Category Archives: The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Improve your blog’s bounce rate and such

I do this blog for fun, not for monies. HOWEVER: even casual bloggers probably want to make their bloggity blog more popular, and get more viewers.

Want to make your blog better and more popular? Neil Patel of Quicksprout is your man.

He’s brilliant. And he made this handy infographic on improving your website’s stickiness.

Check him out if you’re serious about page views and such. I make the same (zero!) whether this silly blog gets 5,932,023,727,099,131,827 hits a day or the only guy reading it is some bored dude in a research station in Antarctica, so bounce rates aren’t my thing. But I know many writers work crazy hard on their blogs and blog-like substances, and what Neil does for free, and for his clients, is packed full of Smart.

How to Decrease Your Bounce Rate
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits Collection: 10 Epic Posts

  1. Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?
  2. The Mother of All Query Letters
  3. Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller
  4. The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
  5. The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
  6. A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER
  7. 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
  8. Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt
  9. The Red Pen of Doom murders THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
  10. Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Photo by Suhyoon Cho

 

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Why even the mighty Facebook is DOOMED

So now that social media is an entrenched Big Deal, taking up gobs of bandwidth on the Series of Tubes, you’re starting to see story after story in papers of news and even the Glowing Tube, which still lives.

One hot story keeps popping up, like an invincible monster in a bad horror movie, and that story can be summed up in four words: FACEBOOK IS GONNA DIE.

These stories all point to numbers and extrapolate from there. Teenagers are abandoning the Facebook ship! Now that half the world is on Facebook, growth has stalled!

I’m not saying those stories are wrong. But here’s the thing: Facebook will die. It is not the immortal, invincible juggernaut people think it is. 

Because nothing on the internet stays on top forever. And in the end, angry rocks from space will doom us all.

Want to lose money? Bet your paycheck on predicting what we’ll be using for social media five years from now.

Want to make money? Bet the title of your car that something new will supplant whatever is dominant today.

Facebook will go the way of MySpace–it’s inevitable.

Twitter may fade away, or get smoked by some hot new thing now being created in the dorm room of some 18-year-old at Indiana State University.

Sure, the piles of money Facebook has could keep it on life support forever. Zuckerberg might use those billions to buy other hot new things on the Series of Tubes, or transform Facebook in radical ways.

Yet even if Facebook buys all the other companies in the world, and we all wind up working for Facebook for the next 20,000 years, eventually, rocks from space will blow everything up.

But we won’t have to wait for that. Facebook will fade and die, because we humans are fickle. There isn’t some magical switch that can freeze the quirky intersection of pop culture, technology and fashion.

Fashions come in waves. If short hair is dominant, that automatically makes long hair the hip, rebellious thing to do.

If Facebook is dominant, the cool kids automatically flee to something new and small and subversive until it gets too popular.

The same thing happens with music and movies. True hipster run away once their favorite band gets too popular. Hard-core movie fans are into obscure French black-and-white existentialism and 1960s samurai flicks for the simple reason that they are obscure and unpopular.

The younger the demographic, the quicker they shift allegiances.

Boy bands are a great lesson. No matter how big and unstoppable the media considered N Sync or the Backstreet Boys, they got tossed aside for the next hot new thing. It has always been so and it will always be so.

Because fashion and pop culture work that way. By becoming popular, you guarantee that the hipsters and cool kids will therefore consider you uncool and unpopular, causing your downfall and the rise of some obscure unknown shebang.

So yeah, Facebook will die.

And yeah, something fresh and new and completely obscure will get embraced by the hipsters and cool kids.

Just don’t believe anybody who says they know exactly what replaces it, or when it’ll happen.

The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits Collection: 10 Epic Posts

  1. Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?
  2. The Mother of All Query Letters
  3. Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller
  4. The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
  5. The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
  6. A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER
  7. 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
  8. Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt
  9. The Red Pen of Doom murders THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
  10. Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by Jill Marr of the Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

2014 predictions in visual design goodness

Though my love for words could not be stronger, I am not blind to the facts, or to pretty photos. And the fact is, pretty photos and visuals matter more than words.

That’s not my opinion. Brilliant men and women in white lab coats have run experiments, doing things like printing the first page of novels that won insanely great awards with no pictures or visuals, then putting total garbage on a page with a better layout and a photo.

Guess what people instantly liked more, and actually read more often?

Visuals take a shortcut to secret parts of the brain, and get them all excited, while words are still tying their shoes and stretching their hamstrings.

So eye candy is fundamental. Embrace it. Show it the love it deserves.

To start off the new year, here’s an infographic about visual design and photo trends that’s interesting, funny and good.

2014 visual design trends

Also: If you go to the original post on PR Daily, scroll down to the comments section to see an example of how NOT to do comments. It’s not wicked smart to pick on nice young college interns, dogs or sweet little grandmothers. Personally, I think internships are the best thing ever, both for the college student and for the company. Everybody wins. If somebody young and eager wants get into the business, it’s an honor they asked to learn from you. 

Also-also: I’m back from three weeks in India, so if I ignored a tweet, email or secret message, it’s not because I secretly hate you. If I really hated you, you’d know it, because I’d send a singing telegram, and I believe the song would be “Nobody likes you, everybody hates you, you should eat some wooo-rms.” Then you’d get handed a bucket of nightcrawlers and some Tabasco sauce. 

Related posts:

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award and is represented by the brilliant Jill Marr at Dijkstra Literary Agency.

7 Comments

Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Slaves of the Internet, Unite! – NYTimes.com

This man speaks the truth. Read him.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Insensitive Hippo opens Twitter account, harasses man it once swallowed

Protip: Do not play around with hippos.  Art by Netlizard.

At 27 years old, Paul Templer was swallowed by a hippo.

In 1996, Templer was giving a tour of the Zambezi river in Africa when his canoe was overturned. As Templer paddled out to rescue a fellow guide, he was swallowed by a rude hippopotamus.

Templer documented the incident in an article written for The Guardian in May 2013. Templer writes:

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness…I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs…My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.

…I’ve no idea how long we stayed under – time passes very slowly when you’re in a hippo’s mouth.

After having a book about the experience published in 2012 (ironically titled What’s Left Of Me), he thought that his nightmare with the “rogue hippo”, as he calls it, was over.

Continue reading

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Muffin chokers, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Happy birthday to the Twitter!

A nice little video about the evolution of the Twitter, which is 6.942 bazillion times better than the Book of Face, which will one day go the way of MySpace — and not even powers of Justin the Timberlake will be able to save Zuckerberg’s baby.

I’d throw another “which” in there, but it’d just be piling on.

Also: What is the ONE THING you would delete about the Twitter, aside from nuking direct messages from orbit?

Also-also: What is the ONE THING you would add to the Twitter?

Also-cubed: Here’s a link to I THREW IT ON THE GROUND, because (a) it includes the lyric, “Happy birthday to the ground” and (b) it’s one of the funniest music videos in forever, with (c) a song that’s actually good.

Related posts:

Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

3 ways to change the digital world FOREVER

It is official: social media now dominates the Series of Tubes.

Every year, these smart people produce a slick video about the interwebs, and this year’s video is especially good and interesting.

Now, having filled your brain with facts and numbers and industrial euro-pop dance music, WHAT DO WE DO?

Simple. We change the world.

Change # 1: One Contact Thing to rule them all

So you’ve got contacts in your gmail at home and Outlook at work, Twitter lists of followers and all kinds of Facebook friends, Tumblr buddies and Pinterest pals and a dozen other things.

It is an unholy mess.

Blessed be the app that gives us One Contact Thing, a single shebang with the magical powers to organize all your contacts, from all those stupid platforms, in one tidy place. The power will be unthinkable.

This means ending the nonsense about Instagram not talking to Twitter because she saw him flirting with Google or whatever. And yes, we need it to be easy and quick and on our phones. Because I’m not firing up the PC every time I need to look up a phone number or Twitter handle.

Whoever does this first — Apple, Google, Microsoft, some dude in his basement coding the app in his pajamas — will rule the interwebs forever and ever.

Change # 2: Obliterate voice mail and switch to texting

Am I saying  we should take voice mail behind the barn and shoot it? No. I’m saying take it behind the barn, hang it, set it on fire, THEN shoot it.

Nobody likes voice mail. Nobody.

Don’t call my cell phone and make me dial up voice mail, punch in a password I keep forgetting, then listen for two minutes. Especially when 99.99 percent of all voice mail messages are things you can sum up in a short text like, “Phone tag, you’re it” or “Pick up some milk, yo” or “I’m a reclusive billionaire with $400 million sitting around, and instead of handing it to Karl Rove, who I wouldn’t trust at this point to run a successful race for student body president at Willapa Valley Junior High, I’d like some return on my investment.”

Send a text, people. College kids these days don’t even use email anymore. They think email is so 1994.

If it’s too complicated for a text, send an email.

If you really hate me, send a voice mail. Make it long. Don’t leave your number or email — assume that I’ve memorized it. And then when I call back, make sure you don’t answer your phone so I can start the whole thing rolling with a voice mail of my own.

Therefore, we will nuke voice mail from orbit, and the world will rejoice.

Change # 3: Real photos, good bios and no anonymous trolls

Twitter, Facebook and every other social media shebang is full of photos and bios of people that may be human, and might be young or old, male or female, con artist or genius.

You can’t tell, though, because (a) their profile photo is a shot of a cat, Yoda holding a lightsaber or a pile of leaves, (b) their Twittter handle is @jkringer392 and (c) their bio is a train wreck of obscure references to Star Trek fan fiction and such. I have seen all of these things and more. Who will pay for my therapy?

Related post: 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys

There are plenty of places for anonymous folks to say whatever they like. Sites like reddit will always be around. Have at it.

HOWEVER: papers of news, TV stations and serious blogs need to stop feeding the trolls by letting TrailerParkNinja and TexasMustSecede2016! dominate the comment sections with anonymous spam and hateful, nonsense. So let’s cut back on that by requiring commenters to use real photos and bios. Want to spew? Go spew in Anonymous Land.

If you’re going to be on the Series of Tubes, and want to be taken Seriously, you need a Serious photo — of you, not your cat — and a real bio. Period.

Long ago, only famous people needed public relations folks, who made sure actors, authors and other celebrities had good mug shots and nice bios. Today, everybody is online. Your photo, bio and name are what people see first. But average people don’t have a publicist. They’re flying in the dark with a blindfold, and yeah, it shows.  

Wonder why you aren’t getting many followers on Twitter or hits to your blog? Take a look at your photo and bio.

Trying to get a job / book deal / punk rock music contract? Take a hard look at what people see, in the first five seconds, when they check you out on Twitter and the Book of Face and such.

People don’t make a decision about you after reading your short stories or listening to three mp3s of sample songs on your blog. They glance at your photo and decide, in half a second, whether to interact with you or never give you a second thought. They do this all the time, in a hurry. Ten people just followed you on Twitter, and you follow back or not, clicking away with your mousity mouse, no-no-yes-no-yes-yes-no. You don’t ponder these decisions, right? Bam. So make it easy on people by taking it seriously. I’m talking to you, Miss Duckface, who shot your profile photo in the bathroom mirror using an iPhone.

duckface collage or montage or whatever

A duckface collage or montage or whatever.

People need a place –a Profile Doctor–to get easy and quick help with this sort of thing, without putting a public relations firm on retainer.

As an experiment, I just did a bit of profile doctoring for Lauren the Palazzo, recent public relations grad. Did she get a job? Yes, she did.

Yet I can’t doctor the profiles of all 3 billion people with profile photos of their cat, Spock or Darth Vader paired with  a train-wreck bios, not unless I quit my job and hire a crack legion of  minions with red pens and Photoshop skills. Though if such a crack legion of secret editing agents existed, it’s a good bet that the underground headquarters would include tiger sharks (lasers optional) swimming in the moat and komodo dragons next to the BBQ pit.

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

5 ways to make blog posts GO ALL VIRAL

There is no guaranteed method, no secret way, to make a blog post that causes the Series of Tubes to explode.

Anybody who says otherwise is a lying liar full of lying liaosity.

Because this is an art, not a science.

HOWEVER: There are things that are smart, and give you a chance.

yoda after the death star blows up

If your magical blog post causes the Series of Tubes to blow up like a Death Star orbiting the second moon of Yavin, then Yoda will celebrate by dropping it like it’s hot.

5) Swing for the fences

If all your blog posts are kinda the same — the same topic, the same length, the same tone — it’s a good bet none of them will ever magically shock the world.

Learn from PETA, which gets gobs and gobs of free ink and airtime by trying bold, crazy PR stunts.

Most of them fail. Sometimes, they get a little bad press for a stunt gone wrong.

But they keep swinging for the fences, because there is no real penalty for swinging and missing. Continue reading

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes, Viral media math

Top 4 features Twitter should add — or kill

So, I love the Twitter, which is fun and useful, and have fallen out of love with the Book of Face, because it’s not very useful and has become rather Annoying.

Twitter

HOWEVER: There are things in Twitter that should be fixed, and features we desperately need to have.

Here they are.

Thing Number 4: Kill direct messages 

Kill it with fire. Nuke it from orbit. Go send Keanu Reeve through the Matrix to wipe DM’s from the face of the Twitterverse.

Why?

Because nobody sends them anymore, not unless they get hacked and spit out endless “U didn’t see them tapping u? http://spam.a.licious” messages.

Thing Number 3: Give unto us some LIVE CHAT already

One of the great things about Gmail is you can see your contacts on the left side of the screen, with little green dots for folks who are online, and with a single click, bam, you can live-chat your buddies.

Twitter needs this. You’re already on the Twitter, and so is your buddy, but after the third round of back-and-forth of Tweets and replies, it’s beyond clunky and you just want to do a live chat instead of waiting for Twitter to reload and such.

Live chat isn’t some kind of advanced alien technology.  Make your people happy. After you put a dagger in the heart of spammy direct messages, give us live chat, which is spam proof.

Thing Number 2: Separate the streams

Right now, Twitter gives us a single stream of tweets, and they fly by at the speed of light.

Even if you’ve got all your people categorized into separate lists and groups, and would like to check on folks that way, Twitter won’t let you.

Basically, they’ve crossed the streams. And crossing the streams is an achy breaky bad mistakey.

Sure, you can fire up Hootesuite and other apps that will let you see different streams of Tweets, as they are meant to be seen. Yet if you need Hootesuite to check different streams, then Social Bro to manage your lists, Buffer to schedule tweets and some other app to get a handle on all your contacts, that’s a flashing neon light that says Twitter needs fixing.

Thing Number 1: Give us easy ways to manage our peoples

Learn from email, please. It’s been around for a little while now, and we all know how to use it.

Don’t let us organize people into lists like “Thriller authors” and “Serious fans of Care Bear cartoons” without giving us an easy way of sending a tweet about Lee Child‘s latest novel only to those thriller authors, and not your Care Bear maniacs.

Don’t make it insanely difficult to sort through the list of people you follow, or who follow you, without wading through screen after screen. SocialBro has some really smart features, like sorting through people who haven’t tweeted in six months. Learn from that. Sock it to us.

It shouldn’t be insanely difficult to keep track of your favorite people. Gmail has a nice touch where it’ll list your 20-some most frequently emailed folks. Those are your people, right? Make it easy for users. Show everybody who tweets them the most, or retweets what they say. Don’t make us try to remember whether you spell it @batmanFANinLondon or @BATMANfanInLONDON when you’re trying to talk to the guy about what DC will do with the Justice League movie.

Also, distribution lists are smart and useful. Let us have them.

Make it easy and we will love you even more, Twitter.

Make it hard and we’ll keep on kludging together workarounds, using four other apps, as we wonder whether you’ll keep making smart decisions or follow Facebook down the path of the Dark Side, where stock options only head south after the IPO.

Related posts:

30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys

Top 5 reasons why Twitter CRUSHES Facebook

The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books

Joseph Perla: ‘Facebook is a Ponzi scheme’

Old Media versus The Series of Tubes

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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Filed under 7 Media Strategy Saturday, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes

Top 10 Myths of Journalism School

Oh, if I could go back in time, and whisper in the ear of my younger self during journalism school.

Not that I was busy screwing it up. Editor-in-chief of my college newspaper, graduated No. 1 in my class, won a bunch of awards, blah-blah-blah. (Related: Who is this Guy?)

But the traditional things that most journalism students think they SHOULD be doing — well, often those are seven separate kinds of wrong.

And there are other things Serious Journalism Majors scoff at, things that you actually should not only embrace, but hug tightly to your bosom.

So here we go with the Top 10 Myths of Journalism School.

Myth No. 10: Hard news is the only true love of a Serious Journalism Major

Sure, unfiltered Marlboros and Jim Beam come close. But nothing beats a scoop about an amazing scandal. You laugh at people trying to make the words flow for their feature story on dumpster divers, a story packed with all these photos, which are for nancypants who don’t have the stones to write more words.

Here’s the truth: hard news is all about news gathering and using the inverted pyramid, which is a horrible structure for any sort of writing and needs to be taken behind the barn and shot.

Hard news is worthy, and does the public a great service. Yet if all you do is hard news, you won’t truly learn journalism — or how to write.

Related posts:

Myth No. 9: Journalism school will teach you how to write

Once you get that pigskin from j-school, and land your first journalism  gig — at The Willapa Valley Shopper or The New York Times – you’ll go home after 12 hours of banging on the keyboard to stay up past midnight, banging on the keyboard some more while smoking Gallouise Blondes and drinking cheap whiskey sours as you write (a) the next Great American Novel, (b) a Broadway play involving a debutant who falls in love with a struggling young reporter or (c) a Hollywood screenplay about a vast government conspiracy unraveled by an intrepid young intern at CBS.

This will be a lot of fun, and you’ll remember this as being the Best Thing Ever until you’ve been doing it for seven months and turning every draft of your extra-curricular writerly fun into three-point attempts. Also, you will miss this thing we call “sleep” and these other things we call “money in the checking account” and “a social life that does not involve typing on a keyboard chatting with a person who may, or may not, actually exist.”

Continue reading

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Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Journalism, publicity and scandals, Old Media, which is still Big and Strong, Speechwriting, The Twitter, the Book of Face and the Series of Tubes