Category Archives: Social Media, an Essential Tool for World Domination

Coming Back to Twitter

Social Media has been a bugbear in company conference rooms since way before Guy Kawasaki had an AMEX blog.  I think it’s a great way to talk with people if you’re courteous enough to recognize that it’s a conversation, and that you should all be talking about something interesting to the people in your conversation.  For example, if I’m looking for a support director, and you are a support director, let me know!  If you’re looking for advice on a task manager app, I’ll reach out (but will probably need more than 140 characters).  If we both really like tacos, we shall debate the pros and cons of soft vs. crispy.

I’ve been tweeting ever since I heard Chris Brogan speak at a North Shore Tech Council event in May of 2008, and have been pretty inconsistent with my tweets.  When I started, I was into learning about Social Media and starting friendly conversations with interesting people.  I was blogging a lot around this time, and completely bought into the whole social media connection thing.  I even looked at lists of the top followed people and added the ones who seemed interesting.  The idea that you could reach people who would otherwise be inaccessible to you due to distance, business role or anonymity was pretty intriguing.

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I’d follow people who followed me to be polite, unless they were bots.  I went through a brief obsession with qwitter and felt personally offended when people stopped following me, even as I recognized the absurdity of it all.  The quitter email notifications included the tweet right before the person stopped following, implying that yes, indeed, it was something I said.

When Twitter came out with Lists, I tried grouping people into categories to make keeping up more manageable.   Eventually, I just stopped caring about the content because I was following too many people who used Twitter as a business self-promotion tool, as a diary, or as a place to spam others with links.  These are all arguably valid forms of using Twitter, but not really very interesting to me personally.  I had built an arbitrary list and the result was my complete lack of interest in 90% of the content.

Tonight, I decided I’d like to start using Twitter again.  So, I’ve been unfollowing everyone whose name and website I don’t recognize, or whose description is irrelevant to my interests.  I’m focusing on local people who I might actually meet and interesting people who post things I want to read.  I imagine there will be a drop in my twitter followers (resting now at 371) but I will try to muster the strength to not sink into despair now that Snackfan Japan (the latest snacks and drinks from Japan!) will no longer be my friend.

Useful Content Wins on Google Search

I’ve been blogging via the Guide to World Domination for about a year and a quarter now. Thanks to Google Analytics, I’ve realized that while I enjoy writing about the Life and Times of Leanne Heller, all of my popular posts contain useful, non-personal information.

When I learn about something that I think would be useful to others, like How to Add Images to Your Gmail Signature Using Firefox Add-Ons or AIM Coho, Salmon & Trout Bots, I’ll post about it. Google picks these up, and posts like this (thankfully) get higher traffic. But for the most part, I write personal posts that don’t make the Google Radar.

I like having a mostly personal blog. There are several personal blogs that I really enjoy reading, but mainly because I have some connection to the author. I think you have to be famous, or at least notorious, to have a really popular personal blog.

I’m okay with this. I first started getting more interested in blogging after hearing Chris Brogan speak at a North Shore Tech Council event. I don’t want to misquote him, so I’ll just say I’ve noticed his blog always contains content that is useful to his readers. That is why an alexa comparison of our sites looks like this:

alexa comparison chrisbrogan.com gtwd.com

Yeah, I’m the red line. The one parallel to (and on top of) the line that forms the bottom of the chart. Again, it’s okay. I figure if I work hard enough at it, I’ll be popular some day.

If you ever want to make yourself feel really good, by the way, use siteanalytics.compete.com. I plugged the old GTWD in there, and apparently, I’m a lot more popular than Google thinks. It’s sort of like viewing your site through one of those flattering skinny mirrors at the carnival.

Perhaps I will become famous for creating an alternative site comparison widget that congratulates you on your traffic regardless of your unique visitors. “Keep trying, people love you. I mean, they really love you. The internet would collapse without your support.” Although, perhaps I should have someone slightly less sarcastic write out the congratulatory comments.

I Don’t Know Who the Hell My Twitter Friends Are

So, I was trying to figure out why I’ve been enjoying Facebook more than Twitter lately, despite their crazy new terms of service. (Which they’ve adopted and rejected, interestingly enough.)

And I realized, it’s because I don’t know who the hell half my Twitter contacts are.

facebookOn Facebook, I try to only connect with people I know personally, with a few exceptions. It’s relaxing to chat with them, and interesting to know what’s going on in their lives.

linkedinOn LinkedIn, I talk with other professionals, and try to answer questions when I think I can contribute something.

With blogs, I visit the site to read the content, and comment back and forth with the author.

twitterOn Twitter, I’ve added people because I met them, liked their blogs, or because they were on some list back in the day when I first started getting into social media. Some of them are people who started following me, so I checked out their updates and followed them back.

But aside from a few people I’ve connected with in other forums as well (aim, LinkedIn, blogs, conferences, email, or in person), I don’t have much to say to my contacts.

I’m not a famous enough person to broadcast my activities, and I’m not using Twitter to promote my blog or business. So, do my followers really care that I have a new laptop cover? Do they really want to see pictures of my cats fighting an orange? Really?

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Some people use Twitter very successfully. They spend a lot of time there and have built their own networks, or use it to read and provide useful content to others.

I’ve had luck using Twitter to connect with professionals, or to strengthen connections made in other forums. Going forward, this is probably what I will stick with, rather than trying to forge new connections with random contacts.

Image credit: social media icons

Why is So Much of My Email Crap?

Note: This is a rant. I try not to do many of these, because it’s kind of a negative way of looking at the world, and there are so many fun ways that it’s generally not worth getting all het up about it.

This one came up because my handy gmail notifier just announced a bunch of completely useless emails and my irritation overflowed, causing me to abandon the post I was writing about explosions and to start this one.

Here are 4 of the emails I received. If you were stretching it, you could call them were single-opt in as part of signing up for a service or group. In reality, I didn’t realize I was signing up for any of these lists.

1,000 Ways to Say “I Love You” from Team Gather. I must have signed up for this newsletter when I created my Gather account. It’s a neat service, but not one that I’ve ever really gotten into. The email marketing is sponsored by Bronto, and the unsubscribe page is pretty decent. But the email content isn’t great. I don’t want to heart-ping anyone. I would be alarmed if someone tried to heart-ping me. Leave my heart alone, I need it to process blood so I can eat more cookies.

Own your home sooner with ING DIRECT. Okay, well, I am actually looking at houses. This is a targeted email. A 5% rate is pretty good. But, I won’t go with you because I’ve been trying to cancel my bank account with you for about a year without success. Also, your unsubscribe landing page indicates it will take 5 days to unsubscribe, which is absurd, as this should be an instant process with any competent email list hosting service.

LinkedIn News: The Next Phase of Social Business Networking is Here! – Press Releases. The content of this email says, “The Next Phase of Social Business Networking is Here! A terrific article generously shared by Victoria, a Facebook “friend”.” First off, thank you for sharing this article. But I do not know you through Facebook, and just because I am connected to you on LinkedIn doesn’t mean I have opted-in to receive mass emails from you. Since we are connected on LinkedIn, and I don’t want to disconnect with you because I’ve heard rumors that it negatively affects your profile, I have no way to delete this email or to unsubscribe from this list.

Don’t forget to send Valentine’s Day eCards from Plaxo. Another service that includes an email newsletter in their profile sign-up process. Not a bad idea, and worthwhile when a service has really interesting content to offer. What bugs me is that I have unsubscribed to the system messages from Plaxo, but still receive random emails like this one. I have opted out of this list. Please respect that.

I did also receive 1 personal email, which cheered me up. Dave, this is for you, and yes, I can totally see your laptop cord rocking out to this:

Please click through to the blog if you are unable to view the video.

Seesmic – I Want It

filmI was checking for zombie updates on Justin Flowers’ blog The Flowercast when I discovered the coolest new toy.

Well, okay, it’s not 100% new because it launched in April. But this is the first time I’ve seen it. (Sorry Mashable, I missed your article.)

Seesmic is a video-blogging web app with a Word Press Plugin that allows you to leave video comments on people’s blogs.

The plugin works like regular comment features. You can post and moderate the video comments, and while Seesmic isn’t the first video application (see: Youtube, Vimeo & Viddler), the main benefits seem to be how quick it is, and how easy.

pooh1I like quick and easy applications.

Therefore, I must try this one.

I wonder if it will break my current comments application, Intense Debate.

In the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, think, think, think.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Seesmic’s video comments yet, I hope this post gets you interested. If you have, why didn’t you tell me about it? This is such a great way to spread evil propaganda (think 1984 Perpetual War here).

Image credit: film and bear.

Chris Brogan’s “the Down and Dirty” suggests Social Media Community is Getting Smarter

Chris Brogan is holding a marketing bootcamp event called “The Down and Dirty,” including practical instructions on how to set up a blog, optimize it, build links and create company profiles.

I’m amazed by this because it shows me the speed that people are learning about social media. Initial social media speaking events all seemed to revolve around interesting but more introductory topics like “What is LinkedIn?” and “The different types of social media sites.”

But now, we have the option to go to an event that will give us the tech side of registering your blog on Technorati or setting up WordPress. Comments on the post discussing the agenda for this event suggest also including advice on metrics, time management and integration with other social media platforms. When did we get so sophisticated? That’s pretty awesome.

I personally keep my tech guy chained up in my loft so he can handle this sort of thing when I get stuck. I don’t use actual chains, just a World of Warcraft account. It’s worked so far, but for those of you without this option (for some reason, companies have trouble providing MMORPG accounts for their employees), I’d suggest you check this out.

My only caution is to be aware of the events scheduled and the pace of the sessions. If you’re someone who is looking for a basic intro to social media, this might not be for you – do some research and find out before signing up. Likewise, if you’re an SEO expert or programmer, this might not be new enough for you.

For anyone in between, especially those of you at companies who are considering implementing social media into your marketing programs, give it a look. Now’s a good time to ask questions and suggest topics – good social media experts are pretty engaged with their communities, and, like Chris, often welcome feedback.

What I Learned at Pubcon Las Vegas

This week, 999 or so search marketers, social media experts, fellow tech geeks and I showed up in Las Vegas for the Pubcon conference, by Webmaster World.

So far, I have seen a man put a garden rake into a blender (somewhat disappointing, as he only blended the handle, not the spokes) heard a middle-aged woman sigh in complete contentment on the monorail and say, “Oh Doreen, this is the life,” and watched Brian Carter give away a pony stuffed into a handbag.

I’ve also learned how search and social media go together like PB&J, how online marketing and B2C interaction is changing, and where to scope out your nemeses (or competitors, for the conventional) and learn all their secrets.

I’ve discovered that personalization and engagement are the future of online advertising and confirmed that people are looking for relevant, useful content rather than sales pitches with scads of corporate blather. Also, apparently people, we’re getting smarter.

That last one was a real shocker, because we are the reality TV generation that, at one point, embraced the macarena. But they say we’re actually technologically smarter these days.

Consumers now have websites and blogs. We’re familiar with Facebook or LinkedIn or Digg or Twitter. We read newspapers online, and watch and create shared videos regularly. We have proved our intelligence by uploading episodes of My Little Ponies onto YouTube, so that the Baby Sea Ponies and the Flutter Ponies will never be forgotten.

In addition to the useful content provided by Pubcon speakers, the conference was a hit because I got toys. I got a couple of hats, some silly putty, a very sad chicken salad (but hey, free food), and a first aid kit with many band-aids. I plan to use these band-aids at a later date to create a Great Work of North American Art, which I’m allowed to do, because my degree says so.

Best of all were the little OCD pocket notebooks. How did you know that the color-coded mini post-its would fill the obsessively organized with light and joy? Oh, you clever Pubcon, you.

Overall, nice job Brett Tabke & Company. Great show, and many new things learned.