Saturday, September 26, 2009

Creating a Twitter Following - Do You Need Help, I Do.

After you’ve been on Twitter for a little while, you will find that you’re following people who you’re actually not all that interested in. You want to remove them, but it seems like such a pain that you never bother. Not only that, but some of these people followed you just so you would follow them back, then they dropped you like a bad habit to game the system a little.

On the other hand, you see that there is a core group that you regularly interact with. You share common interests, DM and reply to each other’s tweets, and generally have a good time. Problem is, some of their tweets get buried by the noise you’ve accumulated.

This post will help you remedy this situation. You need to cut the dead weight and get focused on those who say things you actually want to read. Who knows, maybe you’ll replace the losers with more people you can relate to.

Trimming The Fat

We need to get rid of people who we follow that are not providing any value to us. First to go are those that aren’t actually tweeting. How can you get value from someone who doesn’t say anything? We can use Twitoria to drop anyone who hasn’t tweeted in a while. You don’t even have to give up your password. You do have to open each profile in a new window and manually remove/unfollow them.

Another option here is to unfollow anyone who is not following you. At first, I thought this was a shady thing to do. The argument is that you follow people because they provide you with good content, not because you expect them to follow you back. I actually agree with this argument, but the fact is that there are very few people who are just that awesome and the ones you’re following probably don’t fall into that category.

To get rid of the folks that don’t follow you back, hop on over to Twitter Karma. Put in your Twitter user name and password and whack the button (or just click Sign In With Twitter to use the safer OAuth option). It will take a while to load, but you will eventually be able to see all the people who you follow that do not follow you back. You can actually select them all and bulk un-follow them. Simple as that.

Finding Your Crew

Now that you’ve kicked some people to the curb, it’s time to take a look at who you actually engage with on a regular basis. You can probably name a few of these people off the top of your head. The reason that you need to know who your real tweeps are is so that you can give them priority by adding them to groups or simply looking out for their tweets. Also, it’s always cool to look at stats because you may be surprised at what they tell you.

There are a bunch of tools for seeing who your BFF’s are, but my favorites are Twitter Analyzer and Mailana. With Twitter Analyzer, just put in your Twitter username, click User’s Friends, then Closest Friends. I won’t get into all the other features available here, but you may also want to check out Disregarded Friends. These are the people you keep ignoring and you might want to correct that.

Mailana is a whole different story. Once you put in your Twitter username, you’ll see a graphical representation of your social graph. The thicker the lines that connect people, the more they talk to each other. The BFF’s list on the left should provide some valuable data as to who you like most.

Making New Friends

Mailana gives you a quick list of who you should be following based on your current habits. Another option is to check out Twubs or WeFollow to see what users are interested in the same hashtags or events as you. Probably the most popular tool for finding new followers is Mr. Tweet (@corvida recently became the Mr. Tweet blog editor). All you have to do is follow Mr. Tweet and he will DM you a link about what he’s found for you. This can sometimes take quite a while though.

A few things I’ve done to find new people to follow:

  • Use Twitter’s built-in threading to see what parts of a conversation you’re missing. On the web, click “in reply to” and you can see who those you follow are talking to. They may share your interests.
  • Keep an eye out for people talking about you or ReTweeting your stuff. Since Twitter implemented Mentions, you can just check your replies tab to catch these tweets. You probably don’t follow all of these people and the fact that they’re talking about you means you should check them out.
  • Set up searches to catch people talking about topics you’re interested. Most Twitter clients have a method for setting up persistent searches. You can also just go to Twitter Search and look for keywords and topics that interest you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Owning Your Googgle 10

It’s becoming more and more important for small business owners to “own” their Google results. In a world where you are what Google says you are, when someone searches for your name they need to be able to find you. The real you. Not a lookalike, another company with the same name or that social profile you thought you had taken care of it. Business owners must protect their brand, and sometimes that means doing just a touch of proactive online reputation management to secure your Google 10.

Your Google 10 is the top ten results that appear when someone does a Google search for your name. How do you go about ensuring you own all ten spots? Surprisingly, it’s not that hard. Here are some of the sites and profiles you’ll want to grab and pay attention to.

Grab your .com: Chances are you already have this one and it’s naturally ranking very well for your brand. Congrats. That’s one listing. Time to go after the other nine. ;)

Join Professional Directories: Whatever your industry, there are guaranteed to be at least a handful of directory or resource sites you can join to help customers find you, while also helping you to take advantage of the company profile pages they offer. Often these directories will require a small application fee for your profile to be reviewed, but if you’re able to choose targeted sites, you’ll get both customers and a major search ranking benefit from them. To find these directories, try doing a search for [your industry] + directory].

Get Social: Besides just being a great way to reach out to customers, social profiles are known for how well they rank in Google due to their authority and all the links being pointed at them. If you’re looking to claim some space, try creating a Facebook Fan page, Twitter account and corporate accounts on sites like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Naymz, etc. Don’t just register the accounts, though. Actually build out the profiles and make them useful. There’s no sense ranking a profile if the information on it isn’t up to par.

Target Industry-Specific Social Sites: Thanks to the social media boom, there are social sites now geared toward virtually every industry on the planet, whether it’s finance, sports, art and design, programming, SEO, etc. Find your niche and get involved. Create accounts on these sites and engage in the community when it makes sense. Many of the smaller social sites will also allow you to link to your “mainstream” social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Take advantage of this feature. The more links you get to each account, the stronger it will become and the better it will rank. If there are any forums in your area of specialty, consider creating usernames on those as well.

Make Media: The search engines like media. In fact, they like it so much that they’re starting to replace “regular” search results with images, videos and news clippings. Because so few companies are being proactive about media content, you can often overtake competitor listings simply by creating media content and optimizing it – including the name of your company in the title, file name, description and within the tags, etc. As mentioned before, video and small businesses go really well together. Obviously, Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo are great sites to focus on for these purposes. [If you’re really adventurous, perhaps even create your own podcast!]

Guest Blog: Guest blogging is a great way to increase visibility and bring visitors to your site, but it can also be an effective way of grabbing more search real estate. Offer to provide a blogger with unique content in your site. In return you’ll often be given a brief bio box which will allow you to link out to your Web site and maybe even some other prominent profiles or content pieces. If the site owner is agreeable, you should also put your name and company name in the Title tag of that entry.

Speak At Local Events: Look for opportunities to speak or get involved with local events in your niche. These spots usually come with speaker bios that you can build out to rank very well (and very easily) for your name and company. They’re also exactly what you want to be ranking for when a potential partner or prospect goes searching for your brand. It shows that you know what you’re talking about AND that you care about your community.

If the list above looks a bit overwhelming, fear not. Chances are you won’t have to create each and every account mentioned in order to secure and protect your Google 10. However, variety is the spice of life…and Google rankings.