Finally, an easy way to have a browsable and searchable archive of your tweets. Even better, you can host it on your own site. Hat tip to @rands for the link.
A humorous, yet accurate take on the difference between Google's efforts at social software and those more successful in the space (Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare etc.)
Our study found 70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information. Reputation can also have a positive effect as in the United States, 86% of HR professionals (and at least two thirds of those in the U.K. and Germany) stated that a positive online reputation influences the candidate’s application to some extent; almost half stated that it does so to a great extent.
The world’s already small and it’s only getting smaller.
What are people saying about the company you work for? How do customers view the products or services you work on and the interactions they have with the organization? Don’t know? Think that this only matters for people in marketing or higher up the chain?
It matters. It matters a lot.
You need to know when customers have issues, even if they aren’t yours to fix. You need to know when a trend is forming within the company and among the public. This is your livelihood, this is how you pay the bills and pay for drinks. Who in your company is excited and who’s dejected? Who’s gone quiet all of a sudden and who’s denouncing their boss or a new project? How does all of this impact you, your job and your happiness?
While I can’t answer that last question – that’s for you to decide. I can help you with a very simple way to get on top of the game so you can spot trends before they appear on the official radar.
This post may look like a lot of work, but it isn’t. You’ll spend a little time up-front, but once everything is set up you’ll be able to skate by with a quick daily or weekly scan of headlines.
There’s a small set of tools that will provide you with all you need: Google Alerts, Twitter and RSS.
If you aren’t on Twitter by now you need to sign up. It doesn’t matter if you think it’s stupid, people are using it and they’re talking about the company you work for. They’re talking about your work. If you are on twitter but don’t check into it all that often, you’ll want to increase your attention, but don’t worry – you don’t have to participate to a high degree, though I recommend that you do jump in.
Assuming you’ve already signed up, find your coworkers’ accounts and follow them or add them to a company-specific Twitter list. If you’re lucky, at least one of those coworkers will have already created a list for your company, making life much easier. Start with people in Marketing or that you know are into Twitter as those are the most likely to have made the connections with coworkers already. You may have to be selective if you work in a large company. If that’s the case, start with a Twitter list of everyone then follow those you think provide the most value.
Pay attention to the traffic and back-and-forth discussions, especially those of people higher up the chain or in key positions. The latter group doesn’t necessarily equate to an important title; it could be a QA person or developer who’s the linchpin for a product shipping or someone who who staffs trade shows tweeting about who they just met or an interesting product in a neighboring booth.
While this isn’t required, you will gain much more from this process if you participate by answering questions and asking some of your own. I’ve connected with customers actively using our products via Twitter and my work is better for that exposure, and my view of the company is more informed.
The fastest way to gauge reaction to a new initiative or to see the ramifications of a positive or negative customer experience is to have Twitter act as your personal monitor. Setting up a saved search on Twitter is easy and provides a wealth of information and alternate viewpoints.
Go to Twitter’s Search page and type in your company’s name. If the name is more than one word, place it in quotes to reduce false-positives. The same applies if the name is a single word that may be used in common communication. Use the Advanced Search if your company name is common or is likely to be a part of a common phrase so you can weed out the useless results. You may even use the “positive” and “negative” results checkboxes, but I recommend you take everything.
You can even use the advanced Search to specifically follow tweets to, from and referencing your company’s main Twitter account as well as key people in the company.
Add the “Feed for this Query” to your RSS reader of choice. Even if you don’t check your feed reader often, it will cache the results for you so you won’t miss anything.
Bonus: Set up additional searches for alternate spellings, typos and key product names.
Google Alerts are an invaluable tool for keeping an eye on the Web. While Twitter has quickly become the fastest way to learn about trends and opinions, this service provides insight into long(er) content. Someone may mention your company in a blog post or article, but the company name may not be included in the title of the piece or the 140 characters used to tweet about it.
Go to Google Alerts and as you did with your Twitter search type in the company name, placing it in quotes if it’s more than one word or is a single word that may be used often in a different context. Set the Type to Comprehensive and E-mail Length to Up to 50 Results (you do’t want to miss something). You can choose whether you want to receive the results via e-mail or RSS feed. I recommend the latter so it’s a part of the same workflow and it doesn’t clutter your inbox.
Add the feed to your RSS reader of choice unless you opted for delivery via e-mail.
RSS & Newsletters
Assuming your company has a blog or two, make sure you’re subscribed to those RSS feeds. You may know the topics they cover backward and forward, but it’s important to see how they’re presenting the company and your work. The same goes for any company newsletters.
By now you’ve likely noticed that the RSS reader is key to this process. Beyond it providing a central location for you to gauge what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, you may be able to use it to spot general activity trends. For example, here’s a graph provided by Google Reader that shows the activity for a Twitter search feed broken down by day:
If you didn’t notice the spike the first time around, you’ll see it now and be able to do a quick search to see what caused it.
These steps can easily be applied to your competition or other groups or companies of interest. If you’re interviewing at a company this framework will help you gauge the activity, personality and culture of the organization. If you want to see how your competition is fairing, there’s no better way than to apply the same process.
I avoided large-scale social metric reporting services as this post is for people interested on a personal level as opposed to it being a key part of their job. Outside of those services, I’m sure there are many more ways to keep an eye on the trends that I didn’t cover. I’d love to know your tips and tricks if you’d be kind enough to leave a comment.
In my morning feed-scanning I came across Mihaela Lica’s SitePoint article touting how Twitter can impact SEO. Part of me wishes I had skipped it, but I read it and feel the need to review and correct what I believe is a faulty premise.
To make a long story short: although Twitter is a social media tool meant to create community and relationships, it does have an SEO value. For example, Twitter can affect positively your Alexa rankings by sending visitors to your pages. Usage data is a sign of quality for Google and all the other search engines. If you can make people come to your site via Twitter, then this is an SEO advantage you cannot afford to miss.
Mihaela Lica – Twitter’s Little Known SEO Value Emphasis from the original
I’m going to disassemble the article’s foundation here, but I want to note that I’m not writing this to skewer Mihaela, she took the time to write the article in order to help others, which I appreciate. Very few people give of themselves and I applaud the fact that she is contributing to our community.
The article attempts to make a case that Twitter helps SEO, even though the search engines don’t follow links in Tweets. The path follows the line of, if you tweet and include a link, someone will follow that link back to your site, which will increase your traffic and eventually Alexa and maybe Google will notice.
The exact same logic applies to those guys hired to hold furniture signs at intersections: give them a sign with a URL, and someone may visit the URL, your traffic will go up and if you’re lucky the big G in the sky will notice and bump your site up a notch.
The inclusion of Ask.com as a way to justify the argument isn’t valid. It’s not that you should ignore Ask.com – it’s whether the time and effort to focus on Twitter for SEO in the hopes of benefiting from Ask.com’s notice will be worth trading the opportunity cost of focusing elsewhere. If you’re expending effort to gain a small bump in a service that holds less than 2.5% of the market share, you’re wasting your time. Odds are good that that small bump isn’t the least bit noticeable.
SEO is not the be all and end all – it is a tool in your marketing efforts (whether you’re a giant brand or a lone blogger, you have a brand). Twitter can also be a tool in those efforts, but all too many people don’t understand how to use it properly, much less the expectations they should have and the ramifications of their efforts, both good and bad.
Twitter and Marketing
So, now that we’ve determined that you really don’t want that guy holding the furniture sign on the corner to be in charge of your advertising, let’s talk about who should be engaging your audience and prospects.
Simply put: you.
Want to use Twitter as a good Marketing tool? One that will have an impact? Here are some key tips to keep in mind:
- You or someone as passionate about your work needs to be the voice behind each tweet. It matters
- Tweet with the same level of excitement you have when you’re explaining what you do at a party to someone who actually appears to care. If you aren’t excited about talking about your company, blog or product, then why the hell are you trying to market it? Seriously – you’re in or you’re out. Half-assed attempts are quickly ignored on Twitter or even worse publicly ridiculed.
- People expect you to communicate – posting links to your own blog or site without any other content is a quick way to fail. Twitter users expect a conversation – follow your fans back and reply to their questions, praise and anger
- Promote other people and services that you use and like. Tell me when you’ve had a good experience with a company or been ignored. Provide value by being a good citizen within our community. You’ll quickly find that others will do the same for you.
- When you have news – real news – post about it. You added a blog post, hey cool, lemme know. A New product release? Sweet, I’d love to hear about it. But don’t spam me with it. Reruns suck.
- Like a marketing campaign, your effort will take time
- Find a good URL shortener that will give you click-through metrics. I use Tr.im and have heard great things about BudURL. Then use that service for all of your links. You aren’t getting SEO love no matter what, but at least this way you’ll get some data.
- Once you have metrics, take a look at what people actually found interesting and post more about that.
Disagree or Have More to Add?
Speak up in the comments or hit me back on Twitter: @BaldMan.
Twitter makes it easy for me to keep up with my dear friends here in town and those flung about the globe. I can stay on top of ever-moving trends, learning about them in minutes if not seconds. Twitter connects me when I’m ready to be connected and allows me to reach out when I feel the need. Those capabilities alone makes it an invaluable part of my day, but there’s an unsung benefit to embracing Twitter: memory improvement. Specifically improving my ability to remember people I’ve met.
In my day-to-day life, I’m involved in projects and groups of different sizes and to different degrees. I do my damnedest to remember names, faces and details about the people I meet, but that’s not an easy task by any stretch. Refresh Austin alone has over 400 members and I’ve met a sizable portion of ’em. Add the other amazing colleagues and friends I’ve met through events like SXSW Interactive and the Geek Austin parties and it quickly becomes overwhelming to remember, and more importantly quickly recall a name when I bump into someone that I’ve met once or twice.
Twitter changed that with a constant stream of updates.
Each tweet contains a face, a name and something that was of at least slight interest to that person. Those components reinforce the neural pathways associated with each person in my cranium, making it easier to remember them later. I may have to take one more mental hop to unite the real world face and name for those people who adopt an avatar and/or a nickname within Twitter, but that’s still a lot more than I had five years ago.
Twitter reinforces my real-world connections with those relationships that are the most tenuous as a byproduct of my having fun using it.
Now that is cool.
Looking for me on Twitter? I’m @BaldMan.