Switch to Seesmic Desktop…Now.

Seesmic DesktopFor the longest time, Tweetdeck was my Twitter application of choice. Those days are now long gone. With my new job, I realized I was going to need a service that allowed me to maintain multiple accounts. I was disappointed since I was under the impression that no other apps compared to tweetdeck, but it was a sacrifice I was going to have to make.

I decided to try out Seesmic Desktop as I was a follower of @loic for some time and heard some good things about the app. Goodbye Tweetdeck.

Seesmic offers everything that Tweedeck offers and then some. Here are a few things that have made me a Seesmic Desktop evangelist

  1. Customer Service.  First and foremost, the @askseesmic twitter account was enough to make me switch.  I would constantly have issues with Tweetdeck, complain about it on Twitter (naturally) and the only responses I would get were from other people facing similar issues.  When starting to use Seesmic Desktop, I had a lot of questions, and a couple issues.  Not a minute after I said something on Twitter @askseesmic responded and answered my questions.  Afterwards, any time I had a question, I sent a reply to @askseesmic and received a prompt, helpful response.  This, to me, is invaluable.
  2. Prompt Updates.  I don’t know if the Tweetdeck creators have been listening at all, but there is an array of issues with the application that have gone unfixed for months…where are the updates?  Since starting to use Seesmic Desktop less than a month ago, there have already been updates fixing issues and adding features that customers have been asking for. Is it perfect yet? No…but I guarantee you that they will constantly be working to make it better.
  3. Functionality. Aside from basic things actually working, like adding people to groups, there are a number of features that makes Seesmic Desktop my favorite Twitter app.  Danny Brown lists a bunch here.  For me, the big ones are multiple accounts, smoother/easily organized columns, ability to save searches and a few more of “the little things”.

Unless Tweetdeck starts listening and responding accordingly, they are going to lose all of their momentum.  Seesmic has already begun to cut away at it.  Until Tweetdeck does something, switch to Seesmic Desktop…now. You’ll thank me later.

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Don’t Ask, Just Share

Photo cred: Keith Allison
Photo cred: Keith Allison

If Kobe gets open for a shot, should he yell “Pass me the ball!”? No…he needs to make the ball handler aware of the opportunity so that he can decide what to do.  As lame as that sounded, same goes for reaching out to a blogger.

Chances are the blogger knows that you’re pitching them before they even open the email.  Bloggers are used to receiving pitches and the experienced ones know exactly what they expect in a good pitch.  Ultimately they know that you’re emailing them because you’d like them to write a post about your company or product. One thing bloggers definitely don’t like is being told what to blog about.

Depending on the situation, it might be good to come right out and just ask the blogger to write a post; but sometimes it’s best not to ask for anything at all.  If you’ve done your job correctly, you’re pitching this blogger because you already know that their readers would be interested in whatever it is you’re pitching.  If this is true, the blogger will want to write a post about it regardless of whether or not you ask them to.  Describe your product and explain how it might be valuable to their audience.  If they don’t want to write an entire post about it, they may be interested in sharing it within another post or sharing it elsewhere.  There are a number of opportunities.

If you describe your product and then end the email asking them to write a post about it, they may just decide it’s not worthy of a post and move on.  You’re only focusing on one option.  They’ll be much more receptive to an email that aims to do nothing more than share information about a valuable product, and that doesn’t push them to do anything.  Bloggers love to share and if it really is valuable, the request isn’t necessary…they WILL share. (Just like if Kobe is open, they WILL pass)

Do you agree?

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The Musician’s Social Community

Photo cred: Angelo Cesare
Photo cred: Angelo Cesare

Music is passion. Music is everywhere. Music is everyone. That’s why musicians have so much to gain from social media. Where there are people, there is a potential community for your band.  Chances are, unless you have a completely new and outrageous sound, a community based on your genre already exists.

How can musicians and bands utilize the power of social media? Bands have been using social tools more and more over the past few years, changing the focus of Myspace to music, and providing free tracks on sites like purevolume, blip.fm and last.fm.  For the most part however, many of these musicians have used these platforms as a broadcast tool, and haven’t been using tools to build a community.  Similar to many businesses, musicians aren’t taking advantage of this great opportunity.

Contribute to the community

Like any business, you can’t just join myspace or another community online and start broadcasting your songs and concert dates. You want to engage and connect with your fans.  As an active musician, you’re probably knowledgeable about other bands in your genre.  Share their music with your fans, connect with their band members and build a relationship.

A beautiful aspect of the music industry is that there isn’t really any rivalry, or a threat of substitutes.  Getting your fans to listen to other bands with similar sounds will not make them listen to you any less.  It will encourage other bands to also share your music with their fans, ultimately combining and expanding your communities.

“Hey man, check out this band… I know the drummer!”

The same way a CEO and employees can use social media to create a “human” or “personal” image, bands can use these tools to create a personal relationship with their fans.  As someone who has been very involved in music scenes in the past, I can attest that knowing a band’s members on a personal level makes fans a lot more loyal and more likely to become “evangelists”.  Knowing a band’s members is something to brag about, and fans will recommend a band that they’ve connected with personally.

Share your experiences, your goals, and anything else that’s on your mind.  Call on your fans for their contributions.  Start a blog and encourage your fans to read by mixing in some inside info/backstage footage. One of my favorite bands, Incubus is a good example with how they use their blog. They post news and events about the band but also write personal posts to their fans and to call on their fans to contribute.  You can take it a step further, and start using twitter to connect with your fans in a live, more direct manner.

Your product isn’t limited by geographic constraints and social media allows you to tap into communities anywhere.  Whether you’re a small local band or you’re considered “mainstream”, drive the passion of your potential and current fanbase into a collaborative social community and get your sound heard.

I’d really be interested to hear about smaller, local bands you know using social media.  If you know of any bands using online tools to build/engage the community, be sure to share them in the comments.

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Developing a Community On and Off Campus

Stuart Foster-207This is a guest post by Stuart Foster, a marketing consultant in the Boston area. He specializes in brand management, social media, and blog outreach. He authors a blog at Thelostjacket.com.
Photo cred: Alisa Ryan
Photo cred: Alisa Ryan

Colleges have a built in vibrant community on campus. They have varied interests, participate in multiple things and often are socially aware. Aren’t those some of the hallmarks of a great community?

Now what if you were to plug alumni into that community? The students would have access to jobs, resources, and lines of communication with alumni that would be difficult or near impossible to create through the Career Services center.

By building a more inclusive community (and doing it right) you could strengthen your alumni-student relations to an unprecedented degree. Need an internship? Where do you go look?

If you have a pre-existing relationship with a member of your college’s alumni you likely go to that person for recommendations. They have access to people and groups that you wouldn’t have known they existed otherwise.

The creation of this type of network would eliminate a lot the bureaucracy currently existing at many schools. I went to the career services office at my school and came away ill prepared with any idea of what I wanted to do or the people I needed to talk to too procure an internship. I’m sure I am not alone in this frustration.

When I want to develop a relationship with a person…I don’t want to go to another person first. I want to connect directly with the person I am interested in meeting and learning more about. Social networks could possibly bridge the current disconnect.

What are the benefits for alumni? The same as they are for the student only in reverse. They now have a wealth of talent from which to pool and can pre-screen candidates before even considering them for an internship. It would cut down on a lot of legwork on the part of both parties.

Huge opportunity here…now they just need to actually do it. (In a real way, not the convoluted non-usable enterprise garbage that most have set up).

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Why Scribnia Is Valuable To ME

scribniaIf you haven’t heard the big news from my last post, I’ve been hired as the community manager for Scribnia.  Perhaps because of my newly acquired position, you may think that a review of Scribnia on my blog may be biased…fair enough.  I hope that if you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you know I wouldn’t post anything that I didn’t think would be valuable to the community.  Either way, I’m not going to tell you that Scribnia is awesome, or that you have to go sign up, or even that it would be valuable to you as a blogger/reader.  I’m going to tell you why Scribnia is valuable to me, as a blogger and reader, and I’ll let you decide whether or not it’s valuable to you too.  Fair?

Value as a Blogger

  1. Transparency. One of the big values of “social media”, bloggers are expected to be transparent and gain respect and loyalty for doing so.  I’m open with my community members about who I am, my honest views, or any bias that I might have.  When people write a review about me on Scribnia, they are increasing my transparency, allowing new readers to feel more comfortable when visiting my blog for the first time.
  2. Learn how I’m viewed by my readers. I might have a bias that I didn’t realize existed.  My readers might be looking for different kinds of posts.  They aren’t necessarily going to come out and tell me what they think of my writing.  Scribnia is a call to action, where your readers are asked to share their opinions.  You can add a “rate me” widget to your blog and encourage your readers to share their thoughts.
  3. SEO.  My Scribnia page will come up when people search for my name on search engines (once the site goes public).
  4. Engage conversation about YOU. I’ve told businesses before that their customers are talking about their brand online and that they need to engage the conversation.  Time to practice what I preach.  If my readers care enough to share their thoughts about me as a blogger on Scribnia, I have the opportunity to convert negative views into positive ones, and to further engage with my community.  Danny Brown does a great job of joining the conversation about him and responding to reviews of his work.

Value as a Reader

  1. Find new bloggers. A lot of recommendation engines that I’ve seen base much of the recommendation on content, without really taking into account my personal reading preferences.  Scribnia takes the reviews that I’ve written, and based on how high or low I’ve ranked different aspects of each author, other authors that might be valuable to me are proposed.  I can also browse by category or industry to find new bloggers and publications.
  2. Share. I love to suggest bloggers that I follow to others.  When Scribnia users view my profile, they can see all the reviews that I’ve written, which bloggers I like or don’t like and why.  Linking people to other bloggers is great, but it  helps to show them why I like those bloggers.  (Tip: Try it out on Twitter… next #followfriday, give your recommendation’s twitter name and provide a link to their Scribnia page)
  3. Preview bloggers.  There are a lot of author profiles I have come across that don’t have a very good “about” description.  I’d have to read multiple posts before really understanding what the blog is about and the blogger’s style.  This is especially time consuming when doing blogger outreach.  Bloggers typically condemn misplaced pitches to their blogs and the last thing you want is to anger the bloggers in the community you’re reaching out to.  By reviewing an author’s Scribnia profile, you can learn a little bit more about a blogger before contacting them giving you a better understanding of what they find valuable.

All in all, I accepted the job of Community Manager for Scribnia for a number of reasons, one being because I thought it provides a valuable service that bloggers would really appreciate.  We are trying to build a blogging community for authors, readers and their networks to connect, share and grow.  Once we have developed a solid amount of quality content, Scribnia will be open to the pulic.  If you think you’d be a quality contributing member of the alpha community, send me an email at dspinks5@gmail.com for an invite.

You can find my Scribnia page here.  Review me…I dare you. (=

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