Larry BraunerConnecting with your target audience on Twitter is difficult, and with all the bots and spammers joining the site, it’s getting to be more and more difficult to find real people each day.

Let me share a targeting example with you.

Suppose that you want to locate wine enthusiasts. You happen to find my Twitter profile through Twitter Grader or a similar program, because I have identified myself as a wine lover in my bio.

You decide to follow all the people who follow me reasoning correctly that many of them are also wine lovers. If you’re lucky, a few hundred of them are real wine enthusiasts, and they will follow you back as soon as you follow them.

All this sounds good, but there’s one tiny little problem.

If you follow all the 30,000 people who follow me, you’ll have to follow –  and subsequently unfollow — the more that 29,000 people who follow me but know as little about fine wine as a politician tends to know about ethical conduct.

There has to be a more efficient approach. Don’t you think?

Searching Twitter Profiles

There are quite a few Twitter tools that search through profiles and tweets. I like TweepSearch, since it searches profile bios but at the same does its best to sort the results by the time since the most recent tweet, making it easier to locate active Twitter users.

When you log in through Twitter, TweepSearch shows you whom you’re already following and enables you to follow, unfollow or block people within the search results.

You can limit your search to followers of a particular Twitter member or search through everybody. In other words, you could search the profiles of my followers to find the wine lovers among them, or you could search the whole Twitter database for wine lovers.

You’ll have to play with TweepSearch and other Twitter resources and search tools until you find the ones that best suit your needs.

Automated Twitter Tools

There are a variety of Twitter tools that help you identify your target market and do all the following and unfollowing for you. Since I am following and unfollowing many people and managing several Twitter accounts for clients, I decided to experiment with one of these tools, a cute program called TweetAdder.

TweetAdder searches through profiles or tweets for keywords and can search by U.S. postal code too. It creates, saves and manages a list of target users for you to follow at a reasonable pace which you specify. The program isn’t free, but they do provide a limited version for free, so that you can see how it works before you buy it.

I like that TweetAdder works in the background while I perform other tasks, and that the vendor doesn’t make all sorts of hypey claims. They encourage proper use of the TweetAdder tool.

Twitter Style Networking

I must at least mention the natural approach to adding followers and making connections — slowly and methodically through careful examination of bios and retweeted updates. This is how I was taught, by purists no doubt, when I first started using Twitter.

I consider this approach much too slow to use for social marketing, and you don’t really want to spend all your time on Twitter.

Or do you? ;-)

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Larry Brauner

It’s simpler to start a blog than most people think. You do not need to pay for a fancy course nor buy some hyped-up e-book, so put away that credit card.

If I were to say that getting to the top of Technorati or Alexa is difficult, that would possibly be the understatement of 2009. However, believe-it-or-not, jumping in and getting your feet wet blogging will be easier than you imagine once you’ve completed this little article.

A new blogger faces two main types of challenges:

  1. Technical - how to start a blog
  2. Content - what to put on a blog

How to Start a Blog

There are three basic ways to start a blog:

  1. Start a customized stand-alone blog on web hosting that you lease from a provider such as Go Daddy or 1&1 Internet using software from Wordpress.org - most effective but the most difficult to implement
  2. Join a blogging community, e.g. Blogger.com or Wordpress.com - most popular and moderately easy to implement
  3. Join an online social networking community on Ning such as these two of mine, Beyond Business Coaching and Let’s Follow Each Other, and begin blogging immediately - least effective but adequate for beginners and very easy to implement

There are clearly trade-offs, but choose an option that enables you to start your blog right away. Remember what I learned from Mike Litman, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going.

If you strongly desire a customized stand-alone blog but don’t have the technical skills to set it up and maintain it yourself, help is always available.

Content Development

Developing good content isn’t easy. I suggested in Social Marketing for Non-Gurus that you could create videos instead of writing text, but perhaps creating a video isn’t a viable solution for you.

Here’s an idea: Why not use somebody else’s video?

Not only is it totally legit, it helps the video’s creator to promote it — a win for both of you.

Find a video in YouTube that interests you and copy and paste the cryptic piece of code that YouTube provides directly into your blog. Give your blog post a title. Write a very short explanation. Add a few tags to classify your post and publish it.

You’re finished! Wasn’t that easy?

Here’s another idea.

One of my favorite blogs is Who’s Blogging What, “a newsletter that keeps thousands of web marketing professionals informed, connected and productive.”

What do they do?

They digest and summarize other people’s posts.

What if you find one article at a time and critique that article on your blog? It’s done all the time, and you’ve probably seen it done more than once.

You Are a Blogger

I’ve removed the obstacles. You’re ready. You now have choices how to start a blog, so one way or another you’re going to start a blog. Right?

Learn and improve as you go, just as I have. And please… Have a blast!

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Larry Brauner

If you were looking for information about the Milky Way or perhaps something more entertaining like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I expect you’re a little disappointed.

This is an article about blogging.

In 2008,  Top 10 Blogging Success Factors and Top Reasons Why I Blog were well received.

The Blogger's GalaxyToday I want to acquaint you with top destinations in the blogging universe — not stars, comets or planets — not beaches or ski resorts — rather, objectives that every serious blogger ought to have — or consider adopting.

The purpose of blogging is to communicate with your readership, but let’s break it down into smaller actionable objectives.

Create Content

Every blog must have content that communicates something to readers. There are an ever increasing number of media in which to communicate besides plain text, such as:

  • Pictures or even slide shows
  • Audio — podcasts, music, etc.
  • Video
  • Charts or PowerPoint presentations
  • Polls, guest books or other engaging widgets
  • Talk radio shows, e.g. BlogTalkRadio, or conference calls, e.g. TalkShoe
  • Blog or website reviews

Choose the media that work best for your personality and subject matter.

When creating your content, be sure to ask these four questions:

  1. Is my content worth reading, viewing or listening to?
    If not, why bother posting it? When you think of good ideas, try and write them down.
  2. Is my content readable or understandable?
    I see too many blogs with bad formatting, spelling, syntax and grammar.
  3. Is my content worth linking to?
    Not every post will gather link love, but it’s something to keep in mind. If the content is good, relevant, well presented and easy to share, there’s a chance that readers will share it.
  4. Is my content search engine friendly?
    It should be, since search engines love blogs. It would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

Generate Traffic

These are my principal sources of blog traffic:

  • Asking friends and followers on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning to come read my articles — I was able to generate some traffic right away when I first got started
  • Other blogs and social media sites linking to my blog — takes time, but link building brings visitors and improves standing with the search engines
  • Search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing send traffic if content is search engine friendly — and they seem to like blog posts with comments a lot
  • RSS and e-mail subscribers responding to notifications — over time I acquired a loyal readership

Read my past articles, and watch out for Facebook for Bloggers coming soon to a blog near you.

Build a Following

It takes time and substantial effort to acquire a loyal readership. Good relevant content, targeted traffic and an easy way to subscribe will over time yield results. All three factors are essential.

I discourage you from using the register feature of your blog. Registered users are not as good as subscribers. They’re hard to manage and to reach by e-mail.

I use a combination of Feedburner and Aweber to add subscribers, since Feedburner adds Aweber e-mail subscribers into its total count of readers.

My blog is the hub of my social media strategy:

  1. I build a following on social networking sites.
  2. I drive traffic to my blog.
  3. My blog builds relationships and strengthens my credibility.
  4. Readers revisit my blog.
  5. Readers comment on my blog and engage me through online social networking at social networking sites and other means.

Engage Your Readers

You engage your readers by encouraging them to communicate and share their ideas and questions:

  • to comment on your blog posts
  • to connect with you through social networking sites
  • to e-mail you
  • even to phone you!

When your readers communicate with you, you know you’re on the right track.

That’s it for now — the basic outline — but one final note:

If you’re a fan of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, you’ll need to bring your towel and watch out for Vogons, especially Vogons who spam blogs. They’re the worst kind.

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Larry Brauner

Building a social media presence is much more a marathon than a sprint. There’s plenty of content to develop, place and promote, and there are lots of relationships to build.

Running a marathon requires physical endurance and much more mental endurance than most people think.

I ran two marathons, so I speak from personal experience. I’m crossing the 1985 NYC Marathon finish line in the picture below. Months or years of difficult and sometimes painful training lead up to the day of the big race.

Larry Brauner Completes His Second New York City Marathon in November, 1985The social media marathon requires commitment, persistence and lots of patience, the type of mental endurance needed to complete a 26.2 mile race.

When I wrote Social Media One Bite at a Time back in March, I emphasized the importance of motivation and focus.

In the present article, I’m suggesting that you adopt the mindset of a marathoner. Commit to do whatever is necessary to succeed, and pace yourself, so that you don’t injure yourself or get burned out during the process. This principle is behind most great achievements.

I love the way my running coach Bob Glover puts it, “Start off slow and taper down.” Bob’s mantra counters our natural tendency to come “out of the gate” at full speed and keep running — our human egos at work.

How does all this translate into long-term social media success?

Marathoner Mindset

Here are seven ideas to help you develop the mindset of a marathoner:

  1. Make a serious commitment to do whatever is required to attain your social media or web marketing goals. This is an absolute prerequisite.
  2. Find your “Bob Glover.” I had more than one coach on my way to becoming a chess champion and teachers to help me learn cello and Talmud. I have mentors now and plan to have more mentors in the future. Get yourself a mentor. As I now like to say, “The ultimate shortcut is doing it right the first time.”
  3. Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect for launching your campaign. I’ll always remember what I heard Mike Litman say, “You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get it going”.
  4. Join one networking site at a time and take time to master it. Social networking sites can be intimidating at first. Learn a new feature, practice it, and go on to the next.
  5. Start out blogging once a week. It’s hard to begin, especially if, like me, you’re not a professional writer. You can increase your posting frequency later.
  6. Realize that there’s a steep social media learning curve. Do not quit. So many people join Twitter or Facebook or begin blogging and quit shortly thereafter. They expected to sprint a 100-yard* dash, not to run a marathon.
  7. Don’t forget about the “social” in social media. Get to know a lot of people and have a blast!

I invite you to subscribe to this blog and to share your ideas below.

*A unit of length equal to 0.9144 meters, something that even our British friends across the pond can find quaint.

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Larry BraunerI am about to discuss targeting and connecting as they apply to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning networks, the most popular social networking sites for business networking.

I could have broken the material into four separate blog posts, but decided instead to deliver it to you as four articles wrapped up into one long one.

For simplicity, I am assuming that your target market uses each of the sites. Since that may not be true in your case, feel free to adapt these business networking techniques to all other social networking sites as needed.

Facebook

Targeting and connecting on Facebook are pretty straightforward with one caveat. You are limited to 5,000 connections on Facebook, so you can’t afford to cast too wide a net. Be fussy about whom you connect with and remove from your friends anybody who spams you.

To identify people in your target market, search for groups and Facebook networked blogs that would likely interest them. Join the groups and follow the blogs yourself. Then browse the members of those groups and followers of those blogs to find potential connections.

I believe that blog followers as a whole are more active on Facebook than mere group members. However, consider selecting only members with some minimum number of friends such as 100 to weed out people who don’t really engage with the site.

If you’re not sure which groups and blogs to select, try connecting with others in your niche. You’ll be able to see which groups they lead or belong to and which blogs they publish or follow. You can also examine their Facebook walls to find additional potential connections.

Connecting isn’t difficult. When you invite another member, include a short note such as, “You and I are both members of the Social Networking Haters group.”

Please, promise me that you won’t write anything nerdy like, “I’m looking to connect with like minded people.” Don’t use a line like that with anybody anywhere ever. I mean it.

Twitter

The Twitter learning curve is steep. If you’re not well versed with Twitter, try the advice and resources in my Twitter articles. I’m going to assume that you pretty much know what you’re doing.

Since Twitter is bloated with spammers’ phony profiles, targeting on Twitter is difficult and getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to be a messy job, so be prepared. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Do not connect with anybody who has:

  • no profile information or inappropriate profile information
  • no picture, avatar or business logo
  • a lopsided relationship between following and followers
  • almost no tweets or spammy looking tweets

Do follow back anybody else who follows you. Unfollow anybody who spams you.

To identify Twitter members in your target market, start your search by using Find People to look for other people in your niche. Avoid the biggies, since they are magnets for spam, and a large percentage of their followers are spammers.

Look for the ones who have a few hundred to a few thousand followers.

Follow them and follow their followers — unless of course a particular follower looks suspicious based on the criteria I just listed above. A portion of their followers will hopefully belong to your target market.

Unfollow the people who don’t follow back after a few days and repeat the process.

Consider using a tool to manage your account.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, targeting is fairly straightforward, but connecting can be a challenge.

If you’re a job hunter or a headhunter in the recruiting industry, you should probably connect with as many people as you can. Since the limit is reportedly 30,000, you can afford to cast a very wide net.

In any case you should accept all invitations. Remove any connection who who spams you:

  1. Click on “Connections” which is on the left side bar.
  2. Click on “Remove Connections” which is currently near the upper right corner
  3. Then follow the instructions.

The main difficulty with LinkedIn is that if you invite someone who then indicates that they don’t know you, you get a strike against you. If this happens often, LinkedIn restricts your inviting privileges.

People who are open to invitations and implicitly agree not to indicate that they don’t know you are call LinkedIn Open Networkers, abbreviated LION.

There are at least two groups for LinkedIn Open Networkers:

You can join and browse these groups to find people to link to. They of course have an option to accept you or to archive you, i.e. ignore you. Usually they accept.

If you are not a job hunter or headhunter, you’re probably better off targeting than trying to connect to thousands of people. That’s your judgment call.

You can do both, just as I do. But I admit that I started as a job hunter years ago and built a large base at that time. If I were starting today, I think I would stick to targeting.

To make the best connections, join the groups that people in your target market would join, and participate in the groups’ discussions. You’ll naturally make connections and get some traffic to your blog or website along the way.

Ning Network

Targeting on Ning is a little tricky. Cast a wide net on Ning, since I’m not aware of any upper limit on the number of Ning friends.

Here are the challenges that you face when adding Ning friends:

  • You can only have 100 outstanding friend requests. You’ll have to dis-invite people who don’t respond. Do this from the “Friends” tab of your Ning dashboard at Ning.com.
  • Most of the people you invite won’t respond. Either they don’t know how or they’ve already abandoned the site.

You improve your results by posting a friendly, non-spammy and non-nerdy comment to their profile at the time you invite them.

You also improve your results by inviting people who have recently joined the site, the ones at the beginning of the member list, or people who are obviously engaging with the site.

Find people in your target market by joining Ning networks and groups that are likely to attract these people. Invite a hundred people, and wait a day. Some will accept, so you can invite more.

When you get stuck, trim your invite list starting from the end. While this can be a slow process, it has worked for me and for others.

Be careful not to spam your friends. Don’t invite them directly to join new Ning sites.

The best way to communicate with your Ning friends is to write informative blog posts on a Ning site about something that would interest people in your target audience. Then use the share feature on Ning to let them know about your post.

Read Introduction to Using Ning Sites and other Ning articles.

Now It’s Your Turn

I don’t have a monopoly on online business networking techniques. Why not share some of your own targeting and connecting ideas?

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