Posts Tagged Online Communities

New Twitter… pretty cool

Today was the first day that I’ve been able to access the “New Twitter” layout and I am really liking it. There is much fanfare out there with people believing this move has been solely driven by Twitter’s need to generate an income from their much loved service.

For me, although it is a massive improvement on the old interface, I find it hard to see people moving away from using third party software such as Tweet Deck and Twhirl as a means of interacting with Twitter. The problem with using Twitter through a browser is that you’d need to keep an instant eye on it. Facebook didn’t have this problem as from the start it was a very image orientated social network.

Not every has been given access to the new Twitter just yet – but it’s definitely coming your way soon!

Here’s a screenshot of my Twitter Timeline:

New Twitter Timeline Screenshot
New Twitter Image

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The Twitter Distraction

A pie chart created in Excel 2007 showing the ...
Image via Wikipedia

It’s been just over a year now since I’ve been using Twitter as part of my daily routine. For the initial few months I was regularly updating Twitter with some interesting and some not so interesting tweets.I would set aside at least 15 mins a day to network with people on Twitter or at least post about an article I’ve found or written.

Now however, things have changed quite drastically. I can’t remember the last time I posted a decent tweet or one at all! I know it was sometime last week and it was more of a demonstration to a client as to the power of posting a link on Twitter. Although I want to tweet, I’m increasingly finding it hard to find the time or the will to post something on Twitter. It’s not that I don’t believe in the hype surrounding Twitter, it’s more that I don’t have the time to work at networking through this medium. Sometimes it’s just easier to ring someone and ask them to go for a coffee rather than spend time looking for an opportunity to network with people you know, whether that’s through Facebook, Twitter or any other social network.

Clearly, I’m not the only one feeling this way. In October 2009, the Irish Twitter community was devasted when it appeared that the much loved (and hated) Damien Mulley was no longer using Twitter. How could this be? they asked… One of the most respected online marketing experts in the country had simply given up on Twitter and disappeared into oblivion. It didn’t help of course when he didn’t post on his blog for weeks either. But the reality was, that this wasn’t really the case as he explains on his blog (read here). Damien brings up other things such as privacy in his post which opens up another a whole new can of worms. It’s sad to think that someone can’t just disappear for a couple of says because of their popularity on Twitter!

I read James Forbairts blog today, who too has decided to take a look at the time he spends on Twitter. He takes a more frightening reality on how much time he has “wasted” on Twitter over the past couple of years (read here). To see the amount of time he has spent on Twitter really begs the question as to how worthwhile it really is.

The biggest problem with Twitter is, like every other form of networking, it’s extremely difficult to quantify the value of the work you put into it. One thing is for definite, you will get some sort of return. The problem is you just don’t know how much of it was worth it.

It’s so easy to get distracted by Twitter – I personally use Twhirl to receive all the tweets from people I am following. Most of the time, I completely ignore the pop up messages that appear on my screen each time Twhirl collects the latest tweets for me. But every now and again something does grab my attention and I’m hooked.

Has it been worthwhile for my business – well I guess so, I have got work from it. All of us in business network so people get to know us and hopefully recommend us to someone when they encountered someone looking for our services. The more people you know, the more people are promoting your business and vice versa. Was my conversion ratio high? Not at all, the reality is I’m probably in minus figures at this stage! But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t me in the long run.

Twitter has now become more spammy than email in terms of my inbox. Most spam emails to my account are filtered out before they even reach my inbox, but the new 5 odd followers my account gets a day go straight into my inbox! Out of courtesy I check out these peoples profiles. The majority are spammers.

Does this mean Tom Doyle now thinks Twitter is dead? Not at all – it’s a new medium and I need to understand it more to enable me to get the most out of it. You need to find the right strategy for your business in order to maximise it’s capabilities. There are numerous examples of how Twitter can help a business promote themselves or “engage” with their clients. But on the flip-side – you can see how quickly people will begin to bore with it.

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What’s the Buzz with Google Buzz??

Google have yet again started rolling out a new application with stealth for the last couple of days. Users of Gmail are gradually being presented with a new screen when they login to Gmail. Rather than being brought directly to their inbox, they are shown a page promoting their new “Buzz” service. “No sign up required” the message happily proclaims.

But what is it and why would I want it?

Basically, Google Buzz is Google’s take on a Twitter styled system. I guess you could say it has everything that Twitter doesn’t. Do we really need another system like this? I’d have to say no, but it is a great way to get people engaging online. For example, Facebook brought in a similar system last year and it’s use grew substantially. Twitter still lags way behind Facebook in terms of users, but it’s simple system is appealing to a lot of people. People new to Twitter will probably feel that Google is trying to rip off Facebook, but that is not the case.

So where does this leave Twitter? For months there were rumours that Google was on the verge of buying Twitter – but it never it just never materialised. Most people within the online community expected it as a fact, rather than something that was about to happen. Personally, I can’t see Google buying Twitter now that it has built it’s own system that is very similar (or a complete rip!) with a lot more features.

It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on Twitter if any at all! One things for sure, Twitter will have to start working extra hard at trying to build a revenue model for the site as it doesn’t look like anyone will be interested in buying them now… unless of course Microsoft want a piece of this! :)

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Facebook gets tough on promotions and competitions

Facebook announced changes to their Facebook Promotion Guidelines last week, which are likely to affect a lot of businesses currently using Facebook to promote their brand. If you’re planning on running a Facebook promotional campaign in the near future – make sure you read the new guidelines thoroughly.

The new rules state that you ;

  • Cannot run a competition without prior consent from Facebook
  • Cannot run a competition where entry is based on becoming a fan of the business’s Facebook page
  • Cannot run a competition where entry is based on posting a message on Facebook. whether status update or comment
  • Cannot notify winners of the competition through a Facebook message, chat or posts
  • Cannot request that people sign up for a Facebook account in order to enter a competition
  • Must include the following note (or similar):
    “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. You understand that you are providing your information to [recipient(s) of information] and not to Facebook. The information you provide will only be used for [disclose any way that you plan to use the user’s information].”

This is just a taste of what the new guidelines include, you can see the full set of guidelines here http://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php.

From the list above, you can quite clearly see that running a small competition on Facebook isn’t as simple as it used to be. How many businesses that will adhere to these new rules is yet to be seen, but I’m quite sure a lot will have second thoughts about a campaign. In fact most of the business pages I know of, would quite regularly be in breach of these guidelines. It’s hard to see any of these companies adhering to these guidelines, they’d probably just stop using Facebook for running these competitions entirely.

Looking into the guidelines in detail, it looks as though the Facebook are really only trying to protect themselves rather than stiffle the huge surge in businesses using Facebook to promote their brand. I can only imagine what kind of emails they are getting from Facebook fans who wrongly assume that Facebook themselves are in some way related to the running of these competitions and promotions.

It will be interesting to see how many businesses adhere correctly to these new rules and more interestingly, what will happen those that don’t.

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Facebook for Business

Facebook, Inc.
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There was a time when everyone believed that having a blog was one of the most critical elements to web success. In fact even today, I still have clients who have been informed by “buzzword driven web experts” that they must have a blog or else they are doomed to failure.

The problem with this was that a lot of businesses, for one reason or another, just aren’t suited to having a blog. Many businesses have only now realised that after many hours of painstakingly hard work, trying to create relevant and unique content on a regular basis is a lot harder than they first thought or were lead to believe. Never-mind the fact that they probably never once saw even a small return for all this hard-work they had endured. And just when all the “buzzword driven web experts” had convinced you to get a blog, they now have a brand new buzzword for you… Roll up “Social Media Marketing“…

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of Social Media Marketing, but yet again I see more and more businesses who want a Facebook or Twitter presence without even understanding how they should engage with this new medium. And that’s exactly what it is, a new medium. Therefore nothing is proven just yet, but it’s clear from others success that Social Media Marketing with sites like Facebook and Twitter is a simple and cost effective way of marketing your business online.

So, how do you get on this Social Media Marketing train? Well why not let’s start with Facebook. Facebook has over 1 million users in Ireland now, so it’s very likely that many of your customers have a Facebook page or at least know someone who does. That fact alone is enough to make me believe it is a medium you simply can’t ignore!

To get you started, here are my top tips for getting your Facebook for Business strategy up and running:

  1. Create Your Business Profile Fan Page
    Even if you haven’t decided what you plan to do with your Facebook campaign just yet, get your business profile page up there as soon as possible. If you have a Facebook account already, it’s pretty simple go here http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and follow the instructions.If you are new to Facebook, it’s probably best to familiarise yourself with how it works and how you engage with other users. Sign up for a personal account and start adding your friends. Follow other businesses so you can see what their Facebook strategy is.One key point to remember is that you should NOT use your personal profile for your business. You should only use “Pages” for business  and “Profiles” for personal use.

  2. Claim Your Vanity URL
    A vanity URL is a Facebook website address with your name attached to the end, for example, our business vanity URL is www.facebook.com/2bscene. The sooner you can claim your “vanity URL” the better to protect your brand. Irish business will need 25 fans of your business fan page before they can obtain theirs. To gain your first 25 followers why not ask all your “friends” from your personal Facebook profile?  

  3. Synchronise with Twitter
    If you already have a Twitter account, you can synchronise your posts with Facebook. You can do this both ways, for example, if you post a message on Twitter, it can automatically appear on your Facebook fan page and vice-versa. Personally I would suggest the latter. Facebook is a lot more personal than Twitter. Twitter is a public networking medium, whereas Facebook is very much a personal circle of friends network. The last thing a Facebook user wants is their Facebook homepage to be bombarded with messages from your Twitter account.

  4. Include Links to Your Profile Where-ever You Can!
    Fairly self explanatory. If you want people to know about your business profile page… tell them!! You should include links on your website, blog and even email signatures!

  5. Engage!!!
    Like every other Social Media Marketing option, it’s all about engaging and socialising with your fans or followers. If you can think of your Social Media Marketing profile as one big networking event. Talk to people, ask questions, respond to their questions, give free advice etc etc. But again, be careful at how many updates you post. Try keep your interactions to a reasonable level, maybe one or two interesting posts a day.

There are certainly many businesses that are much better suited to Facebook than others – but with enough thought and planning you should be able to find an angle that suits your business best.

To give you an idea of how others are using their business pages to great effect, I have put together a list of some good ones below:

  1. Ben & Jerry’s
  2. Pizza Hut
  3. Victoria’s Secret
  4. iTunes
  5. Starbucks

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