Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?

With The Slugger Awards 2008 happening in Belfast in a few hours, I’ve been wondering… Why this interest in Blogging? Why is it so popular just now?

I had a call last week from an NI Libraries Information Librarian asking whether I’d get involved in the SELB Library events. She’d seen the Welcome to the Blogosphere workshop I’m delivering for QUB’s Open Learning Programme and wondered if I could deliver a few demos on Social Networking and Blogging. I was up for the challenge. We’re starting with two demos and who knows where that might lead? It’s nice to get asked. 🙂

So, why are people, increasingly professional people, interested in blogging? Continue reading “Is Talking About Blogging Taking Over My Life?”

Pay Attention to the Elephant in the Room

I blogged a while ago about Twitter. Then I wasn’t so convinced about its potential as a business tool. However, I’ve seen the light and not only about Twitter.

I’ve been using Facebook for a while, as a way of connecting with friends now scattered to the four corners. Recently though, I discovered that you can use Facebook for creating a page for your business (for free). One of my customers is now a fan of Sensei on Facebook, no doubt others will follow. He will receive updates on all our events in a way that suits him. I’ve received (free) technical advice about how to fix computer problems from both former colleagues and tecchie friends via Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn has now become a useful tool for keeping up to date with former colleagues – even my mum Continue reading “Pay Attention to the Elephant in the Room”

Questions I Get Asked About Getting Business Through Twitter

People are asking me the following questions – an awful lot – so I thought I’d write a blog post to redirect everyone to, when these issues come up again. This blog post is directed at new Twitter users who are tweeting about their occupation or business.

How do I get more followers on Twitter?

  1. You must tweet. If you don’t tweet, people won’t know you exist nor what you do. Don’t expect people to approach you in Twitter. It won’t happen. And, when you click to follow people, some people will be put off if there are months between tweets.
  2. You must interact with others, as described below, under What should I tweet about? Continue reading “Questions I Get Asked About Getting Business Through Twitter”

Embedded Tweets

Twitter has a nice, new, shiny feature. Embedded tweets. What is it? Well, you can now insert tweets (as they appear on your timeline) into a WordPress post. There are three ways to do this:

  1. First, Find the URL of any tweet by clicking on the time the tweet was posted on, for example 2 hours (ago)
  2. Click Embed This Tweet
  • HTML
    • Select the HTML tab, copy the tweet’s HTML and paste into a webpage where you want the tweet to be displayed
  • Shortcode
    • Select the Shortcode tab, copy the Shortcode, and paste into a webpage where you want the tweet to be displayed (this works with sites that support Shortcodes, like WordPress)
  • Link
    • Select the URL tab, copy the URL paste it into your post editor (for example WordPress) or you can do this directly from step 1

Here are two recent tweets we received following a Sink Your Teeth Into Social Media seminar.

Click Embedded Tweets for full details.

How to Avoid a Dull Twitter Profile

A caveat before I begin. So the haters can go elsewhere. I’m addressing people who use Twitter to help raise their profile, and connect with professionals.

Never Have a Blank Avatar

The blank avatar space is filled with a Twitter bird or an egg shape. Neither adds anything to your profile.

  • Add the profile picture you use elsewhere online. This helps people recognise you at conferences, networks, and meetings. It helps break the ice at such gatherings. People can easily approach you with, “Dawn? I recognise you from Twitter.”
  • Alternatively, use a logo. However, people prefer to see a face, as it helps connect the words you tweet with the personality followers will eventually get to know.

Add a URL

If you do not enter a URL in the requested space, those you follow have no way of telling who or what you are.

  • Those who forget names easily may not follow back, or block you.
  • The URL is a clue to how you may have already met in person, or demonstrate a shared interest. This will encourage followers, and is more likely to result in replies to any messages you send.

Complete the Profile

Avoid crypric fragments, that are likely to make sense only to you and a few in the know. This, combined with a missing URL makes you look flaky, weird, or just plain frightening.

  • Instead add a brief list of your main professional roles.
  • Alternatively, add a brief list of interests, skills, or specialisms.

Either tactic will help potential followers determine if you will have anything of interest to say, and encourage the right people to your profile.


Recently, I’ve used JustUnfollow to pare back my Following list. I’m also pretty particular about who follows me. Once a week or fortnight, I peruse the list of recent Followers, and remove anyone who doesn’t abide by the advice I supply above. I’m not interested in engaging with those with no name or interests.

  • Surprisingly, I found that many Followers had a dull Twitter profile. They were mostly removed.
  • A sub-set had an interesting profile, but simply did not tweet. They’re taking up space on my list, so they were removed. First, those who’d not tweeted for 6 months, then those who’d not tweeted for 3.
  • A smaller subset again have a really interesting profile, tweet seldom, but when they do, it’s not about their craft. They’re slowly being removed too.

I like to know who I’m tweeting with. And what they do for a living. And where they’re from. I like to find out more about them, from an online profile, a blog, or a website.

If you don’t supply these basic details, you limiting the amount of people who will follow back, and you limiting the meaningful exchanges you can have online.

What are your thougths?

What is Follow Friday?

Follow Friday is a device used by Twitter users to recommend good people to follow.

If you are new to Twitter, use a tool such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and filter your All list, for #followfriday or #ff. This will highlight who those you follow recommend following. It ‘s one place to start, to increase your contacts on Twitter.

Many of those you follow will follow back; some won ‘t. Don ‘t worry too much about non-followers. You can always tweet them in the normal way. If someone isn ‘t following you, the only thing you can ‘t do is send them a Direct Message.

The Hashtag

Hashtags are key words that appear somewhere in the body of the tweet, to indicate what the tweet is about. They are by convention preceded by a hashtag (#), to designate their importance. (In practical terms, however, the hashtag has no function. So, as long as you include a word or phrase in your tweet, there is no need to duplicate this in a hashtag.)

When people perform searches on Twitter for certain words and phrases, they will find your tweets among anyone who tweets your key words. In the example below, if someone searched on Twitter (or a search engine such as Google) for nursing recruitment Belfast, this individual tweet ‘s URL would appear in the list of results.

This helps your Search Engine Optimisation. Simply put, SEO refers to how well your online location can be found by people specifically searching for you, or by people searching randomly for what service or product you provide.

Who Should I Include in Follow Friday?

  • Helpful people you’ve been chatting to on Twitter during that week
  • Your clients and customers
  • Your suppliers
  • Your colleagues
  • Those who tweet information your think your followers would find useful
  • People you want to notice you and what you’re doing

The Format

It ‘s useful to give a reason for including someone in a Follow Friday list:

@balmoralhc provides information on nursing jobs in Belfast, Northern Ireland and beyond. #tweetni #recruitment #ff

Alternatively, many people simply list Twitter users by username:

@balmoralhc, @balmoralhcare #ff


  • Always put the @ infront of the username, so those Twitter users can see that you ‘ve recommended them.
  • Don’t feel you have to do Follow Friday every week, only when you have people to recommend.
  • Schedule your Follow Fridays, and add people into the scheduled tweet, as it occurs to you.

Above all, those you recommend with the Follow friday device should add value to your followers.

Do you have any methods for deciding who to add into a Follow Friday tweet?

Twitter Goes to Church

Christ Pantocrator - Chora, Istanbul

I’ve been approached by a Northern Ireland church to give some advice on whether and how they should start using social media as part of their efforts to reach out to the local communities and update members and attendees on new online resources. Following a little poking around, asking those already using Twitter, Facebook and the like for their advice, this is what I have concluded as a starting point for discussion. Continue reading “Twitter Goes to Church”