Author Archive

1 Year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago to the day, Cliff Lee rejoined the Philadelphia Phillies and all else in the world seemed to stop.  Unfortunately for me I had finance final that day, and the rest is history.

Cliff Lee
image credit: Cliff Lee by steve_trapani, on Flickr

Thanks Cliff, for two things.  The joy of Phillies baseball and the demise of Finance II grade.

Absolutely Hilarious

I couldn’t help myself here.  The always hilarious Jimmy Kimmel played a trick on the children of the world the other night.  He asked parents to give their kids a horrible Christmas gift early and videotape their reactions.  The result is magical.


Social Media Tool: Nutshell Mail

Nutshell mail is a tool that I used in my internship this past summer.  It allows you to get a daily newsletter sent to your inbox summarizing the day’s events in social media.  The sites that it features currently are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, FourSquare, and CitySearch.  We found it especially useful because we were managing many of these sites, and it was too much of a hassle to go into each account to figure out what had happened each day.  Nutshell mail was our answer.

In just a few minutes, you can set up your account to receive updates any day of the week and at any time of your liking.  Take a look at the screenshot below to see how simple the registration process is.

After the initial set-up, you’re good to go from then on.  We found it especially useful for our LinkedIn account.  Since we were building the business owner’s account as well as a LinkedIn company page, it was easy for key information to get lost in the shuffle.  Nutshell Mail provided us with the right balance of key information and less pertinent stories.  Take a look at an example of our daily update shown below.

A great feature that Nutshell Mail provides is the ability to click through to the sites directly from the email.  Let’s say you had a new follower on Twitter.  Instead of logging into your account and finding them, you can just click it directly through your email!

For privacy reasons, I won’t show you the LinkedIn account summary (personal information that is not mine to present) but I can explain the basics.  Nutshell Mail will provide and break down five of your top stories.  It will provide you five of the most popular status updates, five highlights from your group activity, and five updates on which of your connections added new relationships.  These numbers can be changed to suit your pleasing.

Nutshell Mail is a great tool that I have used for almost 6 months now and would highly recommend it for anyone, business or personal use, to keep track of your social media presence in just a few minutes.  Time is precious!

Click here to get started with Nutshell Mail – Directions made Simple

Screenr is a screen-shot video that is free and easy to use.  In just minutes, you can set-up and record a video of your entire video screen.  The video can be up to five minutes in length and you can even sign in through your Facebook or Twitter accounts.  I have always wondered how to capture what’s on my screen in a video, so when I saw this free site, it was perfect.

The video that I made below was  a step-by-step instructional video to show my Dad how to access his email when he is not able to open them through Windows or Outlook.  In order to prevent the long-winded phone calls and checking his mail for him, this video will (hopefully) be useful for him when he needs the help.  Enjoy!


True or False: Local Restaurant Reviews

After reading a NY Times article (click here to read the full article), I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find any fake reviews for some of our local restaurants in Springfield.  I thought a good place to start would be some of the newer restaurants in the area, and I ended up with the Springfield Diner.  Opening several years ago, the diner replaced Bennigan’s and really took forever to get finished.  Now that it’s open and I’ve visited several times, I know that it has decent food but it is a bit pricy for what you get; it is by no means a 5-Star sit-down restaurant.

Looking through, I found some reviews for the diner and began to look through.  At first there were many that looked legitimate as  I could understand what the reviewer was going for, but then I did come across one review that struck me as odd.  Here is a picture of the review:

The things that strike me as suspect is the consistent use of “I”, which as stated in the article, is a typical word used by fake reviewers to prove that they were there.  The review stinks of someone trying to prove that they were there by the amount of detail they go into.  Ed goes into plenty of detail about the parking lot, the date and time, even that he happened to be driving down Baltimore Pike when he discovered it.  He also explains his food choices in such detail that it makes me wonder how he remembered the details so well, including the “glazed carrots” and dressing with “sliced apples and white grapes”.  When I taste a grape, four days later I could not tell you the color it was.  The review came off to me as someone who was trying to praise the length of the menu (which is very long) and the quality of the food, but the fact that Ed was trying to justify his attendance at the diner really struck me the wrong way.

The following review is one that I feel is a genuine one:

If Jeffrey made this story up, he has a career as a writer.  The review just comes off as someone who enjoys food and family sharing their experience with the world.  Nothing is forced, and the details about the food and cooking style aren’t just thrown in your face to impress or make you believe in it.  He also cited some intagibles, like the service and his wait time that prove his legitimacy.  I would take Jeffrey’s word over Ed’s any day.

In the end, I don’t know which review is true and which is false.  Maybe both are true or false.  There isn’t a good way to tell by looking at it from this level, but I can go by intuition.  Ed’s review summarizes some menu items that he could have pulled from the website while Jeffrey talks about his experience.  It’s interesting to look at the truth behind these reviews, but I’d have to say of the two, Jeffrey’s is much more viable.

Read the full reviews for the Springfield Diner here.

Site Review: Google Places

This summer in my internship at Howard Financial, I was introduced to a new site in which local businesses can create their own mini-website which will appear in search engines.  The site is called Google Places and you can claim your business free of charge in as little as 48 hours through a quick business verfication process.  The site is so powerful because it allows personalization like office hours and a business overview, as well as photos, reviews, maps, and more!

Google Places

 The claiming process is simple.  Many businesses have already been added, in fact if you are a business owner, it is more than likely already posted online!  If it is there, it is listed as “Unclaimed”.  By claiming the business, you subject yourself to a quick verification process and voila, it’s all yours.  The biggest advantage you get with your business page is visability in Google searches.  When someone searches for your business, your Places page (if claimed) will appear with the search results.  Here’s a look at how our company is displayed via Google.

The search result now displays a link to the company on Google Maps, our company website, and the image to the right leads to our Places page.  Assuming you’ve claimed your business, you can now personalize it.  This includes uploading a company logo, posting your business hours, as well as a brief description.  Take a look below to see the basics of our company’s business page.

Further down the page, there is even more customizable content, and Google will even do some of the work for you!  You can post photos that link back to your Flickr account to give your page a more distinctive and professional appeal.  Below this, Google will automatically post any ratings or reviews that they have received for your business!  Originally, all reviews from Yahoo!, Yelp, and other sites were all posted, but Google purchased the rights to display only their own reviews just a few months ago.  Users can rate the company here or on a variety of other Google platforms, and they will all show up here.  The bad news: the owner cannot control this content, so make sure you don’t give anyone a reason to post a negative review!  Take a look below at what our page looks like.

But perhaps the best part of Google Places is the affect that it is on your visibility in the massively popular Google search engine.  If you claim your business and edit the page, you gain visibility amongst Google, and you’ll see your search rank increase!  Before we used Google Places, we were ranked 5th for Mortgage broker searches in Malvern, and we failed to show up in a handful of other similar searches.  Now, we’re ranked #1 for “Mortgage Broker”, “Mortgage”, and even show up in “Home Loans” and “Real Estate”.  That’s quite an improvement for a few hours of work!  And Google will increase this over time as well, it’s not just a one time deal.  The more hits you get via Google Maps and Places, the higher your search rank will be.  Take a look below at our results.

Overall, Google Places is a great, FREE, resource that many people don’t even know about.  It takes a minimal amount of time and effort to get started, and you can see the results in as little as 1 week!  Want to get started now?  Click here to begin!

Social Media in Action: Chapter III

Over the past weekend, I sat down with John Duffy, a member of the St. Francis Players and a member of their outreach/advertising committee.  The Players are a parish theatre group that performs a show each spring for two weekends.  Lots of hard work and preparation go into the job, but a new role is with social media.  For years the only advertising was done in the local papers, street signs, and several banners displayed in prominent areas.  Now, with the turn of technology, the group has turned to the internet to embrace a younger audience.

The following Q&A session is a summary of our discussion.

Q: Why did you choose to turn to social media in regards to the show?

A: As you know, we traditionally have the same audience year after year, consisting of the families of the performers and the parish members.  Since we’ve been around for a long time, a lot of our regulars are getting older and we’re starting to see a decline in numbers.  We have more and more young people as performers, but not coming to the shows.  Social media was an idea that we thought could engage and maybe entice them to come.

Q: What sites have you used so far? Any new sites you are planning on using in the future?

A: So far we use Facebook and Flickr.  For Facebook, we like to remind audiences of our performance times by making posts and posting photos, but we also use the Events tool.  Last year we created an event for “Oklahoma” which allowed it to be seen by many new people because invitations were unlimited.  We tried to respond to any wall posts or RSVP notes and do what we could to engage our audience.  For Flickr, we have a large number of high quality photos that have been taken from pre-production, rehearsals, and even the shows that we showcase.  It’s just another place for us to be seen and for others to see our craft.

We’ve thought about using Twitter, maybe even Yelp for reviews.  Twitter would be simple but its tough to gauge how useful it would be long-term.  Yelp would be nice for exposure, but what you can’t control is the reviews.  If we get a negative review from someone who didn’t like the show, that’s ok.  But if we get a negative review that viewers see everytime they visit our page, maybe that’s not the best option.

Q: How successful have you been in bringing young people to the shows?

A: Not as successful as we’d like, but its a start.  Our numbers were good last year, but not great.  This year with the Wizard of Oz (still a secret!) we hope to have a great year because of all the kids that get to participate.  If we can capture a new, younger audience this year, our goal will be to retain them next year when we don’t have a show directed towards the youth.

Q: What has your biggest challenge been so far?

A: Honestly the biggest challenge is seeing results.  Managing the pages is simple, and the photos are a hobby of mine to begin with.  The Facebook Events have been successful in capturing a larger target audience, but the results aren’t jawdropping.  This year will be the key because of our larger expected draws; whether or not we can repeat the results next year will show successful we ended up being!


PSU Story Reflection

A while back, I made a presentation in class about the Penn State-Jerry Sandusky scandal.  It has been a little over a month since I presented my case, but since it did spark some debate and it is still very prevalent in current events, I have attached my presentation for my readers to view about my initial thoughts on the situation.  It is interesting to contrast where we stood then compared to now.


Later in the week, I will post a final blog entry summing up my experience as well as my thoughts on all things sports.  The Sandusky issue will be addressed and I hope you’ll stop back to hear my thoughts!

The link to the presentation can be found here.


Breaking News from NBA.TV

I have just received word from one of my sources as well as exclusive interview footage that a major NBA star is retiring immediately.

Check out the video below to view this EXCLUSIVE clip from Couch from the Couch. Best NBA Press Conference Ever by matt_debernardi

Like it? Create your own at It’s free and fun!

Unfortunately this is all a lie and it is only a link to an animation I made.  Still pretty funny and ridiculous, spare the 90 seconds and enjoy.

Social Media IN ACTION! Part Deux

I recently interviewed Don Red, an employee for Thunderbird Pizza.  Although he is new to the business, he is embraced the role as their social media “manager”, which may seem like a small task, but has already paid dividends.  Here is a summary of our conversation.

Q: How has the business used social media to bring in more business?

A: We’ve used Facebook as the key component.  We launched our Facebook page a while back mainly just to gauge the interest of our fans and customers.  After a while, we began to advertise with pictures, posts, and events, which eventually led us to using the Facebook Deals we use now.

Q: Can you talk more about how you used each method?

A: Posts-We would often post a Facebook message like “Go Eagles!” and things of that sort, but we always were surprised at how many people commented.  On a slow night, we tried advertising a special to draw up some business, and within an hour, we had a handful of orders in.  We’ll try to mix things up now and then with a special, but we primarily use the deals now.

Pictures-We used this with our catering primarily.  Not many people know about our catering options, so we thought it would be good to get started here.  We had a photographer come in and take pictures of our trays and food, and then we posted an album with instructions for orders.  It still hasn’t taken off, but the awareness and comments that we provoked through the album are very positive, and I’m sure it will drum up some business later on.

Deals-Recently we tried the Facebook Deals option, and we like it.  We can offer a simple coupon online and when people use it, we not only gain their “Like” but also their business for the night.  We keep track of who uses it, and its nice to be able to see the results instantly.

Q: Have you thought about using any other social media sites?

A: We thought about Twitter, but with the holidays coming up and seeing the results from Facebook, its too busy to work on right now, but we are open to social media by any means.