• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on August 13, 2014

    Countdown to the UX Awards: Get Discounted Tickets and Vote Now for the Winners!

    We're a partner with the UXies, the premier global awards for exceptional digital experience, which is in downtown San Francisco on September 11 after 3 years in New York!
  • With the proliferation of mobile devices and its extensive use, it becomes a concern for the web designers to fit the content of an entire website into that small screen. Simple design, minimal colors, and easy navigation are extremely important for small screen viewers so that they can go through the information of your website without any hazard.

    Responsive Web Design (RWD) is evolving and every day we learn a better way that we can implement to improve our responsive sites. RWD has no doubt solved a problem of building up multitude of websites for host of devices available to the customers, ranging from large desktop monitors to small mobile screens. However, do all the websites’ layouts appear similar across the multiple devices, especially those that are rich in content?

    The fact is that even after responsive design, many websites offer terrible online experiences for the users. Truncated content, slow load times and bizarre side scrolling are all too common in the world of mobile web. It poses a difficult design challenge to adopt content-heavy website in a mobile device. The concern is how to squeeze all your valuable content into such a small screen? Designers have to think, how they can display the information in a small screen that will be easy to navigate and read.

    Mobile usage is growing at a rapid pace and those designers, who are getting away from creating a mobile ready site, cannot ignore it anymore. It is a tricky affair to design a responsive website that delivers content both to the desktop and mobile. Most of the time designers suggest separate sites for the mobiles and desktops. The mobile websites are often a simpler version of the desktop sites that are built using minimal colors, simple navigation and minimal content. But, if you want to have the same site working for both your desktop and mobile what will you do then? When you are considering a website which will work both in desktops and mobile devices optimize it appropriately.

    Content for your mobile devices

    Content that is easier to view on the large screens when become responsive will not appear perfectly on the mobile devices. The existing website contents if squeezed and tried to fit in a mobile window will appear too small and cannot be read. To view such contents, the users have to expand the page beyond the frame or slide page sidewise continuously for reading. You can imagine how frustrating it will be for the users. For obvious reason, they flip to other websites quickly. Since there is a big difference how designs and content look on different screen sizes, it is essential that a site changes its layout to accommodate viewers with smaller screen sizes.

    Here are some functions that will make the contents of your page mobile responsive:

    Different HTML
    For your mobile version consider using dynamic serving instead of taking just a responsive design approach. While there will be a single URL for simplicity, you can serve different HTML based on user agent.

    Keep the texts simple and short

    The designers have to keep that few square inches of mobile screens in mind when considering the content of the websites. For the users it is very difficult to read the long text from such a small screen. They will lose patience if they have to navigate and scroll several times.

    The punchy content offers readers essential information and there is no need to scroll too long for that.

    Sticky navigation to improve browsing speed

    An online user traditionally has to scroll to the top of the page for accessing the navigation menu. With sticky menus remaining at any part of the page, you are viewing, browsing a site becomes much faster. The users really appreciate the presence of sticky navigation in a website as they can find what they are looking for much faster.

    Using Images

    With the words going around that the brains can transcend visuals much faster than the texts; there is a tendency to introduce fascinating images within the text. This looks great if the site is opened from the computer. However, visuals make a site heavy and it may take too long time to load in a mobile.

    Headlines are better than snippet of your stories

    Though the viewers will ultimately end up reading the stories, using primary navigation on the home screen enables them to easily navigate. Mobile website of CNN represents the headlines and the users have to click on the story they want to explore.

    Progressive disclosure

    The mobile screens are small and the readers can experience information overload when there are too many details displayed in that screen size. Implement a design technique that will reduce clutter and not let the users lose their focus. With progressive disclosure you can reveal only the essential details, hiding the less used elements which the users can access swiping, tapping and scrolling. You need to highlight the actions that are available to the users.

    Despite your efforts to optimize the mobile website in the most efficient way, some users may find the navigation and browsing a cumbersome experience. You can maximize the customer satisfaction via new mobile app. Through your mobile app you can offer discounts, rewards and other incentives to lure the customers.

    You may have implemented all these ideas, how you can tell how your mobile content marketing efforts really making an impact? A few analytics tool like the Google analytics and Flurry can help you to track your success.

    Will blogs soon go the way of wooly mammoths and bell-bottomed jeans? Some online marketing leaders certainly think so. In fact, many of them are giving up their blogs already, taking their content, fans, and inspirations to Google+ and other social venues. Should you do the same? Before we answer that question, let's take a quick look at a case for and against giving up your blog.

    Will blogs soon go the way of wooly mammoths and bell-bottomed jeans? Some online marketing leaders certainly think so. In fact, many of them are giving up their blogs already, taking their content, fans, and inspirations to Google+ and other social venues.

    Should you do the same?

     

    Before we answer that question, let's take a quick look at a case for and against giving up your blog.


    Why You Might Want to Say Goodbye to Your Site's Blog


    If you read a lot of my posts (or my books), then you already know I think the point of having a blog isn't just to spread content or even to boost your Google search rankings, but to actually engage with readers and followers on interesting or important aspects of online marketing. You want readers to not just absorb an idea, but also form an impression about you, your company, and your expertise.

    These days, that's actually easier to do on a social media site (and particularly Google+) than it is on your own blog. That's because Google's brand of social networking allows you to share your content quickly and conveniently among different circles, discover other great content, and especially to engage with other users, without having to wait for comment approval. The give-and-take is faster and more "real" in this scenario, making it a lot more interactive than your typical blog comment module.

    Plus, it's much easier and faster for others to share your content from a social media site than it is to send a link to your blog. A Plus, Like or Favourite when logged in is just one click away.

    Google and the other social media sites have made it easier to post longer or ongoing articles, so what do you have to lose? If the point is to engage readers and develop a following, and both of those things are easier to do on a social network than on a blog, why bother with hosting your own blog at all?


    Don't Switch Off Your Blog Just Yet…


    The case I just made for "blogging" through social media makes sense, but it's not the last word on the subject. As it turns out, there are still some advantages to having your own blog (and some ways to realize the benefits you'd get from posting straight to Google+).

    The first and most important reason to keep your blog is because publishing there gives you control over your content. You can choose exactly when and how it's displayed, what images go next to it, what your blog looks like overall, whether you'll display accompanying marketing offers, and so on. While that may be (more or less) true with Google+ as well, there's no way to guarantee that will always be the case. In other words, you'll always be able to decide what goes on your blog, but you can't know or control what Google is going to do with its social media platform in the future. Just consider the recent repeal of Google's real names policy, for example.

    Another important benefit of blogging is that it gives more power and value to your existing content. The more relevant information you add to your site, the more there is to be indexed and discovered. It's easier for users to bookmark and locate old posts again later on your site than in social.

    And finally, using readily available plug-ins (such as Disqus or LiveFyre), you can devise a social commenting system that bypasses the traditional barriers and opens up a two-way window for dialogue. Or better yet, you can post your material to your blog, share to social, which links to the post from your social accounts, and then invite engagement on Google+ for the best of both worlds.


    Blogs Can Have Big Value


    You probably could follow the example of bloggers like Mike Elgan and throw your content into social – he has been extremely successful at it – but is it that the right move for you? Side note: Mike also guest blogs for other sites.

    If your goal is to follow the trend of a few of the more established bloggers, ditching your blog might be the way to go. But if you want to get the most mileage from the content you produce, having your own web presence – and posting to it regularly – is likely still the best way to go. (At least until you reach the mass of followers they have.)

    Connect with me on Google+ and check out how I use that social platform to integrate my own blogging and social engagement.

    Imagine a world where all manner of electrical and electronic devices are connected together via a wireless link -- that's the Internet of Everything. The installed base of active wireless connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, that's about 20 percent more than in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research. Moreover, the number of devices will more than double from the current level, with 40.9 billion forecast for 2020.

    Imagine a world where all manner of electrical and electronic devices are connected together via a wireless link -- that's the Internet of Everything. The installed base of active wireless connected devices will exceed 16 billion in 2014, that's about 20 percent more than in 2013, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

    Moreover, the number of devices will more than double from the current level, with 40.9 billion forecast for 2020.

    "The driving force behind the surge in connections is that usual buzzword suspect, the Internet of Things (IoT)," said Aapo Markkanen, principal analyst at ABI Research.

    If we look at this year’s installed base, smartphones, tablets, PCs, and other hub devices still represent 44 percent of the active total, but by the end of 2020 their share is likely to drop to 32 percent.

    In other words, 75 percent of the growth between today and the end of the decade will come from non-hub devices -- such as wireless sensor nodes and accessories.

    From every technology supplier's strategic point of view, the critical question is how this plethora of IoT devices will ultimately be connected to each other and the Internet.

    Until recently, the choices that product OEMs have faced have been fairly straightforward, with cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others all generally addressing their relative comfort zones.

    Going forward, they will be in an increasing competition with each other, so for the suppliers the strategic stakes are getting much higher.

    ABI says that the recently introduced Thread protocol, spearheaded by Nest Labs, is the clearest example of this convergence. It is not only setting the bar higher for ZigBee in the 802.15.4 space, but also piling up pressure on Bluetooth suppliers to enable mesh networking.

    In the meantime, the LTE-MTC and LTE-M initiatives may well expand the market for cellular M2M, while start-ups like Electric Imp and Spark could do the same for Wi-Fi.

    And finally, we also shouldn't ignore what’s going on with passive, proximity-based connectivity offered by RFID and NFC. For example, Thinfilm's plans with printed electronics warrant attention.

    internet of everything / shutterstock

     

    Content marketing is an interesting industry because it’s people like you — marketers, social media admins, etc. — who speak for and lead the business. How did you learn about the importance and later decline of Google Authorship? From authoritative authors on sites like this who monitor the ins and outs of online marketing trends.

    We’ve all had slow days, we’ve all been overwhelmed, we’ve all felt left behind by the next big thing — this is why it’s crucial for content marketers to stay absolutely positive and enthused about what they do.

    Like any job, a few lax moments in the brain department and we start seeing negative returns. This is deadly for social media marketing, especially when every share, like and comment builds upon one another. How, then, do we stay inspired doing the same thing day in and day out?

    1. Read & Research

    Content marketing is an interesting industry because it’s people like you — marketers, social media admins, etc. — who speak for and lead the business. How did you learn about the importance and later decline of Google Authorship? From authoritative authors on sites like this who monitor the ins and outs of online marketing trends.

    If you ever feel like your strategy or copy isn’t up to par, look at what other people are doing. It doesn’t have to be the best thing ever, either, since the best ideas are often derived from seeing too many bad ones.

    Personally, I like to open a series of browser tabs first thing in the morning and skim through the headlines (which is very 21st century of me, I know). Sites like Copyblogger, Search Engine Journal and even Content Marketing Institute are outlets where experts go to discuss the latest of the industry, share studies and try new ideas. Why? Because they want readers, are interested in sharing their findings and know they are an important part of the industry.

    When the time comes, I like to take what I learned, apply it, and later blog about the process or method and explain how it applies to my own niche. It’s like taking notes in class and copying them down at a later time to reinforce what you’ve learned.

    2. Blind Experimentation

    There are two camps in content marketing: The analytics who live for numbers and those who believe in the strength of original, powerful content. There are crossovers, of course, though I definitely fall into the second camp.

    Do I see the benefits of posting Tweets at certain times of the day on certain days of the week that are 70 characters long and include one link, three hashtags and a mention? Yes. Do I market like this? Not always.

    I tend to stay away from precision because it cramps creativity. That said, it is helpful to test out some of these cookie-cutter marketing strategies and observe how they help your own campaign.

    Then there’s blind experimentation, something I enjoy doing more than writing about content marketing. Have you tried writing 200-word Facebook posts (like mini-blogs)? No…why not? You don’t need to wait for someone to come along with a case study to say, “It’s okay to try this idea.” Be a forerunner!

    Blind experimentation is fun, exciting and keeps you thinking.

    3. Change Targets

    Let’s pretend you market a contracting business. Honestly, how many articles can you write about remodels, kitchen countertops and light fixtures? Maybe 50? And when you start factoring in daily social media posts, you’ll likely burn out of original ideas within a few months. What then?

    There is one ingredient I’ve found that makes any post or article more memorable than others: Specificity.

    Writing to a general audience is boring and uncreative. You wouldn’t use the same stick-to-it script to sell homes to 20-somethings and retirees, would you? Of course not.

    Try shifting your focus and writing at someone specific. For the contractor marketer, why not spend a week exploring the perks of adding a basement bedroom for new families? Why not jump out of your routine and talk about amazing treehouses contractors have built for homeowners in the country? These ideas — while not entirely creative — give writers and marketers a starting point.

    And there you have it — three general ways for you to add a unique, fresh spin on your content marketing. Give it a try…you won’t be disappointed!

    In the early days of social media, branded marketing was mired in hackneyed and underhanded tactics meant to drive engagement. We've thankfully come a long way since those dark days, but there are still certain tactics that we need to put to rest. Five, in particular, continue to pock the face of social marketing.

    Marketing has, thankfully, evolved since the dark, early days of social media. Back then we were stumbling newborns, desperately crawling and clinging to anything that would get us those coveted likes and shares. Companies just weren’t sure how to market using this new media, and so many committed huge gaffs like hijacking trending tags or blasting updates every hour. Some lessons have, thankfully, sunk in, and most brands now know how to behave on social media. But in researching this article, I found a five hackneyed, tired tactics that are still being used, and that need to be put to rest.

    Let’s play a game…

    This is starting to die out, but some smaller businesses still use it so I feel it’s worth mentioning. Now, I don’t mean sweepstakes or contests or anything like that. Rather, I can’t stand games created as an obvious, last-ditch effort to create engagement – something like ‘Can you name a business that doesn’t use an A in its name?!’ Yes, I can. But what possible reason do I have for writing it in the comments? How does this have anything to do with your wider marketing strategy? A crummy game is not the way to boost visibility.

    Click-baiting

    I understand that people are split on click-baiting, and I do understand why news and article aggregators like Buzz Feed and UpWorthy do it. They are driving an audience to a light, simple, easy topic, and raking in the ad revenue. But, for most companies, click-baiting makes absolutely no sense. I know it's hard to drive traffic to company blogs or smaller articles, but writing everything under headers like ‘What our CEO says about fiscal solvency will change your life!’ is not the answer. Even if you do see a small uptick in traffic, people are going to catch on and stop clicking.

    Look at me!

    It is absolutely and perfectly acceptable to post pictures of your office and staff on your feeds – in fact, I recommend it. What’s not okay is polluting your feeds with nothing but these pictures. I think the problem lies in initial reaction, rather than vanity. A CEO will want to post the picture of an office party, and a bunch of people like, share, and comment. Then they say okay, well let’s post pictures of people working. Next it’s the CEO, hanging out in the office, or someone’s kids visiting. Eventually their social feeds are nothing but pictures of people looking exasperated and bored.

    Hashtag Overload

    #We #all #want #our #content #to #be #seen. But throwing a hashtag in front of every, single word of every, single update is not going to drive traffic. In fact, you are shooting yourself in the foot by using too many hashtags. Hashtags should be used, but sparingly, and only when relevant to the content or status you’re posting. Not only will this help up engagement, but your hashtag campaigns will be way easier to track, and you’ll start to make an impact on the larger social communities built around those tags.

    The Selfie

    Selfie-based marketing reeks of corporate pandering. I can just imagine a 40 year old executive, telling the boardroom that their teenage daughter takes selfies all the time, and how they should capitalize on that. It’s a desperate, obvious attempt to force people to engage with your brand, and even if it does increase chatter, it just looks tacky. Wheat Thins was actually dealt some heavy criticism for their own, arguably failed attempt to capitalize on the selfie. Selfies are meant to be fun, spontaneous ways to capture of a moment, but when you try to force branding into it, that spontaneity is lost and all you’re left with is a boring picture with an oversized box of crackers.

    Now, I know that there are marketers out there who will disagree with my list, and there are people who will be upset that I called out one of their favorite tools. Heck, I admit that I’ve used a couple of the above myself. But one of the coolest things about social marketing is how quickly it evolves, and I’m hoping that, as things change, the above five tactics will finally be put out to pasture. Trust me, we’ll all be better off without them.