How often to post to your blog?

People often ask for advice on how often they should post to their Social Media tools. Unfortunately there isn’t really a good answer because you have to consider so many factors: Audience, topic, platform, style, purpose and so many more.

However, there are some guidelines I think fit most businesses and organizations:

  • If you still write email newsletters > once a month
  • Blogs > once a week (please see the short video below)
  • Facebook > About once a day
  • Twitter > whenever you have something valuable to contribute!

I’m not a Guru and the above suggestions are just that! Fact is: If you appear too little you lose followers because you have to earn our trust all over again. If you over-share (like I sometimes do) you may lose followers that are overwhelmed or “just not so much into you”.

A lot depends on your topic! In my interview with Cathryn Wellner I asked exactly that question – find out what she had to say:


What do you think? How much is too much?

Sometimes one blog just isn’t enough

Cathryn Wellner’s blogs

As mentioned in my short history of blogging there are many different kind of blogs. Reading blogs has become my favourite way to learn and keep up with he newest trends of my industry. Every day I discover new wonderful and informative articles, shared by contributors all over the world.

Blogging is one of the most powerful social media tools available and while platforms like Facebook, Twitter…. allow me to exchange quick snippits of my life in real time – blog posts stay and provide the opportunity to go into more depth and create a place where stories can be kept, curated and discovered.

Marketing doesn’t spread, Stories do! ~ @JoeyInteractive

Recently I had the opportunity to have a very inspiring chat with one of my favourite storytellers and bloggers.

Portrait of Cathryn WellnerI encourage you to discover more about Cathryn and her incredible path to becoming an incredible modern day story teller.

As you can hear in the video below Cathryn regularly writes 4 blogs and here are the links:

Catching Courage

We write to explore the secret pathways of the heart. We read to understand and be understood. In the reading and in the writing, we catch courage for the road ahead.

Crossroads

Two sixty-somethings invite friends to join them on a journey of discovery

Storyroute

Understanding the world and each other through stories

This Gives Me Hope

I’m setting out to find 1001 reasons to be optimistic. That’s how many nights it took Scheherazade to soften the heart of the king. I invite you to share the stories, people, places, photographs, and events that give you hope. Maybe we can soften enough hearts to put humanity on a healthier path.

I was so fortunate to talk to Cathryn about blogging and Social Media on one late summer afternoon and would like to share the interview with you over the next couple of blog posts.

Many people struggle with the question: “What am I going to write about?” Hear what Cathryn has to say about that:


As if four blogs is not enough 🙂 Cathryn talks about guest blogging:


I hope you are as excited about these insights as I am. In the next part of this blog series about blogs we chat about blogging platforms and design.

Using Twitter as a chat platform

Image making fun at real life NetworkingLong before we started using “Social Media” as the catch-all buzzword people used “Chat rooms” to exchange thoughts or messages in real time.  I remember these platforms being a little scary and hard to get into – but loads of people used them and may still use them today.

In my Workshop “Social Media for Non-profits”in November we wished for a way to connect the local twitter community better and form stronger bonds in our Network.

True to my motto: “Do or do not, there is no try” (~yoda) we just jumped in.

The initial group picked the time: every Monday 7-8pm and the #hashtag #Okchat (for Okanagan chat) and started connecting on Twitter in real time.

The “success” was instant in a positive and negative way:

Depending on the way local Twitter users use their time line and the amount of people they follow some people got quite upset about the fact that their timeline was filled with tweets featuring the trademark #Okchat for at least an hour. Some even unfollowed anybody taking part in the chat outright ( I hope you all calmed down and followed me again 😉 )

However – the success of the chat reached further than many of us expected:

  1. We created a stronger bond within the hyper-local network
  2. We introduced local Twitter users to each other
  3. We provided a safe platform for people to ask question and offer help

In our second session we already managed to get on the Canadian top Twitter-trend list

Since then we meet every Monday 7~8pm (PST). We have discussed dramatic and more banal topics from all areas of our lives. Sometimes the weather takes up more room than the hottest trends in Social Media. Sometimes there are only two or three participants and sometimes we have attracted celebrities like Jesse Engle @engle to comment. We have arranged #tweetups to connect in person and experimented with including those who couldn’t come.

In the meantime Twitter-chats have become more common place – there are whole directories out there and people meet on Twitter to chat about a wide variety of different topics. In a way the Twitter-chat is the logical extension of the #hashtag function of connecting comments of the same topic on Twitter.

Using the open platform instead of private chat rooms has the advantage that these discussions attract Twitter users that wouldn’t have known about the discussion.

Today – almost a year later – I sometimes wonder if we should give our #Okchat a weekly topic or extend it to an ongoing format like #usguys or other 24/7 chats. I don’t know but I don’t have to know because I don’t “own” #Okchat. It’s as free as any other exchange of ideas, thoughts and information on Social Media Networks. As long as someone wants to use #Okchat it will live.

I would like to hear from you please:

Do you like using Twitter to chat?

Do you have a favourite #chat?

What future format would you like to see #Okchat take?

Walking the tightrope

tightrope

Or… where does Spam start?

I teach businesses how to use Social Media effectively. At some point sooner or later the Spam question comes out: “how much can I talk about my business?”

Despite all the ratios like “1ad per 10posts” there is really no answer that fits for every case. What is important to remember is that people want to follow people rather than billboards. Remember:

Marketing doesn’t spread, Stories do ~ @joeyinteractive

On the other hand if I follow a brand on Social Media or anywhere else I do expect to learn more about the business and everything around it. So, what does this mean for you? How do we avoid SPAM?

spam
photo credit: janetgalore via photopin cc

Wait…. what is SPAM?

Wikipedia:

Spam is the use of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media

We all know the typical email spam messages clogging up our email boxes or the ones that end up in our email-spam-filter. There is a whole industry out there offering their services to companies and trying to figure out how to stay ahead of the race against spam filters. Read more about Spam and the legal implications on this blog and others.

I have yet to meet anyone who likes ad-Spam and the only reason it is still used is that it costs next to nothing to produce and spread it around.

So, what’s the problem with SPAM?

  1. SPAM can be devastating to your companies’ reputation. I relate spamming to bullying – If you would start bullying the pedestrians that walk by your store to buy your product you would soon notice that people start avoiding your street. You want to convince your audience that your business is the best option to fill their need but not by being a bully.
  2. Digital SPAM messages are often combined with malicious software that can invite viruses to your computer – read more about this on “What the hack?”
  3. On Social Media platforms stepping off the SPAM tightrope means losing the followers and fans that actually read your updates – the ones you want to encourage to spread your message

Social Media is unfiltered

So, why is there no effective Spam-filter for Social Media platforms?

If you ever looked at the header information of an Email you can see that it contains a whole lot of information about the path the email took, who received it and what server sent it. It is possible to use this information to catch a large percentage of junk before you have to delete it manually. If you have ever found a legitimate email in your junk-mail folder you know that this doesn’t always work but generally it’s pretty accurate.

Social Media doesn’t have this – anybody can post an update and it would be pretty hard to establish an accurate filter.

Where does SPAM start?

Contrary to a real tightrope there is no defined point where information becomes Spam. Sometimes I think someone is spamming me while they really have a solution for my need. Spam can come as a posting to your Facebook page or a message to your inbox. It can come as a Direct Message on Twitter or a @mention seemingly directly sent to you.

Ok, this is a Tweet4Ok blog post so here is the “hands-on advice”:

How to avoid being a Spammer on Social Media:

  1.  Never ever Auto-DM on Twitter! “Follow me on Facebook too” “Thanks for following – buy some more followers” “I use a validation service – log in here”…. we all know the automatic messages we often receive from accounts that we follow. This information is “unsolicited advertising” for sure and has become so prevalent that many Twitter users never look at their Direkt Messages anymore. Instead start an open conversation with your new follower and try to find something from their bio or recent tweets to comment on.
  2. Report Spam to Twitter, Facebook and the other sites. You can imagine 200 Million Twitter accounts are a juicy target for Spammers. The only way to make the life of a spammer difficult is to block them from your stream and report them for sending Spam.
  3. You will find people on Social Media Platform that you can help, that are the perfect customer for your business. You offer what they are seeking. Make sure you start a conversation before sending them your offer: “hi @soundso I read your tweet about #thisnthat …”
    Never send a tweet addressed to someone that contains no comment but just a link to your web site
  4. The best advice: Put yourself in your audiences shoes – think about how your posting may come across and design it to carry a message without bullying

Let’s all be friends!

I built my business around helping companies and organizations being effective in the world of Social Media. I strongly believe that Social Media success is linked to consistent, honest and responsive conversations between people. Spammers might actually have short term success with their campaign but in the long term the brands that share high quality content will be the ones benefiting most from these essential new business tools.

Let’s help each other out: Report Spammers and if you feel that someone else has stepped off the tightrope and is about to become a spammer – talk to them about it! They might not know how they come across.

How the hack?

 

hacker
photo credit: devdsp via photopin cc

More and more of us are receiving strange and sometimes upsetting Direct Messages through our twitter account these days. “This blog is about you” “is this you?” “someone said this really bad thing about you…” Never, ever follow any of the links associated with these messages!

What I find most unsettling is that often these messages appear to be sent by accounts that I follow and value. No – these accounts didn’t cross over to the dark side of Cyber-junk! Most of these attacks are caused by computers that are infected by viruses that have nothing better to do than collecting your personal data and spreading themselves through your Social Media channels like Twitter and Facebook.

Of course your friends or favourite brands didn’t suddenly turn into vicious cyber-criminals. Most will not even notice that their account is spreading dangerous malware. But the damage done by these accounts can be very serious. An attack like this signals that your computer security was breached and that the personal information stored on that computer is potentially vulnerable. A number of your followers will unfollow you or even report you for spreading malware messages.

I am no specialist on Internet security so I consulted the blog of my Computer Support Specialist and friend Cate Eales (@catester). Lo and behold she just published one of her great “hands on” computer advice posts “What happened” about how to protect your computer from these kind off attacks.

I am following Cate’s advice and have changed my security software to her recommendations and (knock on wood) none of the accounts I handle have been compromised so far. Cates post is well worth reading but let me point out two of the statements that I keep repeating to anybody that wants to hear them (or is to polite to leave):

  1. “Think before you click” If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. We all learned as kids “don’t go with strangers”. The same goes for emails from strangers or Social Media updates that sound too good to be true. If you are not sure if the offer you are given is genuine or not. Use the power of Social Media and ask the account that sent is for confirmation. Malware can’t read and answer (yet).
  2. Use a browser add on like “Web of Trust” I love this little helper that puts a little red circle behind every link that was previously reported as untrustworthy. I also use it to qualify new Twitter followers (stay tuned for a webinar and blog post on this)

 

Now it happened to you – your Twitter account sent out a gazillion DMs asking people to follow a malicious link. You are embarrassed and wade through piles of emails complaining about your messages. You are not aware of any wrong doing and you certainly didn’t open an online business selling drugs.

How could it happen?

  • May be a scam was smart enough to lure you in? (don’t feel bad there are scores of programmers that try hard to trick you)
  • Someone else using your computer was tricked without noticing it?
  • A third party application you authorized was hacked?

 

What can you do? I found a very good support article in Twitter’s own Help Center

  1. Change your password – use a strong one with a combination of capitals, lower case, letters and numbers that you aren’t using anywhere else
  2. Make sure you tell all your programs and trusted applications your new password
  3. Revoke access to applications that you authorized on Facebook or Twitter unless you use them regularly
  4. Most of my clients are surprised when I show them the amount of programs they authorized over the years
  5. Monitor your Social Media platforms daily! Include a look at your “sent tweets” and “sent messages”
  6. Share what you learned with your friends! Help your friends stay safe and save them from danger. If you receive a suspicious message or see a known scam on someone’s Facebook wall – send them a message and tell them how to protect themselves

Update: Here is a great service that reminds you to check your authorizations once a month and goes through all of them: http://mypermissions.org/

To spread or not to spread…

hamlet
photo credit: Okko Pyykkö via photopin cc

“Save time on your Social Media” is a very common slogan repeated in Social Media Experts advertising and a lot of tools are available to create one update and post it to all kinds of different Social Media Platforms. A whole category of Social Media management tools emerged that lets you create one piece of content and place it into multiple channels either automatically or with the click of a button.

My colleagues and I often find business owners saying “I don’t have time to do it all” before they discover the real value of their Social Media investment. Using a tool that just spreads the same message around seems logical. But is that really the best use of your time? We are faced more and more with the challenge to not be “unliked” or blocked by our audience.

 

 

I also like to use dashboard tools like Hootsuite to create content that is to be placed into the different channels in the most effective time. But today I’m going to stick out my neck and say:

Don’t sacrifice the quality of your presentation for the convenience. Many Twitter users (like me) actually enjoy the limitation of 140 characters for a post. We are very annoyed by the … “click_on_the_link_to_read_more.li” I am not going to click the link because too often it takes me to a Facebook post that only has 2 more words in it. Many users hide Facebook users that feel the need to share all of their Twitter updates on Facebook ( # @ #FF… and all) I know I’m missing posts if they are from dlvr.it or Sendible and that’s because so many people use these tools to flood my streams with a constant flow of too much content. The option to hide the user or the whole management tool is just one click away.

Users prefer different platforms for a reason! I like Twitter for short updates, to connect with people and get tips for more reading. I like Facebook to see what my friends and favourite brands are up to – ideally with nice pictures and easy-to-digest updates. I like reading blog posts for more in depth information. Every channel has it’s advantages draw backs.

Respect your audience – take a few seconds to think about where you are posting your update to! Write a status update for Facebook, post it and then create a shorter version for Twitter – easy peasy…. and did it take so long?

What do you think? To spread or not to spread – Do you plaster your message all over the internet or will you join me in creating a respectful culture of carefully selecting the format of your message?