As our Airbnb office is in the same block as the Pinterest office, and a former colleague of mine started working there just recently, it's fairly easy to pop-in and check out their office. Happy to report the Pinterest office is like their product, fun and full with interesting design or DIY projects. Like this giant Lego Pinterest board with a Pinterest logo in Lego.
How are you sharing great content online with people on Facebook, Google+ or Twitter? Automatic sharing through social media can be annoying for your followers IF you don't curate what goes on your feed. First off, I hate the rapid fire sharing some people do, why share 12 posts in just 20 seconds? I hate if you share every post of a certain blog, without even reading it, even the ones that don't make any sense whatsoever! Over the last couple of months, the I've been trying out new ways to streamline my work, my life and the workflow that comes at me on a daily basis. After turning myself into a San Francisco Hipster, starting a new job at Airbnb with the new ways of being productive and GSD, I was looking for ways to continue to share great content. Sharing the content in a way which would not turn off those following me, while being able to curate the stuff that is being shared.
Automated Sharing of Curated Content
The system below here was thought out and created over the course of the last couple of months, where I've been using the content discovery, reading and automated tweeting through Flipboard/Zeit, Pocket and Buffer since last year September. IFTTT is the heart of the system. If This Than That recipes can help you manage the different connection you need to set up between the different tools outlined below here. A number of the IFTTT Recipes I use in this setup are embedded in throughout this post for you convenience.
The different steps to build this automated sharing system for curated content are:
- Use Flipboard to push content into your Pocket app with the easy sharing functionality. More on this below.
- Similarly use Zeit to discover new content on specific topics you are interested in, and push these to your Pocket app for easy reading when you have the time
- Set up simple or advanced RSS feeds, and have the content automatically delivered into your Pocket with an IFTTT recipe
- Set up an IFTTT recipe to grab all your archived articles in Pocket
- All archived articles are pushed into your BufferApp to be automatically shared
- Buffer schedules the tweets according to the schedule you have set up
- Another IFTTT recipe grabs all the buffered tweets, and pushes these into a running log in a Google-doc on GDrive
- If you really would like to push all the content also on your GooglePlus page, you could hook up the IFTTT recipe in 4 to your Hootsuite, which is able to update your GooglePlus page
This is cool, let's share it with my folks at Twitter: Tweet
3 Internet Tools to Stitch the Web Together
1) IFTTT; IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with one simple statement: If This Than That. The IFTTT App could be the future how the Internet of Things will get stitched together, which might be why the the VC firm Andreessen-Horowitz invested in the company. Other than that I love their service, I really like their socks. I've started to connect the different apps I use online, and now I've even started to use IFTTT for the connections between my iPhone and the apps or devices offline. This way I can switch the lights next to my bed on-or-off through the IFTTT App using the WeMo light switch.
2) GetPocket; Pocket is the way I read stuff which I find online. It's my vault to anything that I come across. Which means pretty much I don't read anything in a browser anymore, as Pocket has dedicated apps for the iPad, the iPhone and the laptop OS. I can easily put content in my Pocket, and read pull up the app when I'm standing in line somewhere. The apps are syncing the content across the different devices, which makes it easy to always keep the list current. With the simple browser bookmarklet, you can even easier put webpages in your pocket to read later. Furthermore the browser bookmarklet adds a easy to add to your pocket link on sites like HackerNews. So when you scan an articles headline, it just takes one click to add to your reading list.
3) BufferApp; Getting tired of the rapid fire tweeting from your friends. Why do people think it's a good idea to send 10 tweets within 1 minute with the content they find interesting to read? Why not spread it over the course of the day? If you agree, then Buffer is your friend. It allows you to spread the scheduled tweets according to a pre-determined schedule. You can hook up your Bit.ly URL shortner, so that the clicks on the tweets are all recorded in one place. Buffer also has its own analytics for Mentions, Retweets and favorites. Here you can see who of your followers has interacted with your tweets. One thing I would like to see from Buffer, is to make these analytics downloadable. These three allow me to optimize the stuff that I read, organize the way I share the most interesting articles with the people I connect with online through Twitter and archive the content I've read over time for future input in posts or analysis.
Where I Find Good Content
1) Zite; the interactive magazine for your iPad and iPhone has slowly become the number one choice for me to discover new content on a topic. Just recently I picked up an interest for 3D printing, where I can easily set up a new interest within Zite to provide me with content. The App becomes smarter based on the way you interact with it's content. And with an easy click of one of the sharing links, you can put a new article you like into your Pocket App. Back in 2011 CNN bought the Zite app, and made it its way to capture data how people interact with the news. Smart move IMHO.
2) Flipboard; for a long time, I was using Flipboard to keep up to date with the news. Now that I have Zite, I primarily use Flipboard to keep current of what my Twitter gang is sharing. Just like with Zite, the articles being shared by the people I follow are presented in a beautiful magazine format, with easy sharing functionality to my Pocket app, to keep my reading list topped off. Check out how easy it is for me to add this post originally shared by Eventup Twitter account, to my Pocket:
3) RSS Feeds; With RSS feeds you can track some great stuff, if you know how to create the right RSS. Obviously, I just can get the latest new blog posts from some of my favorite blogs delivered into any reader, but what better to actually use the system here to get content delivered from any RSS feed into my Pocket reader. Right, you can do that with an IFTTT recipe. Like I have every new blogpost from Copyblogger send directly to my Pocket for later consumption. With some advanced search operators, you can get the latest of your favorite NYTimes newsgraphics delivered straight into your Pocket for sharing. I posted the recipe below here for your convenience. This way, your pocket is turning into a true substitute for the late Google Reader.
Where do I Publish these Content Gems
1) Twitter; My number one social tool is still Twitter. I can't keep myself from not using it, and interact in 140 characters max with the people I follow and who follow me. A quick jump in and out of the stream can give you some great insights, share some good content or keep up with a relationship of one of your industry peers. The way I share the content on Twitter has changed, where I now let Buffer tweet for me the list of blog posts I really liked.
2) Google Plus; There is a big misunderstanding of what Google+ really is, and if people us it. If your friends are not there, and you don't interact yourself with people on Google +, I can understand it seems like a ghost town. Hearing how many active users there are on Google + makes for a lot of eye rolls. However, there are some lively communities on Google Plus, especially the photography vertical is pretty active. No wonder if you know how much marketing Google+ is doing to keep these photographers on the platform. BTW, did you know all the pictures you upload on Google plus have a big chance to be used by Google in their products like Hotel Finder..! Yeah, you should really read the Terms & Conditions before you start uploading your whole portfolio.
3) GDrive; to keep track of what I've shared, I've hooked up the Buffer stream to Google Drive with a recipe of IFTTT. This way, I keep a running log of all the tweets Buffer has placed on my stream, with the timestamp when the tweet was scheduled and when it actually was tweeted, the text and the bit.ly url. Having the running log in a Google Doc, will allow you to analyze the tweets over time, and easily create list posts based on keywords. Just export the Google doc in excel, put some filters on it, and search for tweets containing your target keyword.
The IFTTT recipes you would need:
As an extra added bonus to the system, you could even start pushing those articles you really liked to your Evernote. Just use this IFTTT recipe which allows the system to pull the article from Pocket when you favorited it, into your Evernote.
Is it just me, or do we see more and more blog posts being published questioning the good, the bad and the evil of Google? Where the Mountain View search company has been a long time darling for so many, where they couldn't do any evil, I see more critical posts about Google these days than any other company in our space. It's like Google has become the Microsoft of the decade!
Today, Martin MacDonald published a long article around the
account management sales teams at Google which make critical mistakes, and even break Google's own terms and conditions. Followed up by Barry Adams at StateofSearch, with even more explanation what is wrong at Google for such a long time already. Read both of these here: #GoogleGate, Can you trust Google? and Google Account Manager Caught Breaking Terms of Service on Voicemail. Although these two describe the paid pat of the house at Google, more posts are describing the way Google is handling the organic results. Here described by Michael Gray; How Google Continues to Kill Organic Results. Or here, where it is described Google Tells Court You Cannot Expect Privacy When Sending Messages to Gmail by Consumer Watchdog. And when it comes to a trial, because Google was spying on UK users in Safari, Google Lawyers just request the trial will be moved to the US... Guess why they would request this..? Argument; Google cannot be held accountable under UK privacy laws.
Google believes that U.K. privacy laws do not apply to the company, and so British consumers that want to take the tech giant to court are facing a losing battle, or should book their tickets to the United States.
The last couple of weeks, the tweets I shared which got the most clicks and retweets were tweets critical about the Google practices described in posts like these mentioned above.
Let's just look at another example of Google hypocrisy. Link schemes and paid links... The war on links which is changing the true nature of how the Internet works.
- Guest posts, No PageRank for You
- Widgets, No PageRank for You
- PR messages, No PageRank for You
- Blogger Reviews, No PageRank for You
Google is beginning to resemble a character of one of my favorite shows; Seinfeld's The Soup Nazi.
Where we cannot manipulate search rankings with any link we get for our websites as stated in the Webmaster guidelines;
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
Google is pushing the work downstream to the webmaster to police their backlink profile, which results in a flood of link removal requests. Isn't it Google's job to optimize their algorithm for relevance? Why are the webmasters put to work to put a no-follow on all those links. Majority of mom-n-pop webmasters don't even know what a no-follow link is!
So if all those links are so evil for Google's search algorithm, where we as webmasters are supposed to no-follow all the links, why is Google still taking ads on search queries like these below here? Soon we will be begging for one more Soup, but there is No Soup for You..!
Is it just me, or do we see more and more blog posts being published questioning the good, the bad and the evil of Google? What do you think?
With my new found love for tree houses, I just found myself a new favorite query to check out changes in the search results. Where I used to try stuff like Canon Digital Camera or Diaper Bag to stay aware of the latest changes in e-commerce SERP's, I now want to know what's happening in the latest adventure and vacation rental space. And what better to close off the week with some great rich snippets on Airbnb tree houses at the top of the Google Search results;
Given that Google has automatic IP targeting, I know I see the most relevant results for my area. No wonder the list with San Francisco tree houses is ranking so high, with the other two tree houses around it, one just outside of San Francisco, and one tree house right here in San Francisco, in The Mission. So as curious as I would be, I was wondering if I would see the same results as somebody with the location set to New York. See screenshot below; Yep, as the location is included in the query, we see the same listings from Airbnb at the top of the search results.
Now let's see how my posse in Amsterdam sees this specific search in their version of Google.com. Let's see if we can change the location to Amsterdam... Nope, on Google.com, you can only set your location to places within the US zip code system..
So what would happen if you would exclude the keyword "San Francisco" from the query? We don't see any Airbnb tree houses anymore for the people in New York. WTF, why can't the folks in the Big Apple enjoy an adventurous night in a tree house? Time to get some tree houses build in Central Park...
Doing that exact same search with the location set to San Francisco, the Treehouse above San Francisco, which is the one I stayed at in January, pop-ups again on #2 for me, with the rich video snippet. I can live with that! Just would love to see more tree houses on Airbnb in general, as I made a promise to the kids to go to a different tree house every year...! Time to work on a better ranking for our wishlist of tree houses.
I always wondered when people are inclined to share my posts here with their followers on Twitter. Is that right after the first paragraph or is it after reading the whole piece. Now, I don't believe my writing is that inspiring that a lot of people would share it instantly, but a little test is easy to set up. So, with the post I published last Friday, Will you Work for Free, I conducted a little test. In the post there are two twitter buttons placed within the content. One right after the first paragraph, the second after the whole post. As you can configure the Twitter button manually here, you can get creative. Both of these have different text which would be tweeted out. Check this out, here you see the screenshots of the first and the second twitter button in the post:
Now, off to the results. What works better, a Twitter button right up there after the 1st paragraph, or one after the full post?
Apparently, for my style of writing, my audience and the length of the post, I'm better off by relying on people to share the post with their Twitter followers right after the first paragraph than the whole post. 8 people shared the post using the first Twitter button, while only 5 people used the twitter button at the bottom of the page to share it. (see screenshots below)
So these results are far from what you could expect on any blog post, however, it might give you an idea on how to test how likely your audience is willing to share your content with their followers. If you don't test your way into a viral factor sharing, why you keep trying to publish content..?
We have seen it before, a brand which commits brand suicide on social media by reacting insensitive or just plain stupid. What usually happens, is that the brand fires the social media agency, posts an apology and is done with it. But have you ever seen a partner of a large brand commit murder on social media? Brand murder..? This is what just happened to Virgin Mobile USA. Let me explain...and let this be a lesson kids...
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Virgin Mobile USA as partner of Buzzfeed
We all know Buzzfeed, the pageview hording, social media pushing, meme aggregation website started by former founders of TheHuffingtonPost. From Wikipedia:
BuzzFeed is a website that combines a technology platform for detecting viral content with an editorial selection process to provide a snapshot of "the viral web in realtime". Co-founded in 2006 by Jonah Peretti (who is also cofounder of The Huffington Post), BuzzFeed is located in Manhattan, New York in the Flatiron District.
In itself a strong concept, where the platform of Buzzfeed combines clever ways to use social network sites to get more visitors to their content. Facebook comments are very well integrated, where the comments are directly placed on people's wall. I use these here as well, so feel free to leave a comment.
Brands can partner with Buzzfeed to sponsor a page for their brand, where the right navigation bar is showing the brands latest Facebook and/or Twitter posts. This could work out for a brand, if they are in need to get more visitors of Buzzfeed to like their Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter. This is what Virgin Mobile USA is doing, apparently the company is a partner for Buzzfeed, where there is a page full with articles. So far so good you would think...
But what happens if you let the editors of Buzzfeed place any article on the brand page of their partners? And what happens when those articles are automatically promoted/sponsored on Facebook by the brand? Right, you could get a horrible mismatch between how a brand might want to be perceived by the users of its products, and how it actually portraits itself. Let's have a look at the following Facebook Sponsored post by Virgin Mobile USA I spotted today;
Yes, you are reading that right, the post Virgin Mobile USA is promoting on Buzzfeed is mocking people for not being that pretty, handsome or cool, so we hope we will never see those people to promote themselves on OKCupid. Let me repeat this, Virgin Mobile USA is promoting the discrimination of people based on how these people look like! And yes, Virgin Mobile USA is prominently placed right next to the offensive article on the Buzzfeed page, just check out this screenshot:
Luckily, this all plays out in social media world, where the brand now can get immediate feedback on their Marketing campaigns. And with this one from Virgin Mobile USA, people are for sure letting the company know they disapprove of the endorsement of the Buzzfeed article! Here are a few:
- Anybody else think it's a little unprofessional for VM to be making fun of people? You're a phone company FFS
- This is totally inappropriate for a nation wide company to be doing! What if one of those people was your own customer???
- What kind of jerk company puts up insulting and degrading advertisements like this? Poor judgment...
- I really hope Virgin Mobile has the permission of these 20 people to be bashing them publicly. Because if they don't, it's not only wrong, but VM can have the living hell sued out of them for this.
- Screw you all. These people may be ugly, but they deserve love and they can use their money how they feel.
- Is this a joke? Really?! How about this for a post: One Person Who Will Be Cleaning Out Their Desk at Virgin Mobile Tomorrow.
This time it was not the brand itself committing suicide, but the partnership with Buzzfeed really put Virgin Mobile USA in a bad light. Any brand should pay attention to their sponsored posts that go up on Facebook, and what kind of content they associate their brand with. Unless you want to use the "insult" hook to get people to "love" your brand, you better stay away from such insulting content!
Would you work for free? Would you spend 20 minutes on the phone with somebody you have never met, knowing they will make a good amount of money based on the conversation you had over the phone? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for helping out strangers to extend my network, or keeping up with my current relationships. But some people are just pushing it… Sometimes, you get an email out of the blue from somebody you don't know, and it makes you happy. Sometimes you get an email from somebody who is trying your name out with the company domain as the email address, and they succeed to reach you. The latter won't become my friends easily! First of all, if you are trying to reach me, you can easily do that through my contact form. But be aware, if you contact me and ask for free-bees...little chance there are any for you!
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Case in point… I received the following email on my new work email. Now you need to know that I have no business cards yet, and have not visited any conference since I joined Airbnb, where my email could have been harvested! (bold, italic and color added by me to emphasis what makes me mad)
Hello Mr. Goedegebuure.
I am a partner with XXXXXXX Capital, a New York-based investment firm, and am conducting research on eBay Inc. for possible investment.
As a first stage of the research, I am speaking with a wide variety of former eBay executives and others, to try to assess the abilities of the leadership team, as we put heavy emphasis on management quality. I am getting getting in touch with you because of your tenure in various management roles from 2002-2011, as I see from your LinkedIn profile.
I am writing to ask for about 20 minutes of your time, by phone, sometime over the next week or so.
Please note that I am not seeking insider or confidential information about any company or situation. I am only looking for a broad perspective on eBay senior management. The information I gather will be shared only within XXXXXXX and won't be circulated or published.
If there's a time convenient for you, please let me know. I would be happy to accommodate your busy schedule. Thanks in advance for your consideration.
Sure, I have information. What I don't have is a lot of free time on my hands. We recently welcomed a new born in our family, and with little help around from family, we have our hands full. So any time spend on telephone conversations like these, either come at the expense of my current job, or at the expense of my family. So if I don't know you, have never met you, or even have never heard of you, and you ask me to spend 20 minutes to talk to you over the phone, it better be worth it for me, as those 20 minutes I will never get back, that is part of my life you are asking to give up!
So I responded:
Dear Mr. [Name Changed],
Sure, you can hire me as a paid consultant.
I can send you over the paperwork, after which we can schedule a call.My hourly rate is $400,- with a minimum of 1 hour.Please let me know how to proceed.Thank youDennis Goedegebuure
This should bring home the message. I don't want this job, I don't need this job, but if somebody is willing to fork over $400 for me to talk 20 minutes with them, sure I'll take it and pay off part of the hospital bill with the funds!
But you guessed it right, Mister Wall Street investment banker is not willing to pay for the information he wants
Thanks very much, Mr. Goedegebuure, for your speedy reply. As a policy, we do not compensate for these brief conversations. I certainly understand and respect your position on this. I am willing and able to circle back at the end of the project and share, by phone, some highlights of our findings, all anonymity protected. If that appeals to you, great. If not, I understand and sorry to bother you.Best,[Name Changed]
So this is where I get the inspiration from for writing this blog post. Listen, I have a masters degree in Economics, with focus on Finance, specifically investments, and Marketing. I know what this information might be worth, as this is a classic case of Information Asymmetry. I posses information on eBay which is a possible investment of the firm. This information is not freely available to any other market agents, where the possession of the information could be of great value to any investor. You're going to make millions with the information, and you ask me to give up 20 minutes of my life, stealing it away from my kids?!?
So unless you are going to compensate me for my time, you are not getting any of it!
Just imagine you are calling a plumber with a problem, let's say, your sink is leaking water and unless you get it fixed fast, your whole new hardwood floor will be ruined. Now, when you have the plumber on the phone, asking him for time to drop in to have a look at the problem, and fix it to avoid you having to pay the ruined floor, you ask him to do all that for free...how do you think he will react?
Right, my point exactly!
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Image credit: Free Money Day Under Creative Commons
LRR stands for Link Removal Request, and some site owners are going apeshit about how they need to clean up their link profile. Personally I got one LRR so far, on a link which was completely editorial, so I didn't complied. The company did use some questionable tactics to get backlinks for a competitive vertical around voucher coupons...
As an SEO, I know how to handle these requests. Either you fight it, and get your site reported in the link disavow tool, which could have a negative side effect later on. Or you just remove the link, and be done with it. But what if you are not an SEO, and you run a successful blogger network, which has been the target for spammy guest bloggers who are trying to take advantage of your authoritative website to get direct match anchor text inserted in the guest blogger profile bio! Yes, that's been happening at a large scale, and now those companies are trying to clean up their act. I guess it was just a matter of time to see these kind of pages pop-up on websites from real businesses...
I stumbled on this Yelp snippet the other day. Normally you would expect to see rich snippets increase the click through rate of your result, but in this case, I doubt it.
What if Yelp would be smart with Rich Snippet optimization and take it one step further. Dynamically implement the schema code based on the review score. This way you could avoid 1 star reviews to show up as rich snippets in the SERP's.
>If AggregateRating =< 3 don't implement AggregateRating markup
>If AggregateRating >3 implement AggregateRating markup
This way, Google would most likely not show a one star review rich snippet for those places which suck...
Back in 2004, while working for eBay in The Netherlands, I was able to work on an interesting project. The project was code named Manhattan, and resulted in the acquisition of the largest classifieds site in The Netherlands, Marktplaats.nl, and eBay's entry into the classifieds business. Just last week, eBay bought another classifieds site, in Belgium. The classifieds business has become an important source of revenue for eBay Inc. an important school for learnings and a breeding ground for top talent who would migrate to other countries while working for eBay.
The decision to buy Marktplaats for $300 million in 2004 was not a fast and easy decision. The team in The Netherlands conducted a lot of research on the Marktplaats customers, the business model, and the sites ability to grow traffic and monetization to grow revenue. One of the research questions the team tried to answer was the affinity of the Dutch consumers to use the classifieds site over the eBay auction model. It turned out from part of our research, that the Dutch consumer would be willing to drive from one end of the country to the other end just to save a couple of Euro's. And with the country of The Netherlands being rather small, you can drive from the upper Northern part to the most Southern tip in a couple of hours, no seller is to far to quickly pick up your new DVD or piece of clothing.
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That was 2004, now 9 years later, more data has become available through Marktplaats itself in a cbs publication. (CBS is the official state bureau for statistics in The Netherlands. The study is in Dutch) I stumbled on this data through the Facebook postings of some of my old colleagues.
The research shows some interesting maps and how the population of The Netherlands is using Marktplaats.nl to buy and sell stuff.
There is one map which shows exactly more in depth results of the research we did in the run to the acquisition of Marktplaats; how far are buyers prepared to travel to pick up the item for sale, and maybe even hackle over the price to save a little. Check out the map below, which shows the distance between buyer and seller for all ads placed on Marktplaats in 2010.
The table below shows the distance between buyer and seller for each of the items in the different categories, where it shows that the distance becomes smaller the more expensive or heavier the item is. Makes sense, as some of the smaller items, which also do not cost that much, might be mailed to the buyer after the successful bargaining.
Marktplaats turned out to be a very successful acquisition for eBay, not only for the direct revenue growth, but more for the learnings on the business model and its ability to grow into new verticals and grow revenue. The research we as a team conducted proved to be on the mark, where years later the market still shows the winning business model for The Netherlands is classifieds rather than the eBay classic auction model.
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