Three Business-Building Announcements

I want to update you of some important dates coming up:

  1. First, a new Rainmakers' Roundtable marketing mastermind group will be forming here in the Dallas - Fort Worth area.

    Candidates must be highly-qualified individuals who are willing to committ to 24 meetings over the next year and must be willing to give and receive help to the other members of the group. For more information, click here.

  2. Next, I will be interviewed by my friend Roland Desjardins on Blog Talk Radio. The broadcast will be aired at 10am on Wednesday September 2, 2009. Afterwards, the interview will available on podcast. This show will be called, Social Media: Fact or Fiction?

    For more information, click here.

  3. On September 4, 2009, I will be speaking to the Colleyville (Texas) Chamber of Commerce on How to Use Social Media For Your Business. For more information, click here.

  4. Finally, I will be conducting a new Twitter For Business Workshop at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center. The date is tentatively scheduled for September 26, 2009 at 7pm.

    I will provide more information when we get the date firmed up.

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Reflections on Reaching a Twitter Milestone

This past Saturday, I reached 20,000 followers on Twitter. Which, along with about five dollars, would probably buy me a coffee at Starbucks. In other words, I’m pleased and feel I’ve reached some sort of milestone, but it’s hardly significant in the big scheme of things.

You could say it's still just a "big whoopty doo."

These numbers might qualify me to sit in the cheap seats among other Twitter users who have tens of thousands (even hundreds of thousands of followers) more than I do. So I’m trying to put some serious thoughts down without coming off like I am "all full of myself."

(That’s a Southern expression that means I don’t want to appear “too big for my britches”).

Anyway, a milestone only has significance if one learns some things along the way. And that is what I want to write about today.

The very next day, I was sitting in an auditorium that holds about three to five thousand people, and it hit me that my Twitter followers would not fit in that place. I tried to visualize what 20,000 people would look like, and all I could do was realize that it was a lot of folks.

Now let’s get this straight. Only a tiny few of my followers actually pay any attention to what I have to say on Twitter. Most of us have other things we have to do in our lives besides tweet and retweet all day long.

So it's not as though I have 20,000 people hanging on my every word, taking notes and paying big bucks for my sage advice.

It hit me though, that one thing this milestone does mean is that these people made a conscious decision to follow me, for whatever reason they may have had at the time.

And that means I don’t want to waste their time.

20,000 followers is an incredible opportunity, but it is an even greater responsibility. It means I have to make sure I add value to my Twitter activities so that the people who actually do read my tweets will gain from them.

That thought led to another thought: What am I all about online and why should someone follow me? What value can I add to other busy people who have chosen to let me into a corner of their lives?

After all, I really can’t expect people to read my chatter if I don’t give them tangible reasons to follow my tweets and read my blog.

Which led me to pull out a piece of paper and jot down some notes about what themes I represent. It turned out this was surprisingly easy to do. My themes are a combination of my beliefs about social media and the subject matter I write about.

  1. I believe social networking is first and foremost an act of generosity. It is sharing ideas and information with a lot of people who will never become my clients or put money in my pocket. Nevertheless, I want to continue to share because it makes this community better and more fun.

  2. Another way social networking is about generosity is in promoting others. Recommending others who can never return the favor. Retweeting, or spotlighting others’ quality content, helping others build up their own followings through conventions like #followfridays or just bringing a good person to light because it is the right thing to do. It is a lot like making business or social introductions in the offline world.

  3. Social networking is an act of making friends, building trust and credibility and believing that profits will follow these actions.

  4. Social networking is intimately connected to creating and sharing quality content that solves other people’s problems. As David Meerman Scott puts it, it is a matter of “thinking like a publisher.” Activities that are “All tweet and no meat” are not productive.

  5. Accordingly, social media is a delivery system, not the message itself. But the message is never “Me, me, me.” Instead it is “You, you, you.”

  6. Quality content, when delivered with true generosity, is what builds brands. This is true regardless of whether the brand is a company, product or a person.

  7. One of the themes that I want to explore more is about building and growing communities. My thoughts on communities are still formulating, but the idea of communities communicating and helping each other via social media is very intriguing to me. It is where social networking diverges from mere marketing.

  8. Nurturing communities is having the faith to empower your "audience" to do your marketing for you, even if it means giving up some control.

I just realized this article is more of an essay than a how-to article. But I was in a reflective mood and wanted to take stock of where I've been and where I want to go in social networking.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to see your comments and get your ideas on what responsibilities we owe the people who read our blogs, watch our videos or follow us on social media platforms.

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Video: Still Think Social Media is a Fad? Watch This

Thanks to Newt Barrett for bringing this very informative video to my attention in his article, If You or Your Boss Thinks Social Media is a Fad, Watch This Video:

Not only is this this video full of exciting statistical information about social media and how it has impacted our world today, the story of how Barret and the video's creator, Chris Griffith, is illustrative of how relationships are formed and cultivated via social media.

Please read Barrett's article, and watch the video. You will have a renewed appreciation of just how important social media has become.

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5 Great Marketing Blogs and Resources - Part One

Maybe you are like me and are always looking for great resources on the web to help your business. Information is what runs my business and my social networking efforts.

Not only do I soak great information up like a sponge, it is at the core of the service I offer my followers on Twitter and Facebook. When I find good "stuff" I like to tweet about it and provide my followers with links to these great resources.

With that in mind, I am beginning an occasional series of blog posts on some of these great resources. I hope you enjoy them and find these sites to be as valuable as I do.
  1. Copyblogger: I bookmark a lot of articles as I surf, but I have bookmarked more articles on Copyblogger than I have from any other source. Brian Clark, a fellow former lawyer, has quite simply produced one of the most valuable pieces of virtual real estate on the web.

    I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge from Copyblogger, and it is usually practical, useful knowledge that I can use and right away.

    For example, he has turned writing blog headlines into a science. Search his site and you will find tons of headline formulas that will pull readers into your articles.

    Check out Copyblogger and dig through the archived articles, which are conveniently indexed by dates and subject categories. You will find a lot of "buried treasure" on this site.

  2. Then there is Patsi Krakoff's Writing on the Web blog. Patsi is all about creating content and business blogging, and she really delivers the goods.

    She encourages business bloggers with useful tips and ideas that just can't be beat. She has a knack for putting our vague problems into the right words and providing very helpful solutions to those problems.

    I also like how her personality comes through in her writing. It is just more fun to read something written with humanity than sterile "business speak."

  3. calls itself a "magazine rack" on a large variety of topics. This site searches the blogoshpere for interesting articles and blog posts on almost any subject you can think of.

    You would be hard pressed not to find something on whatever topic you are interested in.

  4. Dosh Dosh may just be the most well-written blogs on the internet. Maki doesn't write a lot, in fact he may go weeks between articles, but what he does put up is quality.

    Each article is well-researched and very insightful. I have learned things on this blog that I have never encountered anywhere else. This is another blog that I encourage you to dig into its archives for treasure. I challenge you to find a single article that is just average in quality and content.

  5. And finally, to finish up this little collection, there is Content Marketing Today by Newt Barrett.

    Barrett brings together ideas and solutions on how to promote business by delivering quality content. I do, however, think this site should come with a warning label that resembles the old potato chip ad, "you can't read just one."

    I often find myself on this site reading five or six of his great articles at a time. Never mind my pressing work schedule and the fact that I have a looming deadline. This site is a college course on content marketing all contained on one blog.

    Check it out, but don't blame me if you blow an entire hour there.

Okay, that's it for now. If I get lots of fan mail (heck, you can just leave a comment) to tell me you like this, I will follow up with a part two ...sometime. Hope you enjoy these resources.

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10 Twitter Tips: How to Follow - and be Followed - Strategically

Last night I taught a workshop for business people on how to use Twitter as a lead generation tool. One glitch we ran into was when I tried to show the class how to find local Twitter users to follow.

Turns out that it's a good idea to double check your facts before teaching a class.

I told the class to look up some websites that I remembered as useful for finding local Twitter users to follow. But two of these sites were no longer in existence.

Uh oh.

As soon as I scraped the egg off my face, I promised the class that I would email them a list of sites that were still live and could be used to locate Twitter users by geography. Hence this article which I will email to the people who attended the class (the rest of you are welcome to read along if you wish).

Back in May, I wrote a similar article called, 4 Ways to Find Local Users. This article then will be an extension of that previous article.

But before we get started, let's lay out a key principle:
The secret to being effective on Twitter is to follow, and be followed, by other Twitter users who share interests, topics, keywords or location with your business.

I call this "Following Strategically." Behind this principle is the observation that a certain number of the people you follow will follow you in return.

As a rule of thumb, I find that approximately 50% of the people you will follow, will follow you back. This means that who you follow has a great deal to do with what kind of people follow you.

If you want real estate people to follow you, follow a lot of real estate agents. If you want Democrats to follow you, follow Democrats, if you want lawyers to follow you, follow a lot of lawyers.

Caveat: Like all rules of thumb, this 50% rule is fraught with exceptions, but I have personally never experienced - regardless of what keyword or characteristic I use for finding strategic Twitter users - less than 33% return followers.

Of course you also have to provide these followers with a lot of quality content related to their topic of interest.

With all that said, here are some tips on how to gather followers by certain demographic or psychographic characteristics (I just love it when I can throw in cool words like "psychographic"):

Finding Twitter Users by Location:

  1. Tweetdeck is by far my Twitter tool of choice. Not only is it a great program for organizing your followers so that you can keep up with all the chatter going on in the "Twitter Stream," it also allows you to create several columns that do real time searches for certain keywords.

    Just set up various columns related to the various topics you have an interest in, and you will have a never-ending stream of tweets that include those keywords.

  2. Twitter Local is similar to Twellow (which I already mentioned in my May article). Check it out and you will no doubt find Twitter users who do not show up using other tools.

  3. How to Find Local Twitter Users From Your City is a smart article on how to combine Twitter Local with a Google search.

  4. Local Tweets: 9 Ways to Find Twitter Users in Your Town is a great article in Mashable that shows you a lot of great ways to find local Twitter users.

  5. Tweetmondo is another site that allows you to search Twitter by geography.

How to Find Twitter Users by Subject Matter:

  1. 15 Twitter Directories Compared is another Mashable article that lists and compares the strengths of various Twitter directories.

  2. TwitteRel is a keyword search term that enables you to find every Twitter user who has ever included your word in a tweet.

  3. Twibes is a platform that enables Twitter users to gather in groups based on areas of interest. If you see a group that meets your subject matter, you can follow all the members.

  4. Tweepsearch is different from TwitterRel in that it focuses on the profiles listed by Twitter users rather than the keywords in their tweets. So if you are looking for people who mention a profession in their profile, Tweepsearch will find it for you.

  5. Follow experts in your field. The followers of high-profile experts, bloggers and authors are posted right on the person's Twitter account. My reasoning is that these people follow this expert for a reason, because they want to learn more about what the person has to say. A twist on this is an idea my friend Bill Hurlbut came up with for finding local followers by following the local news anchors and weather people on your local stations. He reasoned, and I think this is brilliantly on target, that the people who follow a local weather person do so because they live locally and want weather updates.

I have a feeling this list will grow over time as I learn more ways to find strategic Twitter users to follow. If you have any ideas or resources to share, please leave a comment below.

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Walter Cronkite and Social Media Marketing

The most trusted man in America died recently and it has gotten me thinking about trust and credibility.

As a young boy, I wasn't much interested in the news, but I still remember Walter Cronkite. He had that "Uncle Walter" personality that everyone liked and found highly credible.

Flash forward to a recent networking meeting I attended. I met a man who initially expressed an interest in using Twitter and other social media platforms to generate leads and attract new business.

He was, I assume, looking forward to a quick fix, because as soon as I described the concept of building relationships, trust and credibility, his eyes flicked away from me and he lost interest.

Apparently our networking group didn't meet his need for a quick fix either, because he never showed up again.

Which leads me to what I call the "Walter Cronkite Model for Social Networking." It simply means that if you focus on building trust and credibility, you will find your selling becomes a lot easier.

Or to put it another way:
If you put your efforts and focus on building trust and credibility, the sales will follow.

Here's the point: Social media is not terribly effective in making quick, one time sales, which is why people like my new acquaintence aren't interested. But it is VERY effective in starting and developing relationships that involve trust and credibility.

And frankly it just doesn't take that much extra effort and time.

Let's start with this observation: No other tool exists that can enable a business person to make new contacts faster than social media. Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are like magnets for attracting new contacts who have like interests.

But making new contacts is only the first step. The next step is to do all that relationship building - trust - credibility stuff (the stuff a lot of business people are unwilling to do in their quest for instant results) but that offer huge payoffs not very far down the road.

I'll use my networking group as an example of how to build relationships with online social networking. This group encourages us to have "one-on-one" meetings with one another to get to know them as individuals and their businesses. The goal of these meetings is to encourage us to refer business to each other.

That "face time" is what Walter Cronkite did each and every night on his news broadcasts. We got to know him and trust him simply because we brought him into our living rooms every evening. Day by day, Cronkite built up "social capital" with his viewers by being good at his work, offering unbiased news and simply "being there" consistently over time.

Then the time came for him to actually "sell something." This occurred when he departed from his normal practice of just offering straight news and presented his famous commentary on the futility of the Vietnam War. The impact of this editorial was profound BECAUSE it came from Walter Cronkite, a man America knew and trusted, and also BECAUSE he was not someone who offered his own views very often (in other words, he kept his commercial messages to a minimum).

Another example of building trust and credibility is something I read in an article called, "Is “closeness to customer” a new measure of success?" Research has found that companies with larger market share and profitability share a common trait: about five times the employees of the successful firms have direct contact with customers compared to less successful companies.

Specifically, only 5 to 10% of employees of typical companies have regular customer contact. But the more successful companies have about 25 to 50% employees with regular customer contact. The point of the article is simply the fact that being close to your customers pays off.

This sets up a terrific argument for using social media to build trust and credibility in order to make the actual sales process easier. It also points out the error of hit-and-run marketing that seeks a quick fix.

Going back to the man who seemed unimpressed by our networking group, we often have people who show up once or twice and then vanish. But the people who actually get business from such groups are the ones who invest themselves in the groups and each other.

These "quick fix" visitors would be far more successful if they modeled Walter Cronkite and spent more time building trust and credibility and only occasionally offered a sales message (like his rare editorial on Vietnam). When one does this, these rare sales messages have much, much more impact.

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Update on Twitter Workshop

I have previously announced that I will be teaching a workshop on August 11 for business people interested in learning how to use Twitter to grow their businesses.

To give you a "sneak preview" of what to expect, I have created a pdf flyer, which gives gives you the highlights of what you will learn. To read this flyer, just click here.

The class will be from 7pm to 9pm on Tuesday, August 11 at the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center:
1150 South Freeway Fort Worth TX 76104
at I-35 South @ Rosedale

The cost is $50, payable by cash or check.

To RSVP, please email me at, and be sure to say "Twitter Workshop" in the subject line.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

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Podcast Interview on Social Media

Recently my friend Michael Stammer interviewed me on how businesses can use social media to grow their businesses. We talk about practical ideas on using Twitter to attract website traffic and build trust and credibility.

If you'd like to listen, just click the podcast button below.

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