Archive | December, 2011

Relationship Economy: Personal Branding on Twitter

How many postings like this have you seen this week:

“Unsubscribing from all my email newsletters so that I can start the year with a clean Inbox. Good-bye Groupon, LivingSocial, and Staples newsletter.”

It’s not just email that needs cleanup. Your social networking channels probably need some TLC too. I’ve been cleaning up my Twitter account, unfollowing inactive accounts and marking others as spam (Ashley from Houston with 0 tweets, following 6,453: It’s time we said good-bye).

Some followers’ profiles, though, don’t just scream: “I’m an Ashley too!” Unfortunately, they are very ambiguous, making it hard to decide whether to cut them.

The problem is that many people don’t take the extra step of completing their profile. So it’s incredibly difficult for me to decide if I should continue following them, especially when they don’t tweet often. If I’ve met them somewhere in person, it’d be really rude (and disappointing) to unfollow, just because I didn’t recognize their online persona.

This is the Relationship Economy. Your next job or client will come from the relationships you build both online and off. This won’t happen unless you open up and let people know who you are. Here are three easy steps to keep yourself from losing followers:

  • Write a sentence to tell me who you are, what you do, and what you’re tweeting about.

Ken Mueller of Inkling Media is one of my favorite marketers to follow (@kmueller62). He has a fabulous – and very informative – profile:

Social Media/Inbound Marketing Strategist, Inkling Media. Music, books, coffee, & Philly sports. If you want me to follow back, tweet at me! I work on a porch.

To paraphrase a line from The Social Network, have you ever learned so much from just a couple of sentences? He even includes a call to action. And he works on a porch! How cool is that?

  • Include a photo!

Anatomy of Twitter Profile

This matters more than you think. We live in world of visual thinkers, where we gravitate to images before words. It’s much faster for us to recognize a face than a name. So, if I met you at a one-day seminar, I’m quick to make the connection when I view your photo.

You may be reluctant to post a photo of yourself for privacy or security reasons, but I believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. (Remember that new job or client?) If it’s truly a problem, create a gravatar, use a logo, or find an image that represents who you are in some way.

I’ve seen people use cartoon characters, images of inanimate objects such as typewriters, and photos of birds or flowers. You can also be clever with photos of yourself: hide behind sunglasses or be waving from a distance.

However, I much prefer to put a face to a name. I’m much more interested in what you have to say.

  • Tweet at least twice a day.

Finally, if you want me to follow, you must tweet. I always read the last few tweets someone has sent before I decide to follow them. If you haven’t sent a tweet in three months, it tells me you’re not serious. If your last three tweets read like advertisements (“Free Credit Card Consolidation!”), I’m unfollowing.

Be assured, it’s fine to lurk – for a time. Twitter is much more useful to all of us when a conversation is happening. So, listen for a bit, then jump in and tell me what you’ve got going on.

Diane Thieke now hopes that she hasn’t encouraged anyone to unfollow her after reading this post. Probably Ashley, but that would be ok. Follow Diane on Twitter at @thiekeds.

Comments { 0 }

What is Pinterest and What Can it Do for Businesses?

Pinterest is a social network that launched in March 2010. Currently, Pinterest  is invitation only (I have invites, so comment below or email me if you’d like one). It has been growing like crazy, so it’s worth checking out.

For me, Pinterest solves a critical pain point. Keeping track of the latest technology, communications, and social media trends and stats is one of my biggest challenges.  I couldn’t settle on a simple way to keep relevant ideas together in an orderly way. I needed something that was easy to scan and search, was fast to create, and that I could share with clients.

Spreadsheets and Word docs were cumbersome, and not easily shared. Evernote captures info with a click and its search feature is amazing – it even searches the text of images. But it’s not very social.

And then I discovered Pinterest.

What is Pinterest? A Virtual Pinboard

What is Pinterest? A Virtual Pinboard

Most of the users (apparently) are women, and this virtual pinboard is used to create image collections around shopping, food, and art. Popular uses include planning a wedding, decorating your home, and swapping food ideas. Retail marketers should be paying close attention.

Here’s how it works: Start a board about a topic of interest, download the Pin It bookmarklet, surf the web, pin images of items that you find interesting. Once pinned, the image retains the original link, so you can easily surf back to the source.

Because it’s visual, it’s easy to scan board items and keep track of things you care about.

I’ve adapted my boards to business use: I’ve started boards to track trends and stats, books I recommend, and my favorite websites for monitoring innovation and future thinking.

I think Pinterest has huge marketing potential for retailers, small businesses, and B2B. Wedding planners could use it to help brides evaluate catering and flower options, for example. For B2B, it’s a great way to collect and share thought leadership.

I know it appeals to women, but honestly, can’t you see this as the perfect place to run your fantasy baseball league?

Definitely one to follow in 2012.

Diane Thieke is trying to find a way to pin her hopes to Pinterest. Email her if you’d like an invite to Pinterest.

Comments { 0 }

How to Manage Your Social Media Crisis

One of the great fears that businesses have when they contemplate jumping into social media is that negative comments will create a social media crisis.

Fortunately, most businesses will not experience a social media crisis on the scale of the Dell laptop batteries or the Domino’s debacle. However, to paraphrase Reuters, “one woman’s crisis, is another woman’s rant.” Meaning: all things are relative.

All organizations, no matter how good, face criticism from time to time. On social networks, this criticism can easily become amplified. Knowing how to handle negative comments can help prevent things from getting out of control.

The first step is understanding who the commenter is and the nature of the comment. I recently helped a client who had a negative comment about their products posted to one of their distributors’ Facebook pages. I first asked the usual PR questions: Do you know this person? How credible and influential is she in your market? Is her statement true or does it include inaccuracies?

Clarifying incorrect information is essential, but we have to remember that opinion can’t be argued. Thus, we responded with facts, but gave the poster the opportunity to voice her opinion.

In these situations, I usually refer to the Air Force Blog Assessment tool to determine how and if to respond to negative comments. Though several years old, it’s still useful and relevant today for all social media channels. David Meerman Scott originally blogged about it, as did Jeremiah Owyang, who posted it on his Flickr account.

I always provide a copy of this tool to clients as part of their social media training, and I encourage community managers to post this on the wall by their desk for easy reference.

Diane Thieke is busy dealing with a crisis of her own: There’s no cream in the frig. It’s time to visit a satellite office where coffee and all its accoutrements are readily available. Follow her on Twitter: @thiekeds.

Comments { 2 }

Digital Media Marketing and Privacy Protection in the Age of Big Data

There it was again: the expression of fear that we’re in danger of losing our online privacy. I hear gasps popping like bubbles around the room, which is filled with students learning the secrets of digital media marketing. Actually, I think to myself, we lost our online privacy a very long time ago.

Yesterday, Nick Bilton of the New York Times came to the same realization (he must not have kids or have attended the New Jersey State Police’s talk about children and internet security). His Bits Column, Disruptions: Privacy Fades in Facebook Era, demonstrates how easy – and fast – it is to uncover someone’s identity online.

I’m a bit of an early adopter, and loss of online privacy has me less freaked out than some of my peers. It doesn’t mean that I like it. It’s just that I realized long ago that the train had left the station in the middle of the night, when we were all sleeping.

I saw the future of privacy a little more than 15 years ago, when a public records vendor came to pitch its product to our business development team. The rep plugged my name into the database. Just my name, nothing else.

Up popped all of the places I’d previously lived, the names of all my current neighbors, their telephone numbers, and what they paid for their homes. But  the connections it made unnerved me: it linked me not just to all the members in my family, but also to a relative’s ex-husband and all of his family. And they’d divorced 10 years earlier.

Those details were unwittingly served up by all of us when we applied for mortgages and purchased homes. They’re a matter of public record, under law.

Today, our details become public for a variety of reasons. The new culture of sharing is one. More sophisticated technology is another. Every time you scan a bar code at the grocery store, visit a web site, read an article, or listen to a song, it’s possible for it to become part of your personal profile. The era of big data is here.

In some ways, I think this is great. Obviously it’s wonderful for marketers, who have a better chance of finding precisely the right audience for their product. But big data used responsibly can be great for consumers too. Personally, I want a filter. Show me ads that are relevant to my interests: the latest Apple toys and deals at Target, not Budweiser beer or hunting rifles.

As a digital media marketer, however, I need to walk that ever-thinning line between effective marketing and privacy breach. I want enough data to target my buyers with high-value content, but I also don’t want to violate their trust.

There are organizations, like EPIC (which is behind the FTC’s settlement with Facebook), that fight for safeguards. But marketers and technologists also must take a lead in developing policies and technologies that protect privacy. After all, we all suffer and benefit from these vast stores of “personal” intelligence.

Diane Thieke is now posting furiously on Facebook about her three kittens, in the hopes that Purina will send her some good bargains on ProPlan. Follow her at @thiekeds.

Comments { 0 }