Thursday, February 26, 2009

News, notes n quotes

Hey guys there's a few updates and items that I've been involved with recently that I wanted to bring to everyone's attention:

Recently I was interviewed by both Aaron Strout and Dan Schawbel. Both Dan and Aaron have a ton of great interviews on each of their blogs, so I'd recommend spending some time reading each site.

I was beyond floored to be asked by Sean Howard to contribute to a project he created, an ebook where several thought leaders (and me) get to give our thoughts on how we can create a passion economy. The authors include:Scott Suthren,Ellen Di Resta,Gavin Heaton,Charles Frith,Mike Wagner,Mack Collier,Mike Arauz,Katie Chatfield,Alan Wolk,Peter Flaschner,Matthew Milan

Sean explains his reason for this project here, and you can download the ebook directly here.

Finally, I have some updates to my speaking schedule. While I have written literally dozens of articles for Marketing Profs, I've never done a webinar for them. But that's going to change in a big way next month, as I'll be doing back-to-back blogging webinars on March 26th and 27th. The one on the 26th is entitled Blogging Fundamentals; What Marketers Need to Know. As the title indicates, this will be for marketers that need an introduction to blogging and what a blog is. Very Blogging 101. The one on the 27th is entitled From Blah to Blockbuster; How You Can Build a Blog that Excites Your Customers. This one is perfect for people that are familiar with blogging, but want to take their efforts to the next level, and create a blog that encourages interaction, and is actually exciting to your readers! I'm beyond thrilled to be doing both of these, and hope you'll attend one or both of them!

And finally, I'll be leading a social media workshop at a special day-long event that the Social Media Club of Birmingham will be holding on April 27th. I'll be joined by Ike Pigott, Scott Schablow, and Chris Heuer. I'll have more information on this event soon, so check my speaking page.

So for now, that's what's new with me. What about you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 138

Here's the standings for Week 138:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 132,000 (-129,000)(LW - 1)
2 - Church of the Customer - 120,000 (-129,000)(LW - 2)
3 - CopyBlogger - 52,927 (+859)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 20,165 (+447)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 19,848 (+1,055)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 12,901 (+289)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 12,543 (+273)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 8,787 (+283)(LW - 8)
9 - Daily Fix - 8,621(+352)(LW - 9)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 8,565 (+323)(LW - 10)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 4,788 (-42)(LW - 11)
12 - Conversation Agent - 4,312 (+171)(LW - 12)
13 - The Viral Garden - 3,935 (+85)(LW - 14)
14 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,911 (+51)(LW - 13)
15 - What's Next - 3,731 (+74)(LW - 15)
16 - Debbie Weil's Blog - 3,629 (LW - UR)
17 - Converstations - 3,565 (-30)(LW - 16)
18 - Being Peter Kim - 3,559 (+116)(LW - 18)
19 - Social Media Explorer - 3,270 (+118)(LW - 17)
20 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 3,152 (+120)(LW - 19)
21 - Techipedia - 2,906 (+63)(LW - 20)
22 - Brand and Market - 2,190 (LW - UR)
23 - Emergence Marketing - 2,124 (+36)(LW - 21)
24 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 2,096 (+27)(LW - 22)
25 - Techno Marketer - 2,029 (+26)(LW - 23)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked by the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Some drama in the Top 10, as Chris Brogan is closing in fast on Jeremiah Owyang, Logic + Emotion is gaining on Search Engine Guide, and Daily Fix has almost pulled even with Influential Marketing. In fact, the Top 3 are pretty much cemented in place, but every blog after that is on the verge of jumping the one in front of them, or close to being jumped by someone behind them.

Two new blogs this week, as Debbie Weil's Blog along with Brand and Market join the Top 25. Paul Isakson's blog and The Social Customer Manifesto just missed the cut.

Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog. And if you redesign your blog, make sure to keep the FB chicklet on there, or I can't track you for the Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twitter and the imperfect conversation

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Twitter. I have TweetDeck up for better than half the day on average, either while I am on Twitter, or running in the background while I am working on something else. And one of the biggest uses I have for Twitter is to engage in conversations. I am closing in on my 18,000th tweet, and over 75% of those have been replies to someone else. So I spend most of my time on Twitter talking to others.

Which I love! But in the past few months, I have been seeing some less than perfect communication happening between myself and others on Twitter. More than once, I have been involved in an exchange with someone on Twitter, then after wards they would blog about the discussion, and usually incorrectly identify my stance and the points I was trying to make.

Or recently, I got in what I thought was a very mild disagreement with someone on Twitter. At one point someone replied to me to say we were arguing, and I clarified that we were having a civil disagreement. But a day or so later, I discovered that this person had unfollowed me. My first thought was that it must be an error by Twitter, so I replied to them asking if they meant to unfollow me, and never got a reply. So that answered that question.

And what's worse, I have heard from others on Twitter that they have had similar issues. That they would suddenly find themselves in arguments when they thought they were actually agreeing with the other person. That someone would repeatedly mis-state their position (even after they clarified it to them) or they would later discover that someone had unfollowed them after what they thought was a civil disagreement.

What does all this mean? Well I am going to assume that it means that *I* am not doing a good job of accurately expressing myself, or accurately reading what others are saying and feeling. It means I am going to state my stance, re-state once if there's confusion, then drop it. If I see an argument developing, I am going to wave the 'we should agree to disagree' flag MUCH earlier, or invite the person to continue via email so we can better explain our positions.

What about you? Are you seeing the same thing with your conversations on Twitter? Until I can decide differently, I am going to assume that most of these imperfect conversations are my fault. What have you seen?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Turning your feed reader into a powerful monitoring dashboard

Kat recently had a great post about social media monitoring, and lamented that the post might be too elementary for her blog's audience. I disagree, I think that while many active individuals might understand the importance of monitoring, most companies totally miss it. And since we in the 'social media fishbowl' tend to all cover the same topics, I figured this one is actually worthy of more attention.

As I've blogged about before, I am obsessive about my blog's stats, and that carries over to monitoring. I monitor for blog mentions, for mentions of my name, and for links to this blog. I also track twitter replies, and even mentions of terms such as 'social media', 'customer evangelists', etc.

And all this is done in Bloglines. That way, I have everything there where I can look at it in one place, and because I get WAY too many emails as it is, and the last thing I need is more by signing up for Google Alerts. Now if you want to subscribe to a search, you can usually just click on the Feed or RSS button. These will normally work just fine, but what I do is a bit different. After I have performed a search and want to subscribe to the results, I copy the URL by right-clicking, then selecting Copy. I then go to Bloglines and click Add at the top left of the screen, and then Paste the copied URL and subscribe to the search that way. This way I can save every search in the same way, whether it's a search done via Google Blog Search or Technorati or Twitter Search or something else.

Now it's great to subscribe to the so-called 'vanity searches', but why stop there? I also subscribe to several marketing and social media terms. I do this to stay up to date on news and to keep up on how mainstream media is reporting news and information about this space. If you are a company setting up a monitoring system, I would focus on industry-specific terms, as well as your competitors, so you can keep up with what they are doing in social media. Who knows, you might pick up some useful ideas from watching how the competition is connecting with its customers.

Now for the big question; how much time should you invest in social media monitoring? It will of course greatly depend on how much time you CAN invest in monitoring. If I could only use one tool, I would use Google Blog Search. It's Google's search engine for blogs, and probably has the widest 'reach'. And in addition to searches for terms, it also lets you track links to sites/blogs, which is very valuable.

The next tool I would add would be Twitter Search. Think of Twitter Search as 'real-time' monitoring. Google Blog Search gives you a feel for the trend, Twitter Search gives you live feedback. If you need to monitor customer feedback in real-time, such as during a crisis situation, Twitter Search is what you need. Obviously if you work for a larger company, you will likely have more resources to devote to monitoring, and will have more feedback to track anyway.

Finally, what comes next? Or SHOULD anything come next? In my opinion, companies that are just starting to monitor shouldn't overdo it with too many bells and whistles. Stick with one or two tools that give you good results, and master those. This is why I focus most monitoring posts on Google Blog Search and Twitter Search. They both offer a ton of utility, and also complement each other well in what information they track. After you have been monitoring for a while, you'll get a better idea of the information that's relevant to you, and also of which tools can help you track that information. Then you can add more monitoring tools that work for you, after you are more comfortable with the process.

And I also like organizing all your searches in one place with a feed reader. Even though I use Bloglines, your searches could just as easily be organized and tracked with Google Reader, using the same copy and paste of the URL method.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What if your number of Twitter followers didn't matter?

I asked this question earlier on Twitter. What do you think? Would your behavior change if you knew that no one could see how many followers you had? If you remove # of followers from the equation, how would you then define 'influence' on Twitter?

What if we had no idea how many links a blog had? What if numbers were removed from the equation? Would interactions be based on something more personal and human? How would we determine who is worthy of being followed?

A lot to ponder. Seems too many decisions and too much of our behavior is predicated on numbers, and not on personal interactions.

What do you think?

I am (almost) sure I will never fly US Airways ever again

It was a few mins after midnight, last Thursday. I was supposed to be just arriving home in Alabama from a business trip to New York City. Instead, I was sitting in an airport in Charlotte because my US Airways flight from NYC to Charlotte had been delayed by 2 hours, causing me to miss my connecting flight home from Charlotte. So it was midnight and I was settling in for a 9-hour wait till the next flight left Charlotte for Huntsville.

And I was VERY pissed.

This was my first time flying with US Airways, and it had been a disaster. Every flight had been delayed, and I had missed my final connecting flight home. I got on Twitter to vent my frustrations, and quickly heard sympathy from many followers that stated that they had had similar issues with flying US Airways.

Then I got a tweet from Jody Gnant, AKA @usairwaysgirl. She wanted to know what was happening with my trip, and if everything was ok. At first I assumed she worked for the airline, but she was instead an evangelist for US Airways.

And if I ever fly US Airways again, she'll be the reason why. Note the title of this post says I am 'almost' sure I'll never fly USAirways again. By evangelizing the airline, @usairwaysgirl put that bit of doubt in my mind, that MAYBE I should give them a second chance. I decided to see if USAirwaysGirl would be interested in letting me interview her, and thankfully she was:

1 - You are obviously an evangelist for US AirWays, and your bio says you used to work for the airlines. Why do you spend time on Twitter essentially providing customer service for the airline's customers and trying to help them solve their issues? What's in it for you?

US Airways is also my hometown airline… ala "America West". I remember the girl in the TV commercials standing on the baggage counter and singing "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" – and I just LOVED her! She was actually one of the first singers I looked up to! So, needless to say, I've always loved America West, and then US Airways, as the merger took place.

I really loved working for America West / US Airways as a Customer Service & Sales Agent (1995 – 1996), and didn't actually want to quit; but I needed to get an extended leave of absence and it was not granted. I had made a trade with Kyle MacDonald of allowing me the opportunity to record an album for the first time in more than 10 years. I could not pass up the chance, and so I had to leave. :(

(I wrote a song once, while I was working for US Airways, that was called, "The Hero and The Pawn" – mainly because I loved helping people figure out the solutions to their problems – even while I myself had no real power within the company.)

People fly for some of the most important moments in their lives, and so when they have trouble getting there it can be super stressful. I just thought that since I have a really great understanding of the policies of US Airways that I might be able to help some of my fellow Twitterers get through those times.

When I started working for US Airways, we all had to take classes in airline aviation. (Betcha didn't know that I have 11 college credit hours in airline aviation, did ya?) I got a 100% on my final in the class, and loved every minute of it.

I almost never have any trouble when I travel – and I travel almost exclusively with US Airways. (I flew 50,000 miles last year – and they were ALL US Airways flights.)

But, I am also convinced that the REASON that I never have any trouble is because I know the rules and regulations of the airline like the back of my hand, and I truly feel like this helps me when it comes to booking a ticket, choosing connections, understanding what my rights are as a passenger, etc.

I just want people to love traveling on US Airways as much as I do.

Now, granted, there will be times when I have missed a connection, or a flight is delayed, and there is really nothing anyone can do about that. But in those situations, I at least know the difference between a weather delay and a mechanical delay – and I know what my options are. That information alone can make a big difference in what happens next at the airport.

2 - As you know, I recently had a pretty disappointing experience with US AirWays, and I tweeted my frustrations with the service I got from the airlines during a recent trip. I didn't hear from anyone at US Airways, but you responded to me, offering to help if you could. Is this something you do often on Twitter?

It's something that I do as often as I can… I don't have an iPhone, so my customer service time is limited to the times I am actually on a computer –which, fortunately – is fairly often.

Were I helping you, in your recent situation, to initially book the ticket that you had trouble with, I would have looked at the average on-time departure of the planes that you were taking. Based on the averages, I might have suggested alternate flights, or a longer layover. When your first connection was missed, I might have suggested that you call the airline to "protect" yourself on the next flight. Again, I was not privy to your exact situation, but it is advice like this that can really make a difference when you are sitting on the tarmac wondering if you are actually going to make it to your destination in time.

3 - You told me on Twitter that US Airways hasn't reached out to you, and that you aren't sure if they know what you are doing on Twitter on their behalf. Do you think that US Airways should contact you?

Sure! I would welcome dialogue with US Airways! I have a lot of ideas on how they should properly enter this space, and what they should do with it.

That being said, I think that if US Airways is to enter the Social Media space that is Twitter, they will need to reach out to someone LIKE me. They are in a very difficult position, because in my opinion, they need to find someone that understands the Twittersphere, and also the already established booking policies and procedures of US Airways. While it would be fun for them to enter the space, and Tweet about fare specials, and airport closures, etc. – the real value to me (and other US Airways customers) would be to have an actual Reservations Agent capable of helping those in their most dire moments of need. As I said, people usually travel for very important occasions… these are some of the most important moments of these people's lives and it would be pointless to enter the space unless there were an actual point of contact for the customer to reach out, if necessary.

That seems to put US Airways in quite the predicament, because it would take a Super Agent - someone who was flawless on company procedures, and was able to make comments without jeapordizing the company legally in any way; a tough spot, indeed.

4 - Do you think US Airways should be active on Twitter? If they were, how could the company benefit?

I guess I accidentally answered that one above… ;)

5 - What, in your opinion, makes US Airways a company worth doing business with? Why do you 'love' US Airways?

Well, a lot of people don't know this, but US Airways is actually a low cost carrier… This means that they do not offer some of the luxuries that some of us have begun to appreciate as "standard" on other airlines. I actually like this, as I often am travelling on a budget. I don't want to pay extra for my ticket - for meals I don't want, drinks I'd rather buy at the gate, and built in margins for change fees I'm not intending on incurring. I also don't feel that flight attendants need to be waitresses.

I want my ticket, and I want to get there safely. I can take care of myself for the rest.

Luckily, I've had the privilege of flying enough (and loyally with US Airways) so as to have had the opportunity to enjoy Elite Status over the last three years. This allows me free first class upgrades, mileage bonuses, preferred check-in and boarding, free checked bags – the list goes on and on…

If I'm upgraded on both legs of my itinerary, I can get a first class round trip ticket from Phoenix to New York City for $240! Who wouldn't love that?

Also - Their mobile app is amazing, I can go to over 200 destinations, and accrue miles from other Star Alliance carriers (and by shopping online at places like iTunes, and Home Depot).

I actually flew round trip - Phoenix to Amsterdam – last year for 37,500 miles… Awesomeness!

If one knows the rules of traveling on their favorite airline, the sky is the limit!

And there you go. I will say that while I am still ticked at US Airways for the treatment I got from them, that Jody's passion for the company is undeniable. I'm not saying I will give the airline a second chance, but if I DO, Jody's evangelism for US Airways will be the ONLY reason why.

My advice to US Airways is to find the people you have like Jody that are passionately promoting your company, and reach out to them as quickly as possible. Actually that's my advice for any company. Thanks again, Jody!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mack Collier's Bio

Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nurture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post,, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.

Pic via Flickr user LiveWorld

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs - Week 137

Here's the standings for Week 137:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 261,000 (No Change)(LW - 1)
2 - Church of the Customer - 249,000 (No Change)(LW - 2)
3 - CopyBlogger - 52,068 (+1,727)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 19,718 (+479)(LW - 4)
5 - Chris Brogan - 18,793 (+1,012)(LW - 5)
6 - Search Engine Guide - 12,612 (-122)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 12,270 (+13)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 8,504 (+299)(LW - 8)
9 - Daily Fix - 8,269 (+286)(LW - 10)
10 - Brand Autopsy - 8,242 (+126)(LW - 9)
11 - Jaffe Juice - 4,830 (+2,298)(LW - 20)
12 - Conversation Agent - 4,141 (+117)(LW - 11)
13 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,860 (+12)(LW - 12)
14 - The Viral Garden - 3,850 (+139)(LW - 13)
15 - What's Next - 3,657 (+96)(LW - 14)
16 - Converstations - 3,595 (+312)(LW - 17)
17 - Social Media Explorer - 3,547 (+142)(LW - 15)
18 - Being Peter Kim - 3,443 (+122)(LW - 16)
19 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 3,152 (+120)(LW - 18)
20 - Techipedia - 2,843 (+38)(LW - 19)
21 - Emergence Marketing - 2,088 (+31)(LW - 21)
22 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 2,069 (+31)(LW - 22)
23 - Techno Marketer - 2,003 (+128)(LW - 23)
24 - Paul Isakson - 1,936 (LW - UR)
25 - The Social Customer Manifesto - 1,882 (+11)(LW - 24)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked by the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Daily Fix has been on a bit of a hot streak lately, adding several hundred subscribers the past few weeks, and is now up to #9. Of course CopyBlogger and Chris Brogan's Blog just continue to add subscribers by the hundreds every week. Past the Top 10, Conversation Agent may be starting to reel Jaffe Juice in, as the gap between these two blogs continues to narrow. Converstations also had a nice bounce-back week.

Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog. And if you redesign your blog, make sure to keep the FB chicklet on there, or I can't track you for the Top 25.

Next update is next Wednesday.

Monday, February 09, 2009

My biggest social media mistakes

I hear it all the time from people that are new to blogging and social media. "I don't feel like I should be blogging or on Twitter. All these other people know everything, what can I tell them?"

Here's a secret when it comes to social media; no one knows everything, and everyone makes mistakes. I've made more than my fair share, in fact here's some of my biggest ones:

1 - It took me WAAAY too long to 'get' Twitter. Look at the above graph. That shows how many tweets I have left each month since I joined Twitter in March of 2007. Notice that I only left a handful of tweets every month up till December of 2007. Till then, most of my time on Twitter was spent tweeting links to my new blog posts. That's right, I was a broadcaster. Thankfully, I finally 'got' Twitter, but it damned sure took me long enough.

2 - It took me over a year to post my pic on this blog. Remember this classic? The reason why I never added my pic was because I didn't think it mattered. It does. People will connect easier with your real face than they will a plastic Fonzie.

3 - A couple of years ago something funny happened one day here. An 'A-Lister' linked to one of my blog posts, and then another did, and before I knew it my post was on the top of the front page of Tech Meme. And in 2006, this was a really big deal. And I saw my traffic jump up, and loved it. But here's where I made my mistake, I started changing the topics I wrote about, to try to get on Tech Meme again. The next day I wrote about something more tech-related, and sure enough, I got picked up by Tech Meme again. And I got a nice bump in traffic again. But I also noticed that for all this traffic I was getting, no one was commenting. I realized it was because I had all these tech readers coming to my marketing/social media blog, and leaving as soon as they got here. Traffic is fine, but relevant traffic is even better.

4 - I have the most idiotic blog URL ever. Have you ever actually looked at The Viral Garden's URL? It is You only pick a URL like that when you assume that no more than 3 people will ever read your blog. Thankfully I was wrong on my blog's readership, but my failure to plan ahead in choosing my blog's URL is pretty apparent.

5 - I didn't start blogging until 2005. And the reason why? Because I felt like I didn't have anything to say. What would I blog about? Who would care to read what I had to say? I assumed no one would, and that's why I waited until 2005 to start blogging. Sound familiar?

My point in writing this post is to show you that we all make mistakes when it comes to social media. And more often than not, the people that are viewed as being the 'experts' or 'gurus' in this space are the ones that have made the MOST mistakes.

So don't buy into this 'I don't have anything to say/tweet/post about' nonsense. Get out there and make your mistakes, because that's the best way to learn. And besides, one of those 'social media experts' has probably already made all the same mistakes you will.

What mistakes have you made? Share them in comments!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hey let's meet!

I've got a couple of events confirmed for March and April and I would LOVE to meet you if you'll be at either of them.

The first is of course, I will be at SXSW next month in Austin. SXSW is probably my favorite conference 'experience', and as you can see, I had an amazing time last year. I'll be arriving Sat afternoon, and leaving Tuesday morning. There's only a handful of panels/talks that are 'must see' for me, so most of the time during the day I will be out in the halls mingling with everyone, and doing the same at night at the 'parties'. If you are going to be there and ESPECIALLY if we have not met yet, let's make plans to at least shake hands in Austin, deal?

Now the other event that I'm excited to tell you about is my first confirmed event as a speaker for 2009. It's the Online Media Bootcamp in Philadelphia on April 9th. This isn't so much a conference as it is a one-day online media training session. My training session will be on how you can create connections and community via social media and social networking. Pretty cool, huh? I'm definitely looking forward to it, and I'll be joined by some pretty good A-List teachers including Valeria Maltoni, Shashi Bellamkonda, Li Evans and Beth Harte.

As I've blogged about before, I prefer to speak at events where there is a premium placed on teaching and learning. I don't want to stand behind a podium and no one wants to see me do that either. What the Online Media Bootcamp will be about is showing you how to use social media and networking tools to better connect with your customers. It's a learning and teaching event, we're going to send you home with a plan of action and a gameplan for getting started using social media to jumpstart your business. And when Li and Beth told me they wanted me to be involved, I couldn't accept fast enough. Registration is now open for OMBC, and the early rate of $349 will be good through February 20th. One big caveat; there's only 65 spots for this event (see we want a smaller event want to stress learning over pontificating), so make sure you get in ASAP.

Hope to see you at both events! I have a few other events I'll be speaking at and attending in the next few months which I'll be updating them here, and you can always check out my speaking page to see where I'll be next!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Five in the Morning 020409

I've always said that one of the best ways to grow your blog's readership, is to have a regular blog series. And an even better idea might be to take your series and give it to your readers.

This is what Steve Woodruff has done. He has a fun series called Five in the Morning, where every morning he posts five links to some interesting posts he's found. And lately he's been asking some others to help him out and run Five in the Morning posts on their blogs. And here's five interesting links I've found:

Have you checked out Historical Tweets? It's a hilarious collection of how famous historical figures would have communicated, if they had been on Twitter. There are SO many ways to have fun with this.

Love this post by Jay about how businesses can increase the visibility of their site/blog/communications by making them more relevant to others. Give people a reason to pay attention to you, create value for them, interact with them, and they are FAR more likely to pay attention to you.

Thank you! Dennis has nailed it, social media is turning into broadcast radio. I know that there are no rules for using social media, but it infuriates me to see so called 'thought leaders' in the social media space using these wonderful communication broadcast. *shakes fist* (Just for CK)

Shiv fears that we will soon be dealing with 'influencer fatigue'. I disagree, we are instead dealing with lazy companies that aren't targeting the REAL influencers.

SuzeMuse shares what her students taught her about online communities. No social media isn't the only way people connect online, and yes, the students can become the teachers ;)

Thanks again to Steve for letting me take over his fun series for a day. Make sure you subscribe to his StickyFigure blog and follow him on Twitter: Steve Woodruff

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

How I get ReTweets on Twitter

CopyBlogger has a post up on 5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that Twitter is now the top referring site to my blog (roughly 13% of my traffic for 2009 comes from Twitter). And when I am active on Twitter and getting RTs, I usually pop up near the top of whatever list of 'Top Retweeters' you want to check.

So I have noticed a few things in addition to Dan's list on getting RTs, that I think are working for me. Here's some ways that I think my tweets are getting RTed.

1 - I have a lot of followers. Which means that more people are going to see my tweets, and that obviously increases the chances of getting RTs.

2 - I always link to my own blog posts while linking to other posts. This is done purposely. To me, it seems selfish to only link to my own content, and I see that as a 'withdrawal' that I am making on the capital I have with my followers. So to make up for that withdrawal, I also have to share valuable posts from OTHER people.

3 - Topic matters. If I link to any post concerning Twitter or Social Media, odds are much higher that it will be RTed. But this works both ways, not only for my posts, but for others. It trains me to help me see which topics my followers are interested in. So when I see another blogger writing about these topics, I link to them on Twitter.

4 - I often get requests from others to RT their post, and try to RT as many as I can. I'm happy to RT the posts as I can, I see it as my way of helping to 'repay' these people for RTing my links. And I think it makes the people whose tweets I RT, more likely to RT mine.

5 - I don't purposely 'try' to get my links RTed. I'm not interested in having any of my tweets 'go viral', I just want to share valuable content with my friends. If I was just trying to get RTs, the way I used Twitter would change, and I'm not willing to do that.

Now I will say again that Twitter is the top referring site to this blog and I LOVE seeing the extra traffic. But...I want that traffic to be as a byproduct of my producing value for the people I interact with on Twitter, not because I am *trying* to get traffic. That's an important distinction to make because if you start actively trying to push traffic to your blog from Twitter, you change the way you use Twitter. For me, letting the RTs happen organically works best.

Anyway, this is what seems to be working for me as far as getting my tweets RTed. What works for you?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

So is it worth it to be monitoring Twitter?

GoDaddy's Super Bowl ad led to a less than favorable reaction from some on Twitter. With many people saying they were going to go with someone else.

Which led to this offer by one of GoDaddy's competitors:

Which resulted in...

Any questions?

Contact Me

If you're wanting to get in touch with me, here's the best way to proceed based on how I can help you(If you are looking for my current rate sheet for my social media consulting/speaking/training services, click here):

Social media consulting/Blog consulting: If your company/small business/organization has an interest in learning more about how I can help you with your blogging/social media efforts, please email me. If you have a project that you would like to launch in 2009, please contact me and we can discuss your needs and my availability. You can learn more about my consulting services here.

Social media/Blogging training and workshops: One of my passions is helping teach companies and organizations how to use social media tools to better connect with, and understand their customers. As such, I place a priority on making myself available to conduct social media training and workshops. If you are interested in having me conduct a half or full-day social media workshop/training seminar on location, please email me to get a custom price quote. Note that my fee is in addition to your covering all associated travel costs (airline, cab, hotel, food). Please contact me at least a month in advance of your desired date. You can get more information on this service here.

Speaking: If you are interested in having me speak on social media at your conference or private event, please email me. My availability to speak at conferences in the first half of 2009 is extremely limited, as I have already committed to being involved in several events. But if you are interested in having me speak at your conference, please contact me to find out if I am available.

If you are interested in having me speak at your private event, please email me. As with training/workshops, I place a priority on making myself available to speak at your company/organization’s private event, so feel free to contact me to learn more about my availability in the first half of 2009, as well as my fee. My fee is in addition to your covering all associated travel expenses (airline, cab, hotel, food).

Click here to get more information on my speaking schedule, and services I provide.

Interviews/Quotes for your site/blog/publication: If you would like to interview me or get a quote for your article/site/blog, please email me your questions, as I would be honored to help. And thanks for asking!

Pitches: If you have a topic you'd like for me to blog about on The Viral Garden, please keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Will your idea be relevant to my readers? I enjoy posting about how companies/small businesses/organizations are using social media to better reach their customers. I also enjoy posting about new social media sites/tools that I think my readers can find value in. That's my ultimate filter, I won't write about your idea because I want to promote you, I will write about it IF I think it will be something that my readers can find value in. So in order to be featured here, you have to sell me on why your pitch will be valuable and relevant to my readers. Their time is more valuable to me than yours is.
  • Please read my blog before you send me your pitch. Reference why you think your pitch will be interesting to my readers based on what I have posted about before.
  • Please refer to me by my correct name. Seriously.
If you have read my blog and think your pitch is relevant to my readers, please email me.

Book Reviews: Although I have in the past, I rarely do book reviews anymore on The Viral Garden. If you would like for me to review your book, you can email me for information about sending it to me. Please note that even if you send me your book, I may not review it. And if I do accept your book, you must agree to send me at least two copies of the book. If I like the book and find it valuable, I *might* review it on The Viral Garden. I will want to give the second copy away to one of my readers, and will either do that on the blog, or in private.

A general social media question or comment on post I have written: Please do NOT hesitate to email me if you have a general question you want to ask about social media. Wondering how your company gets started blogging? Interested in learning how you get more followers on Twitter? Feel free to ask. And if you have some thoughts about a post I wrote here, and aren't comfortable leaving a comment, please email me your thoughts.

You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Why Your Community-Building and Social Media Efforts Aren't Working...

Paul Chaney was nice enough to interview me recently for his upcoming book on social media marketing. One of the things we talked about was how companies that use social media need to align their goals with how their customers are using social media. Many companies want to use social media as a channel to push marketing messages at customers, while those customers are using social media as tools to connect with and communicate with others. They have almost zero interest in receiving marketing messages via social media, so predictably, companies that try to do just that, see their efforts falter.

Along these same lines, Aaron recently had a post asking if you would join a toothpaste community. This is another area where many companies fail. They want to 'create' a community because they want to use that community as a way to generate revenue for their business.

Problem: Communities do not come together around the idea of being monetized.

People do not come together and form a community around a particular product, at least not in most cases. They come together because of a 'bigger' idea. They have a common association or feeling that's related to that product.

So if your company is wanting to use social media, or if it is wanting to participate in or 'create' a community online, you have to align your goals with those of the people you want to reach. People aren't going to interact with you via social media so you can beam marketing messages at them. And they aren't going to come together and form communities so they can promote your product and grow your business.

Remember that social media is a great way of making things happen indirectly? What this means to companies is that they should take their direct goal (making money) for social media, and make it their INdirect goal.

Think about how your customers are using social media, and more importantly, think about WHY they are using social media. They view social media as communication channels, so you need to as well. They are creating and sharing content that they find valuable, so you need to as well.

You need to use social media in the same way that your customers are, and for the same reasons. That needs to be your DIRECT goal for using social media. If you do this effectively, then you'll also meet your INdirect goal, of growing your business and making more money. But if that's your DIRECT goal, then you are screwed.

The same thing with online communities. You have to give people a reason to come together and form a community. Don't try to form the community around your product, form it instead around a shared association and something that people find value in. Why does The Fiskateers community work, because it's a place where Fiskars customers can come together and talk about orange-handled scissors? No, it's a place where scrapbookers can come together and talk about and share their passion. Someone once asked me if you could create a community around paperclips. No, you probably can't. You instead try to create a community around how people use paperclips, and try to create something of value for these people.

If you want to use social media, consider why and how your customers use social media, and align your goals for your efforts accordingly.

If you want to create an online community, don't view it as a money-making venture, instead consider how you can attract customers by creating something of value for them.

Remember that at the end of the day, you are wanting to reach people. Respect them and their time, and you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

Pic via Flickr user cameronparkins