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My New Role In Social Media Marketing and Strategy

logo-v1Those of you that have been following my adventures for a while know that I put my heart, soul and mind into social media.  Since writing my own blogging platform a decade ago (the billion dollar idea that I never capitalized on…) to my almost-obsessive fascination with brand interaction on channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, I am constantly observing and strategizing ways to make the interaction and engagement between companies and customers better through social media. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years consulting businesses of all types and sizes regarding their engagement (or lack thereof) within these online communities.  From Fortune 100 companies that distribute hardware all around the world to non-profit agencies that are doing their best to make a difference in the world, I have worked with groups to lend insight, support, ideas and action to social media programs. Given all of that, I’m quite pleased to announce that I have taken a new role within the industry.

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4 Easy Ways To Manage Twitter Followers

Continuing with the theme of following others on Twitter, I previously wrote about how to follow good people and a strategy for unfollowing some as well. Since I’m into organization, especially with email, I thought I would share with you my strategy for sorting and following back those that choose to follow me.

Manage Twitter With Rules (click for full size image)

Manage Twitter With Rules (click for full size image)

When somebody follows you on Twitter you will typically get an email telling you so.  This is great…to a point.  I found that My inbox was getting cluttered with email alerts from Twitter (don’t get me wrong, I love my followers!) but it was challenging to wade through and find more time sensitive emails, especially since my primary account goes to my iPhone.  In the interest of streamlining the process and to make sure that I don’t miss anybody (I like to follow back real people, but not robots), this is how I sort it out.

  1. Create an email account for Twitter.  I originally used my primary address (matt at mattsingley dot com) for my Twitter account, but found that I didn’t like it all going to the same place.  I create a unique account that is used only at Twitter, so now the info won’t go to my iPhone, just my primary and secondary computers.
  2. Create a “rule” for sorting.  I use Microsoft Outlook, so I simply created a rule that the email will follow.  You can do this by right-clicking a message and choosing “Create Rule…” or Tools–>Rules and Alerts–>New Rule.  I made the rule that any email sent to my unique address that contains “is now following you” in the subject goes to a special folder I created called “Twitter Followers”.  This way it doesn’t sit in my inbox, and I can go check it out anytime without disrupting my normal work flow.
  3. Sign up for SocialToo.  I discussed this in my unfollowing post, but it should be repeated here.  Sign up at SocialToo and select the option to get a daily email.  Once a day I receive an email that shows who started following me (thank you!) and who unfollowed me (it stings a little!).
  4. Create a “rule” for SocialToo.  Using the method described in #2, I created a rule that not only puts my daily SocialToo report into my Twitter Followers folder, but it also flags it for follow up that day.  Now to follow back I just open up that one email, check out who is new, and when I’m finished I can mark the flag as completed.  No more retracing my steps!

That’s it!  A quick and simple way to organize your friends in Twitter.  Of course there are tools (even in SocialToo) that allow you to automatically follow everybody that follows you…but where is the community in that?  I actually click on every single person’s link, read their bio, look at their tweets and often click through to their website.  I still think Twitter is a conversation and not a lecture, so the more tha I can interact with people and get to know them, the better!  If you have any strategies that you use to organize your Twitter life I would love to hear about them in the comments or with an @ reply to me.

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Why and How to Unfollow People On Twitter

Twitter Karma: Track Your Followers and Unfollowers  Twitter Karma: Track Your Followers and Unfollowers  

In my last post I discussed 5 ways to follow people on Twitter, with the general idea being that it’s really easy to find tutorials about how to get more followers, but you rarely hear about a good strategy for following. Now that I have told you how to find people and follow them, I want to tell you how (and why) to unfollow them.

First, let’s address the why about unfollowing somebody.  Everyone has their own rules about following (some follow everyone back, some only follow those they know personally), so likewise everybody will have a reason that they unfollow somebody, so these are some of my reasons and certainly they won’t all apply to you.

  • They pull a “pump and dump”.  I will detail this practice is greater detail in a future post, but it basically works like this: you are followed by somebody that follows (and is followed by) several thousand people. As soon as you follow them back, they unfollow you. They do this to artificially inflate their own followers number while not appearing to be out of whack with their number of following. Tricky…basically spammers that are a bit smarter.  Some call them “networkers”, I call them pump and dumpers and I’m not interested.
  • They really do answer the question “what are you doing” in every tweet.  I know this was the original question of Twitter, but I think it has grown far beyond this.  The only people that I can put up with telling me about every detail of every meal that they eat are my very close, personal friends…and at least with them I can tell them to knock it off in person.  Don’t get me wrong, I like the personal stuff, but I also want a conversation, so I’m looking for some value.  Either good links, humor or insight need to be peppered in among the tweets about taking your dog for a walk.
  • They swear excessively without being hysterically funny.  Unless you are @hotdogsladies you are probably just being crude.  I assure you that I am far from perfect in this realm, however I just don’t like swearing online, especially in Twitter.  It’s usually a substitute for something intelligent to say.
  • They direct message me an offer to get in on their MLM deal.  Do I even need to explain this?  Just don’t do it.
  • They don’t tweet for a month or longer.  I’ve unfollowed some of my close friends for this reason…if you just aren’t into it, I’m not going to lok forward to your “sorry I haven’t tweeted for so long” post that goes up every 45 days.

If somebody has upset you for some reason, it’s easy enough to unfollow them.  Just click the “remove this person” in the web interface, or “unfollow” in Tweetdeck.  But sometimes it’s a little trickier, so here are some tools to help you make unfollowing simple.

  • Twitter Karma. Dossy.org brings us this fabulous tool, I use it about once a month.  Twitter Karma asks you for your username and password (it’s been safe so far) and then spends a minute or two calculating info about your account. You can sort by all friends and see the relationship (you follow them/they follow you) or sort by people you follow but that don’t follow you and vice versa.  If you haven’t caught up with everyone that you want to follow, you can go to the “only followers” page, select all and then bulk follow.  You can also bulk unfollow people.  Results are sorted by last update, so if you scroll to the bottom of the screen you can easily delete people with dead or stagnant accounts.
  • Social Too. This is one of my favorite new tools.
    SocialToo.com

    SocialToo.com

    I previously used Qwitter to alert me of unfollows, but that service has been quite unreliable as of late.  SocialToo not only gives me a daily email about who unfollowed me, but also lists who followed me!  There are a lot of extra features available like the ability to autofollow those that follow you (I don’t use this) and the ability to block auto DMs from other SocialToo users (I DO use this!).  Their best set of features comes under its own tab however, your unfollow preferences. You can choose from “Unfollow everyone who unfollows me” or “Don’t unfollow anyone for me” or (the one I use) “Unfollow if users unfollow you within ___ day(s) after you follow them”.  I’ll talk more about this last feature in my future post about the pump and dump strategy of others.

I would love to hear your ideas about when to unfollow somebody, and if you know of some web services that help, please share in the comments!

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5 Ways To Follow Good People On Twitter

Follow People On Twitter

Follow People On Twitter

If you pay attention, you can find at least one article a day about how to get more followers on Twitter.  This isn’t about how to get more followers, this is how to follow more people.  If your focus on Twitter is simply to get a lot of numbers in your followers column, then you are missing out on so many great people with amazing thoughts…you’re too focused on yourself.  This also isn’t about how to spam people by following 2,000 within 15 minutes of signing up, then making only one post that links to your “how to get rich quick on the internet” site.  It’s about finding quality people so that the cocktail party that is Twitter is much more enjoyable for you.

  1. Do a search to find people with common interests. I use Tweetdeck (you can find a tutorial about how to use it here), and often make new search columns to find particular phrases.  For example, I’m one of those oddballs that owns and loves a Zune.  I created a search for “Zune” and take a look at it every once in a while to see what people are saying.  When I see somebody that writes something helpful, creative or witty, I usually follow that person.  If you don’t use Tweetdeck (or something similar) you can always go check out the Twitter search site.
  2. Browse through a directory. I have always liked Twellow as a way to find new people, but there are a lot of other services as well.  Mashable recently did a write-up on 15 Twitter directories compared, it’s worth a read.  Directories categorize people by category or geography.  One potential shortcoming is that people are free to categorize themselves, and I often find misrepresentation.  Still, go check out your favorite category and find some new people to follow.
  3. Pay attention to who your friends are talking with. Don’t discount @ replies from your friends to others as a private conversation.  I pay attention to whom others are speaking, because very often I find some fabulously brilliant people that I otherwise would not have known about and I follow them. If people that you respect speak to others, click on the @username link and go see what they are all about.
  4. Use a service that recommends others. If you go to my profile at Twitter Grader you will see several people at the bottom that the service thinks would be good for me to connect with.  I have found good people this way, although Twitter Grader is unusually obsessed with the fact that Imention flip flops in my bio, so it tends to point me toward others that also have flip flops in their bios.  Not necessarily the best connections, but it has been valuable.  Another concierge service of sorts is Mr. Tweet.  Again, I’ve had only moderate success is reasonable matches, but still have found a few good ones.
  5. Don’t only follow the big names. There are plenty of services that give you a list of the top tweeters.  These are usually great folks to follow, but don’t only follow people based solely on big numbers…some of the most insightful and interesting people I follow have fewer than 100 followers.  As an added incentive, if you are interested in conversing with people and not just listening, the people that I am most interactive with usually have smaller follower/following counts…they don’t have as much to keep up with, so it naturally goes that they are free to interact more.  Think about it in terms of a real life event; if you are at a party with 10,000 people and there is somebody you want to talk to, you will have to wait your turn or even get passed over.  Go to a party with 25 people, and you will be involved in more frequent and often more significant conversations.

Many people talk about how many followers they have, and become slightly obsessed with adding as many as they can through begging, contents and shifty practices like the pump and dump (to be discussed in my next post), but I think it is more important to have quality people to follow.  These are my five favorite techniques for finding new people, if you have a strategy for finding great folks that I haven’t mentioned, please share it in the comments.

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The Spirit Horse Comes For Feedburner

 

Transfer Feedburner to Google

Transfer Feedburner to Google

After countless months of watching the slow death of Feedburner, it has finally been announced that it will no longer be an active service after February 28, 2009.  If you use Feedburner to manage RSS and email subscriptions you should log into your account and click on the tiny little link at the top of the page that tells you to transfer to Google now. I did it in just a few simple clicks (it’s helpful to be signed into Google when you initiate the transfer, saves a couple of clicks) and after several minutes everything was finished.

 

Their FAQ page on Google answers should address any questions you have, like if you will lose any subscribers in the process of the transfer (Google assures us that the answer is no) and changes in the Feedburner API.

I’m glad for the change, I think the service has been lacking for some time.  A quick scan of Twitter of Technorati at any given moment will reveal plenty of complaints like “Feedburner says I just lost over 300 subscribers overnight” and the like.  Let’s hope that Google can stabalize the service on their platform and give us accurate reports.

Making Videos Is Easy With Animoto

Animoto Picture Videos

Animoto Picture Videos

Animoto, the online mashup service that brags about being “the end of slideshows” has rolled out some pretty neat features for the new year. You can use animoto to create professional looking videos in a matter of minutes simply by uploading a few pictures and your favorite music track, or use the pre-selected music from the Animoto website. If you have been meaning to share the thousands of photos that you have stored on your laptop but haven’t found a good way, here is how:

  1. Sign Up
    It’s pretty quick, and it’s free if you only want to produce 30-second shorts. For more involved projects the pricing starts at $3 per video and goes up to $249 for a year long commercial account. If you’re just trying to take some pressure off from the recent weekend road trip that everybody wants you to publish, the free account should work just fine. If you are going to make more than a handful of full-length videos over time, at $30/year the All-Access Pass is a pretty good deal.
  2. Select Your Pictures
    This is really as simple as browsing on your computer and selecting multiple pictures at one time. The :30 free videos will accommodate about a dozen pictures and make a nice production. Don’t worry about selecting the order, you can change this later.
  3. Choose Your Music
    You can upload your own music to Animoto (assuming that you have the rights to publish the music), or you can select a track from their collection. Eight different genres are offered, like Hip Hop, Latin or Indie, and each genre has about a dozen different songs to choose from. Chances are you haven’t actually heard of any of the artists or songs in the Animoto collection, but they are surprisingly good nonetheless. You can play a preview of the track before selecting it an moving on.
  4. Final Tweaks
    The last screen you go to will allow some customization of your video. If you are making a full-length video you can change image pacing by selecting 1/2 speed or 2x speed, depending on how you want the final product to feel. You can also choose an image for the video cover screen from the pictures that you uploaded earlier. After you enter some video information (title, description and your name) you click the “create video” button and let Animoto do its magic
  5. Publish
    That’s it! After a few minutes of rendering you are published. I recommend looking at the final video to see how the transitions worked out for you. If you want to make some changes just click the “remix this video” button and change or remove pictures, music and transitions. If you think you are happy with what it looks like, you have a lot of publishing options. The easiest is to just keep the video hosted on Animoto and send a link to your friends, but you can also email it, download it, get code to embed it in your blog or upload it to YouTube.
  6. Animoto On The iPhone
    New for 2009 is the Animoto iPhone app. It’s free, and it works incredibly well. Pick out the photos you like off of your iPhone’s library, select music just like you would from the regular online service, and let it render. In just a few minutes you have a :30 video that you can email to your friends to watch online. This is a really amazing way to share your vacation pics, and to finally get your parents off of your back because you never send them pictures. You can snap photos, render and email in less than five minutes.

Animoto makes all of your photosharing easy and enjoyable, and with the addition of the iPhone app it is easier than ever to create on-the-fly presentations to share. If you have come up with creative ways that you are using Animoto, let us know in the comments!

Social Tech Event Survival Guide

Since I just wrote about two different tech events happening in LA this week, on Wednesday and one Thursday, I thought a primer on how to not only survive but succeed at these would be good.  There really are some simple things you can do to prepare yourself to hang out with hundreds of geeks to make the most of your time and theirs.

  1. Bring plenty of business cards.  I know, business cards are so old fashioned, just simple ink printer on paper.  Remember paper? It’s what we used to use before PDFs.  You may think that when you meet somebody new you’ll transfer info via mobile phone or some geeky Star Trek mind meld, but no…the best way is still with a business card.  Sometimes I’ll be talking to a group of 3 or 4 people, and after we introduce ourselves and chat for a bit the group naturally dissolves and moves around the room.  Always be ready to hand somebody your business card, and ask for theirs.  It’s the best way to keep track of who you meet, and frankly, you never know who you may end up wanting to do business with later.
  2. Bring a pen, preferably a fine tipped Sharpie.  Pens are the archaic partner of paper.  I use a pen to make notes on business cards that I get from people, and to scribble things to others that I give my business card to.  I recommend a Sharpie because sometimes people have glossy cards, and sometimes other pens just don’t work.  Sharpies rock my world.
  3. Bring gum or mints.  I know you think your breath smells great, but after a couple of Gimlets and the free stuffed mushrooms, I assure you that it does not.  I’m a fan of Wintergreen Altoids myself.
  4. When you meet somebody, listen to their name.  You do it, I do it, we all do it…you meet somebody and 10 seconds after they introduce themselves you cannot remember their name.  That is just downright embarrassing.  I think this happens mostly because people you are thinking about what the other person is thinking of you when you meet…you focus more on your name and introduction than theirs.  Stop it.  I’ll tell you what they’ll think when you forget their name in three heartbeats…they will think you are a schmuck.  So, forget about yourself and really focus on them for the few seconds that i takes for them to say their name.
  5. Don’t drink too much.  If you are there to make some future business connections, trust me…you’re not going to get the account when the potential client sees you on Flickr doing keg stands and wearing a lamp shade.  If you want to be the life of the party, you may want to excuse yourself early and head down the road to a local hangout.
  6. Have your elevator pitch ready.  That isn’t to say that you have to sell something, but you should be able to tell somebody else what it is you do, or want to do, in less than 30 seconds.  Ideally if you can get this down to less than 15 seconds you are more likely to have a better conversation.
  7. Mingle.  I’ve been to events where I simply didn’t feel like being there.  I was by myself and it seemed like everybody else was with a group of their best friends.  This is rarely the case, there are plenty of people looking to connect with others.  So, be approachable and come out of the corner.  I’m guessing you have some great things to share.  If all else fails, come find me and say hi, I’m always happy to talk.  I’m the bald, ugly guy that’s hiding in the corner. ;)
  8. Don’t belittle the host or any of the sponsors.  I say this because I’ve heard it done.  You never know who you are talking to or who is listening.  Hey, it’s their party, if you don’t like it…leave.
  9. Have fun! This should probably be the first thing on the list because it’s the most important. Even though you are at a tech event to listen to speakers, find out about new technology and network with other geeks you should make sure you have fun.  Honestly, the fact that we get to play with gizmos and stuff on the internet all day long…that’s fun! The events should be fun too, so don’t be so serious.  Lighten up and have a good time.

I had a couple more thoughts, but as I like to buck trends I didn’t want to make this a top 10 list. I’m no Chris Brogan, but I’ve been to my fair share of tech meetups.  So…I hope to meet you at a tech gathering in Los Angeles or San Francisco soon.  If you really want to get my attention, send me an @ message on Twitter, you know I’ll see it right away and we’ll connect for real.

Twitter Karma Lets You View Your Relationships

When I wrote a post about Qwitter, several people let me know that they just couldn’t handle knowing when somebody quits following them on Twitter, that it’s just too much of a blow to their ego.  To those who feel this way, I would caution you against using this service as well, because it will reveal much more.

Twitter Karma

Twitter Karma

While Qwitter only tells you who stops following you, Twitter Karma reveals the depth of your “relationship” with others on Twitter.  This excellent free service will ask you for your Twitter username and password, then after some time gathering info, will show you a chart of how you interact with others.  Some people follow you but you don’t follow them, and you follow some people that don’t follow you back.  Probably the majority of relationships show that you follow them and they follow you, unless you are spammer.  But then again, if you are a spammer you don’t care about this service. Also, if you are a spammer, shame on you.  Please go away.  Moving on…

Beyond satisfying your morbid curiosity for who follows you back, there is some use to this.  Through changes at Twitter and changes in peoples accounts, I have inadvertently stopped following people over time without meaning too.  I’m not sure if this holds true today, but it used to be that if you had a public profile and then changed to private you dropped most, if not all, of your followers.  I spent a great deal of time on the phone with Cynthia Ware testing this out, and we found it to be true.  If you have changed your account from public to private and don’t understand why so many people quit following you, now you know.  It wasn’t their fault…you booted them off!

There is also a neat feature that I haven’t mentioned, the bulk follow and unfollow.  You can “check all” and then click bulk follow.  You can be more selective, working your way down the page and checking only the people you want to, and click “bulk unfollow”.  I find this very, very useful.  So what do you think, is there a good place for Twitter Karma is your world?

 


About time someone got backup right with Mozy

Tweetdeck: Traffic Control for Twitter

TweetDeck with Notes TweetDeck with Notes (click to enlarge)

At least once a day, sometimes more, somebody tells me that they don’t use Twitter because they can’t keep up with it, that it’s too fast, too “now”.  I understand what the sentiment is, but really it just doesn’t make sense.  Twitter is too good for communicating with groups and individuals, for learning new things from like minded people, and for getting useful information.  So, if you are using Twitter but aren’t sure how to make the most of it, or if you are thinking about diving in, this article is for you.

Did you know that you don’t have to use the main web page for your Twitter communication?  There are some neat applications available to you for free that will help you sort things out.  My favorite desktop application by far is Tweetdeck.  You should go download it right now, install it, sign in and then come back and read this.

Are you finished installing?  Good. Let’s move on.

If you click the picture above you will get a much larger view of the Tweetdeck layout. I’ve made notes on the page in red text so you know what you are looking at. I’m going to bullet point a few of the features that make this product such a must-have for anybody that uses Twitter.

  • The ability to easily view replies and direct messages.  The replies (in the picture it is the 2nd column from the left) are from people that use your screen name in  tweets.  It doesn’t matter where in the tweet it is (beginning, middle or end), Tweetdeck does a great job of picking them up.  This is really handy so I don’t miss something that may be said to me or about me.  I like to try to respond to most comments.  Afterall, Twitter is interactive like a cocktail party, not one way like a lecture.
  • Creation of custom groups.  This is huge for me.  Although I follow a lot of people, I certainly don’t know them all personally.  I created a group called “Friends” (in this picture, 3rd from the left) that is exclusively for people that I know personally.  I like to keep an eye on this so I can see what is happening in the lives of the people that I know the best.  As far as I know, you can create as many groups as you want.  I also have groups called “Tech SFO” and “Tech LA” so I can keep track of goings-on by geography, and some other groups that are related by the type of person that I am interested in keeping track of.  While the public stream on the far left (All Tweets) is like the entire newspaper, the individual groups are like sections of the newspaper (sports, business, etc.) The newest release of Tweetdeck has a little button (+) that you can click in an individuals tweet that adds them to a group of your choosing.  I love this feature!
  • TwitScoop.  I keep this column open because it shows trends that people are discussing on Twitter.  This particular screenshot has an interesting mix of boobies, congress and earthquake.  Mashable is squarely responsible for putting boobies up there for the first time that I’m aware of, with their article about Victoria’s Secret coming to mobile phones. You can click on any word to be taken to a web page that will show you different people that are using the particular word.
  • URL Shortening.  Have you seen all those links people put up on Twitter that look odd like http://is.gd/3IZL ? That is a shortened URL.  Since Twitter only allows 140 characters at a time, you don’t want to take up all of your space with some crazy long link to a website.  Using Tweetdeck, simply copy/paste your link and press “shorten” and it will automatically be truncated and added to your message.  Pretty slick!
  • Create search groups.  The night of this writing, I am heading out to Mindshare LA.  I was curious who is going, so I easily made a group in Tweetdeck that searches the public timeline for anybody that says “Mindshare”.  Within a few seconds I got a list, and it continues to update as new people mention it. This is a great feature for anybody that wants to keep track of their brand or product, or to find new people to follow that may have common interests as you.
    A search group in Tweetdeck.

    A search group in Tweetdeck.

There are several other features that you will find when you play around with it (integration with 12seconds.tv, favoriting tweets, etc.) but this is a good start for now.  Of course you can find the creater of Tweetdeck, Iain Dodsworth, on Twitter here and you can also find official Tweetdeck support on Twitter here.
I have yet to hear of somebody that uses Tweetdeck for a few days and doesn’t love it.  I often see suggestions tweeted about how to improve upon the already great app, and they are responded to (and often implemented) quite quickly.  Go check it out and let me know what you think.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my RSS Feed, getting email updates when new posts are published, or following me on Twitter for information about what I’m doing every minute of every day.

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