Schaefer Makes Sense of Twitter

Schaefer_review_20200202Mark W. Schaefer. 2012.  The Tao of Twitter:  Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time.  New York:  McGraw Hill. @markwschaefer

Reviewed by Stephen W. Hiemstra When I expressed interest in learning how to use social media more effectively, a friend quickly remarked:  whatever you do, don’t start Tweeting!  Probably the hardest part of learning to use Twitter has been to overcome the pre-conception that it’s used primarily by celebrity fans.  Mark Schaefer’s The Tau of Twitter has vanquished pre-conceptions and convinced me that Twitter is a business tool here to stay.

Introduction

What is Twitter?  Twitter looks like a personalized wire service or  stock market price feed.  The limited space in a Tweet assures that only short messages are transmitted which means that it is easy to view many Tweets quickly.  For news junkies and market watchers, Twitter has to be addictive—it is more than a non-stop pajama party for fifteen year olds.

Organization

So what does Schaefer say about it?  The book is organized into seventeen chapters.  The introduction and first two chapters explain how Twitter can be used in business.  Chapter three examines Schaefer’s basic social media strategy (The Tao Explained).  Chapter four explains business benefits.  Chapters five to seven explore Schaefer’s strategy in more detail.  The remainder of the book covers advanced Twitter concepts.

Three Taos of Twitter

Schaefer’s strategy in using social media revolves around three principles:  Targeted Connections, Meaningful Content, and Authentic HelpfulnessTargeted Connections means concentrate on following and be followed by people likely to find your business interesting.  This is just basic networking.  Schaefer talks a lot about his Twitter Tribe—a group of about 200 contacts who share your basic interests.  Meaningful Content means that you introduce information that is both helpful and interesting.  Most professionals today are specialists—talk about your area of expertise.  Authentic Helpfulness means that you express honest interest in what people are doing online.  Just pretend a colleague has walked in your office asking advice and you get the idea.

What makes Schaefer’s discussion interesting is how he mixes business and personal interests.  Several times he reminds the reader that “social media” begins with the word “social” or alternatively “P2P”—person to person.  People want to do business with people that they like being with.  For those of us who are not the life of the party, this whole discussion can be a bit intimidating—life in business causal—but the point is that networking is very personal.  Twitter is not a place to sell, but rather a place to establish relationships.

Assessment

Schaefer’s The Tao of Twitter makes Twitter more inviting, more accessible for business professionals.  Baby boomers may be shocked to learn that real business gets done in Twitter.  Millennials may discover that business requires a different protocol than Twitter’s social side.  Still, this is not a how to book that will substitute for the help system in Twitter.  Professionals outside of the world of business may also need to tweak Schaefer’s rules of thumb to fit the ethos of their own fields.  Given those caveats, The Tao of Twitter is an authentically helpful book.

Schaefer Makes Sense of Twitter

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Schaefer Analyzes Social Media Logic and Purpose

Social_media_06052015Mark W. Schaefer.  2014. Social Media Explained:  Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend. Schaefer Marketing Solutions[1].

The rapid pace of innovation in social media continues to evolve and reshape how we communicate both socially and commercially. This innovation brings new opportunities, but it also challenges businesses to evolve with these changes.  This evolution requires awareness, reflection, and response.  Because time and money are involved, it is helpful to get advice from time to time from industry pros.  Mark Schaefer’s Social Media Explained (SME) provides such advice.

Schaefer states his purpose: “This book explains how social media marketing works in plain English” (5). In this case, plain English includes graphical illustrations by Joey Strawn (135) which provide the text with themes and pictures that mirror the points being made. The text clearly targets busy business leaders who don’t necessarily want to know all the details, but need to be able to ask informed questions (5). More than once, Schaefer chides the reader to turn off distractions, sit up, and listen—an interesting commentary on cultural trends.  Between the cartoons and the commentary (and the all black outfit in the photo), one gets the impression that he is targeting a millennial, not a boomer, audience. OMG!

Schaefer describes himself as an (best selling, globally recognized) author, marketing consultant, and faculty member at Rutgers University. Other books that he has written include:  Return on Influence, Born to Blog, and The Tao of Twitter[2].  Schaefer divides SME into 3 sections:

  1. The 5 Most Important Things You Need to Know about Social Media Marketing.
  2. The 5 Most Difficult Questions You’ll Face
  3. A Social Media Primer (2).

These 3 sections are followed by biographies of the author and illustrator and an index.

Section 1. As alluded to above, Schaefer’s introduction is actually aptly named—may I have your attention please? —because while his is not verbose, he does choose his words carefully and knows what he is talking about.  In chapter 1 (Humans Buy From Humans), for example, he uses a rather shocking analogy—social media is a lot like an ancient bazaar. The point is that people buy from other people—personal contact and feedback remain important.  People want to connect with other people (8-12)[2].

Schaefer’s point mirrors my own business experience.  Although my book, A Christian Guide to Spirituality, is available worldwide through Amazon.com, I generally sell about 10 books through personal appearances for every 1 book that I sell online.  Even when I make online sales, I generally have a good idea of who the online buyers were because of recent interactions with people.

For those of you new to Schaefer’s writing, chapter 3, The Social Media Mindset, provides an important interpretation of how to understand social media.  Schaefer makes 4 points:

  1. Target your connections,
  2. Provide meaningful content,
  3. Be authentically helpful, and
  4. Reap business benefits (23).

Point 1 is less than obvious—in the entire world of possible contacts, you want to reach people who are most likely to be receptive to your service.  Point 2 defines the task at hand—provide content useful to your connections.  Point 3 speaks to motivation—being truly helpful is something rare, remembered, and, ultimately, rewarded. Point 4 answers the why question—being available and helpful to your connections makes it more likely that your connections will stay in touch and consider your service in their purchases.  Taken together, these 4 points speak about the need to develop relationships—social media is social in the sense of providing unique networking opportunities.

Section 2. Among the questions that Schaefer fields, chapter 6 was the most eye-opening for me.  What is the value of social media and how do we measure it? Schaefer starts with a brilliant statement of the obvious, for those of us who live in the real world—we have to measure our progress (51).  He give 4 reasons:

  1. Everything has an implied value.
  2. We have to justify what we do—if we want to continue being employed.
  3. Measurement helps us determine when we are making progress.
  4. With so much data floating around, there is no reason not to measure (51-52).

Having said this, Schaefer sees the benefits of social media as primarily nonfinancial, intangibles—much like networking. Listing his own benefits in a recent year, he cites these items: increased customer loyalty, free advice, a job offer, greater awareness, and a book contract (55). The big question is how do you learn in a fast-paced, changing environment? Learning is a non-financial, intangible, yet it is often critical for firm survival. No one wants to become, so to speak, the next high-quality, buggy-whip manufacturer.

Section 3. Keeping up with social media innovations is the source of a lot of my anxiety about social media—which platforms do I need to pay attention to and what tools are a priority to learn?  Schaefer’s comment gave me great comfort:  “Blogs are among the most important sources of ‘rich’ content—the real fuel for your social media engine” (124). My comfort arises because, contrary to other advice, my social media strategy focuses on blogging on a regular basis. Schaefer goes on to mention podcasting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+ [3], YouTube, and SlideShare (125-132).  Personally, I probably need to spend more time developing my presence in Facebook; SlideShare is one media that I had not considered but probably should.

Mark Schaefer’s Social Media Explained provides a helpful overview of the current status of social media and why firms need to be aware and involved.  SME is also very readable.

[1] http://www.BusinessesGrow.com

[2] Read my review in 2013:  Schaefer Works Twitter; Brings Business Sense (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-3S).

[3] I am surprised that Schaefer did not mention Google’s preference for Google+ in its SEO algorithm.  This was a motivator in using Google+.  Has this advantage gone away?

 

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MacGregor Aids Authors; Simplifies Social Media

Writer_01072014Chip MacGregor (a.k.a. Amanda Luedeke). 2013.  The Extroverted Writer:  An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

People are funny.  Back during the cold war, the wife of a Russian friend of mine kept calling to ask him to come home.  Vladimir, she would say, I cannot take care of the kids and do the shopping too!  When she came to visit, the complaints continued.  That is, until she visited a local department store.  At that point she was lost in choices.  She asked:  how do you Americans ever know what to buy?

As a first-time author, I feel a bit like Vladimir’s wife amid all the publishing alternatives.  At least 4 intimidating questions arise:

  1. Which stylebook should I follow?
  2. Do I promote my writing with a website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, or some other social media?
  3. Do I self-publish, hire an agent, or look for an established publisher?
  4. Do I publish in paperback, hardcover, or eBook?

Worse, the questions are not interdependent of one another.  In the middle of all this uncertainty, Chip MacGregor’s book, The Extroverted Writer, offers welcome guidance.

MacGregor starts by observing that agents and publishers advise wannabe writers to establish a platform, but offer no guidance on what a platform is or how to get one.  He defines a platform as the number of people who follow you online, attend your speaking engagements or are otherwise know about your work.  For nonfiction writers, he talks about tens to hundreds of thousands of followers; for fiction writers maybe half that many (12-14).  Obviously, establishing a viable platform takes time and effort.  MacGregor’s objective in writing is to offer ideas, rules, and advice to help you establish this platform and at least 10 action items to work on (1-3).

The Extroverted Writer is organized into 8 chapters.  These chapters are preceded by a forward and followed by an Afterword and Acknowledgments.  The chapter titles are informative:
  1. Know your audience,
  2. Know your goals,
  3. How to use this book,
  4. Websites,
  5. Blogs,
  6. Twitter,
  7. Facebook, and
  8. Miscellaneous Social Media Sites.

Obviously, for MacGregor a platform consists of a theme, an audience, and a social media presence.  Interestingly, this book does not cite a publisher, but is listed on Amazon.com as published by CreateSpace which implies that this book is self-published.

MacGregor starts his social media advice by focusing on the need for writers to have a website (17).  A website signals 3 things to agents and publishers:

  1. You are serious about your career,
  2. You are not afraid to use the web to promote yourself, and
  3. They can check you out without committing to a relationship.

Having established the motivation for a website, MacGregor gives advice on quality points to look for in the website.  These points summarize in making the point that a website has effectively become an online resume—it must have eye appeal, be informative, and point to your blog where you show your skills (23-24) [1].

Chip MacGregor’s The Extroverted Writer is a useful author guide and a fun book to read.  Missing perhaps is a reflection on the role of branding–being known for your expertise, not just your following.  For example, why do many boutique publishers have fewer followers than authors with a platform under MacGregor’s guidelines?  Still, MacGregor clearly met his objective in writing.  In each of his social media chapters, I found actionable tips on what to do—easily meeting his goal of leaving me with 10 tips.  Personally, I found his advice on using professional pages in Facebook and on organizing a book giveaway particularly helpful. I am sure you will too.

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1/ In the corporate world, content production and marketing likewise needs to carefully planned (bit.ly/1igPRHp).

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