social media pennsylvania

Internet Marketing for Pennsylvania Writers

Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM) has been quiet the past two weeks as holidays kept us busy with other things. We’re getting back in the saddle this Wednesday, January 5. We’ll meet as usual at the Mondragon book store on Market Street in Lewisburg, PA (12:30 PM). In case you haven’t been there: once you’re inside the main entrance, go up the stairs to the first landing and turn right. Pass the hallway that heads back along the right side of the stairs and find the first door on your right—it’s across from a window.

More Social Media Marketing in Central Pennsylvania

I’m planning to start a new SWIM session in January and am checking in with area writers’ groups to find out when the most people would be interested in attending. The new group will meet on a weeknight or weekend so it doesn’t conflict with work schedules. I’ll post meeting times if there’s enough interest. Please spread the word and ask interested writers to contact me.

SWIM already draws writers from the Sunbury and Selinsgrove area, but it’s within easy reach from Williamsport, Mifflinburg, Danville, and even Bloomsburg when you consider the quality and quantity of material we cover. Please: if you’re a writer within 40 miles of Lewisburg, get in touch to learn whether SWIM makes sense for you.

Publishing, the Internet, and Writers

I’m sure I sound like a broken record to some of you (Remember what a “record” is?), but I want to emphasize: The emerging publishing model is very simple: As an author you will have a direct relationship with your readers. Publishing companies that figure this out and make changes soon enough will become marketing and marketing support engines, but they will rarely print books. On-demand printing will accommodate people who demand ink on paper.

We’re already seeing that publishers prefer an author who has an impressive online presence. Some publishers are cutting back the marketing support for their own titles, relying more and more on authors to do the work online and through traditional means.

Aspiring writers today need to look ahead two to three years and see that self-publishing is the new road to success: Amazon is giving authors 70% of the revenue for sales of eBooks for the Kindle. Good luck getting 15% from a traditional publisher. The writer who can complete a book, build a following online, and sell the book through Internet Marketing and electronic distribution will sell books as more and more publishing companies go under.

And the Kindle? What’s available today is going to be obsolete within a year (guessing, but confident). eReaders will be full-color tablet computers that deliver multimedia content. Click an illustration and you’ll be watching video or browsing a photo library. Traditional publishers will get this wrong again and again before the emergent Internet publishing industry delivers designs and production technology that makes sense for this new reading platform.

Sure, traditional publishing will be around for a while, but opportunity for new authors will continue to diminish and only the most amazing work will find its way onto paper. In the meantime, authors who promote themselves online and who deliver their work electronically will have a leg up. You can quickly gain an edge against well-established authors who are allied with traditional publishers that still struggle to figure out this whole Internet thingy.

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 6: Find a Keyword

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

This week’s meeting brought us very close to starting blogs. Our blogs will be the focal points of all our social marketing strategies. Our other online activities will invite the world to our blogs where we’ll demonstrate our craft and establish authority in our areas of interest.

We started, as usual, with a discussion about the importance of increasing activity on Twitter. Someone on my social network recently asked a bunch of people with similar concerns to join a Facebook group and share insights. In one day there had been a lot of interaction in that group (and it has continued since). My point of sharing this story was to emphasize how the contacts in your social network can become very important to you. Until you show your own chops and get your network established, you’re missing out on these opportunities.

Keyword Research

We’ve had mixed experience doing keyword research with Market Samurai. A few of us have found key phrases with decent stats, but that aren’t necessarily easy to work into conversations. A blog built around a marginal key phrase can be awkward; you’ll know it when you read one: the sentences will be grammatically and stylistically hacked-together to include a phrase that really doesn’t fit.

So, we bounced phrases around to decide whether we could write them into conversations naturally.

We looked at the Market Samurai keyword competition matrices for a few key phrases, and I gave my interpretation of the statistics they provided. Again: some of the key phrases look very good.

Creating a Blog

I provided an overview of 2 options for starting a blog:

  1. Use a free services such as blogger or wordpress.com. The advantage is that the service is free. The disadvantages are that a URL that is part of some other domain may receive less Google love than one that you own outright. Also, free services are rather limited in the selection of themes (appearance) and plugins (added features beyond the blog) available.
  2. Buy a URL and host WordPress (free software) on a commercial service. The disadvantage of this is that you spend about $100 per year for the service and the URL. The advantages are many. For example, there are no restrictions for what you do on your own URL. You can commercialize your own URL, while you may not be able to commercialize a blog on a free service. Hundreds of free plugins are available to help you build Google love and otherwise customize your blog; many of these won’t work on a free blog service. You can expand a WordPress blog on your own URL by adding pages within WordPress, and by adding custom-built web pages outside of WordPress, if you so desire.

You can be successful with free blogging services and with your own URL, but I’m encouraging that you buy a URL and host it yourself because I’m confident we can get such blogs high in Google’s rankings very quickly; you’ll build your online presence more rapidly when you own your blog.

Find a Hosting Service

You can use any hosting service you prefer to hold your own WordPress blog, with one technical requirement: Make sure the hosting service comes with CPanel. CPanel is a dashboard for managing everything you do on your hosting service—uploading files, creating email accounts, installing new web sites, and dozens of things that will probably never matter to you. CPanel is important because software we’ll use to set up blogs relies on the CPanel services.

I recommended the hosting service Hostgator for two reasons:

  1. I know Hostgator and they are reliable and responsive on support issues
  2. Hostgator is relatively inexpensive. If you pay for 3 years and have only one URL, they charge $5 per month. I especially like their Baby Plan that lets you host unlimited web sites for a fixed price. Today it might be hard to imagine having even one web site, but some day you might add a second and third; with Hostgator the cost doesn’t increase when you add sites. Of course, if you start with the “Hatchling” plan for a single URL, you can probably upgrade should you later decide to add more URLs.

If you decide to go with Hostgator, please do me the favor of clicking over to their web site from my Web Social Marketing Strategies web site (or from the links in this post). I confess that I receive a referral fee when you do this, so you can see I have some “bought” bias toward Hostgator.

For Next Week

My hope is to start blogs next week. This will involve buying the URL, registering with a hosting service, pointing the URL to the service, and installing WordPress on the new site (we might be stymied on this last one; it can take a day or two for a new website to show up on the Internet in central Pennsylvania).

At class I asked everyone to do three things by next week:

  1. Find 4 or more key phrases that fit the criteria (see last week’s post) and that you feel comfortable about working into conversations. It’s OK to have one key phrase that fits, and several others that are pretty close.
  2. Decide on your level of financial commitment to your online presence: Either free services only, or about $100 per year to host your own.
  3. TWEET!!! Seriously: more chatter on Twitter, please!

If you have time and inclination, this would be a good time to write a blog post or two or three. Even 200 words is adequate, and generally try to keep your posts under 600 words. You don’t have to post a blog entry the moment you install your blog, but it’s kind of nice to be able to.

Work in whatever word processor makes you happy. For you 2-computer people, consider writing in a Google Docs word-processing file. If you remember your password at the meeting, you’ll have access from whatever computer you bring.

IMPORTANT!

If you’re ready to start a blog on Wednesday AND you’re going to host your own, you’ll need a credit card to submit payment to the hosting service and/or the Domain registration service from which you buy your domain name.

PLEASE DON’T PANIC or feel pressure to jump in. If you’ve done decent keyword research, but you’re not ready to blog… or if you haven’t had time to find just the right key phrase, we’ll still be around. Once the blog is up, things can get pretty lively!

See you Wednesday!

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 4

Recent Web Social Marketing Strategies blog entries have summarized the meetings of Susquehanna Writers Internet Marketing (SWIM). This group of writers meets weekly in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to learn techniques that can build Internet presence and promote their works online.

So many social marketing strategies seem silly at first, so at today’s meeting I wanted to encourage everyone to work through that feeling. I described some of the acquaintances I’ve made through social media, and I explained the nature of those relationships. I exchange thoughts from time-to-time with fellow gardening enthusiasts, writers, editors, publishers, television producers, and even television personalities. All of these people participate on Twitter at least in part to connect with people who share their interests… and they help each other out.

I pointed out some of my acquaintances who have gotten jobs through their online affiliations. My hope is that by hearing these stories you’ll be inspired to get to know Twitter well and to find some interesting people to follow. I encouraged everyone to find at least one new person to follow each day, but don’t be afraid to follow more than that.

To help identify people of interest, we looked at www.twittgroups.com and www.twibes.com. I was underwhelmed by twittgroups. Though it had been vital two years ago, it was nearly unfathomable today. Twibes, on the other hand, looks very polished, and I encourage you to spend some time searching the web site. Find some appropriate Twibes and join them, and follow people who are also members. As I’ve suggested in the past: when you find someone who is very established in your niche, have a look at the people they follow. These may be good candidates for you to follow.

You Must Tweet!

I’m encouraging everyone to move beyond merely lurking. First, I suggested that you tweet your status. Tweet at least a few times a day about what you’re doing: “Starting chapter x in my book about yadda yadda.” or “I finally came up with the right illustration for the fifth page of my latest picture book.” You don’t have to get personal, just put it out there that you’re doing stuff in your niche. Yes, it seems silly. It seems very, very silly. However, these few status updates begin to build a story about you on the Internet… a story that you hope will interest other people.

Find Folks to Follow

I’m also pushing you to find interesting people to follow, and participate with them. You don’t need to say anything to someone just because you follow them. However, I promise that the more you engage appropriate people, the quicker you’ll make friends and discover opportunities—both to get help from others and to help others. Asking questions is a great way to get to know someone. If they tweet about a writing project or a book project, why not ask what they’re working on? Of course, don’t forget to review their last 20 to 40 tweets and their blog (if they have one) before asking questions they’ve already answered. In my opinion, you come across as a little silly when you ask a question someone has answered in their Twitter profile or in their most recent tweets.

Key Phrases for SEO

We reviewed fundamental strategy for finding a key word or phrase on which to build your Internet presence. Yes, I know people whose only online presence was a Twitter account, yet they became well-recognized within a niche and eventually found jobs through their Twitter connections. We’re going farther and creating a website that supports your Twitter activity and becomes a focal point for all other marketing activity related to your web presence.

You’ll get help from Google if you start with a good key phrase. Internet marketers look for phrases that have favorable search parameters:

  • 80 or more people each day click through to a web page found in a Google search using the phrase
  • The “phrase match” appears on fewer than 30,000 web pages

We looked at Market Samurai so we’d be familiar with how it works. The features that matter to us: Keyword Research and SEO Competition.

The Keyword Research module generates a list of key phrases and then lets you compare their stats. The SEO Competition module lets you compare Google’s top 10 web sites that use the key phrase you’re researching. Stats include the Domain Age (how old is the web site), the Page Rank (how authoritative does Google consider the web site to be), the Pages Indexed (how many pages does the web site have), and the number and types of back links to both the web site and to the main page of the web site. The SEO Competition module also reports whether the key phrase you’re researching appears in the right places within the web site—the URL, the site’s title, the site’s description, and the site’s header. When we install your blogs, we’ll make sure the key phrases are in all the right places. This can give you huge advantage over other web sites that may already be in Google’s top 10.

For Next Week

I asked everyone to build up the list of folks they follow on Twitter. Specifically, I asked everyone to find at least one person of influence in their niche—an editor, publisher, producer—and follow that person. There’s no need to strike up a conversation if doing so doesn’t seem appropriate. Watch and see whether you can learn from this person.

I also asked you to think about key phrases in terms of what you have to offer an audience. You need to find the intersection of what people are searching for, and what you can write (and want to write) to hold their attention. I asked you not to download Market Samurai until we can all work with it together. There is a free trial period for the software, and I want everyone to be ready to take greatest advantage of the trial period… so please DON’T DOWNLOAD Market Samurai. When you have a few decent possible key phrases to research, we’ll get to the software; let’s not start the clock ticking before then.

Believe it or not, we’re almost blogging. Finding the right key phrase is the biggest hurdle: lots of thought and research. Once you have it, you can set up a blog in about 10 minutes.

 

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 3

At this week’s SWIM meet we finally had some serious Internet access and were able to exercise some tools of our social marketing strategies. In coming weeks, I’ll try to yack less and get everyone exercising their computers more.

Google Reader and RSS Feeds

Once we got online, we (nearly) all clicked over to Google Reader, looked at my list of folders and subscriptions, and saw how easy it is to follow lots and lots of blogs through this one interface—without ever having to leave Google Reader.

We used Google’s Blog Search feature to try to find useful blogs to which we could subscribe. Amazingly (but not surprisingly), many of the top-listed blogs for just about any search term are blog-like pages on commercial web sites trying to sell stuff. Surprisingly, it was actually quite hard to find blogs in the top 20 listings that had RSS feeds… or that had easy-to-access RSS feeds.

Everyone eventually found one blog whose RSS feed we could follow. We Right-Clicked the RSS feed button or RSS link on the blog page and chose Copy Link Location or Copy Shortcut from the resulting menu. Then we returned to Google Reader and clicked the Add a subscription button. In the resulting text box, we pressed Ctrl+V to paste the URL of the blog’s RSS feed and we clicked Add.

 

 

We’ll try this exercise again at our next meeting, but I encourage everyone to take a bit more time on their own to search for meaningful blogs and subscribe to their RSS feeds in Google Reader. The question came up: How do you delete a blog from Google Reader? We bumbled around for a bit and found Unsubscribe on the Feed Settings dropdown menu.

 

 

Twitter is One of Our Social Marketing Strategies

We looked at the Twitter interface that you interact with in a web browser. We reviewed “mentions” or “replies” where you address a tweet by typing an at sign followed by a user name: @cityslipper, for example. We reviewed direct messages in which you type a D a space and then the username, and we talked about lists and searches. Most importantly, being in the same room, we were able to follow each other easily and tweet a few messages around.

I admitted that I’m not skilled with the Twitter interface because I use the Tweetdeck client. So, I demonstrated Tweetdeck and encouraged everyone to download and install it. Tweetdeck is free software and you can find a link to its download site on the Web Social Marketing Links page of my Social Marketing Strategies web site: http://www.websocialmarketingstrategies.com/web-social-marketing-links If everyone installs Tweetdeck in time for next meeting, we’ll have another Twitter session to work on any outstanding questions. However, I encourage everyone to do the following before next meeting:

  1. Tweet to each other (and to me, please) about whatever… get used to sending mentions and direct messages.
  2. Set up Twitter searches for phrases that you think people use when talking about things that matter to you
  3. Follow some of the people whose tweets you find as a result of your searches
  4. “Stalk” people who are following people you follow, and follow a few of those people.
  5. At least follow @Leadershipfreak so there’s something in your Twitter stream (besides, he’s a good guy)

About this time in our meeting, Lewisburg’s parking meter attendant was putting tickets on cars. I’m so sorry… that just didn’t used to happen on Wednesday afternoons.

We wrapped up with a promise to get serious about keyword research at our next meeting. Until then, everyone should add to their lists (or start lists if you haven’t) of words and phrases that may find kindred spirits in Google searches. So, if you’re writing mostly fantasy fiction, your list of key phrases might include “fantasy fiction,” “dragon stories,” “fantasy adventure,” and so on. Think especially about words or phrases you would type into Google to find the kind of writing you prefer to do.

So, for next Wednesday:

  1. Subscribe to the RSS feeds of a few blogs that seem relevant to your writing interests
  2. Become more confident and practiced with Twitter (see the previous list)
  3. Bring a list of keywords and key phrases to “seed” your search for the ideal key phrase
  4. Bring your user names and passwords for Google Reader, Twitter, and Tweetdeck… and bring your laptop, of course

Please tweet, email, or phone if you need encouragement or if you have a question.

Finally, two weeks ago I mentioned some articles I wrote that explain how I decide who to follow on Twitter. Here are links to the articles; I’ll also post these on the links page in the next day or two. You don’t need to read the articles to succeed on Twitter, but they provide a reasonable foundation for maintaining a list of high-quality Twitter friends.

Before I Follow You

Why I Didn’t Follow You Back

I look forward to seeing you all next week. I think it’s appropriate to mention: Marsha brought chocolate.

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 2

SWIM is a group of writers that meets in Lewisburg in central Pennsylvania to learn social marketing strategies. The name SWIM came to me in a weak moment: I put together a silly acronym for Susquehanna Writers’ Internet Marketers. (Sorry.)

Sadly, the highlight of this week’s meeting was the lack of Internet access at our meeting place. Because we weren’t able to get connected, we couldn’t work together on our laptops to see technology in action. Rather, we all were victims of technology inaction.

Literary Agents Validate the need for Social Marketing Strategies

In helping two participants who missed last week’s gathering catch up, a brief review provided opportunity to clarify several topics. It was very helpful that most of us had attended the Susquehanna Valley Writers Workshop this past weekend where some literary agents reinforced the importance of Internet marketing for writers. The most compelling admission (I thought) of one of the agents:

When she reads a book proposal, she Googles the proposal’s author. If there is virtually nothing online about the author, the agent feels that the author may not interest a publisher. An attractive author has a following and recognized authority in the subject matter covered by the proposed book. A strong online presence suggests that the author will be useful in promoting the published work.

A second very compelling observation from the writers workshop: After you sell your book, it’s simply too late to start marketing. You need to market your book while you’re writing it… perhaps even before you start. (This is exactly what SWIM is about.)

SWIMmers Make Progress with Social Marketing Strategies

Participants acknowledged that they had registered on Google to be able to access Google Reader. So far, Google Reader might have stymied us, but when we can all work together online to add a few blogs or other media streams to Reader, I think everyone will catch on very quickly. Still, I encourage everyone to tweet with questions… let’s not try to do Google Reader over the phone until we’ve had a chance to work it together at a meeting.

We reviewed “Building an Internet Presence Lite through Social Media.” The premise is that you create a blog and post on it regularly. You also identify other similar blogs, visit them, and leave comments. Interact with the bloggers, promote their efforts, and invite them to examine your blog posts. Also, you participate on social media such as Twitter and Facebook with people who share your interests so you can learn more from them and invite them to learn from you. These are all components of the full-bore Internet Marketing skills that we’re learning… but decent SEO (search engine optimization) can dramatically increase the quality and reach of your Internet presence.

We reviewed Twitter and expanded on its capabilities. Our emphasis now is to use Twitter to learn what people are talking about with regards to the things we want to write: What are they saying? To whom are they saying it? Do they have blogs? It’s important to understand the “market niche” or niches in which we work or would like to work. Some important points:

  1. When you simply type text and send it on Twitter, the message goes to the general Twitter stream. Anyone can read it, and it goes to no one in particular. So, someone following a lot of people might miss such tweets if they happen to scroll past in a long list of tweets.
  2. If you want to be sure someone specific reads a tweet, send a “mention.” The simplest way to mention someone is to start with @ and append the recipient’s Twitter name. So, to be sure your tweet makes it to me, start by typing @cityslipper, then a space character, and then the message. You can embed @cityslipper anywhere in your tweet, and it will find its way to me.
  3. If you want your tweet to be invisible to all but a single person, send a “direct” message. To do this, start by typing the letter “d,” a space, and then the recipient’s Twitter name. So, send me a private message by typing d cityslipper message for Daniel.

We reviewed Twitter lists, but we couldn’t look at how to create them. You can assign people you follow to lists. When you view a list, you see tweets only from people you’ve included in the list. One cool use for lists: you can add people to a list even if you don’t follow them! So, if you want to learn more about someone before you decide to follow them, add them to a list and review their tweets for a few days.

We talked about Twitter Groups and that there are independent web sites where you can register with groups. Groups are self-organizing topics of discussion on Twitter. If you want to find other writers, look for a group that calls itself writers. Two web sites to visit and explore to find and join groups:

http://www.twittgroups.com

http://www.twibes.com

Finally, with regards to Twitter, we talked about hash tags. The hash tag is the mechanism by which you track what people are saying within a group… and the mechanism that reveals your tweets to people in a group. If you want to know what writers on Twitter are talking about, follow the hash tag #writers. If you want writers to see your tweet – even writers who don’t follow you – include the #writers hash tag in the body of your tweet.

Keyphrases: Foundations of Social Marketing Strategies

Before we start blogs, we will identify the best possible key phrases for the subject areas about which we write. To that end, we’re guessing what key phrases our potential readers might use to search for us. Then we’re doing Google searches, looking for forums on Yahoo, Google, Craigslist, or wherever and following discussions there. We’re searching Twitter and following promising tweeps, and (maybe) playing with the Google Adwords Keyword tool. The keyword tool will be much easier to understand when we look at it together, but here’s a link to it:

http://www.google.com/sktool/#

Homework for the Week

  1. Actually really get on Twitter, follow me, and send me a “mention” so I know you’re there. I’ll compile a list of twitter names and make sure everyone in the group has the list.
  2. Use Twitter to search on relevant topics, to identify interesting people to follow, and start following some of them.
  3. Build a list of candidate key phrases. Use Google searches, Twitter searches, the Google Adwords tool (which I just noticed is going away soon), Blog searches, and other resources to find out what’s going on in your “niche,” who is already established in your niche, and how people talk about your niche to each other. You’ll become more savvy about your market and you’ll come up with plenty of candidate key phrases.

Next meeting is on October 20. I’ll tweet the new location to everyone who has found me on Twitter by then, and I’ll back it up with an email so I’m sure everyone gets the information.

At the October 20th meeting, we’ll do some tweeting… maybe we’ll even engineer a Twitter Chat. Everyone who attends should become comfortable with Twitter’s capabilities.

Other Topics for the Next Meeting:

Google Reader – We’ll have a short review. We’ll each find one or two blogs of interest, locate the RSS feed URL, and use it in Google Reader to subscribe to the bog’s feed. When we do this together a few times, I think the procedure will stick. We’ll also briefly review how to navigate within Google Reader to speed your research and keep up with what’s happening in your niche(s).

Tweetdeck – This is a Twitter client, meaning it’s software that loads on your computer and offers a different interface than the one on Twitter. It provides some advantages over Twitter’s native interface.

Market Samurai – This is a vital tool for researching keywords. We’ll have a detailed walk-through to prepare everyone to find the perfect key phrases to promote their own blogs. There’s a link on the Web Social Marketing Links page of this site to Market Samurai, but please don’t follow it until we’re absolutely ready to finish our keyword research.

I’ll be in touch as soon as I find a decent meeting place. In the meantime, I hope to see all of you on Twitter.

 

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Web Social Marketing Strategies for Writers Week 1

On Wednesday, October 6, a group of writers in central Pennsylvania met at Zelda’s, a coffee shop in Lewisburg. Our purpose is to learn social marketing strategies to promote our writing. We’ll meet weekly for an indefinite period as all participants build Internet presences. Our goal is for each participant to find an audience.

The techniques and tools we’ll apply represent classic and cutting edge SEO and social media marketing. For the forseable future, this blog will chronicle activities of our group. Here’s the upshot of the October 6th meeting:

Overview of Social Marketing Strategies

We covered a lot of material very quickly addressing the following main questions:

  • Why develop an Internet presence?
  • Where do you start to achieve the best-possible Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
  • What are the components of an Internet presence?
  • How do you get traffic to your web site?

This meeting provided a sky-high overview of what we’ll be doing in the next many weeks, so we weren’t as “hands-on” as we typically will be.

Build Savvy to Establish Internet Presence

We looked at one potentially useful tool: Google Reader. To understand Google Reader, we learned what an RSS feed is and established that a blog must have an RSS feed to which visitors can subscribe. Then, we looked at Google Reader in action and we subscribed to an RSS feed. With regards to Google Reader, I ask that everyone sign up for a Google account, go to the Google Reader page, and use it to subscribe to several RSS feeds relative to their areas of interest.

To find blogs that you might subscribe to, simply search in Google using keywords you imagine people would use to find you. If your area of expertise is Young Adult Fiction, what words do you think people use in a Google search to find Young Adult Fiction pages? Keep track of the key phrases you think of… especially phrases that bring up articles you’ll eventually produce. Remember: the point of reading other blogs (and so, the point of subscribing to them), is to learn what’s going on in your niche… in a sense, to learn about your competition (though there’s nothing devious about this).

A Tool to Build Internet Presence

After Google Reader, we looked at a vital service that everyone must learn: Twitter. Twitter will be our gateway drug to social media. As silly as Twitter seems when you first learn about it, it forges an enormous number of emotional and business relationships very smoothly. We (unfortunately briefly) looked at how to search within Twitter for tweets about your areas of interest. Then, how to click through to someone’s Twitter stream and “follow” them.

Most people will follow you back if you follow them, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of “robots” or automated responders that aren’t worth following. So, when someone follows you, I encourage you to review their Twitter profile, read their most recent 20 – 40 tweets, and click through the link that shows at the top of their Twitter page. If they are legitimately interested in the things that matter to you—and not merely a commercial entity—then by all means follow them back. But don’t be in a hurry to get all chatty. I recommend that you lurk for a while and see how conversations develop on Twitter before you insert yourself into them.

The second assignment for participants is to sign up on Twitter, follow me http://www.twitter.com/cityslipper, tweet hello, and find some folks specifically in your area of interest to follow. Make sure you complete your profile on Twitter, and upload an image as your avatar or profile photo. We are all going to become accomplished tweeps, so please get started on Twitter immediately and at least tweet with me. If I can identify you as a member of our group, I can point you to each other as well, so we’ll all be following each other.

More Social Marketing Strategies for Writers

We agreed to continue meeting at Zelda’s on Wednesdays at 12:30. I’m sorry we couldn’t come up with a time to accommodate everyone interested; this meeting time seems to work for the most people. Also: Zelda’s seems very enthusiastic about having us there.

Next Wednesday, the 13th, we’ll start by reviewing each others’ progress with Google Reader, and explore whether people actually find the tool useful. Then we’ll spend a bit more time with Twitter to see how it’s working for you. We’ll learn a few more tricks about finding good tweeps to follow and we’ll explore using Twitter and other tools to identify the key phrases that will be most useful in building your own Internet presence.

The menu item, Web Social Marketing Links, at the top of this page, leads to links that will become useful in the next many weeks. Please don’t rush to follow all the links there; we’ll talk about them as they become important in building our Internet presences.

I’m sad that I haven’t yet received tweets from everyone in the group… so please get cracking! I look forward to next Wednesday’s gathering. Bring your wi-fi-enabled laptops; I’ll bring an extension cord and a power strip!

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Make Decent Videos 2

Video is exploding on the Internet, and companies that incorporate video into their social marketing strategies have a decided advantage over companies that don’t. While web surfers accept—even prefer—amateur video productions over slick, professional recordings, don’t let this lead to sloppiness. Your videography shouldn’t distract from your message. If a video is bad enough, even very interested viewers may click away to something a bit more polished.

This is the second installment in a three-part series about creating decent video for your social marketing effort. My point isn’t to turn you into a master videographer. Rather, I hope to encourage you to improve your product. If your viewers aren’t thinking about the production quality of your video messages, they’re more likely to focus on the messages in your videos.

While Recording Video

In part one of this series, I posted seven things to fix before you start shooting video. In this post, we look at seven things to do—or not to do—while you’re recording:

Fill the frame. The subject of your video should be front-and-center. If you’re teaching about planting herbs in pots, make sure your viewers can see the herbs and the pots. I’ve seen video demonstrations in which the presenter filled the frame, but the items the presenter was demonstrating were too small to discern clearly. If you are the most important thing in your video, then place the camera appropriately. However, if you’re demonstrating something, arrange the camera so your demonstration is easy to see in the video. If your video camera won’t focus at close range, use a digital camera to capture detail and include the digital stills within your finished video.

Record multiple takes from several angles. For videos that feature a person talking, a single take from one camera angle works well. And, for many demonstrations, a single camera angle is adequate. Doing multiple takes from multiple camera angles increases the chance of capturing detail that’s relevant to your demonstration. Sometimes your hands interfere with a shot as you demonstrate a procedure simply because you didn’t anticipate the full range of motion you’d employ. Do the demo twice and move the camera between takes; this will probably result in sequences you can edit together to tell your story well.

Put the camera down. This may be the most important point in my discussion about making good video: Don’t hold the camera while you’re recording. Get a tripod and learn to use it. Even if you’re following a moving subject, mount the camera on a tripod and limit the camera’s movement to horizontal or vertical pans. Please, please, please don’t hold the camera and walk while you’re recording unless there is no other way to get the shot you need.

An amateur videographer once asked me what equipment I used to make videos—we had created videos at the same venue. Before answering, I watched his recording; it was very shaky and hard to follow… though the image quality seemed quite good. I could see that his video camera would have made a great video if he’d mounted the camera on a tripod.

Pan slowly and rarely. Panning means moving the camera across a scene. There’s a lot of crummy panning in Youtube videos: people swing this way and that to follow action, and they leave viewers feeling dizzy. Try to record videos from a stationary camera. If you must pan, pan slowly… and if you think you’re panning slowly enough, pan a little slower still. If you really must pan quickly, it should be to follow a moving subject… and keep the subject in the frame so viewers have a decent place to focus while the rest of the scene is a blur.

Don’t one-hand the camera at your face. Seriously. This is so cheesy. Get a tripod or a friend.

Zoom in and out only if you must. If a scene requires a long shot followed by a tight shot or vice-versa, do viewers a favor and cut the two views together. Watching a scene zoom rarely increases understanding of the subject matter the scene presents.

Pause often and long if you’re narrating as your record a scene. Why would I suggest this? When you play back a recording, it’s likely you’ll spot bits that you ought to leave out of the finished video. But, if the original recording contains an endless stream of narration, it’s tricky to cut without creating awkward transitions. If stream-of-concsiousness is the best delivery mechanism for your massage, go for it. If you want to present a clear, understandable message, pace yourself and pause often so your video will be easier to edit.

 

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Free Social Marketing Strategies Seminar

Pennsylvania Brain Drain has been in the news for over a decade. In that time, I’ve participated with government and nonprofit organizations that advocate for technology and explore factors contributing to Brain Drain. I believe one factor is a tendency of Pennsylvania companies to react slowly to new trends, and a critical trend companies overlook today is the emergence of social media on the Internet.

The use of social media is growing exponentially. Companies that incorporate social media into their marketing programs have a dramatic advantage over competitors. Many companies in central Pennsylvania choose to block access to social media even for employees who can benefit from it the most. Worse: managers and policy-makers often dismiss social media as frivolous; they don’t see themselves using it, so they don’t see how important these new technologies are to business.

Before Social Marketing Strategies comes Understanding

I do a presentation that stuns listeners with insights into the growing Internet-based economy, and that explains fundamentals of social media and the advantages it brings to a business. I’m offering this presentation at no charge to Pennsylvania companies wanting to learn more about social media. My hope is that PA companies will adopt social media to reduce costs by streamlining market research, marketing, customer support, and collaboration.

Companies that don’t adopt social media lose against their competitors. More disturbing: they lose attractiveness to a technology-savvy workforce that has never known a time without personal computers and cell phones. These are the young college graduates who leave Pennsylvania for jobs in companies that keep abreast of trends that are changing the way people do business.

Please help me get the word out about social media. If your Pennsylvania company is ready to learn about social media, drop me a note at this address: daniel@cityslipper.com. If you know a company that might be ready to explore social media, please send them a link to this post. Until further notice I charge nothing to present this seminar within Pennsylvania, but for travel beyond 75 miles from Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, I request a stipend to cover my travel expenses.

I’m pleased to offer this seminar as well to non-Pennsylvania companies at my standard training rate.

 

 

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Beyond Social Marketing Strategies: Is Your Company Ready?

While this blog is primarily about social MARKETING strategies, I’m a great fan of exploiting social media wherever it can improve business processes. Of course, as a business analyst, I’m a fan of improving business processes… using whatever tools fit the need.

One of the conundrums of delivering technological solutions to business process problems is that the very “best fit” products—even custom-built products—sometimes fail miserably. The reason, quite often, is corporate culture.

Internal Uses of Social Media

In ten minutes of brainstorming, your managers could probably think up three dozen ways your company could benefit from using social media internally: Wikis could store customer-support solutions, maintenance procedures, manufacturing techniques, and design histories. Discussion forums could track planning, design, conflict-resolution, progress, and more. Blogs managed by various functional areas of the company could replace the internal corporate newsletter and keep employees better informed about the company’s activities.

However you imagine using social media internally, your company needs to come to grips with the question: can your corporate culture handle it? It’s possible but unlikely that when you enable social media, everyone will jump onboard and your company will zoom into overdrive. More likely, you’ll hit dozens of road bumps and, it’s quite possible things will go very badly. You can probably think of at least one company where management is so incompetent that unleashing social media would result in calamity.

Please consider your corporate culture carefully before jumping into social media. This link leads to an article that will help evaluate whether your company is ready to deploy social media for internal use:

Can Your Corporate Culture Handle Social Media?

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Resistance to Social Media

When I ask people in Pennsylvania about their social marketing strategies, so many tell me that they don’t see any use for Facebook and Twitter. Some share that their companies block social media sites for various reasons not the least of which is that careless use of social media can let viruses through the firewall. Using social media also invites smooth, effective phishing that claims a lot of users’ log-in credentials. Considering the risks, it makes sense for companies to block access. Of course, companies in PA aren’t unique; resistence to social media is common in companies around the world.

I don’t advocate unbridled use of social media throughout a company, nor do I advocate against it. (In my company, we’d find a way to allow social media access to anyone using computers, but that doesn’t make it right for your company.) I do advocate responsible use of social media in your marketing activities. In fact, companies that don’t quickly develop social marketing strategies and put them in action are going to fall behind their competitors.

Who Should use Social Media?

Fine, your company blocks access to social media. But your company must not forbid the use of social media. Consider: your company probably doesn’t encourage employees to read newspapers during business hours. Still, your marketing department may use newspaper advertising as a marketing tactic. Or, more absurdly: your company may use forklifts in the warehouse and shipping areas, but it would be silly and potentially catastrophic to put a forklift in every office and cubicle.

Therein lies the foundation for responsible use of social media in marketing. Put social media in the hands of people who should have it: your marketing department. Get them up to speed on acceptable use, and have them build social marketing strategies that will advance your business.

The social marketing plan that results may (and almost certainly should) require participation from people beyond the marketing department. The marketing plan must define how all participants use social media, and it must lay down rules for what users can and can’t do.

I coach companies to allow no use of Facebook applications without approval from the marketing plan coordinator. I also insist that companies teach about phishing and present users with examples of phishing emails and tweets to inoculate them against giving up login credentials or other potentially damaging information.

As with any business tool, don’t simply hand social media to every person in your company and expect to benefit from it. Rather, create a plan, train the appropriate personnel, and provide access as-needed.

 

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