The Grinch Hates Noise

Oh the Marketing Noise, Noise, Noise, NOISE!

Sometimes, I feel like the Grinch from Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

The Grinch Hates Noise
“Oh the noise, noise, noise, NOISE!”

But in my case, I’m not griping about Whos in Whoville, but marketing noise in social media.

What Is Noise in Marketing?

“Noise” in marketing terms refers to material that distracts from an intended message.

“Good marketing,” according to one source, “engages and informs potential clients” with a “clear, compelling message.”

Bad marketing causes noise. And noise is obnoxious.

Boy, Tweeps Are Loud

As anyone who spends time online knows, advertising is becoming more and more pervasive in social media. You can’t scroll through your Facebook newsfeed or your Twitter feed without coming across an ad in the form of a promoted post or a promoted tweet.

Marketing Noise on Twitter
Pipe down!

Today, Josh Constine at TechCrunch.com wrote about decelerating Twitter user growth. The number of Twitter users is growing, but more slowly than historically. Constine partly attributes this to crowded and overwhelming Twitter feeds.

His article really rang true for me. Lately, I have found hanging out on Twitter more stressful than enjoyable. I follow 880 people and have never organized those people into lists.

The result is, my feed is full of clutter. But rarely do I see a promoted tweet. No, I am talking about individual marketing noise.

Shameless Self-Promoters

We all know them. They look something like this:

Okay, to be fair Jeff Bullas does write some pretty good content. But check out his tweets. They are ALL. THE. SAME. When your Twitter feed is full of variations of the above, it can start to get, well, BORING.

Twitter is full of people, far less credible than Jeff Bullas, who are trying (like me, admittedly) to position themselves as social media gurus (#8 is totally me).

But do you know what? There are only so many “6 tips for this” or “10 ways to do that” articles with which the internet can put up.

How to NOT Make Marketing Noise

“But Jane!” you say, “Didn’t you recently write an article with 7 tips for first-time bloggers?” Well, yes. Yes I did. In my defense, writing this blog has been a learning process. That, however, is no excuse.

The truth is, though, that I can’t promise not to write more articles of the same ilk. Why? Because people do read them.

That said, the way to avoid contributing to social media overkill (especially on Twitter) is to:

Avoid being noise by being yourself

Yup! Interact on Twitter! Post a lame joke! Don’t just shamelessly self-promote. Show that there’s a reason you’re a social media guru. It’s because you are awesomesauce.

Be Yourself in Social Media
Being my goofy self at the Social Media Success Summit 2013 get-together on Twitter

So, can we all agree to stop posting “8 tips” and “3 ways” and “5 reasons” articles over and over again on Google+ and Twitter? We self-proclaimed gurus need to work to make social media a less noisy and more fun place to hang out.

7 First-Time Blogger Tips

7 First-Time Blogger Tips

7 First-Time Blogger Tips

Several people have contacted me with requests for tips on starting their own blog.

First of all, this is *HUGELY* flattering!  Thanks guys!  Starting this blog has been a real learning process, and I’m happy to share some tips that I’ve learned along the way.

So, without further ado, here are 7 tips I’ve learned for first-time bloggers:

1. Own Your URL

I wanted a specific URL, so I bought my domain name from GoDaddy and used WordPress to build my blog.

If you want to use your blog to build a portfolio, see if you can own your name as your domain (I couldn’t, as apparently there are 5,000 realtors named Jane Kennedy).

2. Get a Site Hosting Service

You can easily create a blog on any number of platforms like Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress or Blogspot.  Originally, I went with GoDaddy for my hosting services.  I was disappointed with how slow it was, though.  Upon a colleague’s recommendation, I switched to SiteGround, which is more expensive but much faster.

If you’re a first-time blogger, though, and you have no idea about designing a website or web hosting (and you don’t have an awesome pair of brothers who know all about this stuff like I do–thanks bros…), I highly recommend WordPress.com.  It’s a great platform and you can choose some great templates for your design.

For examples of blogs that use WordPress.com for hosting, check out my friend Anna’s, and my friend Caroline’s blogs.  My friend Laure uses Blogspot for hers.

3. Design Your Blog

Once you’ve got your URL and your hosting service, it’s time to design your first blog.

There’s an important rule here: Keep it simple.

You want to make it easy for people to read your articles.  You also want to strike a balance of space for your text and room for some interactive content in the right-hand column (or however you set up your blog).

The rule for the right-hand column content is simple: Make it relevant, interesting, and useful.  Make it easy for people to browse through your blog history, and to find your articles by title, topic and date, and connect with you on social media.  Always provide a search bar.

4. Start Writing!

Here’s the first rule: Write about what interests you.

Don’t waste everyone’s time by trying to write about stuff that you think people *want* to read.  If you write well about what you love, people will enjoy it and come back for more.  For a great example of a blog that focuses on a specific interest, see my friend Ysa Belh‘s blog.

Second rule?  Write a lot.

Be prolific!  Establish a ground base of good content and write, write, write!  It’s good practice, and you’ll find your voice.  When you get started with WordPress, they provide lots of great advice about getting started.  One tip I particularly retained was to practice by doing.

5. Some Search Engine Optimization Basics

SEO is the internet buzz word and it’s how you get your blog noticed.

Basically, it means filling your articles with frequently searched-for terms and keywords.  It also means installing plugins that help make your blog easy to find for people who are searching for stuff you’re writing about.

You can use tools like Google Adwords Keywords Tool (apparently this will only be available to non-paying users for a little while longer, so hop on it while you can).  This tool allows you to put in your article topic and see what similar search terms people are googling.  That’ll give you ideas for other keywords to seamlessly integrate into your content.  You can also find terms by starting a regular Google search and seeing what phrases Google suggests for autocomplete.

Basically, the rule about writing about what interests you applies here.  There’ll be other people on the internet interested in the same things, that’s for sure.  Hey, it takes all kinds, right?

6. Share What You’ve Written

Once you publish an article, don’t just sit back and expect people to stumble upon it and find it.

Share in social media, and shamelessly plug your new endeavor to your nearest and dearest (I love you, Mom and Dad!).  Don’t be obnoxious about it, but share your articles in context (this is especially easy if you’re writing about current, trending events).

7. Get on Google+

If you want Google to help people find your blog, create a Google+ profile and link it to your blog.  You can download a Google+ Author Link plugin which allows you to connect your blog to your Google+ profile.

Add your blog to your profile, and whenever you write something, publish a link to the article on Google+.

But don’t leave it at that.  Actually use Google+!  I say this for two reasons: Google likes it (yes, we are all slaves to the Google), and it’s also growing into a great, dynamic, informative and fun platform.

***

I could go on, but this article is long enough.  Later I’ll write about my favorite WordPress plugins.  Some are visible on my homepage and some are behind-the-scenes whizzes that make thebraininjane.com the magical place it is.  Hee!

My brothers were instrumental in making this website happen.  Visit my brother Austin’s website over at PaperScenery.net.

How to Get a Celebrity to Answer You on Twitter

As anyone who has ever been retweeted, favorited or answered by a celebrity on Twitter knows, it’s an amazing feeling.

Andrew WK Follows Me!
The day Andrew WK followed me I rejoiced.

What is more validating than a famous person answering your tweet?  The thought of a celebrity being amused by what you have to say, or chuckling to him or herself at your pithy quip is delightful.  It makes you feel good.  As a social media professional, I feel qualified to give some tips on how to get a celebrity to answer you on Twitter.

This involves some Dos and Don’ts.

DON’T:

  • Beg.  For the love of Pete, keep your dignity! “@justinbieber OMG PLZ FOLLOW ME I LUV U SOOOOO MUCH XXXX” is just sad.
  • Be sarcastic.  You may think your sarcasm is witty and clever, but it is rarely well understood when written, so don’t try to catch a celebrity’s attention with sarcasm.
  • Be insincere.  Though sarcasm can be hard to spot, insincerity is easily identifiable in 140 characters. “@jtimberlake I looooooved you in ‘Bad Teacher,’ I totally thought it was oscar-worthy. Please follow!” Well that combines insincerity (because please, no one thought “Bad Teacher” was a good movie) and begging, so it’s a double no-no.
  • NEVER LIE.  Related to insincerity, lying will get you nowhere and will most likely get you into trouble later.  That’s not really about getting retweeted by a celebrity, but just Twitter advice in general.
  • Promote yourself.  “@BrunoMars My band is playing covers of your song at our concert. Can I get a RT?”  No.
  • Be irrelevant. Tweeting at a celebrity about a topic in which they are likely to have absolutely no interest is simply not going to get you anywhere.

Twitter LogoNow, a disclaimer: I’m about to list some Dos, but you should note that lots of celebrities don’t have their @ setting enabled (they don’t get notifications when they’re tweeted at), so they won’t see your tweet.  Also, if you’re tweeting at someone who has millions of followers, your tweet is likely to be missed.  That said, here are some ways to get yourself noticed and tweeted back.

DO:

  • Follow interesting people.  Follow people who tweet things that are relevant and interesting to you. Don’t follow people just because they’re celebrities.
  • Tweet interesting things. Foster your Twitter presence by tweeting frequently (without being a spam nuisance) and by sharing interesting content.  Link to good articles, retweet fun things, make pertinent, clever and smart observations.  It is possible to be eloquent and interesting in 140 characters, and you don’t want to fill your Twitter history with inanities.
  • Get to know the celebrity.  If you spend enough time on Twitter, you’ll get to know the kinds of things that celebrities retweet, mention or comment on.  If Kevin Bacon tends to tweet about his musical activities and his movies, then tweet at him about seeing him in a show or a movie.  Get to know celebrities’ interests, then share in them.
  • If you’re really desperate, identify the softies.  Russell Crowe’s heart will absolutely melt if you tell him it’s your birthday, you’ve been a fan for a long time, you’re running a race today and you’d really appreciate a retweet.  Bingo.  Cesar Millan will swoon if you tell him you just went out and got your son a rescue pit bull pup for his birthday and can you get a shout out (n.b. include a photo in this one).  Figure out who the celebrities are who like to make people feel good by answering their tweets.  There you go.  Sorted.  (But remember what I said about insincerity!  Don’t do it!)
  • Be yourself.  Just tweet about what you like.  If you’re having a whale of a time on Twitter, then people (including celebrities you mention) will notice.
Celebrity Interaction
Brendan Kelly is a local Montreal radio personality who apparently also likes the Rolling Stones!

Interactions with celebrities on Twitter are great.  But they are not the whole point of the platform.  The best way to get noticed, get mentions, retweets and gain followers, is to put out fun and good content.  Essentially, have a good time on Twitter and Twitter will have a good time with you.

Simples.