Where Them Girls At?

This post originally appeared on Bostinno, an awesome blog about Boston startups, digital culture and city news. If you’re thinking about joining a startup and want to learn more about what’s up in Boston, you definitely want to check them out. Or better yet, submit a guest post yourself 🙂 

I envision this possible scene from not so long ago: In a presumably messy Back Bay apartment, three 20-something guys gather around a case of Bud Light. Between chatter about sports and whatever the hell boys talk about when girls aren’t around, conversation turns to the future of media. From the collective genius of all three “bros,” a profound, ground-breaking conclusion is reached: Newspapers are effed. So they were all, “let’s do a media startup.” 2.5 years later, they have 1.3 million in funding and 20 people working for them. Their humble blog gets nearly 500,000 pageviews a month and has expanded to two other cities.

It’s not like they had degrees in journalism or years of reporting experience. They just had the wherewithal to pull the trigger on an idea and figure it out along the way.

Why don’t more twenty-something chicks do this? And should we give a crap whether they do or not?

Many say your twenties is the best time to start a company. For lots of young professionals, the post-college life means a low burn-rate and few significant personal responsibilities. Despite your lack of experience, your lifestyle offers you the freedom to take a risk. Even though there is a plethora of “women in tech” blog posts, I haven’t any other from the point of view of a 20-something woman other than this great post from Kinvey’s new Marketing Manager Kelly Rice. So I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring.

It Starts in School

Right now, most founders have computer science backgrounds. More men choose math and science focused college majors, like computer science. I don’t think it’s a result of little boys playing with science kits and being praised for their smarts versus little girls playing “school” with their dolls and receiving accolades for their looks.  I think it’s more a matter of education.

Math education sucks. A lot of schooling does this, but I think math education in particular rewards mindless repetition more than strategic problem solving and successful application of concepts. A talent for the latter is a better preparation for programming and metrics-focused marketing and product development. It’s better preparation for entrepreneurship. My real concern is that a lot of people, women included, are turned off by the idea of a computer science education and other quantitative disciplines because their interest isn’t ignited and their confidence isn’t built by the current system of standardized testing. I’m not saying everyone should get a participation award for an algabra test. I’m saying that more time should be spent building skills in finance, data processing and even programming than on the same algebra tests we’ve been using since Prohabition.

But not everyone is going to be a computer science major. And that’s ok. Many founders and early stage startup employees include people with business backgrounds – like PR and marketing for instance. But not a lot of guys choose PR majors. If they do end up in PR, they come in as a business major – which often includes classes like management, strategy and entrepreneurship. They’re more exposed to the world of startups, and therefore more likely to enter it as “biz side” people than their female counterparts. Most communications and PR majors are women, and they’re encouraged to join agencies after they graduate. Trust me, agency life is hard work! It’s different than a startup, though. Agency culture often prompts young people to focus on their specific role and the responsibilities that accompany it. Once that is mastered, then they can move on to higher level projects. Paying your dues is a frequently communicated concept as young professionals build their skills.

This is a lot different than the reality of startups, where early employees are involved in a little bit of everything – from the high-level strategic decisions to refilling the company Peapod order.

The point is, even if they aren’t computer science majors, more 20-something men than women choose to begin their careers at startups because their educational backgrounds and entry-level experiences encourage it.

It’s About a Lack of Perspective

We’re in a bubble. Not that kind of bubble, but I mean a bubble when it comes to our perspectives on founding teams.

This is the gender breakdown of TechCrunch readers from Shareaholic.

gender breakdown of techcrunch readers

Apparently, women don’t care about tech as much as men. And actually, that’s ok. It’s even ok if they care more about makeup and fashion, and it’s ok if they pursue an education in either one. A cultural change needs to happen where entrepreneurship and tech are presented as options for pursuing a career in the field you’re passionate about. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg recently told marketers at the recent ANA convention to “put a little Facebook in everything you do.” We should put a little startup in everything we study. This point is admittedly utopian, but it’d be pretty cool if the next online marketplace for cosmetics came from a founder who knows that industry and customers. It’d be nice if there was an actual healthcare or insurance professional on the founding team of Cake Health – regardless of whether that person is a man, woman, gay person, Latino, Jewish… you get the point.

We should focus less on female founders and more on female consumers, as well as other untapped and growing markets. If we do that, female founders and founders with different backgrounds will come. A venture fund or grant focused on healthcare startups or fashion startups, or an incubator along the same vein could be solutions. Those, plus more entrepreneurial, problem-solving and technology-focused experiences for all high school students would be great.

Getting more perspectives in on the ground floor benefits us all. People with different professional and educational backgrounds are exposed to different industries. They follow trends and experience inefficiencies that could be more interesting business opportunities than yet another social/local/mobile/daily deals app, social media marketing tool, or marketplace where you get recommendations from your friends for blah blah blah. It’s to our economic advantage to re-imagine the entrepreneur as not only a computer science major or Harvard MBA (although they’ve done some pretty cool stuff!), but to include people with different educational and professional backgrounds. We’d see business ideas that appeal to new markets and have more perspectives on the ground floor building those ideas into job-creating companies.

If those business ideas come from a 20-something lady, then all the better. After all, sometimes a female touch can’t hurt. Clearly a chick wouldn’t have named a tablet the iPad. And obviously no woman was around when they named Kaggle, Kaggle. Please. We’ve seen that Sex and the City episode. Twice.

Data As An Asset for Startup PR

I’m always learning new things about PR. I like observing what other companies are doing, and it seems like some tried and true strategies still work: Ride a trend, do a survey, predict yearly seasonal coverage (holiday gift guides anyone?) and insert your story into that… etc etc. But one strategy I’ve seen more and more is using your own company’s data to get coverage.

Boston startup folks at Runkeeper generated some buzz by sharing how getting featured in the Android Marketplace increased downloads by 637%.

I also loved what they did with their fitness stats for an infographic back in September. This got covered in The Next Web.

That’s a good B2C example.

For a B2B take, admittedly Social Bakers is an analytics company by nature so leveraging data for coverage isn’t that much of a stretch. But their presidential candidate Facebook stats infographic is a fun take on numbers and a good example of inserting your message/brand into a current topic of conversation.

(AND HOW CUTE IS THIS INFOGRAPHIC?)

This got them in TechCrunch.

I personally love a good infographic. But while fun, infographics may eventually wear out their welcome. As I’m learning about what works for other companies, thinking about a fresh way to present data is also something I’m considering for when I pull the trigger and use data (there’s a lot of it…) for our own marketing.

Data is particularly huge right now. Products and consumers generate and process tons of it. It’s overwhelming sometimes. And for some companies, this might not even work as the data may be confidential and inappropriate for a PR strategy. But in general, when it comes to data, I think marketers who are technically inclined enough to digest it, but also have the communication skills to promote it, will increasingly become assets to their companies. It’s two skillsets I’m definitely looking to enhance this year.

What data does your company have that could be an interesting pitch? Have you tried this before? Let me know in the comments!

I Joined Shareaholic!

So by now a lot of people know this but… I joined Shareaholic! We make it easier to share content on the web. Have a blog? Use our widget.

Shareaholic for WordPress

Shareaholic for Tumblr (and all other sites!)

Essentially, I’ll be doing marketing…. (And then some.)

There’s been much written about how to choose which startup to work for. (No seriously, read this.) There’s much to consider. Startuplife, like any job you want to kick ass at, is a huge commitment. So think about it. But to be candid, I feel like sometimes you make choices in life that are very well-thought-out, calculated, rational and make complete sense. You choose the clear-cut path. Other times, you make choices because your heart won’t let you choose otherwise. You JFDI. For some reason, in my life, whether it was moving to Boston, joining oneforty, breaking off certain relationships… the decisions I didn’t overthink worked out best.

Shareholic is a legit business with incredible traction and interesting problems to solve. I love the team and I love marketing. That’s all the information I needed.

I sort of look at this as a very big and exciting step, the next chapter in a story that started at oneforty.

(me on my first day at oneforty)

One day can really change your life.

4 Reasons I Answer College Students’ Emails

If you’re a professional, I’m sure that you’ve received at one point or another an inquiry from a college student asking about jobs, internships or advice. I respond and I think you should too. This is why:

1. People answered my emails when I was a college student.

I’ve written before how I got my first job in Boston. I sent a lot of emails asking people about their companies or for informational interviews. Granted, it was just one of those informational interviews that turned into a job. But all the coffees and email exchanges I had with other professionals provided me with motivation, direction, momentum and confidence. I am so thankful to the people who helped me, in every little and big way they did. 2 or so years later, how could I not pay it forward?

Granted, I can’t offer a ton of long-term career advice or hindsight. I’m too young still myself. But I can offer a pep-talk/confidence boost/talk about what has or hasn’t worked for me so far. Considering similar conversations I’ve had with people just a few years older than me, I know how even that can be quite helpful.

2. The college student you meet today is the employee you hire tomorrow.

In startupland, we talk a lot about how tough it is to hire talent. The right culture fit and the right skillset is tough to come by. Then we also talk about the importance of networking. There’s a missing link, though. We emphasize the importance of networking with people who can help us, like VCs or more experienced professionals for mentorship. I don’t think we talk enough about the opposite end of that spectrum, which is spending time with an up-and-comer who is that future talent you can add to your team.

3. I remember where I came from.

It seems like everyone wants a developer or a community manager/social media whatchamacallit/something-or-other these days. Where are these people? Well, they’re in college. They’re young. They’re doing annoying things that 20-year-olds do, like joining fraternities and drinking for any special occasion possible, like it being laundry day or Monday or maybe signing their emails to you with emoticons. In addition to internships, yes, that’s what some of Boston’s most promising young entrepreneurs did merely four or so years ago. They might not immediately come off to you as a child prodigy in that email or by a first glimpse at their LinkedIn.

That doesn’t mean they’re not an “A-player!” (And seriously, what the hell is an “A player?”) What it means is that they just don’t know what they don’t know, but they want to know and that’s why they reached out. It also means that ambition and drive can come with a lack of focus, because young ambitious people want to conquer the world. But if you have a conversation with someone and steer that motivation towards a clear direction of the right internships and experiences, they grow into the “A-player” people so dearly want to hire.

My favorite interns, and in my opinion the most successful ones, have been those that were hungry to improve – not necessarily the ones that did everything perfect. Perfect plateaus.

4. I’m busy. So what.

Social media/internet burnout is real. I haven’t blogged here in two months, and I’m inundated with a lot of “communication” in general per the nature of running social media accounts for work. Just like you, there are a ton of DM’s, @replies and emails coming at me. Maintaining ownership of my own time, timeline and inbox is important so I have time to communicate and spend time with the people I love offline.

We’re generally too busy and say yes too often, when it really should be a choice between “Hell yeah!” or “No.” I wish more people saw responding to college students as a “hell yeah!” kinda of an opportunity.

Respond to college students. Don’t just reply to the rockstars. Reply to the hot messes who need honest feedback and give honest feedback. Have coffee with someone. It won’t kill you, actually it’s kinda fun. Expect some of them to flake on you and not even respond back to your advice. Roll your eyes and move on, because there’s another student who will take your feedback and could make an absolute rockstar developer or community manager/social media whatchamacallit one day. If we want to find talent, we can’t forget the source of it.

We Are Joining HubSpot!

Today, my company oneforty is thrilled to officially announce we are joining inbound marketing software company HubSpot. You can read the release from HubSpot here and a note from my CEO Laura Fitton on the oneforty blog.

I’m here to tell you a little more about what’s next for me and why I’m excited to join HubSpot. I am honestly, genuinely happy to join them. You’d have to see the goofy grin on my face in person when talking about it to probably fully believe and appreciate that, but I am truly fired up about it.

For those of you who don’t know what HubSpot does, they make software that helps marketers get found by customers through blogging, social media and SEO. Since their Performable acquisition, they now include even more tools that help with “MOFU” or middle of the funnel activities like email and A/B testing. This video helps explain:

Ever since I learned about the company in 2009 and visited HubSpotTV, I’ve chugged the HubSpot Koolaid hard. I read David Meerman Scott’s New Rules of Marketing and PR on spring break in Cancun and Brian and Dharmesh’s Inbound Marketing Book on the T in Boston. I’ve downloaded me some eBooks, graced my followers’ streams with many a HubSpot blog post and gazed longingly into the slides of Dan Zarrella’s science of social media webinars. I am a fangirl who has learned a ton from the free content they offer their community members and tried to replicate that with some things for oneforty.

For me, HubSpot is a great personal opportunity and I feel really lucky to have this in front of me. First off, I look good in orange. 😛 Also, I’m looking forward to working with and learning from marketing pros Mike Volpe and Jeanne Hopkins. I will also still get to work with my friends and oneforty co-workers Mike Champion, Laura Fitton and Jeremy Crane. I will gain experience in inbound marketing at a much more massive scale. They generate upwards of 40k leads a month and it’s a chance for me to grow in areas like metrics and social media, working with an even wider audience. I hope we prove ourselves with content and customer service to the community I built with oneforty and show them why they should come along for this journey with us.

Throughout the past year at oneforty I’ve learned so much about marketing, building community and startups. Working last night I stumbled into old notes from back in April when we were still thinking of a name for SocialBase.

I gotta be honest with ya, this piece of scrap paper might be my new favorite material thing. It represents a time to me when we were building something from nothing. This. Is. Startup.

It’s not parties with brogrammers at SXSW, launch day when you get that one big press hit because you got funding and everyone loves you or anything at all like the movie The Social Network. This is hard work. It’s confusing. Like slow dancing in middle school. Know what I’m saying?

Most days in startuplife are unremarkable and they aren’t for the faint of heart. It means being up at midnight thinking about the name for a new product or coding. If the idea of the everyday and the creativity doesn’t excite you, with or without the glamour of press and “startup” label, then this isn’t for you. (And that’s ok.)

At oneforty I, along with my amazing freelance team, have written a lot about the tools you should use to manage and measure social media strategy for the oneforty blog. Blog posts have included:

I have something to admit: none of this actually matters. Tools, timing, keywords and ROI aside – community is really about making people feel like they are a part of something special. You need to understand people to do marketing and build community. The rest is details, but without this foundation, you’re screwed.

People want to feel validated – People not only want answers to the questions they have, but they like feeling as though you have had the same questions yourself before. Being a community manager is about striking the balance between being the thought leader and the informed friend.

People want fantastic customer service – On social media, just being responsive can win. For years we have emailed customer service “contact us” emails and not gotten so much as a peep. We’ve waited on hold. Twitter is real-time – it feels more immediate. Just feeling heard by a company when you’ve got a question or you’re complaining about an issue goes a long way. Usually in my experience, those who take the time to complain have also taken the time to thank us, publicly. It’s social proof.

People want you to have an opinion – It surprised me when our negative blog posts highlighting “common mistakes” or “things to avoid” did so well, but then as I learned about people more, it really didn’t. People want to know specifically what they should or shouldn’t do. They want actionable takeaways. B2B? Tell them what email marketing tactics suck. B2C? Tell them what nutritious food to buy to lose weight or what clothes to buy to “get the look for less.” Tell them. That’s why they visited your site.

Joining HubSpot means joining an organization that lives and breathes this. These are the cornerstones of inbound marketing. They have an opinion, offer educational content that helps community members learn about marketing long before the sale and deliver incredible customer service. They get people, engage them and help people with their businesses. I’m thrilled to be a part of an exploding company that aims to be nothing less than the “Salesforce of marketing” and can’t wait for this next chapter to begin.

To close, I would just say thank you to the oneforty community. Getting to know many of you one-on-one has been a joy and continuing our friendships with the HubSpot community will be a fun journey to take together. And last, but most importantly I offer an admittedly vague “thank you” to my (*real*) friends and family, as you know who you are. Regardless of any professional success, there are people who loved me when I was an unpaid intern and a waitress. There are new people in my life who didn’t know me then, but would love me no matter what I did for a living. Those people have encouraged me and supported me throughout this journey. I’m like a freaking walking Hallmark card, but I love you to the moon and back.

“Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”

To the next chapter!

How to: Decide When to Pay for Social Media Monitoring

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Often times, people are hesistant to invest in a social media monitoring tool of any kind. This is understandable: When you are unsure of the value of social media, it’s hard to justify throwing money at it. This is why measurement is important. But therein lies a catch 22: paid monitoring tools offer better metrics.

In his recent blog post, Jeremiah Owyang recommends that organizations invest in social business tools and talent based on market research and scale investment by their experience with social media. On page seven of his report he offers a quiz that’ll help you bench mark your social business maturity and then see where you should be investing.

There are plenty of free and cheap ways to monitor mentions of your brand in social media.  You can set up search terms in Tweetdeck, Seesmic or Hootsuite for your brand, competitors and industry keywords and track Twitter conversations that are relevant to your company. You can use this monitoring for lead generation by responding to those conversations. Try Twilerts for an email digest of these search terms, or Tweet Alarm to get notifications so you don’t have to constantly be watching Twitter for these mentions. To track news of these search terms, set up Google Alerts and subscribe to an RSS or email digest of your searches through Social Mention. For local searches, use Twitter’s Advanced search. Want to hack together a free monitoring dashboard of your own? Add an RSS feed of your Twitter searches to iGoogle.

Ultimately, though, these really are only temporary solutions. Eventually you are going to want to crank up the volume on your monitoring and get a solution that offers deeper analytics, more integrations and more versatility.  Here are some indicators that you have reached that point:

1. You aren’t just doing Twitter anymore.

Maybe you aren’t just managing a Twitter account, but you are also managing a Facebook page for your business. Or, you also have a blog or are tracking keywords for SEO. Upgrading to a tool like Raven Tools can consolidate your efforts all in one place. This can save you time and help you close the loop between all of your online marketing efforts. Integrate the keywords you are trying to rank for into your Tweets and blog post headlines, compare your mentions on Facebook to your mentions on Twitter. Raven Tools offers three pricing plans, $19/month, $99/month and $249/month.

2. You want to keep track of the interactions you have with Twitter followers.

If you are doing all of this work to monitor keywords on Twitter and engage with prospects, all of that lead generation is going to waste if you aren’t keeping record of the conversations you are having. A CRM tool has contact management features to help you take notes and add tasks to your Twitter contacts. BlueCamroo has a Social Network Scout feature included at all pricing levels that searches for leads on Twitter according to the search terms that you set up. It them loads them into a prospect form for you to follow up with. BlueCamroo also has some pretty sophisticated email marketing features ingrained to help keep your web leads engaged in your pipeline. That’s a lot more than a little old Twitter client to offer for just $24/month to $149/month. Other options to look at? Social CRM tool Nimble, which is in private beta. Also consider how your company’s Twitter account can help with your support tickets and sales pipeline – look for tools with Zendesk and Salesforce integration like CoTweet (Enterprise level), Hootsuite Pro and Radian 6.

3. There is more than one person running your company’s Twitter account.

You may get a lot of Twitter followers or start to get a lot of mentions. Running your company’s Twitter account could become a time-consuming thing, and it may not just be a task for one person any more. Tools like Hootsuite Pro or CoTweet‘s Enterprise version offer Tweet assigning features that ensure your community is attended to and that all questions are answered by the right person. Plus, the right monitoring dashboard will keep track of your conversations with each customers so you have a record of that relationship.

4. There is more than one Twitter account for your company.

Perhaps your CEO now has a Twitter account, or you have a Twitter account wholly-dedicated to PR.  Maybe you have a Twitter account for support questions. There comes a time when you need to select a social media dashboard that everyone can work off of. Create unity in your organization so that everyone is on the same page with what your social media policy is. Your technology should enable someone from the marketing team to assign a Tweet to the support team if it is a question that pertains to them, and vice versa. This is what the challenge of being a social media strategist and evangelizing social media in an organization to establish a social business means. Investing in the right tool and getting internal buy-in is a huge process.

5. You want to measure more than just Bit.ly clicks.

For free, you can get Facebook Insights. You can also sync your Bit.ly links with most clients and track how many people are clicking on your links. You can get some analytics for free. Tweetreach is free for up to 50 Tweets. As you know, that’s not a ton of Tweets. To get really good measurement of your efforts, you’re going to have to pay a little bit. Tweetreach is a great tool for measuring your Twitter account, and it offers several pricing plans from $84.00/month to $899.00/month. First, decide what you want to measure, and that will help you choose a tool that best delivers those metrics. Ubervu is one lower-cost ($49/month, $179/month, $399/month) social media monitoring tool that offers competitive and sentiment analysis. Argyle Social tracks conversions from your Twitter and Facebook campaigns so you can track real ROI from your social media efforts. Argyle Social offers three plans: $149/month, $199/month or $499/month.

What other things should a company consider when it is taking the leap into a paid social media monitoring tool? What were the first tools that your company invested in? I would love your thoughts in the comments.

What Social Media Metrics Matter?

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

I really enjoyed this recent post from @Forrester Research in which Nate Elliot previews his latest report on social media metrics. Specifically, the focus is on assigning social media marketing measurement within an organization. In the post, Elliot smartly points out that if you are defining success by “fans and followers” you’re doing it wrong. Social media measurement is most successful when it is tied to actual business goals.

Elliot’s breakdown of the metrics are very simliar to Jeremiah Owyang’s ROI Pyramid that we’ve previously explored. Community managers and social media strategists focus on “digital metrics” like clicks, fans, followers. Marketing and business executives focus on awareness and share of voice. Finally c-level executives focus on “business metrics” like revenue – aka dolla dolla bills ya’ll.

Here are the two charts:

Jeremiah Owyang’s breakdown of metrics

Forrester’s breakdown of metrics

I like comparing and contrasting both of the breakdowns. I think the recommendations for frequency on Forrester’s analysis aren’t what I’d do. Daily check-ups on number of followers doesn’t seem like the right use of time to me – I think personally think weekly is more scalable. (Perhaps he means daily or hourly check-ups on comments though.) On the contrary, to me it doesn’t seem like an annual analysis of conversions is frequent enough for the c-suite. Quarterly tracking of this at the least makes sense to me. After all, social media really is still new. Not all of us who live in this social media echo chamber and chug the Koolaid remember that sometimes, but it’s true! We’re still testing what campaigns work, and you manage what you measure.

Something I’d love to see discussed more in these reports and in blogs (maybe it doesn’t exist yet) is measurement of the money you save with social media. That to me demonstrates positive return on investment. Can businesses measure x amount of dollars they saved on support phone calls by taking care of customer service via Twitter? Can businesses save on recruiting costs by having their employees share job postings with their networks on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter? Can companies measure the time they save and increased productivity by using Yammer and having their employees communicate through instant message? (Hence, enabling the social employee with a tool like that versus them walking to the other end of the office to ask that question and getting distracted by the coffee room, the water cooler, their friend is the sales department along the way…)

It’s a can of worms to dive into, but I like to ponder it because that relates to measuring social media’s value beyond fans and followers and beyond the marketing department. That’s what a social business is: social media delivering value throughout an entire organization.

Another thing I’d like to see researched is how organizations are coordinating measurement between their agencies. Your PR agency is delivering you metrics like media value each month, then maybe you have a separate social media agency delivering another set of metrics like impressions and share of voice. How are these things being considered together to give a complete view of competitive analysis across not only social media but also with media placements?

Another thing worth exploring: There is a whole set of companies sometimes called Listening Service Providers that are a “tool + consulting” combination. The thing is, some tools and the analytics they provide have a steep learning curve. You have this new interface to work with, then you need to understand what all these graphs mean and then you need to get actionable insight from those metrics. Companies like Synthesio, Cymphony and NM Incite are a few examples where they offer not only the social media monitoring tool but also the team of consultants that analyze the data and offer recommendations to your team. Which organizations are using these and which team members are they reporting to? Also, how are the insights that these companies provide used in combination with agencies?

I’d love to open up the comments to you folks to let me know how you assign measurement on your team. Do you measure your social media marketing at all, and if so, what metrics matter to you?

5 Common Blogging Mistakes and How to Fix Them

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

Whether your company is just getting going in social media or you’ve been at it for a while, there are some common mistakes people do every day with blogging that makes for a missed opportunity. Luckily, there’s typically a simple tool or tactic you can use to do more with your blog and fix whatever you are doing.

1. Blogging All About You

When all you blog about is you – your product, your service, your achievements etc – you don’t teach your community anything about your industry. You don’t have any sort of thought leadership or real takeaways. When people Google for information about your industry or when they’re asking questions like “how to ___” related to your industry, you won’t have any articles that explain that.  It’s only when the Google specifically you, that you’ll come up. That’s a missed opportunity.

HOW TO FIX: Monitor your industry. Read blogs and set up Google Alerts for relevant search terms and your competitors. Use Twilerts and set up search terms in a Twitter client like Tweetdeck for Twitter searches related to your product or service. See what people are talking about. What are their pain points? What are their questions? Blog about that.

2. Blogging About… Wait, What Exactly ARE You Blogging About?

When you blog about random or off-topic things, you draw in the wrong audience and therefore the wrong leads for your business. It’s inconsistent branding and you rank for the wrong keywords on Google. Subject matter counts, and by not focusing your content you are missing an opportunity to show your thought leadership in a specific space.

HOW TO FIX:

Find relevant people in your industry to follow with tools like Listorious. Use Cadmus to find the most popular articles that they are sharing and use that as an indicator of the types of subject matter you should blog about. Also try Twoolr and see what words are already used in conjunction with your brand on Twitter.

3. Ignoring Your Blog Comments

When people swing by your blog to engage in conversation with you, make sure you are being responsive! They came by to comment, and responding to what they have to say is a good way to build a community around your content. If you respond, they are more likely to remember you and subscribe to your blog and come back again.

HOW TO FIX: Use a commenting platform like Disqus or LiveFyre that makes it easy for people to comment on your blog and makes it easy for you to moderate and respond to comments.

4. Focusing on the Wrong Blog Features

I’ve seen some businesses pour a ton of time into dressing up the look and feel of their blogs. They get their graphic designer to make a sexy blog header, they’ve got sparkly fonts and custom this and that. This is important. You want to look official, professional and have consistant branding with the rest of your website. But don’t ignore the social sharing and subscription features that will get your content in front of your audience.

HOW TO FIX: Pick a simple theme and make sure your blog has these features before you get too caught up in the look and feel of your site.

  • Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn share options
  • RSS and email subscription options

5. Blogging Infrequently

If you’re going to do social media, you need to jump in with both feet to reap the benefits. Your audience will be more consistent and your community will grow and share your content if your content is there for them on a predictable basis. That might not be daily for your company at the onset, but if it’s less than weekly you might not see the benefits of your blog. And why waste your time if you aren’t going to commit to this?

HOW TO FIX: Create an editorial calendar and assign which blog posts will be written by which member of your team. You can use something as simple as Google calendar for this. Schedule Tweets and Facebook posts promoting your content with a tool like Hootsuite or CoTweet.

These are just a few common blogging mishaps we see out there in social media. Any other ones you see? Let me know in the comments.

4 Twitter Tips for Engaging Your Community

It’s simple enough to get started on Twitter for your business or client. Using tools like Listorious and Mashable’s Twitter Lists you can find people to follow on Twitter according to topics they Tweet about. Using a client like Tweetdeck or Seesmic, you can set up search terms for your company and for keywords related to your industry.

But what about the less tangible, “human” elements of running a Twitter account? The words you say and how you interact with the people you talk to? Here are five tips to help:

1. Be Responsive

Be sure to set up a search term for your brand on Twitter as well as monitor your @mentions. If your company has just signed up, a perfect way to “stake your claim” on Twitter and define your presence is to start responding to those mentions. This means:

  • Answering questions and offering suggestions – You can also answer questions not just about your particular product, but about your industry. Think of Twitter as a cocktail party. Use a human voice and mingle.
  • Apologizing – This is the not-so-fun part. But, did you guys mess up? Respond to unhappy customers. You only have 140 characters, so there isn’t space for any of that “We apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused you” garbage. A genuine, first person, “I’m sorry” is a better way to go. Plus, I’ve personally found that the people who take the time to complain are the people who take the time to advocate for your when you handle the situation well.

2. Be Gracious

Are you creating content to draw people to your blog? Do you see people sharing your ebooks, blog post or webinars? Engage them and say thank you. I think one company that does a fantastic job with this is social media monitoring company Radian6. If you share their blog post or ebook, you can expect a friendly Tweet back saying thank you with a little smile.

The nice thing is that the way Twitter is built, only your followers who follow the person you are thanking via @reply will see these Tweets. So you don’t have to worry about clogging people’s streams with tons of “Thank you!! 🙂 ” Tweets. Figure out a way to work these aspect of engagement into your Tweeting in a way that scales for your team.

3. Be consistent

Once you start in social media, you have to keep it up and stay committed. If you build up an expectation of responsiveness and then you let it fall off the wayside, your community will look to you on Twitter with their questions and they will go ignored – which will only alienate them more than if you hadn’t engaged in the first place. How can you remain consistent?

  • Be on call – Is managing a community a 24/7 job? Well, it’s important to at least keep an eye on things. You’ll need a mobile app on your phone for when you’re away from your desk to at least monitor brand mentions. If anything major comes up, you should respond. On vacation? Make sure someone covers you.
  • Put “hours of operation” in your Twitter bio – This could be helpful, although I’m sure you still obviously get questions after 5pm. At least you are setting expectations properly at have a way to switch a conversation with a community member to email or phone if need be.
  • Scale your Tweeting – What is your goal? Are you promoting your blog posts and answering questions through your Twitter account? Maybe scheduling Tweets of your blog posts is a way to save you time. Being efficient will help you be consistent.

4. Use a Personal Tone

Some companies are not certain how to go about running a Twitter account and are afraid to allow their employees to Tweet on behalf of their brand – and with good reason! There have been a handful of well-documented “face/palm” moments in social media where an employee sent out a bad Tweet on a company Twitter account and didn’t represent the brand well. However, I think playing it safe with an overly corporate and cautious tone isn’t the always the right approach. Pick a tone that is consistent with your brand. Keep in mind: People like talking to people. Show human things with your words like personality and excitement and gratitude, just like you would on your own Twitter account – but be consistent and responsible and balance that with representing your brand.

Why the Twitter vs. Facebook Marketing Catfight is Dumb

This post originally appeared on the oneforty blog. It’s being reposted here as part of my blogging portfolio.

There’s been a consistent thread in the blogs and news recently where people are calling into question the true value of Facebook pages for businesses.

  • Forrester Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru says Facebook will never become a powerful eCommerce platform. Mulpuru’s study found that the average Facebook metrics are a 1% click-through rate and a 2% conversion rate. Comparatively, e-mail marketing offers an 11% click-through rate and a 4% average conversion rate.
  • Gawker offered a sassier recount of the study, delivering this takeaway: “The main problem is that Facebook treats brands a lot like people. So when you “like” a brand’s Facebook page, your newsfeed fills up with corporate adspeak, drowning out important news of what childhood friends’ babies are up to and resulting in an uneasy sense of foreboding: It’s disconcerting to see “Ford Motor Company” congratulate random people on their marriage in your newsfeed; did Henry Ford rise from the grave and bless their union, or the board of directors, or what?
  • People say don’t waste time with Facebook for your startup.

But then again…

Some food for thought:

Researchers don’t know your business or your goals

You need to have some idea of what you want to do on these platforms, use them in a way that gets the most value and scale your time accordingly. (A social media strategist can help.) Before you write of an entire platform altogether, consider that.

Here’s an example: If I was a small, local, photography business, I’d want more people in my area to see my awesome photos and hire me to take photos of their engagements and weddings and babies. I’d most definitely be cranking away at a Facebook page and leveraging the connections of my customers who were in the photos I took. Spreading awareness for that business happens to lend itself to two really popular features of Facebook – photos and tagging. I wouldn’t ignore Twitter, but I might just use it slightly differently (maybe Tweet about what photo sessions I was going to that day (@mentioning my customers of course) and Tweet links to our photo blog.) I might join other LinkedIn groups for professional photographers to learn about best practices etc, but I honestly wouldn’t make one for my business.

On the contrary, oneforty for example is a different kind of business than that. We get a ton of engagement from our LinkedIn group, but we actually get more traffic from Facebook from people sharing our blog posts there. Twitter, however, spanks both traffic source-wise.

Know Your Audience. Tools Can Help.

This is why listening in social media is so important. Find where your current and potential customers are online and really invest your time in building a presence where you see the most value for the goals you have for your business. Monitoring with Facebook is admittedly trickier. Even paid social media monitoring tools like Sysomos that pull brand mentions from Facebook can only pull from public Facebook wall posts (many users have private Facebook walls.) Kurrently is a free tool monitors your public mentions.

Paying attention to your referring sites (under Traffic Sources in Google Analytics) is another good way for you to pay attention to how people are discovering your website and see where you are getting the most value – Twitter or Facebook. Traffic is traffic, though. What are people actually doing when they get to your site? Think a little deeper about what kinds of activities people who come from Twitter or Facebook are doing. What platform offers the most value for your time spent?

Using Argyle Social, you can track how many people perform a conversion (like registering for an event, making a profile or buying something) on your website from Twitter and Facebook campaigns using in-page analytics on your website.

In conclusion, keep up on the reports and social media news regarding the value of Facebook. Read the blogs, but don’t be afraid to be skeptical about said findings. Most importantly, when your boss asks – or when you question yourself – about your presence on Facebook or any other social media platform, I think your own metrics and business goals should be the major focus of the conversation as opposed to an article you saw ReTweeted a bunch.