Amusing – Social media business strategies blog Tue, 24 Apr 2018 10:34:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Amusing – 32 32 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.

Free ebook: 58 annoying communications that must end Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:50:36 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 58 Annoying Communications That Must End

New communication annoyances that are now part of our lives thanks to social media

Target audience: PR professionals, marketers, content creators, communicators.

58 Annoying Communications That Must EndDavid SparkEvery year I write a post on my blog Spark Minute listing my least favorite communication annoyances. Amazingly, year after year, these articles have consistently been among my most successful articles.

Given their popularity, I decided to take this year’s list of annoyances, and the past three years of annoyances and compile them into an ebook of 58 annoyances you can download for free. Just register below to get your free copy (PDF, Apple iBook, and Kindle versions available).

For this post on, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from writing these articles, and how people have responded to them.

What I’ve learned from four years of being opinionated

Contrary opinions invite debate: If you want lots of comments on your blog, express an opinion contrary to the common belief. For example, I argue that wishing ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook is extraordinarily lazy since that’s all people do. They just type “Happy Birthday,” and nothing else. This controversial opinion has invited a lot of “I agree with a lot of what you have to say, but …” responses.

People love to have their annoyance validated: If you’ve been irritated by something, chances are you’re not alone. The mere act of publishing that annoyance allows you to find others who have experienced the same. They acknowledge it through their comments and sharing on social networks.

Annoying communications just don’t go away: One can’t just write about the irritating ways we communicate with each other and will them to go away. It just doesn’t happen unless you have complete control over the communications, such as Facebook did and the phenomenon of “Like”-gating. In my four years of complaining, it’s the only annoying communication that has truly disappeared. “Like”-gating is the process of putting up a roadblock to a Facebook page’s content that forces the user to “Like” the page if you want to see the page’s content. It’s an “effective” yet brand-damaging social media capturing technique. Luckily, “Like”-gating no longer exists, but there are other brand damaging social media capturing techniques that still exist. In the case of “Like”-gating, a single company, Facebook, was able to end the communication annoyance with a simple change in programming.

Except for “Like”-gating, all other annoyances have stuck around. My complaining may be entertaining, just not influential.

Comments offer fodder for future posts: My lists are far from exhaustive. That’s why I invite others to add their own annoyances. I will often mine comments from previous posts to write my posts for the following year. It’s important to look for those comments everywhere. Many won’t actually be in the comments of the post. In fact, for this year’s article, the overwhelming majority of them were on Facebook (450+ “Likes” on Facebook). Unfortunately, many of those comments were in threads I couldn’t see.

People like to publicly confess: It is inevitable that many of my readers will be guilty of many of these annoyances. Writing something like this can be dangerous as it might actually insult my readers. If it’s something I find annoying yet my reader does on a daily basis, I could get a “how dare he” and “I’m never reading his blog again” response. Surprisingly, the complete opposite happens. People are amused by the list and instead confess that they’re guilty of a few of the items. Some will say they won’t change, but others admit they’ll try harder not to do those things anymore.

Let me know: Am I full of it? Off base? Or do some of these habits annoy the heck out of you too?

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Worst business advice given to women founders Wed, 28 Aug 2013 12:00:58 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Women 2.0 - Business Advice to Ignore

The entrepreneurs of Women 2.0 received & ignored the following advice

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, startups, small business owners, developers, venture capitalists (VCs).

David SparkIn April, I wrote an article 20 Pieces of Business Advice You Should Ignore. It was filled with often hackneyed advice that’s offered with little attention paid to the recipient’s business.

I followed up on this article at last month’s Women 2.0 Founder Friday event at Google’s offices in San Francisco, where I asked attendees about the worst business advice they’ve ever received. Here are their answers.

What we’re really doing during a conference call Fri, 28 Sep 2012 13:01:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Here is some of my coverage of the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco where I was reporting for Dice and Dice News.

David SparkUgh! Not another conference call. Many of us are not so attentive when it comes to our participation or even listening on a conference call. At the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, I wanted to see if people were being star employees or were they complete slackers not even paying attention. And if they weren’t paying attention, what were they really doing?

Want to know what people are really doing on a conference call? Watch this video to find out.

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Embarrassing moments in social media Tue, 25 Sep 2012 15:30:10 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Here is some of my coverage of the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco where I was reporting for Dice and Dice News.

David SparkWhether posting something public what you meant to DM (hello Anthony Weiner) or letting drunken photos of you get posted to Facebook, we’ve all done stupid things in social media. At the 2012 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, I asked the socially savvy attendees, “What’s the most embarrassing thing either you or someone else has done in social media?”

Even though they wanted to block out the past, many were able to come up with some embarrassing tales. Check out our 2-minute roundup.

Don’t roll your eyes at social media influencers Tue, 12 Jun 2012 13:00:28 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Why insincerity doesn’t work in PR, sales, marketing & online media

Chris AbrahamI experience a lot of contempt for bloggers and social media influencers. From agencies and marketing firms as well as from self-professed social media experts and social media gurus. Bloggers and other social media online influencers may not know who Edward Bernays is or have the lingua franca of a trained communications professional, but they sure can spot the eye roll of condescension and contempt from a mile away, even through the terse messaging of a single pitch.

While the biggest brands with the biggest gifts and social cachet can get away with being douche bags and intolerable asses because the level of peer and personal prestige and importance more than compensate for bad manners, rudeness, and a condescending manner — the proverbial upturned nose and eye roll — this sort of behavior isn’t acceptable from anyone but the crown king and queen of their particular demographic.

For example, if you’re offering cars, purses, trips to bloggers to review, you can act as you like; if you’re offering coupons, you had better really try to understand that it is relationships, kindness, attention, and connections that is selling your pitch — and the blogger’s valuable-to-her time — instead of your patently insulting suggestion that “you and your readers would really benefit from this dollar-off coupon.”

If you think that bloggers are actually failed journalists, you may have contempt for your audience; if you consider the time spent to become a blogger would be better spent “working,” you may have contempt for your audience. If you believe that what bloggers do is “just prattle on,” you may have contempt for your audience; and if you actively play favorites and only engage with the crème de la crème of bloggers, you may have contempt for your audience.

Why it’s important to be generous for its own sake

This contempt is made plain by two variations of a quote attributed to Henry Louis Mencken: “No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby” and “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

This blog post came to a head upon reading the time-honored and often-reviled book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People. At first blush, it is a deeply troubling and kiddie-pool-shallow indictment of all that is superficial and manipulative about sales, marketing, PR, and social networking.

If you gird your loins, however, and push through, I kick myself for not having studied it further. I will admit that I always get to where it really sounds like Dale is suggesting that we superior elite who are reading his book need to learn to manifest the same sort of compassion, patience, and calm — grace — that we generally reserve for children and the infirm.

And then I realized that that is indeed what Dale Carnegie is saying! But that we should not just reserve compassion, empathy, gentleness, love, patience, attention, and kindness to just children, we should lavish anyone and everyone in our lives with adoration, no matter if that person is one’s child, one’s wife, one’s business associate, or one’s prospect.

What he seems to be suggesting — and this is really revolutionary to see laid out through endless illustration and scenarios taken from history’s greatest and most successful men and women — is that being nice, generous, and friendly should be something one aspires to generally and not just as a ploy to make friends and influence people.

While this book may well have been popularly reflected as insincere, insincerity is what doesn’t work in PR, sales, marketing, and especially in earned media online with bloggers and other online influencers.

Some good advice that Dale Carnegie offers is “bait your hook for the fish you want to catch rather than for yourself.” (OK, if you’re rolling your eyes now and thinking, “pearls to swine” right now, get out of the business immediately and get into a profession that better tolerates insufferable snobs and douche nozzles.)

I have been saying this forever based on what I read years ago in a very popular book of the day called Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray: “You need to give the gift your partner wants instead of the gift you want to give.” Great advice for us men who are constantly giving vacuum cleaners to our significant others for Valentine’s Day instead of a romantic weekend at a bed and breakfast or whatever may well indicate love and appreciation to her or him.

People will put up with assholes if the reward outweighs the shame

And on the topic of appreciation, Dale Carnegie addresses this, too. And you need to be obsessed with it. Too often in earned media engagement, agencies and firms keep up appearances until a media mention is acquired and then see ya! The fire-and-forget method of acquiring social media mentions works if the brand is high prestige but appreciation goes a long way toward making up for not offering the blogger an Audi A8 to test drive for a month instead of just providing a limited-time-offer coupon for sessions at a regional day spa.

Dale does address this, and I will paraphrase: People will put up with assholes if the reward outweighs the shame. Your boss can be an asshole because he can fire you; the king can be an asshole because he can make you a knight; the judge can be an asshole because he can incarcerate you and instantly turn you into a felon.

The limits to what signifies paid or sponsored media and content

Earned media marketers are pretty vulnerable in this regard! We’re not paying anyone anything. Sometimes we’ll offer a review copy or product, but we’re professionally limited in terms of what signifies paid or sponsored media and content. We have to rely on our wits and of our general, natural, and effortless love, appreciation, and respect for social media, social influence, citizen journalism, and the power of blogging.

And while I think you either have that respect, maybe because you are, yourself, a blogger or social media content producer, I do believe you can fake it ’til you make it. (I have been blogging since 1999 and have been in social media since they were called bulletin board systems and required 1200 baud modems.) But you need to make it, you can’t just grin and bear it because you’re not having fun. If you don’t love love love chatting and interacting with the unwashed masses, the hoi polloi, the vox populi of online influencers — no matter how little influence — then you’re screwed and this whole blogger outreach thing will end up blowing up in your face and you will hurt your reputation, your agency, and the reputation of your client.

Primum non nocere.

Do you have contempt for your audience?

Oh, actually, now that I think about it, if you think fancy bloggers are the unwashed masses, the hoi polloi, the vox populi, you may have contempt for your audience.

And don’t forget, you’re doing noble work. Most bloggers are writing their blogs without any feedback, appreciation, or love. Most bloggers are writing in a vacuum and are generally a couple posts away from hanging it all up, no matter how much work they have already put in. There’s a constant desperation as to why one spends all this time writing, writing, writing into the infinite blogosphere. Getting a pitch from anyone, to say nothing of Kimberly-Clark, Mizuno, US Olympic Committee, or Habitat for Humanity is huge! To be tapped from on-high and asked, authentically, to help and to share, can be the kind of affirmation that fuels that blogger to redouble his or her efforts.

Most bloggers have never been pitched, tapped, or kissed and are pretty lonely

In my experience, most bloggers have never been pitched, tapped, or kissed and are pretty lonely. To read what folks say inside our marketing bubble, bloggers are being pitched to the point of blindness and deafness. Why is this true? Well, because the top-100 blogs are, surely, but that’s 0.000002% of all bloggers. So, that’s like saying that all entertainers are being stalked by paparazzi just because 100 top celebrities are constantly being dogged by TMZ, Us Weekly, OK!, and Star. It’s ludicrous. The top-1,000 influencers of social media, be it blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, MySpace, Instagram, Google+, etc., is no indicator of the norm in social media.

Why do agencies only target the top 25 influencers appropriate to their clients in any particular campaign? Partially because these agents are over-worked and over-committed and there’s generally only enough time and budget to get a short way down their media contact lists. But really it’s because everyone has general contempt for anyone who isn’t already super-hot. While this is a no-brainer for Ford as it chooses folks to give Ford Fiestas to — cars surely get the attention of the hottest online celebs — it is a disastrous strategy for everyone else. Unless you’re Scott Monty, Ford’s awesome social media rock star (he is that good), you’ll generally get shot down if you ask the assumed prom queen — and only her — to the prom. You’ll generally get rejected if you’re not at least valedictorian of your class if you only apply to Yale and only Yale for college.

While Dale does talk a lot about how people aspire to be important — and that is indeed true because when a brand reaches down “from on high” and taps a blogger — especially newbie and baby bloggers — this is more often than not an essential sign of legitimacy and status rather than being a terrible inconvenience or SPAM. If you’re willing to ask someone out to prom who you really like, get on with, have chemistry with, you’re more likely to have an amazing prom with memories to last. And, if your date’s never been kissed before, you’ll forever be his or her first and never forgotten.

Every blogger and tweeter remembers their first time: when they were first contacted by a publicist who asked them for help, be it a good or bad experience. Every blogger with any level of success has loads of “dating” stories they can tell you about their good, bad, and ugly experiences with us PR and marketing executives.

Finally, to close, remember the words of Philo of Alexandria (or Plato) in the words that are chiseled in stone wherever I manage: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Highlights reel: My favorite posts from 2010 Mon, 03 Jan 2011 22:07:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]>


Recapping some big social marketing trends, fun moments & more

David SparkHere they are, my favorite articles, videos, and other random stuff that I produced in 2010.

Also, a huge thanks to all my readers, especially the ones who have engaged with me. This past year was very successful for me and I really do appreciate your support. Thanks again.

OK, here they are, my favorites:


HOW TO: Cultivate your brand’s super users – Five great stories of how brands have done an excellent job cultivating their brand’s super users.

Here’s what’s wrong with social media: Sharing without consumption – This story came as a result of people sharing this video (see “How do you get everyone to watch your video”) at a higher rate than actually viewing it.

The very last episode of Cranky Geeks! – Overwhelming response to the last episode of John Dvorak’s show. Was a lot of fun. I was on the very first and very last episodes.

Successful techniques for building your industry voice with social media – This is a slidecast presentation of my keynote at the PINC Show in San Francisco. All are stories of how people have successfully built their industry voice.

What you can and can’t do (but soon will do) with augmented reality – This is just a great top-down analysis (not my own, I regurgitated) of the state of augmented reality.

How NOT to invite a journalist to a VIP event – Another amazing story of how not to approach a journalist. This was really inappropriate.

It took only four years for Viacom to retract their copyright claim to my YouTube video – The conclusion of a passive four-year struggle to get a video I produced about “The Daily Show” put back on YouTube.

Debate and opinion

Why are you developing a mobile app? – Every company seems to be on a “we need a mobile app” frenzy. But do you really need one? Is it right for your business? Maybe you just need to optimize your site for mobile.

I could just unsubscribe from your mailing list, but I’d rather be a jackass – I was kind of surprised by the reaction to this. I kind of became the poster child for everything people hate about mailing lists.

Is complaining publicly the best way to get customer service? – I have sadly seen this is the best way to handle a bad customer service experience.

One quarter of all people who friend me on Facebook don’t respond to personal messages – This I think is my continuously most popular article. It’s amazing how people simply don’t respond to personal messages when they want to friend me.

When is the right time to gatekeep content to generate leads? – I’m not a big fan of gatekeeping content, but there are some times to do it, and I’ve started to do it myself.

Is it still pompous to announce, “I don’t have a TV?” – I argue that it’s turned the corner from “pompous” to “cool.”

No more “What are we going to do in social media?” meetings – Stunningly popular article. I really hit a chord with people who are really sick of these meetings. I suggest an alternative – blog.

Outdoor: The only ad platform that survives social media – While there’s so much discussion of how advertising doesn’t have the same impact thanks to social media, outdoor ads don’t seem to be affected.

How to’s and advice

Best practices for crisis communications over social media – You must have a disaster plan in place before the sh*t hits the fan.

Word of Mouth: How do you get others talking about your company? – Video from an event I produced where a bunch of experts answered this question.

How to make sure journalists get your story correct – Journalists are not infallible, and some of them don’t do their job well. Here’s how to get the best possible result no matter what the situation.

How to increase the value of your content without ever changing the content – There are so many different factors that change the value of content.

Blogging advice for people who “Have no time to blog” – Most common complaint I hear. I offer advice on how to change your existing communications to blogging.

Personal productivity tips I actually use every day – It’s what I do to be more productive. What do you do?

End of the resume, rise of the super user – This is a slidecast presentation I did for Dice about the need to become a super user in order to get your dream job.

Funny videos

Tales of presentations gone horribly wrong – Video of presenters telling horror stories.

Ever witness a communications faux pas in the workplace? – Mostly email mistakes.

What’s your guilty pleasure app? – We all have them. I got people to fess up.

What do you wish you knew about mobile app development? – Funny responses from people at an AppNation party. Many of them were conflicting.

What makes you a true geek? – Made me proud to be a geek.


The cool and not-so-cool from Gnomedex – Great conference, and unfortunately the last one. Here was my wrap-up.

My ten favorite videos from SXSW 2010 – My first time there, and I shot a ton of videos. Got a lot of great people on camera.

Cool and not-so-cool from “Teens in Tech” conference – I learned more from teenagers there than I have at most conferences.

Video demo of the Enigma machine – At the RSA conference I got a demo of the Enigma machine and here’s a video of me showing how it works.

Have your own favorite moments or posts? Share in the comments!

Creative Commons photo credits to sskennel, Express Monorail, speedye, Toby Bradbury, BG Lewandowski’s “It’s a Scary World Out There”

How do you get everyone to watch your video? Fri, 12 Nov 2010 17:15:02 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Advice that’s good, bad and one suggestion that’s almost impossible to achieve

David SparkI’m at Streaming Media West this week in Los Angeles covering the event for Ignite Technologies, a content delivery network for distribution of video within the enterprise. For more of Ignite’s coverage from Streaming Media West, check out Ignite’s blog.

While taking a boat cruise during the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, I asked the invited guests what they would do if they really wanted everyone to watch their video. Some of them had good advice and some had advice that would be rather difficult to achieve. Watch.

Thanks to Microsoft and Kaltura for hosting the cruise.

UPDATE (11/15/10)
: Results from this post. Read article “Here’s what’s wrong with social media: Sharing without consumption.”

How has social networking saved your ass? Fri, 08 Oct 2010 15:15:20 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

True tales of social media saving the day

David SparkHere’s a compilation I shot last week at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference while reporting for Yammer.

At TechCrunch Disrupt I asked attendees, presenters, and exhibitors how social networking has saved their ass. We’ve all had stories of the community providing information we needed in a moment of crisis. Here are some great stories. Watch until the end for a story of social media literally saving someone’s ass.

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What’s your guilty pleasure app? Mon, 20 Sep 2010 15:59:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

Is it Angry Birds, Air Hockey, or an Air Horn?

David SparkI know you like to think that you’re highly productive with your mobile device, but in reality you probably spend more time playing Angry Birds than any other application. At the APPNATION Conference in San Francisco, shooting interviews for Dice, I asked the attendees to reveal their “guilty pleasure app.” Do you know all these apps? Have you played with any of them?

Got a guilty pleasure app of your own? Reveal what it is and why on the Dice Facebook page and you could win a Samsung Galaxy S mobile phone.

To enter the contest go to and click on the “Contest” tab. Hurry, deadline is September 30th, 2010.