How Halloween Reminds Me of B2B Marketers

October 26, 2013

Halloween and B2B Marketers

Introduction

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, I loved to head out (after dark) and go trick or treating. As a parent, I revel in seeing the enjoyment experienced by kids. You may be wondering: how does Halloween relate to B2B marketers?

Let me explain. Recently, DNN collaborated on a Social Insights Report with Leadtail. The report analyzed 113,039 tweets (from 500 North American B2B marketers) from June 1, 2013 to August 31, 2013. The report then draws a number of conclusions on how B2B marketers engage on Twitter.

To gain access to the report:

Download the report

http://offers.leadtail.com/social-media-insights-report-b2b-marketers/

Since I reviewed the report so close to Halloween, I couldn’t help but draw analogies between B2B marketers and my favorite holiday.

1) We know where to trick or treat.

Photo credit: Flickr user Joint Base Lewis McChord via photopin cc

The report looked at B2B marketers’ tweets to see what other social networks they’re active on. LinkedIn is the clear winner, as 35% of B2B marketers shared content on LinkedIn. Instagram and Foursquare came in at 18% and 13%, respectively. Facebook registered at 3%, more than 10x less than LinkedIn.

Social networks most active

This tells me that B2B marketers know where to trick or treat. Their B2B presence takes them to neighborhoods that make sense for their jobs (e.g. LinkedIn), while ventures into the land of Facebook are reserved for activities outside of work.

The Instagram result (18%) runs contrary to this point. It may be that Instagram is the “shiny new object” that B2B marketers want to experiment and learn from. A number of B2B brands, in fact are using Instagram as an effective marketing tool.

2) We take our kids to familiar houses.

I have a daughter in fifth grade. While I’ve taken her to some “foreign” neighborhoods in the past, I tend to take her to houses for which I know the owner. I think that makes for a safer trick or treating experience.

As we saw with the LinkedIn result, B2B marketers like to share familiar content (i.e. things related to their jobs). Of the 100 most popular content sources for B2B marketers, mainstream media registered at 25%, but industry media came in at a whopping 62%.

Types of content shared

3) We know how to provide the candy our visitors want.

Photo credit: Flickr user MzScarlett via photopin cc

A “good house” buys the candy variety pack at Costco. A great house surveys the likes and dislikes of neighborhood kids and tailors their treats accordingly.

Side note: one house in my neighborhood gives out ice cream cones for each kid. They ask which flavor the kid wants, then gives the kid two scoops of the selected flavor in a cone. This is an example of “great.”

B2B marketers tend to retweet content (i.e. share their candy) if they believe “my followers will like this.”

Most retweeted marketers

4) We visit the houses with the best decorations.

Some homeowners go to great lengths to create an experience that delights visitors. Great B2B content marketers go to equally great lengths to create content that delights their target audience. The Top 50 vendors most mentioned by B2B marketers are doing something right (hint: it probably has something to do with the content they’re producing and sharing). I’d love to go trick or treating in their neighborhoods.

Most mentioned marketers

5) We’re drawn to creative and visually appealing costumes.

Photo credit: Flickr user geckoam via photopin cc

Whether it’s Halloween costumes or content marketing, I’m always amazed at some of the creative concepts I run across. At Halloween, we’re naturally drawn to costumes that are both “different” and visually appealing. If you look at the list of Top 10 most shared social sources, you’ll see a number of visually oriented sites: YouTube, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest.

Most shared social sources

Conclusion

Hope you all have a safe, happy and fun Halloween – DNN is doing a webinar the day before. We’ve invited our friends from Leadtail to share findings from this Social Insights Report and provide recommendations on how you can most effectively engage B2B marketers. Don’t miss it! Register here:

Leadtail and DNN webinar

http://info.dnnsoftware.com/WebinarLeadtail103013_RegistrationLP.html

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.


10 Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Channels

September 14, 2013

Social media channels
Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Introduction

Some organizations are rocking the house with social media (a few come to mind: Coca Cola, Starbucks, Virgin America). At the same time, many organizations I speak to are challenged to achieve the results they desire using social media.

ON-DEMAND WEBINAR: Social Media Optimization: 10 Tips in 30 Minutes.

The challenge? It’s usually a combination of “lack of know-how” and lack of resources (or both). So here are ten easy steps to take to optimize your social media channels. You can perform these steps in any order.

1) Use consistent branding across channels.

For personal use of social media, I recommend that people use the same profile photo across all social channels. Why? Because followers who know you on Twitter will recognize you on SlideShare.

So the consistent photo removes a barrier to gaining that new follower. For organizations, use the same logo everywhere. Also, if you’re running a campaign, use the same campaign theme across your channels.

2) Strategically hyperlink from profile pages.

Check out all the valuable hyperlinks we’re afforded on the DNN Google+ page. Take advantage of these opportunities. You can drive clicks (to your web properties) from views of your social profile pages.

And, the inbound links will help with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Don’t be too cute, however. Make sure your link’s anchor text aligns with the page you’re linking to.

Additional tip: YouTube allows hyperlinks in the description area of your video:

Hyperlinks on YouTube

3) Reciprocate.

Gain a new follower on Twitter? Verify they’re a “real” person (vs. a “bot”), then follow them back. It’s a nice gesture on social media to follow back. And, by following back, you get the opportunity to listen to what your followers are saying. On Twitter, following back allows your followers to send you a “Direct Message” (a private message), which is often an effective channel for customer service or related inquiries.

4) Tag (link to) other users.

When I share an article on social media, I like to “link” to both the publication and the author. Why? Because it gets you (or your organization) noticed by the publication and the author (in addition to sending them some good karma). The author may follow you, retweet you or respond to you. In turn, the author’s followers may decide to follow you. In short, good things can happen.

5) Learn the tricks of the trade of each social network.

Using the “retweet” button on Twitter. Setting up a Google+ Hangout. Managing your Circles in Google+. Each of these things is unique to that service: get to know these unique features well and your use of that service becomes more effective.

6) Measure, evaluate, adjust.

Become BFF’s with analytics (and yes, you really should become best friends forever). Did you know: Twitter now provides free analytics dashboards to all Twitter users (read more on the Constant Contact blog).

Use analytics to evaluate your social media effectiveness across a number of dimensions (e.g. content type, content format, topic, time of day, etc.). Metrics to track include reach, engagement and traffic. Next, draw conclusions that help inform your subsequent social sharing.

7) Mix it up.

I know of professional sportswriters whose Twitter profile is an automated feed of every article they write (and nothing else). While I love their sports writing, I don’t follow them on Twitter. Instead, I follow other sportswriters who comment, respond, retweet and engage. So mix it up: share content, retweet, respond and engage. Don’t be a social media automaton.

8) Engage proactively and respond promptly.

Users on social media can be chatty. And they expect responses to their issues or comments. Your role: listen to what they’re saying and respond promptly. A same-day (or same-hour) response is far better than one that comes tomorrow or next week.

9) Cross-promote your channels.

While your primary goal is to “be useful” on any given social network, there are times when you’ll want to promote your other social networks. Let fans know that you “exist” elsewhere. And, when you’re running events, contests or campaigns on a particular network, use your other channels to drive additional awareness of those activities.

10) Experiment with paid advertising.

Twitter Ads Dashboard

Image: a Twitter Ads dashboard for Promoted Tweets.

It’s great that you have a lot of fans and followers on social media. But did you know they’ll miss 80+% of what you post (that’s my own, unscientific estimate)? That’s just reality.

Paid advertising can create a higher likelihood that fans see your content – and, it extends your reach to people not currently following you. We’ve had fun experimenting with it here at DNN.

Conclusion

Social media can drive tremendous value to your organization – and, it can be a lot of fun doing it. I hope you found these tips useful. I presented a DNN webinar on this same topic recently – you can find the presentation slides below.

Originally published on the DNN Software blog.


10 Reasons Professional Athletes Love Twitter

September 8, 2013

Bumper sticker: I heart Twitter

Photo credit: Flickr user “…love Maegan” via photopin cc

Introduction

After a big game, with reporters huddled around in a semi-circle, professional athletes are provided with a “platform” to talk about the game, the team and themselves. At other times, athletes are given a platform when they appear on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation, Late Show with David Letterman or The Today Show.

While those interviews and programs still give professional athletes an outlet, today, that “platform” has become Twitter. Just about every well-known athlete uses Twitter’s 140 characters to share thoughts, updates, photos and videos. The athletes love it, as do their adoring fans.

Let’s cover ten reasons professional athletes love Twitter.

1) Their fans love it.

It’s often said that we operate in a 24-hour news cycle. Like New York, Twitter is the “city that never sleeps.” Everything is in real-time and there’s a constant stream of activity, no matter the time of day (or night). In a world where content is produced by the second, fans seemingly thirst for more.

Twitter helps fill that need, as fans check Twitter for updates from their favorite players. Fans also benefit from an extended ecosystem: teams, coaches, general managers, owners, sportswriters and commentators all actively use Twitter to share information.

2) 140 characters suit them.

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots

Photo source: the Wikipedia page for Bill Belichick.

Sure, there are athletes who can write long-form articles. But for the most part, the brevity of Twitter suits athletes well. It’s kind of like the Bill Belichick school of interviewing: some coaches, like Belichick, already instruct athletes to answer in 140 characters or less.

3) Twitter fuels their competitive nature.

Twitter’s followers and following count naturally leads to “count watching” and competition. Who has the most followers on a given team? Who’s the most followed NBA player? Whose tweets get the most retweets? You can be sure most athletes on Twitter are aware of this stuff.

4) It’s the new and easy way to break news.

Shaq announced his retirement on Twitter. Alex Rodriguez (of the New York Yankees) announced that he’s ready to return to the field. No need to schedule a press conference any more. Use 140 characters (or less) and you’re on Sportscenter a few hours (or minutes) later.

5) They can conveniently follow other athletes.

The “network effect” is in effect on Twitter. Athletes sign up for the service because their teammates are already using it. Athletes enjoy interacting with other athletes as much as they like to share information with the world. They also get to keep in touch and get updates from other athletes.

6) It’s great for engaging with fans.

Today’s Twitter “Interactions” (mentions) are yesterday’s fan mail. Before Twitter, athletes interacted with their fans in person. Today, they interact with fans any day, any time, in short spurts of 140 characters (and often less).

7) It’s great for “gamesmanship.”

Athletes will do whatever they can to get a leg up. During game play, they’ll taunt other players and try to get inside the opponent’s head. On Twitter, they can do those sorts of things well before the game. Of course, this tactic may not be effective, as it often provides heightened motivation for the opponent.

8) Get quoted.

Sportscenter, the 11 o’clock news, CNN and many other news outlets now use athletes’ tweets as primary news sources. 140 characters can bring athletes fame, fortune, applause, respect, shame and embarrassment. The last two aren’t appealing for most athletes, but they’ll take their chances!

9) The RT is the new autograph.

Pen and paper are so antiquated, right? Today, parents no longer wait in line to ask athletes for their autograph. They’ll get on Twitter and ask for an RT. The single click of the “retweet” button has replaced the signing of a ball, cap or piece of paper.

10) It’s a platform for causes, opinions and political views.

Many athletes have interests, passions and causes beyond the world of sports. Their involvement in professional sports gives them recognition and Twitter gives them a platform. Twitter is a great vehicle for branching beyond sports to advance a cause, support a movement or make the world a better place.


10 Ways Your Tweets Continue to Be Seen

June 30, 2013

Tweets can stick around for a while

Photo credit: Flickr user mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Introduction

Conventional wisdom is that Twitter is the essence of the real-time web: a here and now, in the moment medium. If you’re tweeting when your followers aren’t online, then they won’t see those tweets. That’s how the thinking goes.

In May, I tweeted about the San Jose Sharks. A few times this week, users have “favorited” that tweet. The NHL season is long over. In fact, what’s getting “favorited” was a tweet from May 19th, well over a month ago.

The conclusion? Your tweets can live on for far longer than you think. Let’s consider ten ways that can happen.

1) “Activity” on your tweet from other users.

When you access the “Activity” area on Twitter.com (Home -> Discover -> Activity), you see activities taken by the people you follow: whom they just followed, what tweets they favorited, what tweets they retweeted, etc.

If someone came across your “old” tweet and favorited it, that becomes a form of “re-promotion,” as that activity can be seen by many others. Because of hash tags, search, etc. the “favorite” (and all of the subsequent favorites) may come from users who don’t even follow you.

2) Views of tweets on your profile page.

Active tweeters get noticed, which leads to “views” of their Twitter profile pages. On my Twitter profile page, you can see all of my recent tweets.

When you scroll to the very bottom of the page, you’ll notice an “endless scroll” feature, where the page updates with the next set of tweets – and this continues on and on, the more you scroll. So in this manner, you can find my San Jose Sharks tweets from May, if you’re willing to scroll that much.

3) Twitter Cards.

See what I did (above)? I used a Twitter Card to embed a tweet in this blog post. These cards make it super convenient for writers, bloggers, etc. to re-publish tweet content. And the card makes it easy to reply, retweet, etc., directly from it.

4) Getting a Retweet (RT).

Users who retweet (RT) re-surface your tweet to all of their followers. While the RT will preserve the timestamp of your original tweet, the tweet will appear in timelines based on the time of the retweet. The tweet from last week that you thought was forgotten? It could gain a new life via an RT.

5) Search (and hash tags).

Following the eventprofs hash tag is done via Twitter search

Twitter users will often perform searches. They might be looking for something specific – or, they may like to “follow” a hash tag. To follow the popular #eventprofs hash tag (for meeting and event professionals), you’re actually performing a Twitter search. And people checking out #eventprofs activity may see your tweet from one week ago (or perhaps one month ago).

6) Twitter Ads.

Promoted Tweet from Samsung Mobile

Users (and brands) can buy a form of Twitter Ads called Promoted Tweets. They select from existing tweets and mark them for promotion (advertising). In this way, they’re able to take “old” tweets and can keep them “top of mind” by advertising that tweet. As you can see above, the tweet promoted by Samsung Mobile was posted over a month ago.

7) Screen shots.

Celebrities have been receiving a lot of notoriety lately with their use of Twitter. When a celebrity tweets something controversial or inappropriate, they’ll often delete the tweet or shut down their account altogether.

The “undo button” doesn’t entirely work on Twitter, however, as users can take screen shots of the tweets (for posterity). See this Huffington Post article on Alec Baldwin, which mentions his inappropriate tweets (including a screen shot of them).

8) Being seen in a Twitter List.

You’ve probably been added to one or more Twitter Lists. I have a Twitter List of people I’ve met in real life. As users discover new Lists and peruse the related tweets, they may find tweets (of your’s ) from weeks or months earlier.

9) Being seen in a user’s Interactions list.

If you “mention” other users on Twitter, you’ll appear in their “Interactions” area. Twitter users LOVE to see mentions and interactions. So a tweet you consider old may live on in another user’s “Interactions” area. Don’t be surprised if you receive a reply today from your tweet from last month.

10) The Library of Congress.

Via a partnership with Twitter, the Library of Congress is building a digital archive of tweets. In January 2013, the Library of Congress announced that they had archived 170 billion tweets! So behave yourself: your tweets are now a matter of public record in the annals of the Federal government.


6 Steps to More Effective Content Curation

June 8, 2013

A plan for curating content

Introduction

Whether you’re a corporate brand or a personal brand, it’s important to effectively curate (and share) good content. Effective curation builds influence and authority: share information that enables your audience to learn (and do their job better) and they’ll come back for more. Here’s my six step plan for more effective content curation.

1) Understand your audience.

Keep your captive audience captive

Photo credit: Flickr user Anirudh Koul via photopin cc

Rather than using analytical tools, I build an understanding of my audience less formally. On social media, a portion of my following includes those whom I followed (and they, in turn, followed me back). This segment I know fairly well, since I followed them in the first place.

For others, I develop an understanding based upon interactions: replies to my tweets, comments they add to retweets, etc. In using Twitter over the years, I’ve come to understand that my followers are interested in social media, technology, events and sports. And that’s not surprising, because those are my interests as well!

2) Understand yourself.

You may be saying “of course I understand myself!” And while I’m sure that’s true, this step is really about defining your brand and what it represents. The understanding of your audience is reciprocal: they’re also developing an understanding of what you represent.

Let’s say you’ve been sharing articles on science and technology for the past 12 months and just developed an interest in baking cupcakes. In the past, your tweets were 80% science and technology. Today, it’s 20% science and technology and 70% cupcake recipes.

The shift in interest is fine, but understand that many of your followers “found” you because of your science and technology tweets. This means that you’re less influential (to them) on that topic. If that’s not what you wanted, then you’ll need to re-balance your content sharing back towards useful science and technology.

If cupcakes are indeed your new thing, then I like chocolate peanut butter varieties.

3) Assess title AND content.

Assese both the title and the content

[Make sure both the meat and the gravy are savory.]

The title of an article (or post) is crucial. On Twitter, it’s the only thing your followers may see. I look for a combination of subject matter and compelling headline. Good headlines draw you in, while answering the “what’s in it for me” question at the same time. Of the following two options:

Blogging Tips from an Expert Blogger
10 Tips to Make Your Blog Take off Like a Rocket Ship

I prefer the latter.

Titles: to change or not to change.

Occasionally, I’ll share a worthy piece of content for which the title lacks a bit of punch. In my mind, the title doesn’t do the piece justice. So instead of tweeting the article with the supplied title, I’ll share the essence of the article in the tweet. If I’m short on characters, I’ll delete the original title. Doing this results in a higher likelihood of people clicking on the link.

The content (aka meat)

Now that we’ve covered the title, it’s critical to actually read the content (or at least skim it). If the content doesn’t match the title, or if the content quality isn’t up to par, then don’t share it.

Favor quality over quantity when it comes to curation. Even if you’ve “sold” me on a great title, I avoid sharing these types of content:

  1. Content that was written solely for SEO (you know what I’m referring to, right?).
  2. Blogs that have an imbalance between banner/search ads and content.
  3. Slide show content (i.e. want to read our Top 10 list? Click “Next” nine times).
  4. Content that’s too short (e.g. 1-2 paragraphs in total).
  5. Content that my audience would not value (despite the strong title).

4) Acknowledge the author(s).

On Twitter, list the author’s Twitter handle in the tweet. On Facebook, tag the author – or, tag the Facebook Page of the organization that published the article.

Acknowledging the source is a common courtesy, while linking to their profile sends them a little love. Authors will see that you’ve acknowledged them – and in turn, they may follow you, retweet you and share some of your content.

5) Add a splash of commentary.

When users share my tweets or blog posts, I appreciate it when they add their own thoughts within the tweet. Let’s face it: if you’re “merely” sharing article after article, just listing the title and link, you could be an automaton (rather than a human being). So try this:

For every 5 articles you share, include a comment in 1 of them

Here’s an example where I combine commentary (albeit brief) with acknowledgement:

In addition to commentary, feel free to insert relevant hash tags. For instance, if a tweet about event technology doesn’t already contain it, I often add the #eventprofs hash tag. I then change the “RT” to an “MT,” to indicate that it’s a Modified Tweet.

6) Re-share and re-distribute.

For curated content that you really love, re-share it again later on (but not TOO often). I’d love for my Twitter followers to read the great article I just shared, but the reality is that 90% of them missed my tweet.

In addition to re-sharing, provide additional distribution by publishing the content on other social networks. For instance, for an article you tweet, selectively share it:

  1. On Google+.
  2. On your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Pin an image (from the article) to one of your Pinterest boards.
  4. On Facebook.
  5. Write a blog posting and link to the piece.

Conclusion

Think of yourself like a museum curator. Hundreds (or thousands) of people are coming to your exhibit. Select (and show off) the pieces of fine art that you’ve assembled. Leave the lesser pieces behind the curtain.


How to Be a Twitter Rock Star at Conferences and Events

April 13, 2013

Introduction

With its 140 character payload and ability to follow hash tags, it seems Twitter was designed for events. For me and many others, participating in Twitter conversations significantly enhances my event experience. I find more, learn more and meet many more people than I otherwise would have. Let’s consider tips that can transform you from a conference tweeter to a Twitter rock star.

How to Gain Visibility

ALWAYS include the conference hash tag.

Do this before you pick up your badge: determine the conference hash tag. It’s usually on the event page or printed on signage at the event. If not, simply ask staffers for it. Include the hash tag in ALL of your tweets. If you don’t, your tweets will not be seen. And if the conference doesn’t have a hash tag, create one yourself and encourage others to use it.

Temporarily place the hash tag in your Twitter profile.

If the hash tag is “#conference2013,” then consider adding something like this in your Twitter profile: “Attending #conference2013 this week. Tweet me if you’re there!” Now, when attendees see your tweets and check out your profile, they’ll be more inclined to follow and interact with you.

Share photos.

Take photos of the keynote session, exhibit floor, signage – basically, anything interesting. Users love them.

Engage with influencers.

Influencers include session speakers, along with knowledgeable and well-followed attendees. Follow them and engage with them. If they reply back to you or RT you, others will be sure to take notice.

How to Gain Followers

Liberally follow others.

I use the Twitterific iPhone app at conferences

Pictured: The Twitterific app for iPhone. I scan for users, view their profiles and follow liberally.

Fellow attendees have at least one thing in common with you (after all, you went to the same event). So wouldn’t they be good people to follow? Follow the folks who are actively tweeting. The follow helps promote your existence. They may miss your insightful conference tweets, but when you follow them, chances are they’ll check out you (and follow back).

Retweet and Interact with others.

Let’s face it, sometimes at a conference, you really just need to focus on the conference itself. You’re sitting in a captivating session and learning a ton of things. You can’t afford to compose a thoughtful tweet. What you can do, however, is quickly scan the tweet stream for others’ insights. Retweet (“RT”) those insights and share your thoughts by replying to some users. Now, quick! Get back to that awesome session.

Quote interesting nuggets from sessions.

Just like you curate (and share) great content on Twitter, your “job” at a conference session is to curate interesting nuggets and quotes. Did the presenter just say something that made the audience go, “Oooh”? If so, quote the presenter via a tweet. You’re likely to get RT’s and follows.

Give shout-outs to exhibitors.

If you visit an exhibitor booth or have lunch with an exhibitor rep, give a shout-out to them (on Twitter). They’ll love it! And they’ll likely tweet you back, follow you, RT you and offer you some nifty conference swag.

General Tips

Always tweet IN CONTEXT.

I once took a photo as I walked into the keynote session. It was a humorous image, tied to the theme of the event and I really wanted to share it. However, once the keynote kicked off, everyone was tweeting about what the presenter was saying. If I tweeted the photo then, it would have been entirely out of context. So I waited. I tweeted the photo during the break, so it could get more visibility.

Facilitate face-to-face meet-ups with other Twitter users.

Another attendee and I tweeted quite frequently at a conference. When I rode the same elevator as her, I recognized her via her Twitter profile photo. I introduced myself and we chatted about the conference (for as long as an elevator ride would permit). “Upgrading” from a Twitter connection to a face-to-face meet-up is a great thing.

Take a break.

This won’t make you a Twitter rock star, but make sure you take adequate breaks from Twitter and enjoy the conference. For highly active Twitter users, there’s a delicate balance that must be managed. You don’t want to be so active on Twitter that you miss out on the great things the conference has to offer (kind of like visiting the Grand Canyon, tweeting too much and missing the view).

For Exhibitors: tweet in context with the sessions.

Let’s say there’s a breakout session on social media marketing and you’re an exhibitor that provides social media marketing software.

The session is scheduled for 2pm. At 2:15pm, issue a tweet such as, “Want a dashboard to manage social media marketing for your entire team? Visit us in booth #127 after the session.” Bonus points if the presenter is talking about dashboards precisely at 2:15pm.

For presenters: share your slides as you go on stage.

Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang) was the first (that I’ve seen) to establish this practice. Some presenters provide their slides after their session. Jeremiah provides his slides before or during the session.

Some presenters will schedule a tweet to share their slides as they’re taking the stage (and then mention the fact during their opening segment). Attendees always request the slides, so proactively sharing them is a good practice.

Addendum: Jeremiah provides additional details:

Conclusion

So there you have it. Follow these tips to gain visibility, gain new followers and make new connections at your next conference. Be sure, though, that you’re getting the most out of the conference. Twitter is fantastic, but it can also consume your attention and time and create missed opportunities. Find the right balance and you’ll be rocking the conference in full Twitter style.


How a Pinterest Board Gained Popularity After I Stopped Pinning

November 19, 2012

@dshiao's MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest

Read my prior post: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest

Introduction

At the start of the baseball season, I created a MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest. Throughout the season, I’d pin images (mostly of players) as I read articles about the teams I follow.

I’d see a modest amount of Likes and Repins. I’d get more activity around popular or “interesting” players – injured closer Brian Wilson (of the San Francisco Giants) fitting into the latter category.

As the regular season drew to a close, my activity on Pinterest waned. My last pin was on September 30, 2012, before the start of the post-season. Throughout the playoffs, I’d continue to see modest amounts of activity on my board. And then the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

Current Events Drive Interest in Pins and Boards

Once the Giants won the World Series, activity on Giants-related pins increased

While I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan, I reside in the Bay Area. And that means that I follow the local teams, the Giants and the A’s. Not surprisingly, you’ll find lots of Yankees, Giants and A’s in my MLB board.

The Email Settings menu in Pinterest

My Pinterest account is configured to send me email notifications for activity on my boards. And let me tell you, ever since the World Series ended, I’ve been receiving a daily stream of emails. Users are finding images I pinned (of Giants players) and they’re Liking and Repinning quite a lot.

Of course, shortly after the World Series comes the post-season awards (e.g. Cy Young, MVP, etc.). So it’s not a coincidence to see activity (on my Board) related to the award winners: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (rookies of the year) and Buster Posey (NL MVP):

Activity for pins on Bryce Harper, Buster Posey and Mike Trout

What Makes Pinterest Unique

I found the result counter-intuitive: that activity would pick up on a social network after I ceased my own activity on it. That would not happen on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. And that’s what makes Pinterest unique. Let’s consider the reasons.

It’s Both Timeless and Timely.

I’ve written before about how Twitter rules the roost on the real-time web. Real-time content, however, is “forgotten” a minute, hour or day later. On Twitter, it’s quite rare to receive a retweet on content tweeted a few days (or weeks) prior. On Pinterest, as you’ve seen with my MLB board, the activity continues to occur on images I pinned weeks (and months) earlier.

And while the unit of content (an image) is timeless, interest around that content can be tied to timeliness (e.g. the Giants winning the World Series). So as far as content sharing goes, you have content that “lives longer” than real-time content – and, can spur activity around events happening in real-time.

It Drives a Different Consumption Model.

Twitter (and Facebook, too) is all about the “scan.” I have hundreds (or thousands) of items in my feed and I quickly scan for items of interest, not paying particular attention to any one item. Pinterest also drives “scans” (of images), but because of the timeless aspect, there’s more browsing than scanning.

On Twitter, the half-life of content is short: current events, sports scores and the like, and that adds to the “quick scan” consumption model. On Pinterest, users are more apt to browse, discover and take their time.

Its Attribution Model Facilitates Curation

Let’s compare the retweet to the repin. Here’s how a retweet (that I performed) appears in my profile:

How a retweet appears in the user's Twitter profile

You’ll notice that the original tweet is preserved, including the “author” of the original tweet (@AllthingsIC). Now, let’s consider a repin. I originally pinned this image of Brandon Crawford and here’s how the repin appears on another user’s board:

How a re-pinned pin appears in the user's board

You’ll see that my original caption (about Brandon Crawford) is preserved (although users have the option to change it when repinning), but notice that, unlike in a retweet, my identity (as the original author) is not listed. You have to click on the pin to see the attribution:

The original pinner has attribution listed on the pin detail page

This attribution model facilitates curation because it leaves a “cleaner” board, while providing proper attribution one level deep.

For Marketers, It’s The Gift That Keeps Giving.

My MLB 2012 board has taught me that on Pinterest, content can have nine lives. Online marketers using Facebook and Twitter should consider a Pinterest strategy. Pinterest can create an annuity around your content: an investment that continues to pay out over time.

And here’s the kicker: you pin content from pages, which means that users who find your pins have the option of clicking through to the page (on which the image is found). What does that mean for online marketers? The ability to drive page views – and even product sales, for online merchants.

Conclusion

Let’s recap. Pinterest is an entirely unique social network. It all starts with a timeless “sharing unit” (an image), which can gain popularity around current events. The consumption and attribution models help to drive sharing (via curation). And users (i.e. pinners), can receive ongoing returns for activity they generated months (or even years) prior.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


The Cost of Convenience on Social Networks

October 11, 2012

Introduction

Technology can do great things. It can save you time and save you money. With social media, it can connect you (via the device in your pocket) to people around the world – people you otherwise would never have “met.” But is there a drawback or cost to the convenience that technology provides?

An Example: The GPS

Consider the GPS (Global Positioning System). When I purchased my first GPS unit in 2005, I thought it was the world’s finest invention. Whether I was driving near home or in a remote town, I could plug in a street address and this magical device would take me there, turn by turn.

When I moved to the West Coast a few years later, my handy GPS helped me get around my new surroundings, from the department store to the movie theater to my new favorite restaurants. But now that I’ve been out West for five years, I’m finding a “cost” for the GPS that goes beyond the retail cost.

The “cost” was a dependence on this technological marvel, which meant that I didn’t truly know my own surroundings. Instead, I’d have the radio on, take the turns that the GPS called out, but not pay attention to the route I was taking (and, as a side note, I’ve since switched from a GPS device to the excellent Waze app on my iPhone).

Now, if I’m driving locally to a place I’ve never been before, I’ll plug the destination address into Google Maps and review the route. Then, I’ll drive to my destination without any technological guidance. And I find that curbing my dependence on the GPS has helped me better learn the local roads and routes. And not to worry, Waze – you’ll still come along for the ride when I go out of town.

Now, let’s consider the cost of convenience on social networks.

Liking a Comment on Facebook.

In 2010, Facebook rolled out the “Like” button on Comments. At first, I found this a bit curious: you have a button to “Like” the original post and now, Facebook is allowing you to “Like” interactions beneath that post. As I started using it, however, I discovered its elegance: you (the poster) could acknowledge interesting or witty comments with the click of a mouse.

The person whose Comment you Liked would see your action and perhaps they’d become more inclined to comment on your subsequent posts. There have been occasions where I ponder how to respond to a comment I’ve received. If it was a witty comment, I feel the need to return the favor with something equally witty. I’ll occasionally get “stuck,” and not know what to say. So instead I simply click “Like” (on the comment) and I’m done.

So what’s the cost? More substantial and meaningful interactions between you and the commenter.

Twitter’s Retweet Button.

In 2009, Twitter rolled out the retweet button (and function). The retweet (or, “RT” for short) was a capability conceived by Twitter’s users. And prior to the retweet button (or, the equivalent function in Twitter clients), users had to manually compose retweet’s by copying the tweet content, then sticking a “RT @USER” in front of the tweet.

The retweet function made it super convenient. With two clicks of the mouse (the first to retweet, the second to confirm it), you just published a tweet, while promoting the original tweet content. Because the retweet preserves 100% of the original tweet, the cost of this convenience is an absence of commentary (from you).

When I want to add my own thoughts (e.g. “Great post” or “Excellent points”) on a retweet, I’ll manually compose it (with a copy/paste of the original tweet), then change the “RT” to “MT” (for “Modified Tweet”). This makes the process less convenient, but I find the additional commentary worth it (and I bet the original tweeter may as well).

Location-based Checkins.

Location-based check-ins began on services like Foursquare. Their purpose was to alert friends (on the service) of your location. Perhaps you’re at Happy Hour and you see that some friends just checked in from the watering hole down the street. So you go there to find them.

So that was the original point – and a fine point it was. Soon, services such as Foursquare enabled you to broadcast your check-in to your social media accounts. And our tweet stream started to get filled up with tweets, like those shown above.

So the cost of the check-in convenience is a proliferation of rather trivial tweets. If I’m following you on Foursquare, then yes, a check-in is meaningful. However, if I’m following you on Twitter (only), your location at this particular point in time isn’t meaningful.

Facebook Check-ins

Similarly, Facebook has a check-in feature that enables you to list your location, along with tagging Facebook friends that you happen to be with. For friends and family on Facebook, I am, in fact, more interested in where you happen to be.

But, the convenience of the check-in means that more significant and meaningful descriptions (of  your location) go by the wayside. For instance, compare these two Facebook posts:

And here’s the more convenient one:

“Climbing to the peak – at Mount Everest”

Photo Uploads.

Don’t get me wrong: photos are great and pictures are, in fact, worth 1,000 words (or more). Sometimes, however, the convenience of uploading 50 pictures (to an album on Facebook) gives you the “excuse” that the pictures can tell the story (on their own). If a picture is worth 1,000 words, couldn’t you at least tag each one with 140 characters?

Conclusion

On the social web, we’re able to make connections and have interactions with people from across the globe. For me, that makes old fashioned, face-to-face interactions all the more meaningful. Similarly, the ease with which we can post, share, re-post and re-share on social networks means that we miss out on more meaningful dialog and interactions. This “cost tradeoff” is something to keep in mind as social networks continue to grow and evolve.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


How I Curate (and Share) Content on Twitter

April 13, 2012

Book store / library image.

Introduction

I once had a pile of old books that I no longer wanted. I brought them into a bookstore that buys and sells used books. After placing my pile of books on the counter, the owner proceeded to examine each one. He carefully examined the cover, opened the book to read the chapter of contents, and then skimmed quickly through a few pages.

I was expecting him to accept each of my books, but he only took a third of them. When I asked him about his evaluation process, he told me that it’s driven by limited shelf space, along with his understanding of what his customers want.

To become a regarded sharer of content on Twitter, you need to act like the used book shop owner. His shelf space has a fixed amount of space, in the same way that your Twitter followers have a fixed amount of attention. The store owner can’t sell every used book he comes across and you can’t (well, shouldn’t) share every single link you find.

So speaking of sharing, I thought I’d share the process I use for curating and sharing content on Twitter.

Curation

The Process

Like many of you, I have a daily “surfing routine,” in which I visit a number of “go to” sites each morning. For the national (and global) scene, my favorite site is NYTimes.com, for which I gladly pay to gain access. For the local tech scene here in the Bay Area, I visit SiliconValley.com, a web site of the San Jose Mercury News.

In addition to these go-to sites, I use the somewhat old fashioned method of maintaining 40+ RSS feeds, which I read via Google Reader.

I then behave like the used book store owner. To gain credibility and respect, I like to share links (content) that my followers (and even folks who are not following me) find useful. If I blindly tweet out a large volume of tweets and my followers don’t find them useful, then I’m sure to lose followers.

Content Review

While I’ve committed the sin of tweeting an article solely based on a captivating headline, I prefer to read the article entirely – or, at minimum, to skim the article to get a sense for it. Recall that the book store owner did the same thing.

When you read the article, it helps you understand what you’re sharing. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing to share an article in which the body didn’t match the title at all? Yes, that could annoy followers who clicked on the link.

Another benefit to reading the article? Including a fact or quote from the article in your tweet. I like to include my own thought(s) in my tweets, rather than just tweeting the article title and link. In short, I believe that “curate and comment” is better than just “curate.”

Selection Criteria

For something to be shareable, I look for the following:

Timely: I prefer to share content that’s been published in the past 0-2 weeks. If I find a really useful article that’s 1+ year old, I mention that in my tweet (e.g. “From 2010, but still quite relevant”). Timely also refers to “what’s hot” (a trending topic, if you will). Timely topics that I’ve shared of late include Pinterest, Instagram, mobile apps and Google+.

Interesting: If everyone is writing about Pinterest (and they are), I prefer to share bloggers or journalists who provide a unique spin on the latest trend. Early on during the trend, however, an “introduction to” or a “how to get started” article is, in fact, interesting.

Useful: Related to the introductory articles that I mention above, I like to share content that helps my followers learn something new or do their job better. I often use the rule that if I find it useful, that you may as well.

Sharing

Tweet Button

I estimate that 60-70% of my tweets come from the Tweet button. Almost every site that I frequent (including most blogs) has social sharing buttons. So I share as I read. It’s efficient, because I share as I surf – and, because the Tweet button makes it so easy.

Attribute Authors

If the Tweet button doesn’t include the author’s Twitter handle, I like to search for the authors, to see if they have Twitter accounts. If they do, I like to include their handles in the tweet. This is useful for your followers (i.e. they can follow the author, if they like) and, it lets the authors know that you’ve tweeted their article.

Buffer

I’ll also use a neat tool called Buffer to schedule certain tweets be sent out at particular times. There can be times where sharing becomes too frequent. Buffer allows me to “save up” a bunch of tweets and send them at a later time or date.

You can even schedule tweets with Buffer directly from Google Reader, which I find quite useful.

Retweets

Retweeting (“RT”) is even easier than the Tweet button, as you can perform the action directly from your Twitter client, or from Twitter.com. I use the same selection criteria (listed above) when retweeting. There’s an added benefit here: the act “sends a little love,” if you will, to the person who posted the original tweet.

Conclusion

And there you have it. If you’re still with me, then I hope this insider’s look at my processes (and thought process) was useful. Use the comments section below to tell me how you go about curating and sharing on Twitter.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


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