Monday, May 30, 2011

Follow up on "When... Twitter Fails" or, What Not To Do

Now that the issue has been resolved and I learned a valuable lesson, I would like to share a cautionary tale with you.

While working on the logistics for a public event, it was decided that food trucks should be invited to participate so the attendees would have more options. Instead of just doing a regular Google search for food trucks in that geographic area, I thought I would use Twitter for this research. Doing a simple search for “food trucks”, I quickly came across a tweet about an event the next day that would involve food trucks in the same metropolitan area that my event would take place. It had a link to the website of the event so I clicked over to it. Because this particular event was a very large food truck event, they had a form on their website that listed the names of the food trucks and their twitter names. I thought I had struck gold! Instead of having to find each website and contact information for each truck, I had their twitter names.

The next step for me was to contact trucks and tell them about our event to see if they were interested. I sent this tweet to 57 trucks I had found on the other event’s website. “Would love to see you at the Port of Long Beach 100th B-day Party! Contact me for details.” Here’s an important note: You can’t send a direct (private) message to someone who does not follow you. I didn’t have time to follow the trucks first and hope they follow me back in order to send the message. However, you can mention (include a twitter name for) someone whether they are following you or not. Most people have alerts setup to notify them when someone mentions them on twitter. Given my goal and timeline, this was the most efficient way to do it.

Since I sent each one individually, it took a few minutes to send 57 tweets. At some point; it occurred to me what I was doing did seem like spam. However, I thought because I was inviting them to an event where there would be 3,000 people, they would be happy to see my tweet and want to participate! Well, about a dozen or so trucks did respond to me via twitter and we moved the conversation to e-mail. I can’t know for sure, but it seems that a number of food trucks who did not receive my message as a positive one marked me as a spammer. A week or so later, my tweets were not showing up in the streams for any subjects to which I would tag them. I was baffled and thought it might be an issue with my phone, with twitter, or with the hashtag where I first noticed it. The issue persisted. It was happening no matter what hardware I was using or which hashtag I was posting to. I checked my security settings to make sure nothing had changed, I contacted twitter customer support, and I asked a few other social media nerds if they had ever seen such a thing.

After a couple of weeks, I received a vague response from twitter indicating that my tweets would start showing up in hashtag feeds again. I just checked it and it seems that it is working. So, to summarize the lesson… twitter is a powerful search engine if you know how to use it. However, when you are ready to take the next step and reach out to those prospects, take your time and do it right. Follow them first and then when they follow you back, send them a personal direct (private) message with something of value. There are no short cuts.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

When LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter Fail

I used to be a social media evangelist because I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that most people realize social media is here to stay and they need to figure it out, I spend my time working with those people to achieve their goals. Today, I am going to write about how each of the big three have failed me so that you can be aware of some of the pitfalls to look out for.

First, it was LinkedIn, because LinkedIn was the first platform I used for professional social networking. When you sign up, it asks you to upload your address book from hotmail, gmail, outlook, etc. I followed the instructions and uploaded what must of been thousands of contacts. Unfortunately, I had many e-mail addresses in that database of people who didn't know me. LinkedIn sent them automatic invitations to connect with me and then LinkedIn asks them if they actually know me. If they say they do not know you, you get marked as a spammer. After a certain number of people marked me as a spammer, LinkedIn would not let me send anymore invitations. I had to contact their customer service to get it straightened out. The take-away here is not to suggest you should not upload your e-mail address book. Instead, you should use the feature that lets you upload the contacts and then manually check which ones you want to send invitations to.

Facebook has not failed me in any specific way. The thing to watch out for is that they are constantly changing. Many of you are relying on your privacy settings to keep your personal and professional contacts separate. I would suggest that you should not put so much faith in Facebook to make this happen. Facebook wants you to be one person online - the personal and professional you - in the same profile. Instead of resisting, keep up with the changes and figure out how to capitalize on them. Pay attention to how things look and what information is displayed on your news feed.

Finally, Twitter. Twitter hadn't really failed me until this week. I attend networking and professional development events and share what I am learning via Twitter. The way to do this is to include a hashtag like #eventprofs in your tweets so that other people doing a search for that hashtag will see what you are saying. Most events have their own hashtag so if you are attending an event either live or virtually, you can see who else is tweeting about that event. At an event on Friday, I noticed that my tweets were not showing up in the twitter stream for that event. Upon further investigation, I realized that my tweets were not showing up in any streams, regardless of which hashtags I was using. I have contacted customer service, but the issue has not yet been resolved. This is a bit ironic, because twitter is such a good tool to use for customer service. I guess they are understaffed because Twitter is free for users and they are not making enough money! This particular lesson has been an important one for me because one of the services I provide to clients is to monitor the twitter feed at an event and engage on behalf of the organization. Well, if the account I am using is not showing up in the feed, this would be devastating.

Comment here if you have had any social media failures so we can all learn from each other!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Podcast on Personal Branding

Your Online Personal Branding | Meetings Podcast