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Follow up on Auto DMs on Twitter

January 12, 2011

A couple of months ago I wrote an article asking what you thought about about automatic direct messages. Overwhelmingly, you said you don’t like them.

You’re not alone. Turns out you’re not alone. A recent survey says 72% of people who responded had strong feelings against auto direct messages, compared to 2% who liked them.

Now it turns out, you can opt out of a large number of these automatic direct messages by following the steps outlined on my friend Sean McGinnis’ blog: 312 Digital.

So, no need to be annoyed any further. Just follow the four steps, and in short order you’ll never be bothered by an automatic dm again (or at least not as many).

Did you get lost in the leap to Twitter hyperspace?

December 5, 2010

Sometimes I picture Twitter like making the jump to hyperspace on the Millenium Falcon. Except instead of stars flashing past, it’s tweets. I think this is one of the big reasons that people burn out quickly on Twitter. It’s not much fun if you can’t figure out a way to be a part of “the conversation”.

So, how can you fix that? How do you get connected? If you were in New York City and didn’t know a soul there, how would you make friends? Would you stand on a busy corner and start shouting information about yourself? “Hello, I’m Jill Manty! I have kids! I homeschool! I like social media! I write a blog! Anyone want to talk?” That may be an excellent way to see the inside of some of New York City’s finer correctional/psychiatric facilities, but you’re probably not going to make any friends that way (and if you do, they may not be the kind of friends you were really looking for).

Here are a few suggestions for finding your place on Twitter.

Tweet chats If you just stepped off the bus into Twitterland, and you aren’t following a soul, check out a few Twitter chats. You’ll find people who have similar interests and can most likely find a few people to follow and start conversing with. Make sure you follow anyone you interacted with after the chat is over and thank anyone who retweeted a comment or link that you posted. Include anyone you thank via the @ symbol when you post your thanks. For example, “Thanks for the RT: @georgemanty”

Some Twitter chats do fly by fast and furious, so consider using a program like Tweetchat. I suggest slowing the refresh speed to 10-15 seconds, especially for particularly busy chats. If you’re feeling like a particular chat is like trying to swallow the ocean, find one or two people who are posting things that you find interesting or entertaining and start up a side conversation (try to keep it on topic, though, unless you’re going to drop the chat hashtag- #).

How do you find a chat that interests you? Someone has created a Google spreadsheet of Twitter chats, and it’s kept pretty up to date. My personal suggestions? #tweetdiner, #blogchat, #leadershipchat and #usguys. But find one that works for you. There are chats on diverse topics from horses to food.

Lists Once you’ve found some people to follow, consider creating a list, so that you can more easily keep up with people. Personally, I still haven’t created my lists, so I’m not going to be able to give you a lot of firsthand advice. But there are lots of resources on the web about creating lists. For the basics, check out Twitter’s own help on the subject. For more on the topic, check out this resource. (I got that resource after asking a question on #usguys- see what a great resource Twitter can be? Thanks to Brandon Sheley for the link!)

You can also use other people’s lists as an additional way to find people to follow. Sometimes people will create blog posts about their own lists of people, like this one on New York’s Top PR Public Relations Firms and People. Or you can follow lists that people you follow on Twitter have created.

Hashtags People will hashtag all sorts of things that other people might be interested in. You can view the most popular ones at You can then choose to look at who’s using hashtags you’re interested in or just start using some of the ones that are popular that interest you. Over the past week, popular hashtags have included the always popular #facebook and #socialmedia, but also #iphone, #travel and #wikileaks.

Really, there’s just one hashtag I recommend using on a regular basis, outside of Twitter chats: #usguys. While there is an usguys chat, the usguys hashtag is 24/7 discussion on marketing, social media, leadership and pretty much anything under the sun. This morning there was talk about everything from the meaning of “lost his squash” to whether it’s appropriate to use “dude” for women. I set it up regularly in tweetchat or hootsuite to stop in and check out what’s going on throughout the day. It’s much more than a hashtag- it’s a virtual tribe of people who will help and support you.

Want to see what a big deal a hashtag can be? Using usguys as the example, people have created blog posts specifically around usguys, as well as a virtual usguys daily newspaper. Usguys helped get a blog off to a phenomenal start. I think you can see how being involved with a group like that would make Twitter a much more welcoming place.

I hope this helps you figure out how to get involved on Twitter. If you’re already involved, what are your suggestions for people who are new or frustrated with Twitter? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Automatic Direct Messages or Not?

October 21, 2010

Have you noticed that sometimes when you follow someone on Twitter, you get a direct message back? As you may know, a lot of those are automatically generated. As with many things in the social media world, there are diverse opinions on this practice.

Some say that you should definitely use an automatically generated “thanks for following message” but that you need to be careful about exactly how you write the message. Others claim that this is one step away from spam. Personally, I’m not sure.

On the one hand, when I receive those direct messages, they don’t really bother me (except the ones that overtly try to recruit me to follow them on Facebook or buy their product). On the other hand, I pretty much ignore them. They don’t make me feel warm and fuzzy or acknowledged or anything. I just think, “oh look, an automatically generated direct message”.

At this point, I don’t use a direct response message. But I wonder whether I should. What do you think? Are you bothered by automatic dm messages? Impressed by them? Would you rather get an automatic response than no response at all? I’d like to hear your opinions below.

What I’ve Learned About Twitter

September 7, 2010

So, I’m still working on FourSquare, etc. BUT I have become active on Twitter. Today is day 15. I’ve gone from 7 followers to almost 300. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Twitter cannot be explained.

You really do have to learn by doing. I’ve looked at George’s Twitter account I don’t even know how many times and thought, “I don’t get it”. Now, I’m on Twitter, and I get it. I think it’s depleting my ability to focus for more than 45 seconds every time I log on but at least now I understand. So, if you’ve been putting off “doing Twitter” because you don’t get it, just go ahead and dive in. There are no Twitter police. No one’s going to yell at you for doing it wrong. Sign up, get an account and follow me. Then give me a shout, and I’ll follow you back. That’s the hard part. It gets easier from there.

2. There are people I won’t follow.

People who don’t have any tweets. People who write every tweet in a language other than English (no prejudice here, I just can’t follow you if I can’t read what you’re saying). People who regularly use language that will be a problem if my children are reading my Twitter stream over my shoulder, even though they’re not supposed to do that because it’s rude. If I go to look at your page to decide whether to follow you, and it looks like the script of a Quentin Tarantino film, I’m probably not going to follow you. People who refer to themselves as a “visionary”— no real reason. It just bugs me.

3. A quick method I use to determine who I’m going to follow.

When someone follows me, and I get an email saying that someone new is following me, I go to their profile and scan their tweet stream. If I get to the bottom of the page, and I’m not offended, that’s a good sign. But if I get to the bottom of the page and don’t see one thing I’d be interested in retweeting, that’s a bad sign. So, this is a lesson you can use to help you determine who to follow. It’s also a lesson in being someone that other people want to follow— be interesting. Or at least retweet people who are.

4. Hootsuite is my friend.

Hootsuite has been really helpful in being able to scan what’s going on with my Twitter account. There are a few things I don’t really care for. And I really need to do a bit more diving in. But, overall, it’s a necessary tool for me to be successful with Twitter.

So, that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned. For the most part. Any of you out there new to Twitter? Struggling with Twitter? Do you have Twitter questions? As we’ve established, I’m no expert. But if you leave a question in the comments, I’ll do my best to find the answer. And the most important question— have you followed me yet? šŸ™‚

Confessions of a Social Media late adopter

August 22, 2010

I have a secret. For someone who writes a lot about social media, I’m not generally an early adopter. I don’t know if this is because I really don’t like cell phones, so platforms like Twitter and FourSquare weren’t a natural fit. Or because I tend to get addicted to technologies, so I try to avoid them as long as possible so they don’t suck yet more time out of my day. But the truth is George hounded me for about a year to join Facebook. (And I don’t even care to mention how long it took for me to “get” blogging.)

I didn’t want to. It was lame. I didn’t need it. Why should I? Then I joined about 18 months ago. How did I ever live without Facebook? And now I think that any business without a Facebook page is missing out on a monumental opportunity! Do you also want Google to exclude you from the search results?

I still don’t use Twitter a lot. Oh, sure I feed our Facebook page to it, but I leave most of the interacting to George. However, that will probably come to an end sometime in the next couple of months. Once I get a firm grasp on Linked In and Four Square— I need those for particular clients. But Twitter’s next.

So, why am I telling you all of this? Because I want you to know it’s not too late. If you don’t yet have a Twitter or a Facebook account, it’s okay. You haven’t missed the social media parade. In fact, it’s really just getting started.

For businesses, it’s often not that beneficial to be an early adopter. The best time for businesses to adopt a technology is around it’s peak. It’s usually easier (and cheaper) to get training at that point. Your clients and potential customers are already informed about the technology, so you don’t have to convince them that they should WANT to “like” you on Facebook. And there are plenty of people who are already knowledgeable to whom you can outsource the parts of social media that you don’t like or don’t have time to keep up with.

So, if you’ve been avoiding social media, you don’t have to continue to do so. There are some very simple and very effective ways to use Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Linked In and more that will help you make money online and won’t keep you from actually running your business. I’ll be introducing some simple tips and tricks over the coming weeks and months. So, make sure to check back often. But for right now, go sign up for Facebook and Twitter— and throw in LinkedIn while you’re at it. Leave a note down below if you’ve signed up recently, or if you don’t yet have an account and let me know what was/is holding you back.