Time-saving Tips from the Angels at HootSuite

Time-saving Tips from the Angels at HootSuite

Time-saving Tips? Sign me up!

Everybody’s busy.

Time-saving Tips
HootSuite Owl Van (Photo credit: Scott Beale)

Here are some time-saving tips from the angels at HootSuite. Everybody’s got a lot on their plate. Not to worry. HootSuite to the rescue, to help you manage all of those little social media bits and bobs that we all deal with, every day.

Make an Influencer List

Or just a list of important folks.  Or people who can help you succeed. Whatever you want to call it, use Twitter (or HootSuite itself), to separate the wheat from the chaff. If you’ve only got five minutes to look at your social media streams, populate this list with the people you absolutely, positively must read.

Curate Content and Auto-Schedule Using the Hootlet

It’s a little Chrome extension, and all you have to do is, click the owl, pull down on the drop-down to select the stream(s) you want to add the content to (just like in the full-blown version of HootSuite), modify the content if you wish, and either schedule manually or click schedule or Auto-Schedule.

Frankly, I’m having trouble envisioning how HootSuite could make it any easier.

Add Content at the Right Time for the Right Network

HootSuite says this so well that I’ll just quote it in its entirety –

Consider planning your posting to meet these times. For Google+ the highest engagement comes from 9-11 a.m., so maybe you can connect with a follower during breakfast. For Twitter it’s 1-3 p.m. and for Facebook it’s 1-4 p.m., perfect times to engage one or two users during your lunch break. For Pinterest it’s 8-11 p.m., and Instagram 5-6 p.m. —after work hours when you can likely spare a few minutes to interact with your following. When you don’t have time to use social media while you work, it helps to fit it in during quick breaks.”

I would add, make sure to keep these times in mind when auto-scheduling.

Share and Repurpose Great Content

This is what I’m doing right now!  In his great book, Optimize, Lee Odden advises, in Chapter 9, to adopt an “Oreo Cookie Tactic”.  That is, take content and add your own introduction and conclusion, with the content placed in between and properly attributed, of course (see page 118).

I love this tactic, not only because it is an easier way to add content (particularly when inspiration is harder to come by), but also because it promotes the Rule of Thirds, e. g. one-third of social media content should be about the content creator’s wisdom being imparted, one-third should be the content creator’s personality, and the final third should be the promotion of others’ content.

Evan Page has written an excellent article and I highly recommend that you read the original source material as well. His Time-saving Tips never seem to go out of style.

Community Management Tidbits – From Small Things

Community Management Tidbits – From Small Things

Small Things – Every forum starts out small. Getting started is one thing. How do you get big?

Social Media Influence - Small Things
Social Media Influence (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

The secrets to getting big go hand in hand with those for getting started: Search Engine Optimization and content.

SEO

Let’s start with SEO. If you haven’t checked your keywords in three months, check them now. Compare to your competitors, and check Google Adwords. Consider changing up your keywords for a while and see if you can draw more traffic.

The basic principles of offsite SEO apply: get your site listed on other sites which are more popular. Also, consider article marketing (if appropriate) and blogging. Perhaps some of your best content can be repurposed as articles or blog entries. Ask the creator(s) of that content for their permission (even if your Terms of Service say that you own all posts, this is courteous) and update and repackage the content. Articles are a great way to generate interest in your site so long as you add your URL into the “About the Author” section. And make it clear that you allow reprint rights only so long as the article remains completely intact, including the aforementioned “About the Author” section.

Blogging

One good blog deserves another. If you want to see if your better content can be presented on others’ blogs, why not create your own site blog? So at the absolute minimum, you can use it to inform your users of site changes and planned outages. But you can use it for a whole lot more. Because you can showcase and expand better content, announce contests and promotions, and keep important site information front and center. Plus, if you add a blog, you can again make the rounds of basic social media bookmarking sites like Reddit and Stumbleupon. Add another one to your bag of tricks: Technorati, which is a site that, among other things, lists blogs.

Add an RSS feed if you have not already. You can feed it into Twitter and Facebook using a promotional site like HootSuite.

Facebook

Create a Facebook fan page and, at minimum, populate it with the RSS feed. And also use it to assure users if your site goes down, particularly for unexpected outages. Such an outage can make some users nervous. Facebook (and Twitter, too) can be a means by which you reassure them.

Site Redesign

Another area where you might be able to better grow your user base is with some site redesign. Be careful with this as a community can often take (frequently somewhat unfounded) proprietary interest in the site’s look and feel. One way you can ease users into a change is by telling them (don’t ask for permission) that you’re going to be testing some site changes. Consider using A/B testing and compare a few different versions and see which one works better.

Simplified Registration

Consider simplifying your registration process, if you can, and embrace user-centered design. You still want to use a captcha code and you still want to have your members sign up with a real, usable email address.

But look at your process and see if there are any unnecessary hurdles. Are you asking for something like a potential user’s middle name or home city? Isn’t that kind of useless (and many users would feel that the home city information would be excessively intrusive)? Jettison the question and your registrations might increase. Since you’re tinkering with the signup process and not the overall look and feel of the site, your regular membership might not take so much of a proprietary interest. They might not even notice.

Analysis

Check your metrics. Small daily changes are not going to matter too much. But if you’ve got a continuing decline over time, or if membership is staying the same and not really increasing much, you may need to take action. To grow your site, you need to continue to promote fundamental principles: improve your site design and test it; take care to add and promote good, keyword-rich content; and continue good onsite and offsite SEO practices. And be patient as small things become bigger ones. Most communities weren’t built in a day.

Next: Going from a collection of users to a true community

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Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (offsite connections)

Offsite connections. Because Twitter is so bare bones, any number of applications have

offsite connections
Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

sprung up around it in order to help you manage it and become as great as you can be. Try Twellow (many thanks to Bobbie Carlton for this particular tip).

This is essentially the Yellow Pages of Twitter. Put your company name here. You’ll have a bit more space to describe your site versus what Twitter gives you, so use that space wisely. Since most of the people checking you out on Twellow are also going to search for you on Twitter (probably after seeing your Twellow profile), make sure that your information is supportive and bolstering, but not redundant vis a vis your Twitter profile.

Another idea is CrowdLens, my friend Nick Ashley’s app. CrowdLens is designed to help remove redundancy (all that retweeting!) from your Twitter stream. CrowdLens can sometimes be slow. Here are some more sites to check out:

  • Social Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) – time tweets and gather simple metrics on shortened urls. You can set up more than one account this way.
  • HootSuite – a tweet scheduling service whereby you can track stats and import your lists.
  • Tweet Stats – a graph of, among other things, daily aggregate tweets, your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet.
  • Idek – a url-shortening service that tracks metrics.
  • Twitter Reach – exposure and reach information, such as impressions and mentionings of any topic, word, phrase, userid or hashtag.

As Twitter continues to mature as a business tool, I predict that more and more of these off-site services will spring up. The most successful one will, in my opinion, combine the best features of all, coupled with ease of use and an ability to show trends over time.

offsite connections

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Almost Everything But the Tweet – Conquering Twitter (metrics and timing)

Metrics and timing. When you tweet may not seem to matter too much. In particular, if you don’t tweet too terribly often, your tweets will still be out there, so why bother to even care about timing?

metrics and timing

Not so fast.

Patterns

According to The Science of Retweets, Twitter users tend to follow some recognizable patterns. First thing Monday morning is prime time for retweeting; so is five o’clock on a Friday afternoon. And that makes sense, as tweeters are either settling into the work week or are just about to start the weekend. Weekend tweeting is another animal as well. Noon is another good time for retweeting — people are at lunch or are about to go.

Plus there’s also the matter of accounts (often for job sites) that pump out a good dozen tweets, one right after another. These have little individual impact and seem only to be useful for later searching.

Timed tweeting seems almost counterintuitive. But for a business to use Twitter effectively, the tweets should be planned anyway. Why not plan not only their content but also their timing?

Scheduling Software

Here’s where services like Tweet DeckSocial Oomph (formerly Tweet Later) and HootSuite can provide some assistance. By scheduling the most important tweets for the very start and end (and middle) of each business day, you can add to their impact. Separating out your tweets can also get them all out there while simultaneously preventing a flood of tweets which many users are generally just going to ignore.

Another positive upshot to spacing out your tweets is giving you content that can be used later. For Social Media platforms, it’s easy to initially attack them with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and then taper off or even fizzle out entirely. If you regularly spit out twenty tweets per day, you’ll be tweeting 100 times during any given work week. Even your most dedicated followers are probably not going to read every single one. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for burnout.

Time Zone Scheduling

Instead, how about scheduling only two tweets per day (say, at 9:00 and 5:00 PM in the time zone where you have the greatest market share)? That way, you’ll have more people reading and no one will feel overwhelmed. Plus your 100 tweets will work for a little over a month or even two, if you are judicious and don’t tweet on the weekends.

So long as your tweets aren’t intimately tied to a specific time (e. g. announcements of an upcoming event), it shouldn’t matter. And, if they are, you might want to consider splitting them over several Twitter accounts. Perhaps open up one for just events in Seattle, for example.

Now, what about metrics?

URLs

Unfortunately, Twitter itself doesn’t do much, so you’ll have to cobble things together yourself and use off-Twitter resources. One idea is to use a URL-shortening service that tracks basic metrics, such as Social Oomph or Idek. You may not get much more data from them than click count, but it’s still something. Hoot Suite provides .owly link metrics, with two free reports.

Another idea is to use a unique URL for the site URL in your profile, say, http://yoursite.com/twitter. If you’ve got Google Analytics set up, you can track when that page is used for landings to your site, and its bounce rate. For commercial ventures, you might even make up a coupon code and tweet about it, or use your Twitter landing page as a means of communicating certain special offers available only to Twitter users.

Follower/Following Ratio

Your number of followers, and the ratio of followers to who youfollow, is all well and good, but it’s hard to say what you’re measuring. On Twitter, as on much of the web, popularity tends to breed even more popularity. And, it doesn’t really mean much if you have a number of purely spammy sites following you. They aren’t reading your tweets, anyway, so what’s the point?

This dilutes any idea of what these numbers might provide regarding influence, but if for some reason you really want to be followed by a bunch of spammers, just place the term weight loss into your profile and never block the spammers. In fact, follow them back, and you can get even more of them.

It hardly seems a worthwhile trophy to be followed by the biggest-ever village of spammers, eh?

Some Metrics

Some sites, such as Audiense, show number of followers and their influence and activity. You can see which inactive people you follow (so you can drop them), which famous people follow you, etc. Some of these are admittedly vanity metrics, but they are helpful.

Tweet Stats demonstrates, among other things, a graph of daily aggregate tweets. And it also contains your most popular hours to tweet and who you retweet. Twitter Reach reveals exposure and reach. E. g. this means impressions and mentions of any topic, be it a word, a phrase, a userid or a hashtag.

In conclusion, keep up with Twitter, but don’t overwhelm your followers with floods of content, and measure your influence as well as you can, both using your own and external tools. If you can adjust your tweets to better serve your followers, your true influence will surely rise.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

With the end of my first Social Media class came a request for our overall impressions of how things went. Hence, I prepared Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522.

Quinnipiac Assignment #15 – Reflections about ICM 522

My classmates and I were also tasked with showcasing what we felt was our best work.

I was so very pleased that I had a few works to choose from, but I narrowed my choices down in order to save some space.

My reflections essay included comments about the video and essay portions of Module #4, Module #9, Module #10, Module #11,  and my Final Project; that video is duplicated below.

Module Four was about the Ad Astra Star Trek fan fiction writing community. Module Nine was about the Facebook page that my partner, Kim Scroggins, and I created for our ‘client’, the as-yet undiscovered Rhode Island rock band, J-Krak. Module Ten was about the creation and growth of the Twitter stream that we made for J-Krak. And Module Eleven was all about our less than successful experiments in spreading the gospel of J-Krak to MySpace and Google+ (the former was a particularly abysmal showing. At least our client’s presence on Google+ assured better placement in overall search results).

The class was great fun, and I could not get enough of studying for it. I have never, ever had a course like this before, where I was so into it that I could not wait to study, and I did all of the extra credit because I wanted to, and not because I necessarily needed to. That has never, ever been my experience with a class before this one. This overwhelmingly positive experience has given me the incentive to not only finish my Social Media Certification training, but I am also rather seriously considering going on and getting my Masters’ Degree in Communications, with a concentration in Social Media.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #14 – Final Project ICM 522

Final Project ICM 522

These videos together comprised our final project for Quinnipiac’s Social Media Platforms class, ICM 522.

Final Project ICM 522

At this point in time, I have a short break before starting ICM 524, which is the Analytics class. I am taking it with the same instructor, Professor Eleanor Hong.

In the meantime, here are our project videos.

My partner, Kim Scroggins, went first. I would love it if you could take the time and watch her video, too. We were a true team and really enjoyed working together.

And now here’s my half of the presentation. One of the things that I made absolutely sure of doing was to thank my partner. This was absolutely a team effort and it would have turned out far differently if we had not gotten along as well as we did.

We went over our general experiences with J-Krak and the many social media platforms we tried. We made every effort, I feel, to engage our audience and garner buzz and attention for our ‘client’. We set ourselves up for a rather difficult task, which was to try to get a small measure of fame for a rock band that was not even online in any way, shape, or form when we first started this project.

MySpace was recalled as a failed experiment. Google+, for the most part, was a failed experiment in engagement, but it did help us with improving our search engine optimization efforts. Twitter and our blog were somewhat in the middle. Twitter worked out fairly well as we were able to join the overall conversation. However, the number of our followers remained fewer than the number of people we were following. The blog had an ever-increasing number of followers, but we received few comments. Our best social media platform? Spoiler alert – it was Facebook.

Thanks for watching! Next week, I’ll post my impressions of the class overall.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #11 – J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

My partner and I certainly never intended to create two separate new platform presences for our project. However, it turned out that way. We just didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter as our first choice took a spectacular nosedive.

J-Krak on MySpace

Oh, God. MySpace.  We tried. I swear, we tried. But it felt like a waste of time from the get-go.

J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

The board flashes and zips by, but there are nearly no instructions as to how to use it. Search is little help – you can locate people by city, gender, and music genre. And that’s it.

J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

I could not find (confirmed) professional DJs, but I could sure as hell find professional escort services.

Engagement was virtually nonexistent. And this wasn’t just true about a tiny outfit such as ours.  Britney Spears, God love her,  has a million and a half incoming connections but, since she doesn’t have to connect back, her outgoing connections list is considerably smaller. There are comments on her profile by fans, but she and her marketing team don’t seem to answer them.

Perhaps the most telling piece of information about the Britney Spears page on MySpace is that it seems to have last been updated last December. You know, five months ago.

J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

Hit Me Baby, One More Time?

Don’t you have to hit MySpace once, first?

Like the shiny wasteland that it is, Britney seems to be leaving MySpace in her rear view.

And so did we.

J-Krak on Google+

J-Krak on MySpace and Google+

On Google+, it was easy to set up a band page and make it look good.

While we still need to add music, the look and feel of the page are already there.

Even better is the fact that posts can be scheduled in HootSuite, a capability that is missing from MySpace.

It’s too early to really get meaningful metrics, but we’re trying!

Stay tuned.

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Quinnipiac Assignment #10 – J-Krak Twitter Stream

J-Krak Twitter Stream

In order to enhance our online reach, my partner and I created a Twitter account for our project.  This was our assignment, to create a J-Krak Twitter stream.

J-Krak Twitter Stream

At the same time, I also took advantage of the offer of free HootSuite University and became qualified as a HootSuite Certified Professional!

J-Krak Twitter Stream
HootSuite Certified Professional
J-Krak Twitter Stream
KrakHeads logo

As for my own personal growth, I had until recently just not cared for HootSuite. The idea of streams had just not made sense to me, for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social networking site. Now, I can see that it is finally clicking.  I will most likely start filtering a lot more through it, even after the course has concluded.

One of the most difficult aspects of social media marketing is all of the monitoring that, by necessity, has to go on. With HootSuite, though, the monitoring of any number of social networking sites is a lot easier. For the gift of time (and maybe some sanity), I’ve really got to thank HootSuite.

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