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Yearly Archives: 2009

Google Commerce Search

google-commerce-search Google is slowly trying to tap into the online commerce market by launching yet another product for this specific niche (after Google Checkout) – Google Commerce Search.

So If you’re running your own online shop, this brand new Google Commerce Search may be worth looking at. Google describes this as a “search solution designed specifically with online retail enterprises in mind.”

You can easily upload your product data at the Google Merchant Center, and go on to customize your site’s search engine. Google’s admin console lets you “manage product promotions, upload synonym dictionaries” and control various search options. Unlike many other Google products, this service isn’t free. You will be invoiced based on the amount of items in your data, as well as the number of searches performed every year. But I noticed that they stated somewhere on their website that pricing starts from $50,000/year. So this solution is definitely not ‘cheap’ for small-medium sized eCommerce stores.

Google promises to integrate Google Commerce Search with other Google products like Google Analytics and Google Product Search. Using Commerce, retailers can measure clicks, conversion rates, number of transactions, average order value and other data via Google Analytics. And e-commerce vendors can provide a single feed of products and catalogue items that will power Commerce and indexing of their products on Google Product Search. Product Search (formerly Froogle) will blend shopping results within Google’s existing web search.

google-commerce-search-screen

Google writes:

Google Commerce Search is hosted in the cloud, meaning it lives online, so e-commerce sites can get up and running quickly. Using a cloud search tool will also help site owners meet the rise in demand from the holiday rush without having to devote extra time or resources to worrying about their capacity or infrastructure. Online retailers are free to focus on their business, while Google focuses on search, and shoppers can find what they need faster.

Check out the introduction video of Google’s Commerce Search from Youtube:


Trakkboard – Google Analytics for Desktop

trakkboard-google-analyticsIf you work with multiple Google acocunts to Track many different Google Analytics profiles then you already know that its a very clumbesom process. Signing in and out of various Google accounts multiple times in a day can be a real pain if you are dealing with a lot of websites of your own or of your clients.

Trakken, a company from Germany has recently released a free desktop app called Trakkboard that uses the Google Analytics API to pull data from different analytics accounts. Trakkboard lets you access multiple Google analytics account simultaneously and also compare data from each of your profiles without being logged in to Google Analytics.

trakkboard-desktop

How to Steup Trakkboard?

Installing & using Trakkboard is fairly simple. Just head over to – http://www.trakkboard.com and enter your email address to request a your free ‘license key’. By requesting the license key, you basically accept their general T&C and get authorized to use Trakkboard. Once you receive your key, you can straight away download the Adobe AIR based app – Trakkboard.

After the installation, you will get the chance to enter your Google acocunt details. Once everything is set select Google Analytics Accounts and profiles, then choose from any of the preset report widgets (visitors/page views/source/bounce rate etc.). Your report widget will then appear on the dashboard. Simply repeat the process with other Google Analytics Accounts, Profiles, and Widgets – to build your customized analytics dashboard in a matter of minutes.

What’s very interesting about each of the different report widgets are that they can be configured to automatically pull new data from the API at a fixed interval, for example, every hour. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to see top level metrics across all your accounts.

Trakkboard Features

  • Compare data of different google accounts, websites and profiles without permanently changing sites at Google Analytics.
  • Opportunity to compile individually and from different portals and websites all the key performance indicators which are of a certain importance for you on just one dashboard.
  • Add up to two Google Account Email addresses
  • Open Tabs inside the application that will let you create as many dashboards as you want and you can arrange the data individually
  • Follow current developments on your desktop or you can lock certain data from changes to have them available at all times
  • Switch between the display formats, change time spans or rearrange data with one click of a button

Google welcomes innovative app developers to come up with new ways of using the Google Analytics platform. If any of you have developed a useful tool that uses the Google Analytics API, you can send a email to the analytics team to be featured in the Analytics Blog.


The International Language of Online Marketing

international-flag

It has quickly become a commonplace that the internet has made the world much smaller than it ever was. Friends, family, and businesses based thousands of miles across the globe are just seconds away through email, facebook, or skype, just to name a few of the many examples of online communication. However, international businesses, large or small, still need to appeal to a distinct regional or national base to be successful. Globalization and the internet have not – yet – made the world completely homogenous. Linguistic, cultural, and economic differences exist between regions in a country and between countries in a continent, let alone between continents in the world. For example, there is the distinction between amazon.com and amazon.co.uk, selling different products at different prices. There are also major variants such as the French amazon.fr and German amazon.de, appealing to a wide linguistic and cultural consumer base distinctly different from, but using the same familiar template as, the company’s English language versions.

Every aspect of a business’s online promotional material, from websites to banner ads to e-newsletters, needs to be designed with the target audience in mind. To discover the specific qualities of that audience, a business needs to research what the audience has already shown an interest in – what other websites are being accessed? What do they offer? How can your own business improve and offer content and products more specifically tailored to that market? Put simply, what does the target audience want to know and how can you deliver that information? With international markets, this is particularly tricky as there is myriad of cultural and linguistic intricacies that must be faced. In the European Union (EU) there are 23 official languages spoken in the 27 member states. Although English is the most widely spoken, German has the most native speakers in the EU with almost 20%, followed closely by English, Italian and French.

Understanding the nuances within languages is crucial to the translation/localisation process too. For example, the differences between French and German are obvious, even to mono-linguists. But the differences between French in France and French in Switzerland or Belgium aren’t that obvious. In France, déjeuner means ‘lunch’, but in Switzerland and Belgium it means ‘breakfast’. Additionally, dîner is ‘evening meal’ in France, but in Swiss and Belgian French the word is souper. Similarly, Swiss German often uses a different grammatical gender to that used in Germany (e.g. ‘das E-Mail’ instead of ‘die E-Mail’). Assuming you intend to adopt a fully localised marketing strategy, what are the practicalities involved in launching an international advertising campaign? Well, there are many similarities to that of a domestic campaign.

Continue Reading


Google Dashboard

google-dashboard If you have been using internet for a while then its very likely that you use quite a number of Google services. For instance, my net life is purely surrounded by Google – starting from my email (Gmail), IM (Google Talk), documents (Google Docs), search (Google Serch), photos (Picasa), Feeds (Google Reader), Calendar (Google Calendar), Online Payments (Google Checkout) – everything is just Google. Since everything in Google is sort of “inter connected”, it’s really scary to think of how much Google knows about each of us.

Google Dashboard, is a new portal which sort of tells you all that Google knows about you. It lists down all the Google services that you are a part of and includes details of your last actions. For instance, it shows you the last search you performed on all the different Google search engines (web, maps, video etc) by pulling the data directly from Google’s Web History. Other google services that are listed on the dashboard currently are: Gmail, Alerts, Picasa, Blogger, Calendar, docs and many more.

Google is yet to disclose the specifics of the Dashboard and what else they are planning to offer there. But they do have a video up which sort of explains the dashboard briefly. Have a look:


MSN Portal Revamped – Now Clean & Sleek

new msn portal preview

Microsoft has recently revamped their old school MSN portal and gave it a very clean and sleek look. I must say that it does look a lot like Yahoo because of the way the site has been structured and also the blend of social features (twitter, facebook & email) right at the homepage.

This is a very smart move by Microsoft as MSN is the default home page for a lot of people and get tons of traffic (over 400 million/per month). By making this change in design & site structure Microsoft also hopes to drive more people to its search engine – bing!.

Microsoft vice president Erik Jorgensen recently said in an interview “A big part of my job is figuring out how I pull the Bing experience into MSN in a way that makes sense.”

One way of making money from a portal like MSN is to post features on the site that somehow ties in to the company’s search engine – Bing. The company has talked about ways it can present different features that push folks to Microsoft’s local, shopping, and travel search engines– which are among the most profitable parts of any search business. Erik said “To make that work, Microsoft needs to ensure that it is less visually jarring when one moves back and forth between MSN and Bing.”

Frankly I think this is a very good move by Microsoft as it can really help to increase their search market share. And if the portal can properly feature breaking news and daily columns on different subjects (like what yahoo does), it can truly become a success.

The new site design will be rolled out to all U.S. users starting in 2010. But you can preview it right now from- http://preview.msn.com/.


Twitter Radio

Twitter Radio If you are too lazy to read your tweets, you might want a service like Twit Radio – Thats reads your tweet out loud. Currently the service only works with search thus you can search for a keyword or phrase and twitter radio will tune in to that channel and start reading out every tweet that comes along.

The site is very easy to you, there is a big search box right in the middle where you can put your search query, or select from the pre-programmed channels or trending topics, and start listening to tweets right away. I know this may sound a bit geeky at first, but just try it and I bet you will find it pretty hilarious.

Well frankly no ‘text-to-speech’ sounds perfect, because after all its a computer that tries to mimic a human’s voice and vocal pitch. But i guess for tweets its even worse because, people don’t use proper sentence structure and punctuation because of the 140 character limit. But they tried to make it less monotonous by mixing up the voice of different AI robot.

In their about page they writes:

At tweetrad.io our mission is to index all the world’s information; however, unlike google we plan to be really evil in the process. We’ve started by seeking out the most relevant scholarly data on the web. Naturally Twitter was where we looked first. Using our unpantentable Tweet-to-Speech™ technology, we’ve made it possible for billions of people to hear the “Pulse of the Planet” as never before.

Mashable has made a screencast of the service in action, have a look:

So what do you all think?


HOW TO: Change Your Facebook Username

facebook-change-username

Not long ago, I wrote about how you can setup your own facebook username (a.k.a Vanity URL), so that your facebook profile URL is like – www.facebook.com/yourusername rather than the very long url that facebook provides by default.

Initially, Facebook mentioned that they won’t let anybody change their username once its already set. Thus everyone gets only one chance to make it right! But it looks like now its not the case anymore. If you are for some reason not happy with your current facebook username / Vanity URL — you now have an option to change your username!

How to Change My Facebook Username

Facebook has made it very easy to change your username. Simply login to your facebook account and go to your Facebook settings page. If you are already logged in clicking here will take you right there.

Once you are at your “Settings” page, you should see a new section called “username” displaying your current username and also a subsequent button called “change” to do the obvious!

change-facebook-username

If you were drunk while you have set your facebook username previously and regretted doing so; this is your chance to make things right again!


Yahoo Image Search Now Shows Points of Interest

If you are a frequent traveler then you would appreciate this brand new feature of Yahoo image search that lets you refine your image search results by points of interest whenever you search for a particular travel destination or location.

For example, if you search for Rome, Yahoo Image search will automatically show up a special column containing categories of a whole bunch of ‘places’ from rome that you are likely to be interested in. Clicking on any of the categories will show an overlay of images so that you can virtually take a tour of the image results without leaving the original search results page.

yahoo-image-search-travel-queries

To test it’s usefulness & accuracy, I searched for Kuala Lumpur, and Yahoo did manage to give me a pretty decent list of places that most tourists would like to go.

Try it and let me know what do you think about this cool new feature of Yahoo Image Search!


Improve Your PPC Ad Copy to Attract More Eyeballs

Google Adwords Ad Copy Optimization

Your customer is always searching for you online, and even though you have your Pay Per Click Advertising campaign running – they may not find you! Google Inside Adwords blog has recently posted a video, highlighting some of the best practices of writing your Google Adwords Ad copy. [If you are viewing this via Email - click here to watch the video]

Write Better Pay-Per-Click Ads – Follow Google’s Guideline

  • Use your keywords in the ad text as it will appear in bold when your potential customer performs a search using those keywords.
  • Be specific when creating your ad. An Ad that is very general in nature is less likely to do well compared to an ad which is very specific.
  • Include a Special Officer or Unique selling point in your ad copy. Example – 10% discount, Free home delivery etc.
  • Include a call-to-action in your ad. Think about what would you want your customers to do after they see your ad and state that clearly in your ad copy. Example – Buy now while stock lasts!, Request a Free Quotation etc.
  • Make your ad text inter capitalized. Capitalize the first letter of each word in your ad copy as it looks more professional and has more chances of being seen and clicked.
  • Don’t take your customer to your home page once they click on your ad. Instead take them to a specific landing page that supports your ad copy and the product that you are selling.

Yahoo New Homepage – More Personalized

yahoo-logo

Yahoo has recently updated their home with a brand new design and has included some social & personalization features to spice things up a little bit.

yahoo-new-home

Well personally, I don’t feel that the changes that yahoo made will give them much boost, in terms of getting new users to use their search engine. Probably some of the features may be useful to people who likes to have a ‘start page’ on their browser and are already using Yahoo as their default page.

However for someone like me, who never goes to the Yahoo homepage won’t really feel any difference. What is Yahoo anyway? Is it a search engine? Well to me yahoo just looks like a tabloid, which is cluttered with articles, links and ads. And 8 out of 10 times, those featured articles on the home page are mostly celebrity gossips. If Yahoo really wants to improve their business on search and online advertising, they need to really find out their core objective and purpose of existence and focus on the important areas rather than tapping into everything.

Yahoo is not small by any means, Yahoo is still the world’s most visited website. However they for some reason can’t capitalize on that and slowly slipping away from the real game.

What New in Yahoo’s Homepage?

Nothing ground breaking or earth shattering! It now lets users to add their favorite sites to the left side of the page. This includes popular social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter. Once the new search page is up and running, a user’s favorite applications will also show up on the search page itself. You can also add in your own favorite sites on that list. Once you click on any of the links, it sort of opens the page under a frame within the yahoo page along with a huge banner ad. (Well, I’m not sure whether users would appreciate the ad on that position).

Yahoo now shows the top 10 most searched queries on their home page, which is pretty cool. I guess showing that information on the home page would tempt people to find out more about those topics via Yahoo search.

And thats pretty much it! They have tried to strip down some of the unnecessary stuffs, and made the home page a bit lighter and more organized. However, to me it still looks like an online tabloid and not a “Search Engine”. I don’t think adding these features will actually encourage people to search at yahoo.

I think people will start using Yahoo Search more, if http://search.yahoo.com was their homepage. I have always been a fan of Yahoo Search as they were always the 2nd best in Search after Google. In fact in many cases, when Google failed to give what I was looking for, Yahoo saved me! Now that Bing.com is here, Yahoo’s chances in Search is almost gone – unless they agree to merge with Microsoft. (Personally I think it would be the best thing to do for both the companies).

See the Yahoo Design in Action

Yahoo is slowly rolling out the new design in different regions/countries all over the world. It is already live in US, and most parts of Asia (Malaysia, Singapore — at least) are now seeing a notification on their Yahoo page that sort of asks you to try the new design by clicking on a link. You can try it now by visiting: http://m.www.yahoo.com/

Bonus: Yahoo Easter Egg

Yahoo has still kept their hidden Easter egg on their new home page. Try clicking on the “!” exclamation mark on their logo and see what happens! [You will need to keep your speakers/headphones on...]


Twi.tt Lets you Share Almost Everything on Twitter

twi.tt - Share documents, pictures, video, audio, poll on Twitter

Sometimes I feel that there are just way too many applications and services surrounding twitter, but hay – if they are cool and useful I love to plug them and share it with everyone.

Today I stumbled upon Twi.tt – A new web service that lets you SHARE almost anything on twitter.

Share Stuffs on Twitter using Twi.tt

As you can see, by anything I mean absolutely ‘everything’ from pictures, videos, audio, poll and even documents! There is no sign up necessary, if you have a twitter account then you should be able to login with your twitter credentials and use their service.

The best thing about this service is, they allow multiple ways for you to give them the content that you wish to share. For instance, for image sharing they allow you to upload an image directly from your computer, from a web url, from your webcam (coming soon) & also via email (coming soon). Similarly for Audio, you can upload it as an audio file or record directly from your microphone (coming soon).

The only thing that I feel is missing from their service is the basic url shortening. Twi.tt is a great domain, so adding a url shortening service with stats (like bit.ly and su.pr) would be a great addition.

On their settings page they mentions that soon users will be able to send their media files from any email client & mobile phone that supports email.

So try Twi.tt and let me know if you like it!


Shopping with Firefox Can Save You Money

shopping-discount-using-firefox

I know you probably think that the title is kind of crazy – how can a browser making online shopping cheaper? Well apparently if you are using Firefox, you are likely to get better online deals than shopping with other browsers like Internet Explorer. Why? Well, because of the release of a brand new Firefox add on called – Vouchers.Im. This nifty addon makes your Firefox smart enough to inform you about many discount voucher codes which you can be use in the shops that you visit!

With currently over 1,000 active voucher codes of hundreds of best known brands and less famous niche online shops, there is no doubt anyone using Firefox with the add-on installed will have much better chance to discover great deals and discounts than a typical IE user.

Vouchers are pretty much everywhere on the web. There are hundreds of sites out there that keeps track of these vouchers and also archives them regularly into categories. However, when you are shopping and you need something urgently – You often get into a situation where you don’t have the time to look for all these vouchers. Because searching for vouchers in Google or any other search engine is a real pain – It returns a lot of low quality sites that either has very old vouchers (which have already expired) or vouchers that are invalid. Those sites just somehow rank on certain terms and they pray and hope that you would mistakenly click some of their ads when searching for these vouches.

There are certainly many legit and good websites out there that provides discount vouchers and keep them regularly updated, but come on – do you think you even remember to use a voucher until you are just at the check out page of a online retail store? I guess not!

With the help of this cool add-on, you can just forget about ever even thinking of searching for a voucher code. Whenever someone with the add-on installed visits a web site which can be recognized among those issuing voucher codes, Firefox will automatically show user an unobtrusive sliding window, much like a “download is finished” slider, containing all the information about available discounts. It will then place a little green voucher icon on the status bar for the users to click on to receive further details and to obtain a voucher code.

Vouchers.Im Add-on takes seconds to install and is only 30 kilobytes in size, which helps keep browser tidy without much extra overhead. As soon as the add-on becomes active, users can be assured of an advantage to enjoy discounts they otherwise could have easily missed.

Btw, if you are a non-firefox user then you can just type Vouchers.Im in your browser and still get a pretty decent voucher search engine that will make it a lot easy for you to search for voucher codes rather than you having to search them via general search engines like Google or Bing. With regular daily updates, the website of Vouchers.im offers probably the best selection of every available voucher code from almost every store including Argos, Tesco, House of Fraser, Littlewoods and numerous less known brands like Passion8.

So what are you waiting for? Get the Vouchers.Im Firefox Addon and start saving money on your online shopping today!


Personalized News Dashboard from Guzzle.it

If you are a news junkie like me then you will love this brand new personalized news dashboard service – Guzzle.it.

Guzzle is a free web application that allows you to define some topics (say – design, technology,google and apple) and what it does is – it goes through a intense process of collecting all the latest feeds and news on your topic of interest and lists them all in front of you in categories for easy reading. So if you are particularly passionate about any topic or you want to stay up-to-date about a particular story that has been running on the web, Guzzle is an excellent way for monitoring those topics and being informed at all time without you having to manually check your feeds for news. In order for Guzzle to work and deliver you personalized news, all you need to do is a bit of simple configuring – like letting Guzzle know what sort of stories/news would you like to read, what are the topic of your interest and guzzle will do the rest for you! The interface of Guzzle is pretty soothing and sleek, check out the screenshot of the homepage below:

guzzle-screenshot - Social News

How to Setup Guzzle

Well Guzzle pretty much works out of the box. I didn’t even had to sign up to make it work! But probably signing up with Guzzle (For free) would be a good idea if you want Guzzle to remember your preferences.

But anyway, I’ll show you a simple three step process to make Guzzle work for you in no time. Step one, you go to their homepage- guzzle.it and add topics – this can be anything from iPhone to Google to Gardening, because you type in the term rather than choosing from categories. So what you are basically doing is telling guzzle the “Keywords” to look for in a news story.

Second step is to arrange topics into columns and organize them using separators. You can easily do that from their drag and drop User interface. And the final step is to choose your display option – I personally set my guzzle page to see both the story title at the source. Confusing? Well it won’t be if you visit Guzzle.it right now and follow what I just said! Its extremely easy to use Interface so there is no way in hell that you won’t be able to get yours to work. Below is a screen shot that briefly shows you how you can add topics:

guzzle news dashboard

The best thing about Guzzle news dashboard is the way it gathers news – it’s really a social aggregator. It can pull news stories from a variety of sources including: Yahoo News, Reddit, Delicious, FFFFound, and more. it’s checking these feeds all the time, so the news that you see on your page is always up-to-date and customized to your preference.

Do Like Guzzle? Then share your love, Tweet and let your friends know!


BingTweets – Real Time Twitter + Bing Search

Bing along with Federated Media has developed quite a nifty service called BingTweets, which basically allows you to keep an eye on the twitter trending topic in a more detailed and real-time manner. Twitter trending topic by itself is not exactly very useful as it doesn’t really give you a context of what is happening. Moreover even though twitter’s built in search is ‘real-time’ but users always need to click a ‘button’ when new results are added.

bingtweets

BingTweets does a really good job of bring real-time conversations about the trending topics and at the same time bringing up the web search of that particular query on the same screen. Thus users will get a context of what these trending topics are and at the same time get more real insights on some of these topics. Because the fact is 140 characters isn’t enough to convey a full news to someone, however if people starts talking about “X” and it becomes a trending topic, then clicking on that will not only show you the conversation that is happening about X but at the same time give us some real insights from the Bing search results for that particular query.

One of the neat thing about BingTweets is, it pulls in trends from Twitter and automatically filters into categories such as “Popular Now,” “People,” “Places” and “Products” enabling easier navigation of the ever changing trends on the Web. You can also fire off a search on any topic of your choosing to see the related search results from Bing and Twitter discussion.

Whitney Burk, Director of Bing Search writes:

…when Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince comes out tomorrow, you may want to scan the official reviews, local theater listing, AND the latest Tweets on the movie to help you decide whether to rush to see it. With BingTweets, you can cover all that ground in one place.

So check out BingTweets and let me know if you find it any useful!

Read what other says about BingTweet:

Federated Media Teams With Bing For BingTweets. It’s Exactly What It Sounds Like – Techcrunch.

BingTweets: Bing + Twitter Search Results Side-by-Side – Mashable

BingTweets Integrates Twitter and Bing Search, Literally – Search Engine Journal


Create your Own Social News Site in Seconds

slinksetlogo

Ever wanted to run your own version of Digg.com, Reddit.com or other social news sites? Slinkset lets you do just that! With this cool service, you will get your own social news running in a matter of seconds.

After looking at some of the examples, I am pretty impressed by Slinkset’s ability & customization options. The best part about using Slinkset to develop your own social news site is – you can actually host this whole thing under your own domain. So if you have a big community driven blog, I believe you can just create a subdomain like – news.yourname.com and run slinkset there where people can vote up/down some of your stories (along with some other stories from external sources). And if you can do things right, I believe this can actually turn into a very useful addition for your site and a great source of traffic + links too.

How to Create your own Social News site using Slinkset

Let me briefly go over the simple steps that you can follow to create your own social news site. Firstly do sign up with Slinkset (it won’t even take you a minute). After signing up, you will have a blank news site (duh!), so you can add sources of stories easily via specifying their RSS feeds. So for example if I want to make a Social news site around the “Technology” niche then I’d probably add feeds of all the popular Tech blogs that are out there.

So as you start adding RSS sources, you will notice that your News page will start showing stories from all those sources. The page layout looks almost like reddit.com with a vote up/down button and also button for comment, edit and kill. Here is an example layout:

social-news-site

How Does the Social Influence Work?

Well, just like any other social news website – when people starts to comment and vote on the stories, it will influence the position of the story. Stories voted “up” pushes their position more towards the top and stories voted “down” will naturally go down. If a story is voted down many times then it gets pushed out of the page – buried! The commenting area is very similar to what you have probably seen in reddit.

News Story Submission & Moderation

There is a “submit” button for the users of your social news site to submit their articles. If you are worried about spam then there is a editorial mode where you can appoint editors who will only have the privilege (apart from you) to add new stories.

Some Highlights of Slinkset

User Management: You have complete control over your users. You can ban a user if he abuses your service or for whatever reason you like. (You are the boss, remember?)

Custom Design: Slinkset allows you to use Custom CSS to really change the look and feel of your new social news site. If you are not very good with CSS, no problem – they also have options to play with the basic design elements like colours and all.

Story Management: You can add categories to keep your stories in logical groups. You can also force your submitters to use categories during their submission. By default the stories on your home page doesn’t have any thumbnails, however you can turn on the “show thumbnail’ option to show little thumbnails right next to each story ( just like digg).

Advertising / Revenue Opportunity: You can use the sidebar section and insert your own own HTML Code. So definitely the sidebar would be a nice place to display some adsense block or other advertising in order to monetize your news site.

Slinkset is currently looking to add more cool features! If you have an idea, you can shere them in their help site which is also powered by Slinkset, Check it out at – http://help.slinkset.com/. Oh, and don’t forget to Follow @slinkset on twitter and let them know how awesome they are.