What does a Twitter ‘favorite’ mean to you?

I love Twitter. With my oft short attention span (which I blame partly on the vast barrage of information/distractions/GIFs that social media throws at me), the 140 character limit is a fun way to engage in quick conversations. It’s also led to some amazing digital and real-life dialogues with people I’d never have imagined (more on that in an upcoming post). Alas, there are still things that I don’t understand. One of them is Twitter’s favorite button.

Favorited Tweet on Twitter

They like me! They really like me!

Not too long ago, I read an article speculating that Twitter planned to either lose or completely overhaul the functionality of the Favorite option. That’s either still in the works, or was complete heresay. Regardless, favoriting seems to hold different meanings to different people I’ve asked, and thus I often don’t know how to respond when someone favorites a tweet. Twitter describes this function as such:

Favoriting a Tweet can let the original poster know that you liked their Tweet, or you can save the Tweet for later.

That seems to be a general consensus. It’s the equivalent of the ‘Like’ button on Facebook. It can also be a list of people you want to catch back up with, but aren’t sure you want to follow just yet. It’s also a less public high-five than retweeting, so it works if the content isn’t quite what you’d like to present to your audience. Still others use it as a curation collection tool, putting together tweets they enjoyed to share later. How do you use the Favorite button?

As a follow up question, do you feel obliged to do anything else after someone favorites your tweet? Reply with a thanks? Does it encourage you to check out their account, potentially to follow them? Or has it become so blase that you hardly even recognize a favorited tweet? Do you favorite tweets as some nefarious, reverse psychology method of trying to get them to notice YOU, and follow you (you sneaky, sneaky devil, you!).

Tell me what you you think. What’s the voodoo that you do when it comes to Twitter and favorting? Also, if you want to see some of the other stuff I don’t understand about Twitter, check out the ridiculous business in my formerly weekly Found Tweet Friday posts and my post on Twitter spammers stealing your tweets.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Is Privacy the Cost of Convenience?

Privacy, convenience, direct mail, direct marketingAfter the recent outcry from users when Instagram changed their Terms of Service, I started thinking a little more about privacy and how much we’re willing to give up to use some of these social media platforms. I don’t operate under any delusions that there isn’t some sort of cost inherent with using these free social and online services. They are, after all, going into these start-up ventures to make money from their service, one way or the other. I try to refrain from knee-jerk reactions anymore, especially with as quickly as misinformation can spread.

Recently, a piece of direct mail showed up in my mailbox. It was for OutboxAustin.com (It’s actually just Outbox, but targeted to acquiring Austin residents). The tagline on the piece proudly stated: “This could be the last piece of junkmail you ever receive!” Needless to say, I was intrigued. Could this be like that program that allows you to unsubscribe from all the junk mail you receive in your email inbox, but in real life? I decided to look into it a little. What I found was pretty surprising:

So what do you think about this method of convenience? Is this something you’d be willing to do, or have you already given Outbox a try? If you’re a direct marketer, how does do you feel about this type of program? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, or in the comments section of the YouTube video.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Interview with Erez Tal, CEO of Pinto

Pin pictures directly to Facebook albums and share with friends

What if I told you there was an app that featured some of the things we love about Instagram (adding unique filters to pictures) and Pinterest (pinning a collection of things we love into one place) that your friends and family could share in, without ever leaving Facebook? Pinto (pronounced Pin-too) is that app. Once added, Pinto allows you to save (or pin, if you prefer) pictures from anywhere around the web into albums right on Facebook. Make collections of things you love, plan a vacation, make a wish list, all right where pretty much everyone you know is already spending a good deal of their time online. [I've done a video blog post of the process here.] As they put it:

“Pinto is your own Facebook photo blog, it is your own Facebook magazine, wishlist and theme organiser. Collect the things you love, edit them with your style and let your friends know about it.”

Yoni Ram (CEO of Sociabell, the best social search app on Facebook, who I interviewed earlier this year) introduced me to Pinto’s CEO, Erez Tal, who was happy to do an interview with me.

Rob: What’s the story behind Pinto? What inspired you to create this app?

Erez: As a Facebook user, I find myself visiting Facebook and getting updates from my friends at least twice a day, it simply became a need to get live info that is available and to share the things you like to share. As a Pinterest user, I found it cool collecting and tagging some photos I like to my boards, with my own categories and albums, exploring more photos and new ideas on the photo boards of people I follow. With the fact that I only remember to check new interesting Pinterest photos twice a week on average, and with the time I spend on Facebook I thought “Why don’t we have an option to pin directly to the Facebook albums?” Here comes the Pinto idea – Pin any image that you like directly to a Facebook album.

Rob: You’ve told me that mobile is the next direction for Pinto. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect to see?

Erez: Pinto is fresh on its beta version for all web browsers and we’ve already received feedback from users willing to use Pinto with on mobile phones and tablets. With the understanding that most people are using mobile more and more to interact on Facebook and to search and browse the internet, we are definitely going to introduce a cool mobile app that will allow Pinto user to manage and collect new interesting stuff to their Facebook albums.

Rob: What makes Pinto a better option than external sites like Pinterest or Fancy for Facebook users?

Photo with one of Pinto's filters added

Photo with one of Pinto’s filters added

Erez: Pinto was created specifically for Facebook users. The users now don’t need to exit Facebook to view notifications that a friend pinned new image the her “Winter 2013 Fashion” album or notifications that another friend pinned new photos to his “Dream Cars” album or “Vacations Wish List” album. It’s all there in Facebook, visible on the friends’ albums and on the Facebook news feed. We believe that with the cool option to add effects and frames to the photos we are bringing a new exciting experience for the Facebook users. There is a lot to expect. We are very focused on making Pinto mobile app useful in the eyes of the user and covering the gap between Facebook users and external sites’ content.

Rob: Aside from going mobile, what else is in the future for Pinto?

Erez: We are creating a new version for Pinto that allows many more options on Facebook, adding users’ aspect of social imaging elements by categories of interests, by search, by products. There are more things to expect.

Rob: You’re located in Israel. What is the startup climate like right now in Israel? Can you talk a bit about being part of the tech/startup explosion going on there right now?

Erez: The thing in Israel is that we are located in a very small, intense and crowded industry of hi-tech companies. Although Israel is small, there are many startup companies found here. For those who are living with the techy products and getting inspiration from the surrounding hi-tech environment, it is a great surface for turning ideas into reality. During some focus groups and after shaping the idea and its platform, we have come up with the option to edit the photos and give it a personal style according to the user’s mood and personal style.

Rob: Do you have any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs and startup hopefuls?

Erez: I’m always looking for the gaps I can provide with a solution while trying to make it creatively, the gaps can be a technologically gap, missing functionalities or services. If you have a dream, don’t get back to sleep cause it will only come back as a dream. Take your idea, make sure the users are getting the best out of it, and start developing it.

Streamlining and sharing, isn’t that what web technology is all about? If you want to start using Pinto, go the to the website: http://pin2.it or check out the Facebook page. Give it a try, and let me know what you think. Is it better to have your collections all in one place, with that place being Facebook?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Google Maps is back on iOS, so spells the end of Apple Maps

For all of you who were holding off of updating your iPhones because you didn’t want to lose Google Maps, your time has come. An actual app for Google Maps is available in the Apple Store for your iPhones, just in time for holiday travel. Below is a detailed article on what makes Google Maps so good, and why we’ve missed it so:

What does this mean for Apple Maps? Is it a lost cause? Do you think Apple will still try to completely revamp the Apple Maps app to compete?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Preparing for Small Business Saturday Shoppers

small business, local business, black friday, shopping, holiday, Small Business Saturday, Amex

‘Tis the season…to shop local!

Whether you’re excited about it or begrudgingly accepting it, the holiday season is in full swing. Thanksgiving is next week and the bell is about to ring for full-on holiday shopping. Hopefully, Black Friday will bring you some business during the big-box store madness, but what I personally get really excited about is Small Business Saturday. It’s the small and local business-focused shopping day between Black Friday and Cyber Monday where your business gets a chance to shine and show customers why it still pays to shop local. The question is, are you prepared for it?

You want to get the word out, you want to make sure people are excited about taking time to support their local economy and find the unique products and services you provide, but where do you begin? If you haven’t previously started hyping this up, you’re at a disadvantage already, but it’s not hopeless.

  1. The first thing you need to do is start creating excitement and get the word out. Small Business Saturday has only been around for a few years, so some of your customers may simply not know that it exists. Mention it to your customers in the store, put some messages out on your social sites and get people talking. ‘Like’ the Small Business Saturday Facebook page (link at the end of this post) and start mentioning it on Facebook (tag the page so people can check it out, too). Also, just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t take a page out of the big guys’ books. Start offering ‘sneak peaks’ this week of specials you’ll be having, or plans you’re anticipating to make the day fun and different than any other shopping day. Make sure you mention any adjusted hours so people know they can hit your store earlier or later than usual.
  2. Feel out your customers. What are they most excited about this shopping season? What items are on their wish list that they should buy from you? What do they hate about holiday shopping that you can potentially make easier on them? These are the kinds of things you should be asking to get a temperature of your customers’ feelings at this hectic time of year, and try to provide the more personalized service and experience that makes shopping local so great.
  3. Not a small retail business? That doesn’t mean you have to be left out. Cater your specials to weary holiday shoppers! If you’re a restaurant, have a Small Business Saturday shopper menu with items at a discounted price. A coffee shop: Provide a discounted cup of coffee or free flavor shot to fuel up those people who are shopping locally. Spa or salon? Offer specials to local shoppers to unwind after a busy and stressful shopping day. The possibilities are endless. Just be sure to remind them that participating in “local” is what got the them their special treatment. It’s about community here, folks.

Now, the review responder in me must add this last point. This is your opportunity to shine and remind people that you exist right down the street from them. Make sure you’re properly staffed, everyone has a smile and is excited to be part of the experience. Remember that many of these customers may have already dealt with ludicrous and potentially dangerous crowds elsewhere and may be on edge. You don’t want all of your hard work to unravel in the form of a slew of unhappy customer reviews.

For more information and tips, here are a couple more resources:

  • Small Business Saturday Facebook page
  • Small Business Trends article on preparing for Small Business Saturday
  • Forbes article with some tips and ideas
  • If you find the holiday season too overwhelming to handle your social media presence, the company I work for, Main Street Hub, can alleviate the stress of handling and monitoring your online presence. Check us out!

What kind of things are you planning to make this year the best for your small business? If you’re not a business owner, do you plan to participate in all three “shopping holidays”? (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday) What are some crazy or unique specials, gimmicks or tactics that you’ve already seen?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Keeping Customers In a Short Attention Economy

Facebook, addiction, Internet Addiction Disorder, attention span, case study

“Attention span of a goldfish” just became a compliment…

Customer attention spans are becoming shorter and and more thinly spread as each new gadget, network and mobile device hits the market. You cannot simply hope that a customer will get over a bad experience and continue doing business with you because it’s too much hassle to search out other options. It’s so easy now for people to find your competitors’ presence online and seek them out, quickly forgetting that you ever existed. Let’s be honest, they can and will do it from their mobile device, while they’re still inside your business. If you’re especially unlucky, they’ll leave you with the parting gift of an awful online review. I’ve discussed tips on diffusing that kind of situation here.

The answer is moderately simple, but is never easy. There’s an age-old remedy to keeping your customers’ attention, maintaining their loyalty, and adding value to your product or service. Two words: Customer Service.

As social media ROI is becoming more evident (thus getting more SMBs to begrudgingly establish an online presence) it’s even MORE important to maintain focus on face-to-face customer service. As potential customers find you online and give your business a try, you’ll need to make sure their experiences keep them coming back. If the service isn’t there, all your digital efforts are for naught. So very often, in the reviews that I work on for clients, I’ve seen people say something to the effect of “the food/product/work wasn’t that great, but the service was fantastic. That’s the only reason I’d give this place another try.” I also often see, “The food/product/work was great, but I can find that somewhere else. It’s not worth putting up with the awful service I received.” Rarely do I see people state that they’d come back because the product is so good, even though they felt mistreated or received poor service. We intrinsically hold high value on how we’re treated at a business, even though the product is likely what brought us there in the first place.

If your business is providing fantastic customer service, this gives you a bartering tool with an unhappy customer, and may help you keep them from never returning. You can try to fix the product that they didn’t like. You can ensure them that it will be better next time, and they may take your word for it. It will likely be a lot tougher to convince someone that they’ll receive better service next time. Poor service really sticks with people.

A great product can bring people through your front door, but great service is what’s going to keep them there and create loyalty. It even adds an intangible value to your product. It’s important. If you can’t provide great service to your customers, hire someone to do it for you. It’s worth every bit you invest into it.

Do you have any customer service success stories, on either side of the experience? Have you experienced a missed opportunity by a business that led to you seek out their competitor(s)?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Twitter Spammers Are Stealing Your Tweets

Twitter, followers, tweets, spam, fake, accounts

Never tastes as good as you hope it will…

With each technology that advances our culture, there is the inevitable down side. With the telephone came bad telemarketing and phone scams, with the television came crappy infomercials (and in my opinion, reality TV), and with the internet came spam. Each of these has advanced in their own way, and the typical scheme has been to sell you something. Twitter spam is becoming it’s own beast and seems to serve multiple functions. Some are pretty obvious, like the:

“Hey @robzie81, how would you like 1,000 followers in 5 minutes? Click here —> http://bit.ly/clickforgarbage”

Or one of my recent favorites:

“@robzie81 Someone is spreading vicious rumors about you http://bit.ly/clickitstupid”

These ones get the delete pretty quickly, but there are some that I’ve seen becoming pervasive in the Twittersphere that are a different breed. They’re Twitter accounts, obviously made by people who’s first language is not English, with stock images as their avatar and occasionally very poorly written bios. These accounts typically have a handful of followers, likely from their own circle, pretty legit sounding names, and the content of the tweets is typically flush with keywords. Some are copy/pasted from other users’ tweets, with any @ references removed and thus making them make no sense, like:

“Can’t wait for my training session with #itsbeentoolong”

Something seems out of place there, doesn’t it? I also come across some other copy/pasted versions that seem legit at first, until you see them show up 30 times in a search, word for word. Examples:

“Dear shaving commercials, stop shaving hairless legs. If you want impress us, please shave a gorilla.”
“I’m so hungry! “Didn’t you just eat?” “Yeah… So?””
“My poor school :( I have lost everything in my classroom. Floods up to my waist took over everything. God help us. :(“
“I wasn’t that drunk ‘Dude, you were in my closet yelling “where the heck is narnia”‘

There are some tweets that are poorly written, but are obviously targeted to show up in business searches. Keywords for everything from spas and salons, gyms and restaurants are planted in tweets like the below:

“It’s my lucky day..I buy new bikini with 50% off :)”
“hello friends…,is there anyone ever try acai berry, i heard it’s good for diet and health”
“I am thinking about getting a 1971 Ford Pinto for a new car”
“Oh no, my dog pee on my pillow again…twice this week grrr…”
“On early call out for a military exercise, one of my colleagues used this excuse: I had to round up a group of Giraffes on the motorway (…”

Twitter, tweet, business, keywords, spam

Hm. Do we see a trend developing in this search stream?

My guess is that these accounts directly relate to the first example I mentioned: Paid Twitter followers. This then leads me to my final point, and please excuse my use of all caps, but: NEVER PAY FOR TWITTER FOLLOWERS. The likelihood that your account will be followed by the garbage accounts above is pretty high, and they will do nothing for you. Organically building your Twitter presence will get you real followers (and the occasional bot that will follow you, but what can you do?) and will create a community of conversation that will actually be useful to you. Take the time to put out interesting, relevant content, follow other people and businesses that you find interesting and they will often return the favor if they find your content worthwhile.

What other kind of Twitter spam have you seen, besides the notorious bikini-clad porn accounts? Any other creative things you’ve seen? Have any of you bought into the ‘pay for followers’ scheme already, and if so, what kind of followers did you see?

Let me know below with your comments. Also, be sure to check out some of the best/worst REAL Twitter users have to offer by checking out my weekly post, Found Tweet Friday.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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That Social Media Mojo

For a while, I lost my mojo. I became disillusioned with the overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t keep up with blogging, social networking and my job, and I didn’t think blogging was getting me anywhere. I didn’t think anyone cared, wasn’t sure if anyone was reading and I felt like I was just pumping out my content to no one. So, I stopped. I haven’t written a blog post for weeks. I wanted to, but then I would just get flustered and tell myself that it didn’t matter anyway. I considered deleting my blog, but I didn’t. I’m glad that I didn’t.

I received a comment out of the blue this week on a post I did a couple months ago. It was an engaging comment and in the end the person thanked me for writing the post. This small gesture reminded me why I blog. I don’t do it for constant comments, retweets on Twitter or raving fans. I do it so I can connect with people who are interested in the same things I am. I do it to share information with those who are seeking it. The glory of the internet is that posts just float out there, and can show up again when people are looking for them.

I sometimes look at the big names in blogging, the social media pros, and I wonder how the hell they have time to still have a life. I realized it’s because they don’t try to do everything. They focus on the things that are most important to them, keep the peripheral in mind without completely fragmenting their focus, and thus are able to have time to do other things. I’ve wanted to be so “engaged” that my focus has been in too many directions. I haven’t been able to give anything enough attention, because I was trying to focus on everything. And so, just in time for Halloween, I’m coming back from the dead.

blog, blogging, blogger, zombie, social media

The horror! The humanity! The blogging!

Also, I’m currently reading a pre-published copy of Chris Brogan and  Julien Smith’s “The Impact Equation” (affiliate link) and I’m already telling you to pick it up when it hits on 10/25. You’ll love it, and be inspired by it. These guys are no b.s. about how to make an impact, and it’s not the same old crap you hear everywhere else.

How do you keep your social media mojo going? What inspires you to blog, even if you’re not getting the engagement you wish you were?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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