Tweeting for the Newbie

23 08 2010

I’m a huge twitter fan – it’s an incredible source of information, a good discussion forum, and all-out entertaining to boot! My passion seems contagious, because recently a number of friends have asked me how to get on twitter and what to do once they’re on… So here are my seven easy steps for getting started. And once you’ve started, follow a few people like @TweetSmarter and @twitter to learn more quickly.

1. Go to twitter.com and create your account. On the ‘Account‘ screen your username will be what people see when you tweet (mine is ImAmyO). Then go to ‘Profile and fill out your bio with some interesting stuff about yourself and post a pic. No need to mess with the mobile settings or your screen design – always time later for that…

2. Follow someone. Are any of your friends on twitter? Or find someone famous that does something interesting (I follow @MarthaStuart cuz I like to know what she’s eating). Follow the news (I like the CCN Breaking News feed @ccnbrk). Follow someone in your industry, again if they’re posting cool stuff. Use ‘Find People‘ in the upper corner of your screen to look for people. Go to twubs.com and enter a word that is important to you – on twitter the word is called a hashtag cuz you can put it in your tweets as a flag so others can easily find info on a subject. Twubs will show you a bunch of tweets on the subject – you’ll see #<the word you entered> in the tweets. Follow some of the people tweeting on your topic of interest. Then go to the profile of each person you follow, by clicking on their name in your following list, go to their following list, and follow some of them! Look for people who tweet topics of interest to you, and especially people who include a lot of links to other site – that’s where twitter starts to become a good knowledge-base.

3. Tweet something. Come on. What are your reading? What have you seen? What do you know that would help others? Post a link in your tweet to something you read online. Post a link to a picture. And here’s a tip – since a tweet can only be 140 characters, you don’t want to waste them on long links. So go to bit.ly.com and enter the long link (sometimes I post links to NYT articles that are almost 100 characters) and bit.ly will give you a short link instead.

4. Retweet something. Huh? Yup, this is the essence of twitter. When someone you follow says something interesting, you can retweet it so that all your followers see it. Now don’t get too caught up in the fact that you probably don’t have too many followers yet, retweet anyways cuz on twitter retweeting is seen as the highest form of flattery…

5. …besides following someone who follows you – that’s also a twitter form of flattery. As time goes on and you tweet / retweet more, and follow more people, people will start to follow you. They’ll find you because of your bio, what you tweet, and who you follow, and who’s following you (just like you did in step 2 above). So what should you do? Follow them back. For sure, not always, but click on their twitter handle and go to their profile page. Check out their bio, and what they’ve tweeted. If it’s interesting, follow them! That’s how the network builds.

6. Be informed and entertained. You can watch your twitter feed (that’s all the incoming tweets from people you follow) on twitter.com, but I like to use a different twitter app called TweetDeck. Download it from TweetDeck.com and you’ll see that you can arrange columns with different searches. I also love the way it pops the latest tweet up in the corner of my screen; I can scan to see what’s going on and quickly decide if I want to check the tweet out further. Retweets are easier in TweetDeck too, and there are TweetDeck apps for your smartphone as well.

7. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in random order for infinity. You’ll be engaged, enlightened, and entertained. Enjoy!





It’s the content, stupid

28 06 2010

Linotype Machine

Not to point out the obvious, but with the low barrier to entry for using social media it’s pretty easy for anyone to say anything to anyone about anything these days. In contrast, my dad was trained as a printer in Ireland, and spent decades here in the U.S. working the night shift to produce the newspapers we relied upon for the news each morning. Reporters hunting down the scoop by day, editors fine-tuning the story in the evening, and my dad toiling through the wee hours setting the type. I loved waking up to the news he brought home each morning in that freshly printed paper.

These mornings I roll over and grab my iPhone off the nightstand. I click one of multiple apps to see what’s happened overnight. I check in on blogs, scan my twitter feed, make sure my facebook friends aren’t having major issues – all before I lift my head from the pillow. It’s over coffee that I turn to traditional media for more news: wsj, theregister, nytimes, … While I trust my friends to offer up their views on just about everything, I want their opinions supplemented by reporters hunting down scoops, backed by intelligent and thoughtful editors working the story.

That’s why I’m so intrigued by the Atlantic’s recent article on Google’s attempt to save traditional media. User generated content is often ad hoc, and it works best for me when supported by a system of professional journalists working the systemic stories.

The Sunday paper best exemplifies the traditional journalistic business model. All that news is paid for by the huge bundle of colorful ads that sit in the center of the folded paper. But in new media, the news doesn’t arrive in one convenient bundle that advertisers can use to push their message. And that one convenient bundle represents the traditional journalistic business model. But it’s not a question of whether we still need professional journalism, it’s a question of how to change the traditional media business model to support that profession.

Google acknowledges that they need the content produced by professionals to sustain the Google business model. And those professionals need to adapt as well to these changing times. The first thing to go will be the print, as more and more journalism goes on-line. That radically changes the cost structure of the news business. The second change is news aggregators, like Google News, directing traffic through content excerpts. And finally, the news will again be supported by ads, not in a bundle this time that falls out of your Sunday paper, but in on-line ads tailored to your interests via clickstream analytics.

So my dad no longer needs to set his linotype (good thing, cuz he retired and is now happy volunteering at a local cancer center), but we do need the journalists to feed content into our news ecosystem.





I hate running in circles

18 06 2010

CirclesA friend of my daughter is training for collegiate field hockey and has devised a plan to run varied distances each day towards her overall training goal. The thing is, Chicken (that’s her nickname, but I don’t think she’s afraid of much) says she hates to run in circles. So she took a map of Westford and found friends’ houses at different distances from her home. She runs the miles to a friends house, and then bums a ride back home so that she never has to run in circles.

I hate running in circles too, which is why I often gravitate towards strategy roles. But strategy is no ivory-tower event, to me it means three things: settling on one common goal, using the best of everyone’s ideas to create a plan as to where to focus, and mapping that plan against what is going on in the market. You end up with a goal that says we’ll grow revenue and margin by focusing on certain solutions through certain channels, a plan that says we adapt pricing and promotions for certain customers, and a map that shows how this plays out in meeting market demand and against the competition. And then you make sure the strategy works for your whole ecosystem of partners, suppliers, employees and customers so that you can all grow together.Chicken

Ya know, Chicken has a goal, a well-defined plan for each day, and a map so that she doesn’t end up running in circles. She is even leveraging her network of  friends for support. Now that’s a Chicken recipe with the right ingredients for success!