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.