Spam Sucks

I hate spam. I mean I HATE it! Spam is like the static that you can never get rid of on your favorite radio station. Spam is the dead zone for your cell that you hit without fail during an important call. Spam is like when you cut your fingernail too close making it painful to type.

When it comes to social media the “spam” I really despise is not the overt stuff. I block every user I think is a spammer. The real issue I have is the more covert stuff that suckers in so many people. Here is an example.

Giveaway! RT daily 4 chance 2 win [prod #1] + [prod #2]  every Friday!

In this instance the offending company is asking me to share this with all of my followers in the hopes that they will get more people to follow them. To what end? What purpose does this serve? To the group of people that have chosen to follow me it is more noise in their stream. Why would I do that to them? Doesn’t this reflect poorly on me? There is no value here to the people that follow me.

You might argue that this company is just using the tool to get it’s message out. This company is not doing anything to get me excited about their products or offerings. If they did then I would be more inclined to share the insight that this company has to offer. How is this any different than a cold call to your home when a company offers you a discount if you will just hand over five friends? Or the sweepstakes that asks for five email addresses so they can spam your friends? Or at large event the guys in clipboards that try to pry information out of you.

Let me be clear about one thing. I’m more inclined to accept this annoyance if this is a rarity for the sender. But the kicker is the company or user must contribute valuable, useful, timely content the other 99% of the time. Otherwise I wouldn’t have followed them initially and would certainly not recommend them to my followers.

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Taking the nook to suburban moms

In the last post I spoke about a few things the nook eReader offers that I find somewhat compelling. Since the release I found Michael Gartenberg‘s article on Engadget, “Entelligence: Of ebooks and suburban moms” pretty interesting. However, I think he is wrong.

He focuses on three main arguments in his post. But from where I sit and where I live and the circles my family run in, his arguments do not work. Let’s break this down.

Price
The price of the device is $249. Where I live in the Dallas area this is hardly a stumbling block. If anything it provides yet another status symbol for those with disposable income. One look through the carpool lane at the elementary school where my kids attend you’ll see any number of high dollar cars with iPhone toting moms.And iPhone toting kids for that matter.

Backlighting
I don’t disagree with the need for light to read, but how many places are suburban mom’s likely to be where there is no light? Perhaps the movie theater. Otherwise I don’t see this as an issue. Not from a suburban mom perspective. Besides, you can buy a book light if it was really necessary and if you were in dark places frequently and liked to read there you would need light anyway. Additionally, reading on any device with a backlight for extended periods is a beating and distracting to others.

Refresh Rates
I’m not sure that this is going to be an issue for the suburban mom. Refresh rates are inline with turning the page of a book. I don’t expect this will be a huge issue for mom’s adopting the technology.

I think the barriers to getting suburban moms to adopt eReaders is to that they need to find a compelling way to incorporate this into their lives.  I see all sorts of uses for this group.

  • They can run by the Barnes & Noble store and actually browse books and pick up new titles fairly easily.
  • Reading habits are all over the map. One of my kids stands up and dances around while he reads and the other one goes from upside down to right side up every few pages. So reading unusual locations is not a big deal.
  • Access to RSS feeds could be useful if someone shows them how easy it is to get started. Today RSS is not part of the equation for this group if you believe these reports. The trick is to build in useful feeds with the ability to add “feeds” without knowing how it all works. Barnes & Noble and Amazon need to make it simple.
  • Music is great when reading. When reading “Catcher in the Rye” I listened to The Smiths “Louder Than Bombs” record. Strangely fitting, but sometimes music can help set your mood. Adding a player will not replace the MP3 player, but helps make it easy to take some tunes along for the ride.

In my neck of the woods(suburbia) it will only take a few influential moms to tote this thing around and it will sell. But getting them to incorporate this into their lives is the bigger challenge.

Nook, will I buy?

Barnes & Noble: Nook

Image borrowed from http://www.bn.com/nook

For months I’ve seen eReaders come and go on the tech blogs. I usually pass it off as another techy gadget that looks cool, but would have little use for in my daily routine. The basic gadget as an electronic storage and display device for text has been around in various forms for years. None of the products released thus far has done anything to pique my passing curiosity. Initially this latest entry into the mix did little to rouse my interest either. But a couple of things look promising.

The nook is the latest attempt by a retailer to get the tech savvy to read books in a digital format. Amazon has the popular Kindle reader. Sony and others have similar devices and have seen mixed reviews and limited success no doubt due in part to their lack of content distribution. It appears the perception is that people will flock to a reader like they did with MP3 players once Apple released the iPod. I’m not sure that is going to happen, but as these devices improve in form and function I think they could convince me to buy one.

Using the compare page for the nook, and yes I know it is bias, there are a few things that standout for me that could make me a believer. The nook supports direct loading/viewing of PDF files. This is interesting to me. I hate to read documents on my laptop(s) and when editing lengthy docs I end up with several printed copies that I scribble all over. Having a reader might actually save some paper, but more importantly digitally document what I need to edit. The kicker would when others are reviewing/editing your document. If they have a way to sync their comments back to you then you wouldn’t have to decipher their chicken scratch. Or how about those cryptic emails that tell you where to make edits but aren’t specific enough.

Here is where I start to get a little nerdy. Sharing books. B&N are using, get ready for this, LendMe™ technology. This is a promising feature that allows you to “lend” a book 1 time to 1 user. The Consumerist details the shortcomings of this methodology and I’m sure B&N are going to hear it from consumers when they figure out how lame this is. The reason this excites me is that people are going to yell and scream about this or not buy the product. The solution could be libraries. How great would it be to run up to the library and “borrow” a book for two weeks. Could this be a player in the library world? Perhaps if “LendMe” were extended to other devices then it might be work.

The other thing that gets me excited is the ability to share the content among different devices, including notes and annotations. This means you can make notes while reading a PDF on the plane using the nook and when you are ready to mess with the content again you fire up the laptop and it’s off to the races. That rounds out the good. But there is more to the story.

Up next, a response to Michael Gartenberg‘s article on Engadget, “Entelligence: Of ebooks and suburban moms

Twitter accounts in Google and Bing

twitterGoogleResultsIn a previous post I showed some examples of how you can properly fill out your profile in Twitter. The ultimate goal is to help people find you and verify that you are who you say you are. One way to start that process is in Twitter Search which uses your profile and tweets in the search results.

First up is Google, pictured here. The first thing you will notice is that the “Name” and the “Username” are listed together. Unlike Twitter Search the first label is the “Name”. In the parenthesis is the “Username” for the account. You can imagine how difficult it will be for someone to locate your account if you choose to leave the “Name” blank on your profile. It also appears that Google treats pages on Twitter the same as other pages on the web. Twitter typically sorts by the number of followers but Google does not.

Another thing to point out with Google is they do not use the latest tweet but use your “One Line Bio” to populate this area. You don’t want to skimp on the bio. Consider a good description of your property and the surrounding area. You can’t stuff keywords like the Meta Description on your website, but something a little more consumer friendly would work.

twitterBingNext up we’ll look at Bing/Yahoo search results. Notice the structure of the link is essentially the same. The “Name” is first followed by the “Username”. The search criteria likely played a role in the differences in the results. For both search engines I used the following criteria [doubletree site:twitter.com]. The listings are largely the same.

One interesting result is the Doubletree Syracuse. In this example it is relatively easy to identify where this account it located. However, the same account is also on the example image used in Twitter search and it requires more effort to locate this account.

The key point is that the “Name”, “Username” and “One Line Bio” are critical elements that can not be overlooked in managing your account. By making some basic changes you can really help build your following by attracting the people that are actually looking for you.

Can you be found easily in Twitter Search?

In the last post I suggested it would be a worth your time to update your account settings to better reflect the hotel rather than the person. In this post I’ll show you why it is a good idea. This starts in Twitter Search but extends into Google and other web search engines.twitterSearchResults

Let’s start with the example here. The first hotel listed here is pretty easy to identify. The blue text is the username and is the first point of recognition for anyone searching for your property. However, notice the second and third hotels here. Both use a hotel code to identify themselves. Customers are not going to recognize that even though directly beneath the proper hotel name is entered into the “Name” field.

All of those listed here show the importance of the “Location” field. In most cases the City, ST will suffice, but depending on the your location you may need to include additional reference points. In fact you could argue that including the city name twice is redundant. But generally speaking this is really a good cue for potential followers to verify they have the proper location.

One important distinction between Twitter search and the search engines is that Twitter uses your last Tweet for the description. The search engines do not display your tweets in search results. Next up we’ll look at the implications in Google and Bing and why you should really pay attention to what is included in your short description.

Get your information in order

twitterAccountThis post is geared toward a specific group at Hilton Worldwide, however, the content of this post applies to anyone looking to become further engaged in the Twitter-sphere.  The following is “constructive criticism” designed to help you improve your chances of being found by new followers.

Here is an image of the “Account” tab accessed through the “Settings” link at the top of your Twitter page. This tab is probably the most important feature available on Twitter. If you do not get this correct you are not going to be successful at building an audience in this environment.

1. Name: This is particularly important for hotels. Despite what Twitter says here if you are a hotel, your “real name” is the name of your hotel. Putting John Smith in this field means nothing but Acme Hotel Sandusky or Sandusky Acme Hotel means much more when someone is trying to locate you in Twitter Search. If you have a brand standard that has been communicated stay with the convention so customers can easily spot you as a true hotel.

2. Username: Be careful what  you enter in this location. In a perfect world the brand will supply a naming convention that will apply to all hotels in order to clearly identify who is who. You can change this after you create an account, but be mindful of changes here. You should not put your CITYHOCN or hotel code in this spot. Outside of your hotel this means nothing to rest of the world. Until a brand standard is communicated consider an abbreviation for the brand name with the name of your hotel. There are only 15 characters available here so you may need to be creative. Here is a long name for a hotel: Embassy Suites Hotel Crystal City – National Airport in order to condense this to 15 characters you will need to think creatively. Here is one idea: ESCrystalCtyDCA, the emphasis is on the location in Crystal City near the airport at DCA.

3. Email: Twitter requires a unique email address for each account. Do not use a personal email account for this spot. Enter an email address used at your property. Important updates and notifications will be sent to this address.

4. More Info URL: You absolutely must put the URL for your hotel in this location. Do not use URL shorteners either. Put the friendly URL or the long URL to your hotel here so followers can easily find your site from your Twitter page. This is crucial to helping your SEO value as well.

5. One Line Bio: You might consider this the “Master Tweet” about your property. It will always be visible on your page and should be a reflection of your property. With 160 characters you get to expand your bio beyond a typical tweet. Consider updating this bio as seasons change, new services are added, etc. In the following example location is the key to the bio:

We are in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. Just one mile from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport(DCA) & two miles from Washington D.C.

6. Location: There is quite a bit of talk around what might change here in the future, but for the time being this is really an empty text field. You know your location best and what customers are looking for. This field allows for 30 characters so use them wisely. Do not mislead in this spot. In the example of the Embassy Suites used earlier the city is Arlington in Virginia, however using Crystal City and DCA as key landmarks it may provide more value to visitors.

These are the basics of the “Account” tab. The next post will cover how these fields are used, especially in Twitter search results when people are trying to find you.