Posts Tagged ‘tips’

8 Talking Points On Twitter Follower-Building Tools

Earlier this week I wrote a post about follower-building services on Twitter, warning about the dangers and how people may perceive you if you use them.

It felt a little bit like preaching to the choir.

Amy Mengel made an excellent point in the comments to that post:

“Unfortunately the people on Twitter who promote these schemes and have tweet streams full of nothing but the garbage you outlined above probably won’t be reading this post and getting the message!”

This made me think – did I target the post correctly? I came to the conclusion that in that case, no, I didn’t. If the people reading this site already view follower-building services that way, they’re more likely to be the people talking others out of these tools than the ones using them.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions on how to approach people using follower-building services and help them to re-think their approach to their followers (which, it seems, we all agree isn’t a good one).

How to approach

  • Approach delicately: No-one likes to be backed into a corner publicly. Consider approaching them privately.
  • Give them a way out: Ask questions instead of pointing the finger.

Reflective questions

  • Benefits: What benefit do you get from using this follower-building tool?
  • Relationships: Do you think they the people following you through this tool care about what you say? Do you care about them?
  • Spam: Do you know this tool is filling your Twitter stream with spam messages? Have you looked at your stream recently?
  • Noise: Have you noticed any change in the value provided by the people you follow (if they’re using an auto-follow-back tool)?
  • Perceptions: Have you thought about how the people who see those messages perceive you?
  • Trust: Given that they’re already spamming your Twitter account, do you really think you can trust this service with your login?

As I said before, you really aren’t hurting anyone but yourself if you use these tools, so if self-reflection doesn’t get the point across, I would likely leave the conversation there. Still, hopefully these points will be helpful.

What other talking points would you suggest?

No to Auto DMs

davefleet - see @ message -> follow -> receive auto DM -> unfollow

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve seen more and more discussion about “auto DMs” on Twitter.

“Auto DMs” are direct (private) messages automatically sent when someone follows an account. Some people have chosen to use these to thank people for following; others have taken it a step further by using auto DMs to encourage others to visit their other web properties.

Today, a client asked me if I could help them set up auto DMs for their their new Twitter followers. I strongly advised them against doing it.


Automatically-generated direct messages seem to be negatively received pretty much universally.

This isn’t about you, it’s about the people that follow you… and they don’t like it.

Richard Binhammer's campaign against auto DMsDell’s Richard Binhammer has gone on a public crusade against these messages. Every time he receives one, he publicly “outs” the person sending it.

I agree with the people opposed to these auto-DMs. Here’s why:

  • They’re impersonal
  • They’re untargeted
  • They’re often about promoting the sender, and are simply too much, too soon in the relationship
  • They’re the closest thing Twitter has to spam

For a sense of the general sentiment towards auto DMs, check out a quick Google Blog Search on the term.

What do you think? Are people over-reacting? Do you like or hate auto DMs? Do you care?

Related posts:

Anatomy of a Bad Pitch

Photo of a pitcher As time goes on and more people start to read my site (welcome!) I’m receiving more and more pitches from firms and other PR agencies. That’s fine with me – I’m in the business and I appreciate why pitching is necessary.

Unfortunately, many (most) of the pitches I receive are the kind of pitches that give our industry a bad name.

I recently received a particularly bad pitch – one bad enough to qualify for Kevin and Richard over at the Bad Pitch Blog. I almost hit “reply” with some pointers for the person pitching, but I thought I’d throw the tips out to everyone instead.

Bear in mind that these tips are based on my perspective. Judge for yourself whether they’re any good or not.

The original pitch

First, here’s the original pitch (with identifying information removed – I’m not into “outing” people):


Subject: How social media saved a company millions…

Hi there.  I’m an avid reader of various outlets that focus on social media and thought you would find this case study interesting.  It shows how social media is more than just a trend, but how it actually translates to dollars and cents if done correctly.  […], a $2 billion privately owned company and the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributer of […] products recently shifted their entire marketing and distribution model to social media and the results have been incredibly successful.  By leveraging YouTube ([…]) and iTunes ([…]), the company immediately saved $110,000 in distribution in weeks.

As someone in the business of social media it’s always frustrating to hear about its effectiveness and see a lack of tangible of quantitative results. If you want more information including exactly how […] leveraged social media check out the press release below.  I think you’ll find it interesting.  Thanks for listening.

Where the pitch went wrong

Here are a few of the ways I would improve this pitch. I’ll leave the overall structure and writing alone, as much of that is personal style.

  1. Send the pitch to the blogger. BCC = delete. It screams “mass mailing.”
  2. Sending the pitch to me allows you to also address the message to the blogger, by name (if possible). I like the personal touch.
  3. Show the recipient that you know what they write about. I don’t care that you read “various outlets that focus on social media.” Tell me up-front why I should care. Don’t bury it in the last paragraph.
  4. Make sure it’s news. The company immediately saved $110,000 in weeks? Bizarre grammar aside (immediately/in weeks?), the YouTube channel was launched a year ago. Oh, and I would think that a “YouTube channel that quickly became one of YouTube’s fastest growing [sic]” (from the press release) would have more than 17 subscribers.
  5. Include a call to action. What do you want from me? What are you offering to make it easier?
  6. Fix the typos. There’s just one here (distributer) but others in the release. Bonus point: Remember, MS Word’s spell-checker isn’t enough. “Scraped” (from the release) is a real word, but you meant “scrapped.”
  7. Sign your name. Trolls send anonymous messages. Good PR people don’t.
  8. Build a relationship. If you know a blogger-relations campaign is coming up, see if you can get permission to comment or otherwise get to know the bloggers in that community ahead of time, so the pitch doesn’t come out of the blue. At a minimum, try to read the relevant blogs for a while so you know what makes them tick.

A better approach

Here’s how I might have gone about pitching me (assuming the “news” was actually news):

To: davef [at] davefleet [dot] com

Subject: How social media saved a company millions…

Hi Dave,

I’ve been reading for a while and know that you’re interested in social media measurement and ROI, so I thought you would find this case study interesting. It shows how social media can translate directly to dollars and cents if done correctly, and speaks directly to the post you wrote some time ago about measuring success on YouTube.

In 2007 […], the world’s largest grower, manufacturer and distributor of […] products, shifted their entire marketing and distribution model to social media. They’ve just announced that by leveraging YouTube ([…]) and iTunes ([…]), the company saved $110,000 in distribution costs within weeks, and by this point they’ve saved over $[amount].

Please let me know if you would like more information – I’d be happy to arrange an interview with [name, position] for you. In the meantime, I’ve included a press release about the case study below.



What do you think? How would you have approached this?

(Photo credit: dkg)

13 Tips From My First Year Of Blogging

First birthday Today marks the one-year anniversary of my blog. I’ve had this site for years longer, but this is the one-year anniversary of signing up for Blogger (which I used back then) and officially starting to blog. 201 posts later, I’m feeling as inspired as ever.

The Best So Far

Here are my personal favourites from the last year – my top five posts so far:

  1. How To Write A Good Communications Plan – Part 1 – An Overview
  2. 8 Questions To Ask Before Using YouTube As A Communications Tool
  3. 6 Ways To Make Life Easier With Delicious
  4. Enough With Blogger Strategies!
  5. 42 Top Social Media Tips And Tools

I’ve learned a lot over the last year from reading other peoples’ sites, reflecting on my own thoughts and absorbing other peoples’ comments on this site.

13 Tips I’ve Learned From The Last Year

For your benefit, here are 13 things I’ve learned over the last year that your blog should have:

  1. Goals – decide what you want to get out of your blog. Have a reason for writing other than “I think I should have a blog.”
  2. Purpose – if you have nothing to say, say nothing. Don’t write a post for the sake of it.
  3. Commitment – writing a blog isn’t all easy. It takes time and work to keep coming up with relevant, interesting content. Stick with it.
  4. Opinions – let people know what you think. I’d avoid attacking people or criticizing without being constructive, but don’t be afraid to have an opinion.
  5. Questions – it can be hard to encourage people to comment on your blog. Prompt people to think and respond by asking questions.
  6. Focus – decide what you’re going to write about and focus on that theme. Make sure you consider your audience – who it already is, or who you want it to be.
  7. Simplicity – unless you’ve consciously decided to focus on a knowledgeable audience, assume that your readers know nothing about the topic.
  8. Debate – make people think about what you’re saying. Provoke a reaction, not necessarily in a negative way.
  9. Conversation – if someone comments on your blog, write back. Take the time to start a conversation. It’s called “social media” for a reason!
  10. Limits – comments are great, but some people will come to your site with malice aforethought. It’s worth having a comments policy to fall back on when nasty situations occur. Mine is here.
  11. Checks and balances – if you’re reporting on breaking news, try to get a second source to make sure what you’re reporting on is true. I’ve fallen into the trap of not checking my facts in the past. Learn from my mistakes.
  12. Personality – make your blog personal. Give your take. Don’t just regurgitate what everyone else is saying. Heck, you don’t even have to write about the same topic as everyone else.
  13. Passion – Write about things you care about. If you don’t care, how do you expect your readers to?

These are some of the lessons I’ve learned so far; check out some other perspectives – Chris Brogan, Liz Strauss, Darren Rowse, Vandelay Design, Jason Falls.

What’s the top tip you’ve learned from blogging?

(Photo credit: missxyz)