When I was researching the best skills for a Community Manager to have, one of the qualifications that came up was this: a combination of head (penchant for analytics and measurement) and heart (warm, welcoming personality).
And I still maintain that the best way to build one's Twitter presence is though being a caring, personable, generous person, rather than by primarily gaming the analytics. My top Twitter tips are usually "be a real person, not a brand" and "listen, ask questions, be thoughtful and fun."
So I was a bit disheartened when I delved into my new favorite Twitter analytics tool, Twitalyzer, to see the clickthrough rates of the last week's Tweets. What I saw surprised me for one primary reason: the type of Tweet that consistently got the most clickthroughs, on a daily basis, was not original content spilling from my brain, helpful links to popular events or even single reTweets of valuable content.
What was remarkable is that this daily automated Tweet, with almost no effort on my part, provides content that is so compelling that it averages ten times the number of clickthroughs as any of my original content Tweets.
Ten. Times. As in, my last few Slideshare posts have averages about 20 clickthroughs each, and the Paper.li Social Media Favorites Tweet averages about 220 clickthroughs.
In this case, as one of my favorite social media strategists, Kristy Bolsinger, pointed out, this just means that followers are enjoying the luxury of the filter. In short,
It's the curation that matters.
Paper.li takes the most popular links from the folks I have deemed my favorite social media experts and aggregates them. What's actually happening is that my followers are telling me, loud and clear, that they value curated and aggregated content.
Each link by itself might be relevant, but what's most relevant is the algorithm that organizes the links from the preferred friends list and presents them in a curated, hierarchical and consistent format. As Micheal Foley said, "It's a consistently branded, well-known experience. I know what I'm getting every time I see that tweet in my stream."
And it's worth mentioning that this is the least self-promotional Tweet type of all: the content is aggregated from my valued friends, not from any of my own content. There is no Heidi here, just what Heidi's friends have posted and clicked on.
I'm not going to stop reTweeting or positing original content any time soon, but this information does reinforce one very strong concept of the social web: in the age of information overload and filter failure, the highest value is placed on targeted, curated content.
This has been an amazing week! Not only have I made a great deal of headway on one of my year's goals, to give at least 10 live social media presentations at conferences, but I've also met a ton of fabulous people and made some wonderful connections in the process.
I have to give huge, whomping shoutouts to Shauna Causey, Eric Weaver and Kenji Onozawa for helping me to set, organize and strive to reach my goals for the year. You guys are awesome, and I'm becoming so much better for knowing you and sharing my goals with you.
I'm having a blast at my first The Creative Connection Event. Huge thanks to Susan Mernit for inviting me to participate. The participants at every Smart Bar session have been super-engaged and lots of fun, and I'm looking forward to a series of follow-up one-on-one coaching session tomorrow morning.
Having a great time at the Smart Bar for The Creative Connections Event this year! First slide deck: on using social media for personal branding, geared toward crafting entrepreneurs but applicable to any personal brand:
In Chicago, I used to teach a class: How to Start Podcasting for Under $100.
It was a very popular class. The principle is simple: the hard part of podcasting is creating compelling content and delivering it on a regular basis, which requires a great deal of creativity and discipline. The audio production is the easy part. Sure, there is a learning curve, which I happily train others to deal with, but in truth, the technical audio production is the easiest part of podcasting.
That being said, it's really fun being an audio geek. Especially for under $100.
I've been using the combination of a Blue Snowball USB mic, Audio HiJack Pro,Audacity and GarageBand to produce podcasts for the last few years. And upgrade to a mixer and XLR mics hasn't seemed practical, since they still run pretty expensive, and the Snowball mic plugs right into my MacBook via USB. What can I say? I'm a lazy podcaster.
But last week, my audio guru Brian Crouch of Behringer offered to demonstrate their Podcastudio product, and I was eager to give it a try. There's just something about all the dials on a mixer that have always fascinated me as a wannabe audio geek.
The mixer The interface plugs into your computer using USB and to the mixer. The mixer can take up to four separate microphone inputs, so it would work great for a panel discussion. Or, if you like, the host could use one mic, and guests, say on a panel, could pass a second mic among them. One nice thing about this setup is that the mixer allows the podcaster to control the input for each mic. So if you have a loud talker and a soft talker, the podcaster can adjust the incoming audio live and eliminate the need to level the file after the fact. Pretty good deal for a lazy podcaster like myself!
The mic A studio-quality dynamic mic is included, which is pretty amazing, considering they usually run at least $150. And a word of caution: the mic is unidirectional, so be sure to monitor and make sure the speakers are speaking directly into the mic. No broad cardioid patterns here. Of course, if you want to purchase additional mics, you could choose omnidirectional ones.
Other inputs I was also wondering about music input--say, if you wanted to record a live show and actually play the intro/outro music live and fade it up and down. Turns out you can use audio input (e.g. from your iPhone) to the 1/4" input on the mixer; just make sure you get a 3.5 mil audio output adapter first (not included).
Firewire Since I prefer Firewire, I tried out the Firewire version. As you can see on the right, I actually used a bigger mixer than the set actually comes with, just for grins. The Firewire version does cost a bit more, about $170. The mixer has eight inputs (versus four), and it comes with a condenser microphone (C-1) instead of the dynamic. It also comes with two 1/4" cables and two Firewire cables (instead of USB, of course).
Sometimes, I have to shake my head in jealousy of how darn easy you kids have it these days! In the early days of podcasting, there were bundles like this--usually priced around $500. I remember listening to a how-to podcast in which the host insisted you couldn't produce decent audio for anything under $1,000. No beginning podcaster would invest in something like this for fear the podcast would never gain an audience, and the gear would gather dust like so many holiday gifts by February.
But $100 is a pretty reasonable price for a cool starter pack. And when your podcast hits #1 on iTunes, you can tell the interviewer, "Oh, I got started for like $100."
Google Instant searches as you type, with some benefits that are darn near mind-reading level:
And Google Instant is being rolled out to users in the US, UK,
France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use Chrome v5/6,
Firefox v3, Safari 5 and IE 8.
The demo video:
And my own trial:
All in all, it doesn't sound like much, but I've got to say, it's pretty cool. I never thought I'd be so lazy that not having to hit the Enter key would be a big deal, but Google's autocomplete algorithm mojo is pretty spectacular.
I'm playing with Twitter analytics tools, and this hashtag cloud from TweetStats made me feel all warm and fuzzy, recalling all the fabulous events from the last year and all the fabulous people I met at them. I love that the South by Southwest font is still big and bold, just as the memories and lessons from that event have stayed with me. It's made me oddly retrospective.
How is your hashtag cloud for the last year? Did you go to events, meet new people, find out about cool new tools? Did you roll your eyes, get excited, become a fan? Did you try a new wine, gadget or startup? Did you find a new group, hobby or passion?
This isn't just Twitter. This is how you choose to spend your time and whom you choose to spend it with. This is your life.
A quick review of Rowfeeder, the social media tool for tracking and analyzing posts on Twitter and Facebook
RowFeeder is primarily a Twitter monitoring tool that promises raw data in your favorite spreadsheet and real-time Google docs and beautiful Excel reports to analyze the who, what, when and where.
And full disclosure: I've met Aviel Ginzburg, Damon Cortesi and Adam Schoenfeld from Untitled Startup, and I already think they are mega-cool. They didn't ask for this review, but I've been hearing so much about this tool that I finally made time to check it out. So the review might be a tiny bit biased towards the awesome.
What is RowFeeder
Rowfeeder is primarily a tool for monitoring and analyzing Twitter mentions of a topic, brand or keyword. (The Facebook functionality is in beta at the moment.) The big key here is the "analyzing" part. It's easy enough to go to Twitter search and track a mention of a keyword, but that big, unwieldy list doesn't really help much. It's more a point-of-use tool. In that, Twitter Search is kind of like a dictionary: it's great to use to find one word one time, but having the catalog doesn't necessarily help you craft a beautiful sentences for your next presentation or speak English more fluently.
In the social media space, it's not so much about getting the information as it is organizing and analyzing it so that it can be used to inform decisions about marketing strategy, direction and benchmarks.
My first test was with the brand name of an MBA program, Thunderbird, that happened to come up in conversation this week. Since it shares nomenclature with a popular email program, Air Force unit, football team and a few others, I thought it would be a good test.
RowFeeder will allow users to exclude terminology, so I ran a search for Thunderbird minus Mozilla, air force and wine.
[Update 12:39 p.m.: Adam Schoenfeld let me know that the comma delineation I used will actually create and exclusions for the exact match of "mozilla, airforce, wine." You would likely want to have Mozilla OR airforce OR wine, like so:]
Interestingly, you can see that the prediction was 0 posts per hour with those restrictions. And that seems a bit discouraging, but remember that that information in itself is valuable data: few people are Twittering about Thunderbird MBA program at the moment, which indicates a big opportunity for positive growth and outreach in that area.
The next search term is one I keep as a saved search on HootSuite and Google Alerts for Spoken Communications: call center. Since I track this term on a daily basis, I was certain it would turn up more results, and it did. RowFeeder's estimate was 62 posts an hour:
After waiting a few minutes for the posts to feed in to the program, RowFeeder gave me this summary of 74 relevant posts:
So I clicked through for the option for today's report. And hat tip to the guys at Untitled for leaving Mac as the default format option! Men after my own heart.
Unfortunately, here I ran into a snag. The report contained two sheets: one of the raw data and one with the beautiful Excel report. The raw data was plain Excel with every mention in a cell--not so pretty. However, the "beautiful" report didn't load properly, since I'm using Excel 2004. A note: the visual reports come up empty if you have a version of Excel prior to 2007.
Since I don't have the benefit of being able to see the pretty reports full of data visualization, I personally won't be able to fully utilize RowFeeder until I update Microsoft Office. However, as a fiend for data visualization, I can see this being an extremely useful tool. Having the ability to exclude certain terms from the search is useful, and quick access to data visualization for even a few terms could be incredibly valuable when researching a social media campaign.
Currently, RowFeeder is free for one search term up to 500 posts a month. They offer graded plans for $35/month for three terms up to 5,000 posts/month; $125/month for five terms up to 125,000 posts/month; $255 for 10 active terms up to 50,000 posts/month as well as an agency edition.
What do you think? Have you used RowFeeder or some other Twitter analytics tool?