12 August 2016

10 ways to grow your Twitter followers organically

Growing your Twitter followers is difficult, if you are really serious about your Twitter marketing. The easy way, of course, is to buy followers, but all these followers is just plain vanity--it's like chasing the wind (c.f. Eccl 1:14). Some people are really aggressive in increasing the number of their followers: they follow several people per day and unfollow those who don't follow back after a day or two. But going from house to house is a miserable way live (c.f. Sir 29:24). Twitter should be fun. It's an online way of meeting real people who shares your passion and interests. You don't hoard people like sheep on your right or the goats on your left (c.f. Mt 25:33). If you like what other people are tweeting, follow them and expect to see their tweets on your home page. Retweet, like, or comment. Twitter is the Greek marketplace or agora--a marketplace not only of goods but also of ideas-- expanded to millions of citizens spanning seven continents. Engage with your Twitter community. This is still a human social network after all.

Growing your Twitter followers may be difficult, but the good news is that the principles for growth hacking are simple enough to write down in a single blog post.

1. Create a personal branding tagline

A personal branding tagline is your elevator speech. It should not exceed once sentence. It should be short and crisp and describe you you are. In my case, my personal branding tagline is "Physics professor studying space weather and social media."

2. Create a tweet topic hub

A hub is the center of the wheel. The spokes radiate from the hub. A tweet topic hub is the main topic of your tweets. As long as your tweets support your topic hub, then your tweeting will move smoothly and you shall gain more followers in time. In my case, I realized that I can't target three phrases all at once: "physics professor", "space weather," and "social media," because they target different audiences. So I decided that my tweet topic hub is going to be "social media scientist". This allows me to target different media forms--text, graphics, videos, audio--but also the social media platforms in particular: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

3. Create an audience persona

Define your target audience. Who are the people you want to reach? What are their interests? If the interests of your target audience are the same as yours, then tweet things that are relevant to your audience. To find your target audience, check out your Twitter analytics dashboard. You may be out for a surprise.

4. Use topical hashtags

A tweet without a hashtag is like a tree that fell in the forest and no one heard about it's fall. Don't use an ephemeral hashtag like #rainydaysandmondays, unless you are using this to track your marketing reach. Use the topical hashtags that you can use everyday to define your brand's focus, e.g. #technology, #graphicdesignm #blogging, and #socialmedia.

5. Curate content that supports your brand

Make sure that your tweets support your branding. You can either make your own tweets from the titles of your blog posts or you can curate tweets. You can find excellent tweets by checking out your timeline or by clicking the hashtag of your choice to find tweets by other authors who are not necessarily your followers. Be sure that you have read the article yourself before retweeting the links, because a bad link or a thin content can damage your brand. You can use automation tools to find good content to tweet, but the you should still be the one who should decide if that post gets tweeted or not in your timeline.

6. Engage with your Twitter followers

Remember that you are forming a community around your personal brand. Share good content from your followers, too, and not just spamming everyone with your content, unless perhaps you have written 720 evergreen blog posts of sufficient depth and variety which allows you to share 1 blog post per hour for 30 days without repeating a thing. As a rule, share 3 to 4 blog post from your community for each post from your blog.

7. Write a blog

Blogging is what differentiates a publisher from a content curator. Blogging is what distinguishes your content from other content and make your brand stand out. Blog two to three times a week and tweet your blog's headlines, pertinent quotes, and related graphics.

8. Use pictures and Twitter cards

Twitter is now a visual medium and not just text. Make sure that the tweets from your blog posts have pictures. If you use Twitter cards in your blog, the pictures would show up automatically in your tweets in your timeline and in your followers' news feeds, except when you view your Twitter feeds using Tweetdeck.

9. Use Tweetdeck to schedule your posts

I still use Tweetdeck for managing multiple accounts. It's advantage is that you see tweets in real time, and this can sometimes be dizzying if you have thousands of followers, and tweets cascade down the columns at the rate of one block per second. So it is not surprising that influencers can't anymore share content from their followers via Tweetdeck. But for influencers who adopted the Twitter's algorithmic feed, the feeds are paused in time to give you time to check out old but recent posts from the people you follow.

10. Be choosy about following people

You don't have to follow everyone who follows you. Check out their timelines. Are you interested in tweeting 3 of their 5 tweets? If yes, follow their accounts. If not, just let them pass. Remember that your Twitter home feed will show the tweets of the people you follow and it is from your home feed that you get your news and excellent content to share. If you are not interested in checking out your home feed, so why follow people in the first place?

05 August 2016

Medical examination at a clinic in Tenjin, Fukuoka

Tenjin Train Station in Fukuoka City, Japan. Credit: By The original uploader was 地図帳 at Japanese Wikipedia - Transferred from ja.wikipedia to Commons by R0pe-196., CC BY-SA 3.0,  (Wikipedia)

Today, we went to Tenjin for my medical exam, which is a requirement in Kyudai. We took the train to Tenjin and walked a few blocks to the Kenkou-Zaidan clinic. We climbed the stairs to the second floor. The clinic staff wore dark suits lined with light yellow. They stand behind a meter-high, semicircular wall that also serves as desks for conducting business. In front of these circular desks are red sofas where patients can wait. And further more are observation cubicles where patients can be interviewed.

We filled up some forms for my medical history. The Japanese appears to be very conscious with weight. The form asked me: "Are you 10 kg heavier than your weight 20 years ago." I answered yes. I was skinny in my college days with 125 lbs body weight. I think I now weigh more than 150 lbs. My waistline is 1 cm beyond the standard. "Do you wish to change your lifestyle?" the questionnaire asked. I answered, "Yes, within 6 months." In the forms, most of what I do is just to check out the boxes by marking a diagonal line from the left bottom corner to the upper right corner. The directions for answering are very precise.

When I gave back the form, the attendant gave me a yellow plastic tag labeled 104 attached to a clothed rubber string. It guess it's supposed to be worn on the wrist, so I placed it there. It's a dangling conversation.

After a while, I got my urine samples. The attendant gave me a cup and marked about 0.5 cm from the bottom with a pen. I guess that's the minimum. My urine filled 1 cm. That's enough sample for them to work on.

The chest x-ray was quick. I barely finished inhaling the air, when the attendant says it's ok. Actually, I don't understand what she is saying. But the clinic is wise enough to print two phrases in Japanese with English translations.  The attendant just pointed to the English translation, e.g. "take a deep breath" and I know what she is trying to say. Then she pointed to another phrase, that says it's already ok to relax. Fukuoka City are really accommodating to foreigners like me who only knows how to speak English.

There was an ECG test where the attendant put probes over my chest area and my ankles. Perhaps near my elbows, too. I have done this test before. It's for measuring the speed of electrical responses in my nerves. This lady really got in my nerves.

I went to hearing test where I entered a an enclosed cubicle like a phone booth and placed plugs on my ears of the size of my palms. For the first time, I heard the sound of silence. And then there's a beeping sounds on my right ear. I pressed a button to inform the attendant that I heard it. Then the sounds came from the left. And I did the same. The process was repeated twice. Looks like my ears are good. Or sounds like it.

Next, I went for a blood pressure measurement. It looks like she is using the Mercury based pressure sensor. It's analog not digital. My blood pressure is ok.

And then there's the blood test. Just like before, the instructions are printed in both Japanese and English, and she communicates to me by pointing her fingers to the text. Long before Steve Jobs invented the iPhone with its touch sensors, humans have already communicated by pointing their fingers. It's digits, not digital. I clenched my left fist, while resting my elbows on the concave upper part of a block three inches high from the table. And before I knew it, the attendant already got 3 vials of blood samples!

After she got the needles out from my veins, she placed a piece of cotton on the wound, and immediately replaced it with a 1 inch x 1 inch plastic tape with a 1 cm x 1 cm cloth at the center. Then she gave me a black velcro band to put pressure on the taped wound for 10 minutes. In the Philippines, the nurses will just place a cotton and tape it; it is the patient's duty to hold that cotton in place. But the Japanese found a way to make an innovation out of this little thing. The Japanese motto is always "How can we make it better?"

The last stop is the interview. The doctor spoke to me in Japanese. I told him, "English." So attendant asked my guide to come with me in the consultation room to serve as an interpreter. After the interview, the doctor said in Japanese: "Next year you should already speak in Nihonggo." I said, Yes. I blanked out. I forgot the thank you phrase in Japanese. So I said "Thank you very much" and made a slight bow.

03 August 2016

Chopsticks and plastics in a Japanese supermarket

Photo: Dinner for tonight. Looks like chopsuey and meatballs with rice.
Japanese bento from Kyudai Gakkentoshi supermarket. Looks like chopsuey with meatballs and eggplant.

From Kyushu University, I drop off from the bus at at Kyudai Gakkentoshi station to take a train to Fujisaki. In Kyudai station there's a supermarket where I usually buy my food for dinner and breakfast. I don't cook my food yet. I just buy meals packed in styrofoam plates--no, not those plain white ones like those in McDonald's or Jollibee in the Philippines, but colored styro plates in different Japanese designs to make you feel you are eating authentic Japanese dish.

For these past few days, I was just nodding my head without understanding what they are saying. I only know what they mean when they try to show the thing, especially when I go to the counter to pay for my goods. Usually the cashier would mumble something and show me a pair of chopsticks or a plastic bag. I just nod my head in agreement. But not this time.

"Ohashi?" the cashier asked. Her question was actually longer, but I can't still follow the rest.

"Iie," I said. I checked this earlier in the bus, so I am sure of what I am saying.



Like a two-year old child, I finally learned the power of saying "No."

I don't know how much these chopsticks and plastics cost, but garbage is a serious issue in Fukuoka. We really have to sort garbage here into burnable, non-burnable, PET bottles, and cans. Each of these garbage types we have to sort in different colored bags. The burnable trash Fukuoka uses to generate electricity. The other garbage the city tries to recycle. And those plastic bags needs to be bought. These little things cost money and costs add up everyday. I need to save.

Usually, what I do is to use only one pair of chopsticks at home and clean it after use in the same way I clean my spoon and fork at home back in my country. The plastic bags I try to maximize by cutting up the styrofoam and plastic into smaller pieces which are about 1/4 of the size of the original. In this way, my plastic bag can hold more garbage than if I just dumped the plastics and styro whole in the bag. The neighborhood associations will be happy to have my garbage, because Fukuoka City will buy it from them which they can use to fund their activities.

My dinner for tonight is like chopsuey with chopped vegetables, quail's egg, and shrimp. There are also two little meatballs and some rice. The cost is about 410 JPY, but there's a 30% off for food that has spent in the stall for several hours longer. I don't mind. This is still good food by Philippine standards and I am tightening my belt.