Three Excellent Uses for Google Voice

imagesIn light of news that Google Voice is not long for this world, it might seem strange that I’m choosing to sing its praises this week. Though the sky may not exactly be falling (most functionality will still exist, rolled into a Hangouts app), I’ll be sad if this faux death knell begs people off one of my favorite Google products. So, for now, and hopefully for the future, here are my favorite Google Voice uses:

  1. Crisis Communications…or any organized communications effort, really. Do you have a team of spokespeople in the field that need to be available to the press or stakeholders in a timely manner? Don’t hand out a list of seven different cell phone numbers or rely on a receptionist to play middleman. Use one Google Voice number to immediately connect callers to the first person available.
  2. Craigslist Postings Craigslist is invaluable for many reasons, not least of which is as an online marketplace. But let’s face it: some of the people you come in contact with are downright sketchy. Or maybe you want to list something, but don’t want your phone ringing off the hook with potential buyers while you’re busy working. Use a Google Voice number and set it to do not disturb. You’ll be able to sort out the calls on your own terms, and no one will have your “real” number, either.
  3. Good Old Free Texting Ditch your paid talk and text plans and use Google Voice instead. Never used Google Voice before or just want some tips? Lifehacker has pretty much every tutorial you’ll ever need.

Finally, a hat tip to Steph Baker for inspiring me to dig deeper into Google Voice.

Facebook Scheduler Fails to Impress

After years of resisting and publicly negging the act, I’ve started to automate. I have enough different accounts now that I’ve finally given in to schedulers. And, despite the fact that EdgeRank is  officially gone, I still harbor suspicions that Facebook prefers content to originate inside its walled garden.

So, instead of using trustworthy HootSuite, I’ve been trying the Facebook Scheduler. At first, everything went smoothly. Now, in the past 3 days, I’ve had four failed posts. When time of day can be crucial to a post being seen, nothing is more teeth-gnashingly, head-against the wall irritating than a failed post with no notification.

Is there a solution? Well, I’ll probably have to end my superstitious avoidance of HootSuite for Facebook, but for the rest of this week, I’ll be setting alarms on my cell phone to check the remainder of this week’s posts.

Social Media: The Benefit of Quality Followers

People standing in line

Are your followers just numbers?

When envisioning what a successful social media account looks like, it’s natural to assume that a massive follower count is a positive sign. It’s true, to some extent: big numbers equal big page views–and, more importantly, a quantifiable result you can show your skeptical boss. I know that in my last job before I started consulting, my boss tolerated my “screwing around on Facebook”…until my first account hit 10,000 followers.

To be sure, there’s something to be said for quantity. But online numbers don’t mean a thing if those users don’t interact with you offline, too. So what makes a quality, rather than quantity, follower?

They Remain Engaged
Have you ever liked a page or followed someone, then realized the content didn’t interest you? There’s a good chance that instead of unliking or unfollowing, you just hid their updates…or scrolled past, meaning to get rid of it later? It’s your job to consistently post engaging content, but pay attention to those that are interacting with you and what they’re saying. They are your core.

Dart board

Aim for those most likely to stay engaged.

They Share With Their Friends
A follower you can really count on takes your content beyond their feed. They clue in their social circle to the awesome stuff you’re posting. No algorithm can replace the success of a word-of-mouth recommendation.

They Walk the Walk
Most importantly, they get out from behind the keyboard and give you their business.  People bemoan the toll social media has taken on human interaction, but if you’re cultivating quality relationships, these online interactions encourage rather than replace offline connection.

So, don’t take slow growth as an immediate sign of failure. Look deeper and use quality as your guide. Quantity is likely to follow.