Tag Archives: twitter

How to Create a Meaningful Following on Twitter

Getting Twitter followers is an interesting game.  SEO experts will say that the follow method is key, but in my experience this is a step above spamming.  In fact, many people of Twitter look more to the Follow v. Followed ratio as an indication of someone’s value than how many people they have amassed.  The best way to build a following is by tweeting useful information and links, highlighting the work of others who are in your industry, and engaging in conversation.

From Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s book Trust Agents (a must read for anyone working online):

1. Have a username that is similar to your name or a nickname you use elsewhere, so people recognize it.
2. Have actual content on your page!  Don’t add people until you have several dozen messages sent through the service.
3. Make sure you already have as many people as possible following you.  We know this shouldn’t matter, but it does, sorry.  People like following important people.
4. Never let your following/followed-by ration reach more than 1 (i.e., follow less than 100 people if you’re being followed by 101).  This is a common rule of thumb people use to detect spammers.
5. @ people often, and respond to other user’s comments.  Participation encourages inclusion.
6. When you follow others, send them an @ message at the same time (e.g., @chrisbrogan or @julien when messaging us), so they’ll see a message to them at the top of your page if they look at it.”

These tips should help you in your climb on the Twitter charts.  It is important to keep in mind however that quality is better than quantity (even in SEO retail).  Providing value for followers by tweeting discounts, exclusive purchase opportunities (limited edition buys for Twitter followers), and tips on how-to (fill in the blank) are stuff of gold.  This is the “social” part of media that has become all the rage in 2009 and will continue to evolve in the future.


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How to Listen on the Web

Social media makes everybody …

A NEWS STUDIO – sites like Daily Me allow republishing of personalized news

A MOVIE STUDIO – “You Tube Video Lands $30 Million Movie Deal

A PUBLISHING COMPANY – social publishing

A GOSSIP COLUMN Perez Hilton became one of the most read columnists in Hollywood.

With everyone contributing something on the web, attention becomes our most sought after commodity.  How is anyone supposed to listen with all this chatter?  The way I do it is pretty simple.  Between Google Reader and Alerts, my iPhone, and Twitter I can keep a pretty good tabs on all the things I want to hear.  This is my abbreviated step-by-step guide to filtering out the noise.

Get a Google Reader account.

This will allow you to aggregate subscription content from webistes through RSS feeds usually by clicking the little icon that looks like this:

You will then get updates whenever the site content changes.  The best way to use your RSS Reader is to scan the headlines for anything that looks like something you want to digest.  Star items that you want to come back to or email them to yourself (there are other applications for reading RSS items later, such as Readitlater or Instapaper, but I want everything in one place).  Google Reader keeps starred items in a separate folder for you.  Using this method will allow you to get through your RSS inbox rather quickly, keeping it from piling up.  If you’re anything like me you get about 400 updates per day – reading everything is not an option and stopping to read while you are doing your sorting will only result in more pile up.

Get a Google Alerts account.

RSS subscriptions are great for keeping up with the sites you know about, but what about those sites you don’t know about?  To listen on the web you need to be able to customize what content gets fed to you.  Enter Google Alerts, step 2 of setting up your listening post.  Simply type in the term you want to receive alerts about, change the preferences to receive updates in your Google Reader, and you are done.  Anytime that term or terms hit Google’s index you will be sent an RSS alert.  You can customize alerts for immediate delivery or daily digest.

NOOB quick tip: put terms like “social media” or other multiple word searches in “quotation marks” so that Alerts look for the full term.

Get an iPhone

We are not going into the details of getting an iPhone, but the takeaway here is that having a mobile device to read your feeds makes filtering, maintaining, and digesting the information much easier.  I will check and filter feeds while walking the dog, waiting in line, and sitting on the bus.  The app I use to read my feeds is called MobileRSS, a totally free reader that has a lot of functionality.  My favorite feature is the ability to send feed items to Twitter, Email, or other places with 1-click.  This allows me and my network to follow up on items of interest that I find.  For example, after seeing and scanning Martin Reed’s post Online Community Metrics: numbers you need to pay attention to, I emailed the item to my team from MobileRSS.  While I filtered the rest of my RSS list and then came back to the post to read it in depth, other team members had set up a meeting to discuss metrics in our community, drafted an agenda, and looked forward to discussing the issue.  We recently had a productive meeting and figured out some new strategies based on this golden nugget from my listening post.

A Word About Twitter

Besides Google alerts, I also use Tweetdeck to listen.  Tweetdeck is a 3rd party application that lets you maintain columns which monitor Twitter.  The columns can watch your network’s activity, mentions about you, direct messages, Twitter trends, or any topic you specify in search.  The usefulness here is when I’m working on Twitter related items and don’t want to keep checking my Google Reader.  Since I have Tweetdeck open anyway to send messages for the company, I can simultaneously monitor Twitter for chatter about our company or any subject I am interested in.  We will have to see how Google Real-time Search changes the usefulness of Tweetdeck, but for now I find it to be a good tool in the box.

So there you have it: the ways I listen on the web.  What are your methods?  Do you use any of these tools or something different (ex/ Net Vibes)?  Does your company use a service like Radian6 to professionally monitor?

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    How To Try Google Real-Time Search Streams Today

    Google is ready to become relevant again.  With the explosion of Twitter in 2009 many started to question whether the search giant could keep up with 140-character, real-time results.  Never one to disappoint, Google has launched “real-time search.”  Check out this short video about it:

    Now when I saw this video with the Forrest Gump meets Edward Scissorhands type music I got REALLY excited.  I pulled up a Google browser and did a search for “Keynote Templates” hoping to find the latest and greatest in real-time results for the presentation I am putting together right now.  What did I see?

    Same old Google.  Where were the real-time results?  Looks like we will just have to wait, right?  Nope … here’s a little hack to try Google real-time search today.

    Google put up this post on the Official Google Blog: “the new features will be rolling out in the next few days and will be available globally in English. You can try them out today by visiting Google Trends and clicking on a “hot topic,” which in most cases will bring you to a search results page with the new real-time feature.”  Here’s what you see when you click the link:

    Type into the search box at the bottom whatever real-time results you want to try.  In my case it was “Keynote Templates.”  Here’s what it came up with:

    As you can see, I got two relevant results from the last hour on the first page alone.  This is a significant step forward for Google and one that should help their stock price and mission statement (“to catalog and index the world’s information”).

    What do you think about Google’s new search capabilities?  Will this kill Twitter?  What about Bing?

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    Can Social Media Bring Peace to the Middle East

    Yesterday I passed by the square on King George and Gershon Agnon in Jerusalem on my way home from shopping. I am getting used to these Friday afternoon trips right before the Sabbath, and after just three short months in the country it is getting comfortably routine. Except for one thing …

    Last week while passing the square I saw a protest, about thirty people dressed in black with cardboard signs in the shape of black hands saying “end the occupation.” My first reaction was one of anger and disgust: “how could these apologists do this in the center of the Holy City?”  I wanted to tell them how misguided they were, how wrong, how could you!  But then reason prevailed: what would my ranting get for any of us?  The fact of the matter is, I am not educated in these issues at all.  My simple understanding comes from a passionate love of Israel, growth in Torah Judaism, and a superficial knowledge of history.  I’ve read the first three chapters of Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel (on my “Someday” list) and a bit of a large volume on the Israel’s history.  This hardly qualifies me to take such a strong opinion.

    I walked up to one of the women holding a sign and asked: “what’s the occupation.”  She looked down at me (she was standing on the ledge of the fountain).  I was wearing my usual big white knitted yarmulke and tzitzis (traditional strings worn by orthodox Jewish men as a reminder of our obligations to G-d) hanging from my belt.  “Seriously?” she asked.  “Can we talk about this?”

    “Sure,” I said, realizing she probably gets a lot of criticism from people who look like me.  “What’s the occupation?”

    “The settlements in the West Bank and the isolation of Gaza,” she said.  I thought about that; Wonder Woman and I had been strongly considering settling in a little town called Neve Daniel, a place that would likely fall on this woman’s map in “the West Bank.”

    “So what’s the solution?” I asked.

    “A two-state solution,” she said, a Pavlovian response to this question.

    “How could a two-state solution work,” I asked.  She proceeded to tell me about the hardships Palestinians face b/c of the Jewish State, how it is unreasonable to expect that we can maintain a strictly Jewish State, and that Palestinians and Jews could live in peace if only they had their own state in the territories she mentioned before.

    “But will they get along with each other?” I asked her, pointing out that Gaza didn’t turn out to be such a utopia in the end, with Hamas and Fatah fighting each other for violent control of that area.  She defended that incident by condemning Hamas as promising to fight corruption and then becoming corrupt themselves.  At the end of the conversation I didn’t feel any clearer.  She told me that I should meet and speak with some Palestinians to hear their side of the story.  Then I had to get home to help my wife get ready for Shabbat.

    Social media provides us with a communal atmosphere to have discussions, share thought leadership, meet new people, keep tabs on contacts, friends, and family, and mobilize action.  Don’t believe me on that last point, think back to the Iranian elections and how Twitter became a rallying point for the opposition.  Still don’t believe, think back to the campaign of President Obama, and how he successfully used Facebook, text messages, and multimedia to get his message out there, bringing him from grass roots rising star to Pennsylvania Avenue.  There is no doubt that the power of social media lies in the potential it has for any voice within the community to be heard and for people to connect who would not do so otherwise.

    Can this medium work to humanize Israelis to Palestinians and vice versa?  Thinking back on my experience in the square, it dawned on me that I don’t know any Palestinians; not personally at least.  I see them in the shopping areas, the medical clinics, and on the street.  They work in our homes (I recently had plumbing work done by a mixed Israeli/Palestinian crew), have cities between our cities where we are not allowed to go, and pray right behind the Western Wall in their copper domed mosque.  Still, they seem completely foreign to me.  I know none of them, nor am I completely comfortable getting to know them.  But what if could start small?

    Think about it: a group on Facebook called “Israelis and Palestinians: Who Are We?” (perhaps this already exists?  If so, please comment).  Any such group should be run by a joint community management team consisting of Israelis and Palestinians.  It should have a big disclaimer about what kind of dialogue will be tolerated (rules of engagement), and while forum discussions should be allowed to get somewhat heated, direct abuse or threats should not be tolerated.  Members should be encouraged to share their story: how did you come to Israel (were you born here or immigrated)?  What do you love about this land?  How many people are in your family?  What’s your favorite past time?  Why did you join this group?  Do you believe we can ever have real peace?

    Maybe this won’t ever happen, or even if someone starts such a group maybe it won’t change a thing.  Maybe we need an act of G-d to make this all work.  Maybe we’ll go on fighting for the next 20-centuries with each other.  But I do know this: we are seeing  a revolution in communication, relationship and trust building from social media interactions.  Getting to know each other or at least about each other can help change attitudes.  At the very least, if it brings us to the negotiating table a bit more open minded b/c we see the other side as human too perhaps we’ll think more clearly and find an acceptable solution (I don’t know what that is).

    What are your thoughts on the topic?  Do social media sites have the power to bring opposing peoples closer?  What objective resources do you read on the Israeli/Palestinian situation (I recently found this one: ProCon.org)?

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    “#Prayer” What G-d Looks for on Twitter and the Spirituality of Computing

    IMG_0146When I go to conferences for lawyers or technology, I tend to be pretty visible.  I’m the guy with the big white knitted yarmulke, strings hanging from my belt (they’re called “tzitzis” and are a commandment from the Torah to wear to remind you of your obligations to G-d), and a smile.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of blogging on here about my religion or my views on G-d.  Not to say these aren’t important to me, they are the bedrock of my life, but this blog has always had posts about Apple computers or websites and the like.  Then it occurred to me: this digital thing we do is really VERY spiritual.

    At it’s essence, all digital code is a series of 1’s or 0’s.  The infinite number of sequences manifest in various digital permutations such as images, applications, and functions that we know as computing (for any computer scientist out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how digital code works, please leave your comments below).  Jewish thought tells us that entire world is made up of varying degrees of G-d either revealing or concealing Himself.  Therefore, everything in existence is either a 1 (revelation) or 0 (concealment) of G-d.  At it’s core, computing mimics this axiom.  So it is fair to say that computing is a tool that allows us to better understand how G-d operates His universe (for any Torah scholars out there that can correct my simplified understanding of how G-d reveals and conceals Himself … you know the rest).

    This is an idea I have been thinking about for sometime now, but it was only recently that I felt compelled to put it on this blog.  See I got to thinking: one of our most powerful messaging mediums today is Twitter.  Are people using Twitter to pray?

    I put in a “#prayer” and was surprised to see that the answer to my question was, sort of.  There were definitely prayers on there, some pleas for good health, others for no more marital problems, some praying for money to get married with links to sites to donate money.  But there was a lot of other stuff on there too.  Church groups were using the #prayer sign to announce prayer groups or church functions.  Others used it to talk about Veteran’s Day (which is today by the way – Happy Veteran’s Day!) and sometimes, #prayer hashtag was just added to a post having nothing to do with prayer at all, leading me to ask does  adding the #prayer hashtag to your tweet count as a prayer in itself? There’s even an article about sending Tweets to the Kotel (Wailing Wall).  All of this lead me to the conclusion that people are using Twitter for spiritual activities just like they use it for anything else.

    The whole thing reminds me of that scene in Bruce Almighty where he corals all the prayers he’s receiving into a giant email list and then just hits Reply All to answer them.  Are we expecting the same thing to happen with our Twitter prayers?  According to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, a person’s personal prayer to G-d, in their own language without any formality, is one of the most powerful ways to build faith and connect with the Almighty.  Perhaps Twitter then really is an answer to the need people feel for prayer, especially prayer they want to share with others.  I guess a private blog written to G-d on a daily basis would be more akin to what Rebbe Nachman was talking about.

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    Online A.D.H.D. (Purposeful Web 2.0 Browsing for the Ritalin Generation)

    It seems like everyone has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”) these days (even though it only affects about 5% of the population).  Our shortening attention spans are not helped in a Web 2.0 world where we are twittered down to 140 character status updates and keep connected with RSS feeds.  As someone whose therapist has given him a bona fide diagonsis as “an adult with ADHD who has learned to compensate” I find that focusing online is very tough.  I want to click this, search for that, keep 10 tabs open in my browser, while my Nambu or Tweetdeck (depending on what OS I’m using that day b/c I can’t just have one computer running) has multiple searches active.

    Time to focus.  Here are some strategies I have thought of that make web 2.0 browsing a bit more focused:

    1. Have a short list of goals for each online session: (post 1 blog, fix up Picassa, and check Gmail)
    2. Make time limits: (I will finish by 11:30 pm tonight)
    3. Have a steady time to do certain repeating tasks (post a blog & check social network aggregators at lunch)
    4. Aggregators, aggregators, aggregators (Google Reader for RSS, Eventbox when on Mac) – finding the best aggregator that takes headlines from multiple sites & put them in one place
    5. Choose sides: I feel like I am always jumping onto something new to make my life easier (delicious, readit, or my favorite: digg) – rather than jumping to new tek to be in the now (thanks Ram Daas), find ones that you like and stick to them unless a good reason to change presents itself
    6. If your head starts to feel warm and tingly, go for a walk

    What suggestions do you have to avoid aimless impulse browsing?

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    2010: A Pronunciation Odyssey

    It’s hard to believe that we are blowing right by Arthur C. Clarks’s vision of the future without so much as a single sentient, psychotic AI trying to kill us, (talk about disappointment).  But as we rollout of the single digit calendar-suffix of the 21st Century, another threat looms: prounounciation war. 

    How should 2010 be expressed in the English language? 

    • “Two thousand and ten”
    • “Twenty-ten”

    I am a fan of “twenty-ten,” b/c it sounds cooler and takes less time to say (a plus for all you vm tweeters out there who like convert to text). 

    So in the spirit of the Big Lebowski: what is the preferred nomenclature?





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