Blog Postings for 2014

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How to Get Rid of Tracking and Ads: An FAQ

A "friend" (not her real name) complained to me yesterday there were too many ads. "It's like all ads!"

I told her that it's easy to block the ads. She didn't know that.

You can block the ads. You can also block the tracking tags. These are bits of code that are added to webpages. When you open a page, click on something, or even just move your mouse, the tags collect information and report it somewhere.

I checked this morning: there are 1,934 tracking tags. That's an astonishing number of companies that collect your every action and sell your data to other companies so they can bombard you with yet more ads.

Many advertising companies are run by ethical, responsible people. However, some ad companies are run by jerks who do whatever they want just to make money.

Block the Tracking

Add Ghostery to your browser.

  1. Visit and install it.
  2. Just click and it's installed.
  3. A small blue ghost icon appears at the top right of your browser.
  4. Click the icon to make changes.
  5. Add the list of tracking tags that you want to block. You can choose from the list of 1,934 or just select all. To do this...
  6. Click the Gear Icon and select Options.
  7. Click Select All and save.
  8. When you refresh the page, the tracking is blocked.

Block the Ads

To get rid of the ads.

  1. Use Adblock Plus.
  2. Open that and click the Install button.
  3. A red ABP icon appears at the top right of your browser.
  4. Click the icon.
  5. Click Options.
  6. Turn ON the first two
  7. Turn OFF the last one.
  8. Exit and you'll not see any more ads.

The last one is a bit tricky. AdblockPlus blocks all ads. However, if a company pays AdblockPlus, the company's ads will be shown. By turning this off, you can block those ads too.

If I Work in Marketing, Why Do I Turn Off Ads?

You may wonder about that. I work in digital marketing, yet I turn off ads.

A study by Tim Suther, then-CMO of Acxiom, showed that 80% of digital advertising fails to reach its target audience. 80% of ads are wasted due to ad blindness (people have learned to ignore ads) and ad blocking tools. Push advertising (thrown ads in people's faces) doesn't work.

Another way to do marketing is pull advertising, where you create content that attracts interested viewers. Your audience wants to see the content. They choose to visit. My book The Big Book of Content Marketing is based on this idea (visit the page to learn more about it).

Tactics that work include SEO, social, video, and content marketing. What doesn't work well? Untargeted PPC, SEM, banner ads, popups, and popunders. PPC works when it announces a content campaign.

So even though I work in digital marketing, I have no problem with blocking the tracking and advertising. Companies should learn push advertising doesn't work.

Companies should put their efforts in making better products so people want the product. Is that possible?

Generally, ad agencies recommend for companies to spend 20% of their revenues on advertising. Apple had $170 billion in revenues for 2013. Ad agencies think Apple should spend $34 billion (20%) in marketing. But people stand in line for Apple stuff. Thieves race through street traffic to steal Apple stuff. Apple spends only 0.6% (zero point six percent) of its revenues on marketing. They simply don't need to advertise because their products are so cool.

So make better stuff. Give your customers what they really want. That works.

Book Royalties at Amazon

People have asked me about royalties at Amazon. Here are the numbers:

Price and Royalties for a Print Book

I input the price (US$9.95) and it automatically calculates the price in pounds/Euros and shows me my expected royalty (what I get). I enter $9.95 (US dollars) and it shows me the price in pounds (someone in London will pay 6.12) and euro (what someone in Germany will pay 7.69 euro). At the right, it shows me the royalty in the various Amazon stores: I get $3.82 if the book is sold at; $5.81 if it's sold via CreateSpace and $1.83 if it's sold in bookstores. Below that are my royalties from the UK and Europe.

Price and Royalties for a Digital Book

Here is the same for the digital book (the ebook):

I enter the price ($3.99) and it shows me the price for other countries, along with the royalty (70%) and the amount that I get. If I set the price at $10 or higher, I get 35% royalty. Yes, Amazon is nudging authors to set lower prices so it can attract more buyers (and kill bookstores). 70% of $9.99 is $6.99. If I sell the book at $10.05, then I get$3.51.

For example, the ebook is $3.99 in the USA. I get 70%. Amazon charges a delivery fee, which is based on the kilobyte size of the book. The book is 2.8MB (mobi format), so they charge me an additional US$0.21. In the end, I get $2.65 for each ebook sold in the USA. In Mexico, the book is sold for 52.90 pesos, of which I get $36.06 pesos. All of those sales are converted to US dollars and Amazon pays that into my bank account.

However, it's not that much money. You make very little money on non-fiction books. I might sell a few thousand. Maybe. That's quite good for non-fiction.

One good thing about Amazon is the worldwide distribution: Europe, India, Japan, Australia, and Latin America. The only places where people can't buy from Amazon are several countries in the Middle East and mainland China. Next week, I'll talk with people in China about this.

How to Get Followers in Twitter

One of the ways to measure success is to look for numbers. When you have a lot of bottle caps, you’re the king of bottle caps on your street. Of course, that starts the race to collect bottle caps every way you can.

The same on Twitter. Twitter shows you how many people follow you which turns into a game for the sake of numbers.

It’s understandable to want followers. It’s sad to tweet if nobody is listening. And it’s cool to see your follower numbers go up. And that’s okay for most people.

But two groups go too far: celebrities and bean counters. A celebrity‘s weight is measured in fans. 10 million fans are bigger than 4 million. Celebrity magazines love these lists. The bean counters have 50,000 fans, which is nowhere near celebrity status. So they’ll do anything to get more fans.

18.4 million people follow Kim Kardashian. But are they real or fake? According to, seven million (38%) of her followers are fake. Another six million are inactive accounts. Only 5.3 million (29%) are real accounts. 13m of her 18.4m followers don’t exist.

It’s not just bimbo celebrities who fake it. Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter, @biz) has 2m followers and 70% are fake or inactive. Twitter could easily get rid of these fake and inactive accounts. This would stop the inflation. But Twitter allows it because this makes Twitter look bigger.

It’s not necessary to have 100,000 followers. You can have only two followers (your mom and your cat) and that’s fine, because your tweets are available to everyone on Twitter. It’s the content of the tweets that matter, not the followers.

Wait, Followers Don’t Matter?

Followers don’t matter because most of them aren’t reading your postings, just like you’re not reading their postings. If it’s just a few people who you personally know, then yes, you’ll likely read their postings. I read the postings from the 42 people that I follow.

But if someone is following 500 people, there’s no way he can read several hundred postings daily. I’ve talked with a number of people about this. Several told me they’re fine with only a few hundred followers. They’d rather reach people who care than send messages that get ignored. It’s a different for celebrities. Millions of fans read every tweet. For the rest of us, we live in reality.

How to Get Fake Followers

So your boss sees you only have two followers (your mom and your cat) and he starts yapping about it’s time to bring in people who get social media. No problem. You can get lots of followers. There are three ways:

  • Buy followers. Pay $10 and get 20,000 followers. Use a search engine and look for buy Twitter followers. Many organizations, movie stars, and politicians do this. That’s how they have 3,000,000 followers (you can get a bulk discount for 100,000 or more). Prices range from $0.10 to $0.01 per follower. You can also buy fake followers for Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and just about every social site.
  • Create followers. A director at a global marketing company told me they have armies of zombie accounts. They use these to add fake Likes, Followers, and comments to clients. Clients get happy when they see 300,000 followers cheering their dumb product.
  • Be a celebrity in Twitter. If you're in the list of recommended celebrities, new users at Twitter will follow you because they don’t know any better. This is follower inflation: if you have 500,000 followers, you’ll get yet more followers.

Teens call this Like Whores; people who chase after Likes and followers. (Several people asked me about this so-called global marketing company. On advice from an attorney (really), I won’t say the name. They can sue, regardless of the facts.)

Another Way to Get Followers

There’s a fourth way. Many people will follow you if you follow them.

  • Follow 300 people on Monday. Just pick them at random. Go to someone’s page (especially someone with lots of followers) and look at their list of followers. Do clicky-clicky and add people at random.
  • About 150 of them (50%) will follow you in return.
  • On Tuesday, follow another 300 people. You’ll get another 150 followers.
  • Keep doing this. You can add 150 followers every day. After 30 days, you’ll have 4,500 followers.
  • Keep doing this. You can easily get 20-30,000 followers.

Like I said, this works, and I know because I tested this for you, my dear reader. I created an account for my cat with a photo, bio, and two tweets. Each day, I added 100 followers. The new follower rate varied from 48% to 72% per day. After ten days, the account was following 1,004 people and had 552 followers (55% success rate). It still had only two tweets. You can get 4,500-5,000 followers per month. You can also go out in the street and jump up and down. That’s just as meaningless.

  • Search Twitter for #followback to find people who’ll follow you if you follow them. 70% or more will follow you.
  • Don’t add more than 300-400 people per day. Twitter doesn’t like aggressive following. They’ll delete your account.

What’s the Point of Fake Followers?

You’re wondering, why do this? These are random people. Isn’t this a waste of time? And it’s fake. Who are they kidding? The answer is complicated:

  • Will they read your tweets? Just as likely as you’ll read their tweets, which is no. Your dog will laugh at you.
  • But many people don’t know this. When they look at your account and see 50,000 followers, they think wow, you’re so popular!
  • When your boss sees you have seven followers and Joe Slick has 50,000, your boss will think you’re a loser. He tells you to get followers or move back to your mom’s basement.

People want followers so they hire ad agencies which buy fake numbers. Celebrities need to appear popular, so their press agents add a few million followers. Bosses are happy, clients are happy, and followers feel they’re following a leader.

Be careful. If you buy followers, you may be dealing with hackers who create fake accounts to infect computers. There’s also a risk of credit card fraud, bank fraud, and blackmail. I advise you not to buy fake accounts or followers. This is also why I think most social metrics tools are worthless. Klout, Kred, PeerIndex, and others can be easily spoofed. Want a big Klout score? No problem! Whip out your credit card and you'll be a local hero.

Are They Fake or Real? How to Tell

You can use StatusPeople to check someone’s account to see if they have fake accounts. Many celebrities have 50% or more fake followers. If your account is following fake or inactive people, use TwitBlock or ManageFlitter to delete them.

How to Get Real Followers

There’s another way to get followers. This is what I did for my own account.

  • Write books, articles, blog postings, and tweets with useful information
  • Talk at conferences and put your Twitter ID in your Powerpoints
  • Put your Twitter ID in your newsletters
  • Tell your friends. Add your @name to your email address line, your website’s contact page, and your pages at Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on
  • Go to Twitter | Me | Find More Suggestions | Find Friends | Select your email account. Twitter will see which of your friends are on Twitter and connect them to you

Over five years, my follower count has grown to just over 1,000 people (Oct. 2014). This is natural growth with real followers. I prefer 1,000 real people instead of a million fake followers. (Excerpt from #TwitterBook, 2nd edition, revised for 2014.)

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Want the rest of the book? Get my #TwitterBook at

All about Hashtags

Why use hashtags? By adding a hash mark, you mark the word, like using underline or bold. You use it to tell other people that the word is important.

Twitter made the hashtags clickable. When you see a hashtag, you click it and Twitter will show you more tweets with that hashtag. It’s the same as if you search for it. You’ll see all of the postings with that hashtag. This lets you follow the conversation and add to it.

For example, to see what people are saying about Miley Cyrus, search for #MileyCyrus. (By the way, upper case or lower case doesn’t matter, so you can use #MileyCyrus, #mileycyrus, #MiLeYcYrUs, or whatever.) Hashtags are written as one word. It’s #MileyCyrus, not #Miley Cyrus.

When you’ve settled on the hashtag, use it in your tweets. Put it in your webpages, website, emails, newsletters, business cards, advertising, T-shirts, TV ads, and digital advertising. Use it in your Google Adwords, both text ads and banner ads. Use it in Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social platforms.

Hashtags, Discussions, Communities

In the beginning, the idea for social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook was to create networks of small groups of friends. This was based on ideas by Mark Granovetter, professor of sociology at Stanford, and others. So it made sense to see communication as something that happened within contact lists.

But Twitter also allows your posting to be seen by anyone. Absolutely anyone.

To most people, this is a bloomin’ buzzin’ confusion. Lots of tweets about celebrities, personal chit-chat, and some dog ’s lunch. This is why people look at Twitter and most never come back. And many keep using it but never figure out what’s going on.

To solve that mess, people began using hashtags. With search and hashtags, you suddenly see only the tweets for that topic.

  • Want to see what’s going on in NYC? Search for #NYCEvents. 227 tweets in the last 30 days.
  • What have people said about sushi in Seattle? Search #Seattle #Sushi. 35 in the last 30 days.
  • Wondering about that beach at Maui? #beach #maui. 587 tweets in the last 30 days, many with photos.
  • Earthquake in Sichuan? Get instant updates with #earthquake #Sichuan.
  • What’s going on at Oracle World conference? Go #OracleWorld
  • Is the SF commuter train late? #Caltrain for updates.
  • What are people saying about Kim during her TV show? #KimKardashian. Ridiculous tens of thousands.
  • Looking for a job in sales in Paris? Search #sales #job #Paris. 24 in the last 30 days.

Using hashtags is like focus: pick one thing and suddenly you see what’s relevant to it. For example, the various US political groups use hashtags so their conversations can be seen by their members. There is #TCOT (Top Conservatives on Twitter), #TDOT (Top Democrats on Twitter), #CCOT (Conservative Christians on Twitter), and so on. They can stay in touch and talk with each other by using their hashtags.

Hashtags come and go. Some stay in use for a long time. Others pop up, become wildly popular, and disappear within a few days. So look around and see what’s being used.

Hashtags and Dashboards

Your next big step is to use a dashboard. These let you create columns for each hashtag that you follow so you can see the tweets for each hashtag.

Hootsuite lets me follow hashtags. There’s a column for each hashtag, such as #PaloAlto and #OnlyInSiliconValley. I usually follow a few hashtags, plus hashtags for conferences, events, and so on which I add or remove as they come and go. The mobile version is pretty good.

You can set up columns for your organization, your products, and services. You can follow your school, your soccer team, or your town. Whatever interests you, set up a column. Find the hashtag and add it. You can arrange columns as you like.

The dashboards also let you send tweets, schedule tweets for later posting, search, and so on. You can also manage tweets as a team: someone on your team writes a tweet and it goes to you for approval. These dashboards also let you add postings from Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and other social sites.

If you’re using Twitter for work, it’s a good idea to put this on a separate screen so you can watch the columns. You can set up bell notifications to get your attention or just bug your co-workers.

There are several dashboards, such as Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter), Hootsuite, Radian6 (owned by Salesforce), Seesmic, and others. These have free versions for desktop, browser, tablets, and smart phones. Try them and see which one you like.

It’s pretty hard to look at Twitter without a dashboard.

Tools to Find Hashtags

Here are several useful hashtag tools: shows you related discussions. For example, what’s the best hashtag for helicopters? Is it #helicopter, #copter, or #whirlybird? Go Enter #helicopter and you’ll see related hashtags. You’ll see a word for helicopters that I didn’t include in my list. The size of the circle shows popularity; the thickness of the line shows traffic; and the closer the circle, the more relevant. Topsy lets you compare trends for several hashtags. Use Topsy to see numbers and trends for the last 30 days. Look for relevant discussions with lots of traffic. Topsy was bought by Apple for $200m.

What to Tweet

Many of the experts in your field are on Twitter. Take advantage of their knowledge and experience to learn about your field:

  • Ask about your industry, products, tools, and services
  • Ask about organizations, conferences, and events in your field
  • Ask for the best books, websites, blogs, and other resources
  • Ask for tips and secrets
  • Ask for ideas to improve your product
  • Talk about tips, ideas, observations, discoveries
  • Keep up with your industry, politics, movements, events

A great way to find hashtags is to look at the messages by experts. If they’re active in discussions, they’re using hashtags. Look at the hashtags that they use.

Tips for Tweeting

Hire some staff to send your tweets. That’s how @MileyCyrus tweets every 42 seconds all day (and all night too.) Celebrities have a staff of two or three people to tweet. Companies often have several people as well. Cisco has more than 100 Twitter accounts.

You can use the schedule tools in HootSuite and TweetDeck to write ten or twenty tweets at once and then send them out over the week.

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Who Really Uses Twitter?

Black Twitter

There are so many black teens on Twitter that they’ve created their own world on Twitter. People talk about “Black Twitter”. These kids have come up with new ways to use Twitter.

Use TrendsMap to look at trending hashtags. First of all, tweets tend to concentrate around large cities. Hashtags spring up suddenly, grow explosively, and disappear within a few days.

Many of these are by and for black teens. They write “fill in the blank” tweets, such as #IfSantaWasBlack or #InPhilly (you know you’re in Philadelphia if…) The replies are witty and often very funny. Paula Deen got her own #PaulasBestDishes hashtag. Go ahead and look up some of these hashtags.

I think this comes out of Call-and-Response, a tradition in US Black culture. You’ve seen this in movies that include Black churches, where the preacher calls out to the audience and they shout back a reply and it goes back and forth. For whites, it’s disruptive, but some blacks like it that way.

Several factors come together:

  • US Blacks and Latinos are early adopters of mobile devices, with Latinos leading whites as much as three to one for smart phones.
  • Blacks and Latinos tend to have strong family networks and they stay in touch with each other. Latino families may also live in several countries. So they use phones to stay in touch.
  • US urban Blacks and Latinos teens can use Twitter on $5 cell phones.

Look at several hundred tweets by black teens and you’ll see they nearly always use hashtags, photos, and videos. They tweet in group conversations by sharing their thoughts and experiences. This is in strong contrast to celebrities and marketers who use Twitter for one-way broadcast.

Black teens are also using Twitter to meet new people. The Pew study points out 54% of black teens have become good friends with people they’ve met online in comparison to 35% of white teens.

This brings me back to what I wrote at the opening of this book. I noticed people in Appalachia knew Twitter better than people in Silicon Valley. Looking at Twitter, I found widespread underground use. Black teens didn’t read books on how to use Twitter; they figured this out on their own and the remaining teens joined them.

Look at people’s tweets. If it’s a long series of “official tweets” with capitalized words and URLs to articles, then the person is broadcasting. He’s not listening. Is the person a “Like Whore” collecting followers for the sake of numbers? Ask them, and I’ve found out that if they know you well enough, some will admit they don’t get Twitter.

Latinos on Twitter

There are 542 million people in Latin America and another 52 million Latinos in the USA. If we assume the common 16%, adoption rate, that’s 95m Latinos on Twitter, or about twice as many as Americans on Twitter.

That’s why many of the top hashtags are in Spanish, such as #TodoIbaBienHastaQue (#EveryThingWasGoingWellUntil…) with very funny completions (these are all in Spanish).

Use TrendsMap to look at hashtags in South America and Central America.

Chinese on Twitter

In mid-2013, China began to allow Facebook and Twitter in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Chengdu where there are global corporations and business conferences.

Many Chinese use VPN to access Twitter. VPN disguises the user’s location, so it’s difficult to know the number of Chinese on Twitter.

Weibo, which is similar to Twitter, has over 600m users and 100m daily posts. It allows photos and video, like Twitter. It also allows music, which Twitter doesn’t have. Furthermore, you can send tweets with animated emoticons (cartoon animations). These are very popular and many companies have developed cartoons or licensed existing cartoon characters. Some emoticons are free and others cost a small fee, such as a dollar for twelve.

There’s something about tweeting in Chinese that Westerners don’t realize. A tweet allows 140 characters, which is 12-20 English words (with lots of abbreviations). But a word can be written in Chinese with a single character. Chinese also uses fewer spaces between characters, so a Chinese tweet can have 120-130 words. This allows six times more text than English, which also allows them to write complex thoughts that are impossible to express in a short English tweet. Ai Weiwei, the Chinese artist, said “With 140 Chinese characters on Twitter, you can write a short story or novel.” Would you like an example? This paragraph has 120 words, which fits in a Chinese tweet, but is impossible to tweet in English.

How Many People Really Use Twitter?

When Twitter IPOed (started selling stock in Wall Street), they had to file an S-1 document with the government. The S-1 stated they had 215m monthly active users (MAUs). On p. 46, they admitted there was no independent confirmation of this number (see, 233 pages, HTML).

Twitter counts the active accounts. This includes:

  • Humans: A person logs into Twitter to read messages or send a message.
  • Multiple accounts: Many people use several accounts. For example, someone may have two accounts for personal and work use. A company team may have 10-20 accounts for different purposes (an account for each product, each service, the company, the CEO, the company dog, and so on). Large corporations may have hundreds of accounts.
  • Robots: Many computers log into Twitter to collect messages or send messages. For example, weather and earthquake reports are automatically sent.
  • Automated activity: Your cell phone automatically checks Twitter every few minutes for new messages. Each of those automated checks is an activity. It’s possible someone set up Twitter on her phone four years ago but forgot about it, yet she’s still considered a daily active user.
  • Spammers: Marketing and spammers create millions of fake accounts to send messages.

All of these are considered active accounts.

A better way is to see how many humans use Twitter. The Pew Internet and American Life Project ( found 16% of US adults (20-75 years old) use Twitter. There are about 250m adults in the USA, so that’s 40m adult Americans on Twitter.

Pew also finds 24% of US teenagers use Twitter (May 2013). There are 30m US teenagers (age 13-19), many of whom had a party next door last night. So that’s 7.2m teens on Twitter.

This means 47.2m people in the US on Twitter in mid-2013.

People at Twitter told me 77% of their users are outside the USA. If 47.2m are in the USA, then there are an additional 128m people outside the US for a total of 175m people. An additional 40 million accounts are multiple accounts, robot accounts, fake accounts, or spam accounts.

Mike Isaac at AllThingsDigital wrote Twitter has had over a billion registrations, which means the abandonment rate is greater than 83%.

Why do people sign up but not use Twitter? Twitter won’t explain to people how to use it. The interface is also primitive and confusing. Furthermore, Twitter encourages Twitter a something for celebrities, so everyone else has little incentive to use it.

Twitter’s visibility is greater than its use. TV shows, billboards, and advertising now show hashtags and tweets. A study by Edison Research and Arbitron shows that 44% of Americans see tweets daily through other media.

Be careful with data from 2012 or earlier. In 2011, only 12% of teens used Twitter but in 2013, 26% of teens were on Twitter. These numbers can quickly change.

Researchers estimate 3% of accounts are fake (around 5 million accounts). Twitter themselves say about 5% (11m) are fake. (Yes, I’ve read estimates of 10-20%, but I think the lower numbers are better justified.)

There around 500m tweets per day, but many are automated or spam.

Documentation for these numbers is in the References section.

If you have a better way to calculate Twitter’s numbers, please let me know.

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Want the rest of the book? Get my #TwitterBook at

Amazon Affiliate: Worth It? has an Amazon Affiliate Marketing service. You sign up, Amazon gives you a link to a book (or any product at Amazon), you put the link on your website (or send it out in your newsletters, blog, tweets, etc.), and if people click the link and buy something at Amazon, you get part of the sale. Amazon gives you money.

That's the theory. What's the reality?

I've had Amazon links in my website since January 2009 to now (Oct. 2014). That's five years, 10 months.

I get about 10-15,000 monthly visitors to my website, so in that time, at least 700,000 people have visited my site.

How much have I earned? Here's the data from my Amazon Affiliate account:

My earnings as an Amazon Affiliate. In nearly five years, my links produced $111.57 in sales for Amazon, and I got $4.47.

Because of my links, ten items have been sold at Amazon. Amazon made $111.57 in sales. My share was $4.47.

I've earned $4.47 from Amazon in nearly six years and 700,000 visitors. About $0.08 per month. Or $0.64 for each 100,000 visitors. It wouldn't even feed my cat for a month.

(Really. My cat eats a six-pound bag ($12) of Professional Adult Cat Complete Formula cat food each month. $4.47 won't even cover two weeks of cat food.)

Why Does Amazon Affiliate Pay So Little?

This is the nature of Amazon, Google, Facebook, Youtube, and the "web sharing economy". A small handful of companies get overwhelming market share. Tens of millions of websites (and blogs, social pages, etc.) show their ads or sell their products (there are +175m registered domain names). The central sites get a penny here, a penny there, which adds up to billions for them, but the payout is divided among tens of millions of sites, so each site gets pennies. Very few can survive (or even pay the monthly server fees).

It's the Walmart Effect. A small town of 20-30,000 people exists because it's an economic ecosystem: the small shop owners pay sales tax which maintains the schools, police, etc. and there are doctors, dentists, teachers, and so on.When Walmart enters the community, the low prices kill every small business within 25 miles. The community turns into a Walmart town. Corporate franchises pay such low wages that workers need food stamps to survive. The workers earn too little to contribute to the community's economic ecosystem. The few upper-income taxpayers subsidize the corporate franchises.

It sounds great that Uber and AirBnB are disrupting the over-regulated and expensive taxi and hotel industry. We'll pay less. But in the end, the drivers and apartment owners will earn trivial money. Hundreds of thousands of people are letting Uber and AirBnB use their cars and apartments. As these sites grow, more people will sign up. But the size of the market is fixed: there is only a certain number of people who need taxi rides or rent apartments. So fees will drop among the drivers and apartment owners.

This economic system is destructive. Big sites rely on little sites; big sites destroy little sites.

Yes, Amazon will tell you that people are earning thousands of dollars monthly. Yes, some people gloat about the money they make.

But my data shows reality. 700,000 visitors over nearly six years produced $4.47.

If you have different numbers, let me know. Send a screenshot and I'll add it to this page.

What about Music?

It's not only Amazon. Taylor Swift quit Spotify over their absurdly low music royalties. She called it "nano-pennies" and that's a good name for it: music bands earn $0.0084 per song, or just under a penny.

Most music bands earn perhaps $38 per month in royalties while Spotify had revenues of $210m in 2013.

Aloe Blacc writes in Wired, "It takes roughly one million spins on Pandora for a songwriter to earn $90. Avicii’s “Wake Me Up!” was the most streamed song in Spotify history and the 13th most played song on Pandora since its release in 2013, with more than 168 million plays in the US. Pandora paid $12,359 in domestic royalties ($7.36 for every million plays, or $0.000,007,3 per play) to be split among three songwriters and the publishers. Pandora had $240m in revenues for 2014.

HBO's Silicon Valley

After hearing so much about HBO's comedy Silicon Valley, I watched it.

I've lived in Palo Alto since 1995. I've worked in dozens of startups; I started two companies; I worked at SGI, SUN, Cisco, and so on. I was the head of a major association in Silicon Valley for ten years. I'm currently the advisory board of nine startups and I work with several companies. I have a house in Palo Alto and my cat is famous on the web. So, yes, I know Silicon Valley.

Here's what I think of the TV show:

  • Not Very Silicon Valley: My main issue with the show Silicon Valley is the lack of Silicon Valley in it. This barely touches on the reality of Silicon Valley. It could be a show about avionic engineers in Seattle or biotech researchers in North Carolina. The TechCrunch contest is in the final two episodes, but it's just the set for a generic conference (it could be about avionics or biotech).
  • Lack of Location: The show pretty much ignores Palo Alto and Silicon Valley. Not a single scene on University Avenue, Stanford University, Castro St., etc. There's a quick helicopter shot of East Palo Alto (but you would recognize it only if you live here) which leads into a very implausible plot around a logo design. The team's house doesn't even appear to be in Palo Alto. Some of the freeway shots are unrecognizable. It's so easy to set a show in Palo Alto, but the show's creators didn't try. They just filmed it in Los Angeles.
  • Lack of Diversity: A show about Silicon Valley with only one Indian in it? Seriously? Did the show's creators not even bother to come to SV? I've worked at several dozen startups; I'm an advisor to nine startups: in general, it's a third Indians, a third Chinese, and the rest are Europeans and South Americans. Out of ten, there's usually one white born-in-the-USA American. At dinners or parties at my house in Palo Alto, white born-in-the-USA Americans are a small minority. Again, Silicon Valley isn't really about Silicon Valley.
  • The Girls of Silicon Valley: The few women in the show are either secondary (executive admins) or sex objects (such as Gilfoyle's satanic girlfriend in episode 6, who is offered for casual sex to another programer, or the programmer babe in episode 7 who can't actually write code so she sleeps with Dinesh to get help, or the various party babes in the background) (and there's the Chinese second wife, whose only purpose in the show is to be a sex object, episode 7). The TV show has a cruel casual sexism. There are plenty of very competent women in Silicon Valley: this TV show ignores that.
  • Idiotic Jokes: The garage door mural isn't funny. It's just a stupid drawing. Nobody turns over the design of a company logo that way. And nobody pays $10,000 for that. The entire logo plot is implausible.
  • Developer Kids: The story with The Carver, a 15-year old developer, is pretty funny. I've worked with kids like that. They're super bright at code or hardware and at the same time, they're little kids. One worked for us several years ago; his mom brought him and picked him up. We had to write his checks to his mom because he was too young to have a bank account. This really does happen.
  • The Sesame Seeds: Peter Gregory, the billionaire, realizes there is something called Burger King so he studies the burgers, notices the sesame seeds, and figures out a way to corner the market and make a great deal of money (episode three). This is a pretty good illustration of how engineers, MBAs, and investors often notice a minor feature of a market, create a new company based on that detail, and thus disrupt the market. Jeff Besos realized books can be sold without stores (so Amazon is revolutionizing the 600-year old publishing industry); Craig Newmark realized newspaper ads don't need newspapers (and thus wiped out the 200-year old global newspaper industry).
  • The Awkward Presentation at TechCrunch: In the final episode, Richard (the main character) gives an excruciatingly awkward presentation at TechCruch. I've been to many pitch events (where small startups present their ideas to investors) and yes, many of the speakers are very awkward, with lots of hmmm, ahhh, ehhh, errr, and long silent pauses. With weeks to prepare, they're not prepared at all. It's embarrassing (and painful) to watch them. This scene is realistic and pretty funny. If you've sat through pitch events, you'll recognize this.
  • No Cats?: A show about Silicon Valley that doesn't have a cat? Or a dog? OMG, Silicon Valley is pet heaven. Just about everyone has cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, fish, chickens, or whatever here, and practically all of these animals have their web pages or Facebook pages (yes, Mark Zuckerberg's dog has a Facebook page).
  • Startup Founders: People outside of Silicon Valley think these companies are created by awkward loners. Yes, it's certainly true many awkward loners will try to create companies, but they don't go far. A startup requires intensely complex collaboration; the leader has to assemble, motivate, and lead investors, developers, marketing, and staff. I've met dozens of teams: the best ones stand out because the leader is extremely good at social interaction. There are thousands of bad ideas and those go nowhere. There are plenty of good ideas, but most of those go nowhere either, because the team is incompetent (they may be able to write code, but they don't know how to create a product, work with investors, etc.) The key to success is a strong core team of four or five people who work very closely together over long hours.

There's enough to the real Silicon Valley to find material to create a smart, complex comedy or a drama, just as Mad Men is about 60s Manhattan ad agencies or West Wing is about the White House. But this HBO show doesn't even begin to touch reality. It's shallow, cheap jokes that pander to outsiders' perception of Silicon Valley.

The End of Business Sites in Google?

In the last few months, Google has moved ahead with blocking more SEO tactics. They banned guest blogging (you pay a company to post comments in blogs), aggressive backlinks, and much of SEO based on keywords. The purpose of these tactics was of course to get commercial sites (and webpages) into Google's search results.

This will continue. Yandex stopped counting backlinks to commercial sites. There is strong incentive for a business to buy links, so instead of tracking good and bad links, Yandex simply threw them all out. I'll guess that Google will follow in 2014. This will kill a major part of the SEO industry.

But let's go to the point: the problem isn't the shady (or illegal) tactics. The problem is the business sites themselves: If they get traffic from a search engine, they make revenue. Thus there is a strong financial motivation to do anything to get more traffic, including cheat.

But Google knows that visitors want fair, objective information so they can make decisions. Therefore Google will give preference to objective informational sites. These sites must be neutral and independent.

Can a business build an objective informational site?

The company's core interest is to make sales and revenue. If the desire for revenues comes in conflict with the desire to distribute information, revenues will win. A company will never say something that hurts their core interest. They will not recommend a competitor. So a company can not offer objective information.

So where is it going to go with search engines? They can solve the spam problem by getting rid of the motivation for it: they can block commercial sites and pages from appearing as information in the search results.

This would be easy to do. First of all, if a business wants to sell in Google, it should use advertising. The visitors know that these are ads and treat them accordingly. This leads to the second: commercial sites should marked as commercial sites so the visitors won't confuse them for information. The sites could be marked off in a box. This wouldn't be a big change because in fact, this is what is already being done: visitors know the ads are advertising.

This would go a long way towards cleaning up SEO and digital marketing by removing the incentive to manipulate the search results. Just like Yandex, Google should stop using backlinks. Commercial sites should be moved to their own section in search results.

What's the Name for That?

You've noticed the 3-bar icon in your mobile apps. It's also showing up on desktop websites. Click on it to get the menu.

Okay, but what's it called? I thought it was a menu icon (the three bars show menus).

Then someone said "click the hamburger" and it turns out it's called a hamburger icon. Yes, it looks like a Big Mac.

But last week, I'm at Google, and she said "click the hotdog", and I said "What? Oh, that's the hamburger". At Google, they call it a hotdog. She hadn't heard hamburger.

So I began to wonder if it has a name.

And it turns out there is yet another name: the sandwich icon. Looks like a sandwich.

So I checked to see which is most popular. Let's go to the numbers:

  • 25,700 "hamburger icon"
  • 10,500 "sandwich icon"
  • 03,020 "hotdog icon"

(Searched in Google with quotation marks for exact match.)

In mid-2012, "sandwich icon" was very popular. But that fell and hamburger took over.

So only Google calls it a hotdog. Hamburger wins. (Here's a huge opportunity for Burger King to jump in with a campaign to call it the Whopper icon.)

The Cloud Becomes the Fog...

Okay, so you know about "cloud computing".

What's next? Fog computing. Really. A new concept at Cisco. If cloud covers big systems and massive storage, then fog is for the small systems in local networks, such as a bunch of wifi routers, a few hard disks, your phone, your fridge, and whatever else you have hooked up in your home.

So if there's fog computing, what else could there be? Here are new possibilities:

- Cloudy Computing: Your files are scattered across Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, SkyDrive, OneDrive, ZipCloud, and maybe two more that you forgot.

- Smoke Computing: When your hard disk goes up in smoke.

- Sunny Computing: What you do at the pool.

- Rain Computing: What you do when you're not at the pool.

All are trademarked, so have your cat's lawyer talk to my cat's lawyer. Yes, my cat has a lawyer. Cat is doing a startup in my Palo Alto garage. Well, he's doing something in there.

The War between Amazon and Book Publishers

George Packer wrote about publishing and books in The New Yorker ( Cheap Words, Feb. 17, 2014). (Link to the article).

I read it twice, discussed it with several people, and wrote the following, which I also posted to the article's FB page.

When George Packer uses the word "writer" in this article, he means "published author", and what he really means is "an author published by a major NYC publisher", such as himself.

Packer complains that Amazon is breaking down the cosy Big Publisher/Big Author relationship. But for every Big Author, there are 1,000 published but unknown authors. And for every one of those, there are another 10,000 writers who would love to see their books in print, but don't have the connections. (BTW, I've written nine published books, incl. by published by McGraw-Hill.)

So Packer makes a mistake by erasing the word "published". That's minor. His article has a bigger mistake which he doesn't realize.

Amazon's CreateSpace service allows people to self-publish. Anyone can upload a text and it will appear as a digital book, which can be read on Kindle, cell phones, laptops, or any digital device. With a few more steps, the text is printed and bound by robot printers, which means anyone can have a printed book. You don't need to print 1,500 books: you can print just one book. Really.

Here's what Packer misses: this means Amazon offers a complete service for anyone to be a publisher. You can use Amazon CreateSpace to print the book, store on their shelves, sell the book, and process the payment, and deliver the book. Amazon does every single step beyond writing and editing. Packer is so clueless that he describes OR Books, a small publisher which uses other printing services, as an example of the future of publishing. Really, George? Anyone, yes, you, dear unpublished author, can set up an imprint on Amazon and start publishing books. How much would it cost to do this? Not even one dollar.

Amazon isn't a Death Star to NYC publishers. It's not Big Amazon vs. Big Publishers. Amazon is virus. We will soon see tens of thousands of publishers, as people realize they can do this themselves. There are already hundreds of thousands of self-published books. A few writers will began to organize their own publishing.

As for bookstores? They carry best sellers by Big Publishers. If you want interesting books, look at self-published authors on Kindle. I don't bother anymore with ISBN numbers or distribution to bookstores. As an author, it's better to bypass them.

After many published books, I released my last book myself via Amazon. I can buy print copies of my book for $2.77 with the same print quality as a book by McGraw-Hill or Wiley. My book is an Amazon Best Seller. I had a publisher for the book, but I withdrew and published it on Amazon. I get 65% royalty.

At 65%, I could set up an imprint, release books by others, and pay authors 40%.

George Packer's article is interesting, but only partially informed, overall misleading, and biased. Packer shouldn't be writing articles about Amazon or publishing.

Many friends have asked me how I've written so many books and they want to know how they can write books. So I'm currently writing a short ebook on how to self-publish. It will be released (yes, free) at Amazon and my website in late March. To get a copy, go to my website and sign up for the newsletter.

Your Personal Search Bubble

How do you know if you're doing well in SEO? The easy answer is to see if you show up at the top in a search engine.

However, that can be misleading because the results you see are personalized just for you.

Google does this by looking at your search history, the sites you visit, the Google+ buttons you've clicked, your location, and so on. It's possible the person sitting next to you will see entirely different search results. Bing also does this in the same general way.

This is called "the search bubble". Just like Bubble Boy, you end up in a world that is customized for you. You see only the things that interest you. You won't see other topics.

This becomes a problem when you want to see what others see. Your loyal customers may have the same interests as you, so their personalized search results may be similar to yours. But people who are not-yet-customers may see different search results, which means they may not see your link at all.

So you should look at search results with personal results turned both on and off.

By default, Chrome is set to show personal results in Google. You can change a setting so you can see both results. How to turn off personal results in Google:

  1. In Chrome, open a Google search box.
  2. Search for something (for example, "organic cat food", it doesn't matter).
  3. Click the gear icon
  4. Select "Search Settings"
  5. Scroll down to "Private Results"
  6. Select "Use Private results"
  7. Scroll to bottom and click "Save"
  8. Return to Google

At top right, you now have new buttons to switch between private (personalized) and global (unpersonalized) results. Now search for something that is a personal interest, such as your hobby, your work, and so on. Look at the results. Go to the toggle and click "Hide Personal Results". You'll see how the results change. Toggle the button back and forth.

If you have a website, search your website and toggle the results. You may discover you've been showing up #1 for yourself only! What to do about this? Turn off personalized results, search for your organization, products, and services, and print the results. See what the search engines choose for those pages.

Keywords for SEO and Advertising

Here's an odd problem. The search engines (SE) are getting rid of keywords for SEO, but they're using keywords for advertising. Both Bing and Google have moved away from keyword-based SEO. Yet Google and Bing use keywords to show ads.

This seems like a contradiction. But there's a subtle difference based on the user's intention.

Researchers found there are three types of searches. The difference is based on the user's intention for the search:

  • Navigational: The user wants to find the site (not information about something nor buy). Therefore SEs provide the authoritative site.
  • Informational: The user wants to learn something (not navigate nor buy). Therefore SEs provide the best information (based on credentials, authority, etc.)
  • Transactional: The user wants to buy/get something.

In the first two (navigational and informational), the keyword is a general indicator for the target. The best answer is only one or two items. Therefore SEs look at the intention (not the keyword) and offer the best answer.

Transactional searches (about 15% of all searches) are generally commerical transactions, which means the companies offer products for sale. So SEs open this space to competition. The user is presented with advertising.

However, it's not a simple competition of keywords. The naive advertiser thinks keywords are a simple issue: find the right keyword, use it, and the advertiser gets to the top. The process is much more complex than that. The search engines will review his webpage and the page will appear, depending on the type of search and the user's intent. SEs affect the ranking of ads by applying criteria for quality. Ads with high CTR and well-managed PPC accounts are moved to the top. The SEs also use humans to review advertisers to select qualified authentic merchants. Poorly-managed advertising accounts and low-quality merchants are moved to the bottom. Scams are blocked from the results. The user sees a list of merchant results that has been carefully filtered and edited.

Thus keyword searches deliver two types of results, depending on whether it's informational search or a transactional search (advertising), but in both cases, the results were not produced by a simple algorithm. In both cases, the results have been edited, reviewed, and selected by the search engines.

  • What to Do about This: Selecting the right keyword is a small part of SEO/PPC. It is more important to build and demonstrate quality. The search engines want to present the best sites and pages.
  • For Navigational Searches: Make sure your pages clearly show that your page is the official page for your company, service, product, or person. Include contact information and other criteria (social, reviews, useful information such as photos, etc.)
  • For Informational Searches: Make sure your pages clearly show that your page offers the best body of information for the general topics for your company.
  • For Transactional Searches: Review the other merchants on page one. Review the list of criteria for merchants. Go through the process of finding, selecting, and ordering an item from your competitors. Make sure that you either match their quality or exceed it.

Too much SEO is focused on KWs and metaing best-quality pages.

Content Marketing: An Interview

A university student in Wiesbaden, Germany, interviewed me for her thesis. Here are some of her questions and my answers:

  1. How would you define Content Marketing and its goals?

    Definition: Traditional marketing is “push marketing” or “broadcast marketing” where the information is broadcast at the audience. Content marketing in contrast is based on offering high-quality information which the audience, on its own, will share among themselves. Push marketing TELLS the audience what it should know. Content marketing answers the audience’s own questions from their point of view.

    Content marketing has several goals: cheaper distribution (the audience will distribute it for you) and higher credibility (by offering the best information).

  2. In this context, how would you describe valuable content? Could you name some examples, if possible in the context of Higher Education?

    It’s the audience, not the company, who determines if it is valuable. It answers their questions. It tells them what they want to know and what they should know.

    Stanford and Harvard’s MBA schools both use content marketing. For example, they’ve created digital magazines for free distribution. The articles are passed around by the audience. It increases brand recognition and brings visitors.

  3. What meaning does Content Marketing have in reference to the internet presence of Higher Education institutions?

    Higher education has a very strong advantage on the web over commercial organizations. Search engines give preference to universities because the information is non-commercial and unbiased. Universities are also staffed by professors who by their profession create information with the intent of informing (vs. the intent to increase sales). So content marketing fits into the strategy and goals of an education system.

  4. Which industries use Content Marketing?

    Education. It fits in their agenda to distribution. Marketing departments have spent the last 100 years in defining the message and broadcasting it at the audience. It is very difficult for them to move away from that.

  5. What are the most important fundamental aspects of a Content Marketing Strategy?

    Listen to the audience. This is very difficult for a commercial organization. The corporate team, especially upper management, develops an us-versus-them worldview in which “them” are competitors and the audience. Marketing is based on how to define the company against the competitors and how to change the audience to accept and repeat the company messaging. What the audience actually thinks is irrelevant because the company expects to change it.

    While writing my book, I realized content had to be audience-centric. You can use Web 2.0 social tools to see the audience’s conversations in Twitter, etc. In reviewing content marketing books by other authors, I noticed none of them talked about this. They were marketing people who use content marketing as a form of push marketing.

  6. How can you integrate effectively a Content Marketing Strategy into the existing online communication of a company (considering the positioning, goals, target group/audience, CI, brand management)?

    That’s very difficult to do. It’s like trying to get a team of Wall Street bankers to run a lesbian commune in California! It’s entirely different from everything in their attitude, training, metrics, bonus, goals, etc.

    Positioning, goals, etc.? The audience, not the company, defines that. There are plenty of examples where the audience rejects a company’s branding or branding isn’t successful. In general, the more a company tries to do branding, the more it moves away from its audience. Part of branding requires the company to clearly articulate its messaging, so it starts to see the audience as something to manipulate and change.

  7. What are the most important requirements and premises to apply Content Marketing consistently?

    A good editorial team to review and ensure quality. Otherwise, the content can be low quality.

  8. What are essential reasons for a company to implement a Content Marketing Strategy in their online communication?

    80% of digital advertising is ignored by the audience. Companies must find ways to effectively reach their audience. To do “yet more advertising” is increasingly expensive and less effective.

  9. How can you measure the success of Content Marketing? Which are the most important key performance indicators and which analytic tools would you recommend?

    This is a difficult problem. At a trivial level, you can track and measure the distribution and results. 50,000 downloads, 200 sales, $100,000 in revenues.

    But by its nature, content marketing is untrackable: you hand out a book and people pass it among themselves. There is no technical way to track that.

    For example, how many copies of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” are there? Everyone talks about the success of Apple iTunes as the leading place for the distribution of music. However, for every song sold on iTunes, a hundred copies are shared and copied by people among themselves (by email, memory sticks, etc.) 99% of music is shared without any tracking. The gray market is a vast space.

  10. How would you evaluate the cost-benefit situation of Content Marketing?

    The cost for distribution of content marketing is less than 10% of traditional marketing. Just create it, distribute a few digital copies to high-visibility influencers, and watch it be distributed for free. It bypasses advertising in Google, newspapers, etc. The benefit is greater because you get credibility by the audience.

Google, SEO, and Cleaning up Links...

Okay, so Google doesn't want to see bad links. There are three kinds of links:

  • Internal Broken Links: You have 500 pages at your website and a few links are broken. You need to find and fix them.
  • Outbound Links: These links point from your site to other sites. Maybe ten years ago, was a good site and you linked to it, but they shut down a few years later and it's now a junk site. So you need to find those links and remove them (or add a rel="nofollow").
  • Inbound Links: These links point from other sites to your site. Maybe ten years ago, was a good site and it pointed to you, but they shut down a few years later and it's now a junk site. So you need to find those links and ask the site to remove them or disavow them in Google Webmaster Tools.

If you don't fix these, you lose points at Google, which means your ranking goes down and your traffic drops.

I did this for, where I've been adding links since 1995, so there are thousands of links at my site. I used various SEO tools to make lists of the types of links, and sorted them by page rank or status code. I deleted/no-followed all of the links with low scores. For some links, I removed the hyperlink. I added NoIndex to archive pages. Many links pointed to sites or subdomains that I owned ten years ago but no longer. I had to fix those as well.

Get your SEO person to fix all of this at your site. Otherwise, Google will drop your ranking. !-- ================================================================ -->

Google+ Is Now Google-

Not looking good for Google+. Vic Gundotra, head of G+, quit today. Most of the G+ team is being assigned to other teams. The obligatory G+ login ID will disappear from several tools. Google may change it from a product to a "platform" ("No, you're not fired. We're just moving your office to the basement.")

Here are news articles about G+:

All of these are authoritative and written by professional journalists.

G+ is effectively dead. Some pieces may survive as parts of other tools. What really counts is the social media world: they'll give up on talking about G+.

Why did it die? Google, one of the world's largest marketing companies, doesn't believe in marketing. They launch product after product, only to watch them sink. Do you want to know how bad it is? My mom lives in Palo Alto. She often joins us for dinners or get-togethers with Silicon Valley people. I told her that G+ will shut down and she said "What's that?" She'd never heard of it.

The Death Watch is on for Google Glass. It has all the marks of Google: no marketing, no outreach, no audience feedback. Not even on the market and it's now the leading example of tech arrogance and pointless product.

Why I Bought a $9.95 Phone...

I bought a $10 phone a few months. Why? I was writing #TwittterBook, an ebook about Twitter (you can get it at Amazon).

It turns out Black big-city teens are among the biggest users of Twitter. They've led millions of other teens onto Twitter. And what about people in India and Africa? Tens of millions are using Twitter. I doubt they use Samsung Galaxy phones. So how are they were using Twitter?

I talked with several people, but nobody knew for sure how this worked, or if it even worked. I found you can get a $10 phone at any US drugstore chain or supermarket. Disposable. Just use it and throw it away. So I bought one.

The TracFone comes with a wall recharger, car charger, headset, and ten minutes of talk time. You can buy more minutes. It was already charged. Insert battery, snap on the back, enter authorization code: it works. I entered my zip code and a Palo Alto phone number was assigned to it.

If you want one, call ahead and make sure these are on the shelves. The clerk apologized that I had to get a $10 phone; the $5 phones were all sold out. Really? There are $5 cell phones?

I went to my cat's Twitter account, added the phone to his account, and verified the confirmation code. My cat then opened my Twitter account and selected mobile updates to set my tweets to show up on his phone. From my account, I sent a hello tweet. Bingo!

It gets interesting. Let's say an Egyptian sees what the government is doing, but the government has shut down the web so others can't see. With his $10 phone, which he could perhaps buy second-hand for a few dollars, he can sent a tweet to several phone numbers. To post to Twitter (but you can’t receive), send a tweet to:

  • UK : +447624800379
  • GERMANY: +491724403473
  • FINLAND : +3584573950042

The tweet will be posted worldwide. Include the relevant #hashtags so others can find it. Look for a tweet with #Finland #TwitterBook. It was posted via the Finland station. We'll keep the phone. Friends visit from Europe and China, so it'll be a guest phone for them to use while they're here.

ASO: App Store Optimization

ASO is how to get your app to the top. It's marketing strategy and tactics for apps. Just as SEO is how to get your webpage to show up in search engines, ASO gets your apps to show up in the app stores.

Google stated in April 2014:

  • 80% of apps are never downloaded
  • Of the 20% that are downloaded, 60% are never installed
  • Of the 40% that are installed, 80% are never used more than twice
  • After three months, only 24% are using it. After 6 months, this falls to 14%. By 12 months, only 4% are still using the app.

By using ASO, you can increase the distribution and active use of your apps. This improves your presence and visibility in the mobile space. It improves your engagement with your target audience, leads, prospects, and customers. This will build your ability to compete in the mobile market.

There are two general ways to do ASO:

  • Improve your app's presence in the app stores. This means to be findable in the first place. It also means to improve the presentation of your app to encourage people to install it.
  • Improve the word-of-mouth distribution. People install apps on recommendations from friends and experts. This means we build social engagement around the apps.

There is also digital marketing: the use of digital advertising at a target audience to make them aware of the app.

Installing an app is only the first step. From the data above, we see that 8o% of installed apps are never used more than twice. Apps need ongoing marketing to encourage users to use the app.

The ASO White Paper

Get a copy of my ASO white paper with 25 pages on strategy and tactics. Get the ASO White Paper.

Twitter: Fake Clicks?

Posted: Sun, 03 Aug 2014 21:23:03

Desperation at Twitter is forcing them to use fake numbers to pump up their revenues.

If you advertise in Twitter, you're billed for clicks. That sounds fine: you'll be happy to pay for a click on your link to your website. But that's not what Twitter means by a click. You pay if your reader clicks on the URL, the hashtag, the Tweet text, your avatar, your username, or the expand button. That's right: you pay if they click the hashtag. In fact, you pay if they click anywhere on the text of your tweet, but that has zero null nada zilch nichts value for your marketing. This is deceptive. Why are they doing fraud? They need to jack up their numbers to justify their absurd valuation, so they invent stupid things like this.

What's going to happen? Someone will start a class action to recover perhaps $500m. Twitter will drag this out for a year or two. Eventually, Twitter will settle before it goes to trial. The court will obligate Twitter to offer refunds to people. The lawyers will get 30% of the $500m refund. The late investors will lose their investments. The initial investors will just laugh; they've already made their billions.

Who Is that Person?

Posted: Tue, 03 Jun 2014 23:51:37

I read an article the other day where a woman said she checked photos of guys before she went on a date. She said she often found that the guy on a dating site was also in Facebook where he had a wife and two children. Very clever for her.

I wondered how she did that, so I tried out several image search tool. I took a photo from my website, changed the file name, and then looked for copies of it. Bing Image Search and Tineye both found copies of the photo, where other people have, well, borrowed the photo from my website. The best tool was Google Image Search, which found dozens of copies of my photo. (Update: Yandex added image search at

To use this, click Google Image Search and drag your photo onto the page.

Google's Dead Products

Posted: Tue, 01 Jul 2014 05:23:44

95 Dead Google Products

Google, one of the world's largest marketing companies, doesn't believe in marketing. They launch product after product without any marketing, only to watch them sink.

When Google shut down Goggles, they said it was "due to lack of interest." No, it was lack of marketing. Nobody used it because nobody knew about it. Google never bothered to promote it on their huge advertising platform.

Google thinks if a product is good, it will become big on its own. That's how Google itself became big, right? Well, no. It doesn't work that way. The proof is the list below: over 90 dead products.

So how did Google become big without marketing? If you put ten horses in a race, one will be the winner because one has to be the winner. If it wasn't this horse, it'd be another.

April 2016: I just added Revolv. Google kept the team but shut down the hardware product. Google turned it off. Customers are angry. If you buy something, you own it, don't you? Can the maker just turn it off?

Here's a list of ex-Google products. Can you find your favorite?: Aardvark; AdWords Click-to-call; Audio Ads; Blogger Web Comments; Boston Dynamics; Catalogs; City Tours; Dashboard Widgets for Mac; Desktop Search; Dodgeball; Free Search; Gears; Goggles; GOOG-411; Google Answers; Google Apps Standard Edition; Google Authorship; Google Base; Google Browser Sync; Google Building Maker; Google Buzz; Google Checkout; Google Cloud Connect; Google Code; Google Code Search; Google Deskbar; Google Dictionary; Google Directory; Google Docs; Google Fast Flip; Google Friend Connect; Google Health; Google Image Labeler; Google Insights for Search; Google Labs; Google Lively; Google Mini; Google Notifier; Google Pack; Google Page Creator; Google PowerMeter; Google Reader; Google Refine; Google Ride Finder; Google Schemer; Google SearchWiki; Google Sets; Google Talk; Google Video Marketplace; Google Website Optimizer; Google X; Google+; Hello; Hotpot; iGoogle; Jaiku; Joga Bonito; Knol; Latitude; Local; Marratech e-Meeting; Mashup Editor; Meebo; MK-14; Music Trends; My Speed; Notebook; Orkut; Personalized Search; Photos Screensaver; Picnik; Public Service Search; QuickOffice; Radio ads; Real Estate; Rebang (Google China); Related Links; Revolv; SearchMash; Send to Phone; Shared Stuff; Sidewiki;; SMS; Spreadsheets; Squared; TalkBin; TV Ads; U.S. Government Search; University Search; Video Player; Voice Search; Wave; Web Accelerator; Writely

Why You Should Write a Book

Posted: Mon, 18 Aug 2014 07:30:41

So why write a book? Quite simply: A book brings you opportunities. You will be offered speaking engagements, projects, jobs, dates, invitations to join advisory boards, and invitations to start companies.

Why do books matter so much? Because people know from their own experience that it’s really hard to write a book. It’s hard to get the motivation or find the time. The process is complex and mostly unexplained.

This gives you an advantage. The Pareto Rule shows that in any field, about 20% of the participants get 80% of the revenues. Why? When people want help, they could research, investigate, compare, and do many things to solve their problem. Or they take a shortcut and go to the top experts. That’s why the top people get most of the business and revenues in their field.

The more opportunities you have, the greater your security. Patti Wilson, a leading Silicon Valley job counselor, says, “Job security is the ability to get another job.”

It’s not about making money with books. As you’ll see, most writers don’t earn much from their books. But by writing, you’ll get opportunities, which lead to revenues.

One Book… or Six Books?

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, I wrote a book every few years. Each book was a stand-alone project: I wrote the book, made a website for it, did marketing for it, but there was no connection between the books.

That changed when I wrote a book about content marketing. As I began to look at the role of books, I realized I had to write books not as separate projects, but as parts of a larger project. I also realized I should be writing a book every year, which is what I will do from now on. In 2013, I released The Big Book of Content Marketing in March, #TwitterBook (a book about Twitter) in October, and the SEO eBook in December. For 2014, I wrote this book on how to write books. I’m also researching for a book on influencers, which will come out in late summer.

Books are also a social activity: you deal with many people as you write your book. You interview experts, talk with other writers, and meet people in companies. You work with developmental editors, copyeditors, subject matter experts, and illustrators. You’re interviewed by magazines, radio, and TV. You speak at bookstore events, tradeshows, and conferences. You’ll also meet and talk with quite a few of your readers. All of this brings you connections.

When you write a second book, those meetings also happen. Your connections start to rapidly expand. The more you write, the more people you’ll meet.

So stop thinking about that one book you will write. Start thinking you’ll write six books!

You’re wondering where you’ll get so much material for six books. Don’t worry. You’ll see how to do that in this book.

Should You Go for Quantity or Quality?

Okay, so can you write just anything? Does quality matter?

Yes, it has to be really good. Why? Because good stuff goes far. The higher the quality, the less you’ll need to promote your book. People seek out the best work. People share great information with their friends. Nobody shares just-okay stuff. So write good books. In this book, I’ll also show you how to do that.

Why Will Anyone Listen to You?

Several people have said to me, “But I’m not an expert! Why will anyone listen to me?”

If you have a bit of experience in your field, do a bit of research, and write clearly. That will put you ahead of most of your colleagues. They want your experience and knowledge. You don’t have to be #1. Just be ahead of many others.

How to Find Ghostwriters

Posted: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 07:30:18

Okay, so you still want a book but you don’t have time to write. No problem. Hire a ghostwriter. He writes the book and it’s published under your name. The ghostwriter doesn’t mind because he’s paid for that. Many business books and most books by movie stars, musicians, athletes, and politicians are written by ghostwriters. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, was written by Nell Scovell. John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage was written by Ted Sorenson. Raymond Benson was the ghostwriter for a Tom Clancy novel. Faith of my Fathers by John McCain was written by Mark Salter. It Takes a Village by Hillary Clinton was written by Barbara Feinman. I am Jackie Chan by Jackie Chan was by Jeff Yang. Dreams of my Father by Obama is by Bill Ayers. And finally, Decision Point, the autobiography of George W. Bush, was written by Christopher Michel.

Be careful with ghostwriters. It’s like those movies where the parents are bugging the poor guy to get married and he comes home with a fake girlfriend. What happens at a conference when the CEO gives a talk that was written by a ghostwriter and someone asks a detailed question? Or the ghostwriter gets a better offer from your competitor? Or decides to go dance with the elephants in Bhutan for three months?

Ghostwriting can range from $3,000 to $10,000 per month for basic ghostwriting. The more you pay, the better the result. And the better the writer, the more you’ll pay. And the higher your job title, the more you’ll pay.

If you’re the CEO or a politician, your publisher may arrange the ghostwriter. In that case, the ghost may get a share of the royalties, the advance, and the movie rights. For major books, this can be $500,000 up to several million dollars.

The ghostwriter will interview you as part of the research. The ghost may also do the research. You’ll get the outline and drafts so you can add or delete to it.

A good account of ghostwriting (and how it turned into a disaster) is Andrew O’Hagan’s ghostwriting of Julian Assange’s autobiography (The London Review of Books, March 6, 2014, at Despite a million-dollar advance and several dozen publishing contracts in other countries, it was impossible to get Assange to review the drafts.

Where to Find Ghostwriters

There are several ways to find ghostwriters:

  • Talk with your publisher. They often work with ghostwriters.
  • Book agents and public relations firms also often use ghostwriters
  • Look at the leading trade journals for your industry. Contact the editors and journalists to see if they’ll write for you.
  • Look for authors of books in your field. The authors may be able to write for you or they may recommend ghostwriters.
  • Additional places to find ghostwriters include BlogDash, Blogmutt,, Contently, and eCopyWriters
  • You can also hire technical writers. They are highly experienced in writing books.

Should you Self-Publish or Find a Publisher?

Posted: Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:34:35

There are several ways to publish your book:

  • Self-published Author: The author writes the book and also manages the editing, layout, distribution, and marketing. He produces digital books or printed books. Distribution services may include Kindle, Lulu, Smashwords, Nook, and Amazon. This can also be a simple PDF file sent by email, posted on a blog or website, or sold at Amazon as a Kindle ebook or a printed book, both paperback and hardback.
  • Independent Publisher: These are small specialized publishing houses. They specialize in genre fiction (such as detective or science fiction), business topics, or academic publishing. These are generally led by people who love books. The author writes the book and the independent publisher does the editing, layout, printing, distribution, and marketing. The author gets a royalty. They also produce paperback and hardback.
  • Big House Publishers: The big publishing houses may employ thousands of people and have offices worldwide. These include Random House, McGraw-Hill, and IDG. Just like independent publishing, the big house publishers take care of editing, layout, printing, distribution, and marketing. The author also gets a royalty.
  • Vanity Press: These printing companies pretend to be publishers. You send your manuscript and several thousand dollars and they print it for you. You get a few hundred printed books with your name on it. These printers take advantage of the author’s desperation to be published.

The distinctions overlap and it depends on who is talking. Smashwords and Lulu use the phrase “independent publishing” and “indie publishing” to cover writers who publish their own work. Some talk about small publishers and large publishers.

The difference between independent publishing and big-house publishing is like independent film studios (indie films) and Hollywood film studios. Just as indie film makers specialize in documentaries or special movies, independent publishers also specialize in niche fields.

The author’s experience will depend on the type of publisher. The independent publisher collaborates with the author like a coach and shares knowledge and experience. The publisher is also more flexible with the content, the process, and the deadlines. With a big-house publisher, there is less personal attention. The author is expected to know how to write and deliver the manuscript. The text is held to a higher standard.

In either case, you have to collaborate with your publisher. You can’t just write a text and toss it over the fence. Publishers are working dozens or hundreds of other writers. The more you work with your publisher, the more attention you will get.

If we look only at the results (the printed book), there isn’t much difference. Technology allows anyone now to produce books at the same quality as large publishers and use Amazon to distribute worldwide.

The difference is in the selection and editing process. The publishers select the writers. Authors who work with publishers, whether small independents or big names, get guidance and feedback. The books go through content review and editing for grammar and style. For academic or scholarly books, the publisher’s editorial contribution is critical to ensure the book meets the high standard of quality for academia.

So, What’s Better? Self-Publish or Big Publisher?

So how should you publish your books? There is not a clear answer to that.

  • If you self publish, you have control over the production, profits, distribution, and marketing. You can use the book in many different ways for marketing and promotion. You can reuse your text for other books and formats. You can release each chapter as a separate ebook. You can give it away. You keep control over your text. This means if IBM wants to give a chapter of your book to their 400,000 employees, it’s up to you. If you gave the publishing rights to a publisher, the publisher makes the decision. It can take months for that to happen. The downside of self publishing is extra time and work.
  • If you work with an independent publisher, you’ll have a partner who has deep experience in your subject and profession. That can develop into a long-term relationship.
  • If your book is published by a big publisher, you’ll get the cachet and name recognition of a large brand. To be published by McGraw-Hill, IDG, Wiley, or similar is a mark of excellence.

Whatever you choose, one thing is common: you must do the marketing yourself. You must develop a long-term strategy of writing books for your career with marketing and promotion that includes a website, an email newsletter, digital advertising, speaking events, and more.

Don’t worry about the East Coast obsession with big publishers. People on the East Coast, especially in Manhattan, think they’re a real writer only if they’re published by one of the large publishers. However, the astonishing success of 50 Shades of Grey and many other self-published books has changed the industry.

Get the Whole Book for Free

Want the rest of the book? Get my book for free (this week only!) at

How Do I Find a Publisher?

Posted: Thu, 21 Aug 2014 07:37:24

There are several ways to find publishers.

  • You can look for publishers. The best way to do this is with The Writer's Market, by Robert Brewer, which is updated yearly. It lists thousands of publishers and what they want to publish. You should also look at Books in Print. Both of these books are in most libraries.
  • If you’ve written books for a publisher, he likes working with you, and he notices an opportunity in a new market, he’ll ask you write a book.
  • If your books have done well, another publisher may ask you to write for them. Several publishers have asked me for books.
  • You can also ask someone who’s been published to refer you to her publisher. This puts you in touch through trusted connections. A friend wanted to publish her book and I referred her to a major publisher, who published her book. So this really happens (don’t send your book proposals to me!)

Here’s another way. In the mid-2000s, I wanted the my next book to be available in bookstores, so I went to the large bookstores (Borders and Barnes & Nobles), found the section for computer books, and wrote down the names of the publishers. These publishers were big enough to be able to place books in large bookstores. I then went to each publisher’s website and looked at their catalog to see if they had a book on my topic. Of 20-30 publishers, six didn’t have a book on SEO. So I wrote to them. Two offered to publish the book.

Why Is It Useful to Have a Book Publisher?

There are several advantages to working with a large publisher.

First, writers benefit from the publisher’s brand recognition. To be published by a large publisher is a strong professional credential. In a specialist topic, only a handful of authors are published by the major publishers.

Because two of my books were published by McGraw-Hill, I was introduced to Tsinghua University, which is the MIT of China. I met with them in Beijing and their university press published the book in China. It would be very difficult to do this as a self-published author.

Your Book Proposal

It’s called a book proposal, a publishing proposal, submission, or a query letter. It tells the publisher what your book is about. Why should they publish your book? Why are you qualified to write it? How can you help to sell it?

Follow these steps to write a good book proposal:

  • Understand the market. Go to Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and other major bookstores and look at the existing books on your topic. What do they cover? What do they miss? When were they written? Has the market changed so there is opportunity for an updated book?
  • Buy the books, read them, and take notes. Write a one-page summary of each book. Discuss strengths and weaknesses of each book and how you will do it better or offer a different perspective. Include the book’s title, author, publisher, year, and sales price. Publishers use to understand the opportunity. They also see how you write.
  • Describe the size of your audience. Are there 10,000, 100,000, or 10,000,000 potential readers? Offer demographic data about the size of the audience.
  • Describe your experience in writing. What have you written? Do you have project management experience? The publisher wants to know if you can meet deadlines.
  • Show how you can help with marketing. Tell them how many contacts you have in your email list, LinkedIn contact list, Facebook, and so on. If you can participate in speaking events, say so. Will your company be willing to buy copies of the book?

Most publishers have submissions guidelines and forms on their website. You fill out the form and submit your proposal. They generally reply within a week.

I was lucky with my first few computer books because the market was growing and there were few writers. As I got experience, I learned what publishers wanted so I wrote better proposals for a book in the mid-90s. I researched the market and then sent a proposal to ten publishers. Every day, I waited by the mailbox for the replies. The first two arrived and these were rejections. No problem: eight hadn’t yet replied. The next day, another rejection. A few days later, three more letters arrived. My wife, who was skeptical of the whole thing, watched me open them and said, “So three more rejections?” I said, “No, three accepted” and dropped them in her lap.

What If You’re Rejected?

Rejection doesn’t have to do with you. Perhaps the publishers don’t think there is a market for your topic. If you feel there is a market, look into self publishing at Amazon. You might also take their advice and look into writing something else.

Delivering Your Manuscript to a Traditional Publisher

Many people think they have to finish the manuscript before they can look for a publisher. So they work for several years on the manuscript and then send it to a publisher.

However, most manuscripts are rejected. Either there are plenty of similar books, the publisher already has a book on the same topic, or the publisher doesn’t think there is a market for it.

So don’t write a manuscript. Write a proposal. If that’s accepted, you can start writing. If it’s rejected, you can try another topic.

Changes to Your Proposal

There’s another reason that you don’t send finished manuscripts. Often, publishers know the market better than you and they’ll want to make changes. If you deliver a completed manuscript, you’re presenting a “take it or leave it” situation.

A proposal should be an opening for a conversation. How about we change this? Add that? The publishers have a sense of what bookstores are selling and they look for writers who can deliver that.

For example, you wrote a proposal for a book about opening a café in southern France with your cat. But the publisher knows ten books like that came out last year and nobody wants to hear about French café cats anymore. But… there’s a hot new area: would you write about opening a coffee house in Sichuan with your dog? So you change everything and you have a book that sells.

Multiple Submissions?

It used to be (very long ago) that you sent the manuscript to a publisher and you had to wait for him to accept or reject it before you contacted the next one. Publishers would reject authors simply if they knew the author was talking to other publishers.

Things have changed. Today, it’s normal for authors to submit their proposals to several publishers simultaneously. Some even hold auctions and let publishers bid against each other.

If it’s a good proposal, you’ll get a reply within a week or two.

Get the Whole Book for Free

Want the rest of the book? Get my book for free (this week only!) at

How to Do Research for Your Book

Posted: Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:38:10

In the research phase, learn as much as you can about your subject. Talk with people, read books and articles, and think about the topic.

  • Go to a research library, look up your topic, and see what you can learn.
  • You can also look at college textbooks.
  • Go to major bookstores and Amazon to buy the leading books on your topic. I generally buy 15-25 books for each book I write.
  • Use the web. Read about your topic in Wikipedia. Look at blogs, articles, white papers, PDFs, and so on.
  • Interview people who have experience and knowledge of your topic. Meet them for coffee or lunch. Ask a few general questions and let them talk. They will point out many things that you didn’t think about.
  • Many ideas will occur to you when you’re walking the dog. When ideas come up, write them down immediately or you’ll forget.

Don’t worry about organization or direction at this point. Write down everything. It’s much better to have too many ideas than too few.

Carry a notepad with you all the time so you can jot down ideas. You can use Evernote or Google Docs on your cell phone. You can also send text messages to yourself. Use whatever works for you.

You’ll end up with a squirrel’s nest of ideas and notes on napkins, receipts, the back of uncancelled checks, sticky notes, text files, emails, and SMS messages. Collect all of this into one file with an item on each line.

Research Your Audience and their Interests

What does your audience really want to know? What are your audience’s problems? What are their motivations? There are several ways to do this:

  • Look at question-and-answer sites where people ask questions and others answer. Questions are sorted by categories, so you can find a large pool of questions to see what people are thinking about. Q/A sites include Yahoo! Answers (, AllExperts,, and Quora.
  • Search in Twitter. You can search for keywords or hashtags. Scroll back six months, copy all of the postings, and review those.
  • Collect questions from your sales and support team. They know customers’ “top ten common questions.”
  • Put a prominent “Ask us a question” box at your website and collect the questions.
  • Look at the blogs and Twitter feeds of experts and influencers.
  • Look at your own blog. Look at your readers’ comments to see what they find interesting.
  • Look at your website’s search box. If configured correctly, your web analytics can give you a list of queries.

For example, when I was writing the book on content marketing, I searched for “content marketing” at a large question-and-answer site and found 384 questions. 41 questions were useful for the book.

Some tools let you visualize what influencers are saying. For example, here is a word cloud of the discussion among computer network administrators:

Figure 2: You can use tools to see discussions among influencers. These combine the conversation, find the most frequent words, and create a visual display to show you what the community is talking about. In this example, you can see that security and malware are significant topics.

You can also use Wordle to create word clouds of blogs. Here’s a word cloud of my blog:

Figure 3: You can create a word cloud of someone’s blog or tweets to see what they write about.

How to Make a Tweet Cloud

You can make a tweet cloud in a few steps (it’s easy):

  • Go to a person’s tweets
  • Scroll down perhaps to six months of tweets or get a few hundred tweets
  • Click at the end, hold down Shift, go to the top, click to select all, and copy the tweets
  • Go to a text editor such as Notepad or EditPlus and paste the tweets
  • Go to, click Create, and in the blank box, paste the tweets
  • Wordle turns the tweets into a word cloud. However, some words will be large because they’re repeated often, such as the person’s name, his Twitter ID, or the names of months. Go back to the text editor and use Search/Replace All to get rid of those. Copy the result and post it to Wordle again. Repeat this a few times until you get a useful result.

My New Book: "How to Write a Book!"

Posted: Mon, 18 Aug 2014 07:15:46

My new book How to Write a Book! is now at Amazon.

Like the title says: If you write a book, you'll get more opportunities. That's projects, contracts, jobs, consulting fees, speaking events, international book tours, pre-IPO stock, and yes, dates.

I tell everything in this book: how I write my books and promote them. 100 pages in easy text. ISBN 978-0-9893600-5-0. ASIN: B00MOYSUNY.

You can read it on your Kindle, iPhone, iPad, Android phone, laptop, computer, lava lamp, or whatever.

What's It Like to Write Books?

Posted: Thu, 21 Aug 2014 22:39:28

What's it like to write a book? And watch it go to #1 at Amazon? #1 in two categories?

OMG, what a ride.

I hate early mornings. But this week, I'm getting up at 5 a.m. to send emails, upload files, post to Facebook and my blog, send tweets, and update LinkedIn.

And it goes like that to late at night.

People spotted minor errors in the text. I fixed those and uploaded new files to Amazon.

People couldn't find the right place to download the book in Amazon Germany, Amazon China, and other places. I found the URLs, sent it to them, and posted for others. A reader in Dubai couldn't get the book; Dubai blocks Amazon. I solved that problem.

The book is being downloaded worldwide. 130 countries. I'm getting emails from all across Europe, South America, and Asia.

Carla King, super expert in self-publishing, sent a newsletter to all of her subscribers about the book. Mike Moran, author of the leading book on enterprise SEO, tweeted about the book. Many of the authors who were interviewed in the book also sent out emails.

It's non-stop, all day long. I run from meeting to meeting, taking calls every ten minutes, writing quick emails, and coordinating things. It started about six days before release, with a long Saturday and Sunday to prepare everything.

The book release itself is a five-day sprint, Monday 5 a.m. to Friday midnight. I expect another two to three weeks for followup. I'll order 100 books (I already have an order another 100) to send copies to copyeditors, people who were interviewed, key friends, authors of major books, clients, and so on.

At the moment, Thursday afternoon, I'm too hyper to think about being tired. I expect to crash this weekend.

Social Media and Sociology

Posted: Thu, 16 Oct 2014 04:21:01

On behalf of a Silicon Valley startup, I've been going to lots of startup events, investor meetings, and so on. Often, there are events with ten startups and 30-40 angels and investors; the startups have five minutes for their elevator pitch and the dog-and-pony. You can tell when the founders do the elevator pitch; their eyes lose focus and they turn into robots as they state their mission in a flat voice, e.g., "Plooky enables emerging technologies to monetize by leveraging verticals with dynamic cloud-based solutions".

Okay, whatever. Add a few acronyms (CRM, ERP, etc.) and they get funding.

All of you know your elevator pitch. Well, most of you know it. It's that short sentence that summarizes what you do.

But as I work more and more with startups, I noticed that what the founders say and what others say are entirely different.

You work on your elevator pitch. You memorize it. And eventually, you can deliver it with plausible enthusiasm.

But you will never get your influencers and advocates to repeat it.

Now, why influencers and advocates? Because they're the ones who spread your message. They have the connections and credibility. They're the ones who move others to look for you and buy your products and services.

This is part of my research into influencers. The influencers are the 1% who create and lead an area of social activity. By social, I mean pretty much everything: Justin Bieber's fan club, politics, research in physic, golf, Expressionism, everything. Most human activity is fundamentally social: it's done by groups of people for themselves. Sociologists have researched this for decades. On the web, social behaviour is generally understood to be social media, and the interest in that is basically as a form of advertising. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., don't really care about (or even know about) structuralism, Durkheim, Lévi-Strauss, Erving Goffman, and so on. They're just trying to make money by capturing audiences for Coca-Cola and the big banks.

It may sound odd, but there's very little information about influencers. There are only a handful of books on the topic at Amazon. Danny Brown writes in his recent book Influence Marketing (May, 2013) that the 1% are important, but he doesn't describe them and more importantly, doesn't explain where they are, what they do, how to find them, or how to engage with them.

That's what I've been working on. How to identify and engage with influencers and advocates.

Social Media Isn't Sociology

Again, in Silicon Valley, everyone thinks social is something that happens in Facebook. In fact, what happens on social media is only a very small part of social behavior. As I look more and more at "social media", I realize that most of social behavior doesn't happen in social media. But more importantly, the most significant social activity never shows up in social media.

For example, LinkedIn likes to think it is the social site for professional networking. But it misses workers at the bottom and top. Blue collar workers rarely register on LinkedIn. No employer is going to use LinkedIn to find those workers. And the top end is also missing. Most CEOs and board members are not on LinkedIn, quite simply because they don't need it. They already have an extensive social network into their industry. They know everyone, and everyone knows them. Why? Founder CEOs are, by definition, part of the 1%, which means they create their industry.

This means LinkedIn isn't really a social network: it's a database of resumes for HR and recruiters. If you depend on LinkedIn for your career advancement, you will destroy your career. You will never rise above a mid-level staffer.

Do you want to know how social networks really work? How does it work among the billionaires and the very powerful? Here's how a billionaire used influence to buy freedom from prosecution for a global crime spree. How much did he pay the president of the United States to call off the FBI? Read the story of how Marc Rich bought his pardon. How Much Influence Can You Buy for $9 Billion?

Cleaning Up the Newsletter List

Posted: Mon, 25 Aug 2014 17:54:34

Okay, I finally cleaned up my newsletter list. Or, actually, lists, as in plural, which is to say it was a bit of a mess. Here are the details.

The various lists happened because I used various tools:

  • Gmail: I segmented my Gmail contact list into family and friends. If I send a newsletter to the friends list, I run into Gmail's limit of 400 per day. If you send around 400 or more, you'll get blocked for 3-6 hours or more. Gmail wants to stop spammers. So I had to break the list into two groups (A and B) and send List-A (312 people) on one day and List-B (198) the next day.
  • LinkedIn: The problem with LinkedIn as a social network is that LinkedIn isn't a social network. LinkedIn is a resume database for recruiters and that's all it really does. It lacks practically every feature of social networks. For example, you have 2,500 contacts in LinkedIn; what can you do with them in LinkedIn? Zero. LinkedIn lacks a newsletter tool. Yes, you can post an update, but few will see it because only 20% of LinkedIn users actually visit in the last 30 days. And they're not likely to read a long series of updates. So you have to export your subscriber list. Yes, it can be done, but LinkedIn doesn't quite make this clear because they don't really want you to do this. Anyway, export it. And I strongly recommend that you export it today, before they shut off this capability.
  • Scrub the List: So now you have 2,500 LinkedIn email addresses. But many of those emails no longer exist. If you send an email to hundreds of bad email addresses, you'll get flagged as a spammer. Your IP address will be blocked. It'll wreck your business. So you have to "scrub the list" to identify the bad emails and remove them.
  • Good and Maybe: So the scrubbing produces two lists: Good (1,203) and Maybe (425). The good emails are definitely good (active, etc.). The Maybe list is possibly good. Or bad. Anyway, you have two lists. So you have to test the lists to see which of those actually read your newsletter.
  • Mailchimp: Using MailChimp, I also set up a Subscribe to My Newsletter button at my website. This created an additional list. Keeping count? Yes, seven lists so far...
  • Cleaning the List: You don't want to send to people who ignore your email; they may click the Spam button to get rid of it. So you send an email every month for three months. MailChimp reports on who opens the mail and who ignores it. After three or four newsletters, you end up with data about your readers on who opens/ignores the newsletters. In MailChimp, sort the list by activity. One or Two Stars = Never opened your email. Three Stars (or more): Opened your email or clicked on links in your email. So you want the three-, four-, and five-star subscribers. You delete all of the one- and two-star subscribers. After you do that, you combine those lists into one. The numbers? The Good list dropped from 1,203 subscribers to 475 (39.4% active); the Maybe list went from 425 subscribers to 148 (34.8% active). The newsletter subscriber list went from 112 subscribers to 77 (68.8% active). The Gmail lists (511 people) are 95% or higher active (after every sending, I deleted broken emails).
  • Combine the Lists: After deleting everyone in the various lists who never opened the newsletters, I combined all of the lists into one master list. I ended up with 1,263, which shrank to 1,156 (there was some duplication). These are valid, active email addresses of people who read my emails.
  • Add New Emails: In Gmail, I have a new small list of new email addresses: email addresses of people with whom I email during the month or new business cards. In a month, this can be 30-50 people. When I'm ready to send out a new newsletter, I download those new email addresses and add them to the master list at MailChimp.

I know practically all of my subscribers, so I reply to everyone who writes to me. This means a monthly newsletter can result in 75-125 emails.

Six months ago, I started with 5,500 email addresses. I ended up with 1,156 active emails (21%).

Posted: Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:54:56

(An excerpt from my #TwitterBook. The book is available at -- andreas)

I also noticed the police are active on Twitter so I met with Lt. Zach Perron, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of Palo Alto Police, and Lt. Chris Hsiung, the Public Information Officer of Mountain View Police, to talk with them about Twitter and social media.

There are almost 18,000 police departments in the USA. Several thousand are using social media for investigation and outreach. They do investigation, of course, but community policing outreach is more important: they see social media as a way to improve transparency. It allows the police to have a personal presence and collaborate with the community. They can reach out to the public and the public can also contact them.

The Boston Marathon Bombing was a watershed moment because it was the first time that the international community was able to receive timely and accurate information in a major critical public safety situation directly from a police agency via social media. In the general panic after the bombing, the web was filled with rumors. The Boston police used Twitter to update people about the search for suspects. When the suspect was finally surrounded and captured, the police tweeted updates every few minutes. Boston Police’s use of Twitter created an expectation among the public that if a terrorist event happened in their community, the police in their jurisdiction would be on social media and do what the Boston police did. It raised the bar for police agencies.

Social also allows police departments to bypass the media and reach the public directly. Newspapers and TV/radio news often spin stories to make them more dramatic, which attracts viewers, which increases advertising revenues. Crime in the US has fallen steadily for more than 30 years to record lows, but you won’t know that if you watch TV news.

When the police told the media that they were going to start using social, the media said please, don’t do that, it takes the news away from us.

Previously, the police held press conferences for the news media. While police still conduct press conferences in major cases, many now post routine press releases directly to Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. By creating their own broadcast capability, the police are able to talk directly with the public when something is happening. The result is greater accuracy because the news media can’t spin the story. Instead, the media now often retweet the police tweets. For example, a press release tweeted by the Palo Alto Police Department can be retweeted by the media and can reach 150,000 people within moments, giving the public the opportunity to read accurate information directly from the source.

How does this work? A few months ago, two Palo Alto police officers stopped a car on a busy downtown street at lunchtime. The driver then drove away from the stop, crashing into multiple cars, and then fled on foot. It created quite a scene. The cops ran after him for a few blocks. However, people in cafes and restaurants began tweeting about police car chases, hostages, guns, and so on. The police were able to immediately reply by Twitter that none of that was happening. It was just a foot chase. They can clarify, correct, and update, which calms the situation and prevents the spread of misinformation to the public.

Social also allows police to be seen as human. Some of the tweets are really funny. One day, they tweeted they would set up a speed trap at an intersection. After they caught one guy, they tweeted he should have been following the cop’s tweets!

Coffee with the Police. Via Twitter and Nextdoor, the Palo Alto Police invited neighbors to meet at a coffeehouse. Two hours of chatting about what it's like to be a cop, questions about recent burglaries, etc. It's great to realize police are people too who care about the community. She loves being a cop. At center, blond hair and uniform, is AJ, who led the event. To the right of her, blue shirt, behind the tree, is her evening supervisor. Both cops are women.

To see what the police are doing with social media, you can follow Lt. Zach Perron at @PaloAltoPolice and Lt. Chris Hsiung at @MountainViewPD . Both of them also tweet about law enforcement’s use of social media from their personal accounts at @zpPAPD and @chMtnViewPD.

The Mountain View Police uses a blog (, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. They also use Nixle, which lets police send SMS alerts to their communities. They use YouTube for videos and Pinterest to post photos of lost and found items, their police dogs (great pixs!), the officers, and other items (go to Both Palo Alto and Mountain View police are also using NextDoor, a social media site that’s based on neighborhoods.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, over 50 departments, including police, fire, ambulance, and other emergency groups share information through the Bay Area Law Enforcement Social Media Group (#BALESMG). Other cities are encouraged to contact them to learn more.

There’s also IACPSocialMedia, a central resource for social media for the police. Many of the FAQs and presentations can be used by your organizations for your social media strategies.

You may wonder why the police are so active in social media. Many of the city departments are using social media, but the police get the attention: they have the SWAT teams and the dogs, plus people like to watch cop shows.

Several companies are building software for the police. For example, BrightPlanet offers BlueJay, which lets police monitor tweets within their community. They can mark off an area on a map, select terms such as #meth or #shooting, and get alerts when these words show up in tweets in their selected locations. The police can also add a list of users to monitor. BlueJay delivers the tweet text, the type of device that was used to post the tweet, and if it’s enabled on the device, the GPS location. By clicking on the user, the police can see his past tweets, posted pictures, and tweet habits. The police can download the most recent 10,000 tweets that match the users, keywords and place names in their watch list.

BrightPlanet’s BlueJay is a Twitter monitor for the police. A police officer can select the city, add a list of keywords and users, and watch a live feed of tweets that match those criteria. When someone sends a tweet with a keyword, there’s an alert tone and if GPS is enabled on the device, a dot shows up on the map. The officer can zoom down to street view to see the location.

Get the Whole Book for Free

Want the rest of the book? Get my #TwitterBook at

Use Twitter at a Conference

Posted: Sat, 27 Sep 2014 14:59:07

(An excerpt from my #TwitterBook. The book is available at -- andreas)

You can use Twitter to create awareness and make contacts at a conference. Here’s a plan that I wrote for a conference in NYC (the book also includes a plan, with full details, for promoting an event):

  • Every employee in your team should set up a Twitter account. You want to create a large digital presence.
  • Set this up on your cell phones and practice before you go to NYC.
  • Each person should tweet at least once a day, and perhaps 2-3 times per day. One or two people also post to the company’s Twitter account.
  • Learn how to send tweets that include text, #hashtags, shortened URLs, photos (use Twitpic), and video (use Vine).
  • Have contests. Who sent the MOST tweets in 24 hours with the company hashtag? Win ice cream. Who got the most retweets for one message during the conference week? The CEO will sing to you at dinner. Who sent the best photo? Who sent a photo that got the most retweets? Who sends the best Vine video? Who sent a video that got the most retweets?
  • Do video interviews. Ask conference attendees, “Why are you here?” “How did you hear about this?” Ask unexpected questions such as “What’s your suggestion for the CEO of Google?”
  • Set up Google Analytics on your website so you can track data to see the impact.
  • Add Hootsuite on your phone or tablet and set up a search stream for your company hashtag so you can follow the postings.
  • You can write tweets in Hootsuite before you go to NYC to be posted while you’re in NYC.
  • Ask people questions at the conference. “What did you think of the last presentation?” “We’re going out for dinner, join us.”
  • Set up Twitter advertising to shows your top tweets to your audience. The ads can start and stop with the conference. You can also set the ads to show only in New York City. Everyone at the conference will see your tweets.

Here are ideas for tweets:

  • When you attend speaking events or meetings, tweet the top ideas.
  • Invite people to meeting: For example, “Meet #EzyInsights in #NYC @EzyInsights.”
  • Write tweets in German, French, Danish, Swedish, Spanish, and Finnish
  • Post your personal experiences for the day. The more personal, the better. What you’re going to do for the day. What you see. @EzyInsights going to #EmpireStateBuilding
  • Don't be formal. Send funny photos and videos of team and clients. Team at a bar. CEO with hookers. CEO getting arrested by the NY police.
  • Use photos and video.

Use the event’s hashtag, such as #AdWeekNYC, to tweet points by speakers, event information, or find people to share taxi, cultural outings, dinners, or shuttle to the airport.

Sometimes, conference organizers haven’t set up a hashtag for the event. You should take the opportunity to create the hashtag.

  • Create an acronym hashtag. For Advertising Week Los Angeles in 2014, try #AdWeekLA14. Conference organizers can use hashtags for cities and years, such as AdWeekLA13, AdWeekUK13, AdWeekLA14, and so on.
  • Make sure the hashtag looks okay (and makes sense) in lower case. #adweekla14 is okay. But #PenIsland14 would be regrettable.
  • See if anyone else is using the hashtag. Search for it in Twitter. Sometimes, it was in use a year ago, but no longer, and that’s okay. You don’t want a hashtag that someone else is currently using.
  • When you’ve come up with a good hashtag, send an email to the conference organizers and suggest the hashtag. Ask them to include it in their website and emails.
  • Start using it. Post three or four tweets about the conference, such as #UKFOLS13 (Family Office Leadership Summit in London, 2013).
  • Because you came up with it, you own the hashtag. Post before, during, and after the event.

Who Really Reads Your Tweets?

Posted: Fri, 03 Oct 2014 23:59:44

@KasThomas wrote a great blog posting about Twitter Analytics.

To follow up on his posting, here are my Twitter statistics, along with a few notes.

I released several books in the last few months. I used my monthly newsletter and social to let my audience know about the books. (Both books became Amazon #1 Best Sellers.) (To get your Twitter stats, log into Twitter Advertising at and from top menu, select Analytics.)

Here are my Twitter stats:

  • Engagement (1.4% = 252)
  • Link Clicks 49 (from 18,000 = 0.0027%)
  • Retweets = 81 (0.0045%)
  • Favorites = 82 (0.0045%)
  • Replies = 33 (0.0018%)
  • and here's the screenshot:
Inline image 3

I compressed the link with and sent the compressed link out in newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, etc. reports the compressed link got 709 clicks. Of that, 76 people (10.7% of 1,170 people) saw the link in Twitter, clicked it, and came to the book's website. (Note: 76 clicks is higher than Twitter's report of 49 clicks.) Here's the graph from

Inline image 2
(Some of the unlabeled pie slices are other versions of LinkedIn, FB, etc.; I added them up.)

So 76 clicks from Twitter divided by my 1,170 followers = 6.5% CTR, which is pretty good CTR.

BTW, I don't go for the "get lots of followers" method. I do nothing to increase followers. I have only 1,170 followers, and that's fine by me; I focus on #hashtags. That big spike on Sept. 12th was due to hashtags in a popular topic. (I also generally avoid popular topics.)

So... Kas is right: Twitter engagement and conversions are low (and FB/LinkedIn are even lower). However, Twitter Analytics isn't accurate (although at such low numbers, there's not much difference). Maybe better cross-referencing and comparison with other tracking tools should also be done.

BTW, I've been discussing and sharing stats with Janet Fouts @JFouts as we try to figure out what actually works in Twitter. Many thanks to her for ideas and strategy.

The important thing: This answers a question that I've had for a long time: how many people actually see a tweet? Now you know how to find out.

The Ebola Epidemic: Here We Go Again...

Posted: Sat, 04 Oct 2014 17:10:25

Regarding #Ebola in Dallas, Lisa Monaco, President Obama’s senior counter-terrorism adviser, said, “The United States has the most capable health infrastructure and the most capable doctors in the world, bar none,” at a White House briefing on Oct. 3, 2014.

This raised a few questions:

  1. Why is a counter-terror adviser speaking about a disease? Is the White House planning air strikes on Dallas?
  2. Why isn't the Surgeon General speaking about this? In fact, where is the Surgeon General?
  3. Is the US medical system capable of dealing with Ebola? And...
  4. What's the US history with epidemics?

1) Why Is Ebola an Issue for Counter-Terror?

That first question is easy to answer. Counter-terror advisors speak because the US ("the most capable health infrastructure and the most capable doctors in the world, bar none") doesn't have a Surgeon General.

2) Where Is the US Surgeon General?

A year ago, Obama nominated Dr. Vivek Murthy (Harvard, Magnum cum Laude; Yale, Doctor of Medicine) for US Surgeon General. But Dr. Murthy (along with the AMA) supported ObamaCare and posted one tweet about guns as a health care issue.

So the NRA and the GOP have blocked his nomination in the Senate ever since.

3) Can the US Medical System Deal with Ebola?

How did the US medical system ("...the finest in the world..."), deal with the outbreak in Dallas?

In Liberia, Thomas Duncan helped to take a woman to the hospital; she died of ebola a few days later. He came to the US because he felt he had a better chance of survival. He walked through US Customs simply by lying in his customs form. After falling ill, he was taken by ambulance to a Dallas hospital, where he sat in the waiting hall for hours with other patients. The hospital sent him home because he was poor and didn't have health insurance. It took several more days before his apartment was disinfected. The nurses weren't trained to handle ebola.

What about the Center for Disease Control (CDC)? They're responsible for management of epidemics in the US. Republicans cut its budget by half in the last six years.

So far, failure at every step. But don't worry. Washington counter-terror experts held a press conference to assure us everything is under control.

4) How Has the USA Deal with Other Epidemics?

In the early 80s, doctors noticed young healthy men in San Francisco, NYC, and LA were dying of a very rare cancer. After identifying the disease as AIDS, it took several more years to discover the HIV virus. What was the White House response to the AIDS epidemic? Read for yourself. Here is Larry Speakes, Reagan's White House Press Secretary, on Oct. 15, 1982:

  • Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement—the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?
  • MR. SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?
  • Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as "gay plague." (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?
  • MR. SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)
  • Q: No, I don’t.
  • MR. SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.
  • Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President—
  • MR. SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)
  • Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?
  • MR. SPEAKES: No, I don't know anything about it, Lester.
  • Q: Does the President, does anybody in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?
  • MR. SPEAKES: I don't think so. I don't think there’s been any—
  • Q: Nobody knows?
  • MR. SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.
  • Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping—
  • MR. SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no—(laughter)—no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.
  • Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you're saying or what?
  • MR. SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.
  • Q: Didn’t say that?
  • MR. SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)
  • Q: Because I love you, Larry, that’s why. (Laughter.)
  • MR. SPEAKES: Oh, I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)
  • Q: Oh, I retract that.
  • MR. SPEAKES: I hope so.

Six years after AIDS started, Washington leaped into action. In 1987, the U.S. Congress adopted the Helms Amendment (written by US Senator Jesse Helms and signed by US President Ronald Reagan) banning use of federal funds for AIDS education materials that "promote or encourage, directly or indirectly, homosexual activities," including the use of condoms to prevent AIDS. The Helms Amendment was called "the no promo homo policy".

  • 650,000 people died of AIDS in the USA. They were mostly gay, Black, and Latino
  • Black women are 6% of the US population yet they made up 50% of women with AIDS

5) What's Next?

Ebola is growing rapidly in West Africa due to a broken medical health system and the lack of education. Researchers estimate 500,000 people will have ebola by January. About 50% will die. At some point, there will be general panic in West Africa and people will flee to the rest of the world. Will the current US medical system be able to handle that?

A better question: how will the US political system handle a disease that currently strikes Blacks?

Maybe they'll hold another press conference?

Update: Oct. 14, 2014

Texas Presbyterian Hospital administrators kept Thomas Duncan, the first person to die of Ebola in the U.S., waiting for hours in the emergency room with up to seven other patients before placing him in isolation, according to nurses at the Dallas hospital who issued a statement Tuesday night and answered questions through the nation’s biggest nursing union.

In an unusual telephone call, RoseAnn DeMoro, the head of National Nurses United, the country’s largest nurses union, claimed:

  • The hospital had no protocols in place to handle Ebola cases.
  • Supervisors walked in and out of Duncan’s isolation room without proper protective gear.
  • Duncan’s lab specimens were moved through the hospital’s pneumatic tube system instead of being separately sealed and delivered, and thus “the entire tube system was potentially contaminated.”
  • Nurses were not fully covered in protective gear, with their wrists, necks and heads exposed to possible contamination.

DeMoro's union conducted a survey during the past few days of 2,300 nurses in 46 states. The results are pretty shocking. More than 70% said they hadn’t been given adequate training about Ebola; 36% claimed their hospitals don’t even have sufficient supplies of face shields and fluid-resistant gowns to handle patients with the disease.

“There’s been no education in this country to hospital staffs except to refer them to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website,” DeMoro told the Daily News earlier in the day. “Nurses have literally been in the dark.”

More than 70% said they hadn’t been given adequate training about Ebola; 36% claimed their hospitals don’t even have sufficient supplies of face shields and fluid-resistant gowns to handle patients with the disease.

Jihad in America travels on the wind. Can the government, dodgy as it is, possibly stand up to a real attack?

While a nuclear terrorist attack is unlikely, in a bio-terror epidemic, the genetically engineered plague is invisible. Our borders are vulnerable, and metag in Syria and Iraq.

What if the government is helpless, gridlocked in perpetual party conflict and rancor?

BEYOND TERRORISM: SURVIVAL is the fictional story of two unlikely strangers who found a way to survive the apocalypse, the most deadly terrorist attack in history.

Read a sample on my website:

#TwitterBook: Updates

Posted: Sun, 05 Oct 2014 20:04:19

Twitter Analytics

Buried within Twitter Advertising, there is an analytics dashboard. It shows data and graphs on how many people read your tweets, the clicks, and so on. See more at my posting on Using Twitter Analytics.

Hootsuite as Your Twitter Dashboard

The more I use Hootsuite, the more I like it. I never go to Twitter anymore; it's all through Hootsuite.

  • Alerts: I turned on notifications for the streams that matter to me. When there's a new tweet, my phone clicks. At first, you may turn on too many notifications. If you're not responding or writing, turn off notification for that stream.
  • Scheduled Tweets (Delayed Send): You can write tweets and schedule them to be sent out later. You can also choose to allow Hootsuite to determine the optimal time for sending. In many topics, people tend to post or read on certain days or in certain hours. That's good... but if your tweet is urgent, it may be delayed for a while. I noticed some of my tweets didn't get posted until seven or ten days later.

    Another advantage of scheduling: your tweets are spread out over several days. You can write ten tweets but your followers won't see ten in a row.

    Be sure to increase the daily number of scheduled tweets. Go to Settings | Auto Schedule and increase this to 10 per day.

  • Add a stream to see the scheduled posts that will go out. You can see what's up and you can also see mistakes or make updates. Click on Add Stream and click the Scheduled icon.
  • Schedule Many Tweets: You can create tweets in a spreadsheet, save as CSV, and upload to Hootsuite. The format:

    Col. A: Date as "04/22/14 13:50" (the year is two digits; time is a 24-hour clock and must end in zero or five).

    Col. B: Your tweet text.

    Col C: Image URL, e.g.,

    There's a free tool at Sonix Studio to build a CSV spreadsheet. Once you've made and tested the first one, you can edit it for future tweets.

  • HootBulk: The HootBulk app lets you create dozens of tweets to be sent out over 30 days. To use this, go to the App Directory, select All, and search for HootBulk. Free for two days and then it's $2/month.
  • Hootsuite App: I've also switched from the desktop version to the app. The app notifies me of new messages, so I don't have to scan all of the streams.
  • Paid HootSuite: I'm not sure about the paid version of HootSuite ($15/month). The two features: you have manage 100 profiles and send 350 tweets from each profile. Yes, you can set up 100 fake accounts and bombard the landscape. It's a spammer tool. A useful feature: you can have nine team members so you can review and manage your team. I'll sign up for the free 30-day trial. More later.
  • Hootup: Hootsuite has regular events and meetings. They invited me to one. I'll write more about that later.
  • Sync Desktop and App: There isn't an easy way to synchronize the Hootsuite desktop and app. If you add streams to the desktop and more streams to the app, after a while you end up with two different sets. The solution: Manage the desktop streams as your "official" set of streams and then update the app's streams to match the desktop. Go to the app, select Streams (the little hamburger icon), select Settings, and then click Reset Data. This refreshes the streams to your desktop set. However... it wipes out your notifications (the bell for new tweets). You'll have to set those again.

A great book (okay, it's the only one) (but it's great!) is <a href="">The Unofficial Book On HootSuite</a><img src="" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /> by Mike Allton (Amazon, May 2014). He covers how to use Hootsuite for personal and business work. Lots of tips and ideas.

Twitter Advertising

I didn't go into Twitter Advertising much because I wrote the book for a general audience. If you're thinking about using ads in Twitter, look at the advertising options carefully. There is quite a bit there. For example:

  • Target by Twitter ID: You can add a list of Twitter IDs (such as @andrew, @beatrice, @clara, etc.). Twitter will shows ads to those persons and the people who follow those people. These are people who are actively posting to Twitter.

    To find names, use Twitter Advanced Search, search for a hashtag (if needed, select language and location). To find people who write positive tweets, select "Positive". If you want to target your competitors' unhappy customers, select "negative". Click Search and in the results, select People. Copy several hundred tweets and use a text editor to extract the Twitter IDs (the @names) from the tweets. You can also select to see people who retweet, which means it's likely they'll retweet your postings.

    You can also use various tools to find lists of Twitter users who are influencers or active on Twitter and import that list to Twitter.

    Be careful: it's very easy to inflate the number of followers and many people with 10,000 or more followers have done that.

  • Target by Website Visitors: You can add a bit of code to your website which lets Twitter identify visitors who also use Twitter. Your ad can be shown to those visitors. This is retargeting.
  • Measure your CPL and CPA: Do this by calculating your KPIs. This is easy to do (you only need 4th grade arithmetic). Get my free ebook on KPIs.

You can experiment with Twitter paid ads and track the results carefully. If you get results within acceptable CPLs and CPAs, then use Twitter advertising. If Twitter Advertising exceeds your acceptable KPIs, then don't use it.

Twitter Advertising tells you that you can use ads to increase engagement, impressions, retweets, followers, etc. None of those are business metrics. The only thing that matters is qualified leads, sales, and revenues.

How Often Should You Tweet?

This is common question. Basically, as often as you can. Two or three times a day. Five times. Ten times. Some are sending 50 or more tweets per day.

You won't burn out your followers because 99% of your followers aren't reading your tweets. Remember: followers don't matter. It's the people who search and follow #hashtags that matter. So write a tweet and then create ten versions, each with a different #hashtag.

Your Ideas Here...

If you have ideas or tips for using Twitter, let me know and I'll add them here.

Twitter and Engagement Statistics

Posted: Sat, 11 Oct 2014 18:05:13

So does Twitter work? How can you measure results? Which numbers matter? Or don't matter? Let's look at Followers, Impressions, and Engagement.

Followers and Impressions

Twitter Analytics offers numbers for followers, impressions, engagements, and engagement rate. What do these mean? Here are Twitter's definitions (source: screen shot from Twitter Analytics):

  • Impressions: Number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter.
  • Engagement: Total number of times a user has interacted with a Tweet. This includes all clicks anywhere on the Tweet (including hashtags, links, avatar, user name, and Tweet expansion), retweets, replies, follows, and favorites.
  • Engagement Rate: The number of engagements (clicks, retweets, replies, follows, and favorites) divided by the total number of impressions.
  • Followers: The number of followers for your account.

You can see the problem: An impression means your tweet showed up in someone's account. Just as you don't read every tweet from everyone you're following, they're not reading your tweets either. It's also very easy to inflate both impressions and followers (just go to or similar spammer sites to buy hundreds of thousands of followers).

Followers, Engagements, and the Truth

Let's look at data from Danny Sullivan, who has 390,000 followers (June, 2014). During the World Cup, he got the following engagement: 25, 77, 119, 26, 20, 230, 69, 103, 23. That means for the first tweet, he got 25 engagements, 77 for the second tweet, and so on. The total is 735 for ten tweets, or an average of 73.5 engagements per tweet. Divide 73.5 by 390,000 followers to get 0.0001884. Multiply by 100 to get 0.01884%. Round off and you get a 0.02% engagement rate. That's not 1%. That's not a tenth of 1%. That's 0.02%. That's how few of his followers are reacting to his tweets.

If you invite 5,000 people to your birthday party and only one person shows up, that's 0.02%, The Worst Birthday Party EVER.

(Note: Danny's numbers are tweets about the World Cup, a wildly popular global event, so I suspect his numbers are elevated. I wonder about engagement numbers for his usual topics.)

Okay, is 0.02% good or bad? When I send out my monthly newsletter via MailChimp, the newsletter tool shows me the number of opens (how many people opened the newsletter) and the number of clicks (how many people clicked the link in the newsletter). If the link leads to my website for a form or purchase, I can also count those registrations or purchases. An average newsletter gets 10-15% engagement. My newsletters get 46-54% engagement every month.

What about a normal Twitter account, which means not 400,000 followers, but only a thousand followers? Although I know the tricks to jack up follower numbers (these are described in my #TwitterBook), I don't do that. My follower count is natural. I have around 1,100 followers. Per the Twitter analytics data for my account, my engagement rate is 1.4% (over 18,000 impressions in the last 30 days.) That's 700X better than an account with 390,000 followers.

Nevertheless, it's 1.4%, not 50%, so compared to a newsletter, Twitter is pretty bad for engagement.

However, we're comparing engagement against the number of followers, and as I wrote, the follower number is unreliable, which means... engagement ratio based on followers is worthless as a metric. (Actually, it's worse than worthless: if you tell your boss that you're getting 0.02% engagement, she'll shut down the whole thing.)

What matters are the business metrics: leads, sales, and revenues, which means the results. We'll get to this in a moment.

Delayed Engagement

Several reviewers of this draft pointed out tweets often go out, get some engagement, and then, days or weeks later, pick up again as people discover them in their news stream. This means you have to wait perhaps 10-20 days to be sure to have all the data for a tweet.

What about Hashtags?

What if you have only 1,000 followers but you tweet with a hashtag that was used by 400,000 people in the last 30 days? In other words, 400,000 people wrote tweets in the last 30 days that included the hashtag.

That indicates the active crowd for that concept. (But just because they're posting with the hashtag, it doesn't mean they're reading the tweets.) So it's useful to know that #HashtagA has 400,000 uses and #HashtagB has 500 uses, but it's not a business metric.

(How to find these numbers? shows this, but for some reason, their site hasn't been working for the last 60 days.)

So What's an Engagement in Twitter?

What counts as an engagements at Twitter? In Twitter's (extremely) desperate need to show results (any results at all) they count everything as an engagement. Here's the list of what Twitter considers to be engagement:

  • Retweet: Someone retweets your tweet.
  • Reply: Someone replies to your tweet.
  • Favorite: Someone "Favorites" your tweet.
  • Follows you: Someone follows you (after clicking to your profile).
  • Click on your Twitter Name: Someone clicks on your Twitter name to see your profile.
  • Click on your Twitter Photo: Someone clicks on your Twitter photo to see your profile.
  • Click on a link: Someone clicks on a link in your tweet.
  • Click on Share: Someone shares your tweet.
  • Click on Embed: Someone uses embeds your tweet somewhere else. (Do this by going to a tweet, click More and then Embed)
  • Card engagements: If you're using Twitter Cards (a type of ad), someone clicks on the card.
  • Click on a hashtag: Someone clicks on a #hashtag in your tweet.
  • Click on a photo: Someone clicks on a photo in your tweet.
  • Click on a video: Someone clicks on a video in your tweet.
  • Pulse: The person looking at your tweet has a pulse, which rules out cabbage.

Okay, that last one is a joke.

Twitter considers any possible action on a tweet as engagement. However, most of these are irrelevant, so the engagement number itself is inflated. What really counts are leads, sales, and revenue.

BTW, if you advertise in Twitter, you will be charged for any of these actions, even when someone just clicks on your profile photo.

Which Engagement Metrics Matter?

The only metrics that matter are business metrics, which are top line and bottom line numbers. This means: Does it produce revenues? Does it save money? Does it produce a qualified lead, sale, or revenue?

The other numbers (views, follows, retweets, shares, etc.) may lead to KPIs, so they're secondary metrics.

How to Increase Engagement

So how do you increase engagement? Twitter reviewed several million US tweets to see how a tactic affects engagement:

The effect on Twitter engagement by various tactics. Summary: It depends on the topic.

For example, if you're tweeting about politics and you include a photo, you'll get 62% more engagement. If you include a video, you get only 14% improvement. However, if you're posting about music, a video will increase engagement by 35%. So you need to study your topic to determine the tactic.

(The "digit" in the charts mean that the tweet included a number. Some people really like to look at numbers.)

So... which tactic to use? It depends on your topic. Look at the charts above (and go to Twitter Blog's posting for more details).

Twitter's research covers only a few actions. There are several more things that you can do to increase engagement:

  • Ask a question.
  • Add a link
  • Write short tweets (less than 100 char)
  • Ask for a retweet (RT)

(I don't include numbers for these because I don't have authoritative data. If you know of research for these, please let me know.)

By increasing engagement, more people will see your tweets. If it's qualified traffic (your target audience), it'll lead to an increase in business metrics (leads, sales, revenue).

So Does Twitter Really Work?

After all of this, you're wondering: does this really work? In September, I published another book at Amazon. I used tracking tags in the URL to see how many people clicked the link. Twitter produced 76 clicks to get the book (see who-really-reads-your-tweets), which was twice as much as what I got from Facebook or LinkedIn. That's my KPI: actual sales. So, yes, Twitter works.

I'm looking for more data. All I need is engagement numbers for a 30-day period for accounts with significant activity. If you can share your Twitter data, I'd appreciate it. Just email me:

Big Cats of Silicon Valley

Posted: Fri, 17 Oct 2014 01:41:39

A lot of people don't realize we have mountain lions in Silicon Valley. Yes, there really are lions here. Here are two home surveillance camera photos of mountain lions from the last few weeks.

Shoo! Get off that car. On second thought, do whatever you like.

The cats were here before us. They live in the hills and often come down into the neighborhoods at night. It's very rare (one or twice in a hundred years) that they hurt humans.

Trolls and Reviews

Posted: Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:52:57

I'm often asked about reviews. People want to write books, but they're afraid of bad reviews. It's a serious problem.

There are useful negative reviews.

And there are trolls. These people hide behind fake names (and often, elaborate fake profiles, biographies, photos, etc.) and relentlessly attack to destroy people.

I've been using the Internet and the web since the 80s. I've been the moderator (manager) of a number of forums, some of them rather large. Trolls have always been around. It's not new and it's not going away.

That's why I believe in real IDs, as in, using a real name to post. Not just a name: there should be substantial online presence, including Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and perhaps a Twitter account or a website. If someone writes a review but doesn't use his name, don't reply. It's likely fake.

In general, don't reply to negative comments by unknown persons. Better yet, don't read the reviews of your work. Just keep writing.

Here are several articles about reviews and trolls:

Goodbye, Google Authorship...

Posted: Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:30:52

Google shut down Google Authorship. They said few authors were using it and it didn't matter much to users.

What was it? The idea was for Google to be able to know who was a valid author. There are too many sites that offer fake content or texts written by unknown workers in warehouses. Google could identify real people by looking at their Google+ profiles (social activity with friends, likes, links, postings, and so on) and tie the person's articles together.

But few authors added the code to their pages or signed up for G+. And Google users didn't seem to care if Google showed an author profile or not.

But this is just the details. What's the big picture?

  • Once again, Google failed to support a project. They launch an idea, only to watch it sink, and then they walk away and say nobody really liked it anyway. No promotion, no marketing.
  • Google is shutting down Google+. Instead of admitting defeat, they're doing it bit by bit, spread over months, with the hope that nobody will notice or care. This is one of Google's biggest failures.

I used Google Authorship. I added the code, edited my profile, and used it across all of my postings. Now it's gone. Too bad.

I stripped out all of the Google Authorship code from my website.

Looking under the Streetlight: Influencer Marketing

Posted: 04 Apr 2014

You've heard the story: a policeman sees a kid looking for something under a streetlight. He asks the boy what is lost. The boy says he lost some money and they both look under the streetlight together. After a few minutes the policeman asks if he is sure he lost it here, and the boy replies, no, that he lost it down the street where it's dark. The policeman asks why he is searching here, and the boy replies, "because there's light here!"

That's called the streetlight effect. It's affecting influencer marketing. How? Most influencer marketing tools are focused on social tools. Why? Because it's a street light. Facebook, Twitter, etc. make visible a person's activity, followers, number of links, retweets, and so on. And people look in these sites because it's easy to find the people who are members of these sites. But the sites don't show the people who aren't members.

The various social metrics and social analytics tools measure and compare these numbers. They measure the person's influence. Klout, Kred, Followerwonk, and other tools use a score to show you a person's social influence. The more points, the more important the person.

The Problem with Metrics for Social Influence

But there's a problem with the metrics at the social tools: it's easy to fool the system. Many of the numbers are fake. You can buy followers (1,000 for $10), comments in Yelp ($5), recommendations in LinkedIn ($5), and so on (you can just search for this). Large PR and ad agencies routinely add tens of thousands of likes and comments to their clients' postings in social media.

Where's the Real Influence?

When Laura makes a major decision, she talks with friends whom she trust. Laura asks friends who are experts. She talks with family relatives who have experience and knowledge. She meets with her doctor, college professor, or minister. If Laura doesn't know a trusted expert, she asks friends for recommendations. A trusted-friend-of-a-trusted-friend.

Laura wants the real story from someone she trusts. This means she ask quietly, not in a public space.

Laura also wants an unbiased opinion or recommendation. She doesn't want a salesperson who will make a profit on her. She wants the same opinion that the expert would make for a family member.

Real influence is personal. It happens face-to-face in quiet meetings. These relationships don't happen under streetlights. They don't happen in Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. They take place in the dark.

The challenge then is to uncover those relationships. Who are the trusted experts?

To make this yet more difficult, each situation is different. You have one set of experts for one kind of decision, and another set for another decision. The people you ask about a medical decision won't be the same who you ask about buying or selling your house.

HRefLang and International SEO

Posted: Thu, 10 Apr 2014

I'm looking into how to implement HRefLang for international SEO. The following are notes. I'll work on this over the next few weeks and update this article.

This page is for advanced SEO. There are lots of acronyms and concepts that I won't explain. Give this to your SEO person.

  • Goal of HRefLang: The goal is simple: A person should see the best page for her when she uses a search engine. A person should see French in Quebec and English in Toronto.
  • What Is HRefLang? If your site is in several languages and your audience is in several countries, then you should use HRefLang. This helps Google and Yandex to know which page should be shown to a person in any of those languages or countries.
  • So What Exactly Is HRefLang? It's markup code for the XML sitemap. For example, <link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="fr-ca">. The <rel="alternate"> part tells the search engine there a page (french-page.html) which is in French for Canada.
  • It's not as easy as "set the country" or "pick a language". There are two issues: Multilocale Language:. French is used in France, Quebec, and Mali. Multilingual Country: Canada uses French and English.
  • Rarely Done: Although advanced SEO people know about HRefLang, very few have done it. I haven't yet found anyone who has implemented this. If you have, please contact me.
  • I looked at the XML sitemaps of ten global corporations. None have implemented this. One sitemap was broken. (Because it's XML, then a single error means the entire thing won't be used, so their sitemap is ineffective.)
  • Global pages: Some pages are meant to be viewed worldwide. Those pages can use X-Default. For example, <link rel="alternate" href="" hreflang="x-default" />. See Google's Page about X-Default. Caution: Don't set the US site as "en-us". It will disappear for the rest of the world. The US site should be the global English site.
  • Google doesn't help much. They have only a few short FAQs.
  • Bill Hunt says Google ignores the language setting (Geographical Setting) in WebMasterTools.
  • Google Quality Raters flag a page as useless if the language isn't appropriate for the country. For example, Spanish is useless in Denmark (p. 42, Google Quality Rater Manual, 2013).
  • If your site is international, then every page needs HRefLang markup. Yes, every single one.
  • If there are errors in your XML sitemap, you will be notified in WMT.
  • The Use of ccTLD: Google suggests they pay attention of ccTLD in the domain name as an indicator of location, e.g.,,, However, many websites in many countries don't use theccTLD. They prefer .com because it is more prestigious, considered as serious, etc. Other websites use ccTLDs as part of a name, such as .co (Colombia), which is seen as "company" in the USA. I say ccTLDs are not a reliable marker of location. Furthermore, they do nothing about the multilingual country issue.
  • HRefLang is for languages, not countries. It requires a language code. Don't insert a country code and no language code. That will be ignored.
  • HRefLang uses two standards: Languages: ISO 639-1. Linguistic Regions: ISO 3166-1 Alpha-2. However, Google itself sometimes makes mistakes. Check the ISO codes to be sure.
  • Universal Language: Per the Google Quality Rater manuals, US English is considered the universal language. If a relevant page is in US English, it may appear in search results anywhere. This means you should use the US English site as the global site. Note: that's US English, not British, Australian, etc.
  • Without HRefLang?: Search engines look at pages for location and language clues. They can detect the language of a page (French, etc.) They also look at phone number format, the city/state address, currency, and so on.
  • To Find XML Sitemaps: Search < sitemap.xml> (or sitemap.xml.gz)

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