Observations

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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5 Things Reality Check Taught Me

Posted on January 6, 2009. Filed under: Business, Management, Marketing, Observations | Tags: , , , |

Cover of

I took part in the Alltop promotion by signing up and allowing the site to send Tweets out under my name. I did this for a few reasons, I thought it was a neat way of marketing something and I wanted to see if it worked, I like Guy Kawasaki’s approach to business and figured this was a way to be a part of something he was setting up and because I couldn’t see the harm in it. I believe I got all of those reason correct. What I also got, which I wasn’t expecting was a free copy of Reality Check, Guy Kawasaki’s book.

I am on my second time through it at the moment. Now I am a voracious reader, but to be honest, I don’t much go in for business books. I see them in the bookstores, I see them at the airports, I even occasionally see someone reading one of them. For the most part I have always felt they were part of the “must be seen to be doing” effect. Like owning certain gadgets, or other brands.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not disrespecting business writers or business books per se. I am sure many of them have a lot of value. I just prefer to get my business knowledge by doing rather than reading. Of the few business books that I have read, which include things like “In Search of Excellence”, Reality Check is a stand out book. Most notably because it isn’t a business book. Although it is sub-titled, quite cleverly, The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, I would have sub-titled it (with a nod to Dr Reuben’s book) “Everything You Wanted to Know in Business School – But Were Too Afraid To Ask”.

I have never been a fan of B-School. There, I have said it out loud, go on get over it. Perhaps its a cultural thing, the MBA has yet to really catch on in the UK (we are perhaps more like Missourians – we are the Show Me country). I’d rather hire someone who has actually done it than someone who has sat and listened to someone who hasn’t and then taught them how it might be done.

That’s not to say I haven’t encountered some very smart people who have MBA’s, Guy Kawasaki has one! But it is my belief those people were smart before they went to B-School, not because of going to B-School.

So having set the stage, what did Reality Check teach me?

  1. Its cheaper than an MBA and a lot more useful: Ok so I have already shared my thoughts on MBA’s, not going to beat that subject. Reading a book that so encompasses the business mind set like this, that takes you from concept to launch to daily operations, do you really need $000’s of student debt and two years out of your life, why not read this book and then invest that money in yourself and your idea. You will learn a lot more from reading the book and then actually doing than sitting in a classroom.
  2. It isn’t just about the technology: My company is a service provider, we don’t develop or produce technology (although that is my background – yes I am a geek). So does any of the start up part of this book really apply to me and my company? Yes absolutely. Just because the references are to technology ideas, the principles that Guy shares in the book apply to any organization of any size, from a tech startup to a florist. The product you are developing is going to go through all the same stages.
  3. Whether You Believe You Need Funding or Not, You Need To Know How VC’s Think: A lot of focus in business writing concerning VC funding centers on the next great “killer app”. Well if you aren’t in the business of producing the next great killer app or you have a big enough bank account of your own to bank roll your idea why do you need to know about VC’s. In my opinion what Guy shares about VC’s is not just about investors in the traditional sense, its about anyone investing in your company, and that most certainly includes your customers – especially your early customers. Treat them like VC’s, talk to them in a way that recognizes the risk they are taking and be aware that they are quite likely experienced and can smell Bull-Shiitake from a considerable distance.
  4. Why Money Isn’t All That Important: Ok we all know this is a lie, money is the one thing every business, especially new businesses need buckets of, or at least that is the conventional thinking. Guy points out how that paradigm has changed, how he started Truemors & Alltop for less than the average “traditional, VC funded” startup spends on having their business cards designed. Guy shares that it cost him approx $10,000 to start Alltop. How many credits at B-School would that buy you?
  5. Entrepreneurs are everywhere: This is the really interesting part of the early chapters of the book for me. It recognizes that not everyone either wants to or has the drive to go out and start their own business. However, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t think and act as though their piece of whatever organization they work in isn’t their own enterprise. Invest in it, not with money but with time, attitude and approach. If more organizations encouraged rather than stifled their Intrapreneurs, as Guy calls them, then they would find a resource that would truly help them Outsmart, Outmanage and Outmarket their competition.

Of course to some this will simply seem like a lovefest for Guy Kawasaki, it isn’t, though I happen to think he is one of the smartest marketers in the world, mainly because he is so honest about how and why he does things. Don’t believe me, come back tomorrow and read the five things I asked Guy Kawasaki and what his response were.

image via Amazon
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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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HOW TO:Connect LinkedIn to Twitter

Posted on December 11, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media, Technology, twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Someone recently expressed the hope that some day there would be a way to connect LinkedIn contacts to Twitter.  Actually what they asked was if there was an application that did this.

I set to thinking about this and after a few hours figured out the solution – ok when you see the solution you will probably wonder why it took me several hours – I was doing other things at the same time.

So here it is, in all of its ugliness, its not the neatest work around but it does actually work.

First thing I suggest you do is create an alternate email address with one of the following services:

  • Yahoo
  • Hotmail
  • AOL
  • MSN
  • Gmail

Why these, because they are the ones supported by Twitter for contact import.  If you already have an account with one of these services you can use that but bear in mind you are going to add your LinkedIn contacts to it and then you would have to figure out who of your contacts came from LinkedIn and who already existed, hence my suggestion that you create a new account. I have only tested this with Gmail, I don’t know if the other webmail services support contact importing, so from here on it only applies to Gmail.

Ok having setup your new email account (or not). Go to LinkedIn.  Go to Contacts. Scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find “Export Connections”.  Clicking that will take you to a screen like this:

li_export1

Select Microsoft Outlook – .csv file.  Save the file somewhere you can find it again.

Go to your Gmail account and select Contacts and then Import (should be on the top right hand side of your screen).  Import the file from LinkedIn.

Now you can return to Twitter.  Go to “Find People” and enter the details for the account you setup:

twit_findWhich will look something like the image above.

Twitter will then import your contacts and show you how many are currently using Twitter.  Of the 454 contacts I imported 88 were using Twitter.  Having selected which ones you want to follow you are then shown a list of those contacts who are not on Twitter.  You can choose to email them an invite or skip that stage.

And there you have it, your LinkedIn contacts are now being followed on Twitter.  Overall I would say it took me a little under 5 mins to carry out these steps, of course it will depend on how many LinkedIn contacts you have.

Know a more graceful way to achieve this, tried it with another email service, let me know.

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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 ?

Image by Lab2112 via Flickr
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Tribes: This is Not The Term You Are Looking For

Posted on November 28, 2008. Filed under: Marketing, Observations, twitter | Tags: , , , , , |

Seth Godin’s book Tribes has created a lot of conversation. About the concept, about the content and generally about whether the book is saying anything new or not. As an Anthropology major I was interested in the use of the term Tribe. Originally it was used by the Roman’s to describe the three ethnic groups that formed the early Roman people.

Later it was adopted by, primarily European based colonial expansionist to group native peoples together. Quite often incorrectly, but there was a need to homogenize the previous occupants of desirable land. For that reason alone the term Tribe has both outdated and pejorative connotations.

My disagreement with the use in this context is not only the potentially pejorative nature of the term but the classification is at best a very lose use of the term, perhaps best left for an aside certainly not suitable to build an entire marketing program around.

Why “Tribe” is not the word

The book is aimed at people seeking leadership teaching, and Seth Godin posits that anyone can become and should become a leader of a “tribe”. It his definition of a tribe that I take issue with. The tribes he describes are at most temporary social groups. Church affiliations, groups of friends in a bar etc. These are not “Tribes”.

Tribes have a permanence brought about through a familial connection, a shared ancestry, a shared sense of creation and a sense of reciprocity.

While I can completely support Seth Godin’s observation that some social groups both offline and online demonstrate some of these behaviors, reciprocity, a sense of self as a group. This doesn’t make them a Tribe in the same way that my ability to speak a few sentences of the French language and an enjoyment of Brie doesn’t make me French.

In a recent conversation about this topic on Twitter a fan of the term tried to qualify it by saying that I should “Think of a collegiate atmosphere – when you leave the tribe is still with you.” This typifies my issue with the use of the term. Firstly, this description is uniquely American, primarily due to the Greek system in place at a lot of US universities – it does not exist in other countries. While I can definitely see why Alumni create and maintain long term relationships, they lack either the familial connection or any of the other features of a “tribe”.

Reciprocity

What Seth Godin is really describing is the nature of group reciprocity. The sense of a group member being able to call upon other group members for assistance. This is certainly a reason why people become parts of groups. I am the member of several groups that display this advantage, from being a Twitter user through the leadership of a local Chapter of the AMA to being a member of a Search & Rescue team. These groups fulfill different needs in me and I fulfill different roles for the group. But we are not a “Tribe”. We have different lives from each other, they are not the first thought when I think of my “wellness”, though they certainly contribute to my sense of well being.

What I seek, in the 21st century, and from a “leader” like Seth Godin is a reframing of this term. Original thought is what is required of leaders, great examples is what is required of leaders. My favorite description of leadership is from Antoine de Saint Exupéry

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

This is the “Tribe” that Seth Godin is referring to, the group that shares that common longing for an jointly perceived outcome.

Do I have a better word than “Tribe”? I have several but what would you call this collective?

Cover via Amazon
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Don’t You Know Who I Think I Am?

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Personal Branding was long the preserve of the Hollywood celebrity. To have a personal brand one needed a publicist, a manager, a PR agency and of course the ubiquitous “People”, as in “I’ll have my people talk to your people”. Social Media is changing all of that. People who would have once gone unnoticed now have a channel through which they can reach thousands of people.

With a million new blogs launched everyday in the US, the competition for audience share is ever more challenging. Skills & tasks that were once only aqcuired by and the concern of product managers, brand managers & marketing managers are now being acquired, honed and practiced by everyone from school teachers, stay-at-home parents, to police officers and computer geeks.

I Know How You Did That

There are two main implications of this change that Social Media is bringing. Firstly, everyone taking part in this surge in communication now wants, not only their 15 minutes of fame, but enduring celebrity and they want it now. The second implication is that having started to realize how brand’s are built the curtain has been drawn back and so these same people are less susceptible to traditional marketing techniques, after all they are using them themselves to attract their own audience.

I have seen recently, a undertone of what could be described as “resentment” against Social Media stars. In some cases I believe that people look at these so called stars in the same way that people sometimes view musicians who gain a place in the public consciousness. The term “overnight success” gets thrown about because people don’t realize the years that a musician might have spent playing spit & sawdust bars, for little more than beer & tips. In the same way a lot of the so called Social Media stars have in fact been practioners of their craft for years. Dorian Carta (aka Paisano) recently celebrated his 10th year as a blogger, hardly a Johnny-come-lately.

A recent NPR interview contained the snippet that it takes about 10,000 hours to become good at something. 10,000 hours that’s just over a year. So if you haven’t been blogging consistently (e.g. more than once a week) for at least a year, you haven’t even begun to get good at it.

Credibility is Key

What is missing from a lot of these Personal Branders is the sense of differentiation. Its a clear case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. The desire to achieve some form of recognition is a natural human instinct, but Social Media is allowing some to seek recognition well outside of their normal circles. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It allows all of us to experience points of view, to share knowledge with people we would otherwise be very unlikely to encounter. That differentiation is and has always been, credibility, whether blogging or branding, building consumer trust is central to developing a brand as opposed to building celebrity.

However, this has to be tempered with the knowledge that not everyone will be, or should be recognized as a rock star. Even those who are admit that they are human first, they have good days, they have bad days. Chris Pirillo famously ranted about Microsoft on his blog, given that he had been a high profile employee previously and that he was saying everyone should go and buy a Mac, it had the potential to be quite influential. When asked about it, he admitted, he was just having an off day, he was frustrated by things he saw at Microsoft and shared that frustration with the world through his blog. More now than ever, we can’t believe everything we read.

So when people embark on a blogging career, whether professionally or personally, they need to understand that building a brand is not an over night event. Popularity might come quickly, but it also has the ability to fade quickly, the test of brand success, whether it is corporate or personal is its ability to endure. How many of those 1 million blogs that will launch today will you be reading in a years time, let alone 10 years time?

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Who I am I reading?

Posted on November 16, 2008. Filed under: blogging, Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

summer reading

Most people know who the “Rockstars” are in blogging these days. With an estimated 1 million blogs being created everyday in the US you would think that it would be very hard to get noticed or have your voice heard. Those who have been blogging a long time have already managed to differentiate themselves or have disappeared.

But what about those who are not necessarily rockstars, who aren’t the top of everyone’s list but still have a lot to offer.

Chris Brogan recently decided to give back to his followers by creating an awesome list of his “Rockstars”. In effect a blogroll, but of huge proportions. The list was “self created” in that everyone on the list (myself included) submitted their websites and were just listed.

What I wanted to provide here was my list of personal “Rockstars”, more than just a list, a reason why these are the people I look up to and read on a regular basis.

Christine Gilbert – writes at almostfearless.com Christine left her job as a manager at a Fortune 500 company to travel the world. She sold her belongings to travel the world, to write & take photographs. Some might think this an incredibly stupid thing to do, especially in the current economic climate, others yet might wonder at the bravery that it takes to undertake a journey like this. I love to keep up with Christine’s travels. A real world, Where is Waldo?

Amy Derby – writes at Write From Home Amy writes in a real world style. She is both engaging and though provoking. Her blog is ostensibly aimed at aspiring or new freelance writers, but her messages are as equally important to anyone, writer or not.

Cheryl Phillips – writes at The Daily Blonde Cheryl is part of the group referred to as “Mommybloggers”. I am always uncomfortable with terms like that, firstly because it seems to be exclusive, as though the writings of this group will only appeal to other Mommy’s. This is definitely not so with Cheryl. Her blog is about being human, about being real. Sure a lot of what she writes about is her family, but she writes in an unapologetic, real world, take it or leave it style that appeals to me.

David Lano – writes at davidlano.com I am a new reader of David’s, he started following me on Twitter a few days ago, and as I do with anyone who follows me there I go and check out their blog. I really like David’s writing style, accessible, informative and he asks good questions.

Tony McCune – writes at What I See From My Window This is not so much a blog as it is a photo project. Tony invites you to send him a picture of what you can see from your window and a few words about the scene then he posts it. Its a simple idea, which is what makes it so brilliant. I love going here everyday and seeing a new view from someone else’s window. Tony has been sent pictures from across the world and all of them from someone’s window. Go take a picture from your window and send it to Tony.

Tawny Press – writes at Innoventions Tawny & I met through LinkedIn. She has been my Social Media mentor and encouraged me to get back involved with Twitter after I had given up on it. She is “officially” a corporate educator, but her ability to educate the rest of us regarding the best practices in Social Networking is what will keep you visiting her blog. She has some wonderful How-To’s on using Twitter and associated tools. She writes these not from a mechanical perspective but from the practitioners perspective, she has used the tools, documented her use and then written the How-to, saving the rest of us hours of trial and error.

Christa M Miller – writes at Vocational Duality Christa & I met through LinkedIn when I answered a question she had posed about using Twitter. She represents that great dynamic of professional non-fiction freelance writer (Law Enforcement is her specialization), mother, wife, fiction writer. All of these influences make appearances in her blog which makes it all the more readable. She can discuss items as diversse as personal branding issues using great personal examples of googling potential collaborators, to discussing the challenge of writing with a two-year old on your lap.

David Brown – writes at neo1seo David has a really interesting idea about how to respond to your followers on Twitter. He has a video that is sent to them via an auto-response. He says he has only received on bad comment back and lots of positive ones. I guess the auto-response part is slightly less human, but I must admit I love the idea of a video introducing yourself to your follower, that part is really human.

Of course I read the Rockstars too, but these are the people I read not because I should, but because they give me a reason to at the personal level. So who do you read?

Image by ruminatrix via Flickr
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No Bull Shiitake: Why I follow Guy Kawasaki

Posted on November 12, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , |

Guy Kawasaki

There are lots of tools and articles that provide recommendations of people to follow on Twitter and elsewhere in the Social Mediaverse.

But few provide the why. For new users and experienced alike, finding new and interesting people to follow is part of the excitement of being engaged in Social Media / Networking. Only yesterday I spoke with someone who considered themselves what could best be defined as an “intermediate” level user, who had never heard of Chris Brogan, and was very grateful that I could provide a recommendation for both Chris’ blog and to follow him on Twitter.

So why do I follow these particular people? Engagement. For me there are a few people who not only provide great material but actually bother to engage with their followers in a way that humanizes the conversation. In effect brings the “Social” emphasis to the fore.

Yesterday I wrote about the metrics that are often applied to determining who the “Influencers” are in Social Media and how flawed I believe those metrics to be. I also proposed a new measure – Engagement Factor, based on the level of “conversation” occurring between these Influencers and their audience.

Chris Brogan wrote on his blog about how he uses Twitter at volume. He talks about the four keys to his use of Twitter as being:

  • Be Helpful
  • Be Informative
  • Be Human
  • Be Responsive

He goes on to mention that being helpful is sometimes particularly difficult, with 20,000 follows if only 1% direct message him asking for help, he receives 200 requests in a day. If his only task in life were to answer those requests he might just make it, but of course that isn’t his only job, he has a full time job and is a prolific writer, so sometimes people get disappointed.

Yesterday I direct messaged Guy Kawasaki, twice, he responded both times. Again this is someone that has more than 20,000 followers. I asked him to take a look at yesterday’s post and give me his thoughts – how many requests does he get like that a day? But he took the time to review it, and point out that my proposed metric didn’t account for direct messages (I had covered that in the post) which was a fair comment, he also mentioned that he replies to around 50 – 60 DM’s a day.

Darren Rowse, the author of Problogger, is another who actually takes the time to respond to direct messages. What unifies these writers is that they all espouse the need for engagement in Social Media, they talk about it on their blogs, they talk about it on Twitter, they teach it to their paying customers, but most importantly they actually practice it. That for me is the reason to follow someone who the Social Mediaverse dubs a “rockstar”.

Take these things in context, just because you DM, email or @reply to one of these people and they don’t reply doesn’t mean they aren’t engaging with you. Before you hit send, think about your message. Is your message simply a method of getting you attention?

Guy Kawasaki in his recent post on attracting more Twitter follows says:

Send @ messages to the smores. They probably won’t answer you, but that’s okay. All you want to do is appear like you have a relationship with them to enhance your credibility. The theory is, “If she is tweeting with @scobleizeer, she must be worth following.” Bull shiitake logic, admittedly, but it helps. To bastardize what a famous PR person once told me, “It’s not who you know. It’s who appears to know you.”

If this is the strategy you are following, then don’t be surprised that they don’t answer you. If you are expecting an answer then think about what it is you are asking of them. You want them to review your blog – whats the content really like, what is the fit between your blog and their writing?, You want them to come to your event – whats the reason you want them to do that? In other words, just because they are the “rockstars” who promote engagement don’t imagine for one minute that engagement is a one way street. If you can’t be bothered to do your research and engage with them ask yourself why they should engage with you. At a recent Tweetup in Austin, Robert Scoble talked about why he left LinkedIn, he was tired of people simply wanting to connect with him so he would introduce them to someone beneficial in his network. That isn’t engagement that’s exploitation.

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Twitter and Automated tools

Posted on November 4, 2008. Filed under: Observations, Social Media | Tags: , , , , |

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I was engaged in a Twitter conversation yesterday about the use of Auto-Twitter tools, like Tweetlater.  I have had this discussion a few times and its interesting to me that the debate is quite polarizing. Some Twitter users are adamant that you should not use any form of auto generated Tweets.  Others state that its a great way to drive traffic to your blog, e-book or company website.

The Middle Way

As with most polarized discussions there is usually a third path.  I personally use auto reply from Tweetlater to ensure that everyone who follows me gets an immediate response.  Some days I attract upto 30 new followers, it can take me at least 24 hours before I get the opportunity to respond to them individually.  To me, in the current, always on, instant gratification world we live in, that isn’t acceptable, but also I can’t do everything at once.  I run a company, I blog, I write articles, I micro-blog to Twitter.  So sometimes things slide.  Using the tool allows me to make sure I make some form of connection with everyone that follows me.

What to say

So if, like me you want to use an automated tool what should you say?  My message simply says, “hey, thank you for following me, I hope to make it worth your while.”  I keep it short, friendly and most importantly I don’t put links in it to my blog, my company or anything else.  Why?  Because if I want to not only have you follow me on Twitter but also read my blog, I had better be prepared to engage with you personally.

Other Auto Tools

There are plugin’s that will automatically Tweet when you update your blog.  I really don’t understand the point of this.  You have just written this amazing post, you want lots of people to read it, so what exactly is preventing you from logging into Twitter or using whatever tool you use to post to Twitter and making your Tweet engaging?  If you can take the time to write a blog post worth reading, why wouldn’t you be able to write a 140 character message that will engage readers?  I cringe every time I see on Twitter “Just update my blog” and then a link.  Ok great thanks for letting me know, but what was your blog post about, why would I care ? Is the subject of interest to me?  Get to know your audience, what do they care about?  What are they reading?  You should know because if you are really engaging in Social Media then you are following the links they post, reading what interests them and therefore gaining an insight into what they might be interested in reading on your blog.

Engagement

Now if you have reached this part of the post you may have noticed that I have used the word Engagement 4 times in only 3 paragraphs. Why would I do that? Because the key to Social Media, IMHO, isn’t what platform you are using, it isn’t how many people you have writing your blog, it comes down to the 3 E’s, yes you guessed it Engage, Engage, Engage.  Time is probably the most valuable asset any member of your potential audience can spend on you.  If you want them to invest it in you, invest in them.  Use automated tools wisely and only for good reason.  Don’t be tempted to let bot’s replace your voice.

What’s your opinion? Do Auto responses have any role to play in Twitter?

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