Quinnipiac Assignment 02 – ICM 526 – Influencer Impact and Networks

Influencer Impact and Networks

For the writing community online, influence comes from three main areas – authors, publishers, and literary agents.

There are others online, but I will just look at those three, particularly in the context of the events known as NaNoWriMo and #MSWL. In Jay Baer’s Social Media Influencers versus Brand Advocates Infographic, he says –

True influence requires two things: audience and advocacy. Advocacy is driven by the depth of conviction, and influencers typically are less committed to the product or company than are actual customer advocates.

In the world of aspiring authors, advocacy isn’t limited to just influencers. Nearly everyone is an advocate, but it’s the influencers who have the audience.

Authors

Amateur authors love to write and would love to be published (and quit their day jobs), but many are terrified of being seen as wannabes. In the NaNoWriMo community in particular (NaNoWriMo is an annual challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during November), there seems to be a fear that the product created at the end of the month is somehow ‘not good enough’.

For these aspiring authors, the ability to interact directly with their literary heroes is a means of seeking and obtaining a degree of validation.

Within NaNoWriMo, the organization leverages its network of authors (not necessarily ones who have ever participated in the annual event) to write Pep Talks. Neil Gaiman, in 2007, wrote –

You write. That’s the hard bit that nobody sees. You write on the good days and you write on the lousy days. Like a shark, you have to keep moving forward or you die. Writing may or may not be your salvation; it might or might not be your destiny. But that does not matter. What matters right now are the words, one after another. Find the next word. Write it down. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Influencer Impact and Networks
English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 Scream Awards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Image is offered for educational purposes only.

For aspiring authors ready to throw in the towel, Gaiman’s words ring true. All NaNoWriMo is selling are buttons and a few other products sporting their logo. Plus they are hoping participants will contribute to the site.

Inspiration isn’t easy to bottle, but Gaiman’s words (and the words of other authors such as Jim Butcher) are helpful. The aspiring author realizes he or she is far from alone. Even the people who really did quit their day jobs struggle at times.

Publishers

#MSWL is a Twitter hashtag meaning ‘Manuscript Wish List’. Instead of waiting for a slush pile’s worth of unsolicited manuscripts, agents and publishing houses reach out directly to the writing community and make their desires known. While #MSWL is more active in February, the most recent tweet (as of the creation of this blog post) is from freelance editor Libby Murphy –

REALLY want a romantic comedy featuring hockey players! Bonus points for an enemies to lovers conflict.

Murphy’s tweet provides writers with exactly what they need. If they’ve got a manuscript tucked away with Bobby Orr as the protagonist, then the writer’s next step is obvious.

Is everyone who uses #MSWL an influencer? No. But the clear request is a win-win. It wastes time and goodwill if an aspiring author doesn’t have a hockey story but queries Ms. Murphy anyway, or presents their Alexander Ovechkin-inspired romantic comedy to another. #MSWL has been so successful that it has spawned WordPress and Tumblr blogs. Most of the buzz behind #MSWL comes from agent Jessica Sinsheimer.

Literary Agents

For agents, the platform of choice is Twitter. There are a few on Facebook, such as Marisa Corvisiero. Google+ seems to be untapped. The largest related community I could find was Literary Agents Hate Kittens, a community for aspiring authors. The largest literary agent-related community on LinkedIn was for writers looking to connect with agents.

Twitter, though, is the place to be for literary agents, and not just when #MSWL is most active. Even Sinsheimer, who invented #MSWL, admits she uses the hashtag even when there’s no event going on. It’s that convenient.

How Organizations Can Best Use Influencer Networks

For NaNoWriMo, tapping their influencer network is a way to shore up fragile aspiring authors’ egos and, maybe, get them to purchase merchandise or donate or both. Further, the use of pep talks – on-point evergreen content – means influencer names are associated with NaNoWriMo and remain so in perpetuity.

For looser confederations of publishers and literary agents, using #MSWL gets them connected to online influencers in a way that they weren’t before. It doesn’t hurt that the hashtag is practical, too, and cuts out wasted time as aspiring authors are directed to query agents and publishers interested in their nascent masterpieces.

Community Management Tidbits – Superstar Users

Community Management Tidbits – Superstar Users

Some people just seem to be born with it. If you’ve ever spent some time on forums, you immediately know who they are.

Screenshot of phpbb in use on a games forum.
Screenshot of phpbb in use on a games forum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Their topics rarely go without a response for long. Their contributions are routinely applauded (either using available site software or via written praise) by the other users. Their absences are lamented (and noticed!). Their returns are celebrated. Their birthdays and membership milestones are rarely forgotten.

They are the superstar users.

They can be made by the community or they can be nudged along by you, the Community Manager. The community can sometimes choose stars that don’t promote your company’s vision very well. But you can combat this by selecting some superstars of your own.

Converting Users into Superstars

How do you make a superstar user? Almost the same way that the community does, but you may have some added tricks up your sleeve. First off, choose a few likely candidates. Go into your member list and sort by number of posts, from most to least. Select your top 20 posters. It’s likely that you know who they are already. But if you don’t, if you have a posts/day statistic, copy that down. Put all of this into a spreadsheet. Add in the dates that each user joined the site and the dates of their most recent posts (which may very well be the day you are compiling this information).

Now look at your list. Who is the member with the most recent post (gauge that by day, not by hour, so if two posters have a last post date of October first, consider them to be tied even if one posted at 1:00 AM and the other posted at 11:00 PM), with the highest number of posts/day, who has been a member the longest? Rank that person #1 and rank everyone else in order behind him or her. Ties are fine.

Now you’ll need to do a little more research. If you have this data readily available, use it: the section(s) of the site where your 20 users spend the most of their time. If this information is not readily available, research it by investigating everyone’s last 10 posts. Of course their most recent 10 posts could potentially not be perfectly characteristic of their behavior on the site, but that’s a chance you’ll be taking. Nothing is set in concrete; you can always revisit this later.

If your #1 user’s last 10 posts are all on message or in the section(s) of the site devoted to your company’s message, that person stays at #1. If not, weigh them as against their 19 competitors. If #2 is close to #1 but is a lot more on message, switch their rankings. Also use this measurement of being on message (or not) to resolve any ties.

Now look at your list again. #1 should be the user who is most on message, with a lot of posts and recent activity, who has a long history on the site. This is the first person you want to approach.

And, how do you approach them? Handle this both indirectly and directly. Indirectly by promoting their posts, topics and replies, with up votes, applause, positive ensuing comments and making their topics sticky — whatever your software allows which provides them with attention and positive reinforcement. Don’t do this all at once — spread it out over time. You’re in a marathon, not a sprint here. Provide the same indirect positive reinforcement to your other candidates, but less as you go down your list.

The direct approach is — engage them, both openly on the boards and in private messages (most sites have the means to do this). This is not to say that you should out and out flatter them, but offer encouragement or point out their posts that you find interesting or make them aware of others’ posts that you feel might interest them. Again, don’t do this all at once. Offer these little tidbits gradually.

Every few months or so, review your list and consider whether anyone should be added (or dropped). If you’ve made friends with these users then of course don’t drop them from your personal life just because they’ve gone off message too much! But certainly curtail your official Community Manager messages to them if there are others who would be more receptive.

Why do you want to do this?

Superstar users can help to bring your site out of a funk. They can (and do) make you aware of spam. They create and promote good content. They help trolls lose their power.They can help to calm the site down and ease it into and out of transitions. You can count on them.

But they need to feel valued. And, even more importantly, they need to feel that you don’t just call on them when you want something. Provide positive reinforcement when there is no crisis and you’ll be able to call on them when there is one. And the corollary is true as well: if unappreciated, they will leave, and other users will follow them out of your forum. Ignore them at your peril.

Next: Cat-Herding

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Quinnipiac Assignment 01 – ICM 526 – The Most Important Role of a Community Manager

The Most Important Role of a Community Manager

I’ve been a Community Manager for over a decade but don’t believe I have seen a better outline of our roles and sub-roles than this graphic –

Most Important Role of a Community Manager
The Mind of a Community Manager (image is from class and is intended for educational purposes only)

I have been in all of these roles, at one time or another. Because I am a volunteer and Able2Know is a large generalized Q & A website, some of my experience has been slightly different.

Piñata

A lot of community members might not realize when they do this. Sometimes it can feel as if you’re the punching bag. But you can’t punch back. Whenever I’ve been involved in an altercation online (usually by being dragged into one; I tend not to instigate), I inevitably recuse myself and ask that other Moderators and Administrators handle what is to be done.

Sponge

I’ve never been more in tune with this role than after a member’s death. I’ve written maybe a dozen online obituaries. It’s an odd thing to put together something of the life of a person who used a screen name and an avatar. Those moments require taking the temperature of a community, and understanding whether the remembrance should be a rollicking, funny wake, or posted music and poetry, or something else.

Gardener

I haven’t been a gardener since the site was rather young. When there are few members and topics, the Community Manager is often tasked with creating content. That has to stop at some point, as the community needs to take over and make a far larger percentage of the content. With a brand-related community, it is different. The brand will likely retain far more of the content creation role.

These days, I prune or shape a lot more than I create. That leads me to the Cheerleader role.

Cheerleader

There’s nothing like being enthusiastic about a new feature and having the membership scream bloody murder because they don’t like the change. And then, a year later, seeing the community embrace that very same change. Cheerleaders, at times, are treated like Piñatas.

Traffic Cop

We have a Help Desk, and I regularly route more of the developmental work elsewhere. Still, this is a role that could conceivably be done by others.

Mediavore

While I am a Mediavore as a matter of personal characteristics and behaviors, this role hasn’t exactly been necessary at Able2Know. I have used this knowledge and familiarity, though, to bring interesting social media information to the site. Plus I answer a lot of the Facebook and Twitter questions.

Empathy

This is another area less important for a volunteer position at a shoestring site. More likely, I am checking Facebook, etc. to see if users are disgruntled, or leaving entirely. For me, this role has a lot in common with the Sponge.

Spam Warrior

Oh, how I despise this role. But it’s got to be done every single day. These tasks are often delegated to newer volunteer Community Manager/Moderators, mainly because it’s a large and daunting task. It’s also to get their feet wet and give them an idea of how we do things.

Sculptor

I keep some rough stats, as the site is run on a shoestring. My background is in data analysis; I know the value of objective, measurable, quantitative information. In particular, objective data is usually important at budget time. Management needs to know the community is working, and is more than a few people chatting. Data and its analysis can sometimes mean the difference between a project with a budget that’s continued, and one which loses its budget and dies on the vine.

Concierge

For this role (again, keep in mind, I’m a volunteer, and the site is run with a rather low budget), it’s more of the times when I’ve answered questions at in-person gatherings or helped someone get back onto the site when their only means of communicating with me is via Facebook wall posts or Twitter or the like. But this doesn’t happen too often.

Drumroll, please!

The Most Important Role of a Community Manager is ….

Empathetic Sponge, with a dash of Sculptor.

The role of a Community Manager, I believe, is mainly as a listener, and all three of these sub-roles are mainly centered around listening. What are people saying? How can we understand the community? And how does what we’re hearing convert into metrics?

Allow me to add a new role, perhaps one that melds these three – the Windmill. That is, a means of harnessing the wind. The Community Manager needs to know which way the wind blows, and how to measure it, and how to use it to power the community.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott, A Book Review

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Meerman Scott was a fascinating book that was required reading for Quinnipiac University‘s Social Media Platforms course (ICM522).

World Wide Rave Spotted In Ireland
World Wide Rave Spotted In Ireland (Photo credit: Krishna De)

The premise is, like a lot of other books about the Internet and social media marketing, that marketing has become less of a one-size-fits-all/push system and has instead involved into a far more balanced bilateral conversation.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the rules themselves, which are in Chapter 2, on page 31 and are as follows –

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

  • Marketing is more than just advertising
  • Public relations is for more than just a mainstream media audience
  • You are what you publish
  • People want authenticity, not spin
  • People want participation, not propaganda
  • Instead of causing one-way interruption, marketing is about delivering content at just the precise moment your audience needs it
  • Marketers must shift their thinking from mainstream marketing to the masses to a strategy of reaching vast numbers of underserved audiences via the web
  • Public relations is not about your boss seeing your company on TV. It’s about your buyers seeing your company on the web
  • Marketing is not about your agency winning awards. It’s about your organization winning business
  • The Internet has made public relations public again, after years of almost exclusive focus on media
  • Companies must drive people into the purchasing process with great online content
  • Blogs, online video, e-books, news releases, and other forms of online content let organizations communicate directly with buyers in a form they appreciate
  • Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn allow people all over the world to share content and connect with the people and companies they do business with
  • On the web, the lines between marketing and public relations have blurred

Customers are talking back.  Companies and their marketing departments had better start listening.

Rating

5/5

Optimize by Lee Odden, A Book Review

Optimize by Lee Odden

Optimize by Lee Odden was not an unfamiliar concept. I have read about search engine optimization on countless websites and in any number of books already.

Optimize by Lee Odden, A Book Review
Lee Odden presents on SEO through blogs and feeds (Photo credit: toprankonlinemarketing)

But I don’t think I ever truly understood it until now.  Lee Odden has taken an almost mysterious concept and made it comprehensible.

SEO

Google doesn’t have a lot of options for its spider bots when it comes to reading your content. It can read your text. And that’s about it. While there are, I am sure, plans to try to make it so that Google can read flash, PDFs, PowerPoint slides, Images, and Videos, the truth is, it’s currently pretty much all letters and numbers.  That will eventually change, but right now that’s it.

Optimize by Lee Odden, A Book Review
Judi Dench at the BAFTAs at the Royal Opera House in London. Français : Judi Dench photographiée lors de la soirée des British Academy Film Awards dans le Royal Opera House à Londres. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hence Google doesn’t know that the picture you added to your blog is an image of, say, Dame Judi Dench. It needs a caption. Sounds obvious, right? But I wasn’t doing that, not with this blog and not with my writing site or anywhere else.  Oops. And that caption should be obvious, in order to serve the search bots, and informative and conversational, in order to serve your human readers/audience.

Who or What Should You Optimize For? Bots or People?

Both. Fortunately, they don’t conflict. Hence if you add keywords, tags, or categories to your webpage, blog post, etc., then if you can reiterate the keywords, etc. within the content, you’ve got it made. And you need to look around wherever you are posting, and use every available square inch for your optimization efforts. This does not mean that you cover every single pixel!  Rather, it means that, if you have a space for a caption, use it. If you have a space for tags, write them. Blogs have categories. Make them meaningful, and use them. I finally feel I get it. And that is a wonderful feeling.

Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics 2.0, a Book Review

Avinash Kaushik‘s Web Analytics 2.0 – Yeah, I’m a Fan

I’d like to start sharing some of the information I’ve been getting as I feel it’s helpful not just to me but to others out there, whether you’re looking for social media work or if you’ve already got it.

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately and the first one that truly caught my eye and made a huge impression on me was Avinash Kaushik’s  Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity.

Avinash Kaushik's Web Analytics 2.0

As a (hopefully) former data person, I can relate to the idea of needing analytics. That is, these are measurements of how your website is doing. Why do you want to measure? Why, you need to see whether your message is actually going anywhere.

For e-commerce sites, the ultimate test is, naturally, whether you’re getting sales. But it’s hard to tell — particularly in a complex organization — whether it’s the website that’s driving sales or offline marketing efforts. Even measuring orders via these channels may not tell the entire story, as customers may see offline advertising and then come online to buy, or they may do the reverse and buy in-store after researching a product online. Or they could just be coming online to think about it and compare and mull it over and could convert to a paying customer days or weeks or months later. Or never.

And what about sites (such as my own) where nothing is offered for sale? My ultimate customer is, of course, someone to hire me, either permanently or temporarily, as a consultant or a partner or a founder or a director or whatever, but that might be months away. What’s happening in the meantime? I might be able to dope some of that out with SEO and seeing where I am in search engine rankings, but just because people can find my site doesn’t mean they’re going to convert into hiring me or are even in a position to do so. My mother (hi, Mom!) can find my site and read it, but she won’t be hiring me any time soon. Unless I want to come and clean the gutters or something.

How do you or I know what’s happening?

Enter analytics.

It is, admittedly, still an imperfect science. But Mr. Kaushik breaks it down and describes the reports that you need to understand what’s happening with your site. He talks about what is essentially a Trinity strategy: experience, behavior and outcomes.

 

It’s not enough to just track sales (outcomes). It’s also about user experience and behavior. This is much like in the offline world, if you think about it. Going to a restaurant is an experience and many of them are packaged as such. But it is a far different experience going to a McDonald’s or a Chik-Fil-A versus a Bertucci’s. And that experience differs from going to Legal Seafood‘s which in turn is different from Blue Ginger (celebrity chef Ming Tsai‘s restaurant). You can intake the same amount of calories. You might even be able to get in the same quality and types of nutrition. And you might enjoy a Big Mac as much as you enjoy one of Chef Tsai’s specialties. Aside from price, what are the differences?

 

When you go to a McDonald’s, a part of the price is wrapped up in the experience. For chain entities in particular, it’s about sameness and predictability. If you find yourself in rural Oshkosh and have never been there before, you see the golden arches and you realize what to expect. For Bertucci’s, even though it costs more and there’s table service, there’s a similar vibe. You go there because you can depend upon it to be a certain way. And Blue Ginger is also dependable in the sense that it’s very upscale so you know you are going to be treated a certain way and it will look a particular way and presumably the food will taste in a way that reflects that kind of investment, both by you and by Mr. Tsai and his team.

Mr. Kaushik shows how understanding analytics can help you to enhance user experience.  And this, ultimately, drives user behavior. While conversions (sales) are the ultimate in user behaviors, he doesn’t forget about other valid behaviors. For the e-commerce site, product research is a valid and valuable behavior. So is printing a map to a brick and mortar store. Or comparing prices. For a non-e-commerce venture (again, I’ll use myself as an example), valid user (reader) behaviors are things like reading my writings and getting to know me. I put myself out there in order to be known, because that’s a piece of the hiring puzzle (why are there interviews — it’s not to know about skills, which should already be known. It’s to see if there’s a personality and a culture fit). Plus it enhances networking. Know me, think I’m worthwhile (at least, I hope you do) and you might think of a place where they might need me, or someone I should meet. And I do the same, in turn, for you. And cosmic karma gets us both into better places.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the book.

The book is written in a lively, engaging style. It’s long but I sailed through it. Mr. Kaushik (who is very gracious and seems to be very approachable, by the way) is clearly having fun and loves what he does. It’s a refreshing joy to read a book where the author is constantly delighted.

Read his book. Learn about analytics. Make the web a better place.

May your bounce rate be low, and your conversion rate high!

Rating

5/5

The Power of Social Media (Neurotic Writers’ Edition)

The Power of Social Media (Neurotic Writers’ Edition)

Chicken Scratch

I know aspiring writers.

You probably do, too. There are lots of people with a Quillmanuscript out there … somewhere. Perhaps it’s just in a hard drive. Or maybe it’s been uploaded to a fiction site. Or perhaps it has gotten a little exposure by having a chapter or a tantalizing fragment tossed onto a forums site. It might take the form of a blog (Gee, I wonder if I’m doing that …?). There are some that are typed (Remember that?). Others are only in long hand. And still others are locked away in brain form only.

Social Media Iceberg
Social Media Iceberg (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)

Whatever form it has taken, there is one thing I have learned about aspiring writers (And this includes fan fiction writers, by the way. Don’t dis ’em; they care about what they do, too!). This may also be true of established writers as well. I’m not even so sure where “established” starts happening. If it starts when you’ve gotten a check for writing, then count me in the established camp. If not, well, then it might be that I am still waiting for my established writer card. But I digress. What have I learned about aspiring writers?

It’s that we are all attention monsters.

We all crave attention. But it’s more than just “Look at me! Look at me!” Instead, it’s more like, “Please oh please oh please read my stuff and leave detailed feedback so I know you really read it and don’t forget to tell me how kick-bun awesome I am!

Er, yeah.

Now, pretty much everyone on the planet is addicted to hugs and positive attention and love and happiness. For aspiring writers, though, it’s poured onto a page. The soul is naked, for all to poke at (Erm, that wasn’t meant to evoke an NC-17 image. Shame on you for thinking so. And now that’s all you can think of, am I right?). It is scary and it is daunting. And it is exhilarating when you get even a scrap of positive feedback.

Enter Social Media

For aspiring writers with a backbone and a somewhat thicker skin, social media can be a way to get some of that craved feedback.

How?

The first and probably most obvious method is to have a Twitter stream dedicated to your writing. I doubt that most people want to read about writer’s block, so you need to have something going on. Perhaps you could write about inspirations, or earlier works, or how things fit together in your universe.

Hence I am also talking about a blog. You can blog about writing. The creative process can be fascinating for people who are into it. Maybe you’d like to review your own work, and comment on what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown as an author. Put both of these together, and you’ve got a pretty dynamic combination. You write, you blog about it and then you tweet about your blog posts and your writing.

Plus writing begets writing. Even blog writing (which is a rather different animal from book-writing) can help keep writer’s block at bay. It helps to exercise these muscles fairly regularly.

Another option is posting on social sites. For fan fiction, there is Fanfiction.net. For purely original stories, they have a sister site, Fiction Press. Plus there are plenty of more specialized fiction and fan fiction sites. Google is your friend! Be aware of scams; they do exist. Recognize that putting your work out there does not guarantee that you retain full rights to it, despite the laws in your own country. And understand that there’s a lot of plagiarism and downright theft out there. Be as cautious as you would be with any other information you put online. And understand, too, that if you’re going to submit to a traditional publisher, they almost never want you to have posted your story elsewhere beforehand. This has to do with the full rights to your product. Hence you might want to put out your smaller or less important works, and save your really big one, if you are ever planning to submit to a traditional publishing house.

Yet another option is competitions. Here’s one, at America’s Next Author. Truth be told, the inspiration from this blog post came from learning that a friend had a story in this competition. The competition is run as a pure social media experiment. Hence, while good story-telling and story-crafting are essential, so is publicity. Like with any other social media site, “likes”, comments and popularity all play a role. For my friend, and for others trying to make it, putting the link onto Facebook or Twitter is essential to getting the word out. Even this blog post is helpful (FYI, and just for the record, this post is my own idea and she did not request or suggest it).

The Reader End of Things

The community of aspiring writers is, truly, a community. And that means give and take. What kind of give and take? The kind that goes along with reviews and comments. For those who are trying to write for a living, commenting and reviewing should be a part of that. Constructive criticism, if it is desired, should also be readily and cheerfully provided.

Aspiring writers write in the hopes of being noticed. And often they are noticed by fellow aspirants. What better way to forge a sense of community than to read one another’s works, and comment thereon?

The Upshot of It All

For those of us who put it out there every day, who bare ourselves and our souls with prose or poetry, fiction or nonfiction, fan or wholly original, short story or multi-novel series, we all have a major issue in common – we want to be known. We don’t even necessarily want to be famous, but we want to be the one at the fireside who spins a yarn as others sit, enraptured. And with social media, we hope, there just might be some people listening.

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter, a Book Review

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter was recommended to me by Kevin Palmer as being a good read about the fundamentals of creating and perfecting online communities and social software.

Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter

The book is less of a how-to and more of a why-to, if that makes sense. If you’re looking for code examples, look elsewhere. Instead, the book covers theory and explains how and why certain tasks need to be done.

Essentially, any social site, whether it’s in the shape of forums or something else, faces the following user hurdles:

  1. Pay attention – users need to have an idea that they want your software, product, services, etc.
  2. Decision to sign up
  3. Input personal information
  4. Pay money (if applicable)
  5. Decide for someone else (if applicable)
  6. Give up the old way of doing things

Frankly, there’s even one item before #1, call it #0 if you will: the potential user needs to understand that he or she has a need. And, hand in hand with that, the potential user also needs to decide to fulfill that need online. If a potential user, say, decides that they want support because they’ve just gotten a cancer diagnosis, but they further decide to only get their support via an in-person group and not an online board then, so far as you’re concerned, it’s game over. After all, not everyone “gets” the social aspect of the web.

Porter covers the handling of some of these basic hurdles, such as designing to favor signing up and hanging around. One main point he makes is: don’t make signing up too arduous a task. And its corollary: don’t ask for information you don’t need. Far too often, sites ask for what ends up being ludicrous levels of granularity of detail. After all, when was the last time that anyone, really, needed your middle name for you to apply for a job? Yet sites ask for this trivial piece of data. And, even if they don’t require it, that begs the question even further: why is the field even there in the first place if the site so openly acknowledges that it’s just plain unnecessary?

Porter makes the point all too forcefully: the decision to sign up for an online service is made in eight seconds. That’s an awfully short window of opportunity to convince a potential user that his or her time and attention should be paid to you and not your competition.

The book abounds with these kinds of helpful nuggets, and is also chockful of references to blogs and books to support the author’s recommendations. The generous sprinkling of citations was helpful as it was a clear signpost suggesting online readings. It can seem counterintuitive to learn about designing for the web by reading a completely offline book. Porter’s work bridges the gap back to the web and lets the reader in on where to find more information situated a lot closer to where the reader is going to be placing new social software or services.

The one quibble I had with Designing for the Social Web is that it does not seem to draw an overall conclusion. Rather, the book instead seems to simply run out of gas in the end, as if the author had run out of what to say. A final upshot or even some words of encouragement would have, I feel, been helpful. But that’s a small issue with an otherwise interesting and eminently practical work.

Rating

4/5

Google Advertising Tools by Harold Davis, a Book Review

Google Advertising Tools by Harold Davis

Google Advertising Tools by Harold Davis is one of those O’Reilly books, so it’s got an animal on the cover. This one is some sort of lemur or monkey. Not that that has anything to do with the subject matter but it is nicer than the O’Reilly books with scary insects on their covers.

Cover of "Google Advertising Tools: Cashi...
Cover via Amazon

But I digress.

The book is about, unsurprisingly, Google AdWords and AdSense, but it’s also about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and driving traffic to a website. Davis dispenses with the idea of adding significant article marketing-type content and instead focuses in on getting your site onto directories.

Davis also covers affiliate programs (such as Amazon — if you check the link to purchase the book from this blog entry, you’ll see an affiliate link in action) and sponsored and contextual advertising.

Hence the book probably would have been better titled Advertising on the Internet, as it explains far more than Google’s offerings.

While this book was not strictly about Social Media, any Social Media Marketer worth his or her salt should at least understand online advertising, as optimizing sites for advertising often helps to optimize them for other purposes as well (e. g. driving traffic). Google Advertising Tools by Harold Davis is a worthy addition to the web developer’s library.

Rating

2/5

My leap into a Social Media career

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