Kirk Cassels' Weekly Wrap of User Comments: October 19 -23

Every week, people come to and post their opinions on myriad topics through a variety of voices. While running through them every week, I try to get a potpourri of both the insightful and the entertaining (whether laughing with or laughing at the commenter) and then try to throw out random pop culture or news references (like the ongoing fuss over Barack Obama's push for health care reform or how James Cameron's upcoming film Avatar is going to be better than Terminator 2 and Aliens combined).

But two pieces received some special comments this week, mostly in that they were posted as a direct response to the author and/or other readers. This kind of interaction with the audience is what's great about web media and, this week, these conversations involved an evolving aspect of the field: social media. Take a gander.

Citing a few studies on the matter, Michael Browne asked agents last week if they felt social media has done anything for them. One reader, Scott Jones, responded with words and action, saying:

I have found Facebook to be useful in connecting with long-lost friends and acquaintances, which has led to a few bookings. Twitter is helpful in connecting with other agents or suppliers, or for increasing exposure for blog posts, but have not found any business from it yet. So far Plaxo & Linkedin haven proven all but worthless. Perhaps one day I will go viral - or perhaps we're all just kidding ourselves with the usefulness - time will tell. Follow on Twitter @EZTravelpad or become a fan of EZTravelpad on Facebook.

Methinks that Mr. Jones must believe in the power of social media if he's asking us to network him in two of its more popular brands.

Our very own Ruthanne Terrero has been quite the advocate for Twitter, and this week she wrote a unique piece on how travel professionals can improve their tweeting behavior. Quick to respond was one John Frenaye, who some of you may remember from his scouting reports on YTB.  John posted:

Ruthanne--one point you do miss is that the backbone of social networking is indeed just that--social. Yes, you build your personal brand, but using a singular topic will indeed alienate your followers or fans.
Yes they want to see the cruise info, but if that is ALL you talk about, you will be tuned out. Share a politically correct joke, perhaps comment on a new news story, forward a non-travel link for discussion.
The object is to make a relationship with the follower and eventually, business will come.

Ruthanne was happy to reply, in true community message board fashion, writing:

John, totally agree. I think the postings should be varied so the reader isn't always expecting the same that it's a dialogue of sorts. I draw the line when I see folks discussing that they're going to do their laundry now and what flavor popcorn they like. That's when it becomes a personal dialogue and not a public conversation.

So here we have a nice interaction between reader and author, embellishing the topic of converstaion embedded within the article itslef. Then it gets even better, with one reader adding some extra points as well. George Oberle shared:

Great article Ruthanne. Here are a couple other important tips.
1) Personal insight and interpretation are crucial to being interesting. Constant matter-of-fact postings are blah blah blah and you are tuned-out quickly.

2) Include your comments about a story and post a link to a credible source about the story.

3) As Ruthanne pointed out; Retweet other Tweeters posts. Do this on a regular basis. Go through your followers and ReTweet their posts.

4) Remember to thank others that ReTweet your posts through the Reply function.

1) Stay away from any political comments. Politics are a huge turn-off.

2) Don't post more than 10-15 times per day or you become SPAM and will be blocked.

 3) Don't constantly SELL. This is especially obnoxious if you are selling the SAME thing on all posts Sometimes just TELL.

Good Luck. Twitter: @ReviewResorts

This whole Twitter thing is still a baby when compared to other facets of the Internet, so I'm sure there are plenty of other recommendations out there on what to do or not with it. With that in mind, anyone care to share some below or at the original article? Don't forget you can always extend the online dialogue in real time by logging in to AgentNation, the only social community online for all types of travel agents. Sign in now.