Thursday, 28 June 2012

5 Advanced Twitter Tips for Your Small Business

So you’re running a small business and you’ve got the basics of social networking mastered: You tweet often, you’ve created a venue on Foursquare and your Facebook Page is beautiful. How do you move to the next level of social marketing mastery?

Devin Desjarlais, social media manager at Max Borges Agency, has five can’t-miss tips for upping your Twitter game.

1. Don’t Schedule and Split

Scheduling tweets with a platform such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck can be a great way to spread out your business’ social sharing throughout the day. However, Desjarlais says that it’s important to pay attention to any responses your scheduled tweets may elicit — the follow-up conversation is just as important as the initial tweet, if not more.

“The key to attracting a following on Twitter is to engage with users,” Desjarlais says. “Hootsuite is a free platform that allows companies to schedule tweets for all accounts in one place. That means that you won’t have to spend all day planning the next 140 characters to publish. However, check back hourly to see who has tweeted back at you. Twitter users have a short attention span, so it’s important to respond as quickly as possible.”

2. Sit in the Stream

Get familiar with platforms that let you build streams around phrases or hashtags relevant to your company. That way, you’ve always got your ear to the social ground.

“Hashtags are an excellent way to track conversation about a specific topic,” Desjarlais says. “With Hootsuite, companies can create streams that track a specific hashtag, giving the account manager an easy way to find content and engage with other tweeters. For example, if your company makes custom guitars, you might want to follow a stream dedicated to the #music hashtag.”

3. Don’t Rely on Your Handle

It’s the mark of a successful social company to have plenty of customers tweeting at you or about you using your Twitter handle, but you can’t rely on all users to do that. If you’re only listening for tweets mentioning @BobsBurgerShack, for example, you’ll miss out on a tweet such as, “Man, I wish Bob’s Burger Shack had relish!”

The solution? Enhanced listening techniques.

“ is a little-known website that lets users do real-time searches in the social web,” Desjarlais explains. “Do daily searches for your company’s name and narrow the search results to just tweets to see who is talking about your company but not @-mentioning you.” Or you can save searches for some key terms and common permutations of your company name, such as “Bobs burger” and “Bobs cheeseburger.”

4. Don’t Be a Social Egomaniac

While the majority of your tweets will probably be about your business, it’s important to develop a personality beyond tweeting out discounts or new menu options. It’s all about building a human personality.

“The last thing a company wants to do is spam their followers with tweets,” she says. “Twitter is about sharing ideas, information and occasionally inspirational quotes in order to build a community around what the business offers. Try to tweet at least five times per day and dedicate one or two of those tweets to sending users back to your company’s website. Schedule those posts between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. EST on the weekdays for the most engagement.”

5. Stay on Track

Determining the return on investment of social networking can be a real challenge, especially for smaller businesses that don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to complex analytics. Desjarlais says free tools are available to make that task just a bit easier.

“The URL shortener Bitly lets users create shortened links for any URL available online,” says Desjarlais. “Sign up for a free Bitly account and create custom Bitly links or ‘bitmarks’ that can be used whenever you send users back to your company’s website. To see how many people have clicked the link, simply paste the URL with a ‘+’ at the end into your Internet browser to see up-to-date metrics.”

Keep on Being Social

What other advanced Twitter tips have you learned for running a small business? Share them in the comments below.

Author:Alex Fitzpatrick

Sunday, 24 June 2012

How To Make Money By Writing An eBook!

iPad vs Kindle How To Make Money By Writing An eBook!
Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, are an experienced writer or a complete novice, you can make money by writing an ebook!

With the popularity of the Kindle and the iPad, as well as many apps for your smart phone, ebooks have never been so popular. There are even debates online as to which is the best eReader?

This popularity in e-readers has opened up a whole new range of opportunities to writers who thought their dream of getting a book published would never come to fruition. The emergence of electronic self-publishing has enabled anyone to publish an e-book to a potential audience of millions, worldwide!

For years, a whiff of failure hovered around the self-published author. Rejections from publishers would leave writers having to pay someone to publish their work, and after a lot of effort the results tended to look cheap.

The ebook reader, such as the Kindle, has revolutionised the publishing world, empowering and enriching writers in the process.

There are now an estimated 700,000 authors e-publishing worldwide. At the Kindle UK store alone, there are around 650,000 titles for sale with another one million free titles available for download.

Find out how easy it is to publish your own ebook online. What do you need to know? What does it involve? And how much money can you make?

Starting An eBook

8 Ways To Improve Your Writing How To Make Money By Writing An eBook!

The process of publishing an ebook may be relatively simple, but actually writing your ebook is definitely not!

The big problem with e-publishing is that the vast majority of books that are being self-published are terrible! They are poorly written, woefully edited, badly formatted, etc. Many people rush to get their work published online, but this is the problem. A badly written book isn’t going to sell, no matter how cheap it is!

You can compare writing an ebook to running a marathon. Anyone that finishes a marathon deserves credit, it’s hard work after all. But just because you have run a marathon, doesn’t mean you should be running in the London Olympics!

Very few writers see any success from their first book, often it’s their forth or fifth that is good enough.

Before you start, it’s worth thinking about the type of book you want to write. Are you writing a fiction or non-fiction book? If it’s a non-fiction book, what niche are you writing for? Tutorials and guides work well because people can learn from them. If you are writing a fiction novel, what genre are you focusing on? Crime thrillers, fantasy, paranormal romance and chick-lit tend to sell well. These are the general types of ebooks that sell well, maybe because the fans of these types of books tend to read more than the average reader.

As with all writing, it’s worth reading other peoples books. Look at the top 20 best selling titles and download the ones that look most similar to your book. You will be able to see what works and what doesn’t, helping you to improve your own writing.

Consider the length of your ebook. Many of the top selling books tend to be short, quick reads that people can read on the commute to work.

Once you have written your book, make sure you proof read it for any mistakes. It could be wise to pay a professional editor to vet your work before you publish anything.  There is nothing worse than reading something with poor spelling and grammar!  Especially when you have paid for it!!!

When you are happy with your ebook, it’s time to think about the all-important cover design!

Judge A Book By It’s Cover

“Never judge a book by it’s cover”, right? Well actually, NO! A good cover is one of the most important aspects for an ebook’s success. Books are displayed online with an image thumbnail of the cover design, so it’s important that you use a good one.

Use a simple, striking image that tells the reader what your book is about (easier said than done, I know). If you are good at graphic design/photography, then by all means give it a go yourself, but generally it may be better to find a professional to design one for you. Having a professionally designed ebook cover could get your book noticed more and help sell it!

Uploading An eBook

Before you upload your e-book, you need to write a description, which Amazon says can be anything between 30 and 4,000 characters (not words!). This is your chance to really sell your work, so write a compelling blurb, without giving away any of its secrets/plot twists. A good idea would be to include a sample, perhaps the first couple of paragraphs, along with the e-book length, e.g. 90,000 words.

The next step is to get your e-book out there for people to read. Amazon has a great video and step-by-step guide to uploading your work, which is very simple. It’s also a good idea to check out, a platform that allows you to distribute your e-book to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, the Sony Reader Store and the Diesel eBook store.


There are two royalty rates offered by Amazon;

70% of the cover price if the book is priced between £1.49 and £6.99
35% for titles priced at 75p.
So, try to keep your price as low as possible! The cheaper the book is, the more it will sell. Amazon lets you sell for as little as $0.99 in the US and £0.75 in the UK. For a first time writer, that’s probably the best price to go for. It’s hard for a first time writer to sell a book for more than £1.

Creating A Brand

Once you’ve uploaded your book by clicking the Save and Publish button, you will have to wait around 24 hours before your book is listed in the online store. What takes considerably longer is getting your book noticed!

It’s a good idea to promote your book on social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook & Google+, together with specialist sites like and If you haven’t done so already, create your own website and promote your ebook.

You need to define your target audience of niche readers, who are going to be the people most likely to buy your book. You could post a series of short blog posts for your target audience, helping to promote your book and raise your profile online. The idea is to attract readers to your website, where you can engage them on an individual level until they finally begin to correspond by Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Making Money With Your eBook

So, you have written a great ebook, it has a great cover design, you have priced it at the right level, and you have been marketing and publicising it online, but what are the chances of it making any money?

Well that depends on how well you have done the previous things. There are writers that have made hundreds of thousands in a matter of months, some even more! It all depends on the quality of your ebook. If people like it, they will tell others about it and things could spiral from there.

As the amount of Kindle, iPad & eReader owners increases, ebooks will continue to grow in popularity! Now, time to get working on that ebook…

author: Matt Smith

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

10 Facebook Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

At this point, most people know to market their business on Facebook — there are more than 900 million people on the social platform, constantly “liking,” sharing, commenting and posting. We’ve gone over some best practices for Facebook marketing, discussed hot trends and shared customer service tips, so now you know what you should do.

But there are a few things that you shouldn’t do. Mashable spoke with Facebook’s Communications Manager Elisabeth Diana, Head of Measurement Platform and Standards Sean Bruich and Director of Online Operations Sarah Smith, as well as Buddy Media CEO Michael Lazerow to learn more about the most common Facebook marketing mistakes.

“There’s actually a science behind this — yes, it’s an art, but we have found some strong conclusions that there are levers that marketers can pull to be more successful,” says Bruich, whose team recently studied 1,200 posts by 23 brands over a month-long period, using quantitative measurements to determine the unique impact of each post. “This is not a black box … there’s a lot of opportunity to understand how to make your marketing better.”

Below, we outline 10 of the most common Facebook marketing mistakes. Have you fallen victim to any of them? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

1. Not Filling Out the Page Completely
This one’s obvious, but make sure you’re using Facebook to its full capacity and fill out your Brand Page. Businesses should have hours, address, photos and more on their Brand Pages, so users can gather this information quickly. And if you’re opening a new location, either list it or (if you decide it’s best to create separate Brand Pages for your locations) add a new Page to Facebook. Make sure you also nab a good vanity URL — bonus points if it’s also your web URL and Twitter handle.
2. Using an Illegal Cover Photo

The cover photo is prime real estate on your Facebook Brand Page, and it’s the first thing consumers notice. Therefore, it ought to abide by Facebook guidelines, which state that a cover photo can not have:
Price or purchase information (including discounts, such as “40% off”)
A call to action to “like,” share, comment, download, “get it now” or “tell your friends”
Contact information, such as web, email or mailing address
In your cover photo, use something that flaunts your product and captures the essence of your brand — a close-up of food is great for restaurants, a shot of a runway show is perfect for fashion labels and a diaper company could have a few cute babies. Don’t forget to switch your photo up every once in a while — you can refresh your image to promote a new or different product, an upcoming event or a new location. More than half of the brands Buddy Media recently analyzed had only uploaded one cover photo, and another 21% had only uploaded two cover photos. “Switch it up to keep things fresh,” Lazerow says. After all, the cover photo is pretty much a billboard on your Facebook Page — you should use it to promote your best offerings. Just remember to abide by the guidelines above.
3. Breaking Contest Guidelines

While it’s hard to stay on top of the fine print, it’s imperative that any Facebook contest you run is legal. Contests always add a layer of complexity, as state and federal laws may differ, so here are a few things you need to know:

Contests asking for submissions or votes via comments, “liking” or other Facebook UI functions are prohibited
You as a brand are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including official rules, terms and eligibility requirements
Contests or giveaways must be administered within Apps on — on a Canvas Page or a Page App
Your Page must acknowledge that the promotion is not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook
You cannot notify contest winners through Facebook (wall post, message, chat, etc.)
There are several third-party providers that help brands run Facebook promotions legally, and most have free trials. A few prominent ones are Wildfire, Offerpop and Buddy Media.
Complete Brand Page guidelines for promotions can be found here.
4. Overposting
Less is more. Facebook suggests that brands start out with one or two posts a week to feel out the platform and see what works. Many brands post once per day, and many find that posting more than once per day can actually have an adverse effect on engagement. Facebook indicates that the averages user “likes” four to six new Pages each month, so your content is constantly fighting for more attention from its fans. It’s better to post one excellent item per day instead of two decent ones.

Even if you’re only posting a few days per week, you can still keep your Page active on a daily basis. Check your Page and “like” or respond to comments on your Brand Page, and remember to tag the people you’re replying to — that’s a great and easy way to get people to come back to your Page to engage more. And it can be easily done with the new Facebook Brand Page Manager app. (Facebook says tagging features are in the works for a later version of the mobile app.)
5. Focusing Too Much on Likes

Sure, Likes are important — the more Likes you have, the more people your message is reaching. But Likes are just step one. Step two is to confirm that you’re reaching the right audience and keeping them engaged, says Diana. If they “like,” comment and share your content in a regular basis, then they have become brand advocates who are pushing your message to their friends.

The post above, from the Book of Mormon Facebook Page, shows solid engagement on all counts — Likes, comments and shares — thanks to a quirky photo and a clear call to action.

It’s also important to note that content shares better on certain days — Buddy Media research has found that engagement rates for Facebook posts are 18% higher on Thursday and Fridays. So if you’re strategic, you can get more engagement with fewer posts. Using the new posting tools, you can queue up the content you want to share throughout the week and then ride the wave of engagement over the next few days. “Brands that aren’t paying attention to their own data and when their fans are engaged will not see the reach and engagement they desire,” says Lazerow. Last year, Buddy Media released a more granular study of industry-specific engagement stats, indicating what days and times of day are best for certain kinds of content, which also can be useful for planning your editorial calendar.
6. Too Much Text

Facebook research has shown that posts between 100 and 250 characters — one or two lines of text — get 60% more Likes, comments and shares than ones that are more than 250 characters, says Diana. Buddy Media research found a similar trend, determining that posts with 80 characters or less in length have 27% higher engagement rates. The moral? Like content on Twitter, keep it short and sweet. Of course, your post should be different than your content on Twitter, or else your fans don’t have a reason to follow you on both platforms.

One tip for making sure the post is as engaging and short as possible is to remove the link URL from the text field in the post. Once you paste the URL in the field, the page title, a blurb and a thumbnail will populate — you can then delete the URL to streamline the post and cut the clutter (see above).
7. Posting Boring or Off-Brand Content
This might come as a surprise (well, we hope not), but the things you post on Facebook should be relevant to your brand. If you own a company that makes iPhone cases, it doesn’t make sense for you to post about a Kickstarter project just because you think it’s cool. Being on-brand is a significant predictor of engagement — just because people like your product doesn’t mean they share all of your interests, so just give them a mix of content related to the product. Since your fans don’t see every single thing you post, you risk wasting their eyeballs on irrelevance and incurring negative engagement on the post.
8. Ignoring Insights

Facebook Insights offer a lot of useful information — it’d be silly to not take advantage of the data. The Friends of Fans metric is particularly interesting, as Friends of Fans typically represent a much larger set of consumers than a brand’s Fans. In fact, for the top 1,000 brands on Facebook, the Friends of Fans number is 81 times larger than the fan count, says Bruich. This means there’s a huge potential audience that can be tapped into by posting engaging content (because your fans’ activity will show up in friends’ feeds) and by enhancing this content with other Facebook ad tools, such as Promoted Posts.

Smith says consumers are 51% more likely to buy something if they know their friends did, so capitalize on the army of advocates who have opted in to learning more about your brand.

You should also pay attention to the People Talking About This (PTAT) and reach metrics in Insights to see how your message is faring in the Facebook ecosystem, and create a comprehensive Facebook marketing strategy based off of what works. “That’s the kind of media plan that’s going to lead to results,” says Bruich. In a sense, you can think of your Facebook audience as a focus group and get a grip on what they want to see more of.

Also check out the real-time insights, which help you see the impact of pinning, highlighting and promoting posts.
9. Being Vanilla

While Timeline transformed Facebook into a much more image-based platform, it’s important to spice up your content. Too much of anything is boring, and the right mix of polls, questions, photos and video will keep people engaged and excited about your brand. Humans crave diversity, and different kinds of posts drive different kinds of engagement — so a smattering will lead to more well rounded engagement. For example, someone might comment on a question post, share a photo and “like” a video, so it’s best to give consumers a wide swath of ways to engage with your brand.

Pro tip: Asking questions is typically a driver of additional comments. The post above by Coffee Bean is a great example of engagement — it’s an image that promotes a live Q&A session on the brand’s Facebook Page.

If your brand is experimenting with video, Diana has an interesting finding to keep in mind — videos shared from third-party sites (YouTube, Vimeo) generate less organic activity than videos hosted on Facebook.

Regardless of what type of post you’re sharing, make sure the tone and voice reflects the personality of your brand. Virgin America is cheeky, Birchbox is feminine and chatty, MTV is casual and approachable. What’s your brand’s voice? A Facebook user should know it’s your content in their feed without seeing your brand name next to it.
10. Not Making the Most of Facebook’s Ad Options

Not all businesses have the budget to employ Facebook Ads in their marketing arsenal. But brands that do could benefit from Bruich’s advice about what makes a good ad.

He says the ad needs to be well branded. If it’s not clear and obvious who and what the ad is promoting, then consumers will be less likely to recall the ad and the brand. It’s also important to have some sort of reward or “payoff,” as ads with a reward tend to be more influential over purchasing decisions. Also, try to have the creative in the ad have one focal point — with everything else happening on Facebook, a focused creative unit helps fans recall ads.

Can’t figure out what your ad should be? Dig into Facebook Insights and turn the most engaging content into a social ad. “Your content and ads are one and the same,” says Lazerow.

You can give your recent content an added boost with Promoted Posts, which extend the reach of your post and are easy to do. Sweet Cheeks Diaper Company, a brick-and-mortar and online store in Maine, saw a 49x return (tracked via the unique URL) after promoting a photo on its Brand Page, says Diana.

Facebook marketing is a crucial way to build a fan base and spread word about your business. But a successful campaign doesn’t have to be a drain on your time or your wallet. A few minutes a day and a strategic plan can have an immense impact on your brand’s Facebook presence, as long as you avoid the mistakes above.

If you’re a newbie to Facebook marketing, you can check out a Facebook webinar at If you’re more experienced and have a specific question about your Facebook campaign, Facebook encourages you to call             1-800-916-1300      . For more information on Facebook Brand Page management, you can go straight to Facebook.

author: Lauren Drell

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Philippe Petit: The journey across the high wire

Dream the Impossible.... Inspirational and entertaining talk from the 'infamous' Philippe Petit who famously walked across the Twin Towers in New York on a wire

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter

Do you have a parent, friend or colleague ready to ditch his or her digital training wheels and head into Twitter’s open wilderness? These pointers should get them started. And even Twitter experts might benefit from a quick refresher on the platform’s valuable tools.
First, the basics: What is Twitter all about?

It’s a platform wherein users share their thoughts, news, information and jokes in 140 characters of text or less. Twitter makes global communication cheap and measurable. Profiles are (usually) public — anyone in the world can see what you write, unless you elect to make your profile private. Users “follow” each other in order to keep tabs on and converse with specific people.

SEE ALSO: The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook

On Twitter, following someone is not necessarily an admission of friendship, but nonetheless affords interaction and conversation — at least in short bursts.

The first step is to understand and master the vernacular. There are certain words and jargon native to Twitter that you may already have heard in passing. These terms and their abbreviations (in parentheses) are essential for understanding the network.

Tweet: A 140-character message.
Retweet (RT): Re-sharing or giving credit to someone else’s tweet.
Feed: The stream of tweets you see on your homepage. It’s comprised of updates from users you follow.
Handle: Your username.
Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his username in a tweet (e.g. @mashable). Users are notified when @mentioned. It’s a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public realm.
Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You may only DM a user who follows you.
Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #AmericanIdol, #Obama). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows others to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also click on a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real time — even from people you don’t follow.
Twitter has a great online glossary that you can refer back to, should you get mired in a vocab morass.

Read on for the Twitter basics, but remember that Twitter is an experience. The more you use it, the more enjoyable and resourceful it will become. We hope you stick with it, as it can pay dividends in great conversation and personal connections with people around the world.

1. Signing Up

In order to engage in conversation, you must introduce yourself. By creating a handle (see glossary above) you can quickly describe who you are. A handle is essentially your address or calling card, and is how people will interact with you and include you in conversation.

Your profile pic and bio should also reflect who you are. Unless you’re planning to create a satire or spoof account, you should use your actual picture and real name, so people feel more comfortable interacting with you.

Check out a few more hilarious Twitter parody accounts here:

Star Wars Tweets: 15 Hilarious Parody Accounts
10 Hilarious Parody News Accounts on Twitter
15 Hilarious Sports Parody Twitter Accounts

2. Following and Followers

We once heard Twitter described as a crowded banquet hall. Picture people milling about, having conversations — some are snacking on delectable treats, some are staring at the ceiling. It’s a lot to take in all at once, but if you hone in on a few people that seem interesting and start a genuine conversation, you might encounter a new and interesting network of contacts. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice little group of people with common interests.

Once you’ve squared away your username, photo and bio, you need to seek out people to follow. You can find them in a few different ways.

Our advice is to follow your friends and people you know, at first. When you open your account, Twitter’s algorithm don’t know you very well, and thus, cannot logically suggest people for you to follow, just yet. (However, the company is trying to improve its suggestions feature.) It merely suggests random celebrities and other folks with thousands of followers. Therefore, following people you know will make your initial foray more worthwhile.

You may also want to explore people your friends are following to naturally increase your Twitter perspective.

Once you get rolling, Twitter will give you better follow suggestions, based on the industries/fields associated with your interests. With time, you’ll become adept at discerning who is worth following and who is not. There’s no set strategy for this — it’s completely up to you and your own personal tastes. If someone follows you, there’s no requirement to follow them. If someone is tweeting too much and clogging your feed, feel free to unfollow him immediately.

Based on your interests and profession, you might find some of these Twitter users interesting:

11 Top Professionals to Follow on Twitter
15 Fascinating Twitter Employees You Should Follow
10 Must-Follow Twitter Accounts for Sports Fans

3. Entering the Fray

Now that you’ve been observing the updates and musings of those you follow, it’s time to join the conversation. You could try to send a 140-character observation into the ether and hope someone sees it, but there’s a better way to engage with people around your interests.

The next time you see a particularly fascinating tweet, click “reply” and add your two cents. Interacting with ordinary people is a great way to get the hang of the “@mention” (just use the “@” sign before that person’s handle).

Once you feel comfortable with these tools, it’s time to start interacting with more influential Twitter users. Twitter gives you the power to directly connect with government officials, celebrities and cultural movers and shakers. By @mentioning specific people, the odds that they see your conversation increase drastically. Who knows? They might even respond or retweet to their own personal audiences.

4. Direct Communication

You can also communicate directly with people who are following you. These “direct messages” are private, but if you remember Congressman Weiner’s travails, you’ll want to use the direct message (DM) tool cautiously. A good rule of thumb is to only post Twitter content that you woud be comfortable seeing on the front page of your local newspaper.

That being said, to direct message a person, that user must also be following you. Go to his profile and click on the icon next to the “follow” button. In the drop-down menu, select “send a direct message.” Now you can compose and send your 140-character private message.
DM Instruction

5. Retweeting

Retweeting is a common way to share something interesting from someone you follow to your own set of followers. Pertinent information tends to spread virally via retweets. It’s important to remember that a retweet should be thought of as quoting someone or citing a source.

There are a couple of ways to retweet someone (see image below). You may choose to simply hit the retweet button that appears when you hover your mouse over someone else’s tweet. When you click this button, the tweet will be sent to your set of followers, using the original tweeter’s profile pic alongside a note that you have retweeted the post. Additionally, a small green icon will appear in the top-right corner of the tweet. This is illustrated in the top example of the picture below.

Another way of retweeting arose from the Twitter community itself. This way is a ever-so-slightly more labor intensive, but gives you the opportunity to comment on a tweet before you retweet it. Simply click to expand the tweet, copy and paste its text, and then create a new tweet by clicking the compose icon in the top-right of your profile page. Be sure to include the letters “RT” and the handle of the person who originally tweeted the information. (This is illustrated in the lower example in the picture below.) Notice that the tweet now appears in your timeline, with your profile pic and your comment before the original tweet.

Again, these are two ways to perform essentially the same action. It’s up to you to determine when it’s appropriate to include a comment in your RT.


6. Hashtags

Hashtags label and indicate the subject matter of certain conversations taking place on Twitter. The hashtag is represented by the number sign “#.” Putting one of these little symbols in front of a word or phrase indicates a subject you think is worth talking about. The words you use after the hashtag become searchable because Twitter tracks them. That is to say, if you click on a particular hashtag, you’ll be able to see all tweets that have also used that hashtag. It’s a grouping mechanism that allows you to get the general public’s sense about a specific topic or issue.

This is a very convenient way to drop in on subjects as broad as #OrganicFood or as focused as #BehindTheLaunch. Feel free to create your own subjects — just make sure you don’t use any spaces between words in a hashtag.

For more examples of Twitter hashtag trends and practices, see these resources:

6 Successful Twitter Hashtag Campaigns
15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers
Why ‘#420′ Didn’t Trend on Twitter
Hashtag Prompts Twitter Discussion of Unreported Sex Crimes

7. Mobile Apps

Twitter is all about what’s happening now. And let’s face it: Not a ton of interesting things happen at your desk. That’s why it’s important to keep up with Twitter while you’re on the go. Maybe you’ll snap an excellent photo with your smartphone. Maybe a brilliant tweet will pop into your head while you’re at the supermarket.

Twitter is available on both iOS and Android devices.

We suggesting using the official Twitter app first. When you’re ready to try some advanced functionality, there are some great third-party Twitter apps. Check out our recommendations for Twitter iPhone apps.

When you’re ready to move beyond the mobile basics, check out these additional third-party Twitter apps:

5 Apps to Help Manage Your Twitter Account
5 iPhone Twitter Apps that Do More Than Just Tweet
Thirst App Will Change The Way You View Twitter

8. Crafting Your Voice

Now that you’re up and running, focus on being yourself and crafting your online beat. When you start to situate yourself as an expert in a specific subject area (for example, in comedy or politics), you’ll notice that people will begin to follow you for advice and expertise. You may not know who they are, but that’s perfectly acceptable. Twitter isn’t about following people you already know; it’s about engaging interesting people from all over the world.

As you start building your “brand” on Twitter, think about why people are following or talking to you. Are you an expert in a particular industry? Are you opinionated? Funny? Do you share great news articles or interesting photos?

The bottom line: Be authentic and true to your values and you’ll quickly become a valuable member of the Twitter community.

author:Brandon Smith

Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn

LinkedIn is considered the non-sexy, sleeping giant of social networks. It keeps a low profile, perhaps due to the professional nature of its users. Nonetheless, LinkedIn continues to exert a powerful influence on connected job seekers, brands, recruiters and industries.
LinkedIn Pillow
Founded by Reid Hoffman in 2002, LinkedIn has grown to 161 million members in over 200 countries, making it the world’s largest professional network on the Internet (by comparison, Twitter has 500 million registered users, and Facebook has 900 million). Currently available in 17 languages, LinkedIn remains a relevant platform the world over.
That being said, we doubt you spend 20 minutes on LinkedIn per day, like Facebook’s power users do. So, if you need a crash course on what LinkedIn has to offer, browse the network’s most prominent features below. Or send this to your recent grad as he or she prepares to enter today’s daunting job market.
SEE ALSO: The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook
Have you used LinkedIn to find a job, network with professionals or research hot topics in your industry? Please share your own tips in the comments below.

1. Profile

Like most social networks, LinkedIn hosts your personal profile, a page on which you may list information like job experience and professional skills.
However, unlike many other social networks, it’s important to complete your profile to the best of your ability — especially if you’re using LinkedIn for the job hunt. LinkedIn measures your “profile completeness” from 0-100%. The higher your profile completeness, the more likely you are to appear in search results. For instance, when you list skills like “Final Cut Pro” and “Photoshop,” potential employers may come across your profile when they perform an advanced search based on those keywords. Handy.
To ensure that your profile is 100% complete, LinkedIn recommends including the following information.
  • Industry and postal code
  • A current position with description
  • Two more positions
  • Education
  • At least five skills
  • Profile photo
  • At least 50 connections
  • A summary
For more information about optimizing your LinkedIn profile, see these additional resources:

2. Connections

Of course, to get those “50 connections” mentioned above, you’ll have to expand your network on LinkedIn. Don’t worry — LinkedIn’s algorithms and data mining make it pretty easy.
I recommend first performing a series of basic searches to find people you know by name. (See the search box at the top of each LinkedIn page.) Click the “Connect” button next to people’s names to add them to your network. You may send a custom message along with that invitation to make the connection more personalized.
Once you have made several connections, head to the “People You May Know” page. LinkedIn’s algorithm will likely have begun determining additional suggestions based on your connections’ networks. LinkedIn labels these connections by degree. People you’re already connected to are “1st degree” connections. People you’re not yet connected to, but who are linked to your 1st degree connections, are 2nd degree connections. And so on. You’ll see a blue icon that says “1st,” “2nd” or “3rd” next to their names.
You may also choose to connect your email’s contact list to LinkedIn for the purpose of finding additional connections. Head to “Import Contacts” and allow access to your contacts to pull up a list of potentials. Be aware, however, that this may generate a huge list of people, especially if email services like Gmail tend to save every address you’ve ever contacted.

3. Groups

LinkedIn groups are spaces in which professionals and experts can share content, ask for advice, post or search for jobs and network with others. Groups are tailored to brands, associations and societies, support groups, causes, publications and industries in general. That can mean anything from “On Startups – The Community for Entrepreneurs” to “Cal Alumni Association | UC Berkeley.”
On the other hand, don’t confuse LinkedIn “groups” with “companies.” Coca-Cola has a “Coca-Cola Current & Former Employees” group, but its business lives on “The Coca-Cola Company” company page. More on that later.
With over 1.3 million groups to choose from, you’re likely to find at few that fit your field and interests. Keep in mind that many groups require authentication before the manager permits you to join. However, nearly one-third of groups don’t require review, and are labeled “open.”
Once you’re familiar with group functions, you may choose to create your own group. That means you’re the group owner, but you may also appoint a group manager and moderator, who are responsible for supervising discussions, subgroups, settings, etc.
To get the most out of your LinkedIn group, take a look at the following features:

4. Companies

Just as you have a personal profile page, many companies choose to represent themselves on LinkedIn, too. Like Facebook brand pages, you may choose to follow the activity and updates of companies on LinkedIn.
Company pages contain general information, such as a business overview, list of employees and press mentions. Many companies also choose to list job openings on their pages, and some even encourage applicants to apply through LinkedIn, a very handy tool of the network.
Once you follow a company, you’ll see its updates appear on your LinkedIn homepage alongside those of your connections. Mashable, for instance, tends to post business-related articles on LinkedIn, since that seems to be the content most pertinent to the network’s audience. Businesses also use LinkedIn to post company announcements, such as acquisitions, new hires or updated policies. LinkedIn warns against update spam, however: “Businesses that post updates excessively are subject to review by LinkedIn and could risk having their page deleted.”
If you’re interested in adding your own company to the network, LinkedIn advises you take the following steps.
  1. You’re a current company employee and your position is on your profile.
  2. A company email address (e.g. is one of the confirmed email addresses on your LinkedIn account.
  3. You associate your profile with the right company. You must click on a name from our company name dropdown list when you edit or add a position on your profile.
  4. Your company’s email domain is unique to the company.
  5. Your profile must be more than 50% complete.
  6. You must have several connections.
If you’re interested in learning more about how companies can use LinkedIn, see the following resources:

5. Jobs

Job search and recruitment tools are among LinkedIn’s most valuable features. More and more companies are encouraging candidates to apply for jobs via LinkedIn, due to the social network’s credibility and ease-of-use.
Head to the “Jobs” tab, where you’ll find options for applicants. Perform an advanced search for available jobs by keyword, title, location, company, salary and industry. (A search for “developer” within 50 miles of Manhattan turned up 488 results.) Save jobs to review later, and even save searches to check back later for updated results.
As an employer, you may post an available job to LinkedIn for $295 for a 30-day period. (Bulk packages are available for better deals.) Once posted, these jobs will not only appear in search results, but also in the “Careers” tab on your company page.
Finally, recruiters may “find talent” on LinkedIn, but they must upgrade to a premium subscription plan to search for potential hires.

6. Updates

Unlike content shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn updates tend to be industry- and professionally-focused. Keep that in mind if you’re attempting to increase engagement.
You can share updates from a number of different places, both on and from outside web properties. Post a status update from the LinkedIn homepage, and it will be shared as well as posted to your profile under the activity feed. Also, when you engage in discussions in LinkedIn groups, that activity counts as an update.
Post updates from sites like The New York Times by clicking the LinkedIn social share button next to an article. Or add the LinkedInsharing bookmarklet to your browser toolbar to quickly share most sites as an update.
Finally, you may also connect your Twitter account to LinkedIn. This not only expands your network, but allows you to post tweets on LinkedIn as if they were status updates. Once tweets post to LinkedIn, users can interact with them as if from, by retweeting, replying and favoriting. Like updates, tweets post to the homepage and live in the activity feed on your profile.
Just as LinkedIn advises brands to cool it on excessive updates, you should practice the same self-control. Users appreciate information, not excessive traffic on their feeds. That being said, you can mute certain connections, if you choose. Hover over a user’s update on the homepage and click the “hide” button to stop receiving updates from that user.

7. Applications

Applications allow LinkedIn users to customize their profiles and share content in different ways. For example, you may choose to add the WordPress app so that your latest WordPress blog posts share with your LinkedIn network. Do the same for SlideShare presentations you or your company have created.
Keep in mind that most apps require permissions to access some of your basic profile information, such as your name or job title. However, all applications must abide by LinkedIn’s privacy policy, which means they’re not allowed to reach any private information not easily accessible by browsing the site.
Learn about some of the top LinkedIn apps here:

8. Mobile

LinkedIn has mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Windows and Palm devices. The app is useful for posting status updates and checking group updates on-the-go, but its inherent advantages lie in networking.
Pull up the mobile app to find LinkedIn connections and exchange information at events. After meeting someone, you may choose to email that person a link to your profile, so he or she may connect with you later — no business cards needed. Or search for that person on your LinkedIn mobile app and add him as a connection then and there.
You may also choose to download LinkedIn connections to your smartphone’s address book for later contact.
For more information on LinkedIn’s mobile presence, see below:

9. Upgraded Account

Once you’ve explored LinkedIn Free, you may choose to upgrade to a LinkedIn account with more features. Starting at $15.95 per month, LinkedIn has premium subscription plans for businesses, job seekersrecruitersand more.
One of the distinguishing features of most upgraded accounts is the ability to send InMail to anyone. InMail is an internal LinkedIn message sent to a person with whom you are not connected. You can message people you are already connected with free-of-charge, but you can’t message non-connections; you must InMail them — and those InMails are limited. The Basic business premium account allows you three InMails per month, while the Business Plus plan allows 10, and the Executive 25 per month. So, choose your InMails wisely.
Upgraded accounts also have access to more search results, which can be a huge bonus for LinkedIn recruiters. You also have access to additional tools for saving and organizing profiles, and you can view the full list of people who have viewed your LinkedIn profile.
Author :Stephanie Buck Image courtesy of Flickr, Coletivo Mambembe.