Tag Archives: Twitter

Social media during the workday: Time waster or mental palate cleanser?

Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.
Unless you work in the bat cave, you can probably find a useful way to incorporate social media into your workday.

I check social media more often than I would care to admit. Facebook and Twitter are the first things I check in the morning after snoozing, then turning off my alarm, and before checking email. Then I keep tabs of different social networks open all day long at work — or at the very least Hootsuite. And when I go home, I’m usually checking in on social using my phone or tablet.

Luckily for me and for my employer, social media is my job. I keep so many social tabs open during my work day because I’m managing our brand’s accounts and I’m looking for story ideas to pass onto reporters.

Because of the nature of my job, it’s hard to classify each action I take on social media as work or personal. I might click on a seemingly mindless Buzzfeed list for a personal reason, but then I could find inspiration in a stupid GIF — a brilliant story idea that I pass on to the appropriate reporter. Not that every listicle inspires me, but I won’t know before clicking.

However, social media is not a part of the job description for every employee in the world checking Facebook during the workday. So how can employers who want efficiency make sure workers aren’t wasting working hours on social media?

I think the answer is the boss needs to give a little to get more. Outlawing social media at the office is not the answer. In fact, Forbes says that social media actually increases productivity. The businesses who reported this social-media-driven efficiency focused their employees’ efforts on productivity using the networks instead of wasting time surfing. However, the Forbes piece also mentions that short social media breaks can act as a “mental palate cleanser.”

On a related note, I think “spying” on employees — searching browser history or time spent on social media sites — is unethical. Even if employers are open about collecting such information — and if they are collecting data, they should definitely disclose it — this practice is bound to breed manager or company distrust and dissatisfaction among employees.

Instead, employers should allow and even encourage those short social media breaks. If some employees start spending a little too much work time on social media, it will likely be reflected in their work, and that should result in an employer-to-employee conversation.

How do you think social media could be incorporated into your work day?

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Do you read the terms and conditions? Here’s what I would change

I started working on this week’s Social Media Ethics assignment a little too close to bedtime, and I’ve discovered a new alternative to Benadryl or Advil PM: Facebook’s Terms and Conditions. And if you make it to the bottom of that page and you’re still awake, don’t worry: You’ve still got 10 more options.

Better than counting sheep!
Better than counting sheep!

Twitter is slightly better, and at least they provide the “tips” you see below that convert legalese to English and point out the most important stuff.

The terms are still long, but at least you're helpful, Twitter.
The terms are still long, but at least you’re somewhat helpful, Twitter.

I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure there’s some legal reason for all these sites to have terms and conditions for days. I’ve never read the full terms for any of the social media platforms I use, but I have read posts on blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch that have outlined major changes in certain networks’ terms over the years, so I do at least have a general idea of what they say. But I would be willing to bet that the majority of users don’t even do that.

In the future of terms, I would like to see more of what Twitter has attempted to do. Publish your mile-long terms if you must, but also offer a concise version in words that make sense to people without a law degree. Maybe even offer some interaction, like a “Do you know your rights on [insert social network]?” quiz, which people can take and share their score. Every wrong answer could offer a sentence or two on that particular topic. If people take the time to figure out what kind of cookie they are, surely they’d spend a few minutes on a quiz to see how well they understand a social network they spend hours using.  They could even get the folks at Buzzfeed to design the quiz to make it more irresistible.

I think people are most concerned about their rights and about their privacy. Who can see my content? Who can legally use it and for what purpose? I’d like to see those concise terms I was talking about written in an inverted pyramid style, where the most important items are at the top, and the rest are written in order of decreasing importance. You can’t count on people to read all the way through anything, but you can at least increase the likelihood that they’ll read the most significant parts.

Do you read the small print when you sign up for a new account somewhere online? What do you think would make terms and conditions less boring and more digestible?

Analytics crunch time: Ton of tools to measure social media success

Look at all these colors and then tell me analytics aren't fun.
Look at all these colors and then tell me analytics aren’t fun.

Social media is fun, and you should be using it. As an individual, you get to connect with your friends as well as complete strangers who interest you; you also get to learn about new topics, people, places and products. As a business, you can utilize social media to reach your existing and potential customers, which ultimately leads to a better bottom line. But how do you really know that all your social media work is paying off?

According to this infographic, 50 percent of businesses are unsure of their ROI through Twitter. There are so many numbers you could point to — followers, mentions, retweets — to try to prove whether your business’ Twitter account is successful. But those numbers are only part of measuring social media success. You can’t just collect followers; you have to understand their behavior. If people aren’t clicking on the links you share on your social accounts, you need to revise how you’re communicating with your audience. But first, you need to figure out whether people are clicking. Luckily, lots of smart people live on the internet, and businesses (and individuals looking to up their social media game) have a plethora of social media analytics tools to choose from.

Link tracking allows you to figure out not just a total number of referrals from a certain domain like facebook.com or t.co (Twitter), but how many people clicked on a specific link sent from your account(s). This helps you determine both what topics are popular with your audience and which platforms are giving you the biggest return on your time spent. Tools for link tracking include bit.ly, ow.ly (within Hootsuite), Tweeterspy and Clickmeter. [See more link tracking options in this list from Razor Social.]

Tracking links is only the beginning of better understanding your audience. There are also tools like Sprout, which helps you break down your follower base by demographic, and Tweriod, which analyzes your followers to show you (in graph form) what times they are online. [See the full list of cool analytics tools from Tech Radar.] Pieces of information like these help you create a formula for what works well (and what doesn’t) in engaging your followers and enticing them to click through from social media to you.

Once you’ve properly acquainted yourself with the audience you’re trying to reach, get busy! Some businesses may stick to using each network directly to post updates and talk to followers. But there are some great social media management suites out there to make wrangling multiple accounts easier. Mashable dives into the pros, cons and costs of several CRMs — including Hootsuite (my personal favorite), Sprout Social, Wildfire, Spredfast and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Do you use a CRM for your business social media needs? Which one, and what do you like or not like about it?

Have you ever used any additional analytics tools, such as WolframAlpha, SimplyMeasured or the others mentioned in my post? How did you apply the results?

Twitter users to all businesses ever: Stop selling and just talk to me

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Twitter is all about community engagement. (Get it?)

I hate “being sold.” If I feel like someone is trying to sell me something, I get irrationally angry and start making vows to never buy their product again. I dislike all but only the extra clever television commercials (always ones that aren’t directly trying to sell me something), and pop-up and peel-back online ads make me want to pull my hair out.

So I was not at all surprised this week to read multiple articles saying if you want to sell something using Twitter, don’t make it so freaking obvious. Twitter is not about the sale; Twitter is about the people. So you’ve got to take your time building your community on the network and engage each follower, as Aaron Lee says he would do early on if he could start over with his account. If every company utilized “pull” marketing — attracting potential customers through interaction and excitement — rather than trying to push their products into people’s arms, I would probably be making a lot fewer of those never-buy-that-again vows.

Has a brand’s performance on Twitter ever convinced you to buy — or not buy — a product?

An easy way to get your brand away from that pushy approach on Twitter is to take the conversation from one-way to two-way. Instead of using Twitter as a tool for broadcasting your brand’s message, use it to talk to your community. Ask questions, answer questions, solve problems and even request retweets. (Interesting tidbit: Spelling out the word retweet instead of using abbreviation RT gets you 23 times more retweets, according to Ask Aaron Lee.) Look for people who are talking about you, even if they don’t directly mention you. At AL.com, we set up search streams in Hootsuite to find conversations taking place about our brand or topics that we cover so we can get involved in the conversation.

Do you or your company search for any hashtags or key words as entry points into Twitter conversations? If so, what are they?

The most engaged brand on Twitter, @Notebook, told Forbes that they answer every single tweet that comes their way. Their content might not be for everyone (ahem, me); but never having spent a dollar on advertising, Notebook of Love is certainly a brand to examine for best practices. @Notebook creator Branden Hampton says brands should focus on the message of their companies, not the product they’re trying to sell. When instead of cramming a car down your followers’ throats, you tweet about your car’s safety features, fuel economy and even a story about someone who did something cool with the car (all the while, of course, answering customers tweeting at you), you’ll attract more customers. Because having a car crammed down your throat would probably hurt.