The beetle and the online marketer

SEO BeetleI bike to work when the weather is decent. It’s only 5km but the route is pretty hilly so I get some real exercise on the way.

Today when I was on the last incline before reaching the office – I saw what appeared to be a beetle crossing the road.

In any case I swerved to miss him since President Obama recently showed us that to get the full effect of killing annoying bugs you need to be filmed…

Then I started thinking how if I had run him over I might have effected the whole population of his species in the area. Maybe this bug was destined to mother of millions… True – if this one was dumb enough to cross the road while thousands of her comrades were in the grassy fields – she probably wasn’t the most brilliant of the bunch, but there is a vulnerability when a single event can knock you out completely. Nassim Taleb call’s these unexpected devastating events “Black Swans”. I highly recommend his books on Randomness.

Of course with bugs they have it all worked out – they presumably diversify their activities and locations enough so that one event wont knock out their population completely.

Recently my cell phone website http://www.younevercall.com was penalized by Google, probably for overly aggressive linking and what we now know was a concerted effort to get the site penalized by a much wealthier competing website. (They actually reported their efforts on Twitter – but that has since been removed…)

YouNeverCall was run over by a Google penalty and appears to be in intensive care – possibly to awaken in a few weeks.

Much like the beetle, our company is set up so that that single event does not end our company – though it does have a big effect.

To learn from the beetle would mean:

  1. Stopping to rely on lower quality links and sites to aid in SEO
  2. Expect the unexpected – be prepared for the penalty before it comes
  3. Make logical rather than emotional decisions of what to do when crisis strikes.

I think the last one may be the most important one. At each juncture it makes sense to look at the resources: people, websites, available tactics, etc. and make intelligent decisions about where to go next.

This is the third time that YouNeverCall has suffered a penalty over the past 6 years and each time the website and the business as a whole has come out stronger.

I don’t think that can be said for the beetle.

Opera Unite – P2P everything I guess…

Check out this – Remember Opera, the little browser that could for a while…
They are back and taking a new stab at the browser space with Opera Unite – supposed to contain server in the browser – kind-of a P2P platform but not just for stealing videos and music. (Are there other things worth sharing? I think so…)

Incidentally, I especially like Discovery channel voice…

As far as whether this is useful – I think it could be indeed.

My friend Michael Berkowitz and I created a product called Pixley Album a few years ago that does exactly this for picture sharing.

The theory was that we all take lots of pictures with out digital cameras and we often manage to get the pictures onto our PC’s but we rarely share the pictures.

Pixley Album automatically takes all shared images and serves them to your friends (or the whole world if you want) arranging them in albums – like a simple version of snapfish.

Looking forward to seeing what people do with this….

Evolution of the Internet and what it says about us

Recently I was reflecting on how the internet has developed – following roughly the following stages:

  • Libraries and Universities post their information online – Internet as extension of the library
  • Corporations and Organizations build websites – Internet as extension of advertising space
  • Sophisticated users build their sites – Revenge of the Nerds – Meritocracy allows smart people to be heard louder
  • Everyone can build a site – Power to the people, internet is like flea market anyone can set up a table and peddle their wares.
  • Early Social Networking – We all create our own channels and tune in to the networks only occasionally
  • Everyone is Networking – Twitter – We are the network – continued decentralization of flow of information.

Note that even in today’s situation – many of the tweets and blogs point to content which is traditional media – this has not been displaced – but it definitely seems that there is a higher bar to meet. There may no longer be room for 200 newspapers in the US – perhaps only 20 can survive in their full glory.

What’s with the hyperactivity?

It’s interesting that as we have gone from the first graphical web browser (Spyglass Mosaic) to Firefox 3 and Internet Explorer 8 (does anyone use that?) each successive step has been characterized by shorter attention spans and more linking.

Twitter is the epitome of short attention span – get it all down in 140 characters or less. No room for a whole link – suddenly bit.ly and tinyurl are a service everyone needs! I came to the realization last week (at about the same time as SarKE) that internet marketers as a group seem to be blessed with Attention Deficiency. Or perhaps they have the ability to be very focused on many different projects for very short periods of time. In any case, rather than being a disability – having a short attention span and being somewhat impulsive seems to be related to success in internet marketing.

Twitter makes perfect sense to people like me (Hyperactive Sam) who can’t wait until you finish your sentence – we are already on to the next thing. Sometimes 140 characters seems like an awful lot of characters when all you want to do is share a link 🙂

Explaining Twitter to a Newbie…

tweetbird2Until recently I believed that Twitter was a very odd pastime for people who were narcissistic or lonely. That was until my friend Kelli Brown who’s a Twitter expert gave me a few tips. The truth is that I already believed there might be some value in Twitter a year ago – that’s when I started my first twitter account, on the advice of my friend Mayer Reich at RankAbove. At that time I took a very popular website that had a lot of updates on a daily basis, but did not have a twitter account. I made a twitter account with their name and then used TwitterFeed to automatically feed updates from the sites RSS directly to the twitter account. That was about a a year ago – now I have over 45,000 followers. Seriously. I haven’t made any money from this yet – well maybe $20 from ad clicks… By the way – I get tens of messages daily from this account and I don’t exactly know what to do. I suspect that the company itself probably wants to control the twitter account that I created for them. The problem is that if they try to contact me via a direct message I won’t read it because I have hundreds of messages waiting to be read, oh well….

Anyway, Fast forward to now. This is what I want  to say:

I divide the Twitter experience into two parts:

– Friends and Followers

– Realtime information

In the realm of Friends and Followers I can only make sense of people who are careful about who they follow and keep their group of “friends” very relevant to them. In this realm I see Twitter as a way  to listen  in to what your circle of friends is saying – a little like being on an email list where people share links and short thoughts – but with more latitude.

As far as Realtime Information – this is where I see the real value. Google is no doubt a great search engine, but Twitter adds 2 very important things that Google misses out (so far).

  1. Real People
  2. Right Now

Google tells you what websites say, it includes some news and blogs and even shopping, but its not “regular people” who don’t have a website or a blog. Google is really fast – we have seen them cache pages in a minute or so, but for most searches – the results on Google seem to be months old.

Why do we care?

Say you wanted to take a vacation to Italy – if you search on Google you will see tour companies and official sites. Try searching on Twitter. Now you see tweets about renting a houseboat in Venice, staying at a cottage, etc. Twitter gets you past the corporate sites and down to real people. Even when you end up on a corporate site via Twitter, your chances of having a real person to answer questions is very high.

So, for me, Twitter is a reflection of what real people are saying right now.

Now imagine interacting with real people, right now – you can ask them questions – make them offers – communicate with them. And they opt in to your conversation, either by following you or by searching a term that you tweeted about.

Think about it…

Getting Started

hyperIt’s been seven years since I started doing business online – so I decided to start a blog.

I plan to share my insights and funny stories about:

  • Working in the online environment
  • What I am learning about people and about myself
  • Experiences I have had that may help you in your work
  • Anything else I want to tell the world