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The Crock Pot Girls Get Over 1,000,000 Facebook Fans in Just Two Weeks

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As I was browsing through my Facebook newsfeed this morning, something that Social Media Speaker and Trainer Mari Smith posted caught my eye. It was about the Crock Pot Girls Facebook page which has received over 1,000,000 likes in just 2 weeks!

Mari posted, “How do you get over 1,000,000 fans in two weeks?! That’s what a lot of folks are wondering. A new phenomenon Crock Pot Girls, sprung up from nowhere in mid-August and now has 1.1M likes. There is much speculation on the ‘net as to how these fans came about. Is it a bot? Is an affiliate marketer behind the page? Is it a corporate campaign, created by Crock-Pot®? Who knows…”

She also listed some blogs and sites that are asking the same question and covering the story:

It seems everyone is asking “What’s going on?”. Some are saying it’s fake and could possibly be a Facebook BOT, while others are saying they believe it’s completely legitimate.

Here’s one view of the whole situation:

Still curious but at work, I asked a friend to look up the Whois for crockpotgirls.com (not linking because their server can’t handle the traffic anyway). The site was registered on August 26, 2011 to Chase Shelby. Based on a quick search and cross reference, I learned he also owns the domains ChaseMarketingProfits.com and StephenvilleIternetMarketing.com and on related message boards he identifies himself as an Internet/affiliate marketer.

Possibly they hired him to create their website and as payment he gets whatever money he can make via affiliate ads?

I definitely plan on following this story to see if anyone from Crock Pot Girls responds. And yes, I am one of the million+ that “Liked” their page, but not until just a few minutes ago when I read about the story. They do have a website – www.crockpotgirls.com – which is very basic.

What do you think? Does this whole situation seem a little fishy to you or is the world just crazy for crockpot recipes?

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TechCrunch Editor Michael Arrington Steps Down After Six Years

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Michael Arrington, the editor of the uber-popular tech blog TechCrunch, has announced he is stepping down after six years on the job.

His next step is to head up the $20m private investment fund, CrunchFund, which is backed by AOL (who purchased TechCrunch last year) and several other venture capitalists.

Here’s a brief description of CrunchFund:

CrunchFund is an early stage venture capital firm founded by Michael Arrington and Patrick Gallagher. The fund invests in and works with information technology companies at any stage but is primarily focused on seed and early stage investments.

You can see all of the big name investors here.

Arrington will still have a role as a writer for TechCrunch, but no editorial control. His departure is raising some eyebrows as to the future of TechCrunch under AOL. Rumors of an AOL sale have also been circulating.

The Guardian reports, “More recently, rumors of a sale or plans to go private have swirled around AOL. The content company’s shares have soared 24% since Monday, to $15.19, amid speculation that the company had met bankers Allen & Company. AOL was also rumored to be considering a sale of its dial-up internet business, which accounts for about half of the company’s $1.62bn market capitalization.”

This announcement, the state of TechCrunch and the state of AOL has everyone in the tech blogging world talking.

Here is some clarification as to the relationship between TechCrunch and CrunchFund, written by TechCrunch writer Paul Carr.

Food Blogger Finds Support from Her Online Friends

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The online world is weird if you really stop to think about it. You can become very close to someone without ever having met them in person. There are certain blogging communities that are very close and one in particular is rallying around one of their own.

I’m talking about the food bloggers, the foodies, the gals and guys who tempt us with tasty recipes and jaw dropping photos of their dishes.

Jennie, from In Jennie’s Kitchen, suddenly lost her husband at the beginning of August. He was on a bike ride and died of a heart attack. Just like that and he was gone. She recently wrote a post entitled “For Mikey” and it was about his favorite peanut butter pie.

She wrote:

As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie. I haven’t made it in a while, and I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while now.

I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I’m waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

So what did her online friends and the blogging community do? They made peanut butter pies.

Ethan from TasteBetterwithFriends made Mikey’s peanut butter pie and gave it to a women’s shelter.

He wrote:

“I knew I was going to make this pie, but I felt like this was finally the time to give and share. Maybe, just maybe a group of people could bite into the decadent peanut butter and cream cheese frosting with a cookie, peanut, chocolate crust and forget their own pain for at least as long as it takes them to lick their plate clean.

I gave Mikey’s Pie to a women’s shelter.”

I absolutely love how the food blogging community is rallying around Jennie. There is currently a support fund for Jennie and her daughters that you can get involved in.

Do you have any stories of the blogging community supporting each other? We would love to hear them. And Jennie, I am making Mikey’s pie for someone I love and I’ll do as you said – hug them like there’s no tomorrow. Our thoughts are with you as you go through this time of healing.

How Bloggers Can Make The Most of The School Hours

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As the kids go back to school, we bloggers have several hours during the day to ourselves. If you are not careful, those hours will go by very quickly and you’ll find that you haven’t accomplished anything. Here are a few tips bloggers can use to make the most of school hours.

Routines. Set up a weekly routine and put it on your calendar. I like to start my week out by writing on Mondays and Tuesdays. That way I have the rest of the week for social media, meetings and anything else that comes up. Some weeks, I have to rearrange, but I try to stick to that routine. By having it on my calendar, I don’t spend any time figuring out what I need to do. I can be productive as soon as I sit down at my desk.

Do tasks that require peace and quiet. I try to schedule conference calls and meetings for the 6 hour span that all 4 of my kids are in school. I know I won’t be settling arguments while on the call. That is another reason I like to write during the day. My thoughts are not interrupted by, “I’m hungry.”

Exercise. That may sound counter productive, but if you start your day by moving your body, you will have more energy for your day. I find the days I work out, I accomplish more in less time.

Be ready when the last child leaves. Don’t use the time the kids are gone to shower and get ready for your day. Get up before the kids if you need to. Once they are out the door, you can begin your work day.

Set business hours. You may want to post your business hours on your blog. If someone is trying to contact you or set up a meeting, they know what your hours are.

Following these tips has helped me become more productive during the day which leaves me open and available to my kids after school when they need me. I have had to learn to be very flexible though. It never fails that someone will be sick or we will have snow day when I have an important meeting. I will rearrange my week so I can work around the changes. Ultimately it all comes down to managing your time well.

What tips do you have for maximizing those school hours?

Classmates.com Hit with Class Action Lawsuit for Privacy Violations

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Do you use Classmates.com or have you in the past? If so, you might like to hear about this interesting bit of news. The company is being hit with a class action lawsuit for privacy violations.

The settlement is for anyone residing in the United States who were registered with or subscribed to www.classmates.com at any time beginning on October 30, 2004 through February 23, 2011. The lawsuit claims “Classmates sent e-mail to subscribers of www.classmates.com that violated the law and the privacy rights of subscribers”, among other things.

Classmates has denied any wrongdoing, but has agreed, because of risks and expenses of continuing this lawsuit, that a settlement is appropriate.

What will you get if you join the settlement? They’ve guesstimated around $10 per person, payable through Paypal or a physical check. That’s obviously not a lot of money, but most likely people will join the lawsuit to make a statement regarding their privacy.

To access the claim form, go here.

This lawsuit opens up some interesting questions as to what can happen if the public’s privacy is violated. Facebook has beefed up their privacy and others might want to take note of this.

So, let’s open up the discussion – What does this lawsuit say to you about privacy violations and should other companies pay attention to it?

Why Mom Blogs Work for Both Readers & Brands

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It’s no secret that mom blogs are popular and that many of them have a large following, but what is it exactly that attracts both readers and brands? (Be sure and read this guest post about setting up your blog to work with brands.)

Stacy DeBroff, CEO and founder of Boston-based Mom Central, says mom blogs work because of the fact that moms rely on first person recommendations. Moms know that and brands know that. Word-of-mouth advertising has always been the best and fastest way to spread the word about a certain product or a new restaurant up the road. The way that message is being delivered though, has changed with the current 5 million mom blogs out there.

Moms also control the majority of the spending in the family, which affects greatly the way advertisers reach their audience.

In an interview with Tech Journal South, DeBroff said, “They not only control the majority of the spend in a family household, they’ve expanded their footprint. But now they’re the ones getting the cell phones, booking travel, and making what were once male-dominated purchases. They control 90 percent of the household spend.”

DeBroff also said that what moms want from brands are communication, interaction and a chance to experience their products.

In a guest post on PRNewser, she gave five tips on working with moms. Some of the tips included connecting via conversation and fostering connectivity. You can read the article in its entirety here.

We would love to hear from you mom bloggers. Why do you think mom blogs work so well and are so well received among other women, as well as the brands who are trying to reach them?

Image: SXC

Forkly iPhone App Helps You Find Food and Drink You’ll Love

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A new iPhone app has joined the quickly-becoming-crowded space of food apps. It’s called Forkly and it helps you find food and drink you’ll love. Not only does it help you find new restaurants you might like, but once you’re at the restaurant, it will recommend dishes to try as well based on your own personal tastes.

Brady Becker and Martin May, founders of Brightkite, developed the new app. Forkly has actually been talked about for a year, but it’s finally here and made it’s quiet entrance into the world of apps last night.

Some are comparing this new app to another one called Foodspotting, but they say it focuses more on ratings than the actual pictures of the food, like Foodspotting does. After users note how they feel about a certain dish – like, love, okay or not for me  – Forkly creates a taste graph for each individual user, which helps in letting you know about other dishes you might enjoy.

There are many more features to this app for restaurants and bars, brands and even the media and bloggers. For bloggers in particular, you can share your tastes on Facebook and Twitter while you’re out and about. You can also embed tastes into your blog, as well as earn points when people like the tastes you post.

I can see this easily integrating into a personal, food, or travel blog really well.

Check out more of the features here and download the app at the Apple store here.

So tell us foodie and travel bloggers – how can you see yourself using this app on your blog?

Setting Up Your Blog To Work With Brands

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We know that Moms “like” brands on Facebook, but how will the brands find your blog? You’ve set up your blog and now you want to start working with brands. It isn’t as simple as, “if you build it, they will come.”

I’m going to assume that you have your blog set up and you have been blogging long enough to have content on your blog. You may not have found your niche, but you should have an idea of what topics you are most passionate about.

1. About Me Page. This page is a must if you want to work with brands. Make your About Me page unique to you. Smashing Magazine has a great post with examples of unique About Me pages.

2. Contact Information. This seems obvious, but so often I find a blog I love and I want to contact the blogger and I can’t find their contact information. If you are uncomfortable putting your email on your blog, add a contact form page. Links to your Twitter and Facebook page should be included also.

3. Review and/or Brand Posts. You do not need to be working with brands to write about brands. If there is a brand you are passionate about and want to work with, then start writing about the brand in a natural way. Brands want to work with bloggers who are already passionate about their products. If you use their products, you will be able to write about why the product improves your life.

4. Media Page and/or Media Kit. You do not need to put all your stats and advertising rates on your blog, but you should make it easy for PR or brands to request the information. Here are some resources to help you write your media kit.

5. Highlight Your Top Posts. Add your top posts to your sidebar. This will help both new readers and brands find the posts that are most popular on your blog.

6. Pictures. Be sure you have lots of pictures on your blog. Pictures make your blog more interesting and fun. You want to be able to highlight brands in the best way possible and pictures can tell a great story.

7. Good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. You may have the best content on the Internet, but if no one can find it, then it is useless. You don’t need to write for search engines, but think about what words you would use if you were looking for the information you are writing about. Research keywords before writing your posts. Good SEO can be achieved while keeping your posts interesting.

Even if you have all 7 on your blog, you will need to do some leg work. Pitch the brands yourself if they are not finding you. Attending a conference is a great way to meet up with many brands in person.

What tips do you have for finding brands to work with?

LG Text Ed Program “Schools” Bloggers at BlogHer 2011

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For those of you who attended BlogHer 2011 in San Diego this weekend, you may have had the chance to be “schooled” by LG Mobile and their advisory board members Jane Lynch and Rosalind Wiseman. The LG Text Ed was in session educating bloggers about teen mobile phone misuse and providing parents with valuable resources so they can teach responsible phone use to their children.

Bloggers had the chance to meet and hear from “Glee” actress Jane Lynch and best-selling author Rosalind Wiseman.

“I am amazed by the reach and influence of these women,” said Jane Lynch, actress and LG Text Ed advisory council member. “Because so many female bloggers are mothers themselves, they carry tremendous credibility amongst parents and they have the power to raise awareness about the potential dangers and consequences of risky mobile phone behavior.”

Check out this video clip from the event at BlogHer 2011.

The “LG Social Media Station”, gave bloggers the chance to test out LG’s latest Android-tablet, the T-Mobile® G-Slate™ with Google™ by LG. They posted updates to their blogs with the device, as well as status updates to Twitter and Facebook.

Did you attend this event and if so, what did you learn about responsible phone use for kids and the new Android tablet?

Teacher Who Called Students “Lazy Whiners” On Blog Has Legal Right to Return to Class

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Natalie Munroe

Natalie Munroe, an English teacher at a Philadelphia high school, was suspended after officials found out about her blog where she referred to her students as “disengaged, lazy whiners” and “frightfully dim”.

Her students discovered her blog and posted it all over their social media sites. Although she wrote under another name, her post entitled “Where Are We Going & Why Are We in This Handbasket”, included her picture. Given the power of social media, it didn’t take long for school officials to find out about the blog and Munroe was suspended.

She has now been reinstated as a teacher, because legally, she has a right to her job. The principal of the high school told the Philadelphia Inquirer that around 60 students have requested to not be put in Munroe’s 11th grade English and Debate classes.

Will she return to the school where it obviously seems like most students do not want her there? Her lawyer said she is not commenting at this time, but did say she prefers to work at another school.

This goes back to the post I wrote the other day “Do You Think Teachers Should Blog?“. How do teachers blog without crossing lines like Munroe did?

 

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