Larry Brauner
Since Twitter Lists Beta Observations and Tips one month ago, Twitter completed the roll out of Twitter Lists to all its users.

Twitter members have been occupied with building and following lists, while the pundits have been occupied with observing and dissecting them (the lists of course, not the members). :-P

Twitter ListsThe reaction in the blogosphere has been somewhat mixed. 9 Reasons Why You Should Be In Love with Twitter Lists (RotorBlog) was very upbeat. Twitter Lists Are Not About Discovery (Regular Geek) was more skeptical.

A new social media site, Listorious, has surfaced to helps us discover Twitter lists for categories which are important to us. How splendid this is! I’ll explain why.

Realizing the Potential of Web 2.0

Twitter comes along and lets anybody who’s connected to the Net (even a bot) create a user account and add text messages (tweets) to the Twitter message stream. Simultaneously, Twitter lets users subscribe to messages in the Twitter stream.

Twitter is a good example of Web 2.0, i.e. people creating and sharing web content.

Twitter becomes popular. Millions of messages from millions of people start flowing downstream. The social media community asks, “How will all these messages be organized?”

Twitter responds, permitting users to create and share lists of Twitter users. These Twitter lists are another form of Web 2.0 content. The community wonders, “How will all these lists be organized?”

Listorious appears, and using the Twitter API,  provides a platform for users to create and share Twitter meta lists (lists of Twitter lists). These meta lists are yet more Web 2.0 content.

Suddenly, we’re realizing the potential of Web 2.0, the social web, on a large scale. We’re creating, sharing and organizing our own web of information.

How I Use Twitter Lists

I use Twitter Lists both to organize people I find on Twitter and to discover new people.

I have 20 Twitter lists of my own, some private, to which I assign people, and I explore Twitter and Listorious to find new lists of Twitter people.

For example, I like lists of public relations people and companies, because in many ways, my skills are a strong match for PR firms. I let Twitter lists help me locate and connect with organizations and people working in the PR and communications industry.

When I find a list I like, I follow it. I certainly don’t want to lose track of it. I assign many people in the list to my own lists too.

I also follow most of the people. I hope that they’ll check out my blog and decide to follow me back. Perhaps they’ll even subscribe while they’re here.

In Conclusion

The way Twitter Lists have greatly extended the functionality of Twitter is cool. So is the way that Twitter Lists fit nicely into Web 2.0 social media paradigm. Critics can say what they wish about Twitter lists but cannot diminish their usefulness to me (and to my readers).

Okay. We’ve reached the point in the post where you usually comment. ;-)

What do you like or dislike about Twitter Lists? How would you improve them if you were Twitter?  What are some of your favorite Twitter lists?

Follow @larrybrauner on Twitter. :-)

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Larry Brauner
We learn nearly every day of developments in the social media world which have the potential for far reaching impact.

Take for example the recent integration of LinkedIn with Twitter. You can now tweet your LinkedIn status to your Twitter followers and automatically post your tweets to your LinkedIn status.

It is easy to see that this Twitter-LinkedIn partnership has many practical implications. Based on my research, these are my top 10 takeaways from the new Twitter-LinkedIn hookup:

  1. Microblogging has gone mainstream. Facebook has its own microblogging platform, and Twitter tweets can now show up on MySpace, LinkedIn and lots of other places on the web.
  2. Twitter is the de facto king (queen?) of microblogging.
  3. Twitter is a medium for real business conversation. You can still tweet about  breakfast, diapers or the light turning green. Small talk and chit-chat are the norm on Twitter. However, increasingly, people and companies are branding themselves and exchanging ideas on Twitter, 140 characters or one link at a time.
  4. The Twitter-LinkedIn integration helps LinkedIn by adding new life and meaning to its neglected status-update function and by adding much more dynamic content to the site as a whole. As a result, LinkedIn can be more competitive. Hopefully Ning will take notice and react!
  5. The Twitter-LinkedIn integration helps Twitter by attracting new professional users from LinkedIn who were previously too skeptical to join.
  6. The Twitter-LinkedIn integration enables members of both Twitter and LinkedIn to cross-post with ease, providing users with greater social marketing leverage.
  7. LinkedIn can help to reduce an enormous amount of content, functioning almost as would a Twitter list containing only members of your LinkedIn network.
  8. The hashtags #in and #li allow for selective cross-posting from Twitter to LinkedIn. This wasn’t possible when cross-posting with Ping.fm.
  9. The use of hashtags to selectively cross-post from Twitter to LinkedIn suggests the possibility of using hashtags similarly with other apps.
  10. Aggregation and syndication (using the semantic web or tools like Ping.fm and FriendFeed) have been touted as the next major trend in social media. However, the integration of Twitter and LinkedIn, although still at an early stage,  demonstrates that collaboration too (when achievable) has much to offer. I suppose that the absence of conflict between Twitter’s business model (whatever that is) and the ad-based models of competitors helps to create a favorable climate for collaboration.

What are your thoughts on the Twitter-LinkedIn integration, and what are some of your takeaways?

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Larry Brauner
Last week, Twitter released a beta version of Twitter Lists, “a great way to organize the people you follow and discover new and interesting accounts.”

“Beta” implies that there are still some rough edges, and tweaks are to be expected. It also implies that you might not yet have access to Twitter Lists.

Undoubtedly this article still has some rough edges as well and revisions are to be expected. ;-)

So what are Twitter Lists all about?

Twitter ListsFacebook has lists that let you organize your friends. Twitter Lists enable you to do much more than that. This brand new Twitter tool adds an entirely new and exciting dimension to Twitter.

Twitter Lists presents new targeting opportunities, and may also create new online social networking possibilities. We’ll know more once the feature is fully tested and rolled out.

Twitter Lists Observations

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists are similar:

  1. You categorize people and assign them to one or more lists. A person may belong to many lists or to none. The choice is totally yours.
  2. You create and name your lists, and you can edit its name even after the list has been established.
  3. You manage your lists and can add and remove people whenever you wish.
  4. Facebook lists and any Twitter list which you make private are known only to you, the list creator.
  5. You can view status updates and posts that are limited to the people you assigned to a particular list, making it easier to follow categories of people such as family or business contacts.

Here are five ways in which Twitter Lists and Facebook lists differ:

  1. All Facebook lists are private. However, on Twitter you can also create public lists to share with other members.
  2. People can easily tell to which public Twitter lists they’ve been assigned and who assigned them by clicking on the “listed” link on any of their account pages. Here’s my listed link (assuming that you can access it).
  3. On Facebook you can add only friends (or invited friends) to your lists. On Twitter you can add anybody as long as that person hasn’t protected his or her updates. Consider Twitter Lists to be a new method for following people.
  4. You can use Facebook lists to limit access to parts of your profile. This doesn’t apply to Twitter lists. Your brief Twitter profile is public and is visible to everybody, even to people who do not belong to Twitter.
  5. Not only can you view updates limited to the people you assigned to a particular Twitter list, you can do the same with anybody else’s Twitter list which you follow. Once you follow somebody’s list, you can access the updates for that list (as well as any of your own lists) using the lists menu on your Twitter sidebar. By the way, it’s okay to be nosy, so don’t feel guilty about it!

Twitter Lists Tips

Here are nine Twitter tips for maximizing your use of Twitter Lists:

  1. Look around to see how people are using Twitter Lists and in which lists they’ve been listed. You’ll get a good sense of how Twitter Lists work and a bunch of ideas for lists you can create yourself.
  2. Experiment. While you run the risk of driving other people crazy, you are free to make as many changes to your Twitter lists as you wish.
  3. You can add yourself to your own lists which useful for when people follow your lists.
  4. Instead of following somebody else’s Twitter list, often it will make more sense to select people from that list and assign them to your own list. That gives you some control and flexibility. However, keep in mind that when people are added to that person’s list in the future, your list will not update automatically.
  5. Be careful when assigning people to public Twitter lists. Don’t offend them (unless of course you’re an antisocial type of person). They might retaliate by assigning you to a list of jerks or dorks or even worse. At present, Twitter lists can’t be altered by the people listed. Twitter will have to take action if (when?) behavior problems surface.
  6. On the other hand, use your Twitter lists to communicate thoughts about people in a constructive way. Assign them to a public Twitter list of cool peeps or to a list of experts in a niche. Do this even (or especially) to people who don’t follow you!
  7. Do anything you want with private Twitter lists just as you would with Facebook lists. If you want a Twitter list of nerds or spammers, keep it private or face likely retaliation. You probably don’t want to make your “little black book” public either.
  8. You can start off by making a Twitter list private and later switch it to public and vice versa.
  9. Have fun, but set limits, as Twitter Lists can be addictive. Don’t let Twitter Lists become an obsession (unless you happen to be looking for a new obsession).

I’m @larrybrauner on Twitter. Assign me to any funky Twitter lists, and you’ll live to regret it. :-P

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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 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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Larry BraunerMy list of social and business networking sites is updated when online social networking changes occur. If I omitted sites you feel should be included, please leave a comment.

This article about top social and business networking sites is sponsored by the Small Business Network, a new social website for open business networking and lifetime business learning.

Social Networking Sites Becoming the Internet

The rapid growth of Facebook and Twitter the past several years has fueled much excitement and speculation among the public and within the business world.

Alexa ranks the world’s most popular websites. Eight social networking and business networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut, hi5, Ning and Xing are ranked very highly overall among the world’s websites.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Ning networks are the most popular social networks with wide business appeal. From a business point of view, MySpace has become a niche site for the music industry.

Each social networking site is different. Choose a social network according to your individual or business networking objectives, as well as your personal style. Don’t base your choice solely upon site popularity, for each social networking site has a style and features that differentiate it from other social networking sites and contribute to its success.

Facebook

Read the Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out, and you’ll  begin to appreciate ambitious scope of Facebook’s controversial plans, plans that have already started unfolding before our eyes.

The Facebook article has several important implications:

  • If Facebook succeeds, even partially, our influence and the content we post on Facebook will affect Facebook search results. In other words, we can to some extent impact the outcome of Facebook searches.
  • Facebook will evolve to compete both with Google and with other social networking sites. Facebook will implement powerful new features that enhance our networking experience.
  • To profit from an evolving Facebook, we must master Facebook now and start building our influence on the site.

I like the realness of Facebook. Most members use their actual names, provide factual information about themselves, and share interesting pictures, videos, and other content.

I also like the ease with which I can connect with my Facebook friends with a private message or a comment on their wall.

We’ve been discussing spam a lot lately. There’s a 5,000 friend limit on Facebook, so friend slots are precious. If a “friend” spams me, I remove him or her, unless of course it’s somebody I know from outside Facebook, in which case he or she gets an earful about spamming.

Twitter

Some people believe that Twitter is merely a fad. Not I. However, I’m not as confident in the future of Twitter as I am in the future of Facebook or LinkedIn.

For now, Twitter is growing, and it’s very useful if it’s used properly. I have created more traffic using Twitter than with all my other social networking sites and social media sites combined.

The ability to connect with and reach large groups of people makes Twitter attractive from a marketing perspective. I use a simple yet powerful tool that helps me connect with people and manage my profiles and those of my clients.

If you can reach your target market on Twitter and keep their interest, you will benefit enormously.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great business social networking site that is under new management.

LinkedIn’s potential lies in it’s many diverse and successful groups and their ongoing discussions. What better way to network than to participate in the discussions of groups that attract the types of people you want to meet?

You can also build up a very large network on LinkedIn which will enable you to communicate directly with the people you want without having to get past the usual gatekeepers. Members will also be able to search for and find you.

Ning Networks

I’ve written much recently about Ning networks. Many Ning social networking sites appeal to narrow niches, but others have broader appeal. Small Business Network is a new Ning network with a wide appeal.

I appreciate most a Ning network feature that is very controversial, the ability to share content with all Ning friends on a particular Ning network. I can write a blog post and share it easily with hundreds of friends.

Popularity of Social Networking Sites Isn’t Everything

While these are the most popular social networking sites, popularity isn’t everything. Less popular sites may offer you precisely the audience or the features you want. See also my list of social networking sites article from 2008 and my recent review of an excellent business networking book, The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel.

Please subscribe and join me on Facebook.

Most Popular Social and Business Networking Sites was most recently updated 28-Sep-2010 by Larry Brauner.

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Larry BraunerYou may have tried without success to use Twitter as a marketing channel. Many marketers struggle with Twitter for one reason or another. It’s often because of where their Twitter leads.

Let me explain.

Spamming

Spammers often follow myriads of random people on Twitter hoping that enough of them will follow back like sheep, or that they’ll click through the spammer’s profile link to view his or her offer.

However, too many marketers with good intentions adopt a similar strategy. They follow large numbers of targeted people but expect them to follow back without providing ample reason for them to reciprocate.

Getting and Staying Followed

People often ask me how I was able to get tens of thousands of followers. They’re hoping that I can point them to some magical system that will generate as many followers for them as I have.

I don’t use those types of systems nor do I recommend that you use them either. At best they match you up with large numbers of unresponsive followers.

Part of any outreach strategy includes following the people whom you would like following you. Life would be simple if each person you chose to follow reciprocated and followed you back.

While some Twitter users will follow back everybody, most of the ones who are desirable to connect with will be selective. They will follow you back only if they like what you’ve been tweeting or if they like you.

Unless your name is Oprah Winfrey, people will probably size you up based on some combination of your …

  • Username - Avoid the use of underscores (_) and numerals (0-9) if at all possible.
  • Name - Your real name is usually best.
  • Picture - Use a professional looking head shot or company logo.
  • Background - Use a layout that’s interesting and tasteful.
  • Location - Nothing dorky please!
  • One Line Bio - Mix professional and personal details. People search on profiles, so use carefully selected keywords.
  • More Info URL - Point to content that’s helpful and makes a good impression.
  • Privacy Settings - Don’t make your profile private if you want people to follow you. Marketers aren’t supposed to be secret agents.
  • Follower Count - It pretty much is what it is.
  • Follower Ratio - If you follow many more than follow you, you might look like a spammer. If you follow too few, you look unapproachable or like you don’t value two-way communication.
  • Tweet Count - All other things being equal, the more the better but again, it is what it is. Just make sure you post a half dozen representative tweets before you start following people. Fewer than that can be a big turnoff.
  • Tweets - You are what you tweet. What you tweet will be the single biggest success factor in your Twitter career. Refer to Tons of Great Twitter Resources or The Twitter Power System Review.
  • Retweets - Some Twitter users like to connect with people who are somewhat likely retweet their tweets.
  • Tweet Frequency - Some don’t like to follow people who tweet too often, as it tends to fill up their “timeline”.
  • Date of Last Tweet - If you stay away too long, your followers will start giving you the axe.
  • Personal Recommendations - It certainly helps to have fans to promote you, especially on what’s come to be known as #followfriday or #ff, which is actually every Friday.

With such a long list of criteria, it’s a wonder anybody gets followed or followed back. Fortunately people are looking for reasons to follow as much as to reject, and a reasonable effort on your part can be effective enough.

Web Marketing Strategy

As a marketer, the quality of your content off Twitter is as important as the quality of your tweets on Twitter.

You will use your “more info URL” and a portion of your tweets to reference your content, and your content will determine your marketing success with Twitter — and other social media initiatives as well.

It is this to which I refer when I ask, “Where does your Twitter lead people?”

Your Twitter, social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, blog and website all link together to create a web marketing strategy that builds your image, your community and ultimately your business.

Well written, produced, and placed content and skillful search engine optimization and social media marketing both on and off Twitter will enable you to achieve your key objectives.

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Larry Brauner

As a top Twitter business user, I was sent an advance copy of the Twitter Power System for my review. Here are my observations.

The Twitter Power System is a very comprehensive set of videos, e-books, resources and tools.

New users learn how to set up an account and all the basics they need to get going. Experienced users learn how to craft powerful tweets, how to create viral tweets — and everything in-between.

Twitter Power System Content

Thirteen videos in the Twitter Power System learning center provide a total of three hours and 32 minutes of instruction:

  1. Account Setup - for new and even experienced Twitter users
  2. Twitter Basics - a how-to guide with the essentials for newbies
  3. Account Automation - using SocialToo and Tweet Later, two automation tools I love, and some important caveats
  4. Targeting Your Followers - how to target and use techniques such as sampling and testing
  5. Managing Your Followers - using FriendOrFollow, My Tweeple and Twitter Karma to manage followers.
  6. Tracking Your Twitter Links - how to use Cligs to shorten and track your Twitter links
  7. “Crafting” Your Tweets - the four elements of a tweet and how they all work together
  8. Finding Information to Share - using Google Alerts and other tools to discover useful information you can share
  9. Post on Autopilot - create your own content automation tool using Google Alerts, Cligs and Twitter Feed
  10. How to Use Twhirl - a desktop client such as Twhirl can offer greater convenience and capabilities than accessing Twitter directly from the Twitter.com domain.
  11. How to Use TweetDeck - ditto for TweetDeck.
  12. The Bigger Picture - a Twitter review that ties everything together
  13. Retweet System - creating viral tweets that can be retweeted easily with only two mouse clicks

E-workbooks such as the Getting Started Quickly Guide, Harness The Power of Twitter and the Twitter Power Tools Guide contain a total of 205 pages that serve to complement and reinforce the video presentations.

They discuss many useful strategies and the third-party tools that facilitate the implementation of those strategies.

There’s also a 54-minute podcast, Twitter Unwrapped, to download and enjoy on your computer or iPod. This interview with James Rivers, the founder of the Twitter Power System provides an excellent audio overview of the system.

Twitter Power System Thumbs-Up

I myself have written Twitter articles and spent much time studying and compiling Twitter resources for my article, Tons of Great Twitter Resources. Knowing much about the Twitter content available online, I can enthusiastically recommend the Twitter Power System to you.

I’d like to see greater detail in the varying approaches to meeting different business needs. I’d also like to see case studies. Nevertheless, the Twitter Power System is the best training venue I’ve seen so far.

I’m very impressed by the content and the quality of the videos, and I’ve already picked up ideas from them that are helping me to refine and improve my Twitter methodology.

You can follow me @larrybrauner.

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Larry Brauner

When Twitter, Ning and Facebook Compete

Major social networking sites are constantly competing for new users and for a greater share of each user’s networking time.

When Twitter, Facebook and Ning social networks compete, you and I win. Social networking sites are forced to keep improving in order to keep us as members.

Competing Isn’t Easy

However, competing isn’t easy. Simply adding more features will not always produce better results. Added features might make a site slower, harder to comprehend or more difficult to navigate.

There are very many factors that social networking site owners need to consider and to balance when making site improvements. For example:

  1. Competitive Environment - What is the competition doing and not doing? How well is it working for them? Who are they targeting? How are they positioning and marketing themselves? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How can we neutralize their strengths and exploit their weaknesses?
  2. Functionality - What capabilities does our target market want? What can we offer? How will product enhancements be perceived?
  3. Design Consistency - How can we add capabilities while preserving our site’s overall look, feel and philosophy? What synergies can we achieve between new and existing functionality?
  4. Cost vs. Benefit - Social network owners must consider the trade off between benefit and cost of each potential site modification?
  5. Timing - How long will it take to roll out site modifications? Faster is generally better than slower when facing competition. Windows of opportunity can sometimes be very small.
  6. Monetization Strategies - How will changes affect the income social network owners derive from the site?
  7. Anticipating the Future - What is needed down the road? How will changes made now interact will future ones?
  8. Legal Issues - Any patents, trademarks, compliance, disclosures or other legal constraints to reckon with?
  9. Site Responsiveness - Are site response times acceptable? Can responsiveness be improved? How will social networking site modification affect responsiveness?
  10. Simplicity - Social networking sites and their features must be easy for members and prospective members to understand.
  11. Ease of Use - Sites must be easy and intuitive to navigate. Members need simple ways to achieve their online social networking objectives.
  12. Visual Appeal - Social networking sites need to look and feel right to members.
  13. Buzz - Social networking sites grow virally when members invite their friends to join. They need compelling reasons to reach out to their friends and easy-to-use mechanisms that automate the inviting process.
  14. Fun Factor - Members will not hang out at a site if it isn’t enjoyable. A positive user experience is critical to online social network success.

Twitter, Ning and Facebook are continually evolving. However, recent changes to Facebook seem to have been the most far reaching.

Recent Facebook Developments

Facebook changed the look and feel of the pages used by businesses, organizations and celebrities to make them more similar to personal profiles. As a result, overall Facebook design is simpler and perhaps a bit more intimate.

Furthermore, the way businesses and individuals can now both use the Facebook News Feed seems to more closely follow the Twitter model. This is especially good news for businesses, organizations and celebrities trying to communicate with their “fans” and acquire new ones.

My main Facebook complaints are: its persistent sluggishness, the deluge of quaint applications and requests, and the steep learning curve.

Recent Ning Developments

The way I see it, Ning takes the Web 2.0 concept a step farther than any of their competitors. That’s what makes Ning unique.

Not only do users create site content, they even create the individual Ning social networks themselves.

Ning encourages people to become members of multiple social networks. What has been sorely needed is a way to manage participation across these multiple networks from a central control panel. Ning has recently filled this need by creating a new super meta network at Ning.com that’s conceptually a network of networks.

I applaud Ning’s latest effort, but noticed couple of problems with the new meta social networking site:

  • There isn’t yet a capability to manage outstanding friend requests across networks.
  • The recent friends list isn’t correctly sorted.

Like Facebook, Ning social networks tend to be slow and quirky.

Recent Twitter Developments

The main thing I see at Twitter is a cleaner web interface with fewer rough edges.

Twitter like Facebook and Ning is doing its share to combat spam. Spam in social media is an ongoing problem.

Twitter is much faster than Facebook or Ning. I would however like to see better performance of the Twitter API as it affects the consistency of Twitter tools running on top of it. I can run Twitter Karma many times and get as many different results!

For me and others site performance can be an overriding issue. When a site is too slow, it can be emotionally too painful to endure. For that reason I spend most of my networking time on Twitter, even though conceptually I like Ning and Facebook about as much.

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Larry BraunerI advised in The 80/20 Rule and Social Media not to spread yourself too thin trying to juggle too many social media sites at one time.

In this article I want to caution against another pitfall, falling in love with one social media site and putting all your eggs in one basket.

I’m not exactly sure why but I sense that many MySpace, Facebook and Twitter enthusiasts are married to their social networking favorite and reluctant to branch out.

Why NOT to Marry Your Social Media Site

Here are six ways you can benefit from a strategy that incorporates multiple social media sites:

  1. There’s a risk that your favorite site will decline in popularity, or that for a variety of reasons, some of your favorite people at that site may lose interest in logging in. If you connect at several sites or obtain personal contact information to network offline, your important relationships will be more secure.
  2. All social media sites allow you to share information and files, but each has its own unique structure and set of features. If you use several sites, these sites can complement each other’s functionality.
  3. No two social sites attract the identical people. Using several sites allows you to reach out to a greater number of people.
  4. Different sites attract different types of people. Using several sites allows you to reach out to a more diverse group of people and helps you to better target your social media.
  5. Using more forms of social media or more sites can favorably impact your web presence and your SEO efforts.
  6. The social networking masses tend over time to migrate from one site to another. If you’re lucky enough to have a head start on a site where they land, you might conceivably succeed at leveraging that head start to your advantage.

At the time I decided that a Twitter presence was valuable, I was happy not to be starting from scratch. So too with Facebook, when I started my new Facebook Page, I already had more than 500 Facebook friends.

To make it easy for you and I to connect, I set up a Connect page that includes all the social networking sites where I’m either very active or very established. Connecting on my favorite social sites will help us to communicate and will also help you to build your social media presence.

Important Heads Up Regarding Facebook

Facebook was in the forefront of online social networking news last week. Major changes were announced that make Facebook business pages more similar to Facebook personal profiles, and they make Facebook feeds more similar to Twitter timelines.

These changes are bound to further accelerate Facebook’s tremendous growth. Join me on the Facebook journey:

  • Read Facing up to the competition for a brief overview that references a variety of social media news blogs covering the Facebook story.
  • You can also download the Facebook Pages Product Guide directly from Facebook.
  • Visit my Facebook Page and add yourself as a fan. I will be able to publish information to your Facebook news feed, and you will be able to help me spread the word.
  • Join me on Let’s Follow Each Other, a social networking and training community to help build your presence and your relationships on Twitter and Facebook.

Linking More Easily to Facebook

A shortcoming of Facebook is its awkward linking structure. A Facebook link might perhaps appeal to a U.S. Library of Congress file clerk or to a CIA operative, but that’s about it.

You can create a simpler and more memorable link using the Facebook web address application. If you’re a Twitter user, SocialToo might be a suitable alternative. Either choice will help enormously.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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