Yelp Is Not More Useful Than The Michelin Guide

I listen to Marketplace Tech every morning, which airs on the local NPR affiliate. Molly Wood sometimes does it, and if you're a nerd and you used to listen to the Buzz Out Loud, you're a fan of Molly Wood. She knows her shit.

One of the other hosts was on today, I know it's Molly because of the voice, the other ones sometimes blur together to me, and closes the show with a segment on how Yelp is more useful than the Michelin Guide.

This ... is pretty fucking scary. Not only because it's not true, but Yelp! is a bad company that you should not support. The fact that their extortion practices are considered legal does not make those practices right. 

The argument put forth by the Marketplace Tech edition (which you can listen to here) is that Yelp! is more accurate because it's a "person" leaving the review, and the Michelin Guide review is short and kind of vague.

I can't speak to the Michelin Guide's reviews, but the fact that it's existed for as long as it has, is still used today, and any allegations against it have been very country specific and minimal, I'm willing to bet it's easily more reliable than Yelp!.


Because there's an assumption being made that what you're reading on Yelp is real, and it's probably not. And when it is, the content created follows the law of participation inequality. (This is talked about further in "Social Media Is Bullshit", by the way.)

1. A "Person" left that review: Despite their best efforts, there is no way to purge Yelp from fake reviews. It's a big business, it's very easy to leave a fake review, and when it's done correctly, you won't even know it's fake. More often than not when you hear about fake reviews, you hear about people doing it poorly and outsourcing the job to someone in India. Or a store owner making a fake profile and leaving reviews on Yelp.

FYI: You also do not always see good reviews of a location because Yelp intentionally hides some of them in an effort to extort the business into advertising with them in an effort to have those good reviews restored to their page. 

So, assuming a "person" did leave a review, it's entirely possible (and I'd say more likely than we'd think) that you're not seeing everything that's been posted.

2. Participating Inequality: In short, 10% (or less) of people who use a platform do the majority of the posting. This is a known phenomenon that's been found on every platform going back to the '90s. Now when you factor in that people tend to share bad information more readily than good information, or even neutral information, it's more likely that what you'll see online is bad, even though that might not accurately reflect the actual customer experience for most people.

Long story short: If you had to choose between the Michelin Guide and Yelp, Yelp isn't what you should go with.

Only 20% Of Americans Have Netflix, So Calm The Fuck Down

I love Netflix. For one reason, they brought back Longmire. For another, when you're a writer, you lead a mostly lonely existence. So being able to eat dinner while watching every episode ever of House (for example) is a pretty handy thing.

But thanks to Netflix (and other streaming services like WWE Network, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the rest), we have this weird perception of "How America Watches TV Now".

Except ... That perception isn't really grounded in reality for 80% (!!!) of Americans. (The population count as of this morning at was 321 million Americans, rounded down.)

Netflix has 65 million subscribers. Ok. They CLAIM to have 65 million subscribers. If you know anything about tech companies, which you would include Netflix among, then you know their numbers are usually bullshit in some way. They're massaged, rounded up, you get the idea.

Let's say for sake of argument though that Netflix really has 65 million subscribers. Ok. Sure

That's still only 20% of the country. Nothing to sneeze at. I'm not dismissing them at all. Like I said, I use the platform too.

But ... That's not the majority. That's not even close to half of all Americans.

So can you really say "This is how we watch TV now"? 

No. You can't.

The Future? Maybe Not

For one thing, sooner or later Netflix is going to reach a saturation point among customers willing to pay for the service. 

If anything, you may see people drop it more than subscribe to it. For example, if the economy continues to struggle, people are going to cut back, and you better believe something like Netflix is at the top of that list of things to cut back on because it's a luxury item.

Believe it or not, you CAN live without Netflix.

(Ok. Maybe YOU can. I can't. What would I do when I'm eating dinner?)

For another, you KNOW the day is coming where all the media types (bloggers, journalists, ect.) turn on Netflix and their programming. 

Few things in life are inevitable, but should you or your company's name ever be able to generate page views, the media building you up and then turning on you is as inevitable as death.

But let's leave those points aside and talk about the future for a second.

It's entirely possible Netflix continues to grow subscribers. That would be great. You know why? It means more content. (Although the downside would be that also means more SILOED content. In other words, stuff you can only watch on Netflix as opposed to on the other services you might also be paying for. Content Silos are an issue nobody talks about because we're too busy praising and fawning over these services and our alleged future.)

It's also possible that Netflix is now as big as it's going to get. Then what? If only 20% of Americans are using it, then it is NOT at all the future of television, despite the hype and despite the press and think pieces that say it is. What are the ramifications of that? (A lot, is the short answer.)

It's also possible that the economy craters (I think it's coming, personally, which is also part of the reason I went back to grad school.) Then Netflix loses subscribers. As do the other pay services.

What's the future look like then? I bet it looks a lot different than this "Wow, look at the future of television" pieces we keep seeing.

I don't know what the future holds. None of us do.

Someone I loved and appreciated, and who I also thought would be around for another solid thirty years or so, passed away recently. What I thought the future looked like is now completely different, because I assumed she'd be around for me to talk to. But she's not.

So what I'm saying to you is pretty simple: Is Netflix the future of television? Maybe. Maybe not. But there's just as much evidence and trends to suggest that it's not than to suggest that it is. You just don't hear about the other stuff because positivity sells, even if it's not grounded in reality.

These Numbers Are Bullshit, But Let's Use Them In Our Reporting Anyway!

I was just talking about this with someone earlier, but for real, you should never believe Snapchat numbers.

Especially when they come from unnamed "sources"

(Pro Tip: Those "Sources" have something to gain by people beliving those numbers are legit, whether it's MTV who gave Snapchat a bunch of money, the agency who suggested MTV give Snapchat a bunch of money, or Snapchat itself for trying, desperately, to seem relevant in light of the battle for video attention going on between YouTube and Facebook.)

Not that you should trust most people covering tech anyway. Especially when they want to compare YouTube views and TV ratings as if they're metrics equal in value with each other. (Nope! Nope! Nope!)

YouTube Views: Easily gamed, and although YouTube / Google is making efforts to bring transparency to how those views are calculated, it's often a crapshoot at best. 

TV (Nielsen) Ratings: Notoriously unreliable and a metric the industry HATES but is stuck with because of a lack of a better alternative. (At least, alternatives that don't invade your privacy anyway.)

And yes, while Nielsen Ratings can be gamed (I have no doubt of this), I suspect it isn't as easy to game as YouTube views, where just a few moments of googling, or the right person, can tell you exactly what you need to do to get great results on YouTube. 

(P.S. Remember: Most videos on YouTube go unnoticed and 80% of viewers are based outside the United States. So ... again, American TV ratings vs. YouTube views? Yeah, no, that's beyond dumb. That's irresponsible journalism. But what are you going to do? Tech journalists have been in the bag for tech companies since the late '90s.

The only thing YOU can do is be aware of this, and realize just how sketchy (most, not all) tech journalists are.)

Social Media Is Bullshit: Four Years Later

Jesus, can you believe it? It's been four years as of today that Social Media Is Bullshit has been out in the world and translated into a bunch of different languages.

I get asked a lot about the sequel. If you'll remember, there wasn't supposed to be a sequel. The book definitely ends in a place where I could have just started writing fiction (always the plan) and call it a day. But no matter where I went in the world, everyone kept asking when there'd be another one.

(And if you also remember, I know how long I've been divorced because the divorce was official the same week the book came out. Kind of an awkward day for me, you know? Hooray, book! Aww, sad, divorce!)

I honestly don't know what to say about the book at this point that hasn't been said. A lot of people liked it. It didn't totally set the world on fire with sales but it did "Good enough" for a first book from an author nobody had heard of that didn't get a lot of national media attention because those outlets didn't want to upset the tech companies. 

(Not true elsewhere in the world. Canadians fucking loved this book, which is awesome. Especially now because, as I write this, I'm within two-hours to Toronto and less than a half hour to the border here in Buffalo.)

I noticed over the years that a lot of the social media marketers, instead of acknowledging the book, decided to start aping a lot of my talking points. This, by the way, is totally fine. I am NOT the dude to walk around and think attention must be paid to the things I say or do. If anything, I was happy to see this happen, because at the very least it meant the book was successful in its mission to right some of the wrongs of the world.

But then ... I discovered something else. I got deep into the world of startups and ... Ok. I can't tell you much beyond the fact that I DID write another book, and it will be in stores, but ... under someone else's name. Don't worry. It's still awesome, and my name may or may not appear on the cover. (Think: Bill O'Reilly books where it has the authors name and then the ghost writer / researcher in tiny letters under it.)

You will be able to purchase that book in stores. 

What have I been doing? Grad school. The funny thing is that when the book came out, four years ago, I was in grad school too, but I spent more time doing book signings and interviews then I did actually taking classes, so it didn't work out.

This time, at a much much better school, classes are the priority, and I am working everything else in around that. So far so good. Still writing. Working on that fiction novel. And in June, you'll be able to purchase How To Be (Internet) Famous. It'll be a SHORT e-book I'm self-publishing that's meant to tie up any loose ends from Social Media Is Bullshit.

There are a few, but not many. Unfortunately, those few were large enough holes that an e-book was warranted to fill them. Most notably, "Ok smartass. I get that this is mostly bullshit. Now what do I do?"

Oh, I also died somewhere in there, but if you're reading this, you already know that story. Don't worry. It was temporary. And no, there was no bright light, but to be fair, I also don't remember anything from a full 24 hours during that time, so who knows what I saw, if anything.

Here's one lesson I wanted to share though, in closing:

It is VERY easy to get frustrated or disillusioned when you see the reality of what I'm selling. That the game IS rigged against you, and that the odds of success are so low, it seems almost pointless to do anything.

But don't forget: I grew up as a poor-ish Jew from a working class family with no connections to anything or anyone. I went to a state school (two of them), pissed off pretty much everyone because prior to my heart-surgery I was an angsty little fuck, and got married just as a global economic meltdown occurred. 

The fact that "Social Media Is Bullshit" exists, was published by a major publisher, and that I did over two-hundred interviews (and counting), got to travel around the world and live out of awesome hotel rooms for three years, that just should not have happened.

Is there shit I regret? Absolutely. But if I could do all that, and by the way, I have no formal training as a writer or when it comes to marketing. My undergrad was in political science. I just happened to run a business since I was 18 and taught myself everything, then there's absolutely no reason why it can't happen for someone else.

If you look at some of the other dudes peddling online marketing advice, what do you see? A Stanford graduate who sold his business to Yahoo! before the dot com bubble popped. An alleged self-made millionaire who actually came from a really wealthy family. A guy who claims to have been involved with the marketing at Apple but it was during a time when Apple sucked and nobody from that era can really identify what he did, if anything. 

Then there's me.

By all rights, I should not exist. But yet I do. Thanks to you. But don't forget: A lot of people will tell you, "Well if I can do it, you can do it" and of course those people did it with a deck full of aces. But if I can do it, and I didn't even have the full 52 cards to play with, then I really do believe you at least have a great shot at doing it too.

The Internet Is Magic

I'm currently judging multibillion dollar corporations on their marketing campaigns, in an official capacity for an organization mind you, from the comfort of an on-campus apartment at the University at Buffalo.

This ... is a little weird.

Ok. It's not. Truthfully, the place I'm in is literally as far as you can possibly get from anything while still being "on campus". So despite the fact that I can see a giant University at Buffalo sign not too far from my apartment, I don't feel like I'm at a college, and that's pretty great.

Where was I. Oh, right, the judging. So listen, it's 2015. Right? I didn't somehow forget where I was or when I was just now did I? Western New York has always had that affect on me, going back to my time at Alfred State.

Believe it or not, marijuana was not involved.

Anyway, it's 2015. If you're a big, multibillion dollar company (I won't name names because that's against the rules of the thing I'm judging for), and AT YOUR BEST, you can only claim like a 20% success rate. Maybe, just maybe, you should reconsider doing the whole "social media" thing.

Now if you're reading this, you know, and I know you know, that it's all bullshit. ("It" being social media marketing campaigns, and really most online marketing campaigns, in the way we conceive them to operate). But you and I? We've known that this is bullshit going back to 2012. Or 2009, if you want to count when I started researching the book, and not it's date of publication, quickly approaching its four year anniversary on September 4th.

(Also four years since I've been divorced. What a weird way to mark your time on this Earth.)

So since 2009, billions of dollars (no joke, no exaggeration) has been wasted on this stuff. And here we are going into 2016, and a lot of these HUGE companies whose products you often have no choice but to consume, are just flushing money down the drain despite years of data and hard evidence saying it's dumb of them to do so.

What do you chalk that up to? Well, greed. Ignorance. Sure. Both true. But I think it's something else too.

The Power Of Belief

People are fucking dangerous. A person is smart, kind, compassionate, rationale. Someone you want to spend your time with. A person can be reasoned with. Or at least talked down from a cliff, most of the time, with just the right amount of love.

People, as a group? Forget it. They're crazy. Dangerous. Ignorant. And you can make all the excuses in the world, but if a group of people choose to believe something. Right or wrong. Good or bad. Look out.

And that's really what we have here. Sure there's greed involved. The marketing industry is a cash cow for those who are good at manipulating others into believing their bullshit. And sure, ignorance is involved because people (especially when it comes to how things spread across the Internet) really don't know or bother to learn about why it happens. Preferring instead to just throw money at people like me and then go, "You do it". 

Hey, not that I'm complaining. How do you think I'm paying for grad school?

But I really think what drives all this is that fundamental belief on the part of A LOT of people, that the Internet is magic, and therefore, only certain people know how this all works and nobody else. 

Put another way: How many people actually know how their phone works. I don't mean turning it on and using apps. I mean like how the guts of the thing work. How it interacts with the cell towers out there or how its chips work. What the screen is made out of. That sort of thing.

Not many, right? Because we don't bother to learn because we think it's magic. "Oh shit! An iPhone!"

But it's not. Except that we don't believe otherwise. We believe this stuff is magic and as long as a lot of people believe that, there's money to be made, and large companies (and maybe even yourself) are going to blow huge sums of money on this.

Despite the fact that it wasn't worth it, wasn't cool, didn't really get much attention or generate results. It's just a thing you did that you'll forget about tomorrow, and that's a real shame.

Life is short. Forget the business end of it for a second. Instead consider this: Why bother doing anything expensive and costly that other people won't remember? 

E! Vs. The "Internet Famous" (And Why E! Had It Right)

I don't like doing the "Copy dumb comment, make smart retort" thing a lot of writers do these days, but ... yeah. Totally going to do some of that here with this Washington Post piece.

Not that the writer in question is dumb, but there are some really dubious statements made throughout the piece, by multiple parties, and I just can't let this stuff slide.

It's a gift ... and a curse. (If you get that reference, I want to be your best friend.)

Crazy Pants People Say Crazy Things In Move That Shocks Nobody

1. "For the past two days, E! Online has been at war with a million irate teens. And as the battle winds up, we must conclude: The teens are winning."

Nope. Nope nope nope.

For starters, "a million irate teens" is the kind of dumb, gross, and irresponsible journalism that contributed to the first tech bubble, will contribute to the current one, and continues to fuel America (and the Western World's) misperception of the Capital I Internet. (That's Internet as in Internet Culture and the people responsible for it, not internet, lowercase i, as in the actual technological infrastructure that connects our computers and devices to each other.)

A million? C'mon. Based on what? Seriously? YouTube views that can easily be bought and faked? Instagram accounts that can be bought by the thousands? Tweets retweeted automatically by bots? Vines coming from a social network so small, Twitter hasn't released actual usage figures concerning the platform IN YEARS? YEEEEAAAAAARRRSSSSSSS.

So, "millions"? Stop it. More like, maybe at most, a few thousand. Ok. That might be too low, but if we're being generous, maybe one hundred thousand. Nothing to sneeze at, but for real. It's not a million. Stop it.

(Later in that post, one of these Internet Celebrity losers tries to mention how they're a New York Times Best Selling Author like that means something.

 It doesn't. You can, and hundreds (that's NO exaggeration) of authors openly and actively cheat and manipulate the New York Times Best Sellers list. Saying you're a New York Times Best Selling Author may sound nice, but it's sort of like getting a sticker for participating. Everyone gets one of those these days. Don't let anyone try to tell you being a NYT Best Seller means anything. It doesn't.)

2. "If you’re in media and know nothing about Internet talent, you’re not cute or clever,” Vine’s Jeremy Cabalona tweeted. “You’re genuinely irrelevant and terrible at your job.”

Fuck that guy. I don't like to swear much anymore, but "Forget that guy" just wasn't strong enough to dismiss that arrogant turd's comments.

If you're in the media and know nothing about "internet talent" you're fine. Most of these people don't matter. The ones that do have big companies like Google and large media companies / advertising agencies / brands behind them, getting them PR, inflating their vanity numbers (followers, views, likes, ect.), and making sure that "Internet talent" gets distribution and eyeballs. 

The kind you can ONLY GET when you have those entities backing you.

So the idea that they're "legit" in the sense that they're organically these Internet stars with audiences they grew themselves and have this huge reach is totally and completely bogus.

(And again, Vine? Seriously? You guys know Twitter has a PR firm, and an advertising agency, that promotes "Vine Stars" right?)

tl;dr if you've read this far: These "Internet Famous" people aren't for real, and their audiences are vastly overstated. Or put another way, they're only Internet Celebrities because we say they are in the press, not because they actually are.

3. Anyone who tells you YouTube views matter and have influence is insane. Seriously insane. In the entire existence of YouTube, which by the way is now over a decade, this has not once been proven true. Not once. You know what has mattered? When the media picks up on the YouTube video and either because it's cheap content or because they're trying to meet page view quotas, decides to run with the video. 

Unless the media, the companies I mentioned (agencies, brands) or a real (yes, I went there, a REAL celebrity) picks up on the video, 99% of the stuff on Youtube is barely viewed. Oh and by the way, remember that close to 80% of YouTube views come from outside the United States.

So, if you're an advertiser, or a business thinking YouTube views matter, and you're based in America and don't have an intangible product that you can sell, those views are totally meaningless. I mean, they were already meaningless, but they are doubly so here.

What we have here with these "angry" Internet celebrities are people Google (for example) created by featuring them on the front page of Youtube and giving them a ton of offline media exposure in the process. This in turn gave them online audiences and cumulative advantage. 

In other words, go and look at how long Tyler Oakley (or any of these famous YouTube "stars)" has been on Youtube, 2007, and you'll see very clearly what I'm talking about. 

Once the offline media, and other parties, vouched for him and started to talk about him, his numbers jumped, and then they continued to jump because he was a known commodity and people, and more press coverage, got the word out about him. 

So the concept that he's an "Internet Celebrity" as in the Internet created him and all his success came from only the Internet is so totally bogus that I'd laugh if it didn't make me angry at how dumb we all are for believing otherwise despite a mountain of facts, evidence, and data. 

When I talk to brands, agencies, media outlets, and (some) journalists, I seriously feel like a lot of them have their fingers in their ears and they're just stomping around going, "La la la la la la I can't hear you la la la la la".

How messed up is it that the "Internet Celebrities" we have were mostly created by Google (and others) when they used to feature videos, and since then, there have been almost ZERO new "Internet Celebrities" from those platforms beyond ones backed by the PR firm of multimillion dollar tech companies? Maybe there's a message there and nobody wants to talk about it because nobody wants to be the turd in the punch bowl. 

Except me, of course. 

Or better still, just look at the ratings for "YouTube Star" Grace Helbig's show on E!. 

JUST LOOK AT THEM! If YouTube stars had real power and influence, why are her ratings so low?

Now tell me what she says and does matters in the context we're talking about. Go ahead. Look at the facts, and then tell me they're not true. 

(P.S. I used to do work with a company that did work with Grace, so I know for a fact that she's very nice, and I'm not taking shots at her personally, but the concept that she's this organic Internet celebrity who can give advice to others on how to be the same definitely rubs me the wrong way because I've seen it up close and personal that it's not true.)

4.. Let's close on this, from the Washington Post: "On top of that, writing off social media celebrity — even in its silliest, most overtly generational iterations — ignores the fact that these people signal huge and fascinating things about our culture. Forget the fact that Zach King  has basically perfected a new genre of short-form video art, or that Joey Graceffa’s book is among Amazon’s best-selling biographies. Independent of their individual accomplishments (which are many!), they, whether they are teens themselves or not, speak to teenagers’ collective beliefs, their politicsand anxieties, their game-changing interest in collaborative, democratic media and their desire to bypass middlemen and gatekeepers like E!."

Not really. No. Vine is basically a DOA service so nothing that happens on there really matters much beyond a dwindling set of users. Having an Amazing best-seller doesn't mean anything, because that's driven by an algorithm that can be manipulated by enough activity. Trust me. If I showed you how stupid Amazon's system was, you'd freak out. 

(Why is it stupid? Because if their system was more complex, it'd mean a lower loading time and more buggy UI, or user interface. It MUST be stupid for Amazon to provide a smooth customer experience, but make no mistake, stupid is as stupid does.) 

The fact they're teens also doesn't qualify them to speak for other teens. That's just some straight up BS. 

A lot of these people have money and studios and a lot of people backing them. Their experience is NOT representative of your typical teen. If I said to you that Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus was representative of your typical teen, you'd think I was crazy. 

So why is it any different here? Oh, right, we're pretending the studios, agencies, brands, and other parties behind these "legit" Internet Celebrities don't exist because if we acknowledged that they do, our whole conception of Internet Celebrity gets obliterated and this Washington Post article (and a lot of coverage of these people) would be pointless.

And, I'd say something about the whole "bypass the middlemen and gatekeepers" myth, but seriously, that myth is over twenty-years old, and if you still think it's true, I just can't help you man. Just go read the book. And then remember that I wrote that in 2011. 

What year is it now? And we're still repeating these dumb, vague, baseless cliches? C'mon. 

It's time we all grew up and saw what was really going on. This small group of "Internet Celebrities" exist because there's money to be made by suckering dumb brands and large corporations into giving them money so that those companies in term look "cool" and "hip". 

I just did a thing with a large TV network where the sole point of them doing the thing was exactly for this reason. That may sound like a dumb reason for the Tyler Oakley's of the world to exist, but it's also the truth.

And you know something? If it was so damn easy to "cut out the middlemen and gatekeepers" to reach a wide audience on these platforms, there'd be way more "Internet Celebrities" than their actually are, and a lot of them would have come into existence way more recently than 2007.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

How To Be (Internet) Famous: The Book, Tour Dates, Radio Tour


 I did my first press interview in about a year. (The thing with Fortune Magazine doesn't count. That was just a blurb they needed so it didn't look like they were completely blowing this one social media "guru", even though that's totally what they were doing.)

You can listen to the interview here. It starts at 16:00, but there's some good music before and between my interview segments, so if you have the time, listen to the whole show.

I mention this to you because, if you've looked at the press page for this website, until yesterday I had a note saying I wouldn't do any interviews until I had something going on.

Now I do.

So, let's talk.

How To Be (Internet) Famous (The Book)

As you might have known by now, I already wrote my second book. It was ghost written for someone else, and it'll be out in stores sometime next Fall, based on the rate traditional publishers move on stuff. 

Traditional publishers are great, but ... they're really slow. So for the third book, this sucker is getting self-published on June 1st, 2016. If I bother with the traditional publishers, it's going to slow me down and screw up my timeline. The most important thing to me right now is getting my Master's and moving to Los Angeles. 

That's going to happen on June 1st, 2017. I can't have a book come out then because it'll keep me from moving. If I'm not in the car and driving to my new home in LA on that day, I'm going to be really mad. Maybe not Hulk angry, but I may have to bring a change of pants just the same. 

(BTW: Where do you think the Hulk gets his endless supply of purple pants? And more importantly, in a world where Reed Richards makes his costume out of unstable molecules so that he can grow and stretch his costume without it ripping, why hasn't he helped a brother out and given the Hulk / Bruce Banner something to wear for the times when the Hulk shows up? It's one of those dumb comic book things that drive me nuts. Like, they clearly know each other. Bruce Banner and Reed Richards are science buddies. You figure Richards would have been like, "You must spend a fortune in pants! Here, let me help you" in the fifty or so years those characters have interacted with each other. Instead, The Thing shows up, punches Hulk. Hulk punches The Thing, and that's generally the extent of the Hulk's interaction with the Fantastic Four.

Except for that time when he was a member of the Fantastic Four with the most '90s lineup ever: Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider. But now we're way off topic ...)

So, the book has to come out in the next twelve months to fit my window. Luckily, it's a quarter done already. So we're well on our way.

How To Be (Internet) Famous is the name of the "Social Media Is Bullshit" sequel. It'll be self-published via Nook Press. 

If you'd like to know when the book is available for purchase, you can signup here. (Psst. If you signup for that mailing list, a small group of you may even get the new book for free and early in exchange for doing some stuff. No. Not that. Don't be a weirdo.)

What's the book about? The book lays out a ten step plan that will help anyone promote anything online (and off) successfully if followed. That's it. No BS. No frills. It's short and to the point.

This way, you will never have to hire another SEO, Viral marketing, Social media, or "Growth hacking" expert again. You'll know exactly what you need to be doing, and you'll save yourself a shit ton of time and money in the process.

I'm Going On Tour (Sort Of!)

Nothing takes priority over grad school and any on-campus obligations I have. Remember: June 1st, 2017, I'm going to LA. 

 But, I do need to promote this new book, so I'll be doing a couple of awesome things I want you to know about:

1. Radio Tour:

Since my ability to travel is restricted (not limited. I can and will go places to present, schedule permitting) I'm going to start a radio tour in September to drive people to (which takes you to that email signup you'll see if you click the link above this one.)

My goal is to appear on 200 radio stations between September and June when the book comes out, doing interviews when I don't have anything else going on at school.

I have this huge, but outdated, database that I want to put to some use. And I figure while I'm updating the information in it, I might as well push the new (and old) books. 

2. WeWork Tour:

Currently, this is one of those "funds permitting" kind of things, but if everything works out, once a month between now and when the book comes out I'll be stopping at a different WeWork location across the country to promote How To Be (Internet) Famous. 

Seattle & Portland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C. are for sure stops, regardless of funding, those are happening. You can count on me coming your way between now and June 2016.

The other stops are going to depend on whether or not I partner up with someone to help cover the cost of getting there and back. I'm going to try to stop everywhere I can (schedule permitting with grad school obligations), but since grad school is my priority, I'm restricted on the amount of consulting and other work I usually do, so I can't do the whole thing out of pocket.

As the tour dates get settled, I will be announcing and promoting them on here and on the radio tour.

So To Recap

  • I will be stopping in at the Seattle, Portland, NYC, Washington D.C., and Chicago WeWork locations between now and June 1st to promote How To Be (Internet) Famous. Other stops are dependent on funding, but I hope I can nail those down soon.


Some people seem to be thrown by the grad school thing. Why am I doing it, specifically.  It's really simple. I want to be a screenwriter and make movies in Los Angeles. So do a lot of people. I'm not one of those "Reach for the starts and you can achieve your dreams!" kind of guys.

I'm more of a "Go for what you want. Try you best, and if you fail, have a Plan B" kind of guys.

My Plan B is a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I love working with college students. I'd love to do that if the screenwriting and movie making thing doesn't work out for me.

It's really that simple. 

Or in other words, one way or another, I'm going to Los Angeles and staying there.

Dumb Things Multibillion Dollar Companies Say: Sheryl Sandberg Edition

I've mentioned before, in the pages of Social Media Is Bullshit, that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has said some pretty misleading things on behalf of her company.

(Not to mention, if you recall me talking about The Big Club over at SiliconANGLE, you can see The New York Times and Sandberg provide a great example of that right here.)

More recently, during a Facebook earnings call, Sandberg claimed Facebook was the top source for driving subscriptions to HBO Now thanks to their retargeting capability. 

Retargeting, by the way, is that creepy thing a lot of big companies do where they track your activity all over the Web. 

Let's say you visited because you hate yourself and keep subjecting your entire family to three miserable hours of bad writing and worse acting every Monday Night. Now, whenever you go to other places, unless you clear your cookies in your browser, you will see ads for popup on other places you visit.

No. Can't imagine why so many people are resorting to ad blockers. Can you?

Like Sandberg's previous claim that Facebook was helpful for small businesses and an important place for them to set up a presence (LOL), this claim concerning the retargeting success is false.

And it's false for reasons that should be obvious, but probably aren't because when it comes to the tech companies, the people covering them are (usually) sucked inside a reality distortion field and can't (or won't, because they don't want to lose a potential job in the future) want to tell the truth.

The Truth

1. Any time a tech company uses a celebrity or big media company (like say, one of the largest media companies in the world) as an example of success, you should be skeptical. That's like if Lebron showed up one day and decided to play for your high school basketball team. Of course you're going to win. Of course he's going to dunk on some poor kid. Of course. 

So for you and me, claims like this don't really mean anything. 

It just means a huge brand (HBO) and the big company that owns it (Time Warner) probably spent millions on ads and saw results. Of course whether or not they made their money back, and whether or not those results are what they were expecting goes unmentioned by Facebook. Because duh. And also: Because of confidentiality agreements, it is not possible for the agency behind the ad buy with Facebook, or the brand itself if they coordinated the campaign, to comment on the campaign. So that means ...

2. You are only getting one side of the story here. If Facebook is saying the campaign was successful, the other party (more often than not) can't say otherwise. Especially if it means pissing Facebook off and having them throttle your stuff so no one ever, ever, evveeeeerrrrrrrrrr sees it ag-ain (to paraphrase Chris Jericho.)

So if Facebook says the campaign was successful, then for all anyone knows, it was. Even if it wasn't.

3. Let's talk about the campaign itself. Because of the way retargeting works, you're claiming you successfully caused people to act on something they (probably) were already going to do. In other words, the people who saw the ads likely ALSO saw the (massive) publicity HBO Now received when it was announced, as well as other ads and promotions, and were already going to buy the thing anyway.

Did the ads push that person to act NOW as opposed to weeks from now? Maybe. Maybe not. But when you factor in other variables, the answer starts to look more and more like, "Nope. It didn't."

What other variables? Word of mouth. What else that person may have been exposed to on that given day. Maybe they just got paid and it so happened to coincide with the same time as the Facebook campaign.

The point is, as much as we want to think online advertising (in general) works in a simple, linear fashion (I saw Ad A and completed Action B because of it), it don't.

That's right. I said, "It don't".

Go and look at that link to The Consumerist (it's the adblocker one) and read the BS that reporter is saying about online ads vs. offline ads. Then remember that online ads are easily gamed, faked, and manipulated. 

So much so that I'd argue the results you get are often unreliable at best. 

I really, truly believe that anyone who wants to convince you of the superiority of online advertising to offline advertising is at best an idiot, and at worst, a manipulative one. 

But getting back on track ...

EVEN IF you want to say, "Alright, well people saw the ad on Facebook, clicked through, and subscribed" you have to recall that "People" here are people who already had an interest in HBO and were likely considering that purchase anyway. 

You CAN argue that the Facebook campaign likely sped up the process of that person moving through the sales funnel. I totally buy that. But I don't buy that the campaign itself drove success for HBO Now. I don't buy that for a second.

But you know, if Sheryl Sandberg says something, it must be true, because that's sure how we've covered everything she's said and done during her time with Facebook.

And You Thought The Fantastic Four Movie Was Bad? Try Watching This

The early '90s were a weird time for comics. 

You had Spawn and a lot of the Image books that all the "cool" kids were reading. Then you had goobers like me who bought every Infinity-whatever crossover Marvel was running (Gauntlet, War, and Crusade) as well as the other space comics like Infinity Watch, Guardians of the Galaxy (the bad Guardians, not the new, cooler ones), and Quasar.

But you also had great cartoons like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Batman: The Animated Series on Fox (and later the WB with Superman.)

Ok. Not all of the cartoons were great.The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, and later, the Silver Surfer were affronts to God herself.

Just kidding.

But they were pretty bad. To the point where, even in the sixth grade, I knew that when I watched the Fantastic Four and Iron Man cartoons, I was watching them out of hate.

The Fantastic Four cartoon (trauma inducing video above) is probably way worse than the new film. I don't know. I haven't (and won't) see it, but I dare you to find a human being who can sit and listen to the theme song in the video above play for ninety minutes without snapping and murdering the first person they see when it's over.

And you know what? They'll probably do it while singing that annoying theme song too.

Fortune Cookie Or True Detective Quote?

I can't put into words how awful the second season of "True Detective" is. Aside from Vince Vaughn and his character, the show is a dark, muddled mess filled with unlikable characters and a convoluted plot.

Thankfully, Seth Meyers felt the same way most of us do and decided to make a game show about it. Observe. 

Dear HBO, please don't bring this show back.

Dear FX, let this be a lesson to you about Fargo's second season. Don't let it suck like this did.