John Tierney on decision fatigue

Posted on August 30th, 2011 by John Nicholson

Last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine has a great piece on “decision fatigue” and willpower, by my favorite Times columnist John Tierney.  It’s adapted from his forthcoming book on the topic with FSU social psychologist Roy Baumeister — the leading proponent of the idea that willpower is a like a muscle that can be worn out over the course of a day, and built up through practice.  He and his colleagues have conducted fascinating experiments in this area over the last decade, including some related to glucose levels that Tierney highlights here.  I’m fired up for the book and will try to review it next month when it comes out; in the meantime be sure to check out the Times article.

UPDATE: I’ve posted a review of Willpower. (10/29/11)


KikScore’s interview with John

Posted on August 16th, 2011 by John Nicholson

KikScore, an online trust scoring service, interviewed me recently about my experience with Marketade and my advice for small businesses.  They’ve just posted the interview on their blog, under the generous title “Turning Sites into Gold.”

Thanks to Raj and Brad from KikScore for inviting me to do the interview and making it happen.  It was a lot of fun.


Wanted: social media intern

Posted on August 11th, 2011 by John Nicholson

Know any college students interested in marketing or social media?  Please send them the job description below!


Marketade, an internet marketing and web development consultancy based in DC, is seeking 1-2 social media interns eager to gain real-world experience marketing companies through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

For each client we assign you to, you will play a key role in their social media efforts. Some of the things you’ll do are:

- Find informative articles and other content on the web and post about it on Twitter and Facebook
- Create Facebook pages from scratch
- Use Twitter search tools and techniques to find potential customers and engage in relevant conversations
- Think up ways to increase fans and followers
- Use social media tools to manage activities
- Use analytics tools to measure and report results

Some of the companies you might help:

- Home remodeler
- Regional gym chain
- Health care web app
- Food and beverage startup
- IT services company

We’re looking for someone who:

. . . can work remotely. We do have office space in the U Street corridor and we’d meet with you in person once in a while, but most of the time you’ll be telecommuting.
. . . likes working independently. This is a very hands-off role. We’ll give you guidance and goals, but for the most part we’re going to rely on you to make things happen.
. . . writes well and is not afraid of numbers.
. . . is passionate about social media marketing.
. . . is eager to gain real-world marketing experience and make a measurable impact.

The internship is unpaid, but the skills and experience you’ll pick up will be very valuable. Hours are flexible.

Interested? Please send your resume and a few sentences about why you’re interested to


How to respond to a negative review on Yelp: a quick case study

Posted on August 4th, 2011 by John Nicholson

A few weeks ago, one of our DC area clients received an extremely negative, 1-star review on Yelp.  This was worrisome because the company only has a few other reviews showing on its Yelp page — 2 of which are negative — and because its Yelp page ranks well on Google brand searches and gets a lot of traffic.

Within a couple weeks the customer of the 1-star review had removed it, and how this happened is a good case study in responding to negative reviews.  Here’s what we did:

1. Within a few hours we worked with the client company to craft and send a private response via Yelp.  The reviewer had gripes about the company’s lack of responsiveness to his inquiries.  The response, which came from a senior manager at the company, apologized authentically to the reviewer and thanked him for his feedback; this was in fact valuable feedback and we appreciated it.  The response then provided a number to call and requested that he respond with his number.

2. He responded within a day with his number.  The senior manager at the company called him a couple times and eventually connected, apologizing again and doing anything possible to help.  It turned out the reviewer didn’t need the company’s services, but he left the call with a much better impression.  The company did not ask the reviewer to change or remove the review.

3. We waited.

4. Within a day of the phone call, the reviewer removed the review and emailed the company via Yelp to say why he’d done so.

Notice that 1) in our initial contact, we did not respond publicly to the reviewer (as tempting as it was to do so), and 2) we did not push him to remove the review at any point in the process.  We first gave him a chance to decide to remove it himself.  What if he hadn’t removed it?  We might have reached out to him again via Yelp email after a week or two.  Or we might have replied publicly.  Or we might have done both.

For more on how to deal with negative Yelp reviews, see this blog post in the New York Times and this blog post on Yelp.