My First 5k

Twitter, Arthur Catalanello, @acatalanelloRecently, my personal Twitter account reached the 5,000 followers benchmark.  Having joined Twitter in June 2009, it’s taken me 7 years to the month to reach that milestone.  I wanted to share some observations and musings about my journey and strategy to 5k.

I’ve tweeted just shy of 13,000 times on Twitter.  I’ve watched some accounts delete older tweets to give the impression that they’ve built a large following based on fewer tweets.  That may fool the uninformed, but if you built your following organically, there’s no way you reached 5k followers on 128 tweets unless you’re a celebrity.  Besides, tweets are great for SEO, so if you want to be found on Google, your tweets should stay.

Speaking of organically growing your following, my following count is is 100% organic.  I have not purchased 1 follower to reach that number.  While I can see that helping a business get started on Twitter, I would otherwise not recommend it as I believe it’s better to have quality over quantity.

I don’t automatically follow-back the accounts who follow me.  I do look at each follower and read their bio, look at their number of tweets, the number they’re following and the number of followers they have.  I also look at the industry they’re in and/or the topics they tweet about.  I scroll through and read their last 5-10 tweets.  If the account seems legitimate and that I’d get value from their content, I follow them.  It’s time consuming compared to automating the process, but I believe it makes my Twitter stream more valuable to me.

I believe consistency is key to growing your following on Twitter.  You need to be consistent with the topics you tweet about and the frequency with which you tweet.  It’s also very important to be familiar with Twitter etiquette (or Twitiquette) and engage with other users.  Remember the basic rule of thumb that no more than 20% of your tweets should be self-promotion (and perhaps no more than 10%).

I’ve seen numerous accounts try to game the system by following several accounts, waiting for those accounts to follow back, then unfollowing those people.  This makes their followers count larger than the number of accounts they’re following, giving the false suggestion of importance and influence.  Because I’m active on Twitter multiple times a week, I use a tool ( to see who has recently unfollowed me.  Almost always it’s an account trying to manipulate their followers-to-following ratio.  If someone unfollows me for that reason, I unfollow back.  Once or twice a year I’ll review the accounts I’ve followed and will unfollow accounts that have been abandoned or haven’t tweeted in 12 months.

Use metrics and apps to enhance the Twitter experience.  You can learn about best times and days of the week to tweet, where your engagement comes from and which accounts provide the best interaction.  Twitter by itself is somewhat basic, so if you’re wishing it could do something bigger and better, chances are, there’s an app for that.  Some are free and some are paid.

Try to minimize the automation.  While it’s fine to schedule tweets ahead of time (I use, your account should not be so robotic that you neglect to interact with others.  As far as automatic direct messages, does anyone read them or like receiving them?  Just turn those off and reach out to me after we’ve engaged each other a few times.  It may work on some, but I think the quantity that are annoyed by that practice is significantly larger.

Lastly, know your audience and goals.  How I’ve chosen to use Twitter for my personal account is quite different than how I’ve used it for clients I’ve worked with.  Why?  Different audiences and different goals require different strategies and methods.

How are you using Twitter?  As a wise woman once said to me, “Twitter isn’t stupid if you follow smart people!”


Considerate or Creepy?

FoursquareThat’s the question I posed to my Facebook friends earlier this year when I was wrapping up a consulting project.  I wanted to give the person who referred me to an opportunity, a small token of my appreciation.  At the time, Foursquare had not yet split its check-in activity into a separate app called Swarm.  Since I was connected to this individual on Foursquare (and she checked in on Foursquare frequently), I was familiar with the restaurant and entertainment venues she likes.

At first I was a little concerned that using this information could be construed as creepy.  But, she was posting to Foursquare and syncing her check-ins to Facebook (where we’re also connected).  Rather than guessing at where she might like a gift certificate to, I could give her a gift I knew she’d enjoy, by using her social media activity she’s chosen to share publicly.

But before I purchased my gift, I posted my question to my Facebook friends.  In an unscientific poll, it was a near unanimous opinion that using the shared social check-in information was considerate.

This is just one example of how social check-ins can be valuable.  Businesses can learn about customers who frequent their location.  Customers can often receive incentives for checking in (free items, discounts, Wi-Fi access).  It can also be used as a search engine tool to discover new businesses in an area or see what’s trending in your area.

Social check-ins can also be used in the job search process.  Job seekers may be able to learn information about the hiring manager (and visa-versa).  But, be careful with the information you choose to publicly share and the check-in knowledge you choose to use.  Not everyone will view the “considerate vs. creepy” question the same way!

What are your thoughts on social check-ins?  Do you participate?  Do you find value in them?

Check Your Facebook Privacy Settings Ahead of Graph Search

You may have heard Facebook’s recent announcement about Graph Search.  It’s currently being beta tested, but it will allow you to search Facebook for people, places, photos and interests.  It’s Facebook’s attempt to take on Google’s powerful search engine.

Now (before this feature is released to the masses) is as good a time as any to make sure your privacy settings are set the way you want them to be.  Perhaps the easiest way to check your settings is to use the padlock symbol in the upper right portion of the Facebook toolbar.

Facebook Privacy, Privacy Settings, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy Change, Facebook Privacy Settings

As a first step, check each of the three areas that appear in the drop-down privacy settings box as shown in the picture above.  I tend to limit my posts to friends-only (you can always change this on a per-post basis).  You can always view your profile as someone else sees it, if you’re uncertain as to what the settings mean.

As a second step, review who can contact you and how you’d like your messages filtered to your inbox.  Next, you’ll want to click on the link at the bottom of the drop-down privacy settings box titled “see more settings”.  Are you comfortable with who can look you up using the email address and/or phone number you provided (if you did provide such info)?  Now’s the time to edit that info and/or change that setting if you want.

The last setting under “Who can look me up?” (see image below) allows search engines to find your profile and link to your timeline.  I have mine turned off and I’m guessing you may want to as well if you’re concerned about privacy.

Facebook Privacy, Privacy Settings, Facebook, Privacy, Facebook Privacy Change, Facebook Privacy Settings

Lastly, you’ll want to review the apps that you’ve given access to.  Do you still use all of them?  Are you comfortable with them making posts on your behalf?  You’ll want to remove the apps you no longer use and check the settings for the ones you keep.  This can all be done by clicking on the apps link (left-hand column in the picture above).  In addition to the apps you use, make sure you review the settings for “Apps others use.”


R.I.P. LinkedIn Events

LinkedIn shut off their events application on November 26, 2012.  I’m sure some of you read the previous sentence and immediately thought, “what events application?!”

I’ve always felt this was a great feature of LinkedIn and one that not enough people knew about or utilized.  I guess that’s a big reason why LinkedIn has decided to discontinue it.  The application allowed you to create an event and promote it (to social media channels and within LinkedIn to your status update, a group discussion and/or private InMail to your connections).  As people registered for the event, you could see who was attending from within your network and who was attending outside of your 1st level connections who you might want to meet.

During different versions of this application (they’ve tweaked it throughout the years) you could search on events geographically, by topic/industry, by date or by connections.  The events application allowed you to recommend the event to others and to comment on the event.  All of this event-related activity would show up in your network updates feed, which further promoted the event.  Sounds great, right?

The biggest problem with the application was that you couldn’t fully manage an event with it.  While you could promote it, that was about it.  You couldn’t do payment processing if the event had paid admission, you couldn’t create tickets for the event, you couldn’t create detailed registration forms to collect additional information, you couldn’t automatically send out RSVPs, etc., etc.  While it wasn’t perfect, it really was a great application and I’m sorry to see it discontinued.  I wish LinkedIn had worked on improving the application instead.

Of course, you can continue to promote events through your own status updates and posting into relevant groups as a discussion or promotion thread.  Perhaps they’ll replace it down the road or maybe even partner with another company that specializes in event promotion.

If you manage events, what tools do you use?  I’d love to see a discussion thread for this post with recommended free sites and platforms!  What do you like about the tool you use?


A Social Media Storm

Many watched the progress of Hurricane Sandy and reports of the devastation it caused.  Nicknamed “The Perfect Storm” and “Frakenstorm,” the images of destruction were shocking.  I hope you and your family survived the event safely and with minimal damage.  I’m very thankful that my family did, including those directly in the path.

This isn’t the first major storm where social media played an important role in reporting the news.  However, I did find it interesting that so many media outlets encouraged viewers/readers to engage them via social media to get current news.  Rather than wait for the next news cycle, which could be hours away, people were encouraged to follow on Twitter, friend on Facebook, pin to Pinterest, download weather apps, etc., etc.  It makes me wonder how many new followers/friends/app users these media outlets gained as a result of this natural disaster.

While social media is a great resource for current news as it unfolds, you do need to be cautious of what’s posted in terms of accuracy.  I had several friends share pictures to social media that were allegedly taken during the storm.  Virtually all turned out to be a hoax – either doctored using Photoshop or taken from a disaster movie.

With smart phones becoming the dominant type of cell phone and tablets increasing in usage, people could stay connected with friends, family and media – even if their home lost power.  In America, we’ve come a long way from candles and transistor radios.  Several friends who lost power could still post messages to Facebook letting friends and family know their situation.

Having grown up in New Jersey, I have several friends and family in that area who were significantly impacted.  My thoughts and prayers are with them and I hope their recovery is quick and smooth.

How did you use social media during Hurricane Sandy?


Do You Signal?

No, I’m not talking about driving – although that could easily apply to half of this blog’s readers based on a recent vacation.  😉

I’m talking about LinkedIn’s under-utilized feature called Signal.  Do you use it?  Have you even heard of it?

Last week I wrote about how Twitter’s decision to discontinue automatic cross-postings to LinkedIn has helped reduce clutter in your network update stream.  If you’d like to further reduce the noise and fine-tune the relevancy of the LinkedIn status updates and news in your stream, you need to use Signal.

Signal allows you to filter your stream based on one or more of the following:  network, company, location, industry, time, school, group, topics, seniority and/or update type.  You can search within checked filters on keywords or people.  As with your “regular” network update stream, any new updates will get pushed in real-time so that you can refresh for the latest update that meets your filter settings.  You can even view trending links and who has shared them.  Lastly, you can save your searches and even share them as a status update, post into a group or send via private message.

So where can you find this handy LinkedIn tool?  Look under “News” in the gray toolbar at the top of your LinkedIn homepage (between “Companies” and “More”).  It’s the last choice in a 3-choice drop down menu.

If you’re not familiar with Signal, I encourage you to check it out.  Play with the different filters and see how it changes your update stream.  As I write this post, I have 5,579 network updates I could read.  If you don’t have the time to read that many updates (who does?!), using Signal could turn LinkedIn from a casual “read when I have time” to a highly filtered daily must-read.

Let me know your thoughts on Signal.  Are you ready to start using it?  If you have been using it, what’s your experience been like?


The Twitter-LinkedIn Breakup

I took the week of July 4th off for a family vacation, so my apologies for this post on week-old news.  In late June, I received the following email from LinkedIn:

LinkedIn's Letter on Sharing with Twitter

What does this mean?  Basically, you can no longer have a post that originates on Twitter automatically be shared to your LinkedIn account (Twitter’s decision).  But, you can continue to originate a post on LinkedIn and have it shared to your Twitter feed (LinkedIn’s decision).

A big part of effective social media is about sharing content, so strike one against Twitter.  LinkedIn’s note to its users is a great PR move, especially when it suggests you originate your message on LinkedIn.  Strike two against Twitter.  Twitter recently updated their Facebook app, allowing users to post their tweets to Facebook.  So Twitter gets a third strike for being hypocritical and inconsistent with their policy.

Are they “out?”  Not so fast.  My initial reaction to Twitter’s decision was somewhat positive because it will force people to be more strategic with their social media usage.  In my very first post, I gave three reasons why you should not auto-synchronize your postings across your social media accounts.  Social media postings should be more strategic, taking into account the audience you’re interacting with and the different etiquette and style of the social media platform.  Unfortunately, many auto-synchronize out of laziness, poor planning and/or a lack of marketing fundamentals.

Be sure to check out your network updates, if you’re on LinkedIn and haven’t checked it since July 1st.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that the quality of the postings are better.  Your network updates should be less cluttered with postings that were appropriate for Twitter but less-so for LinkedIn.

What are your thoughts on Twitter’s policy change?  Is this a strikeout or a home-run for social media users?


Biannual Apps Audit

Can you believe the year is half-over already?  Now is as good a time as any to review the social media apps you’ve granted permission to and see if you still want/need them accessing your data.  I’m sure some of you reading this post won’t even know what the previous sentence refers to.  So, let’s start from the beginning.

As you interact in social media, certain applications request permission to access your account in order for the interaction to occur.  One quick example of a good time to revoke an application permission could be when you enter a contest on Facebook and the contest has ended.   Another example could be an application that allows you to share content to your twitter account, or one that even analyzes social media stats.

Changing the access permissions of social media applications in Facebook and Twitter is easy to do.  In fact, it’s just 3 quick steps for each!

On Facebook, here’s where you can find the applications you’ve granted access to and how to discontinue their access should you desire.  There are actually two ways to get there, but this is one of them:

1)  In the upper right corner of your Facebook toolbar, click on the downward arrow and select Account Settings:

2)  Select “Apps” in the left-hand toolbar, which will bring up a list of apps you’ve granted access to:

3)  For each app you want to check/change, select the “Edit” link in the far right column of the list.  It will open a gray-shaded sub-menu that will allow you to remove the app or alter the privacy settings of the app:

On Twitter, here’s where you can find the applications you’ve granted access to and how to discontinue their access should you desire.

1)  Click on the person icon toward the right in the upper toolbar and select “Settings:”

2)  Select “Apps” in the left-hand toolbar:

3)  A list of applications will appear, with a description and the date you granted the app access to your Twitter account.  If you’d like to remove the app, click the “Revoke Access” button:

I try to make a habit of reviewing my settings twice a year.  Like tending to a garden, it’s easier to stay on top of things if you weed more frequently.  This time around my “Social Media Audit Scorecard” was 5 Facebook apps and 7 Twitter apps that I revoked access to.

As privacy continues to be a big concern for many using social media, it’s important to monitor apps’ access your information.  So how many apps did you change permissions for or delete entirely?


Yes Virginia, There Is An App For That

Unlike the retail industry, which seems to start the holiday season earlier each year, I can fully embrace the season now that Thanksgiving is behind us.  If you’re over the age of 20, you’ll probably remember holiday seasons in the pre-internet age.  You know, the Stone Age.  😉

I remember looking forward to receiving my Sears Wish Book every year.  It seemed like a thick encyclopedia of toys, with pages upon pages filled with an assortment of things to ask Santa for.  I’d sit down with paper and pencil (again, well before the internet) and write a list of things I hoped to get on Christmas morning.  In 2011, that sounds quaint, doesn’t it?

As a parent in the 21st Century, it’s interesting to witness how technology has changed things.  Yes, printed catalogs still arrive in the mail.  However, kids can create online registries so Santa can fulfill their wishes with a click of the mouse or a review of an email.  Articles, blogs and websites can detail the most sought after toys, compiling lists, providing reviews and checking for best pricing.  Sound amazing?  That’s actually old news . . .

Sears Canada recently announced the creation of a Wish Book app for the iPad.  According to an article in Chain Store Age, the app allows “thousands of items to be viewed, added to Wish Lists or purchased with the tap of the finger on the iPad.  The application also includes a built-in gift list organizer to manage holiday gift giving and shopping.”

So when that little girl asks about Santa and whether he’ll see her list, you can reply, “Yes Virginia, there is an app for that.”

How are you and your family using new technologies this holiday season?