Category Archives: Twitter

Q&A: Who Do I Follow For Business Twitter

Here’s another good question I received from my Ask-me form on my Timberry.com website: 

If I’m trying to build my Twitter presence to support my [omitted] business, who should I follow? How do I find them? How to decide? 

I’m happy to answer that one because I think it could be useful to a lot of people starting to look at real-world business use of Twitter. Following in Twitter is important for several reasons:

  1. Who you follow determines what you see. Your Twitter stream is the collection of tweets from the accounts you follow. 
  2. Who you follow is who you are. Other people can see how you follow. That means they see what you like, believe in, care about, listen to, and so forth. c
  3. Who you follow is who’s likely to follow you back. For most businesses, following is the best way to be followed. About a third of your follows will follow you back — more if your tweets are interesting, less if they aren’t.   

So, with that as background, here’s who I think you should follow for your business twitter account, in order of strategy value:

  1. Leaders. The influencers you respect, want, and need. The people, businesses, and organizations you’d like to have knowing and liking and trusting you. It’s hard to generalize so think strategically for your specific business. For example, a restaurant would want local media, local organizations, hotels, food blogs, night out blogs, restaurant guides, travel guides, reviewers, and local people who comment on restaurants and have followings. The chamber of commerce, restaurant association, chefs’ schools, local university groups might be good targets too.
  2. Media, writers, bloggers, and experts in your field. Authors whose work you like and respect. People who you’d like to see writing about you. Our sample restaurant would look for food, dining, restaurant, travel media. 
  3. Social media stars who turn up in keyword searches. Search the web, search Twitter, using important keywords. The restaurant example might search for #dining, #gourmet, #organic, #vegetarian, #chefs, #fastfood, #slowfood, #meals, for example. And if it is located in Eugene, OR then it would search for #eugene and #oregon too. See who tweets with those hashtags. See what content they tweet. Decide whether you are compatible with them. 
  4. Local organizations, groups, and institutions. The schools, universities, community colleges, public theater, development groups. 
  5. Some general news and bloggers and information sources on idea, places, topics, and people that interest you. This is just because you want to see what they’re offering. They’re not strategic. 
  6. Friends, family, and compatible business associates. 

10 Business Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Everybody involved with business social media (or flirting with it) ought to read 10 Ways We’re Being Rude in Social Media and Don’t Even Know It by David Spark. Here’s his list (explanations are either mine, or in quotes):

  1. Friend collecting. David makes the point that friends and followers aren’t necessarily a measure of engagement or value. You can buy them. You can collect them with software-driven scripts and special tools. 
  2. Asking people to “like” your content-free Facebook page. What’s to like when there is nothing there? Put the content up first, then engage. 
  3. Requiring app installation to consume a message. For example, that greeting card that requires you install something. 
  4. Auto DMs on Twitter. He’s referring to the practice of setting your Twitter to automatically send a direct message to every new follower, thanking them, or — worse still — asking them to buy something from you. 
  5. Happy Birthdays on Facebook. David says: “Only typing ‘Happy Birthday’ is truly the least you could do outside of doing nothing.” And he adds that there is no extra credit for remembering when Facebook is reminding you. 
  6. Sharing without consumption. “We all have the ability to share any piece of content without looking past the headline.” Read it first. 
  7. Photo overdose of your kids and your wedding. “Your kid may be cute to you, but you’re the parent and that’s how you’re supposed to feel. The rest of us are not supposed to feel that way.” 
  8. Posting bad photos
  9. Follow Fridays. Hmmm. Honestly, I’ve been follow Fridayed and I’ve liked it. I thought of it as mutual back scratching. The #FF in a tweet followed by listing handles is a recommendation to your followers that they follow the people you list. But David points out that it’s really about getting the attention of the people you list. I think it’s kind of faded as a behavior anyway. 
  10. Automatically cross-posting contentless information across social networks. This should be higher on the list, in my opinion. Having foursquare post when you check in, or Spotify post what you’re listening to, for example: That’s just clutter. That stuff gets in the way. Don’t do that. 

Social Media Back Scratching Explosion

(Sung to the tune of Reciprocity, from Chicago)

I think it’s brilliant: there, in a nutshell, LinkedIn points out one of the key drivers of social media: reciprocity. Here’s the picture:

With this new skills-based endorsement feature the reciprocity is obvious. Every LinkedIn user has a set of skills claimed. Every other user can endorse those skills. So it’s “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours,” built in. Do I want to endorse people who endorse me? Yes, of course I do. Who has the most endorsements? The person who has given the most endorsements to other people.

There’s nothing new about the principle involved. It started with Facebook likes, evolved into twitter retweets. Like me, I’ll like you back. Retweet me, and I’ll retweet you back. The new LinkedIn feature looks to me like they saw how well the Klout topics-based +K feature was working, and made theirs even easier than Klout.

This should have been obvious all along, but I like the reminder, with what LinkedIn just did.

Social Media is the Brush, Not the Painting

On one hand, twitter (or Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc) offers a positive change in business landscape, a brave new world of business possibilities, and you’re crazy to ignore it. On the other, it’s just a distraction, a shiny new thing, that gets in the way of the real business.

Can both hands be right? Yes.

The one hand: I spend hours every day now watching, playing, posting, and reading twitter.  That’s gotten me mentions in Business Week and The New York Times. I find myself speaking up for social media on public forums, spouting phrases like “changing business landscape” and “you’re crazy to ignore it” and “great new low-cost road to market” or “marketing tool.” Twitter is essential to my blogging. Its a window to what’s going on and who’s doing and saying what.  It’s great for my business.

The other hand: You can use it to send useless text clutter to nobody. You can use it to pretend you’re working when you’re just watching the world go by in cute sayings, headlines, and interesting pictures. It can be a total waste of business time.

The synthesis: Twitter is the brush, not the painting. It’s a tool for a new kind of self publishing with a different kind of reach. Talk of business benefits of Twitter are like talk of business benefits of the telephone, or of conversation, or of advertising. It’s all in how you use it. Who or what are you trying to be in Twitter, and what does that have to do with your identity, your message, your business, your self.

Tools enhance power. What matters is not the tool, but what you do with it.

(Image: enhanced from a photo by Victures/Shutterstock)

18-Point Twitter Etiquette Primer

(Note: originally published on Planning Startups Stories)

I’m getting to know Twitter more these days, using it more, and enjoying it. I’m Timberry on Twitter. I’m frequently grateful to Twitter friends for pointing out good ideas, blogs, thoughts, pictures. Twitter enlivens my day, and brightens my writing.

I’m beginning to develop a sense of what to do and what not to do with Twitter. There is such a thing as Twitter etiquette does exist. that I’m an expert, but I’ve been watching and thinking about it. And I’ve come up with a list of dos and don’ts.

Please don’t …

  1. … thank me for following you.
  2. … think less of me for not thanking you for following me.
  3. … send me sales messages as direct messages, as part of your thanking me or otherwise.
  4. … tweet mundane details of everyday life. Going home, watching television, having dinner … feels like Twitter clutter. I’m just sayin’.
  5. … tweet straight-out sales pitches. Don’t promise me health or wealth or business success. I get enough spam in email, thanks. That stuff could spoil Twitter. I will unfollow you immediately.
  6. … tweet embarrassing should-be-private sweet nothings for your significant relationships. I like that you love him or her or them, but tell them, not the tweeple.
  7. … argue with people in Twitter. And that’s not to protect me, that’s for your own good. Words tweeted in anger live on forever. Twitter help implies that there’s a way to delete bad tweets, but I don’t think it works. Angry words aren’t biodegradable.

Please do tweet …

  1. … interesting pictures, blog posts, websites, and news items. And I’m fine with you tweeting your own blog posts, especially. Give me a title and a URL and I’m fine with that, I’ll click and read it if it catches my interest. If I weren’t interested in what you’re writing, I wouldn’t have followed you. Don’t be shy.
  2. … good quotes, pithy sayings, words that make me think.
  3. … about ideas, things that surprise you, new discoveries.
  4. … quick jokes, or humorous items, things that made you laugh.
  5. … thoughts, poems, especially haiku.
  6. … well written words, phrases, sentences, from real life, movies, songs, even overheard.
  7. … interesting, funny, or thought provoking pictures in twitpix.
  8. … words that teach, lessons.
  9. … quick reviews of books, movies, television, and music. If I follow you, I do care what you think, and what you like. Save me from bad stuff, and tip me off to good stuff. I’m glad you share.

And, by the way …

  1. Twitter is publishing. Let’s all respect that. Let’s not ruin it with too much advertising. Big promises mean small credibility. Share yourself, but be content, not spam.
  2. Do onto others as you would have them tweet to thousands.

And, finally, thanks for reading this list. I needed that.

2 Pictures, 200 Words, Lots of Ideas.

Pictures, words, lots of ideas. If one picture equals 1,000 words, how many ideas does it generate? Is there a transitive property there? I had time over the weekend to pick up two unrelated pictures. Each covers something entirely different. Both are full of ideas.

The first, a chart by Seth Godin:

From Seth Godins Blog

From Seth Godin

This is one of those things that must have been hard to come up with, but makes sense when you look at it. A map of communication. On the horizontal axis of the chart, from book on one end to a conversation at the other. With a book, the writer writes it at one point in time and the reader reads it at an entirely different time. With the telephone and coaching, both parties of the communication, sender and receiver, are involved at the same time. On the chart’s vertical axis, how much bandwidth is involved, from mail and graffiti at the low extreme, to movies and coaching at the high extreme.

The Second, from Pingdom:

from pingdom.com

From pingdom.com

This one is one of several on that post — Report: Social Media Demographics 2012 — that are fascinating to me. As always with this kind of research, accuracy depends on how they sampled, but even if it could be off by a bit, it still gives a big picture of the main social networking sites (which is what I assume the acronym SNS stands for) usage by age. I have no conclusions to draw, but maybe you do. Apparently the more well-known platforms have older users, except Twitter spreads out over more ages. That same post has some interesting data on usage by gender, as well. Good stuff.

Our Recommendation About Your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn

Earlier this year I was in a classroom full of entrepreneurial MBA students, as a guest speaker, answering their questions about me and Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, my blogging, and so forth.

When they asked me how I managed my online self in social media,my response went something like this:

I don’t do social media clutter. I think of social media as publishing and I try to offer nothing that isn’t useful to a reader. When I’m on Twitter I tweet only what interests me and might interest somebody else. I highlight blog posts I wrote and posts I read that seem worthwhile. I ask questions. I sometimes share something useful about business planning, or small business. I use TweetDeck to manage my Twitter self, and I set TweetDeck up to share that with my Facebook and LinkedIn pages.

Several of the students seemed troubled. One of them asked: “So you never post anything personal? What about who you really are?”

And I realized, with that question, that maybe I was lucky. I got into social media late in life. The topics I care about are business related, and my friends are business related. I was already a published author and business owner. I wasn’t ever tempted to post the kind of personal stuff that gets younger generations in trouble. I was always aware of it as publishing, not just gossip. Most of the students, on the other hand, started on Facebook as high-school or university students. Facebook was fun first, business, if at all, only as an afterthought, later.

So here’s my advice: your social media presence is public. It’s publishing. Never clutter it up with personal trivia, much less drinking parties, embarrassing pictures, inappropriate comments, or anything your adult self might not be proud of. Use phone, sms, and instant messages for playing around with friends. Build a social media presence you’ll be proud of when your next prospective employer, boss, or client looks into it.

Oh, and by the way: you don’t have to call it personal branding. You can just call it taking care of your reputation.

7 Easy Steps To Make A Simple Twitter Profile Page

This particular one – 7 Easy Steps To Make A Simple Twitter Profile Page is three years old but still easy to follow and useful. And it keeps its promise, giving us, literally, seven easy steps. So I’m recommending it here.  

As an aside, I like this writing:

They used their logo and then coordinated their Twitter page colors.  Bing, bang, boom, DONE!

And I also like the author’s bio at the end. She says:

Jo-Lynne Shane has written 3062 posts.

Impressive. And that was three years ago. Like she says in a different context, bing, bang, boom, done. 

They used their logo and then coordinated their Twitter page colors.  Bing, bang, boom, DONE!

The Really Simple Math of Social Media

Here’s a walk down memory lane. Those basic math properties we had to memorize in the seventh grade. chalkboard

Transitive Property of Social Media

This one is taken from the transitive property of equality, which, in case you don’t remember your seventh-grade math, is that if a = b and b=c then a = c. For social media that’s

If social media increases transparency, then it’s as good or as bad for your business as is having the customers see you better.

I kind of like this. In the old days, we saw the business as what its advertising agency and marketing budgets were able to construct for as its facade, also called brand. Nowadays, to the extent the business is operating in Facebook or Twitter, we get a better view. Is it still all corporate and snazzy and artificial?

People are discovering that they like the story and the people in the business, aside from its paid advertising. I’d like to think this helps real people, and small business, compete against manufactured images and big marketing budgets and large business. Fingers crossed.

Applied Elasticity in Social Media

According to Wikipedia, elasticity is the ratio of the percent change in one variable to the percent change in another variable.

According to me, elasticity in social media means that the percent change in the number of active social media participants will be matched by the percent change in the number of social media experts and social media coaches. So the active social media population will always be 50 percent social media experts and 30 percent social media coaches.

Oh-oh. Does that sound cynical?

(Image credit: Marc Dietrich/Shutterstock)