Link Bait and the Death of Trust

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“You won’t believe what this mom did next” or “this boy does an amazing thing with these blocks”. You’ve seen them – and they are all over the place. Chances are you’ve clicked on one, or several, because they are psychologically designed to pull no punches when it comes to human enticement.

For me they scream of preying on your own clientele and they are called Link Bait. The really low part is the story they lead to rarely has any content of any value and leads to dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of similar links. So why do they exist? Advertising revenue. They make you the product and the producer of that product. You are giving your time to nonsense while someone is making money as a result of wasting your time.

washington-times-link-bait-auto-playing-video-with-sound

I don’t know anything about The Washington Times – couldn’t tell you if it’s a legitimate news outlet or just another “Patch” or “Examiner”. But what I can tell you is I won’t be spending any time on their site for any real fact-finding. Why? First of all I encountered an automatically playing video with sound. That’s a huge no-no for me. I often surf the ‘Net after my wife has gone to sleep and I don’t need a screaming pitch woman trying to sell me hair replacement and waking my wife. Secondly the most prominent display of Link Bait you can image. See the graphic? That’s an actual capture.

myfoxatlanta-linkbaitBut it’s not just The Washington Times. It’s also my local favorite news channel, Fox 5 Atlanta – aka myfoxatlanta.com. While not as egregious the Fox 5 site does utilize paid links from Taboola which is a major supplier of “sponsored content” for websites. In their defense Taboola makes banks full of money off of people who click those links so of course I support them; it’s capitalism at it’s most basic! But it still damages trust in the sites that use them the most.

So what’s the purpose of this article? Awareness. Just know that it doesn’t matter where you see these links, on which site and how prominently displayed, they are just advertisements cleverly crafted to get you to click. The ultimate goal is not always to get you to buy something but often just to get you to spend time on the target site and to click more links. The target sites get paid when you click on an ad on their site or even just when an ad is displayed on their site.

As long as you know people are getting paid for your time and actions and you don’t mind wasting your time while someone else makes a few pennies – go for it. For me I’d rather spend my time writing about it and educating others so they don’t find out some other way – they’re just wasting their time!

Modify WordPress Theme With Child Theme Plugin

Like with everything else WordPress there are so many things that can be accomplished in multiple ways. For this video the example is that a user does not want to display the posted date on pages or posts. In other words they want to remove the line where the posted on date, the author’s name, and even the category is printed to the screen.

If you know just a couple of little tips, which you’ll have in this very short video, you can make this happen on your WordPress site. Instead of digging around in the theme’s CSS or worse yet the WordPress core, you can simply install a plugin or manually create a child theme for your WordPress installation. Like I said there are many ways to accomplish this but I’m presenting the method of using the Orbisius child theme creator plugin. The same techniques work whether you are using another plugin or creating a child theme manually.

Also I am using the Chrome browser on Windows 7 so you’re setup is probably different. Almost all of this can be accomplished on different browsers and operating systems in nearly the same manner. The important thing is to know how to inspect the element and determine which css style you’re going to be working with. But the MOST important thing is to back up your installation before you start making changes. I’m guessing this will be among your first time to try something this deep in WordPress.

If you still need help you can use the iCobb Community Help Center for free ticketed WordPress support.

How To Promote Pins on Pinterest

We all knew it was coming and now it’s here. The other day when I logged on to Pinterest, which I admit I do not do often enough to make full use of its power, I was presented with a screen telling me I was one of a few select business in the United States chosen to promote pins. Cool. So I wanted to give it a try, obviously, and I know you’ll have questions about it too. Here’s a little video I did.

How Do You Promote Pins on Pinterest?

It’s just as simple, simpler actually, than anywhere else. Essentially you use the drop-down from the tools icon in the upper right corner, assuming you’re logged in to your Pinterest account, choose the link to promote a pin then choose the pin you want to promote. It’s pretty self-explanatory after that point.

One thing you will want to do is make sure to promote “promotable” pins. By that I mean a pin that will be a wise investment. Pin something from your business page, your online catalog, or an affiliate program that invites the user to take an action. That’s usually the missing element when people say an online marketing campaign was a “waste of time and money”. I have seen small business people who insist on doing everything their self waste hundreds if not thousands of dollars on campaigns that were destined to fail!

Create A Pin That Sells

First you want to show something that people will really want to purchase. Next you want to make sure it’s a pin that is getting or going to get some real views. Then you’ll want the link it leads to a “no brainer” to purchase the item or service you’re promoting. Make it obvious they are clicking on something they can purchase then make it harder to not make the purchase at the link than it is to just leave the link. Don’t know how? Good – call me, I do!

Pinterest Statistics

There is no sense in re-creating the wheel so I recommend Marketing Land for the most current Pinterest statistics and demographics. Click the link.

How To Get More Video Views

Long videos are not always (usually) better. Sure, people may sit through a long movie like Forest Gump but that’s after they’ve paid for tickets, bought popcorn and are ready to be entertained. If you have a budget to make a Hollywood production then maybe people will watch your entire video. Chances are, they won’t.

When making videos for a business purpose here are some rules I have found to work great.

Have a point and get to it. Sitting through a 15 second intro in the Star Wars style just to learn how to change the color of a web button is a huge no-go. 3 to 5 second intros are pushing it. Also you don’t need to introduce a bunch of characters to show how to tie a fly for fishing. I actually saw a video that introduced 6 characters in Dukes of Hazard style that took 2 minutes for a video that lasted 4 minutes).

Edit the dead space for Pete’s sake! How many times have you watched a video while the person making it went to get more soap? Yeah, I don’t want to watch your empty room for 15 seconds while you do what you should have done before clicking “RECORD”.

If you’re showing us something you’re holding make sure it’s well lighted, in focus and in front of the lens. Here’s another one I love. You hear the video maker saying, “It’s not in the camera right now but this twist is very important so make sure you get it right.” Yeah, thanks dude.

Audio for crying out loud needs to be audible and not blasting out your ears. I know gamers love to put screaming thrash music in the background and crank it to 17 on the volume knob but if you’re talking turn off the freaking music. Do you know why they don’t play background music over dialogue in the movies? Because it’s dialogue not music! Thank you very much.

Twitter Almost Replicates AOL Chat Rooms from 1988!

There are two things missing from the Internet and have been since what we originally new as “the web” became what everyone thinks of as “the Internet”. One is mass repositories of downloadable information in FTP or Gopher protocols. While some functions of the web, originally referred to as the WWW or HTTP, embrace FTP/Gopher style delivery of files and documents, the overall web is completely bloated. Think “no advertisements”, no misleading links, and easily sortable file structure. But that’s not the big one that missed the mark.

My first few “web development” jobs back in 1994 through 1997 mostly came from small business owners who had built big followings on AOL. Now it was very difficult in those days for a small business to afford much advertising on the giant network so they found ways around it. One of those ways to to post in the many bulletin board areas on all of the available networks and the other was to get involved in the chat rooms.

Spam chatter was not welcome and would quickly result in an eviction (aka kicked) and could end in a user being permanently banned. So I saw usernames like ATL-Plumbr, LifeIns, FHAchic, LoanGodess, and others. They worked but it wasn’t until the web where people could become more blatant and “run their own shop”. That said there were a lot of people who immediately began to miss the good old days of chat rooms – it’s why Facebook is so popular today; Facebook has offered the closest solution on a giant scale. Until now…

But, I think it will be little noticed even if it is much used. Twitter has announced essentially an AOL chatroom without some of the functions. “In an expansion of direct messaging on Twitter, users will now be able to have private conversations with as many as 20 followers at the same time.” -http://www.latimes.com/

Something that wasn’t missing from the web but was missing from Twitter was video snippets up to 30 seconds. Now it’s not missing. Honestly, I think both additions are too little too late – but there are always caveats. I was a big fan of Twitpic…

Blocking Spam Traffic From Bad Referrers

How can it be that your site which normally gets maybe 30 visitors per day is now getting 90? And why did your bounce rate go from 60% to 95%? And why is time on site headed toward 0 seconds?

If you see SeaMalt continuously showing in your analytics or web traffic reports do you know what that is? Dump it, block it, get rid of it. When I recently told a project manager about this issue for one of her clients who only has a few hits per month and about 60% of those come from SeaMalt she explained it to her client. She also told him my recommendation to block it in .htaccess – what happened next is the same scenario I have played out many times with people who think they know web technology.

The client first sent her a link to send to me about how to filter out that traffic in the Google Analytics views dashboard. Thanks, Rufus, I didn’t already know how to do that for the last half-dozen years. When I explained to her the traffic is stealing bandwidth and throwing off much more than just Google Analytics numbers and told her it needs to be done by denying access in the .htaccess file her client said, “You can’t block traffic in an .htaccess file”. Mmmmokay. Maybe he can’t but I can, and you can.

# Options +FollowSymlinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} semalt\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} buttons-for-website\.com [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} 7makemoneyonline\.com [NC]
RewriteRule .* – [F]

That’s the mod rewrite for an .htaccess file on one of my client’s accounts. If you’d like to copy it and modify it for your own use feel free. This will stop any visitor who clicked on a link at any of those domains from gaining access to your site. This is different than the DenyFrom function in that it checks the HTTP_REFERER and stops any traffic referred by that domain.

How To Edit Or Delete Posts And Comments On Facebook

Most people take it for granted that editing and deleting comments on Facebook is very simple to do. Still, I see people regularly apologizing for a comment or a post, or posting a correction of spelling. But why? Do they not know it’s not only possible to edit or delete a post or comment but it’s also very simple? Of course you need to know it exists and Facebook doesn’t necessarily make it overtly obvious.

Say you have made a post and misspelled a word. All you want to do is to edit that word. It’s possible. Simply hover your cursor over the text of your comment and a little marker (or pencil) icon will appear to the right. Click on that icon and choose either edit or delete.

Editing or deleting a Facebook post is just as simple. Look for the little down arrow icon in the right corner of the post and click it. You’ll have choices amongst which are edit and delete. Watch the short video for a demonstration and more detailed information.

Fun App: Oldify

A picture is worth a thousand words…or more sometimes.

oldify-app-for-android-iphone

There are a lot of fun apps, many of them are dangerous – this one seems to check out using the Bitdefender app for mobile devices. Pretty simple to use though it takes it a few seconds to render. Just take a selfie, align your mouth and eye, click “Ready” and in a few seconds you have your future self! When it first renders on the Android it presents you with a little motion graphic, too.

The app is called Oldify and found in the Google Play store and the App store.

Share your photo in the comments and let us all see how yours turned out!

 

Small Business Series – Leadership Revelations: Enforcer

This month I have 5 posts to share. These are just my own realizations/revelations over the years. The total topic is Enforcer, Steward, Manager, Influencer, Leader. Today I begin with Enforcer. This article may be wordy and it may not seem like it has anything to do with Business Leadership but in reality it has everything to do with it. Bookmark it and come back later if you don’t have the time to read it now because this is one of the “character development scenes” if this were a movie.

When were hear the word “enforcer” we may immediately think of a Hollywood stereotype of a big man in leather wearing a badge and carrying a big gun. In reality there are enforcers in many forms. Before I get into the main topic today let me explain just a little about this series of 5 posts on leadership.

Both in civilian life and the military I have studied leadership. My sister was a huge fan of the topic and left behind dozens of books on the topic. There must be at least 10,000 websites in the United States alone discussing (and selling) the topic of leadership. What I want to share today is what I personally have observed and experienced relative to leadership. Most of it is not from any book so you won’t find a branching set of links to follow – though I may toss in a quote here and there. What my goal is here is to help me learn more about how I perceive these 5 roles and to hear your thoughts on the same. Responses are invited.

From my observation there are 5 separate, main roles in the leadership game. There are others and if you feel I have missed an important one please share! I could have included “teacher” or “adviser”, and in fact had those in my notes last year, but decided to include those as parts of the other 5. After all, 5 are easier to remember than 7, right? These main roles, in no particular order of importance, are Leader, Influencer, Steward, Manager, and Enforcer. I decided to begin with Enforcer (which I use both capitalized and non-capitalized in this article) because that may be the most maligned role of leadership of the 5.

You’re Not The Boss Of Me!

When we are young we have a rebel streak. All of us. And if this rebellious desire is not curbed or properly shaped at a young age then it can become a problem, or major advantage, later in life. You may have heard or uttered yourself those words at some time. Teenage-Rebellion-in-AmericaWhile it’s far beyond the scope of this short article to examine the roots of that emotion it is important to note this is a base human attitude and actually signals, according to most professionals, a strong character. Later in life, when properly formed, this attitude can help shape the personality of the utter-er into a strong leader, manager, steward, or enforcer.

The graphic shows a few facts as reported by American students themselves to the CDC on a questionnaire. While these aren’t necessary horrendous ills they are a sign that young people have a tendency to ignore the dangers these activities pose. Even if they don’t ignore them they take action in spite of them. The circular arrow behind the facts indicates these activities affect the entire population and not just the individual. This is something that both youth and underdeveloped adults show a lack of: concern for how their actions affect others in society.

This is why we have enforcers in virtually every walk of like. If you just thought “judge” or “policeman” those are just the iconic enforcers in life. There are truly billions of others. You yourself have been an enforcer and have been engaged by enforcers you may never list. Parents and teachers may be the next most visible enforcers. They both have the position of correcting societal engagement malfunctions in their children or students.

Parents and family members, in my view, have the greatest responsibility. They are tasked with care and concern for the child as she or he grows and becomes an adult. In fact almost every discussion on wayward youth and lifetime criminals turns back to “home”. You will hear things like “he didn’t have a good home life” or “his parents were no good”. I suppose almost every religious writing, since some were plagiarized from others, includes something like, “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

Rules Enforcement More Than Law

Referees are just one form of visible enforcer most people expect and do not object too. (Photo: Jim Larrison, licensed CC)
Referees are just one form of visible enforcer most people expect and do not object too. (Photo: Jim Larrison, licensed CC)

Enforcers come in many different forms. We expect whenever we go to any sporting event there will be rules. Those rules must be enforced so there are people appointed to do so. Umpires, judges, and referees are an expected part. Even in pick-up games there is often an enforcer appointed to call the rules. Nobody seems to have any objection to these enforcers being present while a growing number of people are suspicious of, and object to, local, state, and federal law enforcement people both being present and simply doing their jobs.

But there are thousands of Enforcers we meet daily. In fact we ourselves become the Enforcer on a regular basis – even when it is not our obligation. It may be, however, that we see it as our civic duty. Sometimes that even gets us in trouble. In a moment I will share a personal experience about taking the roll of Enforcer when I should have chosen differently.

Have you ever been riding with someone who didn’t have on their seat belt and you asked or told them to “click it or ticket”? You were the enforcer. Have you ever shushed someone in church or a library – even just by giving them “the look”? Have you ever stepped into a fight as the peacemaker and tried to calm the situation? If so then you took on the Enforcer role of Leadership. You used your communications tools and interjected yourself into the situation hoping to shape the outcome to what you perceived as the best result. When you did this were you braced for an outcome which was different than that which you expected?

Personally Touched

I use the following example because it sort of shocked me – and I don’t shock easily. Many times I have advised to take consideration of underlying emotions when engaging with others. It opened up something I had not faced in years and really made me take a step back. It even made me, for a few seconds, question if my motivation had been based on race. It had not been, but the response definitely made me re-examine.

Some years ago just after the election of America’s first black president I was in a local grocer and noticed a lady actually grazing on the fruit table. It was not just her, however, she was also freely sharing with her nearly adult children – by the handful. I mean cherries, strawberries, blackberries, and grapes were disappearing into these well dressed people’s faces from these boxes and bags of pre-priced goods. After standing there and watching them for no less than 3 minutes I probably made the wrong decision, but it wasn’t the worst one I had considered. I said, “ma’am, do you know that’s stealing from the people who buy those boxes or bags after you eat from them?”

Evidently she thought I chose the wrong words and she let me know in no uncertain terms that it was impossible for someone of my skin color to understand what someone of her skin color was experiencing. That she had been ripped off by buying bad produce before and she was going to make sure her children had only the best to eat from now on. She went on to tell me that “y’all are no longer then enforcers of right and wrong”. I’m sure I had a huge WT_? over my head at that point…

I was hurt. And most strangers can’t really hurt me. I was hurt mostly that I had chosen the wrong method. I had become the Enforcer when I should have become the Influencer. She was wrong, but I did not make the right choice to lead her away from her wrong. My Leadership method was lacking. Oh, she was still very wrong, but so was I.

The Enforcer Role of Leadership

It’s just one of the major roles of leadership we all take on from time to time even when it’s not our appointed position and we do not have any real authority. From herding co-workers back to the grind at the end of a break to telling drivers to slow down as they go through your neighborhood and thousands of more scenarios those are all important social functions of leadership. They are valid, necessary and often un-welcomed. When taking on the role of Enforcer, even when you are appointed as one, it is crucial to work on your leadership communications and actions skills to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Here is a short “quiz” to help gauge your progress throughout this series on Leadership and it will email itself back to you so you can keep it for future reference. There are no “right” or “wrong” answers and it will never be published so answer in as much confidence as the Web can allow.

Your Name

Your Email (required)

A coworker is making copies of a school assignment for their child. Thinking about the Enforcer role of leadership how do you act?

Your child's teacher accidentally put a note to another student's parents in your child's folder to bring home to you for their daily activity report. In it there is a mention of "getting together for a little 'puff' this weekend"; what is your action?

You are sitting in your break room at work when a visitor who came to join a co-worker begins telling racist jokes. Thinking of Enforcer, what do you do?

Remember an event where you were "forced" into the role of Enforcer and did not feel comfortable. What was the event and how did it turn out? What would you do differently as you look back?

captcha

 

7 Hot Social Selling Tips for 2015

Why do some marketers seem to do so well with social selling while others can’t seem to get any traction? You’ll be surprised to learn some of the answers and put them into use. We have monitored and evaluated the top social sellers to discover these 7 social selling tips to help you improve your online marketing results.

This is what successful social media marketing looks like on the other side of the screen! (Photo by startupphotos License CC2.0)
This is what successful social media marketing looks like on the other side of the screen! (Photo by startupphotos License CC2.0)

#1 Choose And Use Good Images

Many people think just having a Pinterest or Instagram account is good enough. Just having a presence on any social site is only the beginning of attracting attention. So, whether it’s one of the photocentric social sites, Twitter, Google+, Facebook or any other the use of well chosen images is key to standout posts that will result in further action. There is a psychology to images so take a little time to learn about what images say to the audience you are trying to reach. Then instead of throwing out just any image, make sure to take a little time to research and find the best image or graphic to set the stage for engagement that matters.

#2 Spend The Most Resources On The Platforms Where Your Audience Is Most Active

Let’s face it, if your audience is primarily 12 year old girls who read pony books and you’re investing all of your efforts in LinkedIn…you’re missing the mark. Make sure you know the demographic of your buying audience then match your social media efforts to them. There are some pretty obscure social sites that cater to very niche audiences which can work very well for you when the mega-sites continue to prove fruitless; having very low return on your efforts.

#3 Make Real, Meaningful Connections

Twitter is one of the easiest places to see where brands and users are either engaged or not. When they are not engaged you’ll see post after post of links back to a product or service site and no mentions of other accounts. Chances are, unless you are managing the social accounts for major corporations, the engagement level of broadcast only in the social stream will result in very low conversion numbers. On the other hand when any social manager engages directly with “real people” there will be more likes, re-posts, and other shares.

#4 Use Video To Share Your Message

The old saying is that a picture is worth a thousand words. Video is worth volumes! If you have a product there is no easier way to reach all users, including those who are mobile only, that by creating relevant videos. From product demonstrations to technical specifications, video is the next best thing to being there.

#5 Be Regular With Content

Whether it is information content, educational content, news, or other content it pays to get that content out regularly. People are creatures of habit. If you have a loyal following and you have a newsletter or update that comes out at a specific time on a specific day of the week you will see that people come to expect it. Just make sure it’s interesting and relevant.

Knowing when to post to social media can make a big difference. (Photo by Selena Deckelman License CC2.0)
Knowing when to post to social media can make a big difference. (Photo by Selena Deckelman License CC2.0)

#6 Know When To Post

There are several tools to help you discover when your followers are most active. You can also make use of your own metrics using analytics tools to track click-throughs with your custom URLs. If you are posting at 2PM on Friday and your audience is absent at that time but highly active at 8AM on Sunday you need to adjust the release time of your most important information.

#7 Stay Relevant and On Topic

The Internet does a great job of diluting messages and giving plenty of choices for users to become distracted. If you are all over the board on your social selling efforts and topics you’ll just confuse your followers and lose them in the crowd. Make sure to stay on topic when using your social selling accounts so that your readers always know they are reading something important to their relationship with you.