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Monday, 30 April 2012

TrueTwit - Satan, Saviour or Simply Misunderstood?

Some powerful views expressed here.  After having tried TrueTwit a while back and found it frustrating/time consuming, I rejected it and I ignore TrueTwit validation requests.

I wonder how you feel about TrueTwit?

Originally Posted November 10, 2011 by @SoftwareHollis, with 1396 reads at:

Twitter profile (@SoftwareHollis) says “I boycott TrueTwit!”

I use an entire 19 characters out of my allotment of 140 to let people know that I won’t follow them it I have to validate through TrueTwit.  That’s a lot of characters in TwitterLand, so it must be a big deal for me.

But is TrueTwit inherently an “evil” product, or simply a great product that I dislike?

What is TrueTwit?

Not familiar with TrueTwit?  It’s a “validation service” that some people use on Twitter.  When you follow someone who uses TrueTwit, you’ll get a direct message back asking you to fill out a “Captcha” form to validate that you’re a real person. If you don’t fill out that form, you will get put into a bucket of “unvalidated users”, and you may get blocked if the user so chooses.
TrueTwit tries to encourage people to sign up for the service – if YOU sign up for TrueTwit, you’re always automatically validated.  But people who follow you will automatically get sent validation request messages.

TrueTwit’s pitch is that “Twitter spam is a drag. What if you could know for sure that your followers are truly human, and not some cyborg? TrueTwit is designed to help you: Verify people from robots, Avoid Twitter spam, Save time managing your followers”.

What do I Mean by “I Boycott TrueTwit”

Simply this: I refuse to fill out those Captcha forms to validate that I’m a real person.

Why am I such a stick in the mud about this? Frankly, they validation requests are just irritating.  Half the time, I get the Captcha wrong on the first try.  And I have much better things to do with my time than spend it filling out Captcha forms. 

There are millions of really interesting people out there on Twitter.  If some of them make it difficult for me to follow them by using TrueTwit, I’ll just move on to someone else.  There is no shortage of cool people out there.
TrueTwit – Is it an Abomination?

There are a lot of people out there hating on TrueTwit.  To a certain degree, I’m one of them.  I don’t think it’s pure evil – I dislike it, object to it, it irritates me, and believe that most everyone should avoid it. 
Fundamentally, I believe it is an “anti-social media” product, rather than a “social media” product.

If you’re on Twitter, it’s because you at least think you have things to say that other people want to hear.  I’m that way – I write articles, and then I tweet about them because I’m silly enough to believe that my followers might want to read those articles.  Sometimes I express opinions for the same reason.

Why would I ever want to restrict who follows me?  I’d love to have 1,000 times as many followers as I have now.  I don’t really care who they are or where they’re from.  I don’t even care if they’re a “bot” – no skin off my teeth, so to speak.

If you really want to control who sees what you say, Twitter isn’t the place for you. Join Facebook where you have complete control over who befriends you and over who you befriend.  And over who sees what (at least until the next Facebook Privacy FUBAR).

Follower Management Isn’t the Issue
I have roughly 3500 followers.  I get very little spam from them.  If I did, I’d just ban them.  I spend maybe 1 minute a month “managing” my followers.
I spend much more time worrying about who I follow.  
I go through the list of people I follow every week and “unfollow” anyone who hasn’t tweeted in the past 30 days (unless I have a very good reason to keep following them). 

If I follow someone and they end up tweeting silly things 1000 times a day, or @ me or DM me for no apparent reason, I’ll ban them or unfollow them pretty quickly. 

I easily spend 45 minutes a week managing who I follow.  Those are the voices that I want to listen to. 

Followers?  It’s still a free country – if you want to follow my Tweets, by all means, please do so!  I’m all about encouraging followers, not irritating them.
Top 10 Reasons to Hate TrueTwit

1)      It’s just annoying – I’d rather spend my time writing, learning or making money.  And I hate Captchas.

2)      TrueTwit is supposed to reduce spam.  To me, the DMs they send out automatically ARE spam.  Worse yet -  I get 100x more “spam” from TrueTwit than from all other spammers combined.  My DM column and my email folder are FULL of DMs from TrueTwit, which raises the odds of me missing something important.

3)      There are plenty of software packages out there that allow you to automate your ‘bots to get past capchas, so I question how effective it is.

4)      I don’t get much spam (apart from TrueTwit), so I question the NEED for it. 

5)      I object to the very idea behind the way that TrueTwit is set up – the only way to bypass getting DMs is to become a TrueTwit user yourself.  If the whole world used TrueTwit (including spammers) then nobody would have any protection because everyone would be automatically validated.  And TrueTwit would know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE’S followers.  That’s creepy.  And that's where the money is at, at least for TrueTwit.

6)      I object to the “blackmail” model - If you PAY TrueTwit, you can avoid spamming all your followers – which is a bit like blackmail.  I know it’s only $20, but it’s badness.

7)      I object to it on a philosophical basis - Twitter is about communication, engagement and “amplification” – why would I ever want to restrict that by making it DIFFICULT for people to follow me? It’s an “anti-social” technology.

8)      The “really busy” people – thought leaders, executives, analysts, heavy hitters, brainiacs – those are the people I want to reach the most.  They’re also the LEAST LIKELY to bother validating.  And the most likely to “unfollow” me for spamming them.

9)      Ok… I admit I only have 8. 
 But I did that on purpose – please leave comments below with candidates for “Why TrueTwit is Awful”.  Or Tweet @SoftwareHollis.  Use HashTag #H8TT.  Or email me  In a week or two, I’ll create a new “Top 10 list” for TrueTwit haters.

 Top 10 Reasons to Love TrueTwit

1)      You work for TrueTwit.
2)      You’re an investor in TrueTwit.
3)      Maybe they’ll come out with something useful for managing who I 
follow, instead of who follows me.
4,5,6,7,8) Your son/daughter/wife/husband/significant other works at TrueTwit
9)      I’m open for suggestions – I love social media and interactions.  Tweet me @SoftwareHollis with reasons why you love TrueTwit.  Use HashTag #LuvTT (NOT #Lovett). 

Balance in all things.  There must be reasons to love TrueTwit or else so many people wouldn’t be annoying the rest of us using it.

Reproduced with the permission of the author, here’s the link to the original post -

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Humous and Taramasalata = UK Double Dip?

Wall Street 24 / 7 -

UK Falls into Double Dip Recession and Austerity Gets Another Test
Posted: April 25, 2012 at 5:06 am
The UK Office of National Statistics announced today that first-quarter 2012 GDP dropped by 0.2%. That is not much, but it comes on the back of a drop in the final quarter of last year. That means, based on traditional definitions, the United Kingdom has joined much of Europe in a new economic downturn.

The effects of the news may be largely psychological. The 0.2% figures could be revised back to a flat line or even a slight
 gain next month. But the news from the eurozone is that Spain already has fallen into another substantial contraction. Italy’s leader, Mario Monti, said his country also has dropped into recession with contractions in the third and fourth quarter of 2011 and a likely continuation of the trend this year. There is hardly a reason to mention Portugal or Greece.

It would be absurd to say that the UK needs any kind of bailout, as much as it would be to say France needs one. But the trouble in England makes it a less robust trading partner, which will cascade to some extent into Europe.
The UK also will be another testing ground for the austerity vs. stimulus battle. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s austerity plans are meant to cut expenses of £123 billion by 2016-17. As the WallStreet Journal pointed out recently

Excessive Social Media Marketing Results in Backlash

I hope I don't fall foul of this ... though I am aware that maintaining an even flow of tweets, facebook and Blog posts can be a challenge.  
Something to reflect on.  

March 28, 2012 -- A recent social media advertising study, conducted by marketing research firm Relevation Research, finds that 52% of U.S. online consumers have liked, followed or subscribed to a company/brand or retailer via social networking or email. However, close to a third of these consumers later turn around and break off the social connection with these companies, brands, and stores.

 Reasons customers cite:
·         Excessive communications -- receiving too many posts, tweets, texts, or emails from companies/brands/retailers
·         Failure to deliver on a promise of deals
·         Failure to engage the consumer or offer value via marketing communications
·         Consumers lost interest in the topic or were never interested, yet signed up at a friend's request.

Once consumers stop following these companies on social media, they then view the brand more negatively, shop/visit a retailer less often and thus spend less. 

 The survey of 1,500 online U.S. consumers, age 16+, found that males were quicker to make the break than females and to regard the brand more negatively after the break.

“At present, marketers are too cavalier, and even abusive, with their approach to social media relationships because it’s a powerful tool which can pay off, but only if used thoughtfully,” Nan Martin, managing director at Relevation Research, said. “It’s that very thin line between courting and annoying. Right now, some brands are effectively drawing people in,  but then undermining their equity by what happens next with their social media activity.”

Source: TechZone360, Relevation Research Releases Social Media Advertising Study, March 28, 2012.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Meetings, meetings, meetings ..

11 Strategies to Tame Meeting Madness

Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered why you were there and whether it would ever end, then read on. There is a better way.

1. Review the decision to hold the meeting. Only hold meetings if the desired outcome is a decision or a brainstorming session, or if input from everyone is needed. Do not hold a meeting if the only reason is to convey information or all issues on the agenda could be dealt with via phone or email.

2. If the meeting is one-on-one, consider a phone call or Skype meeting instead. This is particularly poignant if you or your counterpart has a long way to travel to a meeting. It is not worth spending several hours on travelling for a half hour meeting. 

3. Review the decision who to invite. Only invite attendees who need to contribute to the decision making process or whose input is important for the brainstorming session. Consider the cost of each attendee, their hourly rate, their travel costs, etc.

4. Always start meetings on time. If there are some latecomers, simply acknowledge them by telling them where on the agenda you are, but don't bother catching them up . They'll soon get the drift and be on time the next time.

5. Always have an agenda. The content of the agenda determines the length of the meeting. Each item on the agenda has a clearly marked length and who is involved/responsible/presenting. This will help you to stay on track and keep the meeting moving along. 

Make sure to include the purpose of the meeting in the agenda. This will act as a reminder to keep the meeting on track.
Include the agenda in the invitation to the meeting, so that all participants can arrive prepared.

6. Always finish on time, or even early if possible. Participants will be grateful and meetings will be more productive since everyone will be eager to fully participate.

7. Establish ground rules, such as
a. Only 1 person talks at a time
b. No mobile phones or text messaging during the meeting
c. No laptops

The reason for these rules is so that everyone pays attention and focuses on the meeting and doesn't try and multitask. If your meetings are flowing well and always keep to timings, there is no need for people to constantly contact the outside world.

8. Keep a written record of the meeting but only insofar as recording next steps and who is responsible for them. Don't bore your participants by minutely detailing everything that happened at the meeting. Honestly, nobody will read it. Keep it brief, simple and to the point. Action steps - who is responsible - by when - that's it.

9. At the end of a meeting, do a meeting review - what worked, what didn't - and make it an ongoing learning experience to improve your meetings from one to the next.

10. Before you leave the meeting room, decide whether you are holding a follow-up meeting set the date (while everyone is there with their diary) or discuss the next regular meeting, and also the agenda for the next meeting.

11. If the meetings go on for several hours be sure to include energisers to keep people engaged and to maintain a high energy level in the room. This is especially important if people had to travel to the meeting.

And that's it: 11 strategies to tame your meeting madness.

Isi Dixon

Consultant, Motivational Speaker & Author

Well Organised

Professional Organising & Decluttering

Tel: 07732 915456


Author of Get Twice As Much Done In Half The Time – 10 Productivity Strategies for Your Office Available on  Isis website (with a special bonus edition of Printable Forms, Templates & Worksheets), Via Amazon for Kindle

Via Smashwords (in the following formats: .mobi, Epub, PDF, LRF – for Sony reader, Palm Doc – PDB – for Palm reader)

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Customer Experience - The most Important KPI

In  March 2012 Irongate Group carried out their annual customer survey and had a fantastic response.  

“Always impressed with the promptness of support and delivery”

“Always provide an outstanding service”

“Can’t improve on perfection”

“I have a great Account Manager and with this being my first order I aim to order more and more from you”

“I have always found the staff very helpful and friendly - not pushy like at some stationery companies”

“A welcome change to have people answering the phones who know the products but also appreciate the customer's needs. Well done”

“Very good service, everyone seems nice and polite, so i enjoy speaking with them :) Thanks for everything”

“We are very happy with Irongate and find the on-line stationery order service very quick and easy to use”

“We are very pleased with the service overall from Irongate. We tried Staples about a year or so ago but they were not very good at all. The quality of the goods is excellent and the delivery is fast and efficient - the driver is always very polite and helpful”

“We often have other companies trying to take your business but we have stuck with you as delivery is excellent, the delivery gentleman is very helpful and when we have had faulty goods they have always been returned and replaced with no problems”

Do you know what your customers think of you?

Social Media Is Intimidating

If you are sitting on the fence agonising about it. 

What's the point? How does it work?  What can social media do for ME?

I am no social media guru but I am fortunate. I am passionate about and interested in what I do for a living. I also realise I don't know everything and neither does anyone else. So for me social media has never been intimidating.  Honest. But what qualifies me to have an opinion?   

Please indulge me briefly as I explain. I have sold and helped sell a diverse range of products and services including;  paper clips, structural flooring systems - I was marketing manager for the company who put the steel deck flooring into canary wharf back in the late 1980's and went onto do the Gherkin and much more, hard landscaping products (with one of the companies who pioneered the introduction of concrete block and small element paving into the UK), stage systems, packaging, temporary access roadways (with the people who do the Glastonbury fence) .. err what else ... membership of a sizable Chamber of Commerce ... resources to help schools and colleges with their environmental education. And as I look back I recall I enjoyed all of it. 

I expect you to be thinking "so what!?"  I can't think its just me who enjoys the challenges of new stuff, new sectors, new products, new markets, new people, new ideas, new sales marketing and communication tools.   So dive in and see if you can make it work for your business.  Maybe it will, maybe it won't.  Who knows?  It has to be worth a try though. Doesn't it?

If you are taking the first steps with Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, Shortstack,, lujure,  Klout,, flickr, post-it later, Google+,  YouTube, you are not alone and there's no reason to be intimidated by social media.  Little over a year ago apart from YouTube which I use outside of work to share my amateur music and some casual Facebook, I'd never used any of these.

What was it that drove me to explore, learn and get to know the above?  Me! driven by an open mind and a  desire to make a success of  I reckon I have too, having won the BOSS Federation Award for Etailer of the Year 2011.   Its not been easy, but then anything anything worth having doesn't come without effort and commitment.  It has been great fun though. That's me slipping out again.

All you need to make social media for you is effort commitment and an open mind.  Some of the tools above may be new to you so please explore.  If just one reader clicks one link and goes onto use just one of these tools I will have proven the value of this Blog post and therefore social media. There are no secrets.  There are no guru's.  There is no absolute truth.  Read what you see but don't believe most of it.  Make your own choices and see where they take you.  We are making it up as we go along and don't let anyone fool you to the contrary.

Share, listen and learn. Above all be yourself.  At the end of the day it is YOU that makes the difference.

And the inspiration for this post came from Twitter engagement with one of my suppliers which set me thinking:-

Please use the above tools.  There not secrets.  I say on my profile I am here to share.  I am true to my word.

I lied though, I do have Secrets.

These social media "impact" stats I will keep to myself:-
Traffic to web site? 
Enquires generated?
Orders generated?
Customer engagement?
Prospect engagement?
Previously unexpected new business opportunities acquired?
Value added to customer experience?
New knowledge and information acquired?
Stuff shared - quite a bit?
Advice ignored?
People irritated ... a few I expect but I am not here to please everyone.  I'll leave that to the Bee Gees.

The list could go on .......

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Linkedin is for Losers

Someone once said to me. Of course he was wrong.

Here's a fascinating infographic from that I came across today and would like to share with you. 

Three-Quarters of Newspaper Readers Use Printed Circulars

April 12, 2012 -- A new study from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) shows that in an average week, 74% of all Internet users rely on local newspaper media – digital as well as print – as key sources of news and information, and are engaging with their local newspaper across multiple platforms.

In addition, 73% have used newspaper printed circulars in the past 30 days; 54% are using more than one platform to access newspaper content in an average week; and, 67% use at least one of three common digital platforms – computers, smartphones or tablets – and they use each at multiple times over the course of the day for newspaper content.

Other key findings of the Newspaper Multiplatform Usage report, conducted independently by research-based strategic consulting firm Frank N. Magid Associates:

Strength and appeal of advertising in newspaper media:

·         73% have used newspaper printed circulars in the past 30 days, while 74% make a point of looking at printed Sunday circulars;

·         66% of digital newspaper media users act on digital ads;

·         61% of tablet users act on newspaper tablet ads, while 59% of smartphone users act on ads on that device;

·         61% say that newspapers provide more useful advertising;

·         The majority of respondents prefer print circulars to digital:

Source: NAA, 2012
Findings related to news content:
·          “I like to follow the local newspaper in whichever format is convenient for me” – 89% for print-only readers, 88% for print + digital readers and 91% for digital-only readers;

·         “Newspapers provide a broad range of news and information in one place” – 90% for print-only readers, 85% for print + digital readers and 83% for digital-only readers;

·         “Newspapers provide more local news” – 89% for print-only readers, 84% for print + digital readers and 86% for digital-only readers;

·         “I want the depth and detail that newspapers provide” – 80% for print-only readers, 82% for print + digital readers and 73% for digital-only readers.

The study notes similarities between newspaper print readers and tablet users:

·         66% of print users and 60% of tablet users agree that their respective platform “is a relaxing way for me to read the newspaper.”

·         61% of print and 60 % of tablet users say newspapers “provide a satisfying reading experience for me.”

·         45% of print and 57% of tablet users say newspapers are “an easy way to get a complete view of the news.”

“The study demonstrates that advertisers can effectively reach a shopping audience across newspapers’ multiple platforms, said Caroline Little, NAA president and CEO. "Clearly, newspapers’ embrace of multiplatform strategies provides significant opportunities for audience and revenue growth.”

About: Took place November 2011-January 2012 -- 2,518 online interviews averaging 25 minutes among age 18+ adults nationwide screened for using, in the past seven days, at least one of four platforms for their local daily newspaper (either print, online, tablet, and/or smartphone) --1,896 print readers, 1,480 online readers, 864 smartphone readers, 734 tablet readers. Also: Additional brief, online 1,179-respondent survey to obtain targets to balance the four  platform groups properly and to enable weighting by gender, age, race, ethnicity and Census Region; reference is U.S. adult Internet users (around 76% of adults). 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

9 out of 10 USA On-Line Adults might be Paranoid

I read recently that in the USA 9 out of 10 on-line adults use search engines to find information on the web but that the majority of these users do not like search engines and other websites collecting information about them and using it to either shape their search results or target advertising to them.

Why would this be the case? Search engine advertising is here to stay and surely targeted advertising has to be better than random and irrelevant advertising.  I think its all rather clever, benefiting the seller and the buyer.  As to filtering search results how can it not make sense to customise search results to suit the individual?

Are we just paranoid, ignorant or just don't like change ... what do you think?

Targeted marketing - A piece of cake

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