Social Media – The Wrong Place for a “Push” Campaign

Posted on March 26, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

DBU031Remember a few years back, right around dinnertime the phone would ring, you’d pick it up and you’d hear “Stay Tuned for this important announcement from [insert company name here]?” Then they’d put you on hold and expect you to hang around for the sales pitch?

Whose dorky idea was that??

I’ve tossed my land line, so I’m less likely to get those recorded announcements, but I suspect they have mostly gone to the Lousy Marketing Ideas graveyard anyway. Why were the recorded phone broadcasts so terrible, compared to getting ads in the newspaper, on TV and in the mail?

Here’s the reason: the telephone is an intimately interactive medium. It demands a speaker and a listener ON BOTH ENDS. Even when one side is carrying on the bulk of the conversation, it’s the job of the speaker to check in with the listener, who indicates their engagement with the “Yeah…uh huh” interlocution (now there’s a big linguistics word from my past) that we all come to expect on the phone. It’s why we tend to bristle at the automatic phone tree when we enter corporate telephone systems. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that if I want to do business with a machine, I’ll use my computer. If I’m on the phone, I would really like to talk to a real person.

And guess what we are discovering on the social media networks, particularly Twitter? It, too, is an interactive medium, where we expect conversation, or at least a sense that the person sending the updates and the tweets is a real person, as interested in what you have to say as in what they have to say to you.

So is there room in the social media universe for a “recorded announcement”? Heaven knows, you can even set these up in advance with tools like HootSuite and Tweet Later. These are very fine tools if you don’t want to hang out in the Twittersphere all day just to be visible. You can actually automate some of your communications while you are away, getting work done.

The answer is yes, there is room – BUT you have to be very careful how you use your automatic tweets (and updates – this applies to places like Facebook and LinkedIn, too). It’s better if you are sending a bit of news or a helpful hint that your followers might actually like to hear. You can schedule these ahead of time if you like, but please mix it up with real-time conversations with the people whom you find interesting, and vice versa. I try to spend a short burst of time in the morning, mid-day and in the evening for my Twitter conversations.

More important, don’t let an autoresponder be your first interaction with a new person in your Twitter network. I tried this for about a month, and got rid of it. It sends the wrong message, even if that message isn’t all about you. Mine said “Thanks for following me. I’ll follow you back, and I look forward to your tweets”. Innocuous enough, but I actually got replies of “Thank You!” when I announced that I was shutting it off.

Everybody wants to feel appreciated. Social Media is a place for that appreciation and engagement. It’s not for the “push” marketing message.

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Help for busy social media days

Posted on February 24, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos | Tags: , , , , , |

BIC040I’m starting the day with a list of “to-do’s” that fills a whole page in my notebook.  On one hand, it’s overwhelming, but it is also very exciting, because it’s clear from my list that people are looking for information and help when it comes to marketing and social media. In response, I’ve been saying “yes” whenever people ask for help, and staying open to whatever comes as a result.  Here’s what it looks like:

  1. Send follow-up social media package proposal, as requested, to client who won my Facebook Fan Page service
  2. Finish communications plan for local client.
  3. Email strategic partner about social media strategies for local tourism campaign
  4. Make follow-up phone calls from networking meeting (there are around 6 of them!)
  5. Talk to another strategic partner about writing services for his established internet marketing business
  6. Publicize local “pilot” workshop on social media
  7. Work some more on my own website
  8. Publish first e-newsletter

There’s a mix of preparation, implementation and communication in all of that work, and it’s important to get the balance right.  I also hope to pass on the results of some of the research I’ve been doing in the off-hours.  So what can I do to stay productive and on top of the “social media” scene at the same time?  I can use some cool tools.  Here are a few of my favourites:

Mozilla Firefox Browser: This is one powerful browser, and I’ve customized it with some helpful plug-ins, including Shareaholic, which lets me bookmark, tweet, or post some of my findings to Facebook, as I find them.  Now I’m researching and communicating at the same time!

TweetDeck: Frankly, I couldn’t manage Twitter without this incredibly useful tool from Adobe.  Now that I’ve got a Twitter community of hundreds – and that’s actually modest compared to some users who have been around longer and working it harder – I need a way to sort my “tweeple” into groups, keep track of important conversations and keywords that have my attention, and basically see what I need to see all on one screen.

Ping.fm: When I really don’t have time to get sucked into the social media vortex, but still want to touch base with my networks, Ping is incredibly helpful.  Add all your social media sites here.  Write your status update once, and show up all over the place.

TweetLater: I’m still in “courtship” mode with this service – I tend to be an “in the moment” type of person when it comes to Twitter, but I can completely understand the usefulness of planning ahead.  You can share some of your favourite resources with the Twitter community while you are offline, and be seen by a broader range of people than your usual “early morning” crowd, if that’s when you tend to be online.  Heck, people have parcelled out their little nuggets of wisdom many days and weeks in advance.  If you’ve got good content, and people are giving you positive feedback, then it’s a good idea.

Another feature of TweetLater, and one I am still toying with, is it can automate your follow-backs – that is, when someone follows you, you can add them to your own “following” list.  The advantage of this function is that Twitter rewards reciprocity.  The more people you follow, the more they let follow you. (Some people say there’s a 2000 follower limit – in fact, that doesn’t apply if you’ve got no more than a 10% gap between who you follow and who is following you. ) My worry with this function, though, is that it does leave you open to some spammers and ‘bots who are increasingly present on the system.  I may have to eventually block some of these people, and much prefer manually following (good feeling!) to manually unfollowing (bad feeling!)

Those are four that I like – in fact, there are dozens – no, hundreds – of tools on the Web that help you optimize your time using social media. Another time I’ll look in my “favourites” file on TweetDeck and post some of the articles that list more of them.

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Who is Managing Your Online Presence? (Trick question)

Posted on February 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Who speaks for you online?j01785951

Are you writing your own blogs (with the occasional guest post), creating your own Tweets, and updating your own status on Facebook? Is the person behind your profile picture really you – or have you given that job to someone else?

Looking for the Real McCoy
If you are a small business owner, or someone whose livelihood depends on sharing their expertise with the larger world, then I sure hope that the “you” appearing with your name, face and profile is the Real McCoy.

Why “Managed” Accounts Give Me the Willies
When I hear that colleagues in the still-developing social media field are “managing accounts for their clients”, I have to admit that my gut reaction is “uh-oh”. I get visions of the kind of status updates and Twitter posts that are all talk and no listen. You know – the spammy ones that promise you 5 ways to lose 7 lbs. by next week. The stream of quotes without saying anything in their own voice. The “I just want you to know about me” attitude.

“And Accepting the Oscar On Behalf Of…”
Here’s the thing: social media can certainly help you promote your business. But if you are giving it all to someone else to manage – well, it’s like sending your publicist to an important network event where people are looking for YOUR expertise. Sorry, at some point, YOU have to show up, and give value. You have to be present, and be willing to listen, to share, and to engage.

Social Media Builds Relationships In Real Time – With Real People
You If you put together a bunch of profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo and ignore them, or delegate their maintenance entirely to someone else, then perhaps social media is not for you. And that’s ok. Before I saw that I can be both my personal self and my business self on Facebook, I ignored the place for months at at a time. It was fun for contacting long-lost highschool friends, but apart from that, it seemed like a bit of a time waster.  I didn’t understand that it could an important tool for cultivating present-day relationships (including some that extend waaay back) both for personal growth and business development.

If you put together those accounts and then give them entirely to someone else to manage, you are missing out on some of the chief benefits of using social media in the first place, and those are:

  • to build relationships
  • to enhance your credibility
  • to help other people
  • to exchange ideas
  • to learn from others
  • to build more relationships
  • to promote your services (to be sure…)
  • did I mention to build relationships?

You Can Use Social Media and Still Have a Life
I use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as key marketing tools for my business – make no mistake. And I am happy help other people do so as well. I’ll point you to dozens of wonderful tools to help you be productive in your time online, and even automate some of what you do.  I’ll help you create knock-out profiles the tell the world how terrific you are.  I’ll edit your blog posts, if you give me the raw material.  I’ll even set things up for you so you can be “everywhere at once” with the push of a couple of buttons.

I Won’t Tweet For You – And Here’s Why
But I won’t Tweet for you.  I don’t want to pretend to be you.  And I hope you don’t want that either.  Because ultimately, one of the main benefits of social media is that you are building credibility and trust with people that you want in your life, both for business and for fun.  It’s hard to do that when you are not there in the first place. Even harder when you’re not being honest about who represents you.

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