Monthly Archives: April 2012

How To Manage Contacts in GMail

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GMail is one of Google’s oldest and best tools other than search. Most of my email, business and personal, is conducted through the Google Mail platform. In fact my “business” email address at Google is so old I barely represent that industry any longer! If you do not have a GMail account, if you are one of that few dozen people, they are free, they are tied to you other Google properties (including the new Google Drive) and they can interface with virtually ever other mail service. In other words you can pick up your myname@mywebstie.com email through GMail.

Here is a short, rudimentary video on using the Contacts feature in GMail.

What is Google Drive?

Simply put Google Drive is Google’s cloud storage service. If you are familiar with DropBox Google is offering something similar but integrated with other Google properties such as mail. Currently I would not call Google Drive “feature rich” but my guess is they have plans and designs on upping their offerings. In fact if you are an iPhone user you will have to wait for your opportunity to Drive mobile – Android users may begin immediately. (Mine was already installed.)

Google Drive

Google Drive - Cloud Storage for Everyone

Comparing Google Drive to Google Docs, which it replaces, you won’t see to many wow aspects. In fact other than giving me a different perspective on the same content I only had one wow event. Looking at the thumbnail images instead of the line item list is pretty cool – see image. Other than that I have yet to detect any reason to drop DropBox but we’ll see what is on the horizon.

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For now I place Google Drive in the “wait and see before you dump your preferred service” category. Keep in mind Google owns their storage and DropBox uses Amazon … for what that is worth. Meanwhile, if you don’t have one, grab yourself a free DropBox demo account and test drive their tools.

How To Find Your Google Analytics Code

Some questions are asked frequently while others are asked regularly. This one falls into the regularly category. “How do I find my Google Analytics code once I have created an account”, is asked in virtually every session I do on the topic. Since I am not the quickest draw on the webnetz it took me a while to finally create this short how-to video to answer just that question.

The video is short and of high enough quality for your mobile device even if it is an Apple product ;) that you should be able to watch it from anywhere. If you have any other questions feel free to ask and maybe this decade I’ll get to a how-to answer for you!

Pinterest for Small Business Voice Amplification

Next month at SMB Atlanta (May 17) I will be speaking on the topic, “How To Give Your Small Brand a Big Voice” and one of the tools I will be talking about is Pinterest. It is important to note that Pinterest is a tool and the techniques by which you use it are a part of your strategy. Pinterest, in and of itself, is not a strategy.

Pinterest certainly has it challenges but many of us are finding successful, measurable results in our uses of it. Overwhelming results? Not so much necessarily but the branches grow wide from the seeds. I’m already reaping small fruits from those seeds and have heard of others doing so as well. Granted we’re still exploring and learning but it doesn’t hurt to follow in the pathways of others who have proven what may work for you.

  •  Where do you stand?
  • Do you use Pinterest?
  • What have you found to be the best use of Pinterest for small brands?
  • Would you recommend including Pinterest in a small business outreach plan? 

Using Facebook to Vet Employee Applicants

Whether you are an employer, recruiter or employee you can bet Facebook can play a part in your role. Recently I needed to retain a contractor to help with some coding. I had been through my normal channels and needed to go outside so I went through a freelancing service which I have used in the past. I narrowed down from 68 applicants to 5 and then from 5 down to 2 by using some quickly written “tests” to see if (a) they understood the task and (b) could quickly solve it.

Once I finally narrowed down to the last two I began to research them to see what was available. I found both of them quickly online – within 10 seconds. Both of them have open (public) Facebook pages. One is apparently “just a normal kid” and likes all the type of music, art, television and other pop-culture you would expect of a 26 year old in today’s world.  Likewise the other candidate demonstrates all of the same attributes except he adds an obvious love for his profession.

The second candidate posts several photos of his association with his computer engineers society, school events and much more. I also found out quite a bit about his family, friends and love for nature just by looking at his Facebook page.

After doing this bit of searching and sending a couple of last email messages I decided to hire the second one I describe and he will begin immediately. This inspired me to write a post about using Facebook to vet or even locate prospective contractors and employees. Imagine my surprise when I opened my Facebook to do a little research and found what is featured in the image at the top of my stream.

Future Considerations

This young lady obviously was unhappy in her previous employment. She was so excited to have quit and been “freed from the slavery” she decided to post it on Facebook along with an interesting little twist. Now as I read this I read it not as a “friend” but as a prospective employer. See if you think this would be good to find if you at just about to offer this person a position with your company.

What is Your Pinterest Score?

Of course you must know, track and flaunt your Pinterest score! After all gamification is on everything now so just how long did you think it would be until you started worrying about winning at Pinterest? Well thanks to the people at Repinly I now know that Jane Wang has outpinned us all and we can just quit. Or challenge …

I know you’re subscribed, right?

Screen capture of Repinly.com

Repinly.com tracks stats and gamifies Pinterest.

When gamification of social platforms became popular I was at first concerned. Now that I am charged with developing “the next big thing for small business people” I am enthralled with the idea of gamification and glad to know Adam Archer (Vitrue, GamesThatGive) and have had the pleasure of a couple of great phone conversations with him about how gamification works. This, however, is not an article about gamification but rather how to track some interesting Pinterest stats along with, you guessed it, your Pinterest score.

Empire Avenue Missions Part 2

Read Part 1 then come back …

SO the experiment with the “subscribe to @thekencook” was telling. It told me people will take your eaves and not subscribe to your mailing list. Well, not in great numbers. So I wanted to run a re-tweet campaign. My first (A) test was to create a link to Part 1 of the EAv missions experiment and offer 2k eaves to 20 people.  It did, indeed, result in 14 retweets meaning only 6 people stole from me instead of the 50 who stole from me in the first experiment.  Interestingly I also picked up 1 Favored and 9 followers.

From the A part of my A/B second EAv mission experiment.

Using the value of .0025 per eave and this costing me 80,000 eaves that breaks down to 5714 eaves per retweet or $1.43us per retweet. Worth it? Probably not for me. The good news is I have never bought an eave. Or maybe it’s not the good news. Is it worth it for big brands? Your brand?

At 2000 eaves the experiment was over in 6 minutes. For the (B) part of this re-tweet experiment I tweeted the same link using a different short code and offered 500 eaves to 20 people.

Do Missions on Empire Avenue Work?

This article is due in part to recent conversations with Jeremy Blanton @JB140 and Dwayne Kilbourne @dwaynekilbourne who both brought up their own experiments with Empire Avenue’s Missions. Thanks guys!

It would be unfair after only one test to say missions are a waste of eaves. In case you do not know eaves are the currency of Empire Avenue. If you don’t know Empire Avenue, EAv to users, here is a short conversation with Liz Strauss and Chris Pirillo on the topic of Empire Avenue.

[powerpress url="http://thekencook.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/empireave-pirillo-strauss.mp3"]

At the base level EAv is a game. It is a social game and very business friendly. There are currently a large percentage of my “friends” and social connections experimenting with EAv and writing about it still looking for gold in the social media realm. Still others are sitting in their grandmother’s basement playing Zelda and listening to the Star Wars soundtrack.

Not too long ago the fine folks over at EAv began touting a new part of “the game” called Missions. Recently it has been a hot topic among a few friends and acquaintances so I decided to try a mission myself. Having listened to different ways people have used missions I decided to see if I could pick up a few new subscribers to my Feedburner account for this website. Figure A is before the campaign began and Figure B is after it ended.

For my mission reward I offered 1500e (1500 eaves) for people to subscribe to the RSS feed. Indeed 53 people claimed my 1500e. The screen captures speak for themselves …

Figure 1 - before spending 79,500 eaves

Why Do I Have a Beard? You Thought I Was a Real Estate Agent?

It takes a few seconds to download the video content. I compressed it all the way down to iPod 320 so it’s about as small as you can stand it. Read below while you’re waiting.

Story Behind The Beard

[powerpress url="http://thekencook.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/esplanations2.mp4"]

I have recently grown a beard. Not like some facial hair but like a big old honkin’ beard. Prospector style I suppose you could say. Most people want to know why I have a beard and now everyone can know.

Free Online Photo Editor Compared to Instagram

A friend of mine calls Instagram the easiest way for anyone to screw up a perfectly good pic. I guess he’s right because evidently people like to do that. But what if you have photos on your hard drive you want to quickly edit and screw up … er, enhance … and you just want something quick, easy and free?

Meet PicMonkey Photo Editing

PicMonkey is definitely easy and you can definitely enhance photos there. It’s fast, nothing to download and it doesn’t even require a login. Just go to PicMonkey.com and start playing. Nothing really to teach, just make sure you don’t save your “enhancements” on top of an image you didn’t really want to enhance!