Best Practices on Twitter: Playing the Game Right

Having solid best practices on Twitter is the most important aspect to creating a solid social marketing strategy. While it seems obvious, I find that this is something commonly overlooked when creating and implementing campaigns.

CONTENT

  • Be grammatically correct in your tweets.
  • Keep Tweets specific to your campaign and subject goals.
  • Keep your content dynamic: post links to different kinds of articles, videos, lectures, events, songs, images. Change it up!
  • When Tweeting events, put location first in at least some of your tweets and last in others.
  • Engage your audience with a strong, consistent voice.
  • Re-Tweet followers’ posts if interesting (RT).
  • Mention other Twitter account you appreciate @.
  • Use the hashtag for all keywords (1-3 per Tweet) #.

TIME

  • Create an editorial calendar to help you plan the workflow and content for Tweets.
  • Keep your Tweet schedule consistent. For example, do not Tweet every day for two weeks and then disappear for one month.

 READING

  • Listen to what your audience is talking about. This will help you shape your Tweets. Remember, Tweet what they are interested in, not what you want them to do for you.
  • Reply to people who tweet at you (Use the @mentions link and search for your username without the @ symbol).
  • Re-Tweet content that interests you. You can do that directly on Twitter or using your favorite Twitter management applications.
  • When you re-Tweet, check the link in the to make sure it works before you re-share it.
  • Use Twitter lists to organize the types of conversations going on. For example, you might put prospective students in one list, faculty on another list, companies on another list, etc. Click a list to see only the tweets by the people on that list
  • Offer links (URLs) to your Tweets that point to the company/organization you are working for, links to videos, etc.

*Note on providing links: Links must be shortened as they are often character-heavy (and you only have 140 characters per Tweet!) I suggest you use bitly.com. Simply copy and paste the link into the window and click “shorten.” It will provide you with a shortened link that you can use in Twitter.

WHAT NOT TO TWEET

  • Do not Tweet a link without any other text. You must provide context for links.
  • Do not Tweet with a Commercial-like tone.
  • Do not Tweet the same message more than once.
  • Do not Tweet opinions – or at least, strong opinions.
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Twitter Tools

Hi Folks! Happy 2012!

I’ve been doing some research on all of those hundreds of Twitter tools and found some that I think are quite handy. Below you will see a list of tools along with some notes about each. I’d love to hear your own opinions about these tools!

Tracking

  1.  http://cotweet.com/: Offers scheduling, conversation history, email notifications containing latest mentions, team collaboration tools, and easy access to Twitter follower profiles.
  2. Hootsuite: Overall measurement. Use multiple accounts for both Facebook and Twitter. Time tweets.
  3. Bitly.com: link shortener
  4. http://www.viralheat.com/: Monitor tweets, perform competitive analysis, discover new leads and optimize marketing campaigns.Facebook fan pages – discover new fan pages that mention your brand, topic, product. Real-time web system allows you to discover blogs and websites that are actively shaping conversations about your campaign. Influence analytics allows you to discover which users truly shape the conversations for your campaign. Sentiment analysis cluster identifies the mood of each and every mention.
  5. http://bufferapp.com/
    • Schedules tweets

Continue reading

Facebook Vs. Twitter

Facebook vs. Twitter: A Tug O’ War Challenge?

Facebook and Twitter are both excellent social media tools for companies to spread brands, develop relationships with customers and businesses, and generate leads. But how do we know which site is best for which campaign?

eMarketer recently reported that 6x more people use Facebook thanTwitter. If this is indeed accurate, should companies pay attention to it? And what does it mean for marketing efforts?

Before we can answer these questions, let’s first consider where social media budgets land for using these tools. Zoomerang points out that companies’ use of social media is gaining momentum and creating a surefire way to get the most bang for the buck. As the chart below suggests, 44% of SMB decision-makers use social media.

They also point out that SMBs are twice as likely to use Facebook as they were Twitter. Emarketer comments on these reports:

“Though Facebook is becoming increasingly sophisticated in its product offerings and capabilities, businesses are sticking with the basics to drive performance: 51% of US SMBs found wall posts the most effective marketing tactic, even though only 16% of US consumers said they had interacted with a brand on Facebook.”

Interesting. because I’m going to argue that while this may be true now, the future of social media will grow more intricate and ask that the marketer do more— i.e not only rely on “the basics,” such as wall posts.

Continue reading

Qwikster: Quick (disa)ster

Social Media Treasure Hunt?

Many of you have probably heard the news that Netflix is splitting its movie service: streaming videos and postal mailing orders–the latter of which will be called Qwikster. An interesting name, to say the least. Most recently, I read a related article on the latest problem highlighted on BBC News.

@Qwikster has nothing to do with Netflix or the name of their movie service. Jason Castillo a marijuana-referencing, football enthusiast, actually owned the Twitter name before Netflix secured an account for themselves. Christopher Hofman Laursen, director of the European Domain Centre, says as quoted on BBC News, “Netflix had made a grave mistake in not securing the Twitter handle before the launch.” Mr. Castillo is asking for financial compensation to hand over his Twitter name. Despite pointing out the disaster of the mistake, Laursen also mentions, “Every company should be on social media now, that’s where all the traffic has moved to,” he says, “All the communication today between companies and customers is on social media.” This comment is, perhaps, more important upon second glance. “All the communication today between companies and customers is on social media.” Yes, the grand echo effect. I know my elders always said I don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, but this is the occasion when we all must betray that saying. Businesses have a presence whether or not they like it because that’s where everyone else gathers– in order to have a face, you’ve got to be there. Furthermore, businesses may want to start their strategies/campaigns online. That is, if you’re going to brand a new service or name, begin your research, communication, and branding on social media sites. Yes, by doing something as easy as placing social media under item number one, a big company such as Netflix could have avoided the Qwikster disaster.

What do you think? Join the discussion!

Social Media’s Role: Consumer vs. Marketer

Social Media’s role has grown increasingly important for all types of companies, firms, institutions, and self-branding communities. According to The State of the Media: The Social Media Report, Americans spend 22.5 percent of their online time on social media sites. Compared to games (9.8 percent) and email (7.6 percent), we cannot deny that social media has taken over the large world o’ interwebs. In yesterday’s article, Report Details Rise of Social Media in The New York Times Stuart Elliot points out that this report “makes social media the NO. 1 specific category and the No. 2 category over all, behind ‘other’ ways Americans spend time online, among them perusing adult content, visiting retail web sites and reading about subjects like sports and health.” Ok, so it’s proven that yes, social media sparks interest and woos in many. Continue reading

Moving is All About Marketing

We did not know finding an apartment in Boston would be such a competition. But as soon as we stepped into the apartment that called out to us as “the one,” the game was on. The white cabinetry, the red walls, the built-in bookshelves– we must sign.

A week before our trip out to Boston for our apartment hunt, I grew anxious that we would end up with a white-walled, sterile-looking but dirty hole-in-the-wall and over-priced apartment– rental agencies had told us not to bother calling them until the day before we arrived in Boston; it wouldn’t be worth it, they said. Apartments are going fast– as if I needed to be more tightly wound.

I peered through the beautiful window in the foyer between the stained glass windows (who would of thought that we could find an apartment with such charm?!); there was another couple standing outside chatting with the owners, waiting for us to exit, so they could view and most-likely, want to sign, too. Remain calm, I told myself while the chatter in my head was screaming: think of the cooking you can do, the writing you can do, the space for your yoga mat, a cozy living room for those winter days; if you don’t get this apartment, you’re not going to find another one like it, you know that. Remain calm, I repeated to myself.

We stepped outside, complete poise, and chatted with the owners. We are a couple: he is doing a post-doc at Tufts Medical Center; I am a writer/teacher/online marketer/ communications guru, the woman with four jobs because, let’s face it, the job market in Michigan is pretty awful. While my list of positions explains my versatility and range of experiences, I’m not quite sure it screams stability. I’m looking for employment, I explain. Marketing.  Of course I want to explain that I have a graduate degree! I am reasonable! I am fiscally responsible! Not: um…I’m looking for employment. And then it hit me: Marketing.

Marketing is about positioning– poetic, artful, and straightforward, as Al Ries and Jack Trout explain in their book, (surprise), Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Of course, I agree and disagree with their take on positioning in today’s world, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to agree with them. “To be creative, to create something that doesn’t already exist in the mind, is becoming more and more difficult. If not impossible.” This idea raises the question of creativity: is creativity something new? Or is it something that has been manipulated, tweaked, changed? Certainly, innovation calls for some kind of invention–  a new way, a new style, a new perspective.

I’m most attached to the idea of a new perspective. In fact, that is the key to all creativity. How many action-packed thriller movies have you seen? You know, that guy who jumps from train car to train car, or the guy that leaps out of the exploding building in the nick of time…these scenes continue to be written into films, but we remain in front of the screen, latched securely into our seats, mesmerized by the (same) action. What changes is the context of the story and the perspective of the story. Perspective changes context; context changes perspective. We are always reconnecting what already exists in ways that create something new and engaging.

As the marketplace has changed, the traditional flashy billboards and glossy ads don’t always work to bring in the business. In fact, today’s world is far less responsive to all of that noise.  Because we are a society of constant chatter, talk, whispers, howls, one sound will not rise above the jungle of noises. New marketing understands this havoc; the only way to be heard is to select who you’re talking to. In reaching out to any individual audience, you must consider perspective: where are they coming from? Do your research: hop on the web, google, twitter, facebook.

Positioning yourself for the client/audience/consumer–  or rather, when positioning the pounce in the jungle– you must realize they have already been drenched in information and noise. Thus, any tactic you use must be refreshingly simple. While simplicity seems, well, simple, it’s actually one of the most challenging aspects of marketing within a business or within your own, personal lives.

George Orwell explains in his essay, Why I Write, that he writes to be political–not in the Joe-the-Plumber, ObamaCare kind of way– but rather in the Listen To Me Because I’m Interesting kind of way. The challenge of course is testing the language used to communicate that “simple” message: how do you capture the experience of your brand without losing any of it through language?

Had I not explained to the owners of this apartment that I had four jobs, perhaps that would have been seemingly more simple. “I am an online marketer.” Ta da! While it takes up less space, it’s less true and thus, less real and less intimate. Because the new market world is about conversation, and even the conversation that happening without you, it’s important to remain real.

We unpacked all of our boxes this weekend in the apartment that we somehow “won.” The owners, who live upstairs, asked us to join in on Saturday night’s dinner. They told us, you know, we received all kinds of offers for this apartment, including more money, but we chose you two because you were real.

Yes, that day on the sidewalk while we talked to the owners, wanting, somewhat desperately for them to want us as their renters, I told them I had four jobs in Ann Arbor; that I really love writing and marketing; that I loved the stained glass windows– how they reflect the warmth of the light. As I sit here in my new apartment, I think back on that day: their view from the inside and my view from the outside connected successfully.

Before You Write “Dear World…”

Writing is very easy. All you do is sit in front of a typewriter [computer] keyboard until little drops of blood appear on your forehead. – Walter W. “Red” Smith

Consider how we interact today: no doubt our days include emails, text messages, Twitter updates, blog feeds, news feeds, Facebook status updates–clicking and typing. Nibble fingers indeed. Our interactions are professional and personal; our voices change from formal to informal. What I find most interesting in this new age correspondence is the confined space in which we communicate.

I can tell my friend that yes, “I’ll see you for lunch at noon.” Quick and easy via text. But I can also tell the Twittersphere that once Robert Frost wrote “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” Maybe I’d even tack on: “Put yourself in danger.” The latter statement is incredibly powerful. I will add that since numbers do matter: both messages are under 140 characters.

We may have many modes of communication–many spaces, but the space itself is rather small. What this means is, to be most efficient, everyone needs to know how to write, how to produce content that is worthy of readership.Otherwise, as a community of businesses, of interactions, of personalities, we are doomed. I hate to be pessimistic, but without understanding the power behind language, the conciseness it requires, we will not achieve anything.

The thinking process of a skilled communicator reflects how she/he conceives the writing situation.  To reverse that statement, writing situations–all writing– is communication. However, writing (the act of putting something “on the page”) hopes to go further. It hopes to make the reader react in certain ways– an “lol,” an “omg” (ah, inefficiency)– it hopes for pleased smiles, nods of affirmation, stabs to the heart–whatever. As author of Writing with Style, John Trimble discusses, “writing is the art of creating desired effects.”

In any public sphere (because writing is permanent and therefore, public), we buy from people what we like and trust. I’m using the term “buy” loosely: we buy products, advice, suggestions, news. That’s how our culture works.

So, how do we win readers?

1. Have something important to say. Know what your purpose is and know why it’s important.

2. Be sold on its validity so you can pitch it with conviction.

3. Give some concrete proof: provide a link, a statistic, etc.

4. Use confident language– use active verbs, assertive phrasing, use a branding lexicon.

We must serve people, satisfy their needs. If we are going to ask people for their attention, we are in their debt. Yes, be courteous, pleasing in your phrasing, dress everything in an aura of reasonableness. I think we often understand manners when we’re out to dinner (no elbows on the table, chew with your mouth closed), but as writers, they are often neglected.

Writing often sounds as the writer were talking to a wall; the reader hears a gentle echo of mumbling. If your intention is to “sell” and have the reader “buy,” we obviously do not want that. Thus, to make your writing lucid and powerful, I suggest you envision yourself at that dinner table.

At the dinner table, on the page

  • Cultivate a psychological sense: sensitize yourself to what wins you over. Think of your own experiences– how and why do you respond to writing? As you sit down to write, bring that awareness to your reader.
  • Anticipate your readers’ responses: If I move this way, you move which way? Are you treating the reader like an idiot? Has the reader zoned out? Where do you need to include a bit of humor? What do you want the reader to really take away from this piece?
Rules of the game: 
The reader owes you ONE read. Make it clear.

+1+1+1+1 = What?

I would never say that I’m entirely mathematically inclined, but I would like to think that I have the capacity to conquer addition and subtraction. +1+1+1+1 = Your Online Presence, Your Search Results, hopefully– The Answers you’re looking for.

Google+ has been a popular topic on various LinkedIn group discussions and on Twitter. However, one point that most discussions have overlooked is how Google + will change the way search engines perform and how it will impact your own website/company.

+1 is Better Than a Thumbs Up; It’s a High-Five

In fact, you can hear the clap echoing all over the internet

Similar to Facebook’s “like” button, which features the thumbs up icon, +1 is also a button you will see next to your search results. Google explains, “+1 is a public action. Anyone on the web can potentially see that you’ve +1’d content.” So, yes, when you click the +1, you should know that your name will recommend that link.

As a writer, I’m thrilled.  Google+ is helping to weed out the bad writing. This means that creating remarkable content is even more important than before. Accompanying any content is a decision that could impact the company’s online presence. If the reader likes your content, there is a direct way for that reader to attract his/her friends/colleagues. But this has nothing to do with schmoozing. It’s all about what shows up on the page. If the site/content is poorly done, it’s possible to become lost in the shuffle of other mediocre sites.  Put your effort into creating engaging content that Google+ users will share and +1. I suggest adding the +1 button. From a marketing angle, the more Google+ users can endorse your site, the better. Clearly, the +1 will influence your search results as it fuses social networking with the searching process. According to Google’s +1 FAQ:

“+1’s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality. For +1′s, as with any new ranking signal, we’ll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality.”

This said, the question of search quality will be linked to your friends’ interests. The question becomes what friends do you trust enough to follow their reading habits and recommendations.

+1 me!

What is “Remarkable” Content? How Do You Create It?

Last week a member of LinkedIn Group, Inbound Marketing, posted an interesting discussion question: What is the number one rule of content marketing? Like a student of Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah’s book, Inbound Marketing, I responded with “remarkable content!”  That is the goal, right? To get found. You are your content. Halligan and Shah write:

We borrowed the term from Seth Godin who uses it [the word “remarkable”] in place of the word “unique” and we took the liberty of italicizing “remark” in order to prompt you to ask yourself whether your product or service is worthy of other people’s “remarks.”

This is to ask if you genuinely and professionally believe the motive or mission behind your product or service is valuable. In today’s digital age, value does not only mean how wonderful your product/service is, but how well you can stand out and offer something that is both of substance and unique.

Remarkable content is two-fold: the content must work (substance, uniqueness) and the strategy must work (how you put it out in the world).

UNIQUE CONTENT OF SUBSTANCE

Content is language strung together into some kind of sense-making creature. You want the content to become alive, to carry its own weight.

Before we can understand what I mean by content as a “living creature,” we must first ask, what is good writing? It’s a difficult and broad question, but it’s a question that forces you to consider your own reading palate—what makes reading enjoyable for you? What elements of the writing do you appreciate?

I’ve taught many college writing courses, and regardless of writing level, I always ask my students this question because I think it humanizes the sometimes daunting task of writing. What IS good writing? I stand in front of the classroom as they stare at me with blank expressions, glossy eyes. I’m comfortable with silence, so I wait. They squirm in their seats and begin to turn on their brains. Some say good writing must possess humor; some believe writing must ask the reader to react; some think writing must be grammatically correct; it must have a purpose; it must have detail.

They are all correct—in a cumulative sense.

Good writing must possesses the following:

  • Purpose: What are you setting out to achieve?
  • Voice: Who is behind the writing— what is your character?
  • Tone: What is the emotional background or ambiance of your piece?
  • Organization: How will you structure your piece?
  • Sentence Structure: This is less of a question—Vary your sentence structure!
  • Rhetorical Mode: Use various techniques—narrative, description, persuasion, argumentation, how-to/process, etc.
  • Ask the reader to react: What do you want the reader to feel or do at any given moment in the piece?
  • Target audience: Who are you speaking to?
  • Use examples: Help your reader understand what you’re talking about.
  • Validate: You must validate your discussion (if it is a discussion) by using other sources, statistics, professional opinions on the topic. This gives you credibility and legitimizes your discussion.
  • Logic: Be logical and reasonable.

Once you consider these questions/elements, you can produce good writing.

CONTENT STRATEGY: BEFORE YOU PUT THE WRITING OUT IN THE WORLD

There are a few things you must do to.

  • Competitors: Who are your competitors? You want to take a close look at their content and examine what’s already said. Then, take it further. Consider it a challenge. What variables are they missing? Implications? *Note, if you are having trouble coming up with your target audience, this general search for competitors will help you scaffold an idea.
  • Marketplace: Generalize your marketplace and consider alternative competitors—those that don’t stand out as “your” competitor.
  • Narrow or Widen: Given what you find among your competitors, new and old, you may want to go smaller, provide a narrower specialty or focus. Or, you may want to open up a bit, provide more, a broader focus.
  • Put out a Google Alert: There are all different ways to receive live updates on your subject/topic/product/services, but Google Alert is a general way to stay in tune.

Thank you for reading! Please join the discussion with questions, comments, other ideas!

What Poetry Has to Do with Marketing

Honestly, I never thought I would have an application for my poetry skills outside of the University of Michigan’s graduate program in Creative Writing.  In fact, you’re probably questioning if the title of this blog entry is a mistake; didn’t I mean how to market poetry? Or that poetry has no market? Or there is no reason to market poetry because no one reads it? I mean, how many poetry books do you have in your library? Perhaps a little Robert Frost from back in the day; Wallace, but only because the word “ice cream” is in the title of his book; Ginsberg and Kerouac because who doesn’t like the sixties? As I began to work for start-up companies, I have found that poetry—the art of it, the skill of it—has crept its way into the marketing world, specifically, the digital marketing world.

Let’s start by defining digital marketing: “Digital Marketing is the promoting of brands using all forms of digital advertising channels to reach consumers.” Thank you, Wikipedia. I’m going to limit this definition  to include internet, mobile, social media marketing and any other form of digital media.  Marketing, in this way, is motivated and translated by language. You might even say that the craft of marketing is consumed in language. (A double entendre!)

Many inbound marketing strategies involve tools such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, website content, etc. When we use these tools, we are using language to convey our messages—that shouldn’t be surprising. What we often neglect to think about is the price of language: it’s expensive (in a figurative sense).  Many of these tools don’t just ask that we be concise, but they pride themselves on concision; they require it.  Twitter gives you 140 characters. And while other tools may allow you to have more space, more words, today’s culture has shortened many of our attention spans. In fact, if you are still reading this, I should pat myself on the back.  Think about text messages, emails—any way we communicate using text—it’s short, to-the-point. Our world has come to communicate in real-time, no exceptions. That said, if we put a value to every individual word, some are more expensive than others. For example, “Stuff,” “Things,” “Sometimes,” are most expensive because they cost you space, and they don’t mean a thing. Ahem. Changing words from “stuff” to “apps” or “ techniques” makes a difference.  Everyone can attach a direct meaning to those concrete words. They are less expensive simply because they don’t take up much space AND they get the job done. Similarly, poetry must be concise.

Take, for example, a line from Sylvia Plath: “Poetry is the blood jet and there is no stopping it.” I’m not going to provide a poetry analysis, but I will marvel at the strength and movement of this phrasing. The comparison to a striking image: a blood jet. The image is compelling, haunting, yet it took 51 characters.

Beyond concision, digital marketing asks for creativity. You can’t simply say “Buy this Product Now” and expect many clicks. We must cloak the idea in something interesting. We must use personality and image.  Digital marketing asks the reader to participate, experience, think through the idea, and ultimately form a deeper bond with that experience. That’s today’s branding.  Below you will see some content from various sites I adore. Thanks for reading!