No matter which business I talk to time management always seems to be an issue, with so much to do small business owners can struggle to find time to fit everything in and this can be a barrier to being successful with social media.

Recently I discovered I was spending more time on social media than I had imagined.  As a result I have put myself on a timesaving programme to correct this.  Part of the process is allowing myself a specific amount of time for each task I have in the day.  It helps me to conquer procrastination and distractions.  For that reason when I stumbled on this simple tool I was delighted.

E.gg Timer doesn’t require registration, downloads or anything complicated, you simply enter a the period of time you have allotted for your task and an annoying alarm goes off when the time has been expended. It beats the timer on my iPhone as it opens an alarm window on my browser that is hard to ignore.

Here’s how it works

Go to www.e.ggtimer.com

Enter the time you want to allocate into the box

Click ‘go’

Your alarm will go off when the allotted time has counted down

Do you have problems managing your time?  Will a tool like this help you say focused?  What other tips do you have for keeping on top of your schedule? Let me know in the comments below.

My attention was drawn to a tweet last week from a website called Trendsmap. It appeared to declare that a Twitter user name (@username) was trending, I was confused initially, how can a username trend on Twitter? So I looked into it further, yes the name was trending but not on Twitter it was trending on the Trendsmap website which has it’s own process for defining trending topics.  Still a scoop for the person concerned but sadly nothing to do with the Twitter algorithm.

What are trending topics on Twitter?

Trending topics tell us what people are talking about the most on Twitter, we can pick up breaking news stories or have fun with #tags. The new tailored trends can even limit these results to the people we follow.  Getting a #tag or your own to trend on Twitter will draw attention to your cause, it’s a great way to raise awareness of a topic and for that reason can be valuable for marketers. A good trending #tag will peek the interest of people who may not have otherwise been aware of your brand.

Just in case you have no idea what I’m talking about, trending topics appear on the left hand side of your stream on the web app, they pick out the most talked about terms on Twitter.  Right now for example ‘Christian Bale’ ‘OCD’ ‘Madge’ & ‘#30thingsaboutme’ are trending in Ireland.

You can change the settings for your trending topics by clicking ‘change’, this allows you to choose the location that you would like the trends to be relevant to (for example Ireland) and it also offers you ‘Tailored Trends’.  These are a new way of calculating trending topics from those you follow on Twitter, a really handy way to find out what is relevent to your audience.

Trending Topics Twitter

How are trending topics calculated?

The trending topics on Twitter algorithm is quite complex, Twitter don’t give us all the secrets behind the algorithm but just enough for us to understand how it works.  Topics trend on Twitter when they are being talked about most, right now.  They can be compared to the ‘breaking news’ section of a media website.  They essentially are the most talked about topics on Twitter but with some exceptions.

Trending topics are determined by volume of tweets by multiple users so by including a hashtag repeatedly in your own tweets you won’t make it trend.  It takes a volume of people using the tag for that to happen.

To continue trending over a period of time new people have to start using the phrase or tag, so unless you can consistently persuade new users to tweet about your topic it will soon stop trending.  A misunderstanding of how this works meant that many accused Twitter of censorship at the height of #occupywallstreet protests last year. In fact Twitter wasn’t censoring, the tag had just peaked user wise and wouldn’t trend again unless a significant number of new tweeps started to use it.  A trending topic cannot become a trending topic again unless it is picked up by a new group of users.

You will notice that @usernames don’t trend on Twitter.  For example, although ‘Christian Bale’ is trending on Twitter today and it would be possible for christianbale and #christanbale to trend the username @christianbale would not make it into the trending topics list.

So what is Trendsmap?

Trendsmap is the site that was tweeting people telling them that their @username was trending.  It is unclear how they calculate trending topics but it does seem to be a lot less complex than Twitter, all phrases, topics and usernames seem to have the potential to trend using the website.  It is a gauge of how popular you personally are becoming compared to other users in Ireland at a specific moment in time.  Although it’s a compliment to be told you are trending this way it doesn’t have anything to do with trending topics.

The cynic in me wonders if they just use this to attract the attention of influencers on Twitter who in turn drive traffic to their website so that they can sell advertising, however I could be being unfair. What do you think?

More reading on trending topics

Six Twitter Secrets About Censored Trending Topics

To Trend or Not To Trend – Twitter Blog

Data Reveals That “Occupying” Twitter Trending Topics is Harder Than it Looks!

About trends

 

 

As you make more and more connections online and offline it becomes increasingly difficult to manage them, to even remember who they are, where you met them or what they do.  This weeks cool tool Mingly helps you stay in touch and build stronger relationships with your contacts.

Here’s how to get started:

Visit the Mingly website and click ‘Get Mingly’

Connect your Gmail, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin accounts

Immediately Mingly finds your contacts and shows you any big news such as Birthdays and new jobs.  Directly from the app you can congratulate people or send your best wishes.

Clicking on the contacts tab brings up a full list of the people you are connected with, you can add these to lists (e.g. business contacts) and you can set a frequency that you should get in touch with them.

If you choose to get in touch you have an option of how to connect to them depending on which social networks you are connected on.

Clicking into their profile you can add a note, for example the name of their husband or wife, the name of their company or if they have any pets. You can also view previous conversations with them.

All this comes for free although there is a premium service.  It seems like a fantastic way to manage your relationship building but you will need to build a strategy to compliment it, you will need to identify who you really need to stay in touch with and how often and quickly you need to build that relationship.

For a better walkthrough check out this demo video:

I can see great potential in using this tool, I often stare at my Linkedin contacts trying to remember where I met them and let what should be strong business relationships slip through my fingers. Will you try it?

One of my favourite things to do on Twitter on a personal level is to sit down and watch a TV show whilst following the hashtag.  Programmes like BBC Question Time (#bbcqt) and Vincent Brown (#vinb) come alive when you are watching them with the rest of Twitter.  It not only becomes a place where you can discuss the issues but you can also enjoy chitchat.  It really is like sharing your living room with hundreds of people but without getting crushed on the sofa.

I also love hashtags at conferences.  Beforehand I can check it to see who else is going and maybe arrange to meet up with some people.  During I can share soundbites and handy snippets about what’s going on and connect with other people at the same event.  Afterwards I can scroll through the tweets and see what I may have missed.

Twitter chats are great fun too, these are groups that get together at a specific time on a specific date to discuss a specific topic.  These can be great for getting to know new people on Twitter with a similar interest.

There are some really useful hashtags too. #jobfairy in Ireland is a great tag to follow to find jobs.

On specific days you will find amusing tags as well, these often come in the shape of a challenge.   For example as I write this people are responding to the tag: #YourTextGotIgnoredBecause

I also like the way some people use tags to express how they are feeling, or to comment

And of course they have proven a great way to follow news stories, whether it’s Occupy, Syria or the various protests it’s now easy to keep in touch with the stories that matter to you.

All this is great but then there are the #tag abusers that threaten to spoil all that is good in tagging.  More and more I am seeing tweets like this one pop up in my stream.  I love Jeff Bullas’s blog, in fact I’m sharing this tweet really to show that even the best people can make the mistake.

This is an extreme example of hashtag abuse.  I find this sort of tweet not only hard to read in my stream but when I do read it I find myself emphasising the words. It’s almost like it’s shouting at me and not in a good way.  He’s taken an interesting article and pushed it out like a marketing message.  Instead of making me want to click like a good tweet should it’s actually made me less likely to.  If he really wanted to tag one would have been sufficient, at the end of the tweet, telling me what the post was about and making sure it came up in searches for that tag.

In less extreme cases I see people filling the end of their tweets with tags, one tag can be used effectively.  In the case of the #SMEcommunity tag in Ireland for example, you have a group of people who watch that tag and will be glad of information directed at them if it is relevant.  However if you use #SMEcommunity on every tweet you are going to loose their attention and you will ruin the relevance of the tag at the same time.  You also only have 140 characters to be compelling so why sacrifice some of these just to add an irrelevant tag?

Hashtags are fantastic things, they can bring people together and make Twitter the wonderful place that it is. Think twice before using them, makes sure that they are relevant and add value and please, please don’t abuse them, we’d be lost without them.

Have you seen any examples of hashtag abuse?  I’d love to see them.

Do you suffer from multiple tabs?  When you find lots of great websites and don’t want to forget about them do you just keep them open on your browser?   I know I’ve been guilty of that,  a while ago I thought I’d conquered it,  I had a purge, now I bookmark the stuff I don’t want to forget to Delicious but what about the stuff I want to read later?

Strangely I still seem to open my computer up to multiple tabs in the morning and I rarely get around to reading the stuff I left open, it usually just gets closed in a bid to keep my browser tab free.  That’s where this weeks cool tool Pocket comes in handy. It simply allows you to bookmark stuff so you can read it later, it syncs with mobile apps so that stuff I save this morning I can read at my leisure on my phone (or tablet).  It works better than Delicious for stuff I want to read later as it displays better on a phone and it’s easy to consume content and navigate that content.  If you add the browser extension or the mobile app  you can also save stuff directly from Twitter. It’s dead handy and already I’m wondering how I lived without it.

Here’s how it works:

Visit the Pocket website and sign up

Next you can add the bookmark button to your bookmarks bar and add the browser extension.

This makes it easy to share links

Once you’ve added the extension you can save interesting articles directly from Twitter

Hover your mouse over a tweet including a link to save it to Pocket for reading later

With the browser extension you can also Pocket a page that you are viewing

Here’s what it looks like on Chrome

Once you’ve bookmarked links you can access them on your own page on Pocket. You can mark stuff as read, delete it or favourite it.

But what I love most about Pocket is the mobile app

There are apps available for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire

The apps integrate with your Twitter mobile app as well as your browser so that you can save stories directly

Follow the instructions to add to Twitter when installing the app

Now when you find a link you want to save click on the ‘share’ symbol

Click on ‘Read later’

It will now appear in your pocket app in an easy to read format

I can see myself using this app a lot, instead of aimlessly surfing Twitter or Facebook I’ll be able to catch up on all the stories I really wanted to read later.  It will also help me cure my multiple browser tab problem.

Do you use Pocket? Do you use another tool for bookmarking? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Wouldn’t it be handy if you could get people to tweet soundbites directly from your blog?   Well the good news is that you don’t need to be a coder to make this happen.  This week’s cool tool ClickToTweet quickly and easily gives you a link that when clicked opens a Tweet window with your text inside, all your readers need to do is click ‘Tweet’.

Here’s how it works

Visit the ClickToTweet website

Type in the text that you would like to prompt people to share (add your Twitter ident if you want to be recognised as the source)

Click generate link

Paste the link into your blog post, when it’s clicked it opens up a Twitter window with your text in the update box.

Now all users have to do is click the Tweet button.

To see it in action try it on this tip:

Asking questions at the start of your Facebook posts increases engagement  - Click here to Tweet this tip

Have you used this tool? Did you find people shared your tips? I’d love to know how it works for you.

This week seems to be full of tips, everywhere I look I’m finding great blog posts offering simple tips that can make our social media more effective.  For that reason there’s quite a few included here, email marketing tips, social media competition tips, even Twitter bio and Linkedin tips.  If you scroll right down you’ll even see this weeks 15 second tip from Spiderworking.com.

Linkedin breaks up with Twitter

Many breathed a sigh of relief this week when they heard that Tweets would no longer be auto posted as Linkedin statuses.  Me included.  I stopped reading the stream on Linkedin as soon as it became apparent I was seeing the same updates there as I was on my Twitter feed.  Here’s more on the whys and hows of the move.

Facebook recognises Gay Marriage before Ireland, The States and most of the rest of the world

As politicians and religious orders debate the merits of marriage equality Facebook showed who’s side they were on this week by introducing a Gay Marriage icon.  Timed perfectly to co-incide with Pride it’s great to see the network do what so many governments have as yet failed to do. Congratulations Facebook! More here.

Writing great Twitter bios

I think it’s a good idea to constantly work on your Twitter bio, I know I’ve experimented with mine over time.  This excellent article is a list of the things you shouldn’t do.. follow the instructions and you could well end up with a great bio.  I particularly agree that leaving your bio blank is the worst thing you can do if you want people to follow you back.  You have to tell us who you are if you want us to follow.

Brilliant Pinteresting

OK, this isn’t what Pinterest is about, and I still can’t quite figure out how they pulled it off, but it is brilliant! T-shirt company UNIQLO came up with a Pinterest marketing campaign that did something a little bit special if you scrolled down.  It would certainly catch my eye.

Everything you need to know to run a social media contest

Contests and competitions are great ways to get more people talking about you on social media. However there are rules that need to be followed.  Disobey and you could be at risk of loosing your pages. It’s heartbreaking to talk to someone who has lost their Facebook page because they weren’t aware that the rules existed.  Sadly in Facebook’s case you are unlikely to get your page back.  This article from Hubspot is a must read if you are planning on launching a competition on any platform.

22 Tips to grow your email list

Email marketing is definitely not dead, in my mind it is one of the most under rated digital marketing tools available.  It can be hugely effective when done right.  Collecting email addresses should be at the top of your list for lead generation.  That’s where this article comes in handy, it gives you 22 ways to encourage more subscribers.

5 Tips to get the most out of Linkedin

I hear it over and over again ‘I’ve set up a profile on Linkedin but don’t know what to do next’.  Linkedin can be a hugely beneficial social network and if you are B2B it’s not one to be overlooked.  What I love about this article is that it doesn’t just cover the usual tips, it delves into relationship building, research and just being a generally all round nice person.

And from Spiderworking.com this week

Adding a forum to your Facebook page

Last year Facebook took the discussions tab away.  I’d never been a big fan of it, it was clunky and didn’t function well.  Encouraging discussion around topics your target market would be interested in is a great way to engage your audience.  This weeks cool tool is a great solution.

10 tips for creating 15 second video clips

15 second video clips have been called video tweets. I’ve been having fun with them recently.  Here’s some tips to help get your first one looking right.

Facebook Marketing Tip #3 – Asking Questions

And here’s this weeks 15 second video tip. Have a a great weekend.

With the popularity of mobile apps such as Viddy the 15 second video has become a bit of a phenomena.  Billed as a video Tweet these short video clips can be a great way to share quick tips or insights. 15 seconds is short enough for people to watch without a second thought and they can be created and edited directly from your mobile phone.

Here’s 10 tips to help you get started with this new fast video format.

1. Framing – Don’t leave too much headroom in your shot. It’s better to cut off the top of the head than have half the frame above it blank.

2. Framing –  Make sure your eyes are at eye level to your audience, don’t look up or down at the camera.  Psychologically this puts you on a level with your audience.

3. Always, always, always shoot landscape not portrait. Your frame should resemble a TV… wider than it is tall. (Known as Vertical Video Syndrome)

4. Avoid shooting against a bright background or a window. Basic camera phones and video cams will not know how bright to make the shot and you will very often appear dark or in silhouette.

5. Check what is in the background of your shot – is there something coming out of your head?

6. Think about what can you put in the background of your shot to enhance your message – pop up banner, logo?

7. How noisy is it around, try and find quietest spot where you are. Do a test shot to make sure you can be heard over the background noise.

8.  Avoid zooming as it enhances camera wobble. Instead of zooming get closer to the subject.

9.  Talk your script first. Once you’ve said it out loud a few times write it down, this makes it sound more natural.

10. Time yourself.  Think of it like video Tweeting. Eliminate unnecessary words so as not to rush too much into your 15 seconds.

Tip 3 – Shoot landscape not portrait

Have I missed anything?  Do you have a tip to add?  Lets talk in the comments.

Spiderworking.com runs courses in creating your own videos. Get in touch if you would like to learn more.

Discussion and conversation with your customers and potential customers is a great way to build loyalty, deal with customer service queries and get some insight into what they need.  It can be complicated to install and manage a forum on your own website.  This weeks cool tool ‘Forum for Pages’ is a good solution, it adds a tab to your page where you and users can post questions and discussions.

Here’s how it works

Click here to visit the application page

Click ‘Go to App’ underneath their cover image

Choose the page you want to add the application to

Click ‘Add Page Tab’

Now the tab is installed click on ‘new topic’ to start a discussion

You will be prompted to allow the app on your personal profile before you can add a topic

Once you have done this you can create a topic and description, you also have the option of posting as yourself or a page

Here’s what it looks like when you have posted

I like the idea of this app but I have a few concerns.

1. Getting people to join a forum is hard work, linking what they say to their Facebook account is  a big ask.  Before putting a lot of hard work into an app like this you need to make sure your customers want and need it.

2. Users don’t like adding apps.  Although this app isn’t asking for lots of permissions I’ve noticed a reluctance amongst my own friends to add an app, this is one more barrier towards them interacting with this application.

3. Not everyone will notice your tab! Most users only see your updates on their newsfeeds, to encourage people to use this app you will need to spend time sending them there from the newsfeed.

I do really like the idea of this app, people seem willing to engage in discussions on Facebook so if you have the right audience this could be a really effective way to get to know your community, and to get them engaging like a community.

What do you think?  Would you use a tool like this? Would you participate in discussions on an app like this?