Monthly Archive for August, 2008

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

Strange Love: strange love episode: shizzow!

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Cyborg Anthropology in Slightly More than 140 Characters | Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist

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Experience: The Blog: Consumers in Charge: Shaming Brands with Social Media

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Online Community: Compensation Study – Online Community Report

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Listen to Shizzow on Strange Love Live

On Friday night, Mark, Sam and I spent a couple of hours with Cami Kaos and Dr. Normal on the Strange Love Live couch to talk about Shizzow. We talked about how it works, interesting things people are doing with Shizzow and our plans for the future. You can listen to the podcast, download it or subscribe to their feed if you want to hear more episodes of Strange Love Live.

Here’s what Cami Kaos had to say about Shizzow (expressed via Toonlet):

A huge thank you to Cami Kaos and Dr. Normal for having us on the show!

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

Why Brands Are Unsuccessful in Twitter

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Online Community Governance: The Project Brief – Online Community Report

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What Makes for a Good Blog? | 43 Folders

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Experience: The Blog: Eight Considerations to Help Branded Communities Succeed

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Iterasi Evolves Into A Must Have Research Tool

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Using Twitter for Brands or Corporate Identities

As most of you know, we launched Shizzow last week, and we began using the Shizzow Twitter account with it. I’ve been doing most (but not all) of the tweeting from the Shizzow account, and I wanted to share some best practices for using a corporate Twitter account effectively without being spammy.

Starting points

This post assumes that you are already familiar with Twitter and are using it for a personal account, but if you are new to Twitter, you’ll want to start by reading Tara Hunt’s Tweeting for Companies 101.

I am also assuming that you have already read my post about Social Media and Social Networking Best Practices for Business. If not, you might want to start there. It has quite a few tips for how to interact with social media sites and online communities that apply to using Twitter, but are not covered explicitly or in any detail in this post.

Best Practices

  • Know what people are saying about you. After you create your Twitter account and have the name reserved, but before you start using it, set up some tracking tools. You will want to know when people are replying and what people are saying about you on Twitter. Yesterday, I released a Twitter Sniffer for Brands pipe that will help you keep track of the conversations about you on Twitter. I’ve found that the Twitter Search (was Summize) actually misses some Tweets that will be caught by this pipe. This is a copy of the pipe that I am using to keep track of the conversations about Shizzow. I monitor the RSS feeds most of the day when I have time, but no less than 2-3 times per day. For extra credit, you should also be monitoring what people say about you on other blogs (Google Blog Search with RSS feeds or alerts might help).
  • Respond frequently and sincerely. Knowing what people say is only helpful if you actually use the information and respond to people. You will want to keep the responses public by using @replies wherever possible instead of DMs unless you are exchanging non-public info. Going back to my Best Practices post, you also need to be sincere and remember that it is not all about you when you respond to people. Be honest about what isn’t working well and how you plan to improve your products or services. Help people find information when you see them struggling or asking questions on Twitter. Respond to the tough, critical questions in addition to the easy ones.
  • Follow back. You will want to follow people back when they follow you on Twitter. It will help you listen and respond while allowing people to send you direct messages. See the ‘don’t proactively follow people’ section below for some cautions about following people.
  • Have a personality. Companies are made up of people, and you’ll want to show some personality in your tweets. Nobody wants to listen to a corporate drone or regurgitated marketing messages. Personalize the information and act like a real person in your responses.
  • Variety is Important. Include a wide variety of information in your Twitter stream without focusing too heavily on any one element. I try to shoot for a mix of informational posts (new features, blog posts), links to other people’s blog posts or retweets, @replies to questions, alerts about any issues or downtime for maintenance, meetups, and fun posts.

Things to Avoid

  • Don’t be a link spam account. This one is a little controversial, and some people will disagree with me here; however, I don’t think that you should use your Twitter account just to post links to blog posts. If people want your blog posts, they can get them via RSS. It is OK to link to informational blog posts, but I always put some text around it so that people can decide whether or not to click through. You should also be linking to posts from other blogs that are relevant to your company or industry as a whole. These should be a fairly small portion of your overall Twitter posts (see the variety is important section above).
  • Don’t go overboard. You should be providing information and replying to people, but you shouldn’t go overboard. I would say that posting no more than 5-10 times a day on average is a pretty good goal. Some days will have more and others less depending on the situation; however, if you post too much, you’ll start to lose followers who can’t keep up with the volume.
  • Don’t be too self-promotional. You should use your Twitter account to promote your activities; however, it should be a part of what you do. If every post talks about how awesome your company is, people will lose interest fairly quickly.
  • Don’t proactively follow people. People will find your Twitter account when you @reply them, and you can use your website / blog to promote it. You don’t want to start by following a few hundred (or thousand) people who don’t care about you or your product. It seems creepy to be followed by a random brand that you aren’t already following, and it just makes you look spammy. See the follow back section above for how to do this right.

For more information

Jeremiah Owyang just wrote a couple of interesting posts about corporate usage of Twitter: Why Brands Are Unsuccessful in Twitter and Web Strategy: The Evolution of Brands on Twitter. They provide some additional information and a slightly different take on how brands use Twitter.

Related Fast Wonder blog posts

Twitter Sniffer for Brands

Many of you are probably familiar with my Twitter Reply Sniffer. This pipe is a variant of the Twitter reply sniffer, which only looks for @replies, while the Twitter Sniffer for Brands pipe finds other mentions of your brand on Twitter along with @replies.

I’ve found that many of the Twitter search services are unreliable, and they return different results when searched. Even Twitter’s own search misses some tweets. This pipe currently combines three separate Twitter search engines into one result with duplicates filtered out and everything sorted by date.


  1. Go to the Twitter Sniffer for Brands pipe
  2. Enter your Twitter username and click “run pipe”
  3. Grab the RSS feed output

If your brand name is not the same as your Twitter username or if you want to track multiple products, you can repeat the steps above and grab several RSS feeds. If your brand name contains a space, you will want to put it in quotes in the ‘Enter your Twitter username or Company name’ field: “green dragon”, for example.

The pipe will work best for brands that have an uncommon name. You can always clone the pipe and add some filters if you are getting too many irrelevant results.

I want to thank Justin Kistner at Metafluence for creating the first rev of the Twitter Reply Sniffer. Please let me know if you see any issues or bugs by leaving me a comment on this post.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Recent Links on Ma.gnolia

A few interesting things this week …

Shizzow knows Portland, Oregon. Now get to know Shizzow. » Silicon Florist

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Want to Vote on my SXSW Panel Proposals?

I’ve proposed two panels for SXSW this year. If you are interested in these topics, want to see me speak, or want to get me into the conference for free, you should vote for one or both of these sessions :-)

Quiz Show: Brilliant to Stupid Social Media Moments

Watch our social media contenders compete with each other in a no holds barred battle of the brains to answer questions about a variety of social media moments in history from the brilliant to the ridiculous to the stupid. See which of our “experts” comes out on top. (Vote)

Reputation Systems Smackdown: Community Benefit or Detriment

People are devious. If they can game your reputation system to achieve a higher status, members will try to rack up points. People are motivated by awards, but can reputation systems really encourage people to be productive community members. Maybe, maybe not. Come argue your position with our panel members. (Vote)

Also remember that hotels in Austin fill up ridiculously fast during SXSW, so if you plan to attend and have not secured a room, I encourage you to register now.

UPDATE 8/15/08:

I should have explained more about how SXSW picks panels. The process for most conferences is that you submit a proposal and some committee selects the ones that they think are most appropriate for the conference. SXSW is different. They ask people who plan to attend SXSW to use their panel picker process to rate the panels on a 5 star scale. They use this as input to select the panels.

So, this means that you don’t tell me that you want to see my panels, you need to go to the SXSW site and vote!

Portland Tech Events for August / September

We have some fun events planned for the next month here in Portland, and I wanted to take a minute to highlight some of them.

Sarah Lacy Tweetup (business week reporter, author, and more)
Monday, August 25, 2008 at 6:00pm
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub (on the patio) 928 SE 9th Ave
RSVP on Upcoming.

Legion of Tech Happy Hour Meetup
Thursday, August 28 from 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Green Dragon Bistro & Brewpub (on the patio) 928 SE 9th Ave
RSVP on upcoming.
Contact me if you are interested in sponsoring the meetup.

From Side Project to Startup
Friday September 12, 2008 (5:30pm – 9:00pm)
Saturday September 13, 2008 (9:00am – 5:00pm)
CubeSpace 622 SE Grand Avenue
Details about the event.
RSVP on Upcoming.

Haunted Lunch 2.0
Wednesday September 17 from 12:00pm – 2:00pm
SplashCast 226 NW Davis Portland
RSVP on Upcoming.

WordCamp (all about WordPress):
Saturday September 27
CubeSpace 622 SE Grand Ave

I hope to see you at some or all of these events!

Celebrate on Wednesday with a Shizzup!

As you probably heard, we launched Shizzow into private beta today, and we wanted to invite people to celebrate with us. On Wednesday, August 13th at 5pm at the Green Dragon, we are holding our first of what we hope to be many Shizzups.

If you like Shizzow, you can come buy us a drink to celebrate. If you don’t have an invite yet, show up before people buy us too many drinks, and we’ll set you up with an invite to the service. To learn more about Shizzow, you can visit the Shizzow blog.

You can RSVP on Upcoming to attend.

Shizzow Launches!

Some of you know that I have been working on a stealth side project for the past month or so, and we are excited to announce that it is launching in private beta today! Right now, the beta invites are limited to a couple hundred people living in Portland. I’ll be sending out invites today along with the rest of the team. If you want an invite, and don’t hear from me today, you can get one from me at Lunch 2.0 on Wednesday.

Shizzow is a location-based social web service that we built with the goal of helping you build quality relationships through face-to-face interaction. Shizzow provides the technology for you to notify your friends of your location, with as little effort as possible, so you can spend more time hanging out with your peeps and less time trying to coordinate bringing them together through phone, email, SMS and IM.

What does this really mean? You tell your friends where you are and what you are doing so that you can meet up with people and do cool things.

Shizzow was created by Mark Wallaert, Sam Keen, and Ryan Snyder. I feel honored that they asked me to join the team to manage the community.

Since we are still unfunded and without revenue, this does not impact my consulting practice. I will continue to help companies build online communities while also working on Shizzow.

If you want to keep up with us, you can read our blog or follow us on Twitter.