Archives for June 2013

Tweetadder 4.0 tip to avoid crashing or hanging

TweetAdder

Unclick the “Add Twitter Profile Images” box

There have been many complaints about TweetAdder 4.0 on Twitter. Whenever a large list is loaded, it seems to hang or crash.

When the box for “Load Twitter Profile Images” in >Settings is ticked, you don’t need to be a geek to work out that loading thousands of avatar images will slow the app down! Admittedly, this makes some Twitter users harder to recognise or identify but I have found that the app is very flaky when trying to load these images.

Here is some background: on April 6, 2012, Twitter launched a lawsuit against five services, one of which was Tweet Adder, claiming that the service violated Twitter’s spam policy by providing auto follows/unfollows.  Tweet Adder was the only service of the three to settle with Twitter and agree to provide alternative solutions. The result was TweetAdder 4.0, with significant changes from 3.0.

The primary issue Twitter had with Tweet Adder 3.0 was the app’s ability to enable Twitter users to follow and unfollow people automatically. Twitter states in their official Terms of Service that the only automated following they permit is automated follow-backs (automatically follow-back people who follow you). Tweet Adder, however, enabled users to set up ‘to follow’ lists, using a variety of customisable parameters and users could then set it up to follow these lists gradually over time.

I found this capability extremely useful. Whenever I found a good Twitter list (often containing hundreds of people sharing common interests with me) I would queue it up and then follow a modest amount of people every day. Then, if they didn’t follow me back after a few weeks, I would unfollow them. This allowed me to spend my time focusing on creating good content for my audience instead of sitting in front of my PC going “click, click, click” every day (or paying someone else to do it for me).

Despite TweetAdder 4.0 losing some of this automation, it hasn’t lost it all. It is still the most useful tool out there and can still be purchased for a one-off price of $55. There are plans to convert to a monthly subscription.

Switch off your content creation autopilot

Many actions in digital media are process-driven. Most mornings, I have a routine for getting my digital content to the most effective places online. We tend to work on autopilot, following several well-honed processes.

In everyday life, too, most of our behaviour is semi-automatic, without conscious analysis. This works well on a day-to-day level: we would never have time to think through every single decision consciously. On the other hand, if we want to change the results we get interacting with our environment, then we have to consciously choose many more of our actions.

Let’s look at this principle in a different environment. Take the most dangerous thing most of us do on a day-to-day basis – driving a car or motorbike.

I have recently done an advanced driving course and learned to become much safer on the road – for myself and those around me – by switching off my driving autopilot, a series of semi-automatic responses. I have improved my concentration, anticipation and hazard assessment. I have learned a systematic method of car control and a more conscious approach to driving, and my assessment of risks, that will serve me well in the years ahead.

Content creation

Find a contemplative “place” to create your content`

Digital content is important to most organisations. It is the footprint you leave online and the trail that allows people you want to interact with to find you: inbound marketing (communications), in other words.

It is vital that this content reflects your organisation and its uniqueness. It should tell your story, the ups (and downs), the struggle for excellence, the milestones. You should use emotion and not just dry facts and figures.

It is easy to get caught up in routine. Creating content is not a semi-automatic process. It needs your full attention and, like changing from a routine driver to an advanced driver, you need to learn new ways of expressing and unlocking the passion in your organisation.

So switch off the autopilot when you sit down to create content. Leave aside the references, the how-to-do-it handbooks. Pick the time of day when you are most energetic . Dig deep and surprise yourself…and us!

How micro-enterprises use digital marketing communications

Trying to make a presentation interactive is always a challenge. I gave a 4Sight (a 20 minute presentation) to the Stockport Group of 4Networking. The results were interesting, if not statistically significant.

I might have asked more questions, or different ones, but the results paint a reasonable picture of current practice in digital marketing communications.

Less than 10% of the audience had a digital marketing (communications) plan in place.

Over 60% had an e-newsletter sign-up form but only 15% claimed to be active in email marketing: how does that work? Nearly a third “planned to be active”. Three primary digital tools that smaller businesses can use to get quick results, email marketing, Google+ and a digital marketing plan were used by less than a fifth of the businesses present.

I would estimate that 90% of the audience ran business-to-business enterprises so the low figure for a Facebook Business Page is understandable. It seems to reflect an attitude that what small businesses do in their own time is separated from their business lives. If they work hours like I do, this just can’t be true. In many cases small business owners are their brands, in B2B, anyway. Facebook gets me results and my Digital Supremo Page is in its infancy. Don’t ignore Facebook.

Graph

Results of a recent survey of small businesses in the business-to-business sector

Less than a third of the audience used micro-content, mainly Twitter but we also included Instagram and Vine.

Just over a third were active bloggers, with a quarter planning to be active in blogging.

It is not surprising that micro-enterprises find it difficult to get results from digital marketing. Many of the tools are low-cost but it is time-consuming and it takes time, effort and skill to do it effectively.

The secret is that even the experts in marketing and social media  have been using these techniques for less than a decade.  New tools, networks, and strategies are appearing all the time. The top social media practitioners spend more time learning, than they do working – they need to in order to keep up with the rate of change. I would include myself in this category.

Also, the strategies that work on social media are different to what has worked in the past, in other marketing channels. As a result, even experienced marketers are struggling to get the most out of their social media efforts.

So here are five tips, partly based on the results of my mini-survey:

  1. You need a digital marketing plan. This can be very simple but the old adage that says plan and execute a few digital tools well is much more effective than stretching yourself too thin and doing nothing effectively. You don’t have to “be” on anything. You should identify tools that will work for your business and do them well, with professional help if necessary.
  2. You need a sales pipeline. The pipeline should be on your own website, computer or other medium that you control completely. It should be capable of capturing qualified leads from a variety of digital sources and helping you turn them into sales. Social media is one  source of prospects from your sales funnel (networking is, of course, another) but, as is well-known by now, if you try to sell on social media you will usually just kill the social aspect. A pipeline can be built into a contact management system (like MS Outlook or Gmail) or a CRM system, like Nimble. It could be as simple as a spreadsheet and some of the most successful sales pipelines I have seen are sales dashboards based on spreadsheets.
  3. You must really mean business. Social media can be an enormous time-grabber. Its easy to spend hours on Facebook and not complete anything really concrete. People who succeed on social media do so by having a plan and working their networks in a purposeful manner. This still means being fun, friendly and social but it means working to a plan.
  4. Build an email house list. Always ask contacts whether they would like your e-newsletter (opt them in). Write and send one monthly, even in plain text, and use an economic platform like MailChimp, Sendicate or Constant Contact to send, monitor and measure results so that you can improve.
  5. Build a simple digital marketing dashboard. A dashboard is an information panel which pulls together your main statistical results and measures effectiveness. Use the power of spreadsheet to add data manually, if necessary, and analyse it weekly. It will help you direct your efforts to what works and prevent wasting time.

Make a plan, choose your ground carefully and work the system in a friendly, helpful and businesslike way.

 

 

Five ways to tease out valuable blogging content

It’s hard, isn’t it, to provide value and original content for your blog reader over a period of time? Yet, most of us have a huge reservoir of expertise that we need to tease out of the recesses of our minds.

Here are five ways of jogging your memory, stimulating your creative juices and providing a go-to stimulus when inspiration becomes tough.

1 Problem-solving

Show your readers how you solved a common problem in your area of expertise. Give them a template so that when a similar situation crops up, they have a guide to follow. Case studies are often cited as a way of doing this but move from the particular to the more general. The bonus is that this approach will be brim-full of your keywords.

2 Tell a story
SpeakeasyGroups

Speakeasy Groups is a trade mark of MojoYourBusiness

I am indebted to Andrew Thorp and Sarah Knowles of MojoYourBusiness for helping me with storytelling through their Speakeasy Groups™ events. According to Andrew and Sarah, there are only five common types of story. A more powerful way to communicate with our audience is to fit our post into one of these types of narrative framework:

2.1 The quest: people find it easier to get behind you if you’re clearly on a mission. They can admire your zeal and what you stand for rather than what you do. Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?”

2.2 Stranger in a strange land: if you’re a small business, perhaps you moved from the corporate world and started working with SMEs, bringing better systems and professionalism to a new arena? It shows a certain humility that you didn’t know it all at first but you’ve gained from the experience and, over the years, you’ve adapted and grown.

2.3 Love story: one way of incorporating a love story into a blog post might be explaining how two matches came together – customer and product – perhaps through unlikely circumstances, or not in the way you anticipated, and it’s turned into something deeper and longer-lasting than a business transaction.

Gladiator

The movie, Gladiator, is a good example of the revenge story theme.

2.4 Rags-to-riches: In business, this translates to great case studies. Michael Margolis (Your Story is Your Brand) prefers the description ‘before-and-after stories’. If you can show how you’ve moved a client from a poor situation to somewhere significantly better, it’s a great way to demonstrate the value you bring to people.

2.5 Revenge: every post is enriched by a fight between good and evil, even if it’s a metaphor. Channel your energies against the “system” rather than your competitors and fight the cause for your customer.

3 Provide useful resources

Create a list on List.ly of some invaluable free apps in a specific area. I am getting used to storing my lists on List.ly so that they can benefit my prospects and customers as well as act as a personal reminder. There is even a List.ly WordPress Publisher Key and embedding List.ly lists with the Key and WordPress plugin gives you SEO benefits over just using Javascript code.

4 Explode some common myths in your business area

Over the past few months, I have been explaining to businesses what Google+ is and what it can do for their inbound marketing. The myth is that it is just another social media platform and, of course, it is much more – and less—than that! Explode a common myth in your industry to show that you are original and worth-knowing.

5 Interpret data into usable action

Data pours out of nearly all business activity but few take the time to understand what it means. Even fewer translate that into actionable information for time-poor management. If a new survey comes out, interpret what it means in everyday terms for your audience.