BY Zeke Camusio (Serial Entrepreneur)

Twitter @aaron116

@aaron116 - Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. It lets you update your status and lets the whole world know what you are up to. There are millions of Twitter-addicts all over the world, and the number of active users has increased by 900% in the past year. Companies can also use it to promote themselves.

On Twitter you will have people “following” you, and you will be “following” others. “Following” is being updated every time a new post is added to one of your contacts’ profiles. Being followed is the same; every time you have something to add, all your “followers” will be updated. The more people that follow you, the more exposure your business will get. But it’s not about adding as many people as you can to your friends list. You need to be smart about building your follower base.

The problem is that many companies that try to market using Twitter don’t understand how this community works, and consequently their Twitter Marketing efforts don’t pay off.

To help you avert this fate, the following steps will guide you in understanding what to do and what not to do to give your company huge exposure using Twitter.

Step 1: Import Your Contacts

Twitter allows you to to import contacts from Gmail, Hotmail and your own address book. Do it.

Step 2: Make Sure that Your Profile is Complete

Fill in all the fields (both required and optional) and include your website URL. You can also personalize your Twitter page to match your company’s branding.

Step 3: Understand the Dynamics of Twitter

Twitter is a social tool, not a classifieds site. These are some tips that will help you to get followers:

  • Don’t spam others about your specials
  • Follow other users
  • Be active in the community (tweet and post comments about others’ tweets often)
  • Only post useful and relevant information
  • Don’t tweet every 5 minutes. It becomes annoying.
  • Engage in conversations. Retweet (reply to others’ tweets) often
  • Don’t promote your company directly. Do it the smart way. For example, if you sell widgets, write a buyer’s guide about the kind of widgets that you sell and tweet about that blog post. That is useful information. Avoid tweets like “Great Widgets On Sale – Starting at $9.99!”

Step 4: Build Your Followers Base

There are many things that you can do to build your followers base:

  • Put a link to “Follow Me on Twitter” everywhere (your email signature, forums, website, and business cards)
  • Every time you post on your blog, invite people to follow you on Twitter
  • Search for Twitter users whose followers base you would love to have for yourself. See who is following them and follow those users. They will follow you back.
  • See who is following your friends and follow them.
  • There are Twitter directories that are great to find members who are likely to follow you. Examples include Just Tweet It and Twellow.
  • Use Twitter’s search feature to find profiles that interest you. Use Twitter’s RSS feed to be notified every time a tweet containing a certain keyword is made.

Step 5: Balance Your Followers/Following Ratio

Try to have a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. If a lot of people follow you and you don’t follow them, they will stop following you. If you are following plenty of people but just a few are following you, you’ll be seen as a spammer trying to grow your follower base as quickly as possible.

These are some ideas to keep both numbers balanced:

  • Grow slow. Instead of adding 200 new friends all of a sudden, add maybe 50 and wait for them to follow you back. Then follow another 50.
  • Use tools like Friend or Follow. This tool lets you check who is following you whom you are not following. It also allows you to see who you are following who are not following you. This is the best way to balance your ratio in just a few minutes.
  • Avoid following others so they follow you, only to stop following them once they are on board following you. If you do this, you will be seen as a spammer.

Step 6: Make it Worthwhile to Follow You

Tweet interesting stuff. Every time you are about to post something, ask yourself “Is this something I would be interested in?” If the answer is no, chances are that your followers will feel the same way.

Step 7: Learn from the Best

Find users with several hundred followers and learn from them. See what they are doing right and get ideas from them.

Done right, Twitter Marketing can lead to positive exposure for your business. Companies have been known to make tens of thousands of dollars from customers that found them through a Twitter account. Depending on your business, Twitter could be one of the most successful weapons in your Internet Marketing arsenal.

Twitter beginners need to understand the rules of etiquette for the service. So before you stick a foot measuring 140-characters-or-less in your mouth, check out our advice on how to follow and un-follow, share politely, direct message appropriately, and more.

By C.G. Lynch @ CIO.com

In our beginner’s guide about how to get started on Twitter, we examined the basics of the social networking service that allows you to share short messages (140 characters or less) with friends, family and colleagues. But like any social network, the Twitter community has its own set of unwritten guidelines — or etiquette — that dictates good (or bad) behavior on the service. Some people call it Twittequette.

We call our tips guidelines, instead of rules, because Twitter was designed to be a very open forum. Some people might feel differently about what constitutes good Twitter behavior, depending on what they hope to get out of the service or their networking philosophies in general.

But based on interviews we did with social media and career experts who have seen people try to balance their personal and business lives on Twitter, we worked up five dos and don’ts for the average Twitter user, from deciding whose Twitter messages (known as “tweets”) to follow or what content to share without jeopardizing what matters most in your professional and personal lives.

1. How to Follow and Un-Follow People

Even social networking experts share different philosophies on how to deal with “followers” — the people on Twitter who subscribe to your tweets. Some people believe that if someone follows you, it’s impolite not to follow that person back. (Under Twitter’s default settings, you’ll generally be notified by e-mail when someone decides to follow you, and you’ll be provided with a link to the person’s Twitter profile, where you can choose to follow the person back and receive his or her tweets.)

But especially if you’re just starting off on Twitter, you shouldn’t feel obligated to follow all people back, even if you worry they’ll think it’s rude of you, our experts say. Instead, you should follow people who share your interests or whose tweets you find meaningful or compelling.

“You should only follow people who you trust, you think are interesting, or that you learn from,” says Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), a senior Forrester analyst who researches social technologies and keeps a blog on Web strategy.

It’s possible you’ll offend some people, but ultimately it’s harder to maximize the value of Twitter early on if you’re Twitter homepage is flooded with tweets unrelated to your field or tweets that don’t make any sense to you, Owyang says.

At the same time, don’t be afraid to take some risks and follow someone outside your immediate circle, says Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd), a social media consultant who writes the /message blog.

“It’s like wandering around at a cocktail party,” Boyd says. “You don’t just want to hang out with people you only know well. Pick ten of your friends who are using Twitter, follow them, and then pick ten of their friends and follow them. You can always drop people and add new ones.”

Similarly, don’t be offended if someone un-follows you or chooses not to follow you back. Boyd says he’ll stop following someone, for instance, who keeps tweeting things for a few days (such as from a conference) that don’t capture his interest. He’ll begin following the person again after that event is over.

Unlike a cocktail party, however, where the attendees aren’t journalists with recorders and notepads, Twitter is a publishing medium where your messages will ring with finality to a lot of people. Because a tweet must be 140 characters or less, context can be easily misunderstood. Also, don’t assume that people who are your immediate followers will only see your tweets. A tweet can be picked up publicly by Google or Twitter’s search tool.

“It’s open social discourse,” Boyd says. “As a result, to some extent, some of what you say is going to be available for the public to see.”

One complaint often voiced in the Twitter community concerns people who tweet too frequently, dominating users’ homepages with their messages. Again, you can avoid this by examining a person’s profile page before you sign up to follow him. If you don’t want to follow the person, don’t get mad at them for tweeting in volume .

Also, if you’re just getting started, it’s not recommended that you start following the more celebrity accounts or power Twitter users who tweet a lot, says says Laura Fitton (@pistachio), who runs Pistachio Consulting, which advices businesses on how to utilize Twitter. “They’ll dominate your stream,” Fitton says, whose Pistachio account has more than 18,000 followers. “I say follow me on RSS instead, which is an option on Twitter.”

2. Be Up Front About Your Twitter Aspirations

As the divide between our consumer and professional lives blurs at the hands of social technologies, the content of your tweets can take on a whole new meaning, especially if you work at a traditional corporation that doesn’t acknowledge this reality.

As such, you might want to make it clear who you represent and why you’re on Twitter. Some people put messages on their Twitter background (which can be customized under the “settings” tab), noting that the opinions expressed in their tweets don’t necessarily reflect those of their employers. They also might provide a link that explains with greater detail why they’re on Twitter. While this can allow you some leeway, it doesn’t necessarily mean your employer or your followers won’t call you out on some tweets.

“There’s a real difficulty there,” Boyd says. “For people who are employed by companies, to some extent, they’re always a representative of the company. It’s almost impossible to divorce yourself from that. They need to figure out where they can draw line, and for some people where that line is is different.”

In the end, the more up front you are in your profile description about who you represent and what you plan to talk about, the more you’ll allow yourself some cover, says Kirsten Dixson ( @kirstendixson ), a reputation management and online identity expert. But that also means you shouldn’t get upset with people if they tweet something that’s in line with their stated Twitter goals.

“They might have things that are off-putting, that are overtly religious or political and not in your own views,” she says. “But if they’re up front about that, they’ve been fair.”

3. Be Personal (to a point)

While you should heed the advice of the aforementioned section, you also shouldn’t be afraid to be personal in your Twitter account. Most people wouldn’t join Twitter to be spun by your corporate boilerplate statement or marketed to in traditional fashions. For individuals, Twitter can be a very personal medium, and that’s not a bad thing for business people.

Twitter can humanize you in the eyes of your followers (who might want to do business with you in the future as a result of that human interaction).

“Work relationships have always been infused with some aspects of the personal, and Twitter is no different,” Fitton says. “If you walked around the office and talked to people sitting in the cubes, people have different personality styles and quirks.”

Your personal tweets should have meaning to your audience. Tweet about issues that are fairly universal to your list of followers and that will make them feel welcome to reply to with their own comments.

“People’s Twitter streams are uninteresting if they’re just declarative sentences like ‘I’m going to the movies’ or ‘it’s gray outside,'” Boyd says. “It’s better if it’s something that people might feel interested in replying to.”

4. Reciprocate Gracefully

Advice on using social media outlets is often served up with a slew of jargony slogans like “engage with the community” or “build your social capital.” But sometimes what that means can be unclear, especially on a service like Twitter, which is still relatively young.

So more to the point: how do you become respected by the community and benefit from the give-and-take that happens between users on Twitter?

It’s not all that complicated.

“Be honest, interesting and unselfish,” says Laura Fitton, @pistachio), who runs Pistachio Consulting, which advices businesses on how to utilize Twitter.

That means not just tweeting links to your own company or website. It also means when you tweet other people’s work or news, you shouldn’t make it look like a chore. Add some feeling or commentary, or people will see through you.

“You can’t just pretend the unselfish part and phone it in,” she says. “You either are or you aren’t.”

One way to show how unselfish you are: contribute to topics of interest to you by replying to tweets on that subject. But just replying isn’t necessarily enough to convey that you care. Don’t be afraid to stir debate and define your views.

Individuals should avoid making their personal account an RSS-like stream of their own content, unless they explicitly say that’s their intention. Organizations have more leeway to make a Twitter feed of that nature because it’s implicit in their name. If, for instance, you follow @nytimes, expect to get an stream of New York Times content, not the Washington Post’s. If you follow @jetblue, expect deals on Jetblue flights.

5. Use The Direct Message Correctly

Although Twitter generally operates as a one-to-many medium, the direct message allows you to reach out to a follower privately. (In order to direct message someone, they must follow you.). But direct messages can be misused, too.

Direct messages, in their best form, should be used as a Web-based version of the text message. Message someone private information such as when you plan to meet up for an appointment or share your cell phone number. You can use this option for any message that doesn’t concern the rest of your followers.

However, direct messages are not just a way to e-mail spam people. Some marketing and PR professionals have been criticized for sending direct messages that say “thanks for following me” accompanied by a blatant product pitch.

“That annoys me to no end,” Dixson says. “Sometimes, people have told me they get so annoyed with those that they’ll un-follow a person.”

Remember, many people have direct messages sent to their e-mail inboxes. In this case, you could increase their e-mail overload problem.

Also, remember what someone sends you via a direct message isn’t for public consumption.

“There’s an implied confidentiality there,” Boyd says. “It wouldn’t be good etiquette to post a direct message with someone’s name on it unless you got permission.”

By Mike Scheuerman @ CIO Update

The future of IT is not in building and maintaining technology, but in the application of technology in solving business problems. This new IT organization should not be focused on maintaining a technology infrastructure, but in using IT as a value-added tool to enhance the operation of the business.

Making the switch to concentrating on the “information” in Information Technology will be challenging for many of today’s IT managers. They have always worried about the “speeds and feeds” and less about how the equipment under their control provides good support and value to the people who use that equipment to do their jobs. Infrastructure management is necessary but not sufficient to provide business users and managers with the information that they need to make critical business decisions each and every day.

A better approach is to organize the IT department to emphasize the information and downplay the technology. To that end, the new face of IT becomes the business analyst and project manager. The role of infrastructure management falls to outside vendors and someone(s) in IT will have the role of vendor relationship management. Managing SLAs becomes the primary goal for this group.

Within the business analysis function, there are three major components: project management, business unit expertise, and business intelligence. Project management provides the methodology for getting things done in a timely, cost effective way. Business unit expertise is used to provide knowledgeable individuals who know the business processes within a particular department. This expertise allows them to provide sound advice on how technology can be used within that business unit. Since this group falls within the overall business analysis function, they can also provide the cross-functional view that is missing so many times in projects. Helping to avoid the unintended consequences of system changes is a side benefit of this cross-function view of the world.

The third component of business analysis is that of business intelligence. This group is focused on the information that is needed to make timely and well-informed decisions by business management. This group is the keeper of the key performance indicators (KPIs). These KPIs make up the dashboard every manager uses daily to determine if the business is running the way they expect. Business intelligence provides the controls that keep the ship of business afloat and on an even keel.

The challenge to implementing this model is developing a true cost model of the current IT services so a reasonable comparison of costs and goals can be achieved. Today, the cost of IT is calculated largely on personnel and capital costs. In truth, the opportunity costs of not providing more effective utilization of people in the business is unaccounted for. The cost of not being able to determine the state of the business in a more timely way is also left out of the equation. And the cost of decisions being made with incomplete information is missed. Putting real dollar figures to many of these missing items is difficult, but the risk to the business is too high to not make an educated estimate.

Most business managers never think about the technology they use every day and how lost they would be without that technology. They also are concerned about the cost of the technology and how it is not providing them with what they need to run the business.

These are real concerns. If management can step back and think about IT as a utility they will begin to see that trying to keep the IT infrastructure running is like buying and maintaining your own power plant. You wouldn’t do that because you can’t justify the cost. You use the power to run your business and focus on the things that make your business successful. You don’t worry about buying coal to keep the power plant running. IT should be viewed the same way. It is an information utility. The real value comes from the information that is generated by the plant, not in the electricity flowing through the wires.

Related Articles

BY Kit Eaton @ Fast Company


While there’s a lot of work to push nanotechnology as the future of computer chips, good old-fashioned semiconductors still have a lot of life in them yet: and they’ve recently been given a boost with a radical new type of circuit element that incorporates both semiconductor and nanotechnology.

Its called the memristor, and if you haven’t heard of it that’s not much of surprise–they were only manufactured for the first time last year. Memristors are tiny electronic devices that change their electrical resistance proportionally to the current running through them–in contrast transistors “turn on” current when a small input voltage is applied. Unlike transistors, memristors don’t forget their state when they’re turned off, making them useful as non-volatile memory for example.

Now a team from Hewlett-Packard labs in Palo-Alto has demonstrated a hybrid transistor-memristor circuit for the first time, using a nanowire grid and titanium dioxide as a semiconductor. The resulting device had memristors at the nanowire junctions and was surrounded by transistors.

Why should you get excited about this? For one reason–a transistor/memristor paired assembly can be programmed to either behave like a traditional logic circuit, route signals across it or behave as a memory storage unit. And these are all tasks that require specially-engineered circuitry in existing chips. In other words, a memristor-chip could pack in much more processing power in the same area–and that’s the trend that our increasingly-powerful chips have been following for decades.

Yet more interestingly, since the memristor “remembers” what state its in, by doing a calculation with a group of the circuits and feeding back the output of a calculation to the same memristors, the device could effectively “self-program.” As HP spokesman Tim Williams puts it: “self-programming is a form of learning. Thus, circuits with memristors may have the capacity to learn how to perform a task, rather than have to be programmed to do it.”

And that’s one long-predicted goal of computing technology that may even enable synaptic-like responses. Your computer in ten years time may do some of your thinking for you.

By request, I have posted the direct Google Docs link to this presentation I did for everyone’s viewing and printing pleasure. If you are to use this file for your own personal or business use I ask that you please do not change the content or format. Please “CLICK HERE” to view the presentation in full. Please note, this is the first in my series, and has a strong focus on how to leverage social sites (primarily LinkedIn) to work for you in the your job search. The next in my series will focus on Twitter, so stay tuned….

As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Good Luck!

Aaron Friedman

BY Noah Robischon @ Fast Company

Windows Azure and “Red Dog” Cloud Computing Project One over-arching theme that will underly many of the projects on display today is the upcoming Windows Azure cloud-computing push. This is Microsoft’s attempt to move its operating off the desktop and into the cloud. Although it was officially unveiled several months ago, Microsoft is only now getting specific about the kinds of tools it will deliver in Azure.

SecondLight Surface Computing UI Based on the description I’m reading, it sounds like Microsoft is ready to move its touch-screen UI off of the tabletop and into the “mid-air above the display” where it will recognize Minority Report-style gestural navigation.

Color-Structured Image Search color pattern image search has been around since at least 2005. Microsoft seems to have made some advances here, allowing for more consistency, speed and a semantic structure that could be applied to other search types.

Social Desktop, Social E-Mail, and Location-Based Social Networking Never one to let another software company own a lucrative market (ahem, Facebook), Microsoft has several projects on tap that will utilize your social networks in novel ways. Among them: e-mail integrated social networking tools and GeoLife 2.0, which sounds a lot like Google Latitude.

Opinion Search Several companies are moving into search engine algorithms that incorporate opinion or emotion data into the results. Microsoft’s Opinion Search will also filter results based on positive or negative polarity–again, not entirely new, but fascinating nevertheless.

Image-Centric and User-Interactions Advertising Platform Perhaps the first project on this list that could lead to real revenue, these two projects aim to replace today’s keyword-driven ad model with ones based on the content of recently searched images and a more integrated presentation of the resulting ads.

Tool Kit for Visualizing Large-Scale Data Silverlight and Ajax controls to help navigate large volumes of structured data from multiple source may not sound sexy. But if done well, it’s groundbreaking.

Augmented Reality 2009 buzzword alert! I’m not sure why everyone is tossing this old concept around so much lately, but Microsoft has at least two projects here that blend reality with computer interfaces. One is centered on 3D portable and virtual sticky notes.

Do these projects represent true innovation, or just more me-too computing? I aim to find out. Drop a note into the comments here if you’d like me to focus on anything in particular from the list above, or that you’ve heard about elsewhere.