Online Marketing: Statement vs. Reality

Hey ladies and gents! If you’ve ever thought about hiring an SEO or online marketing agency – or maybe you’re already working with one – you’re sure to have heard a lot of interesting sounding statements. But let’s face it – online marketers spend so much time in their industry bubbles that sometimes it can be hard to discern what exactly they’re saying. Let’s dig deeper into some commonly used phrases you’re sure to be hearing and get the truth behind the matter.

Statement: “We do content marketing”
Reality: ”Our entire link building program consists of guest blogging.”

Explanation: I know it’s confusing, but for the great majority of online marketing firms, “Content Marketing” is defined by producing semi-useful blog posts to be placed on websites  that virtually nobody will ever actually visit. While they may occasionally suggest that you produce an infographic or send you the odd e-mail full of “fun ideas” they had for videos, rest assured: they wouldn’t have the foggiest idea of how to move forward even if you accepted these proposals.

Statement: “We’ve prepared a content calendar for your blog.”
Reality: “Here are a collection of sensational sounding titles written by a guy with a computer science degree after a five-minute internal focus group and a few hours spent reading YOUMoz.”

Explanation: The whole shift to content caught much of the online marketing industry, which consisted of a lot of tech-heads and programmers gone rogue, by surprise. In the aftermath (and thanks to many motivational keynotes at annual conferences), these guys have had it drilled into their heads that they are fit (and required!) to instruct a company in the ways of tone, voice, audience and message. Smile, nod and then hire a capable copywriter.

Statement: “We’re really focused on post-penguin strategies”
Reality: “We got massively burned by Penguin and we’re not entirely sure what to do next, but we think it might be guest blogging”

Explanation: Penguin torched an awful lot of well-meaning SEO’s. In an effort to show you that they are not at all like the last company you worked with, who built forum profile links and spun content and mass-spammed blogs, they will try to demonstrate how forward thinking they are by mentioning that yes, they did indeed hear about the latest update. They likely won’t tell you that two small business clients no longer rank for their brand names.

Statement: “We’ve only ever done White-hat link building”
Reality: “We are liars.”

Explanation: Any SEO who has been in the industry more than five minutes has a skeleton in their closet. If you want to kick up the dust on an incredibly benign debate, mention how building or manipulating ANY kind of link for the purpose of ranking is technically black hat. Grab your popcorn and hop in your recliner – you’re going to be there awhile.

Statement: “We’re all about building your brand.”
 Reality: “We learned that spouting vague platitudes helps you trust us.”

Explanation: SEO’s at large suffer from delusions of grandeur where they actually believe that they’re capable of usurping your entire marketing department and seizing control of each and every function of that department. Let them persist in this delusion by stating how excited you are to hear that, then gently pointing out that you’re already working with a traditional agency/PR firm/internal marketing team but “would be happy to loop them in”. They’ll go wild at this point, probably sighing in relief on the inside since they won’t actually have to try to demonstrate their half-baked brand building abilities (most of which consist of blog posting).

 Statement: “The competition has really increased in your vertical”
Reality: “We have no clue as to why your rankings dropped and this is the most feasible excuse we can offer while we search for an explanation.”

Explanation: To be fair, SEO is kind of a slippery animal; a lot can happen and it can be difficult to understand exactly why some things transpire. Send them an e-mail telling them that you completely understand, but look forward to hearing more details as far as exactly how the competition increased and why. You’ll scare the hell out of them.

Well! That was fun.

Hopefully you’ve got a better picture of what it is your agencies and contractors actually mean when they’re busy flapping their gums! If demand is there, maybe I’ll publish a few more of these insightful little looks into the dizzying world of lingo, smoke and mirrors that online marketing is. Until then:

Cynically yours,

Joel

 

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“Just An” Average Bearded Man Tells of Shepherding 879 Twitter Followers

This first-ever guest post comes to you from The Saloon of Literature‘s resident Shakespeare action figure, who painstakingly typed each and every keystroke with his tiny little arms. He loves surfing and women. 

Bethlehem, Maine – Jay O. Vahh, a local man working in a nearby carpentry supply store, recently sat down to break bread with us. Being so forgiving with his time, offering a number of revelations arisen from the conversation, you may say Jay O. Vahh is a man of the people.

Jay voiced his concern in minding his duties at the store while his 800+ Twitter followers roam free, without the shepherd of his guidance and daily ponderings, commanding on how people should treat one another, their spouses, moms and dads, asserting other do-good gestures and confessions.

“People think having followers is just something you’re destined to do, like anyone can be ordained with the power to leverage the free platform,” O. Vahh relishes. “Today, I have 879 followers, but the good words are spreading through retweets and MTs. It’s like I say something I believe in, and others accept to believe it too, spreading the word, thus strengthening my initial intuition about being right about what I initially said.”

Jay makes a bit more than minimum wage working at the supply shop. “I’m a humble person. I usually walk barefoot wherever it’s permissible; if not then I’m in my Birkenstocks. I am not avaricious; I believe a more industrious, ‘higher calling’ will reveal itself to me at a later time.”

“For now, my main focus is attending to my Twitter stream and followers; some praise my tweets, calling me a bibliophile, not saving grace in anointing me with other verbal acts of kindness.”

Jay recently cut his hours at the shop, being the paragon of honesty in telling his boss, “Listen, we all have to make sacrifices, maybe bearing the cross of past decisions, but no one can presage the future. My followers need me. I’m just an average Jay O. on this bus of life, trying to make his way home.”

Jay gave us a gentle handshake and kind eyes as he departed, reminding us to believe him when he uttered, “I will return in three days. Stay out of trouble,” devilishly quipping at the bottom, “Well, maybe just a bit of trouble, but I didn’t say so.”

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Immortals Review: The Best Comedy of 2011

Immortals is the movie that happens when you combine an extremely capable special effects and filming crew with a plot that feels like it was bashed out in a few hours by a frat house in a community college somewhere in the deep south.

The film is supposed to be an epic tale of love, war, betrayal and sacrifice. Instead it’s the unintentional best comedy I’ve seen this year. Without further adieu, here’s my Immortals review; a but complete break down of this comedy masterpiece.

“Plot? What Plot!”

An evil king named Hyperion with an awful case of sliced-up-face is looking for a magical bow so that he can use it to unleash the titans and… well, that’s where things get confusing.

It’s not exactly clear WHAT Hyperion is after. He’s pissed off at the gods so he wants to unleash the titans to get back at them for not listening to his prayers. I forget what he prayed for – probably no bad dreams, nice weather and for that girl he has a crush on to like him. He’s storming around Greece with a lot of his scar-faced friends, killing folks and looking for the bow while wearing a bunch of really menacing masks and a hat that looks like it was stolen from Lady Gaga’s walk-in closet.

He finds out that there’s a magical virgin who wears a lot of low cut dresses and just so happens to see visions (but only if she keeps her v-card). He figures she could probably tell him where the bow is. The only problem is, the virgin keeps 3 friends around to help conceal her identity. Oh – and she also had a vision of Hyperion coming for her, so they left before he arrived at their monastery (where they’ve been causing many a monk to stumble with their low-cut tops for years).

The first hilarious death comes when Hyperion lights a priest on fire after spitting into a bowl of holy water. It’s like an Ozzy Osbourne music video.

We soon see Theseus chopping some wood with his shirt off (cue the whooping and hollering of women movie-goers). Anyways, Theseus is a real bastard. Yeah, actually. Someone knocked up his mom and took off, so everyone shuns them. To cope, he channeled his childhood angst into doing a lot of sit ups and training to fight with a really old man.

Now you get treated to the next stupid hat: some sort of holy man wearing a three foot candlestick on his head. If that doesn’t sound very practical or safe to you, that’s because it’s not. I can’t even imagine how many times that guy got hot wax in his eyes.

Theseus lives in a village carved out of the side of a mountain with only one staircase leading into it. A friendly army rolls in and tells everyone they need to leave town because Hyperion is coming and they’re all going to die. If it were me, I’d be strategizing as to how I might push a whole lot of bad guys off of a really narrow mountain staircase. But oh no! The army won’t let Theseus and his mom leave with everyone else because they’re undesirable peasants. Theseus decides violence is the best solution and beats a bunch of them up.

One of the beaten up soldiers gets fired from the army and defects to Hyperion, but not before killing the first black guy to show up in the movie. Classy. When the traitor goes to visit the enemy, Hyperion gives a massive speech about how the traitor is a coward. Hyperion goes on to say that his seed is powerful and his nuts are going to be his legacy. He then makes sure that the defector has his face scarred up so he fits in with the rest of the guys.

In a surprise twist, the defector is promptly whacked in the balls with a giant jackhammer by a guy in a bull hat. For real.

Hell of an initiation process you’ve got there, Hyperion. “Welcome to the army! Spread ‘em!” – Unrealistically, the defector’s voice is completely unaffected by having his junk pummeled by a ten thousand pound mallet.

At some point a monk in a sparkly hood decides to cut his tongue off instead of tell Hyperion where the virgin oracle in the slutty dress is. Now there’s dedication. Hyperion decides this guy isn’t worth playing whack-a-mole with and he gets sent to the salt mines. A lanky monk with no ability to speak is perfect for manual labor.

You also find out that the old guy who was training Theseus is actually - gasp - ZEUS! He has a chat with Athena about how nobody should meddle with human affairs, but how that’s okay if you’re in human form because he’s Zeus and he gets to make all the rules. This whole scene is incredibly awkward. You get the feeling that despite the fact that Athena is his daughter, Zeus totally wants to bang her. He gently strokes her face and speaks like a Spaniard reciting poetry. It made me really uncomfortable.

Back to the story.

Theseus returns from a big day out caressing a tree to find out that somehow an entire army snuck down the only staircase and pillaged his village. Dang it, I hate it when that happens! He kills a lot of them before Hyperion slits his Mom’s throat and says “witness hell”. He gets dragged off to the salt mines to chill with the tongueless monk.

Theseus and a line of prisoners carrying big sticks (you need those in the salt mines) march through the desert to a pool of water. But lo and behold, who should show up but all 4 of the oracle harem? Apparently they got captured, so the tongueless monk cut out his tongue for no reason. Bummer. Looks like he won’t be going to choir practice anymore. The oracle chicks abandoned their tight fitting outfits for a more modest burkha look. They also inexplicably glue lampshades to their heads.

Theseus is sitting around, deliberately not drinking any water because apparently he’s so tough he never gets thirsty. The virgin oracle plays footsies with him and sees a vision. She tells him everyone’s going to escape that night. He of course believes the mystery woman with the ornate headpiece.

Night falls and the oracle babes lure the guards by getting back in their skimpy outfits and chanting in a circle. They then pull out the knives they’ve concealed this entire time. Those Herkalion guards suck at pat down security. The holy rollers free the slaves, including a thief and some conveniently muscly guy who is never given a name.

That’s the basic character frame for most of the people in this movie. You don’t ever give a crap about any of them because there’s no substance or personality. The thief is supposed to be the perverted comic relief and the other guy is just uptight, really good at fighting and loyal for no reason.

SPOILER ALERT: Both of them die, and you’re not going to care at all.

Everybody escapes the middle of the big empty field and spontaneously finds themselves in the mountains overlooking an ocean made of oil. A conversation ensues – the thief reveals he doesn’t believe in the gods because they never gave him the horse he prayed for, so he stole one. Ha! Ha!

Then they argue. The sultry virgin wants to go one way, the forgettable thief another and Theseus wants to go after Hyperion for killing his mom and uttering cheesy evil anecdotes. For no  good reason, everyone decides they’d better follow Theseus. Maybe because he has the nicest abs.

Cut back to Hyperion. He’s pissed that a bunch of women beat up his facially traumatized buddies, so he stabs one of his own men after dangling a knife deadly close to one of the girls’ eyeballs. It makes a world of sense.

Trouble On The Oily Seas

Theseus and company try to hijack a conveniently approaching boat, but Hyperion’s motley crew in bondage masks get the upper hand. That is, until Poseidon dives into the ocean and causes a massive tidal wave that smashes the boat to pieces on the coast side. Don’t worry though, in a scene worthy of two Schwarzenegger thumbs up, everyone good jumps off the boat and Theseus barely grabs a conveniently placed rope in time to swing to safety. They all get covered by oil – the virgin chick takes a shower a few feet away from the burly men. Miraculously her clothes aren’t soaked in oil somehow but all of the men are covered from head to toe. Maybe she had a Tide pocket stick.

The virgin chick shares her vision with Theseus and decides they all better go back to his village and bury his mom since her dead, limp body has just been decaying in town square for the past few days/weeks/months.

Theseus thinks this is a peachy keen idea so everyone goes back to his home town. While he’s roughly shoving his mom’s corpse into the side of a wall he stumbles across a bow sticking out of the rock that people had somehow overlooked for centuries on end. Great hiding place, gods! An inconspicuous giant pile of rocks in the middle of a temple!

Using a nearby hammer (common in temples) he smashes the rock, grabs the bow and is about to make an escape when that scary man in the bull hat throws a meat cleaver from the Martha Stewart collection at him and groans a lot.

They fight and the bull man gets his head cut off and tossed into the ocean, but not before he scratches Theseus with his pointy hat which is also covered in poison! Theseus goes outside to discover all of his forgettable friends have been attacked by S&M enthusiasts. He shoots four magical arrows from his new peter pan bow and kills all the bad guys. Hooray!

Sadly, the nameless muscle man is already dead. What a tragedy, he added so much to the story.

Romance & More Stupid Hats

Theseus collapses from the deadly hat poison and wakes up in a house where the virgin oracle is watching over him. Lured by his chiseled torso and with absolutely no hesitation whatsoever, she decides that she doesn’t want to see the future anymore. Not like that’s a tough decision or anything.

Cue the first ever mooning by an enormous 3D ass. She drops her robe and her tailpipe occupies roughly 75% of the entire screen. It’s so lifelike you’d swear you could reach out and put a delicate finger in each gigantic butt-dimple jutting out at you. They get in bed, Barry White plays and he bangs those visions right out of her head. Now I’ll have to refer to her as the non-virgin oracle – or, “completely average chick now tagging along for the ride.”

The scene was pretty anti-climactic. I mean, she’s supposed to be the pure, virgin oracle – but there’s no sense of tension here. “Yeah, no big deal, just nailing that holy girl who used to be able to see the future over here!”

Cut to a scene where Hyperion needlessly kills someone by jamming his thumbs in his eyes. Oh, how I laughed. Working for Hyperion totally sucks.

Onward, ho!

Now it’s time for them to go back to the former-virgin’s temple for some reason. When they get there, the three other oracle chicks are busy being baked alive inside of Hyperion’s cow-shaped easy bake oven. Theseus and his friends tip over the cow but golly gee, it’s too late. Someone already set the cow to “broil”.

The tongueless monk, who is still annoyingly tagging along, does everyone in the audience a favor by rushing down the steps and into a suicide battle where the enemy (complete with their Slipknot masks) kills him instantly.

Theseus chases after him (perhaps they’d forged a friendship over sign language) and quickly finds himself outnumbered. He drops the bow. Great work, butterfingers. Aries comes down from heaven wearing the funniest hat yet – a gigantic punk-inspired gold mohawk. He slows down time and explodes a bunch of heads with chains and a hammer and the like, but not before a dog grabs the bow from Theseus and takes off.

Seriously, Aries? You can explode the heads of 15 dudes with swords but you can’t chase down a puppy with a giant stick? In the meantime, Athena comes down from heaven wearing a plunger on her head and gives Theseus two horses that have the sad mission of running until they die. The thief offers a cringe-worthy line about getting the pony he’d always prayed for.

Then Zeus comes down with a similarly hilarious hat that looks like a crock pot and gets really upset about Aries helping Theseus. He blasts Aries through 18 stone walls with a flaming whip and kills him, completely ruining his hat in the process. Bummer, bad day for Aries. Athena cries. Zeus does too for some reason. They go back to heaven, presumably to have awkward conversations with sexual overtones.

Theseus and his bland crew ride the horses all the way to some city with a wall the size of the hoover dam. The horses unsurprisingly die of exhaustion. Athena wasn’t kidding. Nobody cares; they probably get turned into glue.

Theseus tries to convince some old fart dressed like the pope that Hyperion can’t be negotiated with. The old fart doesn’t believe in the gods and thinks diplomacy is a better answer than blindly charging into war. Bad choice, old man. If there’s any message we need more movies sending, it’s that conversation and rationality never did anybody any good.

A bunch of really boring, needless stuff happens.

Theseus confronts Hyperion and they call each other names. OooOoh. Foreshadowing. Whatever.

Then the battle begins when Hyperion (complete with his gargantuan lobster hat) shoots an arrow that explodes the door of the tunnel leading through the gigantic city wall. Now hold on a second. You’ve got a bow that can smash through rock with unlimited magical ammo. Why not just keep firing? Blast a few more entry points for your army? Bring the entire wall down? I guess that would ruin the bulletproof plot, so forget it.

The men inside the tunnel all rush back in fear, so Theseus delivers an extremely cliche speech about fighting for what you love. The men rhythmically tap their shields, signifying that now they are no longer scared like they were 30 seconds ago.

The brainless enemy rushes in and Hyperion disappears up a staircase that is, for reasons unexplained, completely unguarded except by one older guy who sucks at fighting.

“Hey! You there! Guard this crucial access point! The rest of us will just fight down here, no big deal. You’ve got this, buddy!”

Soon, Hyperion is off skipping to the top so he can shoot his atomic bow and arrow through a mountainside and unleash the titans. He completely misses the fact that the former-oracle-now-token-ambiguous-ethnicity-chick is hiding in a little room the size of a phone booth right next to where he blasts a hole clean through the entire rock face, so she lives. It’s her lucky day I guess. Theseus swings by shortly after with that thief nobody knows the name of.

The titans get unleashed from their cage in a blinding flash of light that makes Theseus’ ears bleed. Hyperion decides to leave the room for no good reason, abandoning his fancy hat in the process. The thief falls into the pit with the titans and grabs the bow. He manages to shoot one of them before the director saddens absolutely nobody by killing him off.

The gods come down, a fight breaks out and a bunch of “extra” gods you’ve never seen before die first. Then the big boys start going down and Athena gets impaled on something really sharp. Zeus and Athena share another ultra-sensual conversation overladen with bizarre sexual overtones that make everyone in the theater squeamish. You wonder if they’re going to make out – maybe they would have if her bowels weren’t leaking all over the floor. Poseidon gets stabbed a bunch of times. Lesson: a trident is a terribly inefficient weapon.

The Grand Finale

And now we’ve arrived at that part of the movie where the fine folks who wrote the script need to find some way to stop everyone from fighting since they’ve run out of cool death ideas and want to keep the movie from falling into Titanic-esque length. That special part where suddenly every single bloodthirsty enemy spontaneously decides, “Woah! All this fighting is really dangerous! I could get hurt out here!” and lays down their weapon/runs away like a little girl/gets obliterated.

Whether it’s some switch that deactivates the entire clone army, the de-motivational death of a key leader, the arrival of an unexpected ally, the casting of a ring into a fiery pit (I’m looking at YOU, Frodo) or some sort of magical voodoo, most movies rely on one massive moment to wrap up their battle scene and get the show on the road.

In this case, Zeus decides that he’s had enough of all his friends dying to half naked gray dudes, so he grabs two giant golden chains and pulls down a mountain. Selectively, of course. See, the mountain only collapses on the side where Hyperion’s army is camping out. The scar faces get buried in an avalanche of demi-god boulders while the nice little city on the other side full of women and children doesn’t see so much as a pebble fall from the skies. Good aim with that mountain implosion, Zeus! It’s a shame none of those Heraklions are going to be able to take their wives dancing after the war.

In the mean time, our boy Theseus is busy having his life handed to him by a fat Mickey Rourke in a golden geisha mask. The battle goes about how you’d expect – Theseus getting stabbed a few times and receiving multiple kicks to his precious face (the women in the theater were particularly disturbed by this) before miraculously recovering his strength and turning the tide of the battle in a completely unexpected way.

But something’s different. Normally, just before the hero vanquishes his foe, movie cliche dictates he must deliver a witty anecdote or utter some ultra-ironic phrase as a throwback to something the villain said. I think that happened here, but I can’t be sure because the entire final scene of the battle is a series of grunt and moans.

It goes something like this:

*Theseus climbs on top of Hyperion, blade to his neck*

Theseus: “Rrrgghhgrg! You, mmnnmnrnergammmm!! I’ll grrrrrrttt!” *gasp* “hrrrrrrrrrrn!”

Hyperion: *Startled gasp* Grrrnnnnnn heerrrrrmmmmm!!!

Theseus: *Stabbing blade into Hyperion’s neck* HRRRRGHHM! WITNESS HELL!”.  *Collapses majestically*

The other people in the theater didn’t appreciate my laughter at this stage of the film, but I legitimately couldn’t tell you the final few lines because they were drenched in feral mumbling. It was like listening to Jay Leno take a dump.

Zeus grabs the body of his daughter (ZING!) and ascends back into the heavens. Theseus gets tired of being dead and decides to follow. Finally, the movie ends when you learn Theseus’ caboose-blessed wife had a son who sees dead people, setting the stage for (please God, no!) a sequel. But just before you go, as a parting gift you get to spend at least 10 seconds staring up the bottom of a man’s skirt. Thankfully, the costume department broke with the ancient Greek tradition of going commando.

Final Verdict?

I’d say this is a good movie to take your girlfriend to – after all, she’s likely to get all riled up when she sees all those glistening abs in 3D. But unless you’ve got a similar set yourself, you’re only setting her up for disappointment. This movie made me feel guilty about the large popcorn (with extra butter) I took in with me and I’ve already signed up for a gym membership.

In conclusion, I still recommend you go to this movie solely to get mooned by a giant 3D butt and watch a guy get jack hammered in the family jewels. Just don’t expect a storyline as well written as The Odyssey.

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