Archive for the 'internet' Category

Don’t Feed The Trolls!

I know, I know, but I just had to. Once.

I got one of those emails from an “Internet Marketer”. You know what I’m talking about. How they can help you with SEO/Internet Marketing/Web Design, and they’re cheap too! Well, obviously they are cheap, they’re emailing from a Gmail address.

Here is the email, sent via a contact web form for one of my sites:


From: Deejay Colin [mailto:[deleted]@gmail.com]
Sent: August-10-11 8:38 PM
To: Angela Robson
Subject: SEO| Internet Marketing| Website Designing
From: Deejay Colin
Subject: SEO| Internet Marketing| Website Designing

Hi,

We can fairly quickly promote your website to the top of the search rankings with no long term contracts!

We can place your website on top of the Natural Listings on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Our Search Engine Optimization team delivers more top rankings then anyone else and we can prove it. We do not use “link farms” or “black hat” methods that Google and the other search engines frown upon and can use to de-list or ban your site. The techniques are proprietary, involving some valuable closely held trade secrets. Our prices are less then half of what other companies charge.

We would be happy to send you a proposal using the top search phrases for your area of expertise. Please contact me at your convenience so we can start saving you some money.

In order for us to respond to your request for information, please include your company’s website address (mandatory) and /or phone number.

Sincerely,
Deejay Colin
[deleted]@gmail.com
COMPLETE INTERNET MARKETING SOLUTION
SEO – Link Building – Copyright – Web Designing – PHP

They’re ALL like that. Sent via a contact form, with a Gmail email reply address. I found a very similar “comment” on a completely unrelated website…about mascara. And then I found a whole whackload (very technical term) on a bunch of others sites. [insertfirstname]internetmarketing@gmail.com. I mean really. Come ON.

Here is my reply:


Hi….uh, whatever your name is…

I did a quick Google Search for your name. The first result is http://technical-itch.co.uk/contact-me/, which says absolutely zero about Internet Marketing, SEO, or web design. In fact, at a first gland it looks like nothing but reviews for GPS units. So I do a search (on what I assume is your site) for “internet marketing”, and I’m presented with a weblog entry from April 3, 2007 about a well-known webmaster tool kit.

At this point, I’m already seriously beginning to doubt your professed ability to rank my website in the top “Natural Listings”. Honestly though, it’s the email address that gave it away in the first place. I mean, if you really are a serious web-centric company, wouldn’t you at least email from your own domain? Or maybe you don’t have one? Or even a website? Isn’t it a tad ludicrous that I can’t find it? Do you even have a company name? Unlikely.

Upon further investigation, you claim you don’t use “link farms” or “black hat” methods, which is entirely possible because that would take too much work and thinking, but you do obviously “contact form spam”. As I see an example of here: http://wearingmascara.com/index.php/contact-me/ Oh, and of course it’s how you contacted me too.

Yeah, that’s working out great for you, isn’t it?

So, whateveryourfirstnameis-internetmarketing@gmail.com, Go back to doing whatever it is you were doing before. If someone like me can detect your BS, you’re pretty much screwed.

Angela

That’s all I had the energy for. :) Red Bull started wearing off…

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Seesmic for Blackberry – First Impressions

I was extremely excited when I got the announcement that Seesmic released their first Twitter client for the Blackberry. Seesmic has been one of my favorite clients to use on the desktop (especially since their update to include Twitter lists), a top contender against Tweetdeck, which is my default only because I’ve put so much effort into groups. I’ve been using the Seesmic client for about a day and, as a chronic Twitter user, I’ve used it quite a bit.  Overall, it’s really intuitive and easy to get to everything you want to easily.  I’m impressed.

I’ve been a beta tester for SocialScope for a while and it is, hands down, the best Twitter client available for the Blackberry, in my opinion.  UberTwitter is a close second.  I primarily tweet from my Blackberry and I’m a heavy mobile user, so I’m always in search of the perfect application.

The Good

Lists, lists, lists!

This is the feature I’m most excited about. Twitter lists were only introduced a short time ago, and not everyone is making use of them yet, but I find them VERY useful. Having access to my lists on my Blackberry is invaluable. I can read tweets based on my custom list and NOT have to visit the website — which is useless from a mobile device, really.

Seesmic with lists

Seesmic with lists

Saved searches

Another feature that seems to be lacking from mobile clients is the saved search list.  I don’t use it often, but it’s pretty handy when I do.  SocialScope allows you to search Twitter, but you have to enter the search every time.  Seesmic pulls your saved searches from your Twitter account.

Seesmic Saved Search

Seesmic Saved Search

New replies and DM notification and count

Also in the above screenshot you can see that new replies and DMs are counted.  I’ve missed @ replies countless times on SocialScope because they were below my field of view, or I was scrolling too fast.  Seesmic also notifies you of new replies and new DMs via the trusty red star, blinking LED, and the weird little Seesmic guy on the home screen.

Seesmic Notifications

Seesmic Notifications

Danger, 140 character limit!

Super useful. When you’re typing a tweet you get the remaining character count on the screen, as in other clients, but once you get closer to the 140 limit the tweet field visually warns you.  At 19 characters left, you get a light shade of pink, and then it gradually increases to a deep shade of red the closer you get to zero.

Seesmic - Approaching 140 Character Limit

Seesmic - Approaching 140 Character Limit

Seesmic - Reached Character Limit

Seesmic - Reached Character Limit

That’s not all!

These are just the highlights I find useful. There are a few other features, common to other clients but great to have, like photo sharing, URL shortening, etc.

The Bad

Small annoyances I can live with

There are a few improvements that could be made.  The most annoying being that it doesn’t use the Blackberry typing shortcuts like automatically capitalizing “i”, adding a period after a double space, or your custom shortcuts.  It makes typing a tad slower.

You also can’t send pictures from within the Blackberry pictures menu.  SocialScope lets you do this, but Seesmic does have it from the main screen.  I usually email it to TwitPic anyway.

The Seesmic guy shows up in the home screen even with zero new DMs and replies.

The text is so tiny, although I’m not sure if it’s just me because I always dial down the font size on my Blackberry theme.  I raised the font size up to seven (from five) and it didn’t seem to help.

Also, not sure if it’s just my Blackberry or not, but sometimes there’s a bit of a delay in getting back to the previous screen after posting.

I’ve reported this to Seesmic as it is likely a bug, but sometimes you can’t @ someone from the Replies screen.

Try it out

If you want to download it, you can get it by going to http://m.seesmic.com on your Blackberry. It automatically detects your Blackberry browser and gives you the direct download OTA link.

Note: For those who want to know, I’m using the Blackberry 9700 and I got my theme from here. It’s for the 8900 but it works perfectly. Screenshots were taken using CaptureIt.

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Why you SHOULD change your social media avatar

I’m a social media junkie.  I’ve been on Twitter since February 2007 and I’ve joined numerous social media sites over the years.  I obviously don’t use them all, and truth be told I use Twitter the most, but I do at least try one out it sounds interesting to me.

I’ve noticed that people in general seem to be adverse to changing their avatar, or they don’t like it when someone does.  Understandable since really that’s your only unique link to that person.  However, I think it CAN be a good thing if it’s done right.  Changing your avatar can mean more familiarity rather than confusion.

The key is to only alter your avatar slightly.

If you have a mugshot of you face, and most people do, change it often and keep the camera distance relatively the same. Think of it as a really, really slow framerate on a webcam video.

If you don’t have a mugshot, the concept is still the same.  Keep the theme (sport? your dog? a nature scene?) similar. Folks will have an easier time recognizing it as you.

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NHLTweetup: An International Success!

If you follow me on Twitter, you will probably have heard NHLTweetup. Last night was the start of an international event to celebrate the start of NHL Playoffs and the battle for the Stanley Cup. NHL’s thePortal teamed up with fans on Twitter to create an international multi-city celebration with over 20 cities participating.

NHLTweetup origin

NHLTweetup goes international!

The idea was started by @dani3boyz, expanded by @Hockeyskates and quickly backed by @umassdilo (Michael DiLorenzo, Director of Corporate Communications for the NHL). The idea snowballed from there. I registered NHLTweetup.com and quickly set up a site for the organizers to be able to promote and coordinate their local event. Twitter users from the US, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand started organizing their own Tweetup in their local city. The NHL sent goodie bags and prizes to some of the first locations to sign on, and some of the local organizers were able to round up some of their own prizes. The @NHLTweetup account was created to help promote the event, managed by @dani3boyz.

Twitvite.com even set up a special “NHLTweetup” tag on their home page to help people find their local NHLTweetup.

Twtvite.com's Collaboration

Twitter users used the #NHLTweetup hashtag to stay informed of the current happenings surrounding the event. One crafty fan, @kicksave20, used his awesome design skills to create the @NHLTweetup avatar and nametags for the hosts to pass out.

NHLTweetup’s started taking place last night, with NYC being the main location with thePortal sponsoring the event as well as having the Stanley Cup on site! NHLTweetup attendees from all the cities used the Twitpic site to send their live NHLTweetup pictures for everyone to see.

As an organizer, a Twitter user, and a hockey fan it was truly amazing to see everyone come together to make this happen. Thanks to everyone involved!

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Get Twitter Replies Sent to You Automatically

I’m addicted to my Blackberry. I’m addicted to Twitter. I’m on TwitterBerry all the time. Unfortunately, one of the things I find myself doing repeatedly (other than reading my Friend’s Timeline, which is never NOT new) is loading my @goaliegirl replies. It would be really nice to be able to get an email (or SMS) notification rather than repeatedly loading it in Twitterberry.

I have never been able to get SMS to work right, and even then it’s only for people you select to follow with SMS, and I don’t really need that either.

I tried a few RSS-to-email services before I found the right one that worked well. Thanks to Dave Fleet (@davefleet) for pointing me to Notify.me.

Here’s what I did:

1. Go to Advanced Twitter Search.

2. In the People section, the “To this person” field, enter the Twitter name. (Optionally you can also put the name in the “Referencing this person” field, or whatever search method you choose!)

3. Search.

4. Click on the “Feed for this query” link and copy the URL.

5. Sign up at Notify.me Enter a username, password and email address.

6. Click “Skip Account Setup”. Then click on “Sources” and add the URL from Step 4.

7. Click on “Your Account”, then Destinations. Use the “validate” link to validate your email address (or set up SMS if you like). They’ll send you a code.

8. Once validated, make sure email is turned ON in the Account/Destinations page. (Even after I set up my email, it wasn’t on by default.)

6. Voila!

You may have to wait a bit for it to “catch up”. It took a few hours for me, but once it did, it’s working great. I’m now getting all @goaliegirl Tweets in my Inbox.

Update: Emails don’t show who sent the @ and SMS updates are cut off, but it’s still WAY faster than TweetBeep.

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In-tweet Ads: The downfall of Twitter?

Magpie, Twittad and the like will be the downfall of twitter. At least, if they are widely adopted.

(No I did not sign up.)

Sure, it looks like you can earn lots of money. But what happens when it catches on because all the Cool Kids are doing it? And believe me, the Cool Kids are the only ones that will be able to command any type of monetary value out of it. Your Twitter stream will suddenly be filled with ads. First it will be ads for related social networking sites, then ads for contest for the latest gaming system or game, then onto weight loss and hookup sites.

Jeramiah Yang (@jowyang) said, “Can you imagine Magpie in real life? At coffee with your friends, then all of the sudden they blurt out “BUY PUMPKIN FRAPPAMOCHA NOW!” in a Tweet today. It’s funny…but it has a ring of truth in it, doesn’t it?

Magpie and Twittad want to put words in your mouth. Tweet content for you. Imagine if the majority, or even a large percentage, of the people YOU follow joined their services or others like it.

Boycott Twittad and Magpie. Keep the noise down. #notwitter ads – Please retweet!

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How not to be spammy on Twitter: a customer’s point of view

I don’t use Twitter to promote my business. (Although, if I add a few non-location based services I just might.) I primarily use Twitter to feed my ADD tendencies and fulfill my social-networking addiction.

I’m not nearly as picky about who I follow as I should be, but I’m more selective than most (I think). “To follow or not to follow” is a topic for a whole new post. :)

One of the number one most important qualities of a “good” Twitterer is to not be spammy. That is guaranteed to make someone either NOT follow you, or UNfollow you. Here’s my short, practical tips on gaining faithful and interested followers.

1. Don’t send uninvited links via DM. This is probably my number one pet peeve on Twitter. Someone will follow me, then I’ll take a look at their twitter stream and I’ll follow them back if they seem okay. Five minutes later I get a DM, “Hi, thanks for the follow! Check out my website at www.coolestproductsever.com!” Well, DUH. I could see that in your profile. But thanks for making me feel like I signed up for a newsletter. So, I unfollow.

If someone is interested, i.e. asks you a question, and you have a relevant blog post or product, THEN it’s okay. Otherwise it’s uninvited (read: SPAM).

2. Interesting content in your Twitter stream. Don’t just post links to your products or latest blog post. If I go to someone’s Twitter page and there’s nothing but links, on EVERY post, I’m most likely not going to follow. Talk about what you’re doing that’s not business related too. Be personable! Which leads me to the next topic…

3. Make friends. Find like-minded Twitterers and follow them. Learn from them, share your own experiences. Don’t forget, these friends can be non-business related as well. They can be local, they can be interested in some of the same hobbies as you, follow people who you’re interested in.

4. Don’t worry about your follower/followee ratio. Who cares if you follow someone and they don’t follow you back? Did you follow them just to be followed back, or did you follow them because you were interested in them?

5. Promote others. If you have a Twitter friend that’s really cool, or is doing something really cool, spread the word! Although, don’t go hog-wild, that’s spammy too. Be selective.

6. Target your audience. Do you know who your audience is? Don’t say “everyone” because that’s not true. Who is most likely to benefit from your service or product?

7. Don’t just use Twitter. If you’re only using Twitter to promote yourself, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Diversify where you advertise yourself. Join other social networks, use Google Ads, trade links with those in your industry, and leverage SEO.

Feel free to follow me (or not!) on Twitter: @goaliegirl.

Have I missed anything?

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Please Don’t Replace Text Articles with Video

I’m increasingly seeing short videos replacing actual written articles. Not complementing, “replacing”. And I’m not a fan of it.

I can’t skim a video. With all the content out there on the Internet that I’m aching to consume, I don’t have time to watch even a 60 second video. I currently have 11,162 unread items in my RSS reader. Now, granted, I’ve become pretty good at filtering out what I don’t care about. I drop feeds I don’t read and skim through the feeds I do for information that interests me. (Sifting through the noise can be a whole new post, I thnk!) But when I click through to the website, if necessary, and I’m presented with a video, I’m just annoyed. If I *know* it’s a video, I’m actually less likely to visit the site.

Online video certainly has its place. I frequently visit YouTube with my 5 year old and watch videos of sharks. I’ve watched a TV show or two online, although I normally download them. I’ve looked for video content of “how to” do some hardware repairs. But in all of these cases I’m seeking the video out, not being bombarded with it upon entry to a site.

What do you think?

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3 basic rules for your business website

I am one of those people that loves to research before I buy, particularly if it’s something that is high-priced. Thanks to the wonderful WWW, I can waste many hours in this particular hobby. ;)

I’ve discovered that I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to services and their web presence. There are three things that will guarantee that I will contact someone about a service or product. The absence of one or more decreases the possibility of me even making the first contact.

  1. Have a website — I need to be able to find that you exist, what services or products you provide, and if necessary, if you’re local.
    1. Exist! The hardest part is actually finding quality places to shop or get services. Google Local sucks. Sorry, but they do. I find myself turning to yellowpages.ca more and more, but that’s for another post. At least in yp.ca a place can advertise if they have a website or not. For non-local items, I still tend to want to find someone local, or at least in Canada. (Not such a problem for the US.)
    2. Information. I don’t want a crappy website with no content. That does nothing for me. What do you DO? What products/services do you have? How are they delivered? And nine times out of ten, I check the about page. Seriously.
    3. Where are you? I always look, even if it’s not important to the research. Being in Canada is a bonus. Being in Ontaro is a super bonus. Being local is a warm-fuzzy. The same rule would apply if I were in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  2. Have a nice website. Not some Frontpage crap design. And not one of those horrible graphic-laden templates. A nice, simple website that is very user friendly. This means you know what your customers need and want, and you’ve thought about how to help them in more than just your area of expertise.
  3. Respond via email. If you have a contact form, or advertise an email address, or any type of e-conversation at all, for the love of God, respond. If I contact someone, and they don’t email or call me back, what’s the use? And if they respond right away, or in a reasonable amount of time (less than 24 hours!), I’m 50% sold already.

Having one of these is good. Having all is the best.

There are exceptions. I’m looking for a local snow-removal service and a house-sitter for while I’m away during the Christmas holidays. For that, I turn to Kijiji.ca. The same principles almost apply: Have an ad. Have a nice ad. Respond via email. Although the latter becomes much more important. The presentation is almost equally important. And well, you have to have an ad. :)

I hope I practice what I preach in my own business (Picobits) . :) (Yes, that was a completely shameless plug.)

What’s important to you when you’re researching something online?

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Websites I Use Daily

I stumbled back onto Tumblr today and signed up. I’ve typically tried to limit the number of online tools I use. Tried. As I was adding my feeds into Tumblr, I realized that I actually use quite a few, and fairly frequently.

What I use:

del.icio.us (my feed) – this is by far one of the most useful websites. I can save anything quickly and easily. I use the del.icio.us extension for Firefox to save stuff, and I fairly frequently go back to find something I’ve saved. It’s also good for finding stuff that other people tag. I also subscribe to the del.icio.us/popular feed in Bloglines. And my username is “angela”. How cool is that?

(my feeds) – I have so many RSS feeds in Bloglines that I never have time to read them all. I almost daily have time to peruse the del.icio.us/popular feed and the Digg feed. When I have more time I go down the list with the Blogs and Gadgets directories being my next reading choices.

Twitter (my feed) – This is more of a fun thing for me. I do it when I get a chance, and it only takes a second or two so it’s easy to pop on over to the site and update it. I’ve got it added to gTalk to get updates for those I follow. Since I have gTalk on my Blackberry, I can update it from anywhere. Like when I’m stuck in traffic.

Digg (my profile) – I never post and rarely comment on Digg, but I still visit it every day nonetheless. I like it for the information and entertainment, but the community is rather…dumb as a collective.

What I’m testing:

Tumblr (my profile) – seems cool. Signing up was amazingly fast and easy! The interface rocks.

Pownce (my profile) – I also have just signed up for Pownce. Not sure what I think of that yet.

What I have tried but don’t use:

StumbleUpon – I installed the Firefox extension and played around with it a little. I never really used it that much so the next time I reloaded my system, I just didn’t install it. I never ever go to the website.

Magnol.ia – There’s not really much point in using it if I’m already using del.icio.us, and I’m too tied to del.icio.us to make the switch.

Worth mentioning, but usually warrants weekly visits, not daily, are:

Facebook – I really try hard not to go on Facebook. It’s such a timesucker. I think I’ll only go for a minute, next thing you know it has been half an hour.

LinkedIn (my profile) – I’m probably on LinkedIn every other day or so. More so lately because I’ve been updating my contact information to reflect my recent changes.

Technorati (my profile) – I should probably visit this site a lot more often, but I just don’t find the time. Pretty useful for watching trends and researching though.

I’m sure there’s more to this list. What do you use?

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