3 Easy Peasy Free Ways to Strongly Promote Links

I am all about the personal user experience. That's why I'm the Chief Experience Officer CEO in these Tin Shingle parts. In my guidance in how to effectively use social media, rarely will you hear me advocate for setting up automated things. Rarely. And if you do, it's because it's super special.

The #followfriday Hashtag: How & Who Started It

Several people ask: "What is the hashtag aka # symbol in Twitter?" And I answer: "It is a way to organize a conversation on Twitter. Anyone can start one." And sometimes that doesn't get understood by the person seeking the answer to this question. So I did a little Googling to find out who started the #followfriday hash tag, which is one of the most well known uses of the # (hashtag). #followfriday is now a tradition on Twitter on Fridays, where people name a few Twitterers who they enjoy following. It is a way to recommend people to help them gain new followers. So perhaps this will help clarify the hashtag question and how it is used:

One day, this guy named Micah Baldwin was reflecting on his wonderful friends, who he followed on Twitter, and thought to himself: "I want others to follow them too."
(Quick note from Katie: There is actually an Arabic word for is when you like something so much that you want someone else to enjoy you are eating a piece of blueberry pie with ice cream on top, and you are down to your last bite, and your friend comes in, and you insist that your friend takes the last bite so that she too can experience it.)

So Micah logged into his Twitter account and said to no one in particular (aka all of his followers): "I am starting Follow Fridays. Every Friday, suggest a person to follow, and everyone follow him/her. Today it is @fancyjeffrey@w1redone (who is now @dannynewman)."

Micah says that almost immediately afterward, one of his followers, @myklroventine piped up and said: "@micah Great idea! You need a hashtag for that! - #followfridays"

Micah then sent a few Twitter messages (aka "tweets") to some key people, who may or may not have helped spread it (they thought it was spam), and went to a meeting. When he came back, he logged into Twitter again and used some tools that measure certain activities on twitter, and discovered that #followfridays had taken off! It was in use by people on Twitter from every corner. Pretty soon, people were just using it, and did not even associate it with Micah anymore, they were just spreading Twitter love for people who they liked to follow.

Because of the interest, Micah has now created a website called Follow Fridays.

This is one example of one hashtag, made useful by the people, for the people. So, you could make up a hash tag right now if you wanted. If it's catchy and fun to use, it just may become an "official" Twitter term!

Read This: In Marketing, Say How to Find You

This is a post that was inspired not once, but twice from people yelling outside of my window. The message, however, is deeply important and supremely simple. Yet, many of us overlook it. So let it serve as a reminder. If it doesn't bring you sales, it may just save your life.

First, let's set the stage: I live in a building in New York City, several floors up. I have windows on all sides of my apartment, and it is generally quiet, save for chirping birds, emergency sirens, and the occasional store-front protective metal door being closing at night. I am a Home Office Worker who has been working from home for two years.

Every summer afternoon at 3:00pm, a group of young adults get onto a microphone, and start yelling about a Yogi Bear Club where they are going to provide entertainment of some sort to kids. The yelling begins at the strike of 3pm every day, which is very distracting, and all I can do is wonder where they are. I have been outside during these afternoon hours to run errands, but have never seen this club meeting. I picture it to be a giant puppet show out the side of a truck, but have no idea. Only recently did they start mentioning Christian things, so I have learned that they are associated a faith-based related program of some sort.

In the winter, they have stopped their shows. For Easter, they did a special edition, and fired up the microphones at 1pm. They were shouting: "Come on! It's time for the Yogi Bear Club! We're going to start, it will be fun, etc. etc." After several of these encouraging announcements, they finally stated what they were doing: an Easter egg hunt. And not long after that, they finally stated: "Get up! Get out of bed! Come down to W. 103rd and Amsterdam! We are having an Easter egg hunt! Get out of bed! Come see us at W. 103rd and Amsterdam!"

By jove! An address! After all of these years! It occurred to me in that moment that for two years, they have never stated this. Or stated it once and did not repeat it. Not only that, but their language shifted to one that was speaking to people in buildings, who they presumed were sleeping. If this had been a Home Office Rally of some sort, had they said "Get off of your computer and get some fresh air!", that might have done the trick for me.

What I learned: They had neglected to state the most obvious piece of information that could get me there: their address. And, they thought about their audience and what their audience may be doing, and used a message that appealed directly to that audience. Business owners may forget this when they are Twittering, and forget to mention a website of where to find something. Or a postcard design may have a website address in an hard to notice spot. I know I've done it.

As I was developing a website proposal for a client, I heard a one-word shout outside. I heard it a few times. Sounded something like: "Bob!" I wondered if it it was a person in distress, but decided that it was not. The sound got closer, and I imagined that it was a woman looking for her son or lost dog. She started to speak a sentence, that sounded like: "Bob! Come home!" Eh, I ignored it and put full concentration back into my proposal.

The shout continued, and suddenly the word "...elevator..." floated into my open window. Now "elevator", spoken by a shouting person, can only mean one thing: they are stuck. I ran to my window, and shouted: "Where are you?". She muffled something back about the evelator being stuck. But, I needed to find her. Finally, I shouted: "What address? What building are you in?" And sure enough, she was in my building (our elevator does get a little sketchy from time to time), and I put two and two together, and recognized her voice right away as my downstairs neighbor. The elevator got stuck, but she was not inside of it, rather in the basement doing laundry, and came out the basement doors to a back patio area to call for help. I called our Super, who was 4 blocks away, had him come down to get her, informed her of what I did, and called it a night.

What I learned: Again with the address, and a non-traditional word. The main point of her message was that she was trapped in a building and needed to be found. Calling "Help! Help!" yeilded nothing from anyone for several minutes. And there are a lot of people around her in buildings. Using unexpected words, like "elevator" is what called my attention.

Overall Takeaway: Think extra carefully about your audience. What are they doing at the moment you are sending them a marketing message? Are you emailing on a holiday? Are you emailing during a dead-zone of time? Are you Twittering a very important message about your new earrings that are for sale during a flurry of live Tweeting about the Presidential Debates? Are you bragging about your product, but forgetting to include your URL? Are you selling something niche online and want to improve your SEO, but not using that niche word anywhere in your copy because it is so obvious to you, but if you don't say it, Google will have no idea that you specialize in this?

So. Think about your audience and what appeals to them at that moment. And don't forget to make it very clear on how to reach you. :)

The World is Atwitter - Customer Service and Anti-Communist Movements

Business as usual at Twitter. Yesterday, an anti-Communist revolution of sorts was launched via "pass it on" messages sent via Twitter by people organizing the rally in the former Soviet republic of Moldova. According to an article at Google, mobile service was cut off intermittently during the day when protests apparently got violent. Also according to the article, there was no central organizer, but a mass of youthful bloggers, Facebookers and Twitterers who showed, seemingly within "minutes", to join the protest. (note to self re branding: when organizing a movement or spontaneous book club meeting via Twitter, it is important to have a central point of organization). Needless to say, this is how Twitter is becoming a way of life.

As for customer service, today, an AT+T line was cut in Silicon Valley, affecting numerous residential and business consumers. Those effects can spread accross the nation or the world. When businesses based one the west coast, such as Vertical Response, lose power, so do people who were planning on sending newsletters through that service on the east coast. Both Vertical Response and AT+T kept their customers abreast of the situation via Twitter (Vertical Response used @VR4SmallBiz). Twitter was apparently not affected by the power outage.

For you New Yorkers who are hatching into Spring, we hear that Social Diva may do a spontaneous social gathering of cocktails in the city...that green light would come from @socialdiva...


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