Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting Started With Twitter

I'm the kind of guy that tries EVERYTHING out for about 5 minutes.  If I don't buy into it immediately, then I let it sit for days, weeks, months, and sometimes years.  This was the case with twitter.  I actually signed up for a twitter account in 2009, but found it to be filled with annoying, self-serving people.  It was only recently that I discovered value in twitter when doing research for my wife's blog Fab Housewife.  According to Hubspot, a website gets 113% more inbound links when it's tweeted through a twitter account, and websites with 1,000 followers get 6 times more traffic.  That was enough reason for me to get involved, so I decided to make a goal to get 1,000 followers as quickly as possible.  I immediately created a twitter account, and waited for the followers to flood in (imagine the sound of crickets here). Okay, so this leads me to my next point, once I have a twitter account, then what do I do with it?

Start Tweeting

No one wants to follow a dead twitter account.  If people see that an account never tweets, then why would they follow it?  Start with a "Hello World" tweet, introduce yourself, say something funny.  At this point, you just need to get some content out there.

Fill Out Your Profile

Just like having no tweets, people are turned off by twitter accounts with a blank profile.  Fill yours out immediately.  Give a quick background in the bio to build credibility.  This is a simple task that makes a huge difference.  If you or your company has done anything noteworthy, mention it here.    

Start Following People

Twitter is all about interactions.  Unless you are Brad Pitt or Bill Gates, you can't expect everyone in the world to want to follow you.  You have to introduce yourself in a lot of ways.  Start by finding your friends on twitter.  You can connect accounts like Gmail, and the application will search for matches from your contact list.  When you find your friends, search their followers for people in common, follow them.  Then, find your top 3 competitors, look for their followers and follow them.  Finally, you can Google for lists of people with large followings, that tend to follow back, this is a great example.  Be selective with these, but go ahead and start following.  You'll need to space these out as this process can be tedious.  Plus, twitter will monitor accounts that follow too many handles in too short of a time period.  In short, don't be timid about following people on twitter.  Twitter is like having a free email address with data behind it.  Twitter gives you reach, so take advantage and follow away.

Interact with Your Followers

This is a must.  You have to keep tweeting.  Plan to tweet every few hours.  Important time periods are between 9am and 6pm, with a peak around 3pm.  Use the "at" symbol to mention people you want to interact with.  You can also use a "#topic" to highlight a trending topic.  Re-tweeting great tweets is also a good idea.  If you give a little, your followers will be more likely to give back and re-tweet your posts.

Don't Be Spammy

No one wants to be around self-serving people.  So don't be that person who only posts sales of your products.  Most importantly NEVER send a post asking people to follow you.  Seriously, I see it a lot, and unfollow anyone who does it.  Twitter is the new telemarketing medium and people are getting paid to round up followers.  You don't want to be labeled as one of those guys.  Just be yourself, and genuinely interact with people.  If you want to shout out a new promotion every now and then, go ahead.  Just make sure you are continually building goodwill.

Automate Your Account

I will be going into more detail about this topic later, but there are tools out there that will help you automate your twitter account.  Once you get going with the previous steps, we can talk about that part.

Have Fun

Eventually, Twitter will become fun.  I have actually enjoyed the process, despite my initial hesitation.  It's a powerful tool that is mandatory in today's social media driven world.  Make a game or competition out of it. Set goals for yourself.  These will make it more fun, and make it more gratifying when you accomplish your goals.  Good luck!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Marketeneur

Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot explained it well in his book "Inbound Marketing".  The web is the great equalizer where small companies, if they are smart enough, can compete with big budget businesses in the world of Marketing.  Enter the Marketeneur, who is the Marketing-minded Entrepreneur who uses social media, technology, and the web, to launch his small company out into the ocean of commerce.  This blog will be the voice for that Marketeneur, and will hopefully become a valuable resource for many, many people in the future.  If you are reading this, thank you for your support, and good luck! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Media Center Experiment: GoogleTV vs. Roku2

Last week I purchased a Logitech Revue GoogleTV. I had recently canceled my cable after AT&T U-Verse jacked up my rate when my promotional window ran out. I'm still using the internet, as it is quite reliable, but rather than pay $35 more a month for a DVR and local stations, I thought I could do better with my money. So I started browsing around at Best Buy. I thought I'd use Best Buy's 30 day return window as my trial to check out the new functionality of these new media centers on the market.

I wanted something small, that could fit in my entertainment center next to my DVD player and internet router. I needed something that could play Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu, as well as could connect to an external hard drive to access other media files. Oh, and if you know me, you've already guessed that I was looking for something cheap. I had been using an old Dell Dimension Desktop for the past 2.5 years, hooked up to my tv with an HDMI port. Although it didn't quite fit in my entertainment center, was loud, and emitted all kinds of heat, the old Dell was an adequate version of a media center. When it crapped out the first time, I bought a 1 TB external hard drive, transferred all my music and pictures to the hard drive, and managed to get it back working for awhile. However, after seeing all the ads and articles about the AppleTV, GoogleTV, Roku, and the WD TV, I thought it was about time to join in. Plus, I was tired of dealing with the typical issues of an old Microsoft operating system, on an old computer. It was time to upgrade.

So getting back to the was very slick, slim and elegant, and it came with a great little keyboard that had a track pad built right in. This was the coolest thing about it, and I attribute all of that to Logitech. If only the interior were as useful as the exterior. The Google component was ultimately disappointing. Some aspects were tolerable. Setting up was simple, and all I needed was my Google username and password to get started. However, once I had it setup, the only things I really found useful were turning on Pandora and Netflix. Plus, each of those had bugs. The Android operating system would skip, the screen would flash, or they would force a close just like my Android phone. I might have been able to overlook those early bugs in a new product as the user interface was actually quite nice. However, as most of you may have heard, Hulu wont work on the GoogleTV, and neither will most of the major network programming.

I thought that, maybe, I could wait for Google to work out a deal with Hulu, but why? In the meantime, I would just have to miss my shows, or watch them on my laptop? In the end, I found that I couldn't wait for Google. Just because they are the envy of the tech world doesn't mean that I need to suffer through their poor execution. If they want to really be successful in this new market, then they need to start making some deals and put out a comprehensive product.

Based on this judgement, I did some research and found that Western Digital just signed a deal with Hulu to play on their new media center, HD TV media Hub. I actually went into Best Buy looking for that specific product. In fact, there was a Western Digital rep, showing off the new products. On my way to his table, I had picked up a Roku2. Despite hearing little about it prior to a few weeks ago, it looked so simple, and received decent reviews online. I started chatting with the WD rep, and the outcome of our conversation was that I was going to buy the Roku2. The WD TV looks like a good product, and I'm sure it would work better than the GoogleTV, but the Roku2 was prettier. I can't believe I'm writing this, but I chose the prettier product.

Again, I'll continue to use the Best Buy 30 day window as a trial for this product, but I already like it better. The Roku, although a little more time consuming to setup (and the remote isn't as cool as the Logitech), has proven to be significantly more engaging. Not only do I get my Hulu, Pandora, and Netflix, but they have a ton of other applications in their app store. Stay tuned for a follow up review, but it's a promising start for the Roku2.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sheryl Sandberg's Leadership Style

There are many things to like about Facebook's #2 Leader, Sheryl Sandberg. She's incredibly intelligent, personable, strategic, and has finally come up with an advertising plan to help Facebook really make some money. It would appear that Facebook did a great job in plucking her away from Google. While all of that is impressive, the thing that I am most impressed with about Sandberg from reading Brad Stone's Businessweek article "Everybody Needs a Sheryl Sandberg" is her leadership style. She praises subordinates in public, and reprimands in private. She's super direct, pulling people aside privately to tell them that she expects more from them (Stone, Businessweek, May 16 - 22, 2011). Having experienced, in some cases, the exact opposite in bosses over the years, I can attest to the merit of her leadership style. It's not easy, and most people aren't able to pull off being so direct, yet likable, while being so tactful with feedback. In some cases, I've seen brilliant people be completely ineffective because everyone around them hated them. It's hard to lead when you don't have the respect of the people around you. While Sandberg may be a brilliant mind, if she wasn't able to communicate her ideas to her subordinates, and get them to buy into her ideas, then she wouldn't be nearly as effective. I know this is a quality in Sandberg that I am trying to model my own style after.