Monday, December 29, 2008

Things that people do on Twitter that bug me

I love twitter. Its a great way to communicate, but there are a few things that people do that bug me. So here is my list.

I have been thinking about this for a while and decided to write about it after reading a post written by Chris Brogan, Social Media is no place for robot behavior.

1. Auto DMs
Every now and then, when I follow someone, I get and auto DM thanking me for the follow. I hate these and I don't care if there is or isn't a link to your website or some other self promotion. At the end of the day, its still a self promotion tactic. Plus its just plain impersonal and that's just not what social media is about. People who use auto DM just don't get social media and from now on, if I get an auto DM, I am sending them a link to this post.

2. No Profile info
I don't like when someone follows me and they have no profile info. How am I supposed to know if I would be interested in following them? Its only 160 character, and if someone can't take the time to fill it out or isn't interesting enough to fill it up, then I don't want to follow them.

3. No Tweets
It bugs me when a person follows me and they have only one tweet that says, "Just joined Twitter". How am I supposed to find that interesting? If you are new to twitter, before you go out and follow anyone, fill out your profile with at least 10 or 20 tweets. This is good for two reasons. First, people need to know you are active. If it looks like an inactive account, no one will want to follow it. Second, tweets help people to know what you are truly interested in and will help them to determine if they want to follow you or not.

4. People who are obviously on Twitter just to sell something
Twitter isn't about selling. If you are thinking about joining Twitter just so you can sell your "10 secrets to working from home on the internet" then don't bother. Does anyone still buy that garbage? Sure, we all do a little self promotion in some way or another, but really we are here to communicate and participate in a conversation. Not just sell something.

5. No Profile Pic
I think that Twitter intentionally made the default profile pic weird and ugly so that people wouldn't leave it up for very long. Its easy to upload a pick and doesn't take long. Having the default profile pic tells me that you aren't really active on twitter and don't really plan on participating.

So thats my short list. What do people do on twitter that bothers you?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why your blog shouldn't be on your site.

You should have a blog, but putting it on your website is like driving an El Camino. Its not really a car, and its not really a truck and doesn't really perform either task very well.

Like a car and a truck, a website and a blog are two completely different forms of communication. Each has a separate purpose, goals and navigation. You wouldn't put truck tires on a car just like you shouldn't have the same navigation for your site and your blog.

I think the problem is that people get confused and think that the website should be the all inclusive, everything in one place, end destination. The El Camino of internet communication. The truth is there are many places that you can connect with consumers that aren't part of your site. This could include Twitter, Flickr, Youtube, Social Networks and many other platforms where people already are communicating and you have an opportunity to participate. Its time to move beyond your website. The key is to understanding the purpose of each form of communication and for this post we will first look at the purpose of your website.

For many websites, the purpose is to provide info about yourself, company or product. Just take a look at your navigation. You will see things like "About US", "OUR Services", "OUR Clients", "OUR Products", "Contact US" and "News (About US)". ME ME ME US US US. And while the site is all about you, its important and necessary. Its where people go to learn about you when they have questions about you. But because people know that you built the site, they understand there is a certain bias in the info that is provided there.

A blog, however, is different. The blog isn't about you. Its about your audience. It should be written for them, and shouldn't talk about you, like your website does. Scott Monty, of Ford, wrote a great post about Taking the "Me" Out of Social Media that's worth a read.

Your blog should be all about your audience including:
  • Things they find interesting
  • Interesting content for them
  • Links they would find interesting
  • Authors they should read (Like me linking to Scott Monty)
  • Events they may want to participate in
Your blog gives you a place to communicate with your audience without them feeling like you are selling to them. It gives you a place to demonstrate what you know and are good at, without sounding like you are talking about yourself and they will respect you for that.

Websites and blogs are two different things. Websites are for you, while blogs are for them(the audience). Don't confuse them, don't combine them and don't drive an El Camino. Step outside and participate beyond limits of your website. There is a whole world out there full of people to communicate with.

Photo Credit Jesse C. Smith

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How do you define Engagement?

Why do I ask this question? Lately, I have seen companies report the success of a social media campaign in "Number of Engagements". While these numbers do show some measure of results, I don't think they truly measure the engagement of the audience. This made me wonder what is actually being reported and led me to ask the question "How do you define engagement?"

The companies reporting success by Number of Engagements seem to define an engagement as any comment on a blog, forum, Q&A site, or social network. But is this really engagement?

The dictionary defines engagement as the act of engaging or the state of being engaged. Which is no help. So if you look up engage you get the definition: to occupy the attention or efforts of (a person or persons). I think the key work here is Occupy.

The word occupy implies more than a simple speed bump on a the social media comment highway. It implies that the engagement grabbed someones attention and that they paused, thought about and possibly even commented back before moving on.

Number of Engagements as it is being used as a metric tells me how many mentions a brand received in a particular space. It does not tell me how many times the audience was actually engaged.

Social media should be about true engagement, occupying a person's interests. Not just about how many times I can mention a brand. Truly engaging an audience requires real participation and real effort and if done properly, is very effective.

Photo Credit rmrayner.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to make real connections on Twitter

What's the secret to get a lot of people to legitimately follow you on Twitter? Common Interests.

Its the one link that ties together a bunch of people who don't know each other. For more on the importance of common interests in social media see my previous post "The Glue that Holds Social Media Together". I don't know a lot of people that I follow or that follow me on Twitter, but with many of them we share a common interest in Social Media and Internet Marketing. And this gives us a common ground that we can use to start a conversation. The truth is, most people on Twitter are looking to communicate, you just need to show them that you are worth talking to.

The best place to start is with your personal profile because if your profile isn't right, no one will follow you. When people look at your profile, to decide whether or not to follow you, there are two place they will look. The first place they look is at your bio, to see who you are and what you are interested in and to see if they would have any interest in following you. If you share a common interest or your bio seems particularly interesting, then you may get a follow. And you only have 160 characters, so get to the point and say something interesting.

The second place they may look is at your tweets themselves. Your tweets say a lot about you, so tweet about things that you are genuinely interested in.

Once your profile is taken care of, the next thing to do is go out and find people to follow. My rule of thumb when looking for people to follow is, "Could I have an intelligent conversation with this person?" Don't just follow everyone just for the sake of following.

Twitter has made it very easy to find people who are like you with whom you share a common interest. is a search tool that you can use to search for keywords in the public stream. Just type in something that you are interested in and see what others on Twitter are saying about it.

Another great way to use the search is to find an event that you are interested in that others may be tweeting about. Twitter users have developed a special way to track events in Twitter. They use hashtags to tag something that they are talking about, like an event. Hashtags start with the number symbol # and are followed by the tag. For example, last night was the world series and Twitterers watching were using the hashtag #worldseries in their tweets. To follow what people were tweeting about the world series last night as it happened you could have search #worldseries in the search,

So now you have a list of people who are tweeting real time about an event that you are interested in. Before you reach out to these people, make a comment about the event and tag it with the hashtag. There is a good chance that many of these people are also following the hashtag and will see your tweet. Once you have sent a tweet, go out and follow some of them. After receiving an invitation to follow, they will most likely see your last tweet with the hashtag about the event they are participating in, and because of the common interest, will follow you back. And will most likely follow you right away, as they are sitting in front of their computer just like you.

Twitter is a great way to communicate and find people like you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Glue That Holds Social Media Together

A friend of mine named Andrew Roush said it best when he said, "Common Interests are the new demographic." Common interests are the glue that hold social media together. They are what bring people of different ages, backgrounds, geographic locations, races, income status and education together and get them communicating.

Its common interests that start a conversation about the upcoming Presidential Election between a business professional in New York, a farmer in the Midwest, and a mom with four kids in Utah. None of them have met before and all are quite different, but all have some opinion about who should be President.

The wonderful technologies that have been developed in Social Media are bringing people together in ways never before thought possible. Because it is so easy for people to communicate about their common interests, there is something for everyone in social media, they just don't know it yet.

When I say there is something for everyone in Social Media, I mean everyone. Short or tall, young or old, dog lover or cat lover, Star Wars geek, music lover, business professional, or soccer mom, there is something in the billions of pages of content and millions of users that will interest everyone.

My favorite thing to do is to show someone something that interests them in social media and to see that light go on when they finally "get it". Its like when I taught my son to ride his bike. At first, he didn't understand why riding a bike would ever be fun. He thought it was something I was doing to torture him. Until the day he figured out how to ride on his own, and the light went on and he "got it". Social media is a great and has something for everyone, people just don't "get it" yet. But they will.

So how do you find people who share common interests with you? Here is a list of tools that can be used to find conversations about a particular topic. This is not an all inclusive list, but a good place to get started.
Technorati is a blog search engine. It regularly spiders content on blogs and allows you to search through and find blogs that might interest you.

Boardreader is a search engine for forums, blogs, twitter, and a number of other social media.
Would you like to know what people are talking about on twitter, go to the search and type in a word, and the most recent tweets with that word will pop up. Start following people who talk about things you are interested in.

Social Bookmarking
Check out some of the social bookmarking sites and see what people are bookmarking.,,

Social Network groups
Each social network has some form of groups that people who belong to the network can join. Search through them and look for something that interest you.

Feel free to post any other tools that you think might be helpful.

Not sure what social network to join? Can't find anything on a particular topic or interest? Need some help getting started? Just ask, I am glad to help. ljjones6 at gmail dot com.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Power of Influence

Influence comes in many forms. Last night, it took on the form of a six year old boy who could hit like Mark McGwire.

I coach my son's coach pitch baseball team and last night was our first practice, with the last half focusing on batting. The first two kids did a great job at bat, hitting about a third of the balls I threw to them. Then came the youngest kid on the team, a six year old slugger.

The first pitch I threw, he hit solidly over our heads. He continued to hit every ball that I threw near the plate. After a few good hits by the six year old, my son yells from the infield, "Can I use that bat too?" The bat suddenly had magical powers and every kid after had to use that same black and orange bat. Without even meaning to, the six year old had influenced the rest of the team's choice of which bat to use. We all know it had nothing to do with the bat. I am well aware that the kid's dad has spent plenty of time pitching to the kid before our practice last night.

Because of the kid's performance at bat, he gained instant credibility with the team. This credibility was validated and acknowledged by my son asking if he could use the bat too.

Influence is a powerful thing.

Photo Credit: kalderette on Flickr

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Power of Social Media

This is ancient news considering how fast news travels across the blogoshpere, but its still one of my favorite examples of the power of Social Media and is worth thinking about.

Ze Frank. (

It all started in 2001 when Ze invited all of his friends to his birthday party with an online invitation he created called "How to dance properly". The invitation went viral and quickly generated a large amount of traffic to his site. The site grew to include interactive group projects, short films, animations and video games that featured Ze's unique wit and sense of humor.

On March 17, 2006, Frank took on the ambitious task of posting a video blog every week day for an entire year. The video blog, which quickly became the most popular part of his site, was called "The Show" and consisted of commentary on world news, personal observation and challenges to viewers.

WARNING. Watching the show is completely adictive. If you watch one, you may just watch them all, so start at the begininng.

Ze named the viewers of the show, Sportracers and often challenged them to various tasks and activities. At one point he challenged all of the Sportracers to a game of chess. Every day Ze would make a move and everyday after a discussion on the forums, the Sportsracers would collectively make a move. After about 30 days, the Sportsracers won.

On one episode of the show, Ze dressed his vacum cleaner up in clothes and challenged the Sportsracers to do the same. Excited by the cause, Sportracers dressed up their vacum cleaners and uploaded the photos to the gallery.

The biggest task came when he challenged the Sportsracers to make an Earth sandwich. Just in case you are wondering how to make an Earth sandwich, this involves taking two peices of bread and placing them simultaneously on oposite sides of the Earth. To aid Sportracers in their task, he created the "If the Earth were a sandwich, find my oposite tool" to help them find two opposite points on the Earth.

For those Sportsracers that couldn't fly around the world with two pieces of bread, he encouraged them to participate by placing a piece of bread on the ground and then uploading a picture of it to the photo gallery. And as you can guess, they did.

The craziest part about this is that two brothers actually did it and made an Earth Sandwich. Thats the power of Social Media. A game of chess, pictures of dressed up vacums, pictures of people placing bread on the ground and flying around the world to make the first Earth sandwich. Its powerful stuff if you can just figure out how to use it.

Photo Credit: duncandavidson on Flickr

Friday, September 12, 2008

Social media is more than technology

I often hear people say "We have a social media strategy, our company has a blog and a widget." A blog or a widget, does not a social media strategy make.

Former Yahoo! chief sales officer Wenda Harris Millard said "Technology is very important, but where many companies go wrong is when they think technology is the answer or primary solution to proving a business solution to a marketing problem. The business of advertising is still a business of persuasion. Machines can't make art."

It seems that companies run around opening accounts with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, Blogger, and any other platform that they can get their hands on. Like a wizard brewing a secret potion, they drop in every imaginable technology in hopes that with a wave of a wand and a puff of smoke out will pop a well executed social media strategy, and that the more technology they can add, the more potent the strategy becomes.

This just isn't the case.

While technology is important, it is simply the means that make social media possible. Social media is about people communicating with each other. Its about conversation. When developing a social media strategy, base it on the conversation. Answer the questions "Who is participating in the conversation?" and "What is being talked about?". Then you can decide which of the available technologies will provide you with the best means of executing your strategy.