On the Art of Becoming “Someone” on Twitter

Twitter engagement https://alewebsocial.comA friend asked recently:

My boss is interested in generating interest via twitter. I’ve “searched” his name and character’s name and “followed” people who are tweeting good stuff about him. How do you get people to follow you? How do you become “someone” on twitter? Thanks for any help you can offer.

Do you have similar questions? You’ve created a Twitter account, tweeted a few times, followed some interesting folks, but still haven’t figured out how to gain a following.

The easy answer is “engage them.” But that probably doesn’t really answer your question. “Engage who? And how?” you might ask.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a fan of real, authentic engagement. So, you won’t find me “buying” followers, auto-responding, etc. While some of the links I share are pre-scheduled, they are created by me. Responses you get, you’re getting from me.

Now, I could sit in my office and wait for people to pass by (in my Twitter feed), and say “hi” as they march along. But that would become redundant and unfulfilling over time. Instead, I proactively strive to be useful to my followers. I go to where they are, rather than waiting passively for them to find me.

I once had a boss whom I loved. He didn’t just have an open door policy… He took it upon himself to take periodic breaks throughout his very long day and “wander among us.” He’d stick his head in at my door and ask how my day was going, if there was anything I needed to move forward on a project, etc. He wasn’t micro-managing. He was showing a genuine interest in me as a person and the work I was doing. As a result, he created a bond of loyalty that’s almost impossible to create in any other way.

So, how does this apply to building a Twitter following? Effectively using social media means applying the best leadership skills available; those that recognize people as individuals with unique interests, needs and skills. It means not only responding to people when you’re spoken to, but being willing to start conversations yourself and join conversations that are in progress already (if you have anything useful to add).

There are tools and techniques I use to make it easier to find those I want to build stronger bonds with, whether they are following me already or not. Here are just a few of them:

  • Participate in Tweetchats that catch your interest. Wouldn’t it be valuable to connect with others who share that interest? If you’re not familiar with Tweetchats, they are conversations that take place on Twitter, often at a specific time, using a given hashtag. (To learn more about hashtags, check out Hashtags Demystified.) Some of my favorites include #LeadChange, #LeadFromWithin, #BookPro, #SocMed and #SlumberParty.
  • Find the tools that work for you in filtering the information firehose that is Twitter. With over 2,000tps (tweets per second) going out on Twitter any given day, there’s just no way to take it all in. There are many tools out there to help you work your way through the fluff to the gems. A few of my favorites are Hootsuite, Bottlenose and InboxQ.
    • Hootsuite allows me to create Twitter streams filtered by those I follow or specific hashtags and keywords I’m interested in, as well as allowing me to post content to my own profiles immediately or on a schedule.
    • Bottlenose allows me to see which conversations my connections are currently engaged in. (It has a really neat sonar interface!)
    • InboxQ allows me to watch for people who are posting questions that I can answer. Thereby, allowing me to engage in conversations that may not even have gotten started yet!
  • Share relevant content with those that follow you. There are a few ways to find good content. You don’t have to create it all yourself. I use paper.li as a great way to curate relevant content from others, Twylah to share my own great content, and the bufferapp browser extension to share what I’m reading.
  • Use Twitter directories both to share about who you are, and to find people you may be interested in getting to know more. Some of the more popular are Twellow, WeFollow and TweetFind.

As you interact with people online that you like, follow them! If they enjoyed the conversation, they may follow you back. Keep in mind, as you strive to “be someone” on Twitter, that to be someone, you have to be real and authentic. Focus on growing relationships rather than making sales. As you do, you’ll find that sales come naturally as a result.

 

What are your favorite methods of growing your Twitter following? Please share them below!

8 Leadership Myths Dispelled | SmartBlogs

I had the pleasure of being invited recently to write a guest blog post on leadership for SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Leadership.

I decided to share a bit about a recent experience I had, and to answer the question “what happens when you get 21 leaders together to work on a project?”

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing just such a scenario over the past year, and the insights I’ve come away with defy certain myths about leaders.

Want to learn what they are? Check out the rest of the blog at 8 leadership myths dispelled | SmartBlogs.

Who Do You Give Back To?

I started following Dan Rockwell (@leadershipfreak) on April 30, 2010. I saw his Twitter ID listed among friends of mine from the Lead Change Group in a #ff tweet. After taking a look at his content, I knew he was someone I wanted to follow and learn from, and that others needed to hear what he had to share as well. So, I tweeted:

Leadershipfreak_tweet

Within the hour, Dan thanked me and let me know he was following me back. And so our conversation began…

That’s one thing that I love about using Twitter. Friendships develop, conversations ensue, and sometimes, just sometimes, our lives are touched.

When I first entered the Twitterverse, I did so on a whim with no real idea of what I was going to do with it. (This was during Ashton Kutcher’s competition with CNN Breaking News to see who could reach 1 million followers first, back in April 2009.) As a result, after creating my Twitter account, I didn’t do much of anything other than lurk and retweet. Then, as I was traveling to Tanzania as a missionary in June 2009, I thought it would be a great way of sharing my experiences while I was gone. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, that wasn’t possible.

It wasn’t until I returned home, and decided to spend some time figuring out the platform that I began making real connections on Twitter. First, there was Steve Keating (@leadtoday), whom I started following in January 2010. I was impressed with his bio, which said (and still does) that he’s not selling a thing on Twitter, only giving back. Then there were many others who followed. I found myself seeking out people who were positive, inspiring, uplifting, and had an “other” focus. We all need more givers than takers in our lives.

When I came across Dan, I recognized him as one of those people I wanted to surround myself with. But he opened my eyes to other possibilities for Twitter, which has since become my favorite social network, thanks to people like him.

Soon after we started following one another, he DM’d (direct messaged) me to say that he made a point of talking offline with the people he was meeting online, and would I be interested in talking by phone sometime? The online world of social media was still new to me, even though I was an eager student. But this was the first time I’d been part of what seems second nature now; taking an online connection and building an offline relationship.

While I was, at first, a little nervous during our phone call, it quickly became something easy and comfortable. I enjoyed learning about him, and sharing about myself. It was completely non-threatening and engaging, and I became fascinated with the potential of meeting new people who interested me. I live in a rural area of the country. As a single parent, I don’t get out much. So, being able to connect with people who share like beliefs, have similar interests and dreams, and who support and encourage one another is so very compelling to me.

Now, it’s my turn to give back to someone I care about, to support and encourage him where I can. Many of you may know that Dan was in a terrible car accident on November 20th. While it’s incredible that he survived it, what’s even more amazing is the grace, perseverance, gratitude and outward-focus he’s displayed this whole time. How many of us, at a time like this, would be tempted to slip into self-pity? Yet, Dan’s focus isn’t on himself, but on those he loves. He is a source of encouragement and inspiration to me, always.

One of the reasons I’m sharing about Dan today is because a source of anxiety for him is the medical bills that are anticipated to run around $30K in out-of-pocket expenses. This isn’t money he has just lying around. His work in the ministry and raising up leaders has been the treasure he’s stored up. To show our love and support for Dan, the Lead Change Group has been rallying around him to help raise funds to cover his expenses. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation, even if it’s only a few dollars. In 9 days, we’ve raised over $8,000 towards our goal, but there’s still a long way to go!

Take a minute, just one, and think about someone who inspires and encourages you. What lengths would you go to in order to help them? After you’ve done that, click on the image below, and give as generously as you feel led.

Time to Give Back to Dan


 

While You Were Reading…

Morning readingIf you’re like me, when you settle in at your computer in the morning, getting ready to start your work, you spend a little time checking out what the hot topics of the day are! I mean, if my newsfeed and inbox are going to be filled with this stuff, I want to know what everyone’s talking about! Is this “me” time? Well, it could be, if I don’t do anything with it. But wouldn’t my own followers and clients be interested in some of what I’m reading too? After all, they’re connected with me because they value what I have to share!

The problem is that I don’t want to bombard my readers with tweeting and posting all that content at once. They’ve got their own busy newsfeeds and inboxes to take care of.

So, here’s what I do…

First, I’m selective about what I share. I don’t simply share everything I read. I share the links that I think my audience will find useful.

Second, I use the BufferApp extension for Google Chrome in order to create a “buffer” of content that the system periodically tweets and posts for me, based on a schedule I predefine. While this currently only works with Facebook (pages as well as profiles) and Twitter, it’s still quick and easy to use. I can even highlight some of the text in the article I’m reading (including my own comments!) and click the Buffer icon in my toolbar in order to add it to the queue.

While I’m a big fan of Hootsuite and have used it almost exclusively up to this point, what I like about the BufferApp is how quick and easy it is to use. Since I define my posting schedule ahead of time, I don’t have to schedule each thing I add to the buffer. I just fill ‘er up and away she goes!

Third, I use the content I’m sharing to generate visibility for me and my business, either by commenting on the existing blog post (if my thoughts are short enough), or writing a responding blog post for my own website.

Therefore, the time I spend during my day keeping up with industry information is maximized time. I’m learning new things, my clients and followers have a great source of curated content, and I’m increasing the visibility for my website while establishing my expertise. Not a bad way to start the day, especially as I’m sipping my coffee with Peppermint Mocha creamer! (I love this time of year!)

What To Do When There’s a Snafoo…

Early this morning, news started floating around about Mark Davidson, from Orange Country, CA. According to his Twitter bio, he’s an:

“Internet sales & marketing professional. I write a lot of things to amuse myself and others. On occasion, I even have deep thoughts.”

According to his Twitter timeline, this social media professional had 3 ghostwriters on staff until yesterday, when he let one go. I’m sure, to his chagrin, he didn’t change his Twitter password. The result is something highly unprofessional, but something that could happen to anyone of us as a result of a momentary oversight.

Mark Davidson

Those of us who have ever lost a job can probably relate to the feelings expressed by this ghostwriter towards his former employer. However, all that would have to happen is for Mark to name this unemployed writer, and we can be certain the writer would remain that way for a long time to come!

So, don’ttake your momentary anger and make it part of the permanent record of the internet! There are multiple lessons to be learned here.

  1. If you’re an employer and let an employ go, make sure that your systems remain secure.
  2. If you’re recently unemployed, find other, more constructive, means of dealing with the feelings you’re experiencing. The loss of an income is significant. You have every right to feel intense emotions about it. But don’t let those emotions blind your reason and drive you to irreparable actions.
  3. If you’ve been the victim of a hacked account or some other kind of business failure, consider what information you want to share with your connections. How do you want people to view you afterward? Tailor your response to that. Is there something you could have done to prevent the issue? Own up to it.

Anyone can take their ball and go home. However, professionals face their problems, acknowledge what went wrong and what’s being done to fix the issues, and they move forward from there. Mark’s subsequent tweets show that he considered giving up; but instead, he posted a want ad for a new ghost writer. Know anyone that’s interested?

Book Review: “likeable social media” by Dave Kerpen

Our next book review is of Dave Kerpen’s New York Times best seller “likeable social media,” subtitled “How to DELIGHT YOUR CUSTOMERS, Create an IRRESISTIBLE BRAND, and Be Generally AMAZING ON FACEBOOK (and other social networks).”

As the subtitle might convey, Dave has a lot to say about how to do social media right. He begins early in the book by sharing an analogy about being at a cocktail party. As with any party, you encounter a wide variety of people on social media networks; those who are great story tellers, and those who bore you to tears. Then, Dave boldly asks which person you want to see again, or maybe even do business with.

Since this review was first written, a revised and expanded version was released, which you can find here instead.

We all instinctively know who we want to hang out with at a party, but as businesses, we tend to ignore some of the most basic niceties of human communication. We forget to listen, to ask questions, and to engage with people.

Dave reminds us of the elements that make people likeable, and applies them to businesses as well. His first chapter looks at the importance of listening, and to never stop listening. From there, he stresses the importance of knowing your demographics, as well as where and how to find them, then putting yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself, if you were your customer, what would you want?

Each chapter focuses on another aspect of likeability and how to apply it online; things like being authentic, honest and transparent, taking responsibility, responding to comments people make (both the good and the bad), providing value to the people you engage with, inspiring people with the stories you share, and integrating social media into your customers’ experience.

There’s not a lot that’s new in Dave’s book. Any child who has ever been taught their manners learns the same thing. Listen. Say “please” and “thank you.” Put yourself in the other guy’s shoes. Ask questions. Be nice. If you’ve done something wrong, apologize. Don’t be pushy or bossy. Play nice with others. Don’t run with scissors. (Well… That’s not really in the book, but you get the idea!)

However, Dave puts all of these simple things together in the context of developing a likeable social media presence for your business, even if you are hampered by regulations that hinder your ability to participate in social media. A significant benefit of using social media comes from listening to what people have to say, showing appreciation for their praise and concern for their frustrations, offering guidance when and how rules allow.

One thing I particularly liked is that at the end of each chapter, there are action items that help you to apply what you’ve just learned to your own unique situation. For example, Chapter 12, called “Share Stories (They’re Your Social Currency)” suggests that you write down your company’s founding story, and package it for easy consumption on social networks. This is more than writing a bio for your profile, or an “About Us” page on your website. This is about sharing the story that captures your unique “Why,” and it can be a very engaging and compelling connector between you and your audience.

It’s for this reason that I believe there’s something in this enjoyable book for everyone working with social media; both the newbie and the experienced veteran. So, if you’re looking for an engaging read that inspires you to be more likeable, I highly recommend reading Dave Kerpen’s “likeable social media.”

The new and revised edition of likeable social media is available on Amazon now.

Hashtags Demystified…

[Update: As of January 9th, 2012 TwapperKeeper is now fully integrated with the HootSuite dashboard. This means the core functionality you now enjoy for archiving your tweets is available alongside your other social networks and profiles. ]

A friend of mine called me up earlier today and said “Can you tell me about this hashtag thing? I really need to understand it for my business, and haven’t a clue where to start.” Rather than keeping the information between “just the two of us,” I decided to write a quick post and show you just what hashtags are capable of doing.

Hashtags are a quick and easy way of organizing information on Twitter. Due to some tools that allow you to post on multiple social networks at once (like Hootsuite and TweetDeck), you’ll find hashtags used on other social networks as well, but they were first used with Twitter and there are Twitter-related sites that make them extremely powerful. Thus, the examples I use in this blog post will all be Twitter-oriented.

So, first – What is a hashtag? Wiktionary defines it as: A tag embedded in a message posted on a microblogging service, consisting of a word within the message prefixed with a hash sign (#).

Now that that’s clear, let’s move on. Oh! Wait! It didn’t make sense? Okay. Let’s try again. If I want to highlight certain terms in a tweet as keywords in my text, I start them with a hash sign. The combination of the hash sign and the word that immediately follows it is my “hashtag.” So, when I tweet something about my brand (Aleweb Social Marketing), I use a hashtag of #Aleweb to highlight that keyword.

A common use of hashtags is to refer to virtual and real-world events (like TweetChats, conferences, SXSW, etc.). People interested in finding out what everyone’s saying about that event will search for the hashtag and see a running stream of commentary filtered on that one subject. Brown Estate, a winery in Napa Valley, created the #brownzin hashtag to put on the label of their 2009 Napa Zin label to facilitate conversation among the various people who enjoy that particular wine, and they’re tweeting about it to this very day!

Job seekers in Connecticut may want to watch the hashtag pair “#jobs #ct” or “#hiring #ct” to learn more about openings that exist within the state. You can filter that further by adding a tag for the field or specific location that you want. For example, “#hartford #ct #jobs.” There are also folks out there doing all they can to help those who are unemployed find gainful employment. Try taking a look at #findajobfriday, #hirefriday, and #jobangels. [Tip: Twitter is a great tool in the job search because many recruiters will post a job opening on Twitter, which is free to use, before paying to post the opening on a job board. Therefore, you can learn about some openings before they’re even posted anywhere by watching for them on Twitter.]

How do I create a hashtag? Well, you create one by simply starting to use it. There’s no place to register a tag. You start using it, and invite your followers use it too. Over time, this leads to greater visibility, especially when you actively promote its use, like Brown Estate did by including the tag on their labels.

Sometimes, multiple hashtags appear that all relate to the same thing (like #job and #jobs, and #FollowFriday and #ff). Remember that the hashtag counts in your character count for your tweet. So, you want something short and sweet, but meaningful. Play around with searching for the hashtag you want to create. If it’s not in use, run with it and let others know what it means, and encourage them to use it too!

Finally, how do I search for a hashtag? Well, there are all sorts of ways to do that. You can use search.twitter.com to search for the hashtag. You can use the search box in Hootsuite and other applications. You can also use Tweetchat or Twubs to monitor conversations taking place around a given hashtag. (When you use Tweetchat, you have less than 140 characters to work with, because TweetChat automatically appends the tag you’re following to your tweet.)

How else can hashtags help me? You can also use other sites like BlastFollow to automatically follow everyone who’s using a particular hashtag. Or you can create an RSS feed of a hashtag for posting on your website or pulling into your Facebook newsfeed. You can use Storify to create a story out of a collection of posts for archiving and sharing purposes, and you can use TwapperKeeper to periodically archive hashtag posts so that nothing gets lost over time.

A hashtag by itself is a simple thing. But what you do with it is as rich and powerful as you make it. Promote your business. Find a job. Attend a conference. Learn something new. The choice is yours!

And when you share this post, try adding #Aleweb to it. Then see what everyone else is saying and join the conversation!