Posts

It’s 2017, Why Are People Are Still Talking About Buying Twitter Followers?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally posted in 2016, but due to recent conversations, the date in the title was updated as it’s still very relevant.

Like words, numbers can matter. Everyone wants to be an influencer, but really it should send people running for the hills when it is suggested that you buy Twitter followers, and here’s why.

Twitter FollowersI am a huge proponent of using the right words at the right time. Words can lift someone up, or destroy someone — that’s certainly what Donald Trump bets on, but I digress. Numbers, like words are important in the right context. As a Digital Strategist, I love that instant measurement available. It can validate quite quickly that I am on the right track or, that I am on the wrong path so I can pivot quickly. Everything from reach, to clicks to how long someone is on a page — and everything in between — is very valuable.

Numbers, like words tell a story. People get very excited about a good story. Stories have the power to persuade — to influence. In business, government, academia and even non-profits, it really is all about influencing behaviour. Some will talk around this and try to “persuade” us that there is a bigger purpose, but in reality, let’s call a spade a spade. We want to influence you to buy a product or a service, vote for someone, choose a particular school or support “my” cause.

This of course is where things get tricky. I grew up hearing “figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”  That might have been true at one point in time but we all know of, and heard about, what some affectionately deem “creative accounting.” Numbers like words can be used as a weapon. Why do you think that polling results are so important?  The questions you have to ask yourself however is: who commissioned the poll? When was the poll taken? Who participated? What point in time did it cover ? Remember polls or surveys capture information at a given time — they are a snapshot of “that specific” point in time. That could be good or bad for the particular polling subject. 

So this takes me to Twitter followers (and other social media channels). The more followers one has, the more influence one is supposed to have. That is ONLY true however if your followers are real. I mean, come on, how can you influence behaviour or a change in behaviour if your followers are not actually real!

Trust has never been more important. The same goes for authenticity. We want to trust and we want to believe in people who are authentic. So, imagine that you have gained some level of influence because you have a great Twitter following. Perhaps you talk about how important it is to be authentic.

So, what happens when someone decides to check just how influential you really are, and how authentic you are by using a simple and free tool such as Twitter Audit. You might think, who cares? Well, if your followers turn our to be mostly fake, one can ask what else you are making up?

If trust and authenticity really matter, then walk the talk. Don’t say one thing to “look” or “sound” good, and then do another. Actually live and demonstrate what it is like to be trustworthy and authentic. By choosing to NOT buy Twitter followers demonstrates that you are truly authentic!

This of course is my opinion! If you want to learn more about marketing best practices, check out my other posts.

Social Media Profiles

3 Easy Tips to Freshen Up Your Social Media Profiles

When was the last time you updated your social media profiles? Has it been awhile? It has…hasn’t it? I know, I know, it can be daunting when you haven’t touched them in awhile. But relax, we have some really easy tips to freshen up your social media profiles. And, now is a perfect time to update your social profiles. After all, they are an extension of who you are – your personal brand. What do your profiles say about you? Let’s dig in:

1. Picture This!

Still have the egg avatar on Twitter? Is your LinkedIn image your company logo? It’s time to get a headshot of you! Remember, these are your personal reputation assets and they should serve as a way for people to recognize you, not your employer.

We know from research that profiles with photos get more views. Why? Well, primarily it’s about human nature. People want to connect with people. After all, social media is a means to be social, so be social. Say cheese!

Social Media Profiles

2. Don’t be Bio Shy

Whether in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and on and on, be sure to always complete your bio. Do you have to write a book about who you are? Of course not. Each channel however, does have different character limitations in terms of length. A general rule of thumb is shorter is better. If you have a longer bio, you can always put a link to your about.me page.

Social Media Profiles

3. Some Simple but VERY Important LinkedIn Profile Tips:

  • Be sure to include a summary at the top of your profile, but please, please and please don’t speak in the third-person. That is just weird and creepy!
  • Update your LinkedIn url to be reflective of your name and not the default.
  • And be sure to turn of your auto notification setting so that every time you edit your profile, notifications aren’t sent out to your network. It’s easy to do really…just go to your Privacy and Settings click on “Manage” and then click on the “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts” as noted below. This will help ensure that you aren’t inundating people.

Social Media Profiles

Of course there are many other things that you can do to improve your profiles, but these are the basics that every professional can easily implement within only a few minuts …well maybe not the photo, but everything else. Your social profiles are an extension of you, the story you tell about yourself. They are your personal brand. Take control!

Looking for help with your marketing and social media? Click here, we’ve got you covered!

4 Lessons to Lighten the Mood in Challenging Times

It’s officially summer. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s road construction time. This all points toward shorter tempers and potential road rage. So, how do you lighten the mood in such circumstances? Well, you create a Twitter account of course! I am not certain who created @WestmorlandBrid, but whoever it is has a great sense of humour and is creating at least some fun in spite of a loooonnnng construction project on one of two bridges in New Brunswick’s capital city, Fredericton. So, what can we learn from our humourous bridge Tweeter?  Well, a lot it turns out.  Here are 4 lessons to lighten the mood in challenging times.Have fun, Even in traffic jams, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormade solutions

1.  Laughter is Contagious

Why not take a situation, which you have no control over, like major bridge construction on one of two bridges in a city, and create fun challenges. I love that daily challenges are being given to commuters.  As you can see in my Storify, How to Have Fun, Even in Traffic Jams, some people are taking the challenges seriously while others…well…may not quite see the humour.  #timetolightenup?

2.  Misery Loves Company

For the thousands who travel across the bridge at least twice a day going to and from work, commiserating with people “just like you” just does something to make you feel like part of something bigger.  You just feel better.

3.  Build Relationships

As strange as it might sound, relationships will be formed from this experience.  Those who see each other each day while waiting in the traffic jams, or perhaps those that are now Tweeting messages around challenges or their experiences, or even meeting people on the bus.  Who knows, maybe there will be wedding bells as a result of the bridge construction.  @Westmorlandbridge, please let us know if wedding bells are in the air.

4.  Stay Positive

In keeping with all of the above, staying positive and finding something good in an experience is just good for you mentally.  So, even though there are still 62 days to go, each day that passes, is one less day in the future.

So, have fun Freddy Beachers and follow your very own Westmorland Street Bridge Twitter handle to get your daily dose of humour while traveling to and from work. But of course, your passenger will Tweet for you and share the stories with you…cause it’s still illegal to use a mobile device while in the drivers’ seat.

 

 

How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

How to Get More out of Twitter in 9 Easy Steps

Want to learn even more? Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

How You Tell Your Prospects, Customers Stakeholders You Don’t Care About Them

Whether you work for a small business owner, a start-up, a not-for-profit or even a college or university, building and sustaining relationships is very important to your bottom line.  With government agencies, there is an expectation that you regularly communicate with your tax payers and stakeholders to keep them informed.  So, why is it is that so many of you continue to tell your prospects, customers, tax payers, etc. that you don’t care about them?  

What Not to Do

With one simple gesture you say a lot in terms of what you think about the people who are the most important to you and your sustainability. The worse part is that it is totally avoidable.  That simple gesture?  Start unfollowing them on Twitter.Unfollowing = no relationship

Case Study

I was recently working with a client, we will call them “M” and I was doing some follow-up training and training some new staff.  As I was preparing to start the session, there was a conversation going on about what one of the new staffers was doing “to fix their Twitter” account.  I listened with a lot of interest as I had not only originally helped them develop their strategy for using Twitter, but was now there to train the new staffers on how to use various management tools to make their lives easier when communicating via their social channels.  The fix?  Well, the fix was one of the worst things, in my opinion, that you can do.  The staffer was unfollowing every single one of their Twitter followers.  It was his opinion that there was no value having their Tweets come up in the organizations stream and it was a complete waste space and time.

My jaw dropped.  This client had worked very hard to build relationships with its stakeholders and actually create a community.  They had actually done a really good job.  All that good work was just about to go up in smoke.  The new staffers didn’t understand the nature of social media for business.  The new staffers didn’t consult with anyone and decided to treat their organization’s social media like it was their own personal channel.  I quickly considered  how I was going to address this.  Because I had worked with this client from the beginning and helped them develop their social strategy, policy and tactics, I knew how important it was for them.  Additionally, and this is very important, because of the nature of their business they had now exposed themselves to a great deal of public criticism.  Their community would not take kindly to this public dismissal.

I had to act quickly.  I asked them to stop what they were doing immediately and enquired how many people/brands they had already unfollowed – the answer:  296.  I then said, o.k. we are going to do our training a little differently than what was planned.

They of course didn’t realize the ramifications of what they were doing.  They assumed that once you use social media, its all the same.  They thought that how they do things with their own personal profiles and channels was the same in the business environment.  It is not of course the same.

The Fix

So, what are the easy ways to avoid this?  What are the ways to fix the situation?  Here are some easy tips:

1. Train Employees BEFORE Allowing them to be the Voice of Your Brand

This could have been easily avoided with up front training.  Not only do people need to understand social media and how to use it, but more importantly they need to understand your business, your brand value and how your brand operates.

Unfollowing is an easy mistake to make.  We all make assumptions. In this case, a potentially serious mistake.  It actually didn’t take long for some of their stakeholders to Tweet “Well, M just unfollowed me.  I guess they don’t need my support after all.”  We fixed this right away, by refollowing everyone and apologizing for the error.Say Yes to Social Media Relationships

2.  Understanding the Social Nature of Social Media

Despite social media being more than a decade old now, many companies continue to treat it as just another traditional tool and/or tactic with the very focus of push communications.  They fail to understand that there is a relationship that you need to build.  It is about building trust, having interest in each other and communicating with each other.  It is about sharing each other’s information. It is about being social.

3.  Remember Your Prospects and Customers Are Human Beings

This seems like a no brainer, but it is a conversation that I have with some clients more often than not.  In the case of M, the staffers weren’t thinking about the people on the other side of the Twitter handle.  They thought of them just as a handle.  They didn’t think about the message that was being sent.

In the training I delivered that day, we looked at real examples of brands that they were connected with and how they would feel if suddenly they were unfollowed.  Between that conversation and the Tweets that started to come in from stakeholders, they quickly realized that they needed to better understand social media for business and just how easy it is to send the wrong message.

Thankfully we caught and fixed this one right away.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

3 Quick & Easy Tips to Freshen Your Social Media Profiles for Spring

Think Spring cleaning is just for your home?  Think again.  Our social media profiles, whether personal or for our brands can also use a freshening.  Here are 3 tips to freshen up your social media profiles:

Updating Your Social Media Profiles - Image of TaylorMade Solutions

Updating Your Social Media Profiles – Image of TaylorMade Solutions

1.  Update Your Avatars (Profile Pics)

This should be the most obvious on the list.  When was the last time that you updated your social media profiles pics?  If you still are using the “egg” for your profile pic on Twitter, it is time to crack that habit and lay the groundwork for a professional pic that enables people to recognize you.

The same goes for outdated pics across all channels.  If you are using a picture for LinkedIn from your first day on the job and that was five years ago, it’s time to update!  If people can’t recognize you by your avatar, then your impacting your personal brand.

For corporate brands, has your logo changed?  Are you using an image that is now outdated?  Shake it up and update asap!

2.  Update Your Bio

Like your photo, a lot can change over a year or a few years.  It’s time to wipe the cobwebs off of your outdated profile.  Hobbies changed?  New job?  New blog?  Remember to add the appropriate keywords for what you now do.

The same goes for corporate “About” pages, etc.  While your core business may not have changed, business terms and keywords do change.  Make sure that  you are putting your best foot forward by freshening up your corporate information and reflecting current business strategies and tactics.

3.  Create or Eliminate

Equally important for personal and corporate brands, if you are not listening and engaging with your audience in the right channels, then find out what channels you need to be a part of and carefully determine if it makes sense for you to be in that space as well. If you find that your audience (customers, prospects and competitors) are all in that space and you are not, then you are likely loosing out.

The same goes for channels that no longer work for your audience.  If you have found that you are spending  time and money in a channel that is getting zero engagement due to the fact that your audience is longer present, it’s time to re-evaluate.  If it is no longer working, exercise judgement and eliminate this time waster.  Focus on channels that net results:  leads, conversions and sales.

Looking for some additional tips for setting up your profiles in order to meet best practices?  Check out these resource for LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Want to learn more?  Sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

Don’t Be Stupid: Social Media Can Get You Fired

It’s time to grow up and face the fact that social media, or what you say in social media channels specifically, can get you fired.  This is a message that I “try” to get across to University students and professionals that I coach on best practices for social media, PR and media relations.   Unfortunately not enough practitioners focus on this message!

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 1.07.50 PM

The now infamous Tweet

If there is one thing that we can take away from 2013, it is the fact that using social media can get you in trouble if not careful.  In the first quarter of the year we saw what many deemed a “shit-show-in-progress”  when Adria Richards, was attending a developer conference and not only tweeted about being offended by sexists comments made by two male attendees, but tweeted a picture of the offenders. Long story short, plus you can read the story in the link provided, the two men making the comments were fired, as was Adria.  There are many lessons to be learned from these events and some to be taken very seriously, but I will save those for another blog post.  The focus of this post is that a single Tweet can cause an avalanche that can’t be stopped.

Let’s look at the latest Tweet fiasco.  If you haven’t heard about Justine Sacco, I don’t know where you have been.  Her now infamous Tweet and her actual Twitter account have been deleted. In fact, it has been reported that she has deleted or suspended all of her social accounts.  Despite this, the now infamous Tweet lives on.  Did Sacco make a mistake?  The obvious answer is yes.  The court of public opinion has ruled on that.  Her one Tweet resulted in her being publicly called out, humiliated, fired and her social accounts taken over by people around the globe calling for action, some even threatening her. Did she deserve to be threatened?  No. She did not.  Should she have known better?  The answer is yes.  She was the Director of PR for a pretty well known company.  I am sure that this holiday season is taking on a whole new period of reflexion for her.  She has lost her job.  She had to shut down all her social accounts.  She is infamous.  She has had to publicly apologize for her error in judgement.  Despite her apology, people continue to Tweet to her and about her.  The Tweets are less than kind.

Screen Shot 2013-12-23 at 1.37.55 PM

A Tweet AFTER the apology from Sacco

When coaching clients I hope to help them understand that social media is public.  You may only have a small number of followers or friends on social, but the fact of the matter is that it is public. Sacco apparently only had a few hundred followers.  She clearly didn’t think about the worldwide impact that 12 words would have.

The key take away from these actions is quite simple:  when you share your thoughts in social media, you are “publicly” sharing information.  What you might think is funny or light-hearted or even informative could actually be offensive and perceived as insensitive and hateful.   Before hitting “send”, “share” or “Tweet”, pause and reflect.  Think about what “could” happen.

Now the questions is:  Do you feel sorry for Justine Sacco?  Why or why not?

3 Tips to Fix Your #Failed Mobile Marketing

According to a 2013 Pew Internet study, 56% of Americans own a smart phone and 35% own a tablet.  Research from Canalys earlier this year predicted that tablet sales would increase by 59% this year.  In fact in Q3 of 2013, over a quarter of a billion units shipped worldwide.  So getting your mobile strategy right has never been more important for sales.  The C-suite no longer accepts applying outdated tactics that net poor results. (Please Click to Tweet So, here are 3 easy tips to fix your mobile marketing and sales now:

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

Image courtesy of businesstocommunity.com

 1.  Understand that Most Mobile Device Use is Not Really Mobile

That’s right, the biggest mistake that marketers are making is NOT understanding how people are using their devices.  A joint study released by AOL and BBDO revealed that 68% consumer mobile phone use occurred at home.  Yes, they are using their devices at home!

Marketers need to have a two-pronged approach to reach the ‘at home market’ and the ‘on-the-go market.’  They have different needs.   There is an added level of complexity when understanding the use of tablets versus smart phones.  Marketers who succeed in mobile will be those who establish different strategies and tactics for each.

2.  Mobile Phone Use Does Not Equal Tablet Use

According to Pew, the demographics for those using tablets most include:

  • Those living in households earning at least $75,000 per year (56%), compared with lower income brackets
  • Adults ages 35-44 (49%), compared with younger and older adults
  • College graduates (49%), compared with adults with lower levels of education

In order to effectively reach tablet and smart phone users requires different approaches, particularly when it comes to advertising.  It is not a one size fits all approach.

3.  Advertising on Mobile?  Know Thy Device!

If you are still using the old “push” model of broadcasting messages in your  advertising, you are likely failing.

Marketers need to focus on micro-targeted “pull” campaigns that effectively result in the customer accepting messages. In addition to pull, Marketers need to forget banner ads.  While somewhat annoying to computer users, they are even less welcome on mobile.  They just aren’t scalable to mobile and therefore completely ineffective.

Finally it is important to know that those succeeding in the mobile market and netting sales have built relationships with customers.  Through these relationships, they have learned customer  preferences, including real-time location information.  They offer deals that result in real sales.  Starbucks for example leveraged mobile by offering a $5 credit to those who joined My Starbucks Rewards program.  This resulted in more than 500,000 downloads of the mobile app in its two-week trial period.

Take-Away Lessons:  

  1. Don’t push information.  Pull Information through offering something up to your customer or prospect.  What are the chances that someone who redeemed that $5 spent more than the credit allotted to him or her?  Probably pretty good.
  2. Understand how customers are using different devices and use appropriate tactics.
  3. Don’t annoy prospects and customers with annoying banner ads on mobile.  Be creative and delight your customers with real offerings to PULL them into your store or location.

If people thought that social media changed everything, mobile is like living inside a snow globe that someone continually shakes.  What changes are you making to your mobile strategy to accommodate for this different world?

5 Ways Small Business Can Leverage Social Media for Real-time Market Research

As a small business owner and a professional Marketing and Communications Practitioner, I know the value of market research.  When I worked for large organizations, we often hired agencies to provide specialized research services. However, we smaller business owners just don’t have the luxury of the big budgets that the larger organizations enjoy.   We also don’t have a lot of spare time.  So, I wanted to share 5 really easy ways that small business can leverage social media for real-time market research:

Image

1.  Maximize your membership in existing groups like Facebook, Linkedin and blogs to gain valuable insight into what topics are hot. By being an active listener you can find emerging themes.  You can learn quickly what, if any, conversations taking place about your brand.

For example, if you own a restaurant you can learn about trends that are happening in food preferences.  If your customers and/or target market are discussing local organic foods as being important, you could start promoting the local fare that you have on your menu.  Alternatively, there might be an event – perhaps a beer festival – that you would want to promote and create a menu pairing for the various types of beer being featured at the festival.

2.  Use Twitter Lists to organize key stakeholders, customers and Influencers.  Using lists saves time when you want to focus on specific information and/or people.

For example, if there is a specific vertical that you want to penetrate, make a list and add the people you see Tweeting on the topic. You can then easily learn who is in that space.

3. Conduct Facebook surveys to reach out to your followers and ask them specific questions — keep the same questions so that you have consistent data. One of the benefits of doing this type of research versus a focus group is that neither the facilitator nor any other members of the focus group will unintentionally influence the participants. You can have your survey be anonymous or with a customer name attached to it.

For example, if you are uncertain about carrying a new product, you can ask your community.  You can develop a simple questionnaire that you can send to all your followers/subscribers or those who have “Liked” your Brand Page.  By reaching out to your customers you are demonstrating that their opinion matters.  You are getting a first-hand account of what they think about the product.

For more information on how to set up your survey, visit Facebook’s survey page.

4. Use Pinterest to determine what photos are being pinned from your website.  This can be an invaluable tool. Learn what is popular and by default, what is not.  Learn what is resonating with your customers through your visuals.

It is quite easy to do: simply go to your browser and type:  http://pinterest.com/source/YOURWEBSITEHERE.com/.

5. Use Twitter Hashtags to search and track relevant conversations.  You can use hashtags to monitor conversations about competitors, different product lines, events and more.  You can use existing hashtags or set up your own.  They are simple to use.

For example, if you are hosting a user-group and you want to know what the buzz is both leading up to and during the event, you could create a hashtag specific to your event.  Once you do this, be sure to share it with your organizers, sponsors, delegates, etc.  It could be as simple as #CustomerSpeak2014.  By simply searching your event hashtag, you can monitor all the chatter.  If you notice a problem emerging, you can be proactive and take action.  You can then share the solution using the hashtag, letting your delegates know that you were listening.  You can also use the hashtag to monitor post-event conversations and use that intelligence for lessons-learned.

These are just five examples of how you can use social media for real-time market research.  What are some other channels that you use and what have been your results?

7 Reasons to Use Twitter

People Ask Me:  What Social Network Should I Use?

Which network or networks should I choose?  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+?  By far this is the question that I am asked the most, and understandably so.  It can be quite daunting to look at all the different networks, existing and emerging, and wonder which one should I use. 

Let’s start by looking at Twitter. 

So, who is using Twitter anyway?  Well, the data would say that a lot of people from different backgrounds are using Twitter.  There are over 500 million active users generating more than 340 million tweets daily.  (Thanks Wikipedia).  Everyone from kids, to actors, to politicians are on Twitter.  It is used for both personal and professional communications.  However, let’s break that down a bit more. 

According to information from mediabistro.com, more women than men are using Twitter.  I have to confess that this tidbit surprised me.  Not surprising however, is that people between the ages of 25-54 when combined make up the largest group of users.   Twitter has typically attracted an older demographic, although Facebook has seen a shift in the last few years to users over 55 jumping on that channel to communicate, but I digress.  We will look at Facebook next time.

Image

Here are  just 7 reasons to use Twitter and if you like communicating in 140 characters, it might just be for you:

1.  Networking –  What a great way to connect with people that have similar interests as you.  Perhaps it is based on wanting to meet people and learn from them about a hobby or your chosen profession.

2.  Research – Whether you are researching your next Smartphone or doing market research, Twitter can yield great results.

3.  News – You are a news junkie and want the latest and greatest coming at you all the time and as it happens in succinct messages.

4.  Job Hunting – Whether you are looking for an employee or looking to be hired, you can use Twitter to gather a lot of intelligence.  Employers for example, often tweet about open positions.

5.  Customer Service – In our socially connected world, it can be a lot quicker and more efficient to initiate contact with a company through its Twitter handle.  Additionally, it can be a lot more convenient for you.

6.  Advice or Opinions – Looking for a good book to read? Or, want to know what camera they would buy if in the market?  Reach out to your network.  They are valuable resources.

7. Branding – Again, whether you are working on your personal branding plan or executing a branding plan for your employer, Twitter is an excellent tool for this purpose. 

This is really just scratching the surface when it comes to using this great communication tool.  If you are looking to write longer more detailed communications, other networks might be better for you.   Twitter is fast, efficient, entertaining and fun.  It is a great way to share information that is short and to the point. 

Need more advice?  Want to know how to get started and what you should Tweet?  Check out:  How Do I Know What to Tweet