Larry Brauner

A shorter article than the past one.

Privacy and spam concerns continue to induce Facebook and Ning to make changes that hurt marketers. Facebook, for example, will end network affiliations, while Ning has already disabled the sharing of any content across participating sites.

Good-Bye Facebook Networks

Facebook members now use school, city of company network affiliations to control access to their personal content.

Since network affiliation is less relevant than it had been at the network’s conception, and since  the display of network affiliation can jeopardize members’ privacy and security, Facebook is replacing affiliation-based permissions with a friendship-based alternative.

This solution better protects Facebook members. :-)

However, it also takes away an important targeting mechanism from honest business users wishing to find people in the regions where they operate. :-(

Thanks Ning for Duplicate Messages

If you and I are friends at several Ning sites, I probably send you duplicate messages. Since I can no longer share content across sites, I send the same information from several sites, and you receive that information multiple times. I try to minimize duplication but haven’t yet eliminated it.

Ning has made it less convenient for spammers. :-)

However, if a spammer is motivated enough, you’ll now receive their spam several times instead of once. :-(

Good-News Bad-News

The good news is that social networking sites will continue their efforts to safeguard the privacy and security of members and to create an enjoyable networking experience… great when we have on our networking hats.

The bad news is that more safeguards can mean more limited access to members, and when we have on our marketing hats… not so great!

What are your thoughts on this hot topic?

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Larry Brauner
No aspect of the Internet is more critical to understand than hyperlinks or simply links, as we call them. After all, what is the World Wide Web but countless documents which are interconnected by links?

A web page without links in to it can never be discovered by search engines, nor will people find the page unless directed to it. A page without links out of it is a virtual cul de sac, a dead end street from which visitors must back out in order to exit.

Woe to the web page that has neither inbound nor outbound links! :-(

Links Can Transfer Some of Their Authority

When a web page, especially an important one, links to your page, it serves as a recommendation and conveys, i.e. transfers, to your web page some amount of its authority both with search engines and with Internet users. The authority of your page increases, while the authority of the page linking in to you decreases.

When you link to others’ pages you transfer authority to their pages. Their authority of their pages increases, while the authority of yours decreases.

Links play an key role in search engine optimization. They help search engines to gauge the validity and the authority of each page or document on the web.

Why Relinquish Your Authority?

Why should you give away any of the authority that you’ve worked so hard to earn?

Authority isn’t all that matters. Relevance matters. Participation in the web and in your niche’s online community matter too. Generous use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.

The Internet and search engines are mainly research tools, and outbound links help researchers to find and to verify the information they seek.

Linking Without Transferring Authority

There are two cases in which you need to link out but prefer not to give up any of your authority and don’t even want the search engines to follow your link to see where it leads.

When linking to something you’re advertising, it’s common practice to have search engines ignore your link. Why convey authority upon an ad?

There is another case which I discuss in the next section.

To request that a link be ignored by search engines, rel=nofollow is used in the HTML code. (Don’t worry if HTML is too technical for you.) Therefore this type of link is commonly referred to in SEO jargon as a nofollow link. A normal link is referred to as a dofollow link.

Comments on Blogs and Forums

Blogs and forums need comments to thrive. They help to build community and add valuable content which search engines like.

Comment often require links to be meaningful or to identify the commenter. Comments which are completely devoid of links have a sterile quality, so some degree of linking is necessary and desirable.

Unfortunately, links create an opportunity for SPAM.

As I explain in Anti-Social Media Marketing, spammers submit stupid or even obscene comments hoping to build inbound links to their sites.

Why transfer even one iota of your authority to a spammer?

Filtering out these comments is a pain, especially when they’re written to look plausible. For this reason, blogs and forums are programmed to use nofollow links in comments as a disincentive for spammers.

Dofollow Blogs and Forums

Just as nofollow is a disincentive for spammers, it’s a disincentive for real blog commenters and forum posters as well. I know that I prefer (and I’m not alone in my preference) to visit dofollow blogs and get a dofollow link back to my blog when I comment.

Many blogs and forums deal with potential SPAM without resorting to the use of nofollow links. Quite a few forums and some blogs subject their un-vetted commenters to moderation and other restrictions.

How I Make Dofollow Work for Me

Online Social Networking is a dofollow freestanding Wordpress blog. These are eight steps I take to make dofollow work for me:

  1. I use the Askimet plugin to pre-screen comments for SPAM.
  2. I moderate all comments and screen them for SPAM, (as well as inappropriate content, bad spelling and very bad grammar).
  3. I reject SPAM and undesirable comments. (I also correct spelling and grammar when necessary.)
  4. I use the Nofollow Case by Case plugin to override the Wordpress nofollow default.
  5. If a comment is borderline SPAM, I let the comment through, but I tell Nofollow Case by Case to make its links nofollow.
  6. If I want particular links in the body of a comment to be nofollow, I edit the HTML and insert rel=nofollow in the code.
  7. I let regular commenters (whom I like) get away completely with borderline SPAM (with or without a lecture), because I care a lot about their friendship and good will.
  8. I display a You Comment I Follow banner at the bottom of each post to let readers know that my blog is dofollow. Over time my blog has been added to a number of dofollow search engines.

Linking and Dofollow Takeaways

Linking is vital to the Internet. All websites ought to use ample links on their pages, just as I have in this article.

If you blog, consider a dofollow approach. Don’t be afraid to relinquish some of your authority to commenters, because in balance, you can expect to gain.

Now please, leave a great comment below and collect your dofollow link back to your blog or website. ;-)

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Larry Brauner
I’ve already written about different types of SPAM, the reasons people SPAM, and alternatives for SPAM free marketing.

In this article I look at four kinds of social media SPAM, or anti-social media marketing as I sometimes call it.

I also share several ideas for coping with social media SPAM. Although we cannot stop SPAM, we can try to mitigate its effects.

  1. SPAM Messages - These are the unsolicited commercial messages sent to your Facebook inbox, appearing in your Twitter replies, or plaguing you on other social networking sites. You should block the scoundrels, and report them too if they appear to be really awful.
  2. Comment SPAM - These are ads or links on your profile pages, blogs, forums or guest books. Beware of innocent looking blog comments such as “Great post. Keep up the good work.” The commenter is only looking for the link back to his site which most blogs (including mine) do provide. Require approval of all comments and use a SPAM filter (such as Akismet for Wordpress blogs) to help you with the job.
  3. Social Bookmarking SPAM - This is when someone bookmarks only his or her own content on bookmarking sites (such as StumbleUpon or Sphinn) which prohibit this. Be careful not to do this yourself.
  4. SPAM Blogs - These are blogs that aggregate search results (for profitable keywords) using feeds from services such as Google Alerts, and then publish these search results. They exist in order to spam search engines and other blogs and boost their own sites’ search results. If you have a blog, you’ll receive comment SPAM from them indicating that they’ve linked to you. They hope to get a juicy link back from you. If your SPAM filter fails to kill off their comments, be ruthless and do it yourself.

Creating SPAM blogs is often called autoblogging by the spammers.

In a November 2006 article, What is Autoblogging and How Does It Work?, Gobala Krishnan stated:

No matter how good you get at autoblogging, you’re never going to produce high quality sites that attract a loyal fan base using autoblogging methods. Nothing beats content that is original and written by a human being.

Couldn’t have said it better myself. ;-)

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Larry Brauner
I read an excellent article this afternoon in the Wall Street Journal by Jessica E. Vascellaro about the declining role of e-mail in our day-to-day communication, as services like Twitter, Facebook and lots of other social networking sites continue to grow in popularity.

According to Ms. Vascellaro, we obviously still use email. However, email was better suited to the way we used the Internet in the past, when we’d go online intermittently to read our messages.

“Now we are always connected, whether we are sitting at a desk or on a mobile phone. The always-on connection, in turn, has created a host of new ways to communicate that are much faster than email, and more fun.”

E-mail MarketingIf more of our attention is being directed toward social media and away from email, is there a future for email marketing?

The success of email marketing depends on our ability to efficiently reach our target markets via their email inboxes. As people increasingly turn to social media, and internet service providers apply more aggressive spam filtering, email marketing becomes less viable.

Just last night, a friend messaged me on Facebook saying that she was “shifting over from an e-newsletter to blogging,” and that she was looking for a little advice.

Email marketers want to know how to react to the trend toward social media and social marketing.

Advice for Email Marketers

Here are seven tips for coping with the decline in email communication:

  1. Act Now - Don’t sit on the sidelines like your old media friends. There are still plenty of newspaper publishers scratching their heads wondering what they’re going to do about their failing businesses.
  2. Diversify - Adopt a variety of new social marketing channels, but do not discontinue your email marketing campaigns. Build on your past successes.
  3. Stay Cool - Don’t overreact. Email communication isn’t going away any time soon. Gradually make adjustments and find the allocation of resources that delivers you the best ROI.
  4. Learn Social Media - There are many social marketing resources and a fairly steep social media learning curve. Either make social media training a priority for yourself and stick with it or find someone to whom you can delegate or outsource all or part of it.
  5. Learn SEO - Learn search engine optimization as well, or again, delegate or outsource it.
  6. Keep Testing - Just as you’d test different lists or advertising copy, test different social media venues and content to determine what works for you, and what doesn’t. Be flexible.
  7. Get Help - Even if you do decide to educate yourself, look to social media and web marketing experts for help along the way. Their guidance will save you much time and money in the long run.

I still use my email autoresponder to communicate with many of my blog subscribers. However, email accounts for only 2% of my total blog traffic. Google, Entrecard and Twitter combined account for about 80%, and all other sources add to the remaining 18%.

I will have more to say on email marketing and on list building in future articles. I suggest meanwhile that you read List Building Paradigm Shift which I wrote at the beginning of the year.

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Larry BraunerI am about to discuss targeting and connecting as they apply to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Ning networks, the most popular social networking sites for business networking.

I could have broken the material into four separate blog posts, but decided instead to deliver it to you as four articles wrapped up into one long one.

For simplicity, I am assuming that your target market uses each of the sites. Since that may not be true in your case, feel free to adapt these business networking techniques to all other social networking sites as needed.

Facebook

Targeting and connecting on Facebook are pretty straightforward with one caveat. You are limited to 5,000 connections on Facebook, so you can’t afford to cast too wide a net. Be fussy about whom you connect with and remove from your friends anybody who spams you.

To identify people in your target market, search for groups and Facebook networked blogs that would likely interest them. Join the groups and follow the blogs yourself. Then browse the members of those groups and followers of those blogs to find potential connections.

I believe that blog followers as a whole are more active on Facebook than mere group members. However, consider selecting only members with some minimum number of friends such as 100 to weed out people who don’t really engage with the site.

If you’re not sure which groups and blogs to select, try connecting with others in your niche. You’ll be able to see which groups they lead or belong to and which blogs they publish or follow. You can also examine their Facebook walls to find additional potential connections.

Connecting isn’t difficult. When you invite another member, include a short note such as, “You and I are both members of the Social Networking Haters group.”

Please, promise me that you won’t write anything nerdy like, “I’m looking to connect with like minded people.” Don’t use a line like that with anybody anywhere ever. I mean it.

Twitter

The Twitter learning curve is steep. If you’re not well versed with Twitter, try the advice and resources in my Twitter articles. I’m going to assume that you pretty much know what you’re doing.

Since Twitter is bloated with spammers’ phony profiles, targeting on Twitter is difficult and getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to be a messy job, so be prepared. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

Do not connect with anybody who has:

  • no profile information or inappropriate profile information
  • no picture, avatar or business logo
  • a lopsided relationship between following and followers
  • almost no tweets or spammy looking tweets

Do follow back anybody else who follows you. Unfollow anybody who spams you.

To identify Twitter members in your target market, start your search by using Find People to look for other people in your niche. Avoid the biggies, since they are magnets for spam, and a large percentage of their followers are spammers.

Look for the ones who have a few hundred to a few thousand followers.

Follow them and follow their followers — unless of course a particular follower looks suspicious based on the criteria I just listed above. A portion of their followers will hopefully belong to your target market.

Unfollow the people who don’t follow back after a few days and repeat the process.

Consider using a tool to manage your account.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, targeting is fairly straightforward, but connecting can be a challenge.

If you’re a job hunter or a headhunter in the recruiting industry, you should probably connect with as many people as you can. Since the limit is reportedly 30,000, you can afford to cast a very wide net.

In any case you should accept all invitations. Remove any connection who who spams you:

  1. Click on “Connections” which is on the left side bar.
  2. Click on “Remove Connections” which is currently near the upper right corner
  3. Then follow the instructions.

The main difficulty with LinkedIn is that if you invite someone who then indicates that they don’t know you, you get a strike against you. If this happens often, LinkedIn restricts your inviting privileges.

People who are open to invitations and implicitly agree not to indicate that they don’t know you are call LinkedIn Open Networkers, abbreviated LION.

There are at least two groups for LinkedIn Open Networkers:

You can join and browse these groups to find people to link to. They of course have an option to accept you or to archive you, i.e. ignore you. Usually they accept.

If you are not a job hunter or headhunter, you’re probably better off targeting than trying to connect to thousands of people. That’s your judgment call.

You can do both, just as I do. But I admit that I started as a job hunter years ago and built a large base at that time. If I were starting today, I think I would stick to targeting.

To make the best connections, join the groups that people in your target market would join, and participate in the groups’ discussions. You’ll naturally make connections and get some traffic to your blog or website along the way.

Ning Network

Targeting on Ning is a little tricky. Cast a wide net on Ning, since I’m not aware of any upper limit on the number of Ning friends.

Here are the challenges that you face when adding Ning friends:

  • You can only have 100 outstanding friend requests. You’ll have to dis-invite people who don’t respond. Do this from the “Friends” tab of your Ning dashboard at Ning.com.
  • Most of the people you invite won’t respond. Either they don’t know how or they’ve already abandoned the site.

You improve your results by posting a friendly, non-spammy and non-nerdy comment to their profile at the time you invite them.

You also improve your results by inviting people who have recently joined the site, the ones at the beginning of the member list, or people who are obviously engaging with the site.

Find people in your target market by joining Ning networks and groups that are likely to attract these people. Invite a hundred people, and wait a day. Some will accept, so you can invite more.

When you get stuck, trim your invite list starting from the end. While this can be a slow process, it has worked for me and for others.

Be careful not to spam your friends. Don’t invite them directly to join new Ning sites.

The best way to communicate with your Ning friends is to write informative blog posts on a Ning site about something that would interest people in your target audience. Then use the share feature on Ning to let them know about your post.

Read Introduction to Using Ning Sites and other Ning articles.

Now It’s Your Turn

I don’t have a monopoly on online business networking techniques. Why not share some of your own targeting and connecting ideas?

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Larry Brauner

I’ve written about the problem of spam both offline and online at social networking sites in How Do You Like Your SPAM? and Why Do People SPAM?

With this article, I’m delivering on the promise I made last week to discuss marketing channels you can use to promote yourself or your business — without ever resorting to spam.

Legitimate promotion alternatives fall primarily into these basic categories:

  1. Advertising - Expect to pay — unless you prefer getting marginal results, running around town, lurking in parking lots and posing for security cameras, all while schlepping around stacks of flyers and carefully avoiding people you know. Online, free advertising attracts people without money and spammers, although you may get good results with Craigslist. Offline advertising includes newspapers, magazines, direct mail, radio, television, offline directory listings and billboards. Online advertising includes Pay Per Click, e-zines and online directory listings. I do not recommend using banner ads. Advertising ROI will depend on the net lifetime value of each acquisition or conversion and the cost of each acquisition.
  2. Press Releases - If your business is newsworthy, or if you can create a newsworthy event, then you may be able to get some free exposure. Your press release needs to be well written in a suitable format and distributed either offline, online or both.
  3. Speaking and Contributing Articles - It is an accepted practice to establish your reputation and generate leads by speaking at meetings or contributing articles to journals. Don’t expect to get paid anything until you become a recognized expert in your field.
  4. Strategic Alliances and Joint Ventures - A business or list owner promotes your offer to his or her clients or e-mail list based on an agreement through which you both stand to gain. It’s not uncommon to give a joint venture partner all the profit from an initial product offering in exchange for helping you to add new contacts to your list.
  5. E-Mailing Your List - You can send relevant commercial messages to subscribers who previously opted into your database. Try to avoid using purchased lists. If you must, be sure you know with certainty that the subscribers agreed to receive offers from third parties. Be genuinely helpful and careful not to abuse your list.
  6. Search Engine Optimization - You’ll need a web site, and unless you’re an SEO maven, you’ll have to pay for SEO services. There’s more to doing effective search engine optimization than most people realize. However, SEO will be worth the trouble if it gets you ranked high up in the free organic search engine results that most searchers look at and care about.
  7. Social Media - Social marketing is similar in philosophy to speaking and article contribution mentioned above. You share online videos and articles to educate, inform and entertain people, and to build a relationship with them. If they want your product or service, they’ll be inclined to buy it from you, since they know you, and you’ve earned their respect. Your blog on a social networking site, a blogging community such as Blogger.com, or you own hosting, are good places to share your content. For ideal results, create and post new original content on a regular basis. If your content is geared toward your target market, then you’ll attract qualified customers to you and your site.
  8. Business and Social Networking - Networking is meeting new people and developing relationships with them. You can network at your local Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce or BNI. I can go to Network Plus, a group in my area founded by Ted Fattoross. Online social networking is more convenient. You network from your computer at any of thousands of social networking sites. My favorites are Ning and Facebook. You build relationships by asking questions and getting to know people. Keep in mind that spamming doesn’t work at all, and exchanging business cards is no more than a cordial first step in starting a relationship.

I like the web marketing channels: my e-mail list, search engine optimization, social marketing and business networking. I coordinate them to benefit from the synergies between them.

Now it’s your turn.

Which methods do you use? Which ones are you hoping to use in the future? What challenges do you foresee?

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Larry Brauner

When I read comments on What is Wrong with Ning and other articles, a recurring theme is that spamming on Ning and on other social networking sites has become a major nuisance.

I often speculate about why people spam — regular well-meaning people like you and me, not the offshore criminal type. What are they thinking? Why do they spam?

Ignorance a Big Factor

While there are many possible reasons, an eye opening experience last week convinced me that ignorance is definitely a factor.

A newcomer to the Internet is repeatedly exposed to the much too prevalent practice of spamming and easily concludes that it’s the way business is transacted. From then on, it’s monkey see, monkey do.

It matters little whether or not they’ve heard that spam is bad, since they don’t know what spam is anyway. Therefore, they don’t realize that sending unsolicited commercial messages or advertising on other people’s pages is spam. To them it’s just advertising, and advertising is good, not bad.

Now let me tell you about what happened last week.

SPAM on My Ning Site

I received spam from a member of my Beyond Business Coaching Ning network, a private message sent to me and other “friends” on the site:

Tool for any business that will put money into your pocket. Lead generation software which automatically extracts leads and traffic from other targeted websites and systematically does the selling for you: http://www.—-.com/?ID=—-

Not only is this message spammy, it’s hypey and a little scary too.

I replied to the sender and to the other message recipients:

The message you sent is a violation of the terms of service you agreed upon when joining, which prohibits spam. Please refer to these two articles about spam:

Introduction to Using Ning Sites
How Do You Like Your SPAM?

I request that you use a more compliant marketing approach.

This should have been the end of the story, but it wasn’t.

I Can’t Believe It’s SPAM

I received a call from a woman I had once-upon-a-time banned from my site and had later reinstated. She had received a copy of my reply quoted above, and she was angry enough to pick up the phone and ring me.

She felt that my rules were too restrictive and unfair. Here her friend was trying to help by sending out useful information, and I was accusing her of spamming. How could I?

I asked her what she considered spam. She said that spam was a message with banner ads or images. She wouldn’t believe that her friend’s message was in fact spam.

There was a difference of opinion, but I tried to be as nice as possible. I didn’t ban anybody, but I did take the liberty of deleting some spammy profile comments that my caller had recently made on several members’ pages.

I naively assumed that this would be the end of the story, but again of course, it wasn’t.

Spillover onto Facebook

A couple of days later I was promoting my Beyond Business Coaching network on my Facebook profile, and the controversy resurfaced, this time taking on a new dimension, our freedom of speech.

Here’s how it started:

Do not join this group unless you like being restricted to what and how you say things. The rules and restrictions are irrational and don’t allow freedom of speech.

Freedom of expression and ideas are not the same as spam!

The comments went back and forth, but this was the essence of my reply:

I’m sorry to say that while there is freedom of expression and ideas in the US, that freedom DOES have limitations.

For example, what would happen if you planted election campaign signs on all the lawns in your neighborhood or painted your ideas on the walls of the Empire State Building?

Fortunately, several people came and supported me.

Stacey Chadwell wrote:

This is an impressive professional site with superb information about social media and marketing. I have been a member for some time and highly recommend it.

I am sorry you feel this way. I’ve written on a few of Larry’s sites without issue. He has always been fair and professional even when dealing with members who spam the rest of us. I applaud him for doing his best to protect his members from spammers.

Jim Canto, creator of mexXcentral Community wrote:

The best part about the Internet these days is the number of free services out there including at least one where you can create your own social network for anything… AND.. you get to make the rules. So, if you feel “slighted” by someone’s rules.. just remember, it’s their house and their rules, same as it will be when we join a community created by you. You make the rules and we the members see if we can live with them.

I have a community of my own,  and I can assure you, it has its restrictions. Why? Because it has a direction and a purpose. To keep it on track, I must make sure I’ve laid the track down, i.e.the rules.

If you want to build your own community, Ning.com is free.

Luc Despres wrote:

I’m a member of Larry’s social network and I REALLY appreciate his rules on spamming.

What next? This can’t be the end of the story.

Better Education

See my article, 8 Great Choices for SPAM Free Promotion, which identifies methods of promotion on Ning and other social networking sites that work without resorting to spam.

To the extent that ignorance contributes to spam, better education might provide some relief.

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Larry Brauner

Nearly a year has passed since my first Ning article, Ning Social Networking Sites.

Since then online social networking has taken some exciting twists and turns. MySpace has lost luster, while Facebook and Twitter have become social media darlings.

Ning Still Facing Obstacles

Ning seems to be in somewhat of a holding pattern.

There have been some changes here and there, mostly for the better in my opinion, but no exciting breakthroughs. There are new apps, a new Ning central networking site, and new flexibility, but site creators and users still have their reservations.

As mentioned in Ning Social Network Controversy, the Ning management has been criticized for its policies and its tactics and, as too many people are aware, Ning sites haven’t been immune to spamming by both Ning members and by intruders.

My Ning sites now all require membership pre-approval, since I know of no better way to deal with persistent outsider spamming.

What is Right with Ning

Despite any shortcomings, I still feel as when I wrote about the Ning controversy, that Ning truly epitomizes Web 2.0. Ning sites are communities of people, and Ning is a community of community sites.

I’ve certainly written a good deal about social media list building including both List Building Paradigm Shift and List Building Using Ning Social Networks. Nevertheless communities are the essence of social media, not lists, and social marketing must therefore favor community building over list building.

Fortunately Ning can be used to build either communities or lists. There are creative ways to build communities within Facebook and Twitter, but Ning networks were designed expressly for that purpose and afford marketers a variety of useful tools and a degree of social media ownership.

Ning Still My Favorite Networks

I still use Ning social networking sites more than all others. I like them for the reasons cited above and for the many other reasons I’ve discussed in previous Ning related articles.

I have so far created four Ning sites of my own and hope to create more in the future:

  • Let’s Follow Each Other - This is a fun networking site for Twitter folk who want to gain followers, share ideas, promote themselves and network with each other.
  • Beyond Business Coaching - This is a site for entrepreneurs and marketing professionals who are interested in social media, customer acquisition, customer retention and CRM.
  • Online Kosher Networking - This is a niche site for orthodox affiliated members of the Jewish faith to network and share their ideas about Jewish values, Israel, religious observance, charities, politics, jobs, business, etc.
  • Outside the Box - If you enjoy my blog, but you don’t use Twitter, and you aren’t necessarily business oriented, this may be the right site for us to connect and network together.

In all fairness, I must tell you that Ning has competitors such as SocialGO, GROU.PS and others but admit that I haven’t yet evaluated them. If you have tried other social network platforms, I invite you to share your experiences with them.

To learn more about using Ning, please read Introduction to Using Ning Sites.

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Larry Brauner

The title of this article is purely sensational — as you might expect on April Fools Day. However, the article itself is real and highlights the annoyances and threats that we constantly face when using the Internet and social networking sites.

Before the Net became part of our lives, we worried about pickpocketing,  mugging, burglary, armed robbery and a variety of scams that include make-believe charities, phony investment schemes and identity theft.

Today we must also worry about viruses and malware, phishing and more sophisticated web-based scams including a plethora of silly business schemes, and widespread online fraud and identity theft.

Ning, Twitter and MySpace Attacked

Hundreds of Ning social networks including mine, Outside the Box and Let’s Follow Each Other, were attacked over the past week by “free ringtones” spam. Bogus users popped up everywhere and posted their free ringtones spam on as many member profiles as they could.

Network creators and administrators reacted by changing their site settings to require new member approval. This measure has stopped the free ringtones girl but not without some ongoing inconvenience to both administrators and would-be site members.

Similar spam outbreaks occur frequently on Twitter and MySpace where no simple solution is yet in sight.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Spam is only the tip of the iceberg.

Think BEFORE you click on any link or respond to any pop up including those that offer to upgrade to new versions of your existing software. It’s advisable to write down the name of the software mentioned and check the vendor’s site directly for legitimate updates.

Close pop up windows using Alt-F4 on your keyboard. Do not press ANY buttons, as labeling can be fake and malicious. Pressing buttons can initiate the downloading of some very nasty and hard-to-remove malware to your computer such as Trojans and rootkits.

The most likely places to pick up harmful malware are e-mails you receive, social networking sites, blogs and forums. Make sure you keep your system and virus protection current, but don’t rely on anti-malware programs to protect you. Use caution and common sense.

As far as make money from home schemes are concerned, most of them are time wasters if not outright ripoffs.

If you are serious about finding a legitimate work from home opportunity, contact me, and I’ll point you in the right direction. However, it’s a fact that even the best home businesses usually flop.

Very Useful Information

I found the blog PC Speed Guru very informative and helpful. Any Internet security blogs or websites that you’ve found to be useful, please post them below in a comment.

But no spam, please!

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Larry Brauner

Importance of List Building

Reach and frequency are basic advertising metrics. Reach refers to the quantity of people your message reaches, while frequency refers to the number of times on average each person is reached.

It is frequency that builds trust and drives your message home. Advertising without frequency is hardly ever effective. Marketers are relying more and more on list building to repeatedly reach people in their target market and achieve desired frequency levels in their marketing campaigns.

List building possibilities are endless. Last week we discussed list building using Ning social networks. Today we turn our attention to Twitter, possibly the fastest and simplest way to build a list.

Building Your Following on Twitter

As I stated in Brand Yourself and Market on Twitter:

Twitter may very well be the hottest online social media venue today. It’s a social network, micro-blog, instant messenger, mobile communications tool and giant party — all rolled into one site.

Creating a following on Twitter is easy, even for someone new to online social networking and social media sites. Here are three remarkably simple steps to get you started:

  1. Twitter Training - I used to recommend Bill Hibbler’s Affiliate University. Bill’s Affiliate University was dissolved, so I refer you to the Twitter articles and resources in Tons of Twitter Tools, Tips and Resources. If you’re looking for a complete step-by-step Twitter course, the Twitter Power System is your best choice. You can read about it in Twitter Power System Review.
  2. Build Your Reach Instantly - Here is a cool trick you can use to quickly get some very influential followers. Start with the top 50 Twitter users based on reach listed at twinfluence.com, one of my favorite Twitter tools. You will notice that the majority of those listed have as many “friends” as they have “followers”. They are the ones you should follow. They will almost certainly follow you back and increase your reach.
  3. Manage Your Connections - Once you have completed Step 2, many people you don’t know will start following you, and for the most part you’ll want to follow them all back. You can manage your Twitter connections using Twitter Karma, another of my favorite Twitter tools. After some time has passed, you’ll notice that many of the people you’ve been following become inactive — they haven’t “tweeted” in months. Stop following them in order to improve your ratio of followers to friends, a measure of your Twitter influence.

I applied this method myself about a month ago, and now about a hundred Twitter users begin following me each week.

When I “tweet” a link, roughly one to two percent of my followers click to see what the link is about. Isn’t that how any list is supposed to work?

This approach is easy, and it’s free.

Respect your followers and they’ll keep following you. Spam them, and they’ll stop following you in an instant.

That’s all there is to it. Please leave a comment. ;-)

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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