Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twitter for Beginners - Set Up and Proper Use for Small Business





Twitter is a great way to get your feet wet using social networking. You can literally have a FREE account set up in minutes. However, using it wisely is a little more involved. This primer provides a quick guide to setting up an account, but really focuses upon using it wisely.
 
Setup

If you do not yet have a Twitter account, go to http://twitter.com/. You'll need to supply your real name, email, and a password. On the next screen you'll need to confirm the info plus supply an account name - 14 characters or less. We suggest you chose one reflective of your biz name or theme. Twitter will check its availability and you are ready to go! You should also add a small logo icon and short description for your account to your profile.


With Twitter, you can send messages (tweets) up to 140 characters in length. But before you send anything, you need someone to send them to (followers). Twitter will suggest people to follow or you can find them yourself. Try entering "Craft Site Medic" in the search box at the top of the page. You will see us listed with a "Follow" button next to the listing. This generates an email to us letting us know you are following us which allows us to follow you back. This will give you at least one follower who reads everyone of your tweets.

Following (Important)

The general consensus is the more people you follow, the more will follow you back. So the game is on to follow thousands of people so thousands will follow you. The problem ... you can't realistically follow that many people and they can't either. So your tweets go unread by the vast majority.

More than likely, your ideal follower would be an existing customer or person who visited your web site. Try emailing customers asking them to follow you on Twitter. Place a link on your web site asking people to follow you. Include your Twitter account in your emails. You can also do a little spying on your competitors ... if they have a Twitter account, you can view their followers. However, they probably have already gotten into ther numbers game and you'll see a lot of "junk".

Before following anyone, look at their profile. You can do this by clicking their account name one time. Look to see when their last tweet was made. If it was three months ago, they are inactive. Did they make ten tweets in ten minutes and each was a "buy my stuff" sales pitch? They will be too busy spamming to read your tweets. Control the quality of your follows and followers.

Tweeting (Very Important)

Social networking is about engaging people interested in you or your business. It is not about broadcasting a sales message. Your tweets must be interesting or informative or helpful. It is a two-way system.

Your Twitter page will display the most recent tweets made by those you follow. Look at the updates. Most will be sales pitches from Hawkers saying "buy my stuff". The term "unfollow" comes to mind.

Do you see back-to-back-to-back tweets from the same person. I've seen up to 14 posts from one person in a three minute time span - all sales pitches. These are referred to as "Tweet Flooders". I personally try not to send more than two tweets back-to-back, and try to limit tweets to no more than once per 30 minutes.

Some people actually tweet too much. I saw one account which had sent 35,000 tweets. I looked at the latest updates, and she was sending automated tweets every 5 minutes, 288 per day, seven days a week, and had been for months. Now there would be tweets to keep you on the edge of your seat. Classic spamming. How much you tweet is surely subjective, but be smart and avoid broadcasting. Again, social networking is a two-way operation.

Try to engage your followers when tweeting. Consider this post: "I'm trying to decide between several prints to order for my shop - please help me decide. http://www.myshop.com/prints/".

We cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining the QUALITY of your follows, followers, and tweets.

Utilities

There are a number of tools and apps which can help you with Twitter. All of these must be given permission to access your account.

For example, there are interfaces or desktop apps like Hootsuite which allow you to monitor incoming tweets in real time without refreshing you browser window, provide an audio alert when a favorite site posts or you are retweeted (thank the retweeter!). They also allow you to schedule future tweets if you will be away, they can communicate with your smart phone, and you can even work with your Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. Slick! Check it out!


HootSuite - Social Media Dashboard

Just Unfollow is a free service which tells you who you follow that are not following you back. Unless its Justin Bieber, why follow someone if they won't follow you back.

Twitoria is a free service that tells you if you are following inactive accounts ... those who have not made any tweets in a long time so you can unfollow them.

Twuffer is a free service which lets you schedule tweets in the future. Used properly, this really can be a time saver as long as you don't get into broadcast mode. You still would need to check your account for any comments or replies.

If you have additional comments or suggestions, please post them here. This is a two-way blog.

Thanks!


Bob J
Craft Site Medic
 
  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are You Ready? Facebook Now Impacting Search Engine Results

Just how important is Facebook and the number of "Likes" you have for your web pages to your online business success? It became critical this week ...



Bing has just introduced a new feature where what you see for search results can depend upon the opinion of your Facebook friends. To put it another way, when your potential customers conduct a Bing search, the results they see will be impacted by what pages their friends "Liked". If you are not actively promoting people "Liking" your pages, you lose.
 
The fine print: Users must be logged into Bing and Facebook, and will be seen only if a user has opted to share content with "everyone." Bing claims the system will add a "trust" factor to the search results, but will not necessarily impact the actual keyword position of a web site. However, if two sites had an almost identical setup (keywords, link popularity, text, etc.), you can rest assured the tie will go to the site with more "Likes." Bing also indicated the system will not only consider the opinion of just your "friends", but, in some circumstances, the entire Facebook community.

Many believe this is only the start of search engines integrating social media into the search results.

Moral of the story ... now is the time to improve your Facebook "IQ". Focus on building your number of Likes. Research articles and guides on the subject. Try using Bing for the research ... maybe you'll see what your friends Liked!

The obvious first steps are to get "Like" buttons on your web pages, and to ACTIVELY encourage visitors to like your page, especially your Facebook Fan page.

Info on adding a Like button to your web pages:

Facebook Guide

Webmonkey  Guide

  
Further reference concerning the Bing - FB Like system:

Social Times article

HuffingtonPost article

Washington Post article