To auto-tweet, or not to auto-tweet? Where do you stand?

The North Blog recently posted an entry about Guy Kawasaki‘s conduct and approach to Twitter and Facebook.

Whilst I appreciate Guy’s reasons for doing it – he wants to cut through the clutter and ensure people in different time zones get to see his posts and he gets more followers.  I get it, I really do. And it seems to work for him.

However, I don’t believe in it.  I don’t believe in it for a few reasons:

  1. Social is about being ‘real’ – whilst I don’t doubt that his tweets are genuine, there is an assumption that if you tweet you are there and ready for a ‘conversation’ (isn’t that the point of social media?).
  2. If your followers truly value your tweets, they will seek them.  You don’t need to pester them.
  3. You’re just adding to the clutter you are trying to avoid.
What’s your view?  Do you use automated tweets?  If you do, how and why do you use them?

Following etiquette

This is another Twitter-inspired post.

Earlier this week @chrisbrogan posted this!/chrisbrogan/status/88592371700342785

In his post he discusses whether you should follow someone just because they follow you.  This is something he has done on Twitter.

My personal view (and what I practice) is that you shouldn’t feel obliged to follow anyone.   I understand Chris’ point about not wanting to appear ‘some kind of a jerk’ (his words not mine), but then how much worse is it not to follow someone and not pay attention.  The people you follow think you might be out there listening to you, but you’re not.  You’re giving them a false pretense of what your ‘relationship’ is.

Surely the point of Twitter is to follow people who say things that interest you and interact with them.  If you follow them but don’t pay attention it a bit like the turning up at a party and ignoring everyone.

But that’s just me.  What do you think? Are you going to follow me now?

Will Google+ bring down Facebook?

Unless you’ve been stuck in a cave over the last 48-72hrs you’ll know that Google has launched its Google+ project.  This is widely being seen as the real Facebook killer with its Circles and Huddles functionality.  If you’ve not seen or heard much about it, here is a short video explaining the project.

In ‘response’, Facebook has, only a few short hours ago, announced their joint partnership with Skype which has added video capabilities to its service.  Click here to see a video of it.

I’ve not actually tried either service but my first impressions are that Circles is a HUGE plus to the whole social interactions.  It is how people compartmentalise their friends and connections and now Google is offering that ability online.  I also think the Huddles functionality seems a lot better than Facebook’s.

Saying that though, I’m not actually sure that this will be the thing that sees the demise of Facebook.  With c. 600m there is bound to be some attrition but I think Facebook has more fundamental issues to take care of, namely:

  • Privacy – how secure is your data?  Why can’t you delete your account rather than de-activate it?
  • Boredom – people have been living with it for 4-5 yrs and the world has moved on, much like it did for MySpace
  • Displeasure – Facebook has done things slightly underhand, they’ve changed layouts, added new functionality which has changed the site from its original inception (selling rather than interacting)
The one thing it has going for it is that people are used to that ‘space’ for communicating, more so than they are for Google.  Also, more people have FB accounts than Gmail accounts, so they will need to create new profiles, learn new interfaces and ways of communicating.

I will be joining G+.  I would love to relinquish Facebook (with or without the advent of G+) but unfortunately the rest of my friends are Facebookers and use it to organise get togethers so, for my sins, I am still there.  But my activity is virtually zero.

I don’t think it will be the death of Facebook.  They will be impacted quite badly, but they will be around (and making lots of money) for years to come. However, they need to truly understand how people want to interact with others and their part in that process.

Put the effort in

There are many things I like about Social media, but this is not one of them

The top two discussion from one of my LinkedIn groups are all about ‘Let’s all swap Twitter accounts and FB company pages etc, etc’.

Maybe it’s just me but that’s just a scattergun approach.  You may get lucky with one but you’ll get a whole load of crap. It is trying to create followers and contacts for the sake of it.  It is purposeless.

Social media works because it connects people with common interests and who will mutually benefit from that connection.  It should be personal but this type of things makes it impersonal and spam.

The other issue I have is that it clogs up the discussion boards on LinkedIn which has driven me away from groups.  I want to take part in discussions but not if it take me having to trawl through 15 of these ‘discussions’ and people who merely share links without offering their perspective – again, it is spamming the discussion board.

If you want to create meaningful relationships online then put some effort in – explain why people should want to connect to you or take part in your discussion.

Otherwise you’re not part of the solution, you’re creating a problem.

Are you IN the conversation? Or OUT of it?

Not so long ago I joined a Twitter chat that @redheadwriting was running around Social media.

One of the questions was whether a blog could still be considered as such when there isn’t the ability to comment.

My view is that it can.  A blog can be used for many things:

  • to vent
  • to sell
  • to promote knowledge/express an opinion
A blog is nothing more than a technology facilitating all of the above (none of which necessarily require a response).
However the real question was: “Should all bloggers engage in conversation?”

My personal view is that if you are expressing opinions, then you should. However, if someone decides that they do not want/won’t respond to comments, then I’m ok with it… as long as they let you know off the bat.

If you have allowed comments, then not responding to them seems like a missed opportunity to meet new people and frankly bad manners.  People have taken the time to read what you’ve written and felt compelled to agree/disagree/question what you’ve written so why not acknowledge it?

You need to decide if you want to be IN the conversation or OUT of it.  Either is fine, just make it clear to your readers.

No, thank YOU!

As part of my yearly resolutions I decided that I should try to read more – at least a book per month.  And I intend to do it.  It won’t always be a “work” related book, but it keeps me in the habit.

A couple of months ago, I heard about Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book ‘The Thank You Economy”. The book is essentially a call to arms to all businesses to join and use social networks/social media to promote and sell.  It goes through the caring & commitment needed, tips, ideas, case studies and statistics about doing so.  It’s the only way to re-humanise business.  We have moved too far from local community shops where everyone knows everyone, to a time where companies are faceless; where your relationship with your local shops only extends to a ‘Hello’ or ‘Goodbye’.

I’ve always been quite interested in SM and Gary is an infectious speaker; full of energy and passion (see this video).  I decided that I would give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Vaynerchuk defines TYE as (essentially) a throwback to the 50s, where businesses knew their customers personally, knew their needs intimately and delivered diligently. They knew that if they didn’t people would go elsewhere.  He believes social media gives us the opportunity to create that one-to-one relationship enjoyed by our elders.

He takes us through a brief history of how we have come full circle to a place where customers demand individuality, appreciation and authenticity from the people they do business with.

He goes through objections to social media (and provides arguments to counteract them) and what businesses need to be aware of/need in order to make the most of this opportunity. He also notes the biggest mistakes companies make with Social Media:

  • using tactics instead of strategy
  • using it just to put out fires
  • using it to brag
  • using it as a one way communication vehicle
  • just retweeting other people’s content
  • only pushing product
  • expecting quick results

Lastly, and this is where the book gets really interesting, he goes through several case studies where people have used social media to good effect for their business – in a variety of sizes and a variety of industries.

Do I believe in it all? Not all of it, but a large extent.  I think bigger, more established companies will always struggle more to ‘get with the times’ &  make it work simply because of the bureaucracy and hurdles involved in making things happen in such monolithic organisations.

Nevertheless, all in all, this was a really enjoyable book with many valid points, perspectives and arguments. I think anyone involved in social media would benefit from reading it – especially if only just starting their business and looking for a cheap (but time consuming) way of promoting it or companies who are just starting to dip their toes in the water.

Below are some quotes from the book (some salient to social media, others just amusing) as well as an illustrated version of the book (courtesy of Ogilvynotes).

Real business isn’t done in board meetings; it’s done over a half-eaten plate of buffalo wings at the sports bar…

In 1984, you’d get stuffed in your locker for gloating over your new Apple Macintosh; in 2007 you could score a hot date by showing off your new iPhone.

There’s only so low you can go on price. There’s only so excellent you can make your product or service.  There’s only so far you can stretch your marketing budget.  Your heart, though – that’s boundless.

Everybody counts, and gets the best I have to give.

But they’re not going to give me that chance unless the other guy slips up.  And even then they’d probably give him a second chance, because forgiveness is the hallmark of a good relationship.

..if you wait until social media is able to prove itself to you before deciding to engage with your customers one–on-one, you’ll have missed your greatest window of opportunity to move ahead of your competitors.

The customer you should be scared of is the one who has a bad experience, doesn’t say a word, and never returns.

It remembered that behind every B2B transaction, there’s a C.

Try it, you might like it

I have a confession.  My first tweet was July 30th 2009.  My 5th was June 27th 2010.  Nearly a whole year had gone by and I’d only tweeted 5 times!

And I did the same with blogging.  My first post was actually on two different blogs – this one in English, and this one in Portuguese. It was all about the impending birth of our first child and it was an opportunity to allow my family back home to know what I was doing.  But the last post I did was a month after Ollie was born (May 2007).  I then didn’t touch blogging until August last year when I decided that the time was right for me to become more serious about it.

So why had I been so lax at doing it?

The main reason was I didn’t see the value in it.  But in hindsight the reason I didn’t see the value in it was because I hadn’t given it my due attention and commitment.

It’s very easy to scoff and say ‘I haven’t got anything interesting to say’ or ‘People don’t want to know that my double expresso tastes like it’s come from the ass of a baboon’ and therefore not bother actually trying it.  But how do you know?  How do you know there aren’t people out there that have the same taste in how they like their expressos brewed?

Us agency folk are so happy to extol the benefits of having a web presence but when it comes to drinking our own champagne we would rather not. We go through exactly the same thought process as our clients do – ‘prove to me that it’s worth it’ / ‘if it’s so good why are you not doing it?’  If you don’t believe in it, why should people believe you?

I say ‘try it’.  And I don’t mean write two or three tweets/posts and expect to gain hundreds of followers.  Really give it a go, engage with the people you follow, strike up conversations, respond to their tweets and show them you’re listening.  You will find people will (generally) reciprocate if they feel they have found someone with similar interests.  And that’s when it gets interesting.  That’s when it becomes worthwhile.  For you it might mean new contacts, ideas, etc.  For your business it might mean new prospects and more money in the bank.

As Thomas Edison said

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work 

Socially, this is how I roll

Social media interaction is much like any other.  There is a certain etiquette.  And much like the ‘analogue’ world, different people have different perceptions of what etiquette is.

So I thought I would elucidate mine for all and sundry.

  • Show yourself – wherever possible and wherever you have an avatar, I prefer to use an image of myself.  Partly because I am one handsome fella and I want to show it off (!), but also because when you meet someone for the first time you will often see their face – so why should social media be any different.  The only time where it is not myself is Facebook, but that is more for pre-existing relationships so having a picture of my kids instead is permissible and excusable
  • I don’t follow because I’m followed.  I follow because I’m interested in what those people have to say. I don’t feel the need to reciprocate a follow (as much as I enjoy gold speculators and estate agents).  Similarly, I don’t feel obliged to accept Friend requests on Facebook just because I know someone.
  • Unless is it a spammer, if someone send me a message/mention/retweet/comment I will write back.  It is a small thank you to people for taking an interest and it takes up very little of my time so I do it. Personally, if someone comments on my blog I will respond – not doing so is almost like you’re ignoring them. Mind you I’m fortunate that the numbers on my blog are small enough for me to write back.

  • If I’m commenting I’ll never be rude.  Even if I disagree with someone.  Ranting and raving detracts focus from your point of view.  Also, people have taken the time to write the post so they are part of the 8% or so of content creators so we should be encouraging people to join the party – berating them at every point won’t help achieve this.  Lastly, if you don’t like it you can ‘vote with your mouse’ (as they say) by not reading that blog ever again. So chill out and move on!
  • If I’m inspired/want to share something that is someone else’s idea, I will reference them.  I admit to sometimes using my own urls (I do this to see how much traction I have), but when I do so I will add a ‘via’ on my tweets.  If a blog has sparked my own post, I will link to it.  The reason I do this is to thank the originators and also show them that people are paying attention and that they are making people think and act. And what better reward to blogging/tweeting is there? Money perhaps, but that kind of fame is a long way off!!/thesantoses/status/55587387891384320

  • Promoting this blog has historically only been done once per post (once I’d found the Twitter publicise function). I am now trying to see if promoting it a couple of times a day to see what times drive traffic and take advantage of when my US friends wake up

And that’s how I roll.  How’s your etiquette?

Mythbusters guide to Social Media

This post is actually a re-work of a post I read from Memeburn.  It focused on the 10 myths of social media marketing.

It was a really interesting post and I certainly recognised a lot of those to from my discussions with clients who either (a) want to move to this arena but are unsure how, or (b) are dead set against it.

I’ve included Memeburn’s 10 ‘original’ myths but added my perspective on them; how to address them and have added some extra myths.

If you think of any others, just post them on the comments section.  I’d love to hear your views.

Myth 1: “Social marketing is great because it’s free.”

There are actually two myths here: one directly attributable to Social Media (SM) the other not.

Let’s deal with the latter first; nothing is great just because it’s free.  In business, in order for something to be great it needs to provide tangible value (i.e. sales).  There is no point doing something free if it doesn’t result in sales.

Secondly, whilst certain vehicles like Twitter, Facebook, WordPress are free, your time is not.  SM takes time to do right because as well as having to develop the content to populate it (which may not be free in itself), you also need to be proactive in it, responding to customers etc.  So you need to consider the cost of your time, plus the cost of content (e.g. if you run promotions those will cost you money through decreased revenue per sale) and premium tools (website hosting, LinkedIn premium status or analytics tools).

Myth 2: “Everyone’s doing it, so I need to.”

If they were jumping off a cliff would you do that as well? Just because they are doing it doesn’t mean it is working for them. If it is unlikely to provide value (i.e. sales or moving people closer to a sale) then SM can be a distraction.  Ask yourself, is their business model the same as yours? Premium businesses will probably not require SM, whilst more populist business will find it more profitable for them? Can you afford to do it both in time and expense?  What are the opportunity costs of doing it?  This is especially true for small businesses where resources are scarce.

Myth 3: I can just post our press releases on social media

You can, but you will get little traction.  The point of SM is to provide customers with an outlet through which to engage & communicate with a company/brand. An outlet that is more personable, more conversational and engaging.  You are more likely to get feedback from people than on a webpage so your SM interaction needs to be more than just posting things. It needs to be responsive. It needs to draw people into a conversation.  If you simply want to post things for people to read, then there are other means to do it that are more efficient and effective – e.g. Press release section on your website.

Myth 4: “I need to be everywhere, dominating every type of social media”

Again, two separate myths here.  Firstly, you don’t have to be everywhere, just where your audience is.  If that is only Twitter, then focus on that.  If it is Foursquare then make sure you are visible there. And if they are not there, then don’t. Focus of effort is the key. Simply be present where your users are. Considering what is  required for effective social media marketing, the best thing you could do may be to invest all your time and energy into one or two sites your audience use regularly, rather than trying to spread yourself too thin across a large number of channels.

Myth 5: “Twitter is a tool for egomaniacs to tell people what they had for breakfast.”

The honest answer is that for some this is true and in its embryonic stage Twitter was a bit like that.  However, it’s developed so much in the 5 years it has been around becoming a major source of news, thought leadership content distribution and promotions.  The key is to determine if Twitter is for you and, if so, how are you going to use it (what type of content are you going to push out) in order to move people closer to that all important sale.

Myth 6: Facebook is more for my kids, not for my business.

I have a personal view about brands and FB (i.e. I’d rather they weren’t there as it feels like a huge move away from what I thought the essence of the site was – but that’s something for another post).  On a more objective level, FB can work for some companies (I believe B2C will find the engagement easier).  They can promote events, post videos, images, run competitions, run offers.  But again, the key is to understand (a) are your customers there? (b) how do they interact with the site? and (c) how can you enhance that experience so that they move closer to buying what you’re selling?

Myth 7: Social media is my marketing director’s job

Anyone can participate in SM on your behalf – from the CEO, to an agency to the tea boy.  They simply need clear guidelines on how to engage.  The last thing you want is a mistweet.  If that does happen then follow Jay Baer’s advice on how to handle it.

Myth 8: The threat of receiving negative public posts and complaints is too high

Yes, SM will make you a much more visible target. You can either bury your head and ignore it (as you are probably doing now with the offline conversations that are happening) or you can tackle them head on and try to turn the dissenters into advocates.  Understand their motivations for saying what they are saying and the context and then take the appropriate action.  Having visibility of those conversations can actually highlight serious problems within your business and showing you are taking steps to resolve them will go a long way to appeasing some of your worst critics. See it as constructive criticism rather than malicious.

Myth 9: “This thing’s useless – I tried it for a month and it didn’t work.”

I’m going to disagree with Memeburn slightly here.  Depending on your tactic SM can give you pretty immediate results – e.g. promotion such as coupon downloads or time limited offers to go instore.  However, these tactics should be used wisely and as part of a bigger SM strategy (driving long term advocacy and sales, which does take some time to see), which would be part of an even bigger Marketing plan.  Don’t fall for the fallacies that are likes/fans/followers, you ultimately need to measure how SM impacts your bottom line – how many sales am I generating from SM and is this better than doing something else?

Myth 10: “Our customers don’t use social media sites.”

Do you know for sure?  Have you researched it? Most industries do have some semblance of following/interest in Twitter/LIn/FB; so do your research.  If they are there, jump on that train.  If they are not, look at other tactics.

Myth 11: “Doing Social Media will be enough”

This really depends on your business – if it is online then possibly, but with bricks and mortar you need more.  Social Media is often seen as a panacea but it is just a tool; nothing more than that.  Using it on its own limits your reach and Pepsi’s current demise points to that (obviously it cannot all be blamed on SM but it did impact on results).

Myth 12: “If I launch it they will come”

Whilst this may work for the bigger, more established brands, it is not the case for your ‘everyday Joe Bloggs’.  You need to find, attract, nurture and grow your audience in order to build momentum which will then lead to a bigger audience.  Launching a product/service, this article by Guy Kawasaki is worth a read.  Whilst it is a little easier for him as he already has an established brand, some elements make sense – again, pick and choose those that will drive the greatest incremental revenue without distracting you from doing business.

So what might this look like practically?

Let’s say for example you have just opened a new coffee shop.  You are limited by trade from passing traffic but there are a couple of things you can do to increase that.  However your budget is limited and you can only use 4 types of media. This is by no means a definitive plan, but hopefully one that shows how SM can/should integrate with other tactics.

In my opinion the things you would need are: a website (or a Facebook Fan page; as both would fulfil the same purpose), a Foursquare/SCVNGR presence, a Twitter account and some local radio advertising.  Here is how I would use them:

– Use radio to promote the opening of your coffee shop, telling people where it is, and why they should come… you may wish to consider an offer to drive initial traffic.  You can also use it to drive people to you FB/website.

– Use FS/SCVNGR, to allow people to check in and run competitions to keep people engaged and coming back using game dynamics – take photos of weekly mayors (if they change) and post them on your profile so you can show people how successful it is and how people enjoy going there.  It will also give people who have never been a sense of what the atmosphere is like. You can use some of the updates and games and promote then on your FB/website.

– Use your FB/website to promote services/recipes/deals of the day.  It will also give you a chance to post any photos you have.  You can post videos of the different coffee recipes you do so people can do them at home.  If you run music/comedy/poetry nights (something that complements your environment) you can post videos there.  If during the days (when business is slow) you use children’s activities to drive traffic, again these mediums allow you to promote that. You can use these to show your Twitter feeds and FS/SCVNGR activity

– Using Twitter will enable you to be quite spontaneous with offers or RAKs.  It is all about promoting what you are about and how you do business and being quite personal. You can send out updates about new content on your FB/website, new mayorships and new staff.

Beyond this there are the traditional in-store communications – e.g. communicating all of the above to join the dots.  All these should create a sense of belonging within your audience that should drive immediate purchases with the offers/games and repeat purchases through activity that drives them back to your store.

Whilst these are just some relatively inexpensive ideas, remember that you do need to devote time to do this.  Possibly as much as 1-2hrs a day.  However, if you divide that by your staff and have some editorial calendar/plan then you will find that this will be easier.

And don’t forget, only do it if it makes you money (both in the short or long term).

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