Thursday, July 31, 2008

blog content priority

Here, in order of priority and importance, are the content objects that are required if a blog is to be effective and successful.

(1) domain name

(2) title tags (e.g., Pluperfecter: web usability, Web 2.0, social media, online marketing, Peoria, IL)

(3) title (relevant, memorable, unique, personal)

(4) tagline (slogan, intro, e.g., "Join us as we explore best practi...")

(5) About / Bio page

(6) comment field (user generated content) and Recent Comments sidebar widget

(7) posts

(8) Contact page

(9) media room (e.g., Sources Quoting Steven Streight)

(10) Archives / Recent Posts

(11) RSS feed icon

(12) Links to your other blogs, social networks, marketing sites, ecommerce sites, and other web presences.

participating in social media networks

We, in knowing ourselves, must examine our participation in Twitter, Jaiku, FriendFeed, Pownce, Plurk,, Facebook, MySpaceMusic,,, flickr, Tumblr, and other social media sites.

Internet as hose

If you see the internet as a hose, and the web as the sprayer-gun, you're using it as a conduit, a pipe, a delivery system for sales, friendship, shopping, collaboration, self-expression.

The worst extreme of internet-as-hose is the exploitation of social media members as targets clustered in a friend network. The commercial entity thinks the network users are sitting ducks for hype, sales messages, and propaganda. Internet-as-hose is all push mentality: push content to push traffic to an ecommerce site pushing product sales, or a marketing site loaded with ads to push product sales.

Internet-as-hose translates into suck and spew. Suck content unlawfully from other sites, or legitimately from a content provider, spew it into your blog, suck cash from visitors as they click on ads surrounding the content-as-lure.

Your plagiarized or purchased web content, and user-generated content (such as comments on your blog) are simply a means to attract people to ads, seminars, books, and other products. The center is sales, not community.

Web as real estate

However, if you see the internet as a continent, and the web as an assembly of real estate, you're using it as a home, with your profile content acting as a digital surrogate, a virtual customized representation of self or company, for communication and socializing.

Social media networks and tools are communities, not commodities.

People join social networks for friendship, collaboration, news, gossip, valuable links to relevant information or functionalities, asking questions, helping others, learning from others, and interacting with others.

People don't join social networks to receive hype, sales messages, or corporate PR.

They may listen to your side of the story, if you've been listening to their problems and needs, if you've been behaving like a normal, regular community member, i.e., by authentic communications, transparency, altruism, free sharing of expertise, and minimal self-promotion.

Internet as location, where things grow and evolve via freedom of thought and unfiltered communications.

Websites as real estate, where curb appeal means more than hidden vaults of jewels. Home pages the front door to the place where you and your colleagues and peers feel safe and reap great benefit from link sharing and illuminating. inspiration, or entertaining conversations and personality revelations.

Increasingly, your social network avatar, your blog journal, and your website are you. Your internet presence is your public facing reality. With soaring gas prices, loss of jobs, and mortage crisis as key factors, individuals and business will rely far more on their online transactions and constructions.

How to participate in online communities

Be more personal, human, and other-centric, sharing with and helping visitors to your websites and fellow social media community members.

Share expertise, NOT exploit vulnerabilities.

Listen to needs and problems, NOT push product.

Think of product as solution, NOT product as money-maker.

Help people, NOT hype people.

Push benevolence, NOT corporate agendas.

Be visible and approachable, NOT aloof and secretive.

Social media community members practice online equality on an even playing field. Don't blow it by trying in vain to import the old fashioned command and control mentality to this new virtual land of adamant democracy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

link recommendations July 2008

I was washing some hyper-links in a usability bath the other day, and on the same day, I found at the bottom of the suds: these classy off-the-cuff links. Miscellaneous web objects. Music, insights, tools, books. Free. URLs are provided so you can print out this page (click on post title, then Print).

HTML Special Characters

Cult Test

Labeling Theory and Ethnomethodology

Rhythm Incursions downloads

Buddy Peace "Obituary Medicine" mix mp3

Leo Tolstoy: The Kingdom of God is Within You

The Power Paradox

Lotus of the True Law

Comfort Stand Records

Zamzar free file converter

Harry Emerson Fosdick:
A Guide to Understanding the Bible

Preparing Your Resume for Email and Online Posting

The Matrix Online Troll Guide: The Return

Basic Calculator

Square Root Calculator


Russollo and Futurist Noise Generators

Zero Moon

Marcel Broodthaers: "Pense-Bete (Reminder)"

Monday, July 28, 2008

extirpating The Technological Imperative

"The modern self-image rests on the insidious myth that man is essentially a tool-making animal.

...this myth encourages an unrestrained growth of mega-technological monstrosities."

-- Langdon Winner (summarizing views of Lewis Mumford), Autonomous Technology (MIT, 1977, p. 109)

Lewis Mumford, as Langdon Winner presents his thought, feels that man is a mind-voyager prior to a tool-maker. Humanity fussing about with tools? to make physical, and now virtual digital, creations?

This is seen to come after musing on more abstract, personal, transcendental topics. "Who am I? From where or what did I come?" are pondered before toying with the idea "what tool can I make?"

Technology is beyond critique, according to the technocrats and techophiles who worship All Technology. You must never say anything bad about nuclear reactors, atom bombs, or any other "neutral" tool that the Supreme Being Called Technology has graciously granted unto us poor little humans.

I like the idea of resistance to the Monster of Scientific Progress. To sp;it in the face of Submit to Our Techno-theocracy. To demand that science submit to moral and ethical evaluation, and not hide behind the No Value Judgments banner, so they can be as sadistic as they please.

"Science must test shampoos on the eyes of rabbits, to make sure they're safe for humans!" they cry. "Test those crappy products on your own damn self!" we yell back at them. "No more mouse maiming!" we shout.

It is lovely to mock those who want to force us to accept all inventions, even new forms of torture, abortion, surveillance, genetically modified fish, and date rape drugs.

It makes perfect sense to elevate Mind Above Machine: to lift up the inner light of  ideation, contemplation, introspection, flights of fancy, and cognitive adventures in phenomenology, while boldly demoting instrumentality, at least temporarily, so as to gain an interiorized or pre-objective perspective.

Machines have no understanding of suffering, feeling, dreams, hopes, or metaphysics.

They cannot prove we humans exist. We are an assumed quantity. Humanity is just a mythical precursor to the All Machines All the Time Realm. Thus, we are a fictional construct that they could eventually do without. Hear that whirring and humming? They're working on our removal right now, as we speak.

Machine-land and its new virtual dimensions are locked and loaded in a materia prima of mechanistic teleology: the end justifies the tech. The Technological Imperative is not questioned or given relevance, since it thinks itself "the given reality", and helps us to forget the non-automated past by keeping us entertained, debating, and self-revealing.

Share all your private data with the connected computer world. Be completely vulnerable to identity theft and other scams. Be helpless. Let the machines be the strong, silent pillars of you wither away in lethargy and dis-use, muscular atrophy and cell phone radiation brain damage.

Behold: humans must assert the superiority of consciousness {and conscience) over machines. "con-science", a sense of right and wrong, is "with science" to guide and to judge it. Our evaluation must begin as primal, not technical. We must keep re-prioritizing a natural human viewpoint.

The argument is that if we don't pay attention, authoritarian forces will force us into submission -- using the addictive toys and prerequisite tools they invent for our control and surveillance.

Computers got connected, then humans exploited the machine interactions to communicate and collaborate with each other, with fellow humans. It's possible that the servo-mechanisms are in revolt against that overloading, and pervasively trivializing, development.

Some inventions are good. Others are horrible. Some are bad in themselves (eg, crystal meth, waterboarding, footbinding, slave trading, atom bombs, bio-warfare agents). Others are good or bad, depending on how they're used.

Most are in between. Potential for positive and negative, suffering or life-enhancement. You can drive a nail with a hammer, or diabolically swing it to slaughter an ant. Like humans, our tools can be harmful or helpful.

Do you know who, or better: what, is pushing the post-human agenda via computers, internets, machine evolutions, controlled sciences, and consumer electronics?

If bad people take risks and experiment with emerging technology, they will tend to use it against humanity for selfish and destructive purposes. Malevolent priests of the Machine of Unbridled Science as it reveals itself in disguises of Fantastical Forward Thinking and March Into La La Land.

Transforming everything into technique: what Jacques Derrida calls "tele-technoscience" as ideology, a comparative religions classification clustered around the object of what it is that we swarm toward when a new toy, tool, or totalitarianism is aroused by the internet and other scientific advancements.

The Technological Imperative = "whatever can be made, MUST be made and humans must praise and adjust to it". You are food for The Technological Imperative. Computer-generated user afflictions betray the carnivoric intentions of Our New Masterbots.

Compupathogenesis is The Technological Imperative (Langdon Winner "Autonomous Technology", MIT, 1977) via Machine Realm eating into you. You have all ever let a computer wound you (sore wrist, stiff neck, aching back, dried out eyes, internet hallucinations, Twitter addiction.

Humans, whose memory powers, since the advent of books and psychoanalysis, had declined massively, made computers to remember our stuff. As human memory powers vanish to nothing, our surrogate memory banks, computers, will wait for us to forget...who made who!

By asserting our human absurdity, genius, and imagination, our gift of envisioning, in words, images, and numbers, what lies beyond our powers or input, we may be able to postpone our eventual total demise at the hands (figuratively or haptic-immersively via digital surrogate tele-presencing) of our over-valued overlords.

Absurdity. Genius. Imagination. Plus a strong dollop of altruism, compassion, and problem-solving whimsy, as expressed and adhered to in user-centric policies, interfaces, and mission statements.

How to resist and re-direct The Technological Imperative and its rush to human doom?

Just be you, in separation from total dependence on the manufactured realm. Be more human, kind, and caring. In your blog, your home, your business, your social mileau.

And don't think you have to rush off and buy every new gadget or technological toy. Don't think that you have to join and participate in every new trending social media site. Don't think you must succumb to every vaccine, mercury bomb twisty light bulb, and mutated vegetable they try to force upon you.

Be human to the point of being difficult for automation to control, predict, or thwart you.

What is usability

Usability covers more than just "does it work?"

Usability, in the best and most comprehensive sense, refers to the total satisfaction a user derives from a product in solving a problem.

Product Usability (including web sites and software products):

1. functionality: does it actually do what it's supposed to do?

2. desirability: does it do it in a manner, speed, or style that is pleasing to the user?

3. learnability: is it easy to master the techniques required for using it?

4. memorability: is it easy to remember how to use it?

5. error recovery: is it easy to correct a mistake when using the product?

6. intuitivity: is its operation natural, logical, instinctive, possible to figure out, even if no owner's manual or training is available?

7. adaptability: can the product be altered or adjusted, within its normal functions, for my specific and unique needs?

8. reliability: can I trust the product to perform in a predictable manner?

9. virtuosity: does it seem to be the ideal solution to my needs?

10. invincibility: can I easily return to default mode, or normal operation, after a catastrophic error?

11. collectivity: can I find groups of other users of this product to learn from or to share experiences with?

12. advisability: can I access experts who will answer my technical questions?

13. elasticity: if necessary, can I use it to perform tasks that it's not specifically designed for? (e.g., using a magazine to swat a fly, or using a search engine as a dictionary to find a definition of a word).

14. auto-operability: can it be programmed to perform some functions without my personal, immediately present involvement?

15. accessibility: can the product be operated by physically challenged end users (deaf, blind, etc.), or can it be modified to accommodate them?

Associative Factors of Usability include:

16. buyability: is it in my price range, and can I purchase it by my favored method (check, money order, credit card, online payment system, etc.)?

17. deliverability: is it easy to obtain? will it come to me? or must I go get it?

18. serviceability: is it easy to fix or obtain repair work?

19. recommendability: is it worthy of suggesting that my boss, co-workers, colleagues, friends, family, or neighbors purchase it?

20. ego-compatibility: does the product somehow enhance the image I'm trying to project to others about myself?

21. extendability: is it possible to add accessories to the product, or update it somehow, so it remains compatible with upcoming products it is used in association with, thereby retaining its usefulness into the future?

Usability Analysis will attempt to answer all these aspects of a product, especially the first 15.

Of course, not all these aspects apply to every product, and some aspects will be more important than others, depending on the product and the environment in which it is used.

How NOT to Determine "Usability"
(False Criteria):

Usability is not fully determined by user reports, questionnaires, or surveys. Often users tell you what they think you want to hear, and don't want to appear ignorant or clumsy.

("It works fine" may mean "I don't want you to think I'm lazy, inept, or stupid." "I like the colors and design" may mean "I'm not an artist, so I have no idea how to evaluate these aspects, nor how they could be improved.")

Usability is not determined by the manufacturer.

Manufacturers know far more about the product than typical users, so are not in a position to realistically evaluate a product's ease of use for a typical customer. They tend to assume that if it makes sense to them, it should be transparent to everyone.

Usability is not determined by the sales staff. They may know how well a product is selling, but sales volume alone is no guarantee of usability.

Once again, they may be hearing insincere commentary, what the customers think the sales staff wants to hear. Conversely, they may be hearing an inordinate amount of complaints. Satisfied users tend to go along their merry way, not providing any feedback.

Products with poor usability, that are advertised or discounted aggressively, may sell well intially...then be returned for refunds, while disgruntled buyers spread negative word of mouth advertising against it.

Or the product is just thrown away, with customers not bothering to complain or demand refunds. Either way, sales eventually drop.

Usability is discovered only by observing users interact with the product to achieve specific, desired results.

Usability is "performance evaluation from the user's point of view."

Usability is the real "brand" of a product: what's "branded" or burned into the user's consciousness, as the user incorporates the product in their daily life.

Usability Analysts, like myself, must think long and hard about a product, view it from every possible angle, and actually watch users interact with the product in solving a problem.

See my article on "Eight Web Usability Killers" at

Click on blue underlined link (article title) above.

Or type in the URL and look under "Resources" > "Web Usability" > "Eight Web Usability Killers" at webcredible site.

Friday, July 25, 2008

defeating an abusive boss

Employees and consultants can be categorized into two psychological groups: masochists and assertives. Only assertives will succeed in business. CEOs and managers hate masochistic employees.

Are you a slave? A victim? An easy target?

If you let your boss get away with stupidity, criminality, or terror-inducing behavior, you'll fail on the job and in your entire career. Once you identify yourself as a person who cannot say "No" to an employer, you're dead.

Saying, "I have to choose which battles to fight, I can't fight them all" is a rationalization that works against you. If the battle is being fought over your self-esteem, or legality, you must win this battle. Even if, as a staff employee, or internal consultant on the payroll, you must temporarily submit to some (non-criminal) indignity or foolishness, you then have to escape: transfer to another department, or find another job.

A severely crippled self-worth, a serious lack of personal dignity will follow you in all your relationships and dealings with others. Con artists, predators, and cults seek such emotional freaks to take advantage of, and they'll find you eventually.

Masochists are people who enjoy, secretly or obviously, being hurt, criticized, and robbed of self-esteem. They actually feel euphoric when a cruel boss praises them, because for a masochist, one praise makes up for 100 insults.

Cruelty is accepted by a masochist, because they feel they deserve it, or they believe they have to submit to abuse. They think being passive and easily manipulated is the only way they can survive, please the boss, and get a paycheck.

This is untrue.

If you let your boss or client walk all over you, they'll despise you. You must care enough about yourself to have limits on how people can treat you. Be firm, resolute, never wavering. You must have certain boundaries, principles, and professionalism that nobody can violate. It's all about self-respect and dignity.

Weaklings, cowards, and chumps are ridiculed and mistreated, even by non-sadistic people, simply because no one respects passive victims who kiss ass to survive.

Walter Kiechel III, former managing editor of Fortune, now a consultant, wrote a book called Office Hours: A Guide to the Managerial Life (Harper & Row, 1988), a book that's nearly impossible to find now. I'm happy to own a copy. Kiechel is quite blunt about this topic of bosses who are bullies.

Here are some gems from p. 78, 79.

Bosses have problems with wimps. So don't be one....the opposite of wimpery is not idiot machismo -- full of bluster, overbearing -- but rather an aggressive yet artful straightforwardness.

After getting the requisite facts, and giving their presentation a bit of crafty thought, "be straight up in the boss's face," as one Silicon Valley manager puts it.

Robert C. Bleke, a management psychologist...elaborates: "It is very important that a subordinate NOT try to play psychologist with his boss. Don't try to interpret, outguess, or read something into what he may say or do."

You just let him know there are certain things you're not going to put up with.

The abuser is insecure and has little control over his own life. He's miserable, and misery loves company. His mediocrity forces him to use manipulation of others to conceal his deficiencies. When questioned or challenged by subordinates, he erupts in tyrannical rage. "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you!" is a common ploy. Subordinates realize he's incapable of self-awareness. They retaliate by doing things behind his back.

One way an abused employee will fight back is passive aggression. "Yes sir", they say, then they refuse to obey, knowing that he'll move onto other business. If he asks why something was not done, they'll lie to him, for he deserves no better.

Another way his subordinates will get revenge is by stealing from the company. This theft can include property, products, or time. If an employee works from home, he'll bill the boss for 40 hours, but only work 10 or 20 hours.

However, these tactics only result in the lowering of your own standards of morality and professionalism. You are allowing the abuser's treatment of you to dictate a decline in your own ethics. There's a better way. First you must realize why the tyrant is acting the way he does.

An abusive boss is frightened of the owner, board of directors, or other intimidators. He escapes his own cowardice and incompetence by tormenting his subordinates. He enhances his feeling of power and domination by reducing you to a quivering heap of anxiety.

You end up hating your boss, your job, your miserable life.

Even worse, if you let an abusive boss warp your personality with sadistic treatment, a permanent state, an untreatable mental condition, is eventually achieved.

You slowly but surely reach the point where you cannot regain your self-esteem. You become brainwashed into being a subservient freak, a totally gutless zombie. You will henceforth seek abusive bosses and they'll be happy to take you into their torture chamber.

Women in relationships with abusive men will support this concept: too much abuse will drive you insane, destroying your self-respect and mental clarity forever. A mental degradation occurs. You lose your nerve and your independent will. You're transformed into a puppet, a limp pile of fearful tremblings. You develop paranoid delusions.

You feel powerless to manage and enjoy your own life.

You become convinced that there's no way out. You lose energy and become numb. You forget that human beings are equal. You forget that people, including bosses and boyfriends, should treat others as they would want to be treated.

It gets complex, because the masochistic employee who tolerates harsh and unjust treatment often mirrors the domineering boss. In other words, the masochist will act sadistically toward those he feels are inferior to him, whether a lover or the cashier at WalMart. The victim's insecurity and humiliation cause him to unleash on others the fury that he wishes he could unleash on the boss.

The victim craves approval and allows the boss to flatter him in a manipulative manner, similar to a battered wife: "He says he really loves me. He's a good provider. He buys me flowers. I deserve his beatings, because I'm not perfect or worthy of his greatness." The employee rationalizes that the boss is "finicky", demanding, and has a right to change his mind and not be a man of his word.

The longer this unhealthy submission/domination is allowed to go on, the more out of touch with reality the victim becomes, resulting in delusions and excuses no normal person would accept.

Psychiatrists refer to a diffuse narcissistic vulnerability, whereby he's easily angered by criticisms by fellow employees of his work, or suggestions that he stop being so easily manipulated. In the worst case scenario, the victimized employee builds up rationalizations for the abuser and will not tolerate any criticism or "misinterpretation" of the fiendish enslaver.

What is clear to normal observers becomes completely clouded by the victim's inordinate craving for leadership, approval, and guidance from the abuser.

Heinz Kohut, in his monograph The Analysis of the Self: A Systematic Approach to the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Narcissistic Personality Disorders (International Universities Press, 1971) has much to say about meek submission to enslaving authority figures.

Here's how an approval-addict victim mentality is described as manifested in a clinical study. Remember, the victim can turn into the tyrant, a cloned representation of the cruel boss, and often does so.

...he was forever in search of guidance and approval.

So long as he felt accepted and counseled and guided by such men, so long as he felt that they approved of him, he experienced himself as whole, acceptable, and capable; and under such circumstances, he was indeed able to do well in his work and to be creative and successful.

At slight signs of disapproval of him, however, or lack of understanding for him, or loss of interest in him, he would feel drained and depressed, would tend to become first enraged and then cold, haughty, and isolated, and his creativeness and work capacity deteriorated. (p. 58)

The way to defeat a control freak client or boss is to be infinitely more stubborn than they are. You let them know that you expect them to treat you with respect and fairness. You make it clear that one single violation of your personal value will not be tolerated. You refuse to budge.

You'd rather starve to death with dignity than be rich with a victim mentality.

You can quit your job if it comes to that. You can terminate your consulting relationship with an abusive, disrespectful client. You need your self-respect far more than you need their money.

You can always get more money, but once your self-esteem and assertiveness is destroyed or abandoned, it can be impossible to ever re-build it. Once you cower in fear, you may never again be able to stand tall.

Giving in to a cruel and crazy boss sends a strong message to him: "I can be toyed with. I have no rights. I have no other way to make money. I need you, no matter how horrible you treat me."

Defeat an abusive boss by taking a stand for your rights as an individual. Resist his attempts to play with your emotions.

Refuse to put up with "testing the boundaries", mind games, and arrogant power plays. Treat the abuser as an insane child, scold them for their wickedness, then let the chips fall where they may.

You will live to find another job, with a more humane boss.

I promise!

Obama and NASCAR

First there was talk of presidential candidate Barack Obama possibly attending, even campaigning at, a NASCAR race. Twitter was buzzing about it for a while. Some Twitter folks said it would be pandering to the guns and Bibles guys, others said it would be a smart tactic and Obama should invade McCain's turf.

"Barack Obama may campaign at a NASCAR event" (Scott Martelle, LA Times "Top of the Ticket" Blog)


Bill Clinton tried that tack in September 1992, campaigning at the Southern 500 Stock Car race in Darlington, S.C., but drew jeers and catcalls and insults about his lack of Vietnam War service. That was the year Richard Petty was retiring, and the staunch Republican and racing icon told track officials he wouldn't drive the pace car -- part of his retirement-year sendoff -- if Clinton was in the parade.

Clinton lost South Carolina by 8 points. And more recently George W. Bush actively courted NASCAR fans -- getting a much better reception.


Now the Huffington Post states that the Obama campaign may sponsor a car in NASCAR.

"Obama to Sponsor Car at NASCAR Race"

[QUOTE] has learned that for the first time in history, a major presidential candidate may sponsor a race car in NASCAR's premier series. According to sources, Barack Obama's campaign is in talks to become the primary sponsor of BAM Racing's No. 49 Sprint Cup car for the Pocono race on August 3. Details of the agreement are expected to be worked out over the coming days.


Here's the source of the story that Huffington Post links to, from Sports Illustrated:

"Presidential candidate Obama to sponsor Cup car at Pocono race"

Yahoo News "Obama in talks to sponsor car in NASCAR race"

Michelle Malkin: "Obama tries to buy the NASCAR vote"

Here's what Auto Racing Daily had to say in their article "Will Barack Obama attend a NASCAR race?":


"It is no secret the majority of working-class voters in the south are dissatisfied with the current course of the Republican-led country. As of this week, gas prices are officially $3.98 a gallon. The percentage of home foreclosures is at a 20-year high.

The reason we went into Iraq was because of weapons of mass destruction, there were none, and we still have no plan to leave. The few billion dollars in reconstruction loans for New Orleans have been caught up in red tape, while $9 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq was given to American contractors without conditions, never spent, and now can’t be found.

George W. Bush can’t go near a NASCAR race ever since the 2004 4th of July Daytona Pepsi 400 race with his drive in the pace car and then dramatic exit in Air Force One from the runway behind the track.

At that time, his approval ratings due to bungling the Iraq war had not yet tanked and the financial crisis and high gas prices were still on the horizon. If he were to attend a NASCAR race now, he would undoubtedly be booed on national TV and anti-war protesters would line his entrance route. His approval ratings are at an all-time low and currently at the lowest point ever measured for a U.S. president. Over 80% of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction."


So we have opinions flying all over the place. Once again, NASCAR is having an impact in American society, including presidential politics. Many timely and provocative questions have arisen.

Has the NASCAR fan base shifted more to the center? Does the political orientation of NASCAR fans depend on what part of the country the race is in?

If Obama campaigns, or makes a media-hyped appearance, at a NASCAR race, what could John McCain do in response?

This is not a political blog. We'll never express or debate any political point of view. Political beliefs are a very private matter, and we respect each person's conscience. Our clients and friends have widely varied beliefs.

Having said that, we feel this particular issue is relevant. Obama's planned attendance at a NASCAR race is in the news. People are talking about it. We just want to discuss how political issues, in general, have impact on the realm of motorsports.

Leaving aside who you plan to vote for, which is not our concern, what do you think about the political use of racing events? Is it a good idea, or is it too risky?

What's your opinion?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Twitter Meta Index revisited

You're probably aware of the consternation and shock engendered by my How to Calculate Your Twitter Meta Index article.

I don't claim to have perfected this micro-blogging measurement tool. My simple hope was that a conversation might be started that addressed this important issue.

To facilitate the ongoing discussion, and for those new to the topic of a Twitter Meta Index, I felt it best to feature the comments in their own post. I've never done this before, but the comments have brought to the surface of blogospheric consciousness some micro-blogging esoterica that's vital for both business and personal applications.

First, to complicate matters even more, Twitter Status blog mentions Following/Follower data problems recently. Oy vay! We need some psychoanalytic ethnomethodologist mathematicians to work this out with super-computers.


We’re still in the process of recovering from the missing follower/following problem that occurred earlier today. Over the next several hours, you may see inaccurate counts or timeline inconsistencies as the correct data is propagated to all parts of the system.

One thing to note: Even after this recovery is complete, your counts may appear lower than previously.

In almost all cases, this is not due to missing data. The counts we display on your profile page are not always up-to-date. For example, when we remove spammers from the system (which we’ve been doing a lot lately), the follower counts are not updated in real-time.

As we push out the changes to fix this afternoon’s problem, the counts will be updated to reflect the latest numbers.


Now, back to the Twitter Meta Index calculation controversy.

(1) comment from Ben

Ben Kunz said...
First, solid idea, I've used a similar mental yardstick to judge the potential value of people on Twitter.

I think the formula is off a bit. (You also have errors on Calacanis in following-followers and Scoble on updates/sq root, no matter for the sake of this argument.) The *real* challenge with the current formula is you can get to the same index number from very different types of Twitter behavior.

A spammer, for instance, who follows 10,100 people, has only 100 followers, and made 16,230 updates will achieve an index of 162.3 -- exactly the same index as Ochman who follows 390, has 1,374 followers, and made 5,092 updates.

Thus the formula has two logic errors:

1. A larger difference in followed - followers can offset a larger number of updates ... so people with very different behavior can get the same index number.

2. Someone with a large positive number in followed - followers, a likely spammer, should have an inverse, or *negative*, index compared to someone with a large negative number of followed - followers, a likely thought leader.

All of this is a lot to digest late on a Friday night, but the thought is solid. If you could address the issues above, you've got something people could use.Then, if you could write a software program to let people pick their settings and automate who they follow back, you'd have a cool service.


(2) comment from Ike

Ike said..

You've got a lot of the right pieces in there, but there are a couple of other factors that take the Meta Index out of one's own control.

First, leave in the negative values! When you take the square root of a negative number, the result includes the square root of -1, which is i. "i" stands for "imaginary," which fits the theme!

Second, there is no accounting for how someone gathers followers. I have a large contingent for a couple of reasons. While I engage in conversations with many people, I was also included on Guy Kawasaki's Alltop list, which means I get a LOT of followers from people who just signed up for Twitter and are looking for people to listen to.

Am I to be punished because a bunch of people blindly follow me and never engage?

Second, there's no room in your formula for those who voluntarily downsize. Even with some discretion about who and what I would follow, I got up to 893 people in my timeline. When you have to click back a couple of screens on the web just to find people you know, it's a problem.

I slimmed considerably, dropping more than 500 people from my list. Those I dropped were people who I could not recall having discussed anything. They seemed interesting at the time of the follow, but over time have never engaged or clicked. Many were no longer following me anymore.So, am I to be punished by your metric for unfollowing people? For making MY Twitter experience manageable? I'd hate for people to plug me into a formula and rate me as an a--hole because I'm being out-followed by a 4-1 ratio.

I know that you don't think that about me, Steven -- so any metric you derive needs to be tested against more varied sample sizes, and against known people.I know it gets harder when you delve beyond just the public info listed in a profile, but I believe the following factors play a role in who *I* might follow:1) Percentage of replies. How many of the most recent 100 Tweets are @'s? I say the most recent, because behavior can radically fluctuate. Someone might get more than 1000 updates in before really "getting it," and you don't want to hold past statistics against them.

Just like how in Fantasy Baseball I rarely make roster moves based on anything other than the last month's performance.2) Percentage of INCOMING @'s. This is harder, but essentially is a measure of how much you're willing to engage. If you've got 20 @'s in your most recent 100 Tweets, but you've been @'ed 200 times in that same time period, then you're being quite selective (and maybe standoffish.)3) Different metrics for scale.

When you're following 5000 people, your Twitter experience is very different that when you're following 50. AND, when half of the 5000 you're following are ALSO following more than 1000, then there is a LOT that flies by the wayside. "Influence" doesn't scale, it regresses.

Here's the example. Let's say I ask for advice about Sharepoint. When my timeline was smaller, I might have gotten 5 or 6 responses. Guess what? With nearly 1500 followers, I *still* get 5 or 6 responses. Since most of the people I am following *also* have more populous timelines, they are less likely to see my query. The more you have, the more inclined you are to rely on Replies.Essentially -- the Potential for Influence is factored on the Follower/Following ratio, but the makeup of those Followers and THEIR lists need to be calculated in. If you think about it as a signal-to-noise problem, then ask "how attuned are your followers?"


This is where the Twitter Search tools can come into play, helping derive some of these stats.Just a couple of thoughts... keep plugging away. I have a feeling that the metric that ends up matching your gut instinct will be the best -- AND it will include factors that can be measured across other socnets.


Monday, July 21, 2008

self promotions vs other relations

I got in a debate on Twitter today. It's about self-promotions vs. other relations (selfless altruisms).

I think most Twitter users consider self-promotions to be companies, authors, or other individuals who use Twitter primarily to push links to their blog posts or their ecommerce sites.

Self-promotions are not every single message that you put on Twitter. But if you wanted to cloak your commercial interests with broad, sweeping declarations like "All communications are sales persuasion" or "Everybody survives by tricking other people" or "Lying and domineering are natural", such reckless and untrue pronouncements might function as a ruse or diversion for a short while.

On Twitter, we know a self-promoter from a normal online community member who only occasionally promotes something, often not even their own stuff, but something they like.

"I ate a tuna salad sandwich" is not self-promotional, it's self-revealing. Many Twitter users like to reveal themselves and enjoy the revelations of others. That's part of being in an online social media community. There's not likey to be much benefit to unveiling personal trivia, unless, as in the case of the lunch item, you happen to own a string of Subway, Jimmie Johns, or Blimpie shops.

You technically "self-promote" when underlying your message is a motive to sell your products, services, or expertise. You enter into other-relations when you answer questions, provide links, solve problems, or render some benefit to another Twitter member, with no direct relationship to selling them something.

Doing nice things for other people is generally considered PR at best, altruism at least. You are helping people. Will it result in good will and future sales? Perhaps. But if not, the selfless person will continue to provide benefit to others. The more purely self-promotional person probably will cease from, or drastically reduce, altruistic acts that don't seem to accrue any financial or reputational gain for them.

We on Twitter are sensitive to the term "self-promotion" because it has come to signify a person who is selfishly refusing to interact with other Twitter members, due to the sole concern to hype blog posts or product pages. A "self-promoter" on Twitter is generally Following very few, but has a lot of Followers because they're a famous book author, marketing guru, or business leader.

When a Twitter user helps, advises, flirts with, entertains, or shares something with another Twitter user, we don't typically call that "self-promotional" in the marketing sense. But altruistic assistance will raise your neighbor-value, help your reputation, and increase your like-ability, thus enhancing trust and good will. Then, if you do have something to promote or sell, you have established a non-greedy side of your personality, which will make others feel a bit more at ease.
Being altruistic doesn't mean, as cynic might suggest, that you feel you're magnanimous, self-sacrificing, or "special". Sharing with others is a normal, natural, healthy functioning based on social reality. It's nice to help others and to let others help us. That's what's social about social media. We don't join social media networks to be bombarded with hype, ads, or sales messages.

We join social media networks to connect with others, for personal or professional reasons. Some motivations could be selfish and seeking to gain something, while other motivations may be based on the sheer joy of communicating and sharing with others.

Twitter Message 1

Aren't we all, in one way or another, promoting ourselves on Twitter? The act of blogging or micro-blogging is self promotion.

Twitter Reply (by me)

@briangenisio - Self promo means pushing links to product pages, blog posts, other sales or self-interest objects. Not altruistic sharing.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisi0)

Self promotion means a lot more than what you said. Self promotion also means "promoting your ideas". Many others as well.

Twitter Reply (by me)

Self promotion is not "everything we do on Twitter". There are also selfless interactions and sharing that may not benefit you much at all.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisio)

If you think that you are special enough to "altruistically share", then you are promoting your ego.

Twitter Reply (by me)

@BrianGenisio - If you think everything everyone does all the time is ultimately selfish, then you can also justify all acts as survival.

Twitter Reply (to me, by Brian Genisio)

Just to be clear, I never suggested that you are marketing. I also never used the word "everything". Those are your words.

Twitter Reply (by me)

Helping others on Twitter is not self-promotional, it is other-relational. We know the difference between mktg & helping.

mission critical customers

How does an organization know what is mission critical? How does a company determine product line and improvements? Where does the marketing strategy, promotion terminology, sales approach come from? What kind of content should we pour into our ecommerce sites and blogs? What shall we say on Twitter and in TV commercials?

For competitive advantage and corporate longevity, surely the answer can only be: prioritize the input from the users. We must attract, interact with, and use all the feedback we can get from the customer. User data helps us identify, categorize, analyze, and sympathize with (interiorize) the customer. Then, as an axiomatic corollary, we must be with (become) the target audience.

Being near, extremely close to, the user is how innovation and, in hard economic times, sheer survival are achieved. What benefits and features do they want? How many of these demands does your product fulfill? What might they be desiring next year? In five or ten years? What products and strategies do you have in place, poised to reap large rewards in the future as experienced by your customers?

Customers will be critical of your mission and they're also mission critical. First, understand users and build a product based on, and evolving in light of, user goals and technological capabilities that may satisfy future user needs (i.e., features they don't want now, because they haven't imagined them yet, so you tell them why they'll want these advancements). Your second priority is customer loyalty based on always improving products and service. Next is customer acquisition, retention, and recruitment.

Customers who are critical to the mission's success are prospective customers, current customers, emerging customers, future customers, and current non-customers. Your appeal to all these customer groups begins with close relationships and keen observances of typical users of your products.

Your response should include social media applications, but prior to that, you need to actually roll up your sleeves, and get to where your customers hang out. Go to actual physical realm haunts. Coffeeshops, country clubs, outdoor events, industry conferences, hobbyist groups, work stations, command posts, and restaurants. Immerse yourself in their environments, and make some conversation with them face to face, one on one. After a lot of that, you'll be ready to visit them in their online communities.

Forums, blogs, wikis, chat rooms, vlogs, portals, ecommerce sites, wherever users spend time and possibly money. Where they communicate with one another and form alliances. These obvious and obscure locations are where you need to be networking.

But not as a commercial entity. At least not as you probably inherited the concept from old fashioned, pre-Web Twenty times. More on this later, aggregator.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

credibility is king, not content

Trust is the rarest commodity on the web, as web usability specialist Jakob Nielsen once said.

Its value is far beyond real estate or gold. If customers don't esteem your ethics very highly, they will only reluctantly do business with you. As soon as an honest competitor crosses their radar, the scruples-deficient business is toast. Credibility is king, not content. Content is prince.

You hear many say:

* "Content is King!"

* "It's a cool new Web 2.0 service, but how will you attract high quality, user-generated content to it?"

* "How do we find or create content for this blog?"

* "What kind of content should we put on Twitter?"

*"We need a steady flow of good, keyword-rich content, so we can sell ads and gain affiliates."

* "It works great! Now all we need is some content for it, and keep it frequently updated with fresh content."

Okay. That is all true. You need content. High quality content attracts high quality users, some of whom bring along hotly topical, much sought-after, premium quality content. I'm a web content strategist, aggregator, and creator. I have a vested interest, albeit transparent, in people thinkly highly of content and wanting more of it.

But content is not king. We must settle that first. Credibility is King, with Presentation as its Queen.

Credibility level is perceived within the first 15 seconds of a user landing on a website, according to Stanford Persuasive Technology Institute.


The data showed that the average consumer paid far more attention to the superficial aspects of a site, such as visual cues, than to its content.

For example, nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

This reliance on a site's overall visual appeal to gauge its credibility occurred more often with some categories of sites then others.

Consumer credibility-related comments about visual design issues occurred with more frequency with finance (54.6%), search engines (52.6%), travel (50.5%), and e-commerce sites (46.2%), and with less frequency when assessing health (41.8%), news (39.6%), and nonprofit (39.4%) sites.

In comparison, the parallel Sliced Bread Design study revealed that health and finance experts were far less concerned about the surface aspects of these industry-specific types of sites and more concerned about the breadth, depth, and quality of a site's information.


If the design, colors, ads, and overall atmosphere of a site is sleazy, amateur, unbusinesslike, pretentious, sloppy, ugly, error-ridden, broken, or inappropriate, that user will leave, never to return.

Credibility depends on visual appearances, graphic style, first. If a user can't get past this aspect of a site, they'll never get to the content, no matter how genius and relevant and entertaining it may be. Next, credibility is judged quickly by rhetoric, grammatical errors, typos, poor language usage, badly flowing ideas, and if it sounds like a foolish braggart or a bullying sales jerk. There are many ways to screw up your visual design and your textual content.

You can have brilliant marketing strategy, superior online promotions, ultra-professional web design, cutting edge widgets and technological enhancements, customized search engines, auto-morphing ecommerce pages, and fantastically competent interpretations and implications of Google Analytics stats.

And still blow it with your customers and potential recruits. Yes, I said recruits. All your marketing is automatically for customers and future employees. People judge who they want to work for, largely based on how a company presents itself. Most people visit your website and blog to see who and what you are.

Online credibility begins with the instant impression caused by the graphic design, then the presentation of the content and its quality.

Later, we'll go more deeply into major mistakes most websites and blogs make in the realm of credibility, trustworthiness, and reliability.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Information Flow Manifesto

(1) Information must flow in new ways in your organization. You must not resist it. You submit to the flow and grow. Blog to extranet.

(2) A blog is the front door to the New Organization. You need integration of all social media tools into ecommerce site, intranet, extranet.

(3) Advanced forms of social media marketing implement user/customer/fan input to transform & redefine your culture, goals, products, service, research, innovation, investors, and suppliers. The closer you move, in the totality of your organization and not in delegated peripherals, to the customer, the faster you'll reach your business goals. All employees are Customer Service, and the better the product, the less need for service. The best product is auto-correcting. Your organization needs to imitate the product: be a problem solver focused on user goals, not optimum plundering. Success is founded increasingly on user-centric insights. This evolutionary, transformative process mandates smooth and complete information flow.

(4) We have now evolved from Corporate Control Messaging to User Empowered Networking. Users define your products and mission, customers define the communication channels and technology they are responding to, not you.

(5) Machines came between us, then we communicated through the machines. The machines who created us and new worlds for us are learning about us, adjusting to us, as we beta test, self-reveal, and submit to surveillance.

(6) The impersonal can never outperform the personal. We are connecting, communicating, collaborating on new realities, de-installing what was there before. We have weaponized transparency, democracy, and metaphysicality.

(7)Global conversations AND collaborations are entirely new creations of the technological imperative, and are guided by tumult, technocracy, and transformation.

(8) Conversations are not enough. They must lead to action on and offline. Online social media interactions gradually turn us into New Communicators.

(9) Talking results in listening, listening results in understanding, understanding results in acting, action results in accomplishment.

(10) We are swept away, in theory and practice, by the convergence of forces causing unprecedented upheavings of outmoded domination systems & false marketing ideologies.

(11) We guard the geyser. Share-altruism overpowers miser-pessimism. The freeing of information is the inevitable product of inter-linked communication channels, controlled by consensus, not leadership.

(12) Advertising is dead. Long live peer-to-peer recommendation networks.

(13) All the powers of persuausion are granted to citizen tribunals composed of democratically defined values. Their megaphones are blogs, Twitter, and other social media applications.

(14) There is no product that is not beholden to the commands of the customer, for all commodities and services are ultimately caused by user dreams, which are the generative information all else is built and expanded upon.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Texas Congressman John Culberson on Twitter and Qik

Here's a good example for all CEOs, leaders, and politicians.

Texas Congressman John Culberson is using Twitter and Qik, two of the emerging web technologies of Web 2.0 and social media.

He's boldly blazing a new path, taking risks, and experimenting. And explaining as he goes along. "I've always loved technology, it's always been fun." You can tell he has genuine passion for social media. He is a true pioneer who both enlightens and inspires.

Congressman Culberson admires Thomas Jefferson and limited government, as I also do. His Twitter address is:

Imagine how vital Twitter and Qik could be as emergency communication channels during a terrorist attack or natural disaster, especially if cable TV news channels are rendered inoperative?

John Culberson on Fox TV re Twitter and Qik. "My Qik viewers and I interview Fox News live on Qik while they interview me outside the House chamber"

how to calculate your Twitter Meta Index

On Twitter, you need to be Following approximately twice as many as are Followers of you. This makes you appear to be humble, wanting to hear from more Twitterers than are potentially paying any attention to you.

Then again, if you are Following ten times as many as are Following you, it could mean that few Twitterers value your tweets, and you are Following a lot of others so you can spam them with self-promotions and links to your ecommerce site or blog.

So we need a metric for objectively determining just what your secret motives are on Twitter.

I propose a Twitter Meta Index.

I mean: a scientifically derived numerical value that indicates what kind of Twitter member you are, based on tallies of individual Twitter behaviors documented by stats displayed in your Twitter sidebar.

That way, you could jot down the stats on the Twitterer's profile page, and quickly assess what's going on, whether you should be Following them or avoiding, possibly even Blocking, them.

My first thought for deriving a Twitter Meta Index number was: divide your Updates by the square root of your Following minus Followers. But then I had second thoughts, and postulated this formula: ratio of Updates divided by Followers, followed by adding Following to this number, and taking the square root of that.

I suggest that for now, we forget the second methodology and stick to my original calculation idea.

Twitter Meta Index = divide your Updates by the square root of your Following minus Followers.

Let's see what that looks like in real life application.

Scobleizer (remember: Robert Scoble was using an auto-Follow tool from Twitter dev)

Following 21,048
Followers 29,743
Updates 12,907

Twitter Meta Index calculation:

21,048 minus 29,743 = -8,695

(remove the negative value for calculation purposes)

square root of 8,695 = 93.24698386543128

12,907 divided by 93.24698386543128 = 9.726856166296281

Thus, Robert Scoble aka Scobleizer has a Twitter Meta Index of 9.726856166296281

whatsnext (BL Ochman)

Following 390

Followers 1,374

Updates 5,092

Twitter Meta Index calculation:

390 minus 1,374 = -984

(remove the negative value for calculation purposes)

square root of 984 = 31.368774282716245

5,092 divided by 31.368774282716245 = 162.32703114592593

Thus, BL Ochman's Twitter Meta Index is 162.32703114592593

Jason Calacanis

Following 34,323

Followers 30,286

Updates 5,048

Twitter Meta Index calculation:

34,323 minus 30,286 = 286

square root of 286 = 16.911534525287763

5,048 divided by 16.911534525287763 = 2.8382995007475964

Jason Calacanis boasts a Twitter Meta Index of 2.8382995007475964

See how easy this is? This simple calculation will open up a whole new world of Twitter savvy and enjoyment for all who faithfully and consistently use it. Now you have the esoteric key to unlocking the real essence and inner spirit of any give Twitter member.

Next post, how to evaluate a Twitter Meta Index, with the value spectrum, so you'll know what a good value vs. a bad value is.

Tools used in the making of this post:

Basic Calculator

Square Root Calculator

social media marketing ideology

We're creating a new media composed of blogs, Twitter, online friends networks, people search, local search, information hubs, peer-to-peer recommendation systems, web videoconferencing and live event streaming, social bookmarking,

Social media encompasses new realities, new rules, and new marketing ideology. The instantly or eventually doomed is alien to us. Clients and bosses do not trespass against our hard-won expertise into social networking etiquette and pragmatics. We know what works. They don't.

What Works in Social Media:

* altruism: non-commercial sharing, caring, path blazing

* striving to understand and assist customers: open to positive and negative feedback

* user observation testing based marketing strategy

* customer-centric everything

* respect for consumers and suppliers

* risk-taking and innovation

* contributing free advice to the online community

* being a genuine regular guy in the online community

* not having "squeeze dollars out of you" mentality

* transparency, honesty, integrity, authenticity

* earned and consistent credibility

* not being "all business, all the time"

* low key, sporadic promotions

* accurate product details and benefit statements

* uncompensated opinions of your products by real users

* demonstrated expertise that seeks to help

* conversational marketing, founded on sincere desire to interact and learn, not just preach and promote.

The voice of the customer and average person are getting louder, stronger, and more pervasive. You must figure out how to deal with this and take advantage of opportunities...while maintaining your high standards and lofty business principles.

Fakes, con artists, and greedy Enronish exploits are sensed quickly in social media. Tricking people into visiting your ecommerce site or blog will only backfire, destroy your online reputation, and drive you out of business.

Firmly stating how we propose to implement social media marketing, we have certain boundaries. We will not violate our standards. Some compromise on design, site architecture, content, and strategy is possible, but within clearly demarcated zones.

What principles do you exalt and consider non-negotiable? What do you refuse to budge on? Will you do anything, short of prison term criminality, to please a client? Where do you draw the line? Have you explained your ethical limits to your boss? Have they expressed their business conduct standards to you?

If you'll do anything, just to keep the paychecks rolling in, you're disposable. Why commit a dis-service to your employer and your own conscience and portfolio? Implementing bad practices is digging a hole that you'll both fall into sooner or later. Putting your foot down, hard, and without retraction, is a marketable integrity that you won't regret.

Customers are seeking companies that are trustworthy, reputable, and ethical.

Do one thing that's not kosher, and your reputation and customer retention goes down the toilet. We all know of "Dell Hell" and many other instances when fighting the tide of user empowerment resulted in significant destructions for the company. Let's not rub salt in the wounds. But there's no getting around it: bad practices generate bad results.

Being number one on a search engine results page is not the most mission critical goal. Nor is raking in tons of fast, easy cash -- that's acquired at the expense of bad will. Negative buzz in social media will eat you alive, if you're lax about your standards and strategies. Reputation management is a growing industry because of the volatile nature of social media.

Even if a bad practice produces, at first, a little burst of cash or traffic, is it worth it in the long haul?

How you feel about the future you want to be in is what largely determines it for you. A strong vision of the correct path, and it's implications, is what business needs today. Social media marekting, because it's beholden to the online community members for its very existence, must be most Not Marketing, and certainly must be Not Bad Practices Marketing!

social media marketing best practices

Marketing in the realm of social media is mostly Not Marketing.

By the smart, altruistic use of Not Marketing, you gain credibility and loyalty. Not Marketing consists of identifying the problems, questions, complaints, interests of an online social community. You then fulfill those needs non-commercially, that is: you don't sell them anything, nor do you mention having anything to sell.

You simply join a conversation and contribute your expertise. You answer a question, or share a link to a good treatment of the topic. You are friendly, not pushy. Not hyping any product or service. Not bragging or attacking competitors.

Your generous manner and sincere desire to help will attract customers, fans, partners, recruits, whatever you seek.

Now, with the economy experiencing trouble and decline, is the time to engage in best practices.

Most companies will just try to squeeze money out of online social communities. You will outlast them, no matter what their lucky success seems to be. Don't envy or imitate them. Stay true to the principles of human dignity and business savvy.

As making a living gets tougher for all, we need to lust for more expertise. We must drive ourselves and our companies to excel in more ways than ever before. We can't be imitating personal favorites, we must consider what the bona fide experts and veterans say. What is the best information website in your field? What is the best ecommerce site in your industry?

Gain more skills to upgrade your pay.

If you have insight in a specialty, use blogs and other social media tools to let others know. Share abundantly. Don't focus on making money. Focus on making good impressions on those who will promote you in peer-to-peer recommendations, which are far more effective than advertising.

Social media is not something to exploit.

Social media is not another advertising venue to invade.

Social media members are not seeking to buy anything, nor do they wish to be bombarded with self-promotions or product hype. But, you might be able to sell them something...if you gain their confidence with genuine focus on solving their problems or enhancing their life. Your products do that, don't they?

Then after you've spent a bit of time establishing your expertise, and regular guyness, your true personality and transparency, maybe a few will trust you and listen. You must be totally honest, authentic, and helpful. You can't just toss a link to a product page and hope somebody will bite the bait.

It's far more complicated than that.

Social media is "social me" + a network of other "social me"s.

Social media is a new society with high ideals and stern repercussions. You must understand the ethics and the etiquette. Business As Usual leads to Business As Over. You must evolve with the emerging media tools to secure your position in the increasingly online marketplace.

Only best practices and superior ethics will win the day. These qualities are easily seen and greatly respected in social media. You can't fake them to make a quick buck.

Financial rewards will accrue to the company that has the products that most effectively meet customer needs, and promotes these products with deep understanding of the new media realities.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

6 signs of a deceptive marketing expert

Con artists have web sites, and they use many tricks to fake credibility and seduce gullible visitors.

Some scams involve a person posing as a digital marketing wizard, online sales genius, or ecommerce expert. Using classic circus tricks and sophisticated influencing techniques, these "marketing experts" prey on trusting souls. Nice people, who aren't trained in detecting unscrupulous vendors of magically effective money-making schemes or miraculous solutions to their problems.

Unwary seekers of fast, easy riches may be robbed of huge amounts of slowing acquired, hard-earned cash.

Here are some warning signals that mark a "marketing expert" as a fraud to avoid.

6 Signs of a Deceptive
Online "Marketing Expert"

(1) Fake Endorsements

"Quotes" from reputable sources, like USA Today, Forbes, New York Times, or BusinessWeek, praising or at least mentioning vaguely, the expert. Impressive, right? These are all positive reviews. He really must be a #1 Authority of some sort, eh?

Look a bit closer.

There are no links to the articles quoted. Even after doing a Google search, and digging 22 pages into the search results, these alleged citations of praise do not appear.

Articles by credible, mainstream news media should appear early in a search results list, because the search engines favor such authorities. If these alleged quotes do not appear, it's because they don't exist and never did.

(2) Fake Testimonials

22 pages into the search results, and all you see are good things being said about the guy. That overwhelming bias should be the first warning that something's not right.

No legitimate companies or real people get zero complaints. Nobody gets all positive reviews. No company is perfect. So the overwhelming flattery and piles of positive hype should make you pause. Try clicking on a link and see what happens.

When you click on a link, the site is either a spin-off by the alleged expert (name dot com, ask name dot com, namemarketing dot com, etc.), or it's an affiliate, i.e. chump who bought into the expert's system, and agreed to "give back" to the expert by saying nice things, and only nice things, about him.

(3) Enforced Reciprocity

You're bullied into feeling "obligated". Your obligation is not only demanded, but specifically stated. Since the marketing wizard liar has shared his precious, fool-proof secrets with you, at an astronomically high price, you are necessarily duty-bound, as a person with a conscience, to "give back" to the expert.

After all, he had to spend far more time and money collecting and analyzing all these exotic hidden truths. He had to travel to special locations, wine and dine entrepreneurs, set up meetings with busy CEOs, prying valiantly into their deepest psyches -- to find all these great marketing ideas. Yeah. Right.

In reality, or so goes the spin he's putting on it, the expert is getting ripped off by you! The material he's providing is infinitely more valuable than the price he's charging for them. But that's okay, because sacrifice is mandatory. And now, it's your turn to sacrifice something.

You're guilt-tripped into "giving back". That means investing more money in his products, equipment, books, videos, audio seminars, and other, endless, super-success training material. Or investing in his company's stock. Or becoming a distributor.

(4) Guilt-Trip Distributorships

"You love these products, right?" the dealer/expert asks, aggressively. "You believe in them, don't you?"

You feel a trap springing up, but to be logical and honest, you reply, "Of course I do."

"Well, then, don't you want others to enjoy and benefit from them, too, along with you? Or are you selfish, concerned only for your own personal gain? If you have a heart of caring for others, you'd naturally want to bring them the benefits you're enjoying. Becoming a distributor is easy...(etc.)"

When the main point seems to be your becoming a distributor, and then your recruiting still more distributors, you've got a very fishy situation. You must be aware that most scams involve loading you with product, and psychologically coercing you, soon after becoming a customer, into becoming a dealer.

How many sales people sell you a product, then turn around and try to get you to become a sales person for it? That's not normal, and in some cases, it's not strictly ethical either.

(5) Massively Overpriced Products

Charlatans and con artists tend to inflate the prices of their products. Insanely high prices is an old trick to increase awe and expectations. They hope you're dazzled by the high prices, so that you automatically assume the products simply must be good, since they cost so much. It's called "perceived value" and it's one of the oldest scams in the world.

Books by legitimate marketing experts generally cost $25.00 to $50.00, unless the topic is extremely technical and written for top tier executives. Even then, marketing books remain on the lower end of the scale.

$800.00 is not a reasonable price for an online marketing book, nor is $5,000 a justifiable price for a set of audio CDs. 28 audio CDs on a topic seems more like brainwashing than education.

The fact that the author provides wild claims, exaggerated reasons why the stuff costs so much, basing the price on the awesome, huge amounts of money you'll make once you read and apply what you've learned. Another good reason to see this guy as a snake oil salesman. Legit experts make modest claims.

(6) Not Mentioned by Real Experts

A final test is: Do the real online marketing experts endorse, quote, or link to the guy?

If you do a little research, it's not hard to discover who the experts are.

You can start by looking at the most successful companies, and seeing who they consult. Or look at the top universities and see who they study and teach. Or then again, go to a blog by an established expert that all the other experts quote, and see who they link to and write articles about.

In marketing and sales, the genuine experts include Seth Godin, Al & Laura Ries, Jakob Nielsen, Tom Peters, Phil Kotler, Ann Handley, W. Chan Kim, Harvey McKay, John Hagel III, Clayton Christensen.

One way to determine who the experts are is to go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble web sites, and search for "online marketing", see what books are the best-selling in that topic.

Then read the industry reviews, or check the back dust-jacket cover blurbs.

Is the book favorably reviewed by the New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek, Harvard Business Review, Kellogg School of Marketing?

What individuals endorse it? CEOs of successful, well known companies? Good! Top rated university professors who teach marketing? Great! Other unknown marketing authors? Bad. Members and affiliates of his own programs? Not good.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A List not dead, but expanding interactively

There has been a post by an obscure blogger called Jim Kukral. He says the blogosphere's A List is dead. Blogebrities are legend, not current reality.

The complaint seems to be echoed in some Twitter messages: A Listers are arrogant, and they get massive traffic, regardless of how important or intelligent their content is. If a Robert Scoble, Jason Calacanis, or Kevin Rose say or do something, no matter what, the web lemmings swarm toward it and praise it inordinately.

This could be a clever ploy by Jim Krukal to place himself higher than his envied, superior colleagues. They're more popular and celebrated than Krukal. They attract more web traffic than he does. A Listers who monetize their blogs with ads are making more money. He declares them over-rated, irrelevant, disappearing.

I don't know Jim's deeper motivations, but his attack seems misguided and malformed.

That's an easy way for mediocrity and slouch-sourcing to appear to be transcendent, towering indecently above their betters. But it won't work.

While it's true that we have Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, and Plurk as tools for advising each other, still, in most cases, the A List blog pioneers keep us moving forward. I respect A Listers for blazing the trail that we're all traveling on. Most of them have not lowered themselves to excessive self-promotion or narcissistic triva. They keep discovering and beta testing the technology and strategies that are emerging.

Average social media community members are, like most bloggers, telling each other what they ate for lunch, what mood they're in at this moment, and how they can't activate their new iPhone. That kind of personal life-casting is a valid and necessary element in the universal Rise of Individual Voice. It's digital democracy.

But it's not altruistic. It's the game of voyeur and exhibitionist, those who love to self-reveal and those who love to hear about the life of another person, a net neighbor, fellow online community member.

A Listers tend to be great writers and good in psychology.

A Listers are typically more obsessed externals than internals.

They obsess over technology and share their frustrations and experiments, their explorations and recommendations.

Some A Listers have a special lifestyle, credentials, or position in society.

They generally have something of benefit to share. More than just their personality and writing style. If all they did was talk about their personal life, they wouldn't remain A Listers very long, unless they're a pre-blogging celebrity in film, music, politics, or some other admired or newsworthy field.

Of course, A Listers did not campaign or propagadize to achieve their status. And the whole concept of A Listers, as an elite group, is a primitive notion.

The perception of an existing A List, whose worth is judged by popularity, is a relic from the pre-web past. Idolization of an A List is an archaic remnant of privileged hierarchy and superior priesthood. But the blogosphere's A List evolved primarily via organic methods with viral bursts.

Those bloggers and geek celebrities we emulate or despise, are they guilty of something? What? Who forces you to idolize them and feel inferior to them? Do we hope to iconoclastically triumph through oedipoedic patricidal indignation and dethroning?

What contribution do A List bloggers make to the blogosphere, to you and me?

It takes A Listers, with their multitudes of messages and followers, to burn up the Twitter servers, experiment with controversy and radical maneuvers, and provoke the rest of us to defend and define the evolving, mutating blogosphere.

Ordinary mortals are moving on up into the ephemeral realms of Web 2.0 popularity, with a tentative notoriety, but not dethroning the early giants. Slacker trolls erupt in a frenzy of foot-shooting and ankle-biting: their use of blogs and Twitter to attack bloggers and Twitterers is simultaneously hypocritical and self-defeating.

And the web surges on.

Web 2.0 keeps reinventing it's A List of thought leaders and traffic drivers, as the old run faster and the young soar higher. It's a new business environment, composed of risk-resolvers and strategy geniuses. They're the icon smashers and tradition disrupters: shoving aside the discredited, old-fashioned MSM, and gleefully improving and reconfiguring the new media.

A List dead?

A vain wish for the Amanda Chapel amateur team trolls. Unconstructive, the best they can manage is to complain about how social media is destroying their grandiose hierarchies and the rule of the few.

It's the quality of interactions that occur in a social media community, or an individual blog, that give it value. Beneficial peer-to-peer interaction is something you can neither buy nor seduce. It's an organic on its way to becoming cataclysmic.

The what-I-had-for-lunchers provide an easy target for the blogophobic cave-dwellers who want the whole web revolution to go away like it never happened.

That's why the A Listers are still vital, valiant warriors for the web revolution. They're doing a lot of the blogocombat that keeps the internet, web, and blogosphere a paradise for free expression. Let's pause to remember, without A Listers like Evan Williams, there would be no Twitter enabling you to attack A Listers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

blogging the Beijing China summer Olympics

Lindsay Toler, journalist with The Dallas Morning News, is blogging the summer Olympics in Beijing China in a social networking site called NeighborsGo.

Thanks to CyberJournalist newsletter for the heads-up about Lindsay.

Lindsay at Beijing Olympics

Playboy seeks hot blogger for sexist BS

Nice to see Playboy remains a bastion for vulgar, perverted, worthless sexist garbage. Now they're looking for the "hottest" she-blogger to exploit and treat like a piece of meat.

They want the she-blogger to pose for Playboy. Not sure why they don't just pick any random MySpace blogger. Oh, I forgot. Many of the MySpace sexy profile photos are fake. How stupid of me to forget that!

I'm only linking to this to show how sickening some elements of our society are, not to approve such patriarchal crap.

Women are not disposable instruments of sleazy enjoyment, they're our sisters and the mothers of our children.

If you treat women like sex objects, merely means for your selfish pleasure, don't coming crying to me when they treat you like a chump and cheat on you with your best buddy. LOL

"Who's the hottest weblogger?" [Notice old fashioned term "weblogger". Luddites!]

[Photo above: Brigitte Dale of PopCrunch]

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Confessions of a CEO Blogger VIDEO

George F. Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, on blogging. (April 21, 2008)

Friday, July 4, 2008

blog title search SEO study

Here's a search engine optimization (SEO) study on the title of this blog. I titled my new blog Pluperfecter because it's a word that had zero hits when I Googled it, and because "pluperfect" is relevant to my blogging goals.

Pluperfecter blog published its first post on May 1, 2008.

I have noticed that sometimes Google displays a new link within minutes after it occurs. In other words, I can post content to the web, with my URL embedded in my signature or with the title Pluperfecter in the URL, and do a Google search shortly thereafter and see that link on the SERP.

How can this information I'm providing you be of benefit to your business or client? I don't want to say too much. You can figure out plenty of applications, I'm sure.

"Pluperfect" is a legitimate word. But"pluperfecter" is an original twist, so I can own this keyword, and use it as a branding tool. It also makes it easy to track who's linking to this blog, since virtually any use of the keyword "pluperfecter" will be a reference to this blog, and to nothing else.

Social media has tremendous SEO power. You can boost a company or product's search engine ranking by blogging and Twittering links to their website or product page. Google gives special prominence to Blogger/Blogspot blogs and social networking sites.

Let's look at the SERPs (search engine results pages) of a search on Pluperfecter. Notice the weight given by Google to the social networks like Blogger,, Plurk, Jaiku, Ustream, etc.

Here are the websites with links relative to my Pluperfecter blog, in the order found on the SERPs (To save time, I won't give the entire URLs which can be lengthy, but you can do your own Google search to get the exact links.)

These are blog posts, blog comments, and micro-blog messages made by me and by others linking to me, plus some feeds.































Again, these are the unique websites, in order of appearance on the SERPs, not the direct links to specific pages. To find the exact references, just Google the word Pluperfecter.