Social media business strategies blog Mon, 14 May 2018 09:19:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 32 32 Duda Review: An Easy Way to Build Social-Ready Sites Tue, 24 Apr 2018 09:49:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


By now, we all know that our own websites need to be optimized for social media integration. Driving cross-channel engagement is pivotal to any content marketing success. We need site visitors to see that we’re active and influential on social media, we need to entice them into following us on these branded third-party presences so we can nurture them as leads.

Then, we need to make sure it’s easy for them to share our content with their audience members, expanding our reach to new prospects.

But creating social media optimized websites at scale is another matter. If you’re in the business of designing, developing and rolling out websites for a rolling roster of clients, then making sure that each site is social-ready can be a hassle.

Indeed, true usability often comes at the expense of versatility and scalability, especially when digital agencies are using modern “DIY” tools that heavily depend on prefab themes and templates for customizability.

The good news is, these drawbacks don’t really come into play with Duda — an online platform that web development agencies can use as ground zero for their services.

Despite the smooth learning curve, Duda is fully-armed with advanced features that can help agencies build unique, fully-functional, and social-ready websites for their clients.

Apart from the website creation aspect, Duda also focuses on technology that empowers branding, client communications, and internal collaboration.

More importantly, it has an abundance of tools that help incorporate social media elements into the website projects of digital agencies.

Curious how it works?

Then let’s dig deeper into the inner-workings of Duda’s agency-friendly social media features.

A Look at the Duda Editor

First off, the Duda Editor checks off all the factors that make web development easy:

  • A drag-and-drop toolbar for adding page elements? Check.
  • A live preview where you can freely adjust, resize, and move sections?Check.

Duda also comes with powerful widgets that let you integrate advanced functionality within seconds.

Let’s take a look at the “Social” elements you can seamlessly weave into your pages:

1. Social Sharing Buttons

Adding social sharing buttons to a web content is one of the must-haves of a social-ready site.

Naturally, they encourage visitors to share content on social media networks — thus, exposing the content to even more readers and contributing to your clients’ social presences.

To add social sharing buttons to your clients’ Duda website, expand the “Widgets” tab from the main toolbar and scroll down to the “Social” section. From there, drag and drop the “Share” widget anywhere on the page.

That’s it! You’ve just installed social sharing buttons on your Duda website.

Take note that the same steps apply when using the rest of the plugins mentioned in this post. You can also adjust each widget’s width and spacing via the sliders on the pop-up window.

For more advanced customizations, you can use animations as well as CSS/HTML code changes through the settings menu. This gives you more options to play with when customizing the user experience.

2. Twitter Feed Content

To help visitors stay in tune with the latest news regarding your brand, you can use the “Twitter Feed” widget to display your latest tweets.

Once added to your page, the pop-up window allows you to specify the Twitter username you’d like to pull updates from. You can also choose to display content from a Twitter profile, replies, and favorites.

Of course, you can also modify some of the Twitter Feed widget’s appearance attributes, namely the header’s visibility, the number of tweets shown, and the widget’s spacing.

3. Facebook Like Button

A Facebook “Like” button is as simple as social media interactions can get. It offers visitors a convenient way to gain an audience for retargeting on the most powerful social network.

There really isn’t much to set up in the “Facebook Like” widget. You just have to specify the Facebook URL to be liked and make sure it’s positioned where it makes sense, like in the top navigation area or footer.

If your content happens to accumulate a significant number of likes on Facebook, consider using a layout that shows the number of likes. Doing so lets you leverage this metric as “social proof,” which will help you win the confidence of even more visitors.

To switch between the different formats, click the “Design” tab on the Facebook Like widget and open the “Layout style” drop-down menu.

4. Facebook Comments

Having a comments section on your website is a great way to engage readers as well as get their feedback. Unfortunately, users are sometimes discouraged to leave comments because blogs require them to provide their email address first.

Enabling Facebook comments on your page is a neat workaround for this problem. Rather than requiring them to share their email address or any other sensitive information, they can simply leave comments using their Facebook identities, which are – in theory, anyway – less likely to be used for comment spamming too.

5. Social Media Icons

With the “Social Media Icons” widget, you can encourage your audience to connect with your brand through other channels, be it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or via email.

After adding the widget to your page, select the social media icons you want to use on the “Social Icons Content” window.

You will then be able to fill in the necessary details, such as your clients’ social media URLs and email addresses.

To make sure your social media icons match the website’s design and color scheme, go to the “Design” tab and choose from one of the available layouts.

Other Social Features of Duda

In addition to widgets that connect Duda with social media platforms, there are a few more that you can use to enable visitors to interact with your client’s brand.

One example is the “Yelp Review” widget, which, as the name suggests, lets you aggregate reviews from a Yelp business page into your client’s website.

Here are a few more features digital agencies can utilize on clients’ websites:

  • Disqus Comments Integration
  • RSS Feed Widget
  • Customizable Contact Form
  • PayPal Integration
  • Coupons

Since the widgets themselves are natively developed within Duda, agencies need not worry about potential compatibility issues that can break websites. This is a big advantage, considering the fact that conflicts between plugins anaasdd external services are huge in other well-known platforms.

What’s more, with Duda’s libraries of custom “sections,” once you have a particularly awesome configuration of social media integrations set up for one client’s site, you can group them into blocks of page elements for reuse and customization on additional content sites. This is a major game changer when it comes to scalable project management.


Integrating social media elements into the websites you create for your clients is crucial if you want to help them get more mileage out of their web traffic.

With Duda, you don’t have to purchase several tools to optimize the way your online agency operates.

With its one-stop-shop solution for digital agencies, you pretty much have all you need in a single platform.

If you’re interested in trying Duda for yourself, check out the free 30-day trial on their website.Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.

4 ways to repurpose blog content in your email marketing strategy Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:51:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> content

Rework your blog’s greatest hits to get extra mileage

Target audience: Businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, Web publishers, email specialists

Post by Megan Totka

MeganTotkaRepurposing content has long been used as a strategy for content creators who simply don’t have the resources to continuously create new content.

Over time, however, marketers have begun to realize that it can benefit them beyond just being an option to fill the calendar.

Armed with analytics and data about their previously created content, they have a better understanding of exactly what type of content has worked to help leads flow through the customer journey.

And with this information, content teams can repurpose their successful content into email campaigns that enable them to move customers further down the conversion funnel.

But how exactly do you successfully repurpose content for your email marketing strategy?

Let’s take a look at four options.

Convert your content into an infographic

1It’s no secret that visual content, in the form of both image and video, is being used more and more in today’s marketing landscape.

And for good reason. After all, the data shows that visuals are more engaging than text.

When you have written content that has already been successful, it offers a tremendous opportunity to further simplify that content into an infographic. Tools like Piktochart allow you to create infographics from prebuilt templates.

And by including visual content within your email campaign and customer journey, you’re giving your leads yet another reason to stay engaged with your emails.

Update old content

2If you’ve been maintaining a blog for any length of time, there’s a good chance that several of your articles feature outdated statistics and advice.

Take the time to update this content and use your email campaign as a way to inform interested leads about the changes.

This can also be a great opportunity to generate a fresh angle for a past topic.

Not only is keeping your content fresh essential for SEO purposes, but it also helps ensure that the content that’s part of your customer journey is maintaining its value.

Create an email series from long-form content

3Determine what pieces of long-form content have been well received by leads at different points of the customer journey.

From there, you can leverage the content by turning it into an email series that can be sent to leads based on where they are in the conversion funnel.

Here’s an example of how you can do this:

  • Introduce readers to the topic. Use the initial email to generate interest and curiosity about the topic of your email series.
  • Break down the series by subheadings. Each follow-up email can offer a breakdown of the different sections of your content.
  • Focus on actionable advice and usefulness. To keep your leads engaged throughout the email series, include as much actionable advice and usefulness as possible.

It’s important to understand that segmenting your email list is crucial here.

Your subscribers expect authentic, credible content and you want to be sure your emails are hyper-relevant to the leads you’re targeting.

By using email marketing tools like Campaign Monitor, businesses create customer journeys that delivery a series of emails based on one of your long form blog posts. These email automation tools can dynamically send emails based on how recipients behave.

For example, let’s say the blog post you’re using to create an email series with is about social media marketing across different social platforms. If a subscriber clicks on a link in your first email about Facebook advertising, they will automatically be sent future emails talking more about Facebook advertising.

This level of personalization generates more engagement and conversions than blanket email marketing strategies.

Create an ebook

4If you have multiple pieces of content that help form one of the stages of your conversion funnel, combine the content into an in-depth ebook.

From there, you can use the ebook to be sent as a freebie to leads in an attempt to expedite their journey through the conversion process.

This can also be a great re-engagement strategy for subscribers whom you’ve identified as inactive.

Start repurposing for email

When done right, repurposing your successful content can dramatically increase email engagement rates. Give the strategies above a try and find out how they can help you move your leads further down the conversion funnel. And let me know if it works!

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources and business news. Megan has several years of experience on the topics of small business marketing, copywriting, SEO, online conversions and social media. Megan spends much of her time establishing new relationships for, publishing weekly newsletters educating small business on the importance of web presence, and contributing to a number of publications on the web. Megan can be reached at
Crypterium turns crypto-confusion into practical magic Tue, 26 Dec 2017 22:15:01 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Crypterium Team

Chris AbrahamCrypterium is a cryptobankCrypterium Logo with the goal of turning the impenetrable volatile world of cryptocurrency into a contactless payment platform that’s as easy-to-use as the Starbucks App is for buying coffee–providing cryptocurrencies to mainstream everyday users.  Once cryptocurrencies are as simple and easy to use every day as dollar bills the benefits of cryptocurrency–lower transaction costs, speed of payment, removal of national boundaries, and so on–become real. Crypterium will free you to easily spend your cryptocurrencies IRL.

Bitcoins have been more stocks and bonds than actual cash

400 troy ounce gold london good delivery bar

400 troy ounce gold London Good Delivery bar

Right now, Bitcoins are almost strictly being used as investment vehicles. They’re stuck like stocks or bonds into just something you track on your phone or look up online. There’s enough of a barrier to entry–tech, cost, and expense–associated with converting government-backed fiat money into cryptocurrency that it’s like owning 400 troy ounce (27 pound!) gold bars like they have in the movies. Sure, you’re rich as hell at $515,778.38-per-London Good Delivery Bar but how’re you going to move that money into a form that you can buy and trade with? It’s both physically heavy and logistically-suspicious.

When it comes to cyrptocurrency,  the next step needs to be cryptobanking because even something that’s as simple in Europe with the SWIFT network as sending a bank wire in America is expensive and a pain in the ass, requiring paperwork and signatures and even federal oversight. And that’s just getting Greenbacks into a digital wallet like Coinbase or GDAX. That’s even before buying your very first Litecoin, Namecoin, Dogecoin, PotCoin, Ethereum, and especially, Bitcoin.

I was an early adopter of Bitcoin

Bitcoin symbol sigh currencyI have been playing around with Bitcoin (Ƀ) since 2009 when I played miner.  All this demanded was using my computer’s CPU to mine blockchain blocks using an app in a way that resembles mining diamonds or gold: a new site is easier to mine than an old mine. The more mature the coin (Bitcoin is the oldest) the more brute computing “exertion” is required to make new cryptocurrency available, emulating the rate at which commodities are mined from the ground.

Even today, all cryptocurrency–Litecoin, Namecoin, Dogecoin, PotCoin, Ethereum, and especially Bitcoin–is tough to acquire. Scanned and uploaded Passports and Driver’s License, a $50 international wire from your bank (which could result in your account being closed for money laundering), and then the constant threat of hacking, theft, market collapse, as well as the very real threat of being locked out of your own wallet forever. And then there’s the daily limits on selling. And, of course, when I misplaced what’s called a cryptocurrency paper wallet–the only access anyone on planet earth can ever access your coins–all was naught.

The age of panning for Bitcoins is over

Panning for bitcoinsNow, Bitcoin-mining demands supercomputing powers and more power costs than the coins had been worth. Since I started mining in the early days, even a commercial PC could mine actual Bitcoins. I wonder where I securely hid those first mined coins. After misplacing my private key–I lost my paper wallet! I pray to Saint Anthony every day (Tony, Tony, look around. Something’s lost and must be found!)

Later, I had a vendor who insisted on being paid with Bitcoin back in 2010-2013. This was the first time I needed to move money from my bank account into my first–and most popular–digital wallet, Coinbase. It was good practice for now but it required me to formally order a wire transfer and then go down to the physical bank myself to fill out forms with a pen on paper and then be told that there was an actual chance that my international wire transfer would be scrutinized under some international money laundering law and that there was a chance that my assets would be seized, my access to the money would be frozen, and my account would be closed. Yikes! It never came to that but it was a pain in my butt (and that vendor is so rich in crypto that he can now buy and sell me like penny candy).

The future of money is cryptobanking

crypterium mobileTo get everything moving, Crypterium launched its own ICO (Initial Coin Offering) on Halloween that will remain open until January 12, 2018.

Simply put, according to Wikipedia, “an initial coin offering (ICO) is a means of crowdfunding centered around cryptocurrency, which can be a source of capital for startup companies. In an ICO, some quantity of the crowdfunded cryptocurrency is preallocated to investors in the form of “tokens,” in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. These tokens become functional units of currency if or when the ICO’s funding goal is met and the project launches.

In the case of Crypterium, they have the CRPT Token.  The price of a CRPT Token has been set at 0.0001 Bitcoin in order to make the initial buy in affordable and accessible in these times of $16,037 Bitcoins. Crypterium is accepting payments in Bitcoin, Etherium, and fiat currencies such as US Dollars, Euros, etc.

Sisyphus mines Bitcoin

sisyphus mining bitcoins

Sisyphus mining Bitcoin

It’s pretty exciting that the future of banking is a currency without country. That the value of cryptocurrencies are based more on mass hysteria and a quest for value than on the strength and power of a nation’s military. While technically cryptocurrencies can be fiat currencies, Bitcoin, for example, has a limited supply. Bitcoin is the Manhattan and Bay area of Cryptocurrencies.

No matter what, there will never be more than 21 million BTC ever produced.

What’s more, the closer the currency is to 20999999.9769 BTC, the exponentially harder it will be to mine them: the cost of the hardware required to mine the coin and the amount of electricity required to power that level of brutal computing will probably mean only nation states with access to free electricity (The Three Gorges Dam is a hydroelectric gravity dam, after all).

That’s one of the greatest things about meta-coins like the CRPT Tokens: they allow you to straddle the value of a variety of altcoins. You can invest in a variety of cryptocoins and spread your money around and, as Bitcoin becomes too expensive for you or it stagnates (probably won’t, it’ll surely reach $1 million-a-coin at least), you can cross invest and make sure you’re able to work in an environment where your cryptocurrency daily driver won’t be so volatile that the pizza you bought at 11PM for $10 actually cost you $700 because of market volatility. You’d hate that right? Even though that’s a stupid thought game (when I was living in Berlin, a Euro cost $1.30 and a Pound Sterling cost $2, now it’s closer to $1.10 and $1.30), volatility is only good when you’re holding and not when you’re spending.

I look forward to Cryptobanks like Crypterium because I like the idea of being supranational and not relying on US or German banks and banking. I love the idea of having my wealth and value swirling both safely and accessibly somewhere in the cloud. And while cryptocurrencies don’t have to be cloud-based and can be actual real things in the form of a private key in a paper wallet, both accessibly and convenience are important for me. So, until now, I have relied on Coinbase, and in the near future, I shall be relying on cryptobanks like Crypterium.

Actually, Keith Teare, Co-founder of Techcrunch, does a better job than I at explaining Crypterium:

And here’s more info from the horses’ mouths, the Crypterium Team:

Good luck and Happy Boxing Day!

Via BiznologyChris Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

SentiOne Review: Monitor and Augment Your Social Media Presence Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:22:06 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


The social media marketing space can be a tricky playing field for online businesses. If you’re complacent, it can ruin your brand to a pulp. But if you leverage it well, then you can establish a solid brand that the vast online populace will trust.

The difference between the two outcomes is often determined by your proactiveness. Are you actively participating in online communities? Do you stay in tune with your target market?

Fair enough, you probably have a lot on your plate as an online business owner or marketer. That’s why, in order to keep yourself updated in the “social sphere,” you should consider using a social media monitoring tool like SentiOne.

In this post, we’ll cover everything there is to know about SentiOne to help you decide if it matches your brand’s specific needs.

What is SentiOne?

Simply put, SentiOne is a social media monitoring and reputation management platform. It will help you listen, analyze, and respond to any conversation in your specific market (among other things).

By doing so, you can accomplish the following things:

  • Identify Current Trends in Your Niche

By listening to conversations and searching for popular posts, you can identify trending topics which you can absorb in your content marketing strategy.

In some cases, it can also help you gain ideas for your product development.

  • Connect with Leads

With social listening tools, you can specifically look for brand mentions and connect with users that have a strong purchase intent. It will also help you reach out to prospective influencers and brand ambassadors.

  • Correct Misinformation

Sometimes, your competitors or customers who had a bad experience with your product may spread false information that can harm your reputation.

While there’s no surefire way to prevent this, you can lessen or reverse the damage by responding as quickly as possible.

Using SentiOne

Just like most modern cloud-based tools, SentiOne has a minimalistic approach when it comes to its user interface design.

It’s simple, ergonomic, and definitely easy to navigate.

After signing up to SentiOne, you have the option to run through their tutorial. This is recommended if you’re absolutely new to social listening.

Sentione Welcome

Fortunately, SentiOne’s learning curve is comparable to a mobile app, which means you should be fine even if you choose to jump straight into the action.

If you’re booting SentiOne for the very first time, you’re immediately brought to a three-step project setup:

Monitor Sentione

Depending on your goals, you can choose whether to track a brand name, a social media profile, or general topics that are relevant to your business. But if you really want to know what this platform can do, then you should choose the “Advanced Project Configurator”, which allows you to track as many keywords as you want:

Project Creation Sentione

At this point, you should begin to notice the fluidity of the platform. As you insert keywords under “Project rules”, results will begin to show up in the live preview area.

Another noteworthy feature would be the rule filters. They allow you to refine how keywords are searched from the specified source.

For example, under the “Facebook” option, you can choose whether to scan for keywords from fan pages, groups, or event pages.

Sentione Accounts

As the name suggests, the “Exclude” rule allows you to eliminate results that contain certain keywords or are written by a specific author.

This is useful if you want to avoid scraping results that pertain to competitors or similarly-named terms.

Feel free to use as many rules as you like in a single project. Just don’t forget to assign a project name you can remember.

Notable Features

Now that we have covered the basics, it’s time to move on to SentiOne’s more specific features:

Advanced, Real-Time Analytics

Upon creating your first project, the “Dashboards” tab will automatically be populated with real-time analytics. This is where you can have a bird’s-eye view of your social presence over time.

Real Time Monitoring via Sentione

Surprisingly, SentiOne can provide you with a goldmine of data in such a short amount of time.

In addition to a summary of mentions and content with your keywords, you can also observe your share of impressions, the gender distribution of your audience, the overall sentiment of users, and so on.

Customizable Notifications

The email alert feature is something busy marketers will surely appreciate. It currently has two modes: a daily summary that will regularly provide you with updates, and a critical alert that will only trigger if a specific mention exceeds a preset threshold.

Notifications Sentione

Quick PDF Reports

A social media listening tool isn’t complete without the generation of PDF reports. Fortunately, SentiOne makes this process a breeze.

In the “Reports” tab, you can instantly generate reports based on the data sets you select. You can also include your company logo for branding purposes.

Reports Sentione

These reports will then be available for download to other team members, which bring us to the next feature:

Collaboration with Other Users

Lastly, in the “Users” tab, you can create user accounts for every member of your team. Simply supply a user email, password, and adjust the permission options as you see fit.

Collaborate via Sentione

SentiOne is straightforward at the surface but offers a lot of depth in terms of customizability and analytics. Granted, the platform is still relatively new, but it’s already what plenty of social listening tools try to be.

It’s fast, easy to use, and avoids “analysis paralysis” by giving users full control on what they can see and hear.

Final Words

We live in a world where cloud-based tools are spawned left and right.

Although this may seem like an exciting time for online businesses, it can also be outright confusing.

Use too many tools in your business ecosystem and you’ll end up over-complicating your processes — use too few and you’ll have a hard time keeping up with competitors and their fancy toys.

Hopefully, the review above helped you determine whether SentiOne is the perfect fit for your needs. If you have any thoughts, concerns, or recommendations regarding the social media listening space, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.

All the webmaster SEO tools on SEMRush Wed, 23 Aug 2017 17:25:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]> SEMRush Logo

Chris AbrahamI just got my hands on a Guru subscription to SEMRush so I haven’t had a lot of time to figure it out. SEMRush delivers Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Buffer, HootSuite, Moz, and SpyFu in one powerful and useful SEO and SEM dashboard.

Hell, I don’t think there’s been enough time for the spiders, bots, auditing, and analytics tools to do enough data collection, over time, to give me full depth, breadth, and perspective of my content, especially when it comes to the blog content on my personal sites,,, and
My SEMRush Projects Dashboard

My SEMRush Projects Dashboard

Like you, I pieced together Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Buffer, HootSuite, SpyFu, and a compilation of other little online tools. That was, until Olga reached out to me to give me full access to the entire suite of tools that make up the newest iteration of SEMRush.

I’ve played a little with Moz and never quite made it work for me because none of my personal sites were eCommerce sites, so I never really understood why I needed to pay between $99-$599/month. However, I can really see the value of spending that sort of money, from $99-399/month. This tool that can help me write SEO-optimized copy, domain analytics, keyword analytics, organic and paid keyword audits, SERP position tracking, brand monitoring, backlink audit, “SEO ideas,” and even SEOquake, a Chrome plugin that offers inline SEO audits of sites, SERP overlays, domain comparison, and link examination.

What’s more, since I never use paid ads, the strong focus on organic SEO analysis and auditing help me get outside of my own head and easily see which of the keywords that bubble up on my sites are really driving traffic to my sites rather than wasting all my time writing content that isn’t organically competitive or viable no matter how badly I want these keywords and organic search results to come my way.

While it’s always exciting to see when desirable keywords come up reliably in the SERP top-10, it’s also fascinating for me to slice and dice the content as well. SEMRush allows you to look the success (and failure) of your site and its content based not only on whether you make the top-5 in the most obvious keywords (chris abraham, gerris corp) but also in keywords you like.

What’s even more exciting than getting a top-ten result in a very specific search is to get a keyword hit that may not be in the top-5 but results in a huge volume of visitors — many more visitors than you might have been aware of.

SEMRush can do this because, behind the scenes, after properly setting up a project (which is domain/URL-driven), you stitch SEMRush together using all the tools that you’ve been using, singly, before: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Google Analytics, Google Webmasters/Webmasters Tools, and I am sure SEMRush’s proprietary analytics tools as well.

The value added of bringing all of these tools and tool kits together allow me to audit all the hard work I have been doing optimizing my content and writing content and writing for search and viability, and after all of the social media sharing and blogging, it’s very interesting to see how all of this hard work has been interpreted.

It’s sort of like newspaper reviews and online comments when you’re producing a play or a movie: sometimes all this data can be really valuable and useful but it can also end up being such a distraction. Obsessing about what SEMRush reports about my properties will just take me away from creating good content myself.

What SEMRush tries to be is a go-to dashboard where you can quickly do a pulse check on how your campaigns are doing before you close the tab and get back to work.

A couple of really interesting tools that are in alpha and beta are SEO Ideas and Link Building tools that actually give you the tools and the project management process by which you can actually find allies in the online space and presumably partner with these sites or even work on doing some mutual link-building or mutual guest-posting.

These are my first steps and first foray into SEMRush — I am hoping that its dashboard and the way it handles projects will easily allow me to replace all the free online tools that I hack together ad hoc, Google Analytics, Google Webmasters, Buffer, HootSuite, SpyFu, etc.

Have you had a chance to try out SEMRush yourself? Why not just pop your domain URL into the widget below and see the sort of rabbit hole I have gone down a short week ago when Olga gave me the keys to the SEMRush kingdom.

Chris Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

Improve your Google search results today Thu, 17 Aug 2017 07:51:25 +0000 Continue reading ]]> shoes-wires

Follow the tips below to speed up and clean up your site.

Do you use a CDN? Do you blog? Do you optimize your images? Do you pay proper homage to the Google gods? And other tricks of the SEO trade

Chris AbrahamThere are so many things you can do on your own site today — starting now — that will help you in real ways with Google Search and your search results on Google’s SERP. Here are nine things you can do starting today to improve your search results and the quality of your visitors’ experiences.

Because so many people presumably make so much money “doing SEO,” there’s a lot of confusion as to what search engine optimization is and all the little things that you can do right now, today, to improve your the results on your SERP — search engine results page. OK, let’s start.

  • Go Rewrite As Many Titles as You Have Time For Right Now: According to Moz, “Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, our research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.” You should keep the titles concise, but also descriptive. Don’t be cute. All of my titles are cute and I waste them. Remember, all anybody knows about any of your pages — including Google’s spiders and bots — is the title of your pages.  So, if your title currently is “Check Out My Latest Project” you really should actually describe the subject of the blog post or site page. Be descriptive and be specific.
  • Don’t Let Google Define Your Page Descriptions for You — Do It Yourself: You don’t have to care about the description of your page. There are two ways to get a little control: rewrite your first paragraph to describe what your page is about exactly the way journalists and reporters are supposed to, in the first paragraph. According to Moz, “Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate snippets longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive but shorter than that 160-character limit.” So, if you don’t actually write a meta description, Google will always steal your first 160 characters. If your site (say, a WordPress blog) allows you to write a summary or your page allows you to define a description, do it. And, if you come up with an excellent summary for your page, that description should include similar turns of phrase and keywords in both your title and your full content. And, if you really like your summary description, then please be sure to integrate it into your writing. Make it better, make it newer, and take it out of “archive,” which is what Google does if you don’t update your site’s content and copy every once in a while.
  • Add 500 Words to a Product or Service Page by Close of Business: Over 90% of all the outdated, over-synthesized, or over-edited sites I have seen just don’t have enough text for Google to really get a handle on. Everybody’s trying to be so succinct. I blame the elevator speech for this. We’ve boiled our business plans and our visions and mission statements down so far — a réduction, if you will — that they’re worthless to both Google and to someone who actually wants to use your website — your corporate site, your only cornerstone, your online HQ, your Internet everything! Why are you keeping it so brief? Why are you being so sneaky? Why don’t you sit down, fire up a stogie, pour yourself a deep one, and let’s talk about who you are, what you really do, why you’ve been so inspired, and what your real and true capabilities are.  As in long form. And, if all of this text and all these words break the aesthetics of your proper website, then be sure to share all of these cigar and rum moments on your blog or on a deeper, secondary page.
  • Link Keyword Phrases from Content Pages to About and Offerings Pages at Once: You probably haven’t done the most effective thing you can do on your own site right now: Every time you see a mention of your products, your services, or the names of your employees, executives, and cast of characters, you should hyperlink them all to the pages on which they live. For example, I will link my name, Chris Abraham, to my page on  See, it’s as easy as that. You should really do it.
  • Add ALT Text to All Your Photos and Images Right this Minute: All modern content management systems (CMS) have some place to customize all the images on your site. Even if you don’t know how, ask your geek. If you still have your website designer on speed dial, maybe you can encourage your web designer or your template-developer to help you out. Most downloadable templates these days make it easy to associate words with photos and words with images. Now, baby we can do it take the time, do it right, we can do it, baby, do it tonight! Why didn’t your web developer do it? Laziness. It’s probably even in your contract. You didn’t care at the time. The more pretty images, the better. But now you need to care. Why? Because Google can only read — and index and return results for — text so if a lot of your site is made up of images and graphics and graphics of text (are you kidding me), then they’re all invisible to Google. You always need to look at your site as if you were blind or visually impaired. By the way, here is how a search engine sees your website.
  • Connect Your Site Immediately to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters: You really should have done this already. Click me: Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters — also, if you don’t have an SEO tool for your site, look into Yoast SEO for Drupal or Yoast SEO for WordPress. They have the tools required to make it super-simple to make all the proper connections you need. Also, bonus points: Google Analytics.
Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

  • Optimize Your Images If That’s Something You Can Easily Do Soon: Don’t assume that your content management system automagically takes your 4MB and 2MB and 10MB and 14MB(!)images and squishes them down from your crazy 8 megapixel cameraphone photos to images that are especially optimized for the web. All of your 5184 × 3456 pixel images really need to be brought down to 1600×800 pixels — or even smaller.  If you can’t get your images under control via your server or your CMS, then you’re going to need to use Photoshop or something else. If your images are too big, your site will take too long to load; and, if you make your visitors’ experience sluggish, then Google will punish you and your search results will suffer.
  • Get a Faster Web Hosting Company and Learn About Caching and CDNs: Google be taxing! If your site isn’t mobile native or friendly, you’ll face a tax! If your images are huge and fat and take forever to load: tax! And, if your site isn’t responsive in the hand-off between when someone clicks on your Google Search result and the time when she gets to your page, then tax! If your JavaScript and CSS is cluttering up the page (instead of actual content): tax! So, you’ll need to spend some money on getting a fast server, a server with RAM and an SSD HD, super-close access to the Internet backbone, with the ability to scale if you get a flood of visitors, or not get flooded if someone else on your shared server scores a sticky meme. More than the $3.95 that you’re spending now or the half-assed server setup that your CMS website service providers have you on (they need to make as much delta as possible, right, we’re capitalists, after all). And, even then, you need to learn about how to make your slow-ass database-backed websites, your WordPress or Drupal or whatever site, faster through caching. WordPress caching’s pretty easy. And then, since you can’t be in all places at once, a content delivery network (CDN) allows you to distribute your site and all its contents across the globe. I have sorted out how to use CloudFlare for free over on my “I don’t want to be fat, sick, and weak forever” blog, RNNR. Not only do CDNs help quicken up your site, they also make proximity to the server a non-issue. If your servers are in Northern California and someone’s checking out your site in London would need to burrow through MAE-East to get to it. But, with a CDN, presumably there’d be a working copy of RNNR somewhere in the UK. All of this is worth looking into. At least for SEO, at least for Google. Because, if all things are equal, then the speed, quickness, and responsiveness of your site is going to be the x-factor.
  • Write a Blog Post About Everything On Your Site As Soon As You Can: See what I am doing right now? You might think that we’re doing all of this to help you. Well, yes, but I’m also doing it to help myself. Because Google loves engagement and popularity and visits and social shares and reshares and retweets. I have been taking my own advice since 1999. I do this as a burnt sacrifice and offering to the altar of Google Search. You should start blogging. Not for me, not for fame, not to pursue your writer’s life, but for Google. To Google Be the Glory Forever and Ever, Amen. And, don’t start your blog in or on or on Blogger/Blogspot, but on your own domain. Like, on Gerris Corp’s site, the blog post is — you should do it like this.
  • Use Images in Your Blog Posts (not like this one). You can find plenty of free ones at Pixabay and on Flickr under a Creative Commons license and on dozens of other sites.

Good luck. This should get you through the next day. Let me know if I missed anything down in the comments. I hope it’s useful for you. If you won’t do it, make me do it. I actually consult on SEO — check me out over on or email me at Abraham is a partner in Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

How to Increase Your Brand Awareness Via Social Media Tue, 08 Aug 2017 17:25:05 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


Social media is one of the best places to market your business as there are over 3 billion users. While marketing your business with social media, you have three options. They are traffic, sales and brand awareness. You can opt for a mixture of these, but for best results it is best to choose one as the primary and the others as secondary.

As there’s a ton of information out there on how to drive traffic and sales with social media, in this article I am only going to focus on how to increase your brand awareness via social media.

Once you implement these tips and influence your audience they will be able to recognize your brand both offline and online. Let’s get started…

Have a unique content strategy for each social network:

Even though you might have a specific audience you want to target for your overall marketing strategy, you need to understand that your followers on each social channel will be different. They will behave in diverse ways and will like different forms of content. Hence, you need to create a unique content strategy for each channel. Always sharing the same content on each social network won’t get you the best results.

This content also needs to be well branded.

Tai Lopez 67 Steps

An example of someone who creates unique well branded content for each social network is Tai Lopez of The 67 Steps.

If you visit the above website you will notice that his blog is filled with helpful posts on topics like entrepreneurship and self-help as he is an investor and this type of content is what his main audience wants. Some of these are articles while some of these are videos hosted on YouTube.

tail lopez instagram

While if you head on over to Tai’s Instagram page, you will notice that his content is immensely different. Here he shares more entertaining content represented through images and short videos. Also, the content is well branded as many of the videos and pictures contain himself which is Tai’s brand brand.

When it comes to personal projects, it is best to brand it with ‘you’ i.e. pictures and videos of you. Logos and mascots work better only when you are promoting a company.

Consistently brand visuals:

Visuals have become an essential component while marketing on social media. This is because on established networks like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin visuals in the form of images and videos perform best. Also on the fastest rising younger networks like Snapchat, Pinterest and Instagram you can only post images.

When posting images you can easily boost brand awareness by adding a logo or photos of you, like Tail Lopez on Instagram.

This way when your image and video content get shared or reshared people will always know that you created it. And those who have never heard about you will learn about you. If you want to go a step further you can hire a designer to create image templates that contain colours present on your logo and website.

branding social media images

An example of a company that consistently brands its social media images with its logo is Innocent Smoothies. Visit their Facebook page and you will find that they place a cute logo of their company at the bottom right corner of every image they share. When fans see this image on Facebook, they will always know who created it.

Partner with influencers:

Influencer marketing is probably the hottest form of marketing right now as it is a very effective way to get your message in front of your audience quickly. It is also very effective in increasing brand awareness as it can build you a loyal audience.

Influencers have already done the hard work of earning the trust of their followers, hence, when they publish your content on their social channels, tag your handle and recommend you to their followers, you become a trust worthy person or company too. After these people follow you, you can earn their loyalty with minimal effort.

Once you earn their loyalty, they will help propagate your brand. The influencer campaign itself will get you some impressions and thereby directly increase brand awareness too.

Hence, team up with good social media influencers and implement a few sponsored posts. Just make sure you only work with relevant influencers for this method. For e.g. if you are a company that sells photography products, only team up with photographers, don’t try and work with big celebrities just because they have millions of followers.

If you find the process of influencer marketing taxing, a great alternative is social media ads. They too can help you reach a bigger audience quickly. One of the best social networks for running ads is Facebook, as ads are cheap here.

instagram influencer campaign

An example of an extremely successful influencer marketing campaign that increased brand awareness is Rescue’s. This campaign got them 133 million impressions and increased their Instagram followers by 258%.

These are all the techniques you can use to increase your brand awareness via social media. They can all be easily implemented by making minor modifications to your current social media strategy. The first 2 shouldn’t take up too much of extra time. But the third one, partnering with influencers, requires investment of both time and money.

How would you increase your brand awareness via social media? Please leave your comments below. Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.

5 Alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate for Superior Employee Advocacy Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:04:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


Are you in the hunt for an employee advocacy platform? Would you like some alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate for superior employee advocacy?


Over the years LinkedIn has released several useful features and tools that have helped distinguish the platform as the go-to social network for business. While the other popular social networks only seem to be copying each other’s latest top functionalities, LinkedIn stands apart in this regard. After all, the B2B value of social media use is completely different from B2C uses.

One of the tools released by LinkedIn that has grown to be especially popular is LinkedIn Elevate, an employee advocacy platform. It does exactly as the name suggests, which is making it easy for employees to support their employers’ content distribution efforts – while positioning themselves as industry thought leaders at the same time.

Using an algorithm and/or manually curated links, LinkedIn Elevate finds content that your target audience likes and suggests it to your team members. Employees can sort through these posts and share the content they like most on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Businesses can track these shares to see if they resulted in an increase in brand exposure, traffic, leads captured and talent attracted.


Image source:

Most businesses using Elevate see significant traction, which makes sense given the power of employee advocacy as a tactic in general. Data from Smarp, another advocacy solution, indicates that employee advocates have an average of 420 Facebook friends, 400 LinkedIn contacts and 360 Twitter followers. That’s a content distribution opportunity that B2B marketers should not overlook.

While piloting LinkedIn Elevate, Adobe found that the average participating employees drove 80% more job listing views plus three to four trial downloads of Adobe software products. This is because when people check out the profiles and content of your employees, they will also check out the company they work for and the products they offer. What’s more, 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising, according to Nielsen.

Another big benefit of using an employee advocacy tool is that it helps employees feel more invested to their companies. This sentiment can help promote a sense of cohesive culture and increase performance.

But to successfully execute employee advocacy, you don’t need to use LinkedIn Elevate. There are several alternatives that specialize in this niche and offer superior features and user experiences. You should be able to find one based on your specific needs and budget with ease, instead of just opting for the one offered by LinkedIn.

Here are my picks for the top alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate.

  1. Smarp

Smarp is an advanced employee advocacy platform, which has several useful features that LinkedIn Elevate doesn’t. These include gamification, internal communications and ROI-focused analytics.

With Smarp, admins can either share link updates or standalone content updates like text and images. Hence, you should be able to share content that will drive both traffic and engagement. You can schedule the update in advance and set a time to archive it in case it is time sensitive. You can even move the content around in the feed of suggestions if you want a specific post to gain more exposure.

Smarp can also automatically pull content from your social media pages and RSS feeds, so that every new post on your blog will automatically aggregate to your Smarp feed of suggested shares. You can use this feature to feed content from trusted niche-relevant publications and co-marketing partner organizations as well.

Employees can share the content you add onto Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as they can with LinkedIn Elevate, but Smarp also supports additional channels like WeChat, Xing, VK and Weibo, plus the ability to easily share via copy-pasted URLs. Team members can also comment on the updates to engage with others from your company. These discussions can be used to not only share content of maximum interest in the future, but to also to collaborate for creating quality content for your blog. Employees can also easily find content they like, by using the topic navigation tabs at the top of the feed.

Smarp offers a responsive web app, as well as native apps for Android and iOS. This makes it easy for your employees to access suggestions and discussions, so they can share from anywhere.


Image source:

As mentioned above, Smarp has a gamification feature, with an employee leaderboard that helps to motivate shares. You can even integrate incentives like company swag, bonuses and charity donations, to sweeten the deal for top sharers. LinkedIn Elevate’s leaderboard, on the other hand, is only available to admins, as part of the analytics – it isn’t a core functionality.

One of Smarp’s best features is its advanced analytics. Employees can access metrics relating to engagement on their own shares, while admins can view company-wide metrics, or drill down into per-channel, per-employee and per-post performance.

Personal analytics has a feature called SmarpScore, which makes it easy to measure how one’s professional influence progresses over time. Another cool feature of the analytics tools here is an “earned media value” metric, which estimates what you might have paid in social media advertising to achieve comparable reach.

  1. Dynamic Signal

Dynamic Signal is another leading employee advocacy platform. You can use it to post your latest industry news and company updates. Employees can access this information via a mobile app and stay informed about your company and the trends that matter in your niche, and they can share updates directly from the mobile app onto social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

It integrates with Facebook Messenger and Slack, too, so that you can push share recommendations and messages to employees via these apps.

You can also boost engagement and get plenty of feedback from employees by using surveys and quizzes. This information can be used to strengthen company culture and to create content employees want to share on social media.

Dynamic Signals

Image source:

Dynamic Signal’s analytics tools allow you to track an item’s potential reach, which is based on sharers’ audience size. This allows you to target and engage employees with the right types of content. You can also access rich reports that drill down into each team member’s app use, including logs of logins, posts viewed and shared and even devices used.

This is where Dynamic Signal shines most brightly. The emphasis here is on improving communications between employees and company management.

  1. Bambu

Created by the team from the social media management platform Sprout Social, Bambu is the fourth employee advocacy platform we’ll look at today as a viable alternative to LinkedIn Elevate. Bambu lets you craft and post custom social media updates, so that they are ready for sharing onto Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can include notes along with the content so employees understand the relevance, urgency and/or strategic context of the update.

The analytics reports on Bambu let you identify top sharers and performance per item of content, per channel and per user. The metrics on offer are extremely basic, but the visualizations are clean and accessible.


Image source:

Bambu’s calming user interface is definitely better than that of GaggleAMP. But the internal communication features aren’t robust enough, and while the “big three” social networks are likely to do the job for many organizations, others are looking to engage elsewhere as well. What’s more, there are no gamification features like on Smarp. This can reduce the number of shares posts get, as you can’t incentivise sharing nor create a sharing contest among employees.

For companies that are already using Sprout for their social media monitoring, measurement and scheduling, it probably makes good sense to add Bambu to the stack. Otherwise, the other tools in this article may be better matches for your advocacy needs.

  1. PostBeyond

One of the more helpful employee advocacy platforms, PostBeyond also offers solutions for brand resource management, employer branding, process management and social selling.

You can create a content library where you add blog posts, job listings, white papers, press releases, etc. either directly or with their browser extension. Content can also be sourced from social media, RSS feeds and even spreadsheets for bulk uploads. Items can be shared with all employees or certain combinations of employees, which are easy to manage via PostBeyond’s “Groups” admin panel.

In addition to native PostBeyond feeds, admins can send employees regular email updates with roundups of key items for viewing or sharing, simply by selecting a Group audience and ticking whatever item checkboxes are relevant.


Image source:

Employees can access PostBeyond on the devices of their choice and then share content on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Channel diversity is limited, but PostBeyond makes up for this shortcoming with the depth of analytics reporting on offer. It’s possible that their product team made a decision to only work with social networks whose APIs can support their rich reporting.

The analytics here can reveal shares, impressions, comments and other engagement metrics, with the ability to easily slice this data according to audience geolocation or PostBeyond Group.

Activate Your in-House Army of Sharers

LinkedIn Elevate might be the best-known employee advocacy platform, but it is hardly the best. As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives, and each has its specialty. Smarp is the only complete tool, as it helps with content distribution, internal communication, gamification and ROI-focused analytics. Dynamic Signal mainly focuses on internal communication, while GaggleAMP is only about driving action on social media and other digital channels.

I recommend that you check out all the tools in detail by signing up for trials and demos, and then pick the one that fulfills all your functionality and budgeting needs.

Which tools do you use for your employee advocacy strategy? How have they worked for you? Please leave your comments below.Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.

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Book review: ‘Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups’ Wed, 19 Jul 2017 20:10:39 +0000 Continue reading ]]> angel

Title: “Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups—Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000″
Author: Jason Calacanis
My rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Release date: July 18, 2017 on Amazon (hardcover & Kindle), in bookstores and at angelthebook

JD LasicaWith Silicon Valley at the center of tech culture – and much of pop culture these days – you might be tempted to get in on the startup action. Not founding a startup but investing in one … or a dozen … or, as Jason Calacanis advises in his new book “Angel,” investing $1.5 million in 50 startups over a three-year span.

Now that’s a bold and provocative set of marching orders. Which is what we have come to expect from Calacanis, the Brooklyn-bred journalist turned entrepreneur turned podcast impresario—and one of the top five angel investors in the world.

“Angel,” Calacanis’ first book, went on sale Tuesday. It’s brash, candid and opinionated, much like the author, and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the dry and oh-so-serious angel investing tomes that have preceded it.

More important, “Angel” is a fun, practical, accessible, rigorous and smart tutorial on how you, too, can become a gazillionaire—assuming you have the requisite stomach for startup flameouts, countless meetings and the likely downsizing of your bank account.

The formula for successful investing

As anyone who has spent serious time investing in startups knows, it’s often more art than science. If it were science, then algorithm-powered robots would make the best investors.

But that’s not how it works. So Calacanis provides the formula, you provide the gut, and in five to 10 years we’ll see how you do.

Your instructions begin with plunking down ten $1,000 investments as part of a follow-the-leader angel syndicate, followed by “making twenty $25,000 bets and quadrupling down on the winners with a $100,000 follow-on investment.” As a result, no investment in your portfolio is more than 1.25 to 2.5 percent of your net worth. Smart.

The author shares some hilarious spot-on anecdotes, as when he jabs ‘the precious little snowflakes from Y Combinator’

Jason—and he is one of those eponymous one-name wonders who’s a recognizable brand on just about every social platform: @Jason on Twitter, Jason on Instagram, etc.—warns readers that this is not an endeavor for the faint of heart. The regimen includes meeting with twenty-five founders per month at the outset—“thousands of meetings,” all told—in addition to regular meetings with fellow investors. New investors must learn to say “not yet”—investorspeak for “no.”

“Angel” covers all the major bases. Calacanis outlines cap table basics, deal memos, due diligence, the pros and cons of joining startup boards, how angel syndicates work, how to identify businesses that scale, the right questions to pose to founders, the importance of traction, how to determine a reasonable valuation, the value of information rights (monthly updates from the founding team) and the No. 1 rule: Invest in the founders, not in the idea.

Along the way, the author shares some hilarious spot-on anecdotes, as when he jabs “the precious little snowflakes from Y Combinator” who think they’re so special that the normal investment rules don’t apply to them.

Predicting the future

I always like to have a bit of fun with my fellow Bay Area tech enthusiasts’ predictions, as when I reviewed Robert Scoble’s book “The Fourth Transformation” in December. Scoble spoke at Calacanis’ Launch Scale gathering last November and predicted we’ll all be wearing mixed-reality headsets within 12 months. (Spoiler alert: We won’t.)

I give Jason credit for having the cojones to take these stabs at how the future will unfold. Here are four of Calacanis’ provocative prognostications in “Angel” and my reactions—go ahead, play along at home!

  • “The jobpocalypse is coming [and] it includes the elimination of most white-collar jobs we were told were careers, like being a lawyer, doctor, teacher, accountant, pilot, journalist, or—wait for it—a software engineer.” (No, no, no, possibly, unlikely, no and perhaps.)
  • “In another ten years, you will look into a retina scanner at checkout and carry no money or credit cards.” (Not a chance, if Jason means most of us and not just techies.)
  • “People don’t just want to give up car ownership, they never want to even be in possession of one!” (Not remotely true, outside of a handful of urban enclaves.)
  • “Instead of a Starbucks on every other corner in a city, there will be a [robotic] Cafe X machine in the lobby of every building on the block.” (Very unlikely. While Silicon Valley exalts automation and prizes productivity, most people will still crave interactions with other people rather than meekly accept the advent of our robot overlords.)

This is half the fun of reading “Angel.” You’re making bets on how to read cultural signposts and social megatrends. Angel investors will either go with the flow while sitting around the bargaining table (he calls it Groupthink, I call it Sheepthink) or you’ll go your own idiosyncratic way.

And in the end, whether you agree with how Calacanis reads the tea leaves or not, the bottom line is that he has an impressive track record as an investor. He has built a portfolio worth more than $150 million, much of it because he hit an inside straight with an early investment in Uber: He invested $25,000 in Uber when it was valued at $5 million, and it’s now worth somewhere between $50 billion and $70 billion.

I always include some feedback for the author in my book reviews, so here are two nitpicks: I would have liked to have seen “Angel” explain the shortcomings of some of the newfangled investment vehicles like equity crowdfunding that a lot of first-timers might naturally gravitate toward. And an old-fashioned index for the book wouldn’t hurt, either.

Four possible end-game scenarios

When all is said and done, if you read “Angel” and follow Calacanis’ prescriptions for successful angel investing, what will be the outcome for all your trouble? There are four possible scenarios, he writes (pages 269-272) if you’re really serious about this and not just taking a flyer on a diverting new hobby:

  • You get back less than you invested.
  • You break about even.
  • You get two to five times what you invested.
  • You score returns of 5x or more—perhaps even “200 or 300 or 400 times your money” because you placed your bet on a future “unicorn.” Congrats, you’ve hit the lottery, many times over!

So, who’s a good candidate for being a successful angel investor? Calacanis describes the ideal investors as those with assets of $5 million to $10 million who are willing to risk 10 to 20 percent of their net worth. (“If you lose it all or make back half, you’ll be fine,” he writes.)

Are there waves and waves of wannabe angels waiting in the wings?

Personally, I’m skeptical that there are waves and waves of wannabe angels waiting in the wings, as it were. Yes, there are lots of one-percenters out there, and yes, there are lots of rich folks who would love to get in the game. But how many of them will actually go through the rigors of a proverbial Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base camp that separates the wusses from the warriors? How many will have the patience for taking thousands of meetings? Perhaps I’m hanging out with the wrong group of rich people, but most millionaires I know are incredibly risk averse and already have the wherewithal to send their kids to the best colleges, leave them a trust fund and buy a big ol’ boat.

I hope I’m wrong about that. I hope there are thousands of people who buy “Angel,” take its lessons to heart and help launch the next wave of disruptive tech innovation.

Calacanis has provided a detailed roadmap. Now who will be brave and foolhardy enough to take up the quest?

Disclaimer: Jason and I are longtime friends and I shot the photo of him that appears on the book jacket of “Angel.” 

J.D. Lasica, an entrepreneur, author and former book editor at the Sacramento Bee (among many other things), releases his book reviews under a Creative Commons license; his reviews may be republished with attribution.


Book review: The Age of Context captures the pulse of new tech

JD Lasica’s book reviews

JD Lasica, founder of, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

Using Webinars to Breed an Innovation Culture among Remote Workers Tue, 18 Jul 2017 15:07:21 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


It is common knowledge that innovative employees are every good company’s dream, but at present, it’s only really larger organizations that are getting innovation right. Innovative people are unique because they think differently. Larger companies most often get this, and are prepared to pay for it.


The good news is that any business – large or small – can empower their people to become innovative because it can be learned.

And it can be learned remotely via webinars. If you don’t already know, webinars are online meetings; people anywhere in the world can join right from their desks.

In this article, we’ll explore the thinking of innovative people, and choosing the right webinar application to breed an innovation culture amongst remote workers.

Innovative people know the industry & audience

Innovative people understand that they can’t create effective solutions within their industry if they don’t take the time to learn it. Nor can they come up with what their target audience needs if they don’t know them well enough.

Using webinar software, have an onboarding process to arm remote workers with information about the industry and your target audience. You can do this in webinar software via a PowerPoint presentation, whiteboard functionality, or screen sharing.

Innovative people solve real problems

They tend to view all circumstances in their lives, or the lives of others, with the aim of solving problems, or making things better.

Make problem solving a habit in your company; come up with exercises to get people to think up innovative solutions. You could even have competitions to make it more fun, and offer incentives to those who come up with great ideas. The point is to make problem solving a habit, as this will breed the kind of culture you want.

Using the online meeting feature in webinar software, you could run monthly competitions between peers.

Innovative people sometimes rebel against the rules

They understand that if you keep doing the same things, you’ll just keep getting the same results. They also realize that because they think differently, many others won’t “see” what they see, so often they will implement their idea or process without consultation, expecting to get a rap over the knuckles for it later.

Every successful business has standards and rules, so you can’t get away from that, but you could emulate the “Kill A Stupid Rule” program like Commerce Bank did, paying their staff to notify them of any rule that makes it difficult to wow a customer.

Innovative people are driven by efficiency

Efficiency fires up innovation, because it’s all about making things better, less expensive, faster, easier, more useful.

Innovative people constantly think about how things can be done with greater efficiency.

To create habits of efficiency in the workplace, try assigning a mentor to those who have been identified with low efficiency. Sub-accounts can be created in many of the webinar software that’s available. In this way, mentors can log in and out of the platform as they see fit.

Reward efficiency in online meetings amongst peers.

Innovative people are creative thinkers

Innovation can’t happen without creativity. It takes creativity to think about ways of doing things better, so it’s essential in the workplace.

To foster greater creativity, try requesting staff to come up with at least one suggestion each week or month of making an internal process work better, and then reward them. When employees see that their ideas are taken seriously, they’ll take the time to think up more.

Also consider making the workplace a fun place to be, because that also sparks creativity. Just ask Google who is renowned for this.

Use webinars to train remote workers about how to be more creative in their roles.

Innovative people are confident in themselves

People who think out of the box are those who believe in themselves and their abilities, and this allows them to push past the barriers into innovation.

Provide training that will help workers become more self-confident, and institute methods via webinars and online meetings to reinforce the training. This is key, because self-confidence doesn’t just happen.

Innovative people believe they’re making a difference

Innovative people are only innovative because they believe their work makes a difference to the organization. They understand their roles and how they fit into the overall vision of the company.

To get employees to engage and believe in the company’s vision, there needs to be clear communication, management needs to be open to their ideas, and engagement levels should be measured.

For remote workers who are often forgotten because they can’t be seen, use a good project management system that facilitates good project communication, and don’t neglect to keep them informed about what’s happening in the company.

Webinar software allows for good communication between the business and remote workers, but be sure to assign people with the task of hosting scheduled, informative webinars.


Innovative people think differently.

To create an innovation culture, even with remote workers, it’s necessary to understand what makes innovative people think differently, and how to use webinars to teach innovative thinking.

Innovative people:

  • Learn the industry and the target audience
  • Are problem solvers
  • Don’t always follow the rules
  • Are a little obsessed with efficiency
  • Are creative
  • Believe in their abilities
  • Believe they make a difference

Adi Englander is a freelance writer and social media expert who writes for Gerris digital, a full-service digital strategy firm in the Washington, DC, area.