All social media image sizes in one nice overview

All social media image sizes in one nice overview

Little part of infographEvery social network has set its own standards for its images. Your cover photo needs to be this big, your avatar needs be that size. That is great if you are only on one or two networks, but it gets tiring when you have a presence on several networks. Luckily, the guys at Struto have helped us all out by creating this great infograph that gives you all the sizes you need. Their infograph covers the image sizes for Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and even the new YouTube One Channel is included.

So, if you are working on your presence across social media channels, this is an infograph you might want to keep near to you. Or even do some old fashioned printing and stick it on the wall so you cannot forget. But remember, nothing changes as fast as social networks, so we cannot guarantee this will be your last easy overview.


Who you follow, tells others who you are

Who you follow, tells others who you are

twitter-follow-testWith the release of their new API, Twitter has dropped the option to automatically follow everybody who is following you. And even though that might seem like an annoying change, it really is not. And I will tell you why.

Since the beginning of Twitter it has been possible to use online tools to extend your Twitter experience. Some, like Hootsuite, allow you to track twitter activity better and helps you respond to it. Some others allow you to do special things with your account. But as ever, the power to extend on Twitter is easily abused. Which was the case with followers tools. These are tools like Tweetadder and the likes. They promise you easy followers to boost your numbers. They did that by having their tool follow people to get them to follow back. And the same tools automated the follow back process, so that their users would boost each others’ numbers. And for the people that judge the success of their Twitter account by their follower numbers, that was heaven.

However, judging any social media account by its numbers is a very bad idea. After all, these numbers tell you nothing about what is valuable in a social network. Reach and engagement are interesting figures to watch on a social media account. They can potentially determine your influence. But those numbers can not be derived from the follower numbers you see on your Twitter homepage. Compare it to your church. In many churches, it is an unfortunate reality that there are many more people registered to belong to the church than come on every Sunday. So your church might have 2,500 members on paper, but if only 25 show up on any given Sunday, the figures are useless. The same goes for social media. It is not the amount of people who are following you, it is their engagement with you that determines the success of your social media channel. It is all about the relationships you have been able to build.

And then there is another problem with automatic following. A problem that you need to address if you are managing your Twitter account. If you have had automatic following at any point, go through your followers carefully. Because one of the strategies for Twitter accounts with adult content has been to follow anyone who easily follows back. That boosted their numbers. But lets face it, following an adult Twitter account does look rather funny on a Twitter account for a Christian organization or a church. After all, a lot of people look at who you follow to determine who you are. So, a safe thing to do is to go through your followers every once in a while, just to see who are there. After all it can happen to the best of us. Recently even Citibank was spotted following adult channels. Not something you want to have happen to your Twitter account.

Going abroad? Call cheaper by using smart apps

Going abroad? Call cheaper by using smart apps
Phone Foreign Call

Image thanks to Roamer

Summer is here and that means that most of us will be traveling. Whether you are going on holiday, taking a mission trip or a business trip abroad, the costs of using your phone can be enormous. The good news is that there are great apps to slash your costs. So, as it is summer, we thought it would be nice to look at the ones that make sense.

To be honest, the easiest to slash your costs is not to use your phone. You can then check your email and use Skype to call when you find a local WiFi hotspot. But you might need to be reachable during your trip, so you want to keep your phone active. The second cheapest way is to get yourself a local SIM card. Google around for a bit and you can always find a nice deal that you can use during your stay. For instance, if you go to the UK, Three has an offer of a pre-paid SIM with unlimited data, a phone number and 300 local text messages and call minutes. This might just suit your needs to be reachable by your partners in the country you are visiting. However, unless you send everyone back home an email, they will not be able to reach you on your regular mobile number.

Enter apps. An app like Roamer enables you to be called on your regular phone number, even though you have bought yourself a local SIM. How does that work? When you leave, you park your number with Roamer through their app. Whenever anyone calls your number, it will then go to the Roamer service, instead of your regular SIM. When you arrive at your destination, you get yourself a local SIM with internet access. When you have activated the local SIM, you go back to the Roamer app and tell it you are now reachable again. It will then connect your phone to your regular number over the internet. That way people calling you just pay their regular costs and you receive every phone call just the same. Obviously there are costs involved. You need to pay Roamer for their service, but the cost of that is much lower than the cost of receiving calls on your regular SIM. Plus, as you got yourself a local SIM with internet, you can enjoy Facebook, Twitter, Skype and other services just like you would at home.

Roamer is just one option. I have also seen Roaming4World, but their website does not seem to do much. Their service seems to work exactly the same though, and is available on more platforms. Roamer is only available on iPhone and Android with Windows Phone and Blackberry promised soon. Roaming4World already is available on all four platforms. See the short video explaining the Roamer process below.

So, what do you do when you go abroad? Do you roam or do you use an app to limit your costs?

How HMV’s twitter account went to the dogs – and how to prevent it

How HMV’s twitter account went to the dogs – and how to prevent it

hmv-dog-marketingHMV was hot news on Twitter today when staff took over the retailers twitter channel. I am not going to dive into the whole deal about financial troubles and layoffs. It is a tough time for retailers in the business HMV is in and with their new owners it might take them some time to get back on top. In the meantime it has been interesting to see how new technology has been completely passed upon in the first steps of restructuring.

I will try to set the scene based on the -now deleted- tweets by HMV staff this afternoon. Apparently HMV had an intern make the HMV Tweets account on Twitter. Nothing special. Even big companies choose to let interns rule their interpersonal communication with their fans. A good idea? Not at all, and I can give you lots of  reasons why. However, that is not the purpose of this post, so I will leave them out.

So, HMV had a twitter account and they have mainly used it to communicate new releases, congratulating the stars on their own label and congratulating followers with winning their own competition. They did do a single personal retweet of someone calling everyone to purchase from HMV to support the high street. So, nothing too personal and relational on there. But as people love their stores, they still have thousands of followers. There are two sides to that story. Yes, you can dump your messages to almost 70 thousand people as a corporate. But the people holding the keys to that account can also reach some of your most loyal 70 thousand customers with one simple click.

hmvtweetsAnd that is what happened. The person(s) who tweeted this have been seeing the demise of HMV as something they could have been able to turn around. It might have been someone who has really wanted to put in more than their share to make HMV work again. Or so the tweet seems to suggest when he or she says: “However, when the company you dearly love is being ruined and those hard working individuals, who wanted to make hmv great again, have mostly been fired”. So they broke the silence they were bound to by their contracts and came out with what was happening at the offices. The bad news spread quickly over twitter and it did not take long before the news picked up on it and articles started appearing on the BBC and ITV website.

Will this affect the retailer in the long run? Possibly. After all, the tweets first reached their 70 thousand most loyal followers. So what should have been done? It is hard to say, but it does start with control over the social media channels of your organization. And that is a lesson that we can all apply to what we are doing. Very often, the management of the social media channels for our churches or Christian organizations is done by the volunteer that knows a bit about the internet. You might be the exception, but many of the organizations that I have talked to in the past years have assigned their Twitter and Facebook accounts over to youth from the church, or other slightly more tech savvy individuals. And this is where a lot can go wrong. You need to consider the fact that within your organization or church, things can happen that might make people less enthusiastic about you. And that is why you need to make sure the basic account is under the control of your management team. It might just be for that first hour after whatever bad news hits, perhaps for longer, but you need to make sure there is some kind of control. After all, these are channels that are now seen as at least as important for your communications as your official website and printed channels.

Quick tips?

  1. If you are a large organisation, use something like Hootsuite or another client that will allow you to grant access to teams of coworkers to your social media channels. You might never need to, but the ease of -temporarily- denying someone access can come in handy one day.
  2. If you are in a position where media silence needs to be obeyed, make sure social media is on that list of media channels that you have created a strategy for.
  3. Have a quick press release available when someone has been able to gain access to the account after all your trouble. Don’t let it spin out of control. Take over the channel again and communicate with your audience.
  4. Do not go around and delete all the tweets thinking that that will be the end of it. Screenshots happen. And they are around for a lot longer. You need to deal with what has been said and talk to your audience.
  5. Know your way around your social media channels. The HMV marketing manager that asked how to shut down Twitter is an example of how quickly your organization can look bad.

Money can’t buy you love

Money can’t buy you love

Screen-Shot-2012-12-13-at-09.32.27Seriously, the Beatles have sung it so many times that anyone that sees the title can probably hum the tune to it. However, many organizations still do not seem to be able to understand that it is the truth. Especially in this age of social media. Money cannot buy you love. However hard you try. And lately we have seen many trying. Together with you, I would like to take a look at a couple of corporate efforts to buy love and fans by spending money on social media channels. And I want to leave you with some ideas of what you can do to make these channels work for you.

Over the past weeks, Shell has often turned up in my Facebook timeline. They are talking about how wonderful they are. How much they care about the world and the environment. And only a day or two ago they posted the oil companies’ equivalent of the macho game “who’s got the biggest”. (See image.) This morning I was greeted by the results of all their money spent. Three of my friends have liked their page. Pathetic.

So, I went to take a look at their Facebook page. It is a site describing Shell in all its glory. Like the sites of so many large companies, you could call it a corporate display of narcissism. The subjects addressed are Shell, and Shell alone. If they address any other subject, it is solely from the Shell point of view. Such as working on a less pollutive environment, which really is all about the Shell eco challenge. And even regular oysters are turned into a Shell product. To be honest, it does not matter how many dollars you spend on Facebook marketing, the general outlook does not trigger me to be a Shell fan. And it shows. For a company with over 90,000 employees and almost 500 billion in revenues, a mere 2.5 million Facebook fans should not be something they ought to be excited about.

I could understand if you, and Shell, would come up with the argument that its business is fuel. Nobody loves fuel. It is something you put in your tank whenever you want, wherever you are. You do not build a relationship with a gallon of petrol. Or even bio-diesel for that matter. That is a reasonable statement to make. And it makes you wonder how this example connects to our organizations and churches. Well, the whole process changes when you put love in it. When you love your audience. When you talk to them. When you address the things that they feel are relevant to them.

Screen-Shot-2012-12-13-at-10.10.03I know the comparison with coffee is going to be a big step. But for many, coffee used to be just like that gallon of petrol. At some point in time you would be craving a cup and you bought it wherever you were. And then Starbucks came along. They made buying coffee a rewarding experience. They put the love in it. And if you go to their Facebook page, you see that they care for their customers. This morning when I went to their page, they had just used a customers’ picture as their cover photo. They talk to their customers and address their issues. They even allow their customers to vent their thoughts towards Starbucks. When I visited their page today, there was someone who posted about how Starbucks does not support the military. And 107 comments below the post where from fans defending their shop and setting the record straight. Why? Because they love their shop and their coffee. The 33 million likes prove that point.

If you want to be on Facebook, remember one thing. It is never about the likes. It is about your attitude towards people. Because your Facebook Page (or your Google+ page, or any other social network page or account) is not about YOU, it is about THEM. And if you remember that, people will come and they will return. Because they care about you, because you care about them.

Help people get in touch with you – Build yourself a call me back button – for free!

Help people get in touch with you – Build yourself a call me back button – for free!

Phone_clip_art_mediumYou have seen that button at the site of your bank or your insurance company. The button that saves you the hassle of dialing the number. The button that gives you easy access to their people instead of having to wait ‘in line’.

Lets face it, you have wanted this button for ages. An easy way for people to get in touch with your organization or your church. They just leave their phone number and the time when they want to be called, and they are done. This serves two purposes. One is the obvious ease of contact. They can always get in touch with you and they can get you to call them back whenever they have time. The second is the fact that you are calling them at a time that is convenient for the receiver. They were waiting for you to call them and they have time that they have set aside to talk to you. Up until recently those buttons were quite expensive and were sold by premium marketing companies. But times have changed and I will show you how to get one for free.

*Warning: This blogpost does assume you have a basic knowledge of websites, plugins and forms*

Ok, that said, how do you get that button? Your first step is to get yourself an IFTTT account. If This Then That is one of the easiest ways to build simple actions based on triggers that you set. The first step is easy. Join them. Fill out your credentials and click “Create account”. Done. That is your first step.

The second thing you need is a website. Obviously you have one of those. And your website needs the possibility to publish forms and send them off to a unique email address with a unique subject line.
On your website, build a form that people need to fill out to get called back. Unlike the instant call back from your bank, it might take a message up to 15 minutes to reach you. That means that it would be a great idea to add a field on when someone would like to be called back. In the example you see, mine says you can be called back within an hour and a half, you can be called back during office hours or that evening after 8pm. Other than that I ask people to leave their name and number. Only the phone number is a required field in this example as that is the only information I really, really need to make that call. Think carefully about what you need from your customers. The more you ask, the fewer will use the option.

To make the build as easy as possible, I will assume you have a Gmail account. If you don’t, you might want to make one just for this purpose. You don’t have to look at it ever again as it will only store an email that will be used as a trigger. But it is important to have one so we can use it as a trigger later on.

Have your form sent to your (new) Gmail address and use a unique subject line. Remember that subject line, because we will be using it a little later on. Content wise, make sure that the email you receive holds the fields you have asked to fill out. Mine tells me that “Name” wants to be called at “time set” on “phone number”. A decent smartphone will even make the phone number clickable for you to respond quickly.

Now that you have your form set up and sending emails (test it first). You can go and log on to your IFTTT account. Once logged in, you will see the dashboard. You can add loads of channels to IFTTT for you to use both as triggers as well as output channels. Click channels in the top right corner and you get the overview of all the channels that are available. Find the Gmail icon and click that. Google will ask you whether you want to grant IFTTT access to your email address. Grant access and the Gmail icon will now be all colorful on the site. Then you click the SMS button. Type your international phone number with all the extra’s. Mine should be written as 00653961138 for instance. Then have the system send you a pin code. Once you have received the SMS with the pin, type the pin in the field and you are connected.

Now everything is set to create your unique task with IFTTT. Click create task on the dashboard. Then click the highlighted “this”. The screen will now show all the channels that are available to you. Click the Gmail channel. You are now asked to set your specific trigger. I have built mine around a search for the unique subject line that I added to the email my form sends. Then click complete trigger.

With the trigger set, we need to define an action that IFTTT has to do when triggered. We need to have IFTTT send an SMS to our number. So, click the highlighted “that”. As a channel choose the SMS channel. You then receive a single option. Send me a text message. And that is exactly the one that we need. Click it and you get a new screen. Here you can set the message that is sent to you. On the right you will see a dark balloon. Click it to get extra options that you can add to your SMS. In my case I had cleaned up the form email so much that I just wanted the Email Body Plain to show in my text message. That gives me the name and phone number of the person I need to call and the time I need to call them at. Click complete action and you are done.

You can now name your new IFTTT task. And hey presto, you have just built yourself a form on your site that notifies you via SMS for free.

ifttt-sms-notification-180x300If you feel this might be too complicated for you, I can build one for you. Or you can use my IFTTT recipe.

Be on Facebook and six quick tips

Be on Facebook and six quick tips

f_tips-300x300Lets start off with the fact that I strongly believe you need to be on Facebook. Even though the statistics might prove otherwise at times, there is much more than statistics to Facebook.

In a previous Facebook post on, I used analytical data from several sources to determine that only 0.4% of the Facebook fans  of a brand actually visit the brands’ Facebook page and that only 0.02% of Facebook fans visits one of the tabs that is put on a Facebook page. However, there is a much more important reason to be on Facebook. And this is especially true for Christian organizations and churches, as the connection that we make with people is more of an emotional bond than a bond that has mutual gain as a basis.

People spend a a great deal of their time on Facebook. They come there to share with their friends. To talk. To hang out. Basically, they are not spending time with Facebook, they are spending time with their friends. That is the reason why commerce on Facebook failed, but also why Facebook works well for our type of organization.

“It was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.” That was the reason why large retailers closed their shops on Facebook. And that is a great analogy. As Facebook is very similar to hanging out at a bar, or at the coffie place after church. People share stories, jokes, have fun, play games, exchange thoughts. People are there together. Nobody walks into a bar to buy a suit and neither will someone go to Facebook to do the same.

However, relationships are built at the bar. People will get to know each other. They will exchange stories, ask questions and when the time comes, they will refer others to the people they have met. Or bring them into their ‘safe place’ to share their experience. That is the power of Facebook. Building that relationship and making it easy to bring others into that as well.

Six things to do on Facebook?
<li><strong>Be personal</strong>
Do not just create an account for the organization. Build your presence based on your people and gather them to be the pillars of your Facebook page.</li>
<li><strong>Be personal</strong>
Talk to your visitors and your ‘fans’. Be genuinely interested in who they are, what they care about and what you can do for them. Do not push your church, your organization or even push Jesus. Build a relationship. Things will grow from there.</li>
<li><strong>Be inquisitive</strong>
There is a reason why people like you. There is a reason why they like your page. Find out why. NEVER assume you know! Rule of thumb, if you have not asked and they have not answered, you do not know.</li>
<li><strong>Be relevant
Once you have found out why people like you, you can be relevant to them. You can share with them what they care about. There is a fair chance that they are not interested in you pushing your events, your causes, your abbreviated sermons. Keep that in mind. But the only way to find out, is to ask!</li>
<li><strong>Be sharable</strong>
If you are relevant, you can become sharable. That is the point where what you communicate resonates with your audience so well, that they want to be a part of it. And they want to show that they are a part of it by sharing it with their friends.</li>
<li><strong>Be available</strong>
The key to it all. You have to be available. People need to be able to talk to you and get an answer. Not just your biggest donors or your most devoted church goers, but everyone. Because it is like that bar scene. If you only talk to your biggest friend, none of the others in the bar feel pulled towards you. Even though you might be offering something they want. If they feel ignored, they will ignore you.</li>