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Social Media Overwhelm: Tools that Make a Difference

9:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by brad

Are you spending too much of your day jumping from one social network to another to monitor your feeds and post updates? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you log in to your social media accounts daily—or close to it—in a never-ending battle to get the upper hand on social media marketing. Yet, somehow, you never quite manage to do it. Diagnosis? Social media overwhelm.

Social media overwhelm is a common 21st century malady—especially among business owners, who typically experience a great deal of pressure to stay ahead of the social media curve. You may be so busy, in fact, that you feel you don’t even have enough time to stop and do the research that will allow you to figure out what to do about the problem. So, day after day, you continue doing things the same way you always have. You know it’s less efficient, but you feel you simply have no choice. Well, let’s just stop right there, because you do have a choice—more than one, in fact.

Social Media Efficiency Tools

Several nifty online tools not only make it possible to view all your social media content in one place; they also let you update multiple social media profiles from the same dashboard at the same time by creating a single, time-saving post for all of them. Some of these social media tools can handle your Facebook profile and Facebook business page, as well as your Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and/or Tumblr accounts. To learn more about each, read the descriptions below:

HootSuite

HootSuite offers both Free and Paid versions. The free version allows users to connect up to five social media profiles to their HootSuite account, and HootSuite Pro, which costs about $10 a month, lets them connect unlimited profiles. Both offer message scheduling and reporting capabilities, as well as RSS feeds, with the Pro plan offering extra features and enhancements. HootSuite Pro is currently offering a 30-day free trial.

If you’re on the go a lot and are looking for a flexible platform that you can access "in the cloud," a platform that gives you the ability to assign tasks to team members on-the-spot, and one that offers the versatility to monitor and respond to your social media mentions in real time, HootSuite will likely be your platform of choice. HootSuite makes it easy to stay far ahead of the social media curve so you don’t have a backlog of social media tasks to handle when you get back to the office. Here are several other strategic ways to use HootSuite  to get a handle on your workflow. This brief video demonstrates how you can use HootSuite for business.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck  is free, though this social media app will only let you post to Twitter and Facebook. Depending on how many social networks you have to update, you may or may not want to take advantage of TweetDeck. If you’re only posting to Twitter and Facebook anyway, TweetDeck could be the perfect tool for you. Those who have more than one account on these two networks will be happy to know that TweetDeck lets you monitor and manage unlimited Twitter and Facebook accounts. It also allows you to conveniently synchronize your configuration so you can use TweetDeck from more than one computer.

If you generally work from your home and/or office and find that you don’t need to update your social media accounts "in the cloud," TweetDeck’s desktop functionality, may be appropriate for your needs. While TweetDeck isn’t as fast as HootSuite and uses more resources; it does offer a simpler, more user-friendly interface that makes it easier to monitor multiple accounts simultaneously, since it displays them all in the same window, rather than in separate tabs, as HootSuite does. Here’s a post [http://www.myrisedesign.net/blog/social-networking/item/486-tweetdeck-vs-hootsuite-which-twitter-client-is-the-best-marketing-tool.html] you might find helpful. It compares the functionality of HootSuite and TweetDeck.

Seesmic Ping (formerly Ping.fm)

Seesmic Ping, which replaced the former Ping.fm on July 5, 2012, offers three pricing plans, ranging from free to around $50 a month, depending on number of posts per day, number of social networks linked, and features/support level desired. Free accounts are limited to 10 posts per day on a maximum of three social network profiles. For about $5 a month, the Plus plan allows 50 posts a day on 10 profiles. And the Pro plan allows unlimited posts and unlimited profiles. Both the Plus and Pro plans offer unlimited features, and both provide a support-ticket option, with the Pro plan promising a 24-hour response time.

If you’re looking for a simpler, more intuitive platform that will let you publish a smaller number of posts to a limited collection of social media accounts each day via either a desktop application (if you don’t need to work on-the-go) or a mobile app (if you do), Seesmic Ping’s Free or Plus plans might work well for you. Both allow you to schedule posts to multiple accounts, create personalized groups, share links as attachments, and post photos or images "natively" to Facebook and Twitter. If you need to manage a larger number of accounts or post many times a day, or if you require full functionality, you’ll certainly need the Pro plan.

Other Social Media Tools

A few other platforms you might want to try in addition to the above three staples of social media management follow:

Save Time on Social Media

Get more done in less time by combining your social media posting tasks using one of the above tools. Since most can be tried or used for free, it’s a simple prospect to take each of them for a test drive at your leisure and see which one works best for you. You’ll find it well worth your time—and you might even have a little fun in the process. You’ll certainly be much wiser about social media management when you’re through. Once you become accustomed to your tool of choice, you’ll feel as if hours have been added to your day.

So, what are you waiting for? Consolidate your social networks and say good-bye to social media overwhelm!

Which of these tools have you tried, and what do you like/not like about them?

This is a guest post contributed by Charles Dearing. Charles is a freelance tech writer and webhost expert. He keeps tabs on all the latest hosting news and follows all the popular webhosts such as GoDaddy. Visit the site to read a GoDaddy Hosting Review.

 
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Certified Knowledge. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.
 

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by brad

Understanding the Power of Social Media

9:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by brad

This is a guest post contributed by Carla Gregson, on behalf of Hanapin Marketing – a PPC management company that provides results-driven, service-orientated pay per click management services to help businesses grow.

 
In 2009, Alex Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, gave a short talk on Ted.com titled, Alexis Ohanian: How to Make a Splash in Social Media. In just four minutes, Ohanian shared the story of a humpback whale that Greenpeace wanted to save from whalers. In short, Greenpeace attached a tracking device to the whale and challenged the Internet community to come up with an endearing name for the whale. It offered users a choice of three names. Two of those names were inspired and one was a joke, Mr. Splashy Pants.

The Internet community overwhelmingly fell in love with the name Mr. Splashy Pants, but Greenpeace wasn’t thrilled with the choice. As Greenpeace pulled back, the Internet community continued to make its case. Users created Facebook pages, shared links, and encouraged others to vote for Mr. Splashy Pants. The more passionate users became, the more involved other users became. The name Mr. Splashy Pants won with 119,357 votes (78 percent). The next highest name received just 4,329 votes (3 percent).

Recognizing that the Internet had spoken, Greenpeace embraced the quirky name and created an entire campaign around it. It sold Mr. Splashy Pants t-shirts, buttons, and other goodies – and it accomplished its mission of pressuring the whalers out of the hunt. Mr. Splashy Pants was saved thanks in large part to the millions of social media users who got involved.

Ohanian made several interesting points about the power of social media. For example, the bulk of the voters got involved not so much because they’re passionate about saving whales, but rather out of an “interest for doing something cool.” He said that the Internet levels the playing field – and it costs nothing.

Perhaps the biggest lesson from the story of Mr. Splashy Pants is this: When you engage in social media, be prepared to lose control. The playing field has indeed been leveled. Ohanian went on to say that “It’s okay to lose control; it’s okay to take yourself a little less seriously… You no longer control the message. And that’s okay… If you want to succeed, you’ve got to be okay to just lose control.”

If that thought scares you, social media may not be the best choice for you. However, if you’re okay with losing control and taking yourself a little less seriously, you may be able to accomplish your goals just as Greenpeace did through the power of social media.

Ohanian recommends that whatever you do, be genuine. Can you give up a little control over your message, take yourself a little less seriously, and be genuine? If so, you are ready to leverage the power of social media. Whether your ultimate goal is to raise awareness for a cause or sell more widgets, social media is a powerful tool that can take your message beyond expectations. But where should you start?

Start by:

  • Committing to social media – It’s here to stay, so get involved. Commit to spending at least 15 minutes per day engaging in social media and responding to your followers.
  • Sharing relevant, interesting information – While you may be tempted to use social media pages to showcase your products and services, you’ll need a balance between providing engaging content and sales pitches.
  • Being genuine – People don’t want to follow corporations, they want to follow people. Be yourself, yet stay true to the corporate identity or your personal brand at the same time.
  • Encouraging interaction – The more followers interact with you and share links, the more powerful social media becomes. Your message then extends beyond your social media circles and into those of your followers.

Social media is powerful, and it’s here to stay. Are you ready to make a splash?

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Certified Knowledge. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.

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by brad

Can’t Keep Up With Your Twitter Feed? Two Sites Come to the Rescue

9:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by brad

Twitter is one of my favorite listening tools. I find it more useful to listen and find new and interesting news than I do as a promotional vehicle.

That’s not to say I don’t find revenue in Twitter – I definitely do. However, that’s not its best purpose.

Keeping up with your Twitter feed is difficult. I tried following less people than others (and even though we don’t follow everyone, we do respond to mentions and direct messages when appropriate); but that didn’t help too much as a few people I follow have 35-40,000 tweets; and finding the most interesting or popular content can be overly time consuming.

There are two sites that really help follow my overall twitter stream.

Paper.li and TweetedTimes are aggregators of your twitter feed. They look through your timeline and create a single page of the most important items in your twitter feed.

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This is our TweetedTimes page. A simple page of the most popular stories.

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Personally, I prefer Paper.li just a bit more as I find the layout more useful, and the fact you can have daily, twice daily, or weekly editions. You can also create a paper from a list or hashtag. If you follow a large variety of people and have created various lists, you can make a different page for each list you wish to follow closely.

You can also subscribe to someone else’s paper.

Each morning when I’m reading through 300 blogs in an hour, I can also visit the Twitter aggregators and quickly check any top stories I might have missed.

With the vast amount of information published each day, you need  organization strategies to assimilate new information yet still accomplish your daily workload. Paper.li and TweetedTimes.com will will you filter through the information published on Twitter every day.

Why All Social Media Efforts May Not Be Truly Social

9:00 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by mjzuccato

"We need to get more active in social media!"

I’m sure those very words have been uttered in many conference rooms (or online meetings) throughout the country over the past 2-3 years. Of course, the smart marketer knows that activity does not always equate to revenue.  So where do you start when you are mandated to “get more active”?

At my current company, our primary goal with our social media is to engage our audience and start conversations using various social media tools. With that in mind, we’ve launched a new campaign around the phrase Join the Conversation”.

The next question is how do you determine what conversation people will be willing to join?  The key to any successful interaction is to start by listening to the people that you are hoping to engage; let them do the talking and you do the listening. Think about your interactions in your day-to-day world: Do you tend to avoid the non-stop talkers in the breakroom who never let you get a word in edgewise? That’s what I thought.

While it’s natural for humans to want to talk about themselves—almost all social media starts with people wanting to share something about themselves— the best communications come from two-way dialogues.

Many Twitter accounts are simply one-way only promotional propaganda blasts that elicit message fatigue when those companies do not listen to their audience.  Yes, it’s true that some retailers can obtain many followers just by blasting sales and coupon information to their lists, but they may be losing out on a larger opportunity by not fostering engagement of their followers. People will probably stick around for the next deal, but that doesn’t translate into loyalty; they can quickly move on to the next ‘cool’ thing.

You can gain a lot of insight into the minds of your customers with social media. Why not use your followers to get feedback on which new features they want to see in your next product?  Or ask them what kind of promotion they would like to see in the next “deal of the day”?  If you give them a voice, you’ll find that your conversion rates will improve even more since they will feel more invested in the relationship they have with your company.

What is the simplest way to do that?  Ask questions about things that interest them. Find out what makes your audience tick, so to speak.  Do they want product information?  Tips on how to get the most of a new feature? Sales discounts?  Or just the chance to interact with something of interest? Much like you would in a sales meeting, find out what the audience is interested in and meet that interest.

Monitor the social media landscape for company mentions or customer feedback using a social media aggregation program such as HootSuite or TweetDeck.  This way you can quickly address any customer questions or comments independent of whether they may be following you.

The whole key is to get followers to “join the conversation”,  and with today’s Internet and social media landscape, that conversation could be happening anywhere.

So, if one of the goals set for you is to “get more active in social media”, there’s no easier way to do that than by listening and interacting.  If you’re providing value to your audience, then your efforts will not go unrewarded in your social media performance.

We’d like to hear from you.  How do you engage your audience with social media?  What are your social media success stories?  Please post in the comments of this blog or tweet us at @InterCall.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Certified Knowledge. If you would like to write for Certified Knowledge, please let us know.

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by brad

Why Twitter Has Become My Favorite Instant Messenger

9:20 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by brad

I’ve long had a theory that the easier you are to contact, the stupider the questions become.

For instance, how many times has someone sent you an instant message about a simple question, and if you answer the question right away, you get the same question from the same person again?

If instead you missed the message and waited five minutes to respond, and asked them what’s up, and their first response is, “I figured it out”, and then you never receive that same question again.

Should that person have IMed you instead of thinking?

In the early days of cell phones, I was highly resistant to getting one because of this theory (I’ve had it for 20 years). People had to call my office or visit in person to find me. It took some effort; and I rarely received simple questions – my employees did the work and found the answer in most cases. If it was difficult, then they would come and find me.

As soon as I had a cell phone, the number of phone calls I received went up 5x.

When I was on instant messenger, the number of questions I received went up 50x.

Now, I’m a big believer in the maker’s and manager’s schedules.  Essentially, if you are interrupted during a task, it takes about 20-25 minutes to attain your previous level of focus. If you are interrupted every 15 minutes – you will never attain complete focus on a task.

If you leave instant messenger open all day –  odds are you will never received enough time to truly focus on a task.

Twitter Is On-Demand Communication

On Twitter you can send someone a direct message (assuming they follow you). You can respond privately to this message. It works just like instant messenger.

However, Twitter does not list a current status. The person sending you a DM (direct message) doesn’t know if your there, away, etc. Therefore, you can respond at your leisure.

If you want to have a quick IM-like conversation, then you can respond immediately, they can respond immediately, and then you’re having an IM conversation.

However, if you need to go to a meeting – ignore Twitter and work – you can leave Twitter and not feel like you’re ignoring someone like you would with a blinking IM.

Hence, you get the best of both worlds. Instant messaging features, but on your time.

Can’t You Set Your IM Status to Away?

There’s actually three considerations.

Most of my Twitter DM/IM conversations have been with people who I’d rarely actually chat with on IM. We’re all busy people who don’t have time to invite all our friends and acquaintances to IM, keep an IM list of hundreds or thousands of people just in case we want to have a conversation.

With Twitter, it’s opt-in. If you follow someone, they can DM you. There is no need for email verification and a clogged IM list.

Is your status always accurate? I often find that many people who only use IM occasionally forget to change their status. Their computer boots, their IM client loads, they are now available for chatting. I can’t count the times I’ve seen status’s that are ‘out to lunch’ for days at a time or ‘in a meeting’ at 3am.

Because status isn’t always accurate, other people (especially bosses), have a tendency to ignore your actual status. You just need to turn off the IM client.

If you turn off the IM client, then no one can chat with you (yes, some do have offline messaging) so you miss those quick conversations or notes.

Just Use Email

If all this is so hard, why not just use email?

First, you have to know someone’s email address. While that might sound silly, I have many really good conversations on Twitter with people where one of us probably does not know the other’s email address. We might know their FaceBook name or LinkedIN data, but looking up someone’s email to send a short message is often too much effort.

Email is on the decline. For the first time that I can remember, email is reportedly dropping in usage.

I strongly believe communication will always be the number one online activity. Email has dominated so far, but projects like Google Wave, IM, Twitter, FaceBook, etc allow for alternate means of communication. Email is simple, but all it does for you is give you an avenue of communication.

I don’t think email is going away any time soon. It’s still one of the flexible communication methods. You can send a message to many at once (that’s saved in an inbox, twitter blasts often flow off of timelines), it is easy to collaborate between multiple people at once, you an add attachments, and keep archived communications on your own server (more privacy).

Twitter is a Communication Tool

Many have harped on Twitter’s functionality and given detailed instructions on how to use it – I don’t want to rehash all of that here.

I prefer to listen on Twitter than write. I think this is where a lot of people miss out on Twitter’s function. Since most Twitter communication is open, it’s an easy way to receive feedback on your brand, favorite topics, other people, etc.

However, if you choose to join in on the conversation (don’t just blast tweets, spend some time responding to others, retweeting, etc), it can open a lot of new possibilities to learn and communicate with those that you never would have even met otherwise, let alone, have a nice private message conversation.

So close your instant messaging client. Send a tweet (or private message). Go to work for a few hours and have uninterrupted productivity. Then, check back on Twitter to see what the world is up to knowing you actually accomplished something because you weren’t interrupted by your nagging instant messages.

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by brad

Before you hire a Social Media Guru – Watch this Video

5:01 am in PPC Marketing Blog, Social Media by brad

  • How can an industry that is less than a few years old have more gurus than the yellow page industry?
  • How can an industry that has issues proving returns charge so much for their services?
  • There are social media experts
  • Most people who claim to be experts are not
  • If your conversations with experts look like the below video – run away

This is a hilarious video about engaging a social media expert. Good for a laugh on a Friday afternoon. Please note, there is some language in the video that you might not want to play at your desk in the middle of an office; some might be offended.

If you’d like to see all of Google’s videos; and our favorites such as the above video - subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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