Archive for February, 2011

Monday Morning Reads: Churnalism, Bubble Bursting, Influence Limits

Happy Monday! A varied bunch of posts and stories this week, from PR’s effect on the media (or is it just lazy journalism?), to avoiding getting caught when the social media “bubble” bursts, to reputation management, influence and lastly a couple of Google stories to round things out.

Let’s get to it!

The Guardian: Churnalism or news? How PRs have taken over the media

The Guardian reports on a new service from journalism watchdog the Media Standards Trust that reveals how all media organisations are at times simply republishing, verbatim, material sent to them by marketing companies and campaign groups. The website allows readers to paste press releases into a “churn engine” which compares the text with a constantly updated database of more than 3m articles and assigns each article a “churn rating”, show the percentage of any given article that has been reproduced from publicity material.

Has PR taken over the media?

Julien Smith: How to Avoid the Social Crash

Great piece on escaping the bursting of the social media bubble. Lesson for communicators: diversify. Don’t just be a “social media guy” (or gal) – be a communicator that thinks about integrated approaches. Communications isn’t going anywhere.

Avoiding social media osolescence

Mashable: What Brands Can Learn From Taco Bell’s Social Media Lawsuit Defense

Interesting piece from Mashable shows how Taco Bell benefited from avoiding what we at Edelman call “abandonment valley” by engaging in ongoing online activity. Thanks to this, when a reputation issue hit, the company was able to communicate directly with its fans (alongside smart SEM) and manage the problem.

Taco Bell avoids abandonment valley

BrandSavant: The Limits Of Online Influence

An interesting case study of influence apparently not working. A couple of points leap to mind:

  • Expecting results from “impressions” is futile, without considering context – quality of content, tone, messaging within, quality call to action, etc.
  • Influence is irrelevant without context. People may be influential on one topic but not on others

Still, the case study makes for interesting, thought-provoking reading.

Questioning online influence

The Next Web: Google acknowledges Gmail issues as users complain of missing emails

In another reminder that we should all take care to back up the data we have stored in “the cloud,” this piece outlines problems that numerous (albeit a small proportion of) Gmail users have been experiencing with emails disappearing from their inboxes.

Back up your life

Hubspot: Google Changes Algorithm to Punish Content Farms

There have been some interesting stories recently about spammers and content farms winning the war with Google. This piece from the folks over at Hubspot suggests that Google is fighting back, making changes that penalize companies like Demand Media and affect roughly 12% of Google searches. Promising changes.

Google strikes back at content farms

Improve Your Effectiveness With Workarounds That Work

You know those books that you want to buy for everyone you know, because you know everyone will get something from it?

Workarounds That Work (WTW) is one of those books.

Written by Russell Bishop, a colleague of David Allen (of Getting Things Done fame), WTW leads the reader through a series of both theoretical and practical examples of workplace roadblocks, and offers simple questions you can ask you help navigate around those roadblocks.

It’s all about you

WTW starts with a simple premise popularized by Stephen Covey – that you can divide everything into three categories:

  1. Things you can control
  2. Things you can influence through other people
  3. Things you can respond to (and respond to more effectively if you have done the first two things)

Bishop comes back to this principle throughout the book, and repeatedly re-centres problems around the first two points – things you can control and things you can influence. While it’s obvious when you think about it, the fact that Bishop repeatedly calls this out is a useful reminder not to fall into the “it’s all their fault” school of pitiful thought.

Everyone faces roadblocks

WTW is the kind of book that, while it’s a great read from cover-to-cover, is also a useful resource when facing specific issues. So, for me, while I enjoyed the whole book, my ears perked up when I hit a few specific sections, which are now dog-eared and marked for future reference.

The book covers a broad series of challenges:

  1. Getting the right things done
  2. Misaligned leadership and unclear direction
  3. Framing the problem properly
  4. Moving from passive communication to action
  5. Accountability and response-ability
  6. Organizational silos
  7. Culture clashes
  8. Analysis paralysis
  9. Moving beyond concensus
  10. Avoiding becoming a corporate firefighter
  11. When others are wrong
  12. Making the most of meetings
  13. Dealing with the email avalanche (I gave 5 tips on managing the email deluge recently – not a coincidence)
  14. When processes get in the way
  15. Overcoming criticism, complaints, and resistance
  16. Multitasking (or not)

As I moved through the book, I found myself getting more or less engaged in certain chapters. Workarounds That Work is never a slog to read – the real-life examples and wry insights ensure that – but I could tell when points were hitting home, as at some points I just didn’t want to put the book down. When I hit my own pain points it became a real page-turner. I suspect that most people would experience the same thing, as most of us face at least some of the challenges above in our working lives.

Yay or nay?

Should you buy this book? In case you couldn’t tell, my answer is an unequivocal “yes.” If Bishop’s advice means you’re able to move the needle on at least one of your roadblocks at work, it’ll be worth it. If you work in an office or a big company, I suspect you’ll be able to improve on two or three.

That makes reading Workarounds That Work a very good use of your time.

Monday Morning Reads: Mobile Apps; LoTR Revisited; Funky SEO

Lots of really interesting reads in the Monday morning reading hopper this week: a look at why dictatorships would be unwise to cut Internet access; several pieces on the latest in mobile applications; a new take on the Lord of the Rings and a couple of neat videos. Enjoy.

WSJ: Smart Dictators Don’t Quash the Internet

Amidst ongoing unrest in the Middle East, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at why some regimes are shying away from shutting down the Internet in their countries.

The Internet in dictatorships

Fast Company: Google Gives More Prominence to Social Search

Google has bumped-up the prominence of social results in its search results, making the convergence of social and search strategy all the more important.

Social rising in search

ReadWriteWeb: This is the Creepy, Super Cool Future of Smartphones & Social Networks

I’ve been fascinated by the potential of augmented reality apps integrating with social networks, in the same way that Yelp works with real-world locations. Here, ReadWriteWeb looks at the latest innovation and briefly considers some of the implications.

Augmented reality and social collide

Mashable: HOW TO: Grow Your Sales and Revenue Using 2D Codes

2D codes (of which QR codes are a common type) are in the early stages of their evolution and use by marketers, but here are a few thought-starters to get the creative thought juices flowing.

QR ideas for business

Mashable: Text a Nearby Group of Friends With GroupMe’s New Foursquare Feature

Another Mashable story – this one on an interesting use case for Foursquare – GroupMe, which lets you text groups of nearby friends. Rudimentary but another example of how location-based services can prove valuable.

Location-based texting with GroupMe

TechCrunch: Twitter Reinstates UberSocial And Twidroyd, UberMedia iPhone Apps Still Under Review

In the latest turn in the UberTwitter tale, Twitter has reinstated several UberMedia apps, saying that steps have been taken to address the ToU violations. Among them, UberTwitter is now named UberSocial. UberTwitter users worldwide, rejoice!

UberMedia apps reinstated

Salon: Middle-earth according to Mordor

Ever wonder what Lord of the Rings was like from the perspective of the other side? Now you can find out, with this free book, available as a PDF.

The other side of Lord of the Rings

Mashable: 10 Fascinating YouTube Facts That May Surprise You

It is what it says on the tin: 10 interesting nuggets about everyone’s favourite video site. Hard to believe it was only created six years ago.

Interesting YouTube facts

The 20: SEO Rapper Will Revolutionize Your Off-Site Meetings

SEO explained succinctly by a rapper in a garage. Enough said.

SEO Rapper

IGN: Dead Island – Announcement Trailer

Warning: Not for children or the faint-hearted. However, this is an incredible video for a video game trailer.

Dead Island trailer

Win A Ticket To The Art Of Marketing Conference

(This contest is now closed. It’s worth skimming the comments here anyway, though, for some great reading ideas!)

Want to see Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, Avinash Kaushik and more speak, all in one day? Then the latest Art of Marketing conference in Toronto is for you.

Held on March 7 in Toronto, the event features:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk – New York Times Bestselling Author, Crush It!
  • Guy Kawasaki – Bestselling Author, The Art of Start & Reality Check
  • Avinash Kaushik – Bestselling Author, Web Analytics 2.0 & Web Analytics: An Hour a Day
  • Dr. Sheena Iyengar – Columbia University Business Professor & Bestselling Author, The Art of Choosing
  • Jeffrey Hayzlett – Former CMO, Eastman Kodak Company & Bestselling Author, The Mirror Test

The good folks over at The Art of Productions have once again given me two tickets to give away. For a chance to win a ticket to the Art of Marketing conference, leave a comment recommending a book you’ve read recently. I’ll close entries at 11:59pm on February 28 and randomly pick two winners.

If you’d rather go ahead and get a ticket, you can use the code DF23 to save $50 per person or $100 per person in groups of 3 or more from the regular ticket price.

For a taste of just how good these folks are, check out the videos below.

On a related note, I’ll be speaking for the fourth year running at PodCamp Toronto on Feb 26. If you’re in the city that day, I hope to see you there!

(Note: the conference is in Toronto. You’ll be responsible for any travel and accommodation costs associated with getting there)

5 Tips For Managing The Email Deluge

Ever find yourself thinking, “I need more email”? Ever feel disappointed because you don’t get enough in your inbox?

I didn’t think so. Personally, I get between 200-300 emails a day, as many of you likely also do. That’s enough email to completely paralyze you if you can’t deal with the volume effectively. You could spend your entire day working through your inbox, at the expense of the action items you actually have to do.

I’m continuing to work through the issue myself, but here are five pointers I’ve learned for managing the email deluge.

1. Read once

Ever find yourself reading an email, realizing you’re not sure what to do with it or that you don’t have time to deal with it, and just moving on to the next thing in your inbox? I know I have. Unfortunately, that leads to your inbox becoming a repository for difficult email, not a true inbox.

Try to force yourself to only read emails once. Once I’ve read an email, I take a leaf out of Getting Things Done (affiliate link) by David Allen and take one of several actions:

  1. Deal with it – if it’s going to take less than two minutes to handle, just do it
  2. Schedule it – file it in an “action” category and book time in my calendar to deal with it
  3. Delegate it – assign it to someone on the team to handle
  4. File it “to read” – lots of items are sent as “FYI.” I file these in an “information” category for review when I have time. This is a recent addition for me, as I was finding my “action” category was getting clogged with dozens and dozens of action items (thanks to the book Workarounds That Work (affiliate link) by Russell Bishop)
  5. Archive it – file it in an archive folder for future reference
  6. Delete it – get it out of the inbox to keep things manageable

2. Pay attention to the “To:” line

The body of the email isn’t the only part that sends a message – the address fields also send a message.

If I see that I’m in the “To:” line of an email, I pay attention and look for action items. If I see that I’m in the “cc:” field on an email, I treat the email as an FYI and review when I have time. (In some workplaces, this may require a little expectation-setting with colleagues)

3. Ensure the subject line is relevant

This is an are where I know I need to improve – ensuring that the title of an email remains relevant to the conversation. In the past I’ve sent far too many emails with “FYI” as a title. It could be worse (at least the recipient knows it’s not urgent) but it would be better if it read “FYI – media coverage of XYZ”, “Deadline: Need feedback by Feb 18″ or the like.

In cases where the topic of the email changes during the email chain, change the title!

Keeping the subject relevant lets recipients know what the email is about, and whether they need to pay attention to it.

4. Avoid “reply all”

Does everyone in the email chain need to be on it? If you don’t need to include everyone on a reply, do them a favour and remove the unnecessary people from the chain. No-one sits there waiting for the next group discussion to erupt; you’ll also find that you get fewer emails as a result, as there are fewer other people to hit “reply all” at their end.

5. Default to other media

Many of us co-locate in offices for a reason. Other forms of communication are richer and offer more cues than email. If you have the option, walk over and talk to someone, or pick up the phone and call them. Not only will you cut down on email, you’ll get things done quicker.

This is especially important when something is urgent. Email is an asynchronous medium – it can be read later. In fact, it’s intended for that. I spend a large proportion of my time in meetings and not checking email. In that situation, an urgent request is likely to go unheard. If you need to reach someone urgently, pick up the phone or walk over to them. Don’t rely on them checking email constantly.

What else?

I know my system isn’t perfect, and I still struggle with the email deluge on a daily basis. You likely have your own way of managing the volume. What tips would you add to the list?

(Image: jon|k)

Book Review And Interview: Common Sense Leadership

Common Sense Leadership. by Garth Johns, is unlike many of the books I’ve read recently.

For one thing, Garth is a local author – working for the Regional Municipality of Durham.

For another, the book clocks in at just over 130 pages, making it one of the quicker reads I’ve had recently.

What’s more, the practical focus of Common Sense Leadership makes it more useful in terms of quick reminders than many books I’ve read over the last couple of years.

Common Sense Leadership focuses on 10 principles:

  1. Enjoy what you do.
  2. Be nice – it’s really not that difficult.
  3. Be on time.
  4. Remember – it’s a team.
  5. Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!
  6. Be customer focused – they are the reason we are here.
  7. Always act with integrity – it will help you sleep at night.
  8. Scan the horizon.
  9. Make decisions – you can’t please all of the people all of the time.
  10. Exude energy and enthusiasm.

Really simple, useful pointers.

While many of the examples in the book focus around the author’s personal (and local) experiences, I found Common Sense Leadership interesting and enjoyable, and the local perspective combined with the government context provided something I could relate to personally. So, I took the opportunity to get in touch with Garth Johns and ask him a few questions…

1. With all of the leadership-focused books out there, what made you decide to write Common Sense Leadership?

One of my concerns, having read many of the leadership books was that they often tell of the deeds of Mandela, Ghandi, Churchill, Jack Welch etc.  For the most part these outstanding examples of leaders are in a world far removed from most folks in our day to day world.  I believe leadership is not restricted to the high profile members of society but anyone who “inspires others to greater personal or professional heights”. The book was intended for those everyday leaders of our world.  The front line supervisors, union leaders, parents, teachers, coaches, Rotary Club President’s and so on.

2. The book is a quick read – only 120 pages – but covers a lot of areas. What made you decide to go for the broad, rather than deep, approach?

I wanted the book to be easy but also to be helpful.  If, by reading it, the reader is better able to help others and to inspire others then I consider it to have been a success.  I didn’t care if they knew how to lead countries or buy and sell corporations or to achieve all that MBA graduates are expected to achieve.  I just wanted to help them become better people and better leaders.

3. Given the criteria laid out in the book, who would you say are some of the best leaders out there?

Sadly, we all know some of the best leaders but they are not always those that the media immortalizes (or occasionally crucifies).  They may be our parents, coaches, managers and even some politicians.  I know of one individual who was a Rotary Club President, a business person of the year award winner and the Chair of the local hospital foundation.  He also spends huge amounts of time, energy and money on his favourite charities.  He inspires many folks.  My own father was an outstanding leader.  Where do we start?

4. While lots of your points focus on inherent competencies like attitude, many are still activities that require leaders to spend time formulating their approach. What tips would you offer for people who find themselves getting sucked into day-to-day work and away from bigger picture leadership activities?

Management involves planning, organizing, implementing, delegating and controlling.  This is what we do.  Doing it more effectively is what leadership is all about.  It is more of an approach and an attitude but it is also hard work.  It really isn’t something that you read about and start doing effectively.  That’s the purpose of the memos at the end of each chapter. They are intended to be helpful hints and reminders.  Once in a while we need to get off the treadmill for a bit and reflect upon what is truly important.  That’s where the work/life balance comes in.  That’s the value of retreating, vacationing, enjoying your time off and reflecting via meditation, yoga etc.

5. If people could come away with one nugget from reading Common Sense Leadership, what would it be?

The one nugget would be that leadership is not a birth rite nor does it come with one’s title.  We all need to lead in our lives at one point or another.  We all need to inspire others and to do our best to make the world a better place.  Each and every day we need to do our best to help somebody else.  We can’t cruise through life riding on the coattails of others and expecting them to be “the leader”.  We all have a role to play.

Common Sense Leadership is available through Garth’s website. Garth is donating $5 to the United Way for each book purchased; that makes it a win-win situation in my books.

Trust Barometer Reveals Need For Mature Social Media

Yesterday I was privileged to attend the Toronto launch of the Canadian results of Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer survey with my employer, Richard Edelman.

This year, even more than in recent years, I find the results of the survey fascinating from both traditional and digital communications standpoints

Trust in 2011

The broad findings of this year’s survey are themselves interesting:

Credentials Count More Than Ever

  • Trust in experts rose over the last year — and after years of being at or near the bottom, CEOs saw an increase in credibility, rising from eighth (bottom) to fifth in the rankings.
  • 99 per cent of informed publics find academics and experts — long the front runners — “extremely,” “very,” or “somewhat” credible.

Trust in Canadian Businesses

  • Canadian headquartered companies maintain high levels of trust, at 75 per cent.
  • In Canada, trust in NGOs exceeds trust in business.
  • When a company is not trusted, 63% of people informed publics will believe negative information after hearing it 1-2 times. When the company is trusted, that falls to 22%.
  • When a company is trusted, 40% of people informed publics will believe positive information after hearing it 1-2 times, compared to just 7% if that company is not trusted.
  • In general, 65% of people informed publics need to hear something 3-5 times before it is trusted.
  • The new trust framework involves profit with purpose, engagement with stakeholders and transparency around the company’s activities.

Social media and trust

Deeper within this year’s results, there are some really interesting findings for people in the social media space:

The fall of “people like me”

Trust in “people like me,” which peaked in 2006, fell 11% this year. While it’s still high – 80% of Canadians informed publics trust ‘people like them’ as an information source – it fell to the bottom of the rankings, below CEOs, regular employees and technical experts

For companies engaged in social media activities, this is a clear pointer that they need to incorporate a range of spokespeople in their activities. Relying purely on ‘word of mouth’ is not enough. Combined with the findings about the number of times people need to hear something, this points to the need for integrated communications approaches using a variety of sources and spokespeople to reach companies’ audiences.

The credibility of online news

Online search engines are Canadians’ respondents’ number one source for news and information about a company. Social media comes in at the bottom of the list.

Frankly, this isn’t too surprising, from a couple of angles.

Social media is increasingly moving to bite-size chunks, and taking on a role as a portal to company news. As such, there’s less room for context and for fact-checking, leading people to look elsewhere for information about a company (Richard did make a point that the research looked more at company information for considering stock purchases, for example, than at information for consumer-level purchase decisions).

Secondly, as outlined in my 2011 trends presentation, search strategies are becoming increasingly important to digital activities – not just from a content development perspective but at a strategic, cross-channel level.

Thirdly, the lines around “social media” are becoming blurred. For example, company websites may make a resurgence, as companies integrate the social graph into their owned media (see Etsy, Levi’s (client) for example). Does that count as social media? Is the Huffington Post a blog or a news site? It’s not a black and white distinction.

Fourthly, there’s much more to social media than just reaching consumers. Key influencers, stakeholders and mainstream media can all be engaged through these channels.

Social media needs to mature

This all speaks to a broader need for a more mature approach to social media. It’s not enough to just be there any more – those times have come and gone (good riddance). It’s not enough to just tweet something out and expect everyone to believe it. It’s certainly not enough to let your social media channels operate in a corporate silo, detached from other communications functions.

To continue to approach social media in this immature way is a recipe for failure.

It’s time for a more mature approach to social media and trust – one that integrates different media forms; one that engages people over the long term and one that takes a more considered approach to generating trust among audiences.

What do you think?

Here’s the executive summary of this year’s results. Take a look for yourself, and tell me – what are the stand-out results for you?

(Updated thanks to some thoughtful input from Daniel Blouin in the comments below)

Monday Morning Reads: TweetDeck, Black Hat SEO, Facebook Pages

Happy Valentines Day! Lots to cover in this week’s reads – TweetDeck, link farming, Facebook newsfeed and the new Pages layout; social media in emergencies and a few networking tips to round things out. Enjoy.

TechCrunch: UberMedia, Indeed. Bill Gross’ Twitter Ecosystem Empire Just Acquired TweetDeck

Twitter has benefited immensely from a thriving developer ecosystem. You may not have realized it, but over the last little while one company – UberMedia – has scooped up several of the leading Twitter apps, including Echofon and UberTwitter. The latest in the line of acquisitions: the mighty TweetDeck.

TweetDeck acquired

New York Times: The Dirty Little Secrets of Search

In case you missed it, this weekend the New York Times published a story outing a link scheme by JC Penney that led to them being the #1 result in Google for a large number of search terms. This is a long read, but worthwhile, especially if you aren’t too familiar with SEO principles and some of the “black hat” techniques some people use to game the system.

Dirty SEO tricks

Search Engine Land: New York Times Exposes J.C. Penney Link Scheme That Causes Plummeting Rankings in Google

Some useful technical background on the New York Times/JC Penney link scheme story above.

Digging deep on SEO controversy

Disruptive Conversations: How Facebook Now Removes Friends and Pages From Your NewsFeed – And How To Fix It

Dan York looks at a setting buried in Facebook that might be limiting the posts you see in your newsfeed to those of people you interact with the most often. For those of us who like to see updates from all of their friends, it may be worth toggling this.

Tweaking your Facebook experience

Mashable: How Brands Can Make the Most of Facebook’s New Pages

Late last week, Facebook rolled out a new layout for brand Pages. In this post, Aliza Sherman outlines a few ways to take advantage of this new layout (hint: investing big money in new custom tabs isn’t among them)

Facebook Pages’ new layout

Mashable: How We Use Social Media During Emergencies

It’s been several years since I gave my first presentation on social media’s use in emergencies, and the field has developed somewhat since then. This infographic gives some handy insights into both peoples’ attitudes towards social media in emergencies, and examples of its past use. While the post title is off the mark and the graphic itself is full of typos, it’s a neat resource.

Social media in emergencies

John McLachlan: What a Drug Addict Taught Me About Social Media

Five simple tips on networking, inspired by the author’s troubled friend.

Networking tips for social media

(Thanks to Daria for pointing out a broken link via the comments)

Weekly Reads: Facebook, Marketing Trends and Social Media’s Effect on Stereotypes

Alongside my ongoing book reading challenge, I start off every day by reading the latest goings-on in the public relations, social  media and tech blogosphere. As part of my new approach to creating content, I’m going to begin curating the best for you.

Each Monday, I’ll kick-start your week’s reading by sharing some of the most interesting pieces I’ve read over the previous week. Facebook is at the centre this week – four of the seven articles incorporate the dominant social network – from conflict over Egypt, to UFC broadcasting fights, to creating an engagement guide for your organization. Also: interactive marketing trends and how social media may break down gender stereotypes.

Let me know about your favourite pieces from the last week in the comments below.

1. Betting on News, AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post

AOL’s spate of content-focused acquisitions continues – first TechCrunch, now the Huffington Post as the New York Times reports on its latest move.

AOL buys HuffPo

2. Brian Solis: Malcolm Gladwell, Your Slip Is Showing

Nowadays, you can almost guarantee that every time there’s a significant world event, Malcolm Gladwell will stick his head up and beat down a non-existent argument that social media is driving everything. In this piece, Brian Solis offers a counterpoint to Gladwell’s incessant focus on tools, and looks at the bigger picture.

Gladwell’s slipping point

3. Wired: Trolls Pounce on Facebook’s Tahrir Square

In a bit of a counterpoint to Gladwell’s perspective, Wired looks at how Egyptian President  Hosni Mubarak’s supporters are spreading propaganda and disinformation through social media.

Facebook as a battleground

4. Fast Company: UFC and Its Gang of 4.6 Million Facebook Friends Body Slam Sports Broadcasting

UFC – the hot sport of the moment – bypasses the mainstream media and takes to Facebook to broadcast some of its fights. Fast Company notes that “Experimenting with new web integration is a natural fit for the UFC, a business built on the strapping backs of its early, Internet-savvy fans.”

Ultimate Fightbook

5. Forrester: Actual Interactive Marketer Predictions For 2011

Following-up on my presentation on 20 social media trends for business in 2011, here are a few diverse predictions from an equally diverse group of interactive marketers:

  • Ad prices increase
  • Marketing will blend promotion and content
  • Targeting gets even bigger
  • Netflix pulls out of mail
  • Mobile commerce will bloom
  • 2012 will be a year of even more aggressive innovation

Interactive marketing predictions

6. Mashable: HOW TO: Create A Facebook Engagement Policy

Mashable isn’t usually a source to rely on for in-depth walk-throughs, but this piece on creating an engagement guide for Facebook does a decent job of outlining some key areas:

  1. Categorize posts
  2. Establish acceptable response times
  3. Develop guidelines for resolving issues
  4. Create a process for handling inquiries
  5. Set clear ground rules for fan posts
  6. Set the appropriate tone

Engaging on Facebook

7. TEDTalks: Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Johanna Blakley talks about the demographic profiling used by traditional media and the advertising industry, and how online communities and social media may bring an end not only to false demographic targeting but also to gender stereotypes in mainstream media.

Social media and the end of gender

(Image: nkzs, via

25 Suggestions For How To Use Twitter

Twitter sent an email around to users yesterday, giving four suggestions for getting the most out of Twitter in 2011:

  1. Follow your interests: Follow the people who share your passions
  2. Get specific: Follow your favourite leagues, teams, players, writers etc
  3. Don’t panic: Search for hashtags and relevant accounts during emergencies to stay informed
  4. Return to Twitter: A call for lapsed users to return to  a service that apparently now has over 200 million user accounts

Four suggestions seems a little thin to me. I often get asked why people should use Twitter; here are 25 ideas for ways you can get value out of Twitter, with a mix of business and personal focus:

  1. Stay in touch – Find your friends and use Twitter to post and read micro-updates on what’s going on in your lives
  2. Meet new people – Get to know friends of your friends and widen your circle
  3. Network professionally – Follow and get to know other people working in your industry
  4. Find local events – Watch for interesting events that your connections are attending. Take advantage of the opportunity to take online connections offline
  5. Research destinations – Travelling somewhere? Search for what people are saying, and poll your network for pointers on your destination
  6. Get recommendations – Looking for a vendor, at home or at work? Ask your Twitter friends for recommendations on who to go with
  7. Grow professionally – Identify the leaders in your industry. Read what they post; follow who they follow; learn from their activity
  8. Fuel your passion – Find people who share the same interests as you, and geek it up! Let other peoples’ passion for your interests fuel your own
  9. Influence the influencers – Get to know the people with influence in your field, before you need to ask them for anything
  10. Stay on top of news – Follow news-related accounts, both traditional and non-traditional – to stay up-to-date with news in your area and your industry
  11. Get to know journalists – Whether you post or you just lurk, follow the journalists in your field, learn what they read and what they like, and get to know what will be helpful for them
  12. Research competitors – Follow your competitors. See what they post; see who they engage. Learn from their successes and their mistakes
  13. Gain insights – Solicit feedback from your connections on ideas, products and services
  14. Filter your reading –  Rather than fearing drinkin from the Twitter firehose, create a list of people who consistently post things that interest you and let them generate your reading list. Bonus: you’ll find stories from sites you don’t normally check
  15. Generate ideas – Whether it’s through case studies other people post, ideas sparked from conversations or reactions to your posts, let your connections help you to generate new ideas
  16. Organize meetups – Found yourself with some time on your hands? See who else is around. Planning to be somewhere at a certain time? See if anyone wants to meet up with you
  17. Boost your reputation – Post your own content or curate others’ to build your own reputation in your chosen area
  18. Inbound job hunting - Network with peers in your industry, build relationships with hiring managers, develop your own reputation and watch the number of job offers you receive rocket
  19. Outbound job hunting – Follow executives at the companies you want to work for and keep your eyes open for job openings
  20. Stay on top of trends – Identify the thought leaders in your industry and stay on top of trends by listening to what they’re saying
  21. Drive conversions – As a business user, point people towards your points of conversion… but don’t do it too often, and make sure it’s something people will find valuable
  22. Engage with your community – Don’t focus all of your company’s posts on pushing content; try to make a majority of your posts more conversational
  23. Solve problems – Monitor for problems with your company’s customers, and solve them
  24. Re-purpose content – Have something interesting on one of your other online properties? Let people know where to find it
  25. New business generation – Get to know people at companies you want to work with; watch for requests for help from people looking for your services; post/curate content that generates inbound demand

I’m sure you can think of a tonne more. Let me know what you’d add in the comments below!