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The Direct Message Dilemma

January 23, 2010 1 comment

For those of you that don’t know, there are three ways to communicate on Twitter -

  • the broadcast tweet everyone can see
  • the @ tweet everyone can see, but is directed at a particular person
  • the direct message or DM.

The honest truth is there are a lot of spammers on Twitter, but they’re pretty easy to manage by creating lists or unfollowing.  Direct messages on the other hand are a real dilemma.  I’m using a service to autofollow people based on targeted keywords.  That means I’m building a list of people to follow in hopes they will follow me back.  If they don’t within a certain period of time, my software automatically unfollows.

The dilemma is during the follow, I get sent a direct message and it pops up in my email.  Every single autofollow that has sent a direct message has been automatically generated or spammy.  People who use Twitter ignore direct messages.  I send them straight to the trash.

How can a marketer use direct messaging effectively if nobody reads them?  I don’t think they can.  So should we ignore this useful piece of technology?  Perhaps.

I know I don’t have a direct message set up.  I have seen a few interesting ones.  My favorite was the one that admitted it was a bot, but invited me to connect on Facebook.  I didn’t, but I still thought it was a good idea.

Matt Singley has a suggestion for Twitter, allow a separate controller for direct messages so a user can turn it off without unfollowing.

Please give your users the ability to turn direct messages on and off globally, and when on, give us the ability to select who can and cannot send us direct messages. I want to be able to follow people without them having the ability to send direct messages to me.

What do you think about direct messaging on Twitter.  Have you found an effective way to use it?  Do you know about it?  Do you read them?  Let me know in the comments.

Did Social Media Lose Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat?

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The big news in politics yesterday was the contest for Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts.  Kennedy held the seat for a number of decades, but the race turned out to be quite tight in the ordinarily “blue” state.

On Monday, the Huffington Post suggested it could come down to effective use of social media.

So it’s fascinating to watch Martha Coakley’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts basically ignore new media in favor of the old playbooks that elected Ted Kennedy to the seat.

Of course there is much more to the race: Politics and platforms and personal connections are important. But didn’t Obama for America teach us that the Web has the power to push a candidate over the top? Obama also showed the importance of young people (whose communications of choice is digital).

Much like I did the other day, the author credits Barack Obama’s win in 2008 to effective use of technology; particularly Internet based technology.  He went forward with some social media numbers;

As I compare the morning before election day, @MarthaCoakley has 3,520 Twitter followers compared to @ScottBrownMA with 10,214 followers. Coakley counts 14,487 Facebook fans to Brown’s 76,700 fans. Advantage Brown by more than three to one.

Brown didn’t win the election with a three to one margin, but he did win.  Now both sides are trying to figure out why.

Brown won 52 percent to 47 percent. Turnout was exceptional for a special election in January: More voters showed up at the polls Tuesday than in any non-presidential general election in Massachusetts since 1990.

The Huffington Post credits Brown’s social media campaign and points out Coakley pretty well ignored the opportunity.

How do college students communicate? Facebook and SMS of course! Yet these two forms of communications played absolutely no formal part in the rally. The brochure that was handed out had no web addresses or social media sites. At the rally, Coakley fans were asked to vote. They were asked to volunteer at phone banks. They were asked to talk to neighbors and friends.

But were the many college students in the crowd told to talk up the Coakley campaign on Facebook, the college student communications tool of choice? No. Were people at the rally asked to tweet? No. Were they asked to join Coakley’s fan page? No.

The Coakley campaign is underestimating the importance of social media and the new rules of marketing and PR.

That strategy looks like a blueprint for political social media campaigns.  Ask and you shall receive.

This is a valuable lesson moving forward for political campaigns of all stripes.  In Utah, Democrats are seeking to unseat a non-elected Republican governor and gain the statehouse for the first time in 30 years.  If social media is any barometer, Peter Coroon’s vibrant Facebook page is out polling Herbert’s ghost town of a page 2,368 to 219.  One of these candidates “gets” social media.  One doesn’t.  Guess who I think will win in November, despite the perceived odds?  If Massachusetts can elect a Republican to replace Ted Kennedy, a Democrat leading the state of Utah isn’t farfetched.

The rhetoric is heating up on both sides after Tuesday’s loss in Massachusetts.  In an email sent out today to Democrats, Mitch Stewart wrote,

Yesterday’s disappointing election results show deep discontent with the pace of change. I know the OFA community and the President share that frustration.

We also saw what we knew to be true all along: Any change worth making is hard and will be fought at every turn. While it doesn’t take away the sting of this loss, there is no road to real change without setbacks along the way.

On the other side, Republicans are crediting the win to voter discontent with the new Presidential administration and the healthcare debate.  I submit, it’s the effective communication of issues and platforms to voters and TV ads and robo-calls are not the way to do it any more.  Advertising is advertising whether you’re a small business, big business or political business.  If the old way of advertising is failing for businesses, it’s going to fail for you too.

People are fearful of change.  They don’t like change.  In today’s advertising world, change is social media.  Don’t be afraid of social media, embrace it.  They say Google is your friend.  I say Facebook and Twitter are too.

Haiti Earthquake News Comes From Social Media

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

When a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday, the country was devastated.  Poor construction standards have wiped out the capital city of Port-Au-Prince populated by two million souls.  For those who survived, wiped out communications left few choices to spread the word or even tell a loved one overseas they were still all right.

For the second time in the last 18 months, Twitter has served as a back up communication infrastructure to reach out.  The first instance was man-made when Iran’s government blocked texts and Internet sites and Twitter was the only means left.  This time Twitter faced nature and seems to be winning.

When I first heard of the catastrophe last night, Twitter was mentioned as one of the only means of communication left open to the survivors.  Today that statement appears to be quite true.  CNN is reporting,

Web surfers looking for information on the earthquake in Haiti scoured the White House’s blog, the Red Cross’ site and a handful of Twitter feeds, according to Internet traffic data gathered Wednesday by CNN.

As I remember, major earthquakes in the nineties drove cell phone purchases because they typically work after the disaster.  Since the advent of smart-phones, Twitter has assumed this role because of its wider audience reach.  News organizations are following the tweets and blogs of people directly affected by the disaster that are able to share their plight.

Like the widespread cell phone adoption a decade ago, it seems widespread Twitter adoption is just a matter of time.  I wrote about Twitter as a tool for citizen governance a few days ago.  Now it’s apparent Twitter is a viable emergency communication service.  I’m not sure why this service works when others are blocked or damaged, but it seems to be the right way to go.  Perhaps it makes sense for everyone to have a Twitter account, “just in case.”  We pay for cellular phones for the same reason.  Twitter is free!

My thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Haiti and I hope the horrifying estimated casualty toll turns out to be much lower.  If you have the resources to help, please do.  The fact a major relief site Yele Haiti was down due to high traffic suggests to me Americans are doing the right thing.  Thank you.

Tweet up @ Wild Grape SLC

January 10, 2010 Leave a comment

What’s a tweet up?  It’s where people who tweet meet in real life and get to know each other.  Funny enough there isn’t any tweeting going on.  It’s another form of analog marketing where you can meet people who will follow you or teach you new things. 

Come join the group next time.  I’ve created a list of Utah twitterers.  DM me if you want to be listed.

– Sent from my Palm Pixi

 

Is Twitter a Good Traffic Source?

December 14, 2009 3 comments

Last week I met with a potential client to discuss an Internet marketing strategy.  Because of the type of business; very customer centric and people oriented, I suggested they use Twitter.

This company had a specific traffic goal in mind and based on their reaction I don’t think they really liked it.  I suppose if they used Twitter like I used to use Twitter, I’d probably have the same reaction.

Fortunately for them, I do have an effective Twitter strategy and when they hire me I’ll be happy to share it.

Yesterday was a record traffic day for this site.  I had 378 unique visitors, barely eclipsing the old record of 376.  What drove such high volumes of traffic on those two days?  You guessed it; Twitter.  In fact, when reviewing my stats, Twitter is the second largest traffic generator for this site behind search engines. 

Twitter and search are about to be combined like the perfect cup of coffee.  Pete Cashmore recently wrote about the “real-time” web and said,

If this new paradigm stimulates our seeking behavior, it follows that search is central to the real-time Web. Before Google entered the fray, OneRiot and Collecta stood out among real-time search engines.

The reigning champion of real-time search, however, is Twitter Search, which provides instant updates whenever new Tweets are posted.

If you’re not using Twitter or using it properly, you’re missing out on some traffic.  As more people adopt Twitter use, you’re going to be missing out on 6,000 new potential followers per day.

I’ve spoken about the volume Twitter can drive, how about the quality?  Every “big” Twitter day I have, I get quality comments and new Twitter followers.  I’m up to nearly 300 now.  Here’s the important part.  Twitter users offer social proof to your potential customers.

How did Pabst beer turn into one of the fastest growing brands in the country…without any traditional advertising?  It’s not the cheapest beer this recession has to offer.  That’s the question the company set out to answer in 2002.  Keystone Light, Busch Light and Natural Light are all less money per can, but they found -

“We found it was the hipster crowd, the music crowd,” says Stewart, who became the PBR brand manager in 2002 before leaving the company four years later. “They liked it because it didn’t have a lot of advertising behind it.”

“People don’t like to be shouted at,” says Jack Anderson, CEO of brand design firm Hornall Anderson, which works with beer companies. “It’s more authentic and cooler if you discover it or you’re told by a friend. “

 Twitter makes it easy to tell your friends and the more customer facing a business is, the more it needs other trusted sources to tell their product’s story.

Three Twitter Tips for Building Tons of Traffic:

1.  Use hashtags for every important word you use because they make your tweets get found. 

2.  Do your research for keywords and tweets.  I found the phrase “twitter tools” is searched 80,000 times per month.  It was no mistake yesterday’s popular article started with those words and no mistake I used them with hashtags when I tweeted the article.

3.  Be consistent without being annoying.  I see people tweet in bursts.  I unfollow those people.  If I have something to say I think others will benefit from, I say it.  If I have a few things to say, I space them out using Hootsuite or TwitJump so I don’t look like a spammer. 

If you’re not using Twitter as a traffic source for your website, you’re missing out on a great way to drive high quality, high volume visitors.  What’s stopping you?

Twitter Tools for Maximum Productivity

December 8, 2009 11 comments

There’s a lot of noise out there about how unproductive social media is.

Twitter has many tools available to improve productivity, but it’s hard to determine which ones are the best.

For me, two features are very important; the ability to schedule tweets in the future and to coordinate a separate message for my Facebook business page.

Ultimately my goal is to build the number of followers I have who may be receptive to my message.  I’ve written about methods to increase followers in the past and having the right tools to acheive this goal is of utmost importance.

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying very hard to find the right Twitter toolset and I believe I’ve finally got it.

I use Twitjump to schedule tweets and get followers and there are similar tools out there.  What sets this software apart is you can add people by keyword and get analytics on how many times a particular word is searched or tweeted on Twitter.

To complete my toolset, I use Hootsuite to schedule Facebook updates.  That is the only missing piece of Twitjump.  So I can schedule tweets through either software, but need to use Hootsuite to schedule for Facebook. 

Both pieces of software have URL shorteners to save time and space and both are free.  I learned about Twitjump, which is still in Beta, at the Utah Stompernet meetup and I asked around quite a bit before trying Hootsuite.

No matter which tools you use, if you don’t have a strategy, your social media campaign won’t be successful.  Ultimately, the goal is to get in front of you prospect, customer or client.  I read this article yesterday about a Tweetup in New Zealand -

I went to my first Tweetup on Friday night and had a ball. It was the first NZ National Tweetup and it was just fantastic. Over the past couple of months I have been developing relationships with some great people, and it was wonderful to meet so many of them face to face….and we had such fun!

For me, this was proof that Twitter is a fantastic tool for developing great relationships – personal and business.

That is the key to social media.  No Twitter tool, as great as it may be, is a substitute for actually connecting with people in real life.  If you’re looking for tools to help you on Twitter, I highly recommend Twitjump and Hootsuite.

Tags: ,

Trick or Tweet!

October 31, 2009 1 comment

PumpkinCarving-RavenHappy Halloween everybody!  As you can guess from the title today we’ll be talking about Twitter.

Twitter has gone through some major changes this week and I’m going to talk about how that effects SEO.

First, let’s talk about the Twitter “trick.”  There are people out there that don’t believe Twitter is a useful tool, let alone a useful business tool.  Consider this comment:

I tried twitter 8 months and found it to be nothing more than rss, but worse: mostly spam

so go ahead and hype it up some more, you are a sukker like other media who believe twitter is somehow great

Obviously this commenter wasn’t following the right people.  If I get spam, I unfollow.  If I get too much stuff, I unfollow.  Consider it an instant and trustworthy opt-out list.  If you try it, it’s easy to either stay subscribed or get out.

I’ll admit many people haven’t figured Twitter out yet and that includes businesses.  The question we have to ask is Twitter a gimmick and does it present a tangible return on investment (time).  Are we being tricked by using Twitter?

I don’t think so and I believe the events of this past week prove it.  First of all the announcement Bing would index Tweets was made.  The next day Google announced similar news along with a social search function.

While the experiment isn’t quite live yet, it would seem that from the video below made by Google’s Matt Cutts, Social Search, at least at first, will be able to include results from Twitter, FriendFeed, Picasa, Blogger, and Google Reader.

When I opened up Twitter this morning, I saw a new feature:  lists.  Lists aggregate like-minded content together and they’re searchable.

Twitter Lists are exciting because curation of dynamic sources is exciting. This is a particularly accessible way to do what syndication geeks have been thrilled by for years.

If none of this made sense to you, let me explain.  Twitter lists are like a digital news or feed reader.  You can create your own list to follow topics you’re interested in and categorize them.  Until now, this wasn’t possible with Twitter.  This feature will cause more people to adopt Twitter as an information tool and they’re searchable through Twitter and Google.

The impact to search engine optimization is simple.  If you’re not Twittering useful content, you won’t be found.  Use hashtags and your keywords in tweets and you will open up a new channel of potential clients and referrers.

I think this a great treat, Halloween or not.  If you’re a business, ignore Twitter at your own peril.

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