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

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