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Still Don’t Get Twitter? Maybe This Will Help

April 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Newsletter

It’s okay to admit it. You’re among friends. You’ve been on Twitter for a couple of months now and you still can’t figure out what the heck all the fuss is about. It took me a while to “get” Twitter, too, but now I find it an indispensable part of my toolkit for gathering information and promoting my work. Here are some things to think about.

The 140-character limit is liberating
Writing blog entries is a time-consuming task. I’m not the type who fires off one-sentence posts, so I like to put some thought into what I say on a blog. In contrast, Twitter’s 140-character limit lends itself well to quick thoughts that I believe are worth sharing with others but that don’t justify a full-blown blog entry. Very little of what I tweet makes it into my blog and vice versa.

The 140-character limit can also be frustrating. If you have ever engaged in an e-mail exchange using Twitter direct messaging, you know it can be disjointed. At some point, you need to jump to e-mail. That said, 140 characters does force you to focus your thoughts and to write succinctly.

Public conversations
Twitter gives everyone the option of making discussions public. You can’t do this with e-mail, and it’s difficult to accomplish on a blog. If you believe that your exchange with others would benefit from public input, or if you just want to expose the discussion to others, you have that option. You can always take things private via direct messaging if you wish.

Immediacy
When you just can’t wait for information, Twitter can’t be beat for getting your question to a large group. It’s impractical to do this with e-mail. People’s inboxes are already cluttered with spam and you have no way of getting your message to people you don’t know. Also, through “retweeting,” a message can reach a large number of people who aren’t on your follower list. This brings new perspectives to the conversation and gives you the opportunity to discover people you wouldn’t have otherwise met.

Retweeting
While we’re on the subject, don’t underestimate the power of the retweet. When someone picks up your message and forwards it to their followers, it magnifies your reach and often recruits new followers in the process. Sending provocative messages that others retweet is a great way to build your following and your contact list for information-gathering and promotion.

Discovery
Twitter is the most efficient mechanism I’ve ever seen for discovering interesting information. I could literally do nothing all day but monitor the “All Friends” feed in TweetDeck and read interesting articles that others recommend. If it weren’t for Twitter, for example, I wouldn’t have known that Travelocity has hotels in Las Vegas for $22 a night. This discovery process is not unlike scanning the pages of a newspaper, but it’s much faster and more encompassing. Also, you know that comments and recommendations from certain people will be of particular interest to you, so you have the option of drilling down on individual profiles to see what they’ve been saying recently. Chaotic? Sure, but that’s part of the discovery process.

Searchable
If you want to find out what people are saying about you right now, services like Twitscoop and Monitter enable you to instantly track mentions of your company, product, industry or whatever and to save them as RSS feeds for later browsing. You can do the same with Twitter Search . Google Alerts currently doesn’t index Twitter feeds, but Filtrbox does.

Twitter is a deceptively simple idea with remarkably powerful applications. People are only beginning to tap into its potential, and I hope visitors to this blog will contribute their own thoughts on what they find most compelling.


Social Media Done Right – Or Not at All

Our most recent episode of MediaBlather is an interview with Paula Berg , Manager of Emerging Media for Southwest Airlines and the team leading the airline’s efforts in blogging, podcasting, and other social media. I frequently point to Southwest as an example of a company that does social media very well. The company uses ordinary employees — not high paid executives — to tell its story, and they do so with marvelous candor and enthusiasm. Nuts About Southwest has a joyful irreverence that reinforces the airline’s offbeat, slightly goofy image. Recently, Southwest added video and podcasts to the mix in a manner that truly looks planned. We talk to Paula about how Southwest gives its people lots of leeway in choosing what to contribute to the blog, the online “voice” of the company and how its first Twitter-based “screenplay” came together in the past couple of weeks.


My editor at BtoB magazine, Ellis Booker, chided me recently for writing so enthusiastically about social media. “How about telling people when social media isn’t right for them?” he asked. Great idea. So this month’s column lists some scenarios when you should really think twice about whether corporate transparency is right for you.


Why Podcast When You Can Slidecast?

I’m so excited about this development in our podcast product line that I’m repeating it from last week! We’ve just added slidecasts, which are audio podcasts with slide presentations built in. Slidecasts are packaged as movie files for viewing on a video iPod or desktop computer, where some 80% of all podcasts are listened to. Here’s the first in a series we are producing for our client, Awareness.

Slidecasts are a fast and cost-effective alternative to video. You don’t need any special equipment because you probably have the slides already prepared. We use high quality software to match the images to the audio and to integrate transitions, builds and even video clips. Then we deliver both an audio MP3 and a video file in the format you choose. We can even add this capability to podcasts you’ve already posted. So if you want to try the next generation of Internet audio programming, drop us a line and let us create your first slidecast!


Just for Fun

Page Tutor came up with a fun way of thinking about the huge financial hole our banking industry has gotten itself and us Americans into. Well, fun may be overstating it, but try to enjoy this and not think about what it will take for generations of Americans to fill the hole back in! What does a million dollars look like? You’ll be astounded.

Influencer Marketing: Not Your Typical PR

April 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Newsletter

In my last issue, I made a case for extending PR strategies to encompass influencer marketing.  With mainstream media rapidly declining in scope, influence is increasingly being exerted from below by individuals using the power of self-publishing to reach out to their peers.

In recent influencer engagements, we’ve learned a few things about how to work with these new media. An important point to remember is that they do not behave like reporters. Journalists are skilled in the “game” that goes on with public relations professionals. You know, it’s the one in which PR is paid to keep pushing and the journalist is paid to be skeptical. The two parties engage in this back-and-forth with a wink and a nod, knowing that each has a job to do.

Influencers often don’t work this way. To them, their online outpost is a display of their passion for the topic that they cover. They care deeply about the subject matter and they usually know at least as much as the PR person who contacts them. Often they know quite a bit more. In some ways, engaging with influencers is like pitching to product reviewers.

Know Your Stuff

You’d better come prepared to this engagement, because some influencers will take lack of knowledge on your part as an insult. This can capsize junior agency people who aren’t prepared for the depth of questions they will get or the scorn they may endure if they can’t answer. Again, journalists know how the game is played, but influencers are more likely to expect the person on the phone to share their enthusiasm. I recommend you put experienced people on this job.

Influencers are also likely to have an opinion. While journalists are expected not to share any biases, bloggers often do what they do precisely because they have opinions to share. Fortunately, a little advance reading can often clue you in to someone’s agenda and even help you decide if they’re worth contacting all. You don’t want to come in with a strong Windows pitch, for example, to a blogger who’s passionate about the Mac. You also don’t want to be blindsided by someone who has made his or her opinions clear and who is offended by the fact that you don’t know them. Again, 15 to 20 minutes of reading can save you a lot of aggravation.

Finally, influencers are more likely to want to get their hands on the product or to talk in depth with the people who develop it. Unlike journalists, they’re probably not interested in analyst quotes or customer case studies. It’s more likely they’ll want to talk to the VP of engineering or the CEO than to the head of marketing. Before you start an influencers program, be sure that you have these people on board.

Their time will be well spent. The right influencers have as much credibility in their community as product reviewers or analysts. They usually have extensive networks of online and real-world contacts and they’re likely to have experience with not only your products but those of your competitors. Engage in a conversation. You might learn something from them.


Our Podcasts are Now Slidecasts

For the past three years, podcasts have been one of our most popular businesses, with nearly 300 programs produced for our clients as well as our own MediaBlather series. Now we’re pleased to take the service to the next level with the addition of slidecasts. A slidecast is an audio podcast with slides built in. It’s a great way to add a visual element to your audio program. Slidecasts are encoded as movie files for viewing on a desktop computer or iPod. Since about 80% of all podcasts are listed to on a PC, they help keep your audience engaged in the content while they listen. Here’s a sample we just produced for our client, Awareness.

Our slidecasts can support transitions, builds and even video clips. We’re offering them as a modest upgrade to our basic podcasts. We work with you to determine where you want slides to appear in the program and then we deliver both an audio MP3 and a video file in the format you choose. We can even add this capability to podcasts you’ve already posted. So if you want to try the next generation of Internet audio programming, drop us a line and let us create your first slidecast!


Subscribers Get Half Off at Inbound Marketing Summit

The Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco is less than four weeks away, and I have a small supply of 50% discount codes for subscribers to my newsletter. The Summit is for marketers who are convinced that the world is changing forever and who want to drive a new form of high-quality engagement that turbo-charges their careers. We’ll have Web 2.0 visionaries like Tim O’ReillyChris BroganDavid Meerman ScottJason Falls and Brian Solis on the program. More importantly, we’ll have practitioners from companies like Cirque du Soleil, Harley Davidson, French Maid TV and Microsoft talking about how they’re putting new media to work right now, achieving results and measuring those results. E-mail me to get this special discount!


Tip of the Week: Hosting for SEO

Are you still hosting your blog on Blogspot.com, WordPress.com or one of the other hosted services? You’re paying the price in search engine performance. I recently learned this the hard way when someone convinced me to consolidate my various blogs under a single domain. Search engine performance plummeted. In one case, Google wasn’t seeing my site at all. Once I moved it out of the subdomain and onto its own hosting account, visibility improved dramatically. Hubspot has an article on why this is the case. Hosting on your own domain isn’t difficult, and we can even show you how.


Deriving Value from Social Media and User-Generated Content

Social networks are beginning to yield some interesting payoffs in applications ranging from customer support to product evangelism. This afternoon, I’ll present a one-hour webcast describing the different ways in which businesses can derive value from these networks. The webcast is sponsored by Keibi Technologies, Inc. and you can register here. Best of all, it’s free.


Just for Fun

I came across a wonderful collection of pictures online that gave me more than one smile. I wanted to share it with you somehow, then realized I have the perfect opportunity in my Just For Fun. So enjoy Marco Folio’s collection of hilarious, odd, and adorable pictures! They’re organized by month of posting, so click through to any gallery for about two minutes of delight.