How did that happen?

Yesterday’s post about my awesome network proved to be very popular and threw up some interesting figures.

It comes 2nd only to Sexy Social Media for visits on its first day but what was really interesting is that it achieved that after only being retweeted by 5 people. Usually a post needs a large amount of retweets to really catch fire, but not this one it seems.

So that means it achieved the results based on my own tweetings. Were people wondering whether they were on the list? Was it voyeurism? Did my linking of a bunch of influential people in my tweets make it impossible not to click and see what it was all about?

I’ve got more questions than answers about this one.

The other thing about the post was that it only contained people who make my BUSINESS more awesome. As I mentioned, it didn’t include people who make my EXPERIENCE of social media better. I kind of feel bad about that. Everyone deserves a bit of love, so look out for a monster #followfriday blog post this week. Not done one of them in a while.

My awesome network

I would be nowhere without the network which I have developed through my use of social media. I have learned more in the last year than I did in the previous ten. No matter what challenges I face when trying to deliver digital strategy, I know that somewhere out there I have a friend who can help me deal with it.

That’s the real power of this new fangled stuff. You become part of a giant hive mind which is infinitely cleverer than you could ever be on your own. Getting on board with social media isn’t just a canny business move, it’s an evolutionary shift. If you don’t embrace it now then you’ll never leave the primordial swamp of wrong-headed “old thinking.” Those of us that do will grow legs. And one day they might turn into wings.

So, like some kind of a Gwyneth Paltrow acceptance speech, I’d like to thank the people who continue to make it all possible:

@danfrydman for being the ultimate connector

@craigmcgill for starting fights

@tartancat for breaking them up

@idle_bull for always sharing

@MacFack for asking the right questions

@timbarlow for pushing the envelope

@mike_mcgrail for always being on the pulse

@maniacyak for having answers to questions you haven’t got to yet

@2ourism for helping, always helping

@allanbarr for keeping me honest

@colingilchrist for blogging excellence

@scottgdouglas for a podcast that’s always relevant

There are many, many more. These are the ones who make my business better but there are countless more of you who are invaluable in a hundred different ways. You know who you are. My heartfelt thanks to you all.

So who’s in your awesome network?

Secrets of effective blogging

I’m learning that there’s a difference between a discursive post and a useful post.

The former is one where I take a subject and talk about it, an opinion piece if you like. The latter is one where I actually give away some useful advice, tips or tools.

Discursive posts garner lots of comments and very high numbers of visitors. Useful posts, on the other hand, get lots of retweets and generate a bit of buzz but are rarely commented on.

Discursive

For example, Social media millstone is a post which I wrote largely to generate discussion around the term “social media.” It wasn’t entirely serious and there was nothing in there to learn. It bagged 25 comments and is my 2nd busiest post in terms of visits.

Useful

On the other hand, My social media toolkit is crammed full of links to all the tools I find most useful in my line of work. It got 23 retweets and easily the same number of mentions on Twitter. It’s only had half the traffic though.

Google Friendly

In between these 2 types are the Google friendly posts. A rare beast which I tend to occasionally throw up from time to time. How to write a social media proposal is an example of this. It’s by far and away my most visited update and it’s all down to people searching for social media proposals. It’s not really my best work but it does tend to generate traffic to other posts on the blog which is of greater benefit.

Choose Your Weapons Wisely

The type of blogger you are will depend on what type of engagement you are looking for from your audience. If you are selling something then you want “useful” posts as these are better endorsed (by way of retweets). But if you are trying to establish your brand as a thought leader then “discursive” posts allow for greater engagement with your peers which can increase your kudos and earn trust.

So what type of blogger are you?

Be the tortoise, not the hare

It’s easy to put a lot of energy into your social media presence. There’s nothing to stop you from running around tweeting, blogging or podding but are you focussing that energy in the right place?

It’s imperative that you focus all your creative energy at the point of contact. By that I mean any piece of content that you create for public consumption. It’s all in the delivery.

You may be brimming with ideas and buzzing with those things that you just have to get out to the masses but if you don’t nail it when you actually turn  them into content, you’ve wasted it. Focus all of your attention when you are crafting that tweet or finessing that post.

The tortoise wins!

Some people make it seem effortless because they understand this simple concept. They may not have as many ideas as you, they may not be as smart or as witty, but by applying the correct rigor to their output they are outperforming you with ease.

Try posting a bit less. Next time you have something to say, don’t say it straight away. Take a pause, think about how to frame it. Think about how it’ll be received by your audience. Then write it, read it back, edit and then send. It’ll save you a lot of wasted effort.

Image credit: Wally Gobetz

My social media tipping point

After a year of serious dedication to Twitter and 8 months of blogging at least twice a week I have racked up 3899 tweets and 76 blog posts.

I have 1276 followers (909 of whom I follow back) and have built up a reliable, knowledgable and friendly network by visiting events like #EdCM and #themeet140. I even have my own #smclinic which always draws a modest crowd.

I bang on about engagement and tone-of-voice. I pontificate about the best way to manage your relationship with followers and advocates. Sometimes I even tell you what I don’t think you should be doing.

I get comments, retweets and #ffs on a regular basis from people whose work I greatly respect. People’s whose opinions count in my line of business.

With all that said, I bet it’d surprise you to learn that I am only just, now, beginning to get business off the back of my social media presence. Before now I have relied on my previously existing network and channels. Now I get enquiries from people whose only contact with me has been online via this blog or my presence on Twitter or LinkedIn. They are comfortable approaching me because everywhere they check me out I am coming up trumps. Finally.

So what does that illustrate?

Well, not much other than the glaring fact that despite all the headlines, the glitz and the buzz, achieving success with social media doesn’t happen overnight. Unless you’re Old Spice and have a massive machine behind you, cranking the wheel, then you’re just relying on a slow build.

Networks don’t grow overnight. Every little extra piece you put into the jigsaw creates more interest, and after a while that does begin to take on a momentum of its own, but it’s no magic pill. If you are serious about harnessing the power of this stuff then you have to understand that you’ve got to stick at it. Work on it every day, think about it all the time. Eventually it’ll pay off.

Trust me. I’m a Social Media Consultant.

My social media toolkit

I get asked a lot about what applications I use to do what I do. So I thought I’d share it with you. All of the applications below are ones that I use on a daily basis and I couldn’t do without. In every case there are alternatives which gives me some comfort given that all of the listed tools here are provided for free:

Social Media Dashboards

Hootsuite

This is the one thing I couldn’t do without. Hootsuite is a browser based social media dashboard which aggregates all of your feeds from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare, MySpace and PingFM.

It allows you to set up columns and pages so you can have easy access to all your lists, hashtags, searches, mentions, messages etc. It also allows you to manage multiple accounts (although the free version only allows 5 of these).

The free version probably does enough for a single community manager but upgrading to the paid version allows for teamworking which is a godsend when managing multiple users on larger social media campaigns.

Leading Alternatives: Tweetdeck, Seesmic

Blogs

This blog is powered by WordPress. For me it’s the best free blogging application on the net. Setting up a new blog is pretty much idiot-proof and they supply enough free themes to ensure that all of their blogs don’t look the same.

You can also add numerous “widgets” to the side of the page and do interesting stuff like bring in your Twitter feed or display your Flickr photos. I prefer to keep mine simple.

It’s incredibly well supported and they make it easy for you if want to graduate to hosting your own version. There’s also no shortage of WordPress developers these days.

Leading Alternatives: Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr

Media Monitoring Dashboards

NetVibes is great for bringing together a whole bunch of RSS feeds and displaying them as an easily digestible dashboard.

I use it to bring in feeds from across a number applications I use to monitor social media activity. So my Netvibes contains feeds from Socialmention, Topsy, Twitter Search, Google Alerts, Google Blog Search, Google News, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo.

I have separate dashboards for separate projects but broadly I use the same feeds. This gives me an easily digestible view across a whole range of applications which allows me to keep on top of how my projects are performing in the wild. If I need to get more information to pull together a report then each of the sources is just a click away.

Leading Alternatives: iGoogle, Feedly

Twitter Aggregators

This is a great application that will allow you to add some meaning to the contents of a hashtag chat in Twitter. Log in and you can add a description of the hashtag (something that Twitter itself sorely lacks). From there it will show you who has tweeted, what they said and also throws in some handy stats.

The best feature, for me, is the transcript. You can create a transcript from any hashtag at the click of a button. It’s incredibly useful and we use it for the #smclinic.

Leading Alternatives: Twubs, TweetReach

Analyticss

I have issues with pretty much all the twitter analytic tools because you simply can’t boil success in human interaction down to one simple number.

Twitalyzer at least provides lots of different numbers, some of which ARE actually useful. For my monitoring of Twitter accounts, it’s exceptionally useful to see at a glance things like reference ratio, rewteets and reach. These numbers actually tell me something which I can then go and do something about. If I’m not sharing as much other people’s content as I am my own then I can immediately start to do something about it.

Obviously this doesn’t cover other social networks I haven’t found anything that does this even close to well, although Klout have just added Facebook so I’ll be watching that one closely.

Leading Alternatives: Klout

And the rest

I know that this is not comprehensive. It’s simply the toolset that I have settled on (for now). If there are any glaring omissions in my alternatives lists then please let me know. Equally,  if there’s some super tool that I’m missing out on then share it in the comments.