Top 5 tips on how to get more Twitter followers

Sorry.

Sorry.

Sorry…for the all-too-obvious SEO- and Huffington Post-inspired headline.  This post has little to do with getting more followers on Twitter. Could be worse.  I could’ve named it: “Is Twitter more important than the Wall Street Journal?”

The first lady can Double Dutch

Social media, especially Twitter, is a global 24/7 session of Double Dutch.  Only it’s with 500 million+ jump ropes none of which will slow down to let you in even though you just laced on a shiny new pair of Nikes and are carrying a swanky-fun handle.

Like Double Dutch you don’t run into the fray with your mouth open unless you want a 20-gauge rubber rope behind your bicuspids. You wait. You find the rhythm of the conversation then jump in prepared to be part of it.

Based on using Twitter in corporate communications and on building a company on the Twitter API, I’ve learned two things:

  1. Before you start tweeting: Shut up and listen!
  2. Never build a company on the Twitter API.  (Another story for different day.)

By listening for a bit you’ll get a sense what the language and conversation is on Twitter and you’ll see what gets the most interest in whatever topic you’re keen on. No matter what subject, I think you’ll see that people who have a constructive point of view get the most engagement on Twitter.  So when you do want to start opening your mouth, think back to the way back days of TechCrunch (circa when we thought Friendster was the big ticket).  Michael Arrington made that blog more influential than mainstream papers by having a point of view.

So, if you get stuck on finding a voice for your next tweet or post, ask yourself – what would  @arrington do?

Then when you’re jusssst about to hit send on your 11th tweet stop, drop and roll. Take a look at the first ten tweets and count how many of those are about: A) broad topic of conversation that we all care about, B) dialogue with other tweeps, and C) how wonderful you are.

If more than two are focused on category C, put the mirror down and remember this guiding principle:

As @louhoffman reminded me last week no one you first meet at a cocktail party wants to hear a commercial about how wonderful you are.  They want to engage with you about new and common areas of interest. And, they’ll stay for a full cocktail or maybe two if you’re a smidge entertaining.

New rule is the old rule:  50/30/20

Spend 50% of your time talking about broader subjects on Twitter.  Then, 30% actively engaged with other people. And, just a wee 20% woofing about your parents’ progeny.

I lied. I’m giving you some tips. The last one is: Who you are on Twitter is somewhat reflective of who you are following. Follow wisely.

If you want to be seen and served up in the Twitter “Who to follow” engine as a global leader in M&A but are following 1,500 skateboarders . . . then odds are Twitter thinks you’re more like Tony Hawke than Larry Ellison.

– Jose Mallabo

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A letter to my former PR team circa 2009

Who says email is worthless? Occasionally a former co-worker or in this case staffer of mine digs up a blast from the email past and I hear an echo of something brilliant or stupid that I wrote years ago. I still think about PR this way. And I still don’t own any clothes from Lacoste.

See below a verbatim note from sometime in 2009:

Dear XXX and XXX –

Given that both of you have the unique challenge (erm, pleasure) of being managed by me from far, far away I felt I’d give you some insights into the things that rattle in my head. 11 points for today.

I obviously have a lot of opinions — good, bad or indifferent — and I’d counsel you to bring me in early into your planning and campaigning process. I enjoy that part and think we have so many cool things we can do this year.

-Jose

1. Media coverage is not a panacea. If it were, Monica Lewinsky would be president of the U.S. and BP would be the company of the decade. I subscribe to the doctrine of ‘agenda setting’ when it comes to media relations/coverage. The media doesn’t tell people what to think, it tells them what to think about.

2. I’ve launched more than 100 products, announced more than 125 acquisitions, 50 partnerships and dozens of events across North America, Asia Pacific and Europe. Two or three were memorable.

3. The best PR campaigns are those that are experiential and drive activism at the grassroots or customer level. Most of these can then elevate into media coverage.

4. TiVo was the worst press launch I’ve ever worked on. It was 100% focused on the technology and never considered the lifestyle play. It remains my biggest learning lesson. HP’s “e-services” launch was the second worst project I was involved with.

5. One of the brands I admire most for its recent resurgence is Lacoste. Once a brand for preppy suburban teens that died with the advent of hip-hop and grunge culture – now transcends both demographics and two generations of consumers while maintaining its niche appeal. I own no Lacoste clothing.

6. Everyone in the company does PR and will tell you how to do your job — until there is a crisis or someone asks how to measure PR. The best PR people are prepared for both.

7. My favorite quote is from the late great John Wooden: “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” It’s both a memorable sound bite and universally applicable for anything.

8. I am frustrated by the fact that our number one priority has been to get members to update their profiles and we’ve done a total of 2 tactics worldwide to drive this activity in the first 6 months of the year.

9. Your biggest challenge as an in-house PR person will always be staying focused. See #6 above.

10. PR people train spokespeople on the fact that audiences remember very little about a message and are impacted mostly by the visuals and experience of the communication event – yet we spend most of our day-to-day time spinning on…messaging.

11. Occasionally I hear a PR person say something that I think is bang on. This is bang on – and Nick is one of the best media relations people I know.

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Day 1 in Kathmandu

Fifteen hours after arriving in Kathmandu I thought it was a good time to check out the sites and get my bearings. And maybe figure out how to ride a motorcycle through Nepal.

I hired a driver out of the Summit Hotel to shuttle me around first to Swayambhunath Stupa (i.e. the Monkey Temple) then to the Thamel area to see where the tourists do their touristy things. As I was strolling through busy streets full of cars, people, bicycles and motorcycles moving in just about every direction one thought came to mind:

How exactly am I going to ride a motorcycle out of here in two days without hitting something?

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Media relations is a wee portion of brand communications

I remember not too long ago that the “PR guy” was the guy who wrote press releases and called down a list of reporters to ask if they got the release or not.

I swear. Like acid wash jeans — this happened!

While I think it’s been fascinating to watch the art of story telling make its way into PR and communications work, I think it’s even more important to see how the convergence of traditional PR with areas that might have been called marketing in the past is changing the way we think of PR and how we organize the function — whether it is in-house or on the agency side. I’ve been interviewing and prospecting for clients over the last 5 months and I can usually tell by the line of questioning whether or not the opportunity is going to be a good fit or not.

When a prospective employer or client asks me about my media contacts the giant reg flag goes up and I start looking for the exit signs. But when the questions are about engaging the right audiences using a mix of tactics and levers I think: “Winner, winner chicken dinner!”

So many companies go to PR people to help fix the business or make management happy that they lose sight of why you would initiate a communications campaign and they go into the market shopping for tactics instead of results. Here are some questions I’d ask if my boss told me to go get some PR help:

  1. What are we solving for?
  2. What exactly do you expect to get with more ‘coverage’?
  3. How should we integrate it with social, marketing, employee communications and the brand?

The answers to 1 and 2 are often intertwined in some sloppy hot mess about driving sales or the stock price or the b-word that drives strategic communications people the battiest: buzz. Whoever sold and popularized that BS term “buzz marketing and PR” needs to be dunked in a vat of ice and forced to watch re-runs of the first season of Seinfeld. If you can nail down the business objectives and explain that coverage is no panacea then and only then do you move on to 3.

This is organizational design and the only way you get to keep your job a year from now when someone asks why what’s on Facebook isn’t aligned with what’s on the blog and in the press coverage.

The best PR functions I’ve seen of late are built like this:

At the heart is the brand — including the stories and messages that work to connect with people over the long term — supported by an integrated effort of all the areas a person could come into contact with it and your product. Amazon and Apple have raised the bar very high here . . . and have wired people to expect a similarly consistent and high-level experience with every other brand and story they come into contact with — including yours.

So, who is the PR person today?

A story teller who can organize campaigns at the brand level and across all these domains. Let me know if you are in the market for one, because I may know a really handsome, witty guy who will ask you incessantly: “So, what are we solving for?”

– Jose Mallabo 

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What if Chuck Knoll bought PR?

Most companies start shopping for PR well after they need it. I see it a lot and am sure you’ve also heard way too many times executives say things like “get in here and get some early wins” by “picking the low hanging fruit.”

If this was football and I heard my coach say that, I’d think this is not a team built for the SuperBowl and I’d be calling Jerry Maguire to get me on a Chuck Knoll-led team ASAP.

So many companies shop for a PR solution in the way you run to Home Depot for a generator. The lights are out, the milk is getting warm and the kids are getting bored with Monopoly. Emotions run high and that strategic thinking that should be driving the decision for PR to support your business for the next few quarters gives way to buying tactics and ideas that feel good today.

Those are usually sexy and fun ideas or trick hook and lateral passing plays that get everyone stimulated like chugging a Red Bull to get ready for work – when you probably should just eat better and get more sleep.

As anyone who has ever worked with me has heard me say: Ideas are like belly buttons, everyone has one and most of them don’t work. I’m more interested in creating the right organizational design from which to execute ideas that align against specific business goals. And I want people on my team who thought to buy the generator on a sunny day. Those people win you championships and have great ideas!

Chuck Knoll won four SuperBowl championships as head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was famous for saying that “Three things can happen when you throw the football. Two of them are bad.” He was renowned for running the ball in a cloud of dust and punting on 4th and inches. What gets lost is the foundation he built as an offense and defense that allowed him to run any kind of play.

Oddly, I’m a lifelong San Diego Chargers fan and love the passing game. But when it comes to PR, I am more in Chuck Knoll’s camp than Don “Air” Coryell’s of the 80s Chargers — and so should you.

SuperBowl championships as a franchise:

  • Steelers: Six
  • Chargers: Zero

I rest my case.

– Jose Mallabo

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Education and the Election

How the most and worst educated states voted in the US Presidential Election of 2012. There seems to be a correlation between college education and voting for Mr. Obama.

Who says education is overrated? Well, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said so.  He claims that an ‘uninformed electorate’ helped vote President Obama into a second term this past week.  But apparently that is not the case.  The states with the greatest levels of college education voted for Mr. Obama, not Mr. Romney.

You can have your own point of view but you can’t have your own facts.

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If fashion is never finished…

. . . then entrepreneurship is forever.

Like Batman only with way cooler jeans and tee shirts.

The last few weeks have been very difficult for me and my team at Tweetalicious. But it’s interesting to look at what we’ve been doing since deciding to dissolve the company and shut down Mosaic. We broke up the band but have been out talking to other entrepreneurs to see how we can help or join forces with them to re-focus on the next next thing.

Even if that doesn’t happen, I have no doubt we’ll be back at it. Someday.

It’s only been a week but I miss the fight to build something out of nothing. I miss the heated discussions with my team. I even miss people telling us we were out of minds. It was a great ride and I’m proud of my co-founders for getting as far as we did with the MVP of Mosaic.

Onward.

 

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Most visited tiles on Mosaic

In the few weeks since we put Mosaic into beta testing at DiscoverMosaic.com it’s easy to see our user base has a palate for visual curation and design. The most visited tiles on the site are:

  • Alexandra Spencer (@4THANDBLEEKER)
  • Miranda Kerr (@MirandaKerr)
  • Dolce & Gabbana (@DolceGabbana)

We curate content from three major areas: brands, fashion influencers and celebrities — and Alexandra is clearly a fashionable celebrity with influence.

So, what does this tell you about consumers and social content? Great visuals matter. The days of 140 text characters are dead like the Boston Red Sox. And I’d be willing to bet that if I looked at the least visited tiles on Mosaic – they’d all look like what happens when you cat stands on your keyboard.

Take a look at each of these handles and you’ll see commonalities. All of them create a steady flow of content often times posting updates five to 10 times a day. At least half of these tweets are pictures or videos. But what’s probably most important is that these are taken from a personal perspective. Even Dolce & Gabbana, obviously a company handle, pushes tweets out in a voice that makes it feel like a personal conversation. It’s an approach every social media pro aspires but often gets lost in execution.

Corporate speak: Boo!

Personalized visual content: Bring it. Yay.

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13 Signs you might be an Internet entrepreneur

13. You know the up and down connectivity speeds to your house

12. You can rattle off your IP address faster than your SSN

11. Your focus and visualization skills are good enough to make beef jerky taste like steak

10. You keep your house at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the server comfortable

9. Before you go to bed you move the laundry to make room for your iPad and laptop

8. When you travel, the first question in the morning is to your co-founder sleeping across the room: “Dude, what’s the Wi-Fi login?”

7. When you travel, you stay in the kind of hotel where your car is parked right outside the door

6. You know the current time in Delhi and today’s date but have no clue what day of the week it is

5. You think Tom’s Shoes is a great authentic story of doing social good but wouldn’t wear them

4. You know the exact cost of your healthcare coverage and what’s included – or read this and realized you don’t have any

3. Your mom sends you links to some site called Monster.com

2. You miss @arrington

Number 1 sign you might be an Internet entrepreneur:  All of the above is pretty much how you planned it except Arrington leaving TechCrunch. Still miffed about that one.

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You’re soooo good lookin’!

Discover Mosaic

 

 

 

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