Tag Archives: twitter

Five unapparent personal benefits of social networking…

The more time you spend on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, the more benefit you derive from the experience. I often find it hard to describe a lot of the personal benefits I get beyond connections and fast access news, but after a little creative thinking I’ve put together five unapparent benefits to social networking:

5. An insatiable thirst for knowledge

I honestly can’t remember if I was like this before and it was amplified, or if it’s a new quality all together, but I’ve definitely noticed that I now crave knowledge. I need to learn more and I need to at least skim Twitter to see what’s happening in my community/country/the entire world. Even on weekends and days off I’m always checking my phone (when appropriate! Not in the rude anti-social way!)

4. A newfound willingness to take risks

Or perhaps I mean the ability to take more calculated risks; when you’re exposed to more, you can make better decisions. For example, if I wanted to start a business helping restaurants with marketing, before I would maybe look up a few web sites, makes some calls and try to get an understanding if there were a need for such a service and if my potential client base would be willing to pay. However, without a lot of money to do proper market research (let’s face it-most entrepreneurs definitely don’t have money for it), I’d have to rely on a very small number of opinions based on my limited time to do said research on my own. However, now I can simply passively research this info through Google and various social networking sites, poll or survey my Twitter followers and Facebook friends and I can get a better glimpse of the risky industry and whether or not my idea will fly. Sure it’s still not as accurate as proper research, but it’s a whole lot better than what I was going to do.

3. A humbled world view

I admit, I’ve often been a “big fish in a small pond” kind of person. I exceeded in school and many hobbies/sports but mostly participated in small communities, as is pretty normal in the offline world. Secondly I’ll admit I’m a bit of a competitive person, not in a malicious kind of way, but in the sense that I’m always looking to benchmark myself against others, so I can work on improving. Well online there are so many more people doing whatever it is you’re trying to do. It’s humbling–which is awesome because it gives you a great sense of how *much* you can improve. And yes, on the flip side this can also be discouraging, but we all know the best out there know how to persevere!

2. A stronger sense of confidence

Especially as a writer (or any creative field) you always practice your craft with a certain level of vulnerability. You’re putting yourself out there. It’s scary. People will judge you. You might make a mistake. To me, it seems like whenever I’ve gone too far and lost my sense of what I’m doing, the community around me chimes up with words of encouragement. Even when things go wrong, there will always be someone backing you up and cheering you on.

1. An optimistic view of the world

OK maybe you’ve caught on that I’m generally an optimistic person… But I’m talking about something bigger. For all the awful things going on in the world, it’s amazing to see people band together for the greater good. There are so many great examples, but most timely is @unmarketing‘s Tweetathon for Tanner (go on, read the whole story and try not to shed a tear!) it ends tomorrow at 9 pm and since earlier today has already raised over $8,000 for a very worthy cause. Also take any natural disaster–even the most recent floods in Pakistan, a simple search shows many tweets urging help and many have been retweeted hundreds of times.

Have you noticed the same? Do you have others I haven’t mentioned here? Please share! (Especially because I’m super excited that I finally have Disqus running on here! Yea, sometimes I’m not such an early adopter–and this blog gets neglected.)

Is the Old Spice Man Campaign really a success? Is it even possible to tell yet?

No doubt you’ve seen the Old Spice Man on Twitter, responding to tweets with videos, exciting both influential tweeters, celebrities and regular folk alike and getting covered on pretty much ever blog and media outlet out there…

While I definitely agree with the masses that this was a well-executed campaign-it was funny, engaging and captured the attention of so many, but I’m still reluctant to declare it a resounding social media success story (yet?) for a few reasons. And more importantly, these are some factors to consider before you go out and try to replicate Old Spice’s success (since I’m sure already this will be a case study social media experts everywhere will be preaching to the masses):

  1. Will it increase sales for the company? My guess would be quite possibly, but we don’t know yet, it’s simply too soon to tell. Aren’t we always whining about business outcomes and that success needs to be based on more than just eyeballs?
  2. What about ROI? Sure maybe they’ll get fantastic results, but clearly they spend A LOT of money on this campaign.
  3. Did Old Spice really take a big risk with this campaign? Well not really, the built it off an already successful ad campaign–which don’t get me wrong was a very smart move, but let’s all remember that when we’re trying to build our own loveable brand character.
  4. Doesn’t social media require long-term commitment and ongoing strategy? Obviously they can’t keep up the videos for ever. where will they take it yet? How will they keep their new-found audience engaged? I’m not saying they won’t but perhaps we should wait and see before we declare this the most successful social media campaign of all time.
  5. Maybe I’m just a little bitter because my man already wears Old Spice (long before Old Spice Man even) and now every man will smell like him? Either way, I love the campaign but I’m saying stop the madness–at least until we’ve had enough time to step away and see the whole picture.

    And now, for your viewing enjoyment, the original Old Spice Man ad that started this all

Twitter: That pointless babble… Might not be so pointless

Sometimes I want to know what you ate for breakfast.

Surely by now, you know a report a while back said that 40% of Twitter posts are pointless babble.

The report made quite an impact. I don’t know about you, but I hear about it everywhere. As well, I’ve heard quite a few remarks from people who defensively claim: “I don’t tweet what I’m eating for breakfast!”

Ok. Fine. I get it. There are some people (usually outside of the social media bubble) who tweet silly mundane things all the time.

But here’s the thing, do you know what’s worse that finding out what someone ate for breakfast? Following someone who only tweets links. Unless you’re already a famous person or trusted source, you are not going to build trust and relationships but simply tweeting links to blog posts or news articles. Yes many of us have nearly or altogether replaced our RSS readers with links we get from Twitter, but we’ve done so because we appreciate reading links from trusted acquaintances who’ve we’ve come to know through our interactions, and yes, the occasional breakfast tweet. Not personality-lacking link bots. Twitter is not a broadcast tool. We have quite enough of those. Get out and interact, and throw in the occasional breakfast tweet (or cute thing your cat did, or whatever else might be dismissed as pointless babble). I will appreciate it.

SXSWi bound – no need to unfollow, but mute if you must!

As you may have heard the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas is kicking off later this week.

This is my second year going, and I’m excited. So excited, that I anticipate to be tweeting about it… A lot. In fact, if you follow many people who are going, I can guarantee you’re going to get sick of hearing about it. (I remember the feeling in ’08)

Good news for you, there are now a handful of tools available that will let you temporarily mute followers or keywords. Here’s a list from Oneforty…

However, if you *do* want to follow what’s going on at SXSW. Leave a comment and let me know what you want to hear about! I’ll do my best to accommodate.

Foursquare: Is it really a game changer?

As 2009 ended, like usual, we saw tons of blog posts and speculation about what’s in store for 2010. One common theme (that had even been hinted upon long before the end of the year) was “geo-location based apps” such as Foursquare, and now contender Gowalla.

While I definitely see a huge untapped potential for local businesses to take advantage of. At this point I don’t think Foursquare will be the next Twitter. From my perspective, there are a few growing problems with the tool.

  • Scalability – I think I was one of the first 50 or so users in Ottawa when Foursquare was launched here. I *loved* it! I used the handy web tools to find all my Twitter and Facebook friends and I already knew many of the other users. However, as it grows, the happy community feel is diminishing. Also unless you’re checking in over 200 times a week (which, even as a highly social person, I find that completely ludicrous) you don’t even have a chance at making the top 10 anymore. The competitor in me has lost interest.

    Also, a recent Tech Crunch article claims that appealing to a mass audience means compromising quirky features that appealed to the original geeks who embraced it. Douchebag badge anyone?

  • The annoyance factor – As I mentioned above, Foursquare allows you to import your Twitter followers and add them as friends in Foursquare. So that begs the question, why do so many feel the need to tweet their every Foursquare activity?

    This seems to be creating a counter-Foursquare movement by Twitter users who are fed up with the “spammy” foursquare updates. (With very smart people like Judy Gombita leading the way, see her passionate interview on one of my favourite blogs – MediaStyle)

  • And now what? – The reason tools like Twitter and Facebook have been so successful is the sense of empowerment they provide to users. Facebook allowed us all to re-connect and better stay connected to old friends and past acquaintances. Twitter taught us a new and powerful way to communicate and network in 140 characters or less.

    But Foursquare does what? Enables stalkers to function more efficiently? Yes, it’s really cool when you check in at an event and find other people there as well, but Twitter already does that via hashtags, and has a much larger user-base. Foursquare has a lot of ‘hey that’s really cool’ elements to it, but nothing that is going to set of bells in our heads and make us feel like we couldn’t live without it.

For the record–I am an avid user of Foursquare. It’s fun and I definitely see staying power potential, I just don’t envision it as the next big thing anymore. What do you think?

A much needed re-design… What do you think?

If you’re reading in an RSS reader, please click through and have a look…

Seriously, I’m feeling a huge sense of relief. When I chose my previous theme (Bella) over a year ago, I loved the look of it, but had issues from the start. Most notably it was difficult to customize and often loaded painfully slow. I only found out a couple weeks ago from a tip from a reader that my titles were flash-based, which can not only crash your browser, but sucks for my SEO.

To be honest, I hate choosing a new WordPress theme. It usually takes me hours upon hours, as I’m really picky, but indecisive. Also I like to customize my themes and make them really feel like ‘mine’. But my HTML/CSS skills are getting a little rusty, so I at least need a theme that’s well organized and easy to figure out, which my previous one was definitely not.

Also, I discovered this time around that not all themes will work. A few months ago I installed the Mainstream theme by Woo Themes. Very modern, clean and customizable… However when I activated it, it was a mangled mess. I was discouraged. Yesterday I found a similar theme I loved, called Charade, by HTML Rockstars. Again though, I activated and it was a mangled mess. After tweeting my frustrations, I was told it’s likely because the theme was developed for a previous version of WordPress and may not work on newer ones.

Ready to give up and just shut my blog down (seriously, I get really worked up over this!), I continued to search through recommendations of sites from my Twitter followers, and eventually found this theme–Producer. I love it because it’s elegant, clean and attractive right ‘out of the box’, however it also has tons of configurable options, and easy to work with CSS files.

So hopefully, I’m sticking with this one for a while, and over time I hope to customize it and really make it mine. I’d love to know what you think and I’m open to any suggestions you may have. After all the look of my blog is really for your benefit.

Also, here’s a list of sites to find WordPress themes, courtesy of my awesome followers:

So please, leave a comment with any feedback. And I’m certainly not looking for an ego-stroke here. I’m wondering if you think the text is too small, or if the archives are too difficult to find, or if the red makes you feel angry and want to leave, whatever pops into your head. I’m going to maintain a wish list of tweaks for me to make whenever I have the time (which is not often enough!) So I appreciate any feedback you may have.

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New Twitter tool, Nambu, manages multiple accounts, groups, searches & more

So just when I finally decide that Tweetdeck is the best Twitter app out there and tell everyone about it…. I find one that I love even more!

Nambu is hot off the press and still in beta, but has already won me over. Apologies to my PC friends, but it’s only available for Mac (you can, however, still use Tweetdeck, which is a great tool).

One thing I didn’t like about Tweetdeck, was that while you could create and manage groups and searches, if you closed those windows, they were gone forever. With Nambu, each subsection you create lives in a convenient sidebar for future use. Also, this is the first tool I’ve seen that is great for managing multiple Twitter accounts (I have three) which is a huge timesaver.

Here’s what my Nambu looks like:

picture-6When you first start up Nambu, it will ask if you want install the Growl notifier–this will allow notifications to pop up on your screen for new tweets (You can also edit in preferences whether you want to have notifications for all tweets, or just private messages). This I find convenient on my big iMac screen because I can glance over and see if anything interested is going on without opening Nambu, however on my Macbook, I find it takes up too much of the screen and is far to distracting.

It is in Beta, so don’t expect everything to run perfectly–however I haven’t had any problems yet, so I’m happy. Another thing I will come oto love about Nambu is after it’s out of Beta it will allow you to integrate other services, (identi.ca, Friendfeed and ping.fm) but right now those features are disabled in beta. If you’re a social media fanatic without the time to manage all these services (like me) Nambu might prove to be a life saver.

Have you tried it yet? What do you think?

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Building your personal brand with Twitter and Linkedin

This is a continuation of a class I did with the Algonquin College first-year PR students (The aptly named “Twitter party”). If you are one of the students–thanks for attending and I hope you’re able to continue to build your brand as well as understand the tools for practical PR application. Also, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the presentation, or if you have any questions.  If you weren’t there, well my hope is you’ll get value out of these resources anyway. Also, I’d love my readers to drop a comment and add any more resources that will help them excel with Twitter & LinkedIn.

Twitter

First here are my slides on Twitter:

View more presentations from krusk.

(note: I have to give credit to my friend Sean Power… I originally created this Powerpoint for the Project Management View webinar I did a couple weeks ago, but last week I found his awesome post “Twitter new user survival guide” and revised a few points. Thanks Sean!)

And to recap, here are the 11 things you need to remember to succeed with Twitter.

11. Build a profile

The more information you can put in your profile the better. Try to load up your bio with keywords that will help potential followers identify what you’re all about and what you’ll be tweeting about. Do not worry about having complete sentences–it’s often better not to, so that you can get more info in. Also–put up a photo. It doesn’t have to be a photo of you if you’re camera shy, but at least find an icon or something that represents you.

10. Find people to follow
Once you’ve set up your profile and posted a  few tweets, you’re ready to find people to follow, here are some sites to help you out:

  • Twellow is the Twitter yellow pages. Search for people based on info in their profile (user name, bio, location)
  • Twitter’s search function can be used to find people who are tweeting about a certain subject or keyword that may be of interest to you. Also you can use the search to follow a hash tag (#) that interests you and follow those people who are tweeting about it.
  • Mr. Tweet is your personal twitter assistant who will make recommendations on who to follow. All you have to do to get your personalized report is follow @MrTweet

9. Get used to 140 characters
That’s the limit twitter gives you, so you may find yourself editing to get your message across clearly and succinctly. Remember if you want people to retweet you, you may want to keep it even shorter (110 is a good guideline)

Also, if you want to tweet links you may want to use a URL shortening services,

  • http://idek.net is my favourite because it provides stats about who clicked on your link
  • http://bit.ly if you’re really serious about tracking and stats, bit.ly lets you create an account and track all your URLs.
  • http://is.gd creates the shortest links, so if you’re pressed for space it’s a good choice.

There are tons of these services out there, and you can drag them onto your browser bar for easy one-click URL shortening. Also if you do decide to use Tweetdeck, it has URL shorteners built in, so it’s even easier!

8. Listening vs. Tweeting
I recommend you spend 80% of your twitter time listening to what your followers have to say, and 20% tweeting. This will help you get more benefit from those you follow and help you avoid over-tweeting.

7. Ask yourself “Who cares?”
If you are looking to build followers, ask yourself “who cares?” before you post. You want to provide value to your audience with each post. This doesn’t mean you can’t inject a little personality, but make sure you’re providing valuable information.

6. Put yourself out there!
If you want to build followers, don’t protect your updates–if someone doesn’t know you, they will not likely request to follow your updates.

5. Promote cool stuff –and not just your own.
It’s perfectly OK to post links to your blogs, or maybe a cool project you’re working on (so long as it’s of value to your followers) but don’t *only* promote your cool stuff. If someone else tweets something you like, retweet it by putting RT @[their_username] and copying and pasting the original tweet. Also if you happen across a cool web site in your daily life, tweet it!

4. Join the conversation
To reply to another user: type @ before the user name. It will automatically link to his/her profile and show up in the side bar even if he/she is not following you.

If you want to join in a hash tagged conversation, just stick # in front of an established keyword or acronym. If you want to start your own, just stick # in front of a keyword of your choosing. To follow hash tag conversations, go to search.twitter.com and search the tag (note you can search inside Tweetdeck too)

One example of a regular hash tagged discussion is #journchat it happens live on Twitter every Monday from 8 to 11 p.m. EST. You can follow the conversation here–by typing in #journchat into search.twitter.com

3. Learn three ways to tweet
Stuck on what to say? Try these common types of tweets:

  • Ask a question: Twitter is great for asking question. Ask anything from “What Twitter apps would you recommend?” to “Where’s a good place for lunch in downtown Ottawa?” The larger your twitter network the more answers you’re likely to get.
  • Share a resource or wisdom – Post interesting facts, tips and quotes, people love them! Also, if you find a great website, share it with your twitter network. These types of posts can really add value for your followers, so go crazy.
  • Report on news and/or events – If you happen to hear/see something before it hits mainstream media, tweet about it! Some great examples of news stories broken on Twitter include the Mumbai bombings a few months back as well as the plane crash in the Hudson river.

2. Try some Twitter Apps
First and foremost, try Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to create groups of followers to track separately from your entire stream. For example, you may want to create a PR group that includes your classmates, profs and other PR grads on Twitter.Tweetdeck also allows you to search,
Also you can use Twitscoop to see trending topics via a ‘tweet cloud” (i.e. a cluster of words of various sizes that shows you what’s popular on Twitter)

Also, for a ridiculously exhaustive list of Twitter apps, check out the Twitter Fan Wiki. At least take a few minutes to read through what’s out there. There’s an app to do just about anything with Twitter.

1. Be yourself & have fun!
Self explanatory…

Tips for using LinkedIn

I totally agree with Andrea and strongly recommend you also join LinkedIn. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, and here are some tips to get the most out of using LinkedIn–which unlike Twitter, does not require a lot of time commitment–at the very least sign up, create your profile and just leave it at that, but you can do much more with it if you choose.

  • Think keywords when building a profile. Like Twitter, before filling out your profile think of keywords that will describe you professionally. For example, don’t just say you’re a public relations student. Say you’re a public relations student interested in media relations, corporate communications and social media looking for work in the nonprofit or private sector. (Or whatever it is you’re interested in)
  • As a general rule, only invite/connect with people you’ve met/interacted with in real life. Unlike other networks, people like to keep their LinkedIn profiles with real life contacts. Some may allow “virtual” connections, but unless you’ve heard them say it, avoid adding someone you haven’t met.
  • Give–and ask–for recommendations. Personal recommendations not only help you look better, they help your profile turn up in search results. Also some LinkedIn jobs require you to have recommendations to even apply so it’s not a bad idea to ask for recommendations from former/current employers and colleagues. If you’re too shy/timid to ask, than recommend some people yourself, they just may return the favour.
  • When sending an invitation to connect, write a personalized message. Unless it’s someone you know really well, take a minute to write a personalized message in the invitation. This is especially key if you’ve met someone at a networking event where they might have also met many other people, if possible mention something you spoke about. (e.g. “Hi Fred, We met recently at the Night of the Roundtables event at Algonquin College. We had a great chat about doing PR in the nonprofit industry. I’d love to connect with you & stay in touch.”)
  • After collecting someone’s business card, add them on LinkedIn. Personally, I’m famous for collecting business cards and never following up (unless we discussed something to be followed up). However, now I treat LinkedIn as my personal contact database – I add someone after I meet them (with a personalized message) and then instead of digging through business cards if I need to get a hold of someone, I just look them up on LinkedIn. And *yes* almost everyone is on LinkedIn these days.

As we also discussed in class, both these tools are fabulous for promoting events and/or campaigns. However, if you start using them now–and not just when you want to promote something–you’ll be able to build a solid network of influence so that when you do want to promote something, you’ll have genuinely interested people who’ll listen and want to help you out!

Social media events in Ottawa

As great as online communication can be, it still doesn’t beat face-to-face communication. If you’re interested in social media and want to learn more, here are a few local events I’d suggest attending.

  • Social Media Breakfast happens about monthly and always features an awesome speaker. Costs $10, but well worth it!
  • Third Tuesday Ottawa – is a PR/social media event put on by Thornley Fallis. It’s free and always a great time. Don’t be fooled by the name though, it rarely *actually* happens on the third Tuesday. Sign up for the meetup group to get alerts when it’s happening.
  • Social Media Book Club – is put on by me and Scott Lake. About every 2 months we read a book and get together in a bar to chat about it. The good news is you don’t actually have to read the book, but it helps!

Good luck with the last few weeks of your first year!

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Should you change your Twitter avatar?

Have you thought about changing your Twitter avatar? Are you scared to? Do you think it’s important to always keep the same one?

@djwaldow brought this up today, which prompted an interesting discussion. One that I was particularly interested in, since I was forced to change my Twitter avatar while attending SXSW! (Ok, maybe forced is a strong word–the story is my Twitter avatar was blond, and I dyed my hair a dark brown a couple months ago, it seems whenever I meet Twitter friends they are shocked to learn I’m not blond! I caved under pressure and snapped a new photo)

So the issue is how often should you change you Twitter avatar? Aside from my little mishap, my opinion is barely ever… and with good reason. I think you Twitter avatar should match your Facebook profile pic, your LinkedIn pic, as well as MySpace, Ning and any other online profiles you maintain. Specifically if you are trying to develop your personal brand, it won’t do you any good if people don’t recognize you from one site to another! And it takes quite some time to go through all to update your avatar. On the other hand, if you’re already pretty Internet famous you probably don’t need to worry too much.

The good news is, according to dj’s poll, it looks like others agree:

How often should you change your avatar?
How often should you change your avatar?

What do you think? How often do you change your pic? And is a hair colour/cut a viable reason to change your avatar? (Seriously!! People were making fun of me!!)

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Social media: What's ahead for 2009?

It only makes sense to make the first post of 2009 about what’s ahead this year for social media. Please add your input, as I’m really just providing a few jumping points. Maybe at the end of the year, we can look back and see how well we did.

1. Twitter will hit critical mass

And no, I don’t think it has already because many of my friends still gave me odd looks when I mention my “tweeple” or that I’m heading to a “tweetup.” However, in 2008 Twitter had so much momentum and I think it will just keep growing. Also I think Twitter may start trying to monetize. Not sure how, though, ads? Any other ideas?

2. “Personal branding” will have more clout

I have been telling my friends all year to get online and start building their personal brands. Start a blog, an online portfolio, get on Twitter, ‘professionalize’ your Facebook profile, etc.

Now with words like ‘recession,’ and unemployment at an all-time high, finding a job is much more about marketing yourself. Companies are going to be faced with increased competition for positions, and you can make yourself stand out by showing your ability to change with the times and demonstrated initiative.

3. 2009 will be the year of meaningful metrics

With budgets tightened and staff skimped, many companies will turn to social media to maximize ROI–this is nothing new, but the tools to measure success need improvements. I track the traffic to Web2dotwhat.com using three tools- Google Analytics, Feedburner and Clicky. Sadly all three report different numbers (not sure which is correct, but I think Clicky is most accurate). Those who have a really good understanding of metrics and analytics will be in a great position to help others. I for one hope to see an easy-to-understand/use tool aimed at PR/marketing folk for blog tracking.

4. Content quality will become the crucial element

Right now, if you are publishing any sort of content, if it’s not blatantly terrible you’ll probably get traffic, comments, new subscribers, conversions, etc. However this year I think quality will trump quantity as the noise ratio out there is just getting too high. When hiring someone to produce content, make sure he/she has solid communication and writing skills, as well as an expert understanding of the medium.

5. It’s all about you, forget about me

I don’t mean literally! But there’s still a lot of “me, me, me” content out there, when it should be “you, you, you.” While this concept is certainly nothing new, it desperately needs to be put in practice. If you’re not sure what I mean, find a site you like and read through it, is it speaking to YOU, or is it talking about ME (or we)? Chances are, if you like it, it’s probably speaking to you. If you think the content comes across as cocky or arrogant, it’s probably speaking about itself. As competition steepens and budgets deplete this will be more important than ever.

So what do you think? Am I accurate? Do you have other predictions to add?

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