Social Media

How to: Get Started in Social Media for Small Business

I was so excited that SCVNGR invited oneforty to be a part of its small business social media summer school series. On June 27, I stopped over to SCVNGR’s (very cool) offices to talk about tips for getting started in social.

Here are my slides, as well as a little cheat sheet of tactics and resources that I handed out. Feel free to pass along to clients, your aunt with a coffee shop, etc etc. Whoever you think would find social media 101 tips to be helpful.

Something I said toward the beginning of my talk was that even though there are so many platforms to participate in and tools to choose from, there are universal things you’ll need to do on each platform no matter what. So, my message was to just understand these ideas, and that way no matter what platform you’re thinking of participating in, you’ll know how to approach them.

These ideas include:

1. Claim your page on that platform – Complete all the information, and represent your brand. (I used the analogy of, you wouldn’t walk into high school first day without your shoes on. You shouldn’t step out into social media that way either.)

2. Listen & Respond – Chances are, people are already talking about you on social media. First and foremost, set up searches so you can find these mentions and respond to these people, whether they are saying positive or negative things. This applies whether you’re monitoring FourSquare checkins or Twitter mentions.

3. Be Genuine – A first-person, human voice works best. Some brands’ styles are more casual and others are more formal, but either way people like to know that it’s a real human behind the logo-avatar. That’s how you build relationships and make the most of social media.

Here’s the information:

How To Successfully Grow Your Startup

As you might already know by now, if you are familiar with the feel of my web site, I am passionate and highly interested by everything that involved startup management and development, and continuous business marketing improvement, to keep it short and sweet. I also enjoy everything in between and I always find this field extremely challenging, but at the same time, amazingly fulfilling and engaging. So today I decided to share with you some interesting views on how to grow your startup, no matter what field you might be involved in – but while putting the emphasis on the development of a startup moving company.     

 

Use Social Media And Web Analytics To Reach Your Goals

 

It might sound complicated and costly; but the results are remarkably satisfying and they are definitely worth every penny and every ounce of sweat. Start by hiring a specialist to do the job for you if you are clueless when it comes to the meaning of in-bound links. Use press releases to make your moving company’s services and competitive prices known, seen, heard and spoke of. Do everything in your power to promote your business. Take a look at your Facebook page or Twitter account. Does your business eve have those? You need to keep u with everything and everyone around you if you want to obtain your much-dreamed growth. Focus on the amount of time you are spending on your communication sessions with your clients, whether they are older clients you have catered to, current client looking for extra information on your offers and services, or potential prospects looking to see if you are a perfect match. Offer promotional links or nice discount deals; as a startup company, you are probably going to want to do everything in your power to earn people trust and providing them with top quality services on a market drenched in superior services is simply not enough. Folks love to lay their hands on some nice discounts and special offers, so make sure you tweet about all of these and focus on creating special Facebook and other social media platform campaigns that can attract large crowds.   

 

Analyze This… And That, And Everything In Between

 

Use Google Analytics and other similar tools to figure out if the visitors of your homepage solely choose to stick on that home page alone, never visiting the rest of your site. This is always bad for business, because it means you have noting interesting or appealing enough to provide them with something that can capture their attention. Look at the bounce rate and if you discover it is larger than 60 percent, you, my friend, are up for some problems. As long as you know for a fact that you have chosen the right type of keywords for your site, the issue of your homepage remains, and you will need to fix it soon. See if your homepage has the professional look people are looking forward to discovering, if it yells “trust us!” and if its content is updates, readable, attractive, and compelling enough, or if it simply confuses visitors who choose to leave.

 

For instance, speak about the full Oasis Moving and Storage array of services provided by this movers, offer quotations, information on all the detailed moving and storing options and ensure extra clicks on the site. 

How Social Media Pros Can Help Find Missing People

The search for missing IU student Lauren Spierer has spread across social media like wildfire. From a Twitter feed, @NewsOnLaurenS to a Facebook page, find.lauren, thousands have taken interest in her case.

We talk about social media ROI and ponder the business results from engaging with customers and pushing out content on Twitter and Facebook. You can explore the same questions of the social media efforts for Lauren and other missing persons cases. Can 38,000 + likes on the Find Lauren Facebook page lead to information beneficial to her case? What is the outcome of getting country star Miranda Lambert to Tweet with the #FindLauren hashtag? The social media efforts seem to have generated even more media coverage for her case, which is potentially helpful.

I’ve seen more and more instances where families and friends use social media to get the word out about missing people. I would like to see “social media people” like myself get involved. I think we can use our online presences to help find missing people, spreading Amber Alerts and news about missing people in a way that meets these responsible/practical qualifications:

1) It engages the right people, increasing the liklihood for RT’s and therefore actually being helpful.

2) Isn’t spamming one’s network with constant updates, maintaining the personal brands you’ve built and not reflecting poorly on the companies you work for…enabling you to maintain that presence that offers you a platform to be helpful with.

1. Learn the Types of Alerts

Amber AlertsAmber Alerts are coordinated by the US Department of Justice. They are a partnership between law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, the wireless industry and the transportation industry to release urgent information to alert the community of missing or abducted people 17 years old and younger. All 50 states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands use Amber Alerts. Over 500 children have been saved since this program began.

More information about Amber Alerts

Amber Alerts on Twitter

Amber Alerts on Facebook

Get Amber Alerts sent to your phone via SMS

Silver AlertsSilver Alerts are like Amber Alerts for seniors with dementia or people over the age of 17 with other cognitive disorders. They are not shared on Twitter in real-time (yet…) but you can learn more about the efforts to get Silver Alerts in all 50 states by following @silveralertbill. Currently 28 states offer Silver Alerts or similar programs.

More information about Silver Alerts

2. Identify the Location of Your Followers

Find out where the majority of your Twitter followers live. It’s not that missing people in your state are more important than ones who aren’t, but time is of the essence in the search for a missing person, especially with Amber Alerts. Seventy-four percent of children who are murdered by their kidnappers are killed within three hours of being taken. My thinking is this: If  you focus on broadcasting messages (like Amber Alerts) that are more targeted to your followers by location, you are more likely to actually put those Tweets in front of a person who is in the area where that person went missing and therefore could be able to help.

Plus, as we know with Twitter, your Tweets will be more effective and more likely to be ReTweeted if they are relevant to your followers.

Using SocialBro, you can run a quick analysis of your Twitter followers to see where they are located. I live in Boston, and most of my followers are also in Boston. I do have a lot of people in Upstate, NY as well. (That’s where I’m from.)

According to SocialBro, most of my Twitter followers are in the Boston, MA area.

2. Subscribe to Missing Persons Information For Your State

Twitter

@OurMissingKids is run by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). It shares information about missing children and endangered runaways. They use the hashtags #missing and #haveyouseenme for each one.

Subscribe to a Twilert for (where most of your followers are located) your state’s abbreviation and the hashtag #haveyouseenme. (It’s less cluttered than #missing.)

Create a Twilert for #haveyouseenme and your state's initials.

ReTweet if you receive one for your state.

@Amber_Alerts is the official Twitter account for Amber Alerts and this is where they share Amber Alerts in real-time. Use Twitter’s advanced search to subscribe to an RSS of “AMBER ALERT”, your state’s abbreviation.

Search for "Amber Alert", your state's initials. Using NC as an example of query with current results.

Facebook

Amber Alerts now offer Facebook pages for all 50 states, DC, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Find your state’s Amber Alerts page here.

A feed of active Amber Alerts targeted by state is what’s planned for these pages, although I haven’t seen posts quite yet.

The notifications might not make your main newsfeed with all the other clutter that Facebook has to offer, but you can subscribe via RSS to your page’s updates so you don’t miss them.

Manage your RSS feeds in a Google Reader folder just for this information for organization.

Blogging

Amber Alerts now offers a widget for your blog’s sidebar featuring missing persons information, Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts along with safety tips and a way for people to sign up to receive email notifications for these alerts. Sign up at AmberAlert.com to get your widget.

4. Not Everyone Has to Do This

Do I really think that every single person who reads this post will go through the trouble of setting this stuff up? No. But I do think a few people might do one or two of these things, or at least take an interest in this. And that’s where it begins.

As Gladwell wrote, activism via social media offers a low entry-point for participation: All it takes is a Tweet, Facebook share or “like” to be involved. If a few people start to share these things, that will lead to ReTweets and engagement to get the word out more. That’s what influence is about.

I’m clearly no Chris Brogan and I don’t know if people actually ever listen to what I have to say, but this occurred to me: For all the sandwich Twitpics I’ve sent, dumb infographics or half-read articles I’ve ReTweeted (you’ve done it too) and FourSquare checkins I’ve pushed to Twitter, can’t I occasionally share things that could help someone/something other than @JanetAronica?

The world is so much bigger than this echochamber of Tweetups and ninjas. Twitter for marketing is just the tip of the iceberg. Social business begins to scratch the surface. But there is an entire other layer of social media’s potential beyond just business that is practically untapped.

Will we participate?

I leave you with additional conversations on this topic:

Abducted (Boston Globe – I thought this was a decent and fair article regarding Amber Alerts’ limitations)

Finding Missing Persons: From Milk Cartons to Wall Posts and Tweets (Social Media Today)

Social Networking Tools Help Find Missing Children (Fox News)

Twitter Users Help Find a Missing Child in Just Three Hours (The Next Web)

Using Social Media for Missing Children’s Cases

My Twitter List of Resources

Facebook Groups vs. LinkedIn Groups: Which is Right for Your Community?

I use both a Facebook group and a LinkedIn group as community engagement tools. I like them both, but for very different reasons, and what I really wish I could do was combine my favorite features of each and get the best of both worlds.

I have tested different ways to build engagement and conversation with my audience. Last September I started a Q&A forum on Qhub called oneforty Answers where people could submit and answer questions related to Twitter apps and other social media topics. After two months, it wasn’t getting quite the traction I wanted it to, so I focused on a new LinkedIn group.

Around the same time, I got involved in Facebook’s new groups. They are a far cry from the cheesy groups I used to be invited to in college for purposes like “Hey I lost my cell phone give me all your numbers” or “Hey I need to do this survey for my senior seminar paper….” (Remember those throw-backs? Aw yeah…)

I love the functionality of the new groups so much that recently, with the beta launch SocialBase, I dared to try something different and use a Facebook group to engage our beta testers.

Which do I like better?

Pros of LinkedIn Groups:

  • People have a “business mindset” on LinkedIn. No distractions from personal things like on Twitter and Facebook that clutter conversations. That has always been the clearest benefit.
  • “Top Influencers This Week” shows you your most engaged community members
  • “Follow” functionality: If there is a certain noisy member of the group, community members can “unfollow” that person.
  • You can do open groups and your brand name can receive SEO value for conversations involved in the group (could be a good thing if they are relevant to your keywords.) I’ve chosen to keep my group private because I’m nervous about spam.
  • Granular admin options. Need to sell your boss or client on using social media? Show how you can customize this group to what is the right fit for your business.
LinkedIn Group Admin options - lots of 'em!

Cons of LinkedIn Groups

  • No reporting. There isn’t even so much as a Facebook Insights type of weekly email update that tells me about the number of comments or number of group members so I can gauge the progress or engagement week-by-week.
  • Invitations – I have to be connected to someone on LinkedIn in order to invite them. I have to send the invitation, wait for them to accept, then send the group invitation. It’s just a bit of a process.
  • No custom URL’s for brands. I’m hacking it with a custom Bit.ly… http://bit.ly/14tLinkedIn
  • Discussions are odd: Your comments are limited to 200 characters. It’d be nice to be able to “tag” another community member in a comment the way you can on Facebook, Disqus and Livefyre comments. This would enhance the conversations and drive people back to the group if they got a Tweet or an email update when they were mentioned in a comment.

And now for Facebook…

Pros of Facebook Groups:

  • I like that you can tag people in comments – drives a lot more engagement and it makes the discussions much more interactive.
  • You can add links, photos, videos, or do a poll with a question – more options than with a LinkedIn group. I share screencasts of SocialBase and it presents then better than they would be presented in a LinkedIn group.
  • Chat function would allow you to chat with group members. Haven’t tried this yet but could see this being useful.
  • Documents feature lets you collect things like Twitter handles if you are going to make a Twitter list of all the members.
  • Integrates with events feature. Again, I haven’t used this but could see this as useful if my group was bigger.
  • Better email notifications than LinkedIn. You can reply to discussions right from the email. It also gives you a better preview of the discussions to make you really decide if you want to actually login to Facebook and see the conversation. LinkedIn just tells you there was “an update” or “a discussion” added to the group.  That doesn’t peak my interest much and make me want to return.

Cons of Facebook Groups

  • No reporting – No way for me to get a report of number of discussions or group members to track engagement, no feature to show “top influencers” like with LinkedIn.
  • I have to add someone as a Facebook friend in order to invite him or her to the group. Obvious creep factor here…
  • No custom URLs
  • Can’t download a list or group members names or email addresses into an Excel sheet or anything so when using this in conjunction with other marketing activities it’s a little more tedious to track which beta testers have joined the group and who hasn’t.

This is what I want: I wish I could have the technical functionality of a Facebook group within the context of a LinkedIn group.

I’ve gotten more comfortable adding people on Facebook. I won’t add just anybody, but I’ve accepted that I’m out there and online…that it’s just this mix of personal and professional. However, when I have to add someone as a Facebook friend to have them join a Facebook group for my company, I might be violating other people’s boundaries.  Others might not be as easygoing about it. At least if you are adding someone on LinkedIn to join your LinkedIn group, it’s less personal.

It would be helpful if I didn’t have to be Facebook friends with someone to invite them to a Facebook group. Or, maybe Facebook could make it so if someone was a “fan” of our business page I could invite them to our (private) business group (which would be helpful for peeps like me with private betas). It’d also be helpful to have Facebook Insights-type of reporting just to be able to measure progress on group engagement.

However, I love the technical functionality of Facebook groups and wish I could have something like that surrounded by the business environment and mentality of LinkedIn’s site. People want to talk about business-focused things when they login to that site, so for things like B2B software, it’s a golden lead generation and B2B community building opportunity. I think that’s a mind-share thing that LinkedIn has and Facebook doesn’t (plus… why would it want to? They’re doing just fine…) But LinkedIn can change the technicalities of groups.

That’s my take on my my experience with these two types of groups. Are you using either for your communities? What’s your take?

5 Qualities to Look for in a Social Media Hire

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I graduated and that I’m on the other side of the hiring table. I spent most of last Friday digging through dozens of resumes, finally finding a couple of talented folks I wanted to chat with for a social media coordinator/intern position.

It made me think a lot about what social media means to me, who I was when I graduated in 2009 and what I’d look for in an entry-level social media hire, or any social media hire for any level. I’d say I try my best to practice what I preach on these, and here are some qualities that I think are important.

1. Social Media Presence

I’m hiring at the entry-level. It’s important to me that this person has a blog, an active Twitter account and a LinkedIn. I Googled a lot of names and it surprised me how few applicants ranked for their names in the results.

I’m somewhat of a blogging slacker here at Social Rant (busy guest posting and building a startup) but I still rank for Janet Aronica….

Yes, I was signed out of Gmail when I searched this. Let me know if you get different results so I can work on that!

When you have a couple of years of working experience, and if you were applying for a manager/director/specialist level position, it’s probably assumed you have a personal brand. However, if I was a hiring for that level of a position, I’d be more interested in seeing what results the candidate produced for a client or company.

Were you on the account team that ran the social media presence for a hotel? I’d be checking out that hotel’s Facebook page. I’d probably ask how the candidate measured the progress, what went well and what the candidate would do different. What you accomplished for a business would resonate most for me.

As far as your personal blog posts or Twitter followers, I’d check it out to see if you have a demonstrated interest in the space (and not to mention, make sure you weren’t Tweeting anything stupid) If you weren’t blogging every single day of every single week, I’d assume it was because you were too busy kicking butt for your company to be self-promotional.

I should screenshot more Tweets. Because one time, I saw Jason Keath from SocialFresh Tweet something that was pure genius and I wish I could quote him properly right now. He said something to the effect of: “You’ve never even heard of some of the smartest people in this industry because they are too busy getting things done to talk about themselves.” That about sums it up.

2. Phenomenal Writing Skills

Social media involves a lot of content creation and writing. Blogging, Tweeting, and Facebook page status-updating is all writing.

Take a look at Barbie’s Facebook page:

Glamping. That’s right. Glam-camping. A clever writer came up with that status and it’s hilarious.

This is why I want people to have a blog and read blogs. Blogging develops your voice as a writer. A strong writing voice helps you as a community manager or some type of social media person because people are drawn to your content – your blog posts, Tweets, Facebook page statuses, what have you. Reading helps you become a better writer you learn how other people use language.

Disciplines like PR, marketing and journalism tend to be very writing-heavy in their coursework. Not to say that all social media hires have to come from one of these majors, but these majors are more likely to introduce you to this space and bring you to an internship or extracurricular activity where you can build great writing skills.

3. Email Marketing Experience

I think that email is the glue that makes social media stick.

At some point you want this community, these Twitter followers and Facebook people, to come to your website and make a purchase. (Or come to your store, or download an app, or sign up for your event… whatever a conversion is for you.) Email is a way to re-engage them and keep them coming back. It comes down to making money as some point.

Like I’ve said before, social CRM is an exploding market, with recent investment for Sprout Social and aquisition for JitterJam and Bantam Live. Sure, there are sexier marketing tools than email. Q4 codes are sexy. So is location-based marketing.  But look: (only) 4% of Americans use location based services. Every single Facebook fan or Twitter follower has an email address. They couldn’t login otherwise!

We have tools that are attempting to connect email marketing and social media marketing. Why aren’t we aggressively looking for social media marketers to facilitate that strategy?

I’d love to see social media be taken seriously and tie itself to the actually business/sales process.  A marketing channel like email is a way to do it. This is probably trickier for an entry-level person to get experience in other than maybe using email (Mailchimp is free for a small list of subscribers) to promote an on-campus event or at an internship. However I think as social media marketers we should understand how email works.

4. Metrics-Driven Mentality

I’m trying to grow each day to be a more data-driven marketer. Numbers don’t lie, they unify teams and they motivate people.

Not many people know what to measure in social media. Also, not many people have time to dig into the analytics tools, understand the graphs and derive actionable insights. If you take initiative at your internship or job in this area, people will love you.

If you’re looking for a social media coordinator or internship gig somewhere, position yourself as a metrics-driven individual by running some metrics on your own Twitter account with one of the dozens of free analytics tools out there and do a blog post about it. Even if what you are doing is very basic measurement, you are demonstrating a working knowledge of what it’d take to move the needle. You’ll learn the more advanced analytics like share of voice or sentiment when you work with a real client.

While I’m on the metrics point, knowing SEO won’t hurt you either. Google Analytics is a free tool. Install it on your blog. Read the Tutorials. Learn and have fun. It’s addictive!

5. Coachable

“Coachability” isn’t a quality unique to social media, it’s just a quality of good employees. You want someone who can take feedback and who will grow in their position.

I love this post from the fabulous Early Stager blog that explains this concept of being “coachable.”

When you’re at Stage 1, you don’t know what you don’t know, but you think you’re doing awesome. (Some people aren’t coachable. They don’t take feedback and they never leave Stage 1.) You want 2’s and 3’s: people who know there are things they don’t know, so they are open to your feedback and want to learn. That’s how they get to Stage 4, where they’re ready for you to delegate. 2’s and 3’s grow with your company.

A good way to look for the “coachable” factor in the hiring process is by assigning a project during the hiring process. (I’m assigning a blog post and a Twitter metrics project to a few select candidates.) Then, you give feedback and see if they’ll change it. That’s what my friend Jason did to hire me and I’d say I’m one of those “open to feedback” types.

So there you have it. The five things I think you should look for in a social media hire. What other things would you look for?

Round-up of Tools from #SMCBoston Panel

I was really humbled that I was asked to speak on a panel about social media tools at yesterday’s Social Media Club of Boston Event, Evaluating Social Technologies: From Chaos to Strategy. I was joined by Kathy O’ Reilly, Director of Social Media Relations for Monster.com, Ben Boardman of Marketwire and Sysomos and Zach Hofer-Shall, an analyst for Forrester Research that specializing in social intelligence.

(Here we are chatting. Don’t mind my sweet accent. I’m from Buffalo. 🙂 )

We chatted about a variety of social media tools and primarily discussed them within the context of these four categories: Discovery, Measurement, Publishing and Social CRM.

I threw out a bunch of recommendations for tools and I know we were moving pretty fast so I wanted to give a quick breakdown and recap/elaborate on some of my recommendations. Most of these will link to their oneforty item pages where you can see reviews and screenshots of the tools for a little more information.

Discovery – Listening & monitoring tools

Twitter Advanced Search

This is a free way to set up searches for hashtags, keywords or your own brand name. You can even specify per location, sentiment or just search for questions regarding that phrase. You can even hack together a free monitoring dashboard in iGoogle with an RSS of these searches.

MarketMeSuite* – This is an affordable way for small businesses to take the geo-targeting aspect of Twitter searches and view them in an organized interface.

Measurement – Analytics Tools

Tweetreach – I love Tweetreach’s analytics. They break down reach, impression and volume of Tweets as well as show you your most influential community members who ReTweet you and generate the most reach for you. Variety of price ranges as well and great graphs.

Tap 11 – This is a client with FourSquare, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn integration. I love the email digest of metrics that they compile for you, specifically the attention they pay to ReTweets. Tap 11 shows what is being ReTweeted the most and by whom. There’s lots of talk about how ReTweets are indexed by Google and help with SEO, so I think these metrics are increasingly important for brands looking to boost blog (and therefore, site) traffic.

I mentioned a few times that a lot of times people think the price point for tools is at $500/month and up. Tools like Radian6 and Alterian SM2 do start around there and they are appropriate for some companies. However I wanted to re-iterate that there are a lot of lower-cost analytics options. Viralheat* is $99/month and Ubervu is $50/month to $400/month. We gave a round-up of seven low-cost social monitoring options in this blog post.

To the question of social media ROI, I mentioned the availability of tools that let you apply in-page analytics and track conversions (Did this person fill out a form? Register for an event? Make a purchase?) from Twitter and Facebook. Three tools that do this include Performable, HubSpot and Argyle Social*.

Publishing – Content management and Scheduling Tools

Buffer – This helps you load Tweets into your “Buffer” at ideal times for you to Tweet and sends them out for you throughout the day. Instead of individually having to schedule each Tweet, write the Tweets and Buffer will send them out at the pre-selected times. It gives you some basic analytics as well like reach, ReTweets (including who ReTweeted it) and number of clicks.)

Timely – This is similar to Buffer only it doesn’t let you control the times or schedule Tweets days ahead of time. You can load up your Tweets and then Timely sends them out throughout the day at times selected based on performance of past Tweets. Timely also offers some basic analytics like number of clicks and reach.

Garious – another content publishing tool that pushes your content out throughout the day for you and helps you be more efficient.

Crowdbooster and Socialflow are two more tools I mentioned that help you identify the best times to Tweet by analyzing your previous Tweets and when your audience has been most responsive with @replies, ReTweets and click-throughs. I wrote more about this is a guest post for SocialFresh.

Raven Tools – Raven Tools is a great way to compile your SEO and social media efforts by being able to monitor your Twitter and Facebook activity plus view your Google Analytics and do keyword research all from one clean and simple interface. It’s affordable, the team there is super nice, and it pushes you to take a full 360-view of your online marketing efforts. My friend Kristin Dziadul uses this for her marketing efforts at Backupify and chose this over other tools.

A few more content publishing tools to check out: Dlvr.it, Sprinklr and Hootsuite.

Social CRM – (WTF?)

I loved this chat that we had because I think we called into question whether or not social CRM even exists yet. It’s something I’ve wondered about as well.

The space is getting a ton of traction though. All within the past month or so, Sprout Social just raised a $10 million Series B, JitterJam got acquired, as well as Bantam Live. All three are fantastic social CRM options that attempt to collaborate a customer contact database with Twitter and Facebook interactions. Other options to look at are Blue Camroo (specifically check out their Social Network Scout feature) and Nimble.

To just get started in integrating social CRM tactics into your work, using a tool like Gmail plugin Rapportive will help you connect your email contacts to their Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Gist does this too, in a prettier way. 🙂

So there you have it! All the tools I mentioned. I love talking about this stuff as you can tell so feel free to shoot me questions any time.

*oneforty affiliate. (But still a badass tool!)

Trunk.ly is My Jam

Twitter has re-branded itself as an information network, and tools like Trunk.ly support this effort. It allows you to follow just what links your Twitter friends share on Trunk.ly. It’s like a personal recommendations Google Reader thingy and I love it.

This is very helpful for me, as I write a weekly “news roundup” style post for my company blog. It’s great for curating content from the community and reviewing what the popular topics were that week. If you’re interested in that content curation type of stuff you might also like Packrati.us, which not only will collect the links that you share on Twitter but also the links that you Favorite. So, essentially it’s assumed that the links you RT you’ve already read, correct? But I think you and I both know that people don’t always do that. If you want to Favorite the Tweets with links that you want to read later though, it’s a way of bookmarking them. Packrati.us will collect those and then you can save those to read when you have time (which most likely isn’t at 2 p.m. on a Wednesday when you see the Tweet, correct?)

Hope this is helpful!

How to: Comment on Industry Blogs Without Coming Off Like A Spammy Jerk

It’s a fine line – you want to join a relevant industry conversation where people are talking about something related to what you’re selling. So you head on over to some blogs and leave some comments. Hypothetically, they may come out all…

(On my oneforty blog)

“My social media thingamajig is exactly like the ones you listed! You missed mine though!! Boo. 🙁 You want a free demo? Head on over to http://www.socialmediathingamajig.com”

(On the Blue Sky Factory blog)

“For more email marketing tips like these check out http://spammyemailvendor.com)”

Get the point? These types of comments are not engaging or conversational. They’re just really really really annoying, completely selfish, and don’t add anything to the conversation. And you know what sucks the most? It’s that you probably had your heart in the right place when you did this, you were just rushing through things and came off wrong.

I absolutely loved this HubSpot post that outlines some great tips on how to leave great blog comments. Definitely read their post, and keep these tips in mind:

  • Actually leave a thoughtful comment about the post itself. Show that you read the post. Refer specifically to what they said, or summarize part of it… (“I liked your tips on making the most of blog design, especially #5 and #6 in regards to designing a nice header and sidebar.”)
  • I think disagreeing with a blogger is actually a fantastic way to comment. It shows that you read the post, after all, and it engages the blogger in a conversation. Healthy debate moves us forward. But, be respectful. Behind every Disqus avatar is a real person with real feelings and a family and friends and a job and better things to do than feel bad about nasty comments. Remember, it’s just the internet! Don’t be one like one of those pompous TechCrunch commenters, please…

  • No-follow links: A lot of times when people leave a link to their website in blog comments, they are doing this because they think they are getting SEO value from it. That’s actually not true. Many websites have a “no-follow” tag in their code, which means basically that it tells search engines not to give that link any SEO credit from that site. People stick the “no-follow” tag in their site to prevent spam comments. Makes sense, right?
  • The real value in blog commenting is building relationships and networking. Honestly, it is so exciting to get comments on your blog! It’s fun to write about topics you are passionate about and when people talk to you about those things in blog comments, you’re that much more excited to connect with them. (It’s like when you take a chick on a date and you’re supposed to ask her about her stuff and not talk about you the whole time.)

So that’s my social media advice: Ask your blogger about her stuff. 😉  Or in other words, if you make it about other people, you build relationships. Relationships are much more valuable than some rushed comment just for the sake of leaving a comment and crossing it off the to-do list. I say, take your time to leave one good, thoughtful comment instead of 20 crappy, spammy comments each day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try to boil the ocean.

What do you guys think? Any other tips for commenting on industry blogs?

Open Groups on LinkedIn: SEO vs. Private Community

Now that LinkedIn offers open groups, community managers have the option to change their group settings. Switching to open groups means you go from members-only content, to offering your group discussions as public conversations that are indexed by search engines.

Coupla’ of things:

  • Current and past posts and discussions are not indexed by search engines, just the new stuff. Old stuff is archived in a super secret non-searchable section for members-only.
  • If you switch to an open group, LinkedIn notifies group members.
  • In open groups, anyone on the interwebz can view discussions, and discussions are sharable on Facebook and Twitter. However, there are manager controls available so you can restrict who actually is able to post in open groups.

I’m pondering the benefits of having a closed community versus an open community, and if the SEO advantages of open groups make it worth the extra moderation. Clearly SEO advantages are hugely important. However, in my mind your company only wins if people go from the LinkedIn group to your website. If people are just seeing the results in Google and not clicking through, or just reading the publicly available discussions and not doing anything beyond that, to me it feels like we’ve just exposed ourselves and compromised the conversations in our community for no reason.

I participate in and run closed communities and open ones. You can’t make a blanket statement and say that open or closed communities are better or worse than the other. It depends on your community’s content and goals. I’m a member of a closed Facebook group for community managers. Joining is invite-only, and beyond that, the moderators control who is let into the group from there. With a small group of only 100 people, the conversations, information and debate are high-quality. Is it snobby to keep some people out? Well, no. If this amount of moderation is what prevents Spamcakes from blowing up a productive group with stuff like “Come check out my webinar/ebook/social media thingamajig!” then I agree with it.

I run a Q&A site for social media questions at oneforty Answers. We get some great conversation over there. The community has grown to the point where a core group will take off and have these awesome discussions on their own without me having to lead or push. The overall quality of the questions on oneforty Answers is not great as the discussions in our (new) closed LinkedIn group, though. It requires moderation. We get a lot of spam. We also get a lot of random and off-topic stuff that I have to sort through. However, everything is indexed on search engines so we get traffic to Answers from that, and we get traffic from Answers to oneforty.com. So, the openness benefits us…

…or does it?

Having an open forum is an easy way to get content and followers at first. But if you aren’t benefitting the community with quality content and making it easy for riff raff to join and post garbage in your forums, people won’t stick around – at least the people you want to have stick around. SEO gains are great, but (and sorry to be all rainbows and butterflies) so are loyal evangelists of private communities.

I say, first, look at your goals for the community – in this case, a LinkedIn group. Is it another venue to push out your own content, or are you really focusing on the member conversations? I think if you figure that out, you’ll see how you feel about the SEO benefits vs. increased need for moderation of an open group. I’m still evaluating what I’ll do with my LinkedIn group, specially looking for ways that I can possibly get the best of both worlds: have the content indexed by search engines but maintain the quality conversations that we’d get in a private community.