To Follow Or Not On Twitter?

Social Media SerendipityTwitter Follow or not

Talk about fabulous timing.

 

I had a blog post in draft form centered on one reason not to unfollow people (more on that later) on Twitter, when Mike Sansone (founder of Small Biz Tracks and Converstations) published his METHOD: Before Following on Twitter post.

 

I once saw someone, somewhere make a statement to the effect of, “When you follow everyone, you follow no one.”

 

That’s true. When you follow all the people and businesses you encounter on Twitter, you’ll have difficulty actively engaging and building relationships with any of them effectively.

 

That’s why it’s important to at some point become more selective about whom you follow. A method like Mike describes for evaluating accounts before you follow them can nip that problem in the bud.

 

A Twitter Tip To Help Stop The Bleeding

If you’re like me though, some of the damage is already done and you’re following a fair share people and companies that don’t tweet updates that align with the topics you’re interested in or that you’d want to share with your following.

 

Regardless of the reasons you followed them (they’re local peeps, friends of friends, or you simply wanted to be nice), you can get around letting them crowd your feed by using Twitter lists. Put all your important contact and quality content creators onto meaningful lists and using a tool with a dashboard that lets you easily monitor your VIPs’ activity. I use Hootsuite for that purpose and it has worked quite well. I’ve written in more detail about this technique in this past post, so have a look.

 

Following Mike’s advice from the get-go is ideal, and using the trick I just explained after you’ve carefully selected who to follow can empower you even more.

 

Back To “Following” My Original Thought About Unfollowing On Twitter

As Mike explained how to choose whom to follow, I’m going to touch on one reason why you shouldn’t unfollow someone.

 

Don’t unfollow people simply because they haven’t followed you back.

 

Tools like Just UnFollow, Manage Flitter, Tweepi, and others make it easy to identify those people and unfollow them, but by doing that you could be missing out on some really great content and insight

 

I’ve learned a lot and have discovered stellar blog posts to share with my audience from folks whom I follow but who don’t follow me.

 

Before you unfollow people, put your ego and hurt feelings aside and use the same review process that Mike described when deciding about following folks in the first place. If they pass that test, they’re keepers even if you’ve either slid under their radar or they’re not interested in following you at this time.

 

And keep your chin up. Although they might not follow you now, the more you share and engage with their content, the better your chances are of getting that follow in the future.

 

What methods do you use when deciding whom to follow—or not follow—on Twitter?

 

 

4 Sure-Fire Ways To Push Your Social Media Followers Away From Your Brand

Jeff Bullas recently wrote a blog post suggesting twenty things you should share on social media to strengthen the connection between your brand and your Woman with thumbs downaudience.

Without a doubt, that’s info businesses can use to boost their engagement and build a positive social presence.

But don’t forget that just as there’s social media sharing that can benefit your business, there’s sharing that can work against it, too.

One Key Thing All Self-Employed Professionals Need To Remember About Social Media

As solopreneurs and small business owners, our personal social media accounts and our business accounts are entwined and associated with each other in the minds of our clients, vendors, colleagues, employees, and competitors. What we say and share as our personal selves reflects on our businesses.

You’ve probably noticed that some people don’t know where to draw the line. They over share or share things that potentially anger or alienate their followers. They seem clueless, not taking the time to think through the consequences, or they simply don’t care because, after all, they have a right to say whatever they want.

Want to risk turning people away from your business instead of drawing them to it? I’ve listed some ideas about what you can do on social media to accomplish that. These are things that make me cringe as I scan my feeds.

4 Things To Share On Social Media If You Want To Push Away Your Audience

“Woe Is Me”

Constant complainers are downers. We all have bad days, but venting on every little grievance can make you look like a whiner. It gets old. Fast.

Political Soapboxing

We’ll be seeing a good deal more of this soon as the 2016 presidential election approaches. While you don’t need to keep your affiliation a secret, blasting out politically biased posts won’t endear you to your entire audience. According to Gallup’s poll numbers from Feb. 8 to Feb.11, 2015, the split between the percentage of Republicans (43%) and Democrats (44%) in the U.S. (including independents leaning one way or the other) is rather even. So while nearly half of your followers might agree with your views, you can figure the other half don’t. And you’re not likely to change their minds.

Indirect Cowardly Call-Outs

They go something like this: “If you were my friend, you wouldn’t talk behind my back. I won’t name names, but you know who you are.” These often have a “woe is me” tone and seem to exist for the purpose of launching a pity party. If you—and you know who you are—have a problem with someone, go talk with them directly rather than initiate a public shaming.

Griping About Clients And Vendors

While it might feel good to vent, making statements that air issues you have with clients or vendors (even when you don’t single anyone out) can kill your credibility. Late payers, bad communicators, and disorganized project partners happen. Social media isn’t the place to address those things. Existing clients and vendors will wonder if you’re referring to them, and you’ll make prospects think twice about doing business with you.

What you choose to share on social media is your call. But when you’re a solopreneur or small business owner, realize expressing yourself can affect how people think about your business. Before you share on social media sites, and before you react to posts by others, take a second to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation?”

 

Hey! Are we connected on social media yet? Let’s fix that! Follow me via clicking on the social icons on my site that link to my profiles, and let me know if you’ve got business social media profiles. I’ll be happy to reciprocate! All my best—Dawn

 

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Why Small Biz Owners Need to Make It Personal

Using social media to market a business requires a lot of time (no news flash there!) – particularly if you’re serious about Social Media Interactionmaking your efforts pay off. And it’s no secret that small business owners struggle with maintaining the consistency needed to really do social media well, so some delegate or outsource their posting and engagement to some degree.

While there’s no shame in getting a little help with your social media, it’s important that you, as the business owner, never ever divest yourself completely of being engaged. Even with someone managing your accounts, you personally need to stay in tune with what’s happening on your pages – and make it known that you are personally interested in interacting with others in your online business community.

So how do you show some love to other entrepreneurs and customers so you’re generating a steady supply of goodwill and stay in good standing?

Make sure that you – via your personal social media accounts – follow, like, circle, pin and connect with the same organizations and businesses your business social media accounts are connected with. And then follow through and interact with them as your own personal self.

And that’s important why?

You’re an ambassador for your brand.
As a small business owner, most people probably recognize you as the lead spokesperson for your brand. When you generate goodwill by interacting with other businesses, you’re projecting that goodwill on your brand as well.

You won’t overload your brands’ followers’ and fans’ news feeds with likes and comments on posts that may not be interesting to them.
This is particularly true with Facebook! I’ve already unliked Facebook business pages because they littered my news feed with that stuff. Friends of your personal Facebook profile, however, will likely have a higher tolerance for seeing your likes and comments. After all, most of their other friends are liking and commenting on posts in abundance as well.

Your personal endorsement means something.
Because businesses recognize that not all business owners are doing their own social media posting, a like, +1, or comment directly from you is more easily identified as genuine and real. The fact that you, the small business owner, took the time to personally interact demonstrates that you care. And that can facilitate stronger relationships online and offline.

Certainly, it does require some time to take inventory of the key companies and organizations your business accounts are connected with on your social media channels, but after some initial effort to align your personal accounts with them, keeping on top of it won’t be quite so bad. If you’re strapped for time – as so many small business owners are – identifying those connections is something that can very easily be delegated or outsourced. But from there, you’ll need to let your own personal sense of social savvy be your guide. There’s no satisfactory substitute for you and your voice when it comes reinforcing your personal commitment to building relationships for your small business in the professional community.

Your turn? What brand benefits have you discovered by connecting personally with other business on social media?

Image courtesy of AdamR / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is Too Much of a Good Thing Turning Off Your Facebook Page Fans?

Like so many Facebook page owner/admins, I have experienced the benefits of actively engaging with other pages. It Cautionbuilds goodwill, it incites reciprocity, it generates awareness. But with the way Facebook news feeds work these days, there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. While your engagement might be appreciated by the pages you’re proactively interacting with, it might also be annoying to your fans.

How can it be that engagement – the not-so-secret recipe for creating a formidable online presence – might bite us in our social media derrières? While most of us think Facebook overly throttles the status updates, links and photos that we post, it seems to more than generously display our liking, sharing and commenting activities. Are our fans more interested in our engagement with other pages than what we post on our own? My guess is “no,” but they’re seeing a good bit of it regardless.

Easy does it!

So be judicious when liking, sharing and commenting. Don’t do it all in one fell swoop at a single point during the day because your fans’ news feeds will be inundated with posts showing (seemingly) everything that you liked, shared and commented on. Honestly, I’ve unliked other pages when my news feed was disproportionately filled with posts showing that they liked this or commented on that. And, before I caught on to the fact that I might be subjecting my own fans to the same bombardment, I’m sure I lost a fan (maybe 2) for the very same reason. Engage, but pace yourself, so your interactions are more evenly spread out rather than condensed into a short time span.

Don’t cause hard feelings.

Also be aware that the admins of the pages that follow you will see which pages you’re showing the most love to. And if it’s not them, well, they might feel a bit dejected. Naturally, you’ll have some favorites (either because they’re your clients, raving fans, or prospects), but try to more evenly distribute your engagement to avoid appearing overly selective.

Make it meaningful

Make it count when engaging with other pages. Don’t like, comment or share without putting any thought into it. Aim to engage only when posts are truly interesting, informative, entertaining or otherwise give you a reason to interact with them. That will help you keep the quantity of your interactions in check so you’re not overpowering your fans’ news feeds. Plus, it will demonstrate that you have intent when you interact…that it’s not done solely for the sake of throwing someone a bone.

Proactively engaging on Facebook really is a great thing. It’s just that – for now – it might be in your best interest to tone things down instead of going full throttle.

Your turn? How have you modified your engagement with Facebook pages since likes, comments and shares are prominently displayed in your fans’ news feeds?

Image courtesy of mrpruen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Getting the Most from a Fan Page Follow Fest

I was skeptical at first when I commented on Mari Smith’s Facebook Fan Page Friday post last Friday morning.

“Please add your fan page URL or @ tag on this post or on my wall. It’s a great way to discover new fan pages, make new friends, and get new fans.”

I had been down that road before on LinkedIn group discussions, chamber of commerce Facebook pages and other social spaces that encouraged a mass “follow fest” – only to find lack of reciprocal participation. Disheartening most definitely. And those past experiences almost stopped me from making the effort on Mari’s page.

Not sure why I decided to do it anyway, but I’m so very glad I did for my Facebook page and two others that I assist with.

The results in fan growth:

  • My page – a 12% increase
  • Client A’s page – a 38% increase
  • Client B’s page – a 22% increase

Why such favorable outcomes when past efforts didn’t provide this level of return? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the mind set of Mari Smith’s community of fans. She has built a following that believes in reciprocating – and knows the value in it!

Of course, it’s true that number of fans doesn’t always equate to quality engagement and conversions, but I believe this Fan Page Friday exercise was absolutely the right thing to do and well worth the time and energy expended for these reasons:

  • My two clients’ pages were just ramping up and had few followers. They needed a “shot in the arm” to build their numbers so their posts are more likely to get some air time and interaction. Maybe not all the new likes are in their target markets, but fan count and engagement definitely adds appeal and builds momentum. It certainly won’t hurt their pages to have a higher fan count – and judging from what I’ve seen so far from the new likes that came from Mari’s community, my clients’ pages will experience more ongoing likes, comments and shares on their posts.
  • In my case, virtually all businesses are either potential clients or sources of referrals.

I’m not sure how often Mari offers the opportunity to promote your business on her page, but I highly recommend that you “Like” her page and keep your eyes open for the next time she does. When the door opens again, keep these things in mind as you embrace the chance to expand your reach:

  • Over a thousand people commented on Mari’s posts that day – she actually did two identical posts, probably to keep the comment stream more manageable. Therefore it’s quite impossible to show love to every worthy page who participated. Take about a half hour to scan the thread to find and like business Facebook pages that fit one of these scenarios:
    • They might be potential clients.
    • They might be a good source of referrals.
    • They offer services that are complementary to yours.
    • They’re local.
    • You find them interesting.
  • If you manage more than one Facebook page, don’t undertake this exercise for more than two pages at a time. I had to step lively to keep up with three, and I’m so very happy I didn’t participate with all the pages I administrate. Just two would have been ideal.
  • When liking a page, do so when logged in as your Facebook page and also as your own personal self. Here’s why…
    • Business pages’ fan counts don’t increase when other business pages like them – only when unique people do.
    • You want to gain exposure for your business page, so make it easy for other page owners to discover and like your page in return. Logging in as your page to like them and when commenting on their posts makes your page known to them and their followers.
  • Write a note on the pages’ timelines that you’ve just followed to make them aware of your like and to introduce yourself, your business and the type of content you share regularly. With likes coming in left and right during an event like Mari Smith’s, it’s challenging to keep up with new followers. Your introduction will ensure you don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Reciprocate! Make the effort to like the pages that have proactively followed your page, and reply to comments that they made on your timeline. Getting off on the right foot by building goodwill will lay the foundation for continued interaction.

The incremental value gleaned from the several hours I had spent liking, reciprocating likes, and posting introductions and gratitude remains to be seen, but I’m encouraged. For me, it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time…for you, my hope is that you’ll put your senses on alert to purposely take advantage of the next opportunity to grow your network when Mari gives the green light!

Your turn! What success – or lack of – have you had with Facebook page fan posts that facilitate page likes? What growth have you experienced in fan counts and ongoing engagements?

 

Blurred Lines: Your Professional and Personal Social Media Personas Are One

Fact: The lines are blurred between “professional” and “personal” personas on social media.Blurred personal and professional lines

Is that a positive thing? Is it negative? Quite honestly, I think it’s a little bit – or maybe a lot – of both.

Like it or not, you are your brand on social media. Whether you’re a small business owner, a professional working for someone else or someone looking for a job, what you post on your personal social media accounts will, without a doubt, color how others see you professionally as well.

So what? Do you:

  1. …walk on eggshells and only post plain vanilla content and commentary so you never ruffle any feathers?
  2. …take a “devil may care” attitude, speak what’s on your mind, and say “to hell” with anyone who doesn’t like it?

Really, that’s up to you. But be aware that choice “b” will probably have consequences. Assuming that not all of your business colleagues, clients, bosses and potential employers hold the same position on issues like politics, religion (or lack thereof), gay rights, and other potentially volatile topics, you’re likely to either piss off or completely alienate people.  And that could hurt your business, ax your chances of a promotion, or put you out of the running for a new job.

I’ve focused on the extremes here, but I believe there are also ways to respectfully share your positions on certain topics and beliefs without appearing confrontational and exclusive. Your approach means EVERYTHING when addressing sensitive topics. If you invite civilized discussion and respond without attacking those who respectfully disagree, you stand a better chance of maintaining good will and keeping relationships intact.

Your turn to share! How do you manage the lack of divide between your personal and professional social media personas?

Do #Hashtags Make a Difference?

I’m not a big hashtag user. Yes, I have used them, but generally that’s when I’m retweeting someone else and they’ve Hashtag imageused hashtags in their original tweet.

I guess the writer in me looks at them as a bit of an annoyance:

They’re an interruption. There you are just reading along and “Blammo!” There’s a hashtag disrupting the flow of the content.

They’re blatant attempts to get noticed. They seem so ostentatious. “Hey, look at me! I’m tweeting about something REALLY important!”

Ben Rimalower’s recent post Hastags are Over pretty much echoes my sentiments, but unlike Ben, I do still see some Twitter veterans using hashtags in their tweets.

Why?

One reason that makes me scratch my head in wonder…

I get that hashtags are a way of identifying that a tweet focuses on a specific topic or brand. People interested in that subject can search by typing the hashtag into the “Search” field on Twitter.com or filter by that hashtag in Hootsuite or some other dashboard tool. But when you’re using a specific word or phrase in the tweet anyway, there really seems to be no reason to make it a hashtag. Anyone interested in that keyword will find you regardless of whether or not you use a # in front of it.

One reason that makes sense…

Then there’s using hashtags for Tweet Chats. That one still makes sense. If you’re holding or participating in a live Twitter group discussion, a hashtag (like #smallbizchat for example) enables people to filter out everything else and only see tweets that are a part of the conversation. And by adding that hashtag to the questions or responses that you tweet during Tweet Chats, other participants will be sure to see your tweets.

Hashtag use: Necessary or not?

So it seems hashtags are both obsolete and highly relevant at the same time. Although I currently use them sparingly, I’m curious to see if they would in any way make a difference in how quickly or how slowly my base of Twitter followers grows. I’ve been tracking my weekly followers for some time so I’ve got a good baseline metric for comparison purposes.

Starting Sunday, I’m going to make an effort to add at least one hashtag to every tweet for the next 4 weeks. At the end of my little experiment, I’ll report back on how the new approach affected the growth of my network.

#Staytuned!

What about you? Do you use hashtags and are they helping you grow your Twitter following?

Painless Ways for Finding Content to Share on Social Media

In talking with other solopreneurs and small business owners in my community about social media, I’ve found that their biggest challenges are:

A. Finding the time

B. Finding content that interests their audience

It’s rather nice that by addressing B, you can also alleviate some of the stress of A!

Having a pool of relevant content sources available to post and tweet from each day cuts down on the foraging work you need to do – and that saves precious time.

Some ideas for having a constant supply of content at your fingertips:

Keep Your RSS Reader Well Stocked

Subscribe via RSS to quality blogs that post quality articles – and that do it consistently. Follow at least 10 that are focused on your industry and provide info on the types of topics your audience can really sink their teeth into.

Get on Twitter

If you’ve already got an account, great! If you don’t (even if you have no intention of actively tweeting), sign up and start following Twitter users who primarily tweet about the topics you and your target market care about (To find them, search by topic or hashtag). Twitter provides a virtually endless stream of links to content. Sort through your Home Feed to find what strikes a chord and share on other social media networks.

Be Smart – Be Briefed

As a rule, I try to keep my in-box clear of e-newsletters, but SmartBriefs are an exception. Sign up for a SmartBrief specific to your industry or niche (they cover nearly every business discipline) and get a daily digest of featured blog articles, news and videos specific to your interests – delivered directly to you via a single email. Peruse the latest and greatest, pick and choose, and share the best links with your social media fans and followers.

Consistently sharing content that matters to your connections starts with having a well-planned and sufficiently substantial inventory of sources at your fingertips. You’ll need to devote some up-front time and energy to the cause, but it will pay off in the long run as save you significant amounts of both!

Your turn! Where do you find quality, relevant content to share with your fans, followers and connections on social media? Please share your tips and tricks!