How to Work with a Web Design Firm; 5 Questions with Andy Crestodina

When you’re starting a business, one of the first items on the agenda is putting together a website. But it can be really tricky to figure out who can help you get it done.

site is under construction

Luckily, I managed to snag some time with the very busy Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media. I asked him some questions about how to hire and work with a reputable web design firm. (Thanks Andy!)

Every entrepreneur starts out thinking they can cobble together a decent website with HTML, spit, duct tape, and the design knowledge they picked up in college. How do you know it’s time to get professional help?

You know your website is bad when you hope that people don’t visit it. It sounds like a joke, but it’s not uncommon. You tell people the address, but add a disclaimer: I’m still working on it… I made it myself… I’m planning to redesign it soon…

If it’s not obvious from a lack-of-pride, it may be obvious in your Analytics. If traffic isn’t up from last year and if it’s not turning 1% – 3% of visitors into customers and leads, something is probably wrong.

What are some critical indicators that you’re talking to a rip-off artist rather than a professional web design shop? Some of them look pretty convincing.

If you connect with the company through a referral, that helps. Beyond this, I recommend asking some specific questions:

  • Can I meet the team? This will tell you if they’re a company of full time people, or a collection of freelancers. There’s more risk of issues if they’re all freelancers or if they outsource the work.
  • Have you ever done a similar project for a similar company? Ideally, the answer is yes. Ask about the return on the investment and the results in Analytics.
  • What kind of support do you offer after the site goes live? If they have a team dedicated to helping clients post-launch, you’re more likely to be happy in the long run. If their support team is the same as the project team, they may not be great at service over the long run…

They should be really excited to answer your questions. You should be able to feel some passion. If they sound worried about your project, you should probably be a bit worried about trusting them with the project.

What should we expect in an initial consultation with a web consultant? Do we need to have anything prepared in advance?

You should expect to get a demo of their process. Most web companies have a process that they believe in. Seeing this will give you a sense for what to expect. The process should emphasize the people, the scope and the timeframe.

Listen for evidence that the process and the projects are focused on results. Listen for signs that they understand Analytics. They should talk a bit about search engines, visitor psychology and future updates. This shows they care about the three most important things: traffic, conversion rates and easy updates.

How often should a website be re-designed or refreshed? If it’s working well, do you still need to change it periodically?

Website content should be updated regularly, but that doesn’t mean you have to blog everyday. In a recent post about how often to blog, we suggested that blogging and email frequency be aligned to the sales cycle in your industry.

But if the site performs well, it should be years before a complete redesign is necessary. The lifespan of a great website is three to five years!

What’s the most common web design mistake you see small businesses making right now? You don’t have to name names.
There are so many common mistakes! Here’s a quick list…

  1. Generic Navigation
    If the navigation looks like this… “About, Services, Blog, Contact” …then you’re probably missing opportunities to communicate quickly to visitors and indicate relevance to search engines.
  2. Contact Pages Without Forms
    If the contact page doesn’t have a form, it doesn’t have a thank you page, which means you can’t easily track leads in Google Analytics. A contact page with an email link is a problem.
  3. Long Paragraphs
    Remember, visitors are busy. They want to scan. Be concise.
  4. The Home Page Title Tag Says “Home”
    This little bit of text is the single most important piece of SEO real estate on the website. You wouldn’t write a book and call it “Book” so don’t make the title of your home page, “Home”
  5. Abandoned Spaceship Syndrome
    The about page should have names and faces of the team. Better yet, make a page for each person. People buy from people, so add personality to the site. Small business have an advantage here, but a lot of small companies miss the opportunity.

There are a dozen other common mistakes, but these ones are pretty easy to fix. Hope this is helpful!

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

Photo Credit: jakeisdead via Compfight cc

The Whuffie Factor, Five Years Later – Interview with Tara Hunt

Last week, in my Internet travels, I stumbled across a reference to Whuffie.

No, Whuffie is not a cleaning product.

The Whuffie Factor, by Tara Hunt, was published in April 2009, when we were all talking about “Web 2.0” and Captain “Sully” Sullenberger. If you didn’t pick up this seminal book five years ago, you should go grab a copy now. Its advice is still very relevant today. Among other things, Tara predicted the rise of subscription music services, content marketing, and many of the reputation-building ideas that are now canon.

Tara Hunt hasn’t relaxed over the last few years, moving from co-founding the groundbreaking Citizen Agency to her current position as Social Digital Leader at MSLGROUP, and helping her clients build relationships along the way. As a long-time participant and builder of online communities, Tara exemplifies the principles she advocates…she walks the walk. When I randomly reached out via Twitter, she was right there and ready to share her thoughts about how things have evolved over the last five years.

The Whuffie Factor

It’s been five years since you wrote The Whuffie Factor. What do you think has been the biggest business shift during that time?

Has it already been five years?! I can’t believe how much time flies. The biggest business shift during this time has been the overall adoption of social media into the marketing mix. There are very few companies that don’t do anything at all online. The issue now is that everyone is using social media tools, but very few are actually using them truly socially. I see too many examples of companies putting the same kind of content on social networks as they would have placed in traditional media. “Here are our product benefits!” “Our product is awesome!” “You should try our product!” The medium has changed, but the strategy has not.

Do you think it’s more difficult now to build Whuffie?

The bar is definitely higher now to build Whuffie, because brands are competing with their own customers for trust and attention. In the beauty space, the amateur YouTuber has hundreds of thousands (and even millions) of subscribers who hang on their every word while the huge beauty brands with their enormous budgets are still struggling to get any engagement. They try to pay for it, but it’s fleeting. Individuals understand how to build Whuffie because every relationship is important to them – especially when they are starting out – but brands are still thinking in terms of mass market. They don’t know how to invest in one relationship at a time. They are so used to buying a large number of views. They don’t realize that those individual relationships are worth so much more in the long run than a paid view. It’s a matter of valuing the wrong metric.

That being said, the bar is still set pretty low for brands and we celebrate brands that even partially understand this. So, I guess it isn’t more difficult to build Whuffie, it’s just still a foreign concept.

Is Whuffie like Fight Club (i.e., if you have Whuffie, you don’t talk about Whuffie)?

Hah! It’s more like being cool. Cool people (and brands) don’t say they are cool. They just are. If I went around bragging that I have 50,000 followers, people would wonder how valuable that audience really is.

Online communities are a hot topic right now; are you surprised it’s taken this long for everyone to wake up to the value of community?

Yes and no. I’m surprised because it has seemed obvious to me for nearly 15 years, but I’m not surprised because I’ve worked with so many clients over the years who need to see where something is going before they are willing to invest in it. The bigger the company, the more risk-averse they are to trying ‘unproven’ techniques. They have more at stake. They have to report to shareholders and employ leagues of people who count on them to grow the company. I understand that. However, I’ve seen so many examples of companies who win time and time again because they are willing to take a leap of faith. Everyone who waits to watch the results, then jumps in are shrugged off as late adopters.

When I went back to re-read The Whuffie Factor, I expected to find a lot of material that would need to be updated or tweaked because so much has changed in five years, but it’s surprisingly evergreen advice. What would you update if you were going to publish a revised edition?

You know, that is wonderful to hear! I get tweets from people all of the time that they just finished reading TWF and got so much out of it and I usually answer, “Really?” LOL. I shouldn’t be surprised, though, because core principles are core principles and that’s why I wrote it to be more of a business philosophy/strategy book than a business tactic book. If I was to publish an updated edition, I have hundreds of new examples to underscore the basic premise that brands should be focused on building Whuffie and not likes/followers. The examples I used were tiny compared to what has happened.

Would you like to shout-out any companies or brands that are “Whuffie-rich” right now? It looks like Threadless (which you highlighted in the book) has done a great job of keeping its Whuffie going.

Threadless keeps it going because being truly social is in their DNA. There are lots of new upstarts like Dollar Shave Club, Hello Flo, Uber and AirBnB that also have social in their DNA. They aren’t afraid of it. They embrace it and gain loads of Whuffie. But there are also some bigger companies that are impressing me. Chipotle has done an amazing job of building Whuffie in a crowded fast food market. Burberry, under Angela Ahrendts took all sorts of risks as a luxury brand to become more social and digital and it paid off in winning a whole new generation of buyers. There are multiple luxury brands who are winning over new generations of buyers and seeing it pay off handsomely like Chanel, Donna Karen, and Diane von Furstenberg. On the food side, Red Bull and Oreo are killing it with their focus on engaging social content. Red Bull sees themselves as a creative content shop that happens to sell an energy drink. What the Whuffie-rich examples all have in common? They focus on the customer, not on themselves.

You predicted the rise of music subscription services (monthly fee for unlimited downloads). Are you using Rdio, Spotify, Pandora, or Beats Music yourself?

Did I? Yay me! (I know that I should remember that!) I’m using multiple services: Focus@will, Rdio, Spotify, and more. Plus, it’s moved into video. We watch everything via streamed service and haven’t had cable in eons. And for magazines, I’m using NextIssue.

I see you’re writing a report about Furry Influencers. Can pets have Whuffie?

Hahaha….yes. It seems from my research, they can have a WHOLE LOT OF WHUFFIE. It’s serious business now. These Furry Influencers are signing six-figure deals and hitting more red carpets than some of the traditional human celebrities. There is all sorts of amazing psychology behind this, but in many ways this breaks the authenticity rule. We all understand that it isn’t L’il Bub or Boo the Pomeranian who is behind the keyboard or camera phone, but we listen to them anyway. We are reeled in because we love the content (adorable animals satisfy our dopamine addiction), then we find out about pet brands from them. I subscribed to BarkBox because of Manny the Frenchie’s Instagramming his monthly box. There is actually research that cuteness can make us more indulgent. This is dangerous!

If you’d like to connect with Tara, you can find her at or as @missrogue on Twitter.

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

Reclaiming Her Voice: Liz Strauss on Overcoming Cancer and the Future of SOBCon

By Angel Djambazov

A year ago, I had the privilege of speaking with Liz Strauss as she began her cancer treatment journey.

We wanted to update you on the challenges, triumphs, and surprises she’s encountered over the last year and to let you know how much she appreciates all the support she’s received.

Liz told me she felt like she had been through a crucible with the treatment. Unexpected health and personal complications made the journey even tougher than she imagined. But with the help of family, friends, and the SOBCon community, Liz has emerged cancer free, energized, and literally giddy with enthusiasm for SOBCon 2014. Here’s our interview.

On behalf of the SOBCon community, welcome back Liz. How are you feeling?

I’m at 95%. I expect to be at 100% very soon. The cancer is gone, I’m feeling more like my pre-cancer self, and I’m excited about the things I’m working on.

Where are you in your recovery?

Every four months, I get a PET scan and a CT scan, and they continue to show no signs of cancer. Luckily for me, the doctors at the University of Chicago have an eighty-five percent success rate with larynx cancer. Funny enough the doctors at Cedars Sinai, where the movie stars go, told me I’d have to lose my larynx completely and start with some mechanical way of talking. Thankfully we didn’t opt to go the route of surgery.

You’ve described the treatment to me, and the subsequent events that followed, as a crucible, why do you use that word?

It was way more difficult than I expected.

Beyond the issues normally associated with cancer treatment, I also suffered a fall that broke both my shoulder and my hip. My recovery from both the breaks and the cancer took longer because one exacerbated the other.

After six weeks of chemotherapy, I lost my hair in January then I broke my shoulder and my hip during the second week of radiation treatments. Radiation lasted every other week, ten times for a week, then a break week. Because of my injuries, I couldn’t come home, both because I physically couldn’t care for myself and because my husband also ended up in the hospital at the same time.

For several months during the radiation treatments, I couldn’t even talk on the phone because my voice wasn’t strong enough. My best friend came and took my phone calls for me.

Even after I completed radiation, a severe infection developed and lasted from March to November. I didn’t really feel my energy come back until the first week of December.

After all that, I now have the pleasure of talking to people on the phone or in person they tell me, “I don’t think I’ve ever heard your voice this strong,” or “Gosh, it’s so nice I don’t have to lean forward to hear what you’re saying.”

What impact did the treatment have on you emotionally?

Emotionally, it was rough. I’m great if people manage my expectations but I had no point of reference for this experience. There are things the doctors couldn’t cure. When my mouth was covered with sores inside it from the therapy, I expected them to fix it, because that’s what doctors do, but there wasn’t a fix.

I was naïve enough to think that on the day that radiation was done I would start getting better. I didn’t realize that radiation is a lot like a microwave; it keeps cooking you for another month after the treatment. Even though it was awesome to attend SOBCon last May, I was embarrassed by how weak I felt and sounded.

I never really expected or thought I’d die from this. I find it curious now, but it never crossed my mind that I might die. I did experience extreme fear. At one point, I’d spent so many days in the hospital, I cried and begged when I had to go back in. I suppose that was because I had to give up so much of my freedom.

I also found out some things about myself. I know a lot of people who think I’m really, really kind but under that pressure, I found out what a bitch I can be. I worked to my own detriment. I don’t ever want to live that again. I’m nicer now, let’s put it that way.

It’s hard to give up your independence. How did you handle going from being so independent to being dependent on others?

I have an inherent personality trait, no matter how unrealistic it is, that I somehow believe when I get up tomorrow I can fix a problem. Giving up that independence to others was part of the process. Just say, “Hey, I can’t do this.” Terry, Carol, Britt, Eric, so many people worked to put together last year’s SOBCon so I could focus on recovery.

Of course, I felt that all I was doing was sitting and being miserable. But if I had to try to take care of all the business and life that needed to be managed, it wouldn’t have been possible. Thankfully, there were a lot of people around me who wouldn’t let me fail.

My lifelong friend, Nancy, was amazing. She lives about 100 miles away, but she drove in to take me to every appointment. She would argue for the hospital when I felt so bad that I was fiercely angry at about what I’d lost. And at those times, I was deeply worried that I’d harm our relationship, but she hung there and kept telling me not to give it a thought. Nancy even moved in with my son and me for several months because it was easier than driving back and forth from her home. She pushed me around in a wheelchair just as much as anybody in that hospital. She was a godsend.

My stylist, J-D, was the best too. He’s one of the top stylist in Chicago. He’d only cut my hair once before I got sick. We knew each other online but not in person. But as soon as he found out about the cancer, he just sort of adopted me. First he made sure I had more wigs than I needed. He cut and styled the wigs so expertly that they looked natural hair; taking care so they looked good on me. He was a master at checking in once every week or two to see if I felt like going to a movie or to lunch just so I’d get aired out. You can’t pay for friendships like that.

In what ways did handing over your independence to others impact your outlook?

It was an amazing experience to have to hand things over to others and realize how unimportant I was to the bigger scheme of things. It’s redefined my sense of what quality is. It has gotten me out of my head and more into the heads and hearts of the people that I do all this for.

As a result, I’m listening more to that core community, [who’re like] the fans who would drive fifty miles to see your rock band play, because they are the ones who will always be with you. It was that core SOBCon family that challenged me after the treatment. Asking the hard questions and holding my feet to the fire. People like Becky McCray to Mark Carter to Jane Boyd, all asking questions like, “Are you well enough to even do the event in 2014?” Then, when I insisted I was, saying, “You’re going to have to prove it to us that this is the smartest thing for you to be doing right now, after what you’ve just been through physically, psychologically, emotionally, and economically that a SOBCon event is the right thing for you to do.” Of course, I just told them all just to be quiet (laughs). But those questions were worth their weight in gold.

I’m having more fun now. I’m back to where every day is a good day in my mind and I’m enjoying the creative part of things. I think there has been an attitude shift. It’ll probably take me a year to figure out what it is. I am certainly more focused on tasks than I’ve ever been in the past, and decidedly so. For me, it’s back to where it was in the days of the early event, you know the, “Get out of my way because this is going to be happening whatever it takes.”

As you started to get stronger how did it feel to step back into the swing of things?

Oddly, I was sort of afraid to get back in the swing of things again, which is an unfamiliar experience. If I could describe the best vacation ever, I would go sit on a beach and watch the ocean until I got bored and then I’d be ready to go back to work. I don’t think it would take very long. But by going back to work you are giving up the luxury of time. It has been my experience in the past that once you decide to step back into this there was nothing to be afraid of or worried about.

The fundraiser the community put together helped so much because it was something to hold onto. It meant I didn’t have to worry about the complete loss of income. For a few short months, I could just focus on getting better. I also didn’t want to worry about my son having to take care of us.

As nice as it was to have Eric there, it’s not nice to think about the interruption this is in his life. At his age, I was doing a lot of the same things for my mother so I was kind of reliving it from both points of view, except he had it more complicated because there was only one week that my dad was in the hospital while my mom was sick.

Now that I am back everyone is saying, “Hey, it’s great to see you!” so that doesn’t hurt either. It is affirming, especially online where I don’t have to get self-conscious about it.

What are you looking forward to most in 2014?

Wow, I have high expectations for 2014 because it has to be good enough to cover two years! I am actually looking forward to putting on my high heel shoes again, once my physical therapist says my hip is fixed. I’m looking forward to spring. I’m looking forward to watching and taking pictures of the sunrise every morning again; it’s a most wonderful way to start the day. I’m looking forward to going out to eat and enjoy what I’m eating and to be hungry again.

What direction is SOBCon heading?

For a conference to survive, it must evolve. With every evolution of SOBCon, we’ve tried to distill our message. When we held the first event, it was because 125 people who knew each other very well online decided that they wanted to meet in person, and you can’t replicate that. We called that first event the “Relationship Bloggers Conferencing Network Event.” A bit wordy, but pretty clear who it was for and what you’d get out of it.

For our next evolution, we decided to take a more business focus because there were so many people building up blogs and then saying, “I want to make money,” which was kind of backwards. As a result, the idea came that we should link all the content to an actionable plan to build a revenue stream, except for the financials, because you couldn’t fit those into a day and a half, and so we called it “BizSchool for Bloggers.”

When I think our focus got murky was when we decided to take the word “blogger” out of our tagline, to keep the online to offline relationship, so we called it, “Where the Virtual Meets the Concrete.” But I think looking back it wasn’t easy to define and I don’t think that anybody actually got the message we were intending to deliver with a tag line. So as a result of our history as a “Blogger conference” the event got named a social media event when in fact it’s always been a business event that is meant to serve the people who were from the blogging and social media communities.

While planning for this year, I was caught saying it was an event for online businesses. It was pointed out to me that so many who attend run face-to-face businesses. Carol Roth runs a face-to-face business. Les McKeown runs a face-to-face business. Tim Sanders, Steve Farber, and all of these people who are part of the SOBCon community are all in a face-to-face business. It made me pause and, with the help of my friends, rethink what we are trying to do, what our focus is. For me that process was truly reinvigorating!

It’s why I’m excited to introduce you to the SOBCon Leverage. Why leverage? Because you need two things to be successful in business: 1) Strong and deep connective relationships, and 2) actionable plans and ideas. That is what SOBCon provides for anyone who attends. Leverage to build your business or brand. Leverage to help keep your business or brand growing towards its goals. Because you need leverage to succeed whether you’re in a corporation or on a team of one.

There are dozens of folks who will testify, myself included, to what a transcending experience SOBCon can be. Will focusing on Leverage change SOBCon?

Well, no, that part of SOBCon is not going to change. We’ve got that right. During our process of selecting presenters, I’m always focused on being sure they understand the ethic of the event. The SOBCon rule about presenters is, somebody has to present the content, and certainly that person should be someone that people want to see, but just because you present the content doesn’t mean that you’re smarter than anyone else in the room. SOBCon is not the kind of event where your ego can enter the room before you do. Those egos are not welcome.

I love how Lisa Horner describes it. “You immediately walk into a room and you feel this sense of community. It’s a good feeling that you belong to. But then they put on these brilliant speakers with brilliant ideas and, because you’ve been opened up to this sense of trust, you experience learning in a whole new way.”

Or as Mark Carter said the other day, “After you reach a certain point in your industry you don’t go to events to go to the sessions. You go to the event to network with people. But when there’s thousands of people at a show, you have to negotiate through them to even find that one influencer/that one person you want to meet.” My response to that is, why not just go to the room with 144 people you want to meet? At SOBcon we bring them to you.

It’s that high-trust environment that makes the magic in the room happen. It’s something that I guard, protect, and work very hard to cultivate at the very beginning of every event to insure that all the right pieces are in place so that the magic happens again. After 10 events, I’ve become a pretty good magician.

Hearing you talk about SOBCon you sound vibrant and giddy. It is good to hear you that way.

I’m just looking forward to putting SOBCon together this year that I can’t get over it! When I say it’s the best year, I’m sure of it! You know the chemo-brain thing has gone away, and the fog from the treatment has lifted. I’m beginning to take my brain out and play. For me SOBCon is the ultimate expression of that. Both because of what I get to do to build it, but because of what everybody gets to experience it when they come. Few things are more powerful then when 144 people take out their brains to play and to actually get work done.


You can find your own SOBCon Leverage by purchasing tickets here: SOBCon Leverage, Chicago 2014 takes place June 27-29, 2014 at the Summit Executive Center. Will you be in the room?

Author’s Bio:Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. His career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.In 2007 Angel started Custom Tailored Marketing and became the OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit. Angel also was the lead evanglist for which was awarded Best Affiliate Tool (2007 & 2008) award by ABestWeb. In 2010 he won his third Pinnacle Award from Affiliate Summit for Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year.

Reclaiming Her Voice: Liz Strauss Takes on Cancer

By Angel Djambazov

As an entrepreneur you can’t anticipate every obstacle business or life throws your way. And sometimes the curveball thrown impacts both. Which is how I found myself, on the tail end of one of the most beautiful Fall seasons I had experienced in the Pacific Northwest, on a call with the fabulous Liz Strauss. Liz and her son had just finished visiting me in Seattle after completing a successful SOBCon Portland, so I was hardly expecting serious news.

The news Liz had to share was not light. She had been diagnosed with a serious health issue late last year. Now, after connecting with her medical team and having a better sense of what she faces, Liz wanted to share the news with you; her community. What follows is a series of Q&As that I conducted with Liz to help answer your questions about her illness, how she’s handling the ongoing medical treatment, her plans for SOBCon 2013, and what it means to be an entrepreneur facing these challenges.

What can you tell us about your diagnosis?

I have cancer of the larynx. It’s still localized. The analogy the doctor used is that while it was at the threshold of the door it hadn’t gotten to the hallway yet.

How did you find out?

I was scheduled to speak in Hawaii. Eric, my son, went with me. I’d been bothered for quite some time with symptoms that caused me to lose my voice. The doctors said it was allergies and prescribed steroids. I would get a periodic pain in both my throat and my ear. The pain in my ear would come and go and come and go. After five hours on the plane from Honolulu back to the States it was sort of more coming than going.

So I asked a friend in LA to hook me up with her doctor who is an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT). That’s how I found myself in a strange doctor’s office. After putting a camera down my nose, he started showing me pictures and say that we needed to talk about what he’d found. It’s interesting to have pictures in front of your face of something growing on your vocal cords. It was stunning. I didn’t know how to respond.
Cancer is not a one-size-fits-all disease. What information our healthcare system provides is often contradictory and rarely provides a clear roadmap.

How did you make your roadmap?

I was really lucky. The ENT in LA told me that I needed to get treatment immediately because they were worried my airway was going to close. The options were that I could get this done right there in California or I could go to Chicago and walk into the ER and tell them I can’t breathe, and I have a sore throat. So my first big decision was do I undergo surgery with these two doctors I don’t know in LA or go back to Chicago and take the luck of the draw. In the end, Chicago won out because of the support system that comes with being home.

There are plenty of hospitals. Some of which are good at this particular type of cancer and some of which are not. Finding the one that was good at what you need is important. For instance, one the best hospitals in Chicago has only one specialist in neck and throat cancer. However, the hospital I’m going to has seven people who specialize in neck and throat cancer. And that makes a big difference having access to people who live and breathe a specialty makes a big difference.

Back in LA, the ENT and the radiologist were in agreement that the situation was so serious they were going to have to take my voice box. That meant they would also have to take part of my esophagus out. I’d have to learn how to eat all over again. When I got to Chicago and picked my team they said to me you’re not nearly as far along as folks in LA, well-meaning though they were, would have you believe. We’ve seen people much further along than you are and with chemo and radiation, we’ve seen an 85% rate of success in helping them overcome their cancer. The doctors, their specialty and experience, as well as their bedside manner both make a big difference.

“I remember saying early on to my best friend and my son that I didn’t like the way the disease was progressively turning me into an introvert.”

You have this great outlook on life that everything is an adventure, full of surprises. What surprises has undergoing treatment for cancer brought?

The first thing that comes to mind is just how much the medication is affecting me personally. My body’s response to the drugs has created more mood swings than that of a pregnant elephant. But my biggest surprise was how much time it takes to attend to all the medical stuff that is now part of my routine. It’s kind of like living in a region that gets a lot of snow. You don’t think of how much time cumulatively it requires to take off your coat, put on your coat, take off your boots, put on your boots, cleaning the snow off the car, driving slower because of the weather, all of those adjustments you make in winter, until you live someplace where it doesn’t snow.

I spend a lot of time figuring out which pill to take, what time I take those pills, what pills I need to take next, taking the pills, and trying to remember whether I had taken the right pills, ordering the pills, finding a pharmacy that delivers. Not to mention the process of seeing the doctor, answering the same questions over and over again to the hospital staff. All of the medical stuff has made me focus more clearly on what else I need to get done because of all the precious time it eats up.

Right or wrong there is a stigma that comes with illness. How did you feel your diagnosis would impact your interaction with others?

I didn’t want to start talking publicly about this until I had more information. The challenge is that my work is inherently social. My natural reaction when I want to communicate with someone new about business is to invite them onto a phone call. But the process of communicating becomes clumsier and less effective if I can’t talk.

I noticed early on when I started losing my voice over the past couple of years that there were people who are willing to take the time to listen to what I had to say and those who just had no patience for the obstacle. If people care more about the obstacle than they care about who they are communicating with well that’s kind of an issue. Those people are probably not going to be your friends.

Of course, from my point of view, I didn’t want to stress or stretch people’s patience that far. I remember saying early on to my best friend and my son that I didn’t like the way the disease was progressively turning me into an introvert. I would just make the choice not to talk because trying to talk was either too hard on me or the other person. In retrospect the decision we made not to do surgery and remove my voice box first was the right one. My voice is stronger now than it has been in years.

Faced with such a daunting medical challenge how do you keep moving forward?

My son asked me how I deal with this. too. I take it from the point of view of an international traveler who’s on an extended 90-day trip for business. You can only think about two things: the adventure and what you need to do to catch the next airplane. If you start thinking too much about a whole trip, about the whole string of airports, hotels, transportation, red tape, and try to map out everything you have to do between now and the last day of the trip, you’ll wear yourself out with stress. If you can stay with the adventure mindset, it makes it easier to roll with the things life throws your way.

The first thing is to understand is that you can only do what is humanly possible and to think that you can do more is foolish. You must allow for your humanity. Give yourself room to reflect and think. Stop and do what you need to refill the well so you can keep moving forward. Reach out and to let the people around you help you do that.

“Surround yourself with people who know your goals, share your values, and who are willing to help support you in getting back on your feet again.”

That’s the way I do it. I believe in the people who won’t let me fail. That mindset for me has become really important. We’re going to do what we need to do from one day to the next and I’m going to rely on my team and my close friends to ask the questions I don’t think of.

In staying with the mantra of doing only what is humanly possible, what changes did you have to make in regards to your business?

I had two choices: don’t contribute, which to me was not an option; or, contribute in ways that are useful. If you pay attention you get really good at being efficient and contributing. That also makes it easier to step away when you’re not needed or when someone else is better suited to completing the task. Sort of learning the rule if anybody can do it then maybe anybody should do it.

What was required was a shift of the time workload so the two or three good hours I have a day are spent focused on what I can help get done. I’ve become more useful because I can focus on the strategy of what we’re doing with the business and less time attempting to touch everything. I’m more than just a little bit surprised how natural the changes we’ve implemented feel and find myself asking why weren’t we doing this before. Funny how fast we’ve adapted because necessity dictated it. It’s a new kind of risk-taking for me but everything about entrepreneurial work is about risk-taking.

How does fear impact being an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur, one day you think you own the world and the next day you’re losing your house. That’s just the nature of being an entrepreneur. Fear is what makes you better, fear is what keeps you going, and if you can’t face fear every day you are probably not meant to be an entrepreneur.

If I had a job at a corporation I might be able to take time off for disability. A paycheck would still be coming. I might be worried about losing my job but I wouldn’t be worried about not having an income. At least not in the short term the way entrepreneur is.

Here’s one tip: If you are going to get sick, do it at the beginning of the year instead of the end. Because now with the New Year, the $5,000 deductible I finished paying last month needs to be paid again this year. I just want to say to the insurance company, “Oh golly, aren’t you nice.â€?

Luckily I have a best friend who doesn’t mind calling on every insurance claim to say, “Tell me again why you discredited this procedure. If we coded it this way could we get it covered?â€? She actually works with the insurance company to make it easier for me.

Having somebody like that who can help navigate insurance company red tape is priceless. How do you find people around you that won’t let you fail?

I was very lucky to have many of those people around me already. My business partner Terry Starbucker took the news in stride. He not only encouraged me to take care of my health but helped find ways to keep me involved in the important aspects of the business that don’t require me to have my feet or as it were, my voice, on the ground.

I pity the people who try to run their own business and haven’t gathered a support team around them because you need those people around you to tell you that you can’t do everything. Surround yourself with people who know your goals, share your values, and who are willing to help support you in getting back on your feet again. By bringing in those people who won’t let us fail we’re actually doing way better than simply not failing. We’re actually growing in new ways.

With all the inherent risk, why are you an entrepreneur?

I’m an entrepreneur because I can’t understand why people do stupid things. I like to watch people build things. And sometimes I find myself suggesting, if you try to do this thing this way you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money and everyone will be much happier working.

Often when you mention that to a corporation you’ll get responses like, “But we’ve always done it that way.â€? or “We can’t change that because the board or the CEO likes it that way.â€? or “It will take us 6 to 8 months to make that kind of change,â€? even if the change itself is a simple one.

I get frustrated because I don’t like watching people do stupid things.

Traditionally corporations are made to move and manage big groups of people. To achieve a sort of lowest common denominator, low-risk result. I think it’s way more fun to work with fewer people on a team that really wants to get things done. That’s why I’m an entrepreneur.

The risk is that you don’t get all of the benefits that come with the support infrastructure inherent to a corporation. The nine other people who know how to cover your job, the benefits program, the rules that say one of those other people who know how to do your job has to cover for you because you’re on disability for six months.

If my dad got sick and couldn’t run his saloon, well the doors still had to open and somebody had to be there to serve folks. And if that person took something from the cash register or if a fight broke out and someone got hurt my dad ultimately was still responsible. That’s the downside of being entrepreneur; you never really separate yourself from the business.

How would you like to see SOBCon evolve?

Every time you hold an event you take the model and experience you just created as a threshold for the next one. If you’re doing it right each new one is the best event you ever did.

SOBCon is more than the Liz and Terry show. It is all the businesses and ideas that started in that room. It’s all the people who have connected with each other over the years. It’s a hugely clarified network of smart, dedicated people who are serious about building the next generation of businesses online.

SOBConers (the entrepreneurs who attend SOBCon) are developing new methods and models that breakdown the barriers that corporations have built up along the way. I want to enable that. I want that process to happen faster, better, and more meaningfully.

I want to bring the ethos of true collaboration that we have at SOBCon inside the corporation so that the corporations learn to actually collaborate with their customers. Not just touch base with them when there’s a problem or a customer service issue or when there’s a sale, but to actually bring their customers into the process of building their brands. Much in the same way they might currently bring their best third-party vendors into the process. So that businesses can truly become part of all the people who help them thrive.

We’re used to seeing you at various conferences in Q1, when will we see you next?

I’m very much looking forward to SOBCon Chicago 2013. It will be our 10th event. For me it’s going to be a sort of coming out party because I’ll be done with all my treatments by then. Hopefully I will still have all my hair. And I would love it if the folks who have taken part in SOBCon in the past or who read Successful Blog and believe in our vision come out and help me celebrate making it through the crucible.

I won’t be seeing many of you between now and then. You won’t see me at all the parties at SXSW this year. But I do look forward to connecting with people who want to share the SOBCon values. We can have a big opening night party in Chicago to celebrate. I think it’s going to be incredible journey for the next 10 to 12 weeks. I’m so focused on the endgame, which is a fabulous event in Chicago, with the goal of taking an unexpected curveball and turning into something good.


Like me, many of you have been helped by Liz’s business acumen and personal generosity. Now is the perfect time to show your support for the vision that is SOBCon and join us for Liz’s coming out party. SOBCon Chicago 2013 takes place at the Summit Executive Center from May 3-5. Hope to see you there; it will be the best one yet!

Author’s Bio:Born in Bulgaria, Angel Djambazov has spent his professional career in the fields of journalism and online marketing. His career path led to online marketing where while working at OnlineShoes he earned the Affiliate Manager of the Year (2006) award at the Affiliate Summit, and In-house Manager of the Year (2006) award by ABestWeb.In 2007 Angel started Custom Tailored Marketing and became the OPM for Jones Soda for which he won his second Affiliate Manger of the Year (2009) award at Affiliate Summit. Angel also was the lead evanglist for which was awarded Best Affiliate Tool (2007 & 2008) award by ABestWeb. In 2010 he won his third Pinnacle Award from Affiliate Summit for Affiliate Marketing Advocate of the Year.

In 2011 Angel was listed as one of the Top 25 Performance Marketing Influencers according to an ImpactRadius survey. He serves as the Co-Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for and

Do You Know How to Hire Talent?

While many small businesses have found themselves having to freeze new-hires or even let people go given the turbulent economy, others have been fortunate enough to bring on new employees.

Stop, however, and look at your hiring processes. Are they really where they need to be?

For too many companies, there are cracks in the armor when it comes to hiring the right employees.

As a small business owner, do you follow a formal process when it comes to bringing on new talent or have you been winging it for some time now?

In the event it is the latter, here are some tips to help smooth out the process:

  • What is the proposed duration of this employee? – Businesses need to decide if they will be seeking a long-term employee or just need a temporary fix. If hiring for the long-term, factor in things like higher salaries and benefits. If you just need workers for a few weeks or months, working through a temp agency is oftentimes the best solution. Temp agencies allow you to avoid the interview and hiring process, but keep in mind that that can sometimes be a bad thing;
  • How many interviews should I do with the same individual? – For many companies, the interview process is one and done, while others who like a candidate will bring them in for two or more interviews. Determine how important the position being advertised for is and go from there. That is not to say that you should not care about the quality work of an administrative assistant as opposed to a CEO, but obviously the CEO is going to be coming in with more credentials and expectations;
  • How much emphasis should I put towards gaps on a resume? – For some businesses looking to hire, seeing non-working gaps on someone’s resume signal red flags. While some of these breaks between jobs can be easily explained away, do not hesitate to ask candidates why they have a year or more between jobs. Whether it was a layoff, a break to go back to school, taking care of a loved one or raising a family, most employers will understand. Still, don’t leave this to fate if you’re wondering why someone has not worked for several years;
  • Can you spot a red flag? – Oftentimes an interview will come and go so quickly that you or your HR person or whoever was conducting the process misses something. Be sure to check out if the candidate appears confident, has good communication skills and seems energetic about the position. Body language can go a long way in determining if you may be hiring the right or wrong individual;
  • Quiz the individual about your company – While a candidate is not likely to know every intricate detail about your small business, they should know some of the basics by having done some research. Do you really want someone potentially working for your company that doesn’t know anything about you other than your company name and address? Job candidates should take the time prior to the interview to research the company’s Web site and see how they can best assist you in the proposed position;
  • Be prepared just like the candidate hopefully is – There is nothing more embarrassing for the company and the employee conducting the job interview than not being prepared. Just as you want the candidate to bring their ‘A’ game; you too need to be ready. Have a list of questions compiled regarding the candidate, how they see themselves helping the company, where they see themselves in a few years etc. Just as an ill-prepared candidate can lose out on a job possibility, you being unprepared for the interview can lead to a well-qualified prospective candidate taking a pass on your job offer.

Hiring the right people for your small business is in a way like finding the right seats on the bus for all the students.

In this case, you are looking to hire the best fit for the open position, something that too many companies are not very talented at.

Dave Thomas, who covers among other items starting a small business and business proposals, writes extensively for, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.

Can You Get Around a Firing When Interviewing for Work?

When you used to look around the cubicles at work, did you ever stop and wonder if this co-worker or that co-worker had ever been fired?

For many workers, the pink slip has come in an unceremonious way all too often, leading them down a trip to the unemployment line. Whether it was due to bad performance, an issue with a co-worker, or just not seeing eye-to-eye with the boss, they were dismissed.

In the event you find yourself in this position now as you search for a new job, there are some important factors to keep in mind when called in for a job interview.

Among them are:

  • Accept reality – Getting fired from a job is one of the toughest things you can go through. Yes, there is a difference between a firing and getting laid off from a job mainly that many layoff victims are oftentimes kept in their company’s plans should conditions improve where they can be brought back. How many times do you see an employer re-hiring a fired employee? The first and most important thing for you to do is accept what happened, take a short amount of time to deal with it, and then move on. Carrying a grudge for an extended period of time can impact you when you go back out on the interview trail, therefore lessening your chances for getting another job;
  • Covering the time gaps – Many individuals have gaps on their resume that can easily be explained away. Whether it was a layoff, taking time off to go back to school or for maternity leave, a sickness, it can be relatively easy to explain the time off. When it comes to being fired, however, this is where it gets tricky. Should you lie and say you were actually laid off or skip around the subject altogether? By all means, do not lie. This is a smaller world than many people think, and such lies can come back to haunt you if your potential or new employer finds out. If asked about why you were fired,  briefly explain your side of the issue and go from there;
  • Point out company you worked for – The last thing you want to do when interviewing for a job is bad-mouth your previous employer. That being said, it is okay to point out factual information about why you were fired. Sometimes firings happen as a result of companies being sold, downsizing, or another method whereby you did not have a say in the situation. You or other individuals may have viewed your dismissal as a firing, where in fact you actually were a layoff victim, something that does make a difference. On the other hand, if your prior employer had some issues with you and/or other employees and you got caught up in them, explain them in the proper manner without carrying a grudge;
  • Admit any wrongdoing – Most employees do not go out of their way to get fired.  In the event you were fired from a job and it comes up during a job interview, let the interviewer know what you learned from the experience and how it has changed your approach to work. While it may not get you the new job, it will at least give the interviewer pause to think that you may be worth the risk and have in fact learned from your previous employment situation. Many employers are willing to give an individual a second chance if they see sincerity and that the candidate did in fact learn a lesson from a job firing;
  • Show appreciation for a second chance– Lastly, make sure you learn from the firing, but then put it in the past so that it does not impact you going forward. It can certainly be tough to transition from being fired to having to look for another job, but it is the reality most people face. By hitting the job trail again and not sulking on your couch, you have already won half the battle.

Getting over a firing and finding a new job definitely takes time and effort, but the end result could show you that the firing was actually a blessing in disguise.

Photo credit:

Dave Thomas, who covers among other subjects’ business phone service, writes extensively for, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.


Should Credit Reports be in Play for Potential Employees?

Despite an economy that some consider to be on life support, there are some employers who are actually hiring these days.

With that being said, should an individual’s credit report be fair game for employers, who are looking for the best and brightest to fill their ranks? Or, should how a person handles their personal money be off limits during the hiring search?


Following the Money Trail

In general, there are two schools of thought on this issue.

The first is that what a person does outside of their employment with their money is none of an employer’s business. The thought is that as long as an individual abides by the law, whether or not they have a $10,000 credit card balance is no one’s business.

On the other side of the coin, any applicant for a job, especially those applying for work where finances play a role in their daily responsibilities, should be checked out to see if they have had issues paying off credit card debts, handling a car payment, overseeing a mortgage etc.

While each company has to determine which road it wants to travel, some of them are being told in no uncertain terms by some state and even federal officials that they have limited means to check up on potential employees.


Do the Laws Need to be Stricter?

According to federal law, an employer needs written permission from an applicant to run a credit check. Given that replying no may send up a red flag to a possible employer, how many applicants will actually say no to this request? Also, do you not think some employers try and skirt the law and do credit checks anyhow?

Both Connecticut and Maryland recently enacted laws that in essence prohibit employers from using a job applicant’s or an employee’s credit information in deciding whether or not to hire that individual. Both laws will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2011.

The laws recently enacted in Connecticut and Maryland are different in their application but have a number of similar provisions.

While both public and private sector employers are expressly protected by the new Connecticut law, it seems that Maryland’s law will not be applicable to governmental employers. Both laws in essence exempt financial institutions, credit checks required by federal or state law for employment, and credit checks that are for a bona fide purpose that is substantially job-related.

Meantime, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Washington presently limit employers’ use of credit history in employments selections. Legislation that would impose similar restrictions is pending in a number of states and also at the federal level.

With more individuals hoping to return to the workforce in 2011, giving them credit for their workplace experience should override how much they owe on a credit card or loan.

Photo credit:

Dave Thomas is an expert writer on payroll processing services based in San Diego, California.  He writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as small business payroll services at Resource Nation.

5 People Who Can Turn Your Community into a Focused Influence Network

It More Than What Naturally Occurs


I sat at Brogan’s Roast earlier this month and the thought struck me how much we depend on each other. No one would question that our friend, Chris, enjoys the friendship of thousands of folks who would stand by him and help whenever he needs it. All you had to do was be there to feel the expanse of love in the room coming from the countless people who are in his massive network of colleagues, friends, coworkers, family and people who consider him their teacher.

Numbers like that can provide a huge pool of energy when you want to help a cause, make something happen, or move an idea across the internet. Certainly that’s true. But knowing a lot of people and even having a lot of people who know you is not the same as having a strategic network. To be strategic, we have to look how we the sort of individuals in our networks into groups. How we sort our networks into groups can support or thwart our goals. Our choices in mentally forming those groups inform our decisions about who we listen to and what we do.

Most people consciously or unconsciously group their community in an outward fashion. If you ask, they can see how the community becomes part of what they do. Who are the people in your community groups?

  • Chris will always have people who are like him, those who aspire to be like them, and those who can’t or won’t ever do the work to get where he is or is going to..
  • Cult leaders see their community as those who spread the message, those who follow the message, those ready to be converted.
  • Builders see their community as those who provide resources and funding, those use the tools, and those who buy and use what they build.
  • Financial analysts see their community in three groups: those who can count and those who can’t. (and the rare group who notices that was only two.)

That sort of grouping naturally occurs in any community group.
It takes more — 5 particular types of people — to turn that community into a focused influence network.

5 People Who Can Turn Your Community into a Powerful Influence Network

Strategy looks at building something with thought and opportunity to strengthen the network and build a well-rounded group. Rather than looking who shows up in an outward fashion. Strategy builds with a plan of action. Strategy chooses five types of people who can provide infrastructure and stability that power the network with information and communication when we want our networks to help that cause, make that something happen, or move that idea across the internet.

Look at successful leaders — people you think of as influencers and people who enjoy repeat success. They’ve gone past community to developed information channels. They have skills at collecting and managing their contacts. They also include five kinds of people in their networks to keep the systems working fluidly and with balance. Can you spot these five in the successful communities you know?

  • Leaders – Leaders exemplify the vision and clearly articulate the mission. In a company or community, they live the brand. Leaders know where we’re going and what to do when the unforeseen appears. Leaders are masters at integrating information into a whole picture and communicating how nuance of a small change might or might not affect an overall plan.
  • Scouts and Guides – Scouts know the terrain that must be covered. They keep an eye on the competitive ground. They understand and translate new territories. They know where the shortest paths can be found. They see the possible opportunities, pitfalls, and possibilities for ambush.
  • Sleuths and Spotters – Sleuths are fascinated by changes that dicrupt and catch fire. They stay close to the competitive edge, monitoring what is becoming popular. They’re first to know that a new tool is gaining traction and the first to try it. More than early-adopters they gather the global intelligence of the group to report on the fever behind the trend.
  • Insighters – Insighters are the perceptive and well-connected people who can give you the inside scoop and insight into how an influencer or decision-maker might view a situation. Their skills are particularly useful when someone’s decision or response to your actions might affect you in significant ways.
  • System Pros – Systems pros know every detail of a particular system and every role that make it work. They ensure fluid, efficient operation and tend to potential breaks before they occur. Systems pros are driven to tweak the system to constantly and consistently meet and exceed the goals of the network to reach out in connection and communication and gather information to improve performance overall.

It takes a focused team to manage the firehouse flow of information that comes at us from every direction. It takes that same kind of focus to deliver on a promise of service that will scale beyond the one Chris Brogan or even that brand team that might want to be everywhere doing everything in the best way we know. The people who celebrated this guy we all admire and love came in many types and play many roles in the community that is Team Brogan. We’d all be wise to find a few of those types to support us too.

If you look in your community, I bet you’ll find that you’ve got a few of them already there. How will you introduce yourself and invite them into your brand?

Be Irresistible.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz on your business!!

Social Media Grill by the Stroutmeister

Where Were You on July 24, 2005?

The Living Web

If you want to get to the intent and motives of the suspect, Aaron Strout, CMO of Powered, Inc, is the guy. CITIZEN MARTKETER 2.1’s 45 in 45 –45 Expert Interviews in the 45 days leading up to SxSW — is grilling 2 score and 5 more social media practitioners on the art of the social web.

It was my turn in the hot seat today. Click through to read what happened.

Perhaps the lights in my eyes were brighter?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!

Like the Blog? Buy my eBook!

A Weekend Retreat with a Social Media Dream Team!

Register for SOBCon09 Now!!

Guy Kawasaki Talks About and the Community

Featured in Alltop

I work with companies who are watching in the way of new ventures — weight risks against benefits. Lawyers try to keep them conservative, while the “common wisdom” seems to tell them they need a blog. I’m finding that often a blog isn’t the answer, at least not the appropriate first step. User participation has many forms.

One of the best examples of a social media, user-centered endeavor is Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop gets it right in so many ways. FAQ 3 is part of the magic of the Alltop formula, and what we’ve been talking about — let the community help build the barn.

3. Q. How do you decide which sites and blogs are in a topic?
A. We use a patent-pending, semantic computational algorithm derived from the post-doctoral work of Guy at Stanford. Just kidding. We rely on several sources: results of Google searches, review of the sites’ and blogs’ content, researchers, and our “gut” plus the recommendations of the Twitter community, owners of the sites and blogs, and people who care enough to write to us. Let us declare something: The Twitter community has been the single biggest factor in the quality of Alltop. Without this group of mavens and connectors, Alltop would not be what it is today.

You can tell a person wrote that.

I’m lucky to be talking to the man behind Alltop —
Guy Kawasaki — about his thoughts on how businesses
can engage people as they move online. I wondered about low-risk choices that businesses might make when forming new social media businesses and communities online.

Hi Guy! About Alltop, I’ve been through it all in the past few days. I think most folks don’t realize the scope of the accomplishment you’ve built … it’s no wonder you’re always smiling.

Alltop really is more than it seems. What is Alltop really and why does it work?

Alltop is a digital magazine rack. We assemble (“aggregate”) subscriptions by topics, and we have approximately 400 topics ranging from Adoption to Zoology.

It works because there is so much information on the web and search engines are too good at what they do. For any topic, Google would find millions of hits. Most people do not have the time or ability to winnow this down.

For example, try typing “China” into Google then look at

What’s special about Alltop is the way people have taken a personal interest in it — especially the Twitter community. Did the Twitter community come first or did you grow the community as you grew Alltop?

Twitter as a service pre-dates Alltop by several years. Fortunately, the people who follow me have taken a liking to Alltop. They provide suggestions for topic and feeds for topics, and they help us spread the word about topics. Alltop would not be what it is without Twitter.

What was crucial to making it all happen efficiently? What was crucial to getting the community to buy in?

Many factors came into play: I had a large following because of my visibility so Alltop had a jump start; the product is truly useful; and we were more than willing to hear and implement what the community wanted. Twitter was made for Alltop, and Alltop was made for Twitter–you couldn’t have designed a better synergy if you tried.

What advice do you have for companies who worry about the risks of their first steps into the social sphere?

The willingness to open things up and to seemingly lose control is the only way to control social media. If you think you can control social media in the traditional sense, you shouldn’t even try it. Just stick to buying Super Bowl commercials instead.

What sort of projects might you suggest would offer low risk but high profile community relationship value?

The first thing most companies should do is go to and search for anyone who mentions their products, services, or the company itself. Then it should help those people in any way possible.

To see how it’s done, they should watch @comcastcares on Twitter. That is a Comcast employee who monitors Twitter for people who have issues with Comcast. This is a great example of how to use social media. The cost is $0 and the upside is huge.

Thanks Guy! It was a pleasure, as always.
Look closely and you see that is a magazine rack that draws people into a community. People help choose the topics. They suggest the sites included. People proudly display the badge of the Alltop domain and discuss Alltop blogs with @GuyKawasaki and @NEENZ on Twitter.

Guy let the people help build it, made the site about them and what they’re doing, and now they promote and protect it. It’s a community all right.

What do you think is the magic of Alltop? What bit of it could make work for you and the community you’re building?

–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!