May 13th, 2011
We’ve previously posted the Top 10 signs you’re using a bad site/email hosting company, so it’s only fair to post the signs your website needs to be redesigned. Watch out, folks, we are trained professionals…just not in comedy.
1. You forgot you even had a website or what it looks like.
2. It has a hit/traffic counter at the bottom of the page. (Congrats on your 20 visitors.)
3. There’s an animated stick figure in a hard hat, with flashing “Website Under Construction!” text.
4. Your homepage has an address like http://yourISP.com/home/~yourusername.html
5. The site is built entirely in Flash.
6. When you call your host, the call goes straight to voicemail, which is currently full or has not been setup.
7. Audio or video automatically plays when you visit, but you can’t turn it off.
8. Menu options read Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 …
9. Your host says the design can’t be viewed on your iPhone.
10. It’s hosted at MySpace.
April 28th, 2011
New research from Outbrain, a content recommendation service and tool provider, shows that maybe we shouldn’t be trading in search engines for social media platforms. At least not just yet.
As reported by Search Engine Land, the report showed that out of 100 million visits to connected sites, 41 percent fell in the search category as the method they used to arrive to a site. In addition, the top three traffic sources were non-social media tools.
In another bit of research, Outbrain investigated the average number of page views per session – basically, once the user was there, did they click around the site? Visitors who arrived by a search mechanism clicked around more, while social media visitors tied for last place.
You can view Outbrain’s original report by clicking here.
So what does this mean?
I wouldn’t toss out search engines in favor of social media placement if you are looking to promote your site and your message. Simply put, folks are still using Google and the like to find the information, despite the current hype social media tools are garnering. As financial experts say, “diversify.” Social media might be growing, but there’s still a large audience of potential visitors who are going to want to use Google and co. to find you, and once they’re there, they want to stay.
March 10th, 2011
With a dose of schadenfreude, another highly visible Twitter account has fallen victim to an inappropriate message.
Reported earlier this week by Adweek, the Chrysler Twitter account let slip the F-bomb and is in the middle of playing damage control. The story seems to be still developing, but the latest is that the Detroit automaker will not renew the service contract with their media company. This was on top of a public firing of the poster, but allegedly not requested by the car company.
This is not the first big name being hit by a slip of a finger: consider two more that have been reported just this year.
February saw a Red Cross Twitter user post on the organization’s account about their current level of beer and all that entails. (Bonus points, though, for the group turning it into a slightly humorous event.)
And earlier that month, fashion designer Kenneth Cole’s account posted a less than appropriate message equating pro-democracy riots in Egypt to the launch of a new spring clothing line.
What’s the lesson? For social media managers, be sure you’re posting to the right account. Lots of programs out there (Tweetdeck, Cotweet, etc.) can let you manage multiple accounts at one time – you have to take care to have the right message for the right account.
Bonus link: check out these propaganda-style designs aimed to promote various social media platforms.
Update: March 14 saw the firing of comedian Gilbert Gottfried due to his Twitter-based jokes on the recent disasters in Japan. Gottfried had portrayed the Aflac duck’s voice in US commercials.
February 9th, 2011
Gather ’round, kids. Here’s some interesting things I’ve come across in the shortest month of the year.
Did Google catch Bing’s hand in the cookie jar?
Earlier this month, Google posted on their blog about what they charge Bing doing: surreptitiously taking Google search results and branding them as their own. Reading through their blog, it’s an interesting experiment as to how Google created nonsensical search results and let staffers search for those “loaded” terms. Within time, the fake search results (nonsense terms that lead to even crazier results) were finding their way to Bing. Google alleges that there looks to be some sort of connection of either Internet Explorer 8 or the Bing Toolbar that is taking Google search results and forwarding them to Bing for use.
Universities reaching out to social media for student retention
Colleges are looking at social media tools, including customized Facebook apps, to help stymie an up to 40 percent loss of students after the freshman year. NPR reports that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (yes, that Bill Gates) are investing $2 million in Inigral for the work.
Design commentary for single-page websites
You’ve seen them before – single page sites, sometimes called single-serving sites. This SitePoint article looks at some of the better designed ones, and what makes them “work.”
Got a question? There’s a site for that
The New York Times delves into a new batch of question-answer websites that are giving existing Q/A sites a challenge. They report that sites like Quora, Stack Exchange and VYou are working to dethrone other sites, like WikiAnswers and Yahoo Answers. As a disclaimer of sorts, I’ve used (and had much success) with Ask MetaFilter for crowd-sourced help.
It’s all about the content, baby
And now for something completely different. Two cartoons have caught my eye that delve into the difference in what site owners want vs. what the end-user/public wants. The Oatmeal beats up on restaurant websites, while XKCD thrashes college sites.
January 3rd, 2011
As we head into a new decade (or was that last year), make sure your website reflects the times. If your site was designed more than two years ago, it’s probably due for a facelift. Don’t be the website that is “so last decade”. Not sure where to start? Here are a few helpful tips from USNX to get 2011 started off right.
- Listen to customer and client feedback – even ask your friends to critique your website. Once you’ve heard what they have to say, update your site accordingly.
- Stay on top of your updates! Keep your content fresh. Search engines do notice when updates are made.
- Look at website traffic stats to see where improvements need to be made and…yes, make those improvements!
- Pretend you are the customer. Look at your site as if you are a potential customer. Is the information you want or need easy to find?
- Cross link. Cross link. Cross link. Is your website address on your brochure and business cards? How about on your television/radio/print ads? Does your site link to your Facebook and Twitter accounts? Do you link to new blog posts from Facebook? Did you post your television ad on YouTube and link to it from Facebook, Twitter, and your website? You get the idea.
- Give people a reason to come back to your site. Your business philosophy and location generally doesn’t change, so you may need to think outside the box. Frequent blog posts, tips, contests, and links to interesting news articles or other blogs in your industry can all keep users returning.
We would love to hear what works for you! Please feel free to post any helpful tips you may have below or join the chat on our Facebook page.
Happy new year from USNX!
December 21st, 2010
The Digital Surgeons company has released a graphical breakdown of users of the two social media leviathans Twitter and Facebook, with data mostly from users in the United States.
Click here to see the graphic
Some interesting data to ponder:
- Facebook’s users out-populate Twitter users by a factor of five
- Facebook users are more likely to login every day
- Twitter users, though, are more likely to update their status every day – so it seems Facebook might be more read-only
- There are a few more non-U.S. users in Facebook
- While Facebook users are far more likely to follow a brand, Twitter users are more likely to purchase from that specific brand
- Education-wise, Facebook seems to be skewed more toward the younger crowd, as there are more high school users
- However, Twitter seems to be much more popular for currently enrolled college students by almost twice as much
- Going hand-in-hand with the education data, the age breakdown supports the notion that Twitter is being used by an older population, with a large portion (74 percent) in the 26-54 span vs. Facebook’s 53 percent in that same age span
Putting it all together, what does it mean? I find one interesting thing to ponder is who wants to market to which platform. Facebook is getting heavier use from the younger crowd, so if you had to market to tweens, teens and high school students, you can’t go wrong. Twitter, on the other hand, would be best used for those marketing to an older, educated crowd (read: has the disposable income). It also seems that Twitter users are more willing to engage with a brand via a purchase.
Trends in 2010
On a related note, both Facebook and Twitter have posted “end of the year” reviews that dig into their own usage data.
Facebook takes a look back at the top trends in 2010
Twitter lists the most popular retweets as well as what it considers some of the most powerful messages.
December 16th, 2010
I’ve been following two large-scale events over the last month that look straight out of the movies or some Tom Clancy-type techno-thriller. Let’s look at both today.
Call a plumber, you have a WikiLeak
Most likely you’ve heard/read about WikiLeaks and all things associated with it. From the hosting of U.S. State Department cables between countries, to Julian Assange’s arrest for alleged sex crimes, all the way up to a community-based distributed denial of service attacks … it’s been a wild ride.
Here are some recent recaps of what’s been going on:
New York Times’ series on the cables and diplomatic reactions to the content
Der Spiegel’s coverage
El Pais’ extended reporting
NYT’s primer on the WikiLeaks site and related developments
Swedish documentary film about the WikiLeaks organization
An anti-nuclear worm unleashed by a spy agency?!
Less known than all of the WikiLeaks drama is the Stuxnet mystery. This “worm” is being investigated as a possible weapon designed for subtle damage to specialized industrial equipment: centrifuges used to purify materials for possible nuclear weapons. It appears to have been spread via a USB memory stick and looks to be targeting high-level industrial locations and factories. Taking that a step farther, there are some hints in the worm’s code that might connect it to Israel as being the developer.
Now for the big disclaimer: none of this has been proved yet, but how are those JFK conspiracies going?
Here are some reports on the Stuxnet worm:
F-Secure security group runs through a (sometimes funny) Q/A review
CBS reports that Iran says Stuxnet stopped their centrifuges
Fox News does a good job wrapping the details together
November 12th, 2010
‘I don’t want to be known for THAT!’
We’re a few days post-election, but this is still a good read about how political candidates and companies are paying SEO and online marketing companies to basically bury negative content. However, I don’t agree with the line that search optimization is a $2 billion industry; I’d think it’d be much higher than that.
What’s really needed in your email signature file?
I have to admit this article cracked me up on the train to New Orleans last month. I get a lot of emails, and the blessing (or curse) of that is that I get to look at a plethora of signature files. (You know, the phone-fax-email-address-blood type-website-Facebook-religious quote data folks automatically add to their email.) Check out the author’s example of how a James Bond villain would best use a signature file.
Three CMSs enter, one CMS leaves
Author Tim Stiffler-Dean reviews three of the most popular content management systems: WordPress, Drupal and Joomla. While there’s no clear-cut winner of “which is the best to use” Stiffler-Dean analyzes all three and provides a series of pros-cons.
Note: This section’s headline is an allusion to a quote from “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”
We can’t be serious all the time
Just in time for the holidays, I’ve been keeping an eye out for a smart phone to replace my brick of a phone. The big battle is the Apple iPhone vs. the Google-powered Android phones…with Microsoft way down the list. This FoxTrot cartoon from Bill Amend puts the smart phone wars in perspective: why not combine the two to cut down on gripes!
And just as I was writing this blog post, a Twitter buddy of mine showed me this cartoon: how iPhone, Android and Blackberry users see themselves and how they view others.
October 15th, 2010
Is social media really worth your time every day?
Sure, it’s worth the time you put into it. I’m not saying that making a post a few times each week will triple your income, but what’s it going to hurt? When you sit down to make a post – post something you would actually want to read. If what you post doesn’t catch your attention, chances are no one else will be all that interested in what you have to say either. By giving your fans and followers a good read, chances are they will keep coming back to see what you have to say. You also want to make sure that these pages get noticed. Don’t forget to add a link to each social media site on your website homepage.
Social Media? Check. Now what?
So now that you’ve got your Facebook and Twitter accounts set up and you’ve already made a post or tweeted a few times – don’t stop there! Social media is all the rage, but it’s still just one method of getting the word out. Even if you don’t understand technology or don’t have a huge SEO budget, you can always start small. Put your URL on your business cards, on your brochures, and on any existing advertising campaigns. For a low-cost, low-tech solution, be sure to mention your site to anyone that comes through your doors. As word spreads, you’re sure to notice an increase in website traffic.
August 20th, 2010
I’m going to try something different this time: a post of some interesting links I’ve read or heard vs. one long post. Let’s see how this works out.
Where does social media fit into marketing prescription medicine?
I heard this going home the other day, about the FDA investigating how pharmaceutical companies are using social media tools to promote their wares. I did appreciate the point of (and I’m paraphrasing) “we’re not promoting sneakers” but prescription medicine via Facebook. But I do worry that people feel comfortable in taking complete strangers’ medical advice over seeing their doctor.
What happens to a deceased user’s Twitter account?
Twitter has a new policy page to handle such a situation. The social media tool can either remove the account or provide the user’s tweets to family members. Read on for a comparison of what Facebook offers for deceased users’ accounts, as well – it’s not the same as Twitter. (I don’t know about you, but there are some Twitter posts I don’t think my parents would appreciate. Sorry, Mom and Dad.)
Breaking news: If you’re cute, you’ll have more success on online dating sites
Sorry for the sarcasm, folks, but here we have some good data that backs up the “Well, DUH!” nature of this topic. The OkTrends blog is connected to the OkCupid.com dating website, and is used to take their dating data (say that 10 times fast) and provide a thorough analysis of what they record. And this time they’ve looked at users’ images and compared them to their dating activity. It just goes to show that if you have suitable data from a website, there are amazing things you can do with it.
If you have extra time, their blog tackles other online dating research such as popularity of age groups, what to say in your messages, and a whole lot more…but with real data to back it up.