InMaps is a cool tool from LinkedIn that allows you to visualize all your connections in your network. Watch the video and then try it yourself at LinkedIn Labs.
Last month, Twitter introduced a powerful new feature called Lists which allow users to “curate tweets into meaningful real-time experiences” (as Twitter puts it). For both B2B and B2C the operative word here is meaningful. With Lists (along with other features like Geotagging) Twitter becomes not only a great social media tool but now a great marketing research tool, bringing them another step closer to a business model that can actually be monetize (maybe).
Lists enable the “architects of information” like The New York Times and Huffington Post to better organize the most useful tweets from industry thought leaders. Anyone can create and publish Lists (just by clicking “New List” in the sidebar of your Twitter account) and any List can be followed.
No time to manage your own Lists or scour media sites? Then you might want to try Listorious.
Listorious was created by Sawhorse Media and hosts the best Lists of Twitter users on any given topic… and for list creators to publicize their lists. Check out The Listorious 140 Lists. Not surprising topping this list are Pete Cashmore (Mashable) and Robert Scoble (Scobleizer).
To put it succinctly, TweetDeck is an desktop Twitter client application. Currently in beta and available as a free download. For business owners, brand managers, public affairs managers, or anyone responsible for their company’s reputation, TweetDeck is a must. TweetDeck makes it easy to track and organize what’s happening now on social networks like Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook.
Once installed, specify the account info for each social network you’re a member of and then create a column for keywords you wish to track such as the name of your company or product. TweetDeck will give a little “chirp” anytime a match is found. This is a great way to find out what people really think about your brand, your customer service, your competitors, etc. If someone says something negative, address it. If someone says something positive, thank them. By participating you encourage and even direct the conversation, which is always good for your brand. For an example, read how Stew Leonard’s and Whole Foods are using it.
Using TweetDeck in conjunction with Google Alerts (for less time-sensitive monitoring) will make reputation monitoring a breeze.
Aside: If you rather get simple Twitter Alerts via email (like Google Alerts) then check out TweetAlarm.
Recently, Michael Learmonth of Advertising Age did a post about uSocial selling followers and friends to give the impression that a company’s Twitter or Facebook page are wildly popular. Sort of if you can’t make it then fake it.
I know this is nothing new; affiliate marketers have been doing this for decades. I guess for some, the perception of popularity is good enough.
I suppose this type of service was inevitable and we’re likely to see more companies like uSocial crop up. But, as many of the commenters of Learmonth’s post point out, tactics like this fly in the face of what social networking is all about. And the danger to social networks like Twitter is that they become irrelevant to the people who matter most. And the truth is: there is always another social platform around the corner; maybe its Posterous or Netlog or Lifeblob.
There is an inherent risk when a social community becomes too big. As more and more “marketers” (and I do use the term loosely here) jump aboard the Social Media bandwagon (e.g. Twitter grew 1,444% over last year as of May), the more they clog these communities with useless tweets and mindless blog-babble (or blabble). The personalities that make these communities worth the effort of participation move on and you’re left with PR agencies pitching to other PR agencies.
To be fair, I see how tempting it is to “game the system” with so many competitors vying for the same eyeballs and clients growing impatient for results. Who has the time to build meaningful relationships… lets just buy ‘em. The problem with this line of thinking is it is self-deluding. If your goal is to generate real conversion then obviously paying for followers or friends fails to do this. Of course, you might be thinking: I need to appear popular in order to attract real conversion. Maybe but this is a slippery slope (and one I plan to put to the test and report back on in a follow up post). If enough people are gaming the system then these “stats” become meaningless, visitors will catch wise and assume any high number has been jerry-rigged.
The wonderful thing about the Internet is that it is a self-correcting system. Whenever there is a flaw in one product, a new product comes along and fixes it. For example, lets say you are following 5,000 people on Twitter but most of the time only 20% of the tweets are useful and you don’t want to miss them. You can use tools like TweetDeck or HootSuite to group and prioritize your Twitter feeds, making your social media life easier and more efficient. There are more tools like these going beta every month, designed, in part, to address these types of unintended uses (or abuses).