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Last week, The New York Times published an article about the “bruising workplace” at Amazon. I didn’t think much of it because it seemed to only show part of the picture. It’s not hard to find a collection of people with alleged horror stories about a big company. You can find a bunch of people I’ve banned from my communities or kicked off of my staff that will regale you with tales of what a terrible human being I am.

I would be open to applying for a job at Amazon. I eyed this one, but I am not a “game industry veteran,” despite my passion for gaming. I’m a big Amazon fan, as I’ve made abundantly clear. I’m a long-term shareholder. Disclosures aside, I have been critical of them before. But for those reasons, I enjoyed reading the rebuttal written by Nick Ciubotariu, an Amazon employee. I even shared it on my social media profiles.

However, there is at least one thing he got wrong, in my opinion, and it is this quote, which was included as an update to his post:

“I tried to post it in the comments section of the New York Times article. I’m sad, but not surprised, to say it was moderated out.” (The emphasis was Ciubotariu’s, not mine).

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Fifty Shades of GreyOn Monday, Fifty Shades of Grey author E L James participated in a Twitter chat, hosted by @TwitterBooks, using the hashtag #AskELJames.

“It went horribly, horribly wrong,” writes BuzzFeed. USA TODAY says it was “catastrophic.” The Yahoo! News headline reads: “Twitter users eviscerate … James in Q&A.” That’s only the tip of the iceberg for media coverage. There is even a local news story about a Twitter user who received a lot of retweets.

What does this say about how we measure the success of a Twitter chat? And who should hold one? Should a celebrity or major brand ever create or endorse a hashtag? After all, hashtags can be used by anyone. Even if you host a Twitter chat without a hashtag, people can just use Twitter search and/or create a hashtag of their own, which others may adopt. Less likely, but possible. Then what?

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A lot of people complain about negative reviews, but don’t take the time to actively refer happy customers to review sites. It’s not really that hard. It just takes an active effort. You can always encourage people to post reviews on certain outlets through signage or your receipts. But I’d go beyond that.

When someone tells you that they’ve had a wonderful experience with your business or product, that is an opportunity to invite them to post a review on a particular service (whatever service is most important at that moment). This only comes after you have listened to them, answered any questions and sincerely thanked them. However, it can manifest itself in different ways.

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Plenty of celebrities use social media well, whether on their own or with some assistance. But one person who has stood out to me recently is Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s become one of my favorite examples.

Currently, Schwarzenegger is primarily active on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, reddit and Snapchat, where he goes by ArnoldSchnitzel (no joke).

When I look at his profiles, I see promotion, certainly, but I also see a great authenticity that comes through by sharing his unique personality and what he cares about. He’s very accepting of the cultural influence he has had and embraces the moments from his career that are memorable for fans. If you watch enough of his videos, you might just see him throw in an “hasta la vista” or a “get to the chopper.”

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Homesteading TodayHomesteading Today is a very large online community dedicated to the practice of homesteading. The forum was acquired by Carbon Media Group (CMG) in July of 2014, as part of a large package of sites they bought from Group Builder.

Beginning late last year (according to this apology), the company started taking posts from certain sections of Homesteading Today and republishing them on other forums owned by CMG. The practice went unnoticed until a few days ago, when a member found that posts they had made on Homesteading Today were showing up on Cattle Forum, another CMG community.

The member, willow_girl, posted a thread talking about how she discovered that posts she made on Homesteading Today were showing up at Cattle Forum under the name “Alice.” She hadn’t made them and had no idea who Alice was. One of the posts shared a pretty personal story about saving a cow, which this Alice was now taking credit for.

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Jay Baer recently wrote about the importance of owning your “social community.” The idea of building community in spaces that you control is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and it’s good that someone like Jay is talking about it. That will help the message reach more big brands.

His article led to a discussion on Google+, where someone pointed to some examples provided by Jay – like The Home Depot Community – and questioned if they represented real “engagement.” They mentioned that there were discussions with a handful of replies and “no likes.” There were plenty of views of the discussions, but not a lot of replies. So where is the engagement, they wondered?

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Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: peasap (CC BY 2.0)

I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial from Nationwide. The commercial, embedded below, revolves around a handful of little kids who are on the receiving end of some unsatisfactory customer service.

There is a boy on the phone, and he’s told by an automated greeting that his call is important, but his wait time is 55 minutes. This is followed by a girl attempting to get the attention of a server at a restaurant – the server walks right by her. You get the idea.

In the final example, a girl is frustrated and looking at her damaged car. Then a Nationwide representative appears and tells her that they’ll take care of the problem. Instantly, she turns into an adult woman. In other words, Nationwide is treating her as an adult, not a child.

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Duolingo

After his great guest post about companies engaging on reddit, Dave DiGiovanni of MarketersGuidetoReddit.com is back again with a great example of a company that has created their own subreddit as a means of building community on the platform.

Duolingo is a fun, addictive and free way to learn a new language. The Duolingo Incubator is a community that was created to give users a process for generating new Duolingo courses. The Duolingo Incubator community is a great example of what is possible when a company embraces community. You can learn more about how that community was created and developed in this post on CMX Hub.

The Duolingo Incubator allows Duolingo to release new language courses at a much faster rate and is critical to their success, but it is not the only way they leverage the power of community. They have also created r/Duolingo, a subreddit on reddit that serves as a community for reddit users that are fans of Duolingo. The subreddit has almost 23,000 subscribers and multiple active discussions every day.

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Every so often, a message will cross my stream where someone is complaining that Twitter doesn’t work for them, they aren’t getting much out of Twitter, or they are simply done with it. That’s cool, everyone is different.

But I’m actually enjoying Twitter more now than I did a year ago. I have used Twitter to improve myself and to strengthen my connection with the people I care about most on the service. I wanted to talk about how that applies to my work in community.

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Bad reviews represent opportunity. On Tuesday, I received an email that illustrated this clearly.

The message was from someone that bought my book. But they almost didn’t. They said that they were going to buy my book, until they saw this review on Amazon. After they read that it was “outdated,” they decided not to buy the book.

Until they saw my reply to the review. Because of my reply, they went ahead and bought it, telling me that it looks great.

The review was written more than a year ago. Just like my reply. But reviews can live forever. I’ve heard plenty of people say that you should not respond to reviews of your book posted by Amazon. But if you know how to respond calmly and kindly, I think that’s bad advice.

It would have been easy to ignore that review. It has 0 helpful votes. This might lead you to think it’s not an influential review. But that’s the trap people fall into. If I had simply dismissed that review and decided not to reply, this person would have never picked up my book. They wouldn’t have emailed me, and I never would have known.