Tag Archives: social media

How to Automate Tweets

For the past several weeks I’ve been experimenting with auto-populating my Twitter stream through RSS feeds and automatically tweeting updates. RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication.”

Automated TweetsYes, I know social media is about interaction and connections, but here’s why I’m OK, philosophically, with this approach: I normally share news items I find interesting all the time. I’ve just set up a way for that a happen automatically, and with more frequency than would be happening if I were doing so manually, and I love it.

I still manually tweet, retweet and reply to tweets, of course, but now I’ve also set up a way for other things to come in that I wouldn’t ordinarily have the time to share.

In fact, I’ve noticed that engagement is on the rise for me using this approach. I’m getting more favorites and retweets, as well as comments and conversations. I feel this is just as good, if not better than if I were scouring my sources for this content by hand.

Automate your Twitter content

This is possible through the magic of IFTTT.com — which stands for “If This Then That.” Here’s how to make it happen:

  1. Sign up with IFTTT.com
  2. Find some RSS feeds of sites with content you would like to share. For example, here are some I use from The New York Times, The Atlantic and CNN Tech.
  3. Set up an IFTTT recipe that posts a tweet each time there’s a new item in the feed. It should look like so:
  4. iftttRepeat this for as few or as many RSS feeds you like. In my case, many of the blogs I follow automatically provide links to their feeds, which are generally in the format of http://nameofblog/feed.

That’s it! Your Twitter stream is about to be hopping, with all the news you see to include from the sources you select. Just don’t let it replace your actual interaction on the site.

Curated Content? Curated Sources.

The stories I share are of interest to me, covering such topics as art, photography, technology, and humor – all things that I would be sharing anyway. So it’s still curated content, since I’m in effect curating the sources.

And I’m on Twitter as much as I was before experimenting with automation. I still respond to mentions, and converse with other Twitter users just as I always have. The only difference now is that instead of five tweets a day, my stream has about 50, many of which I never would have discovered Just in my own web browsing, so it’s also a reading list generation for myself.

This is not to say this approach will work for everyone. Or that flooding your Twitter stream with the same exact headlines as BuzzFeed will make you a Twitter superstar. I’ve just found something that meets my goals of expanding what I would already be doing, which includes more interaction — and isn’t that the point, after all?

What do you think? Have you experimented with automating content before? Have you followed the above steps, and if so, what have your results been? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Tweet Composition 101

Browsing some of my favorite tweets recently, I came across this and thought it too funny not to share:

I sometimes mark tweets as favorites as a reminder to myself to check something out at another time, to note something that might be a good retweet later on, or as in this case, just something funny for sharing somewhere.

What do you think? Are you active on Twitter? What is your favorite social media network (besides blogs, obviously)? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Christie’s CEO Justifies Social Media in 5 Seconds

In an interview with Marketplace, The CEO of auction house, Christie’s, Steven Murphy, put forth one of the best justifications for businesses getting on social media there is. It stood out to me for its utter salience and logic. Here is the exchange:

Marketplace: Christie’s on Twitter? I think the world just exploded.

Murphy: Yes. Well, why not? Our customers are on Twitter. We should be too. Our clients are spending 60 percent of each day online with some screen, so we need to be there too.

Jerry Uelsmann, Untitled, 1969

Who says montages aeren’t profitable? Here’s one offered by Christie’s from my all-time favorite artist, Jerry Uelsmann

Simple as that.

On the surface, a company founded in 1766 wouldn’t seem to be the case study for social media, but if that’s where your customers are — well, that’s a pretty good justification.

Christie’s is also on Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Facebook, among others. I think these highly visual networks are the perfect showcase for the treasures coming through Christie’s that much of the public may never have the chance to lay eyes upon. Check out their profiles for a look at some highly compelling art.

Going once, going twice….

What do you think? Do you know of other companies making strong use of social that might not “fit the mold” on the surface? Ever purchased anything at auction (besides eBay)? Let us hear from you in the comments.

PR and Social Media News: Ragan and PR Daily

PR DailyA couple of my favorite sources for news and happenings in both public relations and social media are PR Daily, and Ragan Communications (PR Daily is part of Ragan). I’ve been following both sites for years, have attended a couple of Ragan events, and have even been quoted as a source in their reporting. I’ve found their coverage of the news cycle from a PR perspective to be consistently informative and entertaining. Ragan’s daily headlines is one of the few email newsletters I read daily, and in itself, it’s a study in crafting winning headlines with engaging graphics that make readers want to click through to your content.

Stories I’ve enjoyed there recently:

If you’re into PR, social media, – or grammar, online trends, and any of the communication-related other areas they cover – definitely give these sites a visit and consider signing up for the newsletters.

What do you think? Are you a Ragan.com or PR Daily consumer already? Or have you never heard of these sites? Do you have a personal or business interest in PR or social media? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Who’s Been Commenting?

A great reward of blogging is making connections with professionals whose work I respect. Here’s a look at some recognizable figures commenting at rsmithing.com in the past 12 months. Check out the posts to see their remarks:

Mack Collier

Mack Collier

Mack Collier commented and said thanks in my post, Blogchat: Sundays on Twitter. As a strategisttrainer and speaker on social media, Collier helps companies better connect with customers. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time has helped businesses of all shapes and sizes better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. [Mack’s Site]

Neil Strauss

Neil Strauss

Neil Strauss commented a couple of times on my post, Last Book Read: Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead. Strauss is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also writes regularly for The New York Times, having repeatedly made its bestseller list with books such as The Game, Emergency, and Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead. [Wikipedia]

John Boswell

John Boswell

John Boswell generously answered my questions in this post: Interview with MelodySheep and Symphony of Science Mastermind. Boswell is the artist behind autotune projects Symphony of Science and MelodySheep, gaining international recognition and millions of YouTube views for his inspiring musical tributes to Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross and Julia Child, among others.

Mike Sager

Mike Sager

Mike Sager said thanks for my quick post inspired by his writing, From Music and Words into Movement – The Fun of Art. Sager is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. He has been called “the Beat poet of American journalism, that rare reporter who can make literature out of shabby reality.” [Wikipedia] In thirty years as a journalist, writer at large Mike Sager has immersed himself in the lives of pit-bull fighters, heroin addicts, Tupperware saleswomen, and an actress named Roseanne. [Esquire]

Jay Baer

Jay Baer

Jay Baer stopped by after I reached him on Google Plus to weigh in on my post, How to Talk About Social Media In Business: 5 Points, Video Interview. Baer is a social media strategist, author, speaker and President of Convince & Convert. Founder of five companies, he’s worked with over 700 brands (including Nike, Cold Stone Creamery, Sony, ExactTarget, and ConocoPhillips) since 1994, including 25 of the Fortune 1000. His blog is ranked among the world’s top marketing resources, and was named #3 social media blog in the world by Social Media Examiner. [Wikipedia]

Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal noted his use of contrast in my analysis of his work: Contrasts Make Connections. Madrigal is a Senior editor at The Atlantic, author of Powering the Dream, and has previously contributed to WIRED, covering science and technology as a contributor to the Wired Science blog. [Twitter]

Also engaging via brand representatives were McDonald’s Corporate in: Fast Food and Fast Lessons in Public Relations and, as a bonus from 2011: Delta Airlines in my post, An Airline Gets it… Right?

What do you think? Have any well-known figures or organizations commented on your work? Have you ever had any brushes with celebrity? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Blogchat: Sundays on Twitter

There’s one thing I’ve really gotten into the social media realm lately: Blogchat. This is a chat on Twitter where folks talk, er… tweet, about blogging-related topics.

Blogchat - Sundays at 9:00 p.m. EST on Twitter.

Graphic by me via iPhone, using Hipstamatic & Phonto

I’ve made so many connections there, garnered blogging tips, and become more adept at Twitter by taking part. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in getting more from blogging (as a blog reader, I assume you may have an interest). Once, I even helped suggest a topic for an upcoming chat:

To participate, follow the hashtag #blogchat on Twitter, stay on topic, and keep hitting “refresh” on whatever means you use to keep up with the conversations. It’s fast-moving, so using a tool like TweetChat or HootSuite with multiple columns or tabs can be very helpful, although I’ve navigated it successfully just by using Twitter from the browser, or even by iPhone. It’s led by Mack Collier and happens every Sunday at 9:00 p.m., U.S. Eastern standard time. Recently covered topics include time management for bloggers, copyright issues, and using images.

There’s also a monthly open mic for non-specific blogging-related topics. Even if you don’t specifically participate 0r prefer just to listen in, that’s totally fine. You’ll probably still pick up a tip or two, and it’s a good way to see how the conversations flow.

Participating has encouraged me to explore other Twitter chats, and I’ve found them consistently beneficial, especially given the breadth of perspectives from some experienced and friendly folks. Try it sometime – and have fun chatting.

What do you think? Have you ever participated in a Twitter chat? What are some other resources you recommend for blogging advice and ideas? Let us hear from you in the comments.

American Apparel’s “Bored During the Storm?” Campaign: PR Stunt or Well-Intentioned Goof?

Really, American Apparel?American Apparel AdvertisementIt would seem obvious these days that capitalizing on catastrophe via social media is in poor taste. So why would an otherwise savvy brand like American Apparel appear to be doing exactly that?

Given the very poorly received efforts of Kenneth Cole during protests in Egypt, you would think other retailers would have a clue by now, right?

It’s one thing for a business somehow connected with a major upheaval to approach the line between altruism and marketing. And it’s certainly a fine line. Consider American Express’ Sandy-related communication efforts for its travel customers:

But it’s another thing entirely to risk the appearance of piggybacking on disaster for advertising’s sake. Sure, it gets some buzz, but is it worth all the backlash?

As reported by Huffington Post:

CEO Dov Charney did not express disappointment over American Apparel’s marketing team capitalizing on Hurricane Sandy. “I don’t think our marketing guys made a mistake. Part of what you want to do in these events is keep the wheels of commerce going,” he told Business Week. “People shopped on it. We generated tens of thousands of dollars from the sale, but we’ll probably lose a million dollars from this (storm) event at a minimum. We’re here to sell clothing. I’m sleeping well at night knowing this was not a serious matter.”

And here’s another take from American Apparel’s representatives, via Fashionista:

When reached for comment over email, an American Apparel spokesperson told us, “Of course we’d never mean to offend anyone and when we put the email out yesterday it came from a good place.”

So, is this really a big deal?

However in poor taste it may now seem in the wake of Sandy’s devastation, American Apparel’s approach was not in mean spirits, even though it’s easy to characterize it as such. The company has a history of corporate responsibility – along with a history of pushing the envelope through its marketing for PR purposes. And it serves them no purpose whatsoever to appear flippant or dismissive. Upon investigation, it’s clear they don’t wish anyone further misery from Hurricane Sandy, what with their acknowledging as much in the subsequent damage control. As reported by ABC News:

Ryan Holiday, spokesperson for American Apparel, responded to ABC News in an email:

“For us, this is about us working like crazy to get and keep our stores open. We’ve got employees who can’t work when stores are closed due to weather and the biggest Made in USA factory in the country that sits idle–we would never try to offend anyone or capitalize on a natural disaster, this was simply an effort to mitigate some of the effects of the storm on our business.”

Fair enough. So what next?

My advice for American Apparel right now:

  • Turn your affected stores into recharge-stations with power strips and free wi-fi for all so someone can tweet some good about you. Buy generators if necessary. It won’t cost much and ROI would be huge.
  • Give 20% off to ANYONE, nationwide, referencing the ad for the next week to capitalize on the viral nature of the campaign, requiring a tweet or Facebook post with hashtag #aacares or similar. Cost to you: minimal.
  • Donate 20% of profits for the next week to northeast U.S. chapters of the Red Cross. Yes, this will cost some cash, but there’s no arguing with a monetary statement.
  • Just  be proactive somehow to make this right. Or risk being one of the “don’ts” of social media. Better to be one of the “OK, we get it” stories instead.
What do you think? Is this a PR blunder or a marketing gimmick? Are you more or less inclined to shop American Apparel now? Do these suggestions make sense, or is there something you would recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.