36 rules of social media

Fast Company asked social media power users for their rules of engagement, and Mediabistro’s AllTwitter turned it into a handy infographic. Did they miss any of your rules?

While I agree with the overarching theme that it’s high time to stop treating social media as a broadcast platform and more like a conversation platform, I don’t think it’s impossible to have a monetization strategy that provides a good consumer experience at the same time.

Is Facebook’s EdgeRank prioritizing text-only posts?

Something I’ve noticed this week… Here’s two posts from a Facebook page this week, one text-only and one link. Text-only posts used to be hammered the hardest by Facebook’s EdgeRank (their algorithm that determines how many of your fans see a page’s posts).

Have you seen anything like this on your pages this week? Could this be an anomaly, or has Facebook changed EdgeRank radically again?

I have a Twitter account…now what?

I hear frequently from people in Meetup groups that they’ve started a Twitter account, but aren’t sure what to do with it or what to make of the platform. There are so many options that the path forward can seem paralyzing. Twitter is a two-way communication tool, so in that spirit, here are some tips to get you started on the right foot:

Welcome to Twitter! Post something

It takes some practice to compose a complete, legible thought in 140 characters or less. Practice it now, before you start focusing on getting your name out there. Are you posting thoughts from your day, or are you repurposing content from your website? Post links you find interesting or provocative. The goal is to allow someone encountering your Twitter page for the first time to be able to easily get the general idea of who you are and what you do.

Follow some interesting people

Twitter provides many lists of celebrities and other well-known people to new users. You can follow some of those if you like. However, chances are you have deeper interests than what Kim Kardashian wore yesterday. Whatever your major interests are, make sure you populate your feed with people you’ll want to talk to. I recommend following those that people you admire follow for now. (There are some more advanced means of finding good people to follow, which I’ll save for a future blog post.)

Talk to those interesting people on a regular basis

When you log into Twitter or open your Twitter app, you’ll see a ton of posts from all the people you’re following. Clicking the Reply arrow lets you send a reply back to that person. Replies starting with someone’s name (like @sarahwefald) don’t go out to all your followers; they’re only visible in the news feeds of anyone following both you and the person you’re writing. Keep in mind though that your comments are publicly readable, so take care!  I try to reach out to 3 people each day. Some ways to do this are to read someone’s blog post and reply back with thoughts about it, or answer a question someone asks. Make sure to reply to everyone who sends you an @reply message as well.

If you build it, they will come

Don’t worry about your Follower number for right now. Just concentrate on posting good content and having good conversations.

Why it’s actually better to stop focusing on 100%

We are a nation of overachievers, so I get it when people look at me like I have three heads when I say you may be doing yourself a disservice by trying to do or have it all.

But the fact remains that waiting until something is perfect in order to take action usually means that no action is taken at all, and I’d rather have three heads than get nothing done.

I wrote before about having trouble finding the motivation to finish my portfolio website and start the blog that you’re reading now. I found my motivation by making it a game of writing 30 blog posts in 30 days. I had the website partially finished, and if you look at it now, there are portions of it that are just placeholders, and some things don’t work the way they should. Developers at startups talk about their MVP – minimum viable product. This website is my MVP.

In other words, this website is about 80% to where I want to end up. It’s far from perfect, but it does enough that I’m able to participate in the 30-day blogging challenge. If I had waited until the site was “perfect,” who knows how long it would have taken to be finished…if I finished it at all.

100% is the enemy of “done.” Get just as far as you need to get in order to start taking action. It’s better to have the project 80% done but already providing returns for you (financial or otherwise) than to wait too long and have a project that’s 100% there but giving you 0%.

Keeping up with your own social media when you’re a social media professional

The saying goes that the cobbler’s children are the worst shod. As a marketing professional heavily involved in social media, I prioritize my clients’ social media feeds over my own. This shows, quite glaringly, in my fits and starts of sharing content and resharing the great posts that others create, and in the bags under my eyes when I do finally have the time and inclination to buckle down and contribute to the online community that has given so much to me…at 2 AM. No one wants to be the one everyone sees posting like a madwoman in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, there are a lot of great tools out there to help organize and streamline the approach.

Most important in my toolbox is Buffer. Buffer is an app that acts like a bank where you can compose messages for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and whenever you have the inclination. Once each post is saved, Buffer will automatically send them out at predetermined times. I have mine set to post four times a day, but you can set it up to post less often or more often. This way, I can plan out days of content when the house is quiet at night, and post it on my chosen networks while I’m doing work for clients during the day.

The pitfall of Buffer, though, is that it’s a broadcasting tool. I built my first community on Twitter by having conversations with music writers. Many of those writers (and friends of those writers) became good friends offline as well. To find new and interesting people, I look at Klout’s topic lists for “influencers,” and I look at the Twitter accounts of people I admire and follow some of the people they look up to, and I read and respond to what they have to say. Twitter is often misused as a portable RSS feed. Engage others, or perish.

It’s always a good idea to play games with yourself. For a long time, I felt like I had nothing worth saying in a blog format, and I was dragging my feet on getting my portfolio in shape. One day, my friend Oscar posted in the Social Media Mastermind of Orange County Facebook group about a blog challenge for November – 30 posts in 30 days. I signed up, and all of a sudden I managed to have a functioning website up with blog posts on it. I already wanted to be more active in my community online. Now I have some peer pressure to keep me honest.

I’m experimenting with Triberr as well, after hearing about how easy Triberr makes it to find great, relevant content worth sharing, as well as getting your content in front of people who might find it relevant and interesting in turn. I’m looking forward to seeing how this experiment turns out.

In the end, though, the key to making all of this work is consistency. Without it, I am working solely for my clients and not for myself. Noble as that may sound, you can’t get water from a dry well. The stronger my personal community is, the higher quality of work I can do for my clients, and I strengthen my community by actively participating.

Follow me on Twitter to see how all of this turns out!

Why should I use social media?

The obvious answer is often the right one — if you don’t know why you should use social media, you probably shouldn’t be using it.

I often speak to people running businesses or trying to make it in a band who tell me they’re on Facebook because someone told them they should be on Facebook, but no matter how often they use the site, it all just seems rather pointless, not to mention fruitless.

Perhaps you’re one of those people who tells others their business or brand should be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Pinstagram, Faceyspaces…the list goes on. It’s a common misconception that we are obligated to engage all the new, shiny objects we hear are “hot” or “the next big thing” in social media. The truth is that you’re likely doing far more damage to your brand by trying to shoehorn social media into a workflow it wasn’t designed for.

That’s not to say that social media can’t help everyone. It most certainly can. However, it has to be done well to do so. If you’re one of those people I mentioned in the previous paragraph, knock it off already!

Brands should be online, and should register all the usernames and domain names necessary on all relevant social media platforms just as a matter of trademark security. How far that brand engages in social media depends not only on the brand but on the stakeholder’s appetite for using the platform or platforms of choice.

I’d love it if all the bands I’ve ever worked with were natural Tweeters or Facebookers. More often than not, it just doesn’t come naturally. They can entertain a room full of hundreds of paying customers for over an hour, but put a smartphone in their hands and they just don’t know what they’re supposed to say. This is not their fault; there is a message and you just have to find the method of transmission that works. Instagram has been incredibly useful for this. Being able to communicate in short, visual bursts is just what many creative people need to share of themselves authentically.

While you’re working on your “why” of social media, take care to understand what works for you and your business, and know you don’t have to do it all. If you’re struggling with the why, and you don’t need the leads or customer service platform or community, you don’t have to do social media at all.

How to make sure no one sees your YouTube video

  1. Give your video a vague title, so the viewer has to work to find out what your message is and whether it’s relevant to him or her.
  2. Edit it so it’s at least 1 minute longer than it really needs to be. The longer, the better!
  3. Don’t worry about poor lighting or inadequate microphones. Potential fans and customers will stick through terrible production values to get your message.
  4. Tag your video with things unrelated to your content. “lady gaga” “justin bieber” “the x factor” on all your videos about cats will help SEO!
  5. Whatever you do, don’t include your website address in the video’s description, ESPECIALLY not in the first portion. Your video listed in a search will only display the first 100 or so characters of the description, so you had better make sure that information makes it as difficult as possible for the viewer to get more information.
  6. You get 1000 characters to make your case in your video description. Use every single one, and remember that the more confusing your description, the more mystery you create.
  7. The less obvious your message, or where you fit into your music scene or business niche, the harder your potential fans will have to work to get to know you. Everyone loves guessing on the internet, especially considering how many other choices there are out there. Play hard to get.
  8. Most importantly, make sure you have nothing to contribute to a greater community.

Why email still matters

Working with bands isn’t that far off from working with small businesses: budgets are tight, and while stakeholders understand that all things online will help their business, they’re frequently looking for ways to get the job done as quickly and simply as possible so they can get back to what they’re best at doing. This is why a lot of businesses and brands stopped growing and updating email newsletter lists in favor of growing followings on Facebook and Twitter.

The problem with having your fans and customers on platforms you don’t own, however, is that you don’t own the online relationship with your fans and customers. This idea started coming home for many of us working in social media at the end of September, when suddenly each post only reached a fraction of the fans we had been reaching — that is, unless we pay to “promote” each post. So how do you continue to reach your customers? Email.

It’s never too late to start an email list if you don’t have one already. MailChimp is a great tool to with a full-functional free version for lists up to 2,000 people. Aweber is a great platform that makes it easy to send mail to highly segmented lists, but I’ve found that for most small business applications, it’s a little more power than necessary.

There are many more email platforms out there, so I encourage you to do some research and see what works best for your needs.

Best of Tuts+

There’s rarely a better way of learning web design than to watch over someone’s shoulder for the duration of a complete project; this is your chance to do just that.

Through the course of this web design Session you’ll learn many things from Adi Purdila; from setting up a baseline grid in Photoshop, working with adaptive layouts, refining your coding workflow, to WordPress theme and plugin creation. There’s a lot to take in, but if you stick with it we guarantee you’ll walk away with a host of new skills under your belt.

There’s article after article on websites that talk bout how to make a great logo. But If you’re a logo machine, and you’ve been doing it for a long time, chances are that you’ve developed some pretty awful habits. How do I know this? Because I suffered from some of the same habits I’m about to talk about. A true master of logo creation will refine their work on every project, forcing themselves to get better with each design. It all boils down to a few key things to avoid when you’re creating a logo. While you can take a stab at selling generic logos on places like GraphicRiver, you’ll do your best work when you deeply understand your clients and their company. Read More