belong to, about whether small businesses need a specific social media expert on their marketing team. I replied that I thought a small business did not need an expert. Rather, they just need to appoint someone on their marketing team whose job it is to participate in social media, but that person can learn the ropes about the different tools they would use. (They will need other knowledge. More on that in a minute.)

Although people have become more and more specialized over the years, at least in the marketing world, social media and the Internet are turning us back into generalists.

You don’t need a special videographer, script writer, and editor to create a corporate video, you only need a Flip camera, a YouTube account, and some creativity to get your videos out to your customers. You don’t need a PR specialist to send out press releases to the local media, you need someone who is already connected to them on Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with them personally. (Yes, I’m oversimplifying a bit, but you get my point.)

And you don’t need someone who has logged thousands of hours on Twitter or Facebook, has written a book, or is a top-notch computer programmer (although they’re all very nice).

You do need:

  1. someone who has the time to do it on a regular, consistent basis. This is not something to do just once in a while, but needs to be done a couple hours per day.
  2. someone the company trusts enough to speak for its brand publicly. This is typically not an intern.
  3. someone who understands message creation and social psychology. It’s not the knowledge of the tools that is important, but the knowledge of how to create a solid message and how that message will affect a chosen group. Again, this is typically not an intern.
  4. management buy-in and their understanding that this is not just jacking around on “Facespace or whatever you young people call it.” They need to be committed to this venture, just like they have every other marketing campaign you’ve done.

We’ve reached the point that social media is no longer a fad. It has incredible usage rates that show that it’s here to stay. The tools may change over the years, but this connectedness among us is not going anywhere for a long while. And because these things are so easy, anyone can do it. The challenge is finding someone who actually knows how to harness the power, and has the time to do it.

Business will serve themselves well by either hiring someone who does social media marketing as part of their responsibilities, or contracting out to someone on a part-time basis to do the work. But either way, they need to jump on this bandwagon before they’re left at the side of the road with the people still running their IBM PS/2s wondering when all this talk about the Internet is going to die down.

Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Social Media to Improve Fundraising, Membership

Yesterday, I talked about why nonprofits needed to use social media in 2010. And I promised to talk about the strategies nonprofits can use to grow membership and fundraising dollars.

To get started, create a Gmail account and import all the email addresses of your members to it. Keep this one private, and don’t use it. Not because there are any problems, but because you don’t want your members to get confused when they get emails from a Gmail account with your name on it.

Gmail contacts

    • Join Facebook and start a Facebook Fan Page for your organization. Import your members into your Facebook account — this is what the Gmail account is for — and friend the ones who are on there. Encourage them to communicate with you and each other on the Fan Page. Ask your members to recommend the Fan Page to their friends. Participate in conversations with your members and fans.

 

    • Set up a Twitter account, and encourage members to start “following” you. They’ll receive your updates (tweets), and be able to keep up with what you’re doing. Participate in Twitter conversations with your members, and follow people who talk about the same issues. Use things like Twitter search or NearbyTweets.com to find people in your area talking about your organization’s key issues.

 

    • Start a blog and write about the issues that are important to you. Don’t give up your print newsletter, but use your blog to communicate with members in between your monthly or quarterly mailings. Write about other organizations in your field, like a similar nonprofit in another town. For example, if you run a food bank, write about the great things a food bank in another state is doing.

 

    • Use LinkedIn to establish your personal brand. Your personal brand is just as important as your organization’s. By getting to know people outside your organization, you may find different opportunities to be out in your community. This helps you meet people who could be likely donors, find other opportunities where your organization could be a beneficiary of a community event, or even find possible members and volunteers among your new network.

 

    • Automate some of your content feeds. You could do this all by hand, but this will save you several minutes a day. Use the Network Blogs feature on Facebook to feed your posts to the Fan Page. Use Twitterfeed.com to automatically feed your blog posts to your Twitter stream. Don’t turn your feeds into automated bots (robots), but use automation to lighten your load a bit.

 

There are more ways than these five that you can use social media to your advantage. But these are the five that can get you started. If you have any ideas or suggestions, let us hear from you. Leave us a comment, and if we get enough, we’ll use them in a future post.

Mea Culpa

We’re sorry. We made an error in judgment.

It was an enthusiastic error, and one that we made because we were excited.

We sent out an email to a list of our friends, acquaintances, social media contacts, and other people announcing the Twitter Marketing for Dummies book.

It’s my fault, I guess. This was my first book. I helped write it, and even though my name is not on the cover (see my previous post Ghostwriting for Dummies), I was still pretty excited.

I wrote half the book with Kyle Lacy over the summer, at the same time I was working on my own novel, running a new business, preparing to move, and trying to spend as much time with my family as possible. It’s been an exciting time.

I also asked my partners, Paul and Mike, to help spread the word. “Let’s send it to our contacts,” I said. So we did.

We had one complaint. Despite our best efforts to give readers the opportunity to opt out with our “Instant Unsubscribe” option, this person shared their unhappiness with receiving the email with complaints on Twitter. I did not know the answer to his question and provided a canned response. This made him angry. My partner Paul, did address the question directly, as he was already connected to the person on Linkedin.

Lesson learned. Despite knowing better, it is always best to be direct and answer a person’s question. If you don’t know, find the answer. “When in doubt, find it out”

(Their public grievances did work to our advantage, however, since they led to a big bump in traffic and a couple book orders. So I guess we should appreciate their public outcry.)

So, if you received our email and you didn’t appreciate it, please hit the “Instant Unsubscribe” link, and accept our apologies. Forgive me for my enthusiasm, it’s exciting publishing a book.

Twitter and Facebook Better for Branding than LinkedIn?

Believe it or not, more people think Twitter is more useful for business than LinkedIn, the business networking site.

Twitter? The site filled with “make money fast” spammers, people tweeting about watching Lost, and Ashton Kutcher racking up 2 million visitors and then threatening to quit? THAT Twitter?

Yah, you betcha.

Someone on LinkedIn wanted to find out which of the big social media applications were important for brands to master. And surprisingly, or maybe not so much, most business people selected Twitter at 30%, Facebook at 26% was second, followed by LinkedIn (22%), and then the iPhone(?) with 18%.

Think about it: the iPhone not being a social media app notwithstanding, think about where most branding is going to take place.

  • LinkedIn is for business-to-business networking. Unless you’re promoting a B2B brand (like a copywriting service), you won’t get very far trying to market on LinkedIn.
  • Facebook is ideally suited for meeting old friends from high school, keeping in touch with new friends from social networking groups, getting fans for your restaurant’s, band’s, or cause’s page, or creating your own page for your restaurant, band, or cause.
  • The iPhone still isn’t a social media app. It’s just a really cool cell phone.
  • Twitter is going to be your best bet. It’s a way to communicate quickly with people who are following you. And presumably they’re following you because they like you.

Branding is basically establishing an emotional connection between your company or product and your customer. One of the best places to do that is first by going to where your customers are. And they’re on Facebook and Twitter. They’re not on LinkedIn, and they’re not on iPhone.

So what has the LinkedIn Branding Poll found so far? Who likes Twitter? According to ReadWriteWeb:

  1. Most appreciative of Twitter: Business owners, C-Level or VPs. People at large- or medium-sized companies. People doing business development, marketing or creative work.
  2. Least appreciative of Twitter: Non-managers. People at very large or small businesses. Consultants, Salespeople and Engineers.
  3. Most appreciative of LinkedIn: C-level and non-managers. At small- or medium-sized businesses. Doing consulting or sales.
  4. Least appreciative of LinkedIn: Owners and managers. At large or enterprise companies. In creative or marketing departments.

So who’s using Twitter? Biz dev, marketing, and creative types. The same ones not using LinkedIn for marketing.

The bigger question for the unnamed LinkedIn pollster is are our customers using Twitter? Are they on social media at all? Can we reach them with social media.

Something tells me it’s going to take a bigger poll to find that out.

Hat tip to Kyle Lacy for the article.

How to Set Up a Sexy Social Media Profile

Are You Social Sexy?

Blow out the candle and turn off the Marvin Gaye. We’re not talking about that kind of sexy profile. Making connections online has gone far beyond e-dating. Now we’re e-networking: fishing (and casting) for jobs, getting (free) expert advice, and keeping track of who knows who we know (you know?). We’re all within six degrees of separation. These days, it’s more like six buddy lists.

To make the most of this wide-spread web and the social network profiles that bind us, we have to represent our genuine selves attractively. The challenge is putting our best e-foot forward within the limitations of a social media profile with a tiny thumbnail of a profile pic.

First, take advantage of the old adage that a picture’s worth a thousand words. Company presidents, executives, and managers agree that profiles that include a picture lend more credibility to any words on the page. Yes, it’s tempting to use that hilarious lamp-shade-on-the-head photo from the last office party or maybe even Fido’s most adorable pose, but keep in mind that we’re looking to make a connection for ourselves, not our pet or our party skills. The folks who wield paychecks, contracts, and years of experience say a flattering head shot in a professional setting is more attractive than swiping a pic of our favorite celebrity.

Next, use your words. The completeness of a profile also gets the attention of big fish in this web pond. Fill in as many profile blanks as you can and keep the information accurate with regular updates. If you’re on multiple social networks (LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, Facebook, etc.), make sure all your stats jive so that potential connections won’t get conflicting messages about your experience.

And remember, get creative but don’t brag. Social media profiles shouldn’t be e-resumes. Make your profile as interesting and dynamic as you are, but don’t oversell your talents. No one wants to sit next the guy who can’t stop talking about himself, and it’s just as much a turn off to visit a profile page that screams “It’s all about me, wonderful ME!” Let your personality shine through—maybe with a quote or tagline about an experience in your life—and think about representing more than just your professional career.

Social media networks are a relatively new aspect of how we communicate. But their influence is growing, and businesses are becoming more aware of the benefits social network profiles can bring. Posting our most compelling profiles now and developing them as these social media outlets grow is sure to keep our message the most attractive news we’ve heard on the grapevine. (And…cue the Marvin Gaye once more.)

Don’t Miss The Point of Each Social Network

There are three major types of social networks – business, personal and communication. Notice I didn’t say “marketing?” Some may combine aspects of all three (Twitter) while others are more singular (LinkedIn).

And even though you may call yourself a social media marketing guru, that doesn’t mean you can “market” your way across all three types in the same way. In fact, every network has a point or a purpose and if you’re missing it, then you’re missing out.

Business

Social networks that focus on business are your LinkedIn’s, your Biznik’s and all of those local listservs and forums that people participate in as part of their online business networking.

The purpose here is to do business, not to share pictures of your kitten or that fantastic dancing robot video you found on YouTube. It’s also not the place for relentless marketing. In other words, don’t spam people.

Personal

I would describe Facebook as an example of a personal network. Some people may use it for business networking, but that’s not the point of it or the purpose.

Instead, it’s private and most people create Facebook accounts as individuals, not businesses. Basically, it’s your space to be yourself, talk to your friends and family and share those kitten photos. If you’re using Facebook to bombard your “friends” with product announcements and sales pushes, you’re going to find yourself very friendless, very fast.

Communication

This is where it’s all about sharing what you know and your take on what you know and what other people you know know (have I lost you yet?). By definition, Twitter would fall into this category though the micro-blogging platform has evolved to embrace aspects of all three. Blogging would be another example.

Remember, the onus here is on the communication. So, if you don’t have anything valuable to share or you waste your audience’s screen time with pitches and spam, you’ll lose them quickly. Go ahead, make a post about your new product, but also share that interesting industry-specific article you read last week.

Social networks weren’t designed for marketing. They were designed for networking and each designed for a specific type of networking. Approaching all of them with the same marketing strategy is like trying to build a house with a Leatherman – sure, all of the tools are there, but that doesn’t mean it can be done.