AuthorityLabs Mailbag: Is It Time For My Business To Break Up With Twitter?

Mailbag

When John P. joined Twitter in 2010, he did so out of peer pressure, as his entire department was making a leap to the platform at the behest of his CMO, who wanted to “add some visibility to the brand.” John P. followed suit, setting up a personal account, which sat idle until he started his own company in 2013.

He worked his butt off to get the company off the ground, then thanks to the advice of a mentor, he smartly looked to social media (specifically Twitter) to enhance his company’s digital presence. It was a success. He found Twitter easy to manage and, most important, the opposite of Facebook in just about every way.

Until now, that is.

(Eds. note: John P. is an AuthorityLabs client who reached out to us for advice. We agreed not to use his last name.)

Are We Watching Twitter Become Facebook?

In a move that’s irking even the staunchest Twitter supporters, the platform has begun to show users tweets from folks they don’t follow. It’s an occurrence that’s been in the works for some time, as a trickle of folks-I-don’t-follow content began showing up in the streams of numerous accounts, leading many to publicly question the move and silently hope the platform would not “go Facebook” on them.

But now, with a full-on roll out underway, the backlash is steady, rancorous and deserved, says John P., who no wonders if it’s time to exit the platform for greener pastures.

“I have a business to run, employees to hire and manage,” said John P. “I loved that I could easily keep track of what was going on in my area of [business] with Twitter—not having to deal with the BS of cat pictures, selfies, stupid videos and ads. [With] these changes, however, I’m having to deal with all the things I hated with Facebook. I’m wondering if it’s time to exit Twitter for something else.”

He’s not alone. Twitter has been ablaze with the news. In fact, judging by the responses, it seems that innumerable folks would like to literally set Twitter ablaze.

Maybe Techcrunch’s tweet says it best:

What does Twitter have to say about the changes? Not a whole lot actually, other than offering up a tired, convenient explanation of what a timeline is:

…When we identify a Tweet, an account to follow, or other content that’s popular or relevant, we may add it to your timeline. This means you will sometimes see Tweets from accounts you don’t follow. We select each Tweet using a variety of signals, including how popular it is and how people in your network are interacting with it. Our goal is to make your home timeline even more relevant and interesting.

This might come as news to Twitter, but we know what a Timeline is. We liked the one we had just fine. To Twitter, however, a Timeline—to paraphrase Lewis Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty—means just what they say it means.

The timeline changes are dynamic and ongoing and no one yet has a clear sense of what the final product will end up looking like. But this much we know: ‘New Twitter’ looks a lot like old Facebook.

For John P. and the folks like him that’s bad news.

Owned And Earned Media Should Be Approached With Renewed Vigor

Our Advice to John P. was simple and straightforward: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. If Twitter has been working for you—and it has—don’t abandon the platform altogether.

Look for creative ways to work around the noise:

  • Pare his followers to all but the most important folks
  • Use Twitter Lists
  • Set up keyword filters in Hootsuite, then follow only those streams

Also, we made him aware that it’s time to consider other social media platforms, too, especially Google Plus and LinkedIn. Sensing a waning desire to navigate the social waters, we made one final point that’s summed up nicely via a quote from Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting.

“An active social presence combined with good network building can be a major contributor to growing a brand reputation, better customer service, developing trust and authority, as well as bringing traffic to your sites via the links you post,” says Traphagen. “Those considerations should all be part of any good digital marketer’s arsenal.”

We also made two other recommendations:

  1.  Owned media should be the point of emphasis: A company blog is the lifeblood of your content marketing efforts, so treat it as such. Publish content as frequently as possible—preferably at least a few times a week. Use it to answer the questions prospects and existing customers are asking your salespeople and staff, in addition to answering the most prominent queries for your category in organic search.
  2. Earned media can no longer be neglected: A business owner cannot afford to take off his or her PR hat for an extended period of time. You must always be looking for ways to naturally, seamlessly promote your company while serving the needs of prospects, existing customers and the online and offline communities overall. Make it a point to join local organizations, which could enable you to take advantage of sponsorship or speaking opportunities. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to publications in your vertical, whereby you can ask about writing a column or becoming a regular contributor.

In the end, our approach was to highlight how Twitter, or any social platform for that matter, is but a part of a holistic content marketing plan. For John P. Twitter’s changes provoked a shift in thinking, leading him to focus more on the totality of his marketing efforts, something that went far beyond social media.

What are your thoughts on the changes from Twitter?

AuthorityLabs Google Analytics Integration – Beta Testers Wanted

Google Analytics integration has been one of our most requested features lately. We are going to begin rolling this out soon and are looking for users who would like to have early access. This will be the beginning of many new and actionable reports available in the AuthorityLabs interface. If you would like to be added to our beta tester list, sign up with your email in the form below.

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3 Ideas Your Business Should Steal From Effective Remote Teams

Remote-worker

Remote teams are the way of the future, with more and more companies going this route to ensure they can retain the best talent and become more operationally efficient. It also doesn’t hurt that companies are making this move at a time when traffic worsens in most metropolitan areas and office space, particularly on the east and west coasts, grows pricier by the quarter.

But don’t be deceived!

The real reason even Fortune 500 companies are willing to make this leap is it makes good business sense, which is a well-documented fact buttressed by research from a number of respected sources, among them MIT’s Sloan School of Business and the computer network juggernaut Cisco Systems.

In a 2009 survey of some 2,000 employees, Cisco found that more than two-thirds of the employees reported higher productivity when working remote, and fully three-quarters of the workers said the timeliness of their work improved.

Is anyone really surprised?

Colocated teams spend hours each day in meetings. There are a veritable smorgasbord of interruptions and distractions and result in a huge drag to the bottom line – owing to the added costs of office and meeting space, additional layers of management and commuting costs (many executives have travel expenses covered as part of their overall compensation package).

I’m on the record as someone who hates offices. The meetings, the interruptions and the petty office politics add up to big time zaps, but those are no longer my biggest problems with offices.

The over-reliance on tools, over in-person communication, is the real culprit eating away at colocated teams.

When Melissa Fach wrote about her favorite communication tool, FlowDock, for working with the AuthorityLabs team (she heads social media for the platform) it was not by accident that she stressed the tool is used for “stay[ing] in touch,” and not used as a substitute for overall communication. The AuthoritiesLab team actually does talk during the day, holding at least one Google Hangout every day at the same time.

This sort of interaction, where tools support real, meaningful interaction, marries the best of colocated teams (e.g., meaningful in-person communication) with the best of remote teams (e.g., efficient real-time collaboration).

Efficient?

Work-from-home

From what I’ve seen, this approach breeds efficiency, but even more important, it fosters a cohesive work environment that’s tough to beat. Folks are able to do the work they love, and in turn they come to appreciate the company and their teammates even more.

I’m surprised more companies aren’t using such an approach. Instead, what I see are colocated teams so burnt out from meetings and office politics that they rely only upon tools to communicate. Their work, and the work they do for clients, suffers.

Don’t allow your colocated team to become a disillusioned, disconnected bunch. Steal ideas from remote teams to drive efficiency, foster collaboration and promote a team-building culture.

  • Don’t replace people with platforms. Tools are meant to make it easier for team members to share ideas; they should not be used in place of genuine interaction. At too many colocated workplaces, computer screens are littered with Gchat and other messaging software, which is ridiculous when you consider the inefficiency it promotes, not to mention how much easier it is communicate in person. In reality, something more nefarious at work here: workers are choosing to communicate in-person only with those co-workers they have to talk to; otherwise, it’s platforms over people. Make it clear to your team that tools are not a substitute for in-person communication. Drive home the point by asking that collocated team members have at least one quick, in-person talk each day with those parties they are working on projects with. (This could be a manager-to-manager interaction.)
  • Hold standing meetings, and keep rigid time schedules. Nothing you or anyone at your company has to share is so important that, every single day, you need to meet for hours and hours. A smarter approach is to (a) set a specific, defined agenda for each meeting, (b) email the agenda to each them member (c) make them aware that only what’s entailed in the agenda will be covered during the meeting and (d) make 90% of your meetings standing-only gatherings, which places added emphasis on efficiency. From there, set a rigid time limit that’s strictly enforced.
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The Mack Web Team’s Standup meetings are as effective as they are efficient.

 

  • Pick up the phone. The office phone is now largely a dinosaur in many offices, used only for calls from pesky vendors and salespeople. Have your managers instruct staff to, at least once per day, reach out to a telecommuting worker or a staff member who’s working at another office for a brief, impromptu chat about something he or she is working on. This ensures team members are familiar with what others in similar roles throughout the company are working on and, most important, promotes the sharing of ideas. What’s more, it can create a open door for ideation, which is vital when team members are a wit’s end on a project and need a fresh set of eyes.

Having all team members working remote is a Pollyannaish notion. However, collocated teams can stand to benefit greatly by adopting some tactics being used by remote teams. If not else, all companies must come to realize that tools are no substitute for genuine interaction.

Care to share some ideas your colocated team has borrowed from remote workplaces?

Why Flowdock Is My Favorite Communication Tool

AuthorityLabs uses Flowdock for communication and it has become a tool I really enjoy using on a daily basis. It is so easy to use and it is a great way to stay in touch with everyone throughout the company. I am going to break down the parts of this tool that I love and show you how it works. Perhaps it will come in handy for your company.

The “Main” Area

We have a “main” area where everyone can speak to one another at the same time and/or keep each other up-to-date. I like this because I can easily see what is going on, even if I am not a part of the conversation. Anytime you manage social accounts you need to know what is happening at all times and this tool keeps me informed.

Let’s look at some examples of how the tool works. In this first image you can see how multiple conversations are handled. Clearly Steve went to lunch and notified everyone. Chase was talking about the carousel (see the purple icon next to his name?) Well, that is a different conversation than Brian’s; he has a gray icon.

Flowdock-main

So, I can see multiple conversations and am able to reply to each conversation specifically by clicking on the icon next to someone’s name. Here is how it looks with an individual conversation:

Flowdock conversation

When you click on a specific conversation the “main” screen with multiple conversations disappears and just the conversation you chose appears. As you can see above there is an “X” which allows you to turn that convo off and just go back to “main”.

So to review, I can go to the main area and see all public conversations and reply to each of them individually…and I know when people go to lunch!

Tagging Folks

In the image above you can see that I used “@Brian and @Chase.” By using the @ symbol these specific people get a notification that someone is talking to them. You can also see that Chase did not reply in the message above, so I tagged him again and…

chase flowdock

Individual Conversations / 1-to-1s

There are times when I need to communicate with Brian, Chase or another team member and the rest of the crew doesn’t really need to be bothered with the discussion. All I have to do is click on someone’s name and I am in a private area and can have a 1-to-1 conversation.

Flow private

Flows or Rooms

You can create different Flows (I call them rooms) for different teams. We have a marketing “Flow” where everyone on the marketing team can brainstorm, look at data and share information. There are other flows for different team members.  This option allows everyone to interact with their teams in a clean format and an easy-to-use interface.

These conversations are archived so you can always go back and find a file or an idea you discussed, but haven’t executed yet (been there).

Flows

Customized & Informative Sidebar

In the the “main” area Flowdock has a sidebar that shows the entire team everything that is happening socially. These social search results include what is happening on Twitter and we push Trello, Github, Papertrail, rss, and some custom internal data into that sidebar as well. Everyone can see what is happening all the time.

sidebar

Most Importantly, Bonding

The folks at AuthorityLabs are spread across the U.S., however when you watch them talking day-to-day they are as close as any family I have seen. I think that the work environment Chase has created enhances this closeness, but I also believe that Flowdock helps the closeness continue. Flowdock allows fast and easy conversation where people can interact, show their personalities and support one another. Everyday I am clearly entertained by the humor of the team and the “main” area is where it all happens.

Flow-funny

 Why This Chat Software?

Well, this is the best I have used. The UX is great, the features are outstanding, file sharing is easy and the mobile app comes in handy, everyday. You can also integrate many project management tools and the pop-up notifications are helpful because I have a lot going on all the time. With this tool I can be gone for an entire day and come in and easily catch up. I have never had a glitch or a problem arise; it is solid and runs well all the time.

So basically, I love Flowdock and I recommend it for companies that need teams to be able to communicate across offices or even states. If you have any questions please comment below.

How To Use Google Plus Like A Marketing Pro

Google Plus. The very name evokes comments about “Google’s failed attempt at social media,” how the platform is “barren as the Sahara desert” and jokes, including “Only Google employees are using it.” Don’t fall for any of these ruses. Though Google Plus might not ring out as the social media platform of choice for the masses, it’s actually the most valuable platform for your business.

While Twitter is now largely overrun with marketers, and Facebook and Instagram slug it out as the platforms of choice for the narcissists, Google Plus is a data-rich vehicle teeming with information that can instantly help your business by allowing you to easily spy on competitors, join communities to uncover the language they’re using to find your products/services and discern what content types likely have the most value for your needs.

These are but a few of the uses that highlights Google Plus as the super platform for your business. The infographic below contains far more in-depth information of how you can immediately start using Google Plus like a pro, leaving the competition in the dirt in the process. Scroll to the bottom of the page for additional Google Plus resources.

(Click on infographic to expand)  Infographic PlusYourBusiness.com

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Additional Resources:

Google Carousel Results Appear to Be Expanding

Love them or hate them, it appears that Google’s carousel results are starting to show up in more places. We’re seeing them show up more consistently on searches they weren’t on before.

Los Angeles Hiking

Some of the results are pretty horrible though. Most of these are not National Parks…or even parks at all for that matter.

Arizona National Parks

We’re keeping an eye on the results and if we see frequency increase some more, we’ll look into expanding our SERP reporting for those packs.