Ran across a post today that reinforced my deepest faith in Twitter. How a Tweeting Town Can Revive a Community, by Brittany Botti, described in thrilling detail how the author set up and monitors a hometown-based twitter account.
You can probably picture it easily: a stream of tweets tracking the real time life of your town. What could be more natural?
Botti suggests using Twitter searches to discover what peeps are tweeting about your town, being helpful, posting tons of photos, and a few other tremendously useful tips.
From my point of view, this is what it’s really all about: a community of people in constant real-time communication; an improved system of messaging so that community is continuously reinforced. When the community is defined geographically, I believe the results can be awesome.
For example, I live in a rural location in the south. To say I disagree politically with the majority of my fellow county residents would be to put it mildly. But surely we have a great deal in common nonetheless, as residents of the same area. Sharing based on our common location could lead to breakthroughs in cooperative understanding.
Twitter’s a no-brainer, one would think, for communities everywhere.
The debut of Facebook on Wall Street, with its imminent IPO, is attracting a ton of analysis from every quarter about the social network’s true worth. Everyone from Spin Sucks to Jason Falls to CNN.com has an idea about whether or not we should take seriously FB’s supposed sky-high valuation.
To be honest, the valuation of just about anything these days shocks this old lady. Gee, we used to buy gas for 65 cents a gallon.
It’s funny how, in a way, as inflation soars, money becomes increasingly irrelevant. Getting what you want becomes a matter of leverage, involving many assets besides money. Assets like content and contacts, systems and apps.
I spent an hour this evening on Facebook, as I’m often wont to do. It was entirely enjoyable.
Google+ lets me lounge in video hangouts enjoying my friends and family of an evening as if we’re in the same room. Will that overshadow the use of FB? In some ways at least, I bet it will.
But the breathtaking leap that Facebook has allowed us will never lose its worth. Being able to communicate so casually and yet so meaningfully with friends, family, and whoever else re-defines our humanity.
One of my clients loves social media and internet communications because in those media, she is able to go back and edit her statements. Compared to delivering an elevator speech at a local networking meeting or telling someone in person about your business, talking about your business can be far easier online, where you have the chance to carefully construct your message.
Ironic, isn’t it? The immediacy of the internet is counter-balanced by the slowed pace of written composition that allows for crafting perfected communications. This contrasts with in-person conversations or telephone talk. Most social media updates allow for editing before (and often after) publishing.
What happens online is both word of mouth and ad copy, at the same time. You cannot control what others say about you, but your control of the company message is more powerful than ever before.
This doesn’t just boil down to refraining from tweeting when you’re drunk.
Do you proofread every update to be sure your language makes sense? Do you work diligently to use language that is responsive, authentic, and compassionate? Do you stay alert to issues of concern to your market and address them appropriately?
Smarter conversations. That’s what inbound marketing is.
Though I am trying one more time, so far Technorati refuses to accept this blog. Their given excuses are obtuse, but I’m guessing that their algorithm can’t comprehend my 200-word maxim. (For an explanation, see right sidebar.) I believe said algorithm is reading this blog page as a series of products.
Crazy. I set out to master a literary trick, and the software labels me a fraud.
It’s woman vs. machine!
Well, no need to overdo it, but I’m going to take this opportunity to rail on a bit about blog post length.
My message, in short: cut ‘em down, people!
I get so tired of wading through excess verbiage. Give it to me straight: I can take it!
No search engine should rely on length of text to determine a page’s worth. As a lowly layperson, I don’t know if alternatives are possible. But we humans mustn’t be bound by some arbitrary, technical rule.
Such conventions exist because we fear pretenders who would short-shrift us. This is a false limitation. We can trust ourselves to know the difference between poetry and garbage.
Search engines aren’t so wise, but until they become so, they’re of limited worth to real people.
I’ve been listening to online preachers of internet and inbound marketing for the past five years and there’s one phrase that has never been replaced with a better one. Lingo should become more precise over time, but this term remains obtuse.
I’m referring to our habit of insisting that in order to get a leg up with your internet presence, you need to identify where your target market ‘hangs out.’
Now, you’re a professional, you have responsibilities and a helluva lot to do. You may party down once a week or month, but ‘hanging out’ is not something on your daily list. Oh, you visit Facebook every day, but the chance you’ll see a certain update is small.
So now we have to face the fact that it’s far less a matter of figuring out “where your target customers are hanging out” and much more a matter of ranking for a large number of keywords, being ubiquitous online, turning up around every corner.
Alright then. How do I connect with my ideal customers online and get them to opt-in to my list? Simple. Content, content, and more content. Title it, tag it, publish, rinse and repeat. Give, then get.
In a F2F networking group recently, we talked about how it’s helpful to identify a highly specific target market for your business. One person, an insurance salesman, told about a colleague in his industry who works exclusively with dog trainers. By combining the sub-culture of dog trainers with the universal interest in insurance protections, he is able to reach a high degree of success in his business; and to build a loyal clientele who know and proclaim him as the go-to person for anything to do with insurance.
I loved that story because it shows how social media is supposed to work. Too many companies remain faceless, all-business, and always selling. They ignore the miracle of the internet, which allows us to be real people, with diverse interests and talents.
Online, the truest way to establish your brand is to show your humanity. No one is simply an insurance salesman. No one is just a bus driver or janitor or CEO. Everyone has a life, too.
Do you love dogs and also sell insurance? Do you play golf and also run a travel agency? Do you enjoy going to spas and you work as an accountant?
Tell us about it.
If you have trouble adjusting to change, you may have problems with the internet, because the overall beta mode of everything online is nothing if not subject to change.
Sometimes I fear that my clients’ patience will give out. We set up some app or site and then the rules shift.
I wonder how anyone who doesn’t study the internet in depth can understand what’s going on, much less trust any of it. When you are there everyday, the pieces fit together; but if you check in only sporadically, it must seem a crazy tangle of nonsense. How can you keep up with all the changes?
This is why the person you select as consultant for your business needs online must be someone you deeply trust. As with your broker, your lawyer, or your doctor, you may at times trust them to take actions on your behalf whether or not you completely understand the rationale. You’re too busy to stay on top of all that: you trust your advisor to handle it.
Look for technical and communications expertise in an inbound marketing consultant; but far more important is to know the person sincerely has only your best interests at heart.
I’m going to continue the copyrighting discussion because it’s definitely top-of-mind. It’s a delicate and difficult issue.
My client, for instance, is an author. She posts exquisite updates, but is relatively innocent of the ways of the web. We were chatting the other day when she suddenly realized that anything she posts might be copied and used by another person. This shocks and frightens her.
I murmur rationalizations, saying that an impostor won’t get far, won’t make any money or curry any fame. They can’t be my client, can’t actually produce on her level. Their gains in stealing her content are so short-term as to be worthless.
But we’re talking about a mother’s pride, here; the tender love of a creator. That some stranger should seize her babies … well, it’s intolerable.
This is eminently understandable. According to everything we’ve been taught, what we produce must be protected from theft.
But online we give a lot away. Online, our approach is the opposite of hoarding. Anything we post we are providing for free. Some things you sell, while a nice percent of the basics you offer as pure giveaways.
This new viewpoint requires an emotional as well as practical recalibration.
It’s quite predictable, of course: another article frantically warning that a particular association online will bring disaster. Paranoias related to social media networks, privacy, and internet exposure in general are rampant. The particular article in question pins it to Pinterest.
To summarize: the post says Pinterest sets the user up for enormous liabilities because of the potential for copyright infringement.
Copyright is so often an issue because only some internet users ‘get’ that it’s all about sharing and that limiting the spread of your digital content is just dumb. Too many users still think of the internet statically, not interactively.
As of now, there are 535 comments on this photographer/lawyer’s post. I read a few from each side of the argument.
It’s easy to state my view on the controversy, one that’s shared with many sensible people: if you put it online, you no longer control where else it will appear.
Ever tried getting a scraper to stop copying you? Is the effort really worth your time? What, exactly, are you losing when your free-to-the-public content is stolen?
It seems sharing trumps hoarding on the internet. No question but the web turns our ideas of competition and defense on end.
Most of us have ambitions, things we want to do or create. But there’s also a ton that the outside world wants us to do. Sometimes it’s not easy to know which motivations are truly yours and which are pressures from without.
Accepting social media and incorporating it into your business rides that fine line between something you really want to do and something the world around is requesting that you do.
Examples: we’ve felt pressured to join Google+, create fancy Facebook tabs, collect a million Twitter followers. Then after a bit of time rolls by, Google+ deflates, FB tabs are replaced by the Timeline, and your million followers have proven entirely useless to you.
Our (positive, growth-oriented) gut-driven drives should be acted upon quickly, but much in life actually does not require the immediate response that may be implied by the times, a seller, fashion, or other impinging force. Much of the time, we’ll fare far better by waiting to see what happens.
Maturity is marked by such an ability to wait. Maturity is knowing when to wait-and-see, and to do so with calm control.
Maybe we can develop a wiser culture on the internet, less hyper, better linked.