Groupon-like Site Goes Viral?

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We have all seen the scammy offers out there designed to get you to market a company for them. Get 10 friends to enroll in our terrible service and get yours free! Right… Even Groupon seems a little contrived. Post a deal in which lots of people must sign up, otherwise the deal won’t go live. Of course, if the deal is even the least bit good, at this point it won’t have any trouble getting the required number of buyers. Any marketing that people did is just superfluous and not actually required for the process.Buy With Me Logo

Today I came across a deal via slickdeals.net (I am a very longtime subscriber) which was essentially 4 AMC tickets for $24. They don’t expire and you can use them at any location. Not bad, if you go to nighttime showings frequently. But the site I bought it from was more interesting… It is buywithme.com and the deal works like this: You buy it normally, and thats all good. But then you share a link to the deal, and if three friends buy it as well, you get the deal free. The deal only lasts 24 hours apparently, so presumably they don’t charge your card until that time is up. If 3 friends bought it, they don’t charge anything.

I could definitely see this picking up in the future because it offers an attainable way to get free stuff. People actually have an incentive to share since it’s so easy to see how you could save money with it. Large brands with decent followings could easily see a huge influx of  traffic and usage for deals they post online. I am calling it now, this site or sites like it will either grow much more popular than Groupon, or fail do to an unsustainable business model. Only time can tell!

Also, here is the link to buy the tickets and help me get them free. http://www.buywithme.com That’s right, I am selling out for free tickets… Oh wait, I am just being social using SOCIAL MEDIA! Yay!

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The Power of Good Practices

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In almost everything in business, there is a generally accepted “right way” to do things. There might be some variation on that way, and many may in fact find great success from creatively developing new ways to do things. But still, there is usually a right way. Unfortunately, there is almost always a wrong way as well. Maybe it looks like it will save time, maybe you think you aren’t going to get caught, or maybe you were just offered bad advice. Either way, as a business person, you will be faced with these choices every day.

I would love to think that everyone would want to do the right thing just because it is right. Unfortunately, that is just not the case. From corrupt corporate executives to bad SEOs, there is no end to the list of people who picked the wrong way. And how does that work out for them? Maybe they got some short-term benefit. Maybe they were rich or very successful. But eventually that ended. Some went to jail, most just continue to struggle in their chosen profession.

The issue at hand today is search engine optimization and the tools we have at our disposal. Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media goes into detail discussing some of the recent changes to the Google algorithm and how this has affected SEOs in this post. I think she summarizes it pretty well when she says,

“You’re investing in SEO to grow your business and your brand over the long-term. That is not done through shortcuts, through buying links, or through acting out because you’re PO’d at Google. It’s done through putting in the work. “

Best practices are not just called that because they are morally correct. They are also the most effective. Maybe not in the short term, but if you are looking for sustained success, then they are the way to go. Despite any complaints about the recent “Panda” update to Google’s algorithm, the bottom line is that Google and all the other search engines will most likely improve over time. There may be ups and downs, but through all the changes you will be better off using legitimate, ‘white hat’ SEO tools. Obviously link farms and scraper sites provide little benefit to actual people. Do you really think they are going to help your site forever?

Bottom line: do the right thing. It’s in your best interest and the best interests of those around you.  Not just this week or this month, but in the long term.

Facebook Questions: Wrong Answers?

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UPDATE 11/10/2011: There is a new problem going around that is as follows: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0 = ? This problem is a whole lot easier and less debatable, and so I am absolutely shocked that the vast majority of respondents are so horribly wrong. It actually makes me sad for humanity. Anyone who took 6th grade algebra knows the order of operations. Multiplication comes first. So the “1 x 0” portion goes first, making it of course 0. Then you add and subtract all the rest, resulting in 14. Basic. SUPER basic. So why exactly are people getting it so wrong? I have absolutely no idea. It is sad.

The answer is 14.

UPDATE: A crushing argument has finally arrived that is seemingly incontrovertible. It was brought up that wolfram would show that the answer is 9, when you plug in the equation. Which is true. It was argued that Wolfram is infallible. But is it really?

The arguer went on further to put the equation a different way. Instead of (1+2), let’s say it is x. So x=1+2. That would make the equation:

6/2x=?

Let’s enter this into Wolfram and assume the answer is 1. We did it here.

What happened? X=3. Wait a second… But 1+2 = 3… Just like in the original equation… But that means… THE ANSWER REALLY IS 1???

Dun Dun Dun… It’s true. Wolfram gives conflicting answers, proving the fallibility of technology in solving ambiguous problems.  As far as I can tell, the program is not using parentheses correctly in the order of operations. They should be as highly ranked or more than variables, but they aren’t. Interestingly, when we do the exact same equation but with the x in parentheses (which should be the same), it gives the answer of 9 . Interesting stuff

The new Facebook feature in which users can post their own questions and have their friends answer has actually begun to pick up lately. Today, I came across a question which over half a MILLION people had answered. It was a math question. And as far as I can tell, most people got it wrong. Here is the question:

6÷2(1+2)=?

Now clearly there is something unusual about this question. It is in a format rarely seen, and with good reason. The order of operations in extremely ambiguous. Most people said the answer was 9. But is it? Lets read about the order of operations. Every operation is ranked, with the highest ranked operations going first, followed by the lower ranked operations. Most people remember “PEMDAS,” which stands for “”Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and Addition and Subtraction””. That is the order in which operations must go.

So according to that order, here is what happens:

6÷2(1+2)=?
6÷2(3)=
6÷6=

1

The answer is one. Parentheses come first, even when they signify a multiplication. Purplemath.com, a popular online math information site,  illustrates this example on this page: http://www.purplemath.com/modules/orderops2.htm. They go through this problem and illustrate the correct method:

    • Simplify 16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(4 – 2)] + 1.

16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(4 – 2)] + 1 
= 16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(2)] + 1
 
= 16 ÷ 2[8 – 6] + 1
 
= 16 ÷ 2[2] + 1   
(**) 
    = 16 ÷ 4 + 1 
= 4 + 1
 
5

The ironic thing is that many involved in the discussion are citing “PEMDAS” as the reason why the answer is 9.  One of the highest ranked answers cites this and proof that the answer is 9: http://www.quickmath.com/webMathematica3/quickmath/equations/solve/basic.jsp#v1=6%2F2(a%2B2)%3D9&v2=a

Of course what this girl fails to realize, is that 6/2 is a fraction, which is different than 6÷2. It is calculated differently because a fraction is its own number, not an operation.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about this problem. I don’t think there is any way to show that the answer is 9, but I challenge you to try, and please cite some source as to how that could possibly be correct. 

How Can My Blog Stand Out In A Sea of Identical Content?

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There must be millions of blog posts with generic content such as “How to Leverage Facebook to Help Your Business” or “10 Ways you Use Twitter to Build Your Brand” or other similar topics. They all seem to have identical content and all appear to have been written after reading “8 Steps to Writing a Great Blog Post.” I’m not saying my posts are always revolutionary or my strategies completely original. As an aspiring blogger and social media user, I am faced every day with the challenge of sharing my experiences and insight to others in new and creative ways. My advice here is not a description of the path you must take after having been there myself. It is more my own strategy stemming from the experiences I have had and the things I have learned from others before me.

Keep in mind while reading this that writing great website content is the #1 thing you can do. So don’t just ramble on for 400 words. Truly provide fantastic, quality content that is useful to your readers. The following tips are simply additions to that advice.

Become a leader, not just a follower. There is a lot of great info out there, and a lot of it will help you in your life and in your business. But not most of it.  Learn what you can from others, then collaborate with them and bring your own thoughts and ideas to the table. Don’t spend all day concentrating on the work of others. Think one step ahead of where everyone is at the moment. You can spit out the same thing in different words, but if everyone has heard it before, no one cares. Obviously you can’t just become a leader overnight, but if you have legitimately, consistently great ideas time and time again and you are active in your online community, people will recognize you for that.

Realize that posting a numbered list does not automatically make people read your content. There are a million strategies consisting of very simple things you can do in your blog that some of the great bloggers have done and found to increase their success. Do not use these unless you actually have something good to say. At best, they won’t help you at all. At worst, they will make your blog seem gimmicky and annoying. Focus on the content, ideas, and personality behind the posts rather than the gimmicky formatting and titles.

Get involved in your community of bloggers. When it comes time to sink or swim, the ones that make it out alive are those who have someone holding them up. Comment on a blog post that you think is great. Share further ideas about the topic. Make friends with the bloggers. Write your own blog post involving ideas from other bloggers, and give them credit for it. If what you are posting is worth reading, you will eventually get to the point where others in your community will be talking about it. And that is when you will really start to see success.

Facebook Users Do Not Censor Themselves

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You know how in ‘real life,’ people typically say things that are appropriate to the situation and actually think before they speak? Facebook is exactly the opposite of that. To quote the recent hit “The Social Network,”

“It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared.”

People post whatever is on their mind, whether it be offensive, in poor taste, or just stupid. It’s as if the veil of anonymity prevalent in the old internet has somehow carried through to the present, even though any veil, especially on a site like Facebook, is purely imaginary. Status updates frequently contain questions as to why the other half of the population (and political spectrum) is so unintelligent, though usually in far more colorful words. Flame wars generally ensue.

And we all have the friends who want to share EVERY hill and valley of the emotional roller coaster that is their life. While I appreciate their candor, sometimes I wish people would only say things they would say to each of their friends in person.

So what does this mean for marketers and businesses? It means that people will say whats on their mind, good or bad, and that they will be honest. It doesn’t so much create new opportunities so much as it provides further evidence of what we already knew: people are going to talk about things that they experience whether you are involved or not. This might be a great or awful experience with your brand. It’s your choice whether you participate in the conversation.

This observation also made me wonder… Which way is internet culture swinging? Towards self-censorship and professionalism, or towards complete free expression and possible recklessness? What are your thoughts?

Directories and Content Farms are a Waste of Human Effort

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“It would actually be better to have companies LITERALLY just hand Google wads of cash in order to get their search engine placement.”

We have all been there… You Googled a question, clicked a promising looking result, only to find that it was essentially a page with nothing but your question on it. There isn’t even an answer… Just the question. The site Fixya, for example, Loves to

return results like this. How is this highly rated enough in the search engine to show up? Well, it is a large, “popular” site, and it has the exact term you were looking for. But is it useful, in the sense that it was what you were searching for? No. It’s just another search engine. And the results, as you can see, aren’t that good.

SEO marketers have all also experienced another worthless piece of the internet… Online directories. You know the kind… DMOZ wannabes, or even DMOZ itself. There are hundreds of thousands… maybe millions of them out there. And we as marketers spend a lot of time submitting our sites to them.

But here is the question. Who goes to these sites to get information? What benefit do these provide to users? Unless you are an SEO marketer, probably none. I don’t think a single clear-headed person has gone to a directory to find what they are looking for since probably… 1993. They simply aren’t used for anything except inbound links.

Directories hardly even give benefit to MARKETERS anymore either. Why? Because everyone does it. And if everyone does it, nobody benefits. It’s a textbook example of game theory… You have to do it, because if you don’t, you get left behind. Now it is just an immense body of work for marketers to go through and add their sites to all these directories. Work that provides no real benefit for the human race.

So why do the search engines put up with these sites? Google has recently received flack for posting results leading to content farms and the like… They have since changed their algorithm to lower the occurrence of these results, which is a step in the right direction.

Those changes might take care of part of the problem for sites like fixya and others that don’t actually answer your question. But what about directories? What has been done about them? They don’t show up in search results anymore… But could more be done? I think it can and should.

I think the search engines should no longer give SEO credit to directories. Sites should not be ranked higher because every worthless directory has them listed. I guess I can’t fully expect Google to give up on its baby, the DMOZ, which admittedly is the best of the directories. Of course being the best online directory is a little like being the best intramural softball team at a community college… Not that hard to do, and even if you win, nobody cares.

I think Google has taken a step in the right direction, but search engines as a whole I think have a long way to go. Giving credit to companies just because they have put the effort in to these directories, which provide no real benefit to anyone, is completely arbitrary and pointless. It would actually be better to have companies LITERALLY just hand Google wads of cash in order to get their search engine placement. It would be the same as now, only we could skip the step of someone having to actually put the links on a site that no one will ever see. Clearly this is not what I am suggesting, but hopefully you see my point.

How to Twitter

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Whether you are a business executive looking to extend his online presence, or just an average Joe looking to get in on Twitter, you might be looking for those basic first steps to get involved with twitter. This is a basic Tutorial for getting those very first steps down.

How to Twitter: This should only take a few minutes.

1. Go to http://twitter.com/

2. Click the big yellow “Sign Up” button.

Click the "Sign Up" button

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Fill out all your information, including your desired screen name. Try to find something with your real name in it, and avoid usernames with lots of numbers like mike1245. Click “Create My Account”

4. Click The Twitter Logo to go to your Twitter homepage

Twitter Logo

 

 

 

5. Under “What’s Happening?” type in whatever you want. Then click Tweet.

6. Congratulations, you have tweeted! Feel free to use the “search” field next to the twitter logo to find people that might interest you. Go to their profile and click the “follow” button. From now on, whenever they tweet something just like you did, you will see their tweet at your twitter home page. I have more basic tutorials to come, so go to my twitter page and click “follow” to keep up to date. I will let you know when there is a new blog post!

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