Twitter – Best Practices

How can you effectively use Twitter, how often should you tweet, what should you tweet about, when should you tweet? These are just a few questions that I get asked frequently. In this post I will share with you my best practices and recommendations for effective Twitter use.

First Twitter is a very conversational and casual medium. Consider it like a “big” instant message to the world. Each tweet can only be 140 characters including spaces so you have to be concise and yet persuasive in each tweet to build your following. Here are some of my top tips to consider.

  1. You do not need to necessarily use proper punctuation in order to stay in character count. You can drop your period and move to one space at the end of a sentence.
  2.  Consider using common abbreviations such as mgmt. instead of management or gGr8 instead of great. However don’t get too cryptic, most people will know LOL (laughing out loud) but may not know LMAO (laughing my arse off). You get the drift, only abbreviate when you need to and when it will be understandable.
  3. I recommend, for people really wanting to build a following, that they do between 5 to 10 tweets a day.
  4. Space out your tweets. Don’t send out all ten tweets one after another, space them out using a system like TweetLater (now weirdly called SocialOomph). I usually do one tweet the first thing in the morning and then program my tweets out for the rest of the day separating them by at least one hour.
  5. Make your tweets be valuable to readers. When you don’t offer interesting information you will not grow your following. I focus on interesting links, cool tidbits, interesting information you may not have known in the field I am tweeting on, and sometimes (but not in every tweet) a link back to my website to a specific page, feature or service. Make sure that tweets you do are more than self promotion. I have found that I really grow my following quickly when I take this focus. Additionally when you take this approach more followers will promote you to a special category where they hang on your tweets versus just being a tweet in the crowd. You will leverage your Twitter power with this approach, I know from experience.

Don’t feel like you have the hang of Twitter? We can start you out, just check out our Twitter services.

Do you have another tip you want to share here? Love to hear what you recommend, just click comments below and leave me yours.

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PayPal Seriously Screws With AdWords Conversions

If you use PayPal to process credit card transactions and you are using Google AdWords to push sales on these products, a recent change PayPal has made will be seriously screwing with your ability to record conversions in Google AdWords.

I’ve just spent over one hour on this and was very discouraged about the change. Here is my letter to PayPal that I am posting on my blog as well detailing the problem.

*****

Sent to PayPal using their online Feedback interface

PayPal has recently made a change in the order confirmation page. It used to be at the end of the transaction the buyer (if the PayPal account owner had set this up) was automatically sent to the desired thank you page on the selling website.

Now PayPal has globally, for all customers, defeated this. Instead of being automatically returned to the selling site, a new screen is shown within PayPal with an order confirmation number and an orange button that says return to merchant name’s site.

In my case (I manage many AdWords clients) this means that if and only if the client clicks the orange return to website button will a Google AdWords conversion will be recorded.

If the buyer chooses to just close that tab and surf elsewhere, no Google AdWords conversion is recorded.  This is a very big problem for any client who is using PayPal and then marketing these services on Google AdWords.

As a Professional Account Google AdWords Account Manager I will not be recommending that clients use PayPal if they are promoting their items on AdWords. The recording of conversions is one of our biggest tools to understand if spending on AdWords is an investment or an expense.

I will hope that PayPal will reverse this action. You can contact me, Nancy McCord at 301-705-7303 or nancy@mccordweb.com

Please pass my comments up the chain as PayPal may not have considered this when they have made this very important change.

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A Case Study on Effective Twitter Use

I have an interesting situation that I am watching and it gives some insight into how using Twitter effectively to build your following allows you access to viral marketing on a huge scale.

First, for one client I have set up two Twitter accounts; one for his main business and one for his spin off business and e-commerce store. The spin off business/e-commerce store uses our Twitter Executive program where we tweet 7 to 12 times a day and actively interact with followers. The other account we set up but do not maintain but periodically we copy the same tweet, when appropriate, there just because we are kind but have not been hired to grow this account. Both Twitter accounts were set up on the same day. One has been actively managed and the other has not. Here are the statistical results of follower counts.

As of today the account we actively manage has 72 followers and is following 154 people with 148 tweets. The account we do not actively manage has 8 followers and is following 23 people. Both accounts have been open about two and one half weeks.

What is additionally interesting is that when I look at the bit.ly stats for link clicks for the Twitter account we actively manage, in six days 218 people have clicked links we have mentioned in our tweets to read more. This tells me that we have an active versus passive following. This means when the e-commerce store is finally opened we will have a loyal, link clicking, viral sharing, Twitter base to expose to the client’s store products. That’s the power of Twitter in action!

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Twitter Etiquette the Do’s and Don’ts

Just like Facebook Twitter has unspoken rules. Here are a few that I wanted to share with you.

1. Make sure to install a picture on your Twitter profile. Some applications that use Twitter API like TweetLater, will allow you to block followers who are using the default image icon.

2. Try to provide value to followers. I focus on content, cool stories, interesting articles, topics, tips, trend updates. If all you tweet about is what you are eating for lunch or what project you are working on, you mark yourself as a Twitter newbie.

3. Use TweetLater and set up a follower auto responder with a link to your website or a nice comment. Set up to auto unfollow them if they unfollow you. This will help to keep your follower list clean. At the beginning follow everyone who follows you – a courtesy issue.

4. Consider vetting new followers as your follower numbers get to about 300. It becomes increasingly difficult to interact with Twitter followers when your list becomes too large. Periodically using Twellow, I will chop following people on my list who have never tweeted, not tweeted in the last 30 days or who are spamming me with marketing messages, or their make money on Twitter programs.

5. Don’t use Twitter just to market your products and services. Man, there is no faster way to get unfollowed, than to constantly be sending out self promotion messages!

6. Some Twitter API applications allow you to send out the same tweet at different times. Be careful with that. I have one Internet marketing guru who I thought knew what he was doing until I checked out his Twitter account and all 500 tweets he did were the exact same tweet. Go figure! Not sure what he was trying to accomplish but I could not click unfollow fast enough.

7. Spread your tweets out. I tweet heavily in the morning as this is the time I interact with followers with @ and D replies, but for routine tweets I try to space them about 1 to 2 hours apart. I use TweetLater for this. I typically will do between 7 to 12 tweets a day but sometimes more if there is a trending topic and interchange between followers.

8. Do get followers to participate in polls and then share the results. I did a poll recently and found that people are doing about two to three tweets a day on the average. The people who tweet more will have more followers – it just happens!

9. Use bit.ly and create an account and shrink your URLs in your own bit.ly account not TweetDeck so you can see click stats on links you mention in tweets. You will find it amazing to see the real viral nature and impact and sharability of your tweets if you are tweeting effectively and the proof is your link stats in bit.ly. Consider using HootSuite with the installed ow.ly URL shortener and get a tweet interface and link tracking system in one interface.

10. Follow others. To build your own Twitter following you simply have to start by following others and then interact with them. I have a great case study on this that I will share with you on Friday.

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Facebook Etiquette – the Do’s and Don’ts

No one will tell you you’ve broken one of the unspoken rules … they will just defriend you, and you’ll never know. Here are my do’s and don’ts for Facebook users to help you not fall into the defriended pit.

1. Don’t post status updates more than three times a day on Facebook! If you want to post more often use Twitter. If you post more frequently than three times a day, Facebook friends will think that you are spamming them. Their own wall will be covered with your updates. There is no faster way for a friend to either hide you from their wall or to defriend you (both which you will never know) than to update too frequently.

2. If you are an avid Twitter user like me, don’t feed your tweets to Facebook as status updates. Disable this push to Facebook and use Ping.fm to update your Facebook and other social networking status feeds with one click and then only two or three times a day. Twitter users love regular updates throughout the day, but Facebook users don’t. See number 2!

3. Don’t inundate people with games. An occasional game is fine to turn your friends on to but not one a day! If you game a lot on Facebook, and I have some business clients’ support staff who have friended me on Facebook, and based on the number of games they play is seems to me that they spend their full work day on Facebook. I wonder if my client knows that.

4. If you are an employer try to Facebook friend your employees. One it helps you stay connected, and two it also allows you a window to see how much time they are spending on Facebook – see number 3.

5. Do use Facebook to share your life but don’t get too personal. People who have connected with you do want to know where you went on vacation, but they may not want to know about your ingrown toenail surgery especially not the gory details. Be careful of saying something controversial aw well, as remember your comment may be posted on your friends, friends, friends wall and not just on your own.

6. Do use the privacy settings on Facebook to control what the public versus your friends see. Additionally, if you find that a friend posts racy or off color comments do right click on the wall post and choose to hide them from your friends or for that comment or for the future.

7. Do post pictures and videos. I don’t think a video of the birth of your grand baby in the delivery room is appropriate, but if you see a funny video on YouTube, share it and give all your friends a laugh too. Remember not just your friends see what you share but friends of friends and the general public unless you have enabled additional privacy settings.

You will never know when someone defriends you or hides your posts and comments from their wall and their friends. So follow these few simple tips to stay connected and not end up just interacting with yourself on Facebook as everyone has blocked you.

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Adobe InContext Editing Reviewed

Well over this past week I have really been running Adobe InContext Editing through its paces. I wanted to update my post of yesterday which I wrote over seven days ago with my thoughts on InContext Editing from real world use.

First, it is not ready for major client implementation yet. There are too many bugs and issues yet to be worked out for web developers to widely recommend this new product at this point. But, the possibilities are certainly there, and I will be watching very closely. For now these are my thoughts.

1. If you have a website using PHP includes or for that matter any site that uses a header and footer include you will have difficulties in implementing InContext Editing at this point. If you have a plain vanilla website in html you will be fine. I have done testing on both standard html pages and PHP include pages. To make my page editable with PHP includes I had to hard code in the InContext Editing script and special div tag identifiers as when I tried to define the editable div tags online using the interface I triggered a repeating error that refused to set up permissions to allow the page to be edited. This is problematic for Adobe for widespread use, but I am sure they will be working to resolve this as this is an issue for any large website that wants to use their service.

2. If you want to add rows or cells to a table (that hold data not layout tables) on your editable page you do not have that option yet. At this stage the application really only works best for simple wording changes and formatting in text. You can install an image but there is no image preview so unless you know what your image name is ahead of time it is difficult for you to clearly know what image you are adding to your page as you edit. You can not browse and see a thumbnail while you are in the application.

3. Set up of the server is problematic. I understand paths and routinely set up FTP access in several applications and I had trouble setting up the access between InContext Editing and the web server. From my experience, don’t follow the tips in the control panel, follow the online instructions. I achieved a successful set up by not entering www. or ftp in front of my domain name as the instruction stated. Also just set up access for the root, not to a subdirectory as anything other than the root set up will trigger an error. The application wants root access and will not proceed unless you give it that. This may be an issue for testing if you are setting up a client test and don’t want them to have full access to their site. At this time you cannot control what they have access to and do not. Because of this make sure you have a backup before you give any client access to the site through InContext Editing.

4. Adding images does require the client to understand that they need to click Advanced or Additional options on the top right to add a vspace, hspace, no border and an align attribute to make the image look good in the text. It took me a while where to find this. Adobe should make it this like WordPress where you click on the image and then right click to add these attributes not add a link above the content editing field. Many clients write their own blogs so to have it simple like WordPress would be very practical.

5. Web developers should be prepared to pay a subscription fee for this service eventually although it is free for now. Adobe is stating that fees will be $10 to $20 per month for about 5 client websites. If you as the developer then in turn charge $10 to $20 per month per client for access this actually becomes a profit center. I have to say the fee is a non-issue for me. The money that clients will save on paying a webmaster (me included) by doing their own content editing will by far out weigh the very small monthly expense in their eyes. With my minimum charge being $8, to do small updates yourself just twice, you have paid for your access for the month. For small do-it-yourself clients this is a huge money and time saver. Some web designers/developers may consider this an issue of losing income and yes, that is certainly the case for some, but from the client’s stand point it is a money saving feature. Therefore implementation of the service at initial design concept may be a possible closing point.

6. One thing that I think the application would benefit from is a tree view of the site to allow the client to understand the site architecture and to be able to navigate to files easily. The current way you navigate to the page you want to edit is to use the website’s navigation and then click control + E to show the page edit button. For some sites we work on where navigation is to mid pages using anchors this can create a world of confusion for the client who wants to update their own site but not allowing a visual menu of the pages in the site.

My overall impression is that this is an excellent potential new product that will be a game changing for webmasters, web developers, and clients. I am not afraid of it but rather ready to embrace it. Clients want to save money, they want control over their website. This application allows for a custom designed website to have features of a online template website. There will always be reasons for a client to have a webmaster make a special change on their site, but with Adobe InContext Editing easy text updates will be at the client’s fingertips in their browser.

From a web designer viewpoint, designing for InContext Editing use does require a bit of a refocus but not a major change. Editable sections need to be set up enclosed in div tags with unique IDs. It could be a very strong selling point to allow client access to update their content at will as part of selling custom website using this new application as a “bridge”.

I will be watching the product very closely to see when we can include clients in expanded testing and start offering implementation as part of our own web design services.

One quick footnote, I have to say that the forum and support staff for this new product is excellent. They are on the ball, active in the forum, really concerned about the user experience and total code geeks – that’s a good thing, as roll out of this product really depends on the web designer/web developer acceptance of this new product. Way to go Adobe a great new product but one still in the works.

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