Saturday, December 11

Going Green for Christmas: My Recycled Cardboard Tree

To me, there is nothing more fun during the holiday season than going to the tree lot on a chilly night. Living in Los Angeles, I can make believe for that brief time that I am back in the northeast (where Christmas feels like Christmas).

Bringing home and having an elegant fir tree throughout the season always makes the house smell like Christmas, and the twinkling lights made us happy. But each year I rue the task of taking the tree down. It's not quite as lovely as the day we brought it in, and frankly? It makes a mess and becomes a fire hazard.

My initial foray into daring to go green for Christmas was when I saw an old aluminum tree at a garage sale, I snapped it up and we had a sparkly 50s Christmas. (I also found they sell for a tidy profit on eBay and bought as many as I could to resell - but that's another story).
This year, while in Montreal speaking at webcom, I saw a tree displayed made completely out of cardboard. It reminded me that much of the decor at PayPalX this year was made of recycled cardboard and I was intrigued.

I inquired and got a Cascades tree delivered to my house - we were happily surprised! It was delivered in a nice (easy for future storage) flat box. The tree and it's ornaments are diecut from sheets of 100 % recycled fiber (the  Trees are FSC® certified) and we had a great time putting the tree together. It was very much like putting together a huge puzzle!

The tree I selected was the Moderno with a festive holiday print on natural color board. They sell several style and color options on the Cascades website. The trees were developed together with Cascades’ Italian partner,  Reno De Medici. The styles in the Collection are the Classico, Moderno and Piccolo trees. Sizes? The Classico is 41″ x 28″, the Moderno 52″ x 29″ and Piccolo 24″ x 13″. Each style comes in your option of three colors: white, forest green and a print version. Prices range from $29 to $45 and include free shipping.

I no longer have the guilt of being party to a beautiful tree's demise!
Families with children will particularly like the plain white trees. I can easily see children having a great time designing their own. Seems that's what they had in mind too.
Take one minute and enjoy this short video, produced by Cascades, to give you an idea of the fun you and your children can have:

Friday, December 10

Holiday Video You'll not forget soon: "Christmas Laser Beam Cats" PEW! PEW! PEW! I love the holidays

If you like cats, these two guys make pretty funny videos. they have way too much time on their hands.

Wednesday, December 8

"What do you look for when you hire Customer Service reps?" #custserv 12/7 Tweetshow

We had a lively chat on Twitter last night regarding new customer service hires. The tweetshow features insights from the participants. Our participants come from all levels from CEOs to interested consumers. You are welcome to Join us every Tuesday at 9p ET. Just search Twitter for the hash tag #custserv.

Tuesday, December 7

Should You Merge Your Facebook Place Page & Business Page? Advice from @MariSmith #custserv

I just wonder what to do with the Community page Facebook invented for me? I don't want to lose the top tabs on my "fan" page. I think I will just wait and see. Maybe Mari Smith will come up with a suggestion.

Sunday, December 5

To those who wished me Happy Birthday, a blog post: "Social Media? It's Community, not just Marketing"

We have to remember that Social Media is that it is all about community. A community that may drive marketing, but is really all about people - real people.

This past weekend I celebrated a birthday. Before the advent of social media, it might have meant a party with close friends or people with whom I work. But social media has enabled us to bring the human touch to the web - and broaden it beyond anything we could have ever dreamed. I am lucky. All the people below all wished me "Happy Birthday," either on Facebook or Twitter. I appreciate the acknowledgment more than you can imagine. This is an amazing community to be part of, and I wanted to thank each and every one of you personally. Keep wishing Happy Birthday to everyone you know, it makes them feel special.

Thank you:

Steven Cooper, Mendel Mendelovits, Amanda Kaufmann, Maya Bisineer, Mark Krynsky, Maggie Dwyer, Jessica Northey, Mike Westerberg, John Weatherly, Ray J Gordon, Frank Ehrnreiter, Jack Nesbit, Jim Kukral, Lynn Langit, Aaron Howard, Erin Kotecki Vest, Peter D Hillard Jr, Tommy Geraci, Heather A Taylor, Robert Moran, Lotay Yang, Calvin Lee, David Molina, Phil Gerbyshak, Tristan Bishop, Johnny J. Shin, Michelle Millender-Baeck, Armen Chakmakjian, Karen Locker, Fran Maio Moore, Evan Ross, Diane Brogan, Robert (Bob) Watson, Jon Sturgill, Phil Leahy, Ketal Parikh, Amber Avines, Skip Bieber, Dilip Rajpurohit, Kani Civelek, Jan-Marie Henry, Chip Aspnes, Ziona Etzion, Nek Park, Stacy Small, Curt Buthman, Steve Duncan, Julie Spira, Ted Coine, Munish Gandhi, Jitendra Jojawar, Nicholas Clayton, Calvin Lee, Ed Millner, Keith Privette, Ruben Orozco, Henie Reisinger, David E. LeVine, Gino Xiao, AJ Bombers, Lisa Halang, Tammy Gamble, Scott Ross, Tomorrow Knight, Nina Bargiel, Laurel Kaufman, Andy Sternberg, Paul Chen, Ben Chou, Alexandra Mokh, Remy Ash, Mia von Doom, Todd Shoemack, Donna Bernstein, Roger French, Mark Drapeau, Jamie Patricio, Wendy Warren, Rick Bakas, Suzanne Hallam, Wesley Faulkner, Julie Spira,  Abbey Huret, Josef A Kunzler, Robyn N. Cohen, Linda Sue Martin, Jillian Cline, Lennlee Keep, Oz Sultan, Carol Quinn, Jon Luke, Anna Anisin, Cliff Aliperti, Post Just Post, Patty Boyer-Moore, Phil Gerbyshak, Joseph Gier, Franck Merlin Kengne, Jeff 'Digi' Lange, Ho Da, Beth Donahue Cherkowsky, Darryle Pollack, Stephanie Ciccarelli, Rynda Laurel, John Bates, Tricia Wallace, Donna Orr Tittsworth, Stan Cravens, Christopher Darbro, Genesis Musser, JD Andrews, Megan Testerman, Maryann Lowden, Kevin Winston, Rebecca Musser, Jim Donnelly, Albert Palomares Jr, Barry Moltz, Gayle Hall, Chris Brogan, Tom Rubin, Yancy Scot Strickland, Chris Voss, Harry K. Jones, Garick Chan, Johnny J. Shin, Linda C Teuthorn, Tara Hunt, Richie Hecker, Gary Neubert, Beth Frysztak, Nicole Jordan, Ron Taylor, Clare Bazley, Debbie McGuinness Woerner, Ken Yeung, Mona Telega, Steve Akins, Doug Rago, Steve Banfield, Chris Noble, Stacye Branché, Marjorie Clayman, Jim Weiler, Tristan Tom, Marc Cohen, Richard Brewer-Hay, Tony Adam, Tony Adam, Paula Lancit Boze, Brenda Demarco, Felix Nick Capurro, Debbie Clayton Wieder, Eric Greenspan, Clarissa Parashar, Daniel Egan, Ken Feldman, Sandra Ann Miller, Darla Flack, JMichael Wang, Tracy Bagatelle-Black, Carmie Giamella Docton, Ana M. Smith, Rebecca Quinn, Carolina Abenante, Clifford N. Robinaugh, Joe Limauro, Patti Louise Ruby, Myra WebSales, Matt Singley, Mystic Styles, Steve Rawlins, Patty Oyervides Simoneli, Bill Sharpe, Vicki Wilson Conley, Jonathan Craft, Debbie Levitt, Kathleen April Silvey, Stephanie Piche, Melinda Emerson, Stephanie Piche, Tommy Price, Ryan Lee Cox, Ryan Lee Cox, Ruth Gresham, David E. LeVine, Bobbie Steichen, Suzanne Randa, Jennifer Karpin-Hobbs, Robert M. Caruso, Richard Chereton, Roy Baker, Jon Luke, Brandon Dupsky, Helen Ziber Smith, Simon Salt, Ellen Reavis Gerstein, Shashi Bellamkonda, Richard Anderson,  Barry Piatoff, Henie Reisinger, Kelly Craft, Michelle Millender, 1680PR, Roy Merrill, Tony Dillistone, Caroline Cramer, William Hurley, CD Van, René Klaassen, Sue Dailey, Andre Carthen, Sue Dailey, Keith Latz, Mark Le Vine, Alvin Martinez, Jonathan BigJohn Rumbley, Andrew Mueller, Forrest W. Kobayashi, Amanda Wernick, Frank Adman, Andy Rathbone, Arlene Wszalek, davidmartinezmu, Pretzel Crisps, Kelly R, Sprite, matt ceniceros, Luann Johnson, debra cincioni, Ashley Kelly, Fredrick Nijm, Josh Reiss, Hicham Souilmi, Valencia Burns, Katarina Cechova, Uri Agassi, Mark Fitzgerald, Kim Calvert, Jeff Kawa, Jessica Gottlieb, Mike Prasad, Nancy Poff Leckron, Tom N Becky Rupe, Birgit Conlen, Carol de Nieuwe, Brandi Rhodes, David Young, Kelli Shaw, Michael Gannotti, Carole Miller Redlus, Duane Harris, Rick Frank, Deborah Shane, Jeff Willinger, Stephanie Koutsouras-Astyphidis, Diana Adams, Patricia C. Campbell Cianflone, Kathy Simpson, Claire Flanagan, John Hagel, Mark Horvath, Dayna Steele, Claude Malaison, Aziza Johari Johnson, Leni Lava, Starlene Stringer, Peter Shankman, Veronica I Hoag, Terry Brightman Meade, Carla Tee, Tatyana Kanzaveli, Sibyl Masquelier, Hayden Black, George Mineos, Michael Pilla, Sue Grimshaw, Stephanie Komure,  Michael Cunningham, Ricky Ricciardi, Barry Peters, Michael Gackler, MaryAnn Sell, Alexandru Celac, Joey Leslie, Alexandru Celac, Chris Rauschnot, Stan Gill, JD Lasica, Karla Porter, Tim Devine, Phil Staudt, Myrna Rivera, Todd MacIsaac, Rebecca Davis Robertson, Heather Meeker, Lovelaughs Ebay Bonanzle, Calvin Lee, Jeff Harbert, Garick Chan, Keith Privette, Marc Vermut, Shauna Groenewold, Jeff Rago, Jim TechFrog Alden, Jason Marcuson, Chuck Allen, Mark Jeffrey, Marina Magliacano, Sandra Garrelts, Tuyet A. N. T., ER Computing, Inc., Maya Sabot Paveza, Beth Dockins, Jeffrey J Kingman, Richard Natoli, Laura Scholz, Claire Flanagan, Julie Spira, Matt Ceniceros, Mr_Fastbucks, Tom Rubin, Misteism, Jane Meade, Slava Pastukhov, Allison Collinger, Geoff Snyder, Rieva, Shelly Kramer, Ed Shahzade, Jake Kern, Ted Coine, Jen Reyna, Guy Stephens, schneidermike, Bizzy, Edwin Aoki, Stacey Soleil, Corvida Raven, Ja-Nae Duane, Eric Andersen, Mohammed Al Taee, Anita Leather-Tillson, Thomas Patrick O'Shaughnessy, Jeff Rago, Andy Roo Mowery,  KW Low, Bill Cammack, Peter Lam, Keira Susan Dazi, Matthew Temple, Sean Leavitt, Nina Kasper-White, Ishmael Khaldi, Lori Moreno, Vegas Bill, Tim Beavin, Anita Nelson, Gian Luca, Chris Taylor, Shannon Leigh Smith, Kimberly Cotton Pitcher, Robert Weiss, Kim Rowley, Elizabeth Metz, Barry Dalton, Pat Rich, Paul E Drecksler, Melissa Keyes, Joshua Linn, Alberto Pardo BANANO, Randy Matheson, Mari Hernandez, David G. Trybus D.C., Donna Bumbalough Bond, David Benardo, Kim Johnson Redd, Kim Kestenbaum Meltzer, David Ginsburg, Jenn Allen, Mark Politi, Eva Marie Woodby, Nht Revor, Tina Hoffman, C Henry Adams, Erik Hom, Matthew Arevalo, Debbie Womack, Sylvia P. Coley, Elizabeth Freid, Rachel Makool, Jeff Urell, Bob Holmes, Leesa Travis, Bobbi Miller, Linda Sherman Gordon, Toni James Ladenheim, Mollie Vandor, Joe Adamson, Luanne Gorzsas, Jim Shaw, Tony Blake, Kathy Keefe, Sarah Vela, Bill Frank,  Andrew Milburn, Bryan Goodman, Christopher E. Lesley, Steve Zehngut, Anita Leather, Suzie Eads, Marla Schulman, Glen Copple, Colleen Golas Rast, Brian Simpson, Jerry Reed, Bryan Shepard, Chris Kelly, Babette Pepaj, Robert Moran, Melissa Keyes

Wednesday, December 1

Online Sellers: USPS Announces 2011 Shipping Prices and New Products #ebay #etsy


The simpler way to ship – with Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes from the U.S. Postal Service – is set to extend its popularity with consumers and shippers in the new year when new prices take effect. Prices for Priority Mail, Express Mail and other Shipping Services will change Jan. 2, 2011.


A flurry of new flat-rate product innovations will be ushered in with the new year. Priority Mail Flat Rate innovations include a legal-size flat-rate envelope and a padded flat-rate envelope. The Priority Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope (15" x 9.5") and Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate Envelope (12.5" x 9.5") are both priced at $4.95. All six types of Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes will be priced the same as the regular Priority Mail Envelope (12.5" x 9.5") at $4.95, including the Gift Card Flat Rate Envelope, Window Flat Rate Envelope, and Small Flat Rate Envelope.


Pricing for the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope will remain unchanged at $18.30. A new Express Mail Legal Flat Rate Envelope (15" x 9.5") makes its debut, and is priced the same as the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope.


In addition to an overall price change of 3.5 percent for Priority Mail, new prices for Express Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International, Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service will be effective Jan. 2. The overall price change for all Shipping Services products is 3.6 percent.


“The Postal Service continues to offer the best combination of value and shipping solutions in the market,” said Paul Vogel, president, Mailing and Shipping Services. “These new products will provide simple solutions to a dynamic marketplace.”


Currently available for Express Mail only, the popular Hold For Pickup service option will be extended to Priority Mail and First-Class Mail commercial parcels in the new year. Available at no extra charge for customers using shipping labels from Click-N-Ship or other USPS-approved vendor, packages with the Hold For Pickup endorsement are shipped directly to a Post Office, instead of being left at a recipient’s address. Packages are then held at the Post Office until picked up anytime during office hours, at a time convenient for the recipient.


Pricing for 50,000 Post Office Boxes in 49 retail Post Offices will change to reflect a new pricing schedule based on their presence in areas where significant competition exists. Post Office Boxes at these Post Offices have been classified as competitive products, allowing the Postal Service to test consumer interest in enhancements to current service and help shape future offerings.

For shippers mailing regionally, an economical new Priority Mail Regional Rate Box featuring USPS-supplied packaging will be available in two sizes for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus customers. The Priority Mail Regional Rate Box (shown above) offers zone-based pricing with the “If it Fits it Ships” concept and flat rates up to a maximum of 15 pounds for the cubic-size box measurement of .21 cubic feet (about the size of a large framed photo) and a maximum of 20 pounds for the cubic-size measurement of .41 cubic feet (about the size of a toaster). Volume thresholds for Commercial Plus customers have also been reduced.

Critical Mail is another innovative product offering for January available to Commercial Plus customers. Offering fast, consistent time-in-transit service for sensitive documents such as event tickets, identification cards and high-value direct mail, Critical Mail provides customers with tracking and free Delivery Confirmation. Critical Mail is a category of Priority Mail with First-Class Mail service standards. Additional extra services such as insurance and signature confirmation are also available. Critical Mail requires using USPS-supplied envelopes at a mailing cost of $3.50 for letters and $4.25 for larger, flat-size pieces.

Customers choosing online shipping solutions from the Postal Service will continue to save compared to retail prices. A complete listing of 2011 prices is available online under the link. The new prices and product innovations are pending Postal Regulatory Commission review.

Pricing adjustments to competitive products are made each January. A plan outlining a balanced approach for the long-term viability of the Postal Service introduced on March 2 includes proposals to deliver mail five days a week rather than six, restructure prefunding requirements for future retiree health benefits, create a more flexible workforce, expand convenient customer access to products and services and drive inefficiencies out of the mail system.

 The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.



Tuesday, November 30

A Tribute to all that is right in America. GM, an all American Brand, Says Thank you #custserv

As the nation celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, General Motors said thank you to the American people. In a 60-second commercial with no voice over, serious and comic images of failure appear on screen back to back followed by images of recovery, or comeback, as the advertisement is titled. The ad closes with the words: "We all fall down. Thank you for helping us get back up."

GM shares returned to the New York Stock Exchange last week in an initial public offering that reduced the U.S. Treasury's ownership stake from more than 60 percent to about 33 percent, just 16 months after emerging from bankruptcy reorganization.

Monday, November 29

Terror Group Gets A Rating From Better Business Bureau? Consumer Watchdog Accused of Running Pay for Play #custserv

The Better Business Bureau, one of the country's best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a "pay for play" scheme in which A plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don't.

To prove the point, a group of Los Angeles business owners paid $425 to the Better Business Bureau and were able to obtain an A minus grade for a non-existent company called Hamas, named after the Middle Eastern terror group.

"Right now, this rating system is really unworthy of consumer trust or confidence," said Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal in an interview to be broadcast as part of an ABC News investigation airing tonight on 20/20.

In an official demand letter sent to the national headquarters of the Better Business Bureau Thursday, Blumenthal called on the BBB to stop using its grading system, which he said was "potentially harmful and misleading" to consumers.

Click Here To Read Blumenthal's Letter

"The BBB accreditation and the BBB ratings systems is not about generating money," said BBB national president and CEO Steve Cox. He said the A minus grade for Hamas was given in error. "Plain and simple, we made a mistake," Cox told ABC News.

Errors seem to abound at the Better Business Bureau. As reported by an anonymous blogger the BBB also awarded an A minus rating to a non-existent sushi restaurant in Santa Ana, California and an A plus to a skinhead, neo-Nazi web site called Stormfront.

Each listing cost $425.

"They ran the credit card and within 12 hours they were an approved, accredited member," said the anonymous blogger, who runs a site called

"They're more interested in the money than their credibility," he said.

The BBB's Cox said the three listings were all mistakes made by sales people.

"That's an inaccurate statement that business people are able to buy A's," Cox said. "We have more than 500,000 non-accredited businesses who have A ratings," he added.

Yet, as part of the ABC News investigation, an ABC News producer with a camera was present as two small business owners in Los Angeles were told by Better Business Bureau tele-marketers that their grades of C could be raised to A plus if they paid $395 membership fees.

Terri Hartman, the manager of a Los Angeles antique fixtures store, Liz's Antique Hardware, was told only a payment could change her grade, based on one old complaint that had already been resolved.

"So, if I don't pay, even though the complaint has been resolved, I still have a C rating?"

Hartman then read off her credit card number and the next business day the C grade was replaced with an A plus, and the one complaint was wiped off the record.

In a second case, Carmen Tellez, the owner of a company that provides clowns for parties was also told she had to pay to fix her C- grade, based on a two-year old complaint that she says had already been resolved.

The C minus became an A plus the very next day after she provided her credit card number for the $395 charge.

"If I'm paying for a grade, then how are the customers supposed to really trust the Better Business Bureau?" she asked.


I wrote about this years ago and no one believed me ... believe me now?

Tuesday, November 23

eBay Sellers: In 2011, PayPal will be required by the IRS to report sales information. Understanding IRS 6050W


Everything you need to know about IRS 6050W

Starting in 2011, all U.S. payment providers including PayPal will be required by the IRS to report sales information about certain merchants to the IRS. We want to help you understand these changes.

  •   Applies to merchants receiving over $20,000 in gross sales volume AND 200 payments or more
  •   Applies only for sales beginning on January 1, 2011
Questions? Log in to your account or call 1-888-221-1161

What Is IRS 6050W?

Under the new legislation, PayPal will be required to report to the IRS the total payment volume received by PayPal customers in the US who:

* Receive more than $20,000 in gross payment volume in a single year, AND
* Receive 200 or more payments in a single year.

The IRS changes will apply to all payment providers, including PayPal. They will take effect on January 1, 2011, with the first reports going to the IRS in early 2012. Our goal is to help PayPal merchants to understand and comply with the new requirements.

If you meet the stated thresholds, you will be required to verify your identity by adding a SSN/TIN/EIN to your existing account.

Be sure to read more on PayPal

Tuesday, November 16

How does Google Search work? What exactly happens when you click?

Here’s a video that should answer some of your questions as to how Google works. It provides a very brief and easy-to-understand explanation of what happens when you perform a search in Google! It even gives you some interesting SEO (search engine optimization) ideas. The person presenting is Matt Cutts, who works for the Search Quality group in Google.

If your Small business would like a simple Facebook welcome page without knowing FBML, check @hy_ly Welcome app

The folks at are doing some great things, most recently a simple to use Facebook welcome page app. You can put together a welcoming page on your Business or Fan page in just a few minutes. The best part is that it won't look like a giant ad and overwhelm your visitors.

Once you've installed the app, just adjust your privacy settings so that new visitors will land on your welcome page first. plans to adapt this app to allow you to run contests, show specials and lots more.

Monday, November 15

Webcom-Montréal International will explore how Web 2.0 can reboot business: I'll be there w @armano, will we see you?

On November 17th, new Web technologies, strategies and trends for Web 2.0 will be explored during the 9th edition of the webcom-Montréal International conference.

“Corporate rebooting” is the theme of this year’s conference, and methods for accomplishing that reboot through collaboration and communities will be discussed. Technology such as Wikis, real-time Web software such as Seesmic and Foursquare, Internet and Intranet communities, professional networks and mobility will be explored.

This year, I'll be one of the keynote speakers along with Jared Spool, founder of User Interface Engineering and an expert on the concept of usability. (My talk will be on "Connecting to the Soul of your Customer.")

We will be joined by an amazing group of more than 30 local and international experts in the fields of Web 2.0 and engaging community. I'll be lucky to hear the presentations from Jen Evans (Sequentia-Environics), Bevin Hernandez (Firebrand Tribe) and David Armano (Edelman Digital). There will be numerous case studies, including those of companies like CSC, Caisse d'Epargne, Penn State University, Navstar, CapAcadie, NASA, BART-San Francisco

webcom-Montréal takes place on November 17th from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, click here.

Wednesday, November 10

Play for keeps: Game Mechanics Give Brands a New Power Play from the mind of @getshust at @Resource

From Resource Interactive:

If you long for diversion from the mundane daily grind and find yourself unexpectedly engrossed in becoming Mayor of the local Starbucks, collecting check-in awards and badges at every destination, or simply stating your location via Facebook Places—you're far from alone. Ten percent of U.S. Internet time is now spent on online games. Foursquare now has over three million users who have posted over one hundred million check-ins. Mobile apps offering gaming and geolocation services are growing exponentially with the ever-increasing number of smartphone users in the U.S.

Our latest POV on Game Mechanics (aka: "gamification") explores the phenomenon of this fast-growing array of activities that engage consumers online and off through competitions, rewards, ego boosters and virtual entertainment. What's more, it illustrates how brands that leverage them ultimately offer more than momentary entertainment—they can inform, inspire, enlighten and delight customers over the long haul.

Thursday, November 4

Excellent Customer Service Analysis: Great Takeaways from #custserv Discrimination Chat

3 Great Takeaways from #custserv Discrimination Chat

We regret we were unable to participate in eBay guru Marsha Collier’s customer service Twitter chat (hashtag #custserv) last night.  Even though we missed it, the post chat transcript made for some great reading, including a B plot on discrimination! There were a lot of good points raised, many of them quite unexpected. While a lot of the talk pertained mostly to brick and mortar store policies, the advice could be just as useful to all the ecommerce sellers out there!
Dressing Down

@bevhillsporsche says, “We don’t judge “dress code” either. Our richest customers dress down when car shopping.
You never can tell who your best customer or client will be. Even that one guy who comes in every Friday and just buys a stick of gum might sell his business or win the lottery the next day and buy half of your merchandise just because you were nice to him. To discriminate based on what your customers buys or, worse, what you think they MIGHT buy based on appearance will bring you big problems.
Online sellers have a unique advantage in this regard – there’s no telling what their customers look like unless said customer updates their avatar every time they change their clothes. However, have you ever had problems giving customer service to someone who bought a low price item from your store? Or perhaps you have several people who buy loads of items – do you pay more attention to them? Should you?
Empowering Your Customers

@marshacollier says, “Empowering the customer with facts (any business can do this) leads to a more educated customer at any age.”
This came from a brief aside about the age of customers, especially when it came to providing or receiving customer service through social media. The general consensus was that the majority of the customers you encounter (especially offline) are not exactly “social media mavens” and are more inclined to do things the old fashioned way.
This is especially true with people 45 and older. So making sure your customers have all the information they need to get right to you when problems arise can only help. As an online seller, you might be unintentionally discriminating against your older customers by only offering online support but foregoing an 800 number.
Is there any way for you to further educate visitors to your store on how to get customer support?
Nobody Likes Being the Laughingstock

Another topic of discussion included several stories of being ridiculed by customer service reps for having outdated technology. I can personally attest to this; I was trading in an old phone at a store and the clerks chuckled at how old it was. They even took out the SIM card and marveled at the ancient civilization that created it.
While I wasn’t completely offended (it was a super old phone – it worked fine for my needs dang it), it was slightly unprofessional. It made me feel like they were part of some secret club and just because I didn’t have a phone that had been released that day that I wasn’t invited (@marshcollier said the rep in her case made her feel “like I was an alien”).
You may or may not agree with the old adage that “there is no such thing as a stupid question,” but when it comes to your customers you have to adhere to it. Discriminating because of lack of knowledge or preferring older/alternative products might lead to poor customer service and even loss of sales.
Essentially, if you want to make your business feel like a secret club, make sure your customers are invited, too!
Please join us on Twitter for the Tuesday night customer service chat. Search twitter for #custserv. Live chat Tuesday at 6p PT/9p ET

Monday, October 25

Barbie Video Girl Versus Canon EOS 7D. Comparison Test: Monday Morning LOLz!

H/T @Mr_Fastbucks By: Jared Abrams:

I picked up this comparison video over at the Planet 5D blog. It has been out for a little while, but it’s worth checking out if you have not seen it yet. This is a very well done comparison between the Canon 7D and Barbie Video Girl camera. This was made in response to the iPhone 4 and Canon 7D comparison video a while back. Brandon Bloch put some time into this video. It is very funny. Here is a quote from Brandon’s Vimeo page.

“A comparison between my two new cameras: The $1,800 Canon 7D versus the brand new $50 Barbie Video Girl… available in the girlie aisle of your local Toys R Us. It’s the sassiest camera money can buy.”

Friday, October 22

Costly Sales Growth for Amazon: Spending Heavily to Expand Business

By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER Inc. posted a 16% profit increase as sales continued at breakneck pace, but the Internet retailing giant also showed that it is spending heavily to expand its business.

Meanwhile, the company predicted strong growth for the current quarter, which includes the key holiday shopping season.


The Seattle company will this year open 13 new distribution centers, bringing its total to 52, said its chief financial officer, Tom Szkutak.

The company has also been offering trials of its Prime free-shipping loyalty program to more groups, including new parents and college students.

The expansion is coming at a cost for the e-commerce giant, which saw operating expenses rise 40% in the third quarter from a year earlier, continuing a trend seen in the second quarter.

"This is because of the growth we're seeing in our retail business and our Fulfillment By Amazon business," Mr. Szkutak said, referring to a program where Amazon houses and ships goods for smaller merchants.

Amazon's third-quarter results were driven by a 39% increase in sales to $7.56 billion. Most of the growth came from the company's catch-all electronics and general merchandise category, which increased sales by 68%.

Overall, income for the third quarter was $231 million, or 51 cents a share, compared with $199 million, or 45 cents a share, in the third quarter 2009.

Amazon offered no new details on sales of its Kindle e-reader or sales of digital books. In August, Amazon began shipping new versions of the Kindle, including an entry-level model that retails for $139, its lowest price yet.

Read the rest of the article at


Tuesday, October 19

It Costs 6 to 7 Times More to Acquire a New Customer Than to Retain Existing: Infographic frm @flowtown #custserv

Have you ever wondered how much an existing customer was worth? Well, in most cases its a lot. In fact, it is 6 to 7 times more costly to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer. The following graphic details the the most interesting findings of several recent studies focused on customer acquisition, retention and attrition rates. It should help to put things in perspective for marketers and business owners.

Read more:

Wednesday, October 13

Twitter Crushing Facebook's ClickThru Rate: Facebook 2.87% Twitter 19.04%. How does this happen?

Zuckerberg Facebook Twitter

What is the most effective way for marketers to spread their message online? Facebook? Twitter? Company blogs? Email?

According to a new report by marketing firm SocialTwist, Internet sharing trends have shifted heavily shifted toward social networking, but other platforms still have a strong presence for word-of-mouth advertising. SocialTwist analyzed more than a million referral messages sent using the company's Tell-a-Friend tool, a widget that lets users share sites through social media.

In the last year, social networking sites saw a 10% increase in usage, and a 16% bump in click-throughs. Overall though, email still accounts for 55% of referrals.

However, when it comes to click-throughs, social networking sites are far more effective, accounting for more than 60% of the market share.

Among social networking sites, Facebook is by far the most preferred service for sharing, making up more than 78% of usage. Yet other sites are gaining: Twitter maintains 5% of referrals, and MySpace, surprisingly, comes in at second with 14.5% share


Yet Twitter has become the most effective tool for click-throughs. Twitter yielded a whopping average of 19.04 clicks, whereas Facebook only produced 2.87 clicks.

This is great news for Twitter, which has hinged its business on Promoted Tweets and Trends, tweet-size ads that companies purchase for $100,000 a day. With such a high click-through rate, it's no wonder new Twitter CEO Dick Costolo boasted yesterday that the company has "cracked the code on a new form of advertising, and we feel like we’ve got a hit on our hands.”


I hate to say "I told you so."

Tuesday, October 12

Join Me & My fellow Wiley authors @BrianSolis @Pistachio @stevegarfield @JimKukral & more at BlogWorld 2010

The best part of attending fabulous conferences is that we get to meet the wonderful people we know in Social Media. My favorite part is that I get to meet so many of the people that read my books. Please stop by and visit with me and my fellow authors in booth 421. The schedule is below! can't wait!

BlogWorld & New Media Expo Wiley Booth Signings

Friday, 10/15 

  • 11:00 - Brian Solis/Engage
  • 11:30 - Laura Fitton/Twitter For Dummies 2e
  • 12:30 - Aaron Brazell/WordPress Bible
  • 1:00 - Mari Smith/Facbook Marketing: Hour A Day
  • 2:00 - Steve Garfield/Get Seen
  • 2:30 - Kevin Nalty/Beyond Viral
  • 3:00 - Jim Kukral/Attention
  • 3:30 - Marsha Collier/eBay For Dummies 6e & Facebook and Twitter For Seniors For Dummies

Saturday, 10/16

  • 11:00 - Lisa Sabin-Wilson/WordPress For Dummies 3e
  • 11:30 - Douglas Karr & Chantelle Flannery/Corporate Blogging For Dummies
  • 1:00 - Brad Williams/Professional WordPress
  • 2:00 - Darren Rowse & Chris Garrett/Problogger 2e

Tuesday, October 5

Interesting New Data: Articles Published in the Morning Shared More on Facebook from @Dan Zarrella

Dan Zarella says: I analyzed the average (interquartile mean to be specific) number of times articles were shared on Facebook based on the time of day they were published and I found that Facebook sharing seems to peak on articles that are posted in the morning, 9AM EST specifically.

Friday, September 24

INFOGRAPHIC: Millions of People Give Feedback Every Day. Are You Listening? Responding? from @MindshareVoice #custserv

Social media is all anyone seems to talk about lately. Many people see social media as a fad, or just a venue for people to vent. Other people view the open-ended comments found on social media sites as the “future” of customer feedback.

The reality of social media is that it is changing how we talk about experiences. It used to be that we would give “real-time” feedback by sharing stories about what we remembered. As technology advanced, the gap between when something happened and when we could tell our friends began to close. Social media now allows us to talk about what is happening at this very moment… in real time.


Thursday, September 23

Social Networking Shows Explosive Year-Over-Year Growth. @BrianSolis shows reasons to engage your customers online

Twitter is quickly becoming the lens into all that moves us as individuals and also as a global society. Twitter has become a human seismograph, measuring and broadcasting the pulse of not just the Web, but also world and local events. News no longer breaks, it tweets. In many ways, Twitter's openness creates a new genre of digital anthropologists, sociologists, and ethnographers. Twitter users reveal the state of all things captivating attention and inspiring action, all in real-time. As new found social scientists, we learn everything.

One such study recently captured and articulated that State of Twitter in the United States. Edison Research and Arbitron Internet recently surveyed 1,753 Americans age 12 and over to peel back the layers of fervor and hype to reveal the very people using Twitter and defining a new era of communication.


According to Edison, Twitter's awareness exploded from 5% in 2008 to 26% in 2009 to near ubiquity at 87% in 2010. Of course this is due in large part to our near rabid obsession with the service mainstream media, businesses, even local shops and services, incessant advertising of Twitter through front-facing pleas, "follow us on Twitter!"

If metrics provide a baseline for appreciating Twitter's rapid journey to recognition, the study compared Twitter's stature to one of the largest social networks in the world. Off by a sliver of 1%.

Twitter is becoming a household brand, it just now has to work toward earning a position as a household service, something Facebook is currently reveling. At almost equal recognition levels, Twitter trails Facebook in actual usage by a staggering 34%.

Twitter Usage

Twitter recently hosted Chirp, its first conference where it revealed that it hosted over 105 million registered users. According to Arbitron and Edison, Twitter usage currently stands at an estimated 17 million Americans.

Twitter Activity Secrets Revealed

Twitter recently announced users were tweeting upwards of 50 million times per day at an average rate of 600 tweets per second.

Previous studies have shown that a small percentage of the overall user base is responsible for the greater volume of total tweets. In the new Arbitron and Edison report, we're introduced to five specific segments of "Tweeters" (I'll name them to make it easier for future reference:

  • Broadcasters (Several times per day)
  • Commentators (At least 1x per day)
  • Contributor (at least 1x per week)
  • Neutral (At least 1x per month)
  • Inactives (Less than 1x per month)

Twitter Demographics

While the following demographics reveal the segments of people using Twitter, as marketers, business professionals, and brand managers, pay closer attention to the "interest graphs" interwoven within the network. It's how Twitter is basing its advertising architecture and its focus on psychographics over demographics is aligned with the dynamics of social media in general.

In the "Age of Social Networks," the average age of a Twitter user was revealed as 39. Now we learn that 38% of Twitter users are age 35 and older with the greatest concentration of users falling between 25 to 34. And, as we already know, in Twitter, Social Media, and now mobile social networking, women rule.

Examining the composition of ethnicity in Twitter brings to life the richness of diversity, but also its assemblage of core groups, mainly White, African American, and Hispanic.

Twitter Users are $chooled

Education and income levels naturally factor into the focus and segmentation of how businesses connect with distinct markets. For some, the desire to reach educated individuals with greater levels of discretionary income is paramount. It seems that Twitter is a network that caters to the well-educated as well as those with higher household incomes.

Twitter is a Mobile Experience

One in four users actively access Facebook from mobile devices. That equates to roughly 100 million users, which is for the time being, far greater than the total number of all Twitter inhabitants. Perhaps it's part of the engineered simplicity. Whereas 25% of Facebook users are mobile, almost two-thirds of Twitter users are comfortable accessing the service via their mobile phone -- thanks in large part to the brilliant array of third-party applications available by popular developers.

Twitter is an Exchange for Products and Services

For companies seeking to engage prospects, customers, and influencers in Social Media, Twitter is a goldmine. 42% stated they wish to learn about products and services and 41% already provide opinions about them. Many updates in Twitter related to products/services are indeed questions about experiences. 31% of those polled admit to asking for user opinions. Here's where businesses also need to pay attention. 28% of users polled are seeking discounts and offers. 21% claim to purchase products and at the moment, 19% are taking to Twitter to seek support.

If You Tweet Away, I Will Follow...

For businesses looking to engage in the conversation, Twitter is proving to be a means to connect the dots. For those brands that can effectively listen, respond, and also spark clicks to action, they will weave a rich network of invaluable touchpoints for customer acquisition and retention. According to the survey, Twitters users are more than likely to follow brands in companies at profound levels when compared to other social networks. In Twitter, 51% responded yes whereas 84% responded no when compared to all social network users.

And So It Continues...

To leave you with one last point intended to convey the preponderance of social networks. The adoption of social networks is soaring across every demographic at a minimum of 10% with some as high as over 20% between 2009 and 2010 alone. Don't expect that steep incline to taper any time soon.

Brian Solis is the author of Engage and is recognized as one of most provocative thought leaders and published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis' research and ideas have influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing over the years. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSolis and follow his work at

Related Stories:


Innovation, Technology, Leadership, 2.0, communications, Marketing, new, online, PR, pr 2.0, public relations, set, social, social capital, Social Capitalists, social media, tech, tech set, Web, web 2.0, twitter, Chirp, Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., Science and Technology, Technology, Internet


Monday, September 20

I'll be speaking at unGeeked e'lite in Toronto Oct 28-30 with @JasonFalls @sexythinker & more! Join us? Save 10%

What is unGeeked e'lite?

unGeeked e'lite is not a conference, it is a "social media retreat." This means more interaction, going beyond connecting and creating bonds with keynotes and presenters. You are encouraged to participate in the discussions and share your thoughts.

Retreats are designed to make you think about your company's vision; develop, inspire and motivate teams, and teach you how to build a community of loyal clients and consumers who depend on your promise of value.

Come and join us?
RSVP today and SAVE 10% using THESOCIALCMO at

Friday, September 17

Thank you @JessicaGottlieb for the first review on my new book: Facebook & Twitter For Seniors For Dummies

5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Guide, September 16, 2010
By  Jessica Gottlieb "Mommy Blogger" (Los Angeles, CA)
This review: Facebook and Twitter For Seniors For Dummies For Dummies 

"I consider myself to be well versed in Facebook and Twitter and the etiquette for both. What I am not capable of is explaining it to my parents. I got this book today, and it's the perfect tool to introduce seniors to the social web (sorry mom).

The chapters are well laid out, with great examples of lingo that I (as a heavy social media user) take for granted.

If your mom doesn't know a DM from a status update, just buy her this book. It's really terrific. Also, Marsha mentions that as we age we are less mobile. This could be very liberating for someone who can't get out as much as they'd like to."

If you think your Mom, Dad or Grandparents might benefit from the book as well, you can find it here (It's in LARGE print)

Here's some info on the book, it's a fun and easy social media guide for the over-55 set

  • People over 55 were the fastest-growing user group on Facebook in the first half of 2009, and they’re flocking to Twitter at a faster rate than their under-20 grandchildren. From basic information about establishing an Internet connection to rediscovering old friends, sharing messages and photos, and keeping in touch instantly with Twitter, this book by online expert Marsha Collier helps seniors jump right into social media.
  • Seniors are recognizing the communication possibilities of Facebook and Twitter and are signing up in record numbers
  • This plain-English guide explains how to get online, set up a Facebook profile, locate friends, post public and private messages, share photos, create events, follow local businesses and friends on Twitter, create a blog, play games, and more
  • Marsha Collier explains every step with the same friendly, comfortable style that has made her eBay For Dummies books bestsellers

Facebook & Twitter For Seniors For Dummies supplies everything seniors need to function confidently on these two social media platforms.

From the Back Cover
Get steps and advice for connecting with friends on Facebook and Twitter!

So you've decided to find out why all the world seems to be into social networking? That's great! Let this book be your guide to setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts, catching up with old friends and making new ones, communicating with the grandkids, avoiding shady characters, foiling identity thieves, and maximizing your online experience!

  • If you're starting from scratch — get advice on buying a computer, setting up Internet access, and establishing an e-mail account in Part 1
  • Face the world on Facebook — create your account and profile, upload your photo, set privacy controls, and explore your home page
  • Reach out and find someone — learn how to search for friends, send friend requests, chat, and retrieve private messages
  • Fun and games — join groups, play games, and create events
  • All a-Twitter — set up a Twitter account, learn the shorthand, find people you want to follow, use hashtags, and create lists
  • Intermediate social networking — find places to share photos and videos, read movie and restaurant reviews, and contribute your opinions
  • Venture into the blogosphere — try your hand at blogging
Open the book and find:
  • How to find your friends and family on Facebook
  • Suggestions on how to build your Facebook profile
  • Facebook privacy tweaks so only your friends can see your profile
  • How to post photos and send private messages on Facebook
  • Tips for condensing your thoughts to 140 characters for Twitter
  • Sites that review restaurants, rate hotels, and recommend music
  • Where to get Web-based e-mail for your social networking

Learn to:

  • Get a Web-based e-mail account and sign up on Facebook
  • Update your Facebook profile, find friends, share photos, and post messages
  • Share quick thoughts with your friends using Twitter
  • Find the best sites for dining, travel, and music recommendations

Tuesday, September 7

What fun! "Marsha Collier AKA the Tweetinator" Thank you for the mention @KatsKloset Women

Just saw this fantastic photo where one of my favorite Women Entrepreneurs, Marsha Collier, is featured in a recent New York Times article about Technology. Isn’t it just FANTASTIC!  I love this – you go Marsha. Of course, I’m prejudiced because the photo brings two of my favorite things together – I’m a big fan of Marsha and I ADORE ‘The Terminator’ movies with Arnie :) What do you think?

Marsha Collier

Here is the Marsha section in the article:

Still, wariness about broadcasting one’s location extends to city dwellers, too. Marsha Collier lives in Los Angeles and writes “For Dummies” books on technology. She uses Whrrl and Foursquare as a way to share information about her life with her online fans and followers — but instead of checking in when she arrives at a place, she checks in as she leaves, to avoid alerting people that she is away from home.

“If I’m going to go work out at the gym, I’ll check in on my way out,” she said. “That way, you’re going to be home soon, so your house won’t be unattended for a long time.”

*** original photo taken by Jamie Rector for the NYT, the “adaptation” was by Ty Sullivan


Monday, September 6

Bling Your Bra for Breast Cancer Awareness month

"Bling" your bras and donate them to help raise money for breast cancer awareness and research during the second annual Bling My Bra campaign. If you don't want to bling a bra, you can purchase a one-of-a-kind bra during October, (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to benefit the Susan G. Komen For the Cure organization.

If you'd like to design and  donate a bra, contact Bling My Bra and mail their decorated garments so volunteers can list the items and auction them off through eBay Giving Works. Participants are encouraged to e-mail the organization with a two-line bio, photos of their creations, the name of their bras and a description of the items to be used in the listings.

"Bras can be crafted out of whatever strikes your fancy, using a plain bra to build upon," Bling My Bra notes on its site. "And you can make more than one."

Last year, (my creation pictured below) there were 41 bras, one CD and a pair of SwitchFlops up for auction, raising $3,000 for cancer awareness and research. This year, the organization hopes to double that number and reach $6,000.

"Last year's response was fantastic," says Betsie Bolger, a spokeswoman for the campaign. "We had a great cadre of volunteer artists and designers, who created a bra or bras for the campaign, plus quite a number of other supporters, who submitted ideas for bras so that we could have one of our volunteers craft them. They also made financial donations and in some cases even autographed various bras. We even had a few celebrity contributors, including Marsha Collier, author of the best-selling eBay For Dummies series and Jim 'Griff' Griffith and Lee Mirabal, hosts of eBay Radio."

eBay CEO, John Donahoe also autographed a piece, which garnered lots of attention and several bids, she notes. But for buyers, it was more about helping the cause than getting a blinged-out bra.

"Some of those who won bras even told us to keep the bra so we could auction it off again," she notes. "It's really exciting to feel that your efforts have helped to make a difference in the world."

For more information, visit, or find the campaign on Twitter @BlingMyBra or Facebook.

Thursday, September 2

Thursday, August 26

Google Voice and Gmail sitting in a tree, C-A-L-L-I-N-G

Now that Google Voice has finally gone public, Google has merged Gmail and Google Voice to allow users to place phone calls from within Gmail, adding more flexibility to both services. Additionally, the company announced that calls to the US and Canada would be free for "at least" the rest of the year, and that calls to other countries would be very cheap.

Previously, Gmail users could load up their Google Talk lists in the sidebar, and even make voice or video calls with their Google Talk contacts. As Google points out, however, these types of VoIP calls were limited, as they required both parties to be sitting at a computer while signed into Gmail. What if one party is away and you need to confirm something? Or what if you suddenly remember to make a doctor appointment while you're checking your e-mail?

The Google Voice integration is meant to address those situations. "We’ve been testing this feature internally and have found it to be useful in a lot of situations, ranging from making a quick call to a restaurant, to placing a call when you’re in an area with bad reception," wrote Google Software Engineer Robin Schriebman on the Official Google Blog.

Not only can you make outbound calls (after installing a plug-in), you can also choose to receive calls on your Google Voice number from within Gmail. The service is only available to US users for now, and in typical Google fashion, it's rolling out slowly—don't panic if you don't see the update right away. Now if only Google would put some of that world-class engineering talent to work on improving the voicemail transcriptions...

Wednesday, August 25

Infographic: State of the GeoSocial Universe

The infographic shows the number of users on each network, and what portion of those users overlap with the huge mobile “sun.” For instance, Facebook has 500 million active users, with roughly one-third of them accessing their accounts via mobile devices. Services like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Loopt, being entirely dependent on mobile tech, have 100% of their users within the mobile sphere.

Tuesday, August 24

Blog Posts And Tweets: Where Do They Come From? H/T @db

With the explosion of blog and Twitter posts, it’s interesting to note that according to this infographic from GOOD, the majority of source material still comes from traditional U.S. newspapers and magazines. Also, while the array of subjects covered by blogs is somewhat concentrated around a few current events categories, technology tweets seem to be single-handedly blazing the 140-character-news-trail.

Thursday, August 19

The Web Is Dead: Long Live the Internet, How the new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures.
Read the article at

Disable Facebook Places From Letting Others Tag Your Location Without Your Consent frm @Consumerist

"Facebook Places" is a new Facebook feature with Foursquare check-in-like functionality, but by default it lets other people tag you as being at a location without requiring your consent. This could lead to friends tagging you as being inside a peepshow, or an ex-girlfriend tagging you as being with another girl so your new girlfriend gets pissed off. The sitcom storyline possibilities are endless! Here's how to turn it off:

1. Go to privacy settings
2. Go to "customize"
3. Scroll to "things others share"
4. Disable "friends can check me into places."