Twitter

Social Media: If I Started Today

I’m feeling nostalgic these days. With my second Inbound Marketing Summit wrapped up, and experiencing my first time at Blog World in Vegas in October, I’m entering November and that means it’s my Twitterversary again. Two years. Damn.

And it’s yet another blog for me. You may notice that janetaronica.com now has a new home on WordPress.org, a new (and anticipated to be evolving) look, and compiled content from three of my blogging ventures over the past two years. Yes, three… Things don’t look perfect on this blog right now and that’s ok. Startup life has taught me that sometimes “done” is better than perfect, and you iterate your product from there. I’m happy to have my domain name and my content here, my Tweet button and Facebook like button installed so you can share it with your friends. There’s a way to subscribe to my content. I’ll add the extra stuff as I go along, but I’m no longer waiting around for myself to figure that stuff out before I blog. It’s a blog. Blogging comes first.

I haven’t done things perfectly in social media. Here’s what I’d do if I started today:

I’d start a blog on WordPress.com. I’d buy my domain name from the beginning and buy whatever amount of money they charge these days for domain re-direction. I’d use the *simplest* theme possible. I would not. I REPEAT: I would not fuss and muss over the look and feel of my blog. I would just start blogging.

A mistake I made in blogging is wasting a lot of time on the look/feel of my blogs and getting frustrated with coding stuff I didn’t understand. I wasted time I could’ve spent writing screwing around with HTML and whatchamacallit and getting no where with it. I’d get the content right before I worried about headers, colors, widgets etc.

Social Health Nut is an example of this. I fussed around so much trying to figure out how I wanted that thing to look that by the time it looked the way I wanted it to, I realized I didn’t even know what I wanted to blog about. So I didn’t blog. #fail

You have to scale. What is priority when it comes to customizing your blog? What matters most? When you are JUST starting, this matters most:

After I got a good six months of blog-at-least-once-a-week content under my belt, THEN I would move my content over to WordPress.org. There are far more theme options and customizations available with plugins from what I can see so far. Paying for Bluehost and having their customer service people there to bail me out when I jack up my .php stuff is well worth it. You can’t get any help like that when paying WordPress.com for rights to customize the CSS over there.

Another option? Just do a Posterous blog. It’s a very simple blogging platform, you can just email your posts to post@posterous.com and they show up on your site. It’s a change to focus on the content without the distractions of all that other garbage.

Also, remember: You don’t have to do a WordPress blog.

It’s the content that matters, not the platform.

Steve Rubel uses Posterous.

Seth Godin, David Armano, Julia Roy and Greg Verdino all use TypePad.

Hipster Puppies uses Tumblr. Oh, wait…

You get my point. Just start blogging. Not sure what to write about? Talk about how you’re not sure what to write about because you’re just learning about social media. “I’m new to social media and I read this article today and this is what I thought of it.” That’s a legitimate blog post! And my God, this SMD community would find that sort of stuff refreshing coming from someone new to the space, I think. Just start blogging. Go. Go, go go.

And just start Tweeting. That’s what I did two years ago and I’d do it all again. I literally just started asking people how they got their PR jobs in Boston and Tweeted blog posts I read and commented on and found interesting. I still do that, only now I’m asking about advice when it comes to community management and Tweeting/commenting on blog posts related to that. Remember that “don’t talk to strangers” advice you got as a kid? That doesn’t apply to Twitter. Talk to strangers. Lots of them.

Getting on Twitter and blogging changed my life. It changed my career direction and introduced me to amazing friends, mentors and people. It’s been a wild two years. There are things I could have done better, yes. But there is nothing that I would do differently. 🙂

Most of Twitter Is Un-ReTweetable Crap. Well, Okay, But…

Do you Retweet every Tweet that interests you? Do you @reply someone every time you have a reaction to something he or she Tweets?

Recent statistics from social media analytics firm Sysomos report that 71% of Tweets garner no reaction whatsoever. This means no Retweets and no @replies. Sysomos’ statistics are the findings after studying 1.2 billion over the course of two months. The report also reveals that of the 23% of Tweets that do produce an @reply, 85% of those only produce a single @reply.  Just 6% of Tweets get a Retweet.

 

 

Mashable jumped on the story, and one of the commenters summarized much of my reaction: No @reply or Retweet does not imply falling on deaf ears. Not all information warrents a share or a response.

I know that Sysomos is just crunching the numbers as they saw them, but I don’t think the research paints a picture of what is really going on on Twitter. A few things:

  • What about direct messages?

Sometimes, I’ll get into a conversation about making specific plans to meet up with someone on Twitter. I stop @replying that person and I send a direct message.

Sometimes, I just don’t feel that whatever I have to say is educational, informative, generic, or funny enough to share with the 1,800 or so people who follow me. Those Tweets people were sending didn’t go unnoticed or unreplied to, they were just private interactions via direct message.

  • @replies and Retweets aren’t the only means for impact

Did you know you can favorite Tweets? Not that many people do this, but I do know some people who use the “favoriting” option as a way to bookmark Tweets for later. They do this with Tweets of articles they want to read later, for example, and keep track of it using a tool like Favstar.fm. Paper.li allows you to read Tweets in a newspaper-like format. Ever see those Tweets like “the Janet Aronica daily is out”? That’s someone publishing the links they found from their friend’s Tweets that day. Now, they may not have directly Retweeted that individual’s specific Tweet that hour or replied to that person’s Tweet right then.

My point is that just because it’s not in the form of an @reply or a Retweet, that doesn’t mean someone didn’t find a Tweet useful, funny, informative, etc. Also, how many times a day do you see a Tweet and just think “wow” but you are too busy at the time to actually type out a reaction to it? Again, that Tweet didn’t fall on deaf ears, it just didn’t garner a public reaction out of you.

  • There’s a lot of “pointless” babble out there

I wonder how much of the 1.2 billion Tweets were just garbage. There’s a lot of junk on Twitter. My company has an “OH” account that’s just Tweets of funny things we say at the office. We’re the only ones who follow it. It’s basically an inside joke to us. (I’m sorry, social media gods, it’s pointless crap but it’s funny to us. 😛 ) It’s not meant to be @replied or Retweeted, but the 50 or so Tweets we’ve sent from it could’ve been a part of that 1.2 billion Tweets. I recently saw someone Tweeting about how she had started an anonymous Twitter “diet” account so she could Tweet about everything she ate and how she felt about it to help herself keep on track.

It’s 2010 and we still have that itch we had in high school when all we wanted was to put up a really great away message on AIM. We want to rant, snark and cry. We want to be heard but we don’t want to be held accountable, and I actually think there are a lot of Twitter accounts out reflecting this, but they’re anonymous. It’s your Live Journal, served up 140 characters at a time. Is it pointless? Well, it’s not supposed to garner an @reply or a Retweet, they are just thoughts.

I suppose the argument can be made that in order for a Tweet to really have legs, in order for it to resonate it needs to be shared publicly. However, I think that if you’re a marketer and you’re looking at this stuff, don’t read it as “Twitter is a waste if almost 3/4 doesn’t produce a public reaction.” What I’m going to look at is, how do my company’s account’s followers want to interact with me and share my content other than @replies and Retweets? How are you going to apply this to your marketing?

Tweet.

I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning, same hat wearing hipsters burning for shared and skeptical approval from the holographic projected dynamo in the technology of the era, who weak connections and recession wounded and directionless, sat up, micro-conversing in the supernatural darkness of Wi-Fi-enabled cafes…” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Tweet

How Many Calories Do You Burn on Twitter?

I saw a great piece on Mashable yesterday that begs the question: How many calories do you burn while using Twitter?  Want to find out? Check out a fun Twitter application called TweetCalories, which shows how many calories you burned over the last 24 hours by Tweeting.

Screen shot 2010-05-16 at 7.15.36 PM

I didn’t Tweet too much over the weekend, so I only scorched a measly 2.06 calories. I think you burn more calories sneezing. I might Google that. Furthermore, this isn’t actually meant to be a top-notch weight-loss tool, but rather, it’s a marketing trick for a fitness center in Brazil.  I happen to think this is a cute technique though, not to mention somewhat successful on the viral side of things.  I mean, they got me to blog about it, right?

Twitness! Who’s on Your Twitter Fitness List?

When I’m not working out or eating or making healthy/yummy food…or blogging about working out or eating or making healthy/yummy food…I’m Tweeting. A lot.

Twitter lists are nothing new, but I’m still loving them and adding to mine on a regular basis.  It helps me organize my personal network as well at categorize the conversations I’m following. For the most part, I follow people who chat about marketing, PR and social media.  But I embrace my inner health nut by keeping up to date on Tweets about health and fitness.

Here is my fitness list from Twitter:

SELF Magazine@selfmagazine – Official Tweets from SELF magazine

Chalene Johnson@chalenejohnson – Super friendly and super fit. Creator of Turbo Jam, TurboKick, and Chalean Extreme, just to name a few.

Fit Sugar @fitsugar – Check out this fitness blog at http://www.fitsugar.com

Gaiam@gaiam – Hippie food, organic fibers, granola-crunching yoga-freak awesomeness. Namaste, ya’ll. http://www.gaiam.com

YogaDork@yogadork – Check out this yoga blog at http://www.yogadork.com

Jillian Michaels@jillianmichaels – It’s Jillian from The Biggest Loser!

Bob Harper @mytrainerBob – It’s Bob from The Biggest Loser!

Hungry Girl@hungrygirl – Check out this nutrition blog at http://www.hungrygirl.com

Smash Fit @smashfit – Tweets from Smash Fit founder Heather Frey. Trainer/client match-making at http://www.smashfit.com

Bethenny Frankel@bethenny – Bethenny is the “health foodie” and that awesome chick from Real Housewives of NYC

Taryn Perry @choose2befit – Taryn is a hot mom! She is  a Beachbody coach with great advice and will she take the time to personally answer your questions about P90x and Insanity.

Tony Horton@tonyhorton – Tony is an animal. He created P90x, Power 90, and Ten Minute Trainer. (Tony darling you need to Tweet more!)

Mark Sisson @mark_sission – Check out his blog at http://www.marksdailyapple.com to learn about the Primal Blueprint approach to health

Eat This Not That @etnt – What’s the best of two evils? Check out the Eat This Not That nutrition books

Women’s Health Magazine @womenshealthmag –  Official Tweets from Women’s Health Magazine

SHAPE Magazine @SHAPE_magazine – Official Tweets from SHAPE Magazine

Oxygen Magazine @Oxygen_magazine – Official Tweets from Oxygen Magazine

Healthy Eats @healthyeats – Check out this nutrition blog at http://blog.healthyeats.com

Jackie Warner @jackiewarner10 – The star of Bravo’s Workout, fitness icon, uber-intimidating trainer-to-the-stars, creator of Sky Sport Spa, entrepreneur, self-made millionaire by age 22..nbd. This lady inspires me. (Tweet more, please!!)

I hope this helps you find some great information that will motivate you 140-characters at a time.  Have any suggestions for me? Who else should I follow to get my health nutty Twitter fix?

Who’s on Twitter?

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Twitter lately.  No, I’m not stalking you (well, not that much) but I’m doing some PR research.  Sifting through profiles, I noticed something and I want to know if you notice this too.

According to their 160-character bios, the vast majority of people I came across fit into these categories:

-Marketers

-Public Relations people

-Journalists

-Software/web/graphic designers, enthusiasts…people who code.

-Self-proclaimed “social media gurus,” “digital natives,” and “experts” who may or may not know what they are talking about

-Boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, and wives of avid Twitter users. Significant others introduced/suckered into micro-blogging who probably still make fun of it but are secretly addicted.

Follow me for a moment into the idea that we are at least in part defined by our occupations.  Sure, there are nurses and teachers and lawyers on Twitter.  There are tons of politicians and entertainers on Twitter, but I think we can argue to some extent that they too are using Twitter as marketers.  I’m concerned that a huge portion of Twitter isn’t so much this even playing field of Common Joes, but more of a media-infatuated, geeky, techy clique.  When we the marketing/PR types get excited about “putting the public back in public relations” and encouraging our clients to engage in conversation with consumers – who are we telling them to talk to?

Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Twitter.  I just wish it was more diverse.

This One’s For the Fridge: I Wrote a Paper About Twitter

I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly proud my parents must be.  They spent all that money on a big, fancy college education and the culmination of all this knowledge is a 22 page paper about Twitter.

This “twpaper” is about @CoffeeGroundz, a coffee house in Houston, TX that uses Twitter to connect with customers.  I wrote it for my senior seminar class, which is the capstone communications course at my college.  I went through the class kicking and screaming, but I’m happy to say that I learned a lot from this project and found the research to be fascinating. I would like to thank everyone who helped me with this project, especially @coffeegroundz, @keithwolf, @cwelsh, @toadstar, @mikedaniel, @lfarnsworth, @gdruckman and @jgrassman. I was touched by your generosity.

I did a case study that involved a content analysis (stalking) of the @coffeegroundz Twitter traffic and interviews (the email kind) with several customers/Twitter followers.  I originally wanted to do a paper about social media and ROI, but then I realized that #1 it’s Pandora’s box and #2 qualitative research on the topic is more within my time-frame and skill set.  The paper touches on the topic of ROI, but looks at it more in a cause-effect sense and not straight metrics or anything like that.  The first part of the paper has some more general information about how businesses use Twitter, then there’s some heady discussion about theories and previous research, and then the fun part (pg. 12) with the research findings and interviews is at the end.

So, here’s the paper.  Enjoy all 31,985 delicious characters of social media marketing goodness.

[scribd id=14596673 key=key-277pbsm1fwu6nc0z7a7d]

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Networking in Boston

A few weeks ago, Jason Falls wrote a blog post about why social media won’t help you find a job during a recession.  The basic sentiment is to use Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. but “know and understand that all the on-line, behind-the-computer, cyber connections in the world don’t beat a hand shake, a smile and a chat.”

So last week, I kicked it old school and met up with some PR and marketing people—(gasp!) in the flesh—during a one-day whirlwind of a trip in Boston.  I had three interviews, two of them informational and one for an internship.  I wasn’t all that shocked to learn that there were hiring freezes and no positions open for me.  However, and this could just be ego, but it feels really great/comforting to hear someone who has a job you want tell you that you’re doing the right stuff to get there.  I didn’t leave with a job (and I didn’t expect to) but I left with many more connections and information that will help me get one.  And recession be damned, I’m getting one.

Highlights:

  • “Twitter levels out the networking playing field.” My new friend Rebecca (@repcor) said it best.  It gives you direct access to people who work at, own, or know people who work at the companies you want to work for. Because of my connection to her and Justin Levy (@justinlevy) I got to watch a taping of Hubspot TV, take a little tour of the office, and chat with Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) about a social media paper I’m writing in school.  Connections connections connections.
  • I wrote a blog post about my trip, and a few days later I got a lovely email from Alexa Scordato (@Alexa) inviting me to a girls night with her friends.  So I ended up having a lovely dinner with Alexa, Rebecca, Maria Thurrell (@MaThuRRell) and Nidhi Makhija (@kaex88).  We even got a surprise visit from Todd Van Hoosear (@Vanhoosear).

I’m not trying to name drop, just giving credit where credit is due.  Everyone was so sweet and welcoming to me.  If I wasn’t convinced that Boston was the place for me before, the generosity of everyone I met really made me fall for Beantown and showed me exactly what that city has to offer.

I don’t think I will get a job directly from social media in that I’m not expecting someone to randomly Facebook message me one day and be all, “Hey, want to be an account coordinator?”  But in my case, I think it is really valuable to use it to make out-of-town connections, and I actually believe I will get a job from one of those.  I think if you plan to stay in the area you went to college in, it’s easier to make those connections the “old way” through PRSSA or AMA conferences and you may not have to rely on the internet so much.  But even in that case, following the local pros on Twitter couldn’t hurt.

Everyone tells me that “networking” is so important in job searching, but not that many people explain specifically what that means.  I hope my experience helps do exactly that: explain specifically what “networking” means.  It’s basically just talking to people who have jobs you are interested in having, talking to influencers they talk to, asking LOTS of questions, being gracious, being friendly, and building relationships.  I recently said that diplomas aren’t magic wands, and Twitter isn’t a magic wand, either.  If you click the mouse and follow someone it isn’t like ABRACADABRA (poof!) you’re hired.  But if you DM them, email them, meet them and offer a firm handshake and a nice chat—then maybe they can direct you to a friend who has a friend who has a job for you.

In conclusion, I just want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time to meet (or chat on the phone with me).  I didn’t mention everyone because I wasn’t sure if it’d be weird to publicly write the name of your company and put down that I had an interview there, but I really appreciate your advice and your time.  Check your mail. 😉

Until next time:

Make friends.  Just keep swimming.  Don’t stop believing.

JNA

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How I Became Involved in Social Media and What I’ve Learned So Far

Like most college seniors, I joined Facebook freshman year of college. My very first Facebook friends were people from high school and the girls that lived on my floor at Verder Hall at Kent State. I was in it for purely social purposes. I didn’t see it, or sites like it, as something that could potentially play a significant role in my career.

Freshman year (fall of 2005) was also the first time I heard about blogs, during Intro to Mass Communication class. There, I – along with 400 of my “classmates” – heard my professor lecture about the incoming threat of the DUN DUN DUN – Citizen Journalists! Run for your liiiiiivvvvessss. The BLOGGERS are COMING!

The topic of blogging was explained very much in terms of how newspaper and magazine journalism majors better beware, because the bloggers are here to take your jobs.

Throughout college, Facebook remained a place for casual conversation, and albums of some now-deleted pictures. (Like that picture of your passed out roommate spooning the inflatable you-know-what she gave you for your 21st birthday? Yup. Delete those, kids.) It was a way for me to keep in touch with friends, especially when they studied abroad and it wasn’t as easy to just send a text or make a call. (Mark Zuckerburg, I’m thankful for that.) Then came the newsfeeds, and then the grown-ups joined Facebook, and then the applications were added. Now, any business willing to give five minutes to creating a page can have its own place/idenity in the social medium.

I didn’t care about blogs until I had to search them for Kodak coverage at my internship last summer. This prompted me to discover different blogs that I could read on my own. As an infamously reluctant waitress, angry server blogs – most notably, Waiter Rant – profoundly resonated with me. I also discovered Culpwrit (a great source of advice for PR students) around that time.

Fall of senior year, I took a class called Introduction to Digital Media. Inundated with blog, wiki, podcast, Flash, and Second Life projects up to wazoo, I felt both overwhelmed and intrigued at the vastness of the social media environment. I began to see how drastically and quickly the flow of information was changing. However, it took a riveting personal experience for me to comprehend the change.

In November, my friend died in a tragic accident. She was walking down the road and got hit by a truck. For me, the news of this accident was met with unexpected devastation. We swam together in middle school, and I hadn’t spoken to her since high school. Nonetheless, I was blindsided by grief. I’m not a crier, but I wept for days, fixated on news updates of her condition.

She lingered in the ICU that weekend, and the local news reported her changing condition with statuses that were both vague and cliche. “Seriously injured” and “critical condition” were among the updates. I will note two important things about my experience in searching for information about her status:

1. The most up-to-date information was on a Facebook group created to promote a candle-light vigil in her honor. People who had actually visited her or talked to people who had visited shared what information they knew by writing on the wall for the group. As opposed to waiting another ten hours for the next news story – wall posts were made sometimes within just minutes of each other. They weren’t journalists, they were friends, and that made a difference in how their information was perceived.

2. The interactivity of regular news revealed a nasty side to Web 2.0. People who never knew her freely commented on the situation beneath the news stories on the website. She died on a Sunday night, but people starting posting “RIP” things on Friday morning. Now, as you can see with this news story, someone moderates the comments and deletes those reported as “abuse.” But gems like this comment feed continue to flow through cyberspace. Some of these comments make me sick.

This event shook me to the core, and inspired to me to reconsider many things in my life – including but hardly limited to my ideas of what news is. I recognized once and for all that media had changed. Gone were the days when just the reporters had the authority on information. Comment posts held an authority all their own, and information was taken out of the headlines and put back into the conversations exchanged between friends.

If the media changed, I realized PR had changed. And if PR had changed – I had to stand up and face the fact that my career was going to look a lot different than I anticipated.

Since November, I’ve embarced on a personal journey through social media. I began by re-activating my Twitter account (I did it in Septemeber for maybe a week, but didn’t initially see the appeal) and reading a variety of PR and career-advice blogs (especially Penelope Trunk!) This post from a PR pro at Schneider Associates is a great example of a lot of the consensus that I’ve run into, which is that social media is and will be an integral part of my PR future.

I’ve joined a wide variety of sites to experiment and get a feel for what is out there. To be honest, this is one of those self-guided tours, and I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a couple of times. But I’ve never been afraid to make mistakes, to allow myself to have unintentional experiences that teach me something. I take responsibility for what I put out there. I like to, well, JK JK a lot – but don’t be mistaken: I do take this seriously.

I’ve read that when it comes to Twitter and blogging, you should not only consume information, but contribute it. As a social media newbie, what do I have to say that people will get some use out of? Now don’t get me wrong, I promise to share to share only the top echelon – the most valuable – of LOLcat photos and FAILblog posts with my legion of loyal followers. But other than that, what do I have to say about PR, social media, internships etc. that will actually be worthwhile?

How worthwhile this is, that is for you to decide. But after the experiences I’ve had, I feel confident enough to share a conclusion I’ve come to:

We are citizen journalists. As a former newspaper journalism major, I’m happy to say that I’ve reclaimed my own job and found my own place with blogging. Ethics is a strong focus in traditional journalism, and I think that we can and should begin to apply those ideals to what we blog, comment, post, tweet, tag, etc. Nobody’s perfect. But we can try…harder.

I don’t think that how we edit ourselves should be simply a matter of PG-rating, personal branding and etiquette. Based on my experience, that isn’t necessarily enough pressure or accountability for many people contributing their two-cents on the internet.

Don’t underestimate yourself. People are reading, and the comments you make on news stories, the posts you make on Facebook – have consequences. As a journalist, would you publish something inaccurate on the front page of your paper? No. So as a citizen journalist, maybe it’s not the best idea to blog, comment, post, tag, or tweet information that is inaccurate, particularily when it’s regarding a sensitive topic – for instance, the death of a beautiful, smart, athletic, funny, talented young girl.

Groups like the Society of Professional Journalists have a code of ethics helping support and direct the moral compasses of reporters. Together, citizen journalists must continuously work to establish a standard of what is right.

So until next time,

Become an organ donor. Learn something new. Write what you feel even when it hurts.

JNA

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