20 Effective Way to Increase Your Online Influence

Remember what it was like the first day of high school? You nervously walk to the bus stop, wondering who else is going to be there. Once on the bus, you cautiously look around at all the new faces, seeing if you know any and looking at others you don’t. During your first period class, you looked around to find some friends you knew, but most you didn’t know. It probably took weeks if not months to build up a good group of friends and influence within the school ecosystem.

Much like you built up your reputation in school, creating an online presence is just as valuable, if not more. Creating an online influence for yourself can help you gain valuable connections, teach others (and learn from them too), develop power of persuasion, and become regarded as a thought leader.

If you are in the marketing industry, you may idolize people like Chris Brogan and David Meerman Scott for their high influence, visibility and knowledge. I, like many of you, have sat down wondering how to become like them.

Here are 20 key tips to follow to build your online influence:

1. Don’t talk about your service or product. Instead, talk about customer problems and needs and develop meaningful content around those.

2. Be transparent. You will become more credible and trustworthy if you are honest online.

3. Follow great people.

4. Online to offline. Make connections online and continue the relationships offline at events or meet ups.

5. Start conversations with others. If someone shares your article on social media, writes about your product, criticizes you, or asks you a question, answer. That is key to building relationships.

6. Be early in the news cycle so you share information that people are looking for and haven’t seen anywhere else. If you are able to write about or share breaking news, people will come to you more for industry leading breakthroughs.

7. Share good content consistently. When people come to expect you to share and post content regularly, and it is good content, they will keep coming back to you.

8. Let your passion shine. The more devotion and passion you show in your work, the more others will see it and believe it. This will bring them into your content and will entice them to engage with you.

9. Talk about others. If you can praise others, discuss great companies, review an outstanding product/service, etc. people will recognize that, appreciate it, and perhaps return the favor.

10. Repeat your tweets. I will always remember what Guy Kawasaki said about retweets: It is a good practice to RT an article about four times over the course of a day for it to get noticed and shared.

11. Understand your audience and build content around that. If you are a lawn mowing manufacturer and know your audience is interested in lawn care, write about that.

12. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. Instead, master one niche. It is best to focus in on one particular topic (for me it is internet marketing) and share your expertise. Don’t try to write about five different topics; people will get confused about what you stand for if you do this.

13. Be active on other people’s communities. If you want to be seen and noticed, you have to go find other people, not hope that they will come to you. If your audience hangs out on a niche social network site, get involved there and in turn they may come into your community if you build effective relationships on their site first.

14. Listen, then engage. If there is a breaking news story in your industry, a massive online attack on your brand, or a common theme to your listeners’ questions/comments, understand them and then engage.

15. Network with other influencers. Once you have become influential in some degree, begin speaking with others that are already there.

16. Share your ideas. Long gone are the days where we secretly held in every trade secret. Today, it is best to share your knowledge and help everyone around you grow and improve. If you help your industry as a whole improve, then you are in turn helping yourself and your business.

17. Make friends. The more you can enhance a friendship online (and continue it offline) the better you will fare online. If you appear to just be networking for the sake of getting fans and retweets, people will quickly pick up on that and be turned off. However, if you are genuine and building friendships, people will like you and want to talk to you.

18. Give more than you get. The more you can share news and expertise, the better. If you can help your audience, they will appreciate that and that appreciation can go miles towards building your online influence.

19. Use social media to compliment existing message channels. Just because social media is hot now doesn’t mean you should abandon your traditional ways of reaching others. If you are used to interacting with your audience via forums, email, podcasts and events, keep doing those. You can use social media to continue those relationship and gain new ones.

20. Make something worth talking about. David Meerman Scott calls this a ‘worldwide rave.’ If you can create novel, interesting content, others will talk about it and share. If you are simply reposting content that others already put out, you won’t attract many viewers.

What are some ways that you have built your online influence? Have you implemented any of the above 20 methods? If so, which worked best/worst for your or your company?


Facebook and Twitter are NOT the same Message Channel

facebook vs twitter

I am a huge proponent of using social networking to promote a business, but first it must be understood that each message channel has a specific audience; especially Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook is now a mainstream social network with 500 million users and counting. 50% of users access Facebook via the web every day. Twitter had 106 million users as of this April so it is growing but certainly not mainstream yet. 75% of Twitter users access it via a 3rd party client such as HootSuite or CoTweet instead of the website domain which suggests most Twitter users are more technical. The average social networker would not know how to download a third party app, nonetheless know which one to use, to access Twitter.

Due to the large disparity between the two social networks, different messages need to be created for each channel.

Since Twitter is largely a technical crowd, they are looking to receive news about new products/services, innovation, gadgets, and statistics.

Facebook users, on the other hand, are there to talk with friends about more mainstream topics including trends, gatherings, celebrities, and their daily lives.

If you are trying to reach customers and leads via social media, it is crucial to keep that in mind.

At Backupify, I manage both our Twitter and Facebook accounts. On Twitter, I am able to tweet about OAuth, Twitter trends, Google Apps, net neutrality, and the like. On Facebook, I have to alter the messaging and post items like Facebook developments, Google trends, privacy, etc. Since our service is high tech in the first place, most followers and fans get the general idea, but I still need to tweak the messages accordingly.

I just started using a tool called Argyle Social, which is still in beta, that helps me measure which posts do best on each channel. You have the option to post any article on Twitter, Facebook or both and then track that URL using their web interface. The more clicks a post gets, the better it does. This helps me measure and tweak my posts according to what Argyle Social reports. If I post something too technical or non-conversational on Facebook and I see that it did poorly, I’ll know that it was the wrong post to put up and will avoid doing that in the future. If I post a really popular topic on Twitter and it gets, say, 200 clicks, I’ll know followers want more of that since they are highly interested.

When managing your Facebook and Twitter accounts for your company, always keep in mind who your audience is. The more you post about irrelevant information to them, the less people will follow, interact and engage with you. If done right, though, you can gain very passionate and smart followers who will become brand evangelists for your company.

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Is the Internet draining us or do we lack focus?

information overload

Five years ago you would never have had access to as much information as you do today. Now the question arises, “Is there too much information available at my fingertips?”

You might not have thought twice about the slow yet apparent increase of information that is available on the web until now. In fact, I hardly thought much into it until I read this article.

The upside to the matter is that no longer do you have to dig through a book, purchase a $500 research report or conduct a focus group to gain information that seems quite simple to obtain today.

On the other hand, our eyes are glazing over so much of this information that we are becoming far less able to soak in pages of data and would rather read quick snippets of information from article titles. For example, say you conduct a Google search for “Percentage of businesses on Twitter.” You might get a great result from eMarketer offering an extensive three to ten page report all about this. But do you choose it? Probably not. Instead, you take in what the title says, “Study finds 56% of businesses use Twitter” and do a quick scan of the first few paragraphs.

This demonstrates the inability and time deficiency that we have to sit down and read a real report anymore. Our depth of knowledge is limited but our breadth is expanding. We are now taking in more types of data but at a shallower level. Many psychologists and scientists question if this will in turn make us more stupid.

They worry that we will not be able to think deeply and thoughtfully into any one topic anymore. While we may be well versed in many topics, what does that do when we are asked to go into detail on a particular subject and can’t?

This debate boils down to focus vs. plethora of information. I stand on the fence about the issue but would have to lean in the direction of saying that in general it will be a good thing. I believe that the more well versed a person is in the world on many different topics, the better off they will be. This is not to say you should know a little about biology, green energy, social media marketing, architecture and pollution, but that you should have a broad focus on a particular industry or topic and take in bits and pieces of data all over about that.

For example, my specialty is high tech internet marketing. Do I read intensive reports on this regularly? Nope. Instead, I set up Google Alerts, subscribe to about twenty blogs, follow around 350 people that are tech and marketing related on Twitter and watch videos related to these subjects. This gives me an expansive and thorough understanding of the general state of Internet marketing. Instead of honing in on one very particular part of my speciality, I like to use the plethora of data to my advantage by expanding my knowledge and expertise to a more general category.

A few months ago I wrote a post titled ‘Information Overload or Filter Failure’ which discussed that maybe we are just having trouble creating our own data filters in our minds. To combat this, pick out particular topics you want to be aware of while scanning the web. While scanning through your Google Reader, email and Twitter feed, act as a keyword catcher and focus on picking up only articles related to those. Don’t let the data explosion overtake your whole Internet experience and let it ‘dumb you down’ as experts are calling it.

As a tip, I try to read a book a month to allow myself to not become too entrenched in only learning from what the Internet has to teach me. I also do this to be able to immerse myself into a longer story and focus on reading hundreds of pages of the same piece rather than snippets. I have realized recently that this has been a bit of a struggle to do since I read so much online now, but I am sticking to my mission to do this and it definitely helps. Try that out too and let me know if it works!

How do you react to this issue? Do you feel dumbed down by the Internet or do you think it can provide us with an opportunity? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below!

You might also want to follow me on Twitter to learn more @kristinedziadul.

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How Twitter Can Help with Lead Generation

Below is an excellent guest blog post by Affnet of Orange, CA, a company that provides performance-based services to online advertisers and publishers.

Twitter is certainly mainstream today. It’s almost impossible now to turn on a news show, sports broadcast, or other media based outlet without seeing some sort of Twitter message, follow request, or live updates coming from a Twitter stream. With so much attention and promotions going on for Twitter, many businesses and owners are trying to figure out how they can use Twitter to build their own business and generate more leads from it. The following information will share some ideas on how to use Twitter to help with lead generation.

To start, let’s take a look at why businesses get on Twitter to begin with. Typically, businesses will get on Twitter to create a brand experience, communicate with their audience or customers, build stronger brand reputation and better branding, engage in industry and market news and topics, and of course to promote their products or services. All of these things are done daily and can be the sole focal point, or a collaboration of all the elements to maximize the efforts put forth on Twitter.

Now, lets look at what the typical user is doing on Twitter so that we can understand how to effectively market to them to generate more leads. Users like to be informed about products and services that are relevant to them, share useful information with others in their circle, find things they think are either funny, helpful, or topical, as well as to stay current on trending topics.

In addition to why people are on Twitter, let’s take a look at who is on Twitter and what a business can hope to find in terms of new leads. According to PEW Research Center, nearly 55% of all Twitter users are between the ages of 18 – 49, which means that the majority of people on Twitter are adults. Over 40% of all Twitters have some sort of college education and over 60% of Twitter users make over 30k per year. The average age of a Twitter user is 31. This means that a large portion of people using Twitter are educated and have a stable job with a decent salary range, which makes Twitter a great network for generating new leads.

With these numbers in mind, Twitter is in a good position to generate leads and the following are some ways Twitter can help produce more leads for you businesses.

1. Branding and Reputation: Twitter can help establish a business with the right impression by having a branded experience on Twitter and link that to the company’s main site. This gives the impression that a business is supporting the efforts that they are making online and gives people a place to voice their opinions, share information, and to communicate directly with the company. In addition, it’s good to build a custom brand background and page look to give people the impression that they get when they visit the company’s main site. It also gives the impression that the company understands and values their brand.

2. Bio and Links: It’s important to give people a sense of what they will expect from the Tweets by adding some info to the bio as well as a link to the company’s website. This will give people a chance to learn more about the company by providing them with a snippet of what the business does as well as a way to get them to the website via a link on the profile page.

3. Contacts and Followers: The next important thing to consider is who the business is following and who should follow them. There are some tools that can help find relevant Tweeters in a certain market and it’s good to use them to help find those people and start following them. Another way to do this is to go to Twitter and start doing keyword search and see who is tweeting them. There may be some relevant followers that would be helpful to engage with and could be a good source for new leads. By finding the right followers, tweets and other info will go out faster and to more relevant people, which in turn would generate better leads.

4. Engage and Promote: Create useful tweets and post them regularly. It’s important to not only promote products and services from the business, but share other stories and ideas that are relevant to the industry. Making a tweet about an industry topic is a good way to engage people and get them talking. In addition, by creating tweets that are helpful in a certain market, it makes the business look like an authority within the space and gives them an advantage over people that are not as active. Getting familiar with certain Twitter options like retweets, followfriday, and other useful tools is another way to engage people and be able to generate leads. There are some helpful blogs and tools that can make this process a little easier, but it is certainly one of the most crucial parts to effectively generate leads from Twitter.

Twitter is certainly a new tool for businesses to use to generate leads and will be an effective part of business marketing for the next couple of years. The best part about this tool is that it’s free to use and only requires the time and effort needed to make it work efficiently.

Affnet is a leading, performance based marketing group that exclusively works with advertisers and publishers for effective lead generation.

15 Tips to Get More Retweets on Twitter

On Friday I tuned into Hubspot’s Dan Zarrella talking about the ‘Science of Retweets.’ He has compiled some great information and reserach on how and why people retweet. For those of you who were unable to tune in, below are my favorite take-aways from the webinar that can help you receive more retweets on Twitter:

Cool Stat: 100,000,000 retweets have been recorded thus far!

1. Keep your tweets to 100-120 characters long to allow for people to RT and add in their comments.

2. About 65% of retweets contain links because people naturally like to share information, and Twitter is a main broadcast medium for sharing and creating conversations around the links.

3. If you want more retweets, find great content on the web that people will want to share.

4. bit.ly is the most popular and most common URL shortener, so try to shorten your links to bit.ly. Avoid tinyurl; it is the largest URL shortener character-wise, thus less popular.

5. If you want to increase your chances of being retweeted, use the most popular words: you (people like when you talk to or about them, naturally), Twitter, please, retweet, post, blog, social, free (people like free stuff!), media, help (“help me spread the word”), please retweet, great, social media, 10, follow, How To, top, blog post, check out (calls to action are always great), and new blog post.

6. Retweets in general are composed of longer words and more syllables.

7. Retweets are smarter, using higher levels of words and content, so you don’t need to dumb down your tweets for them to get retweeted.

8. Retweets are more novel, meaning the words and information in them tend to occur less frequently. In general, talk about stuff that is less common and more unique so that people will find it interesting, eye-catching, and thus will retweet it.

9. Retweets are noun-heavy and also use adverbs and proper nouns.

10. Retweets are more emotional, conceptual and social.

11. Do NOT reference to yourself a lot; people don’t want to know what YOU are doing- that is boring to us!

12. Retweet content types by popularity: 1. News, 2. Instructional (How-To guides), 3. Entertainment, 4. Opinion, 5. Products, 6. Small Talk

13. Know who your main Twitter audience is. In general women tend to retweet entertainment-based information, whereas men tend to retweet opinion-based content.

14. Timing: It is BEST to tweet between 1 pm and 10 pm (4-5 pm is the prime time). It is WORST to tweet between 3 am and 12 pm (people are either sleeping or catching up on morning tasks).

Friday is the BEST day for retweets, then Wednesday, Monday and Thursday.
Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays are the WORST days for retweets, so avoid putting great content out there on these days; save it for Fridays.

15. It is important to thank your retweeters, but don’t overdo it. For example, if thirty people RT your message, either only thank the loyal retweeters, DM everyone, or mention a few people in a thank you tweet so you don’t overload their Twitter feed with individual thank you’s, and it is annoying for you to have to do that as well.

REMEMBER: Retweeting other people’s links is just as important, and can be good karma, if you believe in that. Recognize those that retweet your information a lot, and do the same for them; they will always appreciate it.

So, lets conduct an experiment. To see if the power of retweets that Zarrella talks about is really true, lets see how many retweets we can get this article to have. Lets use #KristinD as the hashtag so you all can track the effectiveness of this. I’ll tweet this article out throughout this week and you all can check in on the hashtag #KristinD and see how our little experiment goes!

Amazing New Technologies!

When I started reading about some of these incredible developments, I stopped and thought, “Is this real?!”

Some of the technology coming out today and in the near future is almost unfathomable! I read TechCrunch, Mashable, Popular Science, and many other high-tech blogs on a daily basis and have come across a few unbelievably amazing pieces of technology and services that I want to share with you all.

It is amazing to think that if in 2010 this technology is so out there yet so close to being created, what will the new technology be in 5 years from now? 10 years?

Enjoy!

Microsoft: Play in the water without getting wet!

NASA: Incredible avatar technology that can be ready in 1000 days! Almost unbelievable, right?
Read the article by Popular Science on this new technology here.

Twitter: Find your Twitter friends in real life right from your iPhone!

Last, I’m sure most of you have heard of Google’s Googles. Here is a review of this great app on the Android phone.

Twitter: What is it even for?

Yesterday, @Cait_Downey tweeted out this post, and from there we had a quick conversation:

@Cait_Downey What’s your main reason for Twitter? to socialize? entertain? inform? build awareness?

@KristinEDziadul @Cait_Downey I think it’s for whatever you want to make of it

@Cait_Downey @KristinEDziadul I agree w/ you! I think its best when it’s a mix of everything too.

This conversation got me thinking: does Twitter have a true purpose? One central theme to its usage is that you can meet people that you may not have otherwise by sharing articles, pictures, blogs, and comments. However, Twitter has different purposes based on the user.

Businesses:
PR tactic
Networking
B2C connections
Sharing industry articles
Reaching out to advertisers
Conveying the brand image
Networking with partnering companies
Advertising blogs, events, job openings, etc.

Employees:
Connect with other co-workers
Find out about industry trends to learn more
Support their employer’s statements (i.e. blogs, research, events)
Develop their own online brand as a part of their larger employer’s brand

Individuals:
Find a job
Meet friends
Meet potential employers
Find networking events to go to
Share videos, articles, research, etc.
Follow celebrities or favorite brands

Celebrities:
Tweet photos of themselves
PR device if they have a mishap
Make followers feel connected to them
Promote their albums, movies, clothing lines, etc.
Tell fans where they are, what they are doing, what they like, etc.

As I said in the conversation above with Cait, Twitter can be used for whatever you want. I think Twitter is so basic for a reason: users can have free range in what they do with it. Twitter applications are developed to enhance particular aspects of it if users need them. Personally, I use it for individual purposes as a part of building my online branding and networking with others.

Please leave your comments on how/why you or your company use Twitter or how you would like to use it!

#SoxUp Recap

soxup Boston, MA event

(Picture courtesy of Derek Wilmont on Flickr)

First of all, it was great to meet each and every one of you on Thursday night (February 25th) at the Boston, MA Soxup event at Fenway Park Absolute Clubhouse hosted by Awareness. It was really neat to watch the ‘Twitterverse’ come to life during an event like this. Going into the event, I only had met three people that I knew were going to be there, and left having met about eight more.

The environment on Twitter before the event almost mocked the types of conversations going on during the event. Before the SoxUp, all attendees, including me, were using the hashtag #soxup to locate others who were going as well, so as to ‘meet’ them beforehand. After I did this, I then engaged in conversations on Twitter with several people whom I connected with via the hashtag.

This then allowed me to locate these people immediately at the event, either by facial recognition or by their Twitter username printed on their name tag. I was then able to immediately engage in a conversation with these people, as we had already ‘met’ on Twitter. This saved the time of introducing myself, working the room, and making small talk. Instead, the time was used more efficiently by engaging in meaningful conversations regarding the Internet marketing industry, social media, or the event itself.

Sites like Twitter have truly revolutionized the networking environment to make it more open via the Internet, and more efficient in person.

Overall, I think the event was fabulous. Awareness’s Christine Major did an excellent job facilitating the welcoming speech, introducing featured guest Steve Garfield, and interacting with everyone there. The environment was a great place to meet with everyone (and it kept us out of the rain!). I look forward to keeping in touch with everyone I met there on Twitter and at future events!

How do you find that Twitter is a valuable networking facilitator?

Are You Socially Active?

Ready to jump onto the social media bandwagon?!

Do you consider yourself technologically savvy or very socially connected? Make sure you are using the below social media sites, and using them correctly!

1. Facebook: If you are a business, create an informative but not overwhelming Fan Page. Connect with others in your demographic market and geographic location, interact with them, and post valuable and meaningful information for fans to read. If you are an individual marketing yourself online, ensure to clean up your profile, i.e. no bad pictures, create appropriate status updates, and watch what pages you become fans of and what groups you join. Then, start networking with professionals and professional groups through Facebook.

2. Twitter: If you are a business, develop an original background that conveys the image and look and feel of your company. Interact with others in your industry, thought leaders, key consumers, and proponents of your brand. This will help you disseminate your information in the most direct way, and those people will be more receptive to it. Make sure you do not over-promote yourself, or followers will be turned off. Post valuable information about your industry in general, and make sure to interact with people! If you are an individual, create an original background that conveys your personal brand online, connect with friends, co-workers, favorite brands, and even those in your industry that you want to network with. Search for topics or industries in the search box to get involved with people doing involved with that on Twitter.

3. LinkedIn: If you are a business, create a strong description of your company and join all relevant groups to your industry/product/brand, etc. Post your blogs to those groups and ask others for their feedback. In the same way, respond to others and interact to be seen as a thought-leader and a ‘socialite’ on LinkedIn. If you are an individual, create a strong description of what you do or what you hope to achieve by networking with others. Get involved with groups that are relevant to your area of interest or speciality, post your blogs, and respond to others as well. The more active you are on here, the more recognized you will be, and you may even land a job offer!

4: Blog: Today, blogging is more important than ever for everyone to be doing. Blogging allows you to be seen as a thought leader or expert in your field. For blogging success, read Chris Brogan’s blog titled 40 Ways to Deliver Killer Blog Content.” Tell Facebook friends about your posts, Tweet it out to the Twitterverse, post it to your groups on LinkedIn, and even make them into video blogs to post them on YouTube for additional exposure!

5. Commenting on Blogs: You know it feels good to see that someone has commented on your blog, so as common courtesy, comment on other blogs as well. They appreciate it as much as you do. By reading other blogs, you can learn more, learn about different perspectives on issues, interact with new people, share that information with others, and get your name out there.

6. Pictures/Videos: Giving a visual representation of your daily activities or thoughts is a great way for a reader/viewer to interact with you and learn more about you. For example, if you are traveling into Boston for the day and want to take a video of you recapping the conference, people will want to see your video blog review if they were not able to attend. Also, if you are at a really cool restaurant, saw a neat car, etc. you can take a picture and upload it to TwitPic or Flickr to share with all! Visual representation of what you are doing is more powerful than you may think!

For those of you starting off in social media engagement, take these steps slow and carefully so you develop your content in a planned out and effective manner. It does take time, so don’t rush it. To monitor your online presence, occasionally search Google for your own name to see how much content is on the web about you. If you are getting involved with Internet technologies for a career, future employers may be Googling you more than looking into your resume.

For those social media gurus reading this, any other suggestions to add?

Don’t Just Tweet to Tweet

About how many tweets on Twitter do you find truly valuable each day?

For one, it is hard to get noticed on Twitter because everyone is sending out updates all day long so messages can quickly get hidden. One thing I have noticed many businesses and individuals do is send out useless tweets. Now, everyone is guilty of this at one point or another, but if you send out several and risk losing valuable followers, then there is a problem. I came to think about this issue after reading Tom Davenport’s post titled, “Let’s Tweet About Something Important”. He discussed top 2009 tweets, which ones truly had value, or were just lost in the clutter.

We don’t want to hear about your current mood or your dog’s name or what your wife is doing. A report by Huffington Post collected the top topics on Twitter of 2009, including Harry Potter, the Swine Flu, Michael Jackson, Tiger Woods, American Idol, Superbowl, and Google Wave. If you can teach me something by posting about any of these topics or other topics of interest to your most valued followers, then that is good. If not, don’t bother tweeting at all.

Social media sites are getting more and more cluttered as people are joining at lightening fast speed, so making your message stand out is key, especially for a business trying to gain valuable customer relationships.

What are some of the best and worst tweets you have seen?