OUR MUSINGS

The Seven Commandments of Twitter

10073432733_86c9f55212_bTwitter is continually growing in its usage, popularity and functionality. Marketers of any industry should take note of all Twitter has to offer. The short, to-the-minute nature of a tweet provides instant, frequent access to a target market unlike any other platform, giving companies a variety of options for posting original or curated content.

Although the easiest way to jump on to the Twitter bandwagon may be to do just that – jump in and to play around, using the social network incorrectly, or even worse, committing one of the numerous Twitter faux pas could damage your brand’s online image and give the impression that your marketing efforts are ammature.

So, to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of things you should avoid when composing a new tweet. Here are our Seven Commandments of Twitter:

1. Thou Shalt Not sync a Facebook account to a Twitter account

Time is money. And if you’re busy, you may be tempted to cut some corners in your day to day social media management. However, setting up the social “hack” of pushing all of your Facebook posts directly to Twitter is one corner you’ll want to avoid cutting. Because of the character limitations and nature of a tweet, Facebook posts tend to not play well with Twitter. This synchronization often leads to tweets cutting off in mid-sentence, ending with an ellipses rather than a complete thought. If you wish to post the same content on Facebook and Twitter, take the time to repurpose it for each network.

2. Thou Shalt Not tweet image links

Images are great ways to boost your content’s visibility and likelihood of engagement on any social platform. With the recent design changes of the Twitter feed, images are now natively embedded into tweets, which is all the more reason to use them. However, using aggregators like Hootsuite or other social networks like Instagram to post photos to Twitter causes images to show up as links, which adds an additional step for users to see your content. Be sure to always post an image directly to Twitter, or change your settings in programs like Hootsuite to do so.

3. #Thou #Shalt #Not #overuse #hashtags

Hashtags are what make Twitter so powerful. They’re great for searching for, compiling, and encouraging the posting of content. However, sometimes tweeters get too excited when using hashtags, which can often lead to over usage. Try to keep your tweets to a three hashtag maximum, and be sure the hashtags that you do use are kept short and concise.

4. Thou Shalt Not tweet too little

Twitter is meant to provide quick, relevant, frequent content to users’ feeds – and as such, your tweets should also be quick, relevant, and frequent. Often, new users will create an account, only to tweet once or twice a week, or worse, a few times a month. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to provide at least a few tweets a day to satisfy your followers.

5. Thou Shalt Not tweet too much

In the same way tweeting too little will bore your followers, going on a tweeting overload can annoy users. Although Twitter can handle much more content than networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, tweeting too much can clog your followers’ feeds, causing them to unfollow you. There are best practices for how much you should tweet a day, however, a simple rule of thumb is to use discretion depending upon your reasoning for tweeting. Certain instances may call for more tweeting than others.

6. Thou Shalt Not use all 140 characters

Trying to stay within the 140 character limit of a tweet can be challenging. But if you really want to encourage interaction with your tweet, you’ll want to use as little characters as possible. Keeping your tweets under 140 characters (when possible) allows you followers to share your content easily, giving them the space to add their own comments or thoughts in a retweet, etc.

7. Thou Shalt Not begin a tweet with an @ if you’re not responding to a mention

@ symbols are for mentioning other accounts within your tweets. An @ symbol at the beginning of a tweet is for responding to someone who has mentioned you (a conversation). When you begin a conversation on Twitter, the network only shows that conversation to people that follow you AND the person you’re mentioning, leaving out a potentially large reach for your tweet. So, if you’re planning to send out a tweet that begins with an @ but is not part of a conversation, be sure to place a period before the @ symbol.

By following these commandments, your Twitter adventure will be off to a successful start. Now, on top of creating/finding content to tweet out to you followers, keep looking for tips and advice on how to best use your digital tools. Consistently educating yourself on the best practices of all social networks, not just Twitter, is one of the best ways to keep your brand presence fresh and your marketing efforts effective.

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Searching for an Answer

“I’ll Google it!”

This might be the first phrase that comes to you when you’re asked a question you do not know the answer to. Google has become much more than a search engine. It has become a staple in our quest for answers. When there is a question, there always seems to be some sort of answer on Google. The ability to instantly find information at home or on the go has changed the way we travel, shop, eat, and even stay connected with family and friends.

As our uses for search engines have evolved, so have the search engines. In the past few months, Google has made a series of algorithm changes that have shifted search towards a more semantic query instead of one based upon keywords. The search engine is now searching for the exact answer to your question instead of a page that might cover the same topic. The answer has become the true end goal of a search engine.

This shift is something that businesses need take seriously. The days of ranking high on search engines by simply using keywords and backlinks are long gone. The focus has shifted to strong content that answers questions and has authority in the topic area. Google has introduced the notion of keyword groups that aid with the determination of authority in a topic area. The more pages of strong content on a website, the more likely the site has the answers to the questions being asked.

So what should your company be doing to optimize your website for these changes?

1. Focus on producing more strong content over topics in your field. This includes blogging, website updates (or overhauls), and creating sections such as FAQs.

2. Don’t focus on just one topic. Make sure your content covers numerous subjects in your area of expertise. Show that you know what you are talking about in your industry.

3. Turn your attention towards answers, not keywords. Remember that Google is looking to answer a question as quickly as possible. Put yourself into the shoes of a website visitor and ask, “Does this answer my question?”

4. Do not practice “black hat” SEO techniques (techniques that are used to trick search engines into ranking your site higher in the results). Another recent update to the Google algorithm now penalizes websites that use these practices.

5. Optimize your website for mobile devices. Searches have gone mobile and people want to see a site that is responsive to all of their devices.

If you just remember people are searching for answers when you write your content, you will be on the right path towards website optimization for today’s search engines.

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Using Digital Technology to Your Advantage

In the world today, we have access to a plethora of digital tools to make our lives easier. There is an app for everything and we carry more technology around in our pockets than it took to get to the moon in 1969. When it comes to a business setting, we need to know how to use these tools to our advantage to increase productivity and efficiency.

Digital communication associate Chris Wilkey had the privilege of presenting over this topic at the Indiana Society for Association Executives annual conference. He wanted to share a few of the tools that can help any professional on a daily basis to save time and to accomplish more.

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Passpack™ – www.passpack.com – Free and Paid Accounts

Passpack is a secure password database that can be used to store and recall usernames and passwords. This free service has multiple layers of encryption including username, password, and even a packing phrase. It also allows you to share passwords between team members, while also giving you the ability to revoke access if an employee leaves or changes roles.

Hootsuite™ www.hootsuite.com – Free and Paid Accounts

Best known as social media aggregator, Hootsuite is your one stop shop for all things social media. It allows you to bring in multiple social media networks, monitor activity on each network, and even allows you to schedule posts for future posting. It is a fantastic tool to use if you manage more than one social media platform or if you work with a team of people. Hootsuite also includes some great analytical reports that can show your progress on social media.

Dropbox™ – www.dropbox.com – Free and Paid Accounts

Dropbox is one of many cloud based storage solutions on the market today (other include Box, Google Drive, etc). It allows you to share project files with others in your company and/or outside resources. The administrative controls allow you to share documents through links and through email invitations. There is even a desktop application that allows you to use Dropbox like an additional folder on your computer (much like My Documents or a server folder).

Warning: One major issue companies have with adding new digital tools is trying to add too many tools all at once. The overload of technology is bound to cause workflow issues and other challenges such as training and transitioning data from old systems. Each tool has a specific function. Be sure to use the right tool for each job and take gradual steps to implement that tool in your company.

If you would like to see all of the tools that were a part of the presentation Chris gave, you can access the slide deck here.

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Digital Learning Lunch: Team Collaboration With Google Apps

In an effort to stay on top of changes in technology for both external and internal purposes, we recently created what we like to call “Digital Learning Lunches.” These monthly lunches are designed to inform and educate all dgs team members on the latest digital tools and trends that are available for use. Every lunch handles its own unique topic, and takes place over our noon lunch hour (with food provided, of course).

For our first Digital Learning Lunch, our Digital Communication Associates, Chris and Austin, introduced us to the world of Google Apps, and how they can be utilized to achieve digital collaboration on certain projects that benefit from it . Demonstrating a few key apps, such as Google Docs and Google+ Hangouts, the DCAs took us through a step-by-step process of how to set up and use these tools, followed by a discussion of how they could be used internally to boost productivity.

Here’s what the two have to say:

Austin: “Google Docs is a cloud-based document builder (similar to Microsoft Word) that allows users to create documents, collaborate with others on those documents in real-time, and, because all documents are saved in Google Drive (Google’s free Cloud-based storage), access those documents on any device, anywhere. Google+ Hangout is a conferencing tool that includes one-on-one or group (up to 10 people) conversations, including video conference calls. Both services are free for anyone to use; all you need is a Google account.”

Chris: “Used as a set of collaboration tools, Google apps can be used to make it possible to work with people around the world without leaving your desk. Austin and I love to use Google Docs to work on projects at the same time without having to send multiple versions over email. It also allows us to see the revision history of a document and revert back to an older version if needed. If we have to take work home, we are able to start a Google Hangout video conference as we finish up the project.”

Austin: “Real-time collaboration can be a necessity in the fast-paced environment of an agency. To meet the demands of the industry, using these tools on projects that require collaboration between one or more team members can enhance efficiency. For instance, these tools assist with the weekly social media work we do with clients. Our weekly content calendars are developed on Sheets, Google’s version of Excel, which are then shared with each client. Because the spreadsheet is a living document, the client is able to make real-time edits to the content, without the need to send multiple emails back and forth, saving us time on the editing process and allowing us to post up to date, relevant content each week.”

If our first lunch is any indication, these lunches are sure to be fantastic learning opportunities for our team. Check back with us soon for recaps of future lunches – which are sure to be just any interesting as this one!

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