My friend Nikki Pilkington, the UK’s leading SEO expert, created her 299 Steps to Website Heaven for those of us who would like to learn and do more about SEOing, but don’t want to become full time SEO experts. I find the guide an excellent piece of work, and she asked me for a copy of a piece on how I use Google Reader and Twitter as a supplement to 299 Steps. Happy to do so, I thought I would take this back a bit further as to why I think Google Reader and Twitter are so effective for the business person….
When I was in college in Pontypridd, my mentor – a lady called Heather Jones – suggested that I keep 6x4inch cards on everyone I meet. Effectively, it allowed you to keep notes on everyone on their business, their agenda, and their birthday – think of it as networking with an agenda. The problem was, after I had collected 50 cards, trying to keep up with everything became problematic – it was easier to go in blind than have a half written card! However, I learnt that one thing it was always worth noting was birthdays – it is very personal to that person, and always strikes a note. The problem was how to keep a note of the birthdays – and with that in mind, as an apprenticed telecommunications engineer I have in my business life gone through VisiCalc, Lotus Improv, MSExcel, a Psion3C, MSOutlook and now a Blackberry.
Two of the other things my mentor always stressed on me was learning from others and various sources (so that you keep up with what was going on); and always to do your market research, with as much possible combination of both theory with live research data (so products chosen are launched with in-built market need = sales).
The quest for learning was personally developed from library trips and skimming of magazines in WHSmiths – something which started in college – but developed when I read a Brian Tracy piece on the power of eNewsletters as a marketing tool. Most web sites gives these away, but over the years trying to keep up with over 200 had taken a simple 10min morning routine to an hour – an impossible waste of time in the self-employed world, which resulted in me cutting back on the non-essential ones, and missing information.
However, the introduction of Google Reader allowed me a leap forward on both the learning and market research level, and is a quantum time saver over reading 200 eNewsletters.
Google Reader is an online tool which reads and collates RSS feeds – those square tangerine orange things often to the right of the URL, with curves in them which look like the output of an online loud haler symbol. If you click one, it looks like the web’s just gone back ten years – streams of text, yuck! But what you can do now, is push that into your Google Reader.
In Google Reader you can now read these RSS feeds – either in full or compressed view. For my routine I always use a compressed view, as I am looking for learning in a time managed fashion, over half a day of reading. Now, going back to my 150 eNewsletters, I can organise these same websites feeds in to appropriate files in Google Reader – I have mine organised into:
•    Businesses and projects – eg: Recruitment through Ajiri and candidate projects (which we will come to in a minute as to how and why they developed), SimuSimu and mobile phone issues, including a news feeds from Nokia; etc
•    Subjects of Interest: business; finance; marketing; web marketing
•    Personal interests: food, motorcycles, flying, etc
What has this allowed me to do? I now review 250+ feeds and 2000 messages a day, in three 10min skim-reading sessions. I can pick out the “of interest to me/on the agenda” items quicker because they are arranged and easy to find.
The adaptation and development of this is the use of focused RSS feeds:
•    Doing a basic search in Google News – for instance on Resume issues – brings up a series of stories and issues. To the left is an RSS feed which will feed all new stories via RSS feed to Google Reader

•    Twitter Search allows the Twitter user to search for Tweet’s containing a text search line. The results include an RSS feed. FriendFeed also has a similar search agenda option with an RSS feed
These two adaptations allow further focus on your market, and allow your fully automatic Google Reader “live” market research system to pick up on issues and trends instantly.

The practical application of this system is I hope shown in the following three examples:

•    Sector and Competitor review: using focused searches means I can watch and learn from my sector and competitors in three ways – direct watching of their website/blog via their own RSS feed; reviewed watching of their activity via key words searches on Google/Twitter; picking up on new competitors via either general sector newsletters or focused Google/Twitter searches

•    Market focused blogging: reviewing over a 2000 messages a day, it is possible to pick up on developing or current trends for blog subjects – I never have a day when I don’t have a subject to blog about. An early example of my own use of picking up on issues raised was this blog about Web2.0 and Recruitment – Using this output via Twitter has resulted in additional followers and sales. This has now led to market-focused article writing, on the more popular blog issues found from watching Google Analytics statistics

•    Market trends reaction: a review one morning of the data in Google Reader showed that a number of eNewsletters and Tweet’s were focused on problems and issues surrounding the subject of Cover Letters. I collected 1000 Tweet’s in the following two weeks, with over two thirds showing Cover Letters were a creation problem for job applicants. The result was the creation of the blog How To Write A Cover Letter, which thanks to then tweeting the blog entry summaries out via Twitter resulted in 250 views per day in less than 30 days (now picks up around 250 views per day/seven day a week).

The result? Well, firstly I can review more in less time – about ten times more efficient than reading eNewsletters and magazines. Secondly, I am aware of issues in my market – and can hence either react to that in creation of new material or approaches; or think what comes next and react ahead of it in new product creation. Thirdly I can research new products more effectively – the market data is sat in front of me, with real people/companies having real needs.

And fourthly – even though it presently has no “join our newsletter” section or “buy here” star, the blog How To Write A Cover Letter‘s 250 views per day in less than 30 days, is resulting in a sale conversion ratio of 10 to 100 at present for Professional CV writing via, at an average sales price of £150/sale.
This real live data and results that the system has created for our core business of finding and sourcing quality candidates for our customers, has resulted in us strategically developing more information products in the professional candidate market, to find better candidates at all stages who are looking to change jobs.

We have now extended the professional candidate portfolio with Letter of Resignation, which is showing similar traffic growth, and resultant candidate sourcing and hence sales conversion.
Google Reader and Twitter – the educational “live” market research/review tool which allows you to make money. Who in business could ask for anything more? Good Luck!

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About Nikki

Author of many 30 Day Blogging Challenges, Nikki spends her time helping small businesses with Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing. With 17 years of experience, she hasn't yet found someone she couldn't help to get more business from their website.


  1. Thanks Nikki! I am SO excited! I just started my own business selling beauty and fashion products. Trying to increase my likes on my Facebook page and build my Twitter campaign. Your article was awesome and very helpful! Thanks so much!

    Jessica Hermansen

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