Skip to content

The Industry Review

One Guy's Thoughts On Technology, Social Media, Internet Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, and more

Archive

Tag: Facebook

 

The second day of Affiliate Summit East 2010 started with a great keynote speech by Frank Luntz, a well known political consultant (according to Wikipedia it’s actually Dr. Frank Luntz). Frank’s specialty is “testing language and finding words that help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate”

 
Frank wrote a book called Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear (yes, this is an affiliate link :) ) and his talk was very much about the same topic. Specifically, how people say one thing, but the words they use harm, even completely sabotage their goal. He suggested using certain words that in this day and age evoke responses. Put simply, by merely rephrasing what you say you can make a world of difference! Frank showed many videos that demonstrated how people become more attentive or tune off when certain words are used.

 

 

I thought Frank’s talk was very insightful and some of the tips he gave can be immediately applied (or perhaps I should say “fiercely insightful” – he said that “very” no longer means anything because it’s been so overused, and gave ‘fiercely’ as an example used by one political candidate to replace ‘very’).

 
Using Social Media For SEO
After the keynote speech I went to this talk. I was particularly interested in this considering much of what I do is social media. The focus of this talk was on leveraging social media platforms and users to get backlinks (the building blocks of SEO).

 

Several useful tips:

  1. Build links to your site using Twitter, Facebook, etc (I share a list of the platforms he gave below).
  2. Incentivize people to tweet your link (for example, give them a special discount)
  3. When using forums, people an opportunity to tweet about the post with a link to your website.

The speaker said that there is evidence that in the near future Google will determine how important/authoritative a profile is (for example, using follower/following ratio) and assign a greater weight to links tweeted from that account. Note that as far as I know, to a very limited degree this is already happening.

 
Surprisingly, a few things which I experienced firsthand and expected to be in this talk were not mentioned. Huh. Maybe I should suggest a talk about these for Affiliate Summit West?

 
Social Media link building opportunities

  1. Youtube: one way DoFollow
  2. Google profile: one way DoFollow
  3. Yahoo answers: NoFollow links. (though these could still bring traffic).
  4. Facebook profile: one way DoFollow as long as the profile is public (this was the only thing that surprised me – need to check).
  5. Urbanspoon, Yelp, etc – most are followed

 
Afterwards I went to a talk titled “Android Affiliate Mobile Marketing” which was so good I intend to dedicate a separate post to it. This session focused on using Google Android phones for advertising/promoting CPA offers, etc. More soon.

 
Similarly, the next talk I went to “Crowdsource Your Success” is worthy of a separate post. I didn’t expect to learn anything new (isn’t Crowdsourcing only 99designs?) but was very fiercely surprised.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 9% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

Unlike previous affiliate summits I attended, this time I had to skip all after hours activities – I was moving to a new apartment two days after ASE ended and had to pack (… and if you’re interested in hearing how that went, check out this post. Spoiler: there’s criminals, police and ransom. For real.)

 
I figured: since I’m doing less networking, I might as well focus more on the sessions. And so, I attended more sessions and have taken more notes than any other affiliate summit – and probably any other conference I’ve been to in the last several years. Perhaps because of this the summit, to me, felt completely different than any of the others (more educational?). Consequently, in this coverage of the event I’ll focus much more on sessions summaries than I did last year. I’ll also probably dedicate individual posts to some particularly interesting sessions.

 
Affiliate summit East 2010 started with the Meet Market. The Meet Market is a great place to meet vendors, networks, other affiliates and old friends. Not to mention getting some free stuff. It’s always a fantastic way to start the conference since the dynamic atmosphere gets everyone in the mood for networking.

 

 

Interestingly, two sessions I attended during the first day had a common theme – trying to look into the future of affiliate marketing and see how we can prepare for it (regardless of the sessions’ titles).

 

 
Innovate! New Exciting Applications of Affiliate Marketing
This was a pretty interesting session. It started with the history of affiliate marketing. Did you know that the first affiliate offer originated in the adult industry back in 1994? Specifically, by a company called CyberErotica? I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Amazon came next in 1996.

 
The session focused on trends and the future of affiliate marketing, something which every one of us who intends to be in the business a few years from now should find valuable. Some interesting projections:

 
In 2008 the affiliate “Ubiquity era” started and is expected to last until 2013. During this time we can expect

  • Recognizable affiliate consumer brands (already happened).
  • Major brands have affiliate programs – 20,000 affiliate programs in 2010! (already happened).
  • Crowdsourcing becoming increasingly hot (happening now).
  • New ways to ‘mashup’ datafeeds with apps to create user value.
  • New automatic storefronts (i.e. PopShops).
  • New automatic ways to link affiliate offers to content. SkimLinks links keywords to affiliate offers and is geo-targeted, too. Pixazza associates products right with the image source – this means that if a user views an image, he sees relevant affiliate offers (i.e. if the image is of a person wearing sunglasses, links to the sunglasses, other items shown, even the camera type, would appear).

 
After 2013, the “Affilination Era” will begin and will be characterized by

  • Social media dominance: the activity stream will be affiliated (i.e. Foursquare links to physical products).
  • Microaffiliates: everyone can be an affiliate and get tiny commissions (the example given was that of people referring other people to Domino’s Pizza and getting commissions).
  • Micropayments become increasingly common (as a side note, I attended a talk about a year ago by a company that intends to offer ways to do micropayments which would be integrated with Twitter. A lot of potential there).
  • Microtrends: we could find hot product sales by the hour or day.
  • Pre-purchase click data: we’ll have data about the products that are viewed before they are purchased. Which are the most popular?

 
New Lead Generation Models: Social-Mobile-Viral
This session provided a good followup to the previous one by suggesting that the future of marketing won’t be characterized by selling pain (trying to sell by appealing to emotions such as fear or pain – scaring the target audience) but rather by selling pleasure.

 
Several examples were given such as Facebook games: people stay on the site because they enjoy it, and we would have better success by satisfying this need. Another example given was LibraryThing – a social network of people who like talking about books: people stay on this site because they enjoy it, and it brought significant revenue to the creators by affiliating the site with Amazon.

 
The speaker suggested that that the best way of ‘going viral’ would be to stop doing hype and treat people as people: “People aren’t eyeballs – they’re friends”.

 
An additional observation was – unsurprisingly – that the world is currently shifting from desktops to mobile phones. Since everything in mobile is smaller and people are on the move, we have to take that into consideration when marketing using this channel. Smaller banners, shorter ads, shorter emails. Basically reformat everything so that it may fit with an audience that isn’t necessarily at home next to a personal computer.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 7% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

Nostradamus: Only fools try to predict the future?

Nostradamus: Only fools try to predict the future?

 

From some reason I remember there is a saying “Only fools try to predict the future”. I can’t seem to find it so I might be mistaken.

 
Even though I completely disagree with the idea that it’s foolish to try and predict the future – many people and companies do it all the time – we have to remember it’s all based on what we know, on past events – and that things can change at any given moment.

 
Many financial companies – Lehman Brothers, for example – successfully predicted the future for many decades and made unimaginable sums of money. Until one day things – in this case, the economic market – changed dramatically and all their predictions turned sour. A company that existed since 1850 perished in a matter of weeks because it didn’t predict the future properly.

 
Yesterday I met with a very good friend of mine. He has a Twitter account but he’s not really active. However, he is very interested (and knowledgeable) in technology trends. He asked me: where do you see Twitter going?

 
That is a very good question. Where do I see Twitter going, I wondered to myself.

 
My guess, and of course, it’s just a guess – that Twitter will follow the same patterns that other companies faced in the past, particularly in the last few decades.

 
Here are two examples – I can give many more.

 
You might not have been online back then, but I still remember the times before Google existed. I was mainly using Altavista and Lycos and was very pleased with the results. When Google appeared, I didn’t see the point of switching. I also didn’t believe – and I remember saying it to a friend – any new company stands a chance in the search market. A few friends of mine mentioned Google is good, I figured I’ll give it a chance. The results seemed to be better though weren’t dramatically better. However, at some point I did find myself switching to Google – though that was mainly because of the simple interface.

 
Of course, Google reinvented the search engine landscape and deserves a lot of credit for that. However, I wasn’t the only one who guessed wrong: I bet Altavista and Lycos were taken by as much surprise as I was.

 
Similarly, when Friendster, the first modern social network, was created, I was one of the first people using it. That’s actually an understatement – I was extremely active because it was so new and really explored interesting territories. Many of the things we now take for granted were actually “discovered” by Friendster who had to find the right way through trial and error.

 
Numerous new social networks later emerged, but the one that deposed Friendster was MySpace. MySpace got so well established I thought “this is it!”. It seemed immovable, but then Facebook rose and completely and utterly took MySpace’s.. space. I still remember articles writing that “Facebook is not going to be successful, MySpace will reclaim its position”. Kind of funny when you think about it now.

 
Quick disclaimer: I’m not writing anything that hasn’t been written before. Someone comes, creates a product – it could be successful, even very successful – but then a successor creates an improvement that completely wins over the audience. Though I don’t remember anyone saying this about Twitter (even though probably someone did).

 
That’s my guess for Twitter.

 
Twitter is flawed. Technically it is awful. Years after its launch we still get the fail whale on a regular basis (I get it at least 5-10 times a day). It has numerous bugs. It has a lot of really silly features and flawed concepts: the retweet button, no search mechanism for bios, no way to mass delete DMs, no way to filter DMs… the list is endless. However, no one can deny twitter is extremely popular. Extremely.

 
Based on these factors: that Twitter is a very flawed application and that the space is extremely attractive, while looking at past trends, I find it hard to believe that at some point in the next 1-5 years a new microblogging service, one that has learned from all of Twitter’s mistakes and improved on it, won’t come and completely dominate this market. That is, unless Twitter will clean up their act completely… but in all fairness, I don’t see that happening.

 
This may seem impossible now, but that was the case in both the examples I gave.

 
Google tried to do this with Google Buzz – that didn’t go too well because of the privacy issues (just too eager, huh?).

 
My prediction is that there will be someone else. And they will be successful. And in a couple of years we will all be seeing articles analyzing how Twitter lost its market share, and “what went wrong?”.

 
Only fools try to predict the future. Perhaps that might be true, but this is my guess.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 2% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

What's next?

 

I’ve been doing internet marketing for quite a while, and I can say, I’ve never seen an industry that changes so quickly. Every month there is something new, every month brings a big – sometimes a game changer – event.

 
Unsurprisingly, there is always a wave of internet marketers, product creators, that attempt to benefit from it. Although many marketers create products that genuinely provide value, there are the others who just create something, often without any meaningful understanding of the topic, in order to benefit from the wake of the fad.

 
What both frustrates and excites me is that these changes tend to affect the behavior of online marketers, and in turn, this usually affects the market itself… which affects marketers once again. This is probably why these new fads emerge in the first place. (Ok, I don’t want to lose you now, but this actually relates to my Ph.D. thesis which dealt with interactions that take place between various levels of complex systems… in this case, the market is a hierarchical complex system. But never mind..)

 
Forgive me if I got the time-frames slightly wrong.

 
In October 2009 it was all about PPV (CPV – cost per view) advertising. I don’t know how many courses and products were released in a short span. The result? Not only a large number of people started doing PPV advertising, but also, the biggest PPV network, TrafficVance, became extremely selective about accepting new advertisers, despite the fact its policies already required that new advertisers bring 2 referrals (!) and a minimum of a $1,000 deposit. It’s funny when one thinks about it: they’re literally saying no to advertisers who are willing to pay at least a $1,000. It’s been a while since then: as far I know they are not as strict anymore.

 
Then in December 2009 it was all about site flipping. In the span of three weeks I must’ve seen or heard of at least five products, each suggesting people build quick sites and flip them for a quick buck. I’m sure this could work, but not after releasing all these products… there’s a limit as to how many people can sell sites simultaneously, after all, the number of buyers did not change. Supply and demand and all that.

 
In January 2010 it was Facebook advertising. I don’t remember the exact phrases used but “Facebook loves affiliates” and “a goldmine” got stuck in my head. This resulted in many people trying Facebook advertising, and not long afterwards (April 2010), Facebook coming down with very, very strict guidelines that effectively eliminate most affiliate products from its network.

 
In February-March 2010 it was all about mobile. Mobile advertising. Mobile sites. Pay per call courses. A few courses created by very big marketers in a short span of time. Now, I don’t think mobile is a fad. I think mobile will just get bigger. But it was interesting that these were released at such a close proximity.

 
April-May 2010 were the months of local advertising. I saw several classes touting that “these are the biggest markets left unexplored” or so. Some of these classes seemed like the real deal, but others seemed almost like a scam (at least in one case, I’m pretty sure it IS a scam). What’s going to happen as a reaction to that? I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out very soon.

 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m guilty of trying some of these as well. I’m not trying to say “look at these idiots, trying one fad after the other” since often I was once of “these idiots” ;-) . I’m also not trying to say that none of these forms of advertising worked. In fact, I believe all of them worked prior to the release of the courses/products… by then the market had reacted and it became considerably harder, and at times, impossible, to benefit from the lessons taught.

 
While I love these dynamics, it’s virtually impossible to predict what will be next. What will be “the next big thing” in June? August? October? I don’t know. From an intellectual perspective I am really curious, though I know that whatever is promoted then, now is probably a good time to do it because by the time we hear of it, it will most likely be too late.

 
Edit: by the way, any guesses? Obviously Plenty of Fish (POF) is becoming increasingly popular as well as other traffic methods. I’m curious what you think.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 7% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

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?

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 2% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

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

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 7% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

Twitter Birthday


 
Today, a year ago, I went to a technology networking event with a friend of mine. On our way to the event he told me: “dude, you and me – we have to join Twitter”. I said “Why? It doesn’t have anything that Facebook doesn’t that I need” (yes, I know I was wrong). Then he shared with me the following story:

 
“Yesterday I went to a public event. When it was nearly over, the organizer asked us all to vote on a subject. He said ‘Log in to Twitter now and tweet me YES or NO’. I had no idea what he meant. I never used Twitter – so I sat there doing nothing, while everyone logged in to their Twitter accounts and voted. That’s when I realized that I’m getting old”. Then he looked at me and said: “You and I – we have to join Twitter”.

 
He was right, you know. I think that’s how it happens. A new generation of software/products comes along and you skip it, thinking that if you ever want to master it, it won’t be a big deal (and it really won’t).

 
The next generation of the software/product is eventually released: features are added, the existing terminology and slang are expanded. You ignore it again.

 
When the third expansion happens, you suddenly realize: even if you wanted to, you are so far behind that it’s next to impossible to catch up unless you make a considerable effort, which older people – ok, translation – people with a full time jobs and kids – can’t afford. So you fall back… and accept defeat on this.

 
When it happens multiple times. You, my friend, are officially old – or at the very least, not young anymore. Doesn’t matter your real age. I’ve seen it multiple times. I remember my father couldn’t use a PC until he made a major effort to master it (and that he did!). My wife’s grandmother couldn’t even use a remote control. I believe it all starts this way.

 
So when my friend said this, it resonated with me: I immediately realized that he’s simply right. Twitter was just starting to be hot and we had to be involved… or risk the consequences.

 
I hope you realize that Twitter is just an example here, it could be any number of technologies. My point is not that joining Twitter is mandatory, but the fact that our social circle (the one my friend & I belong to) used it extensively, it was considered important, and we were out of the loop – now, that was significant.

 
Once I got home I signed up to Twitter and very quickly realized that I’m quite bored. I used it on and off for a few months, until I started using it intensively towards a specific goal four months later (namely, the promotion of this blog). The rest is history (… as this blog demonstrates quite well … look which word is biggest in my tag cloud).

 
So happy birthday to my Twitter account! It’s been mainly a good year. I met a lot of great people. I made tons of business connections. Numerous business opportunities were created, and multiple friendships as well. Some, I hope, will last me my entire life. I also met some – not a lot of – negative people, but I’d like to think I learned from these experiences too. In conclusion, overall I think it was a pretty good Twitter year for me.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 3% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

Twitter hashtags


Bringing a laptop to a conference is a pretty good idea. Not only it helps summarize notes – I type much faster than I write – but you can also email these notes, share them, post them online, etc.

 
These days it seems every conference – even small ones – have a Twitter Hash tag (and why not? It doesn’t cost anything). What this means is that people can send messages with this tag, and everyone who “listens” to this tag will get it. It’s a bit like group chat. This is one of the things that differentiates Twitter and Facebook (as I mentioned in my one of the first posts in this blog: Explaining Twitter to Facebook Users).

 
This has several effects I didn’t fully grasp until Affiliate Summit East 2009. Motivational, educational, you name it.

 
For starters, days before a conference starts, people already start tweeting using the hash tag (i.e. in Affiliate Summit West 2010 it was #asw10). So even if you’re at home, you’re already starting to feel the ‘vibe’ of the conference, get the excitement. People announce they’ve left their homes, that they’re at the hotel, that they’re checking in, that they’re meeting other participants. Some people even upload photos. And since it is all in real time, you get pulled into it. You feel you’re a part of the conference before it even started.

 
Furthermore, during sessions people constantly tweet about what they listen to. This proves to be extremely useful from several reasons:

 
So my second point: you know who is present. During one session I discovered that two of my Twitter friends (whom I never met in person until then!) were in the room with me. We tweeted each. One even uploaded an image of the speaker (in real time, of course), so I could even tell where he was sitting in the room. Later I went to meet him.

 
Third, people constantly tweet the highlights of a session, the important points. There was one moment where I missed what the speaker said, but knew it was important. I looked at the stream, and multiple people tweeted that point. I just copied this directly into my notes. Moreover, thanks to the Twitter 140 characters limit, the point has to be concise, and this greatly facilitates the transmission of ideas in this context.

 
Fourth, you get to “hear” what’s going on in other sessions as well. So in a sense it allows you to attend multiple sessions at once. I actually took some of the tweets from other sessions as notes, as they were very relevant and interesting.

 
Fifth, one session allowed people to ask questions through Twitter and had its own hash tag. This certainly improves interaction between audience and speaker. Another session I attended had a contest where people suggested ideas and at the end, there was a reward for the best one.

 
Sixth, I tweeted quite a lot of the good highlights from sessions I attended. Some were actually retweeted by people who were NOT at the conference. So this helped spread useful information beyond the conference. In my opinion, this can be said to make Twitter itself a more valuable site. I remember that during Blog World (a conference that took place several months ago and I didn’t attend) there were occasional retweets of highlights from their sessions – some I found fascinating. And I wasn’t even there!

 
Finally, sites and conferences now take this into consideration. For example, the conference I speak at next month, Social Media 201, constantly “listens” and places on its website tweets that use the #sm201 hashtag. Or another example: ad:tech NY had a huge screen which featured select tweets that use the #adtechny hash tag (see the above image).

 
I think what we’ve seen here is a glimpse into the future of education. Where future students will get more and more opportunities to interact with the speakers and each other in real time, as well as potentially virtually “attend” sessions they are not present in. So not only the conference hash tag is great for passing information and ‘bonding’ everyone, but it also contributes a great deal to the effectiveness of taught sessions. I find this fascinating.

 

 Mail this post

Popularity: 5% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

Twitter Road

Twitter Road

In this post I continue my earlier discussion of Twitter Milestones: the idea that the Twitter experience changes once you reach a certain number of followers. This post was practically written a month and a half ago. I’ve just been so busy I did not have time to properly edit it.

 
As you might have read in my earlier post , I defined what I call the “Twitter Milestones“. Here’s a quick recap:

 

  1. The first milestone occurs at around 150 followers: this is roughly when you first realize that the experience you shared in Facebook is different in Twitter and in order not to be overwhelmed by conversations, you need to find a way to organize people. At the time only external software (such as Tweetdeck) existed, but since then the Twitter Lists feature has been added which greatly assists in this task.

     

  2. The second milestone occurs at 2,000 followers: this is an artificial limit set by Twitter and getting past it is quite a challenge for many users (read my earlier post for a more detailed explanation).

     

  3. The third milestone occurs at around 5,000 followers and was the focus of my earlier post: at this stage you really started getting noticed. You pose a question and always get answers. You get offers from SponsoredTweets or Ad.ly. You get referenced in conversations and #FollowFridays by people you don’t know.

 
At the end of the post I theorized that there are more such milestones. Turns out I was right. The fourth milestone, which I’m shortly going to elaborate on, occurs around 14,000 followers. There’s even a fifth milestone, which I’ve just recently surpassed (but can already tell it’s a milestone) and this one seems to take place around 28,000-30,000 followers.

 
So what changes during the fourth milestone?

 
The good:

  1. You become even more noticeable. Some people start listing you in “top tweeps”, “Twitter heavyweights”, “Top users” lists and such. And that comes with more attention. Of course, this is unsurprising – but the effect is more than just “double” that of having 7,000 followers. One day I realized that no matter what I say, I get a response, more often from people I don’t know (and have never spoken to) than from people I do know.

     
    Another time I noticed a user who responded to one of my tweets only so I would respond back (I looked at his profile page and it was filled with mundane comments to users with 20,000+ followers).

     
    Overall, I find this a fantastic experience – the rate I met great people: friends and business connections dramatically increased. In my opinion, this item alone makes it worth it for people like me, who thrive on interaction.

     

  2. You start getting people with verified accounts following you. Having a verified account is by no means an indication of being a celebrity. In fact, of those who followed me back then, I did not know even a single person. But still it gave me some indication that I am becoming more noticeable.

 
The neutral: I’m listing this as a category because it’s hard for me to classify these items as either good or bad (it’s really a matter of perspective).

 

  1. You get weird retweets: I’ve attended a talk by Peter Shankman who mentioned some people just RT the most mundane things he tweets (the example he gave was “I’ve just jogged and am all sweaty”). I started experiencing it myself roughly at this point. Some times I get RTed for no reason I can imagine – i.e. when I say goodnight (happens often). Sometimes it’s even more arbitrary than that. I suspect some of it is actually automated: there seem to be users who just RT stuff other people say and this is generally random – looks like a relatively easy way of making a bot seem authentic, no? With that being said, I think that’s only a small part of the weird RTs.

     

  2. You start getting a lot of requests to retweet: personally, if it’s a friend or some good content, I am happy to do so (by all means, be my guests). But if it’s someone I never spoke to who just wants me to retweet something trivial? Then I’m just going to ignore the request. At times these are people who are not even following me – in this case I often block them.

     

  3. You start getting requests from people to teach them how to get followers. How did one guy phrased it: “Can you be my mentor?”. This happened a few times.

     

  4. You start getting a lot of requests of people to look at their blogs or websites. Yeah, this happened a bit before, but the rate greatly increased. If a friend asks: sure, I’d be more than happy to. But if I don’t know you, why would I do that? Visit my blog, try to get to know me, and then I’ll happily visit your blog/site/whatever.

     

  5. Twitter Jail becomes a daily aspect of your life: I mentioned in my earlier post that I make it a point never to ignore any user who addresses me (unless he’s rude or a spammer). Since I’m a fast typist, even now I can easily do this. The problem is that Twitter has a limit of 100 status updates per hour. If you break it, you get thrown to Twitter Jail – can’t update your status for around 30 minutes to 3 hours (see my post on Twitter Jail). Ridiculously low in my opinion. Since I insist on maintaining this policy, I am often in Twitter Jail – sometimes twice a day.

     

  6. FollowFriday becomes a challenge: with so many people I like, I really feel obligated to mention them all. However, I don’t like sending more than 3 lines of FF – so it’s pretty hard to decide who to include. On top of that, at times I truly forget to include someone: usually it’s simply because we haven’t chatted in 2-3 days (“Ancient history” in Twitter terms).

 
The bad:

  1. Negative attention: This continues the first point of “the good” list. With more attention also comes some negative attention. So far I’ve been included twice in insulting lists. Strangely, of people I’ve never ever spoken to and have no idea who they are. In both times a simple “block” removed me from those lists (and I even contacted other people, just so they’ll know to do the same). I guess I should consider myself lucky it’s been only two (so far). There is one specific user who has a bunch of derogatory lists in which he includes hundreds of people (he included me too). I find it hard to believe he knows them all (obviously he didn’t know me), most likely he’s just a sad, bitter person who likes venting this way. I’m aware of more than 10 people who blocked him – I don’t understand why he’s not suspended from Twitter. Hopefully he will be at some point.

     

  2. Stalkers/trolls: I’ve had just one stalker, but that was most definitely unpleasant. He created 8 Twitter accounts to talk to me (all blocked). 3 Facebook accounts (all blocked) and 1 LinkedIn account (ignored). In hindsight, I know it was a guy with a genuine problem (who later apologized for his behavior), but it was definitely unpleasant.

     
    As a side note, and this affects all Twitter users who use their real names and details: when you put your name publicly there’s always a risk of someone becoming obsessed with you. Some of my friends and family have encountered this – nut jobs intent to tarnish their names and ruin their lives. However, anonymity has its own limitations, and that’s why I reveal much about myself… a professional hazard, I suppose.

     

  3. An even greater loss of privacy: at times people I don’t know jump into a conversation and seem to know much about me – or at least, much about things I’ve discussed in the past, sometimes weeks before. Normally this wouldn’t bother me at all, however, in one specific incident I know this was not done with good intentions. Won’t elaborate more on that.

 
This is it. As I said, I believe I’ve just reached the fifth milestone which is proving to be.. interesting. I need a few more weeks to digest this and then I’ll share my experiences.

 
Edit: TremendousNews has written a post that somewhat reminded me of this one (though funnier): 5 signs people like you on Twitter

 Mail this post

Popularity: 16% [?]

Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Share/Bookmark

moderation of social media sites

We take this for granted, that social media sites are monitored for unruly behavior. Yes, there are flaws, there are always ways for users to break the rules and get away with it, and sometimes what is perceived a harassment by a person may be (strangely) considered legitimate behavior by social media sites. That being said, the fact is, there is a lot of moderation going on which really enables these sites to continue operating – and we take this for granted.

 
As those who follow me on Twitter must have guessed, this article was inspired by the fact that in the past few days I, and several other people, were consistently harassed on Twitter by a troll. While I don’t think he’s a bad guy, harassment is harassment. Vulgarity should not be tolerated, and if someone does not want to be in touch with you, you have to respect that. I must’ve blocked 8 (at least) of his Twitter users, 3 of his Facebook users and ignored one LinkedIn invite. But this is just the background and not what I wanted to discuss.

 
So assuming sites were not moderated – what would happen? I know the answer to this all to well and will illustrate this with an unpleasant experience I had three years ago.

 
I mentioned a couple of times in previous posts that I used to be very active on a small blog network (“and your blog was #1 for a few months, yes, yes, we heard it” – ok ;) ). The reason I chose to leave it is because the atmosphere really turned sour. There were two users, one problematic in particular, that took great pleasure in harassing and offending other users. Both of them were highly intelligent and they tended to pick on people they considered inferior (which was almost anyone to them), and sometimes they just picked on people who did things they considered improper behavior (name dropping was something that really, really annoyed them – if you dared mention you met a celebrity, you risked public humiliation). Both of them actually treated me with great respect, so I didn’t have any personal issues with them – except for the fact that it was really hard to watch the way they behaved.

 
However, the site owners and creators – who were active participants in the community – never said a word, despite admitting that these two are “occasionally misbehaving”. What could I do? Only watch.

 
There were very few people who misbehaved like this, but those who did, ruined it for the rest of us. Therefore, I decided to leave, pack my blog and go elsewhere. But due to the addictive nature of such sites (read my article about withdrawal from addictive sites – largely learned through the experiences I’m discussing now), I found this was not so easy.

 
As a result, I found myself occasionally coming back and never truly leaving. However, certain events – which are too long for me to elaborate on – caused me to “publicly declare that the site’s atmosphere is ruined and is not fun for many people anymore”. I listed many activities which these two starred in and some of my best friends on the site were the target of the mentioned harassment. I also listed people who were not my friends but were harassed.

 
In hindsight, it was really naive – even stupid. I think I was expecting everyone to say “yes, you’re so right” and for the two guys to say “what, we didn’t realize it bothers everyone so much, we’ll behave from now on”. Perhaps it’s a result of the circumstances that led me to to make this statement (again, very long story), but I just wasn’t thinking.

 
What did happen is an all-out site war. For about a week there wasn’t a single post in the entire site that hasn’t revolved around this. Another guy joined my side as “the good guys”. Overall, we were winning: about 70% of the community completely agreed with me, and 30% did not (many of these made such incredible conspiracy theories I could never have envisioned… i.e. that I wanted to be the most popular user on the site, so my goal was to get these two guys to leave and “be in charge”. WTH?! – this would never have occurred to me that someone would say this, not in a million years).

 
The reason the war wouldn’t settle even after a week is because the site had no official rules. So at some point both sides – us and them – called for the owners to declare what is right and what is wrong. We didn’t even ask for them to enforce it, just for the community to know. But despite all of us knowing the owners personally, they ignored us, completely. Not even a peep. Both of us – independently – repeatedly asked for intervention, and got no response.

 
At this point one of the “bad guys” started threatening me and the other guy in real life. I won’t elaborate how, but these were threats that only a psychopath would make. Which he was. By this point I actually got a lot of “fan mail” telling me of his various deeds – and he is most definitely a psychopath by clinical standards (I’m not a psychiatrist, but it’s so obvious). Maybe that’s why the site owners didn’t take a stand – fear – but in my opinion, this is no excuse. Taking a stand was their duty to the community they created.

 
This went way too far. Therefore, since I was going to leave anyway, the war wasn’t going to end anytime soon, and most importantly I was shocked by the behavior of the owners, I publicly said my goodbyes, exchanged emails with friends, and left. I only came to visit once 2 years later after one of the site members – a good friend of mine – died of cancer and everyone left a comment as a tribute.

 
I later moved to another site which was based on the same blogging system. That site, however, was actively and aggressively moderated. Even too much. For example, they had a policy that people must use human photos as avatars or no avatars at all. Until this point I never used my real photo (always used pictures), but since this was the standard, I started then – and never stopped.

 
They claimed that this makes the site much more personal – a claim I actually agree with since it did make things more personal. What I think went to far is that they started banning users who even slightly deviated from this policy, i.e. one person had a blurred picture and was banned. Another had a photo of himself upside down – and was banned. And worst, one had a near-realistic drawing of himself (which was the image he used in a real newspaper – the guy was a journalist!) – and he was banned too. They all refused to change their photos and chose instead to leave.

 
Interestingly, the “bad guy” I early mentioned made his appearance here at some point. I was following him from afar, quite certain he’ll make trouble in no time. Which he did. Very quickly he started 3 separate very vocal and rude flame wars with prominent users of the site. Unlike the other site, he was warned by the administrator, warned again, and then banned. It was so nice to see how easy it was to control such a psychopath when there’s the proper system for dealing with it. He threatened these users too, but was mainly treated as a joke by the visitors and not as the “scary person” everyone were afraid of at the other site.

 
What’s the moral of the above stories? I didn’t really intend to create one, except to emphasize a point we all know: law and order need to be maintained.

 
However, I did learned a few valuable lessons:

  1. A social media site has to have a clear set of rules and acceptable behaviors, and these have to be actively enforced. If that’s not the case, the site becomes the wild west – anarchy quickly takes over, and people leave.

     

  2. Too strict rules can also be problematic. They too will make people leave. So at times there’s a fine balance that needs to be handled.

     

  3. Many people are cowards: I got so many emails privately cheering and encouraging me for my above war, but not only these people did not actively share their feelings with the rest of the site, some even denied that it even bothered them – publicly! Of course, there were plenty of people who weren’t like that, but I was shocked – and disgusted – with the number who did behave this way.

     

  4. Sometimes being the hero is really stupid. I honestly thought everyone would see that what I wrote had pure motivations, but considering the conspiracy theories some users made about me (that I mentioned above), I really learned a valuable lesson here.

     

  5. Most important: if a site has no rules & no moderation (something I have not seen in any of the popular social media sites), stay away from it – it’s not worth it.

     

     Mail this post

    Popularity: 1% [?]

    Post to Twitter Tweet This Post

    Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

    • Share/Bookmark
Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes