Archive for the 'Miscellaneous Musings' Category

Twitter Unfollow Tools – Does Automation Work?

Last year, I wrote a post called Social Media Mentions – Do Negative Seeming Words Harm You? In it, I argued that automated tools which calculate your online reputation can produce very misleading results.

Recently, a colleague with a major Twitter following told me that she’s used Twit Cleaner to purge her account. She thought it was very useful.

So, I decided to try it, and ran a report on my followers.

Apparently, 46% of the 703 Tweeps that I’m currently following are “potentially garbage.” Yikes!!

So, who are these people? Turns out that they include:

  • @GuyKawasaki – named because he mainly posts links, does very few retweets, and mentions very few others.
  • @CorbinBall (noted expert in the meetings technology field), for link spamming 55% of the time
  • @TerryBrock and @PFripp (both great and popular speakers), because they don’t interact with any of their followers
  • @SCSentinel (the Santa Cruz Sentinel – my local paper) because it’s largely an RSS feed
  • @BentleyGTCSpeed (Alan Weiss, my consulting mentor) because he doesn’t follow anyone back

Twitclean will unfollow all these “dodgy” Tweeps for me automatically, at the press of a button.

Now in fairness, there’s a host of other far less famous Tweeps in these, and more, categories. I’d probably never notice that I’d stopped following them.

But in the cases that I’ve highlighted, there are either some good reasons for their actions, or I don’t see the problem.

Guy Kawasaki (who in full disclosure has just given me a great endorsement for my upcoming book) uses Twitter to share all the online content that he and his associates curate. Alan Weiss has always been clear that he has no intention of following people back, but is a great source of ongoing pithy advice. Of course a newspaper is going to produce a news feed . . .

Automated tools can be very helpful up to a point – but they have to be programmed with certain criteria, and they’re not good at nuance. So by all means use them, but add your own review and judgement – otherwise you might miss out on some valuable resources.

20% of Daily Google Searches Never Done Before?

Yesterday, Hubspot put out a new whitepaper called “How to Spot Bad SEO Services”. It’s free, as is much of Hubspot’s great information.

However, in the promo for it that I received in my email was the claim that “Each day, 20% of Google searches consist of terms that have never been searched before!

Really? That seems like a huge number to me, and I wondered where it came from.

I checked in Hubspot’s paper, but couldn’t find a source for this assertion. So, I turned to Google, where I found a similar statistic cited in a UK conference back in April, 2007. I also found lots of other posts repeating the Hubspot claim, but no other information.

Which left me wondering whether it’s still true today that 20% of Google search terms every day have never been searched before. I know that there are a lot of people searching, but 20% is a large proportion, and to have that number of completely new and unique terms every day at this point in the usage of the Internet seems unlikely to me.

Of course, as Hubspot points out, if it’s true, there are still huge opportunities for anyone who can figure out the right keywords to be at the forefront of the results when someone finally searches for them ;-)

I’m not saying that Hubspot are wrong, just that I’d love to find out where they got the numbers from. Does anyone know?

Google vs. Zappos Customer Service – Who Wins?

In preparation for my forthcoming book, I had the honor of interviewing Rob Siefker, Director of the Customer Loyalty Team for Zappos. Rob told me a lot about Zappos values, and how those define their customer service model. It was a really fascinating conversation.

In mid-June, I decided to use a $75 promotion coupon from Google Adwords. I haven’t used Adwords for myself for a long time, and I’m frankly not convinced that it’s worth the spend for professional service companies (which I also discuss in the book). But since they’d sent me some free money, I thought I’d give it another try.

Not so fast! The experience that I had was so appalling, and such a polar opposite from what I’d heard from Rob, that I decided to write a compare and contrast piece.

What did I experience?

  1. I had an Adwords account linked to the one that I use for my Google Analytics, but it is blocked with the helpful message “Before you can access AdWords, the person who invited you needs to make sure the right person received and accepted the invitation.” I have no idea what this is about, so I called the new account support number to make it go away.
    No go. The account representative told me that I had no alternative to opening a new account just for Adwords. She agreed that this is frustrating, and mentioned that she’d just finished helping someone with an equally annoying problem, which she also couldn’t do anything about.
    So I asked her: “Can you at least give someone over there feedback about these issues so that your services can be improved?” She laughed ruefully . . .
    Rob told me that Zappos always wants to know about their customers’ needs and expectations. They never want to be seen as having the attitude that people will buy from them anyway.

  2. Having created the new account, I attempted to enter my credit card details, which were declined 3 times. Meanwhile, it was close to 5pm when service closes, so the rep said: “I have to go now, but I will call you in the morning.”
    I contacted my credit card company, which is thankfully still willing to speak to me after 5pm. They could see 3 authorization attempts from Google, each of which was accepted. There was nothing wrong with my card. I emailed the Google rep to let her know and asked her to call me in the morning as promised.
    Zappos has 24/7 phone support. I asked Rob if people really do call at 3am, and he said: “A few do, and we want to be available.”

  3. Next day, Adwords was still reporting that my card was declined, so I called Support again, to be told that I could only deal with the rep who had been “helping” me. Four days later, I’ve had no response to voice mail or email to this person.
    Rob told me that Zappos don’t give out phone extensions or email addresses for their team, because they want everyone to be able to help any customer, precisely so that the customer isn’t tied to one rep who might be unavailable.

I haven’t used my coupon, or spent any more money with Adwords because I can’t – and I can’t get anyone at Google to help me. Meanwhile, I’m still talking about my interview with Rob, and how he says that Zappos wants to “wow every customer in every situation.” I hear that Google’s share price and the spending on Adwords is dropping – perhaps they should study the Zappos model!

Update: On June 27th, I received a call from the Adwords rep. She wanted to help me select appropriate keywords. I told her that my credit card was still declined, and that I had given up on using the account. She had no access to my billing details, but promised to contact Customer Service, and to get back to me the next day.

As of July 10th, two weeks later, I have yet to hear from her again. Anyone surprised??

Is a Twitter Stream Essential to your Event’s Success?

A couple of days ago, Hubspot published a blog posting called “5 Steps to Planning an Awesome Event with Inbound Marketing”. It’s generally a great piece, and as it says: “With the use of hashtags and the practice of live-tweeting, Twitter has become a great way for attendees to share knowledge and insight during events.”

Quite so. But the next thing they said got me thinking:

“These days, an event isn’t considered very successful unless people are talking it online while it’s taking place.” In fact, it’s no longer rude to use your cellphone during sessions (I assume as long as you’re tweeting or updating your status!)

Hmm – an event “isn’t very successful” unless folks are tweeting about it? Yet this morning, eMarketer reports that although 92% of Internet users in the US have heard of Twitter, only 13% of them have a Twitter account, and only 11% access their Twitter account at least once per month.

So what gives? Are all the people who attend conferences crammed into that 11% of users, so that lack of conference-related tweets implies an unsuccessful meeting? Seems unlikely to me. Or is it possible that the highly tech-savvy intersection of the meetings industry and the online marketing world are judging everything by their own very exacting standards? What do you think?

New Web Strategy Video – and Signing Off for a While

I’ve been really bad about posting to this blog recently – and the only excuse I have is that I’ve been feeling pretty lousy. ¬†Tomorrow (July 13th) I am scheduled for major surgery which will hopefully resolve all my issues, and I’ll come bouncing back!

I’m very happy that my surgeon is Dr. Paul Indman, who I blogged about a few months ago (see “the Emotionally Connected Doctor’s Website”). ¬†Actually Dr. Indman turns out to be an accomplished blogger as well as a wonderful doctor, and he has a new addition to his Web presence at

The good news is that my new video footage “Web Strategies That Win” is finally off the press. These are excerpts from a program that I presented recently for 600 small business owners. We’re hoping that more of this material will be available soon on YouTube and Vimeo.

You can also listen to recent interviews that I did about “Leaky Boat Websites” for “Business Expert Radio”, and for the Women’s Business Entrepreneurs’ site “CremeMagnolia” (look for the “Titan of Industry” section).

So with that, I’ll sign off until August (unless I’m feeling really spunky sooner!) Have a great summer, and keep your website leak-proof!

“Did UPS Send Me To A For-Profit Business?”

I wasn’t going to post this to my blog, but my good friend Vickie Sullivan persuaded me that it’s a story that bears repeating . . .

I’ve been following up the leads from the cover story on effective Web strategy in the UPS “Compass” magazine for which I was selected as the sole expert (yes, free publicity is a wonderful credibility builder!)

One woman who contacted me described her business as the world leader in their field (which has to do with animal medicine). Her e-mail then said: “Sitting here reading your comments on Website functionality, and thought that I’d write and have you take a look at ours, and see what insights you can share with us.”

So I started describing my “Leaky Boat Website” review, which would provide her with exactly what I thought she was asking for.

She interrupted: “Is there a cost for this?” When I said there was, she was indignant – “Did UPS send me to a for-profit business?”

I was so stunned that I could only reply that I didn’t understand the question. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked her if she provides her world exclusive products for free!

The Red-headed Stepchild?

I’ll get to Leaky Boat sites shortly, but I couldn’t resist posting this:

I was speaking at the weekend to an audience of business owners, and I posed them one of my favorite challenges:

How is it that so often our Websites become the ‘red-headed stepchild’ of our business? What else would you be willing to write a check for every month with often little or no idea of what it’s producing for you?”

Immediately a gentleman in the audience came back with: ¬†“My teenagers!”

No response to that one . . .