Understanding Twitter For Small Business Marketing

Admittedly I have been living under a rock, and I was tending to ignore all the Twitter buzz. As a result I have been missing out on a remarkable phenomena. Recently however, that all changed after signing up for my free Twitter account and getting soaking wet in Social Media Marketing from a Small Business perspective with Twitter.

Although I was a little late to the party, it hasn’t taken me long to get up to speed with what the “TwitterSphere” has to offer and there is little doubt you can too. What is the “TwitterSphere” you might ask?

Video:

The key elements of Twitter in regards to Social Media and marketing are described in the best definition I have seen to date, (there most definitely are others): “the main goal of social media is to create meaningful interaction with your consumers.“— Olivia Pulsinelli

A consumer would be anything of course, from a teenager hanging out with friends to entertainers and their fans, politicians and their constituents, techies, interest groups, advertisers, marketers, non-profits and businesses both small and large, etc.  From a marketing point of view for Social Media, John Jantsch writes, “Rather than ask yourself if you should or should not use Facebook or Twitter, the question should be — How can Facebook and Twitter help me achieve my marketing objectives?”

Using Twitter

While you can use the Web interface that Twitter provides in your browser, the best experience seems to come from a dedicated Twitter client such as TweetDeck.  It is free, multi-platform and chock full of useful features allowing you to take full advantage of Twitter.

I’ll refer you to the Twitter help pages to see how to setup your account and learn about posting “tweets” or updates, setting up your profile page with your public information such as a Bio and Web address and setting a theme for your profile page.

Once the account is setup the rest of the activity can be accomplished within TweetDeck, or whichever other client you prefer. Mashable has a Twitter Guide Book that explains everything from setting up your account to the basics and terminology of using Twitter.

Small Business Marketing

There is a wealth of information available to help a small business marketer get up and running, not the least being the “TwitterSphere” itself.  Identify your target audience, gather followers, provide helpful information and use Social Media via Twitter as a marketing tool to further your objectives, especially from a Small Business point of view.

I’ll leave you with:

ReportDid Twitter Get a Wake Up Call

a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the US, is outpacing the larger, more traditional companies in the Fortune 500 in many social media activities.

Could that be the biggest impact of social media on retailing in the long term? As small businesses wake up to social media like Twitter they will be able to reach their customers– directly and in a timely fashion–with relevant information. The impact could be huge.”

From a small business marketing perspective, are you using Twitter to drive traffic from qualified consumers to your website or blog?

 
 

The Social Media Revolution

A revolution is something that has a drastic action or change, often in politics. It can be further said that a revolution is a rebellion that succeeds in overthrowing the government and establishing a new one.

Welcome to the Social Media Revolution. Erick Qualman asks whether social media and networking is a fad or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? This Socialnomics video details out social media facts and figures that are very hard to ignore.

Some pretty impressive numbers that only accentuate how fast the times are changing and how differently we interact with each other from even 5 years ago.

 
 

Video and Textual Overview of RSS Feeds

RSS IconWe’ll get a little more technical explanation that you really don’t need to know out of the way and say that RSS feeds can be summed up as nothing more than a list of items. In it’s most simplistic form, you the user, get a list of items delivered to your desktop from a website. When a website has an RSS feed, it is said to be syndicated.

RSS is an acronym that stands for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, RDF Site Summary, or some other variation depending on who you ask. Essentially, an RSS feed is a technology that allows website publishers to make their headlines and summaries of their content available through a syndicated “feed” that users can subscribe to receive. The list of items that is the RSS feed could be news headlines, update notices, press releases, recent changes log of a wiki and other such content such as the chronological entries into weblogs.

RSS is a text-based format, a type of XML (eXtensible Markup Language). You should know this only because RSS files are often labeled as XML. RSS version 1.0 is also referred to as RDF, which, again, is important only because an RSS file may also be labeled as RDF. There are also various versions of RSS. There are 0.90 and 0.91 (created by Netscape), 1.0 (by RSS-DEV), and 0.9x and 2.0 (by UserLand Software) versions. This isn’t something to be too overly concerned with and almost all newsreaders that handle RSS feeds can read all the different versions.

Manually checking every site in which you are interested in is incredibly time consuming. RSS is a better way to be notified of new and changed content on multiple websites. You receive the results in a well organized way, distinct from email. Usually, each item contains a title, summary, and a link to a URL or webpage to access the full article’s content. Other information, such as the date, creator’s name, etc., may also be available.

RSS feeds by themselves don’t do much. If you view one in most browsers, you’ll see the raw XML, which is roughly human-readable, but intended for computer programs. You can click on the RSS feed icons on my pages to get the idea, just use your browser’s back button to return here. To properly view an RSS feed you need an application designed for this called an RSS reader or news aggregator that you run from your desktop similar to your web browser, and most modern web browsers now support RSS.

Typically, you would right click on the RSS Feed icon or text URI to copy the link contained, and then paste that into your RSS newsreader. You are then subscribed to that RSS news channel.

Here is a short video that explains what you need very well:

 

 
 

Setting up a Home Webserver with a Dynamic IP

While in the past I have used a hosting service to run a website, I have for some time wanted to run my website off of my own home based computers.  The problem of course, is a constantly changing dynamically assigned IP number from my ISP making it impossible to have a permanent address that others can use to find my website.  I recently stumbled across DynDNS and have found a nifty solution to the problem.

The service works by having software on your computer that detects when your external global IP number is changed by your ISP and notifying theDynDNS servers of the new address.  They then match up the new IP number with whatever domain names you have registered with them.  When someone tries to load your site, DynDNS directs them to your new current global IP number giving them access to the webserver running on your home computer.

So, I subscribed to their free service for a subdomain and chose diverge.blogdns.com from a list of possible offerings. From there it is just a matter of downloading their client software and setting it up to access your account and notify it if your global IP changes.

With a bit more work, I had PHP, MySQL and Apache running on the home computer fairly quickly and then with installing the WordPress files and database, I now have everything up and running and it works very well.

Very nice …

 
 

Upgrading Apache Web Server For Apple’s Mac OS X Panther

The version of Apache that ships with Apple’s Mac OS X Panther (10.3.x) is 1.3.26. I wanted to upgrade to the latest recommended release of Apache, pre 2.0, which is 1.3.33. The following steps will guide you through compiling and installing the upgrade. Be aware though that any installed Apache modules will need to be recompiled as well, such as ssl, php etc. You will need Apple’s Developer Tools installed to perform any of the following installations for Apache.

We want to do the bulk of the work in a non-root environment for security reasons and then use the sudo command to do the actual root work. Sudo will ask you for your Admin password and then do the installation with root permissions. If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry about it, just have your Administrator password handy when certain commands below ask for it. Any of the the unix commands below you enter into the Terminal that begin with sudo will ask for this password.

In the Terminal application: (you can copy and paste each of the following lines, one by one, press return after each line)

cd ~/Desktop
mkdir temp
cd temp
(note: on the following line the word c u r l should NOT include any spaces)
c u r l -O http://www.apache.org/dist/httpd/apache_1.3.33.tar.gz
gnutar -xzf apache_1.3.33.tar.gz
cd apache_1.3.33

Copy and paste the following 3 lines into the Terminal together:

./configure \
--enable-module=most \
--enable-shared=max

The downloaded source code is now configured for Darwin, the unix core of Mac OS X. Lets build it:

make

If you have the Apache Web Server already running (from Apple Menu>System Preferences>Sharing>Personal Web Sharing) then stop the server with:

sudo apachectl stop

Now we will install the newly built Apache into the proper places with root permissions:

sudo make install

The new version of Apache is now installed. You can start it up with:

sudo apachectl start

Also ensure that your Apache is turned on in Apple Menu>System Preferences>Sharing>Personal Web Sharing.

Now, to upgrade any other modules they will need to be recompiled as well.

Apple’s HFS Module for Apache

Lets start with Apple’s HFS Apache module. The mod_hfs_Apple module helps to prevent some of the security issues related to HFS+ case insensitivity. (Capital letters and lowercase). HFS+ is the typical filing system used on most Macintoshes when the hard disk is formatted but it is case insensitive as opposed to most unix filing systems and the mod_hfs_Apple module resolves some of this for Apache.

First you will need to download the module. With your web browser go to Darwin Open Source for Apple’s Mac OS X. You will need a free account on Apple’s Developer Connection to download software. Click the Log In to open an account. The following page will allow you to join ADC. Sign up and come back to the OS Versions page.

  • On the OS versions page, click on the “Source” link for the version of operating system you want (latest)
  • download apache_mod_hfs_apple (the tar.gz file, scroll way down to find it)
  • with the Finder, drag and drop the unpacked (from Stuffit) HFS module folder to desired location (the temp folder on the Desktop we created above)


cd path/to/unpacked/folder

(Note: it’s easiest to type ‘cd ‘ [include the space following cd], then drag the unpacked and moved hfs module folder onto the Terminal window, click to select the Terminal window, then press return)

Now with the Terminal:

apxs -c mod_hfs_apple.c
sudo apxs -i -a -n hfs_apple mod_hfs_apple.so
sudo apachectl graceful

Apache, and Apple’s HFS module for Apache are now installed and Apache is gracefully restarted to make use of the new module. You can trash the temp folder containing the source files with the Finder if you like and quite the Terminal.