July 31, 2009

Best new Twitter tool: HootSuite 2.0

Guest post by Chris Abraham

Back in the earlier days of third-party Twitter apps (just a few months ago, actually), a few very effective web-based services got my attention: SocialToo, TweetLater, and HootSuite. Sad thing was, while they were all very powerful services, they were all poorly designed, very hacked together, and fugly. Enter the elegant, sexy, feature-rich HootSuite 2.0 (no matter what you think about all the controversy and extortion — see below).

Everyone’s talking about HootSuite 2.0

Today, while I was monitoring my stream-o-tweets, I noticed that every third person of the 2,587 I currently follow were tweeting that they “upgraded to #HootSuite 2.0 because it works http://hootsuite.com/upgrade.” HootSuite — pronounced like it sounds (HOOT-sweet) and a play on the French phrase tout de suite — was the first online player to offer multi-Twitter-account management and Twittering, an essential tool to any business application of Twitter that required the management of more than one Twitter account, such as @marcon, @abrahamharrison, @chrisabraham, etc.

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July 18, 2009

Good.ly: a tiny url service for charity

Good.ly: a url shortener to benefit charity from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaDuring the Traveling Geeks‘ visit to London last week, I twice met Alicia Navarro, founder and CEO of Slimlinks, an automated affiliate marketing service for blogs and websites. During our talk she mentioned a little-known service that deserves wider visibility: good.ly.

goodlyIn this one-minute video, Alicia describes how it works. If you’re going to make a product recommendation on Twitter, you can do it through one of the traditional url shorteners — bit.ly, is.gd, ow.ly — or you can use good.ly. At good.ly you can designate a charity will would benefit from any commissions that are generated by your recommendation.

ChildVoice International, Crisis and DogsTrust are among the charities that would earn the lion’s share of commissions generated by a tweet.

Watch or embed the video on Vimeo

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July 17, 2009

Using Twitter for a global conversation

Amy Sample WardOver the last few months, we have seen Twitter serve the global community by playing an important role in communications – whether it’s finding new friends (#FollowFriday), or telling the world about your government/election/political state (#IranElection), whether it’s having a conversation together (#4Change), or non-linearly replacing your RSS feed.  What do those # mean? That’s part of the key to success when using Twitter for a Global conversation. Using hashtags lets you mark your message as pertaining to a certain topic, then automatically include that message in a stream with everyone else’s that include the same hashtag.  Using Twitter search or other tools, you can watch news and updates about the election in Iran by using #IranElection; or, find interesting people to follow and connect with using #FollowFriday to peruse the recommendations that pile up on Fridays.

There are many opportunities to see hashtags in action! There are also more and more opportunities emerging for people to coordinate global conversations that happen at the same time, instead of disconnected over time (still tied together via hashtag). I am part of the planning team working on the monthly chat series behind #4Change. There is also a Twitter-based chat starting up for consultants who work with social benefit organizations.

I wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from my involvement with organizing Twitter chats. I’m looking forward to your ideas, too!

1. Build a landing pad

It is helpful to have some place where you can send people interested in your topic or chat that haven’t participated before – whether it’s a website, a blog, or just a separate Twitter account.  If you have a landing pad somewhere online where you can refer people and provide information about your chats, your group, or your purpose in more than 140 characters, it will save you a lot of extra tweeting!  Plus, it will provide a natural and obviously place to aggregate your content, thoughts, updates, and promotion of the chats.

2. Brainstorm lots of questions but pick a few

It seems obvious that people using a communication tool like Twitter, and then electing to participate in a large-scale public chat would not require much prodding to keep conversation going.  But, it is actually just this reason that it’s more important to pre-select your questions.  Twitter chats are slower moving than you’d expect because everyone is waiting on the Twitter search to refresh with new posts.  It works best to have 3-5 questions selected ahead of time and shared with a core group of chat leaders or guides.  This way, there is a group of people helping keep the conversation on track, focused on one question at a time.  Otherwise, the group can quickly and easily splinter off to other topics using other hashtags, after all, that’s what Twitter enables all day, every day.

3. Consider your time

If you really want to pull in participants from all over the world, it’s important to consider what time you are holding the chat.  It’s also important to consider how long you want the chat to be.  Knowing that Twitter based chats are slower in development and pace than something like a live web chat, you don’t want it to be too narrow of a window, but you can only hold people’s attention for so long as well.

4. Narrow your focus

#4Change or #NPCons (nonprofit consultants) seem like pretty obvious topics. But coordinating a conversation would be far too difficult without a specific topic for that chat because the possibilities for questions or specific ideas within those two general topics are endless.  For example, recent 4Change topics have included using competitions for social change and Twitter as a political/revolutionary tool.  This also means people can identify ahead of time any resources they want to share during the chat and if they are interested in the specific topic of the month or not.

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July 1, 2009

Video tutorial: How do I Twitter my Flickr photos?

John HaydonI caught a post on Twitter from Ian Wilker about feeding your Twitter stream with your Flickr activity. This is a great approach for businesses or non-profits that communicate their impact with images, but have limited time for social media marketing.

This process seemed so easy, I decided to screencast (above) while I connect my own Flickr and Twitter accounts.

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June 29, 2009

Tweetcamp: Online network moves to offline community

Amy Sample WardThis past Saturday, I participated in an experiment: Tweetcamp! The combination of a Tweetup and a BarCamp.  (Those links are to definitions!)  What this created was a chance for people who use Twitter to come together offline to create community. There is no agenda to the conference as it is co-created by the participants throughout the day.  It is for the community, by the community, all thanks originally to Twitter.

n2thinktankThis month’s Net2 Think Tank asks: How do real-world (offline) events fit into social media conversations and campaigns?

I think that my reflections about Tweetcamp are an excellent fit to answer this question!  And I hope they help you think about the way your organization uses opportunities online and offline to create community.

What worked?

Cross-section of participants: It was great to turn up to an event and have every person I talked to have a different line a work, a different reason for using social media tools, and a unique goal for what they wanted to get out of the day.  One way to accomplish this is to ensure you have a diverse set of organizers – you will tap into networks that do, eventually, overlap, but the influencers you target will push a great diversity of participants toward the event.

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June 29, 2009

Why Twitter won’t replace email marketing

© Photosani

© Photosani

John HaydonEarlier this week, I spoke with an executive director at a large non-profit who wanted to know how she could replace email marketing with Twitter.

They have been using email marketing as the prime way to engage current supporters, but had been less than desirable results in recent months.

After spending considerable time discussing their strategy and past results, I had to break the news to her:

Twitter is not a replacement for email marketing

Just as you would never replace socks with shoes, or boxer shorts with swimming trunks, Twitter should not replace email marketing. There are several reasons for this, which I’ve outlined in the following graphic:


Twitter strengths

  • Very cheap and easy to use.
  • Highly viral – An open network that is unlike any other social media site.
  • Organize base – around events, around campaigns, Tweetups, Hashtags.

Email marketing strengths

  • Highly targeted messages that aren’t limited to 140 characters.
  • Activity can be measured, even down to the user level.
  • Messages can be personalized in response to each individual choices – people can opt-in to different lists.

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