RT One reason why auto retweet is a fail

If you’re an avid tweeter, you’ve probably been invited to beta test Twitter’s new auto retweet function, which allows you to retweet anything to your followers just with the touch of a button. I like the initiative, but there’s no way it will work. Here’s why:

It doesn’t allow you to be… you.

Retweeting is great. It allows you to pass on a tweet to your followers that you find interesting, or that reflects positively on you. But the real benefit of a retweet, in my opinion, is that it allows you to add your thoughts to it, thereby giving you the ability to customize the tweet for your followers. You know, inject a little personality into it. The new auto retweet strips that from you. It automatically retweets without giving you that ability to change a thing. Where’s the fun in that?

I get that this new feature will allow some users to get their tweet total up very quickly, so there’s some appeal there (for narcissists), but the reason I follow people on Twitter is that they not only pass on good information, they also have an opinion on it. If they do nothing but blindly retweet information, then I’ll just follow the original source – because obviously they have nothing to say.

So here’s one person that’s going to continue to RT the old way. Because I’ve been accused of many things in my life, but not having an opinion has never been one of them.

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9 signs you’re an Over-Tweeter

addictThis is a post for Mr. Over-Tweet. You know who you are, but you probably won’t have time to read this. After all, you’re too busy enthralling us, 140 characters at a time.

But in the event you do find time to read this post. I have just one thing to say to you:

Stop.

I get that you want to embrace social media and that you probably have a loyal group of followers (i.e. the unemployed). But I think I speak for the majority of Twitter-ers out there when I say, “ease up on the throttle, big guy.” It’s not that we don’t find some of your tweets interesting. After all, we’re following you (for now). But inundating us with tweets doesn’t make you more compelling. In fact, it actually makes you less so.

Oh, and if you’re not sure you’re an Over-Tweeter, here are some telling signs to watch for:

1. You regularly fill the Twitter ‘home’ page with your tweets.
2. You’ve debated the merits of the bit.ly URL shortener vs the ow.ly URL shortener.
3. Your name is Guy Kawasaki.
4. You put hashtags on Post-It notes to emphasize points.
5. You’ve tweeted while driving / shaving / showering / jogging / dating / cooking or any other ‘ing’ that requires some measure of concentration.
6. You consider Tweeting to be your guilty pleasure instead of something actually guilt-inducing, like cock-fighting.
7. You’ve joked about naming your child/pet “@name”.
8. You’ve actually tweeted: “@mydamnwife at me for tweeting during dinner again” or
8.a @mydamnwife left you a while ago

And here’s the big one:

9. You tweet more than you read your followers’ tweets.

I don’t mean to belabor a point, Mr. Over-Tweet, but it’s called social media. Most people use it to create a dialogue between each other. When the conversation only goes one way, it kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? So unless you’re Shaquille O’Neal, Oprah or CNN, try something revolutionary the next time you log on to Twitter. Just read. Then, perhaps respond. You might find yourself in an actual conversation, and more importantly, more connected to society in general.

Until then, me and @mydamnwife will be watching.

How to erode brand trust – by Hyatt

firedI’m a fan of Hyatt Hotels. In fact one of my favorite hotels is the Hyatt Olive 8 in Seattle. As a customer I have always been pleased with their attentive service and care, which are strong pillars of their brand.

However, as a consumer, I was really disturbed to hear about Hyatt’s recent underhanded move to eliminate their housekeeper positions in Boston and replace them with a third party. I won’t go into details (click here for the story), but it hardly smacks of any care. And if any of it is true, how can they not think this erodes my trust in their brand?

In this day and age companies just can’t get away with acting out of brand character. You can’t tell consumers you’re one thing and then be completely opposite to your internal stakeholders. We’ll find out one way or another. And here’s the worst part. Due to social media proliferation this PR gaffe won’t be localized to the Boston area. It has the potential to affect Hyatt globally.

So what may have begun as a cost saving measure, has now become a costly crisis for Hyatt. And all because they didn’t think that their staff was a part of their brand.

Hyatt has responded to the negative press with a statement you can read here.

Why is this the Golden Age of Twitter?

goldbirdFor those 50% of you who are “Just trying this Twitter thing out” (#1 most common tweet) before you abandon the tool forever, I just wanted to share with you why it’s the best time to keep at it with Twitter:

Because no one really knows what they’re doing, especially corporations.

Twitter is still a relatively new site, and hasn’t been properly monetized. So this is the best time to really enjoy it as a social media tool.

I thought I’d explain my rationale through an experience I had recently. I was thinking about taking my girlfriend to Portland, but didn’t know much about the city. So I went onto my Twitter account and tweeted: “Anyone know any good hotels in Portland?”

I didn’t get any immediate replies, but after a while a few people, as well as a few hotels, wrote me back and told me about some good places to stay in the area. Some of the hotels even offered me a Twitter discount. I tweeted back a few people and hotels to ask about restaurants/entertainment as well, and got some good responses from both. In fact I got good enough advice from these people on Twitter that I made a reservation.

Not bad, huh? Now here’s why that won’t exist a few months/years from now:

Soon, many companies will use automated software (like the impersonal automated direct reply messages you get when you start following some people), so that when you type in anything related to their business, like ‘Hotel’, ‘Car’, or even ‘Dog Food’, you ‘ll receive a slew of automated messages from them, begging you to frequent their business. Translation: TWITTER SPAM (or is it: TWAM?).

Today, when most businesses are reaching out to you through Twitter, it’s usually be a person who is genuinely trying to help you out. Sure, they still want your business, but they’re willing to put in the time and effort to cultivate you as a customer to make a sale, instead of letting the robotic software do all the talking/offering for them. Because the fact of the matter is that we (humans/consumers) are complex creatures and are generally motivated by things other than price. Sometimes we need to have our hands held during the wooing process.

And finally, because Twitter hasn’t been overrun by corporations just yet (you ain’t seen nothin’ yet), people still view it as a tool to communicate with one another. As soon as we’re all inundated with SPAM messages, we’ll turn off it and move on to the next thing.

And for those of you who disagree, just log into your old Second Life account and see how those cool company storefronts really ameliorated the social media experience, if you can still remember your password.

I’m NIKE! Or at least you think I am

swooshAuthenticity is going to be the new battle brands will have on their hands. With the rise of social media and its low barrier to entry, companies that don’t take steps to protect themselves by registering their names on the major sites risk allowing someone else to control their brand name.

Which makes me realize that there is going to be a market for these identities, much like there was a business for Domain Squatting in the late 90s. I wonder how much Nike would pay for the @Nike handle on Twitter (with its legion of followers), especially if Twitter continues its meteoric rise in social media.

If you haven’t already, my suggestion is to register on the following sites and ramp up your privacy settings until such time as your company is ready to move forward.

Twitter
Facebook
MySpace
Friendfeed
Youtube

How can David beat Goliath?

davidMalcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and Tipping Point, recently wrote a terrific article in the New Yorker about Davids and Goliaths. He referenced historical conflicts that demonstrated that when David fights Goliath on Goliath’s terms (i.e. conventional battle), he wins 28% of the time. However, when he fights on his own terms, he wins an astounding 64% of the time.

This gave me a moment of pause. Not because of the radical percentage swing, but because how many of us out there, when you think of our talent, skills, company influence, experience, etc. can really call ourselves Goliaths? I would have to say that the majority of us out there are just plain old Davids. And if we’re David, then everyone else out there, to us, is Goliath.

So, what are we doing differently to succeed against the Goliaths of the world? Gladwell references a girls basketball team that used a full-court press to overcome the fact that they were smaller and less skilled than their opponents. But really, you can use this methodology in any aspect of your life.

For example, next time you’re applying for a job (which many are today) and you know that you’ll be competing against people with more experience and deeper skill sets, what will you do differently? If you go by Gladwell’s stats, when you apply like everyone else, you stand a one in four chance of getting that job. But if you change your tactics to focus on your strengths, you can change the playing field.

This philosophy, in essence, is how we look at advertising. Often, our clients do not have the same budgets, reputations or brands as their competitors, so we have to change the game in order to increase our odds of winning. This can take the form of an innovative media placement or use of media, unusual messaging, and a host of other areas. It’s all about cutting through the clutter and getting noticed.

In fact, this is a great way to look at anything in life where you feel you’re at a disadvantage. If you go up against the Goliaths straight up, you’ll probably lose. But if you change the game, you can accomplish anything.

PS – Thanks to condron.us for adding my blog to their roll.

How to get your name in search results in 10 days

googleGetting your name into search engines can be extremely beneficial. It’s how employers do more research in potential employees. It’s even a way some people check out people they’re dating.

When I talk to folks outside of the marketing community, the question of personal brand or reputation comes up frequently. They tell me that they’ve Googled their names to see what comes up. Most of the time, nothing does, or very limited/obscure stuff. If you’re concerned about what’s coming up in search (or not coming up) this post is entirely about getting your name out there, in a positive way.

Here’s what to do:

1. Buy the URL of your name.

This is really easy to do, and it will cost you about $10 a year. Unless you’ve got a popular name, it should still be available. Even if you do have a common name, you can still buy URLs with alternate extensions, like .net or .ca. Here are a list of sites that allow you to search for your URL and buy it:

Netfirms
Network Solutions
Go Daddy
Register.com

2. Create a website

Whether you got your URL or not, you can still get your name up in search rankings if you start a website. Sounds daunting, but it really isn’t. In fact, it’s really easy to do, it’s free and doesn’t require any technical ability whatsoever. Here are a list of free website/hosting sites out there that are extremely useful.

Weebly
Webs
Wix
Jimdo
Synthasite

Once you’ve gotten to one of these sites, you’re probably wondering what the hell to post. All you really need to do, if you want to do the bare minimum, is post one page. If you want your ranking to reflect your career aspirations, then make sure the copy you write sounds like to first paragraph of your resume. If you want it to be personal, then write some copy that’s more personal. It’s also good to write in the third person. It sounds more authoritative in a search result.

3. Get Linkedin

When you Google my name, the first result is my Linkedin profile. If you haven’t heard of Linkedin, it’s the Facebook of the business world. It’s free. It’s also easy to build a profile and, if you want it to, it will automatically search your address book for people you know and can link to.

4. Start a Blog

This is asking for a bit of a commitment, because blogs are time consuming. But really all you need to do is post something once a week. Is that too much to ask for – 200 words a week? Blogs are terrific because they are indexed by both regular search engines and blog search engines. I’d recommend that you register a blog under your name and focus on areas that you know something about. Remember, go back to what you want your search results to say about you. If you want to be seen as an incredible chemical engineer, then probably best to stick that topic instead of why pancakes beat french toast. Here are a list of great, free blog sites:

WordPress
Blogger
Blog
Shoutpost
Typepad

5. Make some comments

Another easy way to get your name out there is to comment on articles and blog posts. Probably the top 25 out of 50 search results that come up for my name are comments I made. For many sites you have to register to leave a comment. Make sure you enter your name for your username, and be smart about your comment. Just because it’s easy to comment doesn’t mean you should be flippant. Whatever your comment is, it will live in search results for a while. And the simple rule is, the more famous the article, the better your comment will do in search rankings.

6. Be a critic

I started a profile on Amazon a while back and made wrote a review on a book called Made to Stick. I’m amazed that the review appears so high in search results. So if you’ve read a book or two, bought a TV, played a game or traveled anywhere, write a review about it on a popular site (Amazon, Best Buy, Tripadvisor, etc.). It will get indexed for search.

7. Be shameless

By now I am sure you’ve heard of Twitter, the microblogging tool that’s taking the geek world by storm. What you’ll notice is that the folks who are really good at getting followers always post helpful links. Do the same. But every once in a while, post a link that goes to your website or blog. If you’ve got something interesting for people to read or see, they’ll follow you. You can also post your blog or web URL when you make comments. If it’s too long, just go to Tinyurl to shorten it. You will also want to ping search engines when you have a new post to your blog. Here are some popular tools:

Feedburner
Pingomatic
Technorati

8. Be consistent

Building your online brand isn’t tough, but it takes consistency to make sure it stays where you want it to be. If you follow all of the previous steps and drop them all a month later, rest assured your search rankings will fall into obscurity. Also, everything is time/date stamped by the search engines. If someone does a search on you and the most recent thing is from 5 years ago, what does that say about you, other than you’ve been living in a unibomber shack in the woods.

Some of these steps will index quicker than others, but rest assured, you’ll see your results change in about 10 days.