Social Media

You will never get my Facebook password. Never.

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A lot has been going around lately about employers asking job candidates for their Facebook passwords. Apparently they’d really like to be able to nose around a little, see what you’re into, who you’re friends with and such like that. I’ve never met anyone who has had this happen to them, but it doesn’t surprise me to hear that it is happening.

Employers have strange ideas about where their place is in relation to their employees. We’ve seen many cases where employers have attempted to gain access to employees’ LinkedIn profiles, their personal email accounts and more — all under the guise of protecting their business. And in nearly every case that’s been brought to court, judges have sided with employees.

See, there’s a fundamental expectation of privacy one has when using their own email, Twitter, Facebook…whatever. Yes, everything I do on any social network can be made private to the whole world. But that doesn’t mean it has to be. I choose who to share with, and when to share it.

To be honest, I have nothing on Facebook I’d be embarrassed of — and that isn’t the point. I don’t trust Facebook itself, and so I choose to refrain from sharing too much of a personal nature there. I don’t allow others to post on my wall, don’t overshare, and use it primarily for keeping track of old schoolmates. Even so, would I allow an employer to peek into it, even once?

Not a chance.

We don’t bring our personal mail in for our bosses’ perusal, do we? We don’t deliver our cellphone bills to them to look over who we’re calling. And we don’t give them audio recordings of our dinner tables at night. There’s a reason for that: It’s none of their business.

Sure, an employer may be worried about what types of things their employees post on Facebook, and if your job candidate is found to have blasted their ex-job repeatedly and publicly, it could give you pause. But courts have ruled several times that Facebook postings are protected under free-speech provisions — even if they are negative statements about the workplace.

The bottom line: If anyone asks for your password, the answer is no. Always.

Sorry, but I need more important friends (or, how I learned to stop worrying about my Klout score)

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Sorry, Twitter friends, but I need to network with more important people. It’s not that I don’t like you. Really. You’ve all been so fun and informative. Unfortunately, your Klout scores are dragging me down.

Apparently, the new algorithm changes on Klout take into account not only what I do in my social networks, but what you do as well. And, frankly, you guys just aren’t keeping up. So instead, I’ve decided to follow Justin Beiber and Oprah. The plan is to tweet smarmy things to them all day, until one of them finally retweets me.

Just kidding.

Over the past month, though, I’ve been monitoring my Klout score and how it relates to certain of my behaviors. My verdict? Klout continues to be mind-bogglingly bad. And if you’re still paying attention to your score, you need a life.

Twitter was ablaze yesterday with complaints about the new algorithm. Seems folks were unhappy that their scores dropped — in some cases significantly — after the change. Mine dropped 10 points. Why? Well, from what I can tell, several of my friends “lost influence.” In addition, several people are no longer included in my “immediate influence network.” Okay…

Let’s get to what’s messed up about this:

Among those no longer in my immediate influence network? My brother, a coworker who sits five steps away from me and a client. I dare say I have at least some influence with those folks. At the very least I can influence my coworker with a spitball to the head, or my brother by passing the rolls over dinner.

Among topics I’m influential about? Media, Quinoa, Bacon, Social Media, Puppies, Los Angeles Lakers. Admittedly, I talk often about media and social media. Quinoa makes the list because I once asked a Twitter acquaintance what it was. We had some back and forth. Then I received a few +Ks as a joke. The Lakers? They were a topic of discussion one night with a friend. Frankly, I don’t find myself “influential” in any of these topics. Or any topic. Then again, influence is not my goal on Twitter.

And that brings me to the point of all this:
If you use Twitter to exert or gain influence, please leave.

I can already hear the community managers and workplace social media experts now: “But Dan, that’s what we do for a living. How are we supposed to *insert random goal* for our brand lol?”

I understand where you’re coming from. You’re just wrong.

Using social media to gain influence (or, better yet, get a number that supposedly correlates to influence) is like boiling water in a toaster. Besides the fact that you’re using the wrong tool for the job, it’s dangerous.

Social media’s intent (outside of making money for the services themselves) is to attract folks who want to connect with other folks. And of course businesses want to be where the people are, so social media experts were invented to get money from businesses and teach them how to ruin social media services in order to influence customers. Or potential customers. Or something. Jury’s out on that still.

Those social media experts have to prove their expertise somehow. And proving that to businesspeople who are used to relying on numbers can be difficult. Used to be that you could brag about the number of Twitter followers you had. But as I showed in this post, those numbers are meaningless, even for Twitter rock stars like Chris Brogan. When Klout came along, it offered the promise of a grading system to prove, definitively, who is the biggest deebag on Twitter. I mean, who is the most powerful Twitterer of them all. (In case you were wondering, it’s Justin Bieber, who has a perfect score of 100).

The problem with Klout is that it isn’t really clear what it’s measuring or why it considers those metrics important. Worse than that, it’s wrong. I know nothing about quinoa, and yet I’m the second-most influential person in the Klout-o-sphere on the topic. I’m not even kidding.

Chris Brogan has a Klout score higher than that of either Pepsi or Microsoft. Does that make sense?

After a month of paying attention, I’m ready to walk away from Klout, other than perhaps to throw down some +K for funsies every once in awhile. Because the experiment taught me something really important: I’m not on Twitter to be important and I’m not important because I’m on Twitter. I’m just there. And I don’t need a number to validate the importance of my friends, either. Despite what Klout says, their worth to me is beyond measure.

How to ruin your business by not knowing when to shut up.

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You know who Ken Evoy is, right? Of course you don’t. I didn’t either.

Basically, Ken is the online equivalent of one of those “make money from home” guys you see on TV — the infomercial guys with offers that sound too good to be true. He offers a service called Site Build It, which promises a simple solution to help folks with great ideas build and monetize websites in a snap. Sounds great, right?

Well, Ken’s been on a rampage for a couple years now, complaining about Google and the existence of “the Googlebomb” — a threat so heinous that it threatens us all. In a nutshell, a Googlebomb is the use of nefarious tactics to get a page ranked high in Google search results for a particular term. Ken claims he was a victim of a Googlebomb (in fact, he likely was). The short story is that a blogger named Lis Sowerbutts wrote a scathing review of SBI!, calling it a scam. Then a few folks helped jack her post up in Google rankings by using backlinks. To this day, Sowerbutts’ post ranks no. 1 in Google for “site build it scam.”

Evoy has made it a personal quest to eliminate Googlebombs. Or maybe just his. Or maybe just to get Google to admit they still exist. Frankly, I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that he is all over the Internet, posting long-winded comments on every blog without a word limit in the comments section.

I first heard of SBI! when a client of mine read about it and asked my opinion. Like any decent consultant, I cased the service for him. My impression? Meh. To Ken’s credit, the site doesn’t promise overnight success. In some respects, it follows the mantra I’ve repeated for years: Work hard. In order to make money on a website through SBI!, you still have to pay for hosting, still have to create content, still need to advertise. It’s not a magic bullet, by any means. My recommendation to my client was the service may be worth a try, but I didn’t see it offering anything more than he could get cheaper and better by using a WordPress install.

What troubled me, however, were Ken’s rants, which I started seeing all over the Internet. And the more I saw, the less I trusted him. The more I read, the less I believed he was doing right by his clients. In fact, Ken’s own success isn’t based on his own system — it’s based on selling his system. And sure, Ken has lots of testimonials from clients on his website and around the Internet, but many of those are affiliates — folks who make money selling his system to others.

Recently a friend of mine wrote his own blog post about the Googlebomb, citing Ken’s problems. Ken, of course, couldn’t resist commenting. Frankly, I couldn’t either. And I let my own opinion fly:

You know what would be awesome? If Mr. Evoy spent more time running his business and less time running around the web, commenting (at length) about this issue. Do Googlebombs exist? Sure. Fine. You’ve proved it. The best thing you can do now is to concentrate on getting positive reviews of your business online. Make your customers happy. If there are 100 positive reviews for every bad one, well, you’re doing just fine.

Interestingly, what Ken has managed to do is draw more and more attention to Ms. Sowerbutts’s post. The more attention he draws there, the more Google believes it’s a legit post.

To be honest, it sounds like Ken doesn’t like the content of the post, and doesn’t want people to read it. Whatever the case, he’s made himself look maniacal with the number and length of comments he’s made regarding the topic — not someone I’d want to give my money to.

Admittedly, my comment was not good-natured. What followed was a mind-boggling exchange with Mr. Evoy in which he attacked my work, ridiculed the Alexa ranking of sites I’ve built, and insinuated my clients would be better off with his service than mine.

Well, I’ve seen Ken’s top performers, and of this I’m sure: Ken’s clients don’t make near as much as mine do. And they do it without gaudy web traffic. And you know who gets richest off Ken’s service? Ken. That’s what he’s selling.

How do my clients perform so well? They aren’t Internet marketers. They’re brick-and-mortar businesses. They aren’t making money off AdWords. They’re making money selling real goods and real services to real humans — humans they’ve met. My clients include a national cable installer, one of the nation’s top gift-basket companies, a company that sells network security solutions, the nation’s premier rifle barrel manufacturer. I’m building sites for municipalities, nonprofit organizations and small, local community shops. And I’m worried about Alexa rankings? Why?

I’ll tell you why I’m not. I’m not because a small-town health club owner doesn’t need fake traffic from Russia. She needs REAL traffic from the town she’s in. And that’s what I provide. A cable installer wouldn’t benefit in the least from thousands of visits per day — he needs one visit from a $25 million client. And that visit comes from a phone call — not a Google search. When that client hits the site, he’d better be grabbed by what he sees. It must be visually appealing, easy to read, and not be obviously created to pander to search engines. It had better be written FOR that visitor.

Ken and his ilk are so tied up worried about pagerank that they’ve forgotten business fundamentals: Find your niche. Treat your customers right. Provide exemplary service. That’s what I do for my clients. I work tirelessly to give them great service, websites they can be proud to show off, advice that’s based on real-world experience. Because of that, my clients’ websites have been very successful.

I have no doubt, however, that Ken is more successful than I am. Not only does SBI! seem to be bringing in clients, but Ken has made a big show of informing me that he needn’t run his business anymore; he has a “senior management team” that does it for him.

I put a call in to SBI! and I found out some interesting information. According to the gentleman I talked to, the company has 40,000 clients. Some 20,000 of them, he told me, are affiliates. He also told me the software used to create websites has been updated four times in the last eight years (for the sake of comparison, WordPress has been updated that many times this year alone). The man I talked to, who identified himself as working in the sales department, wouldn’t tell me how many employees the company has. But let’s do some math.

If 40,000 people are using SBI! for at least $300 apiece, that’s $12 million. How much are those site owners making? The salesman wouldn’t say.

Here’s the bottom line: I don’t care about Ken Evoy or SBI! But there’s a bigger point: When you’re in business, run your business. If you want to be the public face of your business, as Ken is, act like someone people want to do business with. And you’d better damned well know what you’re talking about before you open your mouth. In Ken’s case, opening his mouth only showed his ignorance and the weakness of his own product.

There really are no rock stars in social media.

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I’m about to break your heart, and I don’t even care. It’s for your own good.

I’m enthralled lately by all the discussion around Chris Brogan’s decision to unfollow all 131,000 people he was following on Twitter. It’s mind-numbing. Seriously. Just the comments on the blog post he wrote about it drive me crazy. And at this writing there are 415 comments — about 10 times what he normally gets per post.

A little about Chris: He’s a blogger, who’s amassed 190,000 Twitter followers. You can hire him to talk to your company about using social media. He’s even written a book. You can read a lot more about him on his blog. He’s basically one of those guys who has made a career of selling himself as a social media expert. He teaches people how to use the stuff. Supposedly.

When I started seeing little things pop up online about how he was unfollowing 131,000 people, I was amazed — not over what he was doing, but the reactions. Some people were angry. Some were understanding. Some were confused and hurt.

Me? I laughed.

I laughed because as Chris explained his rationale, I saw the man behind the curtain — the one you aren’t supposed to pay any attention to. The one pulling all the levers and twisting the nobs that create smoke and bluster. And that man wasn’t a wizard or rock star. In fact, he’s probably worse at social media than you or me.

See….I didn’t need to follow 131,000 people to realize you can’t follow 131,000 people. Sure, you can click that button, but you can’t pay attention to them. So Chris Brogan wasn’t following you. Not really. In fact, this guy who preaches engagement really wasn’t engaging those he followed at all. He put out his “content” and replied when people mentioned him. But unless you were talking to or about Chris Brogan, he wasn’t paying attention.

But Chris didn’t perpetrate the “Great Twitter Unfollow Experiment of 2011″ because he doesn’t know how to use Twitter. He did it, he says, because he’d “started receiving over 200 direct message spams a day.”

If you use Twitter, you know you can’t get direct messages from folks you aren’t following. So Chris Brogan was following enough spammers that he supposedly received 200 spam messages daily. Why was he following spammers?

I told you awhile ago about my own little Twitter experiment, where I used some spam bait and gained 60 followers in a matter of a couple of days. If you want Twitter followers, there’s an easy trick I learned from my friend Freddy: Just use keywords that will draw the attention of bots. It’s true! And to keep those “followers” (who aren’t really real at all), you just need to follow them back. You know who ends up with a LOT of fake followers? People who tweet about social media. That’s because their tweets are loaded with phrases Twitter bots love.

Whether Chris Brogan knew it or not, he was padding his follower count with bots and zombies. Do your own little investigation and scroll through his list of followers. It’s not as impressive as you thought, is it? As we all know, nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd. After amassing a decent number of followers (and a reputation for following back), you can brag about how many Twitter followers you have…and then get more Twitter followers. And then write a book.

To save you the trouble, I’m not a social media rock star. I’ve got a few hundred followers — not a few thousand or several thousand. I’m just a guy who hates bullshit. Don’t author a book called “Trust Agents” and then be disingenuous about how many real Twitter followers you have and how you got them. Don’t tell me you had to unfollow everyone because you had too many direct messages. And don’t tell me you can’t manage to keep up with all the replies you get — that has nothing to do with the number of people you’re following.

At best, if you give him the benefit of the doubt, Brogan’s clueless when it comes to using Twitter. At worst, he’s no better than Newt Gingrich — padding his numbers to look more popular and more impressive than he really is. Honestly, now, would he impress you if he had 100 followers? 200? A social media expert with 200 followers isn’t much of an expert, is he? I mean, that’s like a rock star who’s never gone platinum…

Absolutely.

Nickelback is an inarguably terrible band. It is also the best-selling band of the past 10 years. The numbers don’t make them good at music; the numbers just make them rich. The record industry has done an excellent job marketing terrible crap. On the other hand, our garages are filled with amazing musicians who will never sell anything.

I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again: Beware social media experts. Especially those who seem to market themselves well. Because when your money’s gone, do you really want to tell people you spent it on Nickelback tickets?

Do you?

Fun with spam

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I get a lot of spam. A lot. And sometimes, well…I can’t help but answer it. This one made me chuckle.

From: Douglas Wild
Subject: LOVELL:URGENT RESPONSE.

ATTN:LOVELL,

I am a Trustee and Executor of the estate of a deceased client(Dr P.LOVELL) in Budapest, Hungary. I have sat on a 5 year forgotten financial inheritance. In few weeks time, this fund will be transferred to the state as required by law since there’s no claim made.  We can both collaborate and share the proceeds 60/40. Your part would be to receive the funds as the beneficiary, since you have the same lastname as my late client, and I will prepare the required documents and have it released to you in just days. Please reply this mail stating full name, phone and fax number details if interested. So I can start the claims process as we build a mutual trust.

Many thanks in advance as I look forward to our partnership and trust.

Regards,

Douglas Wild

 

My response:

From: Daniel Lovell
To: Douglas Wild
Subject: RE: LOVELL:URGENT RESPONSE.

Doug,

I’m so glad you contacted me! I lost contact with my uncle, Dr. P., and looked for him tirelessly ever since he announced – somewhat unceremoniously at my parents’ 30-year wedding anniversary party, no less – that he was moving to Budapest. Lest you think I’m some lowly gold-digger, my intentions in finding Uncle Dr. P were purely innocent; he left a very expensive diamond brooch in his apartment when he left, and I desperately wanted to return it.

I’ve tried several times to bring the brooch to pawn shops, but despite being expensive, it is terribly ugly. It’s shaped like a prawn or a crawdaddy. You may actually have seen my appearance on “Antiques Roadshow,” where I was told the brooch was clearly priceless in terms of the size and number of diamonds, but also nearly worthless, because worth only counts if someone is willing to actually pay for it.

Now, of course, I am heartbroken to hear of my dear Uncle Dr. P’s passing. He was a great man. His discoveries in the field of anchovy packaging cannot be easily overlooked. With so many anchovy patents and licensing agreements under his belt, I’m certain he died atop an enormous mound of money!

Before I offer any other information about myself, may I ask whether the money smells of anchovies? I’m not partial to anchovies, nor the way they smell. Perhaps my 60 percent could be chosen from bills that smell less of anchovies than the rest? Of course, if you don’t like anchovies either, then we have found ourselves in a quandary.

Please let me know at your earliest convenience! Perhaps together we can solve “the curse of the crawdaddy brooch!” lol.

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