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Archive for April, 2010

I like Facebook's Like Button

I like Facebook's Like Button

 

It seems many people have something to say about Facebook’s new addition, the universal “like” button. Some people have voiced concerns about privacy. Others just try to figure how to add it to their sites: I added the button with a simple Wordpress plugin, though to be honest, I’d like to add a “like box” to my blog – what used to be a part of the Facebook fan page mechanism. Still working on that.

 
Personally I think this was a brilliant move on Facebook’s end. Not only they will dramatically increase their penetration to countless internet sites that had no relationship with them, but they also give advertisers the ability to target these “likes” – at least, I assume they do, I still personally haven’t tried to do that (if I am mistaken, someone please correct me…). All in all, ingenious move.

 
On a side note, I have to say I always resented the Facebook fan page concept. Not the actual mechanism, but the idea of ‘fans’. Being a fan is a pretty strong term in my opinion, so I deliberately tried to avoid using it as much as I could. Now that they changed it to “Like”, I feel much more comfortable with it. Yes, this is only semantics – but it when you think about it, this means quite a lot. I think far more people would be likely to say they “like” me than saying they are my “fans”. Don’t you agree? I wonder why it took Facebook so long to figure this out, I remember discussing this with a friend back in 2007 or 2008.

 
p.s. Twitter, why can’t you be more like Facebook? Instead of imposing silly rules and limitations (such as Twitter Jail) or some “innovative” concepts such as the Retweet button, come up with some useful stuff? Please?

 

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Twitter Jail

 

Recently I noticed that an increasing number of visitors get to my blog searching for answers about the notorious Twitter Jail. Clearly these resulted from my previous article on the subject.

 
Quick recap: Twitter Jail is a period of ~1-3 hours where you can’t tweet, and occurs if you exceed more than 100 tweets per hour. Twitter DM Jail takes effect if you send more than 250 DMs a day, and results in you not being able to send DMs for the day.

 
The following are search phrases that brought people to my blog in the past month. I was surprised how many variations exist. When I took a closer look, I noticed that these can be broken down to four groups.

 
First: Those who seek answers:

  • twitter jail
  • how long does twitter jail last
  • what’s twitter jail
  • twitter jail limit
  • is there really a twitter jail
  • how to tell if in twitter jail
  • how are you put in twitter jail
  • how do you tell if someone is in twitter jail
  • what happens when you go to twitter jail
  • how many tweets a day to get in twitter jail
  • i can’t post on twitter twitter jail
  • what happens in twitter jail
  • how many tweets to go to twitter jail
  • how to know if your in twitter jail?
  • tweet jail

(Is it just me or some sound almost metaphysical? i.e. “what happens when you go to twitter jail”, “is there really a twitter jail”)

 
Second: those who are interested in outsmarting the system (…if only I knew a way…)

  • how to get out of twitter jail
  • get around twitter jail
  • What is twitter jail and how can you get out
  • how to get people out of twitter jail
  • how to break out of twitter jail
  • how to get someone out of twitter jail
  • im in twitter jail how do i get out?
  • how to get out twitter jail
  • how do u someome out of twitterjail

 
Third: this is what made me write the post, are the malicious types, those who want to get someone thrown into Twitter Jail (you fiends ;-) )

  • how to put friend in twitter jail
  • put someone in twitter jail

 
Fourth: I can only describe the last group as masochistic

  • how to get sent to jail on twitter
  • how to get in twitter jail
  • how to get in twitter jail fast

 
This just demonstrates that this is a real issue. Come on, Twitter. Stop with the whole jail thing – in my previous article I suggested ways to solve what you’re trying to do without resorting to such ineffective methods. Let my people go!

 
Edit: after writing this post I actually discovered yet a third type of Twitter Jail: Twitter Jail: Yet Another Type…

 

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Resources for Affiliate Marketing

This Wednesday I’m giving a two hour introductory talk about affiliate marketing. This is following my plan to start doing more speaking engagements which I enjoy (as mentioned in my post about my talk at Social Media 201).

 
Preparing my Powerpoint deck was fun although it was somewhat time consuming. I also prepared a resource page for the audience.

 
I don’t know exactly the demographics of this blog’s visitors (clearly Alexa is untrustworthy, as I’ve joked about): I would estimate that at least a quarter are seasoned affiliate marketers, another quarter is friends, and the rest are people I meet through Twitter or people who Google for certain topics I’ve written about – Twitter Jail being the most popular (of course, it’s possible to be both a friend, an affiliate marketer, and know me from Twitter :) ).

 
Since I took the time to make this resource list, I figured, why not share it? If you’re an affiliate marketer, you can stop now because at least 95% are things you know, and know well (however, I AM sure most marketers aren’t familiar with the Mobile CPA Network I joined, for example). But if you’re not… proceed.

 
I think I will make more of these introductory posts, explaining resources for building links and other things new affiliate marketers require. But that’s for another time.

 

“Standard” Affiliate networks

These are networks dedicated to physical products or eBooks.
Clickbank Sign up page – eBooks, eCourses
ShareASale sign up page – physical products
Linkshare sign up page – physical products
Linkconnector sign up page – physical products
Commission Junction sign up page – physical products

 

CPA networks

Here are some of my favorite CPA networks: harder to get into than other networks, and normally require a brief phone interview before being approved.
Neverblue sign up page
Marketleverage sign up page
Azoogleads sign page
Clickbooth sign up page
Copeac sign up page

 

Mobile CPA networks

This is a CPA affiliate network dedicated to mobile offers. I am aware of two more such networks, but since I have not used them myself (yet), I’m not listing them.
Sponsormob sign up page

 

Offer directory

An excellent resource for finding offers and comparing commissions across networks.
Offervault

 

PPC: Keyword spying tools

If you’re doing any PPC at all, you really need a keyword spying tool. I used PPCBully 2.0 and thought it’s great.
PPCBully 2.0
Affportal – has a lot of useful tools for PPC campaigns

 

SEO/Blogging: Keyword research tools

If you’re creating search engine optimized niche sites you must do your keyword research.
Micro Niche Finder: superb tool, and even has a ‘brainstorming’ function which just finds good niches for you on its own.
Market Samurai: superb tool which just gets better.
Google Keyword Tool: a good place to start

 

SEO: Link building

eZArticleLink: If you need links, this is a good resource – there’s even a free version!

 

Pay Per View Networks

I included only some of the PPV networks I use.. since this is an introductory talk, I’m not sure I would recommend on PPV being the starting point. However, I didn’t want to leave this out.
DirectCPV
AdOn Network
MediaTraffic

 

Pay Per View Resources

If one does do PPV then Affportal is a must. An absolutely fantastic – and mandatory – resource for PPV which just gets better.
Affportal

 

Email marketing Resources

Here too I only mentioned the one tool I use. Yes, there are others, but this one is the best.
Aweber – best email marketing tool

 

Twitter resources

This is probably better phrased as ‘Twitter monetization resources’.
Ad.ly
SponsoredTweets

 

Media Buying resources

This is useful for anyone doing demographics research for the purpose of media buying. Most definitely not for new or even intermediate affiliates!
Alexa
Quantcast
Compete

 

Domain registration

I registered more than 60 domains with Namecheap and don’t have a single complaint. They’re also the cheapest. In fact, I’m going to register one, possibly two, domains right after I finish this blog post…
Namecheap

 

Domain hosting

Unlike domain registration, I’ve had my share of hosting accounts and was very unhappy with most. However, Hostgator is excellent: very good service, high reliability, quick and friend customer support. Definitely better than the other accounts I used. Even their pricing is competitive!
Hostgator

 

Facebook advertising resources

Since it’s hard to do split-testing with Facebook because there is no way for the average user to get a bulk upload tool, the Facebook Ad Manager is a must in order to do any serious Facebook advertising.
FB Ad Manager

 

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getting off a mailing list

Removing yourself and getting off from mailing lists used to be a problem in the past. But the CAN-SPAM Act mostly changed that. Or better phrased, clearly defined what is legal and what is not. I’m specifically referring to two clauses as defined by Wikipedia:

  • A visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism is present in all emails.
  • Consumer opt-out requests are honored within 10 days.

 
With that being said, I’m sure you’ve been in the following situation: One day, you start getting emails from a mailing list you never joined. Sometimes there is an ‘unsubscribe’ link at the bottom which works, sometimes it does not work and sometimes there isn’t even one. As the above states, all of these are illegal.

 
Affiliate marketers who use mailing lists for email marketing are required to use a double opt-in, meaning, when someone gives their email address, they get a confirmation email which requires approval. On top of that, there must always an unsubscribe option, which must always work, and the marketer needs to include his address on the bottom of the email.

 
I’ve joined countless mailing lists and have often unsubscribed (“opted-out”). I have no problem with this. They’re doing everything by the book – no one forced me to join.

 
What I don’t like is being included in mailing lists which I never joined. Let’s break these to four groups sorted in order of notoriety.

 
The first , and the one I find least annoying, occurs when a company you’ve handed a business card at a conference includes you in their list. I don’t know the legality of that – perhaps if you’ve given them a card you are granting them permission (could be in the fine print since sometimes you participate in a raffle). This happens frequently enough that I’m not really sure (and I’m no attorney). In this case, almost always unsubscribing works.

Nevertheless, even if this is legal, not only this is an abuse of the trust you’ve given the company, but sometimes it’s just plain stupid. During a conference I’ve attended a few months ago, immediately afterwards I was apparently put in a mailing list which “informed me I’ve received a 15 day trial of their product”. Every day I got an email (I didn’t bother unsubscribing) and at the end of this period, I got a request for a feedback. The thing is, I actually wanted to try their product – but not immediately after the conference. So I ended not using it, opting out, and crossing this company from my list of potential products I may get. Had they simply asked for my permission I might’ve ended testing and possibly purchasing the product.

 
The second is worse: you’re suddenly receiving email from a list you have no recollection of ever joining, often not even being familiar with the product or company. Sometimes opting out works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes there is no link at all. This is definitely illegal, and in these cases I report them as spam in my Gmail account (never does anything as far as I can tell) and create a filter to direct their messages to my trash folder. Sometimes I also send them a blank email with ‘UNSUBSCRIBE’ as the subject line, assuming that if someone did this inadvertently, he would take me off and occasionally it does work (this used to be the way to unsubscribe from older mailing lists)

 
The third is much worse: someone – an individual – you’ve handed a business card to at some point decides to include you in his personal mailing list. This is not just illegal but also plain rude. The last time this happened to me was fairly recent, and I was actually doing a favor to that person, giving them business advice. And then I ended on their mailing list!? My guidelines are similar to those I mentioned in the last item.

 
The fourth and last one is the worst as it involves someone you know. A friend, his significant other or family member, decides that they’re going to start a mailing list and include you in it. I’m pretty sure that in almost all cases the person is unaware this is illegal, but regardless, this is very rude. It’s happened to me 2-3 times, and in all cases these were lists I had not a shred of interest in (and needless to say, there was no unsubscribe option). Since I knew the people involved, which isn’t always the case (i.e. recently the wife of a friend – which I had never met or corresponded with – included me in a mailing list of something completely irrelevant to my interests), I felt I couldn’t just ask to remove me unless I’m willing to endanger a relationship with that person. In this case filters are your allies.

 
Sometimes I feel like creating my own spam list, include all the above in it and just blast them periodically with nonsense. But then I would be no better than them…

 
Any interesting stories anyone would like to share?

 

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Social Media 201


 
Before I begin, I’ll diverge a tiny bit: Years ago I used to get quite nervous when I had to do any form of public speaking. While I can’t say this is second nature to me even now, a simple advice given to me by my Ph.D. adviser has really made a big difference. His advice was very (very) simple: “try to enjoy it”. After years of public speaking, I can say: it’s true.

 
I give the same advice to people who are interviewing for jobs. It might sound a bit surprising, but when I used to interview for positions myself (before becoming self employed) 95% of the time I genuinely enjoyed my job interviews – after all, it gives an opportunity to speak about myself and my accomplishments – so what’s not to like? Probably as a result, I used to be very good at job interviews. I believe the same kind of logic applies for public speaking. When one talks about a subject he or she is an expert about and likes it, the passion comes through and people get it.

 
Ok, back on track. Social Media 201: What a blast! Hard to summarize these three+ intense days.

 
This conference originated from the mastermind calls of a group I’m a member of. We have weekly calls, though since we work on joint projects, sometimes we form subgroups and talk twice or even three times a week. We’re a pretty big group and we’re spread out all over the US. As you may imagine, speaking so often with a group of people whom you share both your professional and technical experiences as well as personal lives brought us together, and we have all become close friends even though most of us have never met in person.

 

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver

From left to right: Bille Baty, Darren Williger, Udi Schlessinger (me), Mike Whitmore and Eric Weaver



 
Social Media 201 included several of us: myself, Darren Williger, Bille Baty and Mike Whitmore, who co-organized the event with Joe Kennedy. It was more than exciting to finally meet my close friends in person – and in fact, it felt like we already know each other. Even “fate” made it more excited: Mike picked me and Bille, we came out of the elevator exactly when Joe and Darren came out of another elevator… the timing could not have been better.

 
So, to me, and I believe everyone else, the speakers dinner on the first day was fantastic. Even though the food was great, it was the company that really mattered.

 
The next day we rented a recording studio. Our goal was to create professional videos that can be used in group projects as well as by each of us for his/her own products. Since I’ve never been in a professional studio (green screen and all), and in fact, kind of avoid doing videos since I never like the way I come off, to me this was a very new experience. However, this was a LOT of fun.

 
A professional recording studio

A professional recording studio



 
Darren and me

Darren and me



 
Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)

Darren and Kris talk about dating (in Social Media!)



 
We took turns interviewing each other. Not sure which background I want for my interview with Darren – which was as serious as we get (we never get serious!) – perhaps the Matrix’s scrolling green code. Trust me, it’ll fit well with what we discussed (the future of advertising in the context of the increase in mobile devices: Smartphones, iPads, etc).

 
Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters

Social Media 201 at Microsoft Headquarters



 
The next day was the main event: Social Media 201. The conference was sponsored by Microsoft and Comcast in addition to several other companies, and took place at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond. Since I’ve known Microsoft and used their products since the mid 80s, it was exhilarating visiting MS HQ. I certainly hope it’s not the last time!

 
The conference itself was superb. Obviously, the main theme was social media and how small to medium businesses can leverage it to their advantage, and do so correctly. Eric Weaver gave a fantastic keynote speech. Jeff Dance, Kris Ruby and Bille Baty shared their expertise on various aspects of this process. Darren Williger gave an amazing keynote speech about the future of social media (check out the site he made for this topic).

 
My talk about SEO for Small Businesses

My talk about SEO for Small Businesses


My talk was about SEO for small businesses: how small businesses can improve their positioning on all search engines. Although this is not exactly Social Media, considering the target audience, we felt this fit right in – and in fact, someone tweeted at some point “how come no one mentioned SEO so far? – only to have me talk afterwards.

 
I think it went very well: many people approached me during the break, quoted me in tweets, and sent email to let me know they liked it. In addition, I really enjoyed giving my talk, which might be a reason why it went so well. My favorite tweet about my talk was “Dude’s hip hop” – since I used the phrase “it’s all about the Benjamins” as a reference to getting more business :)

 
SeattleWineGal and Kris

SeattleWineGal and Kris


After this was done, we went to a tweetup organized by SeattleWineGal, Seattle’s female answer to Gary V :) This was great, and I got to meet a lot of great people.

 
And then it was all done. After a few days of bonding with good friends who became much closer in this time, I have to say I was quite sad to say goodbye. Darren Williger is a walking, amazingly funny, personification of energy. Bille Baty is a legend – just being next to him makes a person wiser. I didn’t know Kris Ruby until before but she’s fun, smart – and our group will be much enhanced by her joining.

 
This may sound a bit melodramatic, but that’s how it feels. Fantastic 3 1/2 days.

 
Here are a number of websites and blogs that mentioned Social Media 201. It got rave reviews!

http://www.techflash.com/seattle/2010/04/guest_post_social_media_201.html

http://seattledesigner.blogspot.com/2010/04/business-card-is-still-currency-in.html

http://eco-maven.com/2010/04/20/a-social-media-freshman-in-the-sophomore-trenches%E2%80%A6-sm201-conference/

 

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Seattle


 
I’m off to Social Media 201 which takes place in Seattle. I’m going to give a talk about SEO for small businesses. This is a topic I can easily talk about nonstop for an entire day – if not several days (but obviously, will have much less time to do so).

 
In addition, we – my friends, the participants and the organizers – also have a studio for a day which we’re going to use. We intend to record videos for a possible group project, and for our own personal use. This is going to be fun! I’m feeling so-so at the moment, hopefully it’ll clear up by Wednesday. I don’t want to be “immortalized” with a cold! Then again, they may have special effects available..

 
I’m very excited to finally meet in person some good friends and fellow participants that I’ve been talking to over the phone 1-3 times a week, usually for hours, and yet never met.

 
AND there’s going to be a Tweetup organized by @SeattleWineGal (what social media event would be compete without a tweetup??). I hear she does the best tweetups, and I’m really looking forward to this one. I hope to meet some people I’ve chatted with over there! Please say hello if you know me.

 
On a final note, this conference has a few strange coincidences for me. It’s a bit of an odd coincidence that this conference takes place in Seattle (actually, it doesn’t exactly: it’s in Microsoft’s headquarters at Redmond). The last academic conference talk I gave was in Seattle as well: GECCO 2006 (just in case you are curious, my talk was titled “Modular thinking: evolving modular neural networks for visual guidance of agents”, which is somewhat more complex than what I’m going to discuss now :) ).

 
My last talk was on my birthday whereas this talk takes place on my wife’s birthday. Odd.

 
Anyway, I was very close to finishing my Ph.D., and my mind was already thinking of what comes next. I anticipated that the last day’s activities would be finished later than they did, and so, my flight was scheduled for the evening. As a result I had about 2-3 hours in which I had nothing to do. So I walked all over Seattle – a beautiful city – and then reached the conclusion that I need to retire from academic life. I won’t go into the details why (very long story), but that is the moment when I made the decision.

 
I was a bit sad about this, as I enjoyed my time in Academia, but this felt like the right course of action – which, in hindsight, was a correct assessment. Funny that the next conference talk I give is in Seattle (close enough..) as well. When I went on the plane towards home, I had a good idea that what I’m going to do is going to involve entrepreneurship, but wasn’t sure about the specifics or that I’m going to be involved with conferences in the future. So this feels like closure to me.

 

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Here I was, sitting and thinking about the product I want to create. It’s going to be either a Twitter eBook, online course, or both. But how do I call it? I’ve done some research and it seems that the most successful affiliate products follow a very precise formula. While I can’t claim I was perfectly able to reverse engineer it, I think I am quite close.

This is how it works: the name has 5 parts, some optional. Note that it’s possible to have multiple items from each category.

 
[1 - optional]: Prefix. It’s a verb that expresses simplicity. For example: Auto, Instant, Easy.

 
[2]: Product type. This is the actual subject the product is about. Sometimes it’s specific, for example: Google, Facebook, Twitter, Affiliate, List, AdSense, AdWords, CPA and other time it’s more arbitrary like: Commission.

 
[3]: A form of destruction or control. For example: Domination, Annihilation, Conquest, Mastery, Control.

[3b]: Alternatively, it could be a form of understanding. For example: Blueprint, Formula, Secrets, Decoded.

[3c]: Rarely, this category uses growth (which is also a form of understanding, one may argue): i.e. Evolution.

 
[4 - optional]: Suffix. For example: Method, System.

 
[5 - optional]: random words thrown in, usually dealing with monetary value. For example, Cash, Money, Profit.

 
Based on the above, I can easily come up with a few winning names for my Twitter course.

  1. Instant Twitter Domination System.
  2. Auto Twitter Profit Method
  3. Twitter Cash Mastery

 
What do you think? I think all are winning names! Now I just need to create it and I’m done.

 

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