If I were a brick and mortar retail shop trying to compete with the big boys, here is how I would begin to craft a social media strategy using Foursquare and Twitter.

Understanding How Foursquare Works for Businesses from a Users Perspective

Whether you have a built out Foursquare profile or not, there is a good chance someone is going to check into your store. This post is not meant how to optimize your Foursquare page and channel for your use. This is how to really tap into social media to identify and begin listening to people in your area who check-in and formulate  a social media strategy to engage them.

Foursquare appearance on Twitter Search

I’m not a believer in Facebook check-ins (yet), Gowalla, or Scvngr [don’t get me wrong, I do like what they are trying to do but don’t believe user adoption is at a point where it is useful for a business… yet]. For this strategy post, lets focus solely on Foursquare and how your brand can take advantage of the information that is streaming in real time.

Using Twitter Search for Foursquare Check-ins

Below is a sample search I ran on http://search.twitter.com using the following advanced search string- near:tampa within:10mi “I’m at” 4sq.com

How to use Foursquare and Twitter for Small Business

Foursquare Checkin Search on Twitter

The query is asking Twitter to search for the following parameters:

  • Search for tweets near Tampa
  • Find tweets within a 10mi radius of Tampa
  • Search for the exact phrase “I’m at”
  • Search for the term “4sq.com”

The first two bullet points flag Twitter to search local. The last two bullet points are static patterns that occur when a checkin is made on Foursquare and syndicated through Twitter ie I’m at restaurant/bar/venue/theatre/etc. (..) http://4sq.com/foursquarepageoflocation.

I isolated those two small phrases so we can have a general search constrained to Foursquare checkins.

One person in the sample Twitter search head checked in to the St. Pete Times Forum because there is an NHL Hockey Game going on…

If I was a local sports bar down the street I could tell them a drink is free if they showed a waitress the tweet OR BETTER YET tell him we are down the street and let them know if they DM us we’ll e-mail them a voucher for a free drink and 6 wings. No one really wants to eat alone and they are more likely than not to bring a friend. The customer experience is left for the venue to handle, but they already made it a unique and personal one from understanding.

That search took less than 2 minutes to do and view through. Now let’s take a deeper more analytical look into this one check-in at the St. Pete Times Forum:

118 Check-Ins! Definitely a lot of people on their mobile devices who are interacting with their physical space already – that local sports bar would have a great opportunity to create awareness and create incentives for those people at the hockey game to swing by after the game or stop by later in the week.

This “intelligence” comes from 3 minutes of “work” and was free… Let’s do some simple business questions-

  • How much would you pay to advertise on a bench, flyer, or paper collateral near the St. Pete Times Forum?
  • How much would you pay to know exactly how many social media savvy people are at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday night for an NHL Playoff Game that you can reach right now on their smart phone?

How have you used Foursquare for intelligence? Leave a comment below…

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Finding Bloggers in Your Industry

by Josh Opinion on January 26, 2011

How Do I Find Bloggers in My Industry?

Blogger engagement and creating advocates for brands is still a new process, with the online world still being a digital wild west. The engagement process is still quite raw with FTC regulations for endorsement of products and services in addition to more sophisticated, high level bloggers screening their comments and e-mails being weary of brands continually trying to pitch to them.

The truth of the matter is, top level bloggers are more attune to “the game” then many brands entering the world of PR through blogs. From personal experience it is very tough to crack what I call the “first tier” bloggers (I consider the first tier well known names already out there – the people who get pitched a lot).

What a lot of brands fail to realize is engaging with “second tier” (serious bloggers, who are somewhat known but only in close circles) can reap a lot of benefits. Many will focus on the raw following a blogger has rather than the quality of the relationship a blogger has with their audience. Bigger can be better, but quality over quantity will eventually play out.

This post isn’t about how to engage bloggers, but how to find the right ones.

Before I begin detailing the process I use, note that this takes a lot of feel and instinct to know you are following and engaging with the right blogger. There is no automated system and would only hurt you to try to outsource this entire process (although I have outsourced some of the components in the past). You get this feel and instinct through following blogger and actually reading what they have to say.

Depending on your key performance metrics to measure online engagement, you will find engaging with bloggers with quality followings can produce better performance versus vanity metrics such as unique visitors coming to your site.

Here is one strategy that I use religiously to get in contact and follow the conversation amongst bloggers:

1. Use WeFollow to Identify the Top “Influencers” on Twitter

WeFollow doesn’t get enough credit for its simplicity and ability to start finidng active bloggers in any industry on Twitter. I’m not giving it credit for being the most accurate in showcasing who is the best of the best on Twitter given a particular topic, but it is a fast and simple way to find active people on Twitter by hashtags they have associated themselves with.
To start, I simply use a keyword search and get the Top 50 tweeps that WeFollow generates in a given industry or market. All this information is manually entered onto an Excel spreadsheet. Some important items I track:

  • Twitter Handle
  • Real Name (if provided)
  • Personal Brand (are they using a nifty handle to brand themselves online?)
  • Website

You can extract all of this information from their Twitter profile.

2. Examine Social Media Activity

After pulling the basic data above, I visit their blog and note how many times they are posting, what their content is about, quality and quantity of comments for a post, etc. This is qualitative data that needs to be done manually to gain your own sentiment.

The second bit of information I try to pull is their Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and e-mail. If you search, many bloggers who have already started to form professional relationships with brads to review their product or service have a media section. This sometimes will have an e-mail for brands to talk directly with them.

If I can’t find their social media profiles on their site or if they are missing one, I go to this secret site called Google and do some quick searches for them to get that information.

All of this information goes onto the spreadsheet I started in Step 1.

Of importance is to note the blogroll. Often times I don’t record the bloggers they list on their site (I should), but do a quick glance of the blog names. Scanning this information in this process of blogger identification will usually leave an imprint of who is being repeated. Add those repeats to your spreadsheet as well.

3. Listen to the Bloggers

I consider this process both active and passive. Active in the sense is I find who they are speaking to on Twitter or who is speaking to them. The best way I to find to identify this  “active” conversation is to use another secret website- Twitter Search.

  • To find people that are speaking to them, simply type in “@twitterhandle” in the search bar and it will populate a list of people tweeting to them in the last few days.
  • To find who they are talking to, I will just go to their Twitter profile twitter.com/twitterhandle and find instances when they use the @ sign. You can also do this on Twitter Search in the Advanced Search section.

I develop private groups to monitor the conversation of these two bullet points. After studying the conversation occurring, you should get an innate sense and trend of who in that group are people you want to add to your spreadsheet of potential bloggers to engage with.

For “passive” listening, I want to find general trends in followers and people the blogger in question is following. To do this I use a tool called Who Follows Whom which shows the “Followed by” and “Following” count between two or more Twitter handles. You can read how to use this tool in my post on how I use Twitter here: Building a Twitter Following Based on Affinity.

(Bonus points if you take the RSS feeds from the blog examination in Step 2 and put them in Google Reader or some other RSS reader. But seriously- you should really take the time to set up your reader, because once Google Reader pulls enough posts from the blog you can do a key word search through numerous bloggers to find the content your brand is interested in.)

4. Begin the Engagement Process

If you did your due diligence in Step 2 and 3, you should know which bloggers you want to target and start to engage. This step is to simply break the ice and begin the engagement process. This isn’t about jumping the fence and trying to start pitching your brand. You can, but it will be a waste of time if your brand isn’t widely recognized by the general public or within the industry.

Beginning the engagement process goes in the general social media “guru/ninja/expert” stratosphere of adding value and taking interest in what they have to say (both in industry wise and personally). This is the step where you begin to have your brand be known to the blogger in a very real, low key, and relational manner.

5. The Rest is Up to You

How you pitch or try to position your product is up to you after you get through the general engagement process. Steps 1 to Step 3 are the most important to make sure you are targeting qualified bloggers to engage with. This is a lengthy and time consuming process to do, but you will get an immense understanding of key bloggers in your industry and if you decide to listen closely enough you will be able to find the right people to position your brand with.

(Note: Unless it is for professional or important reasons, I don’t proof or edit my posts. If you have a question or comment on anything above or if I went on a tangent and need me to get back, drop a comment below.)

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Guinness Book of World Records Rejection Letter

by Josh Opinion on January 20, 2011

A few months back in July, I saw a Guinness record for the largest amount of rice pudding cooked in one pot. They made a stupid amount of rice pudding to get the record. I figured this would set precedence for similar records and tried to find the easiest and simplest thing to mimic with the minimum amount of effort necessary to get in the Guinness Book of World Records…

“To cook the largest amount of quinoa in one pot.”

(ie one cup in a sauce pan)

This is what a confirmation looks like from the Guinness Book of World Records:

What a confirmation from Guinness looks like

This is what a rejection from the Guinness Book of World Records looks like:

What a rejection letter from Guinness Book of World Records Looks Like

Claim ID: 320000

Membership Number: 281467

Dear Mr Joshua Opinion,

Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for ‘Largest amount of quinoa cooked in one pot’. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record.

We receive over 60,000 enquiries a year from which only a small proportion are approved by our experienced researchers to establish new categories. These are not ‘made up’ to suit an individual proposal, but rather ‘evolve’ as a result of international competition in a field, which naturally accommodates superlatives of the sort that we are interested in. We think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those that reflect the greatest interest.

Guinness World Records has absolute discretion as to which Guinness World Record applications are accepted and our decision is final. Guinness World Records may at its discretion and for whatever reason identify some records as either no longer monitored by Guinness World Records or no longer viable.

As your record application has not been accepted, Guinness World Records is in no way associated with the activity relating to your record proposal and we in no way endorse this activity. If you choose to proceed with this activity then this is will be of your own volition and at your own risk.

Once again thank you for your interest in Guinness World Records.

Yours sincerely,

Mariamarta Ruano-Graham
Records Management Team

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A while back a friend of mine (@jeibey) asked how I grow a Twitter account. Besides actually using Twitter to socialize for people, there is strategy involved on how to build a following based on your interests.

Step 1- Set Up an Autofollower Account

I’ve used Social Oomph (formerly known as Tweet Later) for a while now for auto-following and creating an automated direct message. There are probably more services out there that do the same but this is the only one I’ve used and it hasn’t caused me any problems so I stick with it.

  1. Once registered, go to the main page and select “Manage My Social Accounts”.
    Social Oomph Manage My Social Account
  2. Click “Edit” on your Twitter Profile in the main body.Edit Twitter account in Social Oomph
  3. Click the option for “Auto Welcome” and “Auto Follow”Auto follow in Social Oomph
    The Auto Follow part is important to check for later and this process. I like having an automated DM to engage people with a social message for other things, but it is not necessary.

Step 2- Target Your Audience by Interest

The next step is to find real and quality people on Twitter that match your interests. So per se if you moved to Chicago and want to find people associated with Chicago that would be one particular audience to start to build your Twitter following with.

There are a lot of ways to go about targeting an audience based on interest and I use a lot of them, but one of the best ways to start to build a general audience is through a few Twitter web based tools. I’m going to detail one method.

WeFollow

WeFollow is a Twitter directory which ranks Tweeps based on the site’s calculation of their influence or on raw amount of people that follow a particular person.

For this example, I am going to use the general interest of the keyword “Chicago” to build an audience.

  1. In the search bar of WeFollow, I type in the keyword “Chicago” and it gives me a few options. For this exercise, I select the phrase “Chicago, IL” to conduct a search.
  2. WeFollow then generates a user list of approximately 2,400 people associated with that term and ranks them by influence (you can also select a tab based on the raw amount of people following them).
  3. Your screen should look something like this-
    I go through the Top 50 results manually and find which people listed in this search are real. Sometimes you will see Twitter accounts RSS feed syndication or brands- those don’t interest me. Social media is supposed to be social- take time to sort out the real people. (Extra bonus points if you put some of the Top 50 in a Twitter list to follow and engage with. Here is a video of how to make a Twitter list- the video is old but you’ll get the general idea.)
  4. Select 3-5 people out of that list that seem really interesting to you. Write them down on a sheet of paper for the next step (or if you are like me, I develop an Excel spreadsheet with their brand, Twitter name, amount of follower, and the link they have in their profile).

Step 3- Build an Audience by Affinity

This is one of the key steps in starting with social media to connect with others- whether you are a digital strategist, building your personal brand, or just want to find people with common interests as you. In order to connect with the right people, you need to know where to look for them first.

One way I do this is by searching for people who share the same affinity towards 2 or more Twitter users. For this exercise, this means people who follow 2 or more of the same people you do. The tool that allows me to see who the common followers are between 2 or more people on Twitter is Who Follows Whom.

Who Follows Whom

Continuing to use the example of finding people based on the interest of “Chicago” AND the 3-5 people we liked from Step 2, I am going to find people who like BillyDec (#5 from the WeFollow example) and NicoleYeary (#11 from the WeFollow example) [NOTE: I do not know these people, I chose the first accounts that looked like they were real people]

  1. Simply type in the names of the Twitter handles in their respective fields. I find that 2 is more than enough to start, but WhoFollowsWhom allows you to do up to 5 Twitter handles at once.
  2. Click “Find Out Results” and the service will show you people that follow the Twitter handles you entered AND the people that they follow. [NOTE: For this list to generate, it make take a minute or two]
  3. In the results that generated, there are 115 that follow both BillyDec and NicoleYeary. You can see these results by clicking on this link- http://whofollowswhom.com/u/billydec/nicoleyeary
  4. [This part is the most time consuming] For this exercise, I am going to concentrate only on the people who follow both Twitter accounts we searched for. In the photos that are shown under “Followed by“, I hove my mouse over each photo. This is going to give me 2 figures- people they follow and people following them.I look for Twitter accounts with over 200 people following the person I am hovering. Then I look at the ratio between Followers and Following. My personal rule of thumb is the variation should be no more than 200-500 between those two accounts. The lower the number of people that follow them, the lower the variation. The higher number of people that follow them, the higher the variation. This ratio is important, because it indicates to me two things 1.) They actively follow back people who follow them OR 2.) They have an autofollower turned on (like we went through in Step 1). Either way, these people will “help” populate your following.

    Once I identify people who look like they follow back, I click on their photo which brings me to their Twitter page. There I look for a few things- have they ‘@’ someone (ie are they engaging other people on Twitter), when was their latest tweet, do they just send SPAM through their feed? In short- I verify quickly if they are real. If they are, I just hit follow and move on through the “Followed by” list. I do this repetitively until I’ve followed about 30-50 or sometimes more new people. I usually put these new people I follow in a private Twitter list- this is important for Step 4 but not necessary.

Step 4- Engage

Once I’ve completed Step 3, I go in and start to read their tweets and engage when relevant or appropriate. The real part of social media- building connections and networking. The easiest way I can jump right in is through strategic Twitter lists like the one developed in Step 3. From this point forward, I know if I am engaging the right people who are active and real on Twitter, I will be able to get seen by their audience and grow my follower base more naturally.

Use for Good

I don’t particularly like sharing this technique, because in essence you are “gaming” the system and under the wrong “social media expert/guru/ninja/maven” it can become a way to create accounts used to SPAM and syndicate RSS feed. But if you are a brand just coming on to Twitter or haven’t found a way to connect, this is a great start to “seed” your user base and start to build a following- as long as you are actively engaging and using Twitter to connect and add value.

Questions? Comments? Leave them below or hit me up at @jopinion.

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The MAU of Facebook

by Josh Opinion on January 17, 2011

I’ve been exploring in detail the Facebook Inisights platform and what/how they report figures. One huge item I can not figure out is the definition of what exactly a monthly active user (MAU) is considered on Facebook Insights.

In this post on the Facebook developers forum, moderator Mike  Knoop writes the following in June 2010:

MAU is a summation of your daily count of unique users over 30 days. The best way to show this is on your applications insights page (linked above). Go there and tick the “last 30 days” box and the “past day” box for Active Users (engagement). If you expand the viewbar to see at least 30 days, and sum 30 day data points (the blue ones) you’ll get the MAU count on the 30th day.

(Note: Since that posting in the developers forum, The Next Web reported in September 2010 that the algorithm to quantify MAU had changed.)

Exporting data for 30 days from Insights gave me the following:

Day Daily Active Users Monthly Active Users
1 4 182
2 3 181
3 8 178
4 11 219
5 65 232
6 17 232
7 4 232
8 71 236
9 61 242
10 81 244
11 10 236
12 77 236
13 9 224
14 0 218
15 53 222
16 10 224
17 55 226
18 60 227
19 55 230
20 7 229
21 0 228
22 62 232
23 64 235
24 71 212
25 80 210
26 17 208
27 4 208
28 5 207
29 7 211
30 77 223
Total 1048

Facebook Monthly Active Users

So in this data set from one one of my pages, Daily Active Users is about 4.7x overstated compared to MAU.

Monthly Active User (MAU) Definition from Facebook

Trying to dig further, Facebook reports the following in the description for DAU and MAU after exporting the data and opening the spreadsheet:

Daily Active Users (DAU)

Daily 1 day, 7 day, and 30 day counts of users who have engaged with your Page, viewed your Page, or consumed content generated by your Page (Unique Users)

Monthly Active User (MAU)

Monthly 1 day, 7 day, and 30 day counts of users who have engaged with your Page, viewed your Page, or consumed content generated by your Page (Unique Users)

The only thing these definitions make me more clear on is that Facebook is counting unique visitors to a Facebook page. But if this is the case, how is the 30 day summation of DAU grossly larger than MAU? If by Facebook’s 30 day count under MAU, shouldn’t the sum of DAU equal MAU on Day 30?

Any insights on the true definition of Monthly Active User? Leave a comment below if you think you’ve figured it out.

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Kindness Flash Mob

by Josh Opinion on January 7, 2011

I had this random dream where people join together and then suddenly start to perform random acts of kindness to patrons around the area. The mob would take photos and then flood Foursquare and Gowalla with it.

Thought that dream was pretty awesome.

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Time to Drop Some Love!

by Josh Opinion on January 6, 2011

Who wants to drop some love this January?

What is Love Drop?

Love Drop is a micro-giving network of people who unite as a community to help one person or family a month. By subscribing to the team for as low as $1, they make it easy for their members to change lives in a fun and tangible way. Each month Love Drop delivers a unique combination of unexpected financial gifts, personal encouragement and the support of local and online communities.

Check out who they are helping this January:

What Does Love Drop Do?

Every month the Love Drop community comes together to raise as much support and awareness as we possibly can. It starts on the website – LoveDrop.us, gets spread across our entire network of blogs, continues through the forums where all our members are brainstorming, and finally lands on the front steps of our recipients. Literally.

At the end of every month, Nate and J$ show up in the town the people live in to deliver this pile of goodness. The money, the gifts, the services, everything! It’s all on film, and it all ends with an amazing outpouring of love. And then it starts all over again the next month. Help them, and their flagship partner, Kona Grill, make this drop in Chicago amazing!

Want to Drop Some Love?

This project is all about coming up with creative and fun ways to make a difference for someone. Here’s what you can do to make our first Love Drop special for Jill and her family:

  • Join the team – Become a member by paying whatever you want. Even $1.00.
  • Join our blogger network – Blog about our Love Drops once a month! It’s easy, it’s rewarding, and it REALLY helps spread the word (which in turn helps the families!). Love Drop will give you all the content you need.
  • Give a gift or provide a service – Gift cards, household goods, football cards/jerseys for the boys, web design services, pampering gifts for Jill, etc. (email all ideas/questions to team (at) lovedrop.us, and we’ll make it happen)

$1 at a time, Love Drop is changing a life.

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Lululemon Manifesto

by Josh Opinion on January 6, 2011

I have this Lululemon Manifesto poster hanging over my desk and get to look at it every day. It’s awesome. So is their CEO Chip Wilson.

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#fit4good 2011

by Josh Opinion on January 4, 2011

Like many people, one of my goals for 2011 is to get a lot healthier. I am officially now participating in fit4good ran by the amazing Stacey Monk (@staceymonk) and Sanjay Patel (@sanjspatel) of Epic Change (and whom I was lucky to meet in November at Epic Thanks Tampa Bay!)

The contest is simple- the one who loses the most weight gets to donate the entire sum of entry fees to the charity of their choice. I’ve chosen The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the name of my pops who I lost to non-hodgkins lymphoma about 2 years ago.

A few months after his passing I made an attempt to get the in the best shape possible in my entire life, I hired an awesome trainer, and started going to the gym religiously 4-5 days a week. I lost about 40 lbs over 6-7 months and was in the best shape of my life. Then stress hit- I quit my job, finances we’re in turmoil, and fell into bouts of depression (something that very few people knew about). What I worked so hard for was basically lost in a matter of 2-3 months. Ever since then, I’ve tried to get back into health spurts but never could back in the same groove.

Hopefully that all changes this year.

It’s going to be a long month of waking up early and eating the same food repeatedly & having to face off against some tough competition. I’ve done it before and I’m ready to do it again.

Let’s get 2011 started off right!

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