Monthly Archives: February 2012

How 90 days on Twitter can transform your business or career

I’m going to give you business advice, not Twitter advice.

Although Edelman regularly lists @TweetSmarter as one of the top twenty most influential accounts in the world, and Klout selected me as one of the first two people inducted into its Klout Stars program,  my greater knowledge is really in business and marketing. A brief look at my background before I ever heard of social media—I have:

  1. Set sales records for the last four business I consulted with. (The business categories were events, publishing, retail and direct sales.) Example: increased sales from $87,000 to over $200,000 in 15 days for one client, sales which then stayed at the higher level and were rolled out to other locations;
  2. Created a variety of award-winning sales training, merchandising, advertising and marketing programs, including one for the front cover of Publisher’s Weekly, and another in a retail test store which was then rolled out successfully to a chain of 50 stores;
  3. Managed as many as 50 employees.

Don’t succeed at Twitter; succeed in your business or career

Businesses always have the same problem: they overlook lots of “low-hanging fruit”—the things that will pay the greatest benefit in the shortest amount of time with the least amount of effort at the lowest cost.

Because there are usually so many things a business can do to improve, I can confidently say Twitter will rarely if ever be the single most important thing you can do for your business today.

This is not an attempt to be contrarian or use reverse psychology on you. However, starting with a very, very tiny investment of time, over 90 days Twitter can act like an efficiency program, bringing large gains to your business that you never expected to find. Invest in Twitter and over time, it CAN be the most important thing you can do for your business.

Whether you are already on Twitter or not, I’m going to assume you aren’t sure how to use it or what good it could be for you or your business for the purpose of this article. And while every person and business is different, I’m going to give generic advice, pointing out here and there where you might find differences for your particular situation.

From here on out I’ll speak to business owners/managers, but the advice is mostly the same for advancing your career, whether in business, academia, government, the non-profit sector, etc. (Skip anything you feel doesn’t apply to your situation.)

Business (career) basics first; Internet basics second; Twitter third

Are you prepared for success?

Do you know what your core competencies are—what you do best? Do you feel way in over your head in your current situation? You need to get a handle on your present situation before you add something new to your plate. (However, here are some links on using Twitter for job searching to get you started if that is your current situation.)

While Twitter can help you in every area, you’re never going to be able to use it well if you don’t have a good handle on your current situation. I’m just being practical here. Don’t make Twitter “one more thing” if you’re already overwhelmed, confused or in over your head.

Internet basics

People should be able to find your business easily via the internet, and have a reasonably good impression of your business upon initially finding you (even if you don’t have a good follow up system set up).

To achieve that, every business should have a website that the business owner knows how to update the phone number on. One of your best free choices in that regard would be WordPress. Your business should be listed in Google’s and Yahoo’s free business directories. You should have a Facebook page that uses design elements from your website and links to it.

All this does is make you findable, in the sense that the internet is a giant Yellow Pages and you want to have a decent listing in it.

If you haven’t done these things already, you should probably skip Twitter for now. The exception would be if you are a good networker, direct salesperson, or significantly above average in internet-savvy. In that case you can choose option one below immediately.

Your initial Twitter options

NEITHER of these options represents any real time commitment on your part. I’m not setting you up for something before you know what is involved. You can start with 15 minutes a week and go up or down from there. Obviously, a small time investment will only produce small results, but I just want to point out it’s easy to start small :)

Option 1 of 2: Create a personal, not business, Twitter account. The username should be some variation of your name, and link to your website. You can change this to a business-named Twitter account later if it makes sense to. The bio should be something like  ”Owner of [business name], father, sports fan.” In other words, some combination of business and personal. Click the box when filling out the form on Twitter to receive messages from Twitter so that communication on Twitter will come to your email address. That’s right, you can use Twitter almost completely via email at first. Not too hard :)

Option 2 of 2: Not recommended. Create a business Twitter account that uses design elements from your website and links to it. I’ll explain further down why NOT to do this, and if you still want to, how you should go about it. However, if your business already has a budget for new media and is fairly active on Facebook, making Twitter a mirror of what you’re doing on Facebook initially is okay. Let your Facebook activity drive your Twitter activity.

Facebook is much easier to “get” than Twitter—not that it’s necessarily going to do much for your business. I don’t mean that as a knock against Facebook—it’s an essential part of any new media plan. But it’s never going to be as beneficial for your business and your career as Twitter can be.

(Of course, there are really many ways to start with Twitter. I’m oversimplifying so that I can touch on just the most important points here.)

Achieve business or career success first. Learn how to do “business on Twitter” later.

Your goal is to find ways to transform your business or career in 90 days. To do this, you’re going to connect with some of the most successful owners of  businesses like yours in the world, people who understand your problems and opportunities intimately from long, hard personal experience in a business like yours. They’re going to help find other people to connect with to help your business. Yes, this is networking, but not your Daddy’s networking! Twitter is rocket-propelled networking on steroids. And it will lead you to much more than just networking. Networking is the starting point.

At some point in this initial effort, you’re going to start getting incredibly fired up by hearing stories from how people have solved business problems just like yours, and developed ways to succeed you had never thought of before. Twitter is going to become critical to your business, because it’s going to be your lifeline to some of the finest, most practical, wise and helpful people for your business (or career).

Creating your network

This is called developing a personal learning network (PLN). Do this properly and it will not only change your business or career, it will change your life. It has for people around the world, why not for you?

There are three stages that overlap:

  1. Find people you can help, while keeping an eye out for making good connections. First 45 days.
  2. Make good connections, then great connections, then mind-blowingly awesome connections. Keep helping people. First 60 days.
  3. Apply the advice you get to your business, and share what you’ve learned (return to step 1). Keep helping people and making connections. Last 30 days.

Along the way, you will have learned a little about everything of what makes Twitter great. If you want a quick peek at some of that, take a look at ‘I’m showing two colleagues Twitter. They say they don’t get it…’

Also, at the same time you will have put your business on the Twitter map. You’ll be a solid, helpful member of the Twitter community, with many of the benefits that entails for your business, career and more.

It’s still too soon to be doing “business on Twitter.” Keep waiting!

A word of advice: Don’t start trying to “work Twitter for your business.” You’ll hear a ton about how to do that as you go along. Tweeting blog posts from your website, holding contests, linking up with Foursquare, etc., etc., etc. Don’t be distracted from your goal: get great advice and assistance for your business/career as it exists today. Only after your Twitter connections have transformed your business should you consider “doing business on Twitter.”

Why do I keep saying “Wait?”

  1. Trying to do “business on Twitter” is more likely to waste your time than not; your time is too valuable for that.
  2. There are things that appear useful to do on Twitter but in reality will do little to impact the bottom line of your business.
  3. It’s very, very easy to make mistakes and do things wrong on Twitter when using it for business.

But if you start with the PLN (personal learning network)/networking approach, a side effect will be becoming intimately familiar with Twitter. You will receive incredible advice on how to do “business on Twitter” along the way.

What about “option 2?”

If you don’t want to take this advice, and want to set up an account with your business name and post a few links to it over time, fine.

Ever bought a book that you never read? It will be like that. Twitter will end up like all those other things you meant to follow through on one day. I would advise putting your time into your website or Facebook instead of this option.

How about exact steps? What would an action plan look like?

Good question, if you’ve been thinking that! While I’ve laid out a series of steps, it’s been light on clear actions so far.

There’s a reason for that: You should use Twitter (or network with helpful friends) to get advice on what to do next. If you are enough of a “doer” that you can set up Twitter (8 minutes) and send a Tweet to @TweetSmarter asking for help (30 seconds), you’re ready for the next step, and I’ll help you (and provide more resources and specific steps).

If not, enjoy life on the sidelines while the most transformational business revolution in history passes you by.

See you on Twitter!

6 Mistakes That Get You Ignored On Twitter And Social Media

Frustrated yet? It’s all too common that you contact or engage with someone who ignores you, or feel like everyone is getting their posts shared except you.

This isn’t limited to Twitter; it happens on all social networks. But there are several tricks for getting people to retweet or share your content, and respond to you when you contact them.

My number one piece of advice for getting  people to engage with you is to…pick the right people!

But beyond that, there is a lot you can do to increase your odds of getting retweets and repsonses:

6 Mistakes That Get You Ignored

There are two situations: Being ignored in general, and being ignored when you try to contact someone. First let’s troubleshoot trying to be in touch with someone directly:

1. Not Learning About The People You’re Trying to Engage With First

You need to look at how the people you’re trying to get in touch with engage. Read their tweets: who do they engage with, and more importantly, why?

If you aren’t the kind of person they engage with or aren’t contacting them in ways they’re likely to reply, you’re wasting your time.

2. Not Realizing What’s Different About Popular Users

If you’re trying to be in touch with a popular user, you have to realize they get a lot of jerks and manipulators who behave nice…at first. So sometimes they’re suspicious when people contact them, no matter how nice they seem. Scroll down to  What you can do to get a good response to your request (near the bottom of that link) for some tips on what to do.

3. Trying To Contact Too Many People

It’s best to make strong connections by putting a lot of attention on one person at a time. Just sending scattershot messages to different people makes you look like a spammer.

Once you’ve made a connection with someone, keep developing the relationship on maintenance mode while you concentrate on making a new connection with someone else. Once you’ve made a strong connection, you’re more likely to get a response in the future.

If someone reads your Twitter stream and sees a lot of Tweets that are like “Hey @someone1!” ”Hey @someone2!” ”Hey @someone3!” ”Hey @someone4!” They’re going to think you’re a spammer. Concentrate on finding the right people one at a time.

Now let’s troubleshoot problems with being ignored in general:

4. Failing To Catch People At The Right Time

One issue to be aware of is that if your tweet doesn’t reach someone when they are online, they might overlook when trying to catch up later. If you’re contacting them directly and expecting a reply, just try again later at a time you think they might be online if you don’t get a response to your first tweet.

If you’re trying to get more interaction on your content tweets (clicks ) try using Buffer to automatically have your tweets go out when more people are likely to see them@AskAaronLee and @DanaMStanley gained 11 and 15 points on their Klout score when they started using BufferApp in barely three weeks in part because more people saw their tweets.

You’ll also want to be familiar with “The most complete guide to finding the best time to Tweet.”

5. Not Fitting In Well With The People You’re Trying To Contact

The great thing about Twitter is that you can use it however you want to, and other people who like how you use can connect to you, and those who don’t can ignore you.

But be forewarned that if you are rarely on Twitter, or tweet many times each hour, that you are less likely to get others to engage with you. And that if you tweet angrily, or about controversial topics, you’re likely not going to get engagement from people who aren’t also angry or interested in the same side of the controversies as you.

But, that’s okay! Do what you like. Just don’t expect everyone else to like it too :-)

6. Lousy Tweets!

I would say my top tips here are:

  1. Learn how to write great tweets
  2. Avoid sending automated DM’s

You’ll also need decide whether or how you ever want to repeat your tweets.

The Hidden Secret To Managing Your Identity On The Internet

Update: Click here for a great infographic and helpful video added to the end of this post

Google has a search engine devoted just to you. It’s true. For example, here’s mine. And Google changed how it works just a few weeks ago (on 1-12-2012).

It’s based on tracking your identity on the web. So read on to make sure you’re up-to-date on how this works

Executive Summary: If you want Google to find all you do and rank it highly, from your Google+ account, use “Edit profile>Other profiles” to add all your profiles (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), add the email you use when contributing content under “Edit profile>Work email” and/or use “Edit profile>Contributor to” to add everywhere you contribute content. You can also gain control of content by posting website links back to your profile via a Google+ badge or by adding a snippet of code.

This special search influences ALL other search results that have anything to do with you, because of how something called “Authorship markup” began affecting web search in early June of 2011. And this has nothing to do with whether Google has verified you or your organization. So this is essential for both individuals and organizations to get a handle on.

In this post I’ll tell you how to find the search engine about you, and how to make it return the results you want by managing your Google identity. Of course, if you do NOT want to appear in Google search results, or you just want some things you’ve written not to appear, that’s a different situation, and you might want to read “Dealing with Negative Information About You or Your Business Online” (includes a nifty infographic).

What’s Google Doing With Your Identity?

Why should you care?

Because regardless of whether you want to hide or be seen, manage your identity or let it happen without your knowledge, you DO want to know what the internet’s main search engine is doing with your name and identity! It’s your digital fingerprint on the web.

If you use a Google product such as gmail or Google plus, you have a Google profile already.  Google uses it to determine who you are on the web, and what to tell people about you. The key is this:

Special links to or from your Google profile determine your identity.

What is a Google Identity Anyway? How Do I Manage It?

If you need an introduction, read what is my Google profile? first. If you already have a Google profile, start by logging into your Google Dashboard (didn’t know you had one? Here’s a video introduction) or Google+ profile before continuing.

How To Manage What Google Knows About You

So that Google recognizes the different things you do around the web as “you” and displays them in search results, here’s how you can create (if desired) the links that Google uses to understand your web identity.

Any place you create content on the web can show up as being by “you” in Google search results (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, forums, etc.) So you can link to those places from your Google profile or link from them to your Google profile (or both).

How Your Email Might Be Identifying You Already

If you’ve ever commented on a blog and used your email in the comment (or had it used automatically by one of a variety of login/authorization services) you’ve seen the picture/avatar you’ve chosen appear next to your comment. This is an example of using your email in a non public way (people can’t see nor spammers steal your email address).

So a few weeks ago, Google added a new, simplified method that involves managing your email to identify yourself, and affect what shows up in a Google search about you.

Particularly for guest bloggers, it’s the simplest way to manage your identity. Scroll to the bottom of this page and click “New! Option 1″ for directions. However, you might not be able or want to use your email in all cases, so read on for how to link to or from sites where you have profiles or contribute content.

How To Connect Content To Your Google Profile

Linking TO sites

Simply add sites where you contribute or have profiles to your Google+ page.

  1. ADD PROFILES: Click the blue “Edit profile” box at the top right of your Google+ page and then click the gray “Other profiles” box at top right to add sites that you have identities such as Twitter.
  2. ADD SITES YOU CONTRIBUTE TO: In the same right-hand column as the ”Other profiles” look closely for the “Contributor to” link and add those sites there (for example, places that you have guest blogged). It’s a very faint gray color, so look closely.

Linking FROM sites

If you don’t always want to use your email to identify yourself, here are Google’s guidelines for how to link to your profile from single- or multi-author blogs and sites (whether content pages or author pages), with specific WordPress tips, including how to test profile and publication links. In many cases it’s as simple as adding Google’s profile button to your site or author profile.

How Can I See The Special Search Engine About Me?

This is what Google considers an “author search.” You could just carefully edit the URL to find yours, but yesterday the awesome @DohertyJF posted about how you can simply drag a bookmarklet into your browser bar whenever you’re at someone’s Google+ page to open the Google search engine about them. I highly recommend you read it here. If you find adding a bookmarklet confusing, read these instructions.

What About Getting Verified By Google?

If 1,000 or more people have added your commercial (organization, brand, or product) Google+ page to their circles, you can apply for verification once your G+ page links to your organization’s website, and the website links back via a Google+ badge or by adding a snippet of code.

Even then, verification is NOT guaranteed. For example, a celebrity would also need to be considered a “commercial brand” to be eligible.

Back to top

AuthorRank Infographic

infographic design by BlueGlass Interactive.

A Lot of Twitter Problems Lately…Could This Be The Reason?

Twitter has in the past let problems drag on when they had an update to their interface planned. (The idea being that the problems will be fixed in the new interface, so why bother fixing them in the old one.)

If Twitter has updated you to the new interface (check the link if you’re not sure), you may not be having too many problems. But if you’re on the old interface still, you might be getting frustrated!

Several users have reported a variety of issues were solved for them when Twitter switched them to the new interface.

Of course, Twitter has also had a track record of adding new things that don’t work quite right when they’re rolled out, so I’m sure there are some issues they’re working on with the new interface as well.

If you’re still having problems with Twitter.com, be sure to try this, and send us a tweet if that doesn’t work. Also see “How to get your Twitter problem fixed.”

 

Infographic: Should You Avoid Twitter’s Official Retweet Button?

Most people don’t fully understand the different types of retweets. The traditional, user-created retweet is sometimes also called “retweet with comment” or “classic retweet.”

But even if you don’t add a comment to a retweet, there can be benefits to avoiding just clicking the retweet button on Twitter.com (or setting your app to work that way). Here’s a comparison infographic between the two kinds:

If you want to read more about the different kinds, check out “Retweet the old fashioned way, using ‘classic’ or ‘traditional’ retweets only.

If you want to have an option from Twitter.com to choose your type of retweet, you’ll need to add a plugin to your browser, such as:

  1. For Firefox
  2. For Chrome
  3. For Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome
  4. With cool built-in scheduler (My favorite—you’ll need to sign up for a free account)

To learn more about the different methods of doing a “classic” retweet, see the “Retweet Glossary, Syntax and Punctuation.”