All posts by Joe Merkel

Spreeder: My New Favorite Thing Ever

Well, that’s probably a slight exaggeration. But if you’re like me, and suck at reading and retaining information, you’ll more than likely benefit from what I’m about to share.

It’s called Spreeder.

Their whole mission is to help people eliminate the “need” for subvocalization– the little voice in your head when you read.

Simply input your text, click “SPREED!”, adjust your settings, and click the play button.

They say the average reader can read/retain about 200 words per minute. For me, that’s likely around 150. But with Spreeder, I can easily retain 450 words per minute much better than I could have prior to my discovery.

They have a free and paid version. As frugal ol’ Joe, I’m just working with the free version for the time being. And it still works wonders.

Check it out!

Wanna Be An Annoying Sleazy Marketer? Here’s How!

First off, let me start by saying this is just my own opinion. And since nobody cares about opinions, what better place to express mine than my own blog that such few people read anyway? Despite that, however, I think most people will agree with me here.  On the other hand, if you practice any of these marketing tactics, don’t immediately assume I’m bashing you. As with anything in this grand adventure known as life, there are exceptions to these. With that said, let’s dive right in.

1. Force conversions down people’s throats.

I find this to be most prevalent with online IQ tests. As someone who’s constantly questioning his intelligence (and who has a relatively low budget), I semi-frequently find myself searching online for free IQ tests. Oh, by the way, don’t try it! They’re all lies! My scores have ranged from 108 to 140 on the ones that actually give free results. 

But that’s just it. 97% percent of these so-called “free IQ tests” will NOT give you free results. Sure, they’ll let you take the IQ test– all 200 sections of it; but when you finally reach the end, BOOM! “See your results! Enter your card information below!”

This is pretty much what they do.
This is pretty much what they do.

Are you serious!? I just spent ninety minutes on this test, and you’re going to tell me I have to pay for my results!? Gee, I wish I would’ve known that before I wasted the last HOUR AND A HALF OF MY DAY!!! But I can’t be too mad; perhaps my IQ really isn’t all that high. After all, I was dumb enough to fall for this BS (more than once, I’m embarrassed to admit).

2. Use ads that take up the entire screen.

Seriously! Do it! Because that won’t put a bad taste for whatever you’re selling in anyone’s mouth! *Hack* *Cough* *Wheeze*. Sorry, I’m choking on my own sarcasm.

Remember the late 90′s/early 00′s? Remember what every internet user back then seemed to endlessly complain about? If not, let me refresh your memory:

It's no coincidence that "Annoying" is a related category when you search for pop up ads on Google.
“Annoying” is a related category when you search for pop up ads on Google. I rest my case.

The screen-hogging abominations I’m referring to are essentially the same exact thing.  I can’t think of a single time where these kinds of ads have gotten me, or anyone I know, to convert. So, advertisers, just… don’t.

3. Spam the masses with geo-targeted, template-based ads.

I’m kind of a meme nerd. As such, one of my go-to websites to get my meme fix is trolino.com. But as much as I love their memes, I equally hate their ads. One reason for this is because of the blatant click bait-esque, spammy load of bogus ads they host– ads that say something like “This new law in Beaverton has lawyers in an uproar!”

Of course, it only says this when you’re in Beaverton. But travel south 1,000+ miles and suddenly that same law goes into effect in San Diego too! Wow! What a coincidence!

Unfortunately, I can’t find images of the specific ads I’m referring to but luckily their campaigns seem to have ended. However, they were replaced by something arguably worse, which leads to my next tip on annoying marketing.

4. Gross your audience out!

You see this? Here’s another one from trolino.

Maybe it's time find a different meme site...
Maybe it’s time to find a different meme site…

Do you know what this is? I sure as hell don’t, but it disgusts me. I never want to see it again. I might just be weird on this one but *barf*. NEXT!

5. Require a credit/debit card BEFORE the “free trial”.

This one is about as sleazy as it gets and don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise. 100% of the time (real statistic), companies that do this are relying on the forgetfulness of those who sign up in order to profit (*cough* Netflix *cough*). Somewhere in the fine print of their T&C, there is ALWAYS something guaranteeing the potential customer-to-be will be charged if they don’t cancel by the end of the trial period (*cough* Amazon Prime *cough*). Hell, half the time when they cancel during the trial, they’ll still get charged and presented with a giant fiasco just to get their money back! Automatic credit card charges are Lucifer’s greatest form of entertainment.

Buffer – IFTTT

So this is a thing. Their whole tagline/catchphrase/whatchamacallit is to “save an hour on social media every day.” And I can definitely see how this could help with that. It’s really easy to set up but you know what’s great? Pictures!

1. Visit the hyperlink above and click “Schedule your first post” at the top

Buffer1

 

2. Click “Start Scheduling Posts on Social Media”.

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3. Click one the the social media options that pop up, sign in and all that jazz.

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4. From there, you can link it to your other accounts. I’d already set mine up prior to this post, so you’ll see a slightly different screen, but I assure you it’s simple.

Buffer4

5. Make sure you got the right style of time and time zone correct then click “Looks Good! Continue to Next Step”.

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6. Customize when, and how often, you want to post for each account.

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7. Oh yeah, you can track your clicks too.

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8. Boom! You’re ready! Click “Go to my Dashboard”.

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9. Well, well, well… if it isn’t my dashboard…

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And there you have it. It’s pretty dang automatic. There’s more you can do with it, but I just started playing with it today and have yet to discover said things.

The Real Life Social Network Slideshow

First slide in presentation

Check this out. I like this guy. He brings up super basic concepts that we don’t ever really think about; like how we have multiple groups of friends/peers but online its all just one big slop of ‘em mixed together. Very true. Interesting, too, that one of the studies showed only 12% of the groups people came up with contained the word “friends”. Mad true. There are 25+ people I kick it with somewhat regularly. We have great times; I appreciate their company. But yet I’d say I only have 4-5 friends, if that. Also, I dig how simply he puts things into perspective. The illustrations help, too. On the other hand, his gramer iz awefull :) so the lack of punctuation had me rereading a lot of parts. But that’s not what’s important, in this case.

Twitter Sucks At Generating Referral Traffic

If your goal is to guide users to your content, and you’re using Twitter as a primary means to do so, you are throwing time and effort in the trash… I know- sad but true. There are, theoretically, endless examples to back up such a bold statement, but for now we’ll stick to one that most everyone who doesn’t live under a rock could grasp with ease.

Once upon a time, little Miss Miley Cyrus read an article published by LA Weekly about herself. Evidently, she liked it enough that she decided to share it with her followers on Twitter. Accompanied with this tweet was a message to the effect of “You need to read this”. You know how her fans are die-hard, arguably to the point of insanity? Well if you were to personify Twitter and say so to him/her, they would disagree.

At the time of said Tweet, Ms. Cyrus had well over 2 million followers on Twitter. However, of this gigantic pool of followers, only about 2,000 actually bothered to read the article. It’s not that her fans aren’t loyal, but rather that Twitter just isn’t as good at driving traffic as other social media channels (and even some non-social media websites).

Although there are some stories/users that manage to break this rule of thumb every now and then, generally speaking, it holds true.

This doesn’t mean that, as a business or organization, Twitter is useless. After all, it’s one of the best, if not the single best means to keep your fans up to date on the here-and-now of what’s going on in your neck of the woods, to put it loosely.

That’s simply just how Twitter is, was meant to be, and always will be. To compare, on Facebook when you have a “friend” (in quotations for a reason. Seriously. How many of the people on your friends list do you actually hang out with?) who posts all day, every day; too many times a day- a “wow, why am I only seeing one person in my newsfeed” amount of times per day, odds are you will unfollow their posts because it’s annoying. But on Twitter, users are expected to post like crazy. That’s because the popularity of a tweet dies rapidly whereas on Facebook, posts are meant to linger around for the day and sometimes even the next few days.

If you want to read more, check out this article which inspired this blog post.

Google Tag Manager Fundamentals Certification

Look what I got!

You jelly? Lolz jk jk
You jelly? Lolz jk jk

I was entirely ignorant to the world of Tag Manager. However, now, I am only very ignorant to the world of Tag Manager. This is my certification for completing the “Google Tag Manager Fundamentals” online academy. It’s a decent course for beginners but could definitely use improvement, in my opinion. Good thing they have a feedback section at the end. Try it out by clicking the hyperlink above. With combined feedback, Google will improve their course and slowly create a world of GTM-expert minions! Muahahahaha!! Sorry. I got carried away.

‘Til next time…

The Value Of Communication

Whether you’re smart, dumb, shy, timid, etc. you’re all capable of communicating. Maybe it’s uncomfortable, but you’re capable nonetheless. Even if you’re quadriplegic, there’s voice-to-text programs that enable you to send an email.

or you could be a boss like Stephen Hawking and learn Morse Code
You could even be a boss like Stephen Hawking and learn Morse Code…

So, yeah; we can all communicate via various mediums fairly simply. Yet so many people (myself included- I ain’t a saint!) get hung up here. My boss always says, “better to reply with ‘I don’t know’ than to not reply at all.” Most employers value consistent communication more than you would think, and having that skill is rather beneficial.

Once you master the skill of consistent communication, you can easily build on it. In this article,  Auren Hoffman highlights two stupidly simple, yet underrated skills that employers love to see: reliability and self-management. The tips he provides (especially regarding reliability) can be implemented by virtually anybody. But sadly, they seldom are.

On a completely unrelated note that you don’t care about whatsoever, this article taught me a new word: “corollary”. I’m gonna use that in a rap some time…

How do you get people to care about your mission?

Tron Jordheim Presenting

Tron Jordheim has a lot of good tips on this. Many of the points he brings up in this presentation seem obvious,  but the way he breaks them down can help anyone trying to answer this question.

As a musician, I know how difficult it can be to get people to care about what I’m doing. However, with music, it’s difficult to get people on board.

But we’re not talking about music. Don’t get me wrong; music is definitely a business, but most musicians just do it for fun.

Anyway! Getting side-tracked! Moving on!

To get people on board with what you’re doing, you have to turn your goals into a story (I’m seeing a common theme here). Some of the best tips he brings up include: making people see themselves as a character in your story, having a good slogan/tag line, and having a “phrase that pays”. Of course, it goes deeper than this, but I have to be careful not to completely regurgitate his presentation. You’ll just have to watch it. If you’re getting started in the business world, or just need some pointers, I promise it’s worth the watch. Click here to check it out. You won’t regret it!

Also, on a completely unrelated note, I’d never heard this quote before watching the video, but it’s awesome: “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits”

The Basics Of Facebook Advertising And Some Helpful Tips

Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re at least semi-aware that there are two major sides of Facebook: the consumer side and the business side. Maybe you’re already involved in the business side and seek new strategies; or maybe you’re just beginning to delve into the world of Facebook ads and want some tips. Either way, if you seek assistance, you’ve come to the right place.

Dennis Yu touches on many different basic topics and provides some strategy in this video.  He breaks everything down in such a manner that simplifies it to a degree that most people, even with no experience in this realm, could understand. Some topics he goes over include the concept of look-alike audiences, how Facebook continues to make the advertising process easier, and how for one dollar a day, you could create an effective ad campaign (which I’ve already wrote a blog post about that can be found here). He also explains a method of organization  know as “The 9 Triangles“.

Illuminati???
Illuminati???

One important thing that I didn’t even know existed until watching the video is facebook.com/blueprint which is Facebook’s own way of teaching you the skills/tools necessary to advertise through their medium.

And on a completely unrelated note, I like this quote Dennis says in the video: “The simplest questions are the hardest ones to answer.” I don’t know. It’s just crazy true. I like it.