[Review] The Age of Influence by Ted Rubin

Publisher: Substantium

Price: USD $16.95 (via Amazon)

Overall Rating: 4/4


Ted Rubin isn’t your average marketer.

Avid social media engager, Return on Relationship evangelist, and brand strategist only hits the top of the iceberg when you’re talking about Ted.

I first met Ted at the 140 Characters Conference at the 92nd Street Y in New York City close to 5 years ago. The conference put on by Jeff Pulver, one of the founders of Vonage, highlighted some of the biggest names on Twitter. Ted was, and still is, one of them. At the event, I was lucky enough to talk with Ted for a while and immediately started to follow his adventures on social media — the rest is history.

The Age Of Influence

Ted is the author of many books including Return on Relationship, How to Look People in the Eye Digitally by Rubin, Ted (2015) Paperback, and his newest book The Age of Influence: Selling to the Digitally Connected Customer. (Affiliate Links)

I got a hold of his latest book. Right away I was engrossed in the book. It’s full of practical tips and tricks, as well as some great examples of execution of strategies and some great stories to top it off.

If anyone knows or has followed Ted, you see he’s a storyteller. Having coined the term Return on Relationship and subsequently the hashtag #RonR, Ted lives and exemplifies it.

As with many books on social media, Ted addresses the fear that many companies have with the medium and not having complete control over what is said. Also, the fear of anything new plays a big part in holding back both companies and individuals.

“Several things are holding both individuals and companies back from growing their influence, but chief among them is fear of the social dynamic…

“People naturally hold back when faced with something new or challenging. We’re creatures of habit; we’re uncomfortable with change.”

Ted goes onto explain that with all this new technology, people are, more than ever, faced with constant change and new things.

An important talking point that Ted touches on in his book as well as in life is how companies should deal with social media and their employees. He believes that heavy-handed social policies don’t help, but rather hinder influence and brand recognizability.

“We need to train people on how to use social platforms… effectively, and not be stupid on social channels. [E]mployees need to be taught an understanding of the upsides and downsides. [Companies] need to be clear on privacy issues and consequences.”

Ted has a clear message in his book. Social media and technology are here to stay. Not embracing this technology will only be detrimental to companies and individuals if wholeheartedly adopted.

At 118 pages, The Age of Influence is a perfect weekend book. Chock full of priceless information and tips, this book needs to be required reading for anyone venturing out onto social media and trying to build a brand.

Rants and Raves

Bad Customer Service Has To STOP

Bad Customer Service Has To STOP

Last night a friend of mine posted on Facebook that her Android phone wouldn’t let her login. She said she called Verizon and and the customer service representative told her that the ONLY thing she could do was to exhaust her login attempts and have the phone erase all the data and start over.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. She’s not a techie by any stretch of the imagination, so I don’t blame her for following rep’s advice. Afterall they’re the experts, right? WRONG!

After about 3 minutes on Google and Reddit, I found a possible solution would avoid having to restoring her phone from scratch. Unfortunately by the time she saw my replies and pleas for her to not listen it was too late. Thank God restoring your Android phone isn’t all that painful, just time consuming.

This Laziness Is Rampant In The Customer Service World

I don’t know why, but I’ve seen this laziness and ineptitude over and over, not only with Verizon, but other companies.

One particular industry notorious for are Website hosting companies. Many hosts tout that they have great 24/7 support, but if you have a problem with your WordPress site (the CMS powers more than 26% of the Web) their only solution is to have you uninstall your plugins and reinstall them one at a time to find the culprit. Seriously? This is your GREAT support? These companies should, instead of racing to the bottom of the price ladder, charge a little bit more and provide good support.

There are a few WordPress-only hosting companies that do it right. The one I use for all my clients sites is FlyWheel (Full disclosure, they are sponsors of my Netcast Network, and link is an affiliate link). Not only are their servers optimized for WordPress, their support doesn’t make you jump through hoops to fix problems on your site. They will find the issue and tell you what is causing it and how to fix it. Often they will even fix it for you.

Now, the hosting isn’t the cheapest. Starting at $15/mo, for the tiny plan, they are a bit more expensive than those $2/mo servers, but the quality is clear.

I Have Experience On Both Sides

I’m not just talking out of my backside here. I have lots of experience on both sides, both as a consumer and on the brand side.

As a consumer I frequently communicate with brands through social channels. I praise them when they do a good job and I let them know (often strongly) when they do something wrong. I’ve also worked with brands, both in-house and as a consultant. I’ve seen first hand the old-time mentality of the call center and an over-focus on return on investment (ROI), rather customer service and customer happiness.

Jay Baer, the great social media and customer service expert said in his latest book “Hug Your Haters,” that you should want complaints, because those customers who complain are the customers that actually care. If a customer has a bad experience and doesn’t tell you, instead just writes off your business and goes somewhere else, that’s not helping you. A customer who complains wants to like your brand and wants you to improve.

It’s Worth Paying More For Good Customer Service

It’s worth paying more, because additional resources and training costs more. A good friend of mine, Ted Rubin, is a huge proponent of good customer service. He coined the phrase “Return on Relationship” and even wrote the book on it.

Ted is a social media and customer service visionary, who is constantly on the various social media platforms talking about both good and bad customer service. Throughout his travels, and he travels a lot, Ted stays in nice hotels that cost more, but have great customer service.

A great example is the Ritz Carlton. Ted loves them, because they go above and beyond for their visitors. Just check out Ted on Facebook and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

The point that Ted makes, as do many others (like the great Jay Baer and Frank Eliason), is that companies need to focus more on RonR than ROI. That spending more money to improve your customer’s experience will pay back much more than just one visit. It’s all about the relationship.

So Where Does This Leave Us?

Well, it’s up to both the brands and the customers to change. The brands need to invest in better customer service and the customers need to be willing to be smart consumers. And when in doubt there is always Google. If someone tells you that the ONLY way is to do it their way, doubt what they’re saying and do your own research.

Seth Goldstein is the principal creative director of Goldstein Media LLC, a interactive agency based in suburban Philadelphia. He has worked with clients of all sizes improve their presence on social media. Seth is a big proponent of Ted Rubin’s mantra Return on Relationship. If you want to be sure to receive all his updates, signup for his newsletter.



Snapchat – More Than Just Stupid Pics and Videos

Snapchat QR - PhillyCodeHound

Snapchat has long been though of as a place for sexting and inappropriate behavior. Many marketers have wondered how they might use it for their business and their clients.

Recently, Snapchat has been picked up by the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social, Bartunde Thurston, Ted Rubin, and many other well known Internet and marketing personalities.

Not wanting to put myself among the giants, I too am on Snapchat (phillycodehound) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It’s nice to be able to be real, share a piece of your life and know that it only, usually lasts for 24 hours.

The Selling Feature

The big selling feature of Snapchat is the Stories feature. It allows users to not only share individually with eachother, but to whomever follows them. This is where the power of the platform comes into play. On Snapchat people can share with their “audience” a piece of their lives – unedited and real.

Brands can capitalize on this experience as well and share exclusive content that people have to login to see on the platform.


Some might think the temporary nature of Snapchat is a disadvantage. I believe this is what sets it apart and makes it interesting.

There is a big downside though. The learning curve. I’m still figuring out all the features. It is the perfect example of mystery-meat navigation. It’s not, at least to me, intuitive.

Business Insider has a great primer on how to get started on Snapchat. Be sure to check that, out at some point.

The Positives

There are may positives to Snapchat. Here are some of them:

  • While in the app, the users are captive and their attention is yours… for 10 or so seconds.
  • It’s a younger audience, so if you’re trying to reach that demographic, this is a great place.
  • It’s quick and can be unpolished and real.
  • Did I mention it’s quick? That is a great thing. You can give quick snips of tips and what not and not have to be sucked into a script.
  • It’s a great way for your clients, friends, fans to follow you or your brand and feel special.
  • You can export your clips and repurpose them on other platforms.

These are just some of the great things about Snapchat.

What Are You Waiting For?

So concluding a post is often the hardest part. But this one is going to be easy and fun. I have a homework assignment for all of you. Go download Snapchat from whatever app store you use. Follow me (phillycodehound) and follow some of the people I mentioned at the beginning and start snapping.

As always, I want to hear from you. If you have questions about Snapchat or want ideas on what you can use it for, send me a message. We’ll chat.

See you on Snapchat!