blogging

When Did Mashable Lose the Plot?

Posted on March 23, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Business, Observations | Tags: , , , , , |

Image representing Mashable as depicted in Cru...

I used to think Mashable.com was a pretty good online publication. Certainly enough to pitch them ideas and actually have a few posts published by them, but of late, I really think that Pete Cashmore and his organization has lost the plot. Mashable used to be “All That’s New on the Web”, now they are titled “The Social Media Guide”. Unfortunately they aren’t either.

The posts they now put out are mostly lists, now I know that blog readers like lists, 10 best this, 7 ways to do that, 18 plugins for this problem. But seriously are there not enough bloggers out there already producing those types of posts. If you have a visitor base of some 1.5m unique visitors per month (according to Compete.com) don’t you think you could try and be a little bit different?

Has Mashable gone the way of its print cousins and become so focussed on Ad revenue that they have decided it is better to turn out the same old stuff that everyone else is doing and play it safe?  One post today just made me laugh, 18 WordPress Plugins for RSS – this is one of the laziest types of posts, and takes about 5 minutes to pull together. Just go to the WordPress Plugins Directory type in the resource you are looking for, and viola you have a list of plugins.

For example here’s how to produce a post called 5 WordPress Plugins for Podcasters:

Type in podcasting, get the following result:

podcast_plugins

Now just rewrite some of this info which comes from the developers and you have a post! No magic to it, no effort either.

Perhaps I am holding them to too high a standard, perhaps I shouldn’t expect anything approaching journalism from what is really “just” a blog. But I do, if Social Media is to progress, those that put themselves out there as “leaders” in the space need to try harder, need to raise the bar, not just produce the same old junk that any hack can pull out in a pinch.

Whilst I agree finding new and interesting Social Media stories is hard work, if you are truly going to be “The Social Media Guide”, then guide don’t follow.

Mashable Image via CrunchBase
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Paying Bloggers – Right or Wrong is Not the Question

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

An article on Read Write Web caught my attention yesterday because of its position on a Forrester report on why companies should pay bloggers to write articles about their products.

Now my first impression is that the RWW article is an “opinion” post, these are always good for driving traffic. Take a stance and put it out there, some people will agree with you, some will disagree, hopefully some of them will leave comments and therefore you increase your audience. So when we get into “tactics” used by organizations whether they are branding companies or “blogging” companies like RWW we should examine all the tactics used.

That out of the way I think that the RWW post ignores the “Why” question and takes a too simplistic view of how brands are trying to cope with the surge in interest in Social Media and their efforts to keep up or in some cases catch up.  They are taking the stance of blogging as a pure art. To that I say “nonesense”, blogging is no such thing, if it were Adsense wouldn’t be available to bloggers. Bloggers have utilized different ways of making money since they first started to produce blogs. The very fact that there are so many posts out there on how to position ads, how to get the most out of ad based systems is testimony to that.  The argument that As are not the same thing as paid articles is to some how elevate the blog post.

All bloggers, by their nature are opinionated, therefore all blogs have an angle.  For example, anyone who reads my updates on Twitter knows I don’t like iPhones. So there is not much point in reading my blog looking for something great about an iPhone here. I have an opinion and I am not afraid to share it. Therefore it would come as no great surprise to my readers if I were to make a post about the Blackberry Storm and disclose in the post that RIM had paid me to do the post.

What the RWW article misses is why brands are doing this and why Forrester would tell them its ok to do it. Its a very simple reason – scalability. Large brands are still struggling with internal discussions over where Social Media Marketing sits within the organization – I know this because some of our own clients are still having these discussion as they engage us to help us solve that question. Is it a MarCom activity, is it PR, is it Online? When you are dealing with organizations that employ tens of thousands of people and have had only one way communications for decades, figuring out how they truly engage their customers is extremely difficult. People point to companies like Zappo’s and say thats how you do it. Zappo’s employs 250 people, even at that level its still relatively easy to make it a company wide activity, try doing that with 25,000 people not all of whom are there because they love the company but because they need a paycheck.

Hiring an enthusiastic blogger to write about your product, giving them a free sample, or even, heaven forbid, actually paying them for their efforts, is a scalable way to get the word out while making adjustments internally. Is it a long term solution, in my opinion no, is it particularly imaginative, again in my opinion no. Does it work? If done right, with the right disclosure, undoubtedly.

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How To:Get Your Blog in the “A” List

Posted on February 10, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Facebook, Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , |

With Social Media tools being so readily available now it seems that some people are getting very obsessed with ranking tools.

I have written about these several times, Twitter Grader, Twinfluence and Facebook Grader most recently.  I decided to do a little experiment whilst at the same time promoting my blog.

I used the “NetworkedBlogs” application on Facebook to add my friends to my blog network.  Its a very easy tool to use. You simply send an invite to your friend network on Facebook which asks them to join your network. If they do it displays your blog thumbnail on their profile page and adds them to the list of “Fans” for your blog.

It allows you to include a personal message with the invite, which I like to do, emphasizing this is really from me. That it gives the invitee the opportunity to not only see what I am writing but also what I am reading – I currently have 30 or so blogs in my network, so this is a virtual blog bookcase.

One of the things that NetworkedBlogs does in their application is provide a list, by topic of the Top 50 blogs.  My blog appears in the Social Media list.  What I wanted to show with this post is the subjective nature of these types of lists.

Take a look at the screenshot below

Social Media List

Social Media List

You will see that my blog appears immediately above that of Scott Monty, Ford’s Social Media evangelist. WOW, right, my blog is more popular than that of Scott Monty! I have made it, I’m on the “A” list. No more waiting for restaurant reservations or perhaps at least invites to cool parties at SXSWi.

Thankfully, both for me and those who know me, I am a little more grounded than that and a lot more cynical. Of course my blog isnt more popular than Scott’s (btw if you haven’t already started reading it, you really should). What this shows is the small group of blogs that are being measured. I am sure Scott receives thousands of readers a day, my readership is no where near that level.

This is what happens when you take a very small sample of data and extrapolate it to show importance, influence and popularity. Without lying I can state that my blog is now rated as the number 11 blog in Social Media on Facebook. Everyone knows that Facebook has 150 million users ergo I must be popular, influential and important.Don’t get me wrong I am not dissing the NetworkedBlogs application, it has actually brought me several new readers, for which I am always grateful, but in reality I am not in the “A” list, nor anywhere near it. If you would like to join my blog network please do 🙂

So the next time you are impressed by the fact that someone quotes a Social Media “rank” or “Score” dig a little deeper and find out just how that is being measured.

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Look Who They Got Their Hands On Now

Posted on January 9, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

Twitter, like other new things, has both its fans and its critics. I happen to be a fan. Some people take longer to be convinced of the effectiveness of a tool. I want to share an experience I had recently that would not have happened if it were not for Twitter.

I use Twitter for a variety of things:

  • to connect with new people
  • to reconnect with old friends
  • to share things I find interesting
  • to chat
  • as a newsfeed
  • as a tool to promote my blog
  • as a tool to promote my business

I am sure that these cover most of the usual reasons people use Twitter. But where is the ROI I hear the business users scream (some of them are my clients!). Well because of my use of Twitter a fellow Twitter user @gillianK contacted me to see if I would be willing to help her & her company Weber Shandwick communicate the power of Social Media to a potential new client (you might be able to figure out who from the title of this post).

Now as much as I have a high opinion of myself and my abilities, its unlikely that a company the size of Weber Shandwick would have immediately sought me out to help them in a pre-Twitter world. But because of that approach I ended up in a video with some really cool people, who also happen to be pretty influential in Social Media – Melanie Notkin of www.SavvyAuntie.com (@savvyauntie), Audrey McClelland of www.momgenerations.com (@AudreyMcClellan), Peter Shankman founder of http://www.helpareporter.com/ (@skydiver) and Howard Greenstein of Harbrooke Group www.harbrooke.com (@howardgr). We were asked a set of questions about Social Media and to video our responses.

You can tell two things from my appearance in the video – 1. I need to invest in a better quality webcam, 2. Video is not my preferred medium.  For now I can’t share the actual video. The project has definitely got me thinking about adding video to this blog and how it might add another dimension to some of the things I am doing.

But overall I was very pleased with the outcome, I loved taking part and I actually learned from the experience. Now tell me Twitter isn’t worthwhile.

How has Twitter benefited you?

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5 Things I Asked Guy Kawasaki and What He Replied

Posted on January 7, 2009. Filed under: blogging, Marketing, Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , |

Guy Kawasaki, American venture capitalist and ...

A few weeks ago I decided to go out on a limb and see if I could get the person I admire most in Marketing to take part in a very brief interview with me.

Obviously you know that person was Guy Kawasaki. Guy has a reputation of being accessible, but he is also extremely busy, so I figured you don’t know unless you ask. To my surprise and delight he agreed. To make things simple for both of us, I conducted the interview via email. What follows is that exchange:

~

Me: Recently, Chris Brogan & Seth Godin received a lot of negative comments for their particular positions on business. Are you ever concerned with how your thoughts in one of your books or on your blog will be received and what is your advice for writers who might be on the receiving end of this type of negativity?

Guy: I’m always concerned, but I usually go ahead anyway. You never really know if “everyone” is pissed or just a few nut cases. If you run your business or life based on making sure that absolutely no one disagrees with you, you’ll fail at both.

~

Me: William Zinsser in ‘On Writing Well’ says authors should write for themselves, that thinking of the “one” reader will drive them insane who do you write for?

Guy: I write for anyone with $19.00 plus shipping and handling who wants to change the world.

~

Me: You shrug off the suggestion that you are a ‘rockstar’ in the business world. How would you describe your role in business for those who follow your thoughts, comments, blogs and Tweets?

Guy: In my book, no pun intended, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, John Chambers, etc are rockstars. I’m more of a fairly well-known lounge lizard who cannot lay claim to a mega billion hit. My personal mantra is to “empower people” with my speeches, books, blogs, tweets, and Alltop.

~

Me: In Reality Check you discuss survivorship, that aloneness can kill. Do you see Social Media platforms such as Twitter as a way of new entrepreneurs surviving, not necessarily in the sense of finding funding or partners but just being able to share the human state with others, or is Twitter a way of these people avoiding the Reality of doing?

Guy: Twitter is many things to many people. There is no single definition of Twitter. For some, as you mention, it is a way of sharing the human state. For others, it’s an escape. For me it’s a weapon–a way to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

I like to think of my tweets as a push version of StumbleUpon intermixed with ads for Alltop. I have to push out very interesting tweets that have nothing to do with Alltop in order to keep my audience just as PBS needs great content or people won’t tolerate the telethons. Some people vehemently disagree with this utilitarian approach to Twitter. They would like my high-content tweets but no Alltop ads.

That’s like telling PBS to put all their shows on one channel and run the telethons on another. There is no right and wrong with Twitter–there is only what attracts or repulses your followers, and everybody’s followers are different.

~

Me: Reality Check gives quite a lot of pages to behaviors ­ sucking up, sucking down, schmoozing. All valuable skills. You give the example of your own interests should someone meet you in person. A lot of Social Media users seem to talk a lot more about their own uses of the platforms than they do about themselves. Given you have so many Twitter users following you what type of Tweet is most likely to catch your attention?

Guy: I know you mean this in a philosophical sense: What common ground can you create? Honestly, though, I have a very pragmatic answer. I almost never look at the timeline of the people I follow–the volume is simply too great.

However, I monitor every instance of the terms “Alltop,” “Guykawasaki,” and “Guy Kawasaki,” and these tweets are almost guaranteed to catch my attention. Many people approach social media such as Twitter, email, Facebook, and MySpace as a hobby, diversion, or fun. These services are what they do in addition to their job.

For me, it’s different. Twitter is my job–albeit a fun job–but a job nonetheless

~

Given the opportunity what would you have asked? Who would you like to ask 5 questions of?

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Social Media Firestarter

Posted on December 16, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Business, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , |

success-triangleAny High School student can tell you the three elements needed for fire: Air, Heat, Fuel. If you remove the source of any one of these three elements the fire goes out. Add sufficient sources of all three and you have a firestorm.

What does this have to do with Social Media? I think that there are the same three elements for starting a fire in your social media activities.

  1. Quality
  2. Consistency
  3. Engagement

Quality

Some will have you believe that Content is king. I think this is flawed and has led to many organizations making a huge mistake in their Social Media activity. Simply having a blog post everyday or sending out your branding message in a 140 characters 8 times a day on Twitter until you have hundreds of posts and thousands of tweets to your credit is not going to create any heat around your activity.

Quality of communication is the element that is required not quantity of content. If you have nothing to say, say nothing – this adage doesn’t only apply to polite conversation, it applies to all communication. So how do I measure quality. Firstly, is it useful, not just promotional? An example: A business that sells fruit baskets could choose to post endless “special offers” or they could post recipes, How To’s, suggestions for times to give baskets. Mixing in the odd “special offer” is now going to gain interest amongst readers not be rejected out of hand.

Consistency

This doesn’t mean posting a blog entry everyday, nor posting a dozen useful links every morning to Twitter or Facebook. It does mean ensuring that what you post is suitable for your audience, relevant, helpful, informative, interesting, funny whatever your trying to become recognized for. Find something and do it regularly, consistently. Many organizations and individuals start out with unrealistic expectations of themselves and their ability to sustain Social Media activity. “We will post twice a day” or “five times a week” or some other measure of “consistency” but this is the wrong measure. What are you going to do when the day comes that you don’t have a post ready? Suddenly you have failed. You have missed a day or maybe two. Now your strategy has taken a hit. Better that you under promise and over deliver, even to yourself. Tell yourself you are going to post twice a week and then end up posting four or even five times a week, now you are ahead of your strategy. But the focus should not be on quantity but on quality, this is where the focus of your Consistency should be.

Engagement

This is, perhaps, considered the most important of the three elements by some. As with the original fire triangle remove any one of the elements and the fire dies. An imbalance of the elements will also cause the fire to eventually die. Too much emphasis on any one element in your Social Media fire will result in the same thing. Engagement should not have a disproportionate value in your strategy. Trying too hard to engage with your audience is as off putting to them as the loud embarrassing uncle at a family gathering. Everyone wants to laugh at that joke but they have heard it a dozen times. By balancing quality & consistency with engagement the audience becomes engaged willingly. They feel that they are an equal partner in the engagement and value the engagement. This is the aim of engagement. Frequent enough that there is a familiarity, and sense of participation.

How will you start your Social Media fire?

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Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Me

Posted on December 13, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Observations | Tags: , , |

A Wham-O Professional Frisbee
Image via Wikipedia

This post was motivated by Terry Morawski who Tagged me. Tagging is a fun blogging event to get people behind the blogs to open up a bit and put the human face to their blogs. The rules are fairly straightforward:

The rules(courtesy of Vedo):

  • Link your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged
    (Hat tip to Beth Harte for the rules).

I copied these directly from Terry’s blog.

So seven things about me:

1. I believe in experiential learning

I have always been a big believer in trying things out. Especially things that interest me or make me wonder. I guess that’s what led me into the military as a young man and led me to the Airborne. I wondered what it was like to jump out of a plane. Right now I am using some of my spare time to qualify as an Armed Bodyguard, I was recently certified as an Armed Security officer. Why would I do this, because I want to know what that feels like, to stand next to someone and be responsible for their safety. I can read a lot of books or watch movies or the learning channel, but getting out there and doing it is a much better learning experience. As a volunteer firefighter I got as many certifications as I could. Ditto as a Volunteer Search & Rescue technician, I just love learning.

2. I believe that if I want to be successful I should do what it takes

I decided two years ago to go into business for myself. At the same time I continued to make job applications. After being rejected by several companies that I really felt I was a good fit for I decided I needed to take my own business seriously. I also recognized that it might not immediately bring in cash and so I needed to think about what I was prepared to do to ensure my success. To that end I have driven school buses, worked for a second hand car dealership chain and a new car dealership and sold cars. I have done yard work, dismantled cars, and delivered packages during a Christmas rush for FEDEX. I get made when business people let their situation or the economy define their success. Get out there and make it happen.

3. I Read Voraciously

Yes voraciously. I never stop, I multi-task, I will read while watching TV. I read before sleeping at night. I read novels, non-fiction you name it I read it. I love History so I read history books, historical fiction(Patrick O’Brian), but also murder mystery (James Patterson), Fantasy (Tolkien, Charles De Lint), biographies. I love magazines for quick reading, everything from GQ to Inc, Fast Company to Men’s Vogue, Maximum PC to Practical Mechanics.

4. I played Ultimate Frisbee in my 30’s

I lived in Scotland and that meant leaving work on a Friday night driving for several hours in a bus or car sharing down to England to play in Tournaments. I did this for 18 months, sleeping on floors, playing against 18 – 21 year olds. I miss it but haven’t been able to get back into it over here in the US in the same way, I guess the hours spent in a car or crashing on someone’s floor is the piece that is missing. Its quite the bonding experience.

5. My hero’s are all real people

I don’t have any fictional, or hollywood heroes. The people I admire in my life are all real people and I admire them for both individual reasons and for the traits that they all share. These people range from my Mother, to friends parents to my daughters. Each of them has inspired me to try to become a better human being, each of them has no idea of the impact they have had on the world around them and yet they continue to have those positive impacts.

6. I am living the American Dream

Wow what a provocative statement. But actually its true for me. When I was 8 years old I told my friends that one day I was going to move to America and live there. I was an America addict all my youth. I didn’t get to make my first trip to the US until I was 29 when I was an exchange student to Central Missouri State University, I was there for one semester and loved it. Took me a further 10 years to finally make the move permanently to the US, now its where I call home.

7. I love to cook

Its true, I love to cook but not regular meals. I find regular meals really boring to cook. I do it occasionally but only if I really have to. Now cooking at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birthday’s. Baking, fancy deserts, anything like that I love doing. Co-ordinating 4 dishes to all be ready at the same time, love it. I guess I am just a control freak and the kitchen gives me a great way to express that control.

I tag the following people:- Tawny Press, Cheryl Phillips, Christa M. Miller, Jack LeBlond, David Brown, David Lano and Sarah Guy (http://mypenrunnethover.blogspot.com/) WordPress wouldn’t let me add the 7th link for some reason!

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Is Social Media the latest lifeline in a downturn economy?

Posted on December 10, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Business, Marketing, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

A life preserver icon.

In times of economic uncertainty people instinctively look for some way in which to add additional value to their position, either within an organization or within the broader business environment.

The Rise of The ‘Expert’

In 2007/2008 SEO & SEM became attached to almost any position that vaguely involves some form of online activity. Marketers, PR, copywriters, web designers, web developers everyone suddenly claimed that they had the secret sauce that would enable your website to be on page one of any search any results remotely connected with your business.

The second half of 2008 has seen a shift of this toward Social Media. With the rise in popularity of Social Media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn & Facebook and their increasing use by corporates as a communication tool employees and freelance individuals are shifting their attention to becoming Social Media ‘experts’.

This is not all that surprising. It happens with the advent of all new technologies and for that matter non-technology trends.

The Cool Kids

There have been some interesting conversations on Twitter regarding the craze for gaining a high number of followers and achieving this by following as many people as possible. Indeed Gennefer Snowfield (@acclimedia) made the astute observation that the trend for applications like Tweetdeck that allow the management of large quantities of followers is a reaction to this method of using Twitter.

This method is perhaps being inspired by the perception of Social Media “rockstars” like Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Robert Scoble & others who are seen as having large numbers of followers and that there is some correlation between having a large following on Twitter and the degree of ‘expertise’ in Social Media. Therefore if you are to be seen as a Social Media ‘expert’ you should have a large number of followers and to achieve this you should follow a large number of people.

This is where unfortunately the ‘Social’ in Social Media gets over-emphasized and the Media part gets practically ignored. Social Media isn’t high school. It isn’t about being like the cool kids. Chris Brogan et al are not the Senior year whilst the rest are all Freshmen.

However, this type of behavior is to be expected in uncertain times. In the late 90’s everyone wanted to append the title ‘Webmaster’ to themselves. Not just because it was cool, but because the trend in business was to start using the Internet and in particular the web as a new method of communication. Social Media is the new channel. So individuals with no marketing communication experience are suddenly becoming Social Media ‘experts’.

Just as there are those who have and continue to present themselves as being SEO ‘experts’ without anything more than a slim veneer of search engine knowledge so I believe we will see a rise in the number of Social Media ‘experts’. Of course this is all possible because even someone with a shallow level of knowledge can be convincing in a room full of people with no knowledge. 2010 will see the shake out of those people, but 2009 will be their year. As more and more organizations wake up to the way communications between provider and consumers are happening and start to invest in Social Media and realize that they need help but can’t afford the A listers so they will turn to whatever resource they can find, either internally or amongst the budget providers.

I actually don’t see too much wrong with this. Of course there will be some charlatans, and Caveat Emptor will always apply. Organizations that don’t carry out some form of due diligence when hiring consultants of any nature share the responsibility if they implement bad advice.

Embracing The Talent You Have

What I think will continue to happen will be the rise in the numbers of Social Media participants who are conducting self branding campaigns. Jeremiah Owyang posted an article about how corporations respond to employees who develop personal brands. Given that there are over a million blogs created daily in the US the likelihood that a large or even medium sized organization doesn’t already have several bloggers amongst its workforce is fairly slim. Instead of restricting this activity why not nurture it? Provide training, hone skills, develop an integrated communications strategy that includes these individuals.

Does your organization encourage or discourage your Social Media activity?

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Mommy blogs:Why you should read them

Posted on December 7, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Business, Observations, Social Media, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , |

Sharing Mommy's Breakfast

Do you read Mommy blogs? No? Perhaps you think they are only for other Mommy’s or that they have no relevance to your business or communication strategy – think again.

The first Mommy blog I started reading was TheDailyblonde, written by Cheryl Phillips. I honestly can’t remember how I found her but I was an instant fan. She writes honestly openly and very frankly. Since discovering Cheryl I have been finding others who are also a lot of fun to read. Just yesterday I came across Elle on Twitter. She started following me so I did as I always do, checked her Twitter profile page and followed the link to her blog. The first post I read was a note to her daughters teacher explaining her daughters homework. I got a great laugh from reading it.

More Than Just Laughs

I am sure I don’t need to tell you that it is acknowledged fact that women are stereotypically better at nuturing than men. Social networking is all about nuturing relationships. In my experience Mothers are extremely good at building networks especially with other Mothers. They have a common interest, they share common experiences, they have similar concerns.

Chris Brogan wrote a post on 40 ways to deliver killer content to your blog audience. He makes great points about how to create a dynamic blog and generate followers. When you compare his list with most Mommy blogs, there they are, all his tips in action. Why? Because for the most part, Mommy bloggers aren’t trying to be clever, they aren’t trying to be seen as “better than”, they are focused on sharing.

What Has The Menopause Got To Do With My Business?

Now if you clicked the link to Cheryl’s blog at the beginning of this post you will have found yourself reading about the menopause. Why is that at all relevant to your business. Because it meets all the measures of how a blog should be written. Brogan’s rule #3 – ” Use small words. You don’t have to impress people. You have to be clear.” Check. Cheryl isn’t writing a medical paper she is writing for other women. Brogan’s rule #8 ” Make your point from the reader’s side of the fence. Who is your audience?” Check. Cheryl and other Mommy bloggers know their audience. They understand them, they know their issues and concerns and they know how to communicate with them.

Honestly?

Brogan’s rule #22 ” Don’t mince words. If it’s a “pissing match,” it’s not a disagreement.” Trust me, no don’t, go read for yourself and you will find it harder to read a more honest group of bloggers than Mommy bloggers.

If you are writing a business blog, definitely follow the tips that you will find at Chris Brogan’s blog, Darren Rowse, Guy Kawasaki or any of the other big name bloggers but don’t forget to read blogs that have implemented these rules, sometimes without even knowing it. Put yourself in their shoes, are you as in tune with your audience as they are? If not then perhaps you should spend sometime reading Mommy blogs.

On Twitter there is now a MILT movement starting – Mom I’d Like to Tweet. Who would you add to your MILR (Mom I Like to Read) list ?

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Mr Tweet: Virtual Networking Assistant?

Posted on November 26, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , |

This week saw another rising star in the Twitter apps, Mr. Tweet. Still in Alpha, Mr Tweet offers to scour your Twitter network and make recommendations for two different groups of people for you to follow.

  1. Influencers beyond my network
  2. Which of my followers I should be following back

This is an interesting concept, better executed than the auto-follow model used by Twollow, which was based on keywords that you specified.

Influencer?

Option one is to find “Influencers” beyond my network. A few people have already asked Mr. Tweet on Twitter what the definition is of “Influencer”, I haven’t seen a response as yet. When I examine who is recommended to me the top 5 are all the usual suspects. They are people I would expect to see in any list of top Twitter users. Under each name are the list of people that I am following that are also following the recommended user. The feature that I really like though, is the “Characteristics” information. This gives you the avg number of Tweets, and perhaps, at least for me, the reciprocity of the user, whether they follow back or at least respond to non-follows. If I am going to follow someone it is because I believe they have something informative to say, not because they made the top of a list somewhere. I also want to know how engaged they are with their followers and the Twitter community as a whole. These numbers give me a reasonable insight into that and help me make a decision about who to follow.

mr-tweet1

Follow Back

Option two gives you a list of people that are following you that you should follow back. This presents an interesting situation. The reasoning for following your followers varies from user to user. Tim Ferris, author of the 4-day work week, is famed for not following people. He explains his rational in this video, basically he only follows those people he has a connection with in real life. At the other end of the spectrum is Guy Kawasaki, who auto-follows anyone who follows him.

These two users would have wildly different results on their pages, Guy’s page would be blank, one would assume. While Tim’s page would be extensive. The difference is in the manner in which a user chooses to engage or use Twitter. Everyone has an opinion about how Twitter “should” be used. The point of Twitter is there are no rules. Twitter is different for every user.

The Review

I have been using Mr. Tweet daily for almost a week. My initial impressions are that it is a useful tool for both new and more experienced Twitter users. It has one of the ugliest UI’s I have seen, but the functionality is there. I would like to see the ability to mark recommendations as “viewed” so that they don’t maintain their position in the recommendations list.

For me what has really set Mr. Tweet apart is the use of Twitter itself. When they lost service due to a server issue, they immediately tweeted about it. They have continued to ask for feedback, and to acknowledge comments, observations and praise for the tool.

Have you used Mr. Tweet? What was your experience, did your list contain any surprises?

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