Great Out-of-the-Way Litter Box Solution

We all love our cats, but their litter box is another story. We put up with the tracked cat litter, smell and eyesore because the cat box is one of the few downsides to owning a cat. (And I Read more

Why I May Unlike My Favorite Radio Station on Facebook

In the past year or so, my favorite radio station has really been stepping up their social presence on Facebook.  They went from infrequent posts about concerts, music news and the like to something completely different. The transformation started slow.  Read more

Thumper's Reviews of Glucosamine Treats for Cats

Because my cat Thumper is a bit overweight, a Maine Coon - a larger type of a cat - and 11 years old, our vet recommended I give her glucosamine treats to help her joints so she can be Read more

Twitter only emailing about some @s to hide spam, annoy me

Any popular social network (or blog, wiki, etc.) is bound to become an attractive target to spammers.  People have come to expect spam in their email inbox, but spam can be surprising on a social site where you feel Read more

Great Out-of-the-Way Litter Box Solution

We all love our cats, but their litter box is another story. We put up with the tracked cat litter, smell and eyesore because the cat box is one of the few downsides to owning a cat. (And I think it’s much better than picking up a dog’s warm droppings in the rain.)

I’ve tried many things to make my cats’ litter box less annoying – including trying to toilet train my kitties – but it’s not easy in a small one-bedroom apartment.

Picture of cat door entrance to litter box

I was so impressed and inspired when I saw the handy work of one of my cat sitting clients. Their solution made the litter box as subtle and out of the way as possible.

Their cats enter through a cat door in the stairwell to their garage, which put them in a wooden box containing their litter box.

Picture of the inside of the litter box containerInside that wood box is a space for the trash can to make scooping easy. There’s even a compartment for storing the scoop, and when it’s open it blocks the cat door entrance to the box.

The lid on the wood box means the cats stay in the litter box box and out of the garage, and then the lid can be opened by people.

Why do I think this is so great?

  • The litter box itself wouldn’t ever be seen by guests, even if they went in the garage.
  • Picture of litter box container in garageThe container looks nice and doesn’t take up much room at all.
  • You can’t smell the litter box, even in the garage.
  • Everything is all in one place for the person scooping.
  • Less litter will be tracked throughout the house.
  • It doesn’t compromise the safety of the cats. (No roaming around the garage, for example.)

 

What do you do with your litter box? Have you found a good solution? Share in the comments.

Posted on by Kristina in Kitty Stuff 2 Comments

Why I May Unlike My Favorite Radio Station on Facebook

In the past year or so, my favorite radio station has really been stepping up their social presence on Facebook.  They went from infrequent posts about concerts, music news and the like to something completely different.

The transformation started slow.  I started noticing – and liking – their Facebook posts featuring pictures of one of their DJ’s cats.  Because I’m a cat lover, I didn’t notice or mind how off-topic they were.

One of 94.7's Facebook postsNow the radio station, 94.7 fm, is posting on their Facebook page often – about 5 to 10 times per day – about all sorts of things. I often find the posts amusing, but it bothers me that so many of them aren’t related to music at all.

My point is: When I “like” a company on Facebook, I expect to mostly see posts from the company that are relevant to them and their industry… and me, their fan.

And what strikes me as very odd is that 94.7′s slogan is “It’s different here,” referencing the fact that their radio station focuses on music, not talk.  But now it’s like they’ve just pushed the talk and non-music stuff to Facebook.

I bet I know how it happened, though.  They started experimenting with other types of posts and found that they got great levels of engagement – more likes, comments and shares.  While those are important metrics to watch and try to improve, I would have to argue that engagement on relevant posts are more important than random ones.

So here’s my advice for this radio station, and just about any other company with a Facebook page:

  • Give your Facebook fans what they probably want.  Your most important fans will be the ones who mostly care about things related to your company — you don’t want to just be left with people who like your jokes and funny cat videos.  If you’re a restaurant, focus on coupons and announcing new menu items.  If you’re a technology company, focus on information about your products and news and advice that will help your customers and prospective customers.  You have to keep the signal to noise ratio in check, or else you’re going to lose people.
  • Don’t post more often than most of your fans’ friends.  You don’t want to overwhelm anyone’s News Feed, or else people will unlike you or hide your posts so they don’t see them in their News Feed anymore.  Posting more than 5 times per day (instead of once a day or so) doesn’t feel more social or human, because none of my real friends post this often.
  • Pay attention to feedback.  Keep an eye on how many people are unliking your Facebook page, and listen to and solicit feedback from both your radio station listeners and Facebook fans.

 

Do you have other tips for companies on Facebook, or things you see that make you want to unlike a company Facebook page? Share in the comments below.

Want advice for avoiding being unfollowed on Twitter? Check out my article with 15 tips, some of which also apply to Facebook.

Posted on by Kristina in Social Media 4 Comments

Thumper’s Reviews of Glucosamine Treats for Cats

Because my cat Thumper is a bit overweight, a Maine Coon – a larger type of a cat – and 11 years old, our vet recommended I give her glucosamine treats to help her joints so she can be more active and comfortable.  Obstacle #1 – It’s hard to find Glucosamine treats for cats in many pet stores.  Obstacle #2 – It turns out Thumper is an even pickier eater than I ever realized.

Here are my – well, really Thumpers’ – reviews of the Glucosamine treats we’ve tried.  I hope it helps some other “fluffy” kitties get what they need to feel better, and help you not waste money on ones your cat may not eat.

  • What Zukes Hip Action treats look likeFirst, we tried Zuke’s “Hip Action” treats for cats.  They contain 50mg Glucosamine and 15mg Chondroitin Sulfate, and they are about the size of a big Tic Tac and very chewy.
  • The verdict: Ultimately, Thumper usually didn’t like them, although my other cats (who didn’t need them) did.  She would get them in her mouth and spit them out – either because she decided they didn’t taste good, or because they were too hard for her to chew.  I could sometimes trick her into eating them if I hid one in wet food, but that’s entirely too much work.

 

  • PetNaturals Hip + Joint chewsNext, we moved on to PetNaturals Hip + Joint treats for cats.  Each treats contains 100mg of Glucosamine, 50mg of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and Chondroitin, and other ingredients like DHA, Vitamin C and Omega 3 fatty acids.  These treats are bigger – about the size of a very thick goldfish cracker – and very chewy.
  • The verdict: Thumper was finicky about these treats, eating them sometimes (when she’s pretty hungry, I think) and turning up here nose sometimes. Because of their larger size it didn’t work to hide them in her wet food. My other less picky cats ate them just fine, though.

 

  • Happy Hips treats in my handThen I found Catswell Happy Hips treats, which looked promising because they weren’t shaped liked normal treats.  They’re thin and stringy, and about 1-2 inches long. They contain Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Vitamin E, and Omega 3s (no MSM though).
  • The verdict: Thumper likes these treats (look – she even poses with them!) and they’re easy for her to eat because they’re small.  My other cats like them as well, but they’re not picky.  Thumper posing with Happy Hips glucosamine treatsI don’t even need to hide them in her food ;-)

 

If you’re in the market for Glucosamine treats for your cat, you will want to buy them online, or better yet, from your local, non-big box pet store.  (You won’t find anything but dog Glucosamine treats at the national pet stores or most grocery stores.)  In my area, I buy them at Bark Market or Holistic Pet.

Have you tried other kitty Glucosamine treats that you’d recommend? Share your review in a comment.

Shameless plug: I’m a cat sitter in Portland, in case you need someone to care for your kitties.

Posted on by Kristina in Kitty Stuff 2 Comments

Twitter only emailing about some @s to hide spam, annoy me

Any popular social network (or blog, wiki, etc.) is bound to become an attractive target to spammers.  People have come to expect spam in their email inbox, but spam can be surprising on a social site where you feel like you’re only talking to and visible to your friends.

What’s interesting to me is how social networks deal with try to hide spam.  In my last post, I talked about how Facebook hides messages from non-friends they think could be spam.  This gives Facebook a sense on non-spamminess at the cost of preventing social interactions from people you’re not connected to.

Twitter spamNow I’ve noticed that Twitter is doing something similar. When anyone used to mention @KristinaWeis in a tweet, I got both an email alert and something in my interactions/mentions section on the site. Now I don’t get an email alert when someone I’m not following mentions my handle in a tweet. (There’s only one box in my notification settings – “Email me when I’m sent a reply or @ mentioned ” – and it’s checked.)

Usually the mentions I get are a real person replying to one of my tweets or trying to get my attention, or sometimes it’s a Twitter spammer linking me to a work-from-home scam or site promising a free iPad.

Either way (whether it’s a spammer or not), I would like to know right away when someones @s me in a tweet. And I think Twitter should want to let me know, too. Why?

  1. When I notice spam on Twitter, I flag it immediately. This helps Twitter look and do their job better, and it should help make Twitter a better place for other tweeple.
  2. Twitter is much more rewarding and social when conversations are in real time. If you respond to someone’s tweet with a question, or you introduce yourself with an @, and you don’t hear back for hours or days, you probably forgot about it and have lost interest and excitement. An email alert – especially if the recipient has a smart phone – speeds up response time and can keep a Twitter conversation alive.
  3. Email alerts would bring back inactive people. There are many people that create a Twitter account, don’t do much, and then never come back. I @ some of those people to invite them to come back, but if they weren’t following me they will probably never see it. That’s frustrating for me, and it’s a lost opportunity for Twitter.

I suspect that Twitter stopped sending email alerts for all mentions because they don’t want to remind people that Twitter gets spammed a lot.  I get that.  But the real result is that Twitter spammers will go on spamming longer before they get flagged and suspended, and interactions between new people will happen less and be less exciting.  May I suggest fixing the spam problem without turning down the social dial?

What do you think?  Comment below.

Posted on by Kristina in Social Media 8 Comments

Is Facebook hiding “Other” messages from you? Yes, but why?

A few years ago I got what looked like an important piece of mail in my mailbox, and it was addressed to someone else with a unique name.  I thought about throwing it back in the mail with a “not at this address” note and hoping it would make it to the right place eventually, but then I had an idea.  I searched for that person’s very unique name in Facebook, and sure enough, I found one result and they were in Portland.  I sent them a message, and they were thrilled (it was in fact a very important piece of mail) and we met up craiglist style for the hand-off.  If I do say so myself, this was a pretty helpful and social interaction. Yay Facebook!

More recently, in November 2011, a woman left her laptop in a cab and a good samaritan sent her a Facebook message to let her know, but she never noticed it.

You see, between the time I sent my message and the laptop finder sent theirs, Facebook redesigned their message system to effectively ensure a message like those would never see the light of day.  So Elizabeth didn’t get the message about her long lost laptop until someone told her where to dig to find all her Facebook messages.

Where you can find your "Other" Facebook messagesHave you ever noticed the “Other” subfolder in your Facebook messages?  I haven’t talked to anyone who noticed it themselves, even though it’s been hiding there since November 2010.

Let’s take a look.  You can find it by clicking “Messages” and then the mysterious “Other” option that then appears below it.

The messages you’re alerted about and that land in your main message folder are typically just ones from your Facebook friends.  And messages Facebook deems as “less meaningful” — messages sent to you by non-Facebook friends like good samaritans, messages sent to all members of a group you belong to, etc. — go to the “Other” folder… to die.

Facebook’s “Other” messages folder is very similar to the the spam folder in email that we’re used to.  Except it would be like Gmail deciding all emails you receive from people who aren’t in your address book will land in the spam folder… and then making the spam folder very hard to find.

Is it better or more social to receive messages from anyone, or only your friends? Is Facebook trying to cover its butt and avoid the appearance of being used for spam at any cost? What do you think?  Have you missed any important messages thanks to Facebook’s hidden “Other” folder for messages?  Speak your mind / share your story in the comments.

Posted on by Kristina in Social Media 7 Comments

Boost Your SEO, Don’t Waste Space in Your Title Tags

I won’t name any (domain) names, but I keep seeing websites with meaningless title tags that don’t help their SEO and are unlikely to be clicked on if people see them in search results or in social media posts.

Where's the beef in your title tags? Is there any?For example, I keep seeing title tags that include or are simply:

  • Home Page
  • Welcome to [Name of Company/Website/Page]
  • www.theirwebsite.com

It’s easy to set your title tag to something generic on day one and forget about it, but your title tags are ridiculously important so you should really take a few minutes to make sure they’re helping you and not just full of filler words.

For more missed opportunities I often see in title tags, and tips of how to make yours great, read my article 9 Common Title Tag Mistakes To Avoid.  Have a question? Comment below.

Posted on by Kristina in SEO 2 Comments