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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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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