10 Helpful Tools to Increase Productivity

Sometimes I feel that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to productivity. Spending a little too much time catching up with friends via email, Facebook andTwitter. Or too much time organizing myself instead of actually putting my ideas into action. I am sure many of you have your productivity vices as well. For all you social media pros out there who are so busy between Tweetups and networking and managing emails and Tweets for both your personal and professional brands, I have some tools to help you (and me) out! Keep reading for  a list of apps that can help you stop wasting that precious time, and make use of it more efficiently (because our time is valuable!)

1. Evernote: Ever think of a great idea for a blog post or business decision but don’t recall it the next day? I hate that! Well Evernote, is helpful in those situations because it helps you keep track of ideas whether you’re on the go or not. And luckily for us, it is available for Macs, Windows, iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys and more! My boss mentioned this tool to me and I had been meaning to check it out…she could not have been more right regarding taking notes and staying organized with Evernote. Two thumbs up!

 

 

2. Rapportive: Too many emails and social media connections to keep track of who they’re from? Rapportive allows you to see profiles and social network connections of anyone you are emailing with (in Gmail). Simple way to keep track of people and how they’re connected to you.

 

3. Yammer: Want a way for you and your coworkers to communicate regarding business objectives in a fun yet effective manner? Yammer allows for the simplicity of Facebook and Twitter, yet keeps things private for your work community only. Allows employees to share documents and files, as well as communicate directly with coworkers without the use of email. Nifty tool to keep up with coworkers and business ideas inside and outside of work.

4. Mystickies: Tired of bookmarks? “To put it simply, Mystickiesallows you to place little yellow squares of digital paper anywhere and everywhere you feel like in the whole wide web.” This is basically another way to keep track of what you want to go back to on the web later with fun “stickies.”

 

5. Tungle: Your schedule as hectic as mine? Worried about making meetings and double booking for lunch? Tungle integrates with your calendar and shows your availability to others so they can schedule meetings at your convenience. The work isn’t in your hands, and it eliminates the back-and-forth email communication involved with scheduling meetings.

6. Boomerang: In short a helpful add-on for Gmail which allows you to schedule emails for later. For example, you may want to send reminder emails to people regarding an event, product, service, or meeting — but not right away. Schedule them, and have Boomerang do it for you later.

7. Timely: Worried about wasting time tweeting out posts and not getting any engagement from your target market? Timely helps you figure out which times work best and when you can program auto-tweets for best response.

8. Mint: Don’t fret over money, Mint helps you stay organized and “fret less.” In short, Mint brings all your financial accounts together online, automatically categorizes your transactions, lets you set budgets & helps you achieve your savings.” Pretty awesome and way less time than an excel spreadsheet.

 

9. Manilla: Like Mint, this tools helps you manage money, BUT — it helps you manage all of your accounts and automatically pay online from ONE place. Therefore, rather than having a million accounts coming from email, mail, and different websites, Manilla provides a simple user-friendly platform to have a more efficient way to pay your bills, subscriptions, and keep track of points!

 

10. Join.me: A simple way to have a meeting away from your office. You can share your screen or view someone else’s and see what they want to demonstrate and show you without being present in the conference room! My advice – add Skype when doing this!

Have other tools you love for productivity? Please share!

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 


5 Ways to Save Time on Twitter

How much time do you spend on Twitter? I know I sometimes spend more time than I intend to, looking for the latest news, latest updates from friends, and the coolest stuff going on in my city and cool stats and info to link to and blog about. Fortunately, for me…and you – there are plenty of ways to save time on Twitter and not waste time we could be spending on other things like work!

The following are my suggestions on how to save time…

 (1) Trunk.ly – A tool that helps cut through the clutter of finding andkeeping up with social media news that you view awesome and important.  It collects any links that you share on Twitter (and other social networks) in order for you to go back and be able to search them when you have time. It bookmarks them in a way that is easily searchable for you. Why waste time trying to find that link, Trunk.ly has it all stored away for you, ready and waiting.

(2) Tweetdeck -  Too many followers, too little time? I have friends who have over 50,00 followers and I wonder how they do it. Yikes! Platforms likeTweetdeck are super helpful! You can organize your followers in lists in order to differentiate from people you know in real life, those who are folks from certain industries, news sites, local folks, and more. This is especially helpful for community managers who are trying to keep track of their competition, customers, and potential customers. A time saver and possible lead gen tool if used to our advantage!

(3) SocialOomph – Want to Tweet but you won’t be around to do it? On vacation? Away for the weekend? Schedule them to go out while you’re away with SocialOomph. This is great for blog posts you want to get out, but don’t have time to be at your computer to Tweet them.

(4) Tweetbeep – No time to sit and look at Twitter or your platform of choice for Tweeting? Tweetbeep is a great app that allows you to get hourly (or whatever time allotment you choose) summary of searches, mentions, terms, hashtags, etc. For example, are you working on a product campaign, promotional event or just monitoring your brand? Tweetbeep will let you know what’s being said when it’s said, or in a convenient time for you. Great way to keep up and respond accordingly, especially if it’s someone asking a question, and/or commenting on your brand or product. In addition, you can keep up with what’s being said on the competition or just an event you wish you could have attended but missed. Useful and simple to set up.

 (5)  Listorious – Starting out and not sure who to follow? Find an index of lists with Listorious and follow the lists that are interesting and relevant to your personal brand and/or business brand. That way you can see what people in your industry are talking about. Great way to get started and/or increase followers by showing interest and  following them.

Bonus Tip:

Curation! Are you starting out with your content and strategy for it? Or are you struggling with time this week on creating it? Curating content is a great way to share content without taking the time to create it yourself. For example, have a list created of people you follow for relevant news in your industry. Then you can ReTweet a Tweet they shared with a comment. Additionally you can find a blog post they did and comment on it in your Tweet. Great way to show it is not all about you and still share relevant content to you and your industry.

As you can see Twitter is a useful and awesome tool, but it can take time to use effectively. Fortunately for us, the tools above are a great way to cut down on some of that time and still Tweet in a matter that is beneficial and awesome.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 


5 Social Media Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid

Would you go to a cocktail party and talk incessantly about how awesome you are? Would you not say thank you or please? Would you not listen to the person you are talking to? Obviously not. So why would you do such things in social media? Many people make mistakes on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, which they would not make in their daily lives. Keep reading for my suggestions on what mistakes to avoid and how to avoid them!

1. Being Selfish: Ever see that person on Twitter who just tweets and tweets about their blog, their product, their service, and where they went to eat and drink? Did you unfollow them, yet? I find it maddening and unfortunate when people think Twitter is just a loud speaker for them to blare out what’s on their mind and what’s going on with their business. Social media like Twitter and Facebook , like in real life, requires listening and conversing, rather than a one-sided conversation that leaves the others wanting to run out the door and lose the keys. Like attending a cocktail party, say hi, say thank you, say please, and be considerate. Listen to the other person “in the room” and converse. Don’t talk at them. Talk with them. Having trouble listening? I would suggest making a Twitter list of people you want to regularly listen to and engage with. Also, set up a search column or keywords on a Twitter client such asTweetdeck for words you consider relevant to you and/or your business so you can stay on target. Engaging doesn’t mean you are straying from your business goals — it will only help you further them!

 

2. Being a robot: I love when I look on my Twitter lists and I get bombarded with automated Tweets regarding a product, service or blog post. Even better…the auto DM. Can you sense my sarcasm? I understand and believe that scheduled Tweets can be helpful especially over periods of time when one is away on vacation, etc. However. when there are ten in a row, or the same Tweet over and over, and they are all self-promotional and no engagement…Fail! Like in customer service when you call to talk to a person and not a machine — in social media no one wants to “listen” to an automated “robot.” As in #1 above, take a minute and listen and tweet relevantly yet in a friendly manner, which initiates conversation, not robotic movement. That way you can curate content (if you don’t have time to create it), ReTweet others, and question and comment on what others are saying.

3. Expecting instant success: Unlike winning the lottery, social media does not mean instant gratification. One needs to put in effort, time, and work into increasing fans, followers, and creating actual relationships on each platform. Most people do not get married after the first date, and like on Twitter and Facebook people may not like your page or follow you right away. And if they do — it does not mean they are listening to your every word unless you make it relevant to them. Thus, you need to use tools to monitor your brand (free or paid) in order to see what’s relevant to your target market, your competition, and take the time to Tweet, post, and share awesome stuff that make your followers and fans want to run off and have a shot-gun wedding.

4. Spamming: Like spam email? Telemarketers calling your phone? Then why would you like people who spam your Twitter feed, your Facebook wall, or your blog? Like in #1 above, it’s not all about you and what you have to say. So do not think people care about a cool new link on your website…because they probably do not. Instead of spamming someone who spoke about an iPad, with your free offer to win one, how about adding value to the conversation. Have a relevant blog that gives good advice and content regarding your product/service/market. Consider asking a question, and if the person converses back, share relevant info that would help them. Creating awareness is one thing, but converting someone to a customer takes time. Not spam.

 

5. Not being real: As Julia Roy said at the Harvard Business School conference (Dynamic Women in Business) — “be real.” People can sense dishonesty and those who are fake from a mile away. You will lose admiration, fans, followers, and brand value if you are not real. People want real relationships with real people. Be you. Be real. This matters whether it is your personal brand or your company brand. Find your listening app of choice, whether it be Hootsuite, Google Reader, Tweetdeck, etc — think about what you want to say, comment — and speak freely. Add some sarcasm, some spark. Don’t be so stuffy because you’re afraid of what people might think. Be you. Be real. And have fun.

 

So, dear friends, marketers, community managers, and fellow social media geeks — do your best to avoid these five mistakes. Although there is more to social media than just these five items to consider, they are a great step in the right direction of building relationships, engaging fully, and creating awareness for one’s brand.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

20 Personal Brand Building and Monitoring Tools You Don’t Want to Miss

A little birdie told me that people love free tools? I know I sure do! So for your drooling pleasure, here is a “mega list” of free tools that can help you monitor your brand online, because without monitoring your brand presence, you may fall into the deep end without a lifesaver.

Ready, Set, Start drooling…

 1. Twilerts: A great and simple tool to consolidate and keep up with the Tweets on your brand. This app will email you whenever there are Tweets regarding your brand name and/or other search terms you set up for your convenience. Key word: convenience.

2. Backtype: Want to keep tabs on what people are saying regarding your brand, your conference, your product? Backtype is a real-time search engine that makes this simple and in turn helps you realize your “social impact.”

3. Tweet Alarm: Do you like Google Alerts? Well then you might love this because it’s basically the same concept except for Twitter, where you will be alerted when someone Tweets about your brand or whatever else suits your fancy. Simple and easy.

4. Tweetdeck: A tool I personally use to keep track of search terms, such as when people mention my blog post for oneforty. Great way to see what people are saying, when they say it, and in turn I can easily respond to their Tweets. Also great to keep tabs on a conference you may be planning or attending. You can follow along on the conversation and participate if you so wish.

5. Kurrently: Want yet another social search engine for your tool belt? WellKurrently not only searches Twitter for mentions regarding your brand or other search term, but also checks out Facebook so you are even more up to date on what’s being said regarding your brand.

 6. Social Mention: So instead of receiving info on Tweets and mentions separately from different platforms, Social Mention aggregates all the content that is related to the search term you provided into a single stream (from many social media platforms). This makes it easier to digest and view what’s being said about your brand.

7. Topsy: So Topsy goes beyond the typical social search engine and “indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations millions of people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried.” Therefore you know whether a specific mention has been influential or not, and what type of positive or negative effect it may or may not have.

 8. Twoolr: Specific to Twitter, Twoolr allows the user to receive stats on hashtags, replies, ReTweets and who followed and/or unfollowed your brand. Helpful to see what people are saying, when they’re saying it, and who follow and unfollows you and when that occurs so perhaps you can correlate it to a specific event and/or promotion/campaign. However, I must preface that only some of these functions are available in the Free version.

 9. Twitter analyzer: As seen below, this tool is helpful to get a quick snapshot on a specific Twitter handle and the reach of that handle. This is a great way to analyze your own brand’ reach, the reach of a competitor, and/or the reach of an influencer in your product category.

 

 10. Crowdbooster: As Mashable quoted, this tool is “a user-friendly, color-coded UI that quickly and simply highlights your best tweets and areas for improvement.” In short it’s a great way to help with your Twitter marketing and analyzing how you’re doing in order to tweak your strategy if needed. The interactive graph that uses is a great way to quickly see what worked in your campaign and what did not. Crowdbooster is free for consumers and is currently in beta.

11. Cadmus: Finding it difficult to stay on top of the conversation when you’ve been in meetings and/or away from your computer? Well Cadmus is the quick catch-up tool for your stream in order to see what conversation you missed while you were away. Helpful for the multi-tasker.

12. PostPost: Are there specific influencers for your brand category (or competitors) that you specifically like to keep an eye on in “real-time”? Well this nifty tool is great to keep up with what they’re sharing, because PostPost focuses on search results from the people you want to listen to, rather than everyone in the social sphere.

13. HashTracking: Although in closed beta right now, you can still find out how your campaign is doing via the hashtag for your product/event/etc. Quick and cool insights to see the impressions and reach your hashtag had. Useful!

 

 14. Addictomatic: A real-time social search engine that allows you to create a custom page on the buzz that you want to know about. You can find out what people are saying about your brand on not just Twitter, but also blog posts, flickr,youTube, etc. And not to mention there’s a robot for their mascot. Love it.

15. IceRocket: A tool to help you keep up with the buzz that is trending. You can search specific terms that you want to keep track of and/or just see what is most popular in your segment.

 16. Summify: Too many mentions, posts, and Tweets to keep up wtih? Want it all condensed (from all of the networks you are present on) and in order of importance to you and your brand? Summify will “sum” it up for you! In short, you save time and there’s less noise — cut the clutter!

17. Mentionmap: Connect to your Twitter API and see what’s going on in your Twitter network. Who are the influencers who interact the most, and what are they saying. And who is most relevant to your target market.

 

 18. Proxlet: Is the clutter and noise getting to you on Twitter? LetProxlet help. It can block Foursquare checkins, hide Tweets based on certain hashtags, enable it so you only see links by users who are too noisy for your dailyTwitter dose and more.

 

19. Trendrr: This platform allows brands to listen, measure and respond to the conversation about their brand, their products/services, and other relevant items. Therefore your brand can see what people are saying, how they like your product/service, how they view your brand, and in turn your brand can respond, question, and comment to these users in real-time due to the use of this platform’s quick and easy organization for your convenience. In addition you can measure conversation in order to evaluate the sentiment and again this will assist in your gauging for communication and engagement with your target market.

20. Gruml: Use Google Reader? Have a Mac? Gruml (a download) makes it easy for you to “view and manage your feed subscriptions of your Google Reader account on Mac OS X.” On more tool to make your life simpler and more organized so you can consume content faster, more efficiently and with plenty of time to take action where and when needed on behalf of your brand.

Are you on “free tool overload” yet? . Have more free tools to recommend? Please do!

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 


How to: Get Started in Social Media in 9 Steps



Many companies have realized the potential of social media and the impact it can have on a brand’s awareness and competitive advantage. However, some of those companies are unsure where to start. My first recommendation, do not just set up a Fan Page on Facebook and Twitter handle and begin posting items. That would be unwise and counter-productive. However, I do recommend obtaining a Twitter handle that is your company’s name right away (so no one else does).

But where to actually start? Here are my thoughts:

1. What is your marketing business strategy?

Remember: marketing is a business strategy because it affects so much of the core business. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Compete more effectively against your competition? Generate leads? Improve customer service? Whatever the goals are, it must be defined. For example, when I did social media for a non-profit, I was told their marketing goals were to increase awareness of their brand and attendance at their events. With those two goals in mind, I was able to think more strategically on what had to be planned and implemented, such as increasing followers on Twitter and creating incentives to attend events (on and offline).

2. Listen

See where your target audience is in the social sphere. That way you can see which platforms your consumers are already on, how well your competition is doing, and where it may be most beneficial for your company to be present – whether onFacebook, Twitter, etc. Again, looking back at the nonprofit I worked for, I was able to see most of their fans were on Facebook and interacting more there. However, other nonprofits in the same segment were on Twitter and doing quite well with interaction. Two well utilized platforms that were being under utilized by this nonprofit. However, because I listened to what was being said, and on what platform, I was able to see where the nonprofit should be (along with other platforms/services too, of course).

Note: You can listen to your consumers via socialmention, Tweetdeck, and through other great free social media monitoring tools. Example: I used Tweetdeck to keep track of a conference I worked on and what people were saying via the hashtag.

3. Create Content

It is not enough to just be present on platforms and share information. One must have quality information (content) to share that is relevant to the target market in which they compete and are present. I recommend beginning a blog first, create enough content, so when you begin Tweeting, posting, sharing, etc — you have content for fans and potential consumers to go back to and read more and learn more about what you do and why they should be interested. Some say, content is king. I say content is the one tool in your toolbox you should never let rust. So however you put it, content is essential to utilizing social media and your marketing strategy.

4. Identify Your Target Market

From your marketing strategy you should know who your target market is. From Step 2 above, you should already be listening to see where your target market is in the social sphere, and what they’re saying. Are they complaining? Praising? Questioning your product/service? Wishing something was better? This is your chance to decide how you would like to listen better, respond in real-time, and how you will do this (see part b). 

5. Identify Your Platforms

The platforms are tools to your strategy and plan. After you saw where your competition is, where your target market is, then you could decide to also be present on those platforms, and/or ones you realize that are being under-utilized and take advantage of this “social realty space.” For example, is your competition tweeting away and engaging with the target market by promoting their service, pumping out their blog content, and answering customer service questions? Well, you should be too! Note, there are many platforms, and more and more are created daily. My suggestion, find your home base – whether it be Facebook or Twitter or whatever else. Focus on that platform (because that is where your target market is) but also utilize a few others in order to stay on the competitive edge and not fall behind.

Note: there are many platforms out there, but it does not mean you need to be on all of them. Choose what works best for your business and reaching your marketing goals.

6. Set a Content Schedule

As talked about in Step 2, you need content that is relevant. Furthermore, it is helpful to set up a schedule and/or editorial calendar to keep track of weekly/daily posts written by you and your colleagues. I suggest making a “content bank” full of great blog ideas for people to choose from, setting up a weekly schedule of when people will submit their posts, and when they will actually be posted to the blog (after reading over and making sure there are no grammar/spelling mistakes).

Having trouble deciding on blog post topics? Listen to what your community and target market is saying. Do they have “pain points” or certain areas of uncertainty? Answer them! For example, if your company is in the mobile market and people want to know about trouble shooting on their own. Show them! Key point here is to give the readers what they want. Listen first, respond quickly (or your competition will).

7. Corporate Social Media Engagement Policy

Concerned on what people in your company may Tweet or post? Set up some engagement rules so you feel better and/or designate one or two people to be in charge of posting and responding. I suggest a designated community manager, but with a higher level manager to also have access in order to show the company/brand is human and upper management likes to engage with their consumers too. It makes the brand feel more real and the consumers feel they are special.

Note, it is not always easy to respond to criticism and there will be people who respond harshly to your blog posts, Facebook posts, etc. That is the name of the game though — people are allowed to comment, and your brand has to decide how to engage and respond accordingly. Sometimes it is just a spammer, sometimes it is just a disgruntled consumer — each type of comment is unique to a brand and situation and does not necessarily have an automatic response. My suggestion, ignore/delete spam. Do not ignore a disgruntled consumer — because that may lead to more consumers who are against your service via word of mouth. Find out what you can do to help this consumer and avoid this happening again. If you respond quickly and assist, this consumer may tell people how great and efficient your response was. Thus, social media is fabulous for real-time response and consumer service issues (if used properly).

8. Measure, Measure, Measure

It is essential to monitor your success on these platforms. Use Google Analytics to keep track of your blog and traffic and how that traffic is coming to your blog. Is it direct or via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter? Which blog posts had the most traffic? This will assist in seeing what consumers responded and likes the most and allow you to strategize better for future posts. It will also let you see what did not work and how you can revise your strategy if needed.

9. Test it out

In my opinion the best way to get started is to try. After you have put together your plan, “jump in!” This was emphasized by Mike Volpe, VP of Marketing at Hubspot who once said, it is not enough to dip your toes in. So, get Tweeting, posting, and sharing. And remember, social media is not instant gratification. It takes time, like all relationships and business. So, be patient and don’t forget to have fun!

Note: This post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

Top 5 B2B Companies on Twitter and Why They Are Successful

There are many B2B companies in all different sectors and industries. And more and more have decided to come on board and utilize Twitter for their brand awareness,  consumer engagement, and lead generation. Here are 5 diverse B2B companies that are doing it right…

(1) Hubspot: An Inbound Marketing software company that realizes how vital Twitter can be to a B2B and its consumers. When I think of Twitter , I think of engaging with the consumer and interacting on a personal level. In short: being human.Hubspot does this very well, as seen from the screenshot below. They not only provide tips and blog posts (relevant content), but they also respond and @mentionpeople who want to interact with them. The “man behind the screen” laughs with the consumers, answers their questions, and comments on their blog posts. Hubspotdemonstrates the importance of being human in order to create lasting relationships with consumers, which may in turn “lead” to loyal and/or future consumers (and does not just pump out content, although that is unbelievably important as well). If I were a B2B, I would definitely keep my eyes on @hubspot for future tips of the Twitter trade.

(2) Forrester Research: What I like best about @Forrester is that they do not just talk about themselves, but Tweet about other companies. One of myTwitter rules to follow was giving praise to others and not making it a one-way conversation about how “great you are.” Would you go to a party and talk about yourself nons-stop the whole time? Hopefully not. Same common sense rules apply toTwitter: It’s not all about you. What I also thought was clever and useful is that@Forrester puts all their contact info on their Twitter background. Therefore, if the consumer wants to go beyond Twitter for communication and ask a question via phone the number is right their, “at their fingertips.”

(3) United Linen: Did you ever think of a linen and uniform company as being pro-active on social sites like Twitter? I hadn’t either, but @UnitedLinen is quite active, and what’s really cool is that the Twitter handle is openly run by the Director, Scott Townsend. This transparency and openness to show the “human” side is applause worthy. And like @Forrester, @UnitedLinen Tweets about other news worthy items, other companies, and realizes that “it’s not all about them.” In addition, they utilize promotions on Gowalla, and understand that geolocation is a great way to link with Twitter and are giving their consumers the chance to connect further with them. Clap Clap Clap, @UnitedLinen!

(4) Intel: I’d be surprised if you have not heard of Intel, and it’s technological savvy-ness. And being so tech-savvy, the company is also ensuring that they are up on the latest and greatest of social as well. The Twitter account, @Intel is full of juicy details about technology, blog posts by Intel, and up to date news on what’s shaking with them, including Obama’s visit to their company site. What I like most is that they diversify their Tweets and keep things interesting. That’s a great lesson for companies who are beginning to Tweet and/or cannot seem to create engagement with consumers. Don’t Tweet about your company constantly, or just about news, or just about your blog. Keep it fresh and keep it real.

(5) Deloitte, which is more than just a consulting firm, appears to be on the “conservative” side of business — where the “red tape” may prohibit many from being active on sites such as Twitter. However, Deloitte has shown it is do-able and can be done very well, too! While @deloitte is the main Twitter handle for the company, they do have other handles by location and by department such as @deloittehealth. I think the great thing about this is the capability to effectively and efficiently handle consumer Tweets and questions in a real-time manner by the person who they want to talk to. Whether it’s consulting, health, or just a specific location, Deloitte is providing the ease of “at your fingertips” for each person.

As you can see, Twitter is useful for many purposes, and these five B2B companies realize the importance. Although they may not utilize Twitter for the same purposes, they are all doing something for their marketing strategy, whether it be brand awareness, consumer engagement, and/or generating leads. Whatever your strategy/purpose may be, do not forget that Twitter is not a fad, it is a useful tool in your social toolbox.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

Case Study: How Boloco Uses Social Media for Success

boloco: one word… yum! Not only do they have scrumptious burritos, but they also are a great example on how to utilize socialmedia such as Twitter for success. I had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Steele-Rogers, the social media maven for boloco to get some insight on their strategy, tactics, and steps to success through social media.

ME: Sara, tell us “your story”…what brought you to boloco?

SARA: I’ve been a fan of boloco since The Wrap days. While in graduate school at Emerson College, I interned with Yelp. Yelp is extremely active at community events, and so is boloco. After bumping into the boloco team three or four times at events around the city, we became great friends. Once I graduated in May 2010 (and even before then), I expressed a great deal of interest to John Pepper, boloco‘s CEO, about joining the team. One thing led to another, and here I am today!

ME: Awesome. So let’s talk about Twitter and how boloco utilizes the different handles they have. What was your original social media strategy for utilizing Twitter and how has it changed over time?

SARA: Originally, John as in charge of the @boloco Twitter handle became recognized for his quick, honest approach to responding to every guest. Once I joined the team, I became the main driver of the @boloco handle, with John chiming in occasionally. He now runs his ownTwitter handle, @bolocoCEO, and many of our stores have their own Twitter handles. The involvement of the individual stores varies, but we do our best to have at least one person oversee the specific handles and publicize information relevent to their community. It’s important we don’t overwhelm our Twitter stream with hyper-local content.

ME: What specific tactics does boloco use and how does that separate them from their competition? In addition, what are you monitoring on Twitter? What tools do you use to monitor?
SARA: Ever since the inception of @boloco three years ago, the primary use of Twitter has been to listen to and respond to our guests. It’s not just guests who complain – it’s guests who praise us, have suggestions, valuable feedback, customer complaints, and even FourSquarecheck-ins. Our tone is also different. Boloco is human. We’re 100% honest. We’re not afraid to re-tweet our mistakes or comparisons to our competition. We also like to surprise guests – load a free menu item on their boloco card if they get something not-so-good from a competitor. Load an additional freebie on their boloco card so they can enjoy their free birthday burrito with a friend (for free).

In regards to tools and monitoring, we’re pretty basic at boloco. I use Tweetdeck,Kurrently, Twitter for iPhone. We’re looked into larger-scale monitoring tools likeRadian6 and Scout Labs, but aren’t ready to make the investment just yet. Admittedly, the scape is ever-evolving and it’s tough to keep up!

ME: Why should we follow @boloco?
SARA: We hope people follow us so we can add to their overall boloco experience. We want our guests to be assured that we’re always listening, and feel comfortable voicing their opinions… good or bad. We’ve made great changes to our company because of Twitterfeedback. If you’re bored, we’ll talk to you If you’re looking for some humor or something unexpected, we might provide that, too. And less often, we’ll promote our in-store promotions, free burrito days, Snoloco days, and other offers we hope will encourage you to come visit us.

 

ME: If you were stuck on an island, what three tools could you never give up as a community manager?

SARA: Sense of humor, Tweetdeck, and TwitPic.

ME: Any tips for CEOs on Twitter?

SARA: Be honest and admit your mistakes!

A great interview and a great community manager and social media marketing girl to keep your eyes on. Sara is rocking it for boloco and boloco is definitely a company to use as a role model when it comes to customer service and consumer engagement via social media such as Twitter.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

How to: Start a Company Twitter Account


Is your company ready to Tweet? Well before you get started on the Tweets, hashtag usage, and great consumer engagement through the relationships you will build…and then here are the steps you need to take in order to take advantage of Twitter and all its greatness:

1) Twitter Handle: In my opinion, it is best to keep a Twitter handle as simple as possible, as close to your company name as possible, and without any numbers and/or dashes (if possible). Case in point: @carbonite and @zipcar. That way if someone is looking for your company handle on Twitter or via Google, it is easier to find, and easier to remember when people are Tweeting about you. As the old line goes, “keep it simple stupid.”

2) Profile Picture and Background: Use a picture that’s easy to recognize and coincides with your company’s brand image. Best to use your logo if possible or a variation of it. In addition your background is also great “retail space.” You can customize it to be very visual like @zipcar below or or keep it simple and to the point like @carbonite below. In addition you can use that space to add more info regarding your other links to your other platforms and/or blog(s).

3) Bio and Link: So you have 140 characters to work with for this concise and to-the-point bio of who your company is and why the consumer should care. Let’s take a look at @zipcar again — their bio says “A community of folks who’ve found out that car sharing beats the heck outta car rental or ownership. We’re tweeting from Zipcar HQ Mon-Fri 9am-5pm EST.” They keep it hip and simple just like their company culture exudes. You want to be consistent with your brand image and positioning as well as be creative with this “retail space.” I think @zipcar does a great job at this. They also include their web page in the web address portion – which is vital! The link you include should be the heart of your company’s content hub. You want to lead people to where you want them to go, so they can be converted from someone who is aware of your brand to a consumer who purchases and advocates for your brand.

4) Strategy: Now before you start following every random person you can find…think why you should follow them. Put together a strategy/plan for your investment in social media. It is not about random follows and robotic Tweets. It’s about reaching your target market and engaging with them on a deeper level. Social media, such as Twitterallows companies the capability to listen and respond to consumers in a real-time way which was not possible before. It gives consumers the personal attention they want from the brands they love.

Thus: (1) who is your target market, (2) where are they, (3) what are they talking about, and (4) how can you converse with them. Example: @carbonite would have looked at who they want to sell to and what they want to utilize their Twitter account for. As seen from their stream they talk to current consumers and assist with issues they may have, questions regarding the service @carbonite provides, offers they may have, as well as engaging on a personal level with each follower they have in order to demonstrate they aren’t just another brand on Twitter, but a brand who wants to fully engage with each person who follows them. Still unsure where to start and find the “right” followers? Try out Follower Wonk, which is a helpful tool for following “relevant” people for you. It allows you to find who is following your competition, and in turn you can follow them as well. Useful and easy to use!

Note: Another thing to keep in mind is if you want more than one handle for your company. Some companies such as @zappos have different accounts for different services in order to be more efficient with consumer response. Therefore you can have one handle for customer service, while another for finance issues, and another for the CEO (or a higher up) to Tweet from in order to show that the brand is personal and even the higher ups care about each and every consumer out there. In addition@zipcar has different handles for their different cities they are located in. Great for specific attention to your consumers. This can be great for efficiency as I said, but be sure that you have the manpower to handle each of these handles and do not leave consumers waiting. Twitter is in real time after all.

5) Lists: Helpful to create lists of categories that matter and a great way for your followers to follow those lists as well. Example: if you have different areas of function within your company such as @mashable who focuses on Tech, Social Media and many other things — they have different lists to correspond to those.

6) A few more tips:
  • Last few tweets: People pay attention to your last few Tweets especially when they are unsure whether to follow you. They may check to see if you are offering relevant content in your Tweets. So it can be useful to ensure that your Tweets are relevant to your industry and target market (as well as some not so serious ones thrown in to be more personal and fun).
  • Follow back: Do not be one of those that does not follow back. It’s so middle school.
  • ReTweet: ReTweet other people within your industry or target market. It’s not all about you.
  • Be Polite: Like in real life, a “thank you” goes a long way.
  • Do not Spam: I know when I get spammed by companies I either unfollow or block them. Spam = waste of time.
  • And avoid the common mistakes on Twitter that people easily make.

Wishing you had a helpful guide to keep at your side and familiarize your boss or yourself a bit more? Check out this Ebook: Twitter for Business 101. It’s not only free but super easy to follow and utilize for 101 guidance. Now….Ready, Set, Tweet!

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot

How to: Find a Job Using Social Media


Tired of using search engines and massive jobs sites to find a job? Wishing you could find great job opportunities a little easier? Join the club! I have been utilizing social media tools for job searching quite often lately because they help bring possible jobs right to your fingertips rather than searching for hours.

A. Google Reader and Google Alerts: Not only is this tool great for subscribing to blogs, but it can help job seekers subscribe to job listing by keyword and position. This way you aren’t doing a Google search everyday for the same type of position, but the search findings are delivered to your Reader or your inbox. Convenient, easy and free.

B. Five ways that Twitter can help:

(1) Utilize the Twitter reader Tweetdeck to keep tabs on job postings via job related search terms.

(2) TwitJobSearch: A search engine that aggregates job listings and posts on Twitter.

(3) There are specific people who post about jobs frequently. Find those in your neck of the woods that do so, follow them, create a conversation so you can build a relationship and seek help from them when needed.

(4) Follow the brands and places of business that you hope to work for. Engage with them, so you have a basis to show your deep interest before, during, after you have applied to work there.

(5) Twitter Advanced Search: A great way to search on the platform you already utilize and dig deeper into the job postings that are on Twitter in the past few days. You can do so easily by using hashtags (keywords that people add to their Tweets), search terms, etc. Also helpful to make sure you click “contains links” when deciding on your search, because job postings are more helpful when they click a link to the website posting. Want to know more…check out the quick 3 min video below by Mashable.

 

Note: Please remember to not spam when looking for a job on Twitter. It’s clutter and people won’t “listen” to you.

C. Three ways to optimize your LinkedIn Profile and Search:

(1) Use the 120 character headline to your disposal. Say something unique and catchy for when prospective employers check out your background. Nowadays your LinkedInprofile is virtual resume and pertinent to be updated frequently.

(2) Use the 3 “hot links” to your benefit. If you have a blog, link to it! Have a great profile on another platform? Link to it! Show your personal brand off!

(3) Use the job search and when you find a job that interests you, find someone in yourLinkedIn network that could recommend you. Network, network, network — the people you know are your biggest asset.

D. Facebook App – BranchOut: Like the appeal of people you know being able to recommend you? BranchOut is awesome for this. Although I am not a fan of usingFacebook apps often, this one is pretty handy.When you search for a job and click on a position you may be interested in — BranchOut shows who you know that can recommend you to the job. How much easier can it get? Dig it!

Two other items to consider…

E. Email Signature: Use WiseStamp to add your links from other social platforms in order for people to find you more easily. Emailing with a HR person at your possible future job? Now they can see how to link to your blog, website, LinkedIn (and more) at the click of a button via your email. Very convenient!

F. Blogging: Are you looking into a specific niche/industry? It could be helpful to start a blog on the topics of interest. Therefore, when the hiring manager takes a look at your background and Googles you (which they will do), and sees your blog, he/she will realize you are not just knowledgeable about this industry, but passionate about it too. It is important to manage your online presence and having a blog is a great way to demonstrate your expertise on the content. You can become an individual not only worth hiring, but a must hire.

As always, if you have other tools that you utilize to make job searching easier, please feel free to share. I, as well as my fellow readers would love to learn more tips and tools. And in the meantime, check out my Toolkit for your convenience.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

 

 

5 Ways to Tie Social Media to Business Goals


Money is not only valuable, but vital to the success of each business operation. Companies attempt to cut costs and raise revenue in order to be successful. Social media can help! Social media is about the relationships we build and the ability to listen and communicate in real time. This is unbelievably resourceful to so many facets of a business operation including support, HR, PR, lead generation, and marketing research. Here’s how:
1. Customer Support: No company wants consumers to have tech/product/service issues, but it happens and should be dealt with as soon as possible. As much consumers do not want to wait on the phone for hours when they could be doing something better with their time, nor does a company want to spend extra money on phone support, especially when there’s an easier and cheaper solution (i.e. cut costs). For example, Twitter is a great resource for consumer support. Dell is a great example of using Twitter as a resource to their benefit. They have a specific Twitter handle, @dellcares,  just for consumer support, which allows consumers to reach them 24/7 with issues they may have. First, I must add a disclaimer — be sure your company can handle monitoring and answering questions on a timely basis, otherwise there may be backlash by consumers who do not receive a response to their Tweet. So, how can your company take advantage of this FREE platform for customer service?
a) Get a handle that is either for your company or specifically for support such as @dellcare
b) Monitor conversations going on about your company regarding complaints, issues, etc.
c) Circumvent issues to the right person (finance, tech, etc), which allows for a timely response and solution
d) Respond in real-time. Less waiting. Less frustration.
Then, you may just have a successful and reputable customer service which consumers rave about.

2. HR Recruiting: Is your office looking for some new blood? Why hire a staffing agency or recruiter to search for new hires, when you can do it in-house for less money? Twitter, Facebook. and LinkedIn to the rescue. How these 3 platforms can help? You can get the word out a lot faster on these social platforms. In addition, your employees can Tweet, share and/or post on their personal channels (if they are so inclined) in order to bolster the word of mouth that there are great job openings available for your place of business. For example, recently HubSpot Tweeted they were looking for developers and people (employees and followers) ReTweeted it like crazy! Great promotion for a job opening, and without breaking the bank.

3. PR: Thinking about hiring a PR agency to help your company? Hiring one can be a great idea especially for companies who have the funds to do so. PR agencies offer help with strategic messaging and consulting during crisis communication. However, for those looking to do PR in-house, social media can be a great asset to build relationships. Businesses can reach out directly to journalists and infuential bloggers through Twitter and other social channels. That way your company can build a relationship with these journalists and bloggers and maintain them over time. Or you can use this as a way to augment PR efforts, which is great, especially for smaller businesses. First step is to ensure a company Twitter account is up and running. Then utilize it to reach out to bloggers in your brand category as well as prominent journalists who you want to work with and reach out to. If you already have a social media department and/or community manager, this is a great item to add-on to their job description instead of hiring a consultant from the outside. Save the money, cut costs, and create more revenue!

4. Lead Generation: Instead of wasting money on buying a prospect list for Lead Gen, why not try some cheaper/easier social media tools for lead gen such as Twitter,Facebook, Follower Wonk and more. These tools are helpful to search quickly and efficiently regarding influencers in your brand category. You can compare stats and followers of these people to see who’s worth your while and who you’d rather pass up. Although buying a list may be quicker, these tools are less expensive and if you social media experts in your company at your disposal, why not give them more responsibility and have them assist with lead gen efforts?

5. Marketing Research: No company/business can afford to fall behind its competition. Competition can be cut-throat and your business has to be able to stay on top, rather than get “cut.” Marketing research is key in these efforts to stay ahead — in order to know what the consumers are saying, how they feel towards your brand, how they feel towards your competition, and what your competition is doing. It is not enough to know on a monthly or yearly basis anymore. Businesses need to know in real-time what’s going on so they can act accordingly. Luckily, there are many social media tools for competitive analysis. These apps along with the employees to oversee these channels are key in efficient and effective marketing research that stays ahead of the curve.

So, don’t be afraid to try something different — embrace social media, because nowadays businesses and consumers alike prefer things in real-time for a cheaper cost. Utilize it, Share it, Save Costs, and Increase Revenue!

Note: this was originally a post written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot.

8 Ways to Use Social Media to Track Your Competition


Your brand may be awesome in your brand category, but I am sure you have some key competition out there that you’d love to have a better handle on. Nowadays with social media being the norm and most brands increasing their transparency, it has become easier to track what your competition is up to, how consumers feel about their brand, and how often consumers engage and interact with the competition.

Topsy: A convenient search tool that assists you in searching through a stream of conversations. It is able to look through people’s web pages and conversations and detect relationships, who influences who, and what people are saying about a brand (your competition) and where. It also assists to detect what content is being ReTweeted the most — thus demonstrating that this content is of value and shows what people feel towards it. This is useful to see how your competitor is influencing its target market, what the target market feels towards the content put out by the competition and how often and how they engage with the competition. Thus, allowing you to see what they are doing better than you, and how you can compete on a similar, if not higher level.
 Twellow: “A directory of public Twitter accounts, with hundreds of categories and search features to help you find people who matter to you.” This is super helpful in order to see which competitors of yours are on Twitter and are using it on a regular and consistent basis and engaging with their target market as well. That way, you can see how far ahead or behind you may be in your brand category in regards to online engagement.
Wefollow: Similar to Twellow as a Twitter directory. It also has categories such as tech, news, and music as well as by follower counts. Once again, this tool is helpful for determining what your competition is doing on Twitter, if they’re on Twitter, and the engagement they have with their consumers. Do you feel like a detective yet?
Tweepi: This tool is helpful to get info on the followers of your competition. You can see details on each follower such as bio information, number of followers, number of updates, previous tweets, etc. Why is this cool? It allows you to get inside the consumer’s conversation with the competition and other people in the target market in your brand category. You can see what the target market thinks about the competition, how they’re conversing, what they like and don’t like.
Backtype: Great tool that allows you to get alerts about where and when your competitors are talking online. You can see what they are promoting, who they are engaging with, and what they’re saying to your mutual target market whether on their website, Twitter, or other social platform. All you have to do is enter the URL, topic or person to see the impact they are having and where. Free.
Website grader: Grades your website and your competition so you can compare how well they’re doing in comparison to you. Helpful to see who is linking to them, what their Google PR is and more! Free for web version and iPhone!
Feedcompare: 2 easy steps: (1): Type in the FeedBurner Feed Name Or Full FeedBurner Feed URL;
(2): Simply Press “Compare” Button ( Click and Drag to Zoom In ). Once you do this for free — you can compare your feedburner subscriber numbers with that of your competition and see how well you’re doing!
Xinu returns: Helpful to get and analyze statistics on website SEO, in order to gain insight on how well or how poor your competitors’ sites are doing in Google (and other search engines), social bookmarking sites, etc. Unbelievably helpful in order to stay on top and move beyond your competition on an online and offline level. Free.
Every brand in each brand category has to think about its competition and make sure they are staying on level, if not ahead of what the competition is doing. This isn’t always easy, but with the help of these social tools, it is slightly easier to ensure you know what your competition is doing online, how they’re engaging, where they’re engaging, and what your mutual target market is saying. It may feel like spying, but being a detective and strategizing is part of the fun and game of competing.

 

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot

How to: Find Great Social Media Events to Attend


In every town/city there are Tweetups, Meetups, and other great networking and social media events going on. Especially in the winter, when we are stuck inside due to the snow and/or bitter cold, it is great to get out and “meet up” with fellow social media friends (and new friends to be). But how do you discern the “awesome” events from the “not so awesome” ones? There are so many events sometimes, that it’s hard to choose, especially when they’re on the same night. Luckily for both you and me, there are some great ways to keep on top of what’s going on, when it’s going on, and who’s attending (great to know prior to an event) such and such event…

Plancast: Want to know what your friends have “planned” for this upcoming week? Well Plancast is awesome for that — it allows you to see what events your friends are “planning” to attend and the details of those events so you can “plan” to attend as well. You can also add your own plans so your friends can stay on top of what you’re doing and attend with you. Also a great way to promote an event you want a little more awareness for. Another useful part about Plancast is that you can search by category, whether it be big conferences like SXSW or local startup events, etc. Useful, free and simple to use.
Meetup: Great way to keep up with what’s going on in your neighborhood on a regular basis. If you sign up for a specific type of “meetup” – whether it be social media related or wine or sports, you can have alerts sent to your email when people post about upcoming meetups. It’s helpful that you can decide how often you would like these alerts. In addition, you can sign up for however many meetups as you would like and/or set up your own if you don’t see one there that you want. New to the area? This is great for meeting new people and getting involved in your social media community. And what I think is super cool – is that it will show you events that are “trending” in your area (see below). Free to use.
Eventbrite: A kickass tool for finding, sharing, and planning events whether in your neighborhood or nationally. Great to see what your friends are attending, sharing events on Facebook and Twitter (whether you can attend or not) and seeing what’s the hottest event in your local neighborhood. Going on a business trip but need ideas of what to do in the evening? Use Eventbrite to see what’s going on and sign up for events while you’re away too. And if you decide to plan a local event, it has a great interface that’s easy to use, compatible to share on Facebook for a Facebook event invite, and great analytics to see what’s going on behind the scenes with attendees and tickets. p.s. Free.
Foursquare: You’re downtown and can’t decide which event to go to? See where your friends have “checked-in” and which event they decided to attend. A great way to meet up with your friends at events and/or see who’s attending which event. This is also useful for those who do not necessarily like to attend events solo and would love a friend or two to hang out with while mingling and meeting new friends. Free to use!
 Facebook and Twitter: You’re most likely already on these two sites, so you don’t even need to sign up. I find that I hear about events I want to attend through my friends on both of these platforms. A friend is usually Tweeting about an event they plan to attend and/or sharing a link on Facebook to the Eventbrite or Plancast event page. Useful for both local events that are happening each week and/or national events such as conferences. You can set up a search on Twitter for specific events too. Example if you want to be kept on top of everything happening around a certain conference, like SXSW, do it up. And/or make a list of your local friends so you can keep tabs on what events they’re attending. One word: Awesome.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are people in your social community that are Tweeting and Blogging and Sharing events on a regular basis. For example in Boston we have people like Tom O’Keefe (@BostonTweet) who shares everything and anything going on around the city from free ice cream to events. In addition we have Joselin Mane (@bostontweetup) who shares events on his website and Twitter handle regarding conferences, Tweetups, networking events, and more. Great way to keep up with what’s going on in your local community, because these guys make sure you know by making it simple and easy for you. As in Boston, I am sure each city and town has people like Tom and Joselin who share event info for your convenience. How to find them? Twitter is definitely one way.

What about once you’re at an event? Or after? My recommendation (if you’re shy) is to go with a friend so you can move around the room together. Don’t have a friend to go with you? See who’s going from the attendee list. Found a person you’re excited to meet? Most likely their Twitter handle was shared on the registration page, and you can Tweet them to say you’re looking forward to meeting them. Then when you get there, you have someone to talk to right away and can ease into the mingling with others. In addition, don’t forget to follow-up after the event whether via Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn, email, etc. Building relationships takes work, and the networking events are just one part of this process.

Note: This post was originally written for oneforty. 

5 Ways to Sell Social Media Internally


Unfortunately, not all organizations/offices/companies are ready to jump on the social media bandwagon. There are still places of business which are hesitant to have a social presence on platforms such as Twitter and believe it is a waste of time and not worth the effort for their brand. So how do we get the CMO and other management on board? Is it possible to not have every blog post and/or Tweet reviewed by legal? It is definitely a battle for some offices, but not impossible. Here are some suggestions to help you persuade your office management that social media isn’t something to avoid, but something to embrace…

1. Internal Communication: With some places of business it may be best to ease into social media with an internal social system first. That way the management can see that social media is valuable for engagement and how it is not a threat, but useful. For example, Yammer – an internal communication tool for companies (used at many companies including Groupon, claims to be as simple to use as Facebook and Twitter. It includes microblogging, profiles, direct messaging, and other useful work tools. Thus, Yammer allows the ease of external social media but keeps items private to the company interaction only. Hopefully with an internal start, a push towards external use will be less difficult. For pricing info, view packages here, which include Basic for Free and Enterprise for $5/user/month.

2. Social Media Policy: When easing your company towards external social media a social media policy may help in order to ease the stress factors of upper management and the legal team. Items to consider in this policy include the following:

a) Purpose of using the social media platforms

b) Cite name and sources when relevant/necessary

c) Do not share confidential information about the company and/or clients/consumers

d) Exercise good judgment when sharing content

e) Be respectful

Of course there can be more specifics, but this a good start to ensure that using social media will not mean falling off a cliff. The use of social media would be to benefit the company by demonstrating to their target audience who the brand is, what the brand is capable of, and how the target audience should want to engage and be a part of the community the brand is building.

3. Social Media Plan and Involvement: Putting heads together and coming up with a social media plan/strategy would be helpful in order to ensure that blog content, shared posts, and Tweets are all on topic and relevant to where the company is hoping to be and heading. It will reassure management that there is a purpose and set of goals rather than randomly posting content. And a part of this plan, many companies include higher-up management such as CMOs and CEOs to be involved in the customer engagement such as Tweeting. Consumers have more respect for a brand when a higher-up is taking part in the conversation. For example, Zappos is a great example. The @zappos Twitter account is the CEO who Tweets on a regular basis with a mixture of professionally related items and personal – to show he is in fact just another person (humanizing the brand) and is willing to follow and chat with consumers. Then, of course, there is also @zappos_service which handles all the consumer service issues, questions and comments specifically. I think this is a great technique to show the brand is not just a name, but personable, and cares about each consumer. Higher-Ups and social media teams should use this as a possible model when putting together their social media plan because social media strategy is a part of marketing strategy, which is a part of the business strategy, which is how a business is successful. I think Zappos is showing us how success is more than tangible when you put in the effort.

4. Community Manager: Designating a specific community manager to be in charge would be key. That way this specific person would be the one in charge of ensuring: (1) valuable content is on the blog; (2) posts on Facebook and Twitter are on point; (3) comments (whether negative/positive) regarding the company brand are being “heard” and responded to in a timely manner. Therefore an experienced social media expert would be positioned to assist with the success of marketing for the company, and able to report to the head of marketing with success factors, issues, and potential growth. Just like any other department in a company, a specialized expert is helpful to ensure things run smoothly.

5. Email Marketing: It is helpful to use email marketing as a tool to help the launch of social sites for your company. For example, you want the people who subscribe to your newsletter and/or people in your email list to be aware of your presence – whether on your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or other social platform. For example, MailChimp is a great tool to design your emails, and more importantly, track the success of your emails that went out. Did people open it? How many times? When? Etc. It’s a very useful tool for sending out bulk emails to make an announcement, such as your new social platform launch and/or just to spread  other cool news and company updates to your audience. Then you can also track the success of those who opened the email and then went to your Facebook page and “liked” the page, among other things. A great way to show management, that this easy way to spread brand awareness is not an option anymore, it is critical for companies to be involved or fall behind.

Although it may be difficult to get some higher-up management on the social path, it is definitely worth the effort. Whether you start out with an internal social network to show the ease of use, demonstrate the caution that can be used (without restricting or restraining) via a social media policy, explain the plan of attack that will be utilized (hopefully with the CMO/CEO taking part in some way), and/or designate a community manager who knows how to handle social media like he or she knows the back of his/her hand — social media can be implemented in even the most conservative places of business. Just look at law firms, who used to avoid it, and now embrace it. Best of luck implementing social media in your workplace, and when you do, do not forget to promote it, whether via MailChimp or another useful marketing tool.


5 Ways to Better Manage Your Online Presence



When managing your online presence – it is not enough to just have a Facebook profile page, a Twitter Handle, LinkedIn profile, and a website/blog up and running. There are at least a few social media management items you want to make sure you have tackled in order to increase your personal brand awareness.

1. Email and Social Profiles: How many times a day do you use your email? Countless, correct? Well, WiseStamp is a simple tool for adding your social links to your email signature — so every time you compose an email and/or respond people will see where else they can find you with the click of a button (see image below). For other options you can check out this Toolkit on virtual business card options. In addition to your email signature, make sure your website has the links to each of your social profiles, and is easily visible to new visitors. People like things at their fingertips, and having your social links easily visible is key to driving more traffic to your social profiles. In addition link your social pages, such as on your on your LinkedIn, have a link to your website, Twitter, etc. Make it easy and simple for people to find you, with the click of a link or a button.

2. Consistent Personal Brand Image: A consistent image across social platforms can be helpful. For example, if you have a different pictures for each platform, people may be confused and unsure if it’s really you, when searching. If you have a consistent image across your platforms, it will be easier to find you and it will create a cohesive and consistent message about your personal brand. A helpful tool is using Gravatar, which allows you to have “an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog” as well as on your own sites. Not only is it a globally recognized avatar, but it’s easily linked to WordPress.

3. Search: When you Google yourself, what is the first result? If it’s not your website, blog, and/or other pages, then you have a problem. If your name comes up first, it will also demonstrate that you are an authority in your brand category. Thus, some effort and time may be needed for SEO marketing. You can learn to do this for yourself, or you can get some assistance by companies who are pros at this. A couple things to remember when getting started: identify keyword opportunities (for your blog, your videos you share, etc) and do not forget the importance of inbound links to your site.
4. Balancing Professional and Personal Presence:
Part (1): I know some people believe that it is good to differentiate, keep your personal stuff, personal and your professional stuff professional. If you have two Facebook pages, it appears you have a double life and it can be confusing and it definitely adds to the clutter.  I understand if you’re afraid to share certain things like particular pictures or videos. However, that’s what privacy settings are for. They allow you to be smart, and still share be “human” with your brand. So why live a double life, when you can live one great one?
Part (2): If you are focusing on your personal social sites, do you identify who you work for in your Twitter bio and in your blog? My suggestion would be to add a disclaimer on your blog. For example, Julia Roy has such a disclaimer on her blog which states, “The views expressed on my blog and social networks are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer, Manilla.” This way you protect yourself, and the place you work with against any issues that may occur regarding tweets, posts, and/or other items shared on your personal social sites.
5. Protecting Tweets: Afraid to share your tweets with anyone and everyone? Well that’s the point of Twitter community — sharing you tweets is key to (1) building your personal brand awareness on a main social platform, (2) letting people find and follow you easily, (3) sharing relevant content to all those who may be interested, and (4) engaging with people in a real and open-door manner.
Here are some additional tools I thought would be cool for you to check out when managing your personal brand online:
About.me: A newer tool that is awesome for pulling all your social platform information to one place, one profile, and best of all – with a clean and crisp presence. This tool allows you to create a profile page that contains a succinct bio, and links to all your other social platforms and web pages. Thus, it’s everywhere you exist, but in one place — making it even easier for people to find you and be aware of your personal brand. And the price is awesome: Free.
Flavors.me: A platform that allows you to show all that you are on one page including photos, videos, blog posts, feeds, and even your resume if you so wish. The pull of this tool is that it is very interactive and visual. It gives you the opportunity to be creative with your one page of content, yet keeping it simple for people to view who you are and where you are present on the web. Free sign up.


6 Tools for Engaging your Top Influencers

Let’s say you are opening a new restaurant which is focused on your wine selection and your cheese plates. Let’s say you are also considering launching an iPhone app and/or participating with FourSquare or Groupon and giving cool offers to consumers. What would be included in your marketing strategy? Finding the local bloggers who write about wine and cheese? I think so! Influencers in your brand category are not just useful and handy to have in your back pocket, but essential to a marketing strategy. These influencers can speak on your brand’s behalf (and probably already are) and “influence” other potential consumers to check out your brand and/or also Tweet, blog, and comment about your brand. Tools to determine the influence you or your business has is important but aside from knowing the type your reach, it is important to find the “influencers” in your brand category. But how? You could use the search options in Google, Twitter and Facebook to initially take a look. To do so you want to first:

1. Determine keywords for your brand category (to make search more concise and easier)

2. When/if you find possible “influencers” on Google, Twitter and/or Facebook you want to see how active and influential they really are. Are they blogging consistently? Getting a lot of comments? Have a lot of subscribers and/or followers?

Problem is this can take more time than you may be willing to put in. Thankfully for those of us who prefer things at our “fingertips” there are other tools out there that can assist with this process and do most of the “harder” work for us!

Traackr: I had the privilege of meeting Pierre-Loic Assayag from Traackr last summer and received a hands-on tutorial on how Traackr works for brands. With Traackr you can find out who leads the conversations in your brand category. The key to their madness? The team does not resort to “dogmatically defining influence” but instead they have “built a process to progressively discover what drives influence.” The team at Traackr, focuses on 4 things: 1. Search (crawling of social media platforms for most active users); 2. Identify (aggregation of user accounts across platforms); 3. Qualify (calculations left to the brainiacs); and 4. Report (Data of top ranking ‘influencers” and what to do next). Their metrics focus on Reach, Resonance, and Relevance. 3 very key things! Traackr has different subscription models and you can request a demo in order to learn more about their options.

 PostRank Connect: In short – this tool “connects” brands and influencers. The team makes a valid point — “You need influencers to run a successful campaign. But the fragmented Social Web doesn’t make identifying, validating, and measuring influence easy. And before you can develop relationships with influencers, you have to find them.” And the goal is to not waste hours twiddling our thumbs and only finding one or two possible influencers. The goal is to find the top influencers in the specific brand category your brand is in — in an efficient amount of time.This nifty tool does the work for you by measuring the value of online users and their followers. It will analyze “influencers” by certain metrics such as topic, georgraphy, and engagement across multiple social platforms. Intrigued? PostRank Connect — “connect” with them here to find out how they can help you!

Buzzstream: A company that realizes that businesses should be focusing on building relationships (such as with influencers) rather than taking the time to find each influencer for their brand. BuzzStream finds them, you build that awesome relationship by using their detailed influencer profiles, delegating engagement activities, and tapping the lists that are made just for you by BuzzStream. At your fingertips for your ease. This tool is focused more for PR and Social Media folks, and has easy-to-use tools that can be utilized right from your web toolbar (in order to stay better organized with each particular “influencer”). Plans for Buzzstream start with a free “test drive” and start from $49.99/month.

Attensity: A powerhouse of information. They monitor 37 million blogs and forums, have access to the full firehouse of Twitter content, support the discussion content on public Facebook Fan Pages, in addition to MySpace, LinkedIn,Craigslist, all major news sources, review sites and they are always looking to and willing to add more. Will they be able to find the key influencers in your brand category for you? Most definitely! Finding these key influencers will not only help you know how you can better your service/product but also stay ahead of the competition. Attensitycan be contacted directly for pricing and plan information.

 Teramatric: The team at Terametric believes that influence should be measured relative to your peers. Otherwise, or it loses its value considerably. Thus, their measurements are centered around this principle so that your business can get an accurate sense of why type of influence you need (in other words, WHO should be considered influencers that you interact with, what type of relevant information you provide to your audience, how often you post it, and so on). In addition, Terametric will break down influencer identification by industry, products and brands so that you can get a more detailed understanding of how to increase your influence within these groups. The tool makes it simple for you and identifies the influencers on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) and segments them by industry, product, and brand. You and your competitors are also scored on your level of influence which includes an analysis of your followers’ influence. Most importantly, you can track historical “tweets” that these influencers have made in the past and in real time, the tool will filter the twitterverse for you so that when an influencer tweets, you’re alerted to respond. Terametric starts at $500/month for Enterprise Product Marketing and Agencies with a 1-month, no-risk, Free Trial. SMBs should contact Terametric directly for pricing.

Twendz: Want to know who on Twitter is already talking about your brand and/or brand category? And what they’re saying? Twendz can help! This nifty tool can help your brand identify the top Twitfolks who are saying positive, neutral or negative things re: your product/service/category. Then you can take these lists, follow them, engage with them,. and “influence” your “influencers” to be kickass brand ambassadors. You can take part in the conversation with them and build relationships with these influencers and ensure that the key influencers in your brand category are talking great and awesome things about you. Twendz can be contacted directly for their plans and prices.

Of course there are many more tools out there that help find the key influencers for your brand category. But can you imagine how long this blog post would be if I kept on going? Rather than making this list like a novel, feel free to comment, question and let me know what you think.

Zipcar: At your Fingertips “on” and “offline”

Are you familiar with Zipcar? Well let me ask a simpler question – do you own a car? No? Zipcar is the solution. When I was in college (not too many moons ago), my best friend and I wanted to rent a car to go away for the weekend (as much as we loved Boston, it was nice to get out of the city once in a while). BUTTT….as many know, you need to be 25 to rent a car (and not get charged up the ass). Solution: Zipcar. The alternative car rental service, which allowed you to rent at 21 (awesome) and didn’t make you go to a car rental location (and abide by silly restraining open/close hours) – even more awesome. And as many fellow “zipsters” know – it gets better. Most likely a zipcar is located right around the corner of your apartment/job/gym/school for your utmost convenience. Whether for a couple hours to run to Wrentham Outlets for that “shopping spree” or head to the beach or the slopes – my zipcar membership became “clutch.” It may get pricey if you rent for longer periods of time – but for me, the convenience was worth the extra cost — especially with the gas and insurance included. High Five!

My best friend and I – who lived together for multiple years during and after college – used Zipcar anytime we needed a “getaway.” We tried out the Mini (cute for the beach), SUVs, hybrids, and the always reasonable Honda. Kind of an awesome way to test-drive to see what car you may want in the future too.

To this day, I am pleased with my membership because I am a woman of having things at my fingertips (convenience is key). And being a social media geek, I am all about having my news, info, and chatter at my fingertips too. So as I randomly tweeted today “@Zipcar Been a member since I was 21 (ok so that’s almost 7 years)… had some great trips and memories. cc: @juliaroy” — I was impressed by the fast and speedy response by the “person behind the handle.” The community manager was friendly and interested to hear more. So hear I am, Zipcar — telling you more. I am impressed by your product, service, and now even more with your friendly banter online – in “real-time” – just the way I like it.

And as promised here are a few pictures from my adventures back in college. :)

How to: Use Twitter for Customer Service


Companies today realize (or are realizing) that customer service is more than the in-person and over-the-phone help that it once was. Today, your brand has the free tools available to help  in “real-time” and prove to your current and future consumers that your customer service rocks and you truly care for each consumer on an individual basis. Want to be the next Zappos with their witty and real-time quality customer service via Twitter? Keep reading!

Zappos has shown its consumers that each one will receive the care and service they deserve. As seen from the image above, “@xtraRegularRyan” had a convo with @zappos_service on Twitter after a purchase was received. This conversation after the fact demonstrates that the consumer was not only pumped but ecstatic to share this news. Could that be a loyal consumer? I think so!

As Frank Eliason commented in Social Media Examiner, “Be human about it. Let your team service your customers. Let them do what they do well and allow them to be who they are.” That’s exactly what Zappos does on Twitter– the customer service teams not only assists customers with what they need, but they have an actual conversation with them – whether it’s about “growing a mustache” or whatever suits your fancy — being “human” is key to building a customer relationship with your brand and maintaining it.

What tools can help?

Hootsuite: Keep track of what your consumers are saying on yourcomputer or while you’re running from meeting to meeting via iPad or smartphone.Hootsuite allows your company to manage Twitter and other applications on a simple platform where you can monitor multiple conversations/accounts at once. Afraid of a consumer question or request getting lost — Hootsuite helps you keep keep it organized! (p.s. Also integrated with Zendesk!) Hootsuite has 2 pricing plans: Basic = Free: Pro = $5.99/month

Zendesk: A web-based service to help you engage with your consumers in a simple and effective way. It has Twitter integration which allows you to connect easily with your consumers/tweeps (we really need a Twitter word for consumers….). You would be emailed and can accordingly manage customer service requests in order to respond more efficiently – whether you answer yourself or have another member of your team do so. A great tool to make sure your customers are kept happy because you can respond to each request rather than getting lost in your inbox. Zendesk has a Free Trial with 3 pricing plans: Starter: $9/month; Regular: $24/month; Plus: $49/month.

MarketMeSuite: is more than just a social media marketing dashboard forTwitter and other apps. It allows you to have unlimited accounts, schedule tweets, focus on following and unfollowing the right users, geolocation, among many other fun options.  MarketMeSuite has 3 pricing plans: $5.99/month; $59.99 a year; $99.00 (pay once for lifetime).

CoTweet allows you to focus on specific conversations so you know when is best to respond; track exchanges and assign them to certain departments (like Zappos who has a customer service twitter account, @zappos_service,  separate from the regular zappos account, @zappos) in your company so you can ensure that your brand “humanizes” its engagement and you can even include signatures so you know who’s responding (aka stay organized). CoTweet has a standard version for free and an enterprise offering for $1500/month.

p.s. Both MarketMeSuite and CoTweet integrate with Zendesk too!

Radian6: Known to power the likes of Dell and others in assisting their community listening, engaging and monitoring needs. Radian6 helps companies keep track of what’s being asked and said in an organized manner in order to ease the process of answering and commenting to your consumers on a regular basis. In addition, Radian6‘s Engagement Console allows you to listen more efficiently and has a sweet interface too! Radian6 asks you to Register for a Demo before getting pricing details.

Valuevine: A nifty tool to listen to what consumers are saying about your brand and also share promotions with target consumers. Has helped retailers realize the importance of Twitter and Facebook in social media marketing and the ease and use of both in listening and engaging with their target consumer. Valuevine asks you torequest a demo before receiving pricing information.

Tools such as Radian6, CoTweet, and ValueVine are great Social CRM tools for your company to utilize. What is Social CRM exactly? Many social media experts have their own versions for this definition, but here’s a great simple explanation– It is CRM for the social customer. The customer who is “savvy” and gets his or her information via the social channels such as Twitter and Facebook. Therefore, your company must be “savvy” as well and be able to engage he or she on those channels by listening, conversing, and monitoring. Tools like the ones above assist with keeping track of conversations so you have a better handle on responding to the customers’ needs and can also get to know each customer more personally by having a record of what social platforms they are on and what they are commenting and questioning.

Here are two more Social CRM tools at your disposal:

BantamLive is a contact management system plus Twitter client that also allows for Social CRM in order to track and engage contacts on social platforms. The tool has many integrations including Twitter, Google Apps, and others. It even includes some light project management features appropriate for small businesses. The best part of this tool though is its ease to keep track of your leads on the social platforms, get details about them and then engage each in a personal manner. And as we know, each consumer wants to be treated in a personal and unique manner.  BantamLive has a Free Trial and 5 Pricing Plans: Personal for $19/month up to $140/month for a deluxe business plan.

Sprout Social: Their tagline is “turning social connections into loyal customers.” What company wouldn’t want “loyal customers?” The tools appears to cater toward the smaller brands and agencies who want a tool that is a bit more affordable. In addition, Sprout Social helps to organize your social networks in one easy to access place, helps organize messages by current and potential customers in order to respond and engage in real-time, and helps you measure your social reach and potential success with your target clients. Awesome!  Sprout Social has a Free Trial and 2 Pricing Plans: $9/month for Personal and $49/month for Business.

As Lars Asbjornsen, VP of Online Marketing of Robert Half International stated: “Social media can alert you to customer-service complaints before you heard them in traditional channels. And that’s how most CFOs are using social media. Ignore the customer complaints on social media at your company’s peril.”

So, “listen up”, “respond well” and in “real-time!”

 


Lead Generation Made Simpler

Creating lead generation is essential to all B2B and B2C companies and can be very time consuming! However, there are some simple and easy-to-use tools for doing so that can hopefully cut down some of that time. Want to know the best part? You’re probably already using some of these tools! But now lets discuss how to use them effectively for lead generation.

Twitter: First and foremost, Twitter itself is a great asset for lead generation. Consumers and companies are both on Twitter for many purposes – whether it be to build their brand, create contacts and followers, increase engagement and promotion, and/or all of the above. First make sure your Twitter account is set up, you are utilizing it regularly, and your blog or web address is in the bio (whichever you use more for lead generation). What is needed to best utilize Twitter effectively: time and effort. It is a free social media platform, and it kicks butt at being in touch with the target market you are hoping to reach.

Need help on finding your target market on Twitter? Look at the next 5 tools below!

Twitter Search: the first place to start out is normally Twitter Search which is a part of your Twitter Account. I recommend going beyond the basic search options and utilizing the advanced search option in order to get more precise and relevant results to your specific company. Using advanced you can focus on people, places, dates, attitudes, etc. The places option may be key for companies looking for leads in a particular area, and people option may also be helpful when looking for people an “influencer” has mentioned.

Follower Wonk: A simple free tool that allows you search keywords in Twitter Bios in order to filter out individuals/companies you may or may not want to follow for lead generation purposes. You can search for individuals based on a specific keyword or you may use locations/names and/or filter out those who have a certain amount of followers (ability to find the influencers). In addition, this tool allows you to compare up to 3 Twitter folks and compare their stats, who follows them, their activity, and their unique versus shared followers. Interesting capability of this tool in order to see how a certain individual or company can be useful for lead generation or not.

Creating lead generation is essential to all B2B and B2C companies and can be very time consuming! However, there are some simple and easy-to-use tools for doing so that can hopefully cut down some of that time. Want to know the best part? You’re probably already using some of these tools! But now lets discuss how to use them effectively for lead generation.

Tweep Search: A tool that allows you to search through bios of all the “tweeps” on Twitter with specific key words. In addition, when you find someone or a company that you find to be relevant – you can then limit the search to their followers and search through there specifically. Narrowing a search is always helpful as there are so many people on Twitter.

Twithawk: If you couldn’t tell by the name — this app is like a “hawk” — looking out for you and your target marketing on Twitter. Unlike the aforementioned tools, this one is a paid service, which allows the Twithawk team to find the best target market matches for you from your specified search terms. Example: “TwitHawkperiodically (at the frequency determined by you) find tweets that mentioned “I need coffee” by users that are actually, currently, located within 5 miles of Queens such as‘@cracksh0t I need a coffee or anything with caffeine NOW’ or ‘@loxly This is so boring, I need a coffee… my one true love’ Then, TwitHawk will grab the tweets, and pop them in a list for you to check over, and you’ll be notified that you’ve got new matches to check over.” In addition, the TwitHawk team and app can help you keep track of tweets sent, noise, link tracking, and Google Analytics.

Tweetdeck: This client can be used on your desktop or on the-go and allows you to organize your followers and filter Tweets in order to assist in lead generation. Set up a column for saved search terms and question phrases (whether related to a product item, your company, a competitor, etc). Then, you can monitor and interact with people who are talking about your industry in a more organized and simpler fashion.

Three other tools you won’t want to miss:

LinkedIn: This is not just a platform for networking – it is an awesome lead generation asset! How to utilize this to your benefit? A few simple things: (1) customize your page; (2) Connect to Twitter (3) Create answer feeds (4) create an industry group (5) follow your target market (possibly those you already found via Twitter?) and (6) Share curated and created content! As corny as it sounds – Get Linked!

Your Blog: This is the content you create and then distribute through your channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It is a great asset to have in order to create lead generation, especially when people subscribe and give their email address to do so!

Facebook: Considering Facebook has more users than the population of some countries, it is definitely a tool you want to utilize to make connections, and hopefully convert those connections into leads. As with your Twitter page, LinkedInpage, and Blog – customize your Facebook to increase the amount of “likes” you may receive and engage those individuals to sign up for a newsletter or the blog you have (aka lead generation). In addition, when someone “likes” a page, others will see it, and may be prompted to do the same!

Recall that it takes time to build connections and more time to convert these connections and followers into leads. However, these tools can help decrease that time and make the time you spend on finding these connections (who will hopefully become leads) more effective.

You’ll never know how truly effective each tool is for your company until you experiment and play around with each of them. Enjoy!

 


“Twitter is Stupid?!”

Twitter is Stupid!” was the ignorant comment I received from a classmate during a Q&A (after a presentation on a social media and website plan for a law office). Can you imagine the expression on my face?

It is comments like this, from individuals who have never even dabbled in Twitter, that bother me. I understand if an individual has attempted Twitter, realized what it is used for, but does not believe it is something that works for them or something they want to put the time into. However, those individuals who have looked at Twitter, but failed to actually utilize it, and do not understand the potential it has for brand management – those individuals – I’m sorry folks – ignorance is lame.

I applaud those who have tried it, are confused by it, but do not bash it. I have some law school friends who always ask “what do you tweet?” I love it when people inquire, and truly want to know what is involved in utilizing Twitter to its potential. While some folks may just Tweet personal items such as where they go out, they are still benefiting the places they tweet about. Aka enhancing brand awareness via word of mouth.

So whether you’re tweeting about the burger you ate at X Restaurant, the awesome jeans you bought at Y Store, or just how cool it was to hang out with Z — Twitter is not “stupid” – it is a tool that can be used for great potential, or wasted by “ignorance.”

This is one time when I say…Ignorance is not Bliss.

Twestival 2010

Twestival (Twitter Festival) is an event to raise money for charitable causes around the world. This annual event takes place in large cities such as Boston, NY, and Chicago – put together solely by volunteers who wish to make a difference. In addition, all monetary amounts raised are donated in full to the cause of that particular year. When I heard about Twestival, I was immediately impressed by the amount of effort put into the event within each city. Last year, the effort was to raise money for @charitywater, and this year it was for @concern, raising money for education. This event demonstrated that social media platforms, such as twitter, are more than just for networking and socializing, but a way to unite people with a common goal and spread awareness. I wish there were more events with such great causes, where people get together for a reason beyond themselves — for a global need.

Looking forward to Twestival 2011.