Archive for 2010

The Weekly Feed Issue #53: How to create writing that wins friends and influences – courtesy of Facebook

December 28, 2010  |  The Weekly Feed  |  Comments Off

This week Facebook released data that is pure gold for marketers and publishers. Their Data Team took a dictionary created by the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count project (LIWC) and analyzed 1 million status updates from US English speakers. The dictionary allowed them to categorize status updates into psychological and linguistic categories.

This all sounds like nerd-fodder but the data Facebook extracted is very useful for anyone who writes. Please see the footnote at the end of this edition to learn how to categorize your own writing and measure it against the Facebook data.

I’m going to summarize some of it here in very plain english. For the sake of brevity I’m going to refer to the people who write status updates as authors, when in reality they are micro-bloggers (like Twitter users).

Age:

Click to see Facebook’s Word/Age distribution.

Younger authors post more: negative content, swear words, angry content, discuss themselves and their own physical state more and post more sexual content and content about school.

More mature authors post more: articles (Words like ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ referring to an item), prepositions (words like ‘to’, ‘the’ and ‘above’), social processes (words like ‘mate’, ‘talk’, ‘they’ and ‘child’) and they post more inclusive words (‘and’, ‘with’, ‘include’) and words referring to others. They also post more religious words and words indicating positive emotions.

Conclusions regarding Author Age:

If your intention is to appear older or more mature in your writing, your writing should be in an expository style referring to specific items and events in a social context. You should include others in your writing and avoid being introspective as tempting as it may be. Use clean language and focus on the positive rather than criticizing or conveying anger.

I hesitate to jump to conclusions about the type of content you should write about e.g. sexual content or religious content because that depends on your audience.

Friend Count (Authors with the most and least friends):

Click to see Facebook’s word/friend-count distribution.

Authors with few friends use Time words like ‘end’, ‘until’, ‘season’. They also use past tense and present tense verb’s like the verbs in this list. They discuss family and use emotional words like ‘love’, ‘nice’, ‘sweet’, ‘hurt’, ‘ugly’ and ‘nasty’.

Authors with a high friend count use words that refer to social processes like ‘mate’, ‘talk’, ‘they’ and ‘child’ just like more mature authors did. They also refer to other people whereas less popular authors refer to themselves more frequently, again similar to mature authors. Popular authors also use more words per status update. They also use words related to communication and hearing .e.g ‘listen’, ‘hearing’, ‘speaking’

Conclusions regarding Popular Authors:

Popular authors are socially active and discuss their social interactions. They discuss themselves infrequently but do discuss others in a positive way. They don’t use emotional words. They frequently discuss communicating in some way and their status updates are longer.

Example of an unpopular author’s status update: “I can’t wait until Jen stops being nasty to me because she really hurts me.”

Example of a popular author’s status update: “Really enjoying speaking to the smart attendees at the Search Engine World conference. Be sure to check out Google’s giant Android display – it’s awesome!”


Words used in popular status updates (updates that got the most “likes” on Facebook):

Click to see Facebook’s word/likes distribution.

Here again we see that popular updates used words relating to “social processes” like ‘talk’, ‘they’, ‘discuss’, ‘conference’, ‘meet’. Referring to other people and positive emotions also gets you a lot of Facebook “likes” for an individual status update. Using religious words also gets a lot of likes.

The least number of “likes” were given to status updates relating to sleeping, negative updates, job/work updates and body states. All these updates are introspective i.e. talking about yourself and we’ve already seen from the data above that talking about others is better than talking about yourself.

Example of an update that might get a lot of “likes”: “The coffee gathering at today’s startup meeting was awesome. Lots of smart people to meet and learn from.”

Words used in status updates that get the most comments on Facebook:

Click to see Facebook’s word/comment-count distribution.

Pronouns make up the top three categories for the kinds of words that elicit the most comments on Facebook. Words like ‘me’, ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘it’, ‘us’, ‘who’, ‘whom’, ‘mine’ ‘ours’. Cognitive processes make up the fourth category with words like ‘know’, ’cause’, ‘ought’, ‘think.

My guess is that using pronouns combined with cognitive process words tends to encourage participation, for example “Tell me what you think about…”.

Word categories that get very few comments are “positive feelings” and “emotions” along with “sleeping”, “leisure activities” and words relating to “home”.

General conclusions

So what can we take away from all this? A few key points for anyone publishing blog entries, twitter updates, Facebook status updates, comments on blogs or any other social media platform:
  • Avoid referring to yourself or talking about yourself
  • Talk about others and the social processes that occur between other people
  • Stay positive, happy and up-beat.
  • Don’t use bad language.
  • If you want comments, ask your readers for them by using inclusive pronouns that encourages “cognitive process”  - words like ‘think’, ‘opinion’, etc.
  • If you want lots of friends, use social language and write longer blog entries, comments or updates that talk about other people rather than yourself.

Footnote: You can learn more about the dictionary Facebook used on LIWC.net and you can find examples of each of the word categories like “cognitive process” or “perceptual process” on this page. I strongly recommend trying the online version of LIWC to categorize your own writing and then comparing the categories that appear against the data Facebook has published to check for red flags.

Regards,

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO

The Weekly Feed Issue #52: Rebranding, It’s in the Details, Blog Provider Uptime and Hacking the NYTimes

December 20, 2010  |  The Weekly Feed  |  Comments Off

We have rebranded The Daily Feed to The Weekly Feed. We’ll be publishing the newsletter once a week from now on usually at the beginning of the week.

If you, like me, have left your holiday shopping until the last minute, you’ve probably paid a visit to the Apple store recently. I’m in Colorado right now and paid a visit to the Park Meadows Apple store to get something I didn’t really need but that made a good excuse to give Steve more of my money.

A few minutes later I walked into the Microsoft store. I’ve managed to get over the fact that they cloned Apple the same way I don’t mind that Pepsi cloned Coke. Hey, competition is good for all of us. The experience was basically the same but the details were different and there were so many of them it was startling:

The store employees weren’t smiling, there were less of them and it was hard to get their attention. I wanted to buy Windows 7 and the price was $200 and the sales guy told me that “sorry, but that’s what it costs” even though I bought a new licensed copy (also the full install) on eBay this morning for $117. When the attendant swiped my card for my PC game he had to reach under a table and use a non-portable swiper. They didn’t offer me an email receipt or even take my email address. They assumed I wanted a paper receipt so that’s what I got. The guy who helped us had this look on his face like we weren’t supposed to be there.

The Apple store on the other hand was friendly, portable card swipes, email receipts, the store was packed and about 1 in 5 people were super helpful Apple employees. I stood in the wrong line (for the genius bar) and a guy came up to me and offered a checkout without making me feel like I’d screwed up. It was awesome and it’s the reason we own more Apples at Feedjit than PC’s for the first time this year.

Apple is big on the details of the impression they leave you with. Note the Apple Keynote Cutdown video. Not a single cut is repeated in that video. Business insider has a blog entry today about how Apple refers to it’s products grammatically as person’s and not as objects.

All these little touches add up to a whole that has far more marketing power than the sum of it’s parts. When you are thinking about your blog or website, take note of the details. Load times, color scheme, unpleasant distractions, how long you take to reply to your comments or respond to customer requests, the tone and language you use, how you moderate your comments, forums or wiki. All these details add up into a complete user experience and they all matter a whole lot.

Our news roundup for today:

Royal Pingdom published some revealing data today. They did a survey of a handlful of popular blogging platforms over 2 months to see which provide the best uptime. Blogger, WordPress and Typepad came up on top with Tumblr performing terribly. Tumblr had a total of 47 hours of down-time over a 2 month period. You can read the full report here.

Thomas Weber has a guide in The Daily Beast today that shares how he cracked the New York Times “Most Emailed” story list and got his story to #3 on the list. Thomas and his team figured out that the TImes counts individual senders per story. After 1,270 individual (volunteer) senders had emailed a story they made it to number 3 on the overall list. The times gets roughly 30 million visitors per month, and it takes around 1 in every 25,000 readers to email a story to get that story on to the top 10 most emailed story list.

And finally, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere tonight at 12:41 Mountain Standard Time, enjoy the Lunar Eclipse. The Feedjit founders will be watching it at 7000 ft from Colorado.

Happy Holidays!!

Mark Maunder

Feedjit Founder & CEO

Rebranding to The Weekly Feed

December 19, 2010  |  The Daily Feed, The Weekly Feed  |  Comments Off

Quick note that we are renaming The Daily Feed to The Weekly Feed to reflect the frequency we have been publishing our newsletter.

The Daily Feed Issue #51: Search (the goverment kind), Google instant bugs, spam drops and stolen pizza

November 19, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

This week I turned off Google instant, not because I don’t like living in an instant world, but because it limits my search results to 10. If you’re doing any kind of SEO research, 10 results just doesn’t cut it. There’s a bug that causes Google to continually show 10 results even if you asked it for 100 using advanced search. It’s caused by Google instant and you need to turn it off to get back to all you can eat search results.

In other news, a well known white hat hacker (that means he’s mostly a good guy) was detained for several hours when re-entering the US this week while his laptop and cellphone was confiscated and searched. I did some googling and it turns out that the border search exception lets border agents ignore the 4th amendment which requires a warrant for search and seizure. Then a member on ycombinator’s hacker news replied to a post of mine saying that in fact the border extends 100 miles inland. If you’re a blogger on the coast relying on anything in the 4th amendment, good luck with that.

Every now and then the government does actually get it right. The BBC is reporting that global spam email is down 47% after a combination of government arrests of spammers and work by private firms to shut down spam botnets.

And finally, a Reddit member got back to their apartment and found their pizza eaten by their roommate with this note waiting for them (click it if your browser shrinks it).

Regards,

Mark Maunder

Feedjit Founder & CEO

The Daily Feed Issue #50: Google’s update, affiliate tips, images for engagement and the 30/30 work cycle

November 10, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

On October 21st at 3pm Pacific time Google rolled out a major update to their search index. The combined effect of Google Instant and this substantial index update is being felt around the web.

Alexa, the guys who track traffic for the top 100,000 sites on the web, have a blog entry showing a few of the winners and losers in this post-google-instant world we now live in. Oddly enough a few of the biggest winners are file sharing sites. My guess is that they’re seeing more traffic because you have to actually go to a file sharing site to see if they have the file you want for download – rather than being able to see if they have what you’re after from the snippet (the preview text under the page title in the search results).

ProBlogger has a few thoughts on affiliate marketing today and how to bring together reader intent, a great product and your messaging.

BlogHerald has a post this week on how to use images to grab a user’s attention and increase retention for your blog. They include a few ideas for image types.

Firefox version 4 is on it’s way and the Beta is looking surprisingly similar to Chrome. I’m glad to hear the javascript engine is getting a much needed speed increase.

And finally: If you enjoy life hacks, check out this blog entry about the 30/30 work cycle. Quote: “I sit at my desk and work for 30 minutes without distraction, completely absorbed in my work. Then, after the 30 minutes are up, I drop whatever I’m doing and go do something fun for 30 minutes. During this relaxation time, I don’t think about work at all – I play games, write, whatever, but no work. After 30 minutes, I go back to my desk, rinse and repeat.”

Regards,

Mark Maunder

Feedjit Founder & CEO.

The Daily Feed Issue #49: Highlighter, Twitter ads, optimizing forms and luck

November 2, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

Friends of ours launched a great service today called Highlighter.com. It’s a wordpress plugin that lets you visitors comment on text in your blog entries. It also lets your visitors share your content via Facebook and Twitter, driving more traffic to your site. You’re hearing about Highlighter a full week before the press launch, so if you’re an early adopter, be sure to give it a try. [Disclosure: Neither I nor Feedjit have received any compensation for mentioning highlighter. They are good friends and part of the Techstars program where I am a mentor.]

AdAge is reporting that Twitter today started injecting paid ads into tweet streams. Initially you’ll only see the ads if you use HootSuite. Twitter have a revenue sharing deal with HootSuite where Twitter sells the ads and they split the revenue with HootSuite. I’m sure this will quickly expand to every Twitter client including Twitter.com. My guess is that this will be their business model going forward.

If you ever thought small changes to your web form didn’t yield results, read this article about how Expedia earned $12 Million more per year by removing a single text field. Their “Company” field in the checkout form was confusing customers, so they removed it and saw a huge increase in the number of completed transactions and revenue.

And finally: From the luckiest-girl-alive department, the BBC is reporting today that an 18 month toddler fell from a 6 story building, bounced off an awning and was caught… wait for it… by a doctor. She was completely unharmed, shed a little tear and then quickly calmed down.

Have a spectacular Wednesday!

Mark Maunder

Feedjit Founder & CEO.

The Daily Feed Issue #48: Do you really need a sitemap?

November 1, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

I hope you’ve had a happy Halloween and welcome back after a brief hiatus to the Daily Feed. Lets dive right in:

There’s a great question, which is really an observation on webmasters.stackexchange.com that points out that sitemaps for your blog or website are probably unnecessary. The argument is that sitemaps are supposed to help web crawlers like Googlebot find pages that aren’t linked to on your site. But if pages aren’t linked to by anyone, they won’t have anypagerank and won’t appear in the search results anyway. So the proper way to ensure Google indexes all pages on your site is to ensure you have a healthy link structure and that all pages have another page on your site linking to them.

InformationIsBeautiful.net has a fun diagram showing who is suing who in the telecoms industry. Be thankful you’re not part of that dogfight.

If your data is living in the cloud, Amazon have reduced their prices for data storage on S3. At Feedjit, we buy our servers and amortize them over 3 years because it’s more cost effective that way. If you’re looking for cheap hosting, check out Linode.com (my personal favorite) or Slicehost.com for an entry level Linux server.

Finally, today’s award for toughest bloke ever goes to this chap who saved a woman from a great white shark in Australia by grabbing the shark by the tail – and then refused to speak to the press about it.

I’ll be publishing the Daily Feed on a daily schedule once again for the rest of this week. Have a spectacular week!

Mark Maunder

Feedjit Founder & CEO

The Daily Feed Issue #47: Facebook, In-Image ads and Image SEO update

October 20, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

Welcome to Issue #47 of The Daily Feed. If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, you can subscribe on this page. The Daily Feed is published several times a week when we have news, information and helpful tips to share. Unsubscribe instructions are at the end of this message.


On Monday you probably read the story the Wall Street Journal broke about a Facebook privacy debacle. Many of the most popular apps, including FarmVille, have been transmitting personally identifiable data to outside companies. The data was being transmitted to ad networks to help them build user profiles in order to better target ads. In response, Google engineer Brian Kennish has created a Chrome browser plugin called Facebook Disconnect that prevents your browser from sending data to Facebook servers as you surf the web.

At Feedjit we’re considering getting rid of our Facebook integration via Facebook Connect. We’ve always allowed our users to control what data we store and were the first analytics company to allow website visitors to remove data we logged for their IP address. Privacy is a big concern for us and we would rather err on the side of removing features to give you more control over your data. As a website owner I’ve also found their servers to be a lot slower than our own and during peak load times (8am Pacific time) the FB Connect API slows our site down. Email me if you have an opinion about this issue.

The latest trend in online advertising is In-image ads. NPR is running a story on ad companies that will put ads on your site that sell fashion items that are being worn by the people in the photos on your site. For example on the celebrity gossip site, JustJared, you can click on the “Get the Look” tab beneath a photo in a story about pop star Rihanna filming a corn chip commercial and buy a cardigan sweater like hers for $195 from Piperlime.

Ever heard of hotlink protection? If you have a site with a lot of photos, you’ve probably been hotlinked without even knowing it. Hotlinking is when a website embeds an image tag in their HTML that loads an image from a second site rather than storing the image on their own servers and loading it from there. If a site hotlinks it doesn’t have to pay for the disk used to store that image and the bandwidth that is consumed when web browsers load the image. If you have a very popular web page and you hotlink images from someone else’s server you can cost them a lot of money.

Many sites use a technique called hotlink protection to prevent other websites from hotlinking their images. Hotlink protection detects if another website is loading an image you host and prevents the image from loading. There are reports that if you use hotlink protection, Google may remove you from their image search results. The reports are spotty and some webmasters who have protection in place are not reporting a problem yet, so keep an eye on this issue if it applies to you.

That’s it for today’s edition. You’ll notice that the frequency of the Daily Feed is changing to slightly less than daily. We’re focusing on delivering quality issues rather than quantity. As Plato once said: “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”. So you may find that I miss a day here and there, but hopefully you’ll notice an increase in quality.

Regards,

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO

The Daily Feed Issue #46: BlogWorld and links

October 18, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

Welcome to Issue #46 of The Daily Feed. If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, you can subscribe on this page. You can read previous editions of The Daily Feed on our blog but note that posts to our blog are delayed 24 hours or more.


I’m back from a 1 week break and The Daily Feed will no resume it’s regularly scheduled programming. My apologies for the brief interruption.
This weekend the Blog World Expo was held in the Mandalay Bay convention center in Vegas. I didn’t go. I did consider going but I had a few objections.

The price was almost $1200 to attend and and wandering among expo booths gathering data I can get online and seeing panel bloggers repeat in person what they’ve already written just doesn’t give me a return on that investment. If these photos are anything to go by, attendance was sparse and the atmosphere wasn’t a rock concert. Here are a couple more blog entries covering the conference.

Now that blogging is main-stream I expect to see more vertical conferences that bring together writers that cover the similar subjects, target similar audiences or have similar writing styles. I also expect to see less differentiation between journalists and bloggers. Being a “blogger” really means being a writer because every writer worth their salt blogs.

Speaking of rants, there’s a thread on Webmasterworld today discussing how links have become currency to most bloggers and webmasters which makes it very hard to get a few quality links to your site, even when you have a really great site or product. I’m not sure I completely agree with the author’s complaint – we regularly link to quality websites or products and I encourage you to do the same.

On a literary note, it looks like Twighlight has now spawned so many copycat books that Barnes and Noble have given them their own section.

Regards,

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO

The Daily Feed Issue #45: Page components and how they affect keyword ranking

October 12, 2010  |  The Daily Feed  |  Comments Off

Welcome to Issue #45 of The Daily Feed. If this email was forwarded to you by a friend, you can subscribe on this page. You can read previous editions of The Daily Feed on our blog but note that posts to our blog are delayed 24 hours or more.


Recently there was an interesting discussion thread about page titles on one of my favorite SEO websites, webmasterworld.com. The thread has a few opinions on the efficacy of keywords in page titles.

The titles of your pages on your blog or website are the most important component when it comes to click-through-rate from search results and they are the second most important with regard to keyword ranking [explanation below].

Here is a quick list of page components and sources that Google and other search engines consider for keyword ranking of your site in descending order of importance:
  1. Keywords in links that point to your page. [You often have no control of these]
  2. Your page title
  3. Keywords separated by dashes in your URL
  4. The page heading at the top of your page in <H1> tags.
  5. Text close to the top of the page
  6. Text in other headings and bold sections on your site
  7. All other text including text in image ALT and TITLE attributes on your page.
  8. Google may also consider all other text on pages that link to yours in the order of this list. [If you're a programmer, you'll notice the last statement is recursive]
Remember that this list ignores pagerank, or how many inbound links you have and what the quality of those links are. If your site were ranked purely on keywords, this is how it would be done. Notice my omission of meta keywords or meta description. Most current data shows that those tags are completely ignored. I’d like to hear your opinions of the accuracy of my list above and about your own recent experiences with SEO. Drop me a mail at mark@feedjit.com and I’ll include your comments in tomorrows Daily Feed.

Regards,

Mark Maunder
Feedjit Founder & CEO.