Posts Tagged ‘social networking’

When you become an expert adventurer (oh snap… am I claiming to have expertise on a subject? Sure am!), having everything served up to you on a silver platter by way of online recommendations gets a little stale. I miss the surprise injections of ideas and stimuli from parties outside my social circles. Surfing through Facebook, flipping through photos on Instagram, aimlessly watching Twitter feeds waiting for something interesting to pop out and catch my eye… in moments, most of my connections seem to be talking about the same topic, taking photos of the same subject matter and so on. My only saving grace is the odd witty caption, joke or sarcastic remark from a few people who are known for such. I’m understanding why many of you only chose to follow a dozen or so highly entertaining people.

My world is about digging up what others know little about. And while online tools still help me do this, it’s now become more like rummaging through the piles that most people would pass by in order to find those little golden nuggets. What I once loved about the interwebs was that most of it was unknown. We were still pioneering it. And it was a haven from the relatively ridiculous and mundane  behaviours that had taken over things like email (Forward this to 15 people on your list or you’ll have bad sex for a year!). Now it’s getting to a point where it’s becoming a civilized place to live. We’re appointing sheriffs and local law enforcement to keep the peace so we can all co-exist. But in that, if it means tolerating the overwhelmingly useless dribble or spending hours putting the right filters into place to weed it out… quite frankly, I think I’d rather just go elsewhere.

It turns out, elsewhere is “offline.” What? Seriously… hitting the streets, walking through doors I’ve never opened without having looked it up online, picking up books to read based solely on the cover (or off the recommendation of the staff in the bookstore who can’t ever shut up about the last insane book they read)… yes, finding the real nerds. Social networks are making the world too big. And when it gets too big, it loses its value for me. It’s harder to connect, harder to have genuinely interesting conversations. So, see you later interwebs. I’ll be back to use you for writing and publishing and the sort, but as far as supporting my adventuring pastimes, you just aren’t bringing me what I need. Expect an exodus of the nerds in the coming months. Surely, I’m not the only one feeling this way.

I’ve been around the interwebs a long time. And I’ve seen my fair share of behaviour. I’ve been caught up in the rantings of internet trolls, excited by extreme uses of social sites, overwhelmed by trying to keep up with as much as I can… and I’ve come out the other end with sanity restored. If you’re still trying to get there, here are some tips that might help:

1. DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. This is the most important for maintaining sanity. Internet trolls just seem to like to provoke people. How do you recognize them? Easy. They complain. You try and make them happy. They complain more. The cycle continues and you end up nowhere. Break the cycle. Respond once in the same forum they have. Move on.

2. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Make a social media editorial schedule (a tip I picked up from Matt Clark, @itstrue). Follow it as consistently as you can. If it takes you more than an hour to fill it out, you’re taking too much time. Schedule less tweets until you become more proficient. Speaking of scheduling, auto-schedule your tweets and updates (I use Hootsuite)! Just fill the in-between with real conversation.

3. Use the social media rule of thirds. Post one-third content from other people, one-third that’s on topic for you and one-third that’s personal.

4. Lists are your friends. Make topical lists on Twitter wherever you can. Check in on the important ones once a week and comment to people you’d like to connect more with. Don’t worry about everyone else.

5. Be selective about your interactions. Don’t worry about being everyone’s best friend. They don’t want or need you to be. Keep your focus on what you think is relevant and chances are you’ll attract similar minded people.. thus making you relevant either way. Nay-sayers? See point number 1.

6. Quality over quantity, my friend. Always. Don’t have time to spend a quality 10 minutes getting the most out of your time online? Don’t. I’m an advocate about doing as much as you can yourself, but if you must, hire somebody else to get you started. Social media and online marketing are supportive mediums. They’re also amplifiers. Positive word of mouth gets around online. So does the negative. Make sure you’ve got a solid foundation and processes to work from. Then dive in to telling everyone about it.

7. Take a day off, or a week. The interwebs will still be there when you get back. I promise. And it really won’t take you as long as you think to get back in the swing of things. Double promise.

8. Stay realistic about your expectations, whether of online results or of people. Be clear. Be direct. Be confident enough to ask for what you want. If we don’t see your one update about something, it’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we’re busy people too.

9. Set loose goals. Yep, loose. And change them often to suit your needs. The goal is progress, not perfection. Can’t keep up with 10 updates a day? Bring it down to 5. Not sure what your goals should be? Don’t let that stop you, if you’ve got the time, experiment. Sure you’ll make mistakes, but if people stop talking about social media catastrophes like BP (not to make light of the actual environmental catastrophe preceding it), surely they won’t remember yours.

10. DON’T FEED THE TROLLS. Right, I said that one already, but it’s the most important point! For real, that’ll save you hours.

You’re welcome!

Bonus: When writing blog posts, never publish your first draft without rereading several hours later, or even better, the next day. (Caveat: Unless you’re at least halfway through a bottle of wine).

If you’ve had any contact with social media, any at all, you should know that one of the main reasons for being online is to find your influencers. Those people who care about you, your brand and everything you stand for. Finding them in the past hasn’t been easy, and it’s definitely been time-consuming. Almost to the point that it may not have seemed worthwhile to put that much time and effort into it. But now… now! My goodness, now, finding your influencers is as easy as spending a few minutes a day participating in conversations, spreading information and just all-round caring about what your friends and followers are up to.

As of July, 2010, Master Maq reported that there were 10,501 local Twitter users in Calgary. I’m not sure what the number is a year later (that was the last report I found on his blog). I’d be surprised if it had more than doubled. Even less than that amount of Twitter users are real information contributors. Many of you folks sit out there lurking, just waiting for the rest of us to entertain you. But that’s not to say you aren’t watching.

Awhile back, waaaaay back to November, 2010 (if you can remember that far) there was a panel at Third Tuesday about last year’s civic election. One of the panel members (forgive for not remembering his name) asked the audience members how many of them were on Twitter. Once those in the room with accounts raised their hands, he proceeded to call them (us) all weird. But it’s true. We are a weird bunch. Not weird like you’d expect to encounter at a sci-fi conference, but weird in the fact that we’re so plugged in, so hyper-engaged. It’s this characteristic that makes Twitter a hotbed of influencers. People who want to be in the know right now.

Last month, I sent a question out into the Twittersphere asking how many people shared information with their offline networks that they heard about through one of their social networks. Nearly everyone who responded (granted, this was only a dozen or so) said they shared information with offline friends frequently. All respondents I knew to also have relatively large offline networks. In other words, they are just as plugged into the “real world” as they are to the online one.

Have you ever heard of the 1/9/90 rule? The gist is that for every 1 person that posts content online, there are 9 people interacting with that post and 90 people watching and reading what’s going on. There’s no timeframe for those eyeballs mind you. So in a real-time environment like Twitter, we can’t count on followers alone for an exact measure of reach. In fact, we can’t count impressions at all, merely the potential reach. That number would be astronomically large, so even predicting a reach of 10% of that number is impressive. If you’re repeating the message, well, compounded tweets will make it around eventually. And remember, it’s not a passive medium, like reading a newspaper or magazine. It’s an active one where people are having dialogues and conversing about everything from where they’re going for lunch to local and international themes and events.

I’ve said many times before that Twitter is the most valuable social networking tool I’ve found to date. For those of you who balk at its use (whether for B2C or B2B business use, promotional or personal), it’s a sure tell you don’t understand the medium, nor do you seem to want to. On this point, please accept my condolences on all of your missed opportunities. We shall continue to reap the benefits of our active little circle without you. But for any of you still curious about what the Twittersphere may hold for you, jump on in! The water’s fine.

Hire professionals who are social media savvy.  The gold in using social tools doesn’t come from one person in marketing or communications running your Facebook page and your Twitter account, it comes from the people within your company who are able to build on and leverage the knowledge and relationships in their own networks and in their own fields.  

Killer Whale jumping

Image by milan.boers via Flickr

 

Make social media a desirable skill for people to have on their resume, not a position to be filled. One person is not going to get very far.  Influence and the web are built on incremental transactions.  Imagine how much splash your entire organization (or even a handful of them that are interested in doing so) can make in comparison to one or two people trying to keep things afloat.  

If you are going to hire a social media professional, hire them with the goal of teaching and inspiring the rest of the organization on potential uses of social tools in their specific day-to-day operations.  Otherwise, hire those who network well online, have a desire to continue doing so, and enable them to bring this skill into full play.  With the experts in each department tending to their own knowledge base, imagine how much farther your company reach will be then.  

If you’re using Twitter to build a network you may want to head on over to Robert Scoble’s blog and have a look.  He’s got an interview up with Twitter user @rays who’s account was suspended for no obvious reasons (check the updates in Scoble’s post, they tell him why eventually – just not before they disable his Twitter access without telling him).  Scoble brings up some important points about business accountability and transparency (or lack there of) of sites like Facebook and Twitter, namely with regards to deleting user accounts.  According to Scoble, they make three mistakes:

  1. They don’t email you to tell you why your account is being suspended or deleted before they do it;
  2. They don’t let you appeal the suspension before it occurs, nor do they tell you what the process to appeal their decision is or how long it will take;
  3. They assume you’re guilty until proven innocent.

If you’ve got about 17 minutes, go check out the video on Scoble’s blog on his post: The Twitter Death Sentence.