Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

MSPs, How Do You Get The Word Out?

April 19, 2015 Comments off

Get the Word Out!At the recent (March 26 and 27, 2015) MSPWorld keynote, Charles Weaver, CEO of MSPAlliance (The International Association of Cloud and Managed Service Providers, established 2000), discussed how alliance members should beef up their marketing efforts. And if the CEO of the MSPAlliance recognizes that there’s a gap, there’s clearly a gap in getting the word out to potential customers about their services. Traditionally marketing to potential customers meant direct mail, targeted campaigns, cold calling, email distribution lists, billboard ads, referrals, magazine ads, and online ads; but MSPs have found that generally speaking most of these methods are ineffectual. Historically MSPs have mostly relied on word-of-mouth referrals to bring new customers into the fold.

What does work for MSPs in getting the word out about their services?

Of the many different marketing strategies, referrals, blogs, email marketing, Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and cross selling offer the best returns to MSPs. Although referrals are very good in converting connections into sales, the number of them is very low. For an MSP to be successful, it has to launch a multi-front marketing campaign.


Referrals from current customers seems to be the number one method of attracting new business for MSPs. The reason that MSPs hold referrals in such high regard is that this type of business prospecting has a high rate of return and has a very low cost to the MSP in terms of financial outlay and time required for the sales process.

Making a referral network work is a fairly easy task. Ask your customers if they could refer your services to at least one company in their customer base or within their sphere of influence. As your network grows through referrals, continue to ask for referrals from each new customer.

However effective, this type of organic growth is slow and requires some relationship nurturing to assist and to fuel the process.


Blogs, especially guest posts in a corporate blog by customers, are effective in increasing customer base. Potential customers can read about how other companies have solved similar problems using your services and expertise. That gives the reader an immediate connection to your business and your solutions that can help them.

Sphere of Influence – a business network where companies or their officers or principals have some expressed or implied influence over others because of mutual trust, a working relationship, a partnership, or out of respect between the parties.

What you don’t want a blog to be is a pure sales pitch or a marketing tool. You want to be sure to inform and educate your reader about how your services have increased sales, streamlined processes, made it easier to buy, increased customer service, or boosted profits.

Make your blog entries about the customer and not about you. Provide real data and real customer testimonials where possible. Numbers speak louder than marketing fluff. Keep posts concise by telling a compelling story in 750 words or fewer. Post new blog entry URLs to all social media outlets to gain a diverse readership.

Email Marketing

Email distribution lists, whether created from correspondences or acquired by rental from a list broker are often a good source of prospective customers. The return rate is typically not what one would expect from such a contemporary medium. The rate of conversion is even lower. Expected rates of return are in the single digits and conversion rates are in the single digits of those returns.

The upside to email marketing is that it’s inexpensive, even if you rent or buy lists. It’s also an excellent method of getting your name in front of a lot of business influencers whether or not they buy anything from you. It often takes several iterations of a message to receive one positive return.

Rather than creating generic email messages touting your products, it’s often more effective to create a newsletter and distribute it via those lists. Newsletters aren’t seen as spam and potential customers read them with enthusiasm. To make your newsletters a welcome Inbox addition, include industry news, links to your blog entries, and information about your company and its services. Don’t make it to “salesy.” You want people to see it as having value and not just as an opportunity to deliver unwanted pitches for your services.

Optionally you can setup an opt-in/opt-out mailing list for your customers or website visitors.

Requests for Proposals

Requests for Proposals (RFPs) can be used to acquire new business by entering into competitive bid situations. RFPs often require some moderate amount of effort to create a sale because of the bidding process and submission of detailed information about your company, its leadership, its capabilities, delivery times, Service Level Agreements, and related information.

Sometimes the bidding process is lengthy (months), but the dollar amounts are also higher for these types of agreements.

Cross Selling

Cross selling is one of the most effective methods of gaining new business for MSPs. It involves selling additional services to existing customers or entering into cross promotional agreements with other vendors. Cross selling is a low cost marketing method because you’re selling to a customer who’s already bought into your services. Return on investment is very high.

Cross selling deepens the vendor-customer relationship and builds loyalty for both parties.

Social Media

Although relatively new to the marketing scene, social media selling has become one of the hottest new marketing strategies for all businesses. MSPs can ride this wave by engaging its current and its potential customers in conversations via social media. Feedback, ratings, and testimonials are all very powerful drivers of new business.

Tweet blog post URLs, post to your Facebook page often, ask for guest posts on your blog and Facebook page, engage your customers via LinkedIn, post your blog URLs to LinkedIn, and to all LinkedIn groups of which you’re a member. You have to use social media to your advantage. Check in when you’re out to lunch with a customer and tag him or her on Facebook to let everyone know that you’re entertaining a customer.

Start a conversation on Twitter with your customers. The easiest way to start a conversation is to ask a question. Gain followers by using relevant hashtags and posting often to all of your social media sites. Follow all of your customers and their customers. Follow influencers, thought leaders, and technology journalists.


Use media connections and technology journalists to your advantage by scheduling interviews to be posted on their outlet sites. Use social media to promote those posts once their published. Public Relations and brand marketing firms can help you connect with the correct people for your business.

Upstream Partnerships

Your upstream partners can also send a steady flow of traffic to your site and to your attention. Your upstream partner should give you qualified leads that will help expand and extend your business. A good partner will offer you training, significant hardware and software discounts, marketing assistance, and some visibility as to who your customer base is. Leverage your partner’s resources to grow your business. Remember that a partnership works in both directions. The more you engage your partner, the more your partner will engage you and your business.

If you’re an MSP that offers top notch services to your customers, you need to get the word out. First, start in your network by asking for those referrals and then expand by putting some simple, time-tested marketing techniques to work for you. You can continue to grow your business year over year by applying marketing pressure in the right places. And don’t forget to engage your upstream partner to help with your growth because it benefits both of you.


This post was brought to you by IBM for MSPs and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM’s PivotPoint. Dedicated to providing valuable insight from industry thought leaders, PivotPoint offers expertise to help you develop, differentiate and scale your business.


Twitter and the Internet of Fake Things

March 24, 2014 Comments off

Twitter Follow Ad ExampleIn January of this year, I decided to conduct an experiment on Twitter. I was partly inspired by the Kevin Ashton article: How to become internet famous for $68 and many reports that celebrities had huge fake Twitter and Facebook followings. No one seems to care that they do, although there are dozens of articles “exposing” the whole thing. I found it intriguing that people could actually purchase Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, positive reviews, and retweets. Social Media has sparked all these new markets and I was curious to get the inside story.

My own experiment’s goal was twofold: First, to find out what the real story is on purchasing Twitter followers (because I wasn’t convinced that you could do so) and second, to experiment with purchasing them with Bitcoin. The results of the experiment are interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the Twitterati* itself.

Excerpt from Kevin Ashton’s article: How to become internet famous for $68.

“On social media, it is easy to mistake popularity for credibility, and that is exactly what the fakers are hoping for. To most people, a Twitter account with tens of thousands of followers is an easy-to-read indication of personal success and good reputation, a little like hundreds of good reviews on Yelp or a long line outside a restaurant. Looking online to learn more about somebody has become a reflex—blind daters do it, potential employers do it, potential customers do it.
Specialist social media analytics companies do it too. These businesses claim they can analyze somebody’s social media behavior and accurately evaluate their level of influence.”


On Twitter, it’s all about how many followers you have. It’s also about what you tweet to your followers. The theory is that you’re supposed to carry on 140 character conversations with your followers and fellow tweeters for entertainment and edification. Everything works in theory, doesn’t it?

Twitter has become one of those forums where speakers (tweeters) want to speak but not listen. It’s much the same as in any other forum, digital or physical.

I’ve found that Twitter has very little to offer outside of reading marketing bytes, automated tweets, or rancid dialog from those who disagree with what I’ve stated in an article or in a post. Occasionally, there are those who carry on a constructive dialog, but they are very few and far between. Some tweeters simply tweet just to tweet. It’s analogous to hearing your own voice. It’s both self-medicating and self-satisfying.

And perhaps the most entertaining of all is those who hide behind cryptic pseudonyms. They wish to remain anonymous because they want to tweet things that they’d never say in person. Refer again to my earlier digital graffiti reference.

Experiment Part I: Buying Twitter Followers

I researched the process and decided to try it for myself to see what happens when one purchases Twitter followers and to see if it was truly a scam or not. Spoiler Alert: You can purchase Twitter followers but you might not want to because a lot of them are fake.

I began my quest on January 8 with my own, organically grown 2,761 Twitter followers.

I found some** sellers advertise Twitter followers for $5. For that $5, you can purchase anywhere from 100 to 5000+ Twitter followers, depending on your “vendor.” Some vendors go so far as to advertise “Real” Twitter followers to differentiate themselves from those who sell you fake followers, also known, in some cases, as “Eggs.”

I started out by purchasing a batch of 5,250 followers who were guaranteed to be real.

So my goal from that purchase was 8,011 followers. It took a couple of days for the “delivery” but it finally happened. As if by Internet magic, 5,000 or so followers were now in my tank. I had more than the promised 5,250 followers. The reason is that when Twitter finds fake followers, it deletes them. I’m sure it’s done by some automated algorithm that scans the site for “Eggs” and user accounts that have never tweeted at all.

I was so excited by this, that I had to try again. This time, I went for a whopping 5,550+ followers for just $5. What a bargain. Sure enough, in about a day, I had another 5,000+ followers. Unfortunately, while waiting my total had gone down to 12,959 by January 11. By January 13, it was 12,823 and by January 15 my band of loyal followers had dropped to 12,730.

The 5,500+ followers were advertised as: 100% Real, No Egg Emage (Image, I assume), Fast Delivery, Full Customer Support. It was fast, for sure. In just a day, I had 5,000 more followers to my name. And I didn’t have to setup automated tweets or battle it out with the Twitterati to get them. Such a deal at only $5.

I thought to myself, “Wow, this is easy and cheap. I’ll just keep doing it.” I ordered up another ‘3,000 Real Active Twitter Followers in just 12 hours.’ Yep, just as advertised, by January 16, I now had 15,983 followers. By the 17th, I had 15,931. I stopped counting on January 20th at 15,604.

I then tested my numbers at:

To my surprise, I found that roughly half of my ‘Real’ followers were in fact fake.

You can only imagine my reaction to this. I kept watching my total number of followers go down every day, sometimes by more than 100 followers. I was devastated. To think that I paid good Bitcoin for those followers and half (or more) were fake.

Just out of curiosity, I checked the following accounts for fakes to see how I fared in the fake Twitter follower realm.

  • Charlie Sheen @charliesheen 40% (3 million+) fake
  • Bitcoin @Bitcoin 23% (6,857) fake
  • Chelsea Handler 43% (2 million+) fake
  • CNN @CNN 54% (4 million+) fake
  • Wall Street Journal 40% (900K+) fake
  • Dwight Howard @DwightHoward 47% (2 million+) fake

So, a full month after purchasing all those Twitter followers on February 17, I had 14.8K followers. I purchased another 3,000 from one of the people I’d purchased from before to see if she had another 3,000 100% Real followers to send my way. Sure enough, she did. She said my target follows would be 17.8K. In about a day, I had just over 18K followers. They always give you more because, as I explained earlier, the blatantly fake ones get deleted.

As it stands now, two months after my original purchase, I have 17.4K followers. According to, I have 50% fake, which would give me 8,600+ real followers. According to another auditing tool (, 63% are fake, 24% are inactive, and a whole 13% are real. Calculating just the real from my current number of 17.4K, that leaves me with a total of 2,262 real followers.

But wait. I started with 2,761 organically cultivated followers. And now, I have as few as 2,262? What’s up with that? One can argue that some of my original ones were fake, maybe a few dropped out, or maybe something is wrong with the algorithms to calculate the totals.

Another tool at: tells me that I have 25% fake or suspicious, 0% inactive, and 75% good. So, who knows for sure?

Experiment Part II: Buying Stuff with Bitcoin

I really don’t like Bitcoin or bitcoin or however it’s supposed to be written. Sorry, the proper terminology for it goes into the “Who Cares” bin. However, for my test, it was the perfect solution. I could purchase something fake, or potentially fake, with something that is borderline illegal. But that’s another story. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on my purchases with Bitcoin.

Remember that standard gigs on are $5.

Here are three of my Bitcoin transactions with

  • -0.00786 BTC
  • -0.007965 BTC
  • -0.00828 BTC

You see, each time you buy something with Bitcoin, the amount changes because the “value” of Bitcoin constantly changes. Unfortunately, not always in your favor, as you can see by mine. There is also a small fee for carrying out the transaction. I’m not sure how much it is in Dollars or Bitcoins because I didn’t pay a lot of attention.

The problem is that if you use Dollars to pay for something and the amount is $5, you pay $5 on whatever day it is. Not so with Bitcoin. As you can see, I paid three different amounts of Bitcoin each time, although the value of the transaction was $5. Well, $5 in Dollars, that is.

This is one of the strongest arguments against Bitcoin. You don’t really know how much you’re paying because the value fluctuates so much, so often that you can’t track it and there’s not a single exchange value for Bitcoin. So, your favorite exchange might value Bitcoin at $500, while another exchange values it at $450.

One day you might barely be able to buy lunch with a certain amount of Bitcoin and the next day you could buy the restaurant with that same amount. Weird, huh?

I still don’t see the point of using it for transactions because of that point. There are many others, but again, that’s another story.

The jury (literally) is still out on Bitcoin. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the Federal Government or InterPol will shut down all Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency transactions in the near future. And if you think that Silk Road and Mt Gox left people feeling the pain, just wait until Uncle Sam decides that Bitcoin is not only shady but illegal.

Lessons Learned

You might believe that purchasing Twitter followers has left me with a less than enthusiastic endorsement of the practice, but it hasn’t. I think that growing your following organically is the best thing to do. It’s the most honest thing to do, for sure. But hiring “shills” is nothing new to the business scene. It’s actually a very old practice. People, by their very nature, are crowd followers. If you see that someone only has 100 followers, you’re not as likely to follow as you are if that same person has 150K followers.

It’s just the way we’re made. Do I believe that everyone I’ve listed in the examples above have “plumped” their following with purchased or fake followers? Certainly not. The fact is that anyone can buy followers for any account. If I wanted to, I could purchase 5,000 followers for a Twitter account other than my own. That part might surprise you. If you don’t believe me, I’ll buy someone, maybe you, 5,000 Twitter followers. There’s not much you can do about it.

You can buy a subscription to a service that will delete them. But what if they’re wrong? What if they delete real ones that are simply inactive? It’s a dilemma, for sure.

Unlike Kevin Ashton, and who knows who else, I only spent $20 to test this idea of purchased fame. I think the $20 was well spent. It gave me fodder for this post and a bit of entertainment as well. Can’t go to a movie and buy a Coke and popcorn for $20.

Do I think it’s a good practice to buy Twitter followers or Facebook Likes or any other form of fake fame? No, I don’t. It’s kind of silly, really. But, I wonder, is it really all that different than having a Publicist strategize a “chance” photo shoot of a celebrity doing something in public? Is it all that different than running a commercial on TV or sending out a Press Release? Or filming a music video where the artists lip sync while thousands of screaming fans look on?

I think the best practice is to grow your audience, attract your Facebook Likes, acquire multi-star ratings on Amazon, and gather +1s on Google+ by doing something well. That seems to be good advice.

However, in the grand scheme of things, who really cares how many Twitter followers someone has, fake or otherwise? I really don’t care. If you’d have told someone, even you, 20 years ago about Twitter, you’d have laughed a part of your anatomy off. It’s really a silly thing. Social networks in general are silly. Facebook is silly, Twitter is silly, and so on. LinkedIn is pretty good because it’s professional and you can actually measure its value but it’s the exception.

So many people use bots and automated tweeter software that everyone is tweeting but not that many people are reading. Twitter users tweet about everything and they expect that someone is reading their stuff but it really just goes into the electronic aethers to compete with all the other bots and automated quips, fluff, and “sage” advice.

This was an experiment for me. The greatest lesson that I’ve personally learned from it is that Twitter, Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and Bitcoin only have value if you give them value–or if “everyone else” gives them value and you join in. On their own, they have none.

Now, how much will it cost me to get rid of the fake Twitter followers? Adding followers is easier than getting rid of them. There are services that want to charge you to do this but I think I’ll just wait it out and let Twitter Darwinism take effect. There is a person on, oddly enough, who’ll remove 500 fake followers for $5. So, it costs $20 to buy 15K followers and $150 to remove them. Not a chance.

*People who use Twitter, often as their own platform. Think digital graffiti artists.

** supports sellers of all kinds of “gigs” as they call them. From voiceovers to art to music and, of course, Twitter followers. The site is legitimate and most of the sellers are as well.

Related Articles:

I Bought 27,000 Fake Twitter Followers—and Then Twitter Zapped Them Into Oblivion

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mymosaic App (Product Review)

April 12, 2013 Comments off

mymosaic’s Opening Screen

mymosaic App
MindTrip Studios, LLC.
iPhone, iPod and iPad compatible.
$0.99 from the Apple Store
Facebook Page

Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to make photo mosaics but never had the patience to copy, cut, paste, arrange, repeat. Making mosaic pictures back then is kind of like shooting stop motion videos: the result is so cool but the process is so painful. Well, technology finally caught up with my hedonism/laziness/lack of patience in the form of an iGadget app. Currently, the mymosaic app is only available for Apple products. And for 99 cents, you can’t beat the price.

The two best places to see examples of mymosaic and the creative possibilities are on the mymosaic Facebook page and on the mymosaicapp Twitter feed. There are some OMG photos on there. But don’t be intimidated by them because you too can produce such images with your photos in minutes. Seriously.

You can save your finished mosaics in a variety of sizes while it’s still in the buffer. See the size chart below:

  • Mobile – Optimized size for mobile to mobile viewing.
  • Small – 10″x10″
  • Medium – 20″x20″
  • Large – 30″x30″

The Large size gives you the opportunity to save your mosaic in poster size without losing detail.

There’s only one problem with the mymosaic app and I hope MindTrip fixes it because, for me, it’s a major problem. You can only select an entire album instead of individual pictures to create your mosaics. You’ll see what I mean during the following mosaic creation tutorial.

Mosaic creation

Take new photo or select from an album

Take new photo or select from an album

When you create a new mosaic, either you can take a new photo for the main picture or select one from one of your albums. That part is fine. Step two is to adjust the mosaic options such as number of tiles, color shift, variety, tile consolidation, framed pictures and tile source.

When you select tile source, you’re only given the option of selecting entire albums. I want to be able to select individual pictures for the tiles. What if I want to create a mosaic of my daughter that’s composed of a picture of me and a picture of my wife (Get it?)? I would have to empty out my Camera Roll or create a new album and copy the two pictures into it that I want to use. Both options are kind of a pain.

Options Screen

mymosaic’s Option Screen

Once you’ve selected your album, you tap Done to return to the options page and tap Make Mosaic. Your finished mosaic appears ready for you to save to your Camera Roll or to share on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or Flickr.

If you don’t like the way your mosaic looks, you can tap the back arrow and adjust your options and recreate the mosaic by tapping Make Mosaic again. You don’t have to recreate it from scratch, since the app holds your source photo and album in a buffer.

You won’t lose the mosaic you’re working on unless you return to the main screen where you select to take a new picture or select one from an album.

The mymosaic app is easy to use and a lot of fun to experiment with. I’ve sent some of my mosaics to Wal-Mart‘s photo lab to be printed and they look very cool. It’s a great way to see your handiwork in a short period of time, since most cities have a Wal-Mart with a short turn-around time photo lab. You can load your pictures into their website and pick up your printed pictures in about two hours.

I really like mymosaic. It’s the app I’ve looked for to create the effect that I’ve longed for: photo mosaics. Below, you can see a mosaic that I quickly created during the writing of this review. The original is a store mannequin that I shot while in Las Vegas at a conference. I took the picture with the Old Camera App and I think it looks quite cool. Click on the photos to see them in full size.

You can mix and match your mosaics too. You can use a source B&W photo and use color photos to create the mosaic or vice versa. The colors will be muted but the effect is still very intriguing.

Have fun with mymosaic. I highly recommend that you buy this app if you want to experiment with mosaics. It’s the most creative fun you can have for 99 cents.

Review rating: 8/10


Original mannequin shot in black and white.


Mosaic using original photo as tile source.

A Lomographers Dream Come True: Tiffen Photo fx App (review)

March 8, 2013 Comments off

Tiffen Photo fx

Tiffen Software
Tiffen Photo fx
$2.99 Apple App Store

I don’t review many apps and there’s a good reason for it: not that many are really worth a good review. I don’t like to pan products unless I feel ripped off by them, so generally, if I review a product or piece of software, the review is going to be more positive than negative. The Tiffen Photo fx app is really good. Hopefully, that assessment is enough to pique your interest enough to read why I think it’s so good.

Tiffen’s Photo fx app is a Lomographer’s dream. I don’t know if that’s what Tiffen had in mind when they created this little gem but it certainly was the outcome, for me, at least.

I am a Lomographer. I own multiple cameras and much to my wife’s chagrin, I often lug two or more at a time with us on walks, trips and events. Yes, I also own a nice Canon EOS T3 digital SLR and an iPhone 4 with camera apps but I like the look and feel of film too.

However, <deep breath> I sometimes forego packing up like a beast of photographic burden and just carry my iPhone. Luckily for me I have Tiffen’s Photo fx app to make up for the unbearable lightness of being sans plastic cameras.

But enough about me and my hangups, you want to know about my review of the Photo fx app. Well, I like it. I like it a lot. In fact, I can just about reproduce every “Lomo” effect with it that I can get with one of my many Lo-Fi cameras. It pains me to say that because I really love my cheap, crappy cameras that most people would toss away like yesterday’s newspaper. Sorry about the newspaper reference there–I guess I’m not only dating myself but am going retro again.

The Photo fx app’s main screen allows you to either take a new photo or dig one out of your Camera’s photo gallery. The “effect” is the same so don’t sweat it if you didn’t take the picture with Photo fx. Once you either take a new photo or select one from your gallery of masterpieces, the fun begins.

There are dozens, if not hundreds (I don’t have the patience to count) of effects that await your creative eye. And these aren’t “canned” effects–each one is adjustable on one to three different parameters. The parameters could be brightness, blurriness, sharpness, skew, color intensity and many more. Each effect has its own range of things (parameters) that you can change for that effect.

One of the many effects is Photographic, which mimics different film types, filter types, exposures and so on. If you’re a photographer with any chops, you know what I mean. There are five pages of these photographic effects that vary from these yellows to blues, greens, reds and some other “one off” colors such as amber.

This single effect almost makes fun of photographic anachronists like myself because of the range of predictable creativity you get with it. You don’t get this kind of predictability with film or even digital cameras. You have to import the photos into another expensive program that will remain nameless here and then you have to manipulate it with masks, layers and so on until you get the right visual effect. Sure, your results might be a little better but I’ll have mine on Twitter or in an article way before you will.

The next two screen shots give you a look at two other effect matrices available to you: Special FX and Tint.


I took this picture of the iconic landmark Las Vegas sign on my recent trip. I’d never seen the sign before and had to do it this time. My wife and I walked from Mandalay Bay to the sign and back. We stayed at Caesar’s Palace and walked to Mandalay Bay first, then on to the sign. Not a short trek.

I used the sign because it has a good range of colors and it’s something that’s familiar to everyone.

The Tiffen Photo fx app is a very good buy at $2.99. It sounds a little pricey for an app but you’ll find no other app or three apps that can do all that it does. And in photographic equipment dollars, this app definitely saves some big bucks with its many effects–some of which would only be available through some darkroom trickery or expensive software manipulation.

tpx_tintI give the Tiffen Photo fx app a solid 9 out of 10. Though it’s totally worth it, the price still leaves me a little flat. I think they’d get more traction at $1.99 but it’s not my call. It’s still a bargain at $2.99, especially if you’re an avid iPhoneographer like me. I say, “Get it.”

Review: 9/10

Recommendation: Get it.

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