Category Archives: Internet

cookie policy

New Cookie Policy

The new cookie policy, as dictated by my doctor, is that I can’t eat any more cookies. Not even the oatmeal raisin cookies that my mother makes that would knock your socks off. And especially not the chocolate chips cookies I get at the market across the street and eat with my morning coffee. No more cookies.

On this website, the only cookies you’ll find are anonymous cookies dropped by Google Analytics for website statistics.

Photograph by Mrs Magic and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

madonna super bowl

Judging By Madonna’s Super Bowl Performance And Twitter, Are You A Crabby Person?

Your reaction to Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, and the kinds of people you follow on Twitter, may hint at whether you’re a positive or negative person. Let me explain.

Watching the wreck that was the Madonna halftime show at the Super Bowl, the first thing I did was reach for my laptop to see what my followers were writing on Twitter. I follow around 330 people, of whom about 50-75 were tweeting about Madonna. Monitoring my stream closely, there wasn’t one positive comment about Madonna’s performance. Not one. Not even a borderline positive comment.

Now check this out: some CEO marketing hack (Mark Ghuneim) from an outfit called Wiredset says that Madonna’s performance had 59% positive, 31% negative, and 11% neutral response on Twitter. How’s that possible?

Am I following very negative people because I’m a negative person (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)? Maybe the people we follow on Twitter does say something about us.

Here are the two Tweets I wrote about Madonna:

Betty White should have done the half time show. #superbowl #nfl

Madonna has chronic fatigue syndrome #superbowl

Did you read any good Madonna take-down tweets?

Without Breaking The Bank, Local Businesses Can Drive Customers Using Discounts via Twitter Lists

This is a proposal for an experiment in Western Massachusetts to start our own “Twitter-pon” list. Most small businesses using Groupon don’t fair well, at the end of the day. But there’s a way around it: start a Twitter list of local businesses that offer discounts directly to customers. Here’s the logic and details:

I don’t get Groupon. Or LivingSocial, or whatever the next location-based couponing site is going to be. And there will be others. Because that business has such a low barrier to entry and the profit margins are so high, if you’ve got $50-100k anyone can do it. It’s not brain surgery.

Try Googling “groupon scam” or “groupon ripoff” and read the stories. They’re not hard to find. For consumers it’s mostly a good deal, but they’re not the ones footing the bill for the discount. It’s the local businesses, often small operations themselves, that have to pay for the discount, pay a fee to Groupon, and pay a tax on the whole thing. Restaurants in particular, because the margins are so tight, seem to suffer when they try Groupon. Ponder this: if the economy was humming along, do you think Groupon ever gets off the ground?

Phone Books, Craigslist, and Twitter

I think about those things a lot, phone books, Craigslist, and Twitter. They’re all different communication tools, but they do have one critical thing in common: they’re communication from individual people that’s aggregated into a whole new thing. What gives the phone book value is not that my friend’s phone number is inside, it’s that nearly everyone has a number inside.

The same can be said for both Craigslist and Twitter: when all the individual communication points are combined, it gives more value to each, in addition to the bunch of posts or tweets (easier to live in a city than an island by yourself).

But there’s a problem, especially with Twitter: while communication can be aggregated by following someone, sometimes that’s both too much and not enough. It’s too much because I don’t want all the communication from someone that has an interesting tweet once a month. BUT I do want that one tweet because it’s a local business and they’ve got a great discount on dry cleaning. See the problem?

The Power of @WMApons, Twitter Lists and #wmapon

There are sites that aggregate discount offer tweets from big businesses (two, here and here), but there’s not a site or tool that slices the number of businesses down even further, creating a group of businesses based on geography that offer discounts or coupons via tweets. Maybe it’s out there, but I haven’t found such a targeted group.

This might blow up in my face, but here’s the idea. I’ve created a new Twitter account called Western Mass Discounts (@WMApons) and along with that a list of the same name. Why do both? People don’t want to muck up their main Twitter feed by following a 100 different local businesses, BUT I think they would follow list of pure local business discounts.

Think of the @WMApons list as a mall full of businesses offering deals. People go to the mall because they’re in the buying mood, and that’s why people would look at the @WMApons list: because they know local business are offering deals there. Remember, living on an island is hard. Better to be in the city or mall where the commerce is happening.

How To Join @WMApons

Making this idea hum like a finely tuned engine is going to possibly require local businesses that want to join @WMApons to create another Twitter account dedicated to ONLY your discount or coupon offers. Why? Because, remember, people want deals. That’s what you want to give them. If you foul-up the list with general tweets about how great business was today, then the perceived value of the list is diminished. The more valuable the list, the greater the number of followers, and the number of potential customers increases. Pretty cool, yeah?

That’s the idea, anyhow. If you have questions or suggestions for tweaks on this experiment, let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, if you’re a local business go follow @WMApons and if you’re a person looking for deals, follow the @WMApons/wmapons list.

Of course, like the phone book, Craigslist, and Twitter, the more people who use @WMApons, the more valuable it becomes.

Photo by eschipul and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

How are you holding back that flood?

How much information can you consume in a day? When your belly is full, can you leave a full plate sitting there, or do you go cold turkey and never look at another post?

In an effort to save the failing mental barricades, today I unsubscribed from the Boing Boing RSS feed. Had to. They left me no choice. Sometimes the information comes down the pipe in such a rush that the spigot has to be turned off.

Over the past 5 days, the wonderful writers at Boing Boing put more than 102 posts in my feed reader. I was surprised at how the content piled up because over 600 posts had just been marked as read, in an effort to get a handle on just how fast they were producing new content.

Boing Boing isn’t the only site I’ve shut out of my daily information smorgasbord. More than 50 other feeds have been pruned because they weren’t either producing enough, or producing too much for me to track. A lot of it’s interesting content, though it doesn’t fit into my life. The priority now is becoming a wonderful writer too, so it’s time to be picky about when I turn on the spigot.

Photo by echobase_2000 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

How to loose 60 Twitter followers in a matter of minutes

What a drag. I wasn’t trying to spam anyone, market to anyone, or be a pain in the ass; I was just trying to pass along what I thought was a nice story. This experience sort of reminds me of the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. But more to the point, the lesson to be learned is that using services offering automatic actions on your Twitter account based on keywords is an inexact science. I wrote a Tweet and immediately 60 people (out of roughly 1,000) stopped following me.

Here’s the offending Tweet:
marketing-tweet

It’s a cool story about how this marketing dude helped a homeless man hone his pitch for donations by doing some A/B split testing. Check out the story, I think you’ll like it.

Services like SocialToo (which I subscribe to) gives you the ability to automatically unsubscribe from someone you follow based on defined keywords they might use in Tweets, like “marketing”. But I wasn’t trying to market to anybody! Too bad.

Besides “marketing,” what other keywords would you put on your automatic unfollow blacklist?

Step by step how to use Google Insights to brainstorm writing ideas

I’ve been working on an editorial calendar for a blog that I’ve neglected for a while now, My Weight Loss Struggle. To help brainstorm writing ideas, I took a look at Google Insights, the tool that gives insights into keywords, news stories that correlate to spikes in keyword interest, and geographically where these keyword searches are popular.

Google Insights is a tool most useful to advertisers looking for information about trending interests, but just as easily it can help you discover new writing topics or niches of topics you’re already writing about.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how I discovered some great topics for my weight loss blog.

  • First, I did a simple search for “weight loss” to see what came up. This was just some preliminary exploration.
  • I found too much information. I needed more focus. Insights can give you focus using a few different variables; the ones I chose were date (last 12 months), geography (US only), and category (health)
  • Now we’re cooking with gas! Straight away the regional interest section catches my eye. Here are the top 10 states looking for weight loss information using Google search: Alabama, Utah, West Virginia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana, Wyoming, and Mississippi. There’s something about that group of states that looks familiar.
  • I look up the median household income by state statistic, which gives us a rough idea of how poor or rich people are in different states. Bingo! Using 2008 numbers, here are the 10 poorest states: Mississippi, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Tennessee, Montana, and Louisiana. Get this! 6 of the poorest states in the U.S. are also the ones most looking for weight loss information.

You can’t beat having information like that. In this example it was my curiosity that caused the find. Looking at that Google list regional interest states, it seemed like they were poor. My hunch paid off.

google insightsWhat you can do with this information

Write posts! This gives me some great ideas about post topics because I can now picture my audience. There seems to be a group of states down south …

  • what about weight loss tips for people that like southern food? Is that possible?
  • these are poor states, so many posts about eating healthy on a budget
  • recipes that use ingredients often found in southern food
  • what about finding a guest blogger from one of these poorer states?

I’m just getting started. Do you have any ideas to share?

Give Google Insights a try and let me know your results in the comments below.

Top Photo (CC) andymangold

New Google bike maps in Western Mass [#westernma]

Google is working on something cool for cyclists all over the United States: Google map directions for bike riders. They made the announcement as part of the National Bike Summit on March 10th. They’re working with the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy to include bike trails; roads with dedicated bike lanes; and roads that are bike friendly, though they might not have lanes.

Right now, as best as I can tell, the Western Massachusetts map only includes our regional bike trails such as the Manhan trail in Easthampton and the Northampton area trails (see the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways for more info). As part of the beta release of these maps, 150 cities were included (more than 12,000 miles of bike trails). Very nice that the Pioneer Valley was included in the beta.

To find the bike map overlay on Google Maps, search for Northampton, then on the map look under “More …”. There you’ll find the option for the bicycling overlay option. And if you have suggestions or problems with the cycling map, look at the bottom of the left side frame for “report a problem”.

Here’s the Google video promo for the service:

What’s buzzing on the Web [list]

Things that buzz seem to be popular on the World Wide Web. I don’t know why; maybe because it’s a funny word to say?

According to WordNet Search, buzz is defined as any of the following:

Noun

  • (n) buzz, bombilation, bombination (sound of rapid vibration) “the buzz of a bumble bee”
  • (n) buzz (a confusion of activity and gossip) “the buzz of excitement was so great that a formal denial was issued”

Verb

  • (v) buzz, bombinate, bombilate (make a buzzing sound) “bees were buzzing around the hive”
  • (v) buzz (fly low) “Planes buzzed the crowds in the square”
  • (v) hum, buzz, seethe (be noisy with activity) “This office is buzzing with activity”
  • (v) buzz (call with a buzzer) “he buzzed the servant”

So, what’s buzzing on the Web?

Help me out, leave a comment and link with more things that are buzzing on the Web.

Photo of Buzz Out Loud co-host Molly Wood. She buzzes. (cc): Wikimedia Commons

7 Most popular Twitter hashtags in #WesternMA

One of the things I love about Twitter is the ability to both broadcast and narrowcast tweets at the same time. Using hashtags (defined) you can target a locale like Western Massachusetts (#WesternMA). I’ve used this technique to help a client with a radio show airing nationwide target communication to those communities.

Every region develops its own vocabulary. Here’s a list of the current most popular hashtags being used in Western Mass. Note: I’m not including any for profit brands or businesses … they can do their own publicity.

Did I miss any? Please include your additions in the comments below.

Other Twitter hashtag, abbreviation, or initialism resources

Look who’s coming to PodCamp — a newcomer interview

Some of the most important purposes of PodCamp events are introducing and educating newcomers to the world of social media. I’m fairly experienced in the world, but I think understanding how people get to PodCamp and what they get from it is interesting. Insights that newbies give us are how PodCamps and education about social media can improve.

After PodCamp Western Mass I put a call out for a newbie to interview about their PodCamp experience. Jennifer Gilbert (@TheatreChick10 on Twitter) agreed to be interviewed about her PodCamp and social media experience. Thanks, Jennifer.

First, can you give us a little sense of your experience using social media before going to PodCamp Western Mass? And how about since PodCamp?

I have been using Facebook since 2004 and I have been a member of LinkedIn for about a year. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m a bit of a Facebook junkie. I use it to keep in contact with friends, family and co-workers and have also dabbled in a few of its applications, Farmville being my favorite but recently I have gotten bored with it. As for LinkedIn, I had only joined and then did not do much else with it. It wasn’t until just before attending PodCamp that I joined Twitter. Kelly Galanis recommended I make an account prior to attending.

Since PodCamp I have only occasionally used Twitter/TweetDeck. Coincidentally, since PodCamp I have been contacted by one of my long lost college classmates through a LinkedIn message. He is completing his Masters in May and is looking for work. I sent him a message through LinkedIn with recommendations for where to look and who to contact. I also followed up with an old co-worker from an internship I did by old fashion email (the only contact info. I had for her) to see if they were hiring. I ended up sending along this information to my classmate through email (got his email through LinkedIn but it was easier to forward him my co-workers info. through email than having to log back into LinkedIn).

You’re new to Twitter. What brought you to using Twitter and how do you plan on using it?

Kelly Galanis recommended I get an account prior to attending PodCamp. At PodCamp I went to several sessions about Twitter, including about the use of TweetDeck. I haven’t yet found a purpose for its use in my life but I haven’t given up on figuring out how to integrate it into my social networking portfolio, for a lack of a better term.

Can you give us a little breakdown of your experience at PodCamp Western Mass? What did you find most useful? What sessions did you attend? And do you think you’d attend another PodCamp? Were there any people you found particularly compelling?

I attended the Social Networking 101 session, how to efficiently use social media session, a TweetDeck session and the panel discussion session. I found all of the sessions useful. All the presenters were very knowledgeable, and willing to explain everything, no matter how naive the question was (and I had plenty). I will most definitely attend the next PodCamp and I’m looking forward to attending more advanced sessions next time as well. I found Lesley the most compelling. She presented the TweetDeck session as well as being on the panel discussion. It was very interesting to see how social networking can be used so effectively for business purposes. However, I am a civil engineer at a private engineer firm that doesn’t yet utilize any social networking tools but maybe by learning more about social networking an application may arise.

One last question, Jennifer. Social media can be a weird thing, at least to me: it can be a deeply social experience, even though some people never meet each other. PodCamps can break down that barrier, making it easier to meet people you might not otherwise have. How do you think you’ll use social media with people that you know or already see “in real life”?

Right now I use Facebook to keep up with family, friends and co-workers in my social sense and I don’t want it infringe upon my professional life. For professional connections I believe I will end up utilizing LinkedIn. As for Twitter, right the only people I follow or that follow me are from PodCamp. I haven’t inquired with any of my friends, family or co-workers to see if they have Twitter. I’m still not sure how I want to use Twitter in my life.

I’d like say thank you to Kelly and Tom Galanis for telling me about PodCamp!