Marketing With Twitter Hashtags

When #Sharknado2 Attacks: How To Use Trending Hashtags On Twitter

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

Last Wednesday, July 30, 2014, Sharknado 2: The Second One made its small-screen debut on the SyFy Channel. Don’t worry, no spoilers herel I have not seen the movie, but I have watched the hashtag #Sharknado2 as it trended up and down on Twitter (thank you

#sharknado2 30 July 2014

I thought it was interesting how the #sharknado2 hashtag actually created a shark fin shape that swam through time; here is what it looked like the next afternoon…

#sharknado2 31 July 2014

Tonight, when I sat down to write this blog, I decided to check the statistics again, and sure, enough, another #sharknado2 trend had appeared, telling me that SyFy was airing the movie once again. #SHARKNADO ATTACK!! Notice, it looks like there are less sharks this time around this time; 20,000 tweets per hour versus 100,000 last week:

#Sharknado2 3 August 2014

This series of short-term #sharknado2 attacks makes perfect sense, because Twitter users (aka Tweeters) LOVED the original Sharknado movie, and tweeted loudly that they wanted another. So each time that SyFy Channel airs the movie, you can expect a similar spike, and fall. Savvy marketers and bloggers can capitalize on these short-term Twitter trends by writing posts that combine the trending hashtag with other keywords and links.  Even with a small social marketing budget of less than $100, you can target a specific audience over a few hours or days

Twitter Ads With Hashtags

This ensures that your post is not lost in the Sea Of Tweets, generating more traffic to your website:

Twitter Ads ROI

Based on the success of #Sharknado and #Sharknado2, I fully expect we will see #sharknado3 and #sharknado4. Hopefully, you will be well prepared, when #sharkhappens.


Google+ #AutoAwesome

When Google+ #AutoAwesome Is Not That Awesome

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

In the fall of 2013, Google released a new set of features on Google+ called AutoAwesome.  If you want to use AutoAwesome, you need to have uploaded or synchronized digital photos from your phone to your Google Drive. Once you enable AutoAwesome in your profile settings, and your photos meet a certain criteria, Google will essentially create new images by adding special effects to your photos, or will sometimes combine a series of phones into a composite image or an animated gif. But sometimes those AutoAwesome results are not that awesome. Let me show you some examples, starting with a “successful” AutoAwesome image:

Google created this composite photo from three other photos.  In reality, there was only one dog
Google created this composite from 3 separate photos. In reality, there was only 1 dog

The image above was created by Google AutoAwesome after uploading 3 different photos of my white German Shepard, Jack. Notice that Jack’s leash has also been deleted on 2 of the 3 dogs.  Google also created a new “ERASER” image that deleted Jack altogether, except for the leash:

Notice how Google + erased Jack and his shadow but not his leash and its shadow
Notice Google + erased Jack and his shadow, but not his leash, and its shadow

I think its pretty neat that Google can do this to uploaded photos, but many times the autoawesome image is not that awesome. In fact, sometimes the resulting image or gif is downright scary:

Google AutoAwesome turned my dog Jack into Kerberos
AutoAwesome turned my dog Jack into the mythical creature, Kerberos

Take a look at what AutoAwesome did to the Golden Gate Bridge in this image below:

Autoawesome must have detected and deleted straight black lines in this image
Autoawesome detected and deleted straight black lines in the original image

I have seen other images where faces have been accidentally replaced with someone else’s face, or a person’s head was completely deleted! Luckily, the AutoAwesome animated gifs usually turn out better than the Eraser photos:

Google AutoAwesome created this animated gif image from a series of uploaded photos
AutoAwesome created this animated gif image from a series of photos
Google AutoAwesome created this animated gif image from a series of uploaded photos
We were trying to win a gift certificate from Love’s Convenience Stores

In addition to the “Eraser” and “Motion” features, AutoAwesome will also sometimes photobomb your photos, or add special effects like falling snow or floating hearts to photos of romantic couples. Personally, I have very mixed feelings about Google AutoAwesome: part of me thinks Google has pioneered a whole new angle of digital photography, while creating a new tool for social media marketing; and that part of me really does find these new images to be truly awesome.  But a bigger part of me says, Wait a second, how exactly do ‘they’ decide what photos to autoawesome? For instance, how on earth does Google know to add animated hearts to two people kissing?  Seriously, how does Google know that two people are kissing, and not Siamese twins? If it’s just an automated robot (computer program), that would be impressive, but a bit scary. If there is a human deciding which photos to use, then we should be worried about privacy issues; even more scary.  I guess if a person is willing to create a Google+ account, and upload photos, they are giving up their rights to those photos.  As the old saying goes, you can’t swim, without getting wet.

Feel free to share your links to your own Google+ Autoawesome photos in the comments below.

Social Media Networking

How To Get More LinkedIn Contacts (without being a L.I.O.N.)

By Paul Konikowski, CTS-D

If you are not yet on LinkedIn, it is kind of like Facebook-for-work.  There are no games or apps or Caturday videos on LinkedIn, and you do not need to be social friends with someone to be LinkedIn (connected) with them; you just have to know them through work, or have met them; or sometimes you just need to know someone that knows them.

LinkedIn is a great way to get business referrals and recommendations about your previous work experience.  Your LinkedIn Profile is essentially an online resume and portfolio of your past projects, and there are tons of LinkedIn groups where you can pitch or answer questions. There are also LinkedIn Company pages you can follow, and daily news articles, but LinkedIn is really about making valuable business connections and building your network.

What is a L.I.O.N? When LinkedIn first started gaining popularity, a small group of power users saw the potential for a completely open network of random connections pooling their contacts, rather than each person actually knowing their contacts.  These LinkedIn Open Networkers added the acronym L.I.O.N. to their LinkedIn user names to tell others they were willing to ‘LinkIn’ with anyone.  There are a lot of positives to open networking platforms like Twitter and Pinterest that allow anyone to follow anyone else (one way connections), but most LinkedIn users are not L.I.O.N.s.  Most LinkedIn users want a network of professionals they have actually met, or know someone they know, and trust. To me, LinkedIn is all about organizing your work contacts, keeping in constant contact with them, and building new business connections based on reputation.

So how does one go about getting 500 or even 1000 LinkedIn Contacts without being a L.I.O.N.?  Well believe it or not, you might want to start with your family members.  They can help to proofread your profile, and who knows, and they may even learn what you do at work!  By adding all of your family members to your LinkedIn Network, you can kick-start your Contacts with people who know you well, and are (hopefully) willing to recommend you to others.  By adding you to their networks, many of their contacts will be alerted to your profile and skills, which may turn into more business for you. Because with LinkedIn, it’s not just who you know, it’s who they know.  Go ahead and add your trusted friends too, one at a time, or using the email search tools, but keep in mind LinkedIn is really supposed to be about work, so don’t expect the same types of posts as you see from them on Facebook.

Adding Contacts On LinkedIn
Adding Contacts and Connections on LinkedIn

Next, add all of your current and past coworkers; there are a few ways to do this.  You can search them one by one by name, or you can search by company in the main search box.  As you add your current and past coworkers, its good to look at their contacts to see if you happen to know any of them too, but don’t get carried away.  You can also use the LinkedIn search tools pictured left to add your classmates from college.

If you are the type of person who keeps business cards in a Rolodex or similar filing system (physical or electronic), I applaud you, and challenge you to take on this next step: Go through your business cards one by one, find each person on LinkedIn, and send them each a request to connect. Depending on the size of your business card collection, it can be quite a task, but I can honestly tell you it was the best thing I ever did to increase my presence on LinkedIn.  I suggest you do it in small bites, ten or twenty business cards at a time.  You will be amazed how many people will be happy to connect with you.  If they don’t, please don’t take it personally.  Some people just use LinkedIn when they are unemployed!

QR code to LinkedIn
This QR code on my business card is a mobile path to my LinkedIn profile

As you move forward in your career, you will continue to collect business cards from the people you meet.  I suggest you find them on LinkedIn within a week of meeting them, and then ask them to connect.  Keep it simple, something like “Hi we met at that seminar last week, I would like to add you to my network if you are interested.  Thank you”.  It’s still good to keep the business cards and continue to print your own, as the physical versions add another level of interaction. I like to bridge the gap between the physical world of business cards and the online world of LinkedIn by adding a QR code to my business cards. This makes it easy for someone with a smart phone to easily look up my LinkedIn Profile, and connect, without having to type out my email or last name!

At this point, you should have added everyone you know or have ever known, right? Now its time to expand your network reach by optimizing your LinkedIn Profile for its internal search engine (SEO for LinkedIn).   This short video explains the basic LinkedIn SEO techniques better than I ever could.  Big thanks to Johnny D for sharing this with me:

Why didn’t I optimize my LinkedIn BEFORE I made all my initial connectionsyou ask? Well, it’s about flexing the muscle to build the muscle, and vice versa.  Each time you update your profile, a large portion of your LinkedIn network are alerted with news that “Mr. T has updated his profile”. The exact number of impressions (people who saw the update) depends on the size of the LinkedIn network, each person’s alert settings, and how often they log in.   In the screen capture below, I don’t know Eugene, but we share a connection named Allan who commented on his new photo.  If you update your profile every day, a large portion of your contacts will be alerted every day, which is too much, so try to keep your profiles edits to one day a week at most.  You want to remind people what you do for a living, not annoy them.

Linkedin Photo Update

By following the above steps, which may take some tenacity, you can easily double the number of primary contacts in your LinkedIn network.  But the key is to keep up with it: every time you meet someone new in a business meeting or trade show, and exchange business cards, you should subsequently try to connect with them on LinkedIn.  It can be very tedious, but it also means more business in the long run! It’s important to keep your LinkedIn Profile up to date, and to constantly build your network, even when you are not looking for a new job.  Engage in some relevant LinkedIn Group Discussions, occasionally comment on others posts, or even advertise yourself using LinkedIn Ads to reach a new business audience.  The strength of your LinkedIn network speaks to your credibility, both online, and in the real world.

And where is the real world again? asks the tech blogger aloud

Meow answers his cat.

If we are not yet connected on LinkedIn, here is my profile: