Sixty Second Social

Sixty Second Social: Effective communication starts with proper use

We’ve all been in the position of reading a fantastic piece when all of the sudden a typo or grammatical error jumps out at you. To a large extent, these things are minor and shouldn’t detract from the value of truly good content.

There is an exception to this - when you’ve seen the error over and over and over again. I don’t mean in one blog post. I mean all over the place:

  • Tweets.Options
  • Blog posts (plural).
  • Facebook updates.
  • LinkedIn resume. (Yikes!)

We all make mistakes, but when you’re building a reputation as an online expert, it’s pretty important to (as much as possible) eliminate the following little errors that can make a major impact on the impression you give your audience.

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
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Sixty Second Social: Blogging is not a monologue

Several weeks ago a fairly passionate debate was sparked about the value of comments. It all started when a fairly popular blogger (Matt Gemmell) wrote a follow-up about his decision to eliminate comments from his blog - not unlike Seth Godin, though his reasons aren’t quite the same. A couple of other blogs (MG Siegler and MacStories) responded to Matt Gemmell’s post in support of the decision.

Are comments required on a blog? No. Nor should they be. Every blogger has the right to his/her own policies. I say it often: My blog. My rules.


When a blogger posts about something, there’s always the possibility of discussion around it. By removing comments, you ensure that there are no angry tirades on your site, but it takes away the social part of a blog - and, make no mistake, blogging is a tool of social media.

Writing my thoughts and hitting publish gives me the chance to share my side of things. Comments allow my readers to respond and keep my blog from becoming a one-sided broadcast (we all know how much we hate that on Twitter, a microblog). Occasionally, readers will write a post in response, which is a good solution when your thoughts are too long for a comment, but I often receive an accompanying comment (along with the pingback) to alert me to their contribution to the conversation.

When I write about a controversial issue and comments flood in (“flood” is relative, by the way), it can be a little challenging to keep up with responses and stay calm when I get critical comments. On the other hand, I think the discourse is extremely important. Whether I agree with your opinion or not, I’m open to hearing what you have to say - provided we all stay respectful. I will not tolerate trolls.

Disabling comments gives the impression of a closed door, “Here’s my view - take it or leave it” attitude. Some of the blogs I respect a great deal are high traffic sites where the author responds to many (if not all) comments. A few have even taken the time to visit my little blog when I’ve linked back to their posts. How do I know? I get a comment from them. (I’m impressed by little things like that.)

As always, don’t take my word for it - here are a few additional opinions about blog comments with ideas for how to solve some of the genuine challenges that exist, as well as some debunking of the “troll” stereotype given to anonymous and pseudonymous commenters:

What do you think of the idea of turning off comments on your blog? Would you ever do it?

Sixty Second Social: Blog topics are everywhere. Here's how to find them.

One of the biggest challenges after starting a blog that many run into is figuring out what to write about. It’s not difficult, but it does involve a change in thinking.

What did you do last night? Did you watch something particularly poignant? Did it trigger thoughts or an epiphany?

Share it.

When was the last time you attended an event? What did you get out of it? What are you going to do with that?

Share it.

Did you read the unread posts in your blog reader (RSS)? Did one stick out to you? Why?

Share it.

Where do you see yourself three months from now? Six months from now? One year from now?

Share it.

When you were in the shower this morning, what idea jumped into your head? Was it brilliant? Why?

Share it.

Is there a topic that you have questions about? A situation you’ve been mulling over for a while? An issue you feel strongly about?

Share it.

This post was inspired by a conversation I overheard between two women at a planning day I attended last weekend. I heard their discussion of how one was teaching the other to find those blog-worthy moments and realized it was something I could share with you here.

Personally, it took me a little while after I started blogging to get to the point that I saw content everywhere around me, but it happened. Should you use everything you could use on your blog? No, but that’s a different post for a different day.

What are some of the situations in which you’ve found inspiration for your blog?

Sixty Second Social: There are no shortcuts

Social media has created an obsession with numbers, be it followers, views, Klout scores, fans…you get the idea. Some will tell you that the numbers don’t matter and in some contexts that’s true. All those numbers do is represent potential eyeballs on your content because there’s no guarantee that they’re actually paying attention.

Why are we so enamored of these numbers?

The root of this obsession essentially goes back to the human need for acceptance. A follow, like, pageview is perceived as a kind of personal endorsement. Someone is interested in you, wants to hear from you. The more that happens, the more you want it - it’s practically addictive.

This was on my mind as I read Mark Shaefer’s post about a guy who wants to start a twitter account and follow no one, a la Seth Godin. I can only guess that some of the high profile follow purges a few months back have reinforced the notion that following few and being followed by many is a sign that you’re a great and influential leader.

That may be true for some, but everyone who signs up for any social network starts out with zero connections. For the individuals who’ve done work that puts them in the public eye, they will amass a large following in a short time. Their value is already known and membership in this group is extremely small compared to the massive number of people who start out as relative unknowns.

The Bottom Line

You can buy new followers (though I hope you don’t), beg for views and entice new fans by giving an incentive. At the end of the day, you’re no further ahead if the people “following” you are ignoring everything you say. What works for someone like Seth Godin isn’t going to work for others. There’s no single tried-and-true method of doing social media and there never will be. Successful social media users are creative, open to new ideas and work hard at learning (and sometimes creating) the best practices for users.

If you want to grow an audience who’s paying attention, it will take time, effort and patience. The end result is worth it.

Sixty Second Social: Brand Campaigns

Last week I was innocently scrolling through my Twitter feed, chatting with friends, when I got a mention from someone I didn’t know. I checked to see if I was following them or if they were following me - I wasn’t and they weren’t.

It’s not all that unusual to get a tweet from someone who isn’t following me. All you have to do is mention one of approximately one million keywords for spammers and you’ll be inundated with tweets within seconds. But this tweet was different. It wasn’t from a traditional spammer - this was a real person claiming to be participating in a sponsored campaign. I say “claiming” because I can’t verify that the campaign is legitimate. The same day I noticed that I had been followed by someone else who was clearly involved in the same campaign. Similar tweets, hashtags and promotion - same brand.

I see three problems with this campaign:

  1. The brand has no social media presence. I have searched Twitter and Facebook - the two most important for this kind of brand. Nothing. How is anyone supposed to interact with them?

  2. The brand’s intent is unclear. Well, unclear outside of the obvious intent of trying to raise awareness, increase traffic to their site, and gain customers. How does a campaign for a brand that has no presence gain traction? What is the ultimate goal for that channel?The biggest problem with this campaign?

  3. The brand isn’t engaging users directly or through representatives. Last week I talked about engagement versus broadcast. What these individuals are tweeting on behalf of the brand is a sales pitch that’s in your face. No “Hi, how are you!?” No “What can I do for you?” No effort to get to know the people they target with their tweets (that I’ve seen).

I can’t figure out the benefit to running a campaign on a social network without having an actual presence. It  leads to confusion and could potentially cause problems with brand reputation.

What advice would you give to the brand in question?