Tag Archives: how to Twitter

Paid ads in Twitter updates: Trust busters?

What do you think of a Twitter update that’s a paid advertisement for M&Ms or Cheese Doodles? Brad Stone’s column yesterday in the New York Times explored this new trend, which seems to be an anathema to the whole spirit of social media. At least at first glance.

The idea is that “people trust recommendations from those they know and respect, while they increasingly ignore nearly every other kind of ad message in print, on television and online,” according those interviewed for Stone’s article.

Then again, a social media update that’s actually a paid ad could quickly erode that trust. At Tribe, we counsel our clients to confine the sales messages to their websites, and not to use their blogs or social media updates as free advertising. Social media is for  starting conversations, building relationships, and offering your expertise, we tell them.

But really, most grownups who are blogging and tweeting are doing so to build their business. It’s an indirect form of sales, but behind all that social media you’ll generally find specific business goals which include increasing sales. We are all working to be helpful to others and engage in dialogue and connect with people beyond our existing circle. But it would be dishonest to say we’re doing that just to be nice. We’re doing it to attract clients and customers.

So maybe the paid ad for M&Ms is more honest in the long run. A tweet that begins with a hashtag like #ad or #sponsored is at least transparent. What do you think? Is a paid ad in a personal update a slap in the face of social media’s non-commercial spirit? Would you unfollow someone on Twitter if they sent you an ad? If you were asked to promote a product to your followers, for a fee, would you refuse?

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Social Media for Old Folks, in an Old Media Format: the 52-Card Deck

smcardpileThey’re back from the printer! Our Starter Cards deck called “Build Your Brand With Social Media” is hot off the press, literally.

If you’re one of those people who’s got a LinkedIn account but you don’t really get how to use it; if you’re using Facebook, but mostly to spy on your kids, if you’re just  plain confused by the 140-character hullaballoo of Twitter, then this is the tool for you.

Build Your Brand With Social Media” was created for those of us who were born before faxes were invented, much less outdated. This is a way to easily get up to speed and be linking and friending and tweeting like people half your age.

Here’s the idea. There is no shortage of information out there about social media. In fact, there’s so much information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Can’t somebody break it down into a series of manageable steps? Isn’t there anywhere you can get all the basics of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging, all in one place?

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what this “Build Your Brand With Social Media” deck does. It walks you through the whole process, one step per card, with simple directions for that step on the back of each card. It’s as close as possible to having me sitting there with you, taking you step by step.

Want to give it  a whirl? You can find the cards on the Starter Cards website.


The Cliff Notes of Social Media for Old Folks: Webinar One

EB&JBWebinarThis afternoon, we sat on the couch in my office and took about six or seven small business owners through an overview of what social media can do for them. My business partner Jennifer and I were presenting to a creative director, a literary agent, a strategic marketing person, a sales rep, an account planner, an expert on world poverty and an accupuncturist — all of whom were sitting in their own offices in front of their own computers.

Social Media for Old Folks is our five-part Webinar, covering everything from blogging to linking to friending to tweeting. We’re not social media experts, by any means, but we have learned a great deal about using social media in the last year or so. We’ve also discovered that we’re quite passionate about sharing that knowledge with others.

If you’re in a business that involves sharing what we call Odd Knowledge, social media is the most powerful way out there to build your business. Whether you’re a financial advisor or a large animal vet or an event planner or a Pilates trainer — or a world poverty expert or accupuncturist — you offer an expertise in a specific niche.

If your business depends on clients trusting you to be the one with the right answers, then social media is a powerful way to establish that trust. It’s also a place for you to share your unique perspective on your particular field of expertise.

Here are a few highlights from our Webinar today:

1. Social media can connect you with the whole world — but make it feel like you’re doing business in a small town. Despite the fact that it depends on technology, it can be an extremely human and personal form of contact.

2. The two most important things social media can do for your business are to A) promote your expertise and B) build your connections (which can become a following). This creates a beautiful dynamic: Instead of you always reaching out for new customers, you’ll find them seeking you out instead.

3. The model we recommend is this: a blog to showcase your expertise and social networks to drive traffic to that blog. Your blog is your content; the social networks are ways to start conversations about that content.

4. Your website and your blog are two different things. The website is your company talking, and is a destination for background information and evergreen materials. Your blog is you talking, is more fluid because it’s updated more often, and gives you a venue to share your expertise in a narrow niche, usually more narrow than your actual business. We recommend keeping your website and your blog separate, although each would include links to the other.

Next week we cover Facebook in more depth, and in the following weeks we’ll talk about LinkedIn, Twitter, and how to develop your own blog. If you’re interested in  more details, you could go to the Seminars page on the Starter Cards site.

Social Media for Old Folks, in Five Easy Pieces

SM FrontPlenty of reasonably (or even exceptionally) intelligent people still resist social media. Some don’t see the value in it; others just can’t quite figure out how to jump on that escalator. Social media keeps moving and changing every day, so it’s not easy to figure out where to start.

One problem is that there’s so much information out there on how to use social media. Try Googling “Using LinkedIn,”  “How to Facebook,” or “Learning Twitter,” and you’ll find yourself millions of links to explore. Not hundreds of links, not thousands, but really — millions. Most reasonably busy people will decide they don’t have time for that.

What you need is someone to break it down into simple, actionable steps. You don’t have all day, but maybe you could spend an hour a week. If you didn’t have to go anywhere. Like while you’re sitting at your desk.

That’s where the Social Media for Old Folks Webinars come in. If you’re young enough that you grew up with a mouse in your hand, then a lot of this material will be too basic for you. But if you’re one of those who remember when a fax was the new cool thing, then this might be right up your alley.

We break it down into five one-hour webinars, each Wednesday for five weeks. We’ll walk you through how to build your brand with social media, from a basic overview of the landscape and etiquette to specific, actionable steps to get yourself set up on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and finally, to start your own blog. (You’ll also learn why you really do need your own blog.)

You’ll be sitting at your computer and be able to see and hear us in real time. As we’re talking about various steps, you can complete many of them right then and there. When you have questions along the way, we’ll stop and answer them.

We’ll show you how to use social media for two important goals: to build your connections and to showcase your expertise. Think it would be presumptuous to consider yourself an expert? We’re not talking about having a Ph.D. in something; Your expertise is the narrow niche about which you’re passionate, the area of your deep experience, the problems friends come to you to help solve. It’s not about bragging, it’s about what you have to give.

If  you run your own business, or are in a corporate job and want to increase your visibility in your industry, then social media can be a powerful tool for you. It doesn’t have to be that hard. But it does take some effort. The Social Media for Old Folks Webinar is the easiest way we know to get you up and running. By Thanksgiving, you could be blogging and linking and friending and tweeting like someone half your age.

For more details, just click here. Or feel free to email (elizabeth@tribeinc.com) or call me (404-256-5858) with questions. (If you register today -Wednesday, Oct 7 – you can use the promo code EARLYBIRD for a $50 discount.)

Participate in the Slow Movement – via Social Media

snail“The best way to survive and thrive in the fast-paced modern world is not to speed up but to slow down,” says Carl Honoré, author of “In Praise of Slowness,” and key instigator of the revolutionary Slow Movement. Honoré  believes we’ve become addicted to speed. The tell-tale symptoms of this addiction are  “when you feel tired all the time and like you’re just going through the motions, getting through the many things on your To-Do list but not engaging with them deeply or enjoying them very much. You feel like you’re racing through your life instead of actually living it.”

What’s wrong with speed? Nothing, according to Honoré, who admits he actually loves speed. The trick, he says, is to blend fast and slow, to do whatever you’re doing at the right speed. That, he says, is where you’ll find yourself more deeply engaged and enjoying your days more.

Are social media and the slow movement mutually exclusive? Honoré mentions that social networks can tempt us to rush relationships and that when people claim to have thousands of friends on Facebook, it devalues the concept of friendship. True, but social media can also help us be more engaged with our friends, industry peers and the world at large.

Consider the many authentic and meaningful moments you share with others each day on social networks. The technology is fast, but the interactions can be slow, in the sense that, for those few moments, we are completely focused on the person or people we’re addressing online. We’re as engaged as if we were sitting across the table looking each other in the eye.

To keep your social media slow, think quality over quantity. Instead of following thousands of people on Twitter (or trying to get thousands to follow you), narrow it down to a smaller number of people with whom you truly share interests (or sense of humor. For instance, I always want to know what @Shitmydadsays is up to.) On Facebook, after the first few months of catching up with people you haven’t heard from in years, you might hide the updates of many you know less well, so you can better keep up with the core group of people who are most important to you. And on LinkedIn, although it’s nice to have tons of contacts in a wide variety of industries and roles, it helps if they’re people you truly consider trusted contacts. Before you invite someone to connect, ask yourself, “Is this someone I’d feel comfortable picking up the phone to ask, “Do you know someone who such-and-such?'” Also, think about participating more fully in LinkedIn groups that are good fits with your particular niche topics.

That doesn’t mean social media can take the place of face-to-face. Admittedly, it’s not the same as making time to take someone to lunch, or stopping by the house to visit. But social media is a tool, just like the telephone. We’ve all learned to get off the phone fast when it’s a telemarketer, and have all had long, relaxed conversations with people we love. In and of itself, social media is not fast or slow; it’s how you use it.

Twitter Etiquette: Is it okay to TweetDeck or TweetLater your blog posts?

3251920072_b5527f10fe_oWhat do you think about people who use TweetLater or TweetDeck as a way to post a link to their blog many times a day? I was taught that technique by Michael Gass, the social media guru to the ad agency world. Michael has created a huge inventory of posts (most of which read like informative articles that remain evergreen) and has one of those posts appear as his Twitter update every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’ve also seen similar recommendations from others writing in the social media field.

There are some who are violently opposed to that method. Like  Aliza Sherman, for instance, who is known as a Web pioneer and social media maven. (Fast Company magazine named her one of the Most Influential Women in Technology in the blog category, and Newsweek called her one of the Top 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet.) I was on the phone recently with Aliza, who was very kindly giving me some feedback on a social media product we’re developing at Tribe. When she got wind of the idea of using Twitter essentially as a publishing platform, via TweetLater or TweetDeck or some other tool, she said, and I quote:

“That is horrible. That is disgusting.” Aliza believes strongly that using a tool to imply you’re on Twitter when you’re not is totally unacceptable. She had a great line, while we were talking, and we were both so struck by it that she turned around and tweeted it while we were on the phone: “Social media is conversation; not a new form of advertising.” I wholeheartedly agree with that.

Businesses using social media as just another way to distribute advertising come across as boneheaded at best, untrustworthy at worst. The conversation part of social media is that it’s a two-way street. Unlike a TV spot or magazine ad, which is a company telling people what they want them to think,  social media allows consumers to talk back to companies, and to talk to each other about those companies. Today, more people get their information about a brand from other consumers than from the brand itself.

My rule of thumb is that tweets should be helpful or useful — or at least interesting — to others. Tweeting that is selling instead of engaging bugs almost everybody. I also try to veer clear of too many tweets that reek strongly of self promotion, although if I get booked for the Today Show, I’ll probably mention that. I also try to avoid tweets that fall into the “Who cares?” category, like “I’m eating a yogurt.” (I actually saw that tweet one time.) On the other hand,  I do enjoy seeing tweets that give an interesting glimpse into someone’s personal life, but then again, I classify that as “at least interesting.”

A link to a blog post can be helpful and useful — and interesting. But when it’s repeated over and over on a TweetLater schedule, does it become annoying? Or an abuse of Twitter? Or does it just make it easier for more people to discover something helpful to them?

Twitter is a river that we dip in and out of, a river that flows ceaselessly. I think it’s unlikely that anyone out there could possibly see every single one of your tweets, or even very many of them. Of course, those particularly curious about you could click your history of tweets and see numerous links to your own blog. But I don’t get why that would be such a bad thing.

So here’s my question to you: What do you think? Is it inappropriate to use Twitter as a way to promote your blog? Is it okay, but only once for each post?  Is that different from retweeting someone else’s article or post? Do you think it’s fine to set up links to each post as rotating, recurring posts? Or should we be tweeting only in real time, and just as a way of conversing?

Please post a comment below, because I’d like to know where other people fall in this debate. I respect and admire both Michael and Aliza, and I’d like to think they’re both right. Perhaps the answer to whether this practice is appropriate or not is really this:  “It depends.” But on what?

What’s your pet peeve on Twitter?

twitter peevesHave you been tweeting long enough to have your own pet peeves on Twitter? That usually happens about Phase 6 in what seems to be a fairly predictable cycle in the transformation from Twitter newbie to devoted user. The phases seem to go something like this:

Phase 1. Not understanding what all the fuss is about over Twitter.

Phase 2: Deciding to give it a try, but often in a limited way, like “I’ll do it just for one month.”

Phase 3: Following a whole bunch of people, in hopes that they’ll follow you back and shoot your follower numbers through the roof.

Phase 4: Pruning your list of follows, when you realize you’re following a ridiculous number of people you’ve never heard of and couldn’t care less about.

Phase 5: Deciding that Twitter really is pretty cool, and trying to talk everybody you know into joining.

Phase 6: Developing into such a Twitter veteran that you can name at least one Tweeting practice that annoys you every time you see it.

What bugs you? The auto reply to a new follow that includes a sales message? An update post that promises zillions of followers in 24 hours? Maybe it’s people who post links that don’t work. (I’ve done that one myself, I think.) Or people who send out ten updates in a row so your entire computer screen is filled with multiple versions of that person’s face. There are people who are tormented by the inspirational quotes tweeted daily by some. Others seem to appreciate those.

An update on what someone had for breakfast is cause for an unfollow to some. Endless tweets of chest-beating and self-promotion turn the stomachs of others.

Post a comment below to share your opinion. What sort of tweet drives you crazy?