Reinventing the Resume – How to land your next dream job Interview – with Nina Mufleh

How one woman got retweeted by the queen of Jordan, got the attention from tier 1 VC’s and the CEO & CMO and landed a job interview at Airbnb, while reinventing the traditional resume in the process.

Looking to get hired into your new, dream job? Competition is high? How do you get your foot in the door, in a way the recruiters and hiring managers are rolling over each other to hire you? Take an example from how Nina Mufleh (follow her on Twitter) planned, executed and now is reinventing the resume.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a number of tweets sharing this website Nina4Airbnb, which was designed to attract the attention of Airbnb executives. It worked, as both Brian and Jonathan, Airbnb's CEO & CMO, were paying attention and responded to Nina. I was blown away by the design, execution and creativity of Nina's project to land a job interview at Airbnb. It made me realize the way people apply to jobs, especially at hot startups receiving a large amount of incoming resumes, had changed significantly.

Why did she do this; from hew own website:

I fell in love with Airbnb two years ago. First, as a guest, then as a host, and somewhere in between, I found myself completely enamored by Airbnb’s internal culture. 

I moved to San Francisco last year with the hopes of landing a job at the company. I soon realized that I was up against thousands of extremely talented people who were all just as interested in the company as I am, but I;m determined to find a way to contribute to your future. 

Little did I know I would meet Nina just a couple of days later this all happened. While presenting at the 500Startups conference in San Francisco, I was introduced to Nina, as she wanted to speak with me. Just fresh out of Airbnb, she wanted to get my story, inside scoops and why I had left one of the most desirable workplaces in The Valley right now.

We met a couple of days later, where Nina agreed to answer a couple of questions on how her project came together and the execution on her plan. Since we last spoke, Nina has turned her project into a white paper, so you can follow your own plan and land a dream job at your favorite startup.

Meet Nina Mufleh, one smart lady mastering social media

You can listen to our conversation, or read the transcript below. 

Nina Mufleh>> TheNextCorner: So, Nina, tell me a little bit your background and specifically we come at your resume that you published online. We started a conversation, but what got you here, and why are we talking here?

>> Nina Mufleh: I'm originally a California native. I was born in Los Angeles. I spent my life, the majority of it, between Los Angeles and the Middle East, predominantly in Jordan, where my family is from. For the past ten years, that's where I built my career. I was very fortunate to have access to a lot of great opportunities in the Middle East. But about a year ago, I decided that I wanted to increase my opportunities and the work that I wanted to do and work with really stimulating companies in a high intensity environment. So I moved out to San Francisco, and I've spent the past year understanding the lay of the land here and seeing what opportunities exist, but also I was confronted by the fact that I don't have a network, an existing network of professional relationships, which is very valuable when you’re getting started in a new city.

So as much as I was going through the traditional routes of job interviews and applications, I constantly felt that there was a challenge that I was facing that maybe most people that have been in San Francisco or the U.S. for a while weren't facing. So after a year of going through this process over and over again, I decided to analyze what assets I had and what assets I specifically had control over and how I could leverage those to create the same opportunities that I had in the Middle East. And time and again, it came down to the fact that I'd established the reputation as a leading social media practitioner and strategist in the Middle East, but that was hard to translate over to here. So I did what I guess I do best, and I created a social media campaign out of it, which I must say the success of it sort of beyond my expectations and the interest is extremely humbling, and I'm so appreciative of the world being involved.

>> TheNextCorner: Can you explain what kind of campaign you set up and how did you get the press that your campaign has gotten and the results so far?

>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely. So initially, the idea was that I wanted to build a campaign to engage Airbnb hosts around the world to activate that community to promote my message. After a while, experiencing the technical delays that I was going through in terms of building that social media campaign, I had to stop it. I realized that even though the design and the development of the concepts are great, there were too many factors, again, outside of my control. So to go through this campaign, I started thinking back to the assets. What is it that I have? I have knowledge of the Middle East. It's a region that if I do a bit more research on the tourism sector specifically, I can contextualize it. I can weed out the relevant information and create something that I feel would add value to the organization.

The Nina4Airbnb Campaign dissected

>> TheNextCorner: Which organization are you talking about?

>> Nina Mufleh: To Airbnb.

>> TheNextCorner: Okay.

>> Nina Mufleh: It was an experiment, so I wanted to be able to channel my energy and my passion as a community member into something that could add business value to them, and I was aware that probably the Middle East wouldn't be on their horizon for a few years, but regardless, I thought it's pertinent information. Some of the information in there is culturally sensitive so the fact that Bedouin tradition is built on a concept of hospitality. I wanted to get some pieces of information out there as well. So my intention was to duplicate the site. I worked with a fantastic designer who had the most amazing patience to deal with me and my detail-oriented nit pickiness, and it took us about a week to put it all together. And my next step was I thought, again, leveraging my relationships in the Middle East, I'll send an e-mail to a few friends that I have there at night here, so it's daytime there. They would start tweeting about it. I texted maybe about 20 or 30 people would actually respond to my e-mail, have a reaction and tweet something so that if I managed to get this on the radar of anyone at Airbnb, if they clicked the hashtag, they would see that there's at least a little bit of social proof, so a couple of people globally talking about it. What blew me away was the fact that by the time I woke up, it spiraled beyond my expectations, and people genuinely thought that this was a really cool experiment, so the ripple effect started by . . . the Middle East had an amazing reaction to it. The Queen of Jordan who's fantastically supportive, and I think instrumental in the success of this campaign tweeted directly to Brian Chesky about it. Chris Sacca saw that, and so the viral coefficient increased exponentially at that point once a few very powerful recognized influencers saw it, talked about it and then the press came in.

>> TheNextCorner: Yep.

>> Nina Mufleh: That sort of blew me away. It took me a while to digest when I got the call from Business Insider that they would even be interested in talking about my work and the experiment that I was running.

>> TheNextCorner: Yeah. So your campaign consisted very much building on your strengths then setting out a specific strategy how to reach certain people, make sure the campaign was well-designed, and then have the distribution through relationships that you already have.

>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely.

>> TheNextCorner: Right? Very well. And timing wise?

>> Nina Mufleh: Timing I think is the key. It wasn't an accident that I utilized the time difference between the Middle East and here to my advantage and also from my experience working with press cycles and looking at conversation cycles on the social web in the past and really being able to dissect and analyze that, I was aware that if I launched this on a Tuesday, I'd have this optimal experience of being able to get the momentum going until Friday and I saw a direct drop in conversation rates Friday evening to Sunday evening and then it picked up again on Monday, so I was really able to capitalize on those ways.

>> TheNextCorner: Yeah. What else did you do to get more distribution? You already had the sweet spot with the people in the Middle East. Were you planning to do other things if that didn't work?

>> Nina Mufleh: My plan was to just e-mail it directly to the same people that I had contact with at Airbnb. Over the past year, I've used Twitter to build relationships directly with some of the team members, and I'm constantly amazed at how open they've been to exchanging their personal e-mail addresses and their professional e-mail addresses, as well as meeting for coffees and conversations around my interests. So I knew that I had the ability to get to them directly. What I wasn't sure of is if I had the ability to sustain their attention enough to actually click on the link. So looking at past campaigns that I did, I was aware that there's a big funnel in terms of taking somebody from attention in one moment to desire in clicking the link and then action upon that desire. And I think that's where the social proof came in.

>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.

>> Nina Mufleh: Which other than tapping into my network, what I was able to do was look at my own social media presence so, like I mentioned earlier, I managed over the past few years of building my career in the Middle East to build a pretty average-sized, decent social network on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and a personal blog that I run just for fun about my travel adventures. And I wanted to really make sure that I had a very specific, platform relevant content that I would be able to share directly with followers and people that are interested in engaging with me there and then give them the opportunity to see how the conversation was playing out through a hashtag that I created, which initially, I have to say, the hashtag I was thinking of going with #NinaForAirbnb, but I got great advice from a friend of removing myself one degree from that conversation and just seeing how it organically developed. So I think the less I made it about me, and this is something that I've always recommended to brands that we've worked with, is the less branded it is, the less it is about you and the more it is about the concept, the more chance that it has of natural, organic, viral growth. And I think this is a great example of this.

>> TheNextCorner: So wait, what did the hashtag turn out to be?

>> Nina Mufleh: It turned out to be #AirbnbMe, so me being the Middle East but at the same time, it sort of has that play on word or of the individual.

>> TheNextCorner: Did you come up with this or somebody else?

>> Nina Mufleh: A friend of mine actually recommended it to me.

>> TheNextCorner: Okay. You were pushing that hashtag. It was not organically . . .

>> Nina Mufleh: It wasn't. I've seen a few others organically come up. Jonathan Mildenhall, the CMO of Airbnb, when he saw the reports tweeted a hashtag #CallNina and I saw that duplicate itself in a few other conversations which I found quite cool, it was an amazing way for me to follow the conversations. The volume on Twitter, I'm still going through thousands of tweets that have come my way directly and indirectly. So I'm grateful that there's a hashtag where I can actually engage with users and thank them at least through favoriting their content. Thank them for being part of this and sharing the content.

>> TheNextCorner: And so did you do any preparation on your other profiles before you actually launched the campaign to make sure that if somebody does a Google search and did you pay attention to that while that's being mentioned further by mail, Facebook, Pinterest and all my profiles up to date, did you pay attention to that?

>> Nina Mufleh: Absolutely. As a social media strategist that is something that I've definitely taught organizations to do plus other high profile personalities to do, and it's something I've always paid attention to for myself. What is my personal brand? How do I come across for somebody that's searching for me the first time? I say one extra step that I took in this case was being, for the past few months I've been very aggressively trying to go after Airbnb specifically because I think the opportunity to work with Jonathan Mildenhall would just be an amazing . . .

>> TheNextCorner: I can only attest to that.

>> Nina Mufleh: I would imagine. You're very lucky to have had that opportunity. It's something that as a longtime fan of Coca-Cola and Airbnb, I think just my selfish reasons are I think I can learn so much from him as an individual. So this was a little catered to his past experience. If you noticed the more subtle images in there, all of my social media profiles, with the exception of LinkedIn, have me in a Coca-Cola t-shirt and the picture that went out with the Business Insider article have me in Airbnb t-shirt. So I thought even on a subtle level, I really want to drive in these messages and capitalize on both those brands.

>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.

>> Nina Mufleh: . . . however I can.

>> TheNextCorner: Good job.

>> Nina Mufleh: Thanks.

Blueprint for Resume, Get Hired!

>> TheNextCorner: You talked about your passion for travel. Tell me a little bit more what kind of travel did you do? Where do you like to travel to? And tell me a little bit more, or tell me one great experience that you've had traveling?

>> Nina Mufleh: Wow. It's hard to narrow down the great experiences, so I'll start with how I like to travel, where I like to travel. I grew up in a family that prioritized learning about different cultures and understanding them. And I was very fortunate to have these experiences from a young age, be it going abroad with my parents, taking advantage of school trips where we actually competed in the region in the Middle East against other schools, and we would be hosted within our competitors' homes. So again, that's a very similar experience to Airbnb and this connection that it creates.

But also in the past few years, I decided I wanted to step away from the idea of group travel in the sense that I realized I was going to the same places, the same destinations which I love over and over again, just with different friends each time. And I thought I want the opportunity to just immerse myself in another culture or another city, not necessarily always a culture, and get a deeper understanding for that. So that's where I really started using Airbnb.

I took a couple months between consultancy projects, I guess you could say moved to New York, had some fantastic experiences on my own over there. Past that, I got a little more . . . the wanderlust in me, and I decided I wanted to go to Iran where my mother's side of the family is originally from, but I'd never had the opportunity to go. So I went there, explored that. I think that was probably one of the most unbelievably mind-opening trips and powerful trips that I've ever taken in my life.

>> TheNextCorner: And what's higher in your list? Where do you want to travel next?

>> Nina Mufleh: Wow, that's also challenging to answer. I think the U.S. has a lot of very interesting destinations that I haven't taken advantage of.

>> TheNextCorner: Yeah.

>> Nina Mufleh: And in the ten years that I was in the Middle East, I remember constantly coming across an option. Was it Alaska? Was it the South or New Orleans or wherever? And thinking I was there for so long, and I didn't take advantage of that and so now I think that I have an opportunity to actually reverse that mistake that I made earlier, so I say that most likely, I'm going to make some geographical choices over the next few years, at least since I know I'm committed to being here for the next few years, and then seeing what opportunities I have to explore the rest of the word.

>> TheNextCorner: I've been here nine years in the U.S, and I haven't traveled a lot, so it's high on my list as well.

>> Nina Mufleh: That's awesome.

>> TheNextCorner: Next to Argentina.

>> Nina Mufleh: Oh, absolutely. I've never explored Latin America.

>> TheNextCorner: I loved Latin America.

>> Nina Mufleh: And I think that's a place that . . . food wise, culture wise and people wise, I just think that's a really interesting place I'd love to be.

>> TheNextCorner: Well, thank you very much . . .

>> Nina Mufleh: Thank you.

>> TheNextCorner: . . . for this conversation. And I will make sure that you get some extra exposure.

>> Nina Mufleh: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.


A couple of points we can learn from Nina's project;

  1. Do something remarkable to get the attention. As Seth godin has written in The Purple Cow, being remarkable these days is a good way to get noticed. These days, Airbnb gets thousands of resume's per month. Having a remarkable way to get noticed will get you in front of the line to get a call back from a recruiter.
  2. Know your audience. Two of the founders of  Airbnb have a design background. The efforts Nina put into her new digital resume shows she has taken their background in consideration in the design.
  3. Leverage your network & relationships. How to get noticed can be accelerated when you can leverage your network to broadcast your message. As Nina's website was tweeted by the queen of Jordan, it really helped to get the message in front of the right people really fast.

You can now follow Nina's plan using her white paper she has just published today! Download it here...


The Founder of Twitter Retweeted My Work, and this is what Happened…

I've been a user and a fan of Twitter since I got introduced to the service back in 2008. So working closely with Twitter to get the Twitter Buy Button integrated with Fanatics was already excited. But getting a retweet from the original brain behind he service is not something I could have imagined. Let alone dreamed!

Last week, for the NBA draft, we prepared 4 tweets for 5 of the first round draft teams to have the shirt of the player who was just drafted being featured in the tweet. Within the tweet, you could buy the shirt right there, with no click out to a different website, check out right there! As Twitter is going to behave more and more like a platform, these integrations will happen more and more within the tweet. As long as we can scale volume in the items sold, I'm happy testing this out!

Here is a screenshot of the buy button integration in the tweet, working at the Twitter platform. With below the original tweet as embedded into WordPress, as the buy button does not work outside of some of the walled garden of Twitter!


Fanatics Tweet for NBA Draft Lakers jersey with buy button

Shoptwits as e-commerce on Twitter

I have a soft spot for Twitter e-commerce, since I've been walking around with ideas in my head from the moment I bought the domain Inspired by the quick launch, and early success of, I bought the domain with the intend to build a shopping application on top of Twitter. Back then I was still working for eBay, so e-commerce was running through my veins.

I dropped the ideas, and stopped working on it as I was too busy with family, friends and new work at Airbnb. But I never got the concept of real-time commerce on Twitter out of my head!

Pretty Cool

And what do you think, the current (interim-)CEO of Twitter takes "notice" of our attempts to build a new service on their platform, and retweets one of our tweets with the buy button integration. I never would have thought I would be so happy with the action of the man who thought out this awesome service I've been using for the last couple of years, and has been taking the world by storm... at least the breaking news section of media!

Jack Dorsey retweeted our tweet for NBA Draft



The outcome of the campaign wasn't that great yet!  It does show the opportunity to get much higher engagement on tweets that are retweeted by famous and broadly followed accounts. The other 3 tweets got single digit engagement, where the Lakers jersey tweet engagement shot up as soon as Jack shared it.

Couple of things we learned

  1. The product is still rather new for the Twitter community,
  2. The NBA draft players might not have a big following within the fan base of the team they were drafted in
  3. There was substantial twitter activity during the draft process, which easily pushes our tweets down the stream really fast

Next time we will try with a more general product, see what kind of volume we can get out of it.Our strategy to test out the new feature on Twitter was probably not the right one, since we picked a product and a difficult event. Combined with Twitter advertising, targeting the right audience, we could have done better! I foresee Twitter having a real successful product feature, which for e-commerce players is a welcome new channel.

I'm a big believer in the potential for e-commerce on Twitter, hence my early thoughts buying the domain and constantly thinking how to develop a product around this. T-Commerce will take off, where I expect sports to play a big role. When your team wins, buying a jersey or championship tshirt is just one tweet away!

This is Why I Speak at Conferences

Last week I spoke at a panel at the SMX conference in San Jose on the topic of retargeting. When I'm visiting a conference, I always make an effort to meet new people. Breakfast, lunch or dinners are best to exchange names, stories and problem solutions. Sessions are there to fill up the time, and pick up some latest new testing other speakers have done. It was at one of the breakfast tables I got the best feedback of the week; somebody who had seen me speak at the Copyblogger Authority Intensive last year at my very first keynote. Based on my presentation, they made some radical changes to the way the company approached SEO, UX and design. These changes had the desired results for the company website: bounce rates dropped, user engagement up, growing SEO traffic.

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Dennis Goedegebuure keynote authority intensive Airbnb

As I'm planning to relaunch my website, I asked Jimmy if he could write me a testimonial for my new site. Yesterday I received the email with the following write up of what had happened after the company, GetVero, made the changes.

I heard Dennis speak at Copyblogger's 2014 Authority Intensive event. The topic, experience as SEO, was one I'd never considered. As our blog struggled to gain traction, we took Dennis' advice and invested heavily in design and user experience. The results have been incredible. Immediately, our bounce rates dropped and time on page increased. We even got press from a few design sites that loved the new site. Search traffic has steadily increased and we attribute much of that to the look and feel of the site.

Jimmy Daly - GetVero

Jimmy even added two screenshots, a before and after of the website:getvero-pre


This is one of the main reasons why I like to speak at conferences. Helping people to succeed online. Even when it slightly helps my competition, or I might be competing with myself later on, it feels good to contribute to a better web, better user experiences, and one more company which becomes more successful. The problem with getting these testimonials or feedback, is that it takes time for companies to implement your learnings, see results, and then report back to you. The ROI of a conference can not always measured directly the following day, week or month. Sometimes it takes a full 6 months to fully understand what you learned there, how it impacted your business.

The tools to give feedback to speakers are limited. So here it is:

If you ever have seen me speak at a conference, or have spoken with me during a lunch, and the conversation was helpful to the point you became more successful, I would like to hear from you. You can use the form below here, and let me know. I might use your testimonial on my site, and you might get a link back in return...

Can you write me a Testimonial

  • Drop files here or
    If you have screenshots of success stories, please share if I can use these
  • Write a short testimonial for my website I will be relaunching later this year. Specifically, where you've seen me speak, what you learned, what actions you took based on my talk, and the results you've seen. I really would appreciate it, and will link to your website of choice!
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Competing with Yourself, Do You Have What It Takes?

Oh the irony. I’m competing with my own SEO strategies from years ago. When I was working at eBay, creating lasting strategies to bring mountains of free SEO traffic to the platform, across multiple categories, I could never imagine I would curse the success I’ve had as I would be competing with my own strategies. At Fanatics, I will make it my mission to de-crown eBay on a number of Pet-Peeve queries I’ve had some success at while I was at eBay. Sometimes, I took it to the extreme, and made it a topic in my presentations at a number of conferences, in the hope any blogger in the audience would pick up the story, and live blog a link to some of the examples on my slides.

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Ernie Banks Baseball Cards

Almost 5 years ago, I got the chance to present in front of the whole eBay executive staff on the SEO opportunity for eBay. At that point, I learned a valuable lesson on enterprise in-house SEO: Know your audience, or even better; know the favorite queries of the top executives in your company.
For John Donahoe, the CEO of eBay, it was clear to me I didn’t do my homework. When he asked me: “Why is eBay not ranking for Ernie Banks Baseball Card, while we have +6,000 collectible baseball cards on the site?”, the only response I could give him was a technical SEO explanation. The message was received with mixed emotions, as the limited attention span of CEO’s of a Fortune 100 company are not well suited for something like; Discoverability of a page, Topical relevance vs User Intent, or External- & Internal link distribution.
When we walked out of that meeting, the first thing I did was making a phone call to the team, order a page to be created for Ernie Banks Baseball Cards, and start to include the page into our internal link optimization. Luckily our team had built a flexible platform for long tail keyword targeting, using top of the page relevant content, and an API call to include live items on the site to keep the inventory on the page fresh. With little to no help from the main engineering teams, the platform had been driving massive amounts of ROI for several years, where now the system could be useful to create the perception with the CEO of eBay, his SEO team could actually deliver.

Instant results within a week

And guess what, within a day, the page was up. The following week, the page was ranking on the 1st page for the query Ernie Banks Baseball Cards. After 2-3 weeks, the page was #1. Awesome to be writing an email to your CEO and declare you conquered the topic he is so passionate about. After this, we pulled this trick many times more on executive favorite searches.
Ernie Banks Baseball Cards ranking #4 after 1 week

Lasting results, dominating the top of the SERP's

For years, the page we created was ranking on 1st position, paying back the initial investment many times, like money in the bank! And even the normal search page started to rank, where for the query Ernie Banks Baseball Cards, eBay dominated the first 2 positions for years!
Ernie Banks Baseball Cards page ranking #1 & #2 for eBay

Competing with Yourself

Fast forward ~5 years, and I just ended up starting with Fanatics to work on it’s SEO. Fanatics powers many sites, among the league site for MLB. In the sports collectible arena, we have a good horse in the race with Fanatics Authentic. And YES, we do have Ernie Banks Baseball cards on the site for sale (and Ernie Banks Jerseys, Baseballs, Vintage Trading Cards), which brings me to the moral of this story; I’m currently competing with my own work from years ago.

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Many SEO’s out there are competing with other SEO’s. But have you ever thought about being your own competitor, and look at your strategy from a different angle? How would you try to beat yourself? What tactics would you deploy, and what amount of resources do you need? It’s an interesting question I would love to get more input on from you. If you would like to share some of your thoughts, feel free to add it in the form at the bottom of this post here, and I will make sure I mention you in follow up blogposts.
As I’m battling my own SEO work, I’ve been helped by the large bureaucracy and in-efficiency of a large company like eBay. I normally wouldn’t diss a former employer which has been so good to me, but this is just plain stupid what has happened. Just 2 months ago, I noticed eBay had taken down the platform described earlier. The pages return a 404-error code, not even a 301 redirect. And where eBay used to have double rankings on top on profitable, long-tail keywords, driving a ton of free traffic, these have all been removed from the Google Index due to a block in Robots.txt and the platform been taken down.
Ernie Banks Baseball Card page gives a 404-error
A former colleague called it the greatest ROI project ever! With an initial investment of $250,000, eBay consistently pulled in $20m in GMV per year. As the platform was running for more than 6 years, the payback on the investment must have been 75X the initial investment. How about that for ROI.

Lessons learned

  1.  Always know your audience, know what they might be searching for, and be prepared to rank a page to point out the quality of your work, pro-actively!
  2. When competing with large companies, do not under estimate the stupidity of their actions. You might get ahead, just because the executive team in that company things certain pages need to be taken down. Don’t forget, SEO is a zero sum game, when the #1 ranking page falls out of the index, some other page takes it’s place.
  3. Do you have what it takes to compete with yourself? If your the best in what you do, can you beat your own tactics, strategies and smarts? This opens up a whole new way of thinking how to set up your campaigns, because if you don’t compete with yourself, others might, and they might win!

Share your thoughts here:

  • What would you do to compete with yourself, and win!
  • name isn't required
  • I might use your example in a follow up post, and link to your website/post you would like to get featured

Google Now Is A Mobile App Disrupter

My friend Jeremiah Owyang has been focusing on the sharing/collaborative economy for the last two years. In my time at Airbnb I hosted him a number of times at our HQ, and had some interesting conversations with him. Today he wrote a blog post on how Google is entering the collaborative economy in a big way. Of course, as a Google watcher I've been following this story, and see some similarities between the way Google is using Android as a platform to hook companies into a new service. For free, for now... See below my comment on JO's blog post. My earlier post on Google, self driving cars and Waze is also somewhat relevant in this whole discussion.

I see the extension of brands into Google Now more like an advertising play. It will become a way for Google to monetize Android, as it's now given away for free.

Let me explain; Google has been notorious for introducing new services for free, killing off whole industries. Look at companies like or other price comparison sites. By introducing Google shopping search, for free, these sites became irrelevant when the intro was combined with a de-ranking of these sites in the natural search results. As soon as Google had eliminated the competitive thread of these companies in the shopping comparison space, Google introduced pay-to-play in Google shopping.

With a prominent position at the top of the SERP's for any ecommerce query, the service is secured with a decent amount of web traffic.
Same will happen with the integration of Google Now. Brands integrate their inventory for free, at the moment, where Google will send them a lot of "free" traffic.

Here is a piece on the WSJ about it:

Most notable paragraph:

"The move to bring third parties into Google Now is aimed at making to tool more useful, and thus more popular among users. But it will also bring to Google Now, for the first time, prompts to spend money. For now, Google is not charging the third-party providers for the referral traffic."

Keywords you need to pay attention to here are:

  • more popular among users
  • for now, Google is not charging

Classic move, build the audience first, make companies addicted to the “free” traffic, start charging companies for the traffic once audience is big enough. I expect it will eat up all your mobile SEO traffic, and will be pay-2-play in the future... They teach your users to circumvent your app, and go to Google first, which is their problem right now as Google is lagging on mobile IMHO. Habits are hard to build, but as soon as these are established, habits are also very hard to break! As a brand, putting your content into Google Now seems like a smart thing to do, as you get a short term boost in direct App traffic, for free! However, long term Google will become the tax man, collecting for every visit into your app taking its cut, completely shutting down your mobile "free" SEO traffic. Big mistake!

What do you think? Where will this move from Google lead to? 

Leaving @Airbnb, Joining @Fanatics – Oh My!

goodbye Airbnb - Signing offThe year 2015 begins with a lot of change, something I’m quite familiar with since I’ve done major changes all at once in the past; i.e. in 2006 I met Fiona, moved to the US to take on a new job, got married and had a beautiful daughter. Yes, I like to shake things up sometimes! Moving to the US was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but in the end it all worked out. Just recently, I was confronted with a similar hard decision I had to make; and it was more a luxurious position I was in that made me uncomfortable what to pick. I had to choose between staying at Airbnb, or take on a new dream job at a different company with a team I worked with in the past. I picked the latter, and in December I joined Fanatics Inc. as the VP of Growth & SEO.

What made it extremely hard, is that I loved working at Airbnb, as you could tell from the many blogposts here, the Facebook posts of all my guests in between the Cereal boxes or all the tweets I’m still sending out when it comes to Airbnb. I mean, who doesn’t want to work with a company which enables Treehouse adventures for kids, story 1 & 2 here. At the moment, Airbnb is one of the hottest startups in the world, growing like a rocket ship, and is able to hire some of the most talented people in every discipline. So why leave..? And how do you come to such a decision? My former boss at Airbnb, Juney Ham,  has a good piece on it was well. I have had similar reactions and feelings.

Dennis Goedegebuure in between the Airbnb Cereal boxes, Obama O's & Cap'n McCain's

I never thought I would leave the company so quickly, especially after the success I recently had with the Berlin Wall film - Wall and Chain, and a 2014 year that Rocked! Working with people like Jonathan & Willow made the decision even harder. What incredible smart and talented people! When I wrote the post I joined Airbnb a little over 2 years ago, I was thinking it would be at least 4-5 years I would hang out here, maybe even longer. So why leave?

While working at the Wall and Chain film, I realized I have been standing still for a while. Last year I realized I’ve had been working on SEO for 10 years. That makes 11 this year. And while I love what I do, working on new marketing campaigns which extend beyond SEO, accelerated my thinking in new frameworks. At this moment in my career, I believe I will need to learn as any new things as much as possible! The combination of EPIC content, with data inspired stories and social media amplification, which were are combined in the Wall and Chain campaign, made me change and adapt some of the frameworks I’ve been using for years. On top of my LUMPS framework, I’ve built the Content-Brand Pyramid, which I will describe in a later blogpost.

Back in August I received a Facebook message from my old boss at eBay, who had just recently joined Fanatics together with a bunch of other ex-eBay people. He made it perfectly clear from the start that he was in it to recruit me. Very transparent. The more I was digging into the company, Fanatics, the more I liked the opportunity. As part of the Billion Dollar Startup Club, Fanatics flies most of the time under the radar. When I was asked to put the ideal job description for my role together myself, I knew it was going to be a very difficult decision. At first I didn’t really wanted to leave Airbnb, but how many times in your career will you get the chance to determine what you will be doing, where you will be able to grow, and have a big impact on an already large and further growing company?

The role I described is focussed around the new SEO; Where the worlds of SEO, Content & Social are diverging. The Berlin Wall campaign is an example of the new SEO, where we combine three key elements of content and social amplification:

  1. Disproportionate amount of media attention
  2. Social engagement & amplification
  3. Ultimately; long term SEO impact

I see the new SEO as the outcome of a very well designed product and EPIC content. This includes all the technical aspects of site structure, speed and technology, as well as the relevance of you content, mapping keywords and concepts to user intend, while building the authority of the sites through real smart brand marketing. Airbnb was able to match some of the requirements for what I wanted to do, but not all.

The final straw in the decision making process, was the picture below;

49ers game with the kids

I took Miss J and Mr D to a pre-season game of the 49ers in the new Santa Clara stadium. As some of you might now, D is absolutely crazy about every sport, but especially NFL football. The whole day he is walking around with, and throwing a ball in the air. But don’t think J is not interested. She amazes me with her deep knowledge of player and coaches names, and how the game is played. This picture made me realize an important fact in my life; I want to connect on a deeper level with my kids.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the mission of Airbnb, make everybody around the world they can feel they can belong anywhere. It’s an exciting higher objective to work on, and I know Airbnb will succeed! I’m rooting at the sidelines for the team, and as I have a vested interest in the success of Airbnb, I will do anything I can to help them further. Thanks to Brian, Joe & Nate for giving me the opportunity to work at such an amazing company, and thank you Jonathan for the new learnings I received working with you, although it was just for 6 months.

This time I'm choosing to connect with my kids on a topic they are really passionate about; Sports. And with so many people around the world, sports runs deep in their blood. Real passion is hard to fake.

I’m sure I can do something with that passion in sports of all the people to tell wonderful creative stories...

Stay tuned!

About Fanatics Inc.

Fanatics is currently one of only four $1B, profitable, private internet companies globally.
Fanatics is a leading online retailer of officially licensed sports merchandise and provides the ultimate shopping experience to sports fans. As a Top 50 Internet Retailer Company, Fanatics comprises the broadest online assortment offering hundreds of thousands of officially licensed items via its Fanatics ( and FansEdge ( brands. In addition, the company powers the e-commerce sites of all major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR, PGA), major media brands (NBC Sports, CBS Sports, FOX Sports) and e-stores for over 150 collegiate and professional team properties.

More here:

Top 7 Projects for 2014 – Annual Performance Self Review

At the end of every year, normally your company expects you to write up a self review on your work and performance. While re-reading this wonderful post on how to hack your annual self-review by my buddy Jonathon I got inspired to take this self review thing one step further. This time I decided to highlight some of my accomplishments from the last year publicly here on my blog, and will continue to do this in the next years. I hope this will serve me in understanding the progress I want to make in learning new skills. As one of my colleagues, in a conversation about career and development, said to me last year; “You need to make sure you have projects you’ve worked on which you are proud of to add to your resume, at least a couple each year!” So here goes, this is the list of my accomplishments at Airbnb in 2014, with a little explanation around it why I believe it was significant for me to add to this list, and possibly to my resume.

Tweet this post:

Airbnb Economic Impact Interactive Infographic.

I've been doing infographics since the first iPad launched back in 2010. These tactics don't always work that well anymore, where a static image is not being picked up broadly to get more links or attention. The Infographic has been used so many times with poor content, hardly anybody still pays attention to again another Infographic. Which is why I wanted to experiment with the technologies the modern web can offer a better way of storytelling while also getting SEO value out of your efforts. Introducing the Interactive Infographic, all coded in html 5, with CSS3 and responsive design.
 Airbnb economic impact infographic. Showing traveler econmic impact on local economies in cities around the world.
Given the economic impact studies Airbnb already had done, I saw an opportunity bringing this content onto the web to a much broader audience.  What better way to showcase the impact Airbnb travelers have on a local economy than through a great interactive page, which looks beautiful and is chock-full of interesting data points! The Infographic page launched in early March at Airbnb Economic Impact.

The results we got were pretty decent, given that we picked up a good amount of external links to the page (649 links from 102 different domains according to Majestic), which was built with the intention to do a 2-step link-building strategy. Far after the IG was published, it keeps picking up nice links and citations. Here are some of the great media outlets the piece was featured in Times Magazine; The Washington PostLocalSEOGuideMashableVirginCNetStartup BootcampContently

Landing Pages for SxSW in Austin

Probably one of the projects I can say I learned the most from. For a large campaign at SxSW in Austin, I jumped in to help a different team to get a landing page up on the Airbnb blog, just 3 days before the campaign would kick off. With a tied schedule, the teams got full on in planning mode for the event to be memorable, some might even call it remarkable since they would meet up with their favorite celebrity. Crazy tight timeline, which forced me to cut some corners. And as SxSW is very important for Airbnb, the cutting corners and the feedback was a good learning! At the same time, the project also was my starting point for new learnings and critical input for my presentation I did later in the year at Authority Intensive in Dallas!

Brian Chesky tweet SxSW Austin Airbnb

The Campaign was centered around 3 main celebrities who decorated Airbnb pop-up listings at the Airbnb Park.

Amidst the chaos and commotion of SXSW this year, Austin visitors and locals alike found respite at our pop-up Airbnb Park in East Austin. Over the course of five days, Airbnb Park offered up games, refreshments, unexpected acts of hospitality, and special events to attendees... We worked with special new hosts Snoop Dogg, Capital Cities, and Allen Stone to create unique Airbnb pop-up homes to feature at the Park. In collaboration with designer Emily Henderson, our musical hosts created three pop-up homes in their own unique design aesthetics. Two weeks prior to opening the Park, we launched an Instagram contest, #AirbnbMusic, prompting people to create a special “welcome” that spoke to the distinct style of each artist. Our Instagram community snapped some amazing photos of their welcomes, and three creative winners received VIP trips to SXSW to meet their artist hosts in person and get the full Airbnb at SXSW experience.

Snoop Dogg Airbnb park SxSW Austin

Snoop.. meeting the contest winners, having a good time..! Well you know what that means, right! The whole event got a lot of attention in the press, Twitter/Facebook. In my old days, this would have meant a homerun...

Although we got the campaign pages live on time for the events in Austin to kick off, there was a major thing I overlooked. The pages were not mobile friendly, where all people at SxSW are mobile and on the move. How in the world can you read the program and timing for events to kick off on a small screen which is such a bas user experience! Ouch!

SxSW Airbnb park campaign website mobile miss

If we would have worked on a story board for SxSW, and considered all people are on the move from point a to point B, we might have been in a better place from there... Would have planned for the prototype and design reviews with the understanding of how our guests would access the information about the event: on a mobile phone...Where the product design and user experience was optimal, AND have SEO success on top of that...

Still, due to working with celebrities, we got great coverage in major news outlets. For SEO I made sure we would redirect the Austin-2014 page to a blog post describing the whole event. You can read it here.

Authority Intensive

Over the years I've learned a lot from Brian Clark, So when I learned his company was organizing a conference, I reached out to share some of my knowledge with him and his audience to give back. I landed my very first 45 minutes keynote, just one speaking slot after one of my all time marketing hero's: Seth Godin. Yikes, I better bring my A-Game! And what an intro Brian gave me, wow, I couldn't ask for a more generous introduction and testimonial.

I first met Dennis at a conference, when he was director of SEO for eBay, pretty serious position, and he was just sitting at a table speaking with his Dutch accent, and just mind blowing stuff. I sat there, slightly drooling, just listening to the stuff he was talking about. Very creative solutions, nothing black hat but very creative. And the best SEO’s out there I've always found to be the most creative thinkers. And that is why a lot of them are having a good time with the transition to content marketing, even if its against their will.

-- Brian Clark

Dennis Goedegebuure keynote authority intensive Airbnb

The topic I picked was inspired by the example of my campaign page for the SxSW event, and the design focused ethos at Airbnb; Snow White.

  • What is the person thinking & feeling in each frame?
  • What motivates these characters to progress in their journeys?
  • What opportunities exist to improve or enhance the experience for them?
  • How does your work influence what the character feels, knows, thinks, decides, or does?

This resulted in a new line of thinking I developed, which has been further refined over the course of 2014!

SEO is the outcome of a great product, designed to maximize the user experience

Really these sum it all up:

  • SEO is the outcome of a great product experience. Not the objective.
  • The key to a strong brand is sweating the details behind the user experience.
  • Critique and review, and storyboarding are critical components of web product design.
  • Context matters if you want to get found — Design and SEO working together.
  • Short-term SEO tactics don’t work very long.
  • Stop focusing on “SEO” and instead focus on people searching. What are they thinking and feeling? What is motivating them to take action?

Superbrand Marketing Offsite

While I was traveling for the Authority Intensive conference, news broke internally at Airbnb we hired a new CMO. Wow, we hired Jonathan Mildenhall from The Coca-Cola Company. Why was I getting excited? Well, here I am, at a content marketing conference hearing the news the God-Motherf***-Father of content marketing is joining Airbnb to lead the marketing efforts. I mean, from the moment Coke published their Content 2020 strategy I felt I could work with the man who inspired the whole revival of Coke as a creative marketing company. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you just need to review the Content 202 video below here on YouTube (17 minutes)

In the first week, I got the privilege to get Jonathan up to speed on Airbnb's Online Marketing initiatives, and he proposes I would organize an offsite for the full team, what is now called Superbrand Marketing. He must have read my LinkedIn profile, as I have some experience in this field in my past jobs.

For 6 weeks I worked on this project. Finding a location, matching the agenda with external speakers, booking catering with the Airbnb chefs and much more. The result; 2 days of inspiration, hard work and a read map to the end of the year with processes, plans and performance metrics.

Airbnb Superbrand Marketing offsite - Dennis Goedegebuure

Behind the Content

While I was visiting Denver for Authority Intensive, I connected with Jason Miller, who was also a speaker. Our paths had crossed before, but we never really connected at the level we did at this conference. So many aspects of Jason's talk resonated with me, I just had to connect with him. At while at an informal speakers dinner I grabbed the chance. And guess what, we totally clicked. We ended up talking about content marketing, social media and online for a long time.

For one of his projects, Behind the Content, Jason asked me if I could provide him with some good Airbnb examples of content marketing campaigns, and the story behind it. Since we just launched the Economic Impact Infographic earlier in the year, I proposed we would use this project, especially as I was already cooking up my next one.

Taking a cue from VH1's Behind the Music, we've teamed up with our pals at LinkedIn to bring you Behind the Content. In this new guide, we expose the true stories behind how (and why) some of the web's most captivating content came into existence. While Behind the Content does not featureMilli Vanilli or M.C. Hammer, it does showcase some of the coolest content creators around from big brands, to agencies, to individual designers and developers.

Behind the Content of the Economic Impact Study from Airbnb

The white paper was distributed through LinkedIn and Hubspot, with a pretty nice teaser to drive downloads;

Where did the inspiration for the campaign come from?

"Over the last two years, Airbnb has been working with an external research and consulting firm to map out its economic impact.

We found that Airbnb’s guests have an impact on the local economies of a city’s neighborhoods. As Airbnb listings are more spread out over a city, the Airbnb guests bring more tourist money into neighborhoods which usually are not often visited by guests of the city who typically stay in a hotel. The data shows that 76% of the Airbnb’s you can rent in these eight cities are actually outside the main hotel districts.

So after conducting eight studies of several large cities around the world, we aggregated the information we found into the Economic Impact content piece."

- Dennis Goedegebuure (Head of Global SEO, Airbnb)

The lesson learned; great content will get you additional exposure through your relationships. Everybody likes to share EPIC content!

Wall and Chain - Berlin Wall story

Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign.

This video sums it up nicely.

I will go deeper into the specifics of this campaign, with the whole strategy behind it from a content marketing perspective, as well as the social content amplification strategy, and the results in a later post, which you can find here; Berlin Wall and Chain. For now, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter to get that post automatically delivered in your inbox through email. The full campaign website is still up and running at

Wall and Chain - A story about belonging by Airbnb. Dennis Goedegebuure

Working on this project was my biggest jump in experience and learnings this year. I've had some great successes so far in my career, but I believe I can call this campaign my best creative work yet! And others agreed that the campaign was some great work...


email Brian on Wall and Chain

As I mentioned, I will devote a full blog post on the whole Wall and Chain campaign.

Berlin Economic Impact Infographic

Next to the animated video of the Wall and Chain story, we combined the whole campaign with an Interactive Infographic of the Airbnb Economic Impact study for Berlin. This time, the design team hired a local designer to get the best local flavor in the full story telling of the infographic. The attention for detail here speaks to what is one of the core values for Airbnb: Every frame matters.

By hiring a local designer, you stimulate the local economy. The designer for this piece is an immigrant in Berlin, originally from Israel.

  • Having an economic impact on local economy; check
  • Cultural relevant; check

Airbnb's impact on local economy in Berlin. Economic Impact study Infographic as content marketingYou can find the full infographic at: Airbnb's Economic Impact on local economies in Berlin.


I'm sure I can call 2014 one successful year when it comes to projects I initiated and was leading. The list of 7 successful projects here does not even include the major brand relaunch Airbnb did, for which I worked on the blog redesign. There is so much more I could mention here, but I will stick to the big rocks that made the year successful.

Obviously I couldn't do this all by myself. I'm so blessed with a great team at home, who make my life enjoyable outside of work. Furthermore, there are teams and specific colleagues at Airbnb who have worked with me. These people make Airbnb a special company. More specific: Willow, AlexD & Jonathan all played a major role in my success in 2014. Thank you for that!

As I only highlighted the successes here, there were a couple of valuable lessons learned as well. Based on these lessons, 2015 might look completely different, where we have started the new year with some major changes. But thats for a next blogpost!

Wall and Chain – Berlin Wall Campaign Best Work in my Career

The story was submitted by Catherine, the daughter of Jorg, a couple of years back. It was emailed directly to the european director for Airbnb, and made its way pretty fast to the executive staff. The story was used multiple times already in speeches or in other interviews. So the story was not new. 

Making the connection between the Berlin wall guard stories and the 25th year anniversary was something I can take credit for. It was in a phone conversation with Marcus Tandler, where we were discussing the potential to do some local outreach for content projects we were planning in Berlin. We were planning 20 long form articles on the Berlin Neighborhood pages, and an interactive infographic of the Airbnb economic impact study. These content pieces would be all interlinked, with the objective to have the infographic catch the attention of main stream press, get coverage, and funnel the traffic, visitors and links equity to the long form articles. 

Obviously, the fact I grew up in Europe, growing up with the Berlin wall, I knew how significant the wall coming down was, and that the event of 25 years anniversary would be big. 

From the moment of the realization, I started to speak about the opportunity to put ourselves into the conversation of the wall anniversary. That was in February. 

Every time I spoke with the exec staff, they were all supportive and interested. But nothing concrete from a budget perspective came out of that. 

It wasn't until the new CMO for Airbnb was hired, I knew I had a chance to get this done. Jonathan Mildenhall, who came from Coke, was the driving force behind their Content2020 strategy. 

When I presented a deep dive on SEO for Jonathan, I tailored the presentation around content, and how it drives the SEO growth. With a specific deep dive into the Niethborhood platform, why it was working and what was missing, some success in an earlier Infographic of economic impact studies, and how we could fold three content projects into one giant push in Berlin to drive three main goals:

  1. Get a disproportional amount of media coverage
  2. Drive brand awareness by being part of the cultural conversation
  3. Through Social & Media engagement, drive a better SEO footprint to drive bookings in Berlin

The language I used explaining these objectives was very much influenced in how the Content2020 strategy was explained in the video here.

At the same time, I brought in a new framework to easily explain how these content projects all fit together, and why these had to be combined to get the biggest impact. I call this the Content-Brand Pyramid, which I'm still working on to develop more.  

ROI was derived from the different objectives.

  1. We got more than 200 press hits in major media publications. What was funny was that the PR team at first didn't want to push the story, as it was "not a new story and we had used it several times". Though my contacts, I was able to get it on Inc and Mashable, where the PR team at that time was high fiving each other... :_D 
  2. We owned 2.2% of the conversation on social around the Berlin Wall anniversary. Our landing page URL was the 8th most shared link in this conversation, where our brand twitter handle was the 9th most mentioned brand
  3. The microsite site & the economic impact IG picked up a lot of external links, which were all interconnected with the long form articles which drive top of funnel search traffic for potential Berlin travelers. Unfortunately I don't have updated numbers here, since I don't have access anymore.


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Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign. This video sums it up nicely.

Twitter Engagement Testing > Are you using images for maximum impact?

Based on a post from MG Siegler, in which he describes the practice of posting images with text on Twitter, I wondered how my tweets with embedded images did in terms of engagement. A quick check with Twitter analytics gave me two interesting data points of last week tweets; One tweet got a massive engagement rate according to Twitter analytics. Normal tweets I post most of the time get around than 3-4% engagement rates, outliers are scoring up to 10%! This one got a whopping 17.5% in the first 24 hours!
Tweet with crazy engagement
A couple of things...
  1. The tweet was posted on a Sunday, as I shaved my head that day, this might have limited the number of people who saw my tweet! Overall, the number of impressions this tweet got was around 40% lower than tweets I post during the work week.
  2. It had an embedded picture of my freshly shaved head, however the picture was cropped as it was showing a criminal in it. A large number of the engagements came from people who clicked to see the full image
  3. The engagement could be higher than my average, just because I have a lot of followers who know me. Shaving my head was a first, so it could be the engagement was just off the charts because they wanted to see my bald head.
  4. All of the engagements were organic. I did not pay for any of the engagements.
Funny enough, a tweet from a week later, during Stormageddon here in San Francisco, actually received almost as high engagement as shaved head tweet. This one was a picture from Sharknado, a couple of sharks swimming in the basement of a shopping center. Obviously this was a test to see what kind of engagement I could score on said tweet. Pff what do you think, sharks swimming in the streets of San Francisco...
Testing engagement on Image tweet
With these detailed Twitter analytics, it's becoming easier to start optimizing for engagement on your tweets. More visuals, less boring content!Twitter Engagement Testing > Are you using images for maximum impact?
Let me know what your engagement looks like on your tweets, would love to hear!

How @Buffer Made My Day, for Days in a Row

Vanity, my favorite sin. This is a quote from the movie: Devils Advocate. The vanity has definitely worked on me, as I've been walking on clouds for the last couple of day. Ever since one of my favorite web apps, Buffer, has put one of my posts on their list of suggested post for their Buffer community.

Buffer suggested posts

The reason why I'm so happy about this; simple! I creatively worked on this system to stitch webapps like Pocket, IFTTT & Buffer together, to make it easier for you to share your curated content on social media. The fact the post was liked by Buffer is a huge statement for me.

And it brought some nice traffic to my little site, which I'm not even writing so much on.

Buffer traffic outbreak

And the Buffer gift keeps on giving over the last couple of days:

Buffer keeps on giving

Main source of traffic is Twitter, where the post have been massively retweeted. Now the URL has been tweeted over 1,000x according to Topsy:

Tweet results tracked by Topsy

Whenever something like this happens, I get fired up with new ideas to blog about. The automatic sharing system has so much potential, especially now that everybody on Twitter has access to the analytics. With a simple VLook up in Excel, I'm sure I can do some magic for a follow up post!

Get into the Buffer Suggestions, and expect a massive amount of traffic and Tweets of your post. You can pick up a decent amount of new followers as well on the way. Thanks @Buffer

Thanks Buffer for your support! I'm a happy paying customer, and love your service!