Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Twitter Restricts Use Of Its API, Could It Charge Next?

In Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter on February 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Twitter will stop whitelisting applications to its API. What does that mean in English?

Developers can build applications on top of Twitter, like TweetDeck or Klout, by using its API to pull in its data. Some apps take in a lot of data, and up until now Twitter would allow them to be “whitelisted” to use the API more intensively. Now they’ve announced to developers that they will “no longer grant whitelisting requests.” Apps that are already whitelisted will keep their privileges, but if you were waiting until today to apply, tough luck. (Via Regular Geek)

Twitter says if you’re unhappy about it you should try to work harder to make do with the new limitations.

Why could that be? (Bear in mind we’re just speculating here.)

They’re having problems scaling so they want to cool down the API for a while. Most of the activity on Twitter is via the API, since most people use Twitter through apps, whether it’s Twitter’s own apps or third-party apps. Twitter hasn’t said that’s the reason, but Twitter’s scaling difficulties are legendary and this might be the reason. In which case, the move could be temporary.

Twitter has a big enough developer ecosystem now, thank you very much, so it’s going to stop supporting the rest. That’s what Regular Geek thinks, writing they’ve “essentially … decided that they have had enough support from the small developer.” We’re doubtful that’s the explanation — platforms like Twitter are always in competition with other platforms for developer support. And with oodles of cash in its coffers, Twitter can afford to keep supporting developers.

Maybe Twitter plans to charge for its API? That’s always been rumored to be a future business model for Twitter. Right now they’re focused on advertising, but the first time they made money was by charging Google and Microsoft for access to its “firehose”, meaning all of the tweets in real time, and they still do that. As companies like TweetDeck are starting to build a real business, maybe Twitter wants to charge for heavier access to its API.

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How To: Build a private collaboration site on WP in 5 minutes

In Facebook, Real-Time, Social Media, Social Networking on January 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

As you have probably gathered by now, I’m a huge fan of WordPress and use it in lots of different kinds of projects. There is one use for WordPress, and especially, and that’s as a collaboration tool. Believe it or not, in about 5 minutes or less you can have a slick, private, WordPress-based collaboration website. I think once you see this, you won’t think of WP in the same way.

I’m going to use as the example for this because making a site private and hidden on is just a couple clicks. I’ll talk about how to do this with a self-installed WP setup at the end of the post.

If you don’t already have a account….

1a. Create your account

Just in case you’re one of the few people who don’t have an account at, head over there and click the big, orange “Sign up now” button to get started:

1b. Pick your blog address, username, and finish the form.

One thing about that people don’t realize that while often you might want your blog address (e.g. to be the same as your username (e.g. tnwteam), it doesn’t have to be. So you might set the blog address as something for your team, but change the username to something more to your liking.

Create a good password, put in your email address and continue.

You can edit the profile information if you wish, the important thing is looking for the email from confirming your sign up.

When you get the email, click the link (which will send you to your browser). On the page you arrive at, chose the “Login” option, not “View your site”

1c. Make the blog private.

Unlike the folks who already have a WordPress account, if you are creating an account and setting up an blog you aren’t asked if you want to make your private or not when you first set up your site. You’ll have to change the setting once you’re logged in and on your site’s Dashboard.

From the Dashboard, scroll down to Settings, click the triangle to open the menu and click “Privacy”. Choose the third option for making your blog private and click Save Changes.

Jump down to step 3 to continue…

If you already have a account….

2a. If you have a account already, create a new blog

Log into, and from the My Blogs menu, select “Register a new blog.”

Pick a name/address for the blog and give it a title (if you want). Just above the big orange button are three radio buttons, click the one marked “Private” and then “Create Blog”

From there head to the Dashboard of your new blog:

3. Setting P2 as the site’s theme

P2 is the successor to Prologue which is an AJAX-powered WP theme that is like blogging-meets Twitter-meets collaboration tool. Automattic uses P2 internally for the exact purpose I’m telling you about here.

Scroll down until you see the “Appearance” button on the left. Click it and you’ll come to the screen to pick/change your blog’s theme.

In the search box enter “p2″ and click “Search”. You should get only one result. Below the thumbnail for the theme, click “Activate”:

4. Add Users

Right now you’re the only person who has access to the blog. That’s not terribly collaborative, is it?

If you know the email address your team members use on, just click “Users” on the right and enter the email address. In the Role pull-down menu Select Editor or Author (Editors can edit and delete all content, Authors only their own) for most team members, Administrator if someone is going to help you manage the site:

If you have to invite people, click the “Invites” link and check the box to make them a contributor on the site (you can upgrade them to Author or Editor later):

5. Collaborate!

That’s it for the set up. Just click the name of your site in the header and you should see something like this:

Post updates, attach files and images, whatever is needed. The “Tag it” space it supposed to act as an organizational tool. Use project names, phases, project segments, whatever works for you here. When you’re ready just click “Post it.” You don’t need to create posts through the regular “New Post” method through the Dashboard (though you still can if you wish). You team can update and reply as needed all right here. Best of all, items someone hasn’t seen will be highlighted in yellow when someone comes back to the site!

Team members can focus on the areas of the project (that you’ve set up by using tags) that they are interested in or look at the whole area at once.

Best of all not only is the site secure, but you can export the data back out when you’re done in a variety of formats.

Not to shabby for something that took five minutes to set up and is completely free!

For self-hosted WordPress users:

If you have your own hosting space and domain and want to do this yourself, it won’t take much longer, but you will have to do some downloading and installing yourself.

After you have a nice, fresh WordPress install ready, go to Appearance and click the “Install Themes” tab, search for P2, install it, and activate it:

Click “Plugins” then “Add New”. Search for “registered users only” and install the plugin from Viper007Bond:

When the plugin is installed, activate it.

Now you’re essentially where folks are. Just add users to your WordPress site and they will be able to get in and no one else. You can, if you wish, to block search engine spiders under “Privacy”, but they can’t get in anyway. It’s a nice extra step though.

Here’s how the folks at Automattic talked about P2 over a year ago…old, but still the best descriptor/example I’ve found:


Get Collaborating!

Source: Tris Hussey

Lloyd Blankfein’s Secret Facebook Feed

In Facebook, Social Media, Social Networking, Web 2.0 on January 12, 2011 at 4:26 am

According to a Bloomberg report, despite their firm’s recent investment in Facebook, many Goldman Sachs employees aren’t familiar with the workings of the social-networking site, since it was until recently banned in the office for productivity reasons (and most Goldman employees are, naturally, so focused on minting money they never managed to create profiles on their own time). Which is why, the news service explains, an executive recently held a special training session to walk them “through the basics” of Friending, Liking, and Making Sure You Save Your Drunk House-Party Photos As Private. That they expect us to believe this shareholder-pleasing nonsense is, frankly, an affront to our intelligence. This is Goldman Sachs. They’ve secretly been on Facebook the whole time, stalking and super-poking and creating complex derivative packages based on everyone’s Likes list. How do we know? We took a screen-grab of Lloyd Blankfein’s news feed right before new security measures were put in place.*

Goldman Facebook

*Many thanks to the fine people at Slate.

What NOT to Do When Advertising on Social Media

In Branding, Business Solutions, Facebook, Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter, YouTube on January 10, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Note: This article was originally published on Open Forum.

Facebook Deals, Groupon Stores, Foursquare, Gowalla — small business owners can take their pick when it comes to advertising through social media. It takes more than signing up on a few sites to pull in the dough, however.

Savvy retailers know how to use social media tools to their advantage while avoiding the potential pitfalls.

Make sure you’re being smart about how you advertise by not making these errors:

Making Rewards Too Difficult for Customers to Earn

Let’s say you own a hair salon and decide to offer a discount to the person who “checks in” the most often at your shop by a certain date. Word spreads quickly and before you know it, someone has won the coupon and that person continues to be your most frequent customer. The problem is no one else can beat that person for the reward.

If you have a business that requires foot traffic, advertising deals to your most loyal customers can be a useful tool. However, if you make it too difficult for others to earn that reward, they might just go to another salon. A smarter approach would be to offer a variety of ways for customers to win rewards, such as by checking in a certain number of times or by fulfilling other conditions. Here are some suggestions from Foursquare and Facebook Deals:

  • Check-in Specials: when a user checks into your venue a certain number of times, e.g., “Foursquare says you’ve been here 10 times? That’s a free drink for you!”
  • Friend Deal: offering discounts to groups of people when they check in together.
  • Charity Deal: create a Charity Deal to make a donation to the charity of yours or the customer’s choice.
  • Wildcard Specials: requiring your staff to verify some extra conditions, such as customers showing a badge on their smartphone before receiving the special discount.

Failing to Offer the Right Rewards

Perhaps you opened a diner but it’s in a remote location. You decide to reach out to your local community by offering special deals on Foursquare but the response has been minimal. What did you do wrong? Foursquare recently introduced a tool that allows businesses to customize their deals according to a range of real-time data about their venue and their customers. The stats include the number of unique visitors who checked into a place via Foursquare, the time customers arrived, the male-to-female ratio and which times of day are more active for certain patrons. Business owners can also offer instant promotions to try to engage new customers and keep current ones. Not all social media sites offer this feature. For other ideas on how to gauge your customers’ preferences, see the next point.

Not Addressing Customers’ Complaints
Ignore customers’ comments at your own risk. The arrest of Vitaly Borker, owner of DecorMyEyes, is an extreme example of what can go wrong when customers are mistreated. “When people can openly talk with, about, and around you, screwing them is no longer a valid business strategy,” said Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? Rather than ignore or attempt to hide your customers’ complaints, engage them through a blog or Twitter account. Dell learned its lesson and now offers IdeaStorm, a site that lets customers discuss and vote on ways for Dell to improve its products and services. Starbucks offers a similar approach called My Starbucks Idea on a website and Twitter.

Figuring out what works best for your company can take some time, but with creativity and research, the benefits can be worthwhile.

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Social Network: Tech Bubble 2.0?

In Business Solutions, eCommerce, Facebook, Growth and Business Strategy, Social Media on January 10, 2011 at 11:27 pm

By: Dian L. Chu, Economic Forecasts & Opinions

Talk about another internet bubble.

New York Times broke the news on Jan. 2 that Facebook, the social network website, was able to get $500 million in funding–$450 million from Goldman Sachs and $50 million from Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment firm that has already pumped about half a billion dollars into Facebook.

But the real eye popping fact is that this latest deal values Facebook at $50 billion. That’s right, $50 billion, which is more than the current market cap of Time WarnerBaiduYahoo, and almost twice that of Dell, Inc.

Facebook P/E Multiple = 100+

Even though Facebook is not publicly traded, the company has raise about $850 million to date in total through a secondary market. Facebook’s value reportedly has roughly tripled over the last year–not bad for a company that’s only in business for six years.

Facebook does not disclose its financials, but its 2009 revenue is estimated to be around $800 million. Most recently, analysts figure the company could bring in as much as $2 billion in revenue annually.

So, if we take the $2 billion in revenue, the $50 billion new valuation, and assuming a 25% net margin (which is very generous), Facebook’s P/E multiple is an astonishing 100x..or even more, dwarfing even the high flyer Baidu’s PE ratio of 83. For comparison purpose, Google’s PE is around 24, close to that of Apple’s 22.

Goldman Sachs = Froth

Then, whenever there’s an institution player as big as Goldman Sachs wheeling and dealing, you know something frothy is brewing.

NYT noted Goldman Sachs has taken a 1% stake in Facebook, and most likely is aiming to get the lucrative underwriting and advisory fees in a future IPO. In addition, Goldman also devised an elaborate plan to create a “special purpose vehicle” for its rich clients to invest in Facebook.

The grand purpose is that this vehicle, no matter how many investors are in the “pool”, is to be considered as one investor, so to stay below the threshold of an SEC financial disclosure rule. Although there’s no indication if this would go as planned, but if anyone could make this work, it would be Goldman Sachs.

Suddenly, Coupon Clipping Is In!

Another sign of bubble is that Groupon, a two-year old “social coupon” site that’s yet to hit $500 million dollars in revenue, had recently rejected a $6 billion takeover bid from Google.

However, you can’t fault Groupon for turning Google down. MarketWatch reported that bids for Groupon have risen 254% from $36 a share in August, to as much as $127.50 a share on Dec. 30. And according to TechCrunch, Groupon is in the process of raising as much as $950 million, at a valuation that could be as high as $7.8 billion.

Separately, LivingSocial, a website similar to Groupon, just closed a massive round of financing totaling $183 million, including $175 million from the Amazon. Both Facebook and Groupon are expected to issue IPOs in 2012, while Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn are three other social sites that investors are anxiously waiting for their IPOs.

China’s Social IPO Rush

The social IPO rush is not limited in the U.S. Reuters noted that China’s largest social networking company–Oak Pacific Interactive– is gearing up for an IPO in the United States next year, among a few other Chinese Facebook clones looking to list in the U.S.

Oak Pacific owns China’s largest online social networking site Renren, which is similar to Facebook, and Nuomi, which is like Groupon.

Cash Out Ahead of The Herd

Meanwhile, companies in the U.S. and Europe have more than $1.5 trillion sitting on their balance sheets, and there’s also an improvement in the market for venture-backed IPOs. For now, it seems many of these companies are willing to throw money at anything related to social networking.

From that perspective, Facebook probably would be wise go to IPO sooner rather than later before the mood turns sour, and ahead of the social IPO herd diverting available capital.  Zuckerburg probably could benefit from consulting Mark Cuban on the art of cashing out using Cuban’s / Yahoo deal as an example.

A Social Tech Bubble?

If history is any indication, it seems most of the elements that shaped the 2000 dot com bubble are present and accounted for in the current environment, including but not limited to, rapidly increasing valuation, market over-confidence and speculation, and excess liquidity.

So, could Facebook et al end up being a fad like Delicious? Only time will tell. Nonetheless, Microsoft probably won’t worry that much, since latest deal just more than tripled the value of its holdings when it paid $240 million for a 1.6% stake in Facebook in 2007.
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Facebook vs. Twitter: An Infographic

In Facebook, Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter on December 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm

How does Twitter stack up against Facebook when it comes to demographics and online activity? Digital Surgeons, an online marketing agency, has put together an infographic comparing the Facebook population to the Twitter population, and it shows that while the two are similar in many respects in terms of age, income and so on, there are also some crucial differences of interest to marketers and others looking to mine the data and pick a favorite platform. Among the biggest differences are that Twitter users seem to be more active, but less interested in following brands.

Here are a few of the key findings represented in the infographic, which was based on data from a Barracuda Networks survey as well as an analysis from Razorfish and other demographic breakdowns from a number of sources (although the data on Twitter in particular is a little old — the service now has 190 million users).

  • 88 percent of people are aware of Facebook, while 87 percent are aware of Twitter
  • 12 percent of Facebook users update their status every day vs. 52 percent for Twitter
  • males make up 46 percent of Facebook users, and 48 percent of Twitter
  • 30 percent access Facebook via mobile vs. 37 percent for Twitter
  • 40 percent follow a brand on Facebook vs. 25 percent on Twitter
  • 70 percent of Facebook users are outside the U.S. vs. 60 percent for Twitter

In Business, Early Birds Twitter Most Effectively

In Business Solutions, Growth and Business Strategy, Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter on December 17, 2010 at 2:56 am

Companies can work wonders before Twitter’s vast interactive audience of consumers, but it’s best to start slowly and build credibility

By Shel Israel

Like so many others, Lionel Menchaca, Dell Computer’s chief blogger, thought Twitter was “fairly worthless for business” when he first looked at it in March 2007, but trying new social media tools was part of his job. Menchaca opened an account and started posting links whenever he posted on Direct2Dell, the company’s oft-praised corporate blog, where he serves as principal author.

The results exceeded his expectations. When he posted a link on Twitter, people clicked on the URL in minutes. They commented often—and at Twitter, rather than on the blog. They were the first viewers to spread word of his new blog posts. Twitter moved fast and sent his words further than any medium he had previously encountered.

But that turned out to be less than half the story. Listening to others turned out to be even more valuable than distributing what he wrote. Menchaca discovered that by using the Twitter Search feature, he could monitor and sometimes join conversations about PCs. “Tweeters,” as they call themselves, regularly posted links to relevant content he might otherwise have missed.

Menchaca’s experience is far from unique. Businesses, ranging from the largest multinationals to home-office practitioners, often come for one reason and are surprised to find greater value in some other aspect they hadn’t considered. The surprise plus can bring help in marketing, sales, recruiting, feedback, support, sales or just getting closer to geographically scattered networks (as has been the case with IBM.)

Business uses for Twitter are proving to be as diverse as those for the telephone or e-mail. They generally break into two categories: ways to follow customers and ways to increase efficiency.

Companies are joining Twitter for the same reason politicians attend the funerals of famous people: It’s where they can find their constituents and hold close, informal conversations with them. For example, CrowdSPRING, a tiny Chicago-based startup, uses Twitter to find buyers and sellers for its online professional graphics marketplace. (Business buyers declare what they want to see in a new logo or website and then, on average, 70 designers bid on each project.)

Conversations start in Twitter and then spread beyond the platform’s seamless boundaries, rapidly reaching customers, vendors, recruits, and partners in a wide variety of markets. You can find potential customers on Twitter and perhaps snag a sale. You can also find conversations with consumers who are unhappy with your products and assuage them quickly and publicly.

Twitter may owe its blastoff to the dive the economy took. Microblogging became a much-discusssed option just as businesses began axing marketing, advertising, and public relations budgets and reducing their participation at conferences and social networking events. Because of those cuts, companies understood they still needed to reach out to customers. Twitter turned out to be a less-expensive and more efficient way to achieve this.

Twitter works well with other social media platforms, such as blogs, video, and audio podcasts, creating a whole new kind of interactive integrated communications solution. It is proving not just faster and cheaper—but more credible. Surveys consistently report that people tend to trust their Twitter friends more than formulated company messages. Users increasingly rely on one another for tips on what to buy, watch, read, or listen to.

While Twitter shares similarities with phones and e-mail, there’s a major difference: It works best in public. Anyone can see real people in a company trying hard to help.

Comcast, North America’s largest cable carrier, has a 10-member Twitter support team. Tens of thousands of tweeters witness employees trying—with customary success—to help customers. Conversely, consumers do not witness call-center conversations and the greatest failures among those interactions tend to make the most noise in the marketplace. Surveys show measurable improvements in Comcast’s customer satisfaction ratings since the company began using Twitter for customer service.

Of course, Twitter is no elixir. Companies who try to use the tool as yet another marketing arrow in their quiver—one that mostly carries targeted, one-way messages—usually fail.

While Twitter has had remarkable results in times of crisis, companies that jump in just when an emergency is breaking have joined too late. Their customers don’t know they are there. It takes time to establish your credibility in Twitterville and you need to understand how it works before that credibility gets tested.

It also takes time to understand how this deceptively simple-looking tool works. Nearly everyone I interviewed in my recent book mentioned how confused and disoriented they once felt. According to Twitter founder-CEO Ev Williams: “People are pretty much clueless when they first try Twitter.”

A smart business will start early. Nearly every company cited in the accompanying slide show stumbled and fumbled for a while before they discovered how Twitter could help business in many ways.

Shel Israel is author of TWITTERVILLE: How Businesses Can Thrive in the New Global Neighborhoods (Portfolio 2009

Four Ways Social Media Will Change Television

In Adobe, Cloud Solutions, Facebook, Google, Growth and Business Strategy, Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter, Web Development, YouTube on November 14, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Read the full post at:

By Michael Wolf

At NewTeeVee Live, Robin Sloan talked about how Twitter is fast becoming the global TV watercooler. Certainly, the power of Twitter to facilitate real-time conversation during live viewing — as illustrated by Sloan — is impressive. As I discuss in my weekly update at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), there is no doubt that the broader integration of social media like Twitter into and around TV content is creating new opportunities in four areas: viewing, measurement, curation and commerce.

Let’s take a look at each.

Social Viewing

While the early social viewing implementations have largely been Mystery Science Theater 3000 knockoffs, the real action for viewing parties is at Twitter. The network’s real-time nature allows for interaction and surprise for fans who want to engage with others during the live-viewing experience. This isn’t to say that Facebook won’t show up at the shared viewing party, though.


Sloan’s presentation displayed fascinating visuals on how Tweet activity changes in live show windows (for example, the chart below, which shows Tweet activity during the first episode of this season’s Dancing With the Stars). This is a gold mine of information for brand marketers and TV execs looking to understand, down to the minute, how people react to different parts of different shows.

Source: Twitter


While curation is a big topic on the consumer web, it really hasn’t hit the video world yet. Startups like Shortform and Redux are beginning to enable curation of video content, but it won’t be long before personalized video channels will be created for TV viewing. This means not only do we get to look forward to creating our own channels someday, but may have to suffer through some media personalities becoming their own broadcasters.


Much of the hot startup activity in the web world in 2010 has been all about commerce on the computer screen, but it’s logical to think as connectivity goes to the best screen in the house, social commerce will also become social TV commerce. Imagine a social overlay on top of a QVC channel or even a lifestyle channel with a highly desirable demographic. The ability for a brand to offer a TV-based “Groupon” type offer and that also allowed a person to share with their own social graph could be highly compelling.

How To Guide: Turn Your Expertise Into Dollars Online

In Cloud Solutions, Growth and Business Strategy, Social Media on November 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

By Darren Waddel, Mashable

Darren Waddell is vice president of marketing at He can be found on the MerchantCircle blog and on Twitter.

Every time you search for a topic online these days, it seems a few webpages pop up with advice from “experts.” Whether these websites are pages on Yahoo Answers, medical information sites or part of a community of small businesses like Yelp, they’ve become increasingly important sources of information for web searchers looking for answers to specific questions.

If you are an expert in something, you can offer your advice online — and turn that expertise into dollars. Small business owners are especially good candidates to become online experts, because they know their industries inside and out. Millions of small business owners have turned to blogging, writing articles, sharing tips on Q&A sites, and participating in forums as a way to drive traffic to their websites and build business credibility.

Expertise Pays

Small business owners possess a wealth of knowledge about their industry or sector, and when they share this knowledge with InternetInternet searchers, it lends credibility to their business and attracts new customers. Blogging is a key medium for sharing your expertise. The most recent Merchant Confidence Index, a survey of 10,000 small business owners conducted by my company found that nearly 30% are blogging and 35% plan to blog in the next three months. Those who are blogging have found that creating impactful content that people can find online is one of the best marketing tools available — and it’s free. According to data published by Internet marketing firm HubSpot, companies that blogged realized 55% more visitors to their site, 97% more inbound links and 434% more indexed pages.

Michele Gorham, owner of the Andover, Mass.-based Cookie Central bakery, is one small business owner who has turned her expertise into dollars online. She has created hundreds of blog entries about how to build a business, run a bakery, and other helpful topics; and she continuously answers customers’ direct questions through various social media platforms, including FacebookFacebookTwitterTwitter and YelpYelp. Because of Gorham’s rich content contributions, her listings on various sites are highly trafficked and regularly found by search engines — generating more sales for her business.

Getting Started

So what’s the first step if you want to start creating expert content online? The first thing you need to do is think about the topics you want to write about. What advice can you offer that would be useful to your potential customers? What are you knowledgeable about? Make a list of the topics you’d like to write about.

Next, you’ll need to develop a voice for your content. The most successful expert content is straightforward, informative, backed up with examples and research, and helpful to those who’ve searched for a specific term. Your articles should not be self serving. For example, if you’re a mechanic, don’t write an article that advises that the best way to fix a carburetor is to come into your shop and pay you to fix it. Instead, offer practical, step-by-step advice that can actually help someone with a problem. At the end of your article, you can add a gentle plug for your business and add your URL; don’t turn the article into an advertisement.

After you’ve written your article or blog post, you need to publish it online, and there are lots of options. Your goal should be to get the most exposure possible for your article, to drive traffic to your business website. You can publish your article on a personal, business or community blog, then add links to your article on your LinkedInLinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts. You can answer an open question on Q&A sites, or pose your own and then go back and answer it. Remember, though, that if consumers like your advice but can’t find you, your efforts are being wasted. So make sure to create a detailed listing on local business sites, some of which will let you answer customers’ questions directly or publish your expertise via a blog or newsletter, and make sure you have your own web site. Also, fully fill out all profile information on any sites you utilize.

Some sites, such as Associated Content or Demand Media, pay experts a small sum to write topical articles, then syndicate that content to online newspapers and other websites. Demand Media pays up to $15 for a 500 word article. Other “citizen journalism sites,” like Examiner, pay based on page views. You won’t make millions by creating content for these pay-to-write companies, but if you blog regularly, your content will show up more regularly in searches for related topics, and you’ll build credibility in your industry — which is much more valuable than a few dollars.

In fact, most places where experts contribute their expertise online — blogs, forums, Q&A sites, and business directories — don’t pay contributors. But, as a small business owner, it’s still incredibly valuable to share your expert advice online, because your content builds exposure for your business, and that drives more people to your website and increases revenues long-term.

Making Sure your Content is Discovered

Wherever you decide to publish your articles, make sure the site is credible. The site should be populated by experts, such as small business owners or service providers with professional storefronts. Or if it’s your own blog, make it informative and professional — a useful site that your target customers will turn to again and again for information. For example, if you are a real estate professional, you could create a blog with inside information about a particular neighborhood, detailing not just houses for sale, but information on local schools, city government initiatives, community events, local businesses, and other things of interest to people living in that area. Such a site not only builds your credibility as a real estate agent, but delivers a valuable service to your potential customers that keeps them coming back for more.

To get your content found, make sure the sites you post it on optimize content for search engines. Embed links in your articles, and link to your articles from other places on the web as much as possible. Add links to the article on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking sites, as well as on your online business directory listings pages.

The bottom line: the quality of the expert content you produce online is critical to how well it works to build your credibility and boost business leads in the real world. If your articles are helpful and informative, they’ll be read and passed along, and that will increase the visibility of your content and your business. Offer helpful advice, and you’ll see how quickly your expertise is rewarded with new business leads.

Will you be my connection? How to Look Good on LinkedIn.

In Social Media on November 1, 2010 at 2:44 am

By: JODY BRIGHTMAN; Head of Career Services at Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy, and occasional professor of Marketing at Pepperdine’s business school

Every day, I get emails from students and alums asking me to be their “friend” on Facebook, LinkedIn or Plaxo. And, almost every day, I am found by a friend I’ve almost forgotten I had, people from a long-distant workplace or neighbors I knew “back when”.
Then, once or twice a week, someone I don’t know contacts me to connect . Usually, this is someone looking for someone to hire or wanting a reference for someone on my list.

Welcome to the brave new world of online social networking!

If you’re not already on a site, you’re either a recluse or a misanthrope. What’s wrong – are you hiding out from your colleagues? Or, perhaps you’re a throwback to some, ancient pre-mechanized past: a Luddite. Do you handwrite your lecture notes and pass on a mobile phone?
Seriously, the web is where your future lies.

Simply canvassing the major sites proves my point. Only a very few alums – maybe 10% – are not on Facebook, and more join every day. Fewer SPP Waves have discovered the virtues of LinkedIn, but that list is also growing fast. Of our 385 alums, 200 are among LinkedIn’s 43 million registered users. And, did you know there were 130,000 people registered on the site as recruiters?

If you’re in the market for a job or a project, LINK-IN. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for working professionals. Sure, Facebook boasts more users, but that site is truly social, a space for brags about weekends and co-misery about right-brained feelings.

LinkedIn is a left-brain domain specifically crafted to make you a standout in your field.

So how can YOU look good on LinkedIn?

You need a PROFILE – your definitive professional image. One perfect for today, that you can tweak any time you feel it’s not pulling for you.

It can be as long as you like – and lard it generously with keywords that you think might be search terms used by somebody trying to find you. The system allows you to cut and paste your standard resume – and that’s okay for the experience section, but be more creative in the “blue”, that space at the top of the profile, highlighted in pale azure. That heavenly shade is the only section accessible outside the LinkedIn firewall so every keyword there can boost you high on a Google search, as well as any searches within LinkedIn itself.

There are Four Main Sections:

I. Headline Lets the world know what you’re doing right now
“The Blue” –a slogan for your personal brand: in a nutshell, who are you?

1) Job Title: for many students, this is a descriptor rather than a job title: “Policy Analyst”, “Program Manager”, “Team Leader”, “Community Organizer”
Or, it might say, “Master’s degree candidate 2010” … at [employer or university – since this might be a search term]

2) Location: “Southern California” may yield more matches than “Malibu”; but “Los Angeles area” is a strong option. If you’re open to relocation, mention that here

3) Industry/ Sector: Think keywords: Use this to highlight sector expertise or particular skills such as “public affairs” or “environmental sustainability”.

4) Photo: Although many people leave this out, a friendly professional-looking photo makes you seem more approachable – and remember, a professional web photo can be taken by a cell phone. Digital reproduction on the web negates any need for a professional shot.

II. Summary Your “elevator pitch”.
Write the best 140-character “tweet” of your life and paste it here

Specialties – list the unique qualities that make you most valuable as an employee or contractor. People search on these terms.
List and then search-test your keywords. The summary is the only searchable section outside the LinkedIn firewall; exploit it.

HOT TIP: Link to your LinkedIn profile in your regular email signature line to improve your visibility and at the end of your blogs
HOT TIP: If you’re job-searching, enable Google access by selecting “Full View”

III. Experience The work and/or internships or volunteer experience that qualifies you

1) Organization/ Employer: For students, the employer is often more impressive than your job title; leverage the “halo effect” of major entities

2) Organization line two: If the employer is not well done, explain what it does; give it scope and mission. Include the industry or sector.

3) Title: If you’ve been interning, give yourself your functional title and put (intern, (paid or not) in parens) as in “Research Assistant (Paid Intern)”.

4) Dates: Include the months with the years since it gives you more time in service when recruiters .

5) Resume summary: Briefly summarize your duties, but make sure you showcase your accomplishments.

HOT TIP: Don’t forget to include non-profit board and advisory positions; leadership positions in volunteer work

IV. Education Degrees, sure, but add whatever helps you sell yourself

· Areas of academic excellence – majors and specializations; honors and awards – GPA if over 3.4; relevant coursework
· Publications – theses and capstones, major research projects, team projects, formal presentations, editorial, blogs, professional writing
· Activities – especially those where you were held a leadership role
· Credentials and licenses; continuing education units

HOT TIP: Join all your collegiate affinity groups – your school has one; your fraternity or sorority does. Look around LinkedIn for connectors

ABOUT Recommendations
· Collect them – from employers and faculty, absolutely; from peers on project teams and colleagues who know you work
· Screen them before posting – you need never be dinged on LinkedIn

HOT TIP: Recommendations dramatically boost your search rankings

ABOUT Connections
· Collect them – but only from people you know and trust
· The more connections you have, the more you are assumed to be an authority
· Like recommendations, connections boost your rankings in the search algorithm – people with 20 connections are 34 times as likely to be reached as people with 5

Additional Information
· Public Profile: Use your linked-in URL and replace the number with your name
· Add website links – if you have a blog, look at the LinkedIn section entitled “Applications”; you can dynamically update snippets from your blog.
· Add activities and interests

HOT TIP: Use your public profile URL as a tag to your regular email address – it allows people to link directly to your credentials
HOT TIP: Include mini-reviews of professional books you’re reading or conferences you’ve attended
HOT TIP: LinkedIn Mobile – There’s an iPhone app so you can access your LinkedIn network anywhere

Contact Settings Customize why you want to be reached.
· Be specific – you can change this at any time
· A Word about Contact Information: use your good judgment on posting phone number, email address and personal information

Groups and Associations

HOW TO JOIN A GROUP: Your school has a group – look for it and ask to join.
· Find an alum to act as a mentor
· Post news and updates regularly to the group – it keeps you “top of mind”
Note: In your Profile, Groups are LinkedIn Groups. This list is automatically generated whenever you join one. Keep that in mind when you want to look professional.
Affinity Group. You can create your own for any professional purpose. For example, share job search tips or review resumes.

QUESTIONS and ANSWERS Become the expert – or find one
· Ask – under a group, in “Discussions” – enter a topic or question
· Link to a news article, and start a discussion about it
· Post jobs on the job board – notices will go out to your group
· Answer a question – the initiator may choose yours as “best” and boost your search ranking

For further tips:
· Guy Kawasaki’s “Ten Ways to Use Linked In” and then see his own “Extreme Makeover”
· The yellow book primer: “LinkedIn for Dummies” by Joel Elod
· A networking’s pro’s free download: by Jan Vermeiren. He also has a book for $17.
· A savvy site for business users:
· Profile Tutorial:
· LinkedIn for Dummies:


Thinking about links to me straight to sausages. Thinking about quick results took me to straight to this fast and easy mid-week supper – it’s a favorite at my house, even better the next day, if there’s any left. It’s a classic Tuscan dish, perfect for a rainy day, since most of the ingredients are pantry or freezer staples.

Serves 4

¾ pound fusilli (dried corkscrew pasta – or use penne)
1 onion, sliced thin
2 T. olive oil
½ pound kielbasa sausage, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2” thick pieces
3 t. minced garlic
½ cup dry white wine (optional)
1 package fresh spinach or kale, sliced
1 small can chopped tomatoes or chicken broth (optional)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Toasted pine nuts (optional garnish)

1) Cook pasta in large pot of lightly salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain and lightly rinse pasta in a colander.
2) In a heavy frying pan, caramelize onions in the oil by cooking over medium heat until they’re transparent and then covering the pan until golden and sweet. Don’t let them burn because it will make the whole dish bitter. Add a pinch of sugar if the onions are still too sharp.
3) Toss the kielbasa in the oil to coat and cook 3-4 minutes. Drain off excess oil.
4) Add garlic and cook another minute. Deglaze with wine, if desired – boil off the liquid.
5) Stir in spinach with ½ cup cooking water, chicken broth or canned tomatoes. Simmer partially covered until greens are tender.
6) Toss with the pasta and cheese. If it’s too dry, add more pasta water or a splash of cream. We never make enough.