Why You Should Track Your Social Media Accounts

I recently wrote a guest post on Inman Next titled, “Is Your Social Media Account Doing You More Harm Than Good?” where I talk about the dangers of having social media accounts that you aren’t monitoring. The piece generated some controversy, and I even appeared to offend a slew of users of Empire Avenue (thanks to a crafty demonstration of the site’s power by Scott Allen).

I raise the issue of the article because of two individuals who are apparently doing exactly what I recommended — they are purging accounts. Normally, I’d applaud that.

Here’s the problem

Both of these people contacted me this week to nicely request DEMAND that we close their accounts on BiggerPockets. Now this is not unusual, but what makes these two people different is that supposedly someone else created an account on our site in their names.

Such occurrences certainly happen online all the time, and when it does, I absolutely can understand why someone would be mad. I’d be furious. That said, both of these emails came from people who had either created the accounts themselves or outsourced the creation and use of the accounts to an assistant of some sort.

Of course, I know this because, not only do we track IPs, (and the IP of the sender’s emails matched the IP of someone who accessed the account), but in order for an account to be active, a user needs to verify their email address by clicking on a link in an email that is sent at the creation of their account (and both accounts were verified by someone who clicked the link in their inbox).

So we know that they created and accessed their accounts, but according to them, someone else must have created these accounts. They clearly forgot that they had created their account, and took it a step further by being nasty to us.

We of course, closed the accounts for these two users, but I just wanted to share the story with you as a reminder to keep track of those accounts.

Tracking Your Social Media Accounts

If you’re unable to remember all the accounts that you open online, create a database for those accounts. Simply create three columns with the site’s name, URL, and your username, and each time you create a new account, add it to the list.

This is important for a few reasons:

  1. It allows you to do what I suggest in the Inman article, and helps track those accounts you may want to purge from time to time.
  2. Looking at the list can serve as a reminder of different networks that you may not have been active on in a while and may serve as an impetus to engage.
  3. It is a great reference for all those usernames you’ve got.
  4. It helps you stay organized . . . need I say more?

Do you have any other reasons for tracking your online presence? Share them in the comments below.

Photo: Pithawat Vachiramon

Is Social Media Replacing Blogging? Will Micro-Blogging Destroy Blogs?

It is always great to have the opportunity to share your knowledge with others, and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to do so at BlogWorld. As a panelist on the topic of Promoting Your Blog in the Age of Social Media, I dealt with many questions on promoting a corporate blog and using social media to do so. Overall, the attendees of our session saw the benefits of blogging, and of using social media to promote their blogs.

Before we spoke, the good folks at WebProNews (Abby Johnson) did an interview with me that I wanted to share with you on whether social media was going to somehow replace blogs. There are some good tidbits in there, so pay attention.

Is Social Media Replacing Blogging?

As you can tell from the interview, I don’t believe that social media will replace blogging. I think that there is a place for both and each serves a different purpose. In particular, social media and micro-blogging will continue to grow and be used as a means for sharing information on a small scale, while blogs will serve as destinations for in depth looks at various topics. Ultimately, these different tools will continue to work hand in hand, as one is used to promote and share the other.

What do you think?

Will the rapid growth of social media platforms lead to the death of the blog? Leave your thoughts below!

Falling Back Into Old Bad Habits: Blogging vs. Social Networking

Blogging vs. Social Media Habits
Image: Steve Jurvetson
The eternal debate over moving your social identity from blogging platforms to other social media like social networks will never die (for the foreseeable future, at least), but I for one believe that you should never cede complete control of your personal brand to the innumerable social networks. A personal or business blog, hosted on your own domain, is truly the only way to completely control your own message, without fear of being moderated – “accidentally” or on purpose – or even closed.

As someone who oversees a large growing community for real estate investors of almost 75,000 members, I understand the need to moderate your community, and that’s exactly why I think people have to have some kind of home base outside the rules and regulations of other sites.

Falling Back Into Old Bad Habits . . .

I’m guilty of losing focus and posting exclusively on other social networks at the expense of this blog. That said, while I have certainly ignored this blog from time to time over the years, I do manage over a dozen posts per week on the BiggerPockets Blog and our new weekly Investor’s Corner column on Realtor.com.

I should be focusing my efforts here once again and will be doing my best to share content and ideas via this platform . . . if I have a lapse, just scream at me (or remind me on any of those other platforms: G+, Facebook, Twitter); I’ve got to thank Dave Taylor, who inspired me about a week ago to get off my backside and revive this place.

What about you? Are you still blogging or have you given it up to the great black hole of the social networks?

How Your Virtual Assistant Can Ruin Your Online Reputation

What a damaged reputation can do to a career...
What a damaged reputation can do to a career...
One of the troubling trends that I’ve seen more and more of recently, is that people are outsourcing aspects of their social profile to Virtual Assistants (VAs) who are clearly unqualified for the task.

I see the average Joe, large speakers and other personalities who participate online and use a VA to do so on their behalf. While in a perfect world, it would be great if we could outsource our personalities, in my opinion this is a dangerous thing to do.

I can almost always tell when someone is using a VA, and my instincts are almost always correct. The comments and posts are typically very generic and often-times make the person that the VA is participating on behalf of, look like they have FAR less knowledge then they actually do.

Just today, a VA posted several comments on behalf of a very experienced real estate expert on our site, BiggerPockets:

Everything has started to increase nowadays and it’s even getting higher. If you are an investor you should always look for a long term investment and be wise about your investment to stay long and be successful in the industry.

It’s just a matter of bravery in investing and a full knowledge in Real Estate business in order to be successful in this industry. Let’s just have a positive attitude towards it.

Oh wow those numbers are so overwhelming. but we are still hoping for the fast recovery of the US economy.

Do they jump out at you? Do they sell “experienced?” Do they exude confidence that the poster knows what they are talking about?

They definitely don’t to me.

If you were looking for someone to work with, would you turn to this person, or would you rather connect with the person who knows what they are talking about?

If you’re just looking to get your name posted next to some fluff, it’s one thing, but you can’t outsource years of experience and knowledge to someone charging $2, $5, or $10 an hour to act on your behalf anonymously online.

Your reputation should be worth far more than that!

Photo: Audrey Pilato

A New Form of Twitter Spam: ReTweet Stories With Your URL

Over the past week or two I’ve noticed a new form of what I would deem Twitter SPAM. I’m not talking about all the crappy auto-responder messages or the direct tweets that try to get you to visit a link. This new form of spam on Twitter is more devious.


Twitter spam

retweet spam

As you can see from the examples above, the posters are sending out Re-Tweets, but in their messages, they are linking back to their websites in the very beginning of EVERY message. As you can see from the image below, these guys have made a habit out of it.

spammer twitter

twitter garbage

I’m starting to think that there is some social media “guru” teaching this twitter spam technique to people in real estate, because I’m not really seeing it in any other niche that I’m a part of. Anyone know who is putting this out there?

Why is This Spam?

I’d call this practice spam because it is an underhanded method of shoving your links into the face of anyone that you are communicating with. People can very easily go to your profile and see your link – you don’t need to post it in every one of your tweets that involve other people.

When your friends/followers visit your at (@) messages, these guys now have visibility.

You’re not going to build real relationships by annoying people; social media is about forging bonds. I see no reason to stay connected with someone that does this to those people who are interested in what I’ve got going on.

The Dilemma

Would you rather have some spammy person retweeting your articles, or simply block those people altogether?

I think this will pose a dilemma for many people.

These people are helping to market you, but they are doing so in a spammy way, right? They are potentially putting your link in front of thousands of their followers; is it a good idea to let them continue?

What would you do?

FYI – Clearly, anyone who knows me, realizes that I am no longer following these people; I also blocked them for good measure. I don’t care if I get an extra click here or there because of their re-tweets. The principle of how they are doing it just pisses me off!

Hiding Your Real Identity when Participating in Social Media – Good or Bad?

Should a Real Name be Required when Participating in Social Media?

This question has been floating out there for a while, but I just wanted to get it in circulation again. Frankly, I believe that if you are not willing to reveal who you really are when participating in social networks, forums, and other social media, then you shouldn’t have a voice.

Trusting Anonymous Sources
In the real world, we are responsible for our actions. We’re liable for what we say and do. Why should it be any different online?

Why should we be able to go around representing ourselves as someone else, or hiding behind artificial usernames or anonymity? People who do this in the real world are usually doing so for a few reasons:

1 – They’re hiding from someone
2 – They are criminals
3 – They are spammers

A-List blogger, Jeremy Schoemaker recently published an article posing essentially the same question, Is Anonymity Good For The Internets? In looking through the comments, I noted something interesting . . . most of those who were fervently in favor of anonymity were posting using keywords as their name instead of posting as themselves.

What does that tell you?

99% of the time when someone creates an anonymous or fake account on our BiggerPockets.com Real Estate Community, these people are there to do one of the above. Most are spammers, but there are several who are there to misrepresent the truth (lie), and many who are there to scam others. We also will not allow anonymous commenters, and I’ve now implemented the same policy on this blog as well. If you can’t represent yourself, you’re not wanted.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to remain anonymous online?

Technorati’s WTF Got Game(d)

Introducing Technorati’s WTF aka Where’s The Fire

I don’t think it has quite caught on yet, but Technorati has built it’s own answer to Digg, Reddit and the rest of the social news and bookmarking sites. It’s called Where’s The Fire or WTF and covers “What’s Hot, and Why.” Considering the popularity and resources of Technorati, it seems like this should be more popular than it already is . . .

WTF Manipulation

Unfortunately, it seems like people are already manipulating the system. I was just looking and there were 4 stories on the front page of the site all promoting some blog (that is a huge POS). Each story had 15 votes and they were all in different categories for added exposure. WTF’s competition already has methods for dealing with situations like these, and if Technorati doesn’t handle the problem FAST, then it is likely that this application will turn out to be a complete flop.

technorati WTF
User Manipulating Technorati’s WTF

If Technorati hopes to gain any ground on the competition for social bookmarking/social news, then they need to get a grip on this ASAP. In addition, publicity is going to be key . . . if no one knows about WTF, then it will never become popular (pretty obvious, I know).

Meanwhile, feel free to vote on and support some of the articles I’ve posted to WTF, or just submit some yourself!

My Suggestions for Improving MyBlogLog

I’m a huge fan of MyBlogLog, as it has become a great tool for building blog traffic, but I have one issue with the site that continues to annoy me:

The Problem with MyBlogLog
When you add a friend, the site redirects you back to your own profile. This is extremely annoying! When I find a user that I’d like to befriend, I want to continue surfing their profile after adding them as a friend. Once I’m back in my profile, it is difficult to find these new friends.

My Solutions
I have 2 solutions for this problem:

  1. Redirect a user back to the friend’s profile . . . this seems to be the easiest, and most obvious solution.

  2. Create a section on our profiles where we can see users we just befriended; there is already an area where you can see people who befriended you. I believe that this is an essential upgrade (by itself or in conjunction with the first suggestion)

How You can Help
If this problem annoys you as well, just let Eric know.

How to Reach Me on MyBlogLog
You can network with me on MyBlogLog. Either add me as a friend (my username is bigp), or join the TimeforBlogging Community!

Selected Useful Reads from the Problogger Group Writing Project (Filtered for your reading pleasure)

It is hard to go very far without running into a site with entries in Darren Rowse’s latest group writing project; it was a huge hit with close to 900 entries. While it is great that people are linking to one another from this thing, it seems that many involved in the project are simply linking to the entire list of submissions. While I did participate (on another blog) and don’t ever mind new backlinks, I’m a bit disappointed that people haven’t really broken this thing down a bit.

Why link to every post? While many were good, there were some really bad posts in that batch. Do you really want to link to (and give your support to) blogs that don’t make the cut? I went through the entire list a few times to pull out posts that I thought would be interesting or helpful for the readers of this blog.

Here are a few that I felt were actually useful and worth a read (yes, I actually read every internet related post on the list!):

What I thought was most impressive was that many of these great posts were written by fairly unknown bloggers. This is another sign that there will always be great new talents emerging in the blogging world and you must keep exploring to find them!

I make it a habit to support my fellow bloggers through both socializing their posts and visiting their advertisers when appropriate. Make sure you do the same! While linking is great, these things are just as important!

Finally, I’d like to mention that many of the blogs I went through were still using Blogger or some other hosted blog solution, and many others were making some of the most basic blogging mistakes. If you haven’t already, read the The Top 77 Mistakes New Bloggers Make so you’re not out there making some of these yourself!

Freedom of Speech and the Internet: Should Comments be Moderated?

constitution-detail.gifI just read an interesting post over at the Bivings Report titled, Online Venom or Vibrant speech?, where author Todd Zeigler looked into a recent article on the Washington Post and examined a comment made about moderating comments on Post articles. It seems that the online edition of the newspaper gets some extremly rancorous and vicious comments.

Should there Be Complete Freedom of Speech Online?

I started thinking about the whole concept of commenting and realized that this takes place across the net including on other online newspapers, blogs, social networks (Digg, especially), etc. I know that I was quite taken back when I was the recipient of some pretty nasty comments on this blog. For a long time, I kept the comments in the moderation queue, but eventually decided that it was important to share all views, as long as they didn’t harm me or anyone else. In this and in most other cases I see, the commentor proved their ignorance by spewing hateful nonsense. On the other hand, however, had this comment taken it a step further, I would have never allowed it to see the light of day.

That said, I am amazed by all the hate that is posted online, especially in political sites like Politico and the Huffington Post. What happened to intellectual debate? Is our country so full of ignorance and hate that we are no longer capable of discussing heated topics without reverting to racist and other rants? I am saddened by this and fear that it will worsen as I have children and they grow up.

Back to moderating comments . . . .

Websites Should Absolutely Moderate their Comments

I think it is perfectly acceptable to moderate comments on forums, blogs, social sites, etc. so they comply with your personal or company goals. Why should someone have to put up with hateful comments on their personal blog? Why should a forum about cars put up with comments about sex? Why should political websites put up with people demeaning and insulting others?

They shouldn’t!

If people are incapable of posting well thought out and civil comments, why should they have a voice? All the types of sites I’ve mentioned are private property (in a public domain). Should the Washington Post allow racist and hateful posts? No! The Post is a private company with an image to uphold. I know I don’t want to read a bunch of nasty comments after viewing an article.

People talk about free speech, but fail to recognize that freedom of speech does not cover what a private enterprise can and should allow.

In case we’ve all forgotten the first amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Nowhere does it say that freedom of speech is protected in a private enterprise.

What do you think? Should newspapers, blogs, social networks, and other online media moderate the comments on their sites?

How to Use MyBlogLog to Succesfully Build Massive Blog or Website Traffic

Update 2/24/11: Yahoo has announced that it will discontinue the MyBlogLog service on May 24, 2011.

I wrote about using MyBlogLog a few weeks ago (networking with social media sites) for networking purposes. I now want to tell you exactly how to build massive traffic using the MyBlogLog community.

MyBlogLog is an extremely important tool for getting a blog off the ground and for building exposure to your site. Many people don’t realize how powerful it really is! This post will help you get a jump start in building traffic to your blog / website, and will also help you find new, interesting sites you never knew about before.

How to Set Up MyBlogLog on Your Blog or Website

  1. Create an account with MyBlogLog. This hould take less than a minute. All you’ll need is to pick out your username, email, password, and the URL of your blog. Once you’ve created an account, be sure to upload an image of yourself as your avatar. Photos are just more personal and make things a bit more inviting.

    mybloglog avatar

  2. To bring more interest to your profile, or simply to help users get to know a bit about you, be sure to fill out some personal information in your profile. Again, it really just helps people to connect with you.
  3. You will then want to claim your blog or website. To do this, you’ll need to place a snippet of code that MBL provides you within your blog’s template. Now, when you look at your profile page, you’ll see your website.

    mybloglog claimed websites

    Both you and your website now have “communities.” Personally, you have the ability to add friends and chat with them. People must join your website’s community, but they can also chat with you through the site’s community.

  4. recent readersThe last major technical step in getting going is installing the MyBlogLog Widget on your blog or website. If you look in your personal profile, you’ll see a link underneath your website’s community “Get Widgets.” The one you are concerned with is the “Recent Readers” widget. This allows you and your other readers to see who has been on your site recently. Layout the widget to your liking and add it to your blog’s sidebar.

Congratulations! You’re Ready.
Here’s where the traffic building begins!

8 Steps To Successfully Building Blog Traffic Using MyBlogLog

  1. Make sure you are logged into MyBlogLog. This seems obvious, but if you’re not signed in, then people on the site can’t see you when you’re surfing around.
  2. Surf your favorite blogs! Start visiting the sites you’d normally visit and see if they have MyBlogLog widget installed. If they do, click on the View Reader Community link at the bottom. This will bring you to their website’s community.
  3. Join the communty and also add the user as a friend/contact. This shows the user in both their personal profile and their website’s community profile that you are interested. It also gives you more exposure so others can find you more easily.
    add contact

    (Note: When you add a user as a friend, you are sent back to your profile, not that user’s. I think this is a glaring problem with the site, as I then have to go back to the blog – to the community – to the user to find their profile again. I hope Eric and others at MBL consider changing this. It will just make things that much easier for users)

  4. This is one of the most important steps: Leave a comment on either their personal profile or their website’s community profile. Make sure it is not simply “Nice site” or “Great Blog.” Be sure to leave a relevant comment so the user can tell that you’ve actually visited their site.

    As a result of your comment, the odds are that the user will go and visit your profile (by clicking on your avatar). They will then see your blog / websites and if they have any curiousity in the topic, will check them out. You’ve just exposed your site to another new person!

  5. Wash, Rinse, Repeat! After a while, you’ll have targeted all the sites that you are a fan of. Don’t fret, you have much more work ahead!
  6. Now that you’ve gone and let your favorite sites know about your interest, it is time to start finding new sites. There are a many ways to do this:

    How to find New Websites of Interest

    a) Visit your favorite site’s community pages and look at who else is commenting. Visit their site / blog and return to step 2.
    b) Visit your favorite site’s community pages and look at who else is a member. Visit their site / blog and return to step 2.
    c) Return to your personal profile page and see who “Viewed this Page Recently.” Visit their site / blog and return to step 2.
    d) Go to the “My Admirers” section of your profile. Visit their site / blog and return to step 2.
    e) See who is leaving you comments on your personal community profile or your site’s community. Visit their site / blog and return to step 2.
    f) Visit the profiles of other users you’ve found and see what communities they are a part of. Odds are they will likely be related to their interests. You now have a slew of other communities and sites to visit.

  7. Watch the traffic begin! You’ll start to notice traffic slowly start to come from MyBlogLog. Keep people interested by continung to write quality posts.
  8. Set aside some time every day to expand your MyBlogLog contacts, visit new sites, comment, and get yourself out there. Remember, every time you visit another site with the MBL Recent Readers widget, you have another opportunity for exposure for yourself. The more you’re seen around, the more likely people will want to connect with you.

Don’t forget that in addition to using MyBlogLog for traffic that there are other important methods. Commenting on other, related blogs with thoughtful messages is hugely important. This should also become a part of your daily routine.

In case you’d like to start somewhere, you can do so with me!
My Personal Profile: BigP (my username)
This Blog’s Profile: TimeForBlogging

Join up and get involved in MyBlogLog today to build your blog’s traffic!

MySpace Takes on Digg / Netscape and Fails to Deliver. Yup, It Sucks!

myspace newsLooks like MySpace wants to go back to its roots and launch another crappy product without style or functionality. The recently launched their MySpace News Beta (of course they had to include the uber-lame BETA tag – more about BETAs in another post), which looks like a really poorly modified Pligg clone. You would think that with all it’s resources, NewsCorp would make sure they had a good product before putting out an ugly piece of junk like this, but nothing seems to surprse me anymore.

The site, steals borrows the now famous Digg voting system and presents blog posts and news stories (I have yet to see anything other than a blog post) for users to read and review. The output is just poorly designed. While I do appreciate the vast number of categories the site offers, and the events options (they aggregate events from Backpage, CitySearch, amongst others) I don’t really see any reason to rate an event that I, nor anyone else has attended. It just makes no sense. I see nothing else about the site that I like.

In addition, when I attempted to include my blog’s feed to the site, it simply timed out. I tried again later with another blog and got the same result. I realize its a “BETA”, but these kinds of problems won’t win the MySpace team any kind of good buzz.

According to Playfuls.com:

The news feature of MySpace is built using Newroo technology, a company they acquired in early 2006 for a rumored $7 million. Newroo never had the chance of displaying the merits of its technology in public because of the acquisition.

I’m not sure, but I think they got ripped off. I’m pretty sure this could be developed for somewhere around $.75 (not a fan, can’t you tell?)

Here are some other links to thoughts about this new site:
MySpace News Kinda Sucks
Social Media Now: MySpace News Not Ready for Prime Time
MySpace added News aggregation
Will MySpace News Ever Fly? (The Answer May Surprise You)
After the (brief) Honeymoon: MySpace News Still Sucks
MySpace News: failure to launch, no one is reading

Social Media Site Twitter Beats the USGS in Reporting Mexico City Earthquake! A News Revolution Begins!

Instantaneous News Delivery: A Social Media News Revolution Thanks to Twitter

I’m floored! Technology has completely changed the world and it continues to do so. Apparently, the large Mexico City earthquake yesterday was first reported on Twitter by users in the heart of it! While its wild to think that we can find out about quakes as they happen, it is even more astonishing to think that people on the site (aka. Twitters) reported the event several minutes before the USGS did. We all remember hearing from bloggers about the South Pacific Tsunami, incidents in Iraq, etc., but this Twitter news revolution is pretty impressive!

The concept behind Twitter is very simple. Users sign up and share the answer to a simple question, “What are you doing?” with other users. I’m not sure the founders realized the ramifications of such a simple concept.

Here are a few of the many posts about the Mexico City Earthquake:

  • Satrina – Earthquake in Mexico City, was long and a little bit strong
  • dotmotion – That was a hell of an earthquake.. and I’m on a 7th floor… I still feel sick
  • rogeriogal – Earthquake in Cuernavaca, just passed. I’m still dizzy.

The media will absolutely lose its edge on reporting the news, if locals can quickly send a message letting you know about news or weather events the instant they happen. I’m guessing the 24 hour networks like CNN or MSNBC are going to have to start trolling sites like Twitter to beat the competition in reporting the newest BREAKING STORY!

Its a brave new world out there! Maybe its time I got myself set up on Twitter . . .

NOTE: Thanks to Andy Beal for letting us know about the post!