Archive for March, 2013

Build your success by claiming your name-space

Posted by on Thursday, 28 March, 2013

IMG_1741I don’t care in WHAT industry you’re currently working, your social presence is quickly becoming the defacto standard for success on multiple levels: B2B, B2C, as well as employment and advancement. Today, I’m going to talk about the latter; your career growth.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before and you’ll continue to hear the same pitch (and not just from me): being active in social media is important. In today’s digital world, there is a shift occurring across industries who are adopting the digital paradigms of expertise once relegated to academics and people with acronyms after their names. That paradigm being article publication in industry journals, magazines, and hard bound volumes. Today, all industries are using digital publication channels to research the digital eminence and expertise of prospective employees, as well as measuring current employees and identifying those who are candidates for advancement.

Take a moment and do this quick comparison in your head: how many times have you ego surfed yourself, versus how many times you’ve researched someone else on-line? What’s your normal process when you get a friend request on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, GooglePlus? Do you blindly accept/reject, or do you click-through and check the person out a bit, looking for reasons to make that connection or deny it? I know which side of that I fall on…

Now look at it from another perspective: if you put that effort into curiosity or determining a social connection, don’t you think any employer is going to go to even greater lengths to research a candidate to ensure they are the right person for the role they are working to fill? You better believe they are! Knowing that, we need to be prepared to have the best on-line presence we can muster, wouldn’t you say?

With that, here’s a few things you can do with relative ease to make sure that your presence is not only found, but controlled by you and helping your personal digital eminence stand out:

  • Register your own domain name- This is the first step to owning your name and your presence. Here’s a great article by Dan Gillmor explaining why this is essential. Simply said, it gives you more control rather than relying on third-party services to host your name-space. Having your own domain name/ URL provides that first bit of a stable web property upon which you can build.

 

  • Build your personal landing page- A quick and easy solution is to use a service like About.me to build a landing page behind your domain name. Yes, I’ve gone against my own recommendation above and use a third-party to provide my landing page content for AcdntlPoet.com. But I still own the domain and can point it to this blog easily if About.me starts behaving badly. For now, their free service provides me with exactly what I want and need: a location to connect all my other presences. A slightly more advanced step may be to use WordPress.com or install your own WordPress based blog in your domain and take control of all your content.

 

  • Connect the appropriate social accounts so employers or clients can find you- Now that you have your Domain URL and have built a landing page, start connecting the appropriate social channels. This doesn’t mean you have to connect *everything*. At the least, this means using your landing page to link to other professional presences online where you may be engaging in social discussions, sharing slide decks or blog posts, or where your hosting other professional information. Having a one-stop page that connects your other entities to your name and persona continues to help build your eminence.

 

  • Claim your Google Authorship- This is really a big win for anyone who publishes blog posts or other articles a s a means of establishing credibility or expertise in their industry. I’ve blogged about how to claim your authorship before, and am finding that every day this is becoming more and more critical to ensure results for searches on you provide the right details. It is a simple task that will bring larger long-term rewards.

 

 

So, there you have it; four beginning steps to building your digital eminence and helping yourself become more marketable in your industry compared to those who haven’t begun to do so. Of course this doesn’t mean that’s all you have to do to suddenly become a leader in your space, but it gives you the structure upon which you can build your expertise for others to see, and more importantly allows your information to be found easily when they need someone like you on their team. Unless you don’t care about your career, you can’t afford to not be building your digital eminence. Soon, if you can’t be found online, you simply won’t exist to employers.

Time-shifting tweets to reach global audiences

Posted by on Wednesday, 20 March, 2013

ifttt_rss-buffer
Another in my sporadic series of looking behind the social business curtain. This time I discuss value of time-shifting your tweets for a global audience, and the steps to help you automate such a concept.

First off, let me be clear: this post is about content promotion and amplification through social channels; it is NOT about engaging socially. Automation should only be a small part of your entire social topology as a content marketer, where it only serves to allow you more time to actually have conversations around your content rather than worrying about how or when it is being promoted.

So, presuming you want your self-hosted content promoted more than just the moment you post to your blog or website, you are probably doing so manually by creating and scheduling posts at different hours. In my industry, we have a global audience, but most of our content is published during North American business hours. Because of this publishing schedule, our content is most heavily promoted on social channels during that same time frame. However, knowing how people across the globe use channels like twitter, it is quite possible, and even very likely, that people in different time-zones are missing the content we’re promoting because it hits their time-lines when they’re away from the office and not paying attention… where’s the automated solution to address this business issue and get our content in from of our global audiences when they ARE watching their tweet streams?

I’ve got a recipe for that:

  1. Create an ifttt.com account
  2. Create a bufferapp.com account and associate your twitter or Facebook accounts
  3. Enable the BufferApp channel in ifttt.com.
  4. Create the recipe

Using ifttt.com, I created two recipes. One which pulls our RSS feed from our blog and posts it immediately and directly to twitter when the blog post is initially published, and a second recipe which takes the same RSS feed, and queues up the posts for publication time sifted by approximately 12 hours. To make the post unique from the initial posting and meet Twitter’s terms of service, I add a hashtag specific to posts queued through buffer.

While the logistics may seem confusing, they’re actually quite simple. Set up your recipe in ifttt.com to pull from your blog’s RSS feed and publish via your connected BufferApp channel. In BufferApp, this is where some basic scheduling is set to ensure you don’t overlap content publishing within minutes of each other. To do this, I’ve set mine to publish one post every hour and ten minutes between 6:30pm PST and 8:30am PST. This makes sure that nothing from this particular feed is posted through bufferapp during my normal working hours in North American time zones, and that we have a constant flow of content pushed through in global time zone friendly hours.

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By implementing this time-shifted tweeting, we effectively doubled our reach over night. Not only did we increase our reach immediately and substantially, but we also reduced the administrative overhead needed to manually schedule these time shifted tweets, freeing us up to focus on conversations and engaging where needed.

Just remember, this automation is only intended to ease some pain of manual creation. It doesn’t take the place of actual social engagement; rather it helps you focus on the right things to do and not spend time on the logistics of doing it.

 

 

Practical steps for getting started in Social Business

Posted by on Thursday, 14 March, 2013

harlemshake_bionicteachingOne of the biggest pain points I hear when talking about social business is that there’s no clear steps for getting started. People aren’t sure of that first step to take to get them on the right path, and that’s understandable: people want to do the right thing, but the right thing isn’t going to be the same for everyone so the process is inherently confusing by virtue of the “choose your own adventure” nature of it all. The single best benefit of social business is also the biggest roadblock to becoming involved: the individual attention and personal connection. These pain points and roadblocks, as well as benefits are the same whether you’re an enterprise B2B (business to business) organization, or a small business in the B2C (business to consumer) worlds.
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Here’s the short and sweet list to getting started:

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  1. Read the IBM Social Computing Guidelines. Learn them, know them, live them! (Even if you aren’t an IBMer, this guidance is the single best document to use as your social compass.)
  2. Create your accounts and Connect with people, build your network, and learn as you go.
  3. Listen, share, amplify and create. Each of these levels of engagement are valid and useful
  4. Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

Of course, I also have a more detailed list…
Following are a mixture of more in-depth strategic and tactical steps you can take to get started and eventually become successful in the social business realms regardless of your business’ size:

  • Define your goals- This isn’t the first step by accident… sit down for 10 minutes and really think about your goals. Is it simply to drive short-term or immediate sales? Build a sustainable client base? Establish your business as the leader in your field? Once you specifically identify what you want to accomplish using social media you’ll have a clear set of guiding goals to help you make the right decisions about everything else.

 

  • Build a project/program plan for yourself- This sounds like heavy lifting, but it isn’t, or it doesn’t have to be… The key point here is to identify and list the steps you will take to execute and achieve your goals. Go as simple or detailed as suits you. As an example, one bit out of my personal plan: “Create and maintain an expected frequency of blog posts on the topics relevant to social business success in efforts to build my thought leadership.” See, easy 🙂

 

  • Target the right channels to achieve your goals. Not all channels are right for your business- Twitter is a great place for building B2B or B2C influence, while Facebook excels in large brand promotion and lacks in capabilities for B2B connections. Likewise, LinkedIn is a fabulous channel for B2B networking but misses the end consumer. Find the right place to interact with the people you want to reach… go where they are!

 

  • Jump in and setup accounts- Begin building your network by adding people you find through searches on industry topics, key words, or self identifying demographic information for the audiences you want to reach. Be sure to fill out your profiles as best you can so that when people check you out after you follow them, you look like the real person you are and give them a reason to follow you back.

 

  • Watch. Listen. Amplify. Share. Create.- Now that your accounts are up and running and you’re starting to curate your network, take some time to pause and watch what is going on in the spaces, listen to what your network is saying to each other, get a feel for how everyone interacts (each social channel is different in its expected and tolerated behaviours). Start out by amplifying a few others’ messages/posts, then add in sharing with some added context or value around the share. Lastly, add in creating your own content to share as well. This creates a solid organic growth to your account and helps to show that you aren’t just a broadcast arm for your company. Real people don’t just talk about themselves and what they want to sell you, they engage and highlight others and provide value where they are able.

 

  • Use rich media to bring visual interest to your content- Pictures and videos will skyrocket your content views and help it resonate with your audience. Case in point, you likely noticed this blog post because the associated image caught your eye in your feed and made you pause to look a bit more closely… and now you’re here reading this post; mission accomplished! Pictures work!

 

  • Fail early, fail often, and learn- Run A/B testing on your targeted audience segments. Some campaigns will work better for one segment than another and determining the winners and losers early on will help you roll out larger better campaigns down the line. Knowing what doesn’t work is as critical as knowing what does, and often in the social worlds, more critical.

 

  • Be agile– watch your metrics and analytics, and adjust your focus and methods as you determine what works and what doesn’t. Be fluid in your capabilities and styles of replying or posting content, and don’t tie yourself or your content to any single channel. Know when it is time to move from or add another channel to your repertoire.

 

  • Continue to curate your network by dropping the identified spam accounts and adding new people you come across who fit your target, or are just interesting people 🙂

 

  • Lastly, and probably the best bit of advice I can provide at this point:  if you’re thinking of making your own Harlem Shake video… just don’t.

 

There you are, some tips based on my experiences on getting started to help you dig in to your personal social choose-your-own-adventure as you move from social media into social business. Some may appear daunting at first, but they don’t have to be. Use what works for you at the level that you need… heck, a single line project plan maybe all you need to keep you on track, or you may be the kind of person who needs to build their own editorial calendar for blog posts or tweets; in either case you know what you need to keep you in the right focus better than anyone. When it comes to social business, having those guiding principles will become your safety net for success; keeping you on the right course and authentically connecting with your audience in ways that resonate and build deeper relationships with them. But remember, working in social business is not a sprint, it is a marathon that will show small incremental benefits now, and much more robust value down the line.

image credits: (cc)  Some rights reserved by bionicteaching and  USFWS Mountain Prairie , mashup by @acdntlpoet