Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
In December, I had a chance to spend the afternoon talking about the news and social media with the staff at WEYI, NBC 25. After I left the meeting I spent a lot of time thinking about the point where Social Media and Traditional Media intersect and how to integrate new techniques into a successful format.
My Top 6 Tips:
- Create a hierarchy/Flow Chart of news importance and Direction.
TV news is one of the most limited formats since a broadcast may have as little as 20 minutes of air time per 30 minute show. Not every tip, press release or AP story can be covered in this amount of time. However, news that doesn’t make a the broadcast should be directed elsewhere. Creating a flow-cart or other formula for deciding, before hand, what information should be shared, and where, gives reporters an opportunity to engage the audience more often.
- Twitter has the highest volume but the fewest characters allowed, and should be used for snips, teasers or as a directional service getting followers to visit videos, on-scene cell-phone pictures captured by reporters or other websites where they can interact with the news you’re reporting.
- Facebook & Google Plus don’t have the tight character limits that Twitter does but since your fan’s home page feed doesn’t move as quickly, posting too often can be overwhelming. Weather maps, Follow-ups and viewer-to-viewer based communities can boost station loyalty.
- YouTube. Posting segments after they’ve aired is a great way to keep people talking and gives you a way to gauge response. People also like seeing themselves in the news and Youtube offers a way for broadcasts to be shared or included in blogs. Youtube can even generate revenue for the station.
- You have to give to get.
Traditional media tends to push out information, but Social Media demands interaction. The easiest way to interact is by Following-Back and replying… within reason.Take time to look at your followers and a few of their posts. There are a lot of useless and undesirable accounts that will only bog down your efforts. A DNFTT (do not feed the trolls) policy wouldn’t hurt either.
- Cover more Local businesses and Not-for-Profits.
Being neighborly and engaged locally is a great way to increase station loyalty across all media outlets. This can be as simple as following and sharing or re-tweeting informational posts. Showing people who are working hard to better the community also counters negative news and illuminates bright spots. Directing fluff pieces to social networks also saves air time for more serious news.
- Create custom Twitter and Google Plus Hash Tags.
Information overload is the side effect of social media success. At a certain point it’s just not possible for a human to consume every post your followers, prominent citizens and organizations create. Creating the Hash Tag is as simple as choosing a word or phrase (without spaces or other special charters) and adding the pound sign to the front. For Example – #MINewsTip. Just be sure to search using your potential tag first to be sure it’s unique enough to lay claim to it. Then search for the tag to gather your tips, comments and relevant information.
- Create a Social Loop
All of the social networks you’re using should feed into one another. Tweets that send people to YouTube, Facebook, your website and then back again are part of a interaction loop you should strive to create. Creating content across the various formats also allows you to interact with people who use Facebook, but not Twitter, etc.
- Use Feedback on the air.
Don’t forget to include air time in the social loop because it’s the one thing you have that Social Media doesn’t. Viewers who are empowered to comment and rewarded with air time are more likely to develop a deep loyalty to the station.
Good design is one of those things that when it’s right, you might not notice but, when it’s wrong, there’s no hiding it. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to create good design is by getting the color scheme right and my favorite way to nail it every time is with Colr.org.
Color sets the mood, carries the theme and can convey ideas. When a website’s elements such as links, tables and mast-head images all work together, the other elements of the design seem to fall into place. After all, it’s much easier to see when a table is too wide than it is to put your finger on just 1 of the more than 16 million colors represented in hexadecimal.
With the help of Colr.org I only have to find a picture that represents the idea I’m trying to convey. Once I have it, the site’s software allows me to load it and sample it’s colors.
I’ve used this technique for everything from client websites, to matching the tables and links in my Twitter profile to a custom background image.
The “right” picture is one of those intangible things that I can’t really help you find, but I like to start with a short list of adjectives to help me focus my search. Peaceful, happy, warm, bright, or any number of words that might describe the mood or theme of the design. From there I just go with an image that I like the best.
For this post I chose “Lobster Adirondack Chairs” by cbgrfx123 on Flickr because it had an Attribution Share-a-like license and could use it, here, and in the example to the left, without running afoul of someone’s copyright.
But if all you need are colors that work well together, and won’t be displaying the picture publicly, it’s fine to use any image you want.
My suggestion is, if you’ve never used Colr.org’s software, pop over to the site and start playing around with some of the features by using one of the random Flickr images on the home page. There’s a very handy button allowing you to load other, random images in case the ones on display don’t float your boat.
The button I use most is “Pick a Scheme from image” since that will auto generate a scheme with 3 or more colors taken from the image.
The “Edit Scheme” box is handy too. With the features found there, you can delete a color you don’t like, add a new one with the + or get the hex so that you can add the colors to a template. There’s even a feature that allows you to find paint by brand name in case you’re designs are for a physical space.
If you’d rather pick your colors on your own, simply hover your mouse over one of the 3 pictures on the Colr.org home page and click into any one of the colored boxes to find out more about it.
Colr.org also has a very handy how-to page for help using the site’s features.
Once you have some colors that you think will work well on your site, don’t be afraid to move them around in your template. My first instinct isn’t always right when it comes to backgrounds and readability. It’s perfectly acceptable to switch things around or go back to your picture and find a new color or two to substitute if things just aren’t right yet.
If colr.org can make me look like a design professional, I’m sure it can help you too.
A friend suggested I look through VMWare’s job listings to see if anything jumped out at me. Frankly I didn’t expect to find anything that matches my skill-set because, I don’t fit the standard mold most corporations create. However, as I perused the surprisingly long list of openings I came across a listing for a Sliderocket Coach.
I checked out the listing for 2 reasons. First, what’s Sliderocket, and, second, what kind of coaching?
Then the shocker, I might actually be the type of person they’re looking for. Most of the time I work to create my own opportunities because it’s easier than trying to find a job that’s well suited for my odd combination of technical knowledge and entrepreneurial kung-fu.
One requirement of the application was that I submit a presentation along with a formal resume and truthfully, I was a bit nervous about that. I’ve created slide decks, but never as a cover letter and never with the level of sophistication I thought I’d need to get my foot in the door. I was also concerned since I’ve never used Sliderocket and wondered if I’d be able to use it effectively?
The good news is that the user interface was straight forward and anything that wasn’t immediately apparent was fairly easy to figure out. Even more “advanced” techniques like creating my own template weren’t all that hard to do.
In just 2 days I managed to create this presentation…
I say 2 days, but that was more like a total of 8 hours. The first 4 were spent thinking about what I wanted to say, how to say it and learning to use the software. The final 4 were creating the slides. Though that’s not completely fair either. I could have finished an hour earlier if my inspiration hadn’t run out. For some reason the only closing I could muster was some sort of Southern Belle saying, “lookin’ forward to talkin’ real soon!”
Now, if you’ve never used it before, Sliderocket.com is a cloud platform, so your work lives on the internet. The advantage is that you don’t have to maintain the software and are always using the current version. Also, because it’s a native to the internet, it’s designed for sharing and collaboration. The only disadvantage right now, and this is a disadvantage for all cloud applications, is that connection is key. For whatever reason you’re caught without a local copy and can’t get online to get one, you could be sunk. But I suppose this is just a new way to look at the old mantra of “back-up, back-up, back-up!”
If you haven’t done much with cloud applications or just want to see what kind of presentation you could make, sign up for one of Sliderocket’s free accounts.
If you’d like to create a presentation like this one, here are my top 4 hints;
- Get inspiration for your theme by seeing what collateral is available first. The only reason the Ninja worked well for this presentation was because I was able to find just the right photo to kick things off. If I had wanted a picture for every slide I wouldn’t have been able to do it with the choices that Flikr presented me with. So make sure you have what you need, or know how to work around what you don’t, before you go too far into the process.
- If you need a soundtrack for your presentation, check out Jamendo.com. There’s lots of Creative Commons licensed music for you to choose from. The song I chose, Plastic & Flashing Lights by Professor Kliq, was found there.
- If the text is all you have to convey your ideas, make sure the letters represent you well. I used a version of the drop shadow that was available in the software to give the white on black words some depth.
- I used a QR code because I wasn’t sure the link I added would be click-able or easily copied/pasted to a browser. Using it gave me one more way for the viewer to go where I wanted to send them.
If you have any questions or comments about presentations, or how I managed a certain effect with SlideRocket, feel free to leave me a note, below. Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or sharing on your favorite service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie
I plan on continuing my trek towards 10,000 twitter followers, but I think I’ve gained as much as I can from this experiment and don’t really see the point of continuing. In fact there are so many polluters of my tweet stream that I just can’t take it any longer and need to begin unfollowing. (You’re first, @cellband)
I can confirm the methods I’ve been using do increase your followers, but, it doesn’t seem to be an effective way to promote yourself. Followers alone aren’t enough to boost your revenue and while I was clicking away, trying to reach my limit of 1,000 daily follows, I didn’t have much time to read along or interact with many people.
Early on in the process I did mention quantity vs. quality and I still think that’s the key with twitter. Groups like TeamFollowBack and others create lots and lots of followers for each other, but in most respects the tweets from this group have very little value to a small business owner. Lots and lots of tweets about following so-and-so and plenty of use of their hash tags, but I found I was more likely to have a real conversation and real impact with someone who followed just a few hundred people.
Yesterday I was fed up with the MLMs, SEOs, and other so-called social media gurus and tweeted that I was going to find some Knitting folks to hang around with. I immediately had a response and was able to start a series of conversations – more than I’d had on any single day since starting the experiment. Because even with the lists I started and other tools that might be available, it’s just too hard for me to have meaningful relationships on twitter with thousands of people.
I probably could effectively keep up with 15000 people on twitter if all I did was marketing, but as a small business owner I wear many hats and it’s just too easy to devote too much time to twitter. It’s clear to me now why big companies have made room in their marketing budgets for a Social Media specialist, because you could do this full time. In fact it might be extremely cost effective to hire someone just to manage new follows, Tweet and interact full time.
As far as hard data, along with this chart, I’ve been keeping track of the time I spend hunting for followers. The red square on 2/19 is a note about resetting the timer. You might remember from my Day 1 update that I was having trouble with my time tracker skills.
All in all, 4313 followers came in as the result of 22 hours 40 minutes of work over a 14 day period. That averages out to:
190 new followers per hour
308 new followers per day
1 hour 36 minutes of work per day
Though you can see from the numbers that there wasn’t an average day. In fact March 8 is 10 followers lower than the day before. I started the morning of March 7 with the count, and flushed those who weren’t following me back, but as soon as I tried to follow, Twitter told me I was already at my limit of followers for the day. As a result, I show negative growth on the 8th.
There are also days when the follow cap was much lower than others. The difference being as many as 600 follows. On days where I spread the process out, I was able to get to my cap of 1000. On days where I was busy and trying to get it done quickly I wasn’t able to follow as many people.
I think that’s the reason why I was surprised that I was only spending about an hour and a half per day working on the 10k. Because the timer only counts when I’m on desktop 3 where I keep my 10k applications, and not when I’m doing other things. This time is real and actual working time you’re seeing, but what that number doesn’t show is that the process was tedious and took all day to complete. Take it from me, a gal who knits blankets by hand, that this has been the most tedious thing I’ve done in a while.
I’d still like to test who’s most likely to follow me based on the number of followers they have and the ratio of followers to following and such, but I’m running out of time for the experiment. I had hoped to be finished by now, but I took a week off so I could be with my husband at his Grand Father’s funeral and now I need to devote the next week or so to filing taxes and other business goodies. Though I suppose that’s the way small business works. Doing what you can, when you can and above all else knowing that each day you might have a new priority.
I was able to bring in 2151new followers in the first week. My biggest daily gain was 740 followers and I averaged about 307 per day. Pretty good considering I didn’t follow anyone over that first weekend so I could see what flushing would do to my gains.
I’ll admit there are still some frustrations, but all-in-all, I seem to be on track to making the 10k in 21 days.
If you look closely, the dates in the graph jump from February 23 to March 1 because I was in Michigan cleaning my Grand Father-in-law’s house and there is no internet connection there. Also, I work from home and am usually at my computer, so I don’t have a data plan or fancy apps for my phone – heck, my cell phone barely makes calls, so I didn’t tweet much or follow while I was there.
At first I was going to get the daily numbers to see if there were any ups or downs to record, but decided to go to my original plan and simply record numbers on the day’s I’m actually working at getting 10k.
My next observation is that you don’t need someone with more than 10,000 followers to find a good list to mine. 2,000 is good enough for most cases. My reason for this is because I’m seeing there are a lot of people on Twitter in the same quantity vs. quality race that I’m in. I’d eventually like to use my lists for interactions and I haven’t seen the value of #TeamFollowBack just yet. There is a lot of following going on, but I haven’t watched these Tweeps long enough to form an opinion on their marketing value. So while they may be helpful in my goal for 10k, I’m not jumping on their bandwagon just yet. If there’s something I’m missing, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
The opposite end of the Follow-back spectrum are those that don’t follow back at all. I’ll be moving to Michigan this summer and spent March 1 following people who used the #Michigan hash and followed a prominent newspaper. Since these folks are interested in Michigan news and/or using the pound sign to create searchable terms, I thought they’d be good folks to follow and perhaps follow me back as I attempt to bring my Small Business expertise to a state that could use an economic boost.
I was wrong and for the 78 followers who did come on board, I flushed 919 people on March 2 who didn’t follow back. OUCH!
Now maybe this is just a Michigan thing, or maybe it’s because my tweets were dull, but when @SocialMichigan doesn’t follow back, I’m thinking it’s not all me. Though from SocialMichigan’s following/followers ratio of 51/488 it seems they’re missing the social aspect of Twitter and simply trying to broadcast.
I was also very disappointed that the local Chambers and Downtown Development Agencies (DDA) didn’t follow back either. These are precisely the people I could help as I set up my Small Business consulting firm and want to learn more from, but I won’t actively search and follow Michiganders in the remainder of this experiment. Maybe after I reach 10k and begin to pare down the list, but for now, they just end up in my flush list the next morning.
While I’ll admit to turning off my followers notifications right now, in the past I looked at every new follower. If you want to use Social Media Marketing for your business, looking at new followers should be priority number 1. Twitter, Linked-in, and facebook are all about the ability to interact and network with people you wouldn’t always have a chance to meet and talk with. If you don’t have time to peek at profiles, you shouldn’t bother with Social Media. Work on other areas of your business instead.
If you have any questions or comments about my Twitter 10k, feel free to leave me a note, below. Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or sharing on your favorite service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie
I now have 5 days of data and observations recorded and I am starting to see some interesting trends. How about we get to the numbers first and then my observations of how my experiences so far might impact a small business?
The first change you’ll see is that I’ve added a column for Reciprocate. I can only manipulate numbers in the following column, and the data might give me a little insight into what other people are doing and how it effects my ability to reach 10k followers. I’ll be looking to see if the reciprocate number grows organically or if it might be people I’ve flushed before they had a chance to follow-back. I may not know which is which, but I’ll keep it in there just in case a pattern forms.
In my last post I also wondered how flushing might effect my numbers and since the 19th and 20th were a weekend I was able to leave everything as it was to see what might happen. It would seem that some people came on board and I’m now wondering if just the act of sending a following message might be enough to trigger a follow-back from some. If so, it shouldn’t matter when I follow and flush as long as that notification ends up in their in-box.
On the topic of organic growth, I didn’t see much happen with the numbers as of Monday morning so I think organic growth is going to be limited to finding relevant followers and not just the crop of Social Media Marketers I have so far.
The weekend also meant that I didn’t prowl the lists adding followers. I did update my spreadsheet with the morning numbers and spent 30 minutes on Sunday watching the tweets come in faster than I could read them.
The reduction you see on the 20th (reflecting the previous 24 hours) and then again this morning are because I unfollowed people when the post was in a language I couldn’t read. That may not stop them from continuing to follow me, but I can’t justify keeping them around if there’s no possibility that I’ll respond to something they’ve said.
As long as we’re talking about unfollowing, I had to resist the urge to unfollow tweeps posting annoying or repetitive posts. To keep from unfollowing I made a pact with myself and vowed to unfollow many of these offenders as soon as my experiment was over. In the mean time I’m going to create my first lists so that the people I do enjoy reading along with won’t get lost in the shuffle.
In some ways, the vast number of annoying people made me really sad, but then I suddenly knew why there were so many fail-whales in my life. Seeing the same post more than 6 times in less than 3 minutes is probably the reason Twitter is always going over capacity. The reason might also have something to do with the giant circle of SMM that’s been created. If someone has thousands of followers who are also following thousands of tweeps, posting the same pitch and URL over and over again might be the only way to ensure that the tweet will be seen.
To test this hypothesis – About an hour ago (writing time, not real time) I included a URL in a tweet. Since Naturesoundsfor.me keeps track of how often a custom sound composition was listened to in the past 10 days, and I hadn’t been there recently, I had a quick and dirty way check for a response.
Now that I have 4 times as many followers, surely there would be someone willing to check out my link?
Nope – “In last 10 days this sound composition has been listened to by 1 listeners.” That’s me, the one lonely listener.
Social media, in a pure marketing sense, was suppose to be about pulling people in by becoming attractive and someone enjoyable to hang around with. That’s in contrast to traditional media which pushes out messages that are largely ignored by… well… everyone. So far I’m not really seeing pull marketing by anyone claiming to be SMM experts.
Bad Habits of Push Messengers on Social Media- AKA don’t do this – EVER!
Bad Habit # 1 – On day 1, I mentioned Direct Messages, but what I didn’t mention was the style of most of them. Usually they had the same crappy pitch and URL combination I mentioned above, which was, and always will be, ignored. Though they must work to some very limited extent, but I think I have a hypothesis that I’ll share in a moment or two.
To boil it down – If you can’t write a decent headline, why should I click your link? If nothing else, please try to sound sincere.
Bad Habit #2 – I did have a few DMs that looked a little less like they might be auto generated, or at least were a less crappy auto generated DM. In fact some even asked me a question, to which I attempted to reply.
Attempted being the key word here. Some of these folks weren’t following me so I couldn’t send them a DM in return – bad, bad, bad. Why would you miss an opportunity to engage with someone especially if you’re the one who started the conversation? Isn’t engagement the whole point of Social Media?
In the future, I’m only going to respond to DMs with @user mentions and will only use DMs for private information like my mobile number.
Bad Habit #3 – Just because you saw the same technique more than once, doesn’t mean that you should jump on the band wagon. I know this flies in the face of my “Rule of Two,” but there’s a difference between spotting a trend and knowing if it’s a good trend to get in on.
I see that there is some sort of Information Cascade effect where people justify bad habits because lots of other people are doing the exact same thing.
Twitter might have become less about lots of people having conversations, like chit-chatting with the mom behind me in line at the grocery store , and more like being on a street where everyone is wearing a sandwich board like the guy in this article’s mast head.
While talking with my husband about my observations so far, he said it sounded like I was describing the FFA pages of the past.
In case you never had the pleasure of Free For All pages, the idea was that lots of links boosted your hits, and lots of hits meant lots of sales and lots of sales was the way to get rich quick. I suppose it did happen once in a while, but not because you posted a link. The site owner always asked for an email address in exchange for posting a link and those emails were then used for SPAM email marketing campaigns.
People listed with FFA because a long time ago, in internet years anyway, the search engines didn’t automatically crawl your site and placement was dependent on regular submissions. It was a necessity of the time, and luckily for us, the Engines have evolved past the stage of irrelevant links.
So when Todd reminded me about FFA and I was able to recall it’s rise, and fall, I began to think about how the process has been recycled into Tweets. Frankly it has me a little worried about the longevity of Twitter – will it get so fouled up that everyone abandons it like they did with MySpace?
I am optimistic that I’ll be able to eventually find a list that works well for pull marketing on Twitter, but for now, I think I’m going to have to deal with the barrage of bad marketing messages.
If you have any questions or comments about my Twitter 10k, feel free to leave me a note, below. Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or share on another service would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie
Yesterday I gave the Twitter 10k my full attention – well sort of. I spent 90 minutes on the phone with Matt at Think Michigan Now and an afternoon trip to the gym didn’t give me a full day to work with, but I think that’s probably a good thing for this experiment. After all, all of us divide our time between working in our business and working on our businesses and just like you, I can’t back out of a pre-scheduled appointments or stop replying to emails just to get Twitter followers.
In all, I spent about 3.5 hours yesterday working out my process and getting a handle on the technique. As I mentioned in the first post, I’m trying Joe Mackey‘s suggested method but I know I’m already tweaking it some. For instance, I’m not so hung up on first finding Tweeps with over 10k followers as my base for searches. I can’t possibly max out my followers on any given day, so I’m trying to find interesting people – like those who reply to me or have uniquely named lists. Even lists where I’ve been added as a member because I must have something in common with the other listees.
I’ve also begun to question quantity vs. quality. Quality does take longer to find, but is 10k some magical number that includes a critical mass of quality? I don’t know yet. Maybe this answer will be more apparent as I get further along. Especially if I begin to notice any blips with web traffic or other metrics.
A few observations so far
The follower’s are coming in at a good pace. I’ve decided to start each morning by recording some basic information so it might be easier to spot trends down the road. Obviously, there isn’t a big data set as of yet, but jumping almost 250 followers for 3.5 hours work isn’t a bad first day. On the other hand, you could consider Tweepie’s Flush as 400 wasted clicks. 218 people I didn’t need to add, and 218 people I now have to get rid of, but by getting rid of the spares I think it gives me better numbers. A better ratio of follows/following and it might come into play if I ever have a day where I can max out my follows. So for now, the daily flush stays.
I’m really glad I didn’t have my cell phone linked to Twitter. The amount of Direct messages coming in via Text would have cost me a fortune.
It’s probably a good idea to opt out of Twitter’s New Follower notice while actively working the 10k. I don’t have a limit on number of emails so server space isn’t an issue, but let’s think about this for a minute. The goal is to get 10k people following you. That means 10k emails in your box. My first attempt to wrangle emails was to create a folder and filter to clear all the Follows and Direct message notices out of my inbox. This monring, however, there were a couple hundred that came in and I could see my system struggling to filter my normally heavy volume with the extra 300 emails.
3 weeks isn’t a practical time frame – real time is. If anyone is going to learn from this experiment, I need more than “max out your followers every day and in three weeks you’ll have 10K.” So I’ve added a little bit of geekery to the experiment to help out on that front.
The beauty of a Linux Operating system (which I use exclusively) is that it comes with all sorts of cool software and KTimeTracker was already on my system. I also have the option of working on various virtual desktops. By putting all of the applications I’m using for the experiment on their own desktop and things like blogs, facebook and others elsewhere KTimeTracker can count just the time I spend hunting for followers and none of the time I spend elsewhere. The only special thing I need to do to pause the time tracking is just switch to another desktop – like check my email before I go to lunch.
Now as much as I had hoped for perfectly accurate time tracking with this method, it’s painfully obvious to me that I haven’t used the software enough not to screw things up. This morning, thinking I might want a to take a screen shot and not give away my client list, I deleted the numbers had racked up on this project. Apparently checking the box next to the task isn’t the way you select something for deletion, but having the task highlighted is. There’s also no Undo.
The good news is that I saw the time just before I dumped the data and will be able to tack on an extra 4 hours, 16 minutes to our tally.
The next thing I’m curious about is the morning flush. After I got back from the gym yesterday I did a little more following. In fact I was still following people at 4:30 pm and wondering if anyone would still be adding me after normal business hours. What if I didn’t give them enough time to follow me back? Or better yet, what if I give them a little extra time and then don’t have to re-click them out of my list? My compromise was that I would only flush the tweeps I followed in the first part of the day and give the rest of the list time to marinate over the weekend. I still have that whole business hours thing working against me, but I bet my clicking finger could use the break so don’t see this as a problem.
My final observation for this post – Try to finish mining a Tweepie generated list before you take a break. The system seems to time out after a while probably because of the rapid pace at which data comes in from Twitter. Just before my call with Matt, I made note of what page of the list I was on. When I came back, page 45 wasn’t page 45. In fact I didn’t start getting into new tweeps until page 57. So I sort of resented the fact that I had to search out my end point anyway and I’m still not sure what the method to the madness is. If I come up with any theories, I’ll be sure to share them with you.
As a reminder, my little men are off from school next week and I’ll need to make a quick trip to Michigan for meetings, so if I don’t update you on the process next week, never fear, I will get one out the door for you as soon as possible.
If you have any questions or comments about my Twitter 10k, feel free to leave me a note, below. Otherwise a tweet, Thumbs up or other share using he buttons below would be greatly appreciated. ~Karlie
This morning when the alarm when off, I knew I was in for an uphill battle because I wasn’t ready to be awake. I’m a morning person and do some of my very best work before lunch. When my morning is off to a rough start, there’s a high probability that the day won’t improve with age. So rather than beat myself up about having a crappy day or purposely deciding to slack-off, I gave myself a tiny little goal of finding an article I read a while ago about successfully monitoring hundreds (or was it thousands) of people on Twitter. That way I could look back and tell myself, “You didn’t waste the whole day.”
The good news is that I’ve accomplished more today than I had expected. No, I didn’t find the article, but while I was looking, I came across a YouTube video suggesting there was a no-fail way of getting 10,000 Twitter followers in 3 weeks.
Now I’m not usually the type to trade my email address for a free anything, but since I was wasting my day anyhow, watching a screen cast with the possibility of learning something was better than saying it took me all day to re-read an article.
I even did one better by trying out the techniques for a little while and decided that maybe this would be a good test for my own brand of Mythbusting. Could I really get to 10k Twitter followers in 21 days?
A couple of caveats about my experiment-
- The image above was my attempt to set a base line so we could all see just how much growth I could squeeze out of the techniques, but, unfortunately, I didn’t think about getting the baseline until after I had already started following a few people and a few of those people started following me back. In my defense, the numbers in either column are probably not off by more than 20.
- My kids are off from school all next week (Presidents day/Winter break) so I am already anticipating that my work schedule will be severely hampered.
So each day that I actively work the techniques, I’ll start off by recording the date, Followers, Following, Listed and Flushed so that there are solid numbers to go by.
Now if you’re wondering about “Flushed,” the process is about getting rid of anyone who’s not following you back so that you can keep following people. I’m still a bit confused about how your follower/following ratio effects your ability to follow more people, but I’ll stick to the guidelines for now and if I find more information about the process down the line I’ll add it to a future update.
As long as we’re on the subject of updates, I plan on posting an update after every few days of active number hunting. Active is the key word here. I plan on running the experiment for 21 days, but with issues like those outlined in #2, above, those 21 days might not be consecutive, so don’t be alarmed if your calendar tells you it’s been more days than what I report.
My question for you is, what else might you want me to be tracking in this experiment?
One major pet peeve of mine is that technology is only a way to work smarter and not an excuse to toss everything we ever knew about business out the window. To master these new mediums, first you need to understand that there is a traditional equivalent to all of our online activities and anything we put online should have similar value. Social Media and Internet Marketing are no different.
The goal of any style of marketing has always been to engage with your potential customers. When thinking about how to be effective with Social and New media I can safely say that the psychology of the process hasn’t change, just the tools. For instance, if you dread cocktail parties and business mixers because you hate small talk, you probably won’t like being on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. If you excel at meeting new people at conferences and filling your pipeline as the result of networking, then you shouldn’t have too much trouble using those skills online.
When trying to create your own social media campaign, start with traditional ideas like being present. Half the job of networking is making time to meet with people. The advantage to online networking and messaging is that you don’t have to hire a baby sitter – you just have to make time in your day to be present online.
My suggestion is that if you’ve never used the internet or social sites to market your business take it slow and try just one form of communicating at a time. Mastering it before you move on to another will save you lots of frustration and prevent you from making too many mistakes – like being too promotional or too personal.
While there are plenty of sites that can give you insider tips and tricks to being more effective, please don’t feel that you have to know some secret hand shake to be part of the process. Take what you know and what has worked for you in the past and allow yourself to ease in.
If you ask a software developer how to make money writing code, you’ll usually get employment or selling applications as your answer. It’s my opinion, however, that most are missing the boat and need to think of their skills as a marketable service.
The other answers, while not wrong, have to do with point of view.
If I get a fancy box and shelf space in the big box chain stores, then I’m offering a product. The transaction might even present itself as selling of services – like getting the neighbor kid to mow my lawn. But no matter how you look at it, it all starts with a skill.
If I toss Open Source software into the mix, then I usually have to deal with “Yeah, Right. How am I going to make money competing with a free download?”
Here’s the thing, software isn’t the only Open Source industry. In fact, many other open source businesses are very profitable and are generally skills that have been around for quite some time.
Let’s think about Open Source for a moment. The first line of the Wikipedia article states…
Open Source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s source materials.
To me, it’s just the way we’ve always done things.
Software isn’t the only open source skill, in fact I’d say that all of these could be considered open source.
- Repair – Automobiles, Washers, Refrigerators, etc.
- Fashion – Sewing, design ideas, etc
- And many others
The people who practice these trades might have their own secret sauce, but all can be learned in an open source manner by examining the construction or using freely available information to gain understanding of the process. If I can get a book at the library or search the internet for the information I need, then I consider the industry to be open source.
Let’s now consider what it means to be in an open industry where anyone has access to the tools and materials that you do…
Wouldn’t the existence of prepackaged seeds put farmers out of business?
What about home improvement stores? Shouldn’t that put Plumbers, carpenters and electricians out of business? Does access to scissors put the barber out of business?
With the answer to those questions being a resounding “NO,” then why do so many people within the Free and Open Source Software movement think that there’s no business opportunities for their skill set?
Yes, there is a bit of a vacuum in the consciousness about the use of Open Source software, but I don’t think that it’s going to be too hard to overcome.
What the middle market is missing people with marketable skills who are willing to begin offering their services in various formats. It could be shelf ready products, it could be custom work. FOSS could even be offered alongside commercial options.
The thing is, FOSS has so many advantages and one of them is price. If you are a provider and can offer the same services and functionality, but you don’t have to undercut your profit to be the less expensive option, that’s a big advantage for you and your customer.
So you make more money, they spend less… Talk about bringing value to the table. You’re happy, they’re happy, the computers are effective. How can you loose?
To keep this post on topic and in an easy to digest format, how about we stop here for now.
In the next article I’ll talk more about how to position yourself as a service provider and how to set yourself up for a win.