Category Archives: Technology

Getting more followers-101: A few basic tips for travel pros and you

getting more social media followers

getting more social media followers

One of the questions I keep getting from travel professionals is “How do I get more social media followers?” and the answer is both simple and complicated.  At the end of the day, there are a few key things to remember; 1) people are looking for interesting people with interesting content with whom they would be willing to engage.  By “engage” I mean read, comment, post, tweet and re-tweet. 2) quality of friends / followers is important, but despite what you’ll hear, quantity is important as well.  After all, if you have 100% of your followers engaged, but you only have five followers, then you’re basically wasting your time. Your goal is to get as many actively involved, engaged friends, likes, followers and subscribers as possible.  This is an ongoing effort which should never end.

So, how do you create interesting content? Easier said than done, right?  Sure, we can all crank out a few blog posts we think are interesting, but keeping it flowing is a challenge.  For one thing, we’re all busy and writing interesting, meaningful and relevant blog posts takes time and effort.  I’m not sure about you, but I’m fairly overextended to begin with.  So, I have recently determined my “social” activity needs scheduling like everything else.  I now make “social time” a priority on my schedule, meaning I block time in the evenings or weekends to get to social media activities.  I even go so far as to block at least thirty minutes a day during the week, for my work accounts, to dedicate (almost exclusively) to social. This is in addition to the efforts put forth to “be social” in all my online reading, etc. and by that I mean I always share interesting reads, always comment when I have something to say and always re-post or re-tweet something I find interesting.  In all, I now dedicate about four a week to social media, including writing posts and scheduling them.  I write about topics about of which I’m passionate and knowledgeable.  Further, if you know me, you’ll know I am not short on at least these three things; opinions, humor and sarcasm. These help me keep my posts and tweets fun, dare I say provoking in some fashion. Yea, I’m from Jersey.  You got a problem with that?

The next thing to getting more followers is making sure you’re both socially engaged and a voracious reader. Yes, this requires more time. Find the best blogs in your field and read what others are saying.  This will not only keep you up to date, but educate you, thus validating your existing opinions or helping you form others.  Then, share, share, share.   Keep in mind one thing; not everyone, even your closest friends, will want to read everything you post.  Also, different platforms call for different sharing activity. Here are my personal sharing activities by platform.

Twitter: I try to post five times a day or more. Twitter is very “right now” and with the numbers of people posting, frequency helps you get noticed.  For me, Twitter is about A) promoting a blog post I’ve written, B) getting people to read and share articles of interest or, finally, C) point people to the promotions I’m pushing and to my public speaking events. Remember though, you only have 140 characters (120 if you’re writing something you hope to be re-tweeted) so you need to use them sparingly and in a fashion that begs to be clicked.  As an example, at a conference at which I’m speaking, one of the topics is about travel agent specialization.  In that speech, I tell agents why and how they should specialize.  The tweet for that event is “#travel agents, Specialize or Die” along with the link and ending with “via @johntpeters”.  Short and attention grabbing is the way to go on Twitter.  I normally have two types of tweets for this type of event.  In one, I link directly to the conference registration page.  In another, I link to my blog post which also tells people why they should attend.  Then, in that post, I link people to the conference registration page.  I use Hootsuite to schedule most of my posts and I work a few days ahead of time.  I normally spend all my “social” time on Sundays to schedule my tweets for Monday to Wednesday. As far as when these tweets *appear*, I post 80% of my tweets to appear during office hours.  I find these get re-tweeted far more frequently than my after-hours tweets. While we’re on the subject of re-tweeting, I do that as often as possible. For one, I find my followers like how I share posts I find interesting.  They take something I re-tweeted and then share it with their followers.  That is the idea after all.  Another reason to re-tweet is to “share the love” with others.  You RT them and they’re more likely to RT you.

Facebook is different. On Facebook, I post three or four times a day.  I normally do half of my posts for work and half for personal topics.  In all cases, I try to show the human side of me.  I’m a card-carrying member of “TMI” (too much information) and am often more of an over-sharer than not. So, to be friends with me on Facebook means you’ll hear about me, my family, my opinions and a variety of sarcastic comments.  Sure, I also post about professional items, work projects and any speaking engagements, but in most cases, I do try and make people laugh. After all, we don’t laugh enough anymore.  On Facebook, I also post pictures and videos.  These might be direct from my iPhone or via Instagram (complete with image filters).  On Facebook, I often post (what I hope to be) thought provoking comments.  These might include questions about favorite vacations, funniest kids questions or quotes or pretty much anything that comes to mind I find interesting.

I’m going to cover Google+ in another post.  I’m on the platform, I use it and have recently really started to see the promised SEO coverage, so I’m inclined to keep at it.  I’m no expert though and have no real case study to show I’m successful there. I’m just being honest.

In all cases, I follow/friend/like people and companies I enjoy, read, respect, use.  I’m not following anyone because it will get me more followers.  I LIKE Huffington Post because I like their coverage. I didn’t LIKE Williams Sonoma’s Facebook page this morning for any other reason than Roasted Chicken & Brie Frittata I cooked using their recipe was a big hit at breakfast.

Finally, I’m not perfect.  I am sometimes too busy to post, too tired to be a voracious reader or too knee-deep in work and kids to do all the things I’ve listed above.  Life, after all, just happens.

If you’ve found this post useful or at the least intriguing, follow me on twitter (@johntpeters) or on Facebook.  If not, read it again. You obviously weren’t paying attention the first time around.  See? Sarcasm.

Advertisements

My biggest gripe about email; sign it!

No, not this kind of signature.

I don’t know about you, but I get about a hundred emails a day and my biggest complaint about email is that most people don’t include a signature.  When did this become socially acceptable? I’m not suggesting a glorious John Hancock should emblazon your email, but specifically, I’m looking for basic contact information.  If you don’t include contact information in your email, read on.

First, this is not going to be one of those long, boring technical posts about HTML signatures, bandwidth, etc. This post is also aimed at the US market.  Sorry, but my EU friends have lots of other legal requirements related to email signatures I don’t dare address.  With that out of the way, let’s get started.

It is simple common courtesy to include basic contact information in an email signature. Just signing it “John” isn’t enough.  After all, we are operating businesses here, correct?  Assuming this is the case, it is your job to be “easy-to-do-business-with.”   Here are my thoughts.

Most people like to organize contacts into some sort of address book.  Many times we’ll do business with people with whom we have not yet had the chance to exchange business cards (or yes, BUMP iPhones; the app that let’s you bump two iPhones together to simultaneously and automatically swap contact info). Providing your basic contact information allows recipients the opportunity to copy and paste your information into their address book.  This is just in case, oh I don’t know, they want to find your contact information someday! 

Most people also read email on their mobile devices.  Providing your basic contact information allows them to call you with one tap of the screen (or a quick scroll on Blackberry) while they’re running through the airport.

So you have now seen me write “basic information” more than a few times, so I’ll be clear.  For me, basic information includes:

  1. Your name
  2. Your title
  3. Your phone number
  4. Your email address
  5. At least one social media username if it’s appropriate to what you do – LinkedIn would be best since you can share all your contact information there.  By the way, not all corporations (read “old school” corporations) like this one though.
  6. Your main URL 

No, I have not included a street address.  This is only helpful if you do a lot of business outside your time zone or if, for some reason, you still get a lot of snail mail.  Street address though can be found on a website or simply requested when needed.

The rule of thumb is to keep email signatures to four lines by using colons and pipes (see below).

John Q. Hancock
CEO | Made Up Company Investments
212-555-5555 | jhancock@madeupco.com | http://www.madeupcoinvestments.com
@johnhancock | LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/johnhancock

You should also have two versions of your email signature; a longer one for initial emails and a shorter one for replies.

For those who think an email signature is not needed on internal emails, I beg to differ.  If I get an email on my blackberry without a signature and I want to call you, it takes me at least three clicks and a variety of scrolls to find your number via the corporate address lookup.  If you’d just include your phone number it would take one click.

 At the end of the day, we’re all time-starved, so do me a favor; include your basic contact information in your email.  Make it easy for me to do business with you.  If not, I’ll assume you don’t want to do business with me.


Ten things your Smartphone could be doing for you and how some of my favorite apps help me.

I don’t care what kind of smartphone you use. This isn’t going to be yet another post on Apple vs. Droid. My point is that if you have one, you’re all set.

If you don’t have one, and you work for a living, you need to get with the program.  I know, your phone works just fine, and it has for the past five years.  When your wife calls, it rings, you answer. When your kids text you, it beeps and you text back. Trust me, I get it, but I’m amazed at how many people I see that still carry old phones or basic blackberries.

In today’s fast paced business environment, your phone needs to be doing so much more for you, especially if you are in sales or you have customers of one sort or another.  Here are ten things you could be doing with a smartphone and how some of my favorite apps help me.

  1. Books:  You can’t be a good blogger if you’re not a voracious reader.  I know, you have a Kindle, so you should be all set, right?  Well, Kindle makes a great app for iPhone and you could be reading instead of playing with those silly, time-wasting angry birds. (Damned birds. I’ll fess up; I’ve finished all the levels and am now going back to see if I can get three stars in each category, you?)  You could also be reading all your favorite newspapers (I love the USA Today and NY Times apps).   
  2. Email: you need to be able to send and receive emails while you’re on the go.  Having to sit in front of a computer to actually send and receive email is so 1999.  (I know; ’99 was a good year for me as well.  I sold my first company in ’99 and was having a lot of fun.  Ahh, the good old days.)  Further however, you need to be able to easily open and edit attachments and visit web links.  So, if you’re carrying an older, simple blackberry device, you need to upgrade as well.
  3. Internet: You need to be able to browse the internet, check the weather, check your stock portfolio, check your flight status and access Google and Bing.  (Ok, and watch a few YouTube videos of Rico, Air New Zealand’s spoke’s puppet – you’ll laugh for sure.  I interviewed this furry little guy.  Check it out here: http://bit.ly/RicoPeters
  4. Social Networking: You need to be able to update your facebook and twitter statuses on the go.  If you’re not posting fun and interesting comments and pictures from your travels and reviews from your hotel and restaurant adventures, you’re missing out on how people communicate these days.  As far as social for business; the LinkedIn and TripIt apps are about as critical as it gets. LinkedIn has all but replaced my Outlook contact file because it’s always updated and there’s not better tool to research business leads.  For the record, while LinkedIn is free, LinkedIn Premium is well worth the monthly fee.)  Build your social network of contacts at every chance.  Doing this on a smartphone makes it so much easier. For social updates, I love the facebook app. It’s easy to use and it makes it very easy to read and post. As far as twitter, I’m a HootSuite fan and their app doesn’t disappoint.  
  5. Click, Point, Shoot:  Your phone should be your camera and video camera.  Take pictures and videos of everything!  You should even be doing video blog posts about your sales conquests, funny stories from clients, anything.  Guess what sells? Pictures!  You should have a hundred really neat shots on your phone that you can email, post, show to your clients and potential clients at any time.
  6. Apps: There are a million apps from which to choose.  My favorite business app these days? CardMunch – period. Take a photo of a business card. Submit it with one click. Within minutes (yes, minutes) it comes back as a .vcf for easy download into Outlook (or similar) AND as a scanned image. You don’t need to spend time typing cards into Outlook. Have you ever been to a tradeshow and collected a hundred important cards? This is the best app out there for you right now. Best of all? It’s free. No really; FREE.  Plus, it has other features for follow up, sharing of contacts, notes, etc. You simply have to get this app.  By the way, one more must-have app is Google’s app of apps.  In the app store, search for Google Goggles (the very very cool way to search using your phone’s camera or via voice) and you’ll get a link to Google – the app.  The app includes Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Talk, Buzz, Tasks, Reader, News, Voice, Books, Photos, Orkut, Translate, YouTube, Earth and more.  
  7. Music & Movies.  We all need a little down-time for some quiet, calm music…. I’ve got everything from classical to international rock to AC/DC.  No matter what my mood, I have a tune for it.  I also always have at least a couple of movies on my iPhone and iPad.   I’ve spent too many hours stuck in airports not to have some non-work entertainment.
  8. Kiss the kids. If you have an iPhone4 (and some others) you can do live video calls.  Being away from the kids at bed-time isn’t fun.  I’m a big fan of Skype and I often virtually tuck the kids into bed.  I have a few laptops with webcams around the house and this works well.  However, when you’re not near a laptop, you can do live video conferencing right from your phone.  This one aspect alone is worth getting a smartphone.  Skype also has a great app making it very easy to keep in touch with all your Skype contacts.   
  9. Blog! Via apps like the official WordPress app, you can maintain and moderate your blog via your smartphone.  Truthfully, it’s so much easier from a computer, but it’s nice to be able to do so from my phone. You can add photos, upload videos and moderate and create new posts and comments.
  10. GPS:  I don’t know about you, but I’m always trying to find my way someplace.  (Yes, I work for a map company).  There are a plethora of navigation apps available and while you might have GPS in your car, the most useful directions I get from my phone are often walking and public transportation directions.  As an example, I’m a big fan of HopStop’s app as well as Around Me; a neat app that lets you search for nearby points of interest and addresses.

If you are an active, business professional, a smartphone is not an option.  Rather, it is a required business tool.  This isn’t a joke. This isn’t about old-school vs. new school and this has nothing to do with age.  It’s about being open for business when you’re not at the office. It’s about being able to get quick, reliable information, irrespective of your location. It’s about closing sales.