The Twitter Cull is On…

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

twitter-bird-deadOh, how this hurts.  I hate breaking up with people.

I am going through my “following” list on Twitter, and deleting one name after another. This involves reviewing my list, avatar after avatar, name after name and bio after bio, and assessing each for whether I want them to continue showing up in my stream or not.  I’m hoping to reduce my list from 1400-odd people I’m following to about half that.

When “Following” doesn’t equal “Friend”
I know that for many power Twitter users, 1400 people to follow seems a drop in the bucket.  Some people who want to build their following to huge numbers play the “following” game to great effect, picking up a hundred or so people each day, hoping to be followed back, then they trim back and add again, growing their list of followers in waves.   They can follow 200o people in less than a month, and as the number of followers they attract gets to about 1800, they can add still more people.   Twitter on “nutritional supplements” is how I think of it.   And if those people are chosen carefully, perhaps it can be a decent strategy for some.   While I love finding interesting new people to follow, this “forced growth” doesn’t seem like the strategy for me right now.

And I’m not “easy”, either
Autofollowing isn’t really doing the job for me, either.  Again, it’s not a strategy I dismiss entirely.  I like reciprocity as much as the next person.  But autofollowing does make me feel like an easy pushover for every marketing guru that comes along hoping to sell me something.  For the most part, it hasn’t enriched the quality of my Twitter experience.  It may have worked for Barack Obama, but even if he wrote his own tweets, I suspect his “people” monitored all the replies and direct messages he received.

Filters help, but can’t do all the work
I’ve got maybe 15% of the people I follow sorted into groups, which makes it easier to follow: local tweeps (for Victoria and Vancouver people) and Don’t Miss (for people both near and far that I’ve made a real connection with).  I could do more, but I feel like I have too many to sort! So I have decided that it’s time to simplify.

So over to my list I go, looking for familiar names and faces to hang onto.  Casually dismissing the spammers.  Agonising over “mom, runner, working from home, social media enthusiast” that I don’t recognize.  Is she using the service?  Is that enough in common to hang onto?  Am I dismissing a future friend or business partner?

Here’s how the cull works:

  • If we have exchanged friendly shout-outs and even confided to each other in direct messages, you’re in.
  • If you live in Victoria BC, you’re probably in.
  • If something about your bio makes me say “oh wait… maybe not this one”.  You’re in.  For now.
  • If you feed me wonderful content on a wonderful basis – news, links, terrific whitepapers and blog articles, you are in.
  • If you are Ashton or Demi… you make me laugh.  You’re in.

The rest of you – well, you can @wordspring me.  Ask me to follow back so we can send direct messages to each other, then give me a little bit of yourself.  It doesn’t have to be much, just 140 characters of  The Real You.  Not your product, not your boss, your publicist or your intern.  Just you.  And I will follow you to the ends of the earth.  Or until Twitter is bought up by Google and the love is gone.

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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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Social Media – my “Christmas Project” run amok

Posted on January 29, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos, Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , , , , , |

social media logos

social media logos

It started innocently enough – having written my way down to part-time status with my main client, I found myself with some time on my hands, and a burning desire to “get good at something specific” in marketing. And I’d learn it over Christmas.

Diving into the social media pool
I decided that something should be social media.  After all, here I am – a marketer that spends considerable time writing web copy.  Why not check what all the fuss is about concerning using Facebook for business, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Freshening my Facebook
Facebook was easy – sort of.  I’d been on for a year and a half, collected way too many silly applications and a whole bunch of friends (ok, a hundred or so) representing a lifetime of moving around and trying to keep in touch.   First thing I did was grab Facebook by the scruff of the neck, turn off all sorts of notifications, and get it to stop bossing me around… at least long enough to invite a few more friends and make a page for my business.

Blogging for branding
Next, I took a look at my baby blog – started so that I could muse about ADHD, but named for my business.  OK, so I was having an identity crisis.  ADHD is still an abiding interest, but I’d have to blog about it elsewhere.  I’m still too swamped in the social media learning curve to have started that blog up, but if you joined me then and are wondering when I’m going to get around to blogging about coming “out of the fog” again, well, bear with me.

So the blog has made a right turn, and now it’s my repository for social media thoughts, especially for people who are new to it.  Because really, most people are new to it!  (I mean, if I can become the top of the Twitter elite for Victoria BC in less than a month, then you know that we’re still in the infancy stages of this stuff!)

Taking on Twitter
Then I cranked up Twitter, attached it to Facebook and Facebook to my blog, and badda boom badda bing, we have social media visibility!  Except that still, nothing looks quite the way I want it to.   I’ve just found a theme that I like on my free WordPress blog, so the upgrades are coming.  Once that’s done, can embedded YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries be far behind?  They’re all complementary ways to connect…

LinkedIn, too…
Oh, and I fired up my LinkedIn account too, because after all, I am a business woman, and this site has wonderful connecting functions for people in business.

Learning from the Pros
As all this was happening, I was finding interesting, savvy social media people to follow on Twitter, and they’ve been educating me every single day about the best ways to connect with mentors, with potential clients, and with people who are just worth knowing.  Checking on TwitterGrader, I went from a fair-to-middling-for-a-newbie score of 54 (out of 100) in mid-December to over 96 a couple of days ago.  And 435 people think I’m interesting and relevant enough to follow.  Imagine!

Racing up the learning curve!
The thing is, my head is still spinning from jumping onto this merry-go-round so quickly.  Clients are starting to ask how they can use social media effectively, and I’m putting together proposals that will help them take advantage of the relationship-marketing heart of social media… without causing them to lose sleep or productive working hours.  I’ll do that for them!

And to be sure, there are wonderful tools to help sort all the posts on all the sites – like Ping.fm, TweetLater, TwitterFeed, Tweetdeck, and so on.  As well, I’d like to thank some amazing social media professionals, pro bloggers and simply fine people I met on-line who are my role models, like Mari Smith, Nancy Marmolejo, Sherman Hu, Chris Brogan, Maria Reyes McDavis, and Michele Price.

Do I feel ready to pass along what I’ve learned to the 99 percent of Victoria business owners who know social media is “out there” but don’t know how to make it work for them?  As ready as I’ll ever be…

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3Rs of Social Media #3 – be Relevant

Posted on January 20, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos | Tags: , , , , , , |

OK, so in the big wide world of the Internet, where there is a following for everything under the sun, what can I possibily mean by “Be relevant”?

Well, when it comes to business, be relevant to the people you want to do business with.  Who are those people, and what do you want them to know about both you and your business?  It’s ok to take a big-picture view of this – the answer can be both personal and professional.  In fact, it’s best if it’s both.

Going back to our previous “received wisdom” that people do business with people they know, like and trust, social media like blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter give you a platform for others to get to know you, your family, your hobbies and interests, even some of your daily activities.  Add to that some of your specialized information from your field of expertise, and you have a powerful combination that gives your potential customers an insight into you and how you do your work.

Does it matter what you had for breakfast?  Perhaps not.  Then again, if you are a fitness trainer, your morning menu might provide both ideas and information.  Your musical tastes could be important information if you run a nightclub.  The websites and blogs that you follow may also provide excellent info for your clients – feel free to quote and even to provide links to the places where you get your information.  This won’t make you any less of an expert – on the contrary, it shows your customers that you are actively staying current in your area of expertise.  And they will still be looking to you for excellent advice.  After all, it’s you they are building the relationship with!

Each time you post, use this simple question as a guide: “What am I telling the world about myself and my business?” If you can answer it with some simple, positive statement, go ahead and post it.

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A Lifetime of Persistence Pt 2

Posted on December 7, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , , |

We left off Napoleon just as he was promised a typewriter in exchange for changing his wild habits and working toward some better ones.  Martha Hill, his step-mother, had great hopes for all the Hills, and even 115 years later, we could learn a lot from the way she handled her husband and stepsons.  Here’s a quote from the book, “A Lifetime of Riches” by Michael J. Ritt Jr. and Kirk Landers:

“[Martha] patiently constructed a close, individual relationship with her troubled stepson.  She didn’t force the stubborn, hot-tempered boy to do things, for this would most certainly have produced failure.  Instead, she treated him like the person she wanted him to become – an intelligent, hard-working, independent lad who would set constructive goals for himself and achieve them. ”

” ‘People are wrong about you, Napoleon,’ she said.  ‘You’re not the worst boy in the county, only the most active.  You jst need to direct your energy toward accomplishing something worthwhile.’  In the course of this conversation, Martha suggested that Napoleon consider becoming a writer because of his keen imagination and gutsy initiative. ‘If you will devote as much time to reading and writing as you have to causing trouble,’ she concluded, ‘you might live to see the time when your influence will be felt throughout the state.’ ” (pp. 8-9)

How important it is to have somebody believe in you early in life!  As adults, we are in large part a product of the messages we are given about ourselves early in life.  We take those on and make them part of our identity.  That’s not exactly news – the “self-esteem movement” in child development circles of the 1980s and 1990s was built on that. 

At the same time, notice how Martha Hill’s belief and support was accompanied by some real expectations.  She didn’t just say “You’re smart honey, and you’re really wild, and that’s the way you are.”  She directed that energy in a new direction.  What’s more, she persuaded Napoleon to be responsible in himself for that change in direction.  She suggested a goal, but ultimately it was Napoleon who internalized the goal and worked with passion and diligence to achieve it.

This is something I try to instill in both myself and in my children.  We are all working to become something.  What is the worthwhile thing we want to do?  Who is the person of worth we want to be?  How can you reveal that person of worth right now?

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It’s a newborn baby blog!

Posted on November 27, 2008. Filed under: In My Experience | Tags: , , , |

Welcome to Out of the Fog, my blog for exploring solutions  when living with Attention Deficit Disorder, especially those, like me, who are adult women.  More than that, it’s a journal dedicated to personal success, however and wherever you find it.

In fact, I hardly feel like it’s a “disorder” I’m living with at this point, partly because it’s as much a part of me as my green eyes and left-handedness, and partly because in the last few years I’ve learned to use some terrific tools and strategies that enhance my strengths and minimize the, uh, “foggy” side of me.

In this blog, I’ll look at the characteristics of ADD as it often manifests in girls and women, how I came to be classified with this “label”, what I’ve worked to overcome, and the many treatments, both medical and behavioural, that we can choose from as individuals living and even thriving with ADD.

It will go beyond ADD as well, and explore the potential of the human mind, the plasticity of our remarkable brain, and the infinite possibilities that absolutely are still the birthright of you and every person, whatever your situation and whatever struggles you work to overcome.

I’m sure I’ll find a place on this blog for the requisite disclaimers.  I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, and of course I recommend that you consult with your own medical professional in the process of diagnosing, treating and ultimately living with ADD or any other condition that resembles it (and believe me, ADD comes in many packages.  What works for me won’t work for everyone, and vice versa).

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