Category Archives: Hints & Tips

Charting the Social Media Landscape

Thanks for being part of the discussion on the business value of social media. I’ve put together an array of links to streamline your own tour of social media sites.

1) Facebook

The Facebook home and registration page:

Facebook demographics and statistics

My personal Facebook profile

“Retailers on Facebook”

Facebook Advertising start page

61 Hints & Tips for Using Facebook for Business

Facebook Basics for Your Business

“All Facebook”…”the unofficial Facebook blog”

2) Twitter

The Twitter home and registration page:

My personal Twitter profile:

“Search” on Twitter (just key in the word/s you wish to search)

What NOT to do on Twitter

3) LinkedIn

The LinkedIn home and registration page:

My professional profile on LinkedIn

News on LinkedIn adding apps

Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Ways of Using LinkedIn”

Slideshare (the “YouTube of PowerPoint presentations”)

4) Social Media Best Practices

The Obama Campaign & a Small Business commentary on it

Feel free to review my presentation deck on Slideshare.

5) Blogs showcased in the IFEC presentation

Bread and Honey

Cooking with Amy

Port Townsend Farmers Market Blog

Restaurant Marketing Blog

Please ask any questions in “Comments,” below…I would be happy to answer them or point you to sources that can.


Micro-Post: Adoptive Marketing

This post is simply the Blog equivalent of a “retweet”….

GoBigAlways” created an excellent post on REAL marketing. It’s such oh-duh thinking that it’s incredible how seldom the principals here into action.

Yes, I’ve used the “V” word…viral…not because I like it but because everyone knows what it means. But “Adoptive” is so much more aligned with what really should be happening when products are “marketed.”

“Marketed”….hmm, there’s another word that needs a rethink.

Read this:

Stay tuned for the next Twitter tip. It will be aligned with “adoptive” thinking.

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #7 & #8

Have you noticed a rise in business press exploring the benefits of using Twitter? Business Week just joined the wave of Twitter promoters with a recent blog post announcing “Why Twitter Matters:”

Businesses such as H&R Block (HRB) and Zappos are now using Twitter to respond to customer queries. Market researchers look to it to scope out minute-by-minute trends. Media groups are focusing on Twitterers as first-to-the-scene reporters. (They were on top of the May 12 China earthquake within minutes.) Loads of new applications and services are growing around the Twitter platform, leading some to suggest that the microblogging service could become a powerhouse in social media.

“Responding to customer queries” is part of it, as you already know if you’ve read tips #1 & #2, #3 & #4, and #5 & #6. But these next two tips focus on building visibility for the conversations you create on Twitter, so that you attract and keep “Followers”…people who choose to add your Updates to the stream that fills their Twitter Screen.

7. Open up and integrate your Twitter presence. When you are as committed to a Twitter presence as you are to a mobile number or an email address, then it’s time to get the word out.

Reference your Twitter profile link in your blog, email signatures, newsletters, biz cards, more—anywhere you’d include that phone number or email address. Add a Twitter badge to your page or blog (from Twitter’s directory of “how to” hints) so that visitors can follow you on Twitter.’s blog features a Twitter stream and “follow” button, and it has definitely generated followers. Remember, Twitter hasn’t quite yet broken out to the masses, so don’t give up if you don’t get tons of uptake.

Guy Kawasaki (follow him on Twitter) has written an in-depth post on his experiences with Twitter as a traffic driver. Recommended reading.

If you are committed to entering the social conversation, you want Twitter in your outreach and community-building efforts. Over time: “if you build it, they will come.”

8. Give more than you take. Offer information. Ask questions. Make offers. Be generous. Please don’t look at Twitter as yet another advertising platform. If you’re blasting, spamming, or overtly marketing, you will be “outed” by the collective, and you will lose followers. Beyond that, you’ll miss opportunity to build, and learn from, a Twitter community.

Watch some business Twitter mastery (a “Getting Started on Twitter” guide) in action here, once again from Zappos’ CEO. Note that he also is open about the list of Zappos employees who also Tweet and a few other juicy tidbits that are worth navigating through. How does this open up conversations and increase Zappos’ visibility…and credibility? What from this example might help your business begin a dialog with users, potential customers, and other people you can learn from?

Your Twitter activity will work best if it comes from a place of authentically wanting to communicate something that matters: your value to your users; tips and inspirations for using your product or service; a genuine desire to understand your customer community and deliver a relevant product or service to them.

Next: Twitter Tips for Business #9 & #10. Stay tuned!

MicroPost: … search = search

I was curious about Summize when I read a post about it in Mashable today, so I went over to play. Try it for yourself. It’s the nicest search I’ve seen for Twitter so far (I had been using TweetScan), mainly because you can click on to see threaded conversations…very helpful for remembering Tweets you exchanged over time…

Threaded conversation on

I searched on my own Twitter name, and found pages of results. It was helpful: I saw a few things that mentioned my name but hadn’t reached my “replies” box (“@” sign not at start of message). But that got me thinking: hmmm, could anyone search Summize and find out what I’ve been saying? Even if they didn’t follow me…or use Twitter?

So I tried it with the name of someone I know who uses Twitter, but is not connected to me either as a “Follower” or a “Following.” Summize showed me all of his Tweets.

Important to be aware of this as a privacy…what? Issue? Concern? I’ll just call it reality. In essence: your Tweets are public; anyone can search them on Summize. (Note: a Mashable editor correctly pointed out that Tweets can be found in Google searches as well…but the difference with Summize is that the whole “opus” of your Tweets, plus threaded conversations, can be searched in one place. The same is true with TweetScan—minus threaded conversations—and likely with other search apps. See Comments, below.)

EXCEPT: if you “protect your updates” (on Twitter’s Settings page) so that people have to request to follow you, and then be approved. This seems to put you behind a “wall” where your Tweets can’t be seen…

Summize, would there be value in having people sign in with their Twitter names/passwords, and make sure that they can only search on names that are actively Following or Followers?

People on Twitter: Tweet wisely, or set your privacy accordingly.

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #5 & #6

Two new Tips! New to this? Read Top Ten Twitter Tips and #1 & #2 or #3 & #4 Twitter Tips for Business…and you’ll be up to speed.

Two more tips for building conversations, community and momentum on Twitter.

5. One voice only. Choose one person to be in charge of your Twitter presence, agree to rules, and let them—and them alone—be the Tweeter. If more than one person is Tweeting for a business profile, things are going to get messy. Repetition, inconsistency will ensue; it will feel spammy and the messages will step on each other…and on followers. This is a one-person job.

As for WHO? Well…depends. CEO Tweeting rocks, but it has to be authentic and engaging, and the CEO has to be willing to listen as well as to talk. Product people will learn a great deal about the marketplace and products in it; Customer Support experts will establish great exchanges with customers.

Choosing who Tweets depends largely on your overall Twitter goals, but once you’ve decided: make sure it’s someone who is excited to do this (the passion and enjoyment will show), who can write correctly and well, and who is comfortable with the tech, naturally. And encourage others in the company to Tweet on their own, to follow and engage in conversation. It builds momentum, really.

Worried about time? Fear not: this can be managed. Although you can spend tons of time on Twitter (and may feel like you do when you first start) as you get to know the system you can visit in interstitial moments, much as you might with email. Most people say that they can manage a lot of Twittering in 30 minutes/day.

To help build value and understanding, have the Tweet-er capture relevant content and share Twitter progress with team on a regular basis.

5. Tweet often. If you’re going to do this, take it seriously. Show up. Daily, at least, but I recommend more than once daily. Since there’s some “serendipity” to Twitter—meaning you don’t know exactly who and what will be shaping the conversation when you show up—you broaden your exposure by dropping in frequently.

To start, plan on Tweeting several times each day. Post an update or two each time: links to on-site information, reports from the office, questions you’d like to see discussed. Wine guy Gary V has elevated this to art, while, even with a quieter voice, also succeeds in conversing. Spend a moment looking at the dialog (and Tweet) frequency; these are good guides.

Be sure to check and respond to your replies (“@”) and direct messages (see basic Twitter Tips) whenever you sign on.

Although you can set your preferences (under “Settings”) to have Twitter tell you when messages come in, and to remind you to update, my advice is that if you’re going to rely on this you’re not going to maximize the benefit of being on Twitter

OK. I hesitate to mention Tweetlater because it’s no proxy for live Tweeting…but it can be very handy for travel days, big announcements, time zone issues, etc. Tweetlater lets you pre-schedule Tweets so that they post to your Twitter profile at specific times. Do not use this to replace an ongoing Twitter presence…that’s spammy. You will learn much from checking in and listening to what’s going on; be sure that’s part of your plan. But Tweetlater (and others; Google “schedule Twitter”) will help you remain consistent and current when timing isn’t your friend.

Stay tuned: Tips #7 & #8 on their way.

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #3 & #4

Taking up from the first Two Top Twitter Tips…here are Tips #3 and #4.

3. Begin with the end in mind. Before you even Tweet your first “hello!!” consider what you want to accomplish on Twitter. Establishing a Twitter presence is as important as voicing your business over any media platform. Before you get started, brainstorm on objectives and decide what you want to achieve. Do you want to:

  • Identify and engage in conversation with a community of, say, developers? Or other partners?
  • Open up a dialog about how people are using products like yours (be sure to provide plenty of insight and info in return)?
  • Shout out to potential customers?
  • Be open, transparent and collaborative about the business you are building.
  • Or???

Each of these possibilities is achievable on Twitter, but each would require a unique approach and very different actions.

To attract customers, developers or other partners, search Twitter and TweetScan for key words, then check out some profiles, “Follow” and send requests to be followed back (see Ten Top Twitter Tips). Then, you might start sharing updates on what’s happening in-house: your dev process, insights to your platform or roadmap, links to related media or products. Put a passionate technical person, support team member, or exec (but only one, or it will get spammy!) out there and have them build a dialog. Look at how JetBlue does this. It’s awesome.

JetBlue\'s Twitter Profile Page

Business-to-business can work, too. (disclosure: I’ve done some work for them) Tweets well. So do big bloggers. Visit Mashable, TechCrunch, Technorati, VentureBeat, and SocialTimes and see how they do it. You’ll note different styles, but you’ll get a sense of what might work for you.

If you’re looking to build buzz and energy around a persona or product, keep your content fresh and lively: good enough that people wanted to share it—and they won’t with spam. Highlight milestones, meetings, news and ask your community to submit their own. Tell people how things are going with your work. Highlight use cases and showcase PR. Put an exec out there and build some buzz around that.

MCHammer does this well, working his celebrity, staying in touch with tech glitterati, and keeping DanceJam in the limelight while he’s at it.

Shouting out to potential customers would probably require you to offer online promotions and incentives, along with a call to share them virally. Zappos showcases this Twitter style.

Open, transparent, collaborative sharing? Go on with a slow, steady build in mind, and lots of ideas, question-asking, dialog about things related to your business objectives. I was looking for a good example of this, but then it hit me—this is how most people use Twitter. See for yourself: here’s my Twitter profile. Hang out for a while, ask questions, follow up on updates. You’ll get the feeling. It’s a great place for open dialog.

In summary: think about how you would want to talk with potential customers—and non-customers—if you showed up in a room full of users and prospects and had time to talk. What would you want to ask them, tell them, learn from them about how they would, or would not, use your product? Imagine that scenario shaping over time and use that as your objective as you step out on Twitter.

4. Integrating. If you’re committing to Twitter, treat it as you would a phone number or email address. Integrate it into whatever online and offline activities involve customer connection. Add your Twitter profile URL to your email signatures and put the URL on social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn; ask others who work with you to do the same. Integrate Twitter as a badge, a feed, or even to suggest a viral Tweet on your Web site in a way that lets your community know you’re there, and “Follow” if they wish.

Remember, you probably won’t get a huge following at first—but you’ll begin a process that will go with time, that might align you with some good partners and that will probably become a source of good information. Mention Twitter if you’re visiting customers or speaking at conferences; better yet, live Tweet from your mobile, as appropriate, when you’re in the spotlight, and ask others in the room to Tweet on your behalf. Add your Twitter profile URL to handouts or presentations and ask people to follow.

If you’re going to be on Twitter, use it to differentiate and to add value to your exchange with customers, partners, and the expanded community. With time, you’ll get the traction you’re looking for.

Next: Tips #5 & #6: “One Voice Only” and “Tweet Often.”

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #1 & #2

Tweeting–using Twitter–for business is really different than just plain Tweeting. Here’s why.

When I Tweet as me, I’m off duty. I’m in a room full of hand-picked, interesting people and we talk about everything—the multi-dimensional threads that build Twitter community. Example: Thomas. We met through work, but now connect on family, politics and personal interests, as well as what’s happening in the industry, when we cross paths on Twitter. Our Tweets have helped us become friends.

But when I Tweet for business, or guide clients to Twitter, it’s with a very different intention. The focus is on sharing information that matters—that’s relevant—to the person on the other side of the Tweet. “Relevant” is the key word. It’s all about them. For business, you have to Tweet the stuff that matters to your audience—that makes a difference in their lives, work, minds, or, ultimately, wallets.

The CEO of is a much-cited example of corporate Tweeting. But I also think that, a voice-to-Web startup (disclosure: I do some consulting for them) does a good job engaging in a Twitter-based business conversation. (Follow, if you’d like, to see it in action.)

IMHO, Tweeting for business only works you give more than you take. And if you’re patient. That can be hard for start-ups, because often, early-stage companies are limited in what they can openly communicate. It takes some creative thinking, and a real commitment, to engage in conversation, especially in a setting like Twitter.

To help businesses understand Twitter, I wrote Ten Top Twitter Tips for Business, building from the Ten “Regular” Twitter Tips also on this blog. But those Ten turned into Twelve, each with detail, and then into Fourteen…way too much information.

So I’m starting with Two Tips, designed to get you started exploring the potential Twitter offers to businesses to start open, transparent, collaborative conversations.

Take a look, and come back tomorrow. I’ll post two more. But starting things off:

1. Practice first. Set up a personal Twitter account and learn your way around. Invite friends. Gather a few followers and get to know the basics with them. Be sure to know what you’re doing before you connect with customers. You would be doing your business a disservice to build a following and not have your act together when you start Tweeting them. And continue Tweeting as “you,” even once your business Twitter plan is underway. You will learn so much. Master the tools, see how the conversation grows, and be Twitter-savvy before you start Tweeting for business.

2. COMMIT before you TWIT. As you know, every action you take as a business affects how your customers and community see you, experience you. Like any other business decision, your outcome on Twitter can only be as good as the process behind it. Building community on Twitter requires an investment of content, frequency and time.

If you’re looking at Twitter as a platform for business conversations, go in with a long-term commitment. I don’t think that anyone would tell you that the ROI will be predictable, conventionally measurable, or immediate. Blogger Nick O’Neill reports that there are on average 200,000 active daily users on Twitter … I have friends whose Facebook apps get more traffic than that.”

One pundit aptly described Twitter as “Web serendipity”…well said. You don’t go to Twitter for the raw numbers…at least not yet. You go for chance that you run into someone, pick up a story, learn of an opportunity that makes a difference…and that you would have missed otherwise. Keep this in mind as you plan how you will use Twitter, how you will define success, and how you will modify your plan as your Twitter presence evolves.’s Guide to Twitter for Business is worthwhile if you’re thinking of adding Twitter to your business mix. Read it, and click links to explore what’s possible in the Twittosphere. You’ll learn more about the surprising complexity (I mean that in a good way) on simple-seeming Twitter—and of the value of building a presence there.

Read the next two tips—on goal-oriented Tweeting and integrating Twitter online and offline—here.