The Karmic Way: Rules of the Twitterverse

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I recently finished reading The Tao of Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer. I was so happy that someone finally put words to what I’ve always felt people who haven’t truly immersed themselves in Twitter have trouble understanding – the reciprocal nature and “genuine authenticity,” as Schaefer calls it, of the twitterverse.

It’s true. Twitter is almost an anomaly. It’s both a platform and a publisher. It’s about both creation and consumption. But probably the biggest complexity I’ve found (and warmly embraced) about the Twitter world is the simultaneous one-to-one and one-to-many nature of conversations.

This is why it’s hard to get started. At the same time you’re conversing with someone you’ve just met in a twitter chat or on a #FF (Follow Friday) you’re also sharing this content with all of your followers and anyone who checks out your stream (unless it’s via DM). To some it’s a bit daunting – all of this, well, openness.

But if you can get past your initial privacy concerns and dive in, you’ll find Twitter to be one of the most rewarding outlets for not only your content, but also for networking and developing true relationships.

Some argue that these relationships are only skin deep because Twitter encourages competition – it seems as if everyone’s racing to get the most followers. But, as Mark mentions in the book and I’ve discovered over the years, it’s not actually very helpful to have a bunch of followers. What’s beneficial is having “targeted followers” – followers who you’re interested in reading content from and who are equally as interested in your content. If you can remember this, you really will be able to build relationships with your followers.

Once you become an avid tweeter, you’ll also understand the “rule of reciprocity” that is inherent in following someone. Usually if you follow someone with similar interests, they’ll follow you back. If someone shares one of your blog posts, or retweets you, somewhere down the line, you’ll return the favor for them.

Twitter is, then, a platform that’s run on sharing with and actually caring about your followers – who’d a thunk? It embraces quid pro quo (tweet for tweet) in the most authentic and friendly sense.

That’s why I’ve always felt as though Twitter was a micro-world based on karma. I thought: “It’ll just give you good karma to RT this post or follow that guy who just followed you. It’s the way of the world.” But I could never find a great way to describe this karmic sentiment until Mark referred to it as the Tao, or the way, of Twitter.

Mark mentions a few other facets that make Twitter a friendly, helpful, and ultimately golden resource for everyone in his book and so I highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read. It may not be 140 characters, but it’s short and sweet all the same. No matter what, though, I hope this has been the spoonful of sugar you needed to keep you on track with your twitter regiment.

How do you use Twitter for business?

Analytics & Social Strategy – Do they exist?

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I’ve been working on this post for a while. Why? Because to be completely honest, there’s a ton of debate around social media ROI and analysis. As I’ve researched, though, I’ve found a few tips that can help you in the right direction when it comes to measuring the success of your social media efforts.

I want to start by stating that it’s not all about the money. Let me qualify that – I mean, every marketing initiative doesn’t directly translate to actual dollars. A lot of marketing is about maintaining current relationships (CRM – Customer Relationship Management). Here’s a great quote I found in a recent STORES article:

“It may be hard to accept that the sweet spot for social is more about deeper engagement and brand building than a lift to the bottom line.”

Marketers are pointing to the ever expansiveness of social networking and claiming that even if you can’t evaluate the numbers properly, you still have to be involved with social media marketing. Nielsen’s Social Media Report noted that nearly 80% of Internet users visit social networks and 53% of active social networkers follow brand. No matter what, social networking is important for brands.

But, if you can’t measure the success of your latest social media campaign, then it’s almost impossible to determine areas for improvement and growth for your next social endeavor. So there’s no way that we can completely ignore the numbers!

Here are some low barrier to entry ways to start measuring the success of your social media efforts:

At the beginning of a campaign, be it a new facebook contest or an integrated social media and online event, the most important thing to do is to delineate what factors you’ll be looking at to indicate either an achievement or a failure. This could be increased engagement, awareness, preference change etc. There are many options in the marketing funnel.

Then, you must determine what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), will help you figure out if you’ve achieved this goal. What do you want your new followers or community to do – how do you define conversion? This could be FB likes, email opt-ins, ad impressions, site traffic, twitter followers.

Once your campaign launches, you then have to monitor them – looking at social “analytics!” What are people saying, are they retweeting you, how much? Are they sharing the content via FB, or forwarding an email, how often? Are they recommending your product or brand via Yelp or other networks? Are theyblogging about you?

You can find most of this information on your own, using Facebook insights, Hootsuite analytics or bit.ly for twitter (and Twitter also has its own website analytics), YouTube analytics, google analytics for web traffic levels and sources and you can even use technorati.com to search the blogs that include your brand name or topic.

Still wondering what the value of these followers and shares is? Check out my next post about low-level social media ROI!

How are you currently analyzing your social media efforts?

Facebook Timeline – finally here!

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The Facebook Timeline is finally unrolling for everyone to enjoy – or not enjoy as the case may be. If you’re looking for some help setting up your timeline and learning about the new interface, you’ve come to right spot.

A few months ago, I did a three-part series introducing the timeline, subscriptions, and apps. Here are links to those posts:

Part 1: Introduction to the new timeline layout
This post goes into detail about the new look and feel of the timeline. Remember, you get a chance to go through all your posts and delete, or change privacy settings before publishing your new timeline. This is an important step towards making sure your timeline is just how you want it to be for the public and for your friends.

Part 2: Subscriptions
These have been around for a while now, so you should be very familiar with them. Be aware that when you de-friend someone, they automatically become one of your subscribers, so make sure your subscription settings are set up the way you’d like them to be.

Part 3: Entertainment zone & open graph apps
Some of the new open graphs applications are pretty cool. Others think they’re a bit creepy.

For a more visual and easier presentation about the new Facebook Timeline check out my Slideshow about the new Facebook timeline. This gets a little more into detail about the implications of this new timeline for brands.

Top Social Media Resources for #Back2School

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Labor day has come and gone. Leaves are starting to turn. Backpacks are all the rage. #Back2school is here. It’s the time for new folders, iPads of paper, and a breath of the crisp, fall air. The last long breath until the craze of the tests and papers is upon us.

Maybe you’re not headed to class, but you’re definitely headed to the busy side of life, much farther away from Cape Code or the Hamptons than you’d prefer. Take advantage of this time of inhalation by refreshing your resources. Spending a few days in the coming weeks to discover new social media news outlets will go a long way toward ensuring that your social policies and strategies are not only on par with others in your industry, but that they’re also successful and innovative.

Here are my top resources for news in the social realm to get you started:

  1. Mashable.com – Duh! This source is a no brainer. Not only do they post news almost as it happens, but they also have a really creative approach to presenting information; they use videos and beautiful infographics that aggregate information super efficiently.
  2. Believe it or not I visit Techcrunch.com at least once a day. You can go straight to techcrunch.com/social, but you’d be missing out on some really great information bout mobile advances and new “techy” items that most definitely have an impact on the social media world.
  3. Oftentimes I find btobonline.com to have really excellent articles and reports about the way businesses are using social. They also provide a bunch of “how-to” articles for beginners. The design isn’t as fresh as the previous two, but it’s a stable resource that I refer to weekly.
  4. Allfacebook.com/mediabistro.com are real data-driven resources. One of my favorite elements of All Facebook is that it has a special tab dedicated to ranking the top Facebook applications. This is super helpful for those of you who are always looking for new ways to present information etc. on Facebook (it even has a list of the worst apps so you can see what to stay away from!). Beyond apps, it also shows you the stats of the top Facebook pages and the fastest growing pages, which can shed some light on what the top strategies and trends are that day.
  5. Last, but not even close to least: Sign up to receive Smartbrief for on Social Media. It’s delivered weekly to your inbox, so there’s no work involved at all. It aggregates useful research articles, commentary on trends in the industry, social media case studies…you name it. It’s one of the most efficient ways to stay informed.

And don’t forget twitter. I have a stream devoted to searching for all tweets that include #social. But there are some really great accounts out there to follow, but that’s an entirely different post.

What are some of your favorite #social resources?