Alan Belniak

Alan Belniak

Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as the company's Director of Social Media Marketing. In this role, Alan works in strategic and tactical fashions to find ways to use social media channels to better interact with customers, and to direct that feedback to marketing, R&D, sales, and other appropriate groups. Alan holds a bachelor's of Science degree in engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, and his master's degree in Business Administration, focusing on Technology Entrepreneurship, from Babson College in Wellesley, MA. You can find Alan at http://www.abelniak.com, and http://www.Twitter.com/abelniak.

A Comparison Of Enterprise Twitter Tools

Posted by Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as ...
User is currently offline
on Friday, 06 April 2012
in Social Media

For a while, my company was using the freemium version of CoTweet.  Way back in the day, when I was evaluating tools, I narrowed it down to CoTweet and HootSuite.  And at that time, CoTweet won out.  It served us pretty well for a while: multiple people tweeting out on one account, one person getting access to multiple accounts, no need to share username and password, schedule tweets, and the like.  Essentially, all the things that are now standard in enterprise-level Twitter tools.

Twitter Profile

CoTweet was acquired by ExactTarget, and soon after, ExactTarget sunsetted the fremium option of CoTweet.  They gave users some time to preview their paid offering, Social Engage (which was formerly CoTweet Enterprise).  Knowing that we needed a tool to continue doing what we were doing, my colleague (Heidii Evriviades) and I set out to review a handful of tools, including Social Engage.

Heidii pulled together a spreadsheet (‘matrix’ if you’re in the kind of environment that calls every kind of row-and-column data as such) to help us compare and contrast the results.  I’ve embedded it below for your review and download, if you are faced with a similar task.  And, a few caveats…

We conducted this review around mid-/late-February 2012.  These vendors are evolving quickly.  If you’re reading this significantly after that date, then you might want to revisit some of the sites to check functionality.  Ditto for pricing.

Our baseline/benchmark for review was the free version of CoTweet.  This is why it’s listed at the top of the spreadsheet.  The remainder of the spreadsheet is in no particular order.  I’m not endorsing any specific product here.

Our situation is a B2B software/tech environment with a global presence.  Yours may be different.  Accordingly, what we cite as advantages or disadvantages pertain to our view of it.  Again, yours may be different.

When we used CoTweet, we were limiting ourselves to Twitter.  Over time, our presences grew on other networks, so the ability for a tool to address and work with multiple networks was not initially a concern or requirement, but it is now.  And if we found a tool that ‘won out’ only on Twitter, but fit all of our other criteria, we would consider going with that, and a different tool for other networks.

Major areas of concern included ease of use (transitioning a group of marketers from one tool to another), price, contract terms (could we get out after x months if we didn’t like it?), training, support, scheduling of updates (the horror!), the ability to work across multiple networks, and some baseline reporting/meta-information display.

So, with that, below is our comparison.

The original source of this post is: http://www.subjectivelyspeaking.net/2012/04/05/a-comparison-of-enterprise-twitter-tools/

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' Social Media Management software rankings.


Identifying Your Business's Key Influencers on Twitter – Should You Care?

Posted by Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as ...
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 10 January 2012
in Social Media

No doubt there are people online who can make or break a product or service with a review or comment.  Conversely, a chorus of tiny screams might not even get noticed.  Yet they are all important to some degree.  After all, these are your customers. 

 

The reality is that all the opinions matter.  But they matter to varying degrees.  And what confounds that is the employees of a brand have a fairly fixed bandwidth.  The looming question for many brand managers and business owners is this: How can I pay the right amount of attention, the right kind of attention, to the right audience, to have the best (not necessarily the largest) impact on my business?

 

Enter the notion of influencer identification.  In a nutshell, these tools do what we’ve all been trying to do manually for a long time: find the people who matter and who people seem to seek.  Many of these tools are digital and track some form of social footprint to see where these people are online, who pays attention, who shares their content, what they talk about, how much juice they have, and the like.  Each of these tools computes these scores a bit differently, and that’s frankly what sets apart one tool from another.

 

I won’t review them all here. David Strom of ReadWriteWeb did a nice job of this back in October 2011 in "17 Alternatives to Klout."  If you include Klout, you have 18 options.  And I can’t stress enough what David emphasizes in item 1 of his issues list: “There is no single number that can really be universally useful.“

 

That is, use these tools with a shaker of salt. Which is not to say that they are not to be trusted. But PR and communications professionals performed the task of influencer management long before these tools were around. That type of sleuthing work doesn’t stop because there are some new digital kids on the block. 

 

Instead, look for ways to take the output of these tools and augment what you, as a PR pro, communications pro, or business owner are already doing: listening, reading, identifying, reaching out, forging relationships, long before the ask and long before any sale.

 

A tool I like to use is called FollowerWonk. See tip #5 here from Christopher Penn on how (and why) to use FollowerWonk. It’s a bit manual, but the mathematics behind it are transparent. As in, there’s no guessing why so and so ranks higher in influence for such and such than someone else.

 

Another powerful Twitter search tool is Topsy (not 100 percent squarely focused on influencer management, but it flags influencers). Topsy is just Twitter search on steroids, but if you squint a little, you can use the results in a different way to help you uncover some insights. It just takes a little work.

 

So, if you have money, go with one of the paid tools. If you have time (instead of money), use some of the free tools.  In addition, comment here, or find a discussion group on LinkedIn for others who are using free tools and techniques to identify and dissect influencers. 

 

And if you have both time and money, I suggest you do both. Digging in manually and then comparing what you find to what the tools discover will be immensely valuable.

 

Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.

Tags: Untagged

Social Media Etiquette: Do NOT Send an Automated Twitter Direct Message to Each New Follower

Posted by Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as ...
User is currently offline
on Monday, 14 November 2011
in Social Media

If you’ve been on Twitter for more than a month or so, chances are you’ve been followed – rather quickly – by someone you started following.  And shortly after that, you received a direct message. “Wow!” you think.  “This person is really on top of their game!”  And then you open it, and it reads something to the effect of “Thanks for the follow!  Go read my stuff here: __ and let’s also connect here: ___ And by the way, I’m also over here: ___”


Genuine?  Not really.  Heartfelt?  Nope.  Automated?  Yep.


I’ve written about auto-DMing on follow on my own Subjectively Speaking blog in the past.  I’ll let that post (and the comments) stand on its own, and offer up another angle here for the Comparz readers.

In my original post, I talk about the receiving end of such a tweet.  It feels cold, impersonal, almost like a direct-mail postcard.  And if you use Twitter as primarily a broadcast, one-way channel, then this might work for you.  For those of you who don’t see it that way, but are still auto-direct-messaging-on-follow, give this a second thought: might your messages be misconstrued?  Might they look like a green salesperson, looking to boost numbers and followers and artificially inflate a following and perceived level of importance?


Instead, consider a different approach.  I think a direct message to Twitter followers is a good idea, if worded correctly and not sent automatically to everyone.  What if instead, you sent a direct message that thanked the other person for the follow, indicated an interest of yours, and then asked your new follower what interests them (or a different question)?  Now you’ve set up an avenue for dialogue.  You are possibly engaging them.  And it doesn’t come across as spammy. Business-to-business book co-author Eric Schwartzman offers his own take on it here, via this simple graphic.


“But this will take more work, Alan!”


Yes.  Yes it will. 


But it doesn’t matter really how you go about this, because no matter what, you’re doing it wrong.

Alan Belniak is the director of social media marketing at a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management. To read more, find and follow him at his blog and via Twitter


Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.


Tags: Untagged

Small Business: How to Get Started Using Twitter

Posted by Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak
Alan Belniak works at PTC, a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management, as ...
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 31 August 2011
in Social Media

So, you’ve hung out your shingle, opened your doors for business, and got a few fresh boxes of paper clips.  Now what?  Well, start by finding some business.  You can do that in lots of ways, but I’ll cover one way here: Twitter. 

“Alan, I don’t care if someone is walking their dog.”  And you’re right.  No one (or not many people) likely cares.  “Alan, no one cares if I just went for a coffee.”  Oh, but someone does!  And that someone is Starbucks.  Consider that often tweets sent by mobile devices have a location tag associated with them.  A savvy Starbucks social media employee could search for tweets mentioning the word ‘coffee’ in a certain area, then send those people a message – something to the effect of “Hey, show us this tweet the next time you are near the ___ location, and your AM coffee is on us.” (It’s rumored that Starbucks did this, but I can’t readily find the link).

See, the power of Twitter isn’t so much that “I had coffee”.  It’s the search (http://search.Twitter.com/advanced).  It’s the way to find new followers, new topics, new links, new questions, new roadblocks (for others).  It’s a way to interact and start a discussion.  If all goes well (just like at the proverbial cocktail party), then you strike up a real conversation and perhaps trade business cards.

I Don’t Sell Coffee.  I Sell Ladders.

So let’s say you sell high-quality, light-weight, low-cost aluminum step ladders.  How could you take part with Twitter?

  • Run a search on Twitter for tweets containing ‘ladder’
  • Run a search on Twitter for the hashtag #ladder
  • Run a search on Twitter for tweets containing ‘weekend project’, ‘home owner’, ‘home ownership’
  • Run a search on Twitter for tweets containing ‘painting’, ‘roof’, or ‘roofing’

 
You see what I’m doing here?  I’m thinking of the words and phrases that would most likely be in a conversation or public admission that have something to do with the word ladders.  

Let’s say you’ve done that, amassed a handful of new people to follow.  Now what?  Well, interact with them!

  • Don’t tweet and say “Come by my ladder!  It’s great!”
  • Instead, ask @JohnDoe508 “Are you painting a two-story house? Might want to look at hook-and-tray accessories to minimize up/down trips.”
  • Or, “Hey, @SallySue – painting inside? Make sure the ladder you get has rubberized feet to prevent slipping and marring.”


What you’re doing is offering value – value that you, as a ladder expert, can share with others.  Imagine being on the receiving-end of this tweet and saying “Wow – I don’t even know who LaddersForYou is, but these are good tips.”  When the hypothetical you eventually considers buying a ladder, who might you go to for one last bit of advice?  Who might you seek to actually make a purchase?
 
Bingo.
 
That’s the power of using Twitter search for conversations, taking part, interacting, and offering value.
 
In closing, note that not every tweet turns into a sale.  Just like not every real-life, face-to-face conversation turns into a sale.  But the power of Twitter and search is akin to having giant ears and listening to lots of conversations at once.

Alan Belniak is the director of social media marketing at a major Boston-based software company focusing on product lifecycle management. To read more, find and follow him at his blog and via Twitter


Comparz provides user reviews and rankings of software services and tools for small and mid-sized businesses. Click here to view Comparz' business software reviews and rankings.


Tags: Untagged

Enter your email address below to get the best insights on how technology can help you grow your business.




contributor ad