Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quick Tips on Following LOTS of People on Twitter

My friend Rick Whittington just asked if I had any tips on effectively following large numbers of people on Twitter. Given the fact that I currently try and stay in touch with 3,500+ people, I've had a little experience in this area.

My first piece of advice to Rick (or anyone else grappling with this issue) is to let go of the fact that you can actively read all of the people you follow's updates. It's a sad day when that reality sets in but it is what it is.

My second recommendation is to start using a client like Tweetdeck or Twhirl. In the case of Twhirl, I often kept it open on my desk (in the background) and left it set to the "@" tab. That way, I could respond to messages directed at me but didn't pay close attention to the live stream. In the early morning, at lunch and in the evening, I could dip into the live stream to see what folks were up to.

As a follow on to number two, Tweetdeck takes this strategy to a whole other level because it allows you to watch up to four different groups of people. Personally, I chose:
  1. a group of about 50-75 people I want to actively pay attention to
  2. my replies or "@'s"
  3. all of the people I follow and
  4. the people I work with.
One final thought (if you don't want to use technique 2 and 2A) is to bookmark the 10-20 people you follow most actively and then make a point of visiting their twitter.com/user page once or twice a day.

Hope that helps! If anyone else has good ideas on how to more effectively follow large numbers of people on Twitter, feel free to share in the comments below.

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Keeping up with the Joneses

Just a quick note here to let folks that read this blog regularly (all 9 of you) that I am starting to post some unique content on my work blog. I only mention this because in the past I've tended to cross-post most content.

In this particularly case, a post I co-wrote with colleague, Bill Fanning, Would you Join a Toothpaste Community became more interesting because of the 25 comments that resulted from the post. My follow up post, Ball Bearings, Men’s Underwear and Drano Oh My! is predicated on the fact that you read the Toothpaste Community post. Clear as mud?

Sorry to jump you through hoops, especially if you're reading this via an RSS reader. Dare I ask that you consider adding my other blog to your feed? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Background on my "Breakthrough" Hiring 2.0 Post

Back in March, I wrote a post titled "Hiring in a 2.0 World." If you haven't read it, it's an interesting way to think about including social networking into your hiring (or "being hired") process.

That's not the reason I did this Utter-cast however. It was to give some background to my friend, Ken Burbary as to why this was a "breakthrough" post for me. As you'll hear in the audio portion of this utter-cast, it was a big post for me for three reasons:

  1. I learned that being prescriptive was the way to go - it's much easier for people to derive value from your thoughts if you keep things in a box and give them actionable steps on how to do what your recommending that they do.
  2. As a result of being prescriptive (and selectively reaching out to a few friends for feedback) I got dozens of thought provoking comments AND several other add on posts
  3. Combining numbers one and two (along with the savvy of Doug Haslam http://twitter.com/dough was doing some PR for us at the time), the topic garnered interest from US News and World Report and the Boston Sunday Globe.

So there you have it Ken. Hope that helps!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hubspot Keeps Delivering the Value

Last night, I got a direct message from my friend, Mike Volpe, who is the VP of marketing at Boston based company, Hubspot. In his DM, Mike was letting me know that Hubspot would be releasing an informative report this morning on the "State of Twitter." If you use Twitter as an individual or a business, I would highly recommend that you check out this report as it is chock full of valuable and informative statistics.

With that said, I'm actually not going to write abou the report. ReadWriteWeb and Techcrunch along with many others have already covered that angle (some before Hubspot was ready). Instead, I want to talk about what Hubspot does well. The have learned the incredibly important lesson of "give before you get." Just take a look at their site which includes freebies like:
With that said, I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of Hubspot CEO, Brian Halligan, when I first met him several months ago. We were on a MITX panel together along with Chris Brogan and Chris Penn. During the panel, I could tell immediately that Brian was smart and that he got it but I wondered if he might be too far over on the dark side of "using" social media for business. Based on subsequent conversations with Brian and Mike along with watching how Hubspot behaves in the social media "sandbox," I not only discovered that I was wrong about my initial assessment but also that Brian, Mike and team were in fact REALLY good at tying business goals together with social media outcomes.

I was reminded of my admiration for Hubspot the other day during a webinar I did with Ann Handley of Marketing Profs and Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester. One of the slides in Ann's portion of the presentation -- focused on creating great content -- mentioned Hubspot (see below). Between that mention and Mike's DM last night, I felt compelled to give Hubspot a Stroutmeister "shout out" (that's a reference to my blog vs. me talking about myself in the 3rd person btw).

To that end, what other companies are doing a great job creating content and sharing it freely with their consituents? I'm always looking for companies to write about, interview or invite to join me on panels etc. If you know of anyone, DM me or leave a comment in the space below.

5 Ways to be a Better Twitter Spammer

Ever notice that spam has a way of making its way into any new medium, particularly after that medium starts to hit critical mass. Sadly, microblogging tool/service, Twitter, is now experiencing the joy of "get rich" or "get women" messages from people we don't know and don't care to know. Rather than complain, I'm going to try and fix it. How? I'm going to tell the spammers how they can do their job better. Plus, I promised Peter Kim that I'd do this post as he's tired of the same old "he same asian girl01 showing me how to make $4k monthly" tweets.

So listen up all you Twitter spammers because here are five ways you can be more succesful getting your message out to the masses:
  1. STOP putting numbers at the end of your twitter handles. The second you do that, there's at least a 98% chance that you're a spammer and that I'm not even going to look at your profile nevermind follow you. I know it's easier to write a program that takes a name and adds new digits onto it but technology has evolved to the point where you could get more clever. For instance, run a query against the list of top names in the Social Security database and add it to common last names like Smith, Johnson and Williams. That's good for at least several thousand new accounts right there.
  2. When you spam people, put a few real tweets in between your spammy "Just Posted: Getting a Girl - Getting The Girls + SPAM URL" tweet (thanks to spammer @datingschool for the example). For instance, a few "watching the latest episode of The Office" or "just downloaded the latest Coldplay album" would help add a little credibility to your account.
  3. As a follow on to tip number 2, try @-ing a few folks, even if they're fake accounts. I can tell in about 1 second that either a) you're a spammer or b) you don't know how to use Twitter if I scan your tweets and none of them are directed toward anyone.
  4. STOP using the picture of the hot girl as your avatar. While I appreciate the asthetics of an attractive woman when I click on your profile link, I am immediately skeptical of any account where the picture is of model-esque, scantily clad young woman. Try picture of a 35 year old guy once in a while. Or a slightly overweight woman. It's all about being authentic!
  5. Work a little harder on your follower/followee ratio. When I see that you're following 1,723 people and are being followed back by 36, it's pretty easy to tell that you're a spammer. While I know it will take longer to build a more respectible ratio, it will be worth it to get people to read your message.
How many spammers do you think will read this post? Probably zero. But it was worth a shot. Am I missing any good tips or tricks that you can think of that would help our spammer friends?

Friday, December 19, 2008

“Power to the People — and Profits to the Company”

Nigel Parry)

Cisco CEO, John Chambers (photo courtesty: Nigel Parry)

Nearly every Sunday night, you can find me on a Jetblue flight heading from my home just outside of Boston, MA to my soon to be new home, Austin, TX. During these nearly four hour flights, I’m able to catch up on a lot of reading including. This includes a large number of blogs I try and keep up with but a couple of times a month, it also includes FastCompany, the magazine.

Last night happened to be one of those nights where I read FastCompany. I was feeling particularly “Sponge-like” as I had just had a beverage with my friend, Peter Kim, in JFK airport (the stopover for the evening flight from Boston to Austin). I was particulartly interested in the title article that focused on Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers and how he’w in the process of “socializing” one of the largest and most successful companies in the world.

What got me excited about this post was the fact that Cisco has gone to great lengths recently to turn themselves into a socially minded organization  not social in the “let’s do good” sense of the word but rather as in social media/social networking. To that end, Chambers truly practices what he preaches and keeps an internal blog (currently ranked no. 2 out of the thousands of other internal blogs at Cisco). He also regularly encourages people to contribute their ideas to the corporate wiki and if so moved, upload videos to Cisco’s version of Youtube called “C-Vision.”

While I applaud Chambers focus on getting his company to adopt social tools, the thing that really resonated with me was Chamber’s rationale behind  these tools i.e. getting his company to think “collaboration.” And not just with each other but with their customers and their partners.

I also liked the fact that Chambers gets the fact that the day of “command and control” leadership within an organization is dying. New leaders must change or face being phased out of the company. To make his point un-missable, Chambers has tied the compensation of all his executives (their are nearly 500) to one another’s success. One fails and they all fail.

This new approach has netted Cisco some pretty big successes like his $4 billion+ financing business . It’s also netted Cisco $26 billion in cash which gives the company an almost unheard of advantage in today’s crappy economy. It’s also earned Cisco a ton of positive press in addition to the Fastcompany article including Time Magazine’s top 100 execs of 2008 among many others.

How do we know this isn’t just a bunch of corporate b.s. that many companies spout off? For one, my former CEO and CMO at Mzinga worked for Cisco and they regularly raved about Chambers innovation and passion for collaboration. I also know because while I was at Mzinga, we ran a community for one of Cisco’s eventual acquisitions, WebEx. As a result of that relationship, I know that Cisco has launched at least five other community initiatives (probably more at this point).

What can you do to be more like Cisco? For starters, get your internal house in order and get your employees collaborating. By collaborating, I don’t mean just updating a corporate wiki with HR documentation. I mean real collaboration via microblogging tools like Yammer (see the guest Mashable.com post I co-penned with Joe Cascio on Enterprise microblogging). You should also encourage as many of your employees as possible to blog — maybe not all externally — but at least internally. You should also rally around a public facing social network like FacebookLinkedIn or Plaxo. If you are really ready to see results, you may even think about creating a branded online community.

Is your company collaborating with it’s employees, customers and partners? Let’s hear how or why not in the comments  below.


NOTE: The title of this post comes from an excerpt in the Fastcompany article written by Ellen McGirt

Cross-posted from http://theengagedconsumer.powered.com

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Powered is Hiring! Kind of...

One of the benefits of having a large network is that it sure comes in handy when you need either help friends find a job OR to do some hiring yourself. Many of you know my position on this harkening back to my Mzinga days (take a look at my Hiring in 2.0 World post if you haven't already). To that end, my company, Powered, is starting down the path of what I'll call "pre-hiring."

What do I mean by that? Well, we'd like to start creating some relationships with local "rock star" talent that we can scoop up as soon as we close some new business. We won't be posting a req since this "account planning manager" position isn't officially open, but we are hoping that you all might be able to help us find someone that meets the qualifications below and is interested in discussing future possibilities.

Must haves:
  • 5-7+ years marketing experience & Bachelor’s degree in marketing or communications
  • Experience working for or with Fortune 500 companies in a marketing role
  • Experience managing marketing programs from soup to nuts (planning, execution, measurement)
  • High degree of passion for the social space
  • Critical thinker
  • Experience with online program measurement and data analysis
  • Proven success managing relationships (internal & external)
  • Advanced presentation & communication skills
  • Managed and/or heavily influenced budget related decisions
  • Proficient in MS Office software
  • Blend of both agency and corporate experience
  • Relationships with brands we’d like to work with
  • Experience with consultative business development
I'm not the hiring manager for this roll but my colleague, Kathy Warren is. If you are interested, you can do one of three things.
  1. DM on Twitter (I always follow back - if I don't, "@" me and let me know that I haven't followed back yet.
  2. DM Kathy on Twitter
  3. If you're not a Twitter person, you can e-mail me at aaron DOT strout AT powered DOT com.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask either publicly in the comments below or privately using one of the three methods outlined above.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Conversations and Content" Webcast: 5 reasons

Oh, maybe you you haven't noticed but I'm doing a webcast with rock stars Ann Handley of MarketingProfs and Jeremiah Owyang of Forreser tomorrow (12/16) at 2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT. We're going to talk about the importance of creating great, engaging content and then wrapping that content with social tools and strategy to create deep customer engagement. Are you in or out?

Sign up for the free webcast here: http://forms.powered.com/

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My mini "priceless" ad/thoughts on Brogan flack

Find out why it doesn't pay to leave your car key in Boston when your car's in Austin. I also throw out a few thoughts on the flack Chris Brogan got for writing a post for Izea/K-Mart.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

7 Things You May or May Not Know About Me

Thanks to friend, Lyell Petersen aka @93octane, for tagging me in the most recent meme floating around the blogosphere and by "thanks" I really mean "thanks for nothing." ;) But seriously, this should be fun so I don't mind participating. Without further adieu, here are the seven things you may or may not have known about me...

  1. I've been to all but nine states in the U.S. Rather than list the states I've visited, I'll mention the ones I haven't: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Now that I've moved (or am in the process of moving) to Texas, I will likely eliminate Nebraska and Oklahoma from this list soon.
  2. I have a tattoo of a thunderbird on my right hip. I went to get it with my good friend, Joe Maher (I've known Joe since I was seven years old). When we got the tattoos, we had to go to New Hampshire because it was still illegal to get them in Massachusetts at the time. That was back in 1992.
  3. When I was four, I spent a month in Oslo, Norway with my mother and father. While I was there, I cut my mouth on a glass that I bit into, was bitten by a horse and fell into a freezing cold river with my dad where we were lucky not to drown. I also had one of the worst earaches of my life. In spite of that, it was one of the most exciting times of my life.
  4. Blue Velvet (not to be confused with International Velvet) Good Will Hunting, The Matrix, Trading Places, Stripes, Beverly Hill Cops and Shawshank Redemption are my favorite movies of all time. The Office is the funniest show I've ever seen (shame on me for not realizing that prior to this year).
  5. My friend Scott Lareau who I served on the board of BIMA with is the reason I have an 18 month old daughter. Short version of the story is that my wife and I had two children already and at least I thought we were done. Following a chance meeting of Scott on a trip out to Jackson Hole, WY, Scott was telling me that he and his wife had just had their third child and that it was a mere speed bump in comparison to the other two. Coincidentally, his children were the same age (7 and 5) and sex (girl/boy) as our first two. I came home after that ski trip and said, "honey, I'm ready to have a third child." Twelve months later, our third child, Audrey, was born.
  6. My musical tastes range from Nora Jones, Adele, Pink, Miles Davis and Jamiroquai to Beck, Tool, Rage Against the Machine and Seether. Yup, I pretty much like everything other than country.
  7. I've been to Russia AND the Soviet Union. For those of you not well schooled in geography/world history, Russia was in fact part of the Soviet Union prior to its fall in 1991 (that's the Soviet Union's fall, not Russia's). First go around, I went to a city called Leningrad and spent two and a half glorious summer months learning about Soviet culture and furthering my Russian language skills. Second go around, I ended up in a city called St. Petersburgh that looked strangely similar to Leningrad only there were a lot fewer hammer and sickle flags and not as many statues of Lenin.
So that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now the big question is who will the lucky recipients of my meme tag be? I know not to choose friend and former colleague, Jim Storer, 'cause I've tried that before and he doesn't play nice in the sandbox on things like this (oops, did I just call you out Jimbo?). Same is true about Jennifer Leggio whom I also love dearly. ;)

NOTE: As of 3:30 PM ET, I've dealt Jennifer in.

NOTE 2: On 12/26/08, my friend Ken Burbary brought the love back to me. Since I've written my post already, I'm noting this here.

How about:

In the words of the honorable @93octane, here are the rules:

* Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
* Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
* Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
* Let them know they’ve been tagged

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sony Invites Pulitzer Prize Winner to Chat with Backstage Community

This is pretty cool. Our client, Sony, is hosting it's second "Artisans of Imagery" event on their Backstage 101 Community. The reason I'm excited about this is that Sony is putting their money where there mouth is by inviting in experts from outside their community to share their knowledge with the registrants of the Sony Backstage community (registration is free by the way). Details on the event are below!

Also, on December 15 from 8-9 pm ET Pulitzer prize-winning photographer Brian Smith will be discussing Environmental Portraits. You won’t want to miss either of these discussions!

Visit the forum

The Digital Darkroom is a photo gallery site of the Backstage 101 community, where you can practice photography techniques and share your work with others. The Digital Darkroom allows you to upload photos into public and personal galleries, connect with other members of the group and show off your photography skills by participating in photo assignments and contests. Learn something new and get inspired today!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Crowdsourcing Music via Twitter (again)

One of the things I love about Twitter is the fact that I can reach out to a large group of people that are far more knowledgeable than me and get ideas for things like restaurants, cameras, washing machines and yes, music. This morning, I mentioned that I was looking for five new songs to add to my iTunes and this is the response I got.

UPDATED 12/8 @ 2:30 PM CT
The choices are in (I slightly exceeded my goal of 5 and went with 12 songs instead). I really loved the diversity of everyone's recommendations and listened to every song. In the end, I chose these:
  • Mars Volta - Inertiatiac ESP
  • Tanya Donelly - Whiskey Tango
  • Amos Lee - Freedom
  • Ray LaMontagne - Barfly
  • Elbow - Mirrorball
  • Blue Sky Black Death - Secrets
  • Jollie Holland - Damn Shame
  • Switches - Drama Queen
  • Horrorpops - Misstake
  • Kings of Leon - Sex on Fire
  • Matisyahu - Smash Lies
  • Sonics - Have Love Will Travel

Jack Vinson
jackvinson @astrout Can't stop... Just trying to pick off odd-but-good. Tanya Donelly, Thievery Corp., and for the kids: Wee Hairy Beasties. emusic 
Jack Vinson
jackvinson @astrout Have a look at Morphine, Badly Drawn Boy, Gilberto Gil, Babes in Toyland, Stephen Merritt, Ladytron, Push Kings, Stereo Total 
daveatmzinga @astrout For the iPod: "Evil Powers of Rock & Roll" by Supersuckers and "Avenue X" by Turbo AC's 
Thomas Kriese
itsthomas @astrout download "Mirrorball" by Elbow ... you'll like it!
Sheila Scarborough
SheilaS @astrout "Please allow me to introduce myself...." The Stones, live in Zilker Park, was some of the best money I've ever spent! 
dana marruffo
prwoman1 @astrout classic rock never fails - rolling stones' sympathy for the devil; also the black crowes' goodbye daugthers of the revolution 
Matt McDougall
doogsatx @astrout currently digging on Chris Mills' "Living in the Aftermath". 
Scott Hepburn
ScottHepburn @astrout You're a Boston guy, right? Do you know State Radio? Try their "Gang of Thieves" or "Barn Storming" 
Chris Seaberg
ccseab @astrout Band of Horses' song "Is There A Ghost"...you're welcome :) 
Marc Kusherman
thekush @astrout Anything from the Avett Brothers. Maybe "Will You Return" "Die Die Die" or "Paranoia In B Major" 
Dan Cotton
dbcotton @astrout Would definitely include some of Prince's older stuff. 
Ricardo G.
ggroovin @astrout I've really been getting into Vampire Weekend lately. No, it's not Goth. :) 
Lynn Morton
MissLynn13 @astrout How about a little Talking Heads? or some other favorites are Tiger Army & The Horrorpops. 
Chris Bailey
chris_bailey @astrout i'm loving the groove of kings of leon's sex on fire right now...lots of get up and go energy 
Justin Whitaker
justinmwhitaker @astrout Matisyahu-Smash Lies. Been listening to that one quite a bit. Love how he takes that Timbaland style and give it a conscious. 
kelbyj @astrout secrets (blue sky black death), freakshow (cure), watching you (heavens), damn shame (jolie holland), drama queen (switches) 
Jenni Hilton
gurnage @astrout Have Love, Will Travel by the Sonics (not new but it rocks) 
Katie Morse
misskatiemo @astrout Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger - ALWAYS a great "pick me up" when you need it :) 
CalamityJen @astrout The new GNR is pretty good. 
I'm keeping a running list of these as more come in on my Twitter favorites which are publicly available. If I'm missing other great songs, feel free to put them in the comments field.