Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Moving Over to WordPress

I've been procrastinating about this decision for a while, but I've decided to move over to WordPress for my personal blog.

While I haven't posted to this blog since the summer, I plan to post at a more frequent pace on the new blog.

I'll officially kick things off with the new blog on March 1st, but you'll start to see changes take place immediately.

Blogger is a great platform that performs well in search engines, I've just grown pretty fond of the whole WordPress + Thesis combination.

I hope you'll head over to and keep reading from there.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tweetups Are Cool, Despite the Name

Okay, so I put together my first tweetup last week. Half of you reading this post have no idea what that is, and I'm pretty sure a few of you rolled your eyes (I know I did the first time I heard the term). But here's the deal, despite the dorky-sounding name, tweetups are a great way to throw together an event with little effort or investment.

When we're talking about a tweetup, we're really talking about a casual event where people from Twitter meet in the real world. In this case, my first tweetup had a special guest: best-selling author, speaker and overall nice guy David Meerman Scott.

I'm a fan of David's books and I follow him on Twitter. When I found out he was going to be in town for training with a local company, I reached out to him through Twitter to see if he'd be interested in doing a Tweetup (joining some Atlanta folks for happy hour).

He quickly agreed to do the event, provided it was in Norcross, convenient to company where he was doing his training the next day. Now for those of you not in Atlanta, this is like having a New York City event in New Jersey - it's hard to pull much of a crowd. David said he was fine if only 10 people showed up. I thought that was awesome. Here's a guy that delivers keynotes for 600 people and he's willing to come grab a couple of beers with us. A lot of speakers I've met in the past would not be so generous with their time. It's gestures like this that help David create a World Wide Raves wherever he goes.

Despite the inconvenient location and a healthy dose of rain, more than 50 people came out to the event. The crowd was diverse, including local executives from Fortune 500 companies and well-known startups, reporters and bloggers, and of course, book-toting fans hoping to get an autograph. They all did (myself included).

I really looked at this event as an experiment. I wanted to see what all this tweetup hype was all about. The truth is, any of you on Twitter can put together a tweetup and get a bunch of people to show up and meet in the real world. And while I'm not going to go out and order a tweetup badge anytime soon, chances are good I'll host another tweetup again soon.

If you want to see some pics from the event:
Thanks to everyone that made the trip to Norcross for this event. And a special thanks to Three Dollar Cafe Norcross, those guys were awesome.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Atlanta Social Media Tweetup With David Meerman Scott

Those of you that know me know that I like to read (and suggest) my fair share of business books. As a marketing and PR guy living in a social media world, it's no surprise that two of my recent favorites are World Wide Rave and The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.

These books should be your handbook for how you manage your social media, marketing and PR activities today. Now that I've got the plug out of the way, I'm happy to announce that David will be in town next Thursday and will be our guest for a special Atlanta social media tweetup (a.k.a. happy hour).

The event will be at the Norcross Three Dollar Cafe next Thursday (June 4th) from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Here's a link to the info: I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Protect Your Brands Online: Reserve Your User Names

Remember when everyone flocked to the Web and started grabbing up domain names left and right, in hopes of selling them for millions of dollars to the highest bidder? Have you tried to register a domain name lately and found it available? Probably not.

The same landgrab is going on in Twitter and across other less-established social media sites. If you have an existing brand (including your most important personal brand, your name) you should make an effort to reserve your user names across as many of the social media sites you plan to use.

Since there are more than 100 popular social media sites out there, it could take you weeks to go through this process. Rather than wast that time, use a social media user name checker (well, what else would you call it?) to search them all at once. It takes less than 30 seconds.

In addition to helping you figure out which user names are available and which ones you still need to register, the following tools are also great for discovering social media sites you didn't know existed:

KnowEm searches across more than 100 social media sites to see if your username is available or not. This one seems to be the fastest and most reliable, so I'd start here. This is also a great place to discover new social media channels.

namechk pretty much does the same thing, enabling you to check user name availability across 100+ social media sites. I've used this service as well, and it works good. It's also one of many great projects @prsarahevans is involved in (she's the one that came up with the MediaOnTwitter wiki and #journchat).

I'll also give an honorable mention to User Name Check, since the domain name makes me suspect they came up with this idea some time ago.

I think it's important to make a little side comment here. Just because there are 100+ social media sites out there (probably 10 times that), that doesn't mean you should set them up. It's good to have the user name reserved, in the event that particular social medium becomes a critical part of your online marketing strategy.

Social media is the technology you use to implement your strategy, not the strategy in and of itself.

It's also important to point out the search engine optimization factor here. If the social media site includes your user name in a unique URL, there's a good chance your profile on that service will index high for your brand or personal name. For example, when you search "Jeremy Porter" in Google, my Twitter and LinkedIn pages come up on the first page, partially because my name is in the URL.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gators, Chimps and Other Party Animals

I recently attended the Mashable Mixer Atlanta, brought to us in partnership with Regator. This was Mashable's first Georgia event, and what an event it was. If you're not familiar with Mashable, it's the largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and social media news. Hands down, Mashable has the best, freshest content in these areas.

As far as the event goes, it was a who's who of Atlanta startups, entrepreneurs and social media-types. In addition to Regator, the event featured Gold Sponsors a small orange, Chirbit, krumlr, MailChimp, Paste Magazine. Atlanta startups Band Metrics, Feedscrub, Jungle Disk, TechDrawl and Twitpay also supported the event as Local Sponsors.

I remember when I first started working in the Atlanta startup scene, somewhere around 1998. Back then, there were events (okay, really they were just big parties) almost every night of the week. It was common to shuttle from event to event on any given night. The startup community was vibrant back then, and everyone was out there networking with each other, launching new ventures and finding ways to work together.

The Mashable Mixer Atlanta was the first event I've seen in a long time that brought me back to those days. There were tons of folks from the next generation of Atlanta startups, plenty of private equity folks, a few journalists and many guests from out of town. And I don't remember talking to a single salesperson the whole night, but maybe that's just me.

I'm pretty sure 90% of the people who use Twitter in Atlanta were at this event. Though the number of people who weren't able to get tickets probably shoots a hole in my theory. The event sold out twice; and there was a line around the building when I got there.

I have to give props to Mashable for bringing their energy to town, to Regator for leading the charge on this great event, and to all the sponsors that helped make this possible. I hope this is the beginning of more great events to come this summer. I got to connect with a lot of old friends, and left with a lot of new ones. It was nice to meet a lot of people behind the Twitter avatars I see in my stream each day.

The party continued well into the night, with many folks joining the festivities at the official after party at Brewhouse. It looks like I was spared from those late-night pictures, thankfully.

Some other resources for those of you that attended the event or weren't able to make it:
Oh, and the animal reference in the headline? MailChimp's Frederick von Chimpenheimer IV (a chimp), Regator's Reg (an alligator) and Jungle Disk's... um, I guess a pink gorilla, were in attendance at the event. Here's a pic of the primates with MailChimp's Chief Twitter Officer Amanda Lauter.

And a final word on Paste Magazine. Like many print media these days, Paste needs your help to keep things rolling. They're offering an awesome selection of music for those that donate to the cause through their website as part of their Campaign to Save Paste. It's a great magazine. If you like music, check it out.

Twitpay Launches Retweet Commerce

Twitpay is one of the success stories to come out of Atlanta Startup Weekend 2. When it launched, it looked like a "PayPal for Twitter" service. Like anything associated with Twitter these days, the startup got a ton of great press for their launch.

Now we find out that over the past couple of months, its team has been working on a more comprehensive commercial offering of Twitter commerce tools called the Retweet Commerce Suite. Twitpay officially announced its first offering in the Suite last week, RT2Buy (short for "retweet to buy"), a service that enables content creators to publish and sell their digital media (ebooks, music, videos, photos, etc.) through Twitter.

While this could be a good B2C tool for bands and artists looking to sell their music or videos online, many of those users are still trying to figure out MySpace. Then again, RT2Buy is a lot easier to set up than a MySpace page or standalone website. It's really the online version of "Hey, I've Got Some CDs for Sale if You Want One", something struggling artists are used to.

Personally, I see a lot more potential on the B2B side of the equation for RT2Buy. There are a lot of experts out there selling all sorts of guides and ebooks that have a hard time pulling traffic to their sites. With RT2Buy, provided they have a following, they can publish and sell their work right through Twitter.

In addition to RT2Buy, Twitpay plans to launch two new services for the Retweet Commerce Suite very soon:
  • RT2Get - offering to help organizations run promotions and social media campaigns on Twitter. This will be very popular among marketing and PR agencies that are seeing a lot of interest for Twitter programs right now.
  • RT2Give - offering to help non-profits energize support and manage donations through Twitter. This is a great idea. While a lot of non-profits have found success on Twitter on their own so far, RT2Give helps the less advanced non-profits - big and small - to run fundraising efforts through Twitter.
While Twitpay will continue to offer its person-to-person tweet payments service, the Retweet Commerce Suite seems to have much more potential as a viable business model. We've only begun to see the ways people may choose to interact and transact through Twitter, and Twitpay is right in the middle of all the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Does Twitter Really Understand How We Use Twitter?

Twitter made a small settings update yesterday that is not going over well in the twitterverse. Twitter has updated its settings to "better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies." They believe that we only want to see replies between people we are following, and that replies to people we're not following should be hidden.

This is a Horrible Idea

Well, maybe not horrible, but didn't we learn anything from Facebook's recent fiasco? For me and many other Twitter users, replies are one of the best ways to discover new people you might want to follow. That's a big part of the secret sauce behind Twitter. It's a rapid fire word-of-mouth platform that helps us discover the interconnectedness between all of us. I have personally met dozens of new, interesting people as a result of catching a thread between somebody I follow, and somebody I don't follow.

I can't imagine that this move has anything to do with "usage patterns" or any real "user feedback" beyond the walls of Twitter's headquarters. Based on the response on Twitter (#fixreplies and #twitterfail are top trending topics as of this post - both focused on rolling back this change), it's obvious that a lot of us do not consider "one-sided fragments" to be "undesireable". If anything, this is one of the most exciting things about Twitter.

Now Twitter hasn't completely killed the ability to discover new people through your stream, you'll still be able to see references to others - which partially satisfies my needs. But what's really behind the change?

I have a feeling this change has something to do with the algorithm work Twitter is working on behind the scenes. If you're not following both people, you're not in the conversation, therefore having less relevancy than somebody that has both people in their network. But this is just a wild guess. Maybe Twitter really does believe this is a good thing for your Twitter stream.

At the end of the day, how much can I really complain about this? As Matt Asay points out in his latest post, "Twitter's @replies Change Suggests Viable Business Model", Twitter provides a valuable service for free. If we're not paying for the service, do we really have a right to complain about changes to the features. Of course, looking at it another way - and an equally valid open source argument - what would Twitter be worth if it didn't have all of us as users?

In the absence of any meaningful revenue, Twitter's biggest asset is its users. If we want to see one-sided conversations in our tweetstream, so be it. If some users don't like this, give us an on/off switch in the preferences, don't just pull the plug.

What do you think, does Twitter really understand how we use Twitter?

(Photo: walknboston)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Does Size Matter With URLs?

Bigger is usually better. A bigger house or paycheck come to mind. When it comes to sharing links across social media like Twitter, smaller is better these days. While URL shorteners have been around for years, they have exploded in popularity as millions of us have looked to cram as much information as possible into 140 characters. Mashable recently posted a list of more than 90+ URL shortening services that are out there today.

But does URL shrinkage harm your SEO efforts? That seems to be the hot topic around the use of URL shorteners these days.

But First, A Quick Primer In URL Shorteners

In case you're not familiar with URL shorteners, here's an example of how they work:

Let's say I wanted to send out a link to my recent blog post about free Twitter analytics tools. If I sent the link as-is, it would look like this:

If I used a URL shortener like TinyURL, one of the oldest URL shorteners and the category leader, it would look like this:

If I was posting the link to Twitter, I might want an even shorter URL. In this case, I could use a service like to make the link even shorter - like this:

Sure, it's still 17 of my precious 140 characters, but my original link was 80 characters. That's quite a difference. As you can see, URL shorteners make it easier to work with character limits on Twitter.

What You Should Know About URL Shorteners and SEO

There are many factors that determine the relevancy of your content on search engines. One major factor is the number of other sites that link to your content - commonly referred to as inbound links. Traffic is another major factor, as the more popular your content is (the more visitors you get on a page), the more important your content appears to search engines.

Some URL shortening services are better than others when it comes to SEO. I won't bore you with my analysis of the tools, since search engine marketing expert Danny Sullivan has already done this work for all of us. In a recent post about URL shortening services you should use for SEO, Sullivan reviews the most popular services with his SEO hat on. In his analysis, URL shortening services TinyURL,,,, and Snurl / Snipurl get the best grade.

I personally use for my URLs, because it's one of the shorter ones, it provides some great tracking of clicks, and it supports tweeting directly from the service - three features that are important to me. But why should you use these services over the others? Here is what I got from Sullivan's analysis (with my own two cents added):
  • 301 Redirects - without getting into the nitty-gritty of how redirects work, you want a 301 redirect for your shortened URL. 301s are considered permanent redirects, so search engines will give credit to your long URL. This is what you want. If your link is shared in a lot of different places, you want the actual page (the one with the long URL) to get the credit. This will improve the ranking of your long URL page.
  • Tracking - if you're going to share a link, you might as well use a service that will let you track the results. I love for this, since I can see the total number of people who have clicked on each link I've shared. For me, this is valuable information that helps me determine the types of information my Followers want me to share with them.
  • Stability - as I mentioned above, if a URL shortening service takes its servers down for maintenance, all your short links are temporarily disabled until the service is back up. You have no control over this, since you're relying on a third-party to serve up your redirects for those shortened links. It's best to use the popular services that have been around for a while, or else you risk losing all that link equity you've built up with your shortened URLs.
Sullivan also discusses client support in his post. This is less of an issue for me, since I use for my shortened URLs, regardless of the client I'm using. I do this to keep things consistent. However, clients like TweetDeck support many of the most popular URL shortening services, while Web-based clients like HootSuite have their own built-in services ( for example).

Another feature that's offered in many of the URL shorteners is a vanity domain option. For example, I've created a TinyURL link for my LinkedIn profile called This is really just an effort on my part to protect my personal brand, but it's a nice additional feature when trying to narrow down your choice of which service you would like to use.

If you want to know more about URL shorteners and/or their impact on SEO, you should check out some of these posts:
Which URL shortening service do you use? Do you have any additional suggestions for how to use URL shortening services in conjunction with your SEO strategies?