Easy Email Campaigns

Many Facebook page owners are discovering the importance of building communication with customers and supporters on channels you control, namely Websites and Email Campaigns. (I’ll say a few more words about this toward the end of the post.) If you are new to managing email lists and sending campaigns here are a few platforms to help you get started.

MailChimp

MailChimp has all the bells and whistles and may seem a bit complicated at first but MailChimp’s documentation is very well done. Basically you’ll create a List, (e.g. Subscribers”) and publish a sign-up form for people to subscribe. Over time you might delve into creating sharp templates but to get started I highly recommend using their “Email Beamer” to send an update to your list directly from your email client. In other words you can send an email to all of your subscribers just as easy as you send an email to a friend. Here’s how:

  1. Send an email to your list’s unique email address (this is automatically created when you create the list)
  2. Mailchimp will reply with a confirmation that a draft has been created.
  3. Reply to the confirmation with the word “Send” and voila it will deliver.

Start with reviewing MailChimp’s Getting Started guide and then read about the Email Beamer feature.

I love Mailchimp and highly recommend them. If you have fewer than 2000 subscribers you can send up to 12,000 emails per month completely FREE. If you sign up for their service I’d appreciate you using my affiliate link to sign-up.

TinyLetter

TinyLetter, which is now part of the MailChimp family, is the no fuss method of sending email newsletters. It’s very simple to use and free to setup. I haven’t used it extensively so I don’t know the limitations of the product but knowing its pedigree I think you’ll be very pleased with this stripped-down email campaign tool.

Letter.ly

Letter.ly is similar to TinyLetter but focused on newsletters that charge a subscription fee. It’s fairly widely used and beyond simple to setup so if you want to charge a few dollars for access to the newsletter this is the fastest way to get up and running.

A word on Facebook Page Posts and visibility

If you manage a Facebook Page you are no doubt aware that your posts are no longer reaching as wide of an audience. Through edge rank algorithms and the introduction of promoted posts you probably feel like you’ve encountered a bait-and-switch. Here is the hones truth… Facebook doesn’t charge you for pages and they don’t owe you anything. Social networks can be an invaluable tool but realize that you are always at their mercy.

It is essential that you tie your community and communication to channels that you can control, (i.e. your website, your email database).

For further discussion on the subject I recommend reading these touchstone posts by @copyblogger:

In closing

There are many sites email campaign manager tools available (e.g. ConstantContact, Aweber) but Mailchimp is what I prefer, use and recommend. If you know of other email tools that focus on simple and easy email newsletters I’d love to hear about them. If you need help with Mailchimp feel free to contact me. I help a number of clients in the setup and management of Mailchimp and I’d be glad to help you as well.

Happy Emailing

 

 

Be Prepared: Tweeting without Internet

Every natural disaster these days proves how useful Twitter in particular has become. The problem of course is these disasters usually mean your internet service and/or mobile data service is offline. So how do you stay connected and informed?

Twitter via Text Messaging (SMS)

You’ve probably heard that Twitter was initially built as an SMS service and because of that pedigree it maintains serious functionality through the lowly text message. However many of us don’t use twitter via text message enough to be adept at its syntax.

So here’s is one little tip that could really help – Save the Twitter SMS Commands PDF to your smartphone to have all the commands at your fingertips regardless of your internet connection.

Scan the QR code to open the PDF directly on your smartphone.

Try using iBooks, Evernote, or Dropbox to save a copy of this PDF if you aren’t familiar with this feature.

By the way you’ll need to link your cell phone to your Twitter account via the web at http://twitter.com/devices or you can do this via text message as well.

How to add your phone to your existing Twitter account via SMS:

  1. Send a text to your Twitter code with the word START.
  2. We’ll reply and ask you to text YES to the Twitter short code.
  3. Text your username to the same number. Do not use the @ symbol or quotation marks. Send your username ONLY, for example: larrybird
  4. Next, text your password. This is case sensitive, so be sure you are sending your password correctly.
  5. That’s it! You’re ready to go

This won’t take you 1 minutes of time and it might just help keep you connected in a time when you need it most.

The Currency of New Media is Still Reputation

In a world where everyone is rushing to be the first to break news its time we decide that being right is more important than being quick.

While much has been said concerning CNN and Fox reporting errors concerning the Healthcare ruling last week I’d like to examine a local example from this past weekend in hopes of raising our collective awareness and responsibility.

Just the Facts Please

Last night news began to break concerning a wildfire near one of my state’s flagship state parks, Mt. Magazine. Arkansas is under a severe drought and seemingly everyone is hyper aware of the fire danger we currently face so news of this type spread very quickly.

To my knowledge the news of the fire hit twitter around 8:30 via @KATVheather. Within a few moments @KATV_weather was also following the story. Then at 9pm and again at 10:40pm @ARscanning posted 2 photos reportedly from the Mt. Magazine fire. You can see the full timeline of these posts below

They weren’t.

My eagle-eyed friend @chad_gardner fired up google and easily found both of the images posted online.

Thankfully this wasn’t a matter of life and death and the reports were mostly harmless and quickly refuted. No harm done this time so let’s figure out what went wrong so we can be part of the solution.

It’s a Matter of Trust

@ARscanning is an anonymous account that began to gain traction a few months ago. Most of the tweets seem to be from an individual sitting and listening to a police scanner. The account has no real name, no face, no affiliation, and no website. I’m sure the individual behind the account has good intentions but the fact remains if you trust an account like this for verifiable news you need your head examined. It’s akin to taking stock market reports from a stranger wearing a hood on the street corner. So while the Arkansas Times commenters decry this as an example of why Twitter is a broken rumor mill I’d challenge that it is a failure of common sense.

However, what happened last night was not simply an issue of @ARscanning.’s reports. Yes, the community conscience should hold them responsible for posting inaccurate information but the larger issue is that trusted reporters and journalists started retweeting the account.

Here is the essence of the issue:

If you trust @ARscanning it is your own fault. If you are a trusted reporter and you help spread this inaccurate information without doing due diligence you are just as culpable.

We find an example of getting it right via our own social media juggernaut Mr. Todd Yakoubian, @KATV_weather. He saw the reports and instead of automatically forwarding them he used his resources and called the source of the news to verify what was happening. This in my mind is a perfect example of the value that traditional media can bring to social media. The average Joe doesn’t have contacts and resources to follow-up on a report in a timely manner so we place our trust in proven organizations that do.

To be fair the organizations/people that shared this info quickly corrected the info but they had already given the info their stamp of approval.

I’d like to add that Central Arkansas is blessed to have some incredibly active journalists and reporters as part of our Twitter community. This is not intended to condemn anyone or any organization, just a reminder that we need your skills more than ever.

Takeaways:

You have one currency; Trust. Don’t spend it lightly.

How can the average user help?

  • Remember the golden rule – Just because you read it on the internet doesn’t make it true.
  • Crisis Communications is too important to become a rumor mill. If you see “breaking” news tip a trusted reporter and ask them to follow up.
  • Take a tip from @acarvin and add the words “unconfirmed” to your tweet or ask for the source of the information.

Fake AR Wildfire photos

As news about a wildfire near Mt. Magazine broke last night a local twitter shared some reports and photos supposedly from a firefighter friend on the ground. Through the great work by @chad_gardner and @KATV_weather the erroneous reports were discovered and discounted.

Storified by Keith Crawford · Mon, Jul 02 2012 10:31:52

AR Forestry Commission says 75 acre wildfire right now on Mt. Magazine. Dispatcher not sure if any structures are in danger. Not contained.Heather Crawford
Mt. Magazine, West Arkansas: Fire departments battleing a 75 acre wildfire! http://lockerz.com/s/221633231ARKANSAS SCANNING
Don’t believe fire tweets you see from @ARscanning regarding Mt Magazine. He lifted his fire pictures from here: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jtoCB0CLL.jpg?aWQ9MTQ1Mjg5MjkwMyZwZD0yMDEwLTA2LTEwJmJkPVBhcGVyYmFjayZhdT0iUmljaCBGYWxldHRvIiZ0aT0mc2k9Chad Gardner
UPDATE: Mt. Magazine, West Arkansas: Fire departments battleing a 75 acre wildfire! The Lodge is now being evacuated!ARKANSAS SCANNING
@CrystalFireDept @ARscanning I just called the lodge and they told me they are NOT being evacuatedTodd Yakoubian
Another pic of the Mt. Magazine wildfire! http://lockerz.com/s/221650121ARKANSAS SCANNING
@CrystalFireDept @KATV_Weather Todd the info I had was from one of the firefighters at the scene. He been pretty reliable in the past.ARKANSAS SCANNING
and here’s the link to the second image that @ARscanning reported as being mt magazine, thanks to @will_watson: http://forestry.about.com/cs/forestfire/a/good_bad_ugly.htmChad Gardner
@chad_gardner I got the info from a reliable firefighter, that I know personally, that is on scene. I do not just make this stuff up.ARKANSAS SCANNING
It has been brought to our attention that the pictures posted tonight of the fire are not authentic. If that is true the I apologize.ARKANSAS SCANNING

 

Social Marketing Resources I Trust

A good friend recently asked me about Social Media Skill Building and Social Marketing training so I decided to compile a list of books, people, and blogs that I’ve found to be an invaluable educational resource.

Purists will be quick to point out that there is no such thing as Social Marketing, just marketing applied to new ways well this list isn’t intended to replace University degrees in marketing and communications but if you learn from the best, adapt, fail fast, and learn you will grow. Stay true and tell the truth… and you will succeed.

Everything I know about Social Marketing: Be kind, Be Helpful, Be Useful.

Or as my friend @BryanJones put it…
Play Along. Play Nice

The Resources I Trust

Here are a few books, blogs and people that will take you beyond the hype. If you are looking for a foundational understanding of how we arrived here and how you can use connecting points and influence to ethically and authentically further your goals… this is a good place to start.

Books

Social Media theory and marketing books seem to be printed on a daily basis and while many surely have worth I think it is safe to say that the core principles have already been masterly covered. These books are not merely practical guides. It’s easy to start with the “How” but you will be well served by educating yourself on the “why” (history, context, & theory). These are foundational works. For the full list click here.


Social Marketers

This is by no means a comprehensive list. I’m sure I’ve omitted some that just don’t come to mind at the moment. The people listed below are practitioners, authors, and bloggers. Follow them, Subscribe to their blogs, buy their books. IMHO they know where of they speak.

Sites

  1. Hubspot has a wealth of free information and tools. I found their eBooks to be very educational and shortcut intros to areas I was unfamiliar with. You’d be wise to avail yourself of these resources.
  2. OpenForum – An AmEx site that is geared toward empowering Small Business. You’ll find articles on managing and sales but they also have a healthy backlog of social marketing information. It’s quick reading and very focused content. I highly recommend this blog if you operate in the SMB arena.

Your Turn

As I said this list isn’t comprehensive and I’d appreciate your input. What sites, blogs, or people do you learn from? Share them in the comments.

2 New Foursquare Apps and a few old standbys

Two apps making the rounds this week that are built on top of the Foursquare platform.

#Mom – HashtagMom.com

A great idea that keeps Mom from worrying. Just add #mom to your check in and they will call or text your mother to let her know you arrived safely. I’ll be adopting this as soon as they add #wife.

Arrivals for Foursquare

This web app displays your friends check-ins like an Airport Arrivals board. Foursquare ideas like this have a shelf life of less than a year but if Arrivals creates a method of doing this for a venue it could get real traction at tweetups and conferences.

foursquare_arrivals_app

I'm not sure if I'm more jealous that @monaspoeticwax is seeing the Elvis show at Robinson or that @eric_andersen is at the Lego store.

 

 

While we are talking Foursquare apps…

Sure you can find apps to leave virtual water balloons but are there useful apps?Absolutely

TimeHop (formerly known as 4sq & 7 years ago) – This lovely service sends you a daily email that shows your check-ins, tweets, and facebook status from exactly 1 year ago. This little lovely email shows me the photos of my girl last year and reminds me where I ate and even what my pastor was preaching. Just sign up and try it. Trust me.

Agora – Helps you discover people at the same venue that you might be interested in meeting. I don’t know how it works but it does. (Bonus: Use IFTTT to text you when the email arrives if you suffer from inbox overload.)

FlickSquare – Posts your 4sq photos to your Flickr account

Sonar – Similar to agora but fully baked method to uncover “hidden” connections. I like it but rarely use it. Who needs another app to check?

Your Turn

Are you using any foursquare apps that I should check out? Leave a comment and let me know.

As always you can friend me on Foursquare

An intro to Favorite Tweets

What is that star thing? and What does it do?Favorites-256

There seems to be a lot of folks that haven’t really explored favoriting tweets or at least don’t see value of starring tweets of others so here’s a quick intro to one of the most overlooked little gems of Twitter.

What is a Favorite?

There is a small star under each tweet that allows you to favorite a tweet.

Everything else is open for interpretation and therein lies the problem. It isn’t readily apparent why someone would use this. Is this a bookmark or a high five?

The answer is yes.

How to use Favorite tweets

The standard disclaimer applies: There isn’t a wrong way and this isn’t an exhaustive list.

Method 1: Save a tweet for later.

You see a link in your tweet stream that you’d like to read but you don’t have time at that exact moment to digest the entire article. You can favorite the tweet so you can easily find it later and read it when it’s more convenient.

To see your favorited tweets just visit your Twitter profile and click on the Favorites tab.

This is Twitter’s official recommendation for how to use favorites, (See the Twitter help article on “What are Favorites?”).

Method 2: Show appreciation (give a little Twitter high five)

This is the method I prefer because it allows me to show appreciation to someone for their tweet without retweeting it. In my view, a retweet is for others whereas a favorite is for me and the author of the tweet. But I’ll give you a peek at tweets that I favorite.

To give me this freedom I use a service called instapaper to mark any links I want to use later. Every twitter app supports instapaper (usually a paper clip icon) and its an incredible system for creating a reading list. If you have an iPhone or iPad you’ll find the instapaper apps making for great reading. So by using instapaper it allows me to favorite whatever I like.

Method 3: Create a “Reviews” archive

This is a great tip for brands– Favorite a tweet when someone says something nice about your product or customer service. You can use these tweets in the future on promotional displays, real and digital, and it’s a quick way to show your CEO or a potential investor positive user feedback.

Method 4: Create an archive of tweets

Twitter search is atrocious so if you want to create a searchable archive of tweets you can get the rss feed of your favorited tweets and plug it into Google Reader. Nifty huh? Hattip to @TheFireTracker2 for this idea. (PS: To create a searchable archive of your own tweets create a Friendfeed account, but of course Facebook may pull the plug any day on FF)

Monitoring who favorites your tweets

There are a couple of ways to see when someone favorites your tweets. The first 2 are the most common and the last 2 are my favorite.

1) Twitter.com now includes mentions in the tab formally known as mentions. Just make sure to uncheck the “Show mentions only” checkbox.

2) Tweetdeck will also display favorites in your replies tab.

tweetdeck_favorite_tweets

3) Boxcar iPhone App – This app is how I get push notifications for everything Twitter. In my experience its faster and more reliable, supports many services and comes with settings to set quiet times, sound notifications, and much more. Part of that more is the ability to get a push notification when someone favorites your tweet. It’s free and awesome. Visit Boxcar.io for more info.

4) Favstar.fm – A quirky but very useful service built completely around favorite Tweets. Authorize your twitter account to see who favorites your tweets. My friend @eric_andersen showed me a new feature tonight that shows the people I favorite the most.

Your Turn

Do you favorite tweets? How do you use them?

If this post encourages you to give them a try let me hear from you. Or tweet this post and I might just favorite it.

Create timely tweets

Send Later…

Those are powerful words. It allows me to produce when I can and publish when I determine. I schedule blog posts and delay delivery time of emails (Tip: Try Boomerang for gmail) so scheduling tweets made sense to me from the first day I discovered the function.

alarm_clockScheduling tweets enables me to:

  • Talk when others are listening. Posting links at 2am just won’t see much traction.
  • Prevent flooding my friends timelines. I read hundreds of blogs via RSS and I doubt anyone wants to see me share 20 items at once.

Social dashboard apps like Hootsuite and Cotweet introduced this ability but we are now seeing a new breed of apps that aim to simplify the process. Instead of requiring you to schedule each tweet you focus on creating and the schedule is predetermined.

Don’t miss the great comments below. @BufferApp responds concerning mobile updating, @tacanderson shares how he uses a combination of these 2 services, @nwbingham brings up an additional issue I failed to mention.

Introducing Buffer

Buffer helps you build a queue of tweets that will be posted on a timeline that you predetermine. Set your schedule and write tweets. Easy.

buffer_tweet_box

  • To get started visit BufferApp.com and create a free account. (They do offer pro plans that allow multiple accounts and larger buffer starting at $10 a month but for most individuals the free account will work nicely.)
  • Create a schedule of the days and times you want to tweet.
  • Write tweets and add to buffer.

bufferBuffer has a nice analytics dashboard so you can judge the effectiveness of your schedule and they offer bit.ly API integration for link shortening. They also offer a number of browser extensions and bookmarklets to ease buffer creation.

2 criticisms of Buffer

  1. Their lack of a mobile app and or mobile web page. (Buffer if you are listening I hope I can scratch this statement very soon.)
  2. Buffer should remove the “Suggest an update” field it is bot-like behavior.

Introducing Timely

timely_logoTimely.is is a competing solution build by the folks at Flowtown. The major difference is they tweet at the times they determine to be most effective for your account, it’s a very cool feature but personally I prefer a bit more control.

Time.ly doesn’t offer the extensions or bookmarklets like Buffer but they are worth a look.

Concluding thoughts on scheduling

Some folks don’t care for scheduling tweets. I can respect that but I find this function useful for the reasons I stated above. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Don’t schedule when you are unplugged – If you are going to be away for hours on end don’t tweet. If you can’t be responsive in a reasonable amount of time then you are sending the message you aren’t listening.
  2. Be prepared to pause – Sometimes big things happen and your scheduled tweets will look thoughtless. So when a major quake devastates a country or the President is announcing the death of a major terrorist pause your queue.

Your turn…

What would you add to this list? What are you thoughts on tweet scheduling?

Dear Google+, It’s not you it’s me.

I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this for weeks but I’ve held out hope things would get better. We can’t keep going like this… I can’t keep making excuses.

dear-johnI don’t have space for you right now.

Yes you’re beautiful and wonderful and your future is filled with promise but now just isn’t a good time for me.

Cheer up! You are going to have lots of new friends and Klout loves you so it really isn’t a big deal that I deleted you my iPhone today.

You are more amazing than I hoped but the fact is:

  • A) Everyone is on Facebook
  • B) Twitter offers me mobility and simplicity.

I don’t have the time or energy to manage another set of lists, replies, notifications, and connections. I’m maxed out. I’m sorry.

You’re going to be amazing and I’ll probably be crawling back to you in coming years but I just need some time. Ok?


Am I Alone?

  1. Are you still active on Google+?
  2. Have you reduced your activity elsewhere to make room for it?

I love competition and Google+ will continue to be a game changer but for this early adopter and social median I’m bowing out… for now.

(Dan Reimond hit his own “Enough is Enough” wall and went so far as to call Google+ a “ghost town”. )

Klout lists cool, helpful, but smack of Jr. High?

KloutLogoIt’s no secret I’m a fan of Twitter Lists, I use them for listening to groups of people I value and for topics likes news and politics. They are also a great shortcut to finding quality people and seeing who others recommend. A few days ago Klout released a feature to import twitter lists and this is my first foray into that function.

Exploring and building

The basics are straight forward. Log into Klout, visit your dashboard and look for the import twitter list button. Klout will import any public twitter list you created.

2011-08-31_1226

First, I wanted to see the influence and reach of people on my politics and infosec lists. It’s interesting to see not only the scores but also the topics associated with different accounts.

Next I built a Little Rock locals list. I’m always looking for a way to provide others with a shortcut to get plugged into twitter in Central Arkansas and lists are a good answer. Here’s how I built it:

  • I used Formulists to build a dynamic list of everyone I follow that has Little Rock, Conway, or Central Arkansas as their location in their twitter profile.
  • I imported that list to Klout.

Now let’s get to the reason behind writing about this list…

2011-08-31_1250Perception and Usefulness

Why build a list for Little Rock? Is it useful?

I think so, it encourages connections and gives insight in to community activity. If you are new to Little Rock or new to Twitter you can easily discover some of the most active or listened to people in the area.

Klout also shows topics and allows you to see explore who someone influences or is influenced by. With some time you could really mine a network this way.

So what’s the problem?

Influence ranking feels like a Junior High popularity contest.

Influence is Analog (IRL)

I like @amybhole and @cottonr, both are close friends but depending on your perspective, interests, and sense of humor they may not be the first people you would want to follow. They top the list but following them (or me for that matter) if you are new to twitter is a good way to get overwhelmed.

Klout scores just aren’t all that indicative of “true” influence. Take @johnwhardin for example. His score is almost 25-30 points lower than the top of the list but I can tell you for a fact that guy is one of the first you’d want to follow. He is genuine, kind, and is truly listened to. I have the unique perspective of being a loud mouth that is still invited to quiet discussions on porches and DMs and I can tell you that if I gained 100,000 followers I wouldn’t carry the weight of John’s words.

Why? He has real influence. It can’t be measured in metrics of clicks and RTs.

Influence is subjective.

One more example – My wife and pastor (@wymanrichardson) have scores in the mid 20’s but there are only 2 people that I subscribe to their tweets as text messages. Care to take a guess?

They have real influence in my life.

What my list can’t tell you is most of the people in the 40’s score range are the heart and soul of my twitter community.

Conclusions

I think these lists are useful when viewed with the proper perspective. They can be informed connection points but the score is an arbitrary number they doesn’t reflect a person’s real influence.

In the end the entire list is people I follow and without exposing my private lists that is about the best recommendation I can give.

By the way, @Klout if you are listening I’d love to import a private list and keep it private.

Your Turn

Is the list useful enough to leave it up? Does it encourage connecting or feel too much like a popularity contest?

Also take a look at @mqtodd’s article on using Klout lists, really great ideas.

Arkansas Hashtag Directory

icon_072Back in the dark ages of Twitter (2009) @LT kick-started tweeting in Arkansas with the Arkansas Twitter Guide. The conversation has exponentially expanded and we are now seeing a meteoric rise in use of Arkansas specific hashtags. As an advocate of hashtag usage this is a great trend to keep Arkansans informed and spawn further conversation but we need a hashtag directory.

So let’s collaborate and build one.

Here is my initial list of Arkansas (1-13) hashtags in no particular order and the community suggestions begin at 14.

  1. #ARwx – Arkansas Weather
  2. #AReq – Arkansas Earthquakes
  3. #ARpx – Arkansas Politics
  4. #ARleg – Arkansas State Legislative Tweets
  5. #WPS – “Official” hashtag of Razorback Athletics (translation Woo Pig Sooie)
  6. #GoHogs – unofficial but popular hashtag of Razorback Athletics
  7. #ARpreps – High School Football
  8. #NWArk – Northwest Arkansas region
  9. #LRtweetup – Little Rock Tweetup
  10. #UCABears – University of Central Arkansas Athletics
  11.  #ARgop – Arkansas Republican Party
  12. #ARKdems – Arkansas Democratic Party
  13. #AR1 #AR2 #AR3 #AR4 – Arkansas Congressional Districts
  14. #DogtownLife – North Little Rock – suggested by @bryanjones
  15. #NEA – Northeast Arkansas region – suggested by @karndawn
  16. #EurekaSprings – Eureka Springs, AR – suggested by @eurekadowntown
  17. #ARWB – Arkansas Women Bloggers

Submit a Hashtag: Leave a comment with a suggestion and brief description.

Guidelines

(subject to adjustment)

  • Hashtag must be focused on an Arkansas specific region, repeating event, community, or topic
  • Hashtag must be used by someone other than just you   Amended: Some regional/municipal hashtags may not be widely used but if they are useful to help spur or organize conversation I think I’ll include them.
  • No hashtag trends or humor, yes we all love #rejectedarkansasmottos but this list is to highlight ongoing interests

PS: Look for a more official directory in the days to come. If you are interested in helping build the directory or give early feedback let me know.