Today I learned:
1. Twitter Strategy: Following yesterday’s post on the failings of my initial twitter strategy for this blog, I spent some time reflecting on the experience and researching alternative approaches today.
My take away?
At the outset I described this blog as an “opportunity for introspection.” It strikes me that my personality is naturally pushing me to shift this goal towards an “opportunity for ego-stroking.” There is a part of my brain that would love to know thousands of people are reading my work, but that strays decidedly from the point. My intention with the blog was two-fold:
- to shift my mindset to ensure I am constantly open to learning and experiencing new things
- to dedicate a piece of my life to reflecting on the lessons learned in hopes it will help me grow
The result however is that about 5 weeks in I am already concerned with what other people are learning from me.
In the end this suggests to me that while I understand that developing a meaningful set of followers on Twitter will require a new strategy, this is not the task at hand. That may one day become a goal for this blog. Today though, is not that day.
Instead for now I will stick to what I call “organic growth” – a small amount of self promotion via my own personal website, WordPress tags and the odd tweet. I don’t intend to employ “fertilizer” (e.g.tweet bots, meaningless direct messages) to draw in followers at this point. One day, some day, not today.
And, speaking of tweet bots...
2. Twitter Spam: I recently started following Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) on Twitter after a friend recommended his book, Enchantment. I actually already bought a copy of the book too, but I haven’t got to reading it yet. I was looking forward to it though as it seems right up my alley – it adresses “The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions” according to the cover.
I assumed, as one reasonably might, that his online content would follow a similar theme. Or any theme. Instead it seems that Mr. Kawsaki’s twitter strategy is all about spam.
Within minutes of following him my timeline was clogged with garbage. Post after post about things like predicting the future with asparagus.
The worst part?
He appears to use an automated mechanism that posts tweet after tweet to fill your timeline, and then after a few hours it deletes those tweets from his history and re-posts exactly the same thing. Good content or not, constant re-posts always keep him on top of my timeline.
Apparently Red Aurora (tweets pictured below) set the night on fire, and seemingly the day too. First at 11:16pm last night I find Red Aurora noted in my timeline from 10 min earlier:
Then this morning at 9:27am, posted 2 hours earlier, the exact same thing, although with a unique short-link (and the initial tweet deleted):
There are numerous other examples too, but I don’t want to risk being called a hypocrite for trying to get the same point across 7 or 8 times.
If exposure is the goal, regardless of the content, then this strategy works well. @GuyKawasaki hit the top of my timeline before bed, and he was also the first thing I saw when I checked Twitter in the morning. To me though, it comes across as an inauthentic approach that is beneath someone who has generated meaningful content. He has written several popular books and yet on Twitter he focusses on mindless spamming. Basically, it looks like he just keeps throwing crap at the wall to see what sticks. Especially interesting for a guy with a link on his blog to a post called “How to not be annoying on Twitter.”
So, today I learned that regardless of whether or not I have a successful Twitter strategy, I have now discovered at least one approach that turns off the consumer in me. The 491K other people that follow @GuyKawasaki probably don’t agree with me, but for now my plan is simple. #Unfollow.
Today I learned:
1. I dance at a pre-school level: I have never considered myself much of a dancer. Today I was presented with a wonderful opportunity to gauge my proficiency level. With Mommy working, Daddy was on the clock for two dance classes this morning. The 2 year-old & parent participation class proved to be the most enlightening.
I rocked it.
Bunny hopping? Jumping on one foot? Rolling on the floor? Listening quietly to the teacher? One class and it is clear I’ve got all that down cold. Maybe it’s not that I am a bad dancer so much as I have not been assessing myself against the correct criteria.
2. If Nobody Clicks your Link Does a Tweet Make a Sound? When I launched this blog I started a new twitter account (@twothingsblog) to accompany it. My initial intention was to experiment and try to see if I could engage an audience and bring them to the blog with a “passive” account. The strategy was simple:
- Tweet 1 time per day, posting the topics of the day and a short link (via automated WordPress functionality)
- Follow only a few random people initially
- Follow back anyone that follows me (aside from tweeps that were obviously porn fronts)
It didn’t take the MBA to know this strategy would ultimately fail, but I really didn’t think it would be so colossally unsuccessful. One month in and I can report some statistics from my twitter account:
- 136 followers
- 34 tweets
- 13 re-tweets, seemingly all by bots
- Exactly zero people have clicked through
Lucky I was not trying to monetize this little blog experiment.
Based on my experience so far it seems I have located a colony of people that want to gain followers for no other reason than, I presume, ego-stroking. I don’t read their stuff and they don’t read mine. Seems a fair trade, but utterly wasteful for both of us.
This proved to me that, as I expected, a passive twitter account is not going to get you anywhere. It might work for a few people with a tried and true message or those with a dedicated base outside twitter (e.g. @thisissethsblog), but if you are just starting out there is no substitute for hard work. Unless you engage others directly, and in a meaningful way, you are just another addition to the background noise.
It strikes me that the term “follower” is part of the problem. It seems relatively easy to gain followers, but that alone is not going to get you anywhere. If I was trying to promote a business via twitter I think I would try to redefine the term as “customers.” That might shift my perspective towards an approach that has more of a hope at being successful.
Time to develop a new Twitter strategy…or abandon the channel.
Today I learned:
1. Take-aways: I was reading the materials provided for an upcoming leadership training program I am participating in and one of the stats given was intriguing: Only 1% of people who read a business book will actually implement any of the ideas.
There was no source provided so I can’t back this up (and for this reason I am not citing where I read it), but it does seem like a reasonable guesstimate. It got me thinking. Am I part of the 99%…or the 1%?
It seems in this area I am not doing too bad, but I could be doing better. When I read I already do it pen in hand and I am forever circling, underlining and bending page corners to keep note of things that hit home for me. That said, I rarely look back to recalibrate on the lessons learned. Tonight I decided to change that with a new strategy.
Whenever I finish a book, if I think there are things I need to implement, I am going to schedule a 30 minute reflection in my calendar about a month away to revisit it. If I find that time helpful I will schedule another one a bit further down the road.
To experiment, I tried it tonight with Peter Legge’s The Power of a Dream which I finished in the fall of 2011. It turns out there were several lessons and anecdotes I have actually used, but the refresher reminded me of a few gems I had forgotten. A worthy exercise it seems. My assumption is that with a powerful book after 2-3 reviews I should be able to ingrain the key points permanently. Will it take more? Maybe, but this plan is a start, and it seems a useful experiment. Why not invest another couple hours or so in a book you feel strongly about? Otherwise it just gathers dust.
I am interested to know if anyone else does something similar – any comments?
Presumably this was done to match the existing Google+ age-restriction policy, but I see a problem with it.
Gmail is email. It is not Google+, and not Facebook. It is social, but not a social network. Integrating all our accounts across platforms makes some sense, but not when it limits access to the most basic communication tool they have – email. That’s akin to telling me when I was growing up in the 1980’s that I wasn’t allowed to buy stamps.
This could actually create a problem for me – I already have accounts for my kids. In fact, they had them in the womb. They are not even close to 13, and while the kids don’t even know about them yet, my wife and I actually use them. We send them things like pictures and funny one liners as sort of e-diary which we hope they will one day enjoy reading.
Will we let the kids use the accounts prior to age 13? That was certainly the plan. From what I understand lots of local kids need email as early as grade 1 to manage homework and communicate with their teacher. I would hate to think this policy could sent my kids flocking to Hotmail, or god forbid, Yahoo.
Today I learned:
1. Best Practices for the home office: With knee surgery in a few weeks I am going to be unable to drive and limited in my walking tolerance for a couple weeks so I will be forced to work from home for a short period of time until I am fit enough to make the trek into work. Critically, my recovery period coincides with a particulaly busy period in a large project with a vendor, so I will need to be efficient in the time I put in from home.
In preparing for a period of work out of the office, I was inspired today to read up on best practices for working from home. A few great sources (Lifehacker, ZenHabits, Productivity501, and Stepcase Lifehack) have helped me prepare.
My key take-aways are:
- Prepare for the day: The goal after surgery is to resume normal activities of daily living as quickly as possible, so this fits right in. Get up, shower and get dressed. Do everything I would normally do, just skip the commute and go straight to work.
- Stay-connected: Pre-book calls and video chats for updates with both superiors and reports at the bookends of the day to help me stay connected and on task with deliverables.
- Take breaks: Schedule down-time to help keep the energy up. I’ll need to be in a regular routine of physio exercises and icing anyway, so building in recovery time is critical.
- Get the right tools: I have pre-tested all the required technology (laptop, VOIP phone, remote desktop) so there should be no surprises.
- Shut the door: Make a clean break between work and personal life, particularly when the kids are home, to make sure I remain effective in both areas.
Any other tips to keep me on track?
2. I forgot about Facebook: A pleasant by-product of my committment to learn two things a day (and to blog about it for the first 66 days straight) has been a noticeable change in my consumption patterns on the web, specifically with respect to Social Media.
I just went a week without accessing Facebook, and until today I didn’t even notice.
I think I have subtly shifted from passive to active consumption. Over the last few weeks my media consumption has moved towards sources of inspiration, rather than simply connection. With a committment to blog two personal take-aways from every day, I have spent more time reading books, magazines, blogs, and simply trying to talk to people.
At the same time I have watched less TV, changed the sites I visit online and, interestingly, without even noticing at first I have stopped checking my stream on Facebook. I always knew I was a big Facebook lurker and I was really just using it to kill time. Now that I am tasked with trying to produce something creative – even something on a very small scale – on a daily basis, I have almost no use for it.
It is certainly an interesting by product of this little experiment, and may just be my favourite lesson so far.