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August 26, 2008

Using Twitter for Business

Filed as News with 6 comments

Last week, Chris Brogan wrote a post outlining fifty business ideas on using Twitter for business. Some of his ideas included:

  • Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).
  • Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?
  • Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).

Valeria Maltoni weighs in with some great ideas on how to use Twitter for business over at Conversation Agent. One great idea is:

Try new ideas in a space where you will likely receive feedback.

The concept of being in beta is great to test whether there would be resistance to offerings and why. Although the number of Twitter users is relatively small, it is a much bigger crowd than just the one customer who bought something custom from you and thought it was a good product. Before you go ahead and make that a product, find more than one way to test its marketability.

Both posts have great ideas on what to consider and how to implement twitter in your business.

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May 30, 2008

Can You Run an Online Publication?

Answer honestly. Do you have what it takes to run background research, fact check, spell check, grammar check, objectivity check. Wait a moment, wasn’t blogging supposed to be about opinion and voice? Yes it was, and so was journalism. You are allowed to feel, witness (experience), and document what you see through your human filter.

Christiane Amanpour thinks that “there are some situations that one simply cannot be neutral about. Objectivity does not mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.” Herein lies the first lesson in running a publication for bloggers – it is about being balanced in recognizing differing points of view.

Another journalist I have tremendous respect for, John Timpane of the Editorial Board at The Philadelphia Inquirer – former Shakespearian English teacher and poet – calls it skepticism. This means requiring the official reality to explain itself. Not to be confused with another sentiment, which is often overused: cynicism. A cynic is not open to discovery, he is set in his ways. A skeptic, on the other hand, is open to receiving. In other words, they are listening while exercising critical thinking.

Now that you are listening, you can pass the biggest test.

The Biggest Test

The biggest test you can take after you honor the proper grammar and form is that of the attribution. Being objective means being honest with yourself, and with the other – both sides. Can you do that?

Then you are well on your way. All the other things – finding news, analyzing it, doing background and fact checks, even finding a sponsor or an ad network for your publication is easier.

The hardest part is always that of objectivity. Asking, even requiring reality to explain itself is harder than it seems. Yet the rewards are oh so much greater. With the recent news of Ars Technica being bought by Conde’ Nast we learned a very important piece of information: the community that forms around an online publication can be a powerful story.

Compelling at the tune of millions of dollars. The content is key to forming that, of course, as is the integrity and passion of the reporting – with objectivity. What side of the conversation are you not giving a hearing to?

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May 2, 2008

Link-In Your Blog to the Business Community

Last week I participated in a panel to talk about the use of social media for your business. Specifically, we addressed the needs and questions of entrepreneurs, solo-preneurs, and small business owners. This demographic tends to be in much closer contact with their customers than your average person inside a large organization. By closer contact, I mean they would be in touch with what their customers want and needs. That would allow them to be able to provide content that is useful and valuable to those customers.

You may be in tune with your readers on a consistent basis and have plenty of content ideas. Yet, every blue moon, we all hit a dry spell. What do you do then to find ideas for posts? More importantly, how do you know that those ideas are valuable to the readership you are working on attracting?

The answer may lie in the questions – and can find plenty of them about a wide range of topics on LinkedIn. If you already have a professional profile on LinkedIn, you can go in and look under “answers” in the main navigation bar and select “answer questions”. Then scroll down the questions and find one or two that speak to your knowledge and experience. Pick one question and develop an answer-post.

Once you’re done with writing, select the payoff from your post – the place in it where you actually give the answer – and post it as a reply to that question. Then link your published post at the bottom of it for those readers who want to know more about your thought process, and how you got to the answer. Let’s look at two examples.

Craig Peters inquires about Conversational Marketing:

I believe this will be THE buzzphrase of 2008, but like other buzzwords — “viral” in particular — it’s open to gross misinterpretation and misuse.

So: What do you believe “conversational marketing” to be? Is behavioral targeting (which was a huge component of a conversational marketing discussion here at ad:tech yesterday) part of conversational marketing? (I would argue no.) How do other tactics you’re using fit in to “conversational marketing” as you see it?

The Cluetrain Manifesto said it a decade ago in a pithy way: “markets are conversations.” Mainstream agencies and marketers are starting to awaken to this notion.

What, in your view, constitutes “conversational marketing”?

And now look at the answer from Eric Holter with a couple of links to his newsletter, where he has covered the topic in more depth. Let’s say you blog about conversational marketing – helping flesh out an answer would start getting you noticed by people who seek that kind of expertise – on LinkedIn and at your blog.

Another good question from Chris Kieff on How Your Choose an Internet Marketing Consultant:

How do you choose an Internet Marketing consultant?

What are the 3 top factors you would use in hiring an outside Internet Marketing consultant?

Some ideas:
Referral from a trusted source.
Examples of work.
Worked with before.
Referral from LinkedIn or other network.
Proposal contents.
References.
Like their haircut.

You can see how the question is already good fodder for a list post. Ian Lurie responds with a pretty good set of questions, in turn. Eugene Rembor numbers qualities.

This technique may help you especially when you new to blogging and are looking to have a number of solid posts right off the gate. LinkedIn may be just what you need to get content ideas and a general flavor for the type of discussion that would ensue. Would you link to someone’s LinkedIn profile in your post? I would, and I have. Although they might not be able to find the link as we do with blog entries via Technorati, they may have set up Google alerts for their name or the name of their business. In that case they would find your post and may choose to join the conversation there.

New media is about linking and increasingly we are interlinking among different tools. To reach out to the business community, make LinkedIn part of your content strategy.

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