Warning: my #ScaryFarm tweets might be biased

Knott's Scary Farm Holloween Haunt 2011-83 by Dave Klukken licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Knott’s Scary Farm Holloween Haunt 2011-83 by Dave Klukken licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

I accepted an invitation to attend an event in exchange for sharing my experience through my various social media accounts. It’s something I never would’ve done when I worked for a news organization.

Journalists have to decline such invitations because readers might criticize positive coverage that could be perceived as quid pro quo. It feels great to accept the invitation and just say publicly that I’m doing this because I’m getting in free. It will also be nice to just have a good time without worrying about turning in an article or column.

When you see my tweets, Facebook updates and Instagram photos from #ScaryFarm later this month, know that I’m doing it because I was asked to by Knott’s Berry Farm, an amusement park in Buena Park, California.

But who am I kidding? I’ll be sharing my experience because I tweet when I’m at live events. That’s just what I do. And I enjoy using Instagram and Facebook to share pictures and pose questions.

By the way, I’m already biased. I first attended Knott’s Scary Farm when I was in junior high, and have gone many times since. I visited Knott’s frequently when I was in high school and my friends worked there. I had a great time when the O.C. Register held a 100-year anniversary celebration there a few years back.

Knott’s didn’t ask me to share only my positive comments about Scary Farm. I probably would’ve turned down the invitation if they had made such a request. It’s the right way to bring social “influencers” into a company’s marketing efforts. First, make sure the product, service, or event is good. Then, invite people to share honestly.

That said, I won’t hesitate to share any negative “news” if it happens when I’m there. But take a look at my previous social media posts. I don’t complain about long lines. I don’t talk smack about how “the guy in front of me just did such and such.” I don’t spout off about singularly poor customer service experiences.

Before I sign off, here is a picture of my friends Calvin Lee, Debbie Miller and Darin McClure at a similar Knott’s Berry Farm event last year. I’m adding it here just because they are my friends. How is that for bias?

News outsiders know: Linking out helps SEO, drives traffic

Chains of SuccessBefore the two-year-old echo chamber of  Jeff Jarvis’ mantra “do what you do best and link to the rest,” and beside the concept of curation and aggregation as journalism, web experts outside of the news industry learned a long time ago that sending people away from your improves your search engine rankings and drives traffic back to your site.

Here are some tips from outside the news biz:

Hotel marketer and the link handshake: Linking to other sites is the first strategy that Lodging Interactive, a marketing agency for the hotel industry, names in its list of link building strategies for hoteliers: “If you want other people to link to you, extend your hand out first and link to theirs.”

Web designer and pre-reciprocation: In the About.com Guide to Web Design, Jennifer Kyrnin asks if  you link to other web sites: “After all, most people are going to be much more inclined to link to you if you’ve already returned the favor.”

SEO trainer and blog attention: Linking to other blogs is one of  SEO Book’s  101 ways to build link popularity: “Many bloggers also track who is linking to them or where their traffic comes from, so linking to them is an easy way to get noticed by some of them.”

Entrepreneur and newsletter branding: In Entrepreneur.com’s 10 cheap ways to build your brand, John Williams suggests starting a newsletter to keep you brand in front of customers: “Include your own articles and link to other pieces related to your industry.”

Blogger in the running: Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger — one the most powerful blogs in the world — probably says it best when he explains why linking to other blogs is critical: “If you’re blogging and not linking due to fear of competition, you may be surprised to find that you’re not even in the running.”

Photo from Stephen Mitchell via Flickr

Google helps Twitter in new emails

If you get an email from Twitter every time someone starts following you, congratulation! You’ve probably already joined campaign “twitter20080331162631.”

Last week, Twitter changed their email notifications to include a Twitterer’s avatar and number of friends, followers and updates.

New follower email

But another change wasn’t immediately visible to the naked eye. Each link is now tracked by Google Analytics.

What’s being tracked?

The link labeled “their profile” brings you to L.A. LIVE’s Twitter page and sends this information to Google:

  • You clicked because of a follow notification.
  • You received the notification via email.
  • The email was part of a campaign called twitter20080331162631.

Check out Justin Cutroni’s blog post to learn about campaigns and Google Analytics.


I don’t know exactly what twitter20080331162631 is all about, but the numeric part resembles a date and time in ISO 8601 format. If that hunch is right, the campaign is tied to March 31, 2008 at 9:26:31 am (PDT). Digging through the Twitter blog archives didn’t reveal what happened in Twitter history on that date. If you’re an amateur Twistorian, please share your knowledge in the comments below.


Linked to from this post:

Think before you share a great blog post

Ben Parr created a nice guide to linking, entitled “Top 20 Ways to Share a Great Blog Post.” It is intended to help share any  great blog post, but I fear that journalists, bloggers and marketers might misuse his advice to share their own blog posts. Don’t! Here is why: 

Social media: Yes, share your posts on social platforms, but only  as part  of what you do on those sites. Blatant self-promotion is just as unappealing online as it is in real life. As Chris Brogan says, “I’m reaching out to shake your hand and you’re trying to put your tongue in my mouth.”

Via blog: Using a blog post to link to itself would just cause an infinite loop. You can create link-building campaigns, but leave that to the pros, or else you might inadvertently create a splog and wind up banned on some search engines.

Useful tools: Just because technology lets you share links across multiple platforms, doesn’t mean you should. Your professional connections on LinkedIn won’t benefit from knowing that you just listened to “Ice Ice Baby” on Last.fm. Share the right information with the appropriate group of friends.

Other ways to share: Don’t begin using the tools that Parr lists only so you can market your content. Your agenda will be obvious and your efforts will be blocked and/or moved to the spam folder.