Blogging impressions: two tips for (automatic) sharing

One lesson I learned from all the blogs I read before starting my own blog is this: Mind how you share. In this post I’ll give you two tips plus reasons why you might consider trying them out.

1. Check every sharing button on your blogMind how you share

This may sound silly but have you checked what happens if you click any of the sharing buttons on your blog? Serious bloggers have all manner of cool stuff added to their blog, like floating sharing bars, that make it easier to share their content – if it all works! You should be able to just share. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

However I wrote on this topic quite a while ago. My second tip is about something quite a few people don’t do – but they should!

2. Check your shared messages on social networks

If you’re on Twitter you may have noticed crappy tweets that stop mid-sentence because they were automatically shared to Twitter from another social network, like Facebook.

On the other hand, if you’re on Twitter and you share to Facebook automatically, you may end up with tweetlike stuff on your Facebook page. It’s why I added, tried, and then quickly removed my automatic sharing connection from WordPress to Facebook earlier.

Why share if you make it obvious that you don’t know, or don’t care, what your messages look like?

Using the Publicize option to share your blog posts

In case you’re not using it: on WordPress you have the option to connect several of your social network accounts to your blog. You can view and edit these messages just above the “Publish” button. Every time you publish, your message is shared to every account you’ve hooked up. Unless you uncheck the check boxes first. You can edit the message before you publish your post, but you can only send one message that’s identical for all networks.

A perfect tweet may well be a crappy Facebook update!

If you need your message to go out to several social networks:

  • Skip those #!#! hashtags (for Facebook)
  • Keep it short (for Twitter)
  • Check the result every now and then, say every 5-10 posts (This goes for IFTTT recipes too).

The good part of automatic sharing

I’m mostly so relieved to have pressed the “Publish” button at 10 PM on Friday I then shut down my laptop and call it a weekend. Which means that unless I use this publicize option I end up not sharing the results of my thinking and writing on social media until much later.

Having my automatic messages in place means:

  1. I can concentrate on writing my posts and, after I finish them,
  2. I have more time to read other blogs and to comment on them.
  3. When on social media, I can focus on the social bit 🙂

If you feel it’s too much hassle to get onto social media AND figure all this stuff out AND actually be active out there so you decide to not bother at all, that’s completely fine by me. I understand and appreciate not bumping into your ‘zombie’ Twitter account 😉

That’s it for this year! See you here next year. If you’d like to add your thoughts about sharing please do so in a comment – I promise I’ll respond to your contribution!

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Twitter: 6 strategic tips for newcomers

I’ve been active on Twitter for a while now – though not long enough to have stopped being surprised (or somewhat dismayed) on a regular basis.

Great things about Twitter

Twitter provides an egg image for new users

Getting to know new people from across the globe – including people living quite close by, who remained unnoticed for a long time. Talking about things your relatives or friends may not be familiar with, or interested in because they relate to hobbies they don’t share or to your professional interests.

If you follow accounts with lots of links to interesting articles it is like having your intellectual equivalent of a bag full of sweets with you all day long. Even without searching, new stuff pops up. All you need to do is check out anything which looks interesting.

Surprises on Twitter

People expecting you to follow back within 24 hours. This came as a bit of a surprise to me. I mean what if you’re busy, or off for a holiday, or your spouse got angry because the best way to get you to talk to him/her would be to DM you on Twitter? Remember time zones.

People who don’t answer. I know some people have crazy numbers of followers but if you think talking to your followers is getting too ‘social’ then don’t follow back. Risk losing some followers. Or get some handy tool to help you stay social.

Clone accounts. Imagine checking a new follower’s bio and tweets, thinking ‘oh well, why not’ and following them back only to find some clone account following you the next day! I wrote a post about clone accounts earlier, and recently a similar thing happened to me.

Unfollowing and refollowing. I’m at a stage where I can still (just about) handle the number of new followers I get in a day and I check accounts regularly. I don’t like to see the same faces popping up several times among my new followers. If I don’t follow for some reason, tweet me a message if you think you can add to my (professional) life – show me you’re willing to talk to me. That adds value if your bio didn’t convince me!

Automated unfollows. I’m not kidding – it happened a couple of times before my very eyes. People who follow you because you might be interested in their products or services and who unfollow the second you press the follow button. I call that impolite. Only old-school, outbound marketers who want to be heard without having to listen do this. As I have only two ears myself (happy coincidence) I understand the problem of having a lot of people in your Twitter feed but hey, if you’re in marketing then it’s your job. Get your social media tool box out and go social.

#FF or #FollowFriday – apparently some people have decided to use their working hours on Friday to broaden their networks. They tweet #FF messages mentioning people they recommend you follow. I prefer the ones that state WHY these people are so interesting…

First steps strategy for Twitter newcomers

  1. If you’re not tweeting much yet, use lists to collect people you’d like to be followed by. Who goes into your list? Anyone with way more ‘followers’ than ‘following’. Let’s call them ‘influencers’. These are people who have plenty of others to talk with, and they need a reason to follow you (back). You can try to give them one by trying the next few tips.
  2. Get a profile picture. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, there are plenty of people who use a picture of part of their face, or a picture that shows them really small, or hazy, or dark. Whatever you do, it pays to ‘hatch’ from that egg.
  3. Write a bio that shows what sort of subjects you’re interested in.
  4. You can follow the ‘social’ people who are following more people than they have followers of their own.
  5. Retweet stuff from your influencers that you like. Quite a lot of people on Twitter will thank you for retweeting or mentioning their name (Twitter handle).
  6. If you have about the same number of followers as following, remember that others may interpret this as a sign you’ve an automated follow-back tool, and follow you in hopes of gaining more followers.
  7. Update: At some point someone will retweet an article you either wrote or discovered and shared, or mention you. My fellow blogger Daniel Sharkov (@DanielSharkov) has kindly pointed out that thanking people for sharing your stuff is definitely something you want to do. It may well lead to conversations and follows, but apart from that, people appreciate courtesy.

Looking back at my first Twitter adventures I would say the moment you decide to become active and therefore visible on Twitter, you need to be aware of what goes on around you. I hope I’ve given some idea of what you’re likely to encounter.

Did I miss anything major which you feel would really help people new to Twitter? If so, please add your tips in a comment to this post!

A Clone War on Twitter?

Just when I was finishing my post about 4 odd follower types I had noticed on Twitter, a specific variety of zombie follower popped up among my growing number of followers.

Birds with different hues but the same shape

Clones may look different at first sight, but they follow the same instructions.

Suddenly I found I had 9 new followers on the same day, all boasting similar interests (sometimes in exactly the same words) and tweeting exactly the same messages.

You have got to be kidding me…

Clone accounts?

This naturally sparked my interest.

The question HOW something like that is possible is interesting in itself, but this is not a technical post. I’m sure many of us are aware of stuff like IFTTT which allows you to send automated thank-yous to new followers and other cool things – which I don’t use, but that’s a different subject. I’m sure it is becoming easier every day to have 9 (or more) accounts all performing the same actions. I will however include few pointers in case you would like to check your own followers:

What do these clone accounts look like?

Closer inspection of my clone followers showed a few characteristics:

  • They all had colorful avatars;
  • Each of them had a nice-looking bio including a link to a website (subdomain) about the same subject;
  • Like I mentioned, they all sent identical tweets, frequently referring to their website.
  • They showed not a trace of interaction – but this is tricky terrain because this, too, can be simulated to an extent. Retweeting can happen without human interference – see my earlier post mentioning zombie followers. Other aspects of interaction with other people (or accounts) may soon be simulated as well.

These clones had acquired varying numbers of followers – as if some were of a more recent date than others. The ‘older’ ones had over a 1.000 followers each. Some of their followers are accounts which I in turn follow – accounts that are not noticeably ‘fake’. This means at least some of those following clone accounts are real followers.

After this I checked my fake follower score once more, only to find that it was still stuck at 1%. Which is odd to say the least. Apparently these clone accounts are made to seem real enough to fool an app.

The other question is WHY it is being done.

What purpose do clone accounts serve?

My question why anyone would do this has an obvious answer. There must be ways to make money with this kind of clone army. Someone is obviously catering to a demand on the Twitter market.

Now, when I was just starting out on Twitter – just after I hatched actually, because I spent some time as an egg – there were people who would follow me, and unless I followed them back within 24 hours they would be gone. This sort of practice might have made me anxious to follow back everyone really quickly if I wanted to grow my follower number.

Since then, I have noticed that some people I followed were quick to follow back. Which was nice for me as a newbie, though I would have kept following them if they had been slower to follow back.

My clone followers are surprisingly still following me after 48 hours, which would indicate that these accounts serve a different purpose or at the very least are directed in a different way from the quickly-gone kind. But I’ll keep an eye on them anyway.

What happens if you follow-back all the time, without checking up on your newly found followers? How does your behavior add to someone else’s income?

What does all this lead up to?

These accounts are made to attract followers, real followers like you and me, in order to sell us as ‘real human followers’ to people who want a large following overnight.

Who is buying?

Large companies are, as a rule, not interested in offers from dealers who “like beer, & offer 1000 followers just 15$$”. But there are plenty of newbies who feel intimidated by their friends’ “follower herd”, or business startups who need followers to sell their ideas or products to.

What makes followers more valuable? If they are interested in the right subjects they are more likely to read your content, click on links or listen to your sales talk – in stead of unfollowing you in a hurry.

But people who are just interested in their follower count will not want to pay for that – and they are the people the dealers are collecting followers for. Their buyers will pay for the “these people will follow you back” guarantee. After all, you’ve already proved that by following back an account designed to round up a herd of followers.

A side-effect of this practice is that we are all approached by followers who need us, not to sell to (the follower dealers do that), but to get followed back in order to earn money.

This clone army, then, is just another possible side-effect of the hunt for followers.

Businesses, including large businesses, are not blameless by the way. The primitive metrics many have used so far to figure out whether the time and money they have spent on social media has brought any tangible results (more money that is) have added to the scramble for followers.

Getting “Moo!” in stead of Milk

This may be the point where we replace “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” with the marketing version:

  1. If you measure your success by counting clicks, you’ll end up paying to get more clicks.
  2. If you pay for clicks, you get people who will click for free vouchers.

You don’t get the most engaged kind of follower this way, and businesses have started to notice this. In fact it really helps if people start following your business because they are interested (no news there).

For any business it is high time to move beyond clicks, likes, and follower numbers – if you haven’t done so already.

Meanwhile I have taken a few pictures of my sympathetic herd – to keep in my chamber of oddities in case they move on in the next few days.

Who is selling?

Here are few quotes from my sympathetic follower dealers in case you were wondering: “Buy 10.000 Facebook fans”, “Buy followers while you sleep”, and one that is truly enlightening and reads something like: “Are you jealous of your friends’ number of followers? We can fix that.”

Enough said.

What experiences do you have with the Twitter followers, Facebook likes, or Google Plus One business? If you have your own theory, I’d love to hear it too! Use the comments section or find me on Twitter.

Other posts on this topic: Why Twitter Automation is not a matter of set and forget

Other authors on this topic:

Why Twitter Automation is Not a Matter of Set and Forget

There has been a lot of attention for fake followers on Twitter lately. A week or so ago I tried one of those tools for finding out “How many fake followers YOU have”.

It turned out I had 1% fake followers. I don’t have that many followers yet so that would have been 1.3 follower at the start of August.

Dog chasing hashtags dropped by birds

Finding followers – who’s snapping up your tweets?

Since I make a point of checking new followers’ bio and tweets before following them back, I knew which follower it was. You might describe this particular follower as “one of those companies that have heard they should be on Twitter but don’t know what to do there, apart from putting up a poster in their shop window”. Calling it a fake follower is going too far in my view. It’s just not a very desirable follower.

If (?) you’re on Twitter you may have noticed some pretty odd accounts popping up among your own new followers – if you’ve taken a closer look at their accounts and tweets. Have you?

Check if these 4 types of followers sound familiar – and what to do if YOU’RE that follower!

4 fake, fraud and odd follower types on Twitter

  1. The unlikely follower.First up are followers who have absolutely nothing in their description or tweets that matches anything you do. This type of follower isn’t a problem unless any of the following points also apply. They may be looking for information about a topic and find YOU. Lucky you.
  2. The absent follower. Followers who have 4000 tweets but the last one is over 100 days old. Is this someone who got tired of Twitter? Or did their spouse grow tired first? Perhaps a sabbatical… I hope.
  3. The silent follower. These followers literally have NO tweets at all. Just a link to a website, and possibly a description of the amazing products or services they offer on that website. Selling stuff the lazy way is not against the law. Is it?
  4. The zombie follower. These followers do in fact tweet on a regular basis. But something is wrong with those tweets, especially if you look back over a couple of weeks. They may:
    • Retweet from a limited number of other accounts. As you review those retweets you may wonder why on earth anyone would want to retweet these particular tweets.
    • Share information from some news website that add a flavour of relevance. But if a news item is too long it lacks a link to the website. The text just stops mid-sentence.
    • Tweet highly similar messages that link to a website that promotes a product or service.

What to do if you have the nagging feeling your Twitter account resembles any of the above – which you never intended when you first started your Twitter adventure?

#1. Are you someone’s unlikely groupie?

If you want to be followed back – if your goal is to find readers and sharers for your content, consider updating your profile regularly to reflect shifts in interest. Show your interest in the topic by (re)tweeting or replying. If you’re just looking for information, being tolerated on general principles may be all you need. Otherwise make sure you don’t end up either without new followers, or hidden behind a filter.

#2 Are you still active on Twitter without realizing it?

Are you all right? If so, you need to assess why you’re on Twitter since the only thing that is still happening is your little tool finding interesting accounts for you.

  • Is it time to delete your account because you’re not even reading your tweets anymore?
  • Are you following people who have little to say about topics that interest you? In that case, start following people based on your interests. Put them in a couple of lists so you can check up on your favorite subjects anytime.
  • Can’t think of anything to say? Somehow if you managed to get to 4000 tweets I can’t imagine how this could happen. Perhaps you have zero followers who are interested in your tweets. Does the content of your tweets match the interests of your followers? If there is a match but nobody who replies or retweets your stuff, perhaps you need to improve your tweets. Find information on how to get your message across in 140 characters. Add links to articles about your topic. Add hashtags, 3 max. Use a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite not for scheduling, but in order to find out if anyone actually clicks on (the links in) your tweets.
  • Or perhaps you were overenthusiastic when you first started out? In that case you may have ended up spending way too much time and energy. If you’re eager to share information, consider setting up a Buffer account and set it to three tweets a day. Skip the weekend. Use your online reading time to sniff out the best content and collect it in your Buffer. When you’re on Twitter, use your time to reply, and tweet & retweet only stuff that is fresh and new in the sweet knowledge that your Buffer will do the rest.

#3 Are you quietly following people around?

Consider getting busy.  A Twitter account is NOT the same as real Twitter presence. You need to take action to earn people’s trust. Unless you are absolutely sure that your customers are looking for a lazy entrepreneur to show them how to get rich while they sleep.

#4 Are you that zombie on the hunt for followers?

People prefer to connect with people. Automation is a great way to make our social networking lives easier. But many people would like there to be a person in there with all the automated stuff.
If you don’t have time to find great stuff for sharing, consider tweeting less, like 4 times a day. Don’t inundate your followers with rubbish.

Tips to escape premature zombiehood on Twitter

You may have set up instructions to make your life on Twitter or any other social network easier and less time-consuming. Or you’re considering it.
Remember whatever you do in real life, those instructions which will keep going forever. Make sure you can stop or alter whatever you started. Start here:

  • Get organized. Document all the stuff you ever started. Social networks and apps can clutter your online desk.
  • Take control. Review your goals and decide to:
    • Get rid of social accounts you haven’t used for a while;
    • Make changes that will make those accounts valuable to you (again);
    • OR put a text in your bio or in a message that indicates you are at present busy elsewhere. If you choose to do this, be helpful and indicate how you may be contacted. Don’t just get up and leave.

Do you have more useful tips and suggestions for inactive or zombie accounts? If you do, please share them in a comment. Or find me on Twitter.

More about this subject in this article by Lisa Buyer on SearchEngineWatch.com and on Mediabistro.