• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Facebook (the self-appointed Holy Grail of technological evolutionary change for our society) would love to make your timeline the one-stop shop for literally everything you could ever want in this world. Facebook will be adding a “Buy” button within posts by companies, in order to make purchasing their products easier. For consumers, users and regular people this is a great thing, except for the increased ability to thin your wallet.

    Social commerce may sound like a fun idea. As a user, you purchase items based off your friends likes and interests, or even directly from referrals of their own purchases.

    And you would be pretty accurate with that assumption. Except think about how you might then purchase these items. Would you follow a link to a store? Follow a post URL to a landing page and they try to navigate to the store?

    Facebook (the self-appointed Holy Grail of technological evolutionary change for our society) would love to make your timeline the one-stop shop for literally everything you could ever want in this world.

    Facebook will be adding a “Buy” button within posts by companies, in order to make purchasing their products easier. For consumers, users and regular people this is a great thing, except for the increased ability to thin your wallet.

    So how are companies going to approach this?

    Specifically, many B2C industries will have to painstakingly create, modify and recreate their own eCommerce sites for optimal performance for the incoming Facebook hoards. Further, many companies measure their social media effectiveness on “Likes”, “Retweets” and “Repins”. Now, as social commerce becomes more popular, they can look to social media to directly improve the bottom line.

    So, is social commerce really destined to be more popular? Facebook isn’t the only agent of change looking to make this move. Twitter and various other social networks are going to take this angle and make social commerce not just an idea, but also a viable and valuable connection with an audience.

    Now, we can talk all day about your social commerce strategy and how this new item on the table may be one you want to pick up.

    But simply consider this post your heads up that something is coming. We are preparing for it, are you?

    For organizations to communicate effectively, it's not enough to develop great messages. Equally important is getting the entire enterprise to embrace and understand how to communicate your messages. All too often the focus is on creating messages but not enough on developing the messengers.

    One of the biggest challenges for organizations is speaking with a consistent and compelling voice.  Silos abound, and even those enterprises that have a positioning platform find it difficult for it to take hold in their organization. 

    The reason is simple: most executives look at messaging as being about finding the right words, and that is certainly part of the process.  But good messaging is mostly about articulating a purpose—the “why” of your business—and engaging everyone fully around that purpose. Messaging is not an island but rather part and parcel of management and organizational development. In fact, we find the message development process can lead to important breakthroughs and A-HAs about challenges and opportunities that often are not revealed during strategic and business planning. 

    Here are five keys to incorporating messages into your organization’s culture and personality:

      1)    Understand the External Landscape. All too often, organizations send messages that are about them and their wants, but do not speak to the needs and wants of their customers, clients, donors or other key audiences.  Do you really know why people buy your product or donate to your cause?  What makes them come back?  What turns them off?  What messages have you been sending until now—and do your audiences embrace and believe them?  Taking the time to ask your key audiences these kinds of questions is vital.  You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on market research.  But you do have to find mechanisms to enlist this kind of feedback and information.

    2)    Get a grip on how your messages need to relate to your unique brand and/or personality.  All too often, corporate and organizational messages are abstract:  “We are the leading provider of…” or “We are committed to client/customer service.”  But what does being the leading provider look like?  Do you have a unique product or service? Do you deliver it in a way that addresses particular needs?  And what does being committed to service mean? Does everyone in the organization fully comprehend what these concepts mean when tied to your enterprise and only your enterprise?

    3)    Understand the Internal Landscape.  Do your teams and/or employees truly get what you stand for, why your enterprise matters, and who you’re trying to reach? You must also step back and take a look at your organization or firm’s attitudes from the silo standpoint. What’s keeping every employee or partner from fully accepting, endorsing, and using your messages?  Do agendas vary?  And if so, how do you build internal bridges that bring your closest allies to the same chapter, if not onto the same page?

    4)    Involve your internal teams in the messaging process.  Make sure that the process to develop messages involves more than the marketing and executive teams.  Create mechanisms through workshops or sessions where people from across the organization can come together to help shape the messages.  There are two benefits:  your team will begin to feel ownership of the messages because they helped to create them and your staff will get to know each other better and break down silos because they will be interacting with people they might not work with on a daily basis in a meaningful way.

    5)    Create a flexible Messaging Architecture. Much as you might create a speech with bullets to describe key points, we like to create a messaging architecture that identifies core concepts to be communicated with key words, and then a series of messages under each theme that employees can tailor to specific purposes and audiences.  Too often employees are handed a mission statement (which, by the way, isn’t your message) and/or a set of talking points.  Then they’re told to use them.  As a result, when the messages are used, they sound hollow and robotic.  When staff, partners and other messengers understand the key ideas and have the flexibility to make them their own, they can be more effective.

    6)    Repetition and Training. Where the rubber meets the road with messaging is in arriving at a place where everyone can use the new platform comfortably. You can’t simply hand your team a messaging guide and tell them to spread the word.  After all, introducing new messaging is about significant change—changing the way we talk about our company, changing the way we relate to our key audiences, even changing attitudes within the corporation’s or organization’s culture.  Change is a process and so is the adoption of new messaging.  Roll-out and training are as critical—even more so—than rolling out a new product or service line.  Follow-up is just as crucial, so you’ll want to hold periodic internal workshops, and reinforce the messaging at every turn.

    The 21st century is the age of communications.  Good communications begins inside your organization.  It’s not enough to have winning words.  You must win the hearts and minds of your team so that they can carry your message and brand forward.

    Learn a few tips on how to make readers happy by optimizing your website for readability and likability. From SEO rankings to quality links, make your website easy to find and somewhere readers want to go by following a few tips.

    Let’s face it. Our society is not exactly a patient one. We expect things fast and quick and hassle free, and this is no exception when we go online. If you have a personal or small business website, you want your readers to have a pleasant experience and leave happy. Here are some ways to achieve just that.

    Assess page speed, and do something about it

    Page speed should always be a top priority if you want visitors return to your website, so using something like Google PageSpeed Insights to assess current speed is vital. You simply enter the URL and Google will analyze the content of the website and generate suggestions on ways to make your page faster and better performing. And while Google takes multiple factors into consideration, Page speed can also affect your SEO rankings, as explained in an article in Search Engine Land: “When someone conducts a Google search — on any device or browser — Google considers the page speed of the relevant matches, and delivers a ranking bonus to the speediest,” and then “they reorder the results — moving your page up or down — based, in part, on load times.”

    In addition, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group, as cited by Busines2Community, “A 1-second delay in page load time equals 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and 7% loss in conversions,” so keep readers happy by monitoring your page speed.

    So what can be done to increase page speed? Consider using caching. WP Super Cache, a top ranked WP plugin, is a caching plugin that can “compress the text, JavaScript style sheets, and serve these through a caching system instead of reloading everything when someone visits your websites,” shaving off load times.  

    Optimize your content, but don’t go SEO crazy

    Fresh and relevant content is your first priority, but if you are already faithfully maintaining the content of your website, it’s time to consider a few other factors.

    Yes, you want your pages to rank high up on search engine searches, but keyword stuffing is a thing of the past, and ticks off your readers. Using keywords wisely, as in placing them in the title, heading, or concluding paragraph, is still a good idea but a few valuable and relevant keywords is all you need. Placement is more important than quantity, and your reader will become quite frustrated if they read the same keyword phrase over and over and over again.

    In short, to optimize your posts the key is quality. In addition to quality keywords, focus on quality links that offer your readers a service; maybe a link to a website that illustrates content from your site, or that supports your content in some way. Readers do not like to be tricked into clicking on anchor text that takes them to irrelevant or useless content. Quality links will also help you in SEO rankings.

    Mind your site and get organized

    There’s nothing worse than a disorganized website that leaves you feeling, well, just confused. Both website design and content organization can make or break your website, but here are a few ways to clean up your act.

    First, use categories correctly; to help readers find relevant content. This means organizing your content into logical categories and combing “through your old posts to make sure they have unique and relevant title tags, URLS and meta descriptions,” as suggested in an article on Forbes on ideas for driving traffic to your website.

    Next, consider the layout of your website. Your home page and about page are probably the most important pages since these are the first impressions readers have of what you are all about. The home page should include questions that answer who, what, when, where, why and how. Including a tagline is also a helpful way to sum up what you’re all about. The about page is perhaps the most visited page, so this is your chance to showcase background information, include images, and really show off the personality of your website.

    Finally, your navigation bar should also be logical and helpful. After all, it’s to help readers to navigate through your website.

    Share nicely with social media

    Integrating social media onto your site is a must, but there are some general guidelines to follow so that you do not drive your readers crazy. First, as suggested in an article on integrating social media by SocialMedia Examiner, include visible social media buttons on your website, but don’t feel the need to include every single social media channel out there. A few top ones like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, should be sufficient, depending of course on your content (and that’s another thing: choose social media channels that are in fact relevant to your content).

    Giving your readers the opportunity to share is smart, but don’t clutter up your website with a ton of social media buttons (which should be arranged to the top, bottom or along the side of your home page by the way). And by creating social media buttons or links, readers can open your social media pages in new windows, without exiting your website completely. 

    Of course another benefit of integrating social media and using it wisely for your website would be increased web traffic. Social media is fantastic for increasing web traffic as it affords visitors the option to share and comment, so make your readers happy and have a place for them to interact with you and the content.

    I’ve been thinking a bit about Twitter lately, and just how useful it is as a tool or platform. The pondering was prompted by a discussion I had with the author of a new report into social media best practices in the National Health Service.

    I’ve been thinking a bit about Twitter lately, and just how useful it is as a tool or platform.  The pondering was prompted by a discussion I had with the author of a new report into social media best practices in the National Health Service.

    The report focused primarily on Twitter and how hospitals and professionals can use the platform as part of their work.  No mention was made of social tools such as telehealth or MOOCs, or any of the other social approaches to work that I believe are so valuable.

    It got me thinking.  I posted a while back about research showing how often we share things without reading them and I was reminded of this as I spoke to the author of the report.

    I sometimes get articles shared by some senior figures in the NHS, and they tend to get a lot of retweets and so on, and yet looking at my analytics, I don’t think I’ve ever had more visits from those tweets than the number of retweets that senior figure had.

    To put that into perspective, the collective following of the original sharer plus those who retweet must be close to 100,000, and yet this activity tends to generate just a (relative) trickle of traffic.

    Now of course, it’s good for the ego, which will be a persistent thread here, but perhaps not so good for traffic, and one suspects for the learning of those who share either (seeing as they don’t seem to actually read what’s shared!).

    Fake accounts

    And then you have the rise in astroturfing, or the buying of fake accounts in other words.  I’ve written a few times about the growth in this black market, but it was brought back to light in the wake of the recent Scottish referendum, after which both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmon gained around 100,000 new followers very quickly.

    Of course, the vast majority of them are fake, as the newspapers quickly revealed.  Whether the accounts are sock puppets that are using Salmond to appear more authentic or the politicians have followed Mitt Romney in trying to appear more popular online, it’s hard to really say.

    It all kind of underlines the seeming vanity of the network however.  Lots of people may follow you or share what you post, but what difference does it really make?

    A study published by Pew recently looked at the most valuable IT tools in the workplace, and traditional workhorses like email thrashed social networks by a huge margin.  Yet you’ll have a hard job finding someone espousing the virtues of email over Twitter on the web.

    If you search via the Adwords keyword tool, you’ll see that something like 40,000 searches a month are done for ‘buy Twitter followers’.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I actually quite like Twitter, but in terms of its place in the list of game changing things, I’d say it’s quite small.  Sure, it lets you talk easily to a wide range of people, and it can be a source of interesting content, but in the grand scheme of things, those are all relatively minor, especially for people whose job is not in that field.

    It begs the question, will Twitter ever rise above the tiny proportion of employees who find it valuable to their work?

    spaxiax / Shutterstock.com

    The migration of IT workloads to public cloud service providers continues in 2015. Meanwhile, the forward-thinking enterprise CIOs are making plans to transform their data centers to accommodate the applications they intend to keep.

    The migration of IT workloads to public cloud service providers continues in 2015. Meanwhile, the forward-thinking enterprise CIOs are making plans to transform their data centers to accommodate the applications they intend to keep. Maturation of cloud computing infrastructure and demand for sustainable benefits will drive the marketplace for new hardware and software components to a 14 percent CAGR from 2014 to 2018 -- reaching $36.8 billion -- according to the latest market study by Technology Business Research (TBR).

    "Customers are increasingly integrating public and private cloud resources into day-to-day, mission-critical workloads and processes," said Krista Macomber, analyst at TBR.

    However, TBR believes that securing, managing and integrating these complex heterogeneous cloud environments is very challenging.

    For cloud components vendors, this means embracing more systems integrator partners and expanding their adoption of popular open-source cloud management tools are likely to be necessary steps to maximizing long-term growth opportunities.

    Although low-cost, high-volume hardware vendors and legacy virtualization software providers have led cloud components opportunities in recent years, TBR says enterprise customers are beginning to increase their spend on operations management and security software -- as they complete their deployment of hybrid cloud environments.

    As a result, vendors such as Cisco, HP and IBM that are driving toward a software-defined, open-source, multi-platform cloud components strategy are posting leading year-to-year growth rates and expanding revenue bases.

    "IBM is a great case study in cloud components revenue trends. Plenty of opportunity remains for vendors to sell open and flexible hardware into a slew of cloud customer bases ranging from cloud service providers to small businesses. However, IBM has chosen to exit the x86 server space," Macomber explained.

    Moreover, TBR reports that IBM continues to struggle with financial turbulence that will be troubling for multinational enterprise customers and channel partners that both seek signs of future stability, following the ongoing decline of IBM's legacy hardware and software business units.

    While some vendors will choose acquisitions and organic development to round out their portfolio gaps, others will lean more heavily on partners to more quickly and cost-effectively fulfill end-customer requirements for open-source solutions that help to avoid vendor lock-in.

    For all vendors, the TBR market study findings indicate evolving channel programs and restructuring direct sales or professional services teams -- to articulate cloud workload knowledge and DevOps culture expertise -- are critical to a vendor's ongoing success.

    cloud infrastructure / shutterstock