It’s Okay to Quit Sometimes

I’ve seen a rash of complaining lately from folks who’ve put themselves into groups or crowds who are really aggravated by other members of that group or crowd.

I’d like to share a little secret: you can usually remove yourself.

Your Twitter stream is full of who you chose to follow. Unfollow the problematic individuals or brands.

“This Facebook group is filled with _____ (undesirable thing)”

Unless you’re the admin of the group, the best solution is probably to move along and find a different group that’s not filled with whatever it is that’s annoying you.

“Ugh! This conference isn’t what it used to be!”

That’s probably true. Having attended and organized a ton of conferences, you’re right: they evolve due to factors in the community, technology, and more. If you’re not evolving along with the conference, it’s probably not the right conference for you any more.

After all, when it comes down to it, there are plenty of times when it’s okay to not give a fuck. Yes, I realize there’s some irony in this post related to that very issue.

Build up a Twitter Account’s Credibility with Strategic Event Tweeting

I’ve had my primary Twitter account, @ahockley, since February 2007 and have arguably tweeted too much since then (65,000 tweets and counting, baby)! I’ve used that account for general conversations as well as photography-related discussions.

Earlier this year I created a separate account as I began to strengthen my online presence in a different area of my life: software quality testing. I launched the Kwality Rules blog and the @KwalityRules Twitter account. I followed some folks in the industry and used the account sporadically.

A few weeks ago I attended STARWest, a major quality conference, and decided I’d use this as the catalyst to boost the profile of @KwalityRules. Here’s what I did.

Before the Event

  • Find the conference hashtag ahead of time. About two weeks prior to the conference, do a Twitter search for the hashtag and see if folks are starting to use it. Send out a tweet with the hashtag indicating that you’re attending and are looking forward to connecting with other attendees.
  • If your Twitter client supports it, set up a saved search view for the conference hashtag and start monitoring it as the event gets closer. If your Twitter client doesn’t support it, perhaps you need a better Twitter client. I like Tweetbot (Mac, iPhone, or iPad).
  • Those people that are using the hashtag and seem to be saying interesting things? Follow them. Perhaps send them an @mention indicating that you’re looking forward to meeting them at the event.
  • If you’ve reviewed the conference schedule and identified particularly noteworthy or interesting-sounding speakers, see if they use Twitter. If they do, follow them. An introduction isn’t a bad idea; let them know you’re looking forward to their talk.

At the Event

Remember: you’re at an in-person event so you should do things in person. Don’t just sit in your room or the corner all the time on your phone, tweeting away. That said, don’t forget to tweet! Here’s how I made my presence known at STARWest.

  • Don’t forget to use the hashtag when tweeting about the event or anything that might be relevant to attendees.
  • Set up a keyboard shortcut for the conference hashtag if it’s more than a couple characters. At STARWest, the hashtag was #starwest. Because I’m a lazy guy, I setup a shortcut on iOS such that when I typed stt it expanded into the hashtag. Didn’t have to go to the second keyboard for the # symbol, etc.
  • That Twitter search that I suggested you set up in advance? Use it. See what others are saying and reply as appropriate. Chime in with your two cents.
  • Retweet others who share interesting things. Retweets are love.
  • Tweet out notable quotes, facts, or things you found interesting from presentations you attended.
  • Tweet if a vendor has an especially interesting giveaway or demo at their booth. What’s interesting? I tweeted about the Sauce Labs robot that was playing Angry birds:

  • Attend informal gatherings. If there aren’t any, start one. Tweet out that you’re going to be at a certain bar or coffee shop at a particular time for a meetup with attendees. Don’t forget the hashtag. Someone will show up. Perhaps many someones. Host a lean coffee in the morning before the activities begin.

The Results

What happened as a result of all my Tweeting? A few things.

I was called out right after the opening keynote (along with @g33klady) as having been a very prolific tweeter, and we were given prizes for our tweeting[1]. As she noted, it’s a major award!

More importantly, I connected with other professionals in the field, including several industry leaders who saw my tweets, engaged in conversation, and followed me. This is the real value, and where building your Twitter presence at an event will lead to long-term relationships that can benefit your personal and professional development.

Twitter + events = a powerful combination.

  1. Let me know if there’s an appropriate use for the phrase “Award-winning tweeter” somewhere.  ↩

Interesting Links Roundup: June 30th

As I wander the web I find interesting things. I share:

What have you seen lately that’s interesting?

Syncing My Social

03/02 - Wood on BlueWe live in a fragmented web, and I have a presence in a bunch of places.

You’re here on my blog, where I write longer pieces, review things of interest to the photography community, and share an occasional photograph.

I’m on Twitter at @ahockley, where I share quick thoughts, links to interesting things, and engage in a lot of discussion (Sprout Social tells me that 81% of my tweets are conversational).

I share photography daily on Google+ and love to engage in artistic and technical discussion with other photographers.

On Facebook, I maintain my personal profile as well as business pages for Hockley Photography and Not So Photo. If we know each other “in real life” I’d love to add you as a friend; feel free to “Like” either of my business pages to keep up with my photo adventures.

I round up the “best of the best” each week in Interesting… from Aaron, a weekly email message that I share every Saturday morning. If the idea of trying to follow me everywhere is overwhelming and you just want an easy option, this is it.

hat tip to Christopher S. Penn for the nudge about syncing one’s social

Some Reflections on 50,000 Tweets

Yesterday I tweeted for my 50,000th time[1].

A look at my iPad view of Twitter during Gnomedex 2010I haven’t done the calculations for how many minutes it has involved, but Twitter has consumed a nontrivial amount of my time since I joined in February of 2007. Everyone wants to talk about “the ROI of social media” so let’s entertain that for a moment.

In that time, I’ve interacted with thousands of individuals and organizations. Out of those interactions:

  • I’ve met, gotten to know, and booked a lot of clients for my photography business. I can trace at least half of my client relationships to connections that either originated or were fostered via Twitter.
  • I’ve connected with people that have allowed me the opportunity to speak at BlogWorld & New Media Expo and a variety of WordCamp events.
  • I had the opportunity to travel to Alaska with GoPro
  • My social media activity on Twitter (and other places) led to me becoming a speaker for SmugMug’s series of local meetups across the country.
  • Most importantly, and in summary, I’ve been able to develop friendships and business relationships with people around the globe and in my own area who I wouldn’t have otherwise known. People from around the world (or just around the corner) are now close friends and via Twitter we’ve shared a variety of experiences, some with strong emotions of happiness, shock, or tragedy.

Twitter life is real life. The online world and the offline world are simply the world.

I’d say that’s a damn good ROI. Here’s to 50,000 more. If we’re not already connected on Twitter, please follow along and drop me an @mention…. that’s my number one Twitter tip. Have conversations. It’s not social media if you’re talking but not listening.

  1. Being a bit of a smartass, I had fun with number 50,000.  ↩

Sorry, You Can’t Choose Where Conversation Happens About You

I’ve been thinking lately about reach vs. fragmentation when it comes to internet publishing such as blog articles and photo sharing. It seems that reach and fragmentation are at odds.

Single-Point Publishing

One of the hallways inside San Francisco City HallIf I write an article on my blog, and don’t discuss it elsewhere, fragmentation isn’t an issue – I can engage with readers’ comments and have a conversation about the article solely in the comments area of my blog. All voices who choose to engage can do so in one place, and it’s easy to see others’ thoughts and comments. The same applies to photo sharing… I can choose a platform of choice (Flickr, SmugMug, Google+, my own website, etc.) and only upload a photograph to that site, thereby leading to a set of comments, feedback, and conversation that occurs in a single location.

The apparently downside to this scenario is that by only publishing in one place, the audience is restricted to those who monitor that place.

Publishing Widely

The opposite scenario can enable great reach for a piece of writing or a photograph. In the case of a blog article, not only could I publish it on my website, but I could also write that article as a Google+ entry or (if it’s relatively short) a Facebook post. I could share it on LinkedIn and Twitter. I could attempt to reach the greatest number of people by spreading the content across as many platforms as possible.

This method would likely result in the greatest reach, but the feedback and conversation will be fragmented… you’ll have some blog comments, some Google+ replies, perhaps Facebook comments, some Twitter @mentions, and more…

Finding Your Mix

Here’s the kicker: even if you try to consolidate and keep things in a single place, the conversation will happen1. People will talk about and share your writing or photography even if you’re not participating. Even if you hope they leave blog comments, they’re going to tweet. If you prefer that the discussion all happens on Google+, that’s fine, but you need to know that someone’s going to share your thing on Facebook and someone else is going to comment or “Like” it.

If the conversation is going to happen, how do you decide where to invest your time and energy? My general strategy is to use my website as my home base for content that isn’t merely transient. You’ll find my writing and some interesting photography here. I use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to link back to the content on my website. Google+ is a bit of an outlier in that I don’t simply link back to photos, I often publish photos on Google+ directly. Why? Because photos drive engagement there. There’s no magic formula.

Focus a majority of your energy on the platforms and networks that bring you the greatest results2, but also use monitoring tools to see what’s happening elsewhere so that you can respond appropriately.

  1. If you’re publishing content and it’s being seen by others and nobody’s talking about it, you have an interestingness problem, not a social media problem. 

  2. How you define “results” is up to you. More revenue? More eyeballs? More notoriety?.