Mark Schaefer’s “The Tao of Twitter”: A Twitter Guide for Beginners and Experts

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My first knowledge of Mark Schaefer came through a classmate, Aaron Sachs (@AaronSachs), who had worked with Mark on some social media stuff for Aaron’s business Symply Social . Aaron sang Mark’s praises to our Advertising 490: Social Media class, and when he mentioned Social Slam tickets were going on sale, I was one of the first in our class (except for Aaron, of course!) to sign up. I was eager to see what this social media conference was all about. I considered the cost of $40 kind of expensive until I realized that attendees also received free food and free books! Included with registration was a copy of Mark Schaeffer’s The Tao of Twitter and Jay Baer’s The Now Revolution. I decided that even if the conference was boring (which of course it wasn’t!), I would still have two free books. Needless to say, Social Slam was an amazing opportunity and I even got my free books signed by Mark and Jay!

Earlier this week, I had time to sit down and read Mark’s book. While I was reading it, I kept finding myself nodding in agreement with Mark’s points. Because I loved the book so much, I wanted to share some of its key lessons with you—or at least what I thought was key. Mark hits on several ideas that I myself have thought of but not been able to put into words. Below are quotes from the book that I will be referencing in many future conversations with friends about how to best utilize twitter.

“Business benefits are created through three elements: targeted connections + meaningful content + authentic helpfulness.” (pg. 11)

These three elements make up the core of Mark’s The Tao of Twitter, and he offers great explanations for the importance of each. I especially like his emphasis on the importance of authentic helpfulness. Just this week, I wrote a blog post about books I wanted to read for summer to beef up on my social media knowledge. Someone over at Wiley Business Books (@WileyBiz) was kind enough to send over a list of social media books they had recently published, 3 or 4 of which I had listed. I was reminded by the list of a few more books I wanted to read, but had temporarily forgotten about. Whoever was Tweeting for @WileyBiz that day had no guarantee that I would buy any of their books or mention them anywhere, but they tried to be helpful and perhaps promote their products a bit. 😉

“ . . . Under normal conditions, Twitter is about engaging, not broadcasting, so it probably does not make sense to just broadcast on a regular basis.” (pg. 40)

This one hit home because of my extreme frustration with some social media specialisists who simply post and repost and re-repost links to their blogs, which contain only information which I already read when I read their books. (Obviously, Mark isn’t one of these people. His blog, {grow}, is an amazing source of fresh, insightful content!) While HootSuite and other services can help you schedule tweets if you will be away for a while, I strongly believe in the need for interaction. While a little shameless self-promotion can go a long way, you need to be sharing good, new content that can actually help your followers learn something that they don’t already know from reading your books. Which leads to our third point . . .

“If somebody only takes about themselves, their business and how great they are, you’re going to want to get away fast! But, if a person shows genuine interest in you, and offers help without regard for their own personal benefit, you will like that person and connect with them.”(pg. 47)

I LOVE following and being followed by people who are willing to interact on Twitter, even if they don’t have an idea in the world about how they “met” you on Twitter. A random Tweet by @AaronSachs introduced me to Kaarina Dillabough (@KDillabough) who lives in Canada and posts some very interesting things about social media on her blog, Decide2Do. As Mark says on page 32, the rule of creating relationships on Twitter is “You just never know!” There may come a day when I could be helpful to Kaarina or she to me. If she ever needs a place to camp out in Georgia, at least she would have an inside contact. 😉 Which brings us to the final quote I selected . . .

“At the end of the day, as long as you are satisfied with the business benefits you are receiving from Twitter, what anyone else thinks is irrelevant.” (pg. 73)

Some people probably think I spend way too much time hanging out on my computer—or my Android powered smartphone—tweeting away to people I’ve never even met in person. But, I find benefit and think that Twitter is providing me with a wonderful opportunity to learn from people that are the experts in the field. No expensive classrooms for me! I’m learning the ins-and-outs of social media from the pros who are out in the field working on it. And, the best of them are following Mark’s guidelines! Shouldn’t you read The Tao of Twitter and get a head start on your future as a member of the Twitter Tribe?

If you are interested in reading a more traditional style review of Mark’s amazing book, you can read some of these great video reviews below or visit the Tao of Twitter site to see a round-up of great reviews here.

Note: There were some minor typos and grammar issues which prevented a five out of five star ranking. I’m sure, however, that Mark is working on these and will have them all fixed for the second printing. Overall, an amazing book!

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Social Media Expert Lon Safko Speaks To University of Tennessee Social Media Class

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At 8 a.m. Tuesday morning, March 22, as many students sat dozing or paying half-hearted attention to their professors, an especially lucky group of students in Advertising 490 sat excitedly awaiting a video call from a special guest. This special guest took time out of an extrememly hectic schedule to volunteer to share his social media expertise via a Skype video call from Arizona at 5:30 a.m. his time.This social media expert was none other than the highly esteemed author of The Social Media Bible, Mr. Lon Safko.

Mr. Safko was very enthusiastic, humorous and informative in his presentation and the entire class greatly enjoyed it. This post, however, isn’t just a way for me to brag about how blessed I was to have this opportunity. Instead I would like to share with you five of the most interesting thoughts and ideas I took away from Mr. Safko’s presentation.

1. The Importance of the Social Media Trinity

In the second edition of The Social Media Bible, Mr. Safko states that “if you understand the Social Media       Trinity, you will have a good understanding of 90 percent of everything you need to be successful using             social media in your marketing strategy.  While Twitter is great for quick timely updates and Facebook is a       wonderful way to connect with your community, I have been learning this semester that blogging is a very         essential element of the trinity because it hosts the content that you will refer to primarily from other social       media sites and performs many other functions that we don’t even consider at first. All in all, I believe the           blog is the glue that ties it all together. Mr. Safko shared with us a story of Bil Marriott, of Marriott Hotels,         who blogs each week because he sees the importance of interacting on social media. While Mr. Marriott         has never turned on a computer, he comes up with what he wants to say and has his secretary actually type     and publish the blog post.

2. Second Life Isn’t A Game

While I’ve never been one to engage in virtual worlds, I have learned a good bit about them in class this             semester. I did not, however, realize the implications of how useful such a technology could be. Mr. Safko         shared a wonderful story with us Tuesday morning about how he was the first person to interview a CEO in   Second Life. Watch below to check out Mr. Safko’s interview with Mark Kingdon, former CEO of Second Life.

This interview shows that there are definetely a plethera of possibilities of how virtual worlds can be used. It is   yet to be seen, however, how long it will take for people to become comfortable using these virtual worlds for     businesses. Several major companies are already taking a proactive approach to building a presence in virtual   worlds and other new outlets such as gaming. Most likely, we will see great growth in these areas in the near   future.

3. Take Personal Branding Seriously

When we Skyped with Mr. Safko, there was an image of his book in the background. Images of his book as       well as his logo for Extreme Digital Marketing, as well as his website and other information are also                   embedded into his presentation. The examples he uses are from his personal social media usage. In Second     Life, you will notice that Mr. Safko’s book appears in a prominent location throughout the interview. If you visit   Mr. Safko’s website, you will see that there is a visible connection between colors and fonts used on the book   and colors and fonts used on Mr. Safko’s personal site. Mr. Safko tweets advice and tips from his                     presentations and his book to share social media insights with his followers. Since we recently studied             personal branding in class, it was very interesting to see how this was done by a social media expert.

4. Interact and Share With Your Community

Mr. Safko is very generous with sharing his insight and advice with others in the social media community.         Not only did he volunteer to present for our class, but he did so by commenting on one of my fellow                   classmates blog posts. This shows that Mr. Safko is very involved in monitoring and participating in                   conversations that relate to the Social Media Bible and to social media in general. Also, Mr. Safko uses HootSuite to publish tweets frequently and share information about social media with his followers. He also has a site on vimeo where you can find portions of his keynote presentations. Below is a portion of the       keynote presentation that Mr. Safko used when presenting to us on Tuesday.

By actively engaging with his audience, Mr. Safko can help promote his book, but also establish himself as       an expert as specialist (via Klout) in the field of social media.

5. Social Media Provides Strong Connections

Who would have thought that I would ever be able to hear a keynote address by the esteemed author of our       textbook, especially in a small audience setting at my own school via social media? I am referncing The           Social Media Bible in my master’s thesis because of it’s easy to understand descriptions of many social           media outlets. I was ecstatic to learn that the author of the one textbook in my college career that I                   voluntarily read from cover-to-cover was actually willing to wake up at 5 a.m. to speak to our class, due to a       post that one of my fellow classmates made. It shows us how remarkable things can happen with social           media.

Mr. Safko also talked about how social media can provide us with so many amazing connections. Mr. Safko     was trying to interview Mark Kingdon of Second Life, but had trouble getting in touch with the busy CEO. As       a last try, Mr. Safko mentioned his need for an interview to his friend Doug. Doug passed it on to a good             friend of his, Greg, who happened to be the best man in Mr. Kingdon’s wedding.  Greg talked to Mr. Kingdon     and within 30 minutes, Mr. Kingdon was getting in touch with Mr. Safko.

Social media provides endless opportunities for networking, making contacts and staying in touch with old         friends, professors, and co-workers. It is our job, however, to work to make those connections. As Mr. Safko     said, “If you want to win the game, you have to be in the game”.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed the presentation and learned a great deal about social media. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is interested in learning about social media purchase a copy of The Social Media Bible and read it. The very ready friendly content is very beneficial to helping you learn about social media, whether you are a newbie looking for a dummies guide to social media or a professional trying to learn how to utilize social media for your business. Once again, thanks to Mr. Safko for taking the time out of his extremely busy schedule to speak for us. I, for one, was greatly honored by and highly appreciative of the gesture.

Mis-Tweets: A PR disaster waiting to happen!

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While the online community may laugh at crazy, random posts by @charliesheen, they aren’t quite as amused when these tweets come from a brand that they trust. With the invention of HootSuite, TweetDeck and other similar applications, Twitter users can now easily post to multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously from one location. This is really helpful and convenient if you have something interesting to share about your brand that you feel would also be relevant to your personal network of friends. Sadly, however, we rarely hear examples of how these types of integration are helping better promote companies. Instead, we hear how the Red Cross account tweeted about #gettingslizzard (via Red Cross employee Gloria Huang) or how Kenneth Cole made a bad joke that shouldn’t have been shared with anyone.

Courtesy of Mashable

MashableThe Huffington Post and many other new sites picked up on the rogue tweet by the American Red Cross’ Twitter account. posted a great story about how the Red Cross handled this potetial PR disaster. The Red Cross quickly informed it’s public of the mistake and stepped up to apologize. The individual responsible, Gloria Huang, also took responsibility for her mistake. The company mentioned in the tweet even tweeted about the issue and encouraged fans of their beer brand to donate to the Red Cross! What could have been a real brand image disaster ended up showing consumers that the Red Cross was calm in the face of disaster and even raised money for the organization as beer enthusiasts donated to support the cause.

Courtesy of Mashable

On the other hand, we see that Kenneth Cole’s mis-tweet quickly became a Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. The tweet seriously offended a large portion of the online community, and inspired a good deal of questioning about his lack of good taste. A fake account @KennethColePR sprang up almost immediately and posted tweets that put the #Cairo comment into perspective.

The viral nature of Kenneth Cole’s original tweet and the intense negative reaction too it led to an official apology for the tweet on the Kenneth Cole Facebook page. The intensity of feeling about the situation prevented the apology from repairing much of the damage to Kenneth Cole’s brand image, especially since the designer has tweeted in such a fashion on previous occasions. Overall, the tweet was definitely a public relations disaster.

We saw from the Red Cross case and the Kenneth Cole case how different companies choose to handle such issues. Today, we saw another mis-tweet bring attention to a well known brand. Chrysler’s Twitter account, @ChryslerAutos, caused a stir today by “dropping the F-bomb”.

Courtesy of Jalopnik

Chrysler recognized the mistake quickly and removed the tweet from their account. They also published an apology and a commitment to taking care of the situation.

While the original tweet has been removed, the retweets are still available for everyone to see. According to Mashable’s story, the mis-tweet was first noted by Jalopnik who also reported that the tweet was linked to an employee of the social media company that manages Chrysler’s online media. According to a blog post by Chrysler, the employee responsible for the tweet “has since been terminated”. While Chrysler might have thought that firing the employee responsible would help them gain a positive response, comments on their blog show a good bit of debate about whether the punishment fit the crime.Overall, however, comments show a shared sentiment that  Chrysler was much too “corporate” in their response.

The Chrysler blogs comments also point out that the tweet’s anti-Detroit tone is in complete opposition to the pro-Detroit sentiment inspired by the 2011 Super Bowl advertisement campaign, Imported from Detroit. The tweet has caused an increase of almost 200 followers to the @ChryslerAuto account as people hear about the mis-tweet, but it is yet to be shown how th crisis will effect the company overall.

Lessons are definitely to be learned from this. First and foremost, don’t post your personal content to your business profiles. This can (and almost always will) lead to disaster. If you are mistake prone as I am, don’t link persona and business accounts. It is way too easy to accidentally publish to all or forget which sites you are pushing your content to at a given time. Also, make sure that if you are part of a crisis such as this you handle it in a way that your following can connect too. A dry corporate press release really doesn’t serve as a sufficient or appropriate response to those who are actively engaged in the online community with your brand. Most importantly, however, is to beware what you tweet and where you tweet it. Happy Safe Tweeting!