July 2009 - Posts

Building A Community
Wednesday, July 22, 2009 1:19 PM

I have many blogs and websites that get some traffic but nothing that I would really write home about. I can’t say that I have in the least bit been successful in building a community but I think I can at least try and point you in the right direction or help you get the right state of mind when trying to build a community.

Give them Tools

Providing people with tools is a great start to building a community. If people can interact with the website and the people running the website then they feel better connected and more a part of the community. Allowing people to create log-ins and leave comments and participate in chats or forums is a great why to build community. This is another reason Twitter and Facebook and other social networks are so valuable because they are great for building community.

Give them Heart

Does this mean if you built it they will come? No HAHA I wish. Tools are not enough to create a community. It takes heart to built a community and heart is something you can’t fake and you can’t manufacture. If there are people participating on a website that care about what is being discussed and take care of each other then the community can't help but grow. Even if you start with only a couple people it will grow, maybe slowly but it will grow. The amount of heart you put into a project will show in how the community grows and will attract people to your community.

I have been really impressed with this guy Chris Parillo who started Lockergnome a blog engine community website. He gave a speech about building community at a conference and I thought it was really good and I think it will help anyone get a good idea of what building community really is.

by willburns1 | with no comments
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The Compact, Yet Extremely In Depth, Guide to Twitter
Wednesday, July 1, 2009 9:12 AM
What is Twitter?

Twitter is simply a means to communicate with other Tweeple (Twitter people) in a 140 characters or less.

But why?

I think people enjoy Twitter so much because of the frankness. It makes you condense your posts into the most important information. In short, you get right to the point.

Why should I use Twitter?

The Lemmings mentality - everyone else is doing it. But in this case, it means that by establishing a Twitter account you can talk to everyone in one social media outlet.

Ok, then what can I do with a Twitter account?

The main benefit is that you can easily get your information out to thousands or potentially millions of people. However, one has to be careful about "spamming" or only posting information about your company or URLs to your pages. The Twitter population is very wary of spam and will easily peg you as such and unfollow. There's one simple way around this - share information about you that's genuine. Don't just pipe out the corporate PR. Make the account personal and interesting. It also gives the public a way of communicating with you the Company/ Person that it didn't have before. That's why Celebrities get on twitter -- people can feel they can interact with them.

So... how do I do this?

Well first, go sign up for an account. Make the name memorable. Most people say just go with your name. I think it's fine to go with a nickname or moniker, just stay away from underscores and numbers. Once that's done you need to develop your profile. This means selecting an avatar for yourself (usually just a personal picture), writing a brief biography and stylizing your profile with a background and colors. Now, here's where people make the first mistake. Instead of immediately trying to build a followership, work on creating a few posts. Get about 10 or so under your belt before you actively recruit followers. Think of it as your time to develop your style or test how to post and retweet information. Some people will find you and follow you just based on what you're saying. Now comes the hardest part - attracting followers.

Again, how do I do this?

The universally agreed way to build a group of followers is to first follow people. Tweeple are fairly reciprocal. If you follow them, they will follow you (there will be more on this below). Start following people that are like-minded or share an interest in what you're going to be talking about.

Sigh... how do I do this?

Search and cannibalism my good friend! First, search for terms that relate to your interests. By using the Twitter search function you can easily find people who have mentioned your keywords in the last few months. Follow them. Then search more words and follow those people. Eventually you'll come upon the jackpot - an account to cannibalize. This is an account that is doing the same thing you're doing - either talking about the same subjects or tweeting about the same type of products. This means they've already done the work for you. Obviously followers of this account are either interested or (at the very least) not turned off to this account's message. Simply see the people who are following them and BAM you now how a list of followers to feed from. Who says cannibalism is all bad? Finally there are channels within Twitter that are defined by hash tags (#). You'll see tweets that use the terms #followfriday, #tv, etc. This means they're tweet is related to a specific keyword or subject. With Twitter tools like TweetDeck (more on that in the Tools section) you can follow channels and then follow the people that use them. Fun!

So I just shotgun follow as many people as possible? Is that it?

Well, not really. If you follow a couple of hundred followers a day you're going to look like a spammer account (rightfully so). The trick is to follow in moderation and let those people you've followed follow you back. Here's a good rule of thumb: When first starting out try and follow 30-50 people a day.  Then, after three day go back and dump the people who haven't followed you back. Show some tough love. This is a great way to gain a bunch of followers quickly without being a spam account. By dropping the follow only group every three days, you keep your following/followers ratio to near even. Example: if you are following 750 people and only 200 are following you back then you look like a spammer. However, if you are following 500 and have 450 following you back you look like a legitimate account that has content people want to listen to. The key ratio to have in mind is 1.5:1 following/followers ration; or, never following more than 150% above your follower total.

Ooookay. Anything else?

Yes. There are good times of the week and bad times of the week to follow people (yes, people have devoted time to studying this stuff). The key times to follow Tweeple are between 1-3PM and 7-9PM on weekdays (CST) and Sunday afternoon and evening. It's been shown that your reciprocal followers average 35-50% during these times. On the off times you can average 10-20%. That's a big difference when you're talking thousands of potential followers.

Well, thanks for all your help! I'm off to start an account!

Hold on a minute! There are a few rather important things still left to say. First, let's talk about your posting strategy. You want to be a valued and popular member of the community. You get to be this by promoting your site or products on occasion, not every other tweet. Only 10% of your tweets should actually be about your business, product or contain URLs to your webpages. The rest breaks down to: 30% personal or real comments about your day, 30% retweeting (RT) other people's tweets (this builds good loyalty between members and creates an "I'll pat your back if you pat mine" mentality"), and 30% general useful comments (usually helpful links to pages that aren't yours, news, or funny web items). That, in a nutshell, is how to succeed with Twitter.

Useful Twitter Tools

Here are a handful of free tools that will make your Twitter experience much, much better:

Free Twitter Backgrounds (give your Twitter site a non-generic look without much work): http://www.agglom.com/agglom/1320/Pimp_my_Twitter_Twitter_backgrounds_and_design

Twitter Mission Control (TweetDeck - a way to keep track of your responses, follow channels and top keywords in one handy application): http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/

Twitter Karma (The site to use when you're doing a bulk unfollow of those who haven't followed you. Sign in, select "only following", go to the bottom and "check all." You may want to unselect some Twitter accounts that aren't following you - in the case of news or interest - and then click "bulk unfollow." This will purge your Twitter account of those not interested in what you have to say and keep your ratio low: http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/

Twitter Grader (A fun site to see how well your Twitter account is doing):http://twitter.grader.com/

Twitter Top 40 (An assortment of other great Twitter tools you can explore with): http://www.longest.com/2008/10/28/top-twitter-tools/

by Raikus | 2 comment(s)
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