Header photo by Hamish Grant. Used with permission.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Social Media Revolution

If you haven't seen this video about social media, you should check it out.  It's a fabulous summary of the power and scope of social media. 

Powerful stuff.

I was surprised to see these stats:

80% of companies use social media for recruitment.
95% of these are using LinkedIn.

78% of consumers trust peer recommendations.
14% trust paid advertisements.

Only 18% of traditional TV ad campaigns generate positive ROIs.
90% of people skip ads with DVRs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Giving Up Number One on Google

I'm facing a conundrum.  I've been told by some social media people that blogging on the platform "Blogger" is beginner's stuff. Kindergarten.  The sandbox.  They say that serious bloggers who are taken seriously, blog on other platforms like Wordpress.  There are a number of differences between the two, each with its advantages an disadvantages.

The conundrum is that this blog is the number one result when you Google "Pizza Friday."

Now I want to move by blog over to Wordpress (I have a shiny new domain name and everything), but I don't want to sacrifice my Google search ranking. I'm pleased (and a little surprised) about this.

I'm unsure what to do.  Do I transfer all the content I've produced on the Blogger version of Pizza Friday to the Wordpress, and just direct traffic to the new blog?  Do I start fresh with a new layout and theme on the new platform?  Do I just keep the Pizza Friday theme and look, but have the Wordpress version of the blog as a continuation of the first iteration? 

I don't know. 

What would Google prefer?  I know it doesn't like replica content ...

Perhaps I'm making this a bigger deal out of this than I need to.  If I made it to number one in the search after four months of blogging on Blogger, presumably I can get there again on Wordpress.  Unless the idea of Pizza Friday is popularized by Justin Bieber, it stands to reason that the only person I'll be competing with for Pizza Friday search dominion is ... myself. 

Perhaps I'm being to proud.  Should I just not worry about it, and humbly move my blog over because it's what I want to do, and not worry about search engine optimization

I'm not sure.  Can anyone offer any insights or suggestions? 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Twitter Security Hole: The Aftermath

On Monday, I blogged about the Twitter security hole.

It turns out it was discovered by a fan of a Turkish heavy metal band called "Accept." The fan wanted to Tweet "Accept [the band] pwnz!!!"  Instead of sending the tweet, he discovered that Twitter user @Pwnz was now following him.  Interesting.  He eventually put two and two together, and Gizmodo ended up getting a hold of it and blogging it, which resulted in chaos!

So Twitter fixed the bug, after temporarily setting everyone's followers and following to zero.

But in that window of time, over 6,000 people exploited the "force follow" bug.

Wondering who they forced to follow?  The top people were Oprah, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Conan O'Bian and Perez Hilton.
I like when the nerds come up with stuff like this.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Twitter Security Hole: Forcing Friends & Spreading Panic

Tech blog, Gizmodo just posted a Twitter hack that exploits a security hole, which can be used to force anyone to follow you.  Interesting.

In case you're wondering how, here's the link.  However before you go ahead and get yourself followed by Twitter kingmakers and celebrities, a word of caution: Hacking someone's Twitter account to force a follow is not only a personal violation; but will also do your personal brand some damage.

In March, I blogged about how Conan O'Brien followed Sarah Killen at random, and her Twitter following immediately skyrocketed.  Conan's decision to follow Sarah cast her into online notoriety.  But will forcing a follow do the same for you?  Not likely.  Actually, it might have the opposite effect.  It could do some damage to your personal brand - "forcing" Conan to follow you might actually imply to people that you don't care about infringing on their digital privacy and you're willing to go to great lengths to help yourself ... and at what expense?

Upon seeing the link from Gizmodo, I checked Conan, Oprah and Stephen Colbert.  They were all following a whole bunch of randoms.  Obviously a lot of people were taking advantage of this security hole and trying to be followed by "big names."

Conan Tweeted this:

He was following a lot of people:

Then, minutes after Gizmodo's tweet, I looked at Conan's followers again (to write this post) and they were cleared to zero.  He had zero followers too (from two million or so).  I checked my followers, and I was reduced to zero and zero too!  It's most likely Twitter trying to fix the bug.

People on Twitter are panicking! 

Incredible!  It seems as though Gizmodo has caused quite a stir ... again.  It's been a busy month for the tech blog!

Update: It seems that my speculation was right.  From the Twitter update blog:
We identified and resolved a bug that permitted a user to “force” other users to follow them. We’re now working to rollback all abuse of the bug that took place. Follower/following numbers are currently at 0; we’re aware and this too should shortly be resolved.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nine Ways to Start Writing Better Today

Writing is tricky.  Writing effectively is even more so. In university I developed a propensity for long-windedness and unnecessary verbosity, which ultimately impeded readers from grasping the key postulations of my compositions. I was wordy.  I was unclear.

(Did you get as far as "propensity" and start skimming?)

I've since learned that good writing is easy reading.  If you're writing to be understood, be clear and be concise.

These are a few tips for better writing that writing instructor Kalene Morgan passed along.  I've found them extremely useful, thought I must admit I don't always follow them all the time (and deserve appropriate scolding for it).

1. Use shorter sentences
As a rule of thumb, aim to keep sentences shorter than two full lines, or about 20 words. Writing shorter sentences ensures that each sentence has just one idea.  This keeps things simple and readable.

2. Vary sentence length
Varying the sentence length keeps the reader engaged and enhances the rhythm of your work by building suspense and adding variety. It works, if done judiciously.

3. Avoid ugly words
This one boils down to personal preference, and can be subjective. Many words are thrown around a lot, but don't mean much. Get rid of them.  Consider finding better words than: great, nice, astounding, amazing, terrific, exciting and tragic.  What would you add (or delete) from the list?

4. Use strong verbs
Strong verbs evoke feeling. They command attention. They describe with precision.  Using strong verbs transforms your writing and enhances clarity and readability.

5. Write in the active voice
In the active voice, the doer is doing the do-ee.  It happens in that order: subject, (strong) verb, object.  Sentences written in the active voice are stronger and easier to understand.  The understanding of a sentence is made more difficult when written passively.  See what I mean?

6. Use the shortest form of the word
This is a big one.  I'm most guilty of this in emails.  The trick is to simply avoid wordy phrases.  Instead of: This blog post expressed opposition to questionable writing practices; consider: This blog post opposed questionable writing practices.

7. Avoid jargon and acronyms
Terms, words and expressions commonly used in your workplace or industry should not be taken for granted.  All academics know that RA stands for "research assistant," unless of course you live on campus, in which case you're a "resident advisor." Of course you could also be referring to "rheumatoid arthritis." If you're writing to be understood, write to be understood by your grandma, not only other engineers.

8. Avoid cliches, redundancies and overworked expressions
An exact duplicate?  Due to the fact that ...?  As far as I can remember?  Each and every?  Completely eliminate? At the present moment?  Giving 110 per cent?  At the end of the day?  Comon!  We can do better, I promise!

9. Be careful around the verb "to be"
When you proofread your work, highlight every instance of is, are, was, were, be and being.  Can you replace them with a stronger verb?  If so, do!

What other tips do you think should be added  to the list?