Jun 282013
 

There are a lot of guides to using Twitter out there, but I really feel like sex bloggers are a smaller group. We talk to each other a LOT and we even talk to the manufacturers and companies that are germane to our needs (see? Texas taught me a new word). I don’t know of many other sectors of bloggers where the manufacturers and bloggers can be on a first-name basis so often.

With the Exodus of Eden, there are a lot of people coming over to Twitter who are new to Twitter and/or new to blogging as well. Here are some tips and tricks to help you use Twitter better for you and your blog without irritating your followers. Disclaimer: I’m crankier than most people. I’m one step away from being a full time Grumpy Old Man. What I find to be annoying, others don’t mind. YMMV.

Tricks:

1. When you’re trying to help promote other bloggers/companies in a tweet, don’t start the tweet with their username. Doing so will mean that the only people who will see that tweet are people who also follow who you’re mentioning. To see what I mean, go visit the Twitter full profile of just about anybody. You’ll see tweets in their timeline that didn’t show up in your stream, because they were directly talking to someone you don’t follow. Instead of typing “@Username is having a contest!”, try adding in another word or just a period. “.@username is having a contest!” will ensure that everybody sees that tweet in their stream.  Sometimes I’ll see people also do this if they’re in a conversation with someone and they want everyone in their timeline to see the response. Do so sparingly and in the right circumstances – if you do this consistently and I have to see every tweet, every conversation, even if it’s not important and doesn’t involve others I follow, I’ll mute you.

tricks1

2. RT = retweet. This shares someone’s tweet. Do this if it’s informative, funny, whatever but don’t do it excessively. If you’re using Twitter via Twitter.com, when you click on “retweet”, it doesn’t show up as RT @username: tweethere. This is useful if that person’s tweet is using the full 140 characters. Doing RT @username tweethere uses up characters. You can see the two differences below in how it’ll look on your stream and others:

RT1
RT2

If you like doing RT the old fashioned way (the way Twitter.com used to do it) but the whole thing won’t fit, you can do MT instead of RT. MT= Modified Tweet. I only learned that this week!

New in 2015 is quoting while RTing which looks like this, and is, IMO, the best way to do things if you want to say thanks, comment briefly, etc instead of doing a manual MT.

RTwQuote

3. Depending on which Twitter client you use, often when you reply to someone, if they have @’d someone else, that other person will automatically get included in the tweet unless you delete their name. This is great if you’re all having an ongoing conversation or you want everyone to see your response. However, take note. Have all parties actually gotten involved in the conversation? If not, at some point in the conversation stop using the name of the person who isn’t participating. Otherwise their Mentions will be bombarded.

4. When you do a sex toy review, tweet the link and call out the company by their Twitter name so that they’ll see the tweet and your review. This is one of many ways to engage with companies, which may end up benefiting you. But, again, don’t start the tweet with their name, unless you throw in a period before it.

5. If you follow someone who abuses the RT function or tends to RT stuff you don’t care about, you can turn off RTs via Twitter.com. Of course, this only works if they use the auto-RT feature (example 2 above).

6. If you’re using Twitter.com primarily, be sure to click on the “Notifications” tab often. Here you will be able to see which tweets got the most mileage and action, but you’ll also be able to better see every tweet directed at you. This is also the only place you’ll see a tweet to you that is from someone you don’t follow.

7. Use the “favorite” as a way to essentially let someone know you saw their tweet/response, liked it, heard it, whatever. When you favorite a person’s tweet, Twitter tells them. But maybe don’t favorite ALL the tweets.

8. Try to install a Sharing plugin on your blog. This makes it as easy as a few clicks for people to share your posts. Share-a-holic is a great plugin that brings all social media options to the party for you to customize. 

9. Curious as to who is following you? Click on the number of followers that shows up on the main Twitter.com page, right under your profile. Curious about who UNfollowed you? Sign up with Who Unfollowed Me and check back every few days or week.

10. To see how relevant your links are, sign up with Bitly and use it to shorten all of your links. It’ll track them and tell you how many people have clicked. You can also find this out using Twitter analytics, but you’ll have to do it through Twitter.com (click on the bar graph icon underneath your tweet). If you like to use a Twitter client like Hootsuite, you won’t be able to see that.

 

Tips:

1. #FF – Follow Friday. You don’t have to list out everybody that you follow. That kinda defeats the purpose. Have a topic, a group, a reason. Do a few groups. But don’t do more than 3 or 4 tweets like this. It gets annoying for those who do follow you. It IS a great tool to use for finding like-minded people to follow and it is a great tool to promote the people and companies you like, yes. Just don’t go overboard.

2. Speaking of #FF…..don’t retweet every #FF mention you get. If you want to thank the person who gave you a #FF, please do, but you don’t need to also tweet your thank you to everybody else included in that #FF group.  Doing this stuff makes you look a bit like a braggart. Doing it right:

tip3

3. And again, speaking of….you don’t need to RT every plug or compliment you receive. Sure it’s great and nice to toot your own horn sometimes. Absolutely. Just….easy on it, okay? We already follow you and like you. We already know you’re great!

4. Mix it up. Don’t do too much of just one thing on Twitter. Don’t feed Twitter every photo you reblog on Tumblr. If people want to follow your Tumblr, they will do so. Don’t fill your tweets with little other than links to your blog posts. Again, yawn. And for the love of pete space out those contest tweets. 75% of your followers don’t give a rats ass about them.

tip1
tips2

5. ENGAGE if you want people to follow you. Yes, say witty things. But also just talk to people – respond to their tweets, ask them a question. On the flip side though, if your tweet stream is filled with nothing other than replies to people that I don’t follow? I’m not going to follow you. You don’t say anything! Of course, you may not always get a response to your response, and that is the nature. It doesn’t mean you’re being ignored.

6. IF you have locked your Twitter account for more privacy, then ONLY the people who follow you can see your tweets. This means that if you tweet someone directly who does not follow you OR if you’re jumping in on a conversation and one of the people doesn’t follow you…..they will never see your tweets. @’ing someone directly doesn’t mean that they will see your tweet regardless of privacy. You’re locked. Period. This also means that you can’t enter a contest, unless the contest haver follows you back. They’ll never see your contest tweet….but also, neither will anyone other than your followers.

7. Don’t auto-DM people who follow you with a sales-pitchy impersonal thanks. It’s generally hated.

8. Make sure that the email address you used to register with Twitter is one you use frequently so that you don’t miss DM’s, but with the way Twitter.com has updated you will easily see a number next to the DM icon (an envelope) and most Twitter Clients are pretty obvious when you get a DM.

9. Try not to ever DM someone with something that would cause you or your reputation harm. If you want to snark about someone or give out your phone number, take it to email. Because the one time you don’t want that message to be public is the one time you’ll screw up. This happens more to mobile users than anything else, I’ve found. It’s harder now to do this with Twitter.com.

10. Finally…..watch what you say. It’ll be archived somewhere even if you go back and delete an old tweet. Rants and inappropriate comments have lost people a lot more than just a little respect. Also? When drama ensues, someone has screen-capped it. Blush Novelties didn’t realize this, nor did that awful glass company.

I forgot one. Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s because I do use Who Unfollowed Me, and I get email notifications of new followers. But here’s the thing with Twitter….follow someone because you like them. You like their tweets and want to keep up with their goings-on. But don’t follow someone just to get them to follow you back. And especially do not follow and unfollow and follow again and unfollow again because you’re trying to get them to follow you. There will always be people you follow that will never follow you back and vice versa. It’s not always personal. So quit being twitter-passive-aggressive.

Nope I forgot two. Sometimes people are passive-aggressive and sometimes Twitter glitches. Sometimes Twitter will stop following accounts despite you not telling it to do so. You’ll think to yourself “I could have SWORN I was following her” only to find out that somehow, you’re not. Also consider this before you get offended that someone unfollowed you once (and if you do get offended, you’ll need to get a thicker skin).

 

Questions about Twitter?? Ask me! Have a tip of your own to share? TELL US!

 

 

 Posted by at 9:30 pm
Jun 262013
 

week5

I know a lot of people are looking forward to this one. If you’re new here, go check out my two reviews on Fucking Sculptures pieces, both the G-Spoon style. These dildos are true works of art, and every one is unique. Because I know that size, shape and color are important to many people, plus I wanted to be able to open this internationally, I asked Fucking Sculptures to send me the piece I’d be giving away. I discovered the Fucking Sculptures line earlier this year and immediately fell in lust. I thought it fitting to have my 5 weeks of giveaways end with such a bang! This is seriously a gorgeous work of art. The photos just don’t quite do it justice. 

This is a white Pussy Willow, with metallic-silver-toned spots. It’s beautiful!! It’s a great size, in my opinion, neither too small nor too big for most. The gentle curve will be great for G-spot play (but with the lack of “flared” base, I wouldn’t advise using this anally). It’s just about 8″ long; the fatter end is just a bit over 1.6″ wide, with the slightly smaller end measuring barely 1.4″ wide. Since I have this personally and will be shipping it out, for International peeps I ask that you be willing to cover shipping to your location. It weighs in at 1 pounds 7 ounces and you can calculate the cost by visiting the USPS site.

FS1 FS2

How to Enter

First, I’m going to ask you to visit the Fucking Sculptures site. Look over their current shapes and colors and pick out your favorite.

Next, I’d like to help out Fucking Sculptures a bit. Give them an idea or two for a design style, or item, or color that you’d like to see them create. For example, I’d love to see them do a blue color (like Peacock but just a bit more blue) and shape that allows for length without quite so much girth in a shape reminiscent of the Pure Wand. Kinda like the Pussy Willow but without all of the bumps, and maybe a finished end that provides a bit of a handle, like some of the Corkscrew shapes are.

Finally, tell me why I should pick you.

Winner

The winner will be chosen by me, based on the quality of your answers, and that you did all three necessary things. Again, if the winner is outside of the US, they must agree to pay for shipping. Winner will be announced Friday, July 5th, along with the winners of Week 3 and 4. Entries will be accepted until 11:59 PM on Wednesday July 3rd.

 Posted by at 1:33 pm
Jun 182013
 

Week4

We are quickly getting down to the wire! Next week is the final giveaway, which will be a beautiful Fucking Sculptures dildo! But let’s focus on this week. The lucky winner will receive both a red We-Vibe Salsa vibe and a blue Tantus O2 Flurry, courtesy of ME. Once again these babies are in my hands and since the shipping rests on me, if you live outside the US you can enter but I’d need you to chip in for shipping via Paypal – I think the package will weigh in around 1lb9oz.

For a long time, I had my eye on the Tantus O2 Revolution. A LONG time. And then one glorious day I finally got to experience some of their O2 dildos, the Cush and the Flurry. Personally the Cush is more my speed, I quite like the girth but it’s not for everyone. The Flurry, however holds a little more universal appeal. At 1.5″ wide it’s not too big for anal play fans once you’ve had some warm-up, and it’s a great size for vaginal penetration, too. The base is super sturdy, and fits wonderfully in a harness.

Of course my favorite vibrator the SALSA. I’ve said so much about it already, so let’s hear from someone else. One of the winners of the big Salsa giveaway contacted me to let me know how utterly in love they are with their new Salsa:

Thank you again for the Salsa. It has dramatically improved my sex life. You’ve sent me a near-perfect sex toy, probably as close to the platonic ideal vibrator as I’ll ever find. The deep, rumbly vibrations are actually strong enough to get through to my Zoloft-addled nervous system and bring me to satisfying climax. The pointy tip is perfect for the focused clitoral stimulation I crave, and the hard plastic is my favorite vibrator material by far because it transmits vibrations so well and lets me apply a bit of pressure. The size is small enough that it works well for use during intercourse. You have no idea how nice it is to climax during partnered sex again! I’d given up on the idea of vibration patterns years ago: the only way I enjoyed any of the vibrators I’d owned was to set them to high and keep them there. Yet, I find myself utterly in lust with the Salsa’s wave setting; the gradual ebb and flow of power is the perfect way to get worked up before I crank the strength to medium (!) or high. In short, the Salsa is amazing and you are amazing for giving them away (and for being a great, entertaining, and informative blogger, of course).

Now that is the stuff I like to hear!! Responses like those are why I wanted to give away the Salsa and share my love for it.

How To Enter

Leave a comment below and tell me a few things:

1. You’re here because you know *something* about sex toys even if you’re not an expert and only have owned a couple. Tell me what you’ve learned from us reviewers that you wish you had known early on in your sex life or your life with sex toys.

2. Tell me why I should pick you!

If you’re outside the US, please be aware that I’ll need you to pay for shipping. Check here to see how much it’ll be to ship to you. It’s a package weighing 1 lb 9 ounces and I’ll be sending it First Class.

 

CONTEST IS CLOSED – WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED JULY 5th

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Jun 112013
 

Week3 

In my third year of reviewing I came across the Lelo Mona, the original. While it was never my personal favorite, since I need more power, I recognized that the shape and vibrations were great for a wide range of people. Recently, Lelo revamped and changed the design very slightly but mostly changed the vibrations – they’re now just enough to get me off most times, and so should be powerful enough for an even broader range of folks. The shape and style is great for g-spot or clitoral stimulation. It is probably one of the few Lelo toys these days that I do recommend.

This week I have no sponsor; the Lelo Mona 2 will be sent directly from me. Therefore, I can only afford to do free shipping within the US. Anybody outside the US would have to kick in a little for shipping – all packaged up, it weighs 1lb 5oz.

HOW TO ENTER

I’m running out of ideas to keep it fair and fresh, as a warning. I hate to make it all about social media sharing, as that cuts back on the people who can enter. But since the prizes for these weeks are not cheap, I want to make some requirements to weed out the people who will enter any giveaway just for the heck of it. Leave one comment below with the following 3 things. Entries will be invalid if #3 cannot be verified.

Step 1: Tell me why you want it, why I should pick you.

Step 2: I need to write up some posts….tell me what you want me to review next, or what industry topic you’re curious about that I could cover. Check out my Toybox to make sure I’ve not already reviewed the item!

Step 3: This one will involve going off site. Below each post you’ll see the “sharing” buttons. You can share something to Reddit/Stumbleupon, post it on FB, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Like it on FB, +1 it on G+, or if there’s a place you go where you think sharing a review or article of mine (anything from this page) would benefit somebody, teach somebody something? Share it there. I’ve certainly had my fair share of traffic from unexpected places like Yahoo’s “ask” feature, forums about water fowl (no fucking idea), etc. The only real requirement here is that you must be able to link me to it for verification; I (the public) must be able to see it. So share something and then post here why you chose it and the link to where you shared it.

WINNERS

CONTEST IS CLOSED – WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED JULY 5th

The winner will be notified via email; if they fail to respond within a week, someone else will be chosen. Winner will have to provide me with a complete and valid mailing address, and if required, Paypal payment of the cost of shipping via International Shipping First Class (USPS). If you can’t afford ~$8-12 USD for the shipping plus whatever you might get charged from your country, then do not enter.

 Posted by at 11:00 pm
Jun 112013
 

When you review a sex toy, do you talk price? Is it just me? I feel that it’s an important point to cover, one that my readers would want to know. If I were reading a sex toy review of an item priced well over $100, I would need a fuck ton of convincing that that item is going to rock my fucking world for that price.

A potential relationship with a retailer who thought I was new to the scene back in 2012 ended quickly when we discussed the finer points of reviewing. They didn’t want me to just review one item, they wanted me to review a lot. Primarily I turned them down because they didn’t have an affiliate program (I work from home now, I need all the income I can get) but also because our views just didn’t mesh.

I’m actually not going to publicly name names here, because the point I want to make really doesn’t have anything to do with the company – my point is that it’s an aspect I care about. But in our very short discussion, as a response to me detailing that I do not sugarcoat my reviews and I am bluntly honest, always, this was mentioned:

“It’s a product review… Let the customers decide if it’s worth it.  Most all of my product are over $100, so if that’s an issue and your readers don’t want to spend that, I don’t want to be skewered because you don’t believe in buying $150 toys.  If a toy is good, and gives orgasms, or does its job, give it a good review.  Let the buyer decide if it’s worth it.  I’m a high end retailer, and carry great products.  I need good, honest reviewers, that have good audiences that might buy.  Let me know what you think.  I repost on my blog, from your blog, word for word, so no editorializing or such.”

Well, I’ve already talked about my feelings on someone re-posting my review on their site and I was not okay with that aspect of their conditions. But I had a real head-scratcher over the “let the buyer decide if it’s worth it”. Um….isn’t that what I’m doing here?? I’m presenting them with the information but also my opinion. If they wanted pure information, they’d read the copy from the website. I responded with:

“I personally expect every, single luxury sex toy to live up to the high expectations that come along with a high price tag, and from everything I’ve seen, so do my readers. I’ve reviewed so many luxury toys that were such a let-down that I fear I’ve become a little jaded. I am hard on toys though; I expect great things for the price tag. I’ve been unable to fully recommend items such as some Lelo, Je Joue, Zini, JimmyJane, etc because there are less expensive items that perform better. In my opinion, I do reviews to help the buyer decide if a toy is worth the money – be it $25 or $125. I wasted a lot of my own money (both prior to reviewing and even recently) on toys that appeared to have glowing on-site reviews. That was what led me to reviewing, ultimately – I was searching for women who’d tried the toys I was considering, to ask them a few questions, and that was how I found out about blog reviewers. There are so many items out there that I don’t think are worth the price and I don’t hesitate to tell my readers that. To me, that’s half the point of a review. They’re looking for reassurance in our reviews, reassurance that they won’t be dropping a week’s worth of grocery money on a toy that just isn’t worth it. I get disappointed with items/manufacturers but in the end I actually like all the reviews I write – I love being able to tell someone that something is awesome and I feel good about telling someone to avoid something that sucks. I don’t gloss over just for sales. In the end, I want my readers to be happy with their purchase and feel that I truly helped them.”

This didn’t go over well, I guess. I never heard from the person again. Apparently, I’m not the type of reviewer they want on their side. They clearly wanted reviewers who would drive people to buy, and it almost seems like they were angling for some sugar-coating. Thus far all of the places I review for have never taken issue with my reviews, no matter how harsh they are and boy howdy have some1 been2 harsh3.

Do you talk about price? Do you feel the need to justify super-pricey toys to your readers, assuring them it is worth it? If that same toy that you feel is decent, but not wonderful, cost half the price would you be more likely to recommend it?

  1. Hello Touch, how I hate thee
  2. We-Vibe Thrill made me angry I wasted my money
  3. Fixsation review was so harsh, the creator tried to slam me in comments by pretending (badly) to be someone else
Jun 072013
 

Novelty disclaimer on a sex toy box

The sex toy industry is rife with half-truths, flat-out lies, confusing names for materials and more. When information is put out there that seems to make sense and seems credible, it gets passed on and shared until it’s viewed as fact. A prime example is that, for awhile, we all believed that a sex toy had to contain at least 10% silicone in order to be labeled as just merely “silicone” by the manufacturer (as if 10% silicone mixed with 90% PVC somehow makes it better….hint: it doesn’t) but I found out at CatalystCon’s Toxic Toys session in March that that isn’t true at all. In fact, they can claim whatever they want if they’re unethical. And some are.

noveltyImagine my surprise when an industry friend, who knows how much I love to write about things like this, tells me that the “Novelty” term is used mainly because of export and tariffs….NOT to create a legal loophole relieving them of responsibility if you get injured, or because they don’t care. True, I’m sure some companies don’t care. But the “Novelty” disclaimer isn’t 100% indicative of that. It does absolutely nothing to relieve the company of legal liability.

I’ve seen a shit ton of blame being laid on China and companies who use the “Novelty” disclaimer as to why there are so many “bad” sex toys. You’ll find many articles online that talk about toxic toys and they will also usually fall back on the “blame the novelty tag”. I did too, because when I first wrote my posts, I was calling on what I’d found. This is how it happens; I couldn’t find anything to the contrary, so I figured it must be true! It’s a confusing subject. The subject of this post is something I’ve been researching for literally months. I wanted to get as many ducks in a row as possible before writing, and see if I could really nail down facts and get back-up information to everything my friend below told me. And I couldn’t. I couldn’t get straight answers from many of the manufacturers. I’ll be sharing all of that in Part 2 but for now I’m working on the basic debunking.

My friend needs to remain anonymous because they have worked for a few manufacturers and by extension, retailers, in their time in the industry. This is what they had to say on the subject:

From a stand point of importing into the US, it has more to do with the cost of customs fees and duties and possible certifications that may be required depending on how it’s classified.  In regards to exporting products to other countries, each country has their own regulation in what they will accept on packaging or product descriptions.  Some companies have started omitting the words “for novelty use only” on the packaging, but my understanding is in those cases they are registered (not approved) with the FDA.

 

Everything is imported or exported under what’s called a Harmonized Tariff Schedule Code (Harmonized Code). This code determines the customs fees and duties that will be paid on every shipment coming in to this country and are based in part on 1) materials and 2) intended use. 

 

So basically, the bottom line is the wording that is chosen can effect the cost of the product when importing to the US and exporting to other countries.  In addition, if certain wording is used (ie. “toys” without the word “novelty”),  manufacturers face the possibility of needing additional certifications for the US & EU and the possibility of certain non-US countries denying shipment altogether. The only reason anyone tries to “skirt” the FDA is for customs fees, duties and taxes.  It has nothing to do with the quality of the product, but rather cost of importing. When importing to the US (and possibly exporting, depending on the country), if any products are labeled as “toys” (or NOT labeled as “For novelty use only/not intended as a medical device”) then they may be subject to  Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008“.

What about the legal loophole theory? I talked with K.M. Davis,  a lawyer who has worked with numerous adult industry companies. I asked: “DOES the disclaimer make any lawsuit null and void? What if a company claims their product is phthalates-free, but a customer gets a chemical burn from using it, sends it off to be lab-tested and finds a bunch of toxic chemicals. Can they sue?”

I can say, having worked with manufacturers in a number of industries, not just sex toys, that there is often a “what is everyone else doing, I better do that too” mentality among lawyers, insurance folks and manufacturers related to disclaimers. So, often one company ends up putting something on their packaging for no better reason than “everyone else was doing it.”

 

I have heard speculation among industry folks that the “novelty use” disclaimer is an attempt to avoid lawsuits if a consumer somehow injures themselves using the product (either because it is toxic or a bad design) and have heard others speculate that it is used to avoid potential prosecution if the products are sold somewhere where sex toys are banned or regulated. However, nothing can make a lawsuit null and void, as a judge is always free to say that despite a disclaimer, the manufacturer could reasonably have known what the consumer would use it for.

 

As to saying your product is free of something but not actually being free of that, because sex toys are completely unregulated, there’s really not much a consumer can do. One could sue if they tested something and found the claim untrue, but you’d have to prove what your personal damages were1. It’s unlikely anyone would want to pursue that claim either, which is what manufacturers rely on….

Here’s the tl;dr for Part 1:

1. They’re likely doing it because it’s just always been done, and the company lawyers are sticking with tradition.

2. You can still sue

3. It’s likely more for exporting reasons than anything else, for most companies – if it’s not “novelty”, then the FDA thinks it is medical and they will require formal approval, photos, and a 3-page paper written on the subject. In blood2.

So should you avoid all companies who use such disclaimers? What about the companies who don’t use the warning words? Come back for Part 2 next week!

  1. Meaning: If you suffered chemical burns, you’d have to hope that your doctor knows it’s a chemical burn and not try to treat it as an infection. You have to be upfront with your doctor. Then you’d have to get the funds for testing the sex toy from an accredited lab. Then find a lawyer, like Davis. It’ll be a years-long event, I’m sure
  2. I might be exaggerating a little…