Archive for November, 2009

… I choose to pay less attention to those who get noisier and add less value to my day.

In the past, I’ve said that the thing I love most about the internet is the ability to create my own experience, like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel.  I can follow those I want to keep up with on Twitter, I can create my own daily paper of blogposts with feedly, I can hide the game playing updates from certain applications on Facebook… my experience online really is a direct result of the effort I put into personalizing it and creating value for myself from the content produced by others.

With Twitter specifically, tools like Tweetdeck allow me to further segment the people I follow and weed out tweets I’m not particularly fond of hearing much about.   I use the Groups feature to segment those I’m following into topics.  For example, I’ve got a group for “core” which are those I correspond with regularly, “social media” for users who typically talk about social media, a couple of search columns to keep tabs on specific hashtags and topics, and then the usual @replies and DMs columns.

Customizing the users in each of these columns is an ongoing task to keep them relevant.  I’m always adding and subtracting people from these without turning them off completely.  So when all of their recent tweets are updates from FourSquare… well, that’s not really why I’m on Twitter.  That adds no value to me.  And so I change the direction of my adventure… actually I keep it more on track to the information I want to know about, but tuning such users out of my main view.

There are so many different ways to use such tools, and so many different goals that people have.  So with that, I think in order to get the most out of any of these platforms, it’s important that we each define how it is we want to use them, what we expect to gain from them and how much effort we’re each willing to put in to get the outcome we want.

What do you think?  Have you attempted to customize your online experience?  What rules do you participate by?

Brian Solis tells us in his post  “Guess how many tweets fly across Twitter each day” that

According to new data from Pingdom, Twitter users are averaging 27.3 million tweets per day with an annual run rate of 10 billion tweets.

So with 27.3 million tweets per day, how much of an impact can one of your tweets have?  I mean really.  27.3 million.. and you put out even 10 tweets a day, that’s like 0.000037% of the content on Twitter in a day.  And tweeting 10 times for many people is alot.  But what if you’ve got 301 people following you?  All of a sudden, your world is a whole lot smaller.  Hubspot says the average number of tweets per day per user is 4.422.  So if you’ve got a community following you of 301 people and we assume that they see the average number of tweets from the people that they follow, there are 1,331 tweets a day for them to read.  Now you’re 0.07% of what they see at 10 tweets a day.  It still doesn’t seem like a lot, does it?

I’m going to make some assumptions here based on my own behaviour on Twitter.  Let’s assume that out of the 400 people you follow, you actually only pay attention to about 20-30 people on a regular basis.  This happens in any crowd, you’ll naturally tend to draw a few people who pay more attention to you than the masses.  To the masses, your tweet probably isn’t that important.  But to the few who follow what you say more closely, your tweets are everything.  Knowing who these people are is important, it’s identifying your influencers, your torch carriers.  And if they don’t like what you say, I can bet you’ll lose them over time.  And online, that time can happen fairly quickly.

How important are your torch bearers?  I’m not sure.  That depends on you and your goals.  It depends on where you want to take yourself.  The influencers you have today may not be the correct ones.  If this is indeed the fact, spend some time changing your voice and your message.  Decide on who it is you want to build closer ties with and then talk like them, because if the internet has proven anything to us, it’s that like will always find like.

Take a good look at your objective with Twitter.  Is your purpose to self promote?  Is it to add value and share information?  How do you want to be seen?  Do you toot your own horn a lot?  Or are you more subtle and let your good work speak for itself?  Think a little bit about these things as your looking at your network and your tweeting habits.  In a world where all many people have to go on are the updates and information you share via platforms like Twitter… Are they helping you?  Or are they hindering you?

Social tools provide me with insight into the people that use them.  Being able to connect with a musician I have been following for over a decade via his blog, Twitter, etc. is something most of us would never have experienced before.  I appreciate the added layer to the guy behind the music.  It’s an opportunity to gain some insight into how he thinks and what he cares about, which to me adds so much more depth and meaning to what he creates.  This is also the approach I take when reading blogs from those I follow in social media, and friends and acquaintances I keep up with along the way.  Having insight and being able to converse on their blogs, Facebook pages, through conversation on Twitter… it makes my experience with these people more meaningful.  But where I use it to create value in my own life, there are those that choose to be destructive in their interactions.

I just read this post from Matt Good’s blog called “Trying to Pull Chairs Out of the Floor.”

I’m disgusted (though not surprised) that anyone would use the opportunity and direct links to others that current communication technologies allow us so ridiculously.  This has been on my mind as of late with a myriad of conversations I’ve been seeing, the post above is just adding to a long list.  Why does the fact that we can now say whatever we want, to whoever we want, whenever we want  mean that we get to neglect the fact that the people we are talking to are people too?  The social web is becoming more human, and yet it’s making us less so.

Seriously people, there’s constructive feedback, there’s making quality connections and then there’s being dumb and insensitive.  A lot of which is coming out on these tools.  It’s easy to get sucked into this kind of behaviour, so this next bit is as much a reminder for me as it is for you:

Quit taking something good and turning it into your playground for petty games and grade school politics.  It’s your opportunity to impact somebody directly.  The impacts of what you put out there are hard to measure.  We don’t know how far our actions and words can reach, but the web today takes everything… EVERYTHING… and amplifies it by at least a thousand times..  So if your one of these berating fans, or engage in these petty childish games I keep seeing, do the rest of the world a favour… grow up and be accountable or just shut your mouth.

When I think “summit”, I think people of like minds coming together to discuss important issues.  Like the G8 Summit.  And when I think innovation, I think of new, creative and earth shattering ways of doing things.  So, if I were attending the Calgary Social Media Innovation Summit with no knowledge of how others in Calgary currently use the web and social tools, I would think I’d be going to take part in a day of discussion and brainstorming of ways we could change the world (or at least Calgary) using social media and the web.

However, I know folks in #yyc don’t use the web as much as they could.  They’re starting too, but we’re just not there yet.  And so there is some ground work to be done.  Ground work that I think SMIS took a good first step towards covering.

The day was sponsored and hosted by West17Media.  It was introduced as a new company, being only a couple of months old.  Really it’s the team that is new, not the company.  Roger Kondrat’s LinkedIn profile says West17′s been around since April, 1998.

The speakers and panel members consisted of: Roger KondratBrian Singh, Lyn Cadence and Manoj Jasra,  all local professionals.  Great approach! A social media conference that was for Calgary people, by Calgary people.  People that are around in days and weeks ahead helping to shape the web and social media scene here.  People who have a finger on what’s going on, what various industries are doing, what other people are like here and thus have a unique perspective and insight to lend to the rest of us.  I think we’re lucky to have talent and expertise in our midst that we can draw on now and going forward.

The day was full of nuggets of information for different levels, for me the greatest take aways are as follows:

  1. Business has a long way to come.  Many departments/efforts operate in silos.  To truly leverage the “power of social media,” companies need to look at ways to work these tools into all levels of their organization.  Roger talked a lot about the marketing mix and and integrated marketing strategy.  I think it needs to go beyond the marketing department.  An effective web strategy would have components worked into communications plans, marketing plans, sales plans, IT plans, everywhere.
  2. Stats can tell you a lot.  Look at general trends and specific trends to drive your web plans.  Many people don’t trust the Senior Management of a company, but will trust front line employees. (look to Brian Singh if you want some specific numbers).  If this is the case, should your CEO be tweeting?  Or should your customer service reps be involved?
  3. Objectives, objectives, objectives.  How can you measure success if you don’t know what it is you want to measure?  Set your goals and decide how you are going to measure success before you start in on an initiative.  ROI was a big topic and there’s not one answer there.  But if you know you want to measure conversion on your website, for example, have some benchmarking numbers available before you start to show the impact of your efforts on the end product.
  4. There are many different tools out there to help internet users find your information.  Social media tools don’t necessarily need to be about conversation (yes, I’m actually saying this!).  Having a forum to connect and engage your current and future customers is important, but how can you have a conversation with them if you can’t find them or if they can’t find you?  Using tools like Pitch Engine and deploying more SEO tactics to increase your chances of being found are just as important as transparency and conversation.
  5. SEO (search engine optimization) is no longer just about links.  You’ve heard that before, right?  Yep.  Me too.  But it’s becoming increasingly important to concentrate on your core materials – like your website design and your content, your social presence on the web, your branding and your image, your use of video, images, blogs, networks, etc. to increase your overall search ranking.  The basics are still important, but you cannot bluff your way to the top, nor can you clone someone else’s SEO work.  There are just too many factors to attempt to replicate.  It really is an art.
  6. The real time web.  The closing topic was an interesting one.  Thinking about the real time web and exactly what it can tell us.  The aspect here was, again, from a marketing perspective, but truly, what can real time tell us?  Google is doing some interesting things with H1N1 search trends.  It is able to see a rise in flu symptoms as it happens, potentially being able to predict an outbreak.  They’ve compared their search data with  CDC data and the spikes match.  Except Google is real time and CDC is 2 weeks behind.

All in all, it was a day well spent and I look forward to the 2nd ‘annual’ SMIS.  If you weren’t able to attend the conference today, I encourage you to watch the video footage once it comes out, and start questioning how your company can be using the web to increase value for their business and for their customers.