This One’s a Rant About Passion

Note:  I’m only picking on one word here. I know English is flexible.  I’d like people to contemplate and understand about how they are using it, celebrate its diversity and stop writing/talking like they are turbocharged on 15 cups of coffee!
Have you noticed these days how everyone is passionate about practically everything? Just a random few from the Internet:
“I’m passionate about food and drink”
coffee love
Passionate about caffeine?
“Football is my passion”
“Professional florist with a passion for colour”
“Our passion is creating the event ..”
“Passion for shoes”
There is even someone with a website:
“Passionate about tiling” (honestly it’s about tiling)
Not sure about you, but for me passion is not something I feel you can offer to the general public as a commodity.  I’m not sure I’d want to!
Let’s get some perspective here people. Passionate about creating a event?  I would prefer someone who is diligent, responsible, yes enthusiastic, has a lively interest even and possibly some degree of eagerness.  From my events organiser I don’t want any powerful feelings of desire, intense emotions or anyone prone to extreme anger or excitement.  If someone is passionate about events organising I suggested they seek help (or cut down on the caffeine).
And “Passion for shoes”?  Do they make you swoon?  Sweep you off your feet?  (falling down a flight of stairs hardly counts) They can’t even make dinner!
Footsteps made by un-passionate shoes
OK, I admit I have my pedant head on here and I’m being extremely flippant.  I also admit I find the Internet an overwhelming place littered with extraordinary declarations.  I know it’s competitive in the virtual world as everyone is trying to connect to the real world by advertising their distinctiveness/brilliance/sheer wonderfulness and trying to attract attention by endlessly emphasing their unique selling point.
I for one would like a return to the achievable, the authentic, the “I’m a real person with a real product/service that can help you but I can’t grow wings and fly” school of business.
Maybe I can borrow her wings?
I probably have a pipe dream based on a world that never existed.  It’s probably also because I believe I do have a great product and yet I’m still unable to grow wings or sound the least bit convincing when I use words like passion.  I basically feel like a bit of a dope.
So, in brief I would like those people out there who bandy the word passion around to:
1.  get a grip and think about what they really mean,
2.  buy a new thesaurus and reclaim words like enthusiastic and
3.  not contact me.
Done now!
Thank you for reading. I’m off now to keenly participate in one of my many real-life enthusiasms 🙂
Later
J
flowers 2 jjmellors
Florist with a passion for flowers!

 

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Savvy Customer Service – Be A Business Your Customers Can Talk To

Social Media has opened up brilliant opportunities for small business.  It’s now possible to compete with huge names and the big brands as small and medium enterprises can offer something the big boys can’t (or just don’t). Savvy customer service.
While the major brands are dealing with hundreds, thousand and millions of customers (you can’t compete in size, so don’t bother), small and medium enterprises can take advantage of the social aspects of the new media.  You can engage with your customers one-on-one and meet and sometimes even exceed their expectations.
It’s worth developing good customer service habits as they always have a positive effect on  your bottom line and that illusive – Return on Investment (ROI).   According to recent data – a dissatisfied customer will tell 9-15 people about it.  And who wants that. We all know it’s much easier, and makes more sense financially to deal with any complaint properly and with integrity. Especially as it can cost up to five times more to find new customers than to keep existing ones.
Open for business
Les Baux de Provence, France – 2007
Take advantage of your more compact size and engage with your customer base.  Use social media effectively to remind your customers you’re there for them and that you’re listening.
Strategies for getting your existing customers to love you even more and finding new fans in the process:
1.  People are now shopping 24/7 and you can be open all hours without having to turn the shop lights on.  This doesn’t mean you have to be online 24 hours a day.  It does mean you have to answer as soon as is feasibly possible with a consider response. Getting back to people in the next five minutes isn’t always necessary, but a week later is very poor.
2.  Product announcements as they happen.  Take advantage of the real time nature of social media by keeping your customers informed.  You can promote new goods and services, run contests, give always, try before you buy campaigns, etc.
3.  You can ask your customers what they want and tweak your goods and services so they’re what’s really wanted.  People like to be asked and not told.
4.  Show appreciation and support. Show your customers you care. Say hi. Give out freebies and or discounts on birthdays etc.
Cheers to excellent customer relations
Oxford, UK – 2010
5.  Respond to their concerns, comments and customer services needs.  Be prompt and considerate at all times.
6.  Provide links to recommended resources and tools. Show your customers you’re not just a pretty face but also a valuable source of information.
7.  Engage and build a dialogue that develops new relations with customers and potential fans. Exchange, interact, connect etc..
8.  Make selling your business more interactive.  Even ask your customers and fans to do something for you once in awhile. e.g.. “Tell two friends and you can get this….”, “RT this for us please…..”
9.  Careful and thoughtful use of automated messages.  It’s OK to send out a “Thanks for your message, call, tweet etc.  We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.”  And then make sure you get back to them soon.  Personal messages should follow as more automated responses makes it seem like your company is run by bots and you can’t be bothered to talk to them.
Overall in Customer Service just think how you would like to be treated and treat your customers like people you want to do business with!
Finally always remember the wise words of Mark Twain:
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have
to remember anything.”
 
Good Luck
Later
J

What Is Your Cunning Plan? – 13 Reasons Why You Are Blogging

You’ve entered the world of social media.  Your website is up and running, you’re becoming a Twitter enthusiast and now you’ve decided it’s time to add a blog to your marketing arsenal.

Before you launch into blogging you really have to ask yourself “Why?”.  There are already over 200 million blogs out there so it’s essential you know why you’re spending this time doing something everyone else is already doing.

Don’t let the numbers put you off.  You aren’t competing with the millions of others (that’s impossible!) but you will need to find your niche and have a purpose.  Simply by having a purpose your likelihood to persist and persevere with your blog increases.

 
Remember your blog is a both a welcoming and useful
path to your website – Tuscany, Italy – 2009

Confession time here, in the beginning I didn’t give blogging any thought at all.  Someone asked me why I wasn’t blogging, so I just did.  Yup, that much thought. My early blog entries are a (very) random series of miscellany that I wrote whenever I felt I should.  But they served no purpose whatsoever and they never will.

And I’ve changed direction at least twice since I started.  You can read my early work as it’s still here, nothing has been erased.  I’ve left them on this blog as thoughtful, how not tos.  They aren’t really terrible, just a bit clueless.

See I’m human.  I’ll even share my not so greatest moments with you so you can learn from my not always so brilliant example.

Right, back to you and your blog.  When you decide to write a blog to support your business you should at least start thinking about why.

Knowing why you’re blogging is not only important for goal setting and establishing a direction, it’s important as a motivation tool. Blogging is where you will spend the largest chunk of your time in your social media world.  I don’t mean you’ll be on your blog for hours at a stretch, but writing a good blog takes up a greater chunk of time than send out a dozen tweets, or putting links onto your Facebook Business Page.

It’ll take you more than a few minutes to write something publishable, edit it, decorate it with pretty and relevant pictures, edit it again, save it, find those three (at least!)  spelling mistakes, edit and again and then finally publish it. Then, and there is a then, time to promote it on your other social networks, using it to direct traffic and therefore clients to your website. Knowing all this activity has a point is essential to the small business owner.

So finally, why do people/companies/organisations blog? Here are a few reason why:

1.  To establish your reputation as an expert

2.  To engage in conversation with others

3.  To express your thoughts – self publish

4.  Show prospective clients who you are

5.  To share ideas – can be both personal and business

6.  To help and advise – again can be both personal and business

7.  Enhance your chances of being found by search engines i.e. improve your visibility

8.  For money – blogging as a job

9.  Affiliate marketing – selling someone else’s product or service

10.  To develop and sell a product

11.  Networking

12.  Fame and fortune

13.  Writing content for other online resources or offline projects

 
Finding your niche and
connecting to your happy customers

Vancouver, Canada – 2011

You can blog for any one of these reasons or a combination of a few or most of them.  Mine’s a cocktail of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11 (OK and as it’s ultimately for work and the blog does direct people my way, it’s also a bit of 8).  Keep in mind when you start a blog that it’s work and it will take patience and it should be a part of your long term plan.

I understand there’s a learning curve and that the phenomena of social media can be a bit of a maze. It takes dedication, time and practice to learn how to use these tools to their best advantage.

Good luck and happy blogging.

Later
J

If You’re Going To Do It, Do It Right – How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile

It’s another one of those, “If you’re going to do it at all, do it right” things.  It isn’t any harder to do a good job (you know I’m lying, but just a bit) on your LinkedIn profile, and the rewards will be much greater than doing half a job.
It’s also another one of those, if you put some effort into it, it will show people that you think this matters.  A great LinkedIn profile conveys the message that:- you’re a consummate professional, as you care about your image,
– you take this network seriously and have respect for the business world, and fellow professionals online,
– you know how to take advantage of the best opportunities, and
– since you know how to network online properly, this demonstrates clearly that you’re Internet savvy.Connections and future connections on LinkedIn will be impressed, and take you more seriously, rather than the opposite, which is to relegate you to Deep Web oblivion.

Being impressive and influential is what LinkedIn is about (and getting dinner invites from long lost colleagues, but that’s another story*).  You have to offer something, other than a firm handshake, to get successful and worthwhile connections.  As I said in another post, LinkedIn is for professionals and you shouldn’t be here if you’re not serious about your work and your profession.
As they say (or do they?)
Play or get on your bike
Granada, Spain – 2007
As you’re reading this, you’re serious, so here are a few tips to making the most of your profile:

1.   Complete your profile 100%.  According to LinkedIn, by fully completing your profile, you will be “40 times more likely to receive opportunities”.  Well I suppose they would say that, wouldn’t they. But even if that statistic isn’t quite that high, “opportunities” should be an incentive for you to make the effort.

2.   A nice photo please.  And look happy to be here. Yes, it will give away your age, your hair colour, your ethnicity, etc.  They were bound to find out sooner or later that you’re a gorgeous, red-haired librarian with a few freckles.  The fact is, faces are easier to remember than names and these memories also last longer.  I’m not making this up.  This memory bias is known as the Picture Superiority Effect.  Another reason to use a photo is that your face is your brand and logo.  You should be like BMW//Apple/Twitter and reinforce your brand by using this photo on multiple sites.

 3.  Include all the companies you’ve worked for, your higher education, any awards and of course all publications (if you have any).  Not only are recruiters looking for these key items but so are your ex-classmates and ex-colleagues. Make looking for you easy.  You’re on LinkedIn.  You want to be found.

4.   Include your website, blog links and Twitter feeds.  Who are you, what have you done, what do you have to say?  Inquiring minds want to know!  Besides you put all these details on the Internet, so make use of them.

If you don’t like LinkedIn you could
go retro and stick a note on this board
Ottawa, Canada – 2004

5.   Update and change your profile whenever necessary.  Your career doesn’t stay still in the real world (I hope).  You’re not stagnate.  Don’t grow moss on LinkedIn either.

6.   Write in the 1st person not the 3rd.  Since you’re using LinkedIn, it’s obvious that you aren’t royalty.  Be real and sound genuine.

7.   Acronyms.  Don’t assume everyone knows what you mean.  Please be clear and explain.  Also you never know what terms people are using for searching.  For example – CA has over 680 meanings including everything from Chartered Accountant to Cost Analysis and including Combat Aircraft.

8.   Think about the quality of your network.  Some people still feel it’s about big numbers.  I feel it’s about the quality and the productivity of the connections you have.  The 50 people you know and who would recommend you, are more valuable than 675 who barely remember you. When you start on LinkedIn, you can import your professional contacts from your email directories.  You aren’t among strangers on LinkedIn, as your colleagues/peers/even friends are here.

That’s enough for you to contemplate for now (and be getting on with).

Good luck.  Any questions, you know where I am.

J

So You Think Social Media Doesn’t Apply To Your Business – A True Story

Now this is a topic that I really understand from both sides.  And I hang my head in shame at my earlier self.

I was you.  The skeptic.  Well not exactly skeptical, a big, “Oh no I don’t want to do that.  It’s going to take up time I don’t have and frankly I can’t be bothered”.  That was me.

I run a small business helping people sort out in general terms their stuff, including: IT, files, information overload, etc…( and now Social Media of course).  I was busy flinging myself around at networking events, attending forums, scrounging for clients in every legal way I knew how and generally getting on with the whole ship load of activities it takes to run a small business.  Where was I going to find the time to engage in Social Media and honestly were my prospective clients even there yet?

Take a leap of faith
East Cape, New Zealand – 2004

That was two years ago.  So most of my clients weren’t there and I had yet to take the plunge.  As a vastly over qualified information professional (yep. breaking my arm, patting myself on the back :-)), I was already spending far too much time in the ether, on the Internet – trawling through databases, compiling research for clients, filing electronically and even with paper.  So I knew all about information and people.

Hand on heart I just didn’t want to learn anything new.  I knew what I was doing and how it was supposed to work.  Well time for one of those paradigm shifts.  Horses and cart can still get you from place to place to.  Even walking works if you have enough time.  But now, the Pony Express is but a legend and a great film set but no one is seriously ever going to contemplate it’s revival as a viable form of transportation.

We have and must move on.  So kicking and screaming (all right mild foot stomping) I leapt into Social Media and against my traditional judgement I found myself liking it very much.

Why?  “Why such a quick and devoted convert,” I hear you ask.  Easy, I love that Social Media is available to all and it brings the consumer back in control.  For how long have we been sold at, talked down to and had our likes and dislikes dictated to us?  With Social Media the product don’t get any better but the customer service comes back into play and it becomes about us and not about them.

As the owner and operator of a small business that puts my clients’ needs first, that’s what I like the most.  Customer service counts again!  Social Media doesn’t improve the product but it does improve your relationship with your client.

Social Media is a forum that works for businesses of all descriptions and budgets of all sizes.  As long as you have someone (or yourself) who is devoted to establishing a cunning plan and will work diligently towards establishing an engaging long term relationship with their client base, then everyone has a chance of success.

If you are a sole trader, a micro-business, a small or medium business, you can use Social Media effectively in your marketing scheme.  Through proper time management, effective strategizing, you can creating a personalized niche for your brand and you will find the clients you want and deserve.

Promote your uniqueness
Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris, France – 2006

You can’t afford to ignore Social Media, not now and definitely not in the future. Social Media is still relatively new and over the next year even more businesses will start taking advantage of the opportunities it has to offer.  For your business, find a format that suits you and your marketing strategy and start making a name for yourself.  You don’t have to compete with the granddaddies of branding but you can promote yourself in your little corner of the web and the world.

There are currently over 500 million Twitter accounts, a billion million people on Facebook and the professional social networking site LinkedIn reached over 100 million members last year.  Your people are out there.

Start talking to them.

Later 
J

Following and Followers on Twitter – What’s the Big Deal?

Now this is the article where I show my true colours as a Social Media Heretic.  

I’ve written a number of articles about following on Twitter and you have asked me how to, why to and mostly what to do.  First off, please understand these are entirely my own opinions.  I don’t run a complicated stats package and I don’t use studies or fancy algorithms to back up my insight.  My Twitter advice comes from 20+ years working with people and establishing productive working relationships with them in the flesh and online. I do know what I’m doing.  I was manhandling online information before Twitter and before Mark Zuckerberg had any friends.

What you get from me is straight talking.

If you have read any of my previous articles, you’ll know that my advice is primarily aimed at small and medium business enterprises.  I want to help you develop and maintain an engaging, open and positive relationship with your clients.  All my advice is based on my mantra (yep here we go again):

 “People do business with people they know
and people they like.”

However, I’m not exclusive and any and all my advice can be taken on board by anyone.  It’s good stuff!

I probably spend more time on Twitter than most because I want to get under its’ skin and find out how it works for those of you in the real world.  It’s my job to sort it out Social Media for those of you who want to part-take but haven’t got the time or necessarily the inclination.  I would like you to be able to maximize your opportunities and enable you to use your time online productively.

“I like work; it fascinates me. 
I can sit and look at it for hours.”
Jerome K. Jerome
Not us though!
Paris, France – 2007

So back to being a Social Media Heretic. 

For SMEs (and most of us) I sincerely believe that it’s not about big numbers but quality numbers.  This is why I don’t adhere to the more is more plan of action. I don’t slavishly follow everyone who follows me. Honestly I don’t understand why some people do follow me.  They obviously haven’t read any of my tweets, visited this blog or gone to my website.  They usually leave before the week is out.  Yes, confession time here.  People leave me in droves!  OK a minor trickle, but it happens.

I don’t care. (OK it’s very nice to have loads and loads of followers.  I do enjoy having a fan club that may or may not listen to what I have to say.  I’m human, I want to be liked!)

What I do care about more is the people I follow.  And yes many followed me first and I liked what I saw and followed back. The others I discovered myself.  I’m choosy not a ego manic.

“Oh, but you’re so mean because that’s not very nice”, I hear you cry.  Not so.  I’m sure the other 189, 999,301 plus accounts on Twitter will find their own fans (in some cases I wish they would just go away but…).

Come on!  Who has the time? 

Really is it important to be followed by everyone including the cat’s brother?  Wouldn’t it be better to develop a solid core of interesting and engaged followers who actually know who you are?  People and businesses you can talk to/sell to/rely on/are interested in?  My answer is yes.  Your most effective use of Twitter is as an integrated part of your marketing scheme.  So use it to it’s best advantage to find your particular niche audience.

I say this because I feel that you must always keep in mind the “Social” aspect of Social Media and this require dialogue, interaction, exchange.  You know – being social. And yes, to use Twitter really effectively you have to do this.

Coffee or tea with chat works nicely too
Buonconvento, Italy – 2009

The formal lingo for developing a compatible/useful/involved following is called “Organic”.  Because it’s a selective process, takes a lot of time and yes you have to wade through some decomposing natural products to get there (nice euphemism eh?).

In the long run (and do keep in mind that all Social Media is for the long run, it’s not an over night quick fix), developing your home grown organic followership will be much more rewarding than 1,500,000 followers who only need you to make their numbers look good.

It’s not just a popularity contest.  Twitter is a business platform.  Seriously.

Hope this helps clear up a few things.  Any ideas, objections, insights……you know where I am.

Later

J

What’s the Point Of LinkedIn? 7 Tips for Enlightenment

Congratulations!  If you’re reading this, you’re probably getting (or already have) to grips with Social Media.  Some formats are easy to embrace as they are by nature chatty and entertaining.  Everyone from your friends and relations to the neighbour’s dog (honestly Dogs who Twitter) and your favourite celebrity (——– name here), are accessible in the virtual village.
LinkedIn is a little different.  Not that it’s unsociable or unfriendly but it’s where grown-ups go to talk about work.  For some the “fun” factor may be missing, but if you’re not using LinkedIn to promote you and your business, then you’re missing out on a critical opportunity.
LinkedIn has been around since 2002 and it’s a business-oriented networking site used primarily for professionals to “connect” to each other.  Currently there are over 175 million registered users, spanning more than 200 countries.  And it’s a heavily visited website.  As of writing this article,  LinkedIn was the 12th most accessed web site in the UK (see www.alexa.com for even more details).  That’s a lot of traffic.
And the answer….
Manchester, UK – 2009
If that’s not enough incentive to use LinkedIn, here are 7 more reasons why you should stop ignoring it:
1. Do you want to be seen?  A LinkedIn entry ranks very highly on both major search engines Google, and Bing. “Google” someone you know (or yourself if you’re already there) and see for yourself.
2. Increase your visibility.  As I mentioned above, this is a professional networking site.  It’s not for YouTube junkies, students etc. This is a site for proper professionals so reputations matter.
3. Improve your connectability.  By using LinkedIn effectively, you can make who you know, and who knows you, work a lot harder for you.  Flaunt your popularity.  You’re a professional, you should be over that wallflower stage by now!
4. You can do your research early, using LinkedIn to look up company information and viewing people’s profiles.  LinkedIn can be used as a sort of pre-reference check even before you make any formal contact with the company or person who interests you.
5.  Looking for a new job?  There are great job searching tools on LinkedIn.  Not only are there job postings but you can also check out the markets locally, regionally and globally in your fields of interest.
6. Did you get an interview with someone listed on LinkedIn?  Then you can ensure your interview goes more smoothly because you can check them out beforehand.  You can dazzle them at the interview by having something sensible, interesting and relevant to talk about.7.And lastly (for this list anyway) LinkedIn is a great reference tool. There are industry experts on here, ask them anything. You’ll be surprised by the  knowledge base that’s available and how much people love to help.
If you’re serious about your profession and your future and you haven’t signed up to LinkedIn, then you’re running out of excuses.
Finally – HINT HINT – complete your profile as completely as possible.  But that’s another article!
Once you’ve completed your LinkedIn
profile, then you can treat yourself
Mount Buffalo, Victoria, Australia – 2005

8 Clichés That Are True On The Internet And In Business

We all know “times there are a changin” as the virtual world becomes an integral part of your business’s marketing strategy (not to mention your life).

But it’s really not that different from the pre-Internet days, apart from a remarkable change in format. Sometimes old fashioned, hackneyed, over used maxims are still completely appropriate.

Busy as a bee
East Sussex, UK – Aug 20009 

1.  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” 
Still the first step you have to take when setting up your business.  This will never change, the plunge into the great unknown.

2.  “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.”
Manners matter and professional etiquette is still the only acceptable type of behaviour in the online business world.  You still have to show up on time, play nice and “please” and “thanks yous” never go amiss. Establishing a reputation as a credible business person who is fair and dependable, is probably even more important than ever, as the Internet enables people to reach farther and provides them with a much longer memory.

3. “Burn the candle at both ends.”
Get the rest and sleep you need.  Just because the world has shrunk and everything is running 24/7, doesn’t mean you can or should even try to keep up. You won’t function properly without sleep and your colleagues and clients will be grateful if you stopped storming about and screwing up.  Honestly it’s for you own good. Functioning and awake we can put up with you.  Unreasonable, obstinate and irrational, well, hide the fire arms.

4. “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye.”
Backup backup backup – I know a lot (OK more than 10) people who have lost data because they didn’t backup.  Family photos — gone.   Essay you’ve been researching for weeks (OK hours) — gone. Reports, invoices, documents blah blah blah — gone.  Hard-drives don’t cost much, aren’t complicated to use and if you haven’t got room for one then use the Cloud. (I could wax lyrically here about Dropbox but will resist)

5.  “A Jack of all trades and a master of none.”
No one can do everything.  It’s your primary responsibility to focus on the success of the product or service that your business provides and to get the help you need to ensure success in the areas where you have little or no talent.  Marketing, social media, human resources, accounting whatever. There is no need to do it all and your business could suffer because of your reluctance to delegate.

6.“Take it with a grain of salt.”
If one person says you’re doing it wrong – ignore them.  If ten people tell you in a week – do something about it!

7.“Go the extra mile.”
I was initially reluctant to do this as I thought 1. who’d listen and 2. if I give my advice for free who’d hire me!?  Upon reflection (and with further experience), now I’m in complete agreement.  Give advice for free. Even better –  give good quality, well thought out, honest advice for free. You’ll develop an excellent reputation as a reliable source and people will want you to provide them with a service because you have shown yourself to have the required knowledge base, the skills and the savvy. They’ll want you because, frankly you’re good at it and they have better things to do.

8. “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” 
Disconnect from the Internet for a day, and go out an play – Digital free days/holidays/weekends away/etc aren’t skiving. They’re an opportunity to get away and reflect on your accomplishments, assess your future and they give you the impetus to come back to the office with renewed vigour.

The Internet has brought with it different ways of doing business but always remember:

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Happily ever after
Goa, India – 2009
Later

Welcome to the Twittersphere – Now What Do You Have to Say?

For business people Twitter represents a unique opportunity to communicate with others in a quick and engaging way.  The core challenge to every Tweeter is to find a distinctive and engaging voice that will enable them to connect to their audience.

The key to effective tweeting is to give people something they will value using a variety of tweets.  By being interesting/useful/insightful/attribute of choice, followers will be attracted.  They’ll want to find out more about you, get to know what else you have to offer, or even chat just to you.  All this activity will ultimately increase traffic to your website and increased awareness = more business.  All in all, good tweeting is good for business.

You!  Start talking!
Manchester, UK – Spring 2010

So now you’re using Twitter but what to say?  Are you new to Twitter or just suddenly become tongue tied?

Here are a few tips and suggestions on what to tweet to get you started or get you going:

1.  Give your audience cool stuff.  I’m sure you have come across a few wonders on your travels across the Internet.  If you get a bit stuck now and then, a short trip to Stumbleupon is always refreshing.  I’m never going to admit how many days I’ve lost wandering in that universe!

2.  People on Twitter love to chat. If you can’t think of anything to say ask questions – see what they want to talk about

3.  Retweet the stuff you receive that’s worth passing on.  This is also seen as a compliment to the original tweeter and you’ll be known as a collaborator and as someone who shares the good bits.  Retweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.

4.  Sometimes they’re worth a 1000 words, so show a photo or two.  Your shop, your product, your great new haircut!

5.  Be sure not to talk relentlessly about work and your stuff.  Don’t be an ego maniac. Be human rather than a work drone and slightly go off piste. Be informal.  On Twitter you can talk about what interests you, engage in comment on politics (be mild though remember this is a very public forum), discuss movies, sports …..whatever!

6.  Do talk about yourself.  What you are doing/going to do/have done. When you do talk about your stuff, make it useful/interesting/fun. If you work in a team or have employees include them (of course with their knowledge and consent).   Let everyone know who is doing the 10 k run, who’s working on a new product, who is making the tea and coffee run this week.

7.  Send useful links and point out things of interest in your field.  Establish a reputation as an expert. 

8.  Send messages.  Chat to other people.  Stop with the monologue because people are on Twitter to talk and find out what’s going on.  So tell them!

9.  I’m sure you’re having a great time on Twitter but don’t forget about work completely. Broadcast your news!  Definitely use Twitter to promote your website and your blog.  When promoting a blog post or directing people to a website etc. give a hint what it’s about.  It’s very helpful to give your followers an indication as to why you bothered to write or post something.  Followers sometimes may need a nudge to go to your link.

10.  If you’re stuck, ask for help. Twitter is GREAT for getting advice because people love to share what they know and what they think.

11.  Really stuck for something to say?  Occasionally you can be profound or fun.  Send out an inspired quote or just a whimsical picture.  Remember what all work and no play did to Jack.

Just talking
Goa, India – November 2009

I hope these few suggestions will help you get started or get you out of that rut.  If you have any tips I haven’t mentioned, I’d love to hear from you.

Later

J

11 Tips on How to Find Your Essential People on Twitter

There are an overwhelming 500 million plus accounts on Twitter (not quite as scary as it sounds, as there is some debate on how many are active), but how do you choose who to follow?  If you’re not selective you can find yourself wading through a lot of dross to get to the good stuff (and sadly there is a lot of dross). Finding the right crowd is worth it because the better the quality and relevance of who you follow, the more value you will get out any time you spend on Twitter.

I know there are dozens of applications on offer that will find you the 1,000,000 people you must follow and in return they offer the 2,000,000 who will follow and hang on your every word. That is absolutely not where I am at.

I’m not into pointless extravagant numbers that you can’t really manage properly. I much prefer quality.  Big brands and big celebrities may have huge numbers but as a SME, I  feel it’s critical to know and understand the people you choose to follow.  You can and should use Twitter to promote and develop your product/service so you can increase your value to your existing clients and of course entice new clients; making them aware of your unique business propositions.

Collecting or choosing followers is also a time issue. Especially for the small business as you always have to keep in mind why you are spending your valuable time online. Can you really develop a responsive relationship with 1,000,000 followers if you aren’t the size of Coca Cola with a marketing budget the size of the GDP of a developing nation?   It’s probably not feasible. Also, really ask yourself do you want to!

Time – there’s only so much of it
St Pancras, London, UK – September 2007

If you manage a SME, then Social Media is an essential part of your marketing and communications strategy but not your core business. so quality will trump quantity every time.  Follow people you are genuinely interested in, who you like and who will be of use to you. Then remember to involve the people you follow, and not neglect them.  Twitter is a great  opportunity for you to create a vibrant, closely-knit community in your particular niche.

If you’re like me and want to develop better business relationships then you want to engage and be engaged by Twitter. So be choosy!  To help you get started here are a few of my finely tuned selection habits:

1.  A really easy idea – I already connect to you in the ether by LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace (they’re still around and rumours of a comeback!), Email, Blog etc etc.  If we’re already speaking in another part of the Internet, why not talk on Twitter too?

2.   I met you live and in person and:
              – I liked you, or
              – I feel at some point we could make beautiful music together
                i.e. do business.

3.  You followed me on Twitter so I checked you out and you appear to be real (not a nasty bot) and have something worthwhile to say – at least occasionally.  On Twitter I don’t expect every tweet to be oozing with profound insight, there is a lot of scope for frivolity.  But please do come prepared to partake in the “conversation”

4.  I actually used Twitter’s homegrown tool to find people I am am interested in.  Too easy that one eh?

5.  I followed your blog or landed on your website – liked what I saw, so decided to follow you on Twitter.

6.  My friends are noted for their impeccable taste so I (mostly) trust their recommendations.  As my Twitter friends/followers are also carefully selected and scrutinized, I’ll also follow Tweeters who they think are the “bee’s knees”.

Do they have knees?
Church Stretton, UK – August 2010

7. You’re Stephen Fry.  Sorry, I just can’t help myself!

8.  I came across your name somewhere in the physical world i.e. not on the Internet.  I believe this does happen occasionally 🙂  In order to keep in touch with “reality”, I unplug every once in a while and have been know to read an actual newspaper!

9.  Serendipity.  Don’t remember how we found each other but obviously it’s meant to be.  Not the greatest tip ever but true.

10.  You’re the famous/legendary/earth-bound authority/expert on a subject I’m very interested in.  You’re “The One”.  I want to pick your brain and learn from you.

11.  You’re a client and I taught you everything you know so now I have to keep an eye on you!

However, overall caveat – just because I start to follow you doesn’t mean I’ll stay. To keep my attention – keep it interesting and keep it real and I’m there for the long haul. Start committing Twitter misdemeanors and I’ll be off.

I’m a bit of a organising freak (um enthusiast) so do a radical review of my Twitter list every so often.  Hey people change even online and so do I.  A clear out is essential so you can get the most out of your world online.

I hope these tips help and if you have any other tips, please share.

Later

J