Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Reading List For the Next 100 Days

Allan Quatermain

So, I'm in between projects right now and decided to catch up on my reading a little bit to profit from the short lull. I wrote about book burning the other day, it's only fitting I suppose to write today about my love for books.

Here's a short list of the books I'll be reading these next 100 days:

  • Art of War by Sun Tzu
  • Allan Quatermain by H. Rider Haggard
  • Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • The Ten Books on Architecture by Vitruvius
  • Guy de Maupassant
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau

What do you think of this list? Of course, I'll still be going through various SEO and professional marketing books as a routine during this period so those are not included here. What I wanted for 'sharpening-the-saw' type of reading was something that has a bit of everything on it: literature (Leaves of Grass, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Guy de Maupassant, and Quatermain), non-fiction (Origin of the Species), strategic thinking (7 Habits, Art of War), spirituality and personal freedom (Walden), and something altogether new and unexplored (Vitruvius). Do you have you own reading list? Feel free to share them below.

I didn't realize until now that it's rather heavy on lit and I have two Dickens in there but I'm a huge fan of the gentleman since my introduction to David Copperfield in high school so the list stands.

With the exception of Walden and 7 Habits (hard copies), I'll be reading all of these on my Android tablet. I have the Kindle app and got all these books (Kindle version) for free from either Amazon or Project Gutenberg.

Why 10 books? I'm a fairly fast reader, I used to finish one good sized book every three days or so but right now I can't afford to spend all of my free time reading so I'm keeping it all to a minimum. Nothing good comes off anything done in excess no matter how well-intentioned.

As of today, I've already finished reading Allan Quatermain and it is just as I expected -- one supremely well-written old-fashioned Victorian cliff hanger. It's one of the best adventure books I've ever read and I think the 1987 Hollywood version took too much liberty with the plot and mangled it entirely. Always a good thing to go back to the source.

This has rekindled (pun intended) my reading hobby and I've decided to write a separate blog about these books to record my comments and impressions after I finish each volume so if you're into reading yourself, watch out for that.

Well, it will be a busy 100 days as I focus on working with my daughter to create her first ecommerce or more aptly Fcommerce (Facebook) website, getting my Google and Bing certifications, launching and promoting about 5 Kindle titles for a client/partner -- on top of regular SEO and social media work for various clients. Just have to make room for something absolutely necessary.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Burning Books: A Lesson in Effective Social Media Campaigning

books burning

For those who are about to launch a social media or online reputation management campaign in the face of overwhelming negative or unfavorable counter-campaign or public opinion, take a page from the playbook of these clever activists from Troy, Michigan and reframe the issue/conversation entirely.

These guys clashed head-on with the loud Tea Party movement in their city August of 2011. For those unfamiliar with U.S. politics, the Tea Party is a wing of the Republican Party in the U.S. out to slash civil society advances in the last 100 years or so (social security, unions, Medicare, public schools, etc.) in the name of fiscal responsibility, deficit reduction, and lower taxation. The Tea Party's game plan, of course, is to avoid exposing the negative and extreme effects of their agenda on people's lives and livelihood by framing every conversation in a way that pictures them as sane people out to protect future generations from the effects of irresponsible spending today.

No health care, no health insurance? Can't afford to send your kids to college or struggling with student loans? Facing foreclosure? Needing reproductive or prenatal healthcare? Tough luck, don't turn to government for help. Government shouldn't meddle into all that says the Tea Party. Fiscal responsibility, no new taxes, deficit reduction, and all that jazz.

When you really think about it and take what these Tea Party people are proposing to its logical conclusion, it all comes down to zero government services for those who need them the most and zero funds for government to maintain basic social services and safety nets. In short, to each his own and let private corporations take the hindmost.

Back to the campaign in Troy, MI. The Tea Party once again was out masquerading as the fiscally responsible voice in the debate. Their target at the time was the award-winning city library of Troy that was in danger of being permanently closed if a lifeline 0.7% tax wasn't approved. 0.7%!

As usual, they tried to frame the conversation and keep the focus on taxes -- inundating the airwaves, social media channels, and the city streets with their opposition to the zero point seven percent tax.

Hopeless to go against them, right? These people are just too loud and who can argue about fiscal responsibility anyway?

Fortunately, the people who loved the library and what it represents and wanted to keep it open decided to frame the conversation into what it really is: the Tea Party was out to burn books. Not literally maybe, but padlocking the library, auctioning off books, and selling the bulk of its collection as paper scrap, not really much of a difference.

It's an awesome display of political judo, exposing the opponent's extremist goal and using their own strength and momentum against them. In the end, they not only trounced the Tea Party at the polls and saved their library, they showed us how reframing the conversation and bringing the opponent's argument to its logical unpalatable conclusion will do the job. Here's how they did it:

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Stars Wars Flashmob - Greatest Flashmob Ever?

After the novelty of the gimmick wore off quickly in 2008, I haven't really been keeping close tabs of the hundreds of flashmob acts that have tried to group dance, sing, or somersault their way into the public consciousness via YouTube, these past few years. Thanks to this recent article on Huff Post, I came across this fantastic Stars Wars flashmob performed by WDR (West German Radio) Symphony Orchestra at the Wallrafplatz in Cologne, Germany to the delight of unsuspecting shoppers and passersby.

With a son named Jedi, I can't deny being a huge Star Wars fan so my impression may be a bit biased, to say the least. Still, as flashmobs go, the WDR Orchestra has certainly set a higher bar that may be difficult for other acts to follow or get past.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

11 Popular Social Media, SEO, and Content Marketing Stories This Week

There's a way to "future-proof" your links. Speaking of links, content marketing is way more than those, focus on the big picture. These and other stories in our first ever 11 top stories of the week.

Nathan Safran How To Leverage PPC To Discover High-Converting Keywords For SEO  Nathan Safran, Search Engine Land

Nathan Safran at Search Engine Land shares how you can use conversion data from Google Adwords Keyword Tool to come up with a superior list of actionable keywords for your SEO campaign.

James Piper Are You Taking Advantage of Your Easy Link Building Wins? Probably Not. Start To! James Piper, Search Engine Journal

It just takes a bit of research but some untapped or under-optimized linking opportunities and relationships already exist that SEOs can take advantage of.

Stoney deGeyter What Does a Winning SEO Team Look Like? This...  
Stoney deGeyter, Search Engine Guide

While some individual SEOs are getting the job done, there are tremendous built-in advantages when you have your own SEO team to do the heavy lifting for you.

Sujan Patel 75 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Efforts in 2012  
Sujan Patel, Quick Sprout

Social performance has arrived at a point where it now factors prominently in Google's search algorithm, Sujan Patel says there are best practices in social media marketing and there are tactics you'd need to avoid doing in 2012.

Ricky Kodak’s Social Media Success—and What Bloggers Can Learn From It   Ricky, ProBlogger

Kodak's remarkable social media success is a direct result of a coherent and well-planned strategy not an amateurish collage of disparate tactics. Ricky says companies and individuals who seek to promote their brands can learn a lot from Kodak's story.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Why Aren’t You Blogging About Your Restaurant?

restaurant food ingredients Blogging can tremendously help restaurant owners connect with their regular patrons and potential customers but few restaurateurs are actually doing it.

According to Amanda DiSilvestro, in this post at Blog Herald, while many in the restaurant industry have readily taken to the web to promote their businesses, only a handful have ventured into blogging because the majority have not really seen the value it brings to them.

This is one grave omission as food blogs have increasingly become very popular among readers and restaurant-goers.

If you think a blog on your restaurant’s website would mean hard work and little value, think again. Amanda not only outlined some of the benefits blogging would bring to your site and to your business, she also mentioned a couple of tips on how to do it as painlessly as possible.

How To Keep Your Site’s Content Always Fresh

fresh content Are you keeping up with providing your blog readers with fresh content regularly? Adam Justice, in this article at Social Media Sun, says it’s critical to keep your content as fresh and as constantly updated as possible, both for your human readers and for the search engines.

If you haven’t blogged in ages and can smell the gamey odor of stale content when you visit your own site, it’s time for a healthy infusion of freshly-crafted content. Adam says it’s not as hard as you might think.

From keeping abreast with what’s current by using sites like Google Trends and peeking at your competitors’ blogs to consulting your own trusted set and writing from the depths of your own experience, Adam outlines a solid program for you to keep your blog smelling like freshly-squeezed orange juice, every day.

3 Critical SEO Problems You Can Easily Fix

broken links If you haven’t conducted a thorough SEO audit on your website, you might be in a for a nasty surprise. David, Portney, in this article at Portent, says there are 3 common but highly critical SEO problems that you need to double-check your site for.

The good news is, he’s also providing tips on how to fix these SEO “dealbreakers.”

Are you missing out on ranking and traffic because, unbeknownst to you, your site has multiple domain URLs competing against each other? Are all your internal links connecting to and sharing pagerank with the correct pages? Are your title tags for your most valuable pages properly set?

 If you’re not sure of the answer to any of these questions, David says ‘don’t walk, run!’ Check your website now, but read David’s article first.