My admiration for Posterous

Recently, I started working on a new project about Formula One Marketing. It’s a blog where I present my thoughts and share news regarding developments in the world of F1.

To set up the blog I considered several platforms and decided to go with something new. So, I chose Posterous and I must say that it is a really great and simple to use tool. In fact, its simplicity and ability to post “on-the-go” are the two features that really sold it to me.

Great email functionality

You can set up your blog just by sending an email and later, you can maintain your blog just through email. The platform also has a nice little app for iPhone (also works on the iPad, although not as well) which lets you publish new content in just a couple of easy steps.

Design

The designs you can choose for your blogs are also great and have a nice minimalistic feel to them – usually, they include a single-colour background and a nice font-type that fits quite well with it. And this is also very simple to set up.

Pages

Pages and links are easily uploaded as well. By going through the main settings page, you can set them up in almost no time.

Analytics

Another great feature about Posterous is the ability to quickly set up a feedburner subscription system and connect the site with Google Analytics. Gaining thorough insights about the project is extremely important to me and with Analytics I can easily get access to such information.

It’s very social!

Furthermore, Posterous offers its users to connect their blogs to the big social networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. This way you can set up the “autopost” feature, so that your new content is shared on all your social channels (and later you have the ability to repost with just a click of a button). This feature also allows you to connect with your friends or followers and subscribe to their Posterous feeds (in case they have one). And all that, again, with just a click of a button.

To sum up, Posterous is a great platform for bloggers who are looking for a simple tool where they can quickly and easily share their thoughts, supported with all kinds of media (photos, videos, sound recordings).

Twitter is doing it right!

Recently, Twitter has been undertaking quite a lot of changes in the quest of becoming more of a mainstream social media platform and increase its user base. The last two weeks have seen three very important developments which, in my opinion, will help push Twitter to the next level. Automatic link shortening, a new photo sharing service, and an exciting integration with Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 5 are very strong statements about the company’s ambition.

Link shortening made easy


There have been plenty of services that offered link shortening, but unless you were using a third-party application like TweetDeck (which is already owned by Twitter), the process has not been as smooth as with this new update. With it Twitter now offers its customers the ability to share more content faster without worrying too much about the character limitation.

(Read more about the new link-shortener here)

Photo sharing

In a partnership with the photo sharing website Photobucket, Twitter now offers it’s own service that will probably make tools like “yfrog” and “twitpic” obsolete. With a click of a button you can easily add your photo and a description with it. No need to go to an external website. And the photos will now be displayed in the sidebar, next to the stream.

(Get a hands-on view of the new photo sharing tool here)

iOS 5 integration


This is a development that I find the most exciting of all. It is also a great strategic move that will ensure higher adoption rate of Twitter. Especially among Apple customers. In the next version of the mobile operating system Twitter is very deeply integrated and will allow users to share their activity online from pretty much everywhere with just a single tap. Moreover, you will also be able to share your location with your followers. Mobile usage of Twitter is higher than usage on desktop PC’s or laptops, therefore it is a logical move to add the service to one of the most popular OS currently on the market.

(Take a look at what’s in store for the iOS users here)

These are exciting times for Twitter and may I say its users. The desire to improve and reach new levels will bring a lot of benefits to everyone using the service. Furthermore, such developments will result in the acquisition of new customers. Another important benefactor from these improvements will be brands and marketeers who will quickly adopt these technologies in their quest to retaining and obtaining new customers.

I have a feeling that Twitter will continue its growth. So far, it seems that Jack Dorsey and co are on the right track and know pretty well what they are doing. I am really curious what the next few months will bring us in terms of development of the service.

What are your predictions? And do you think this is a good move for Twitter?

Taking part in the conversation with the “right” #hashtag

This is a guest post I wrote last month for The Lift Blog of Euro RSCG 4D Bulgaria. Euro RSCG 4D Bulgaria is an online marketing communications agency, part of the digital network of HAVAS-owned Euro RSCG Worldwide. I highly recommend you follow them on Twitter @4D_Bulgaria.

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Twitter has been growing quite significantly since its inception in 2006. Last month, the company presented some really impressive statistics about this. Currently, Twitter boasts more than 180 million unique visitors each month and it has over 105 million registered users. And this remarkable and growing environment is producing 140 million updates on average per day. Everyone can share posts without any restrictions as long as they fit within the 140 character limit.

But with such a big growth of new users joining and messages being posted, there is a great chance that your own updates will quickly disappear in the stream and your voice might not be heard. One can try to update more frequently, but this may be a time consuming and costly activity which might fail. So, what can you do to ensure that your message will reach its intended audience? Enter the #hashtag!

What is a hashtag?

A hashtag is basically a keyword. It can be used to easily categorize your messages and put them under a topic, together with updates from everyone else using the same keyword. Clicking on the hashtag or searching for it will take you to a corresponding topic.

Benefits of using hashtags

Using hashtags presents great opportunities for people to start or join relevant conversations about current events or common interests. Following a hashtag can help you find more information and expand your knowledge on a specific topic.

Furthermore, it is a great way of expanding one’s personal and professional network. Adding a hashtag to your message puts your update under a specific category where others can easily find it, like what you are saying, check your profile and decide to connect with you.

Another benefit of using hashtags is the ability to monitor the Twitter stream for conversations relevant to you. Either with the help of Twitter search or a third party application, you can browse thorough the noise and select only the posts that matter. This can be very helpful for brands who want to engage and maintain a conversation with their customers (prospective, current and past) online.

The “right” hashtag

There is another challenge facing users who are using hashtags. With more than 100 million people tweeting, a significant part of them posting more than once a day on various topics, we must accept that there will be many variations of hashtags for different topics. So, once again we can ask ourselves how to break through the noise and make sure we use the “right” hashtag to join the conversation?

Well, first of all, there is no right or wrong hashtag. They have been adopted by users organically and everyone can use and post with whatever tag he or she prefers. One way of ensuring that it will serve its purpose is to stick with the same hashtag over a long period of time so your audience can see it, begin to recognize it and adopt it.

You can also have a look at which hashtags the people you are following are using and take the same approach. Look at those users in your network who are well-connected, very influential and highly-recognized within their field of expertise. They usually have very broad audiences. And there’s no better way to reach out to these audiences by using the same hashtag.

It is up to YOU!

The use of Twitter and hashtags is different for everyone. Regular users and brands have their own unique motivation and purpose for using Twitter – for example, staying informed on current events. Others might want to expand or share their knowledge. Some will want to gain exposure for a new product or service they are launching. For all of these uses and many more there will be thousands, if not millions, of hashtags posted with new updates. So, it is up to you to decide what your goal is, do your research, and join the conversation with the “right” hashtag.

Building relationships on Twitter

This post is will serve me in two ways: first, I want to share my appreciation to all my super-awesome followers with whom I’m having great conversations; second, I want to express my frustration towards all the “silent” connections who press the “follow” button, but don’t respond to any sort of communication from my side.

Over the last couple of months I have started to reap the benefits of maintaining an active twitter presence. I have met great people with whom I am constantly exchanging information and thoughts on a broad range of topics – from the simplicity of daily life to the complexity of the social media world. These conversations have richly expanded my mindset and also became foundations for a lot of great relationships. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of these friends in person – with the rest I hope to meet in the very near future. To all of you I want to say this:

THANK YOU! YOU ARE AWESOME!

That being said, I am about to turn my attention to those people who decide to follow me, but I have never heard from them. Even after I’ve tried to start a conversation. I appreciate the fact that you are interested in what I have to say, but how about saying “Hello” or at least respond to my personal message to YOU?! I take a moment of my time and make an effort to get to know you – I look at your profile picture, read your bio, check your website/blog (in case you have one), and write a thank you note with the intention to hear back from you and start a dialogue. And I get back nothing from you in return. What benefit do you see in approaching someone without caring about this person? Well, I don’t care too much about this, to be honest. As I said: I appreciate your interest and I am doing my part. Plus, I have plenty of awesome people to talk with, so there’s nothing to lose for me.

If you’ve read this post and you belong to the first group of people I mentioned I say THANK YOU once more. If you belong to the other group and never responded to my invitation – thank you as well, but what’s your reason for using social media? But if you read this post and want to drop me a line – feel free to do so – you’ll hear back from me!

Cheers!

Commenting on blogs

A lot has been written around the web about commenting on blogs. And it seems that this is an ongoing discussion which will not end soon because our attitudes and behaviours online are constantly evolving – in line with all the new technological advancements that seem to occur on a daily basis. Recently, I had a similar discussion with my friend Katina Kostova. We talked about the reasons why some people barely (if at all) comment on blogs? In our short correspondence several points are worth mentioning here, I think.

First, there is the fact that majority of active online users are only consumers of information. They are not looking for a discussion on a certain topic or to build relationships with the writers. And if they want to react to what they’ve just read, it is much easier to click on the “share” button and continue to the next post or article. To tackle this behaviour, readers need to show discipline and start to comment on a regular basis. Given enough time this activity will become almost like a habit. Leaving comments on a regular basis will leave an impression with the other participants in the conversation who will start to recognize the name of the commenter.

Second, there seems to be a trend in shifting the discussion from the blogs to other social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Sharing through these platforms takes much less time, it’s easier to write a short note with the link than writing a long comment in the blog, and the chance that more people will be exposed to the note/comment is higher.

Third, there might be some psychological barriers to commenting on blogs. Some people might be afraid of confrontation or scared of insulting the author. They might prefer to share their opinion and critique privately – directly to the author, rather than stating them openly in the public. Furthermore, the person writing the comment might feel uncertain or insecure. One might not feel competent enough about the topic or as knowledgeable as the other participants who are leaving comments and simply avoid joining the conversation.

These are some of the reasons we covered in our short talk. I am sure that there are other reasons that stop people from commenting on blogs. I would love to hear from you and read your own thoughts on the subject.

Morning! Complete the sentence: A tweet a day…

Morning! Have you had your morning coffee yet?

Good morning!

It’s Monday and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and start a new and, hopefully, a productive week. We all have our daily routines and rituals at this time of the day and week to help us get going.

Last week, while I was talking with a friend of mine he asked me the following question:

How will you finish this sentence: A tweet a day… ?

So, I thought this was a good brain tease, especially early in the morning. Then I asked some of you on twitter and facebook for your own suggestions. As a result there were some very witty responses.

This time again I am asking you the same question – How will you complete the sentence “A tweet a day …?” You can respond wherever you want – on twitter, facebook, or here in the comments.

In fact, to make it more fun (and easier to follow) use the hashtag #atweetaday on twitter.

Let’s get these brains all fired up!

Oh, and here is a list with some of the suggestions I’ve received last week:

@Icindo A Tweet a day… Will make me Sweet like a Fay! 😉

@digitives A tweet a day … makes the bird okay 😉

@_E_L_L_Y_ A tweet a day… is just a better way of starting the day with a “hey” 🙂

FB: Dian Nedyalkov A tweet a day….no way 😉

FB: Katina Kostova A tweet a day… makes your hair gray 😛 But twenty make you look friendly.

@maringerov A tweet a day… keeps the smartphone away.

@W2erner A tweet a day will result in exactly 33 tweets in the beginning of May.

@maevanheijst a tweet a day is not enough to tell you what i want to say

@AmberCadabra A tweet a day…can set off an avalanch of lost productivity if you’re not careful? 😉

Take care and have an enjoyable and productive week!

Marin

Timing in the online world matters – lessons from Dan Zarella

Today we are bombarded with content from everywhere. Especially online. Everyone who is actively participating on the internet is competing for our attention. Both content creators and curators are interacting intensely through various means like email, social networks, blogs, etc. And it is becoming more and more easily to start feeling overwhelmed and lost in all this information. Therefore, it is essential to understand and plan carefully when and how you are taking part in these exchanges.

Fortunately, a couple of days ago, Dan Zarella – the social media scientist working at HubSpot, presented his recent findings on “the science of timing” in a great webinar. I’ve been following Dan for quite some time and took part in several of his webinars as a result of which I’ve gained important understanding about the world of social media, email and blogging.

As I said, the webinar I’ll point out in this post is about timing. Timing regarding social networks, email and blogging activity. Here are some of the main points from Dan’s presentation (or takeaways as he prefers to call them):

Social media:

– Retweeting happens most during the afternoon, mostly between 12PM and 6PM
– Tweeting more on a regular basis during the week, don’t worry that your followers will be overwhelmed by your tweets – this will also help you increase the number of followers
– However, if you are looking to gain more clicks to your own content (webpage, blog) make sure you don’t bury these links in other updates you are tweeting/retweeting
– If you are focusing on spreading your content on Facebook, share links during the weekend

Email:

– People read email most frequently during mornings, therefore posting early in the morning increases the chance of your message to be read
– Experiment with emailing over the weekend – open and click rates are higher at that time, yet bounces and abuse reports are also higher. Email gets most attention on the weekends
– Sending more emails increases the click-through rates and decreases unsubscribe levels
– Newest subscribers are the best – they are likely to remember you best and have higher interest in your email

Blogging:

-Similar to email, blogs are most read during the morning, yet one must not underestimate that 40% of people still read blogs at night
– People read more blogs during weekdays
– Yet if you want to have more comments, try blogging over the weekends – people are more inclined to join your discussions on Saturdays and Sundays
– People who link to your content are most active early in the morning, during the week
– More frequent blogging will result in more views and linking

These are in brief the major points of the webinar. One thing you should note is that the times used in the presentation are according to the EST time zone, but I believe that the same time frames can be related to time zones within Europe.

Here is an interesting tool by HubSpot which will show you your most retweetable times and days:

http://TweetWhen.com

And here is Dan’s presentation on the science of timing: