Using social media to distract me from an incurable addiction to chocolate
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whatstrendingonTwitter-infographic

What do you think of videographics? You know…take the idea of an infographic but create it in video.

This one provides stats on Twitter users – what they tweet, when and why.

The video is well done. I like the incorporation of birds tweeting in the audio for added effect.

However, videographics aren’t a new phenomenon. These types of videos are shown at conferences all the time, then circulated via social media. (more…)

Twitter chats are a great way to connect and engage with others, especially if you are new to Twitter and looking to build your network.

Even if you are one of the seasoned Twitterati, these chats offer tremendous opportunity to make new connections and sustain existing relationships (you never know who you might know in a Twitter chat!)Twitter-Chat

For those of you who don’t know what a Twitter chat is, it’s basically a virtual meetup held on Twitter centred on a common subject. You follow the conversation via the hashtag for the chat.

Some of my favourites are #socialchat (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET, #tweetdiner (Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET) and #PR20chat (Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET). To be honest, I haven’t checked in to #PR20chat in a while but it’s not for lack of interest!

Pick a chat, any chat

There are tons more – these are the three that interest me the most. A really nice guy named Robert Swanwick created a Google doc that you can review to find a Twitter chat of interest – and to add your chat to should you decide to create one of your own.

You can use Twitter clients like TweetChat or TweetGrid to aggregate tweets related to the chat, which makes it easier to follow and respond to other participants. These clients also auto-tag your tweets with the right hashtag which is convenient since it ensures your tweet gets included in the chat stream without you having to remember to type it out.

Today I saw that Marissa Gagnier over at Thoughts of a Ninja already wrote a great post on Why you should attend a Twitter chat. Marissa also outlines her favourite chats (thanks Marissa, I’m going to check those out!) and some of the benefits brands can get from participating. Emphasis on the word participate:

I think there is a lot of potential here for brands to really connect with their customers. Not only will they gain followers on Twitter, but more importantly – you can have real, meaningful conversations with people around a common theme.

This is great advice for brands and a reminder that social media is about engagement, not broadcasting/selling how great your product/service is – at least not all the time.

Do it! Do it! Do it! (seriously, how can you resist the Do it! chant?)

So in kindred spirit to Marissa’s post, I offer five reasons you should participate in a Twitter chat of your choosing:

1. Networking
Twitter chats are a great way to find new people to follow on Twitter, especially since you have a shared interest in common! It also enables people to discover you – which can help you build a following.

And since it is the quality of your followers – not the quantity – that is important, Twitter chats helps you to connect with others in ways that are relevant and meaningful.

Relevance = the secret sauce of social media success!

secret-sauce

Also, be sure to follow up with participants after the chat to sustain the connection.

2. Learning & Sharing
Twitter chats enable you to debate, question and share ideas with others who are passionate about the same topic as you! So dive in and comment. A lot.

Don’t be shy. If you have a question or don’t understand – speak up! Chances are someone else in the chat wants the answer too.

p.s.: Often Twitter chats include a series of questions (Q1, Q2, Q3 etc.) that the host shares, along with the Twitter chat hashtag. You then respond with A1, A2, etc and the associated hashtag. Word of advice: when disagreeing with someone’s opinion in a Twitter chat, be polite or you’ll quickly find yourself ignored or blocked.

3. Build your personal brand
Twitter chats are a great way to demonstrate your expertise and build awareness. Reasons 1 and 2 are how you do it. Nuff said.

4. Gain story ideas
Twitter chats can be another source of inspiration for your next blog post, video, podcast, etc. Whether it’s varying points of view, a great quote or a new perspective on your subject of interest, Twitter chats can have you swimming in content generating heaven!

5. They’re fun!
It doesn’t matter if it’s online or face to face, when you get together with people who share the same interest as you, it’s fun! Twitter chats usually last 1 hour and you won’t believe how the time flies!

So there you have it. My five reasons you should join in on a Twitter chat. There is some Twitter chat etiquette that I should point you to. Nothing too dreary – just a few points to make the experience enjoyable for you and everyone else.

Now spill…what Twitter chats do you participate in? If you don’t currently participate in a Twitter chat…is your interest piqued? 

*#TwChat image via Robert Swanwick | Secret sauce image via Crowded Ocean

As a member of the American Marketing Association, I belong to a special interest group (SIG) focused on all things related to marketing strategy. On Friday, a fellow SIG member posted a question he had about creating a Facebook fan page.

What he was looking for was advice on how to go about promoting his company on Facebook, the relative pros and cons of doing so and what first steps he should take. What he was looking for was advice on creating a social media strategy.

Since social media is still new to many marketers and companies out there, I’m going to share via this post the suggestions I gave to my fellow SIG member.

1) Know thy objective
The first thing to think about when implementing a social marketing strategy/campaign is the objective. What do you want to get out of the initiative? What does success look like? How will it tie back to your corporate objectives?

2) Know thy audience
Take a good look at the audience you want to target, and where they are building conversations online. e.g. no sense building a Facebook fan page if your audience doesn’t use Facebook.

A good approach when trying out social technologies for the first time (as a corporate communciations strategy) is to go where your target audience is and engage them the same way they use these technologies themselves.

e.g. if they blog – comment on their blog posts and link back to your own blog. If they participate in forums, contribute to the conversation there.

3) Value is as value does
Consider the value you are bringing to the audience. Don’t engage them to just to talk about your business. Be sure you are contributing valuable/educational info that makes your audience want to keep engaging with you. the value you bring to the conversations taking place online will help you to earn trust and credibility.

4) Be committed
Building up dialogue using social technologies can take time. You need to continually be adding to the conversation on a regular basis otherwise you’ll lose momentum and interest will taper off. You should be actively communicating via your chosen social media channel a minimum of three times a week. If that’s too much, try to be as consistent as possible.

A key to success that I’ve found in implementing corporate social media strategies is to find people within your organization who want to engage your customers, your partners, etc. online. It doesn’t have to be the marketing or PR-Communications person doing it all.

Find the person or people within your organization who have the knowledge/information your audience will care about. It’s helpful if this kind of activity is something they want to do. It also helps if it’s part of their job function. :)

5) Be authentic
People will spot a phony a mile away. If you misrepresent yourself or your company online, the backlash will be harsh and unrelenting. You only need to read about the Walmart blogging fiasco or the Whole Foods astroturfing fiasco to see why. (See wikipedia for a definition of astroturfing). The point is: don’t misrepresent yourself and don’t lie. Ever.

6) Don’t be an island
Social media marketing should not be done in isolation. Consider how it can support other initiatives in your marketing mix.

7) Measure and adapt
Assess how your competitors or other companies similar to yours are using social tools, e.g. like a Facebook fan page. Is there something they are doing you can emulate or improve upon? Then benchmark what success looks like:

  • so many comments per week
  • quality of those comments
  • number of people who register to your community, fan page, forum, etc or subscribe to your RSS feed
  • what kinds of people are visiting? (demographic)
  • what other marketing initiatives drove traffic to this page?
  • what is the financial impact/outcome?
  • look at what people are saying elsewhere -not just on your Facebook fan page, blog, Twitter profile, etc.

Knowing your objective, knowing how your audience communicates using social media and being committed are the keys to your success.

The above is by no means a 360? view on how to implement a social media strategy, but I hope it provides the essence of where to begin. If you have further suggestions or comments on this topic, please share them via the comments section below.

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