Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Three Rs of Online Marketing

The phrase the "Three Rs" represent the foundation of skills taught to young people in school - Reading, Writing and (a)Rithmetic.

In Online Marketing there are also three basic Rs:



Right Place/Right Time

The first of these, Relevance, is the most important. It is no longer possible to throw your message out into the wide world and hope that it will hit the right people, unless your business has such enormous funds and is so ubiquitous that it is quite impossible to go ten feet without seeing some sign of your existence. Think McDonald's.

People want what they want, where they want, how they want it. Search Engine Optimization is an online marketing tactic that addresses this through Search Engine use. If a person searches for New York Wedding Photographer, SEO is one tactic to drive you to the top of those results.

But Search Engines aren't the only way people find things. People also ask other people for advice.

As I've said here many times, knowing *where* your audience is, is as crucial to your business as your brand identity. If you are sinking time and money into a Facebook page and your audience is really talking on a specialty forum, you're missing your target.

You want to be where your audience is, giving them something relevant to their interests, needs and desires.

Which is where the second R comes in. Referrals are the lifeblood of online marketing.

Satisfied customers tell other people. Most people want their close friends and family to like what they like (and take it as a personal affront when they don't, which is why heated arguments about sports teams can make family gatherings hugely uncomfortable.) When you have a favorite restaurant, you want to share the experience with people you care about. It's mortifying when that restaurant has an off day when you bring your best friend and spouse for a meal there.

As Pete Blackshaw says, "Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000."

Social Media is the easiest way for you to engage those satisfied customers and give them an outlet and a method to tell the world how satisfied they are. Encourage them to share deals on Twitter or Facebook with available widgets, email friends with news, fan, friend, follow or connect with them online. Make the referral as easy as possible.

Another old adage that's truer now than ever before is "It's not what you know, it's who you know." The more people you know, the more likely it is that one of them will think of you when they need something you can give them. Which brings us to the third R: Right Place/Right Time.

A smart business owner leverages their social network to make as many opportunities as possible. Many of them will not work out, but some will - all because you were in the right place at the right time and knew the right people.

Social Media networking is an important strategy for business development. You have to be where your audience is, you need to make it easy for them to refer you and you want to be in the right place at the right time.

With these three Rs in your pocket, you're already steps ahead of your competition who are still throwing out messages into a wide world that doesn't know why it should care.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is Social Media "Thinking Outside the Box?"

Everywhere we look these days, we see the phrase "Thinking Outside the Box." Like it's linguistic brethren, "Innovation" and "Creative," poor "Outside the Box" is being horribly overused and misrepresented by most people.

Especially in the context of Social Media.

Let's break down the concepts behind "the box" first. There are two types of cognitive boxes:

External Regulation

External regulation affects whole industries, such as Healthcare, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, Technology. External regulation may come from Government oversight, Industry Standards or Organizational Best Practices. In a nutshell, External regulation draws a box around what kinds of things can be said, to whom and in what way. Violating external regulations may lead to legal proceedings, and is always a very, very bad idea.

Internal Obstacles

Internal obstacles are harder to identify and sometimes hard to even define. An organization may have accreted an operating procedure over the years with steps that are relics of earlier processes. (For instance, having to keep a paper copy of digital documents, "just in case.") Internal obstacles can be found at every level of an organization. Company procedures, managerial foibles and even your own way of doing things can box you in without you even realizing it.

Your own experience creates a box around your thinking. As Scott Adams says, experience gives us ESP - we can predict all the ways a project will fail.

The Box is a combination of what external regulations and internal process will allow.

Social Media is not "thinking outside the box."

A chat customer service line is still a customer service line. A Social Media profile that offers a stream of press releases is still a corporate mouthpiece. Sure, 10,000 people will see a press release if you have 10,000 people friending/following you. But there's nothing outside the box about it. It's a perfectly understandable use of new technology, but one that is well within the box's confines.

Social Media is "thinking outside the box."

A promotion that encourages your friends/followers/connections to try, buy and promote your product for you - not for a reward, but because they feel rewarded by *doing it* that's out of the box.

When people feel part of the team, when you make them a hero, they respond by becoming engaged in your business. Apple hasn't cornered the market on this. Check out my other blog, Okazu, for an example. I literally have a Hero's Roll on the sidebar where I list individuals who sponsor reviews, contribute reviews and news and talk the blog up - because it makes them happy to be a part of the team as a Guest Reviewer, a Hero or a Correspondent.

So, what does that mean to you?

First, identify the box(es) around your business. Once you do, Social Media can give you any number of options - some of them will even be outside that box.

You'll know when your ideas are truly outside the box. They will make people uncomfortable; they will seem off-beat, risky, or plain crazy. If the people who share your box object with vaguely defined objections, it's probably out of the box. If your idea challenges the status quo - even your own status quo, it's likely to be out of the box.

It's not easy to be original, because nearly anything you can do has probably been done by someone else, but it's not that hard to think outside the box - start by pretending the box doesn't exist at all, then go forward from there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When, Where and How Much Social Media?

Many business owners are well aware that they *should* be involved in Social Media in some way. Most of us also know we *should* lose weight, exercise more and eat right.

The word *should* is often a cloak for all the levels of discomfort and inconvenience that stand between a business and effective Social Media.

Let's take Ruth. I met Ruth this week on the ferry to New York City. Ruth is a photographer who is considering taking her photography from being a hobby to being a business. When she saw me posting to Facebook while waiting for the ferry, she said, "I should do something like that."

Let's look at what she really means when she says that.

1) Ruth needs to know Where to go.

Where seems easy because, like fishermen, Social Media experts are convinced that their favorite spot is the best. But it's important to consider Ruth's business needs. There are a lot of photographers on Twitter, (I happen to have researched this for a previous client) but are there a lot of people who want to buy photographic art? Your favorite Social Media platform might be great for networking with peers - will it bring in any sales opportunities for Ruth? Both are valuable, but you want to be honest with Ruth about Where and Why she should use a particular platform.

2) Ruth needs to know When to be active in Social Media.

It goes without saying that the most precious thing any business owner has is their time. And what Social Media takes is time.

If you've ever sat down to chat with a friend for a moment and looked up only to find that an hour had slipped away, you know what I mean. When you are truly engaged, Social Media steals your time right from under your nose.

Does Ruth sit down to have a cup of coffee in the morning? If so, she could take half of that time and post on the Social Media platform she's identified as most important for her business. Wish the people there good morning, seed a discussion, forward a relevant comment, promote an event...something to start the day off right.

Just like exercising regularly, Social Media is just as effective when done five or ten minutes at a time, several times throughout the day.

3) Ruth needs to know How much time (and money) to spend on Social Media.

Think of your office routine twenty years ago. You'd come in, check messages on your phone or from your assistant. You'd respond to the urgent messages first, then work your way down the list as time allowed. You'd deal with your business critical tasks, then work on maintenance tasks where you could fit them in. Nothing has changed, really, in business, except that along with checking our phone messages, we check our email and now, our Social Media spaces. It may seem like that takes up more time of our day, but when phone and face-to-face was all we had, they took up a proportionally larger chunk of time. What Social Media (I include email in this) has done is widen our ability to communicate with people globally, as well as make us more available locally.

When we incorporate Social Media into our lives, it becomes just another way we can talk with people and further our business needs.

Which brings us to the issue of money. It's true that most Social Media platforms have low or zero cost barriers to entry. And that Social Media strategy *can* be built with an investment of time and no money but...there may come a time where you want to move from a strategy of of "Talking with people" to a tactic like "Putting an advertisement on" your SM platform of choice. This step should be treated the same way any business development tactic would. Return on Investment can (and should) be measured at this point, as it would be with any tactic.

Budget your Time as your do your Money, and the answers to When and How Much will become simpler.

As Social Media professionals, our job is to guide people from saying "I should do this" to answering the questions "Where will I participate?" "When and How Much will I put into Social Media?"

When Social Media is incorporated seamlessly into a business development strategy, it will become part of the office routine, just like answering the phone.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Challenge of Social Media Naiveté

Previously, we've discussed basic Social Media terminology, so we can all mean the same thing when we talk *about* Social Media. Today I'm going to try and do the same for how we *use* Social Media.

With the rising use of computer and mobile technology, it seems almost a given that anyone using Social Media is computer literate. One needs to have access to a computer or mobile device to text, to engage in email or on Social Media networking sites.

Computer literacy is variably defined within different contexts and by different groups but, for the purpose of today's discussion, we'll call it "familiarity and comfort level with the use of computer hardware and software."

There are many levels of computer literacy. A person may use a computer, but not know any of the names of the tools they are using. A person may understand "click that big blue 'E' picture on the screen," but not "fire up your browser on the desktop."

Typically, the more a person uses hardware and software, the more comfortable they are with it. I know many seniors that are as comfortable on a computer as I am. I also know people who are not seniors who, no matter how many times email (or Social media, or whatever) is explained to them, they really don't get it.

We all know people who, when you tell them what a thing is called, i.e., "This is called a profile," will respond with "Well no one ever told me that." Of course - you just told them, and so now they know, but what they really mean is, "No one ever told me that *before today* and I cannot learn something the first time I am introduced to the concept. I will need to be reminded before I internalize this and may never really do so, because I think of it as alien and too complicated for me to learn."

One of the worst assumptions we, as Social Media professionals, make is that a person online must somehow be computer literate. This may be true, but it is not a given. Also dangerous is the assumption that a person who uses one online technology is capable of understanding other technologies.

Which leads me to what I call the "Naiveté" factor.

I had a conversation this week with someone who uses online technology quite a bit. This person is in every way Computer Literate but, when faced with a new system that is not something they have previously used, does not make any connection between the way one system and another works. This person is Literate, intelligent, and also "Naive" about Social Media.

This conversation led me to a second conversation, this time about Twitter. It took me (and I dare say most Social Media-minded folks) about 30 seconds to figure Twitter out. Home, Profile, Retweeting, using the @ and # symbols - all seemed really straightforward to me. But, then, I have been on BBSs, Chats and the like for ages, and so it all was all of a muchness to me.

Two people this week commented that the initial Twitter page befuddled them - they had no idea what they were looking at.

I'm also not the only person to notice that many people do not automatically identify sponsored information versus unsponsored links - Google counts on that for income. I asked one of the people why they did not go to "Help" for help, and was told they did - they clicked a sponsored link that not only did not offer any help, it was worse than nothing.

No one likes to feel dumb and the smarter a person is the more annoyed they are about feeling dumb. Help screens that don't help make people feel worse, not better.

So, I spent a few moments creating this 1-page Introduction to the Twitter Home Page (click to get the full size):

This is a view of my Twitter Home Page, with explanation of some of the basic functions of Twitter. It may seem "obvious" to you that @ before a name means that that person will see your tweet, but to someone who is Social Media Naive, this is not at *all* obvious.

When I say "Naive" I do not mean they are a simpleton. I mean that previous use of other systems does not guarantee that they will apply similar skills to new systems. Each system, each technology, each platform is something new, and therefore, confusing.

On LinkedIn - nearly every day - someone asks "How do I change my email address here?" There is an easily visible "Account & Settings" button in the same place as most systems - upper right hand corner. If a user clicks that link, there is, among the many other Account settings, a link header that reads, "Change Email Address." It's that simple. And yet, nearly every day, someone is confused enough that they don't ever think to look on their Account to see if that is there. This is Social Media Naiveté. These people might be programmers, engineers, CEOs, artists, whatever. Intelligence and Computer Literacy have nothing to do with the issue.

Here are three questions to ask yourself or a client to help you decide if Social Media Naiveté is an issue:

1) When I get onto a new Social Media Network, Gaming Site or other Online Community, I customize my profile, then click around to see what the settings do and what applications are available? Y/N

2) When I get onto a new website, I expect the functionality to be simple, obvious and explained somewhere easy for me to find. Y/N

3) When I get confused or don't know what to do on a website I:

A) Go to the site's Help section
B) Ask someone
C) Try to figure it out and give up if I can't after a few minutes.
D) Don't bother.

If the answers look like this: No, Yes, C or D, then you or your client may be Social Media Naive. It doesn't mean that you/they don't want to be involved, or can't be involved. It means that you can't suggest Twitter, then walk away assuming they know what you mean. Social Media Naive people will need a little more training, a little tutorial in the "obvious," before you can work with them to develop a strategy.

If you are a SMN person, don't worry! Keep your eyes here and we'll walk through the various platforms from the *very* beginning. Yes, there are a hundred "How to Twitter" tutorials. I'll help you figure out "What is Twitter?" then let you move on to that next step. Feel free to save that picture above - that'll walk you through the "what the heck are you looking at?" part of the conversation. I'll do the same for the "Profile" page soon as well.

If you have questions regarding Twitter or any other Social Media - if you are confused by *anything,* ask in the comments field and I'll do my best to get you an answer in plain, simple words, without any jargon or delusion. Promise.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

6 Social Media Tips that Make A Real Difference

Social Media Strategy seems very confusing and time-consuming, because most business owners and many Social Media specialists cannot separate the medium from the message. The idea of learning a new "Language" and setting up and maintaining a new account seems overwhelming to an already busy business owner. Luckily, to harness to true power of Social Media, you don't have to do anything of the sort. Here's 6 tips for you to create a powerful Social Media strategy in minutes a day. (Wow, doesn't *that* sound like a scam!)

1) Separate The Medium From The Message

Right now, Facebook and Twitter are hot. A few years ago it was MySpace and LiveJournal. Before that Open Diary, Xanga, Usenet, Mailing Lists, and way back BBSs. Social Media is not "having a Twitter Feed." Social Media is "talking with people."

2) Take A Long Look At Where You Already Hang Out

Because marketing and promotion always looks forward, few SM spcialists ask you to look at what Social Media you're *already* involved in.

Identify what spaces you inhabit. Do you have a website, a blog, a mailing list, a forum? Are you on LinkedIn? Are you a member of an association or professional network? Each one of these is a Social Medium.

3) Look At Your Social Media Spaces Honestly

You may like the fact that you have 5000 subscribers to your mailing list, but how many responses are you getting from your emails? Check the many people are getting your emails. Most people don't bother unsubscribing from a mailing list, they just shift it into their spam filter.

Look at each space honestly. Is your time networking professionally giving you what you need from it? Is your website getting the attention it deserves from you and your staff?

Draw up a list of how much time you put into each space, versus how much you get back. Use "Low," "Medium," and "High" so you don't go crazy trying to develop comparable metrics.

4) Prioritize Your Social Media Use

It may turn out that that old mailing list you barely use is the *perfect* form of communications for you. Or there's a really active community networking group that wants exactly what you have to offer.

Don't discount the old Social Media because it's old, and don't rush to embrace the new Social Media because it's new.

It may be that the Social Media that works best for you is those adult education classes you teach which bring in new clients. Or that local business networking association, or being a vendor at the local Farmer's Market. Remember, Social Media is not just online.

5) Decide Which Social Media You Do For Fun, and Which For Business

You may decide that you really enjoy Facebook - sharing pictures, talking to friends, etc. And maybe it's a really great place for business for you. Consider before mixing the two. Depending on your industry, your business contacts really don't want to know how you spent last night.

6)Maintain Your Reputation

It's possible to mix business and pleasure - possible and doable. Just make sure that you are aware that everything you say for the one audience will be likely seen by the other, as well.

7) Hit the Boards

Now that you've decided where to focus your time, go! Start with that old dusty mailing list and ask a provocative question, or run a contest, or just tell folks where they can find you online!

Now that you've decided Friendfeed is worth it, search for people and groups that align with your business. Look for contacts on LinkedIn and follow people on Twitter. Teach classes, volunteeer your time, go to a professional association meeting. Whatever it is that will give you and your business what it needs - go after it.

Do a quick-and-dirty analysis every 6 months. Is this working? Is it fun? Am I getting back from it what I am putting into it? You may end up paring your Social Media strategy to one or two things, but when those two are high on return, then you've found your winning Social Media strategy.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Selling Ice in Newcastle and Coal to Eskimos (aka Knowing Your Audience)

There's several old sayings about trying to sell unwanted, oversupplied materials - coal to Newcastle or ice to Eskimos. The implication is that the market is already oversaturated with these items, and you're banging your head against the wall trying to move your goods into that market.

On the Internet, no one may know you're a dog, but they know you check out sites for dog food regularly. Where you go, how long you are there, what you do - all of that is tracked by any number of means. When a customer comes back to that same page offering premium dog biscuits for the third time, there's your opportunity to sell coals to Newcastle.

Despite the fact that demographics are long dead and the Internet is ruled by psychographics, marketers still insist on seeing their social media from a broadcast perspective. Get that message in front of enough people, regardless of the relevance, and surely someone in Newcastle will want your coal!

True story alert: My mother picked up the phone one day to find the man on the other side selling headstone-less graves. She let him tell her all about the advantages of not having a headstone and when he was done, went into a detailed rant about how all she'd ever wanted was a nice headstone for her grave and how dare he.

What makes this story funny is that, after the guy hung up on her, she called a friend who had just gotten off the phone with a guy selling cookbooks. The friend had launched into a tirade about how she was a world-class chef and how *dare* he.

My mother is not obsessed with the headstone on her grave and her friend is not a world-class chef. They were just in a mood that day. The point is, the telemarketers were throwing out the word about their products to anyone who would pick up the phone that day in the hopes that a small percentage of them would be interested in buying their goods.

As I have said repeatedly (and will continue to say,) many companies treat Social Media as if it is a media outlet for press releases or an advertising channel. In a sense, they are no better than those poor telemarketers trying to sell my Mom and her friend unwanted graves and books.

Yesterday on Twitter I received a Direct Message asking if I needed help with training at my company. I checked my Tweets and sure enough, there was no mention of training anywhere. Why would this person think I wanted training solutions when I don't have that problem?

Social Media provides an unprecendented chance to understand your audiences issues *before* you offer them options. Read their Tweets and look for patterns in their communications, search to see who is talking about the kinds of things you provide. If there's someone in Newcastle who actually needs coal and you have coal to sell, you don't have to make a fool of yourself asking the other 189,862 people that don't want it.

Using Social Media, its easier than ever to sell ice to Newcastle and coal to Eskimos. All you have to do is listen to what's being said, so you know your audience.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Opportunity of a Lifetime (and How You Missed It)

Everyone is rushing to have some kind of Social Media presence right now. Companies boast of Twitter feeds and Facebook fan pages to show how hip they are. What's missing from most of these is a clear strategy on how to engage the consumer. This stems from the fact that most businesses see Social Media as a tactic, not as a strategy.

A few weeks ago, I walked into a local print shop and asked about a banner stand displayed prominently in the store. How much was it, I asked.

Ten minutes later, I left the store with no answer. The guy behind the counter was incapable of finding the price on the computer, looking it up in a book or finding someone to ask.

I left the store thinking that he had just missed a chance to sell me a new banner and stand for whatever price the combo was. And had the new banner come back looking particularly handsome, I might go back - I like giving my business to small local shops. I can think of at least two other banners I'm going to need eventually. And I always need posters or flyers. If a year is pretty busy, I might have spent $1000 with them. Not hardly retiring to Florida money, many potential $1000 clients walk in, then walk out his door because he didn't answer their questions?

On Twitter, I was talking about a particularly bad experience I had with an airline. I addressed their competitors who I knew were on Twitter. How will you win me over to become your customer? I asked. I never received any answer from either of them. Another lost opportunity. I'm planning on flying a number of times next year...they could have gotten my money as simply as replying, "We won't lose your reservation, that's for sure."

Online, when someone comments that they went onto your website and could not find what they were looking for, do you tell them that 85% of your customers do find what they are looking for or do you offer your assistance?

How do you handle a complaint? If you get an email that something arrived damaged, do you require a convoluted and tedious process, or do you see that as an opportunity to build brand loyalty send out a replacement right away?

Online or offline, Social Media means the very same thing - responding to people quickly, honestly, transparently.

Is your refund or rebate program simple, or does it resemble a sweepstakes entry with its complexity? Do you reply to customer service complaints with statistics on how improved your customer service is?

When someone clicks on your store, can you give them a price?

Do you reply at all when they address you on Social Media?

Social Media is not *where* you talk with people, it's the act of talking with people through any form of media. If you don't respond to people when they talk to you, it doesn't matter if you have a Twitter feed, or a Facebook page or a LinkedIn presence, you've just lost an opportunity of a lifetime.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Prodigal Twitterer

This is the first of a series looking at specific social networking platforms...without the delusion created by confusion or hype.

What *is* Twitter?

Is Twitter worth the effort?

Is Twitter good for my business?

How do I get a big following quickly on Twitter?

I don't *get* Twitter.

Over and over and over, the same questions. On LinkedIn, on Facebook, in conversation, everywhere. There are, at last count, something like 35 billion articles on how to use Twitter and how not to use Twitter and why to use Twitter and how to make a million dollars on Twitter.

They all fail at one thing - explaining anything about Twitter.

Let's start from the beginning.

Blogging is what I'm doing right now. It's writing an entry in text that can be as long or short as I want, about anything I want it to be about. You can read it, you can comment on it, you can email me about it. It's two-way communication, but in a sort of stilted way. Much like a lecture, during which the audience can ask questions. It is two-way, but there are some limits on the conversation.

Twitter was designed as a "micro-blogging" tool. Like the status on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, a million other Social Network sites, you are given 140 characters in which to convey a thought. The idea was to throw a thought out into the forest and see if it hit a tree. Those trees would be "following" you, i.e., people who wanted to know that you were in the airport, drinking an Irish coffee, or talking to a client about something.

Humans being what they are, followers have a habit of talking back. Microblogging quickly became terse conversations. Then they became longer conversations, with lines continuing to two or three "tweets" worth of 140 characters.

The next thing you know, these micro-blogs became a chat.

Like chat, the idea is that you enter a room made up of other people who have some interest in common with you. These people are the people who "follow" you or whom you "follow."

Here's a chat I own (click on the picture for a larger version):

This chat lives on IRC. IRC stands for Internet Relay Chat, it's way older than the web, or Twitter or anything that most people think of as "The Internet."

On IRC, you have to use line commands to do what you want, because it was created before graphic user interfaces and buttons to click. In short, to be on IRC, you find a server, then a group on that server, that is talking about stuff you care about.

The people in that group - the groups on IRC are called "channels"- presumably also care about the same stuff. The conversation goes along in text lines, with links out to other media.

Now here's a shot of Twitter as seen on my Tweetdeck screen. Tweetdeck is a third-party application that allows me to create groups and manage my conversations a bit. It's not the only one, it just happens to be the one I use. (click on the picture for a larger version):

Fundamentally, Twitter is a gigantic "channel". Instead of predetermining your interests, you walk into the world's biggest cocktail party. You find people who are interesting to listen to, you talk with them and, hopefully, people find you interesting to listen to in return. Soon, your "channel" is built of people you follow and people who follow you.

And this is where it all starts to fall apart.

Let's return to the cocktail party metaphor for a second. Say you're invited to a cocktail party by an acquaintance. You know they are at the cocktail party, but they are not the host and you don't see them at first. How do you enter the party?

1) You stand in the door and scream "I'm here! Someone talk to me!"

2) You lurk around the edges of the party never conversing with anyone, mumble a few lines than no one else can hear, then leave, annoyed.

3) You turn to the person next to you, introduce yourself and ask them how they are related to the party.

4) You get yourself a drink and listen to a few of the conversations that are already going on, then comment when you have something to add to one of them.

There have been studies that confirm that most people on Twitter follow the first path and tweet once, then leave when no one replies to their "tweet."

The second technique seems to be the most common among otherwise social media literate people and most companies. They don't have a plan, just join, don't tell anyone they are there, seek no one out and call it a loss when no one comes running to follow them.

The third option is hard for most normal people. Unless you're used to sales or public speaking, it's just difficult to know what to say and when to say it.

The fourth is so amazingly rude it makes most people cringe - and yet, on Twitter, it's *exactly* what you should do.

Despite the fact that articles say that most of Twitter is babble, I want you to think once more about that cocktail party metaphor. Walk around the room and you'll hear conversations about kids, business, sports, art, illness...a veritable Babel of babble. Because other people's conversations are mostly not relevant to *you.* It's not babble to them. It is to you, because it is not your kids, you business, your bum knee.

So, what should you do to make Twitter more conversation and less babble? (In the geek world, we refer to that as "signal to noise ratio.") Exactly what you should do at a cocktail party. Find the person who invited you first, and listen to the people s/he talks to. Then introduce yourself and start a conversation.

The more you talk with people, the more will talk with you.

You can follow them, the people they follow and the people they talk with, when it intersects your interests. Use Twitter Search and Google to find people to Twitter with who have similar interests, and don't be afraid to jump into a conversation - that's how your network grows.

The last point here has got to be this - you canNOT game the system. You cannot build a useful, relevant network by doing anything that guarantees 10,000 followers a day. Yes, you can get 10,000 followers a day - it's very easy. Just follow 11,000 people and about 10,000 will follow you back. What, exactly, will you have gained? The same thing if you walked around that fictitious cocktail party handing out business cards indiscriminately to every single person there. A lot of people will know who you are - but they won't know *why* they should know you. In the end, that's no better than standing in the door of the room screaming "I'm here!" There's next to zero value in that.

People who think Twitter is a game changer, people lured by the hype, are playing the wrong game - talking with people is the game and it has *never* changed. Not since the snake sold Eve an apple.

Talk with people, not at them and soon enough you'll *get* Twitter. Start with me, I'll be glad to talk with you! You can find me at

Project Wonderful