01
Oct

How to Make the Most of Twitter

Posted by: Matt Saler

Last week, Calvin came across a three year old post listing tips for getting the most out of Twitter. Some of the advice is outdated (#1 was written before Twitter launched its official Retweet feature, for example), but overall it holds up. The author even called the Upworthy-ification of headlines on the web, though I would argue we’re entering a period of backlash against those.

If you want the “too long, didn’t read” version, skip down to the last point: Be Conversational.

There the author hits on the essence of Twitter: it’s a conversation, more akin to a water cooler gathering than the tabloid magazine parallel the author uses. Twitter is like no other social media platform in its ability to capture the Zeitgeist of a given moment, whether it’s a TV premiere, award show, big playoff game, or the final inning of a no-hitter.

Most importantly, it can bring the world in on what is going on in a particular place or story that isn’t being covered or broadcast anywhere else.

If you plug and engage that conversation in a genuine way, the other tips for using Twitter will fall into place.

05
May

If you run a Facebook page for yourself or your business and you take the time to monitor the analytics, you’ve probably noticed a trend: the reach of your posts has been heading downward. Your efforts on Facebook are getting back less bang for your buck.

Maybe you’ve recently received a notice from Facebook, which offered to sell you ads to increase your reach. So rather than reach people who chose to Like your page and opted in to see your content in their News Feeds, Facebook is offering you the chance to pay for what you got for free before.

Any way you look at it, this is a classic “moving the goal posts” move by Facebook. Admittedly, they have very real audience size considerations: millions of businesses have Pages in their system, trying to reach over a billion users. Not all of those businesses can get 100% reach across all of their followers’ News Feeds without crowding out more personal connections. That’s a real problem.

But there is also this reality: Facebook is an ad-driven company that makes its money selling ads based on information users feed into the system. Facebook is not in business to help you if helping you costs them. It makes business sense for them to charge other businesses for access to a wider user base, especially after years of better access created a dependency. It’s their pipes you’re using, right?

Facebook isn’t the only platform that is changing the rules of the game. All third party tools are now or will be doing this. Like Facebook, they are not in business for you.

This is only a real problem if you’ve developed too much of a dependency on these services.

A parallel in the real world might be this: your industry has a trade show every year that everybody goes to. Vendors and customers flock to it. It’s a huge competition for eyeballs and if you handle your presence there right, your sales do really well as a result.

If you were to consider that your only chance to reach your customers or maintain sales, however, you would be missing out on opportunities the rest of the year. And if the trade show ever changes the bar for entry, your business would suffer.

It’s the same with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or any of the other social media platforms. If you’re relying too much on them, you make yourself vulnerable to business decision they make, rather than dependent on decisions you make.

To carry the illustration forward, you can go to multiple trade shows or use multiple third party platforms. But you can’t forego the tradition sales and marketing techniques, and stop hitting the pavement.  That’s where the meat is. That’s where the longevity and stability of your business lies.

In the web sphere, this means putting the focus on your own website and on your own publishing. Use those other tools, but don’t rely on them. Make your website great and use the full array of tools available to you to increase the reach of your business through platforms you own.

Facebook’s audience size problem can feel like it cuts both ways. At over a billion users, it’s easy to think they’ve got the whole internet covered. And to be sure, that’s a conversation you want to be a part of. It’s just not the only conversation. It can be intimidating to be faced with getting lost in the wider ocean of the internet with a focus on your own, owned platforms,

But as long as you go after your customers like you always used to, you’ll be okay.

02
May

A pre-emptive eulogy for Twitter

Posted by: Matt Saler

The Atlantic has a lengthy piece describing what it calls the twilight of Twitter:

Twitter is the platform that led us into the mobile Internet age. It broke our habit of visiting individual news homepages first thing in the morning, and established behaviors built around real-time news consumption and production. It normalized mobile publishing power. It changed our expectations about how we congregate around shared events. Twitter has done for social publishing what AOL did for email. But nobody has AOL accounts anymore.

As someone who is generally a fairly heavy Twitter user, I went into the piece intending to scoff at the premise. But there’s a valid point in there: the service and the feel of it has changed. There are still great sub-networks where the effects discussed in this piece aren’t as evident, but if you’ve spent much time investing into the culture of Twitter, you’ll have noticed these things.

At its best, Twitter can be one of the most fun places to frequent on the web. At its worst, it can be awful in ways it didn’t used to be. I’m conflicted about calling it a twilight when it could just be a phase, but it’s clear The Atlantic is accurately describing something, even if I’m not sure about the conclusions.

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