Category Archives: social media

RWD2014 || Year of the Mobile

Responsive web design is extremely critical in today’s world; it is necessary for survival among the fittest. No doubt mobile browsing has blown up and continues to grow exponentially. There are times where no matter how good a company’s web site looks on the monitor, if it is not “mobile friendly” and the user gets a poor experience, well, the site might as well be deemed no good at all. On a personal level, I can relate to the importance of mobile browsing. For example, after giving someone my business card usually one of the first things they do is pull out there iPhone, and look at my portfolio. If my personal site was not built with a responsiveness to adapt to different media devices and viewports such as the iPhone; and the viewer looking at my work does not have a good experience, this could jeopardize the integrity of my work and in turn, possibly be loosing future customers and contacts. I would like to quote Andy Clarke, web designer, author and founder of Stuff and Nonesense. Andy says, “Anything that’s fixed and unresponsive isn’t web design anymore, it’s something else. if you don’t embrace the inherent fluidity of the web, you are not a web designer, you’re something else. Web design is responsive design. Responsive Web Design is web design, done right”…

Instagram is King

People remember 20% of what they read and 80% of what they see. Research shows that Instagram engagement is 58 times higher per follower than Facebook. Therefore, if your brand is looking for more social engagement, you should not underestimate Instagram’s marketing potential.
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A couple ways to optimize Instagram is first by implementing the basics. Whether you already have an account or are just setting one up, you may run into the problem of your company name already being taken. This is where it is important that you are implementing your company logo as your profile picture for all social media across the board. Consistency in social media will help people quickly recognize your content wherever they may be. Your Instagram bio should express your company’s personality in a brief description of what your company does. It would also be beneficial for you to include a link to your website so people can find you on the Internet.

The best part of Instagram is posting attractive photos, so I encourage you to get creative with promoting your product. Do not post basic product shots with an interesting filter. That is not likely to draw attention for ‘likes’ or more ‘followers.’ Your posts should look “branded” in the sense that they are consistent with the online voice you are building behind your company. It does not always have to be about selling something. I encourage you to share behind-the-scenes photos—maybe a company event or a typical day in the office— both are interesting and make you more accessible to your audience. Don’t forget, video is fair game too for this; more behind-the-scenes action, showing reactions to your product or funny promotions, all help bring your brand to life on Instagram.
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Social Media – A Waste of Time in the Health Industry?

The availability of information at the click of a mouse has spawned a generation that goes online for explanations for the aches and pains that plague them. Often, these same users use the internet as a tool to locate and contact health professionals that can provide treatment.  It is, therefore, essential for Doctors, Hospitals and Clinics to incorporate social media into their business plans. It has been shown that more than 40% of consumers say that the way they deal with their health is directly affected by information obtained on the internet through social media.

The Mayo Clinic, a healthcare giant, boasts of more than 800,000 followers on Twitter and half a million “likes” on Facebook. This traffic resulted from the clinic’s 2010 establishment of the “Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media”, a department created to determine how social media could be used for the benefit of the organization. In its Mission Statement the Mayo Clinic states that “individuals have the right and responsibility to advocate for their own health, and it is [The Mayo Clinic’s] responsibility to help them use social media tools to get the best information, connect with providers and with each other, and inspire healthy choices.” Googles reports that with the launch of its social media campaign the Mayo Clinic podcast acquired 76,000 listeners.

As with any product being marketed, brand recognition of a healthcare provider is essential. Regardless of the advertising medium – a roadside billboard, an ad on the Yahoo homepage or a TV commercial –distinctive images, an appealing logo and eye catching colors must be employed to promote the product or service. When marketing a service in the healthcare arena an area of import often overlooked is the need to build trust between the patient and the doctor. When those in need of treatment can communicate directly with a doctor through social media, a particular brand can quickly gain the reputation as the ‘go-to’ company in its field. This doctor/patient communication also promotes transparency and ensures trust between doctor and patient. Through social media the Mayo Clinic was able to substantially increase its influence in the field of healthcare.

Google further reports that Youtube videos increase traffic to hospital websites by 119% annually. These videos, replete with patient interviews and “feel good” stories, convert traffic to leads because they have a personal touch and a human quality that can only be conveyed through film.

Health Watch estimates that penetration of the health industry to mobile devices is as high as 87% and that 19% of smartphone owners have at least one “health app” on their mobile device. Does this mean that health care providers need to develop an app to stay in the game? Not necessarily. What this trend does say, however, is that it is important to increase the direct communication between patient and doctor, building that trust, to effectively market to the health community, and that communication should be directed not only at the computer monitor, but at the mobile device as well.

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Q&A with a UI/UX Designer

For this weeks blog I decided to interview a friend of mine and professional graphic/web designer. 

 Ryan Canfield is UI/UX designer & front end developer at Synapse Studios specializing in web-based javascript applications.


What do you think is one the most important thing as a web designer?   Thinking past static design & layout to consider the web at all screen sizes.

What about the creative process?   We use a repeatable, successful pattern. It starts with sketching, wire framing, mock ups, rapid prototyping and then development .

 How important is the creative process to you?   Very! Synapse didn’t have designers a few years back, it was developers doing front end. Having designers makes a huge difference in the usability of web applications.  Being classically trained as a graphic designer helps me daily in web design. I use the principles of design, like color theory, rhythm, balance etc. these fundamentals are paramount!

What is your outlook on simplicity?   Simplicity depends on necessity. That is one thing designers forget with the web design and graphic design in general. They feel like they need to fill all the space like it is some “hole to fill” esp. junior designers. Question the necessity of everything you include in the design and then question whether is it presented in the best way possible.

What about the the placement of things like “call to actions?”   You want to make sure your main call to action is available and accessible almost anywhere.  If you’re delivering information you want it at the end of that information. It should be the most prominent path for a user to take.

What do you think about traditional web placement i.e. headers etc. and switching the placement of them up, in non traditional ways?   It really depends on the users of the site or app. Sites that have the same user base are better candidates than sites that have mostly unique visitors. Additionally, younger, more techie users are going to figure out the placement of things and are less likely to get frustrated. With users that struggle you probably want a more conservative layout. You have to determine purpose of the site and the target audience. A marketing site is going to be selling products/services, reference website will be delivering information etc.

Any input for junior web designer?   Mobile first approach, responsive design and write clean code!   

 

world wide web banner

A web sites web banner is by far one of the most important area of a site. It is what people see first,  this is where the viewer makes initial visual contact and gets an overall feel and vibe of the site, and ultimately decides if they want to continue on or not. I can not tell you how many web sites I have left due to the  fact they had a weak header. Even though it is the content that matters in todays world people judge books by there covers, and the web banner is the cover. I like this piece of information I found online, it is from a graphic designer and multiple business owner named Dawn Papandrea-Khan. She states, “usually when we visit a website or blog, we can get a feel for what the site represents in only a few seconds. This is the reason why it is even more important to focus on making the right first impression through a custom header graphic.”

As a designer, there are a few key aspects and bits of information I think the header should contain. The company, the product etc. Which brings me to my next point I found in an online blog talking about this exact topic. This is from boostability.com the importance of a header. 

1. Who are you? (You would be amazed how many websites make their visitors dig around to find out the name of the company!)

2. What do you do? (Again, the number of visitors who are forced to assume your site sells a product rather than just talks about it is ridiculous. Be clear!)

3. Why should I buy from you, not the other guy?

The web is littered with garbage, visual noise and a bunch of sites that house web banners that all look the same. It is up to me as the designer to produce clean, visually interesting web banners that represents the sites overall demeanor and entice people to stay on the site and explore further. It is also up to me to find new and exciting ways to display the content  so we can separate ourselves from the crowd.   Also, I feel like in design I have to take risks. I have to try new and “edgy” things and think outside the normal design box that I often get tunnel visioned in. I would also like to explore maybe trying a banner with out the traditional rectangle box, maybe another shape  or placement? That is something definitely for the sketchbook and some thought.

#Hashtag

At the start of President Obama’s second term in early 2013, the White House promoted the use of the hashtag #SOTU to reference and comment on President Obama’s State of the Union address. Twitter’s @Gov account, a page that “provides updates…tracking creative & effective uses of Twitter for civic engagement…” later released the following data: during the president’s address, #SOTU was tweeted 766,681 times.

The frequency of these tweets fluctuated. As expected, the number of tweets spiked when the President touched upon a controversial topic. What is more interesting than the actual number of tweets is the data that provided a breakdown of the most popular hashtags tweeted by region and at what point during the speech the hashtags were used most. For instance, when Obama mentioned America’s graduation rate, the engagement of the #education tag shot up, particularly in the states of Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Many tweets were recorded from #budget, #energy, #jobs, and #healthcare. These results show a definitive relationship between the concerns of people from different states and the political topics addressed by The President.

The Washington Post reported that the US government reviewed #SOTU to study the thoughts of The American People with regards to the proposed extension of payroll tax cuts. Assuming an average annual salary of $50,000 per household, it was estimated that a failure of Congress to extend the cuts in payroll taxes would result in a reduction of $40 for every paycheck. The White House launched #40dollars that asked, “What does $40 per paycheck mean for you and your family”? CNN reported that within 45 minutes of its post, #40dollars was trending worldwide at approximately 6,000 tweets per hour. This huge influx of tweets over the short time period demonstrated how significant this issue was to the American people.   This campaign helped secure passage of the payroll tax extension after generating more than 70,000 tweets and in excess of 10,000 Facebook posts.

When a hashtag is “trending” it means that it is, at the moment, one of the most popular hashtags being used. A list of the trending hashtags is visible on the sidebar of the Twitter home page, and is constantly updated to display what is trending at that exact moment. While it is true that the list only monitors hashtags used on Twitter itself, it is fair to speculate that the trending topic on Twitter is also being tossed about on other social media platforms.  Some tags trend for less than a minute. A quick response to a trending topic on Twitter can allow a user to reach a massive audience with little effort and no advertising fees.

Support for this idea can be evidenced from a report on wired.com that confirmed that when the lights went out in New Orleans during the third quarter Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo immediately tweeted an ad using #blackout, a hashtag sure to attract the attention of the thousands of other Twitter users using the same tag. In an interview following the successful advertising campaign, the sandwich cookie’s social media team bragged that they had fifteen staffers, (copywriters, strategists, and graphic artists) each with a finger on the send button, waiting to capitalize on anomaly that may occur during the Championship game – a great play, a wardrobe malfunction, or, in this case, a blackout. The cost of such an operation may seem excessive, but it is peanuts compared to what Budweiser or Lays was shelling out to run a short advertisement on Game Day, especially when taking into account what some clever employee of Nabisco found, taking advantage of a pregame survey: approximately 36% of Super Bowl viewers planned to consult a second screen during the game.

In general, statistics have shown that hashtags drive engagement. On average, tweets with hashtags show 12% more engagement through retweets, favorites, and responses than those without. Tweets with both a hashtag and a link have demonstrated to have the highest engagement.

Because a marketer can come up with a particular hashtag as a brand name identifier, it is possible to run cross-platform campaigns by use of hashtags, truly making the hashtag “the global connector of the social web.” If a seller is going to use a particular hashtag for their product, it is essential that the tag be easy to spell, input and remember. In order to promote its further use, the tag must be consistent with its message.

Another marketing strategy that utilizes hashtags would be one that targets a specific audience. “People want to connect with people who have common lifestyles,” suggests the blog titled Wishpond. “To market to your people, think about your demographics’ lifestyle and hobbies. Then seek out well used hashtags to include in a few of your updates. [For example], Discount Tackle Online [a company that sells fishing gear] uses common hashtags like #trout and #flyfishing on Google+. The post shows up in both hashtags streams, which gets their update seen by people who follow the fish related tags, or even search for them on the site.”

Time.com reports that for a 30% discount in an advertising fee, Esurance – a web-based auto insurance company – ran a 30 second ad immediately following Super Bowl XLVIII. When viewers were advised that one lucky person who tweeted the hashtag “#EsuranceSave30” within 36 hours of the Superbowl would receive a $1.5 million prize – the Twitter community exploded. Within seconds, 200,000 tweets came in using the hashtag #EsuranceSave30, and an additional 2.1 million flooded twitter over the following three days. The brilliance of this campaign, in retrospect, is obvious- while companies like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, and Hyundai targeted viewers during the game, Esurance used their dollars not only to generate media attention, but to place the Esurance brand at the fingertips of millions of Americans. While Twitter itself has not been able to successfully drive sales, it provides a slingshot from which an internet marketer can reach millions of users and cast his product across multiple platforms, the real goal of the internet marketer.

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Marketing on Reddit- An Impossible Task?

There are many internet communities on the web, but none are as expansive and popular as Reddit, boasting an Alexa traffic rank of 21 in the US and 54 globally (as of 6/12/14). Furthermore, Reddit has a remarkably low bounce rate at 24.5% where the average bounce rate for content sites, (according to Google Analytics), lies somewhere between 30% – 50%. But what truly makes Reddit unique is the profile of the user it attracts: people who are surfing the net for nothing specific hoping to read something interesting and entertaining. If utilized properly, Reddit can be an invaluable tool for marketers looking to promote a product on the web.

Reddit.com hosts user submitted content on its many different boards, known as subreddits. Visitors to the site can create an account and choose to either contribute to an existing thread, create a new thread, or up/down-vote threads and posts submitted by other users. It is also possible for a visitor to simply browse the site without creating an account. With some time and effort, a user can create a new “subreddit”, a new community within the Reddit universe that focuses on specific content. The “subreddit” allows users who are looking to engage in a particular topic to access threads whose content they are seeking.

For example, /r/AskScience, is a board that allows a person to ask experts pertaining to various areas of science and math. The subreddit /r/funny gives users the opportunity to share anecdotes and entertaining material, while /r/IAmA features celebrities and other high profile individuals who interact with the Reddit community. Other subreddits host discussions relating to politics and news, self-improvement, technology, entertainment, heavy and light-heated discussions, and offer general advice. Because anyone who is a member of the site can create a subreddit, there exists almost 500,000 unique subreddits, each one geared toward a specific niche. The number rises daily. Users can also use their homepage to subscribe to specific subreddits thereby allowing them to better control the posts that appear on their page. Subscribers to the more popular subreddits number in the millions. Given the significant number of accountholders on Reddit, a marketer using Reddit to promote a product can easily corner a significant amount of people interested in his products or services.

But here is the rub. As the Reddit website has evolved, it has formed a unique culture replete with its own slang, inside jokes, and internet celebrities. Users on Reddit display little patience for self-promotion. In addition, the individual subreddits, moderated by their creators, are adverse to spam. As such, assaulting a subreddit with spam will quickly result in a ban as the moderators work to maintain the highest possible quality of the subreddit upon which they have expended so many hours to build and maintain.

Reddit does provide a paid service that allows you to advertise without the possibility of being banned, but even if you were to target the right audience, it is doubtful that it would result in more than limited success. Instead, I would suggest using Reddit in the way it is designed. Instead of forcing an ad for a natural cream for relief from muscle-soreness that will reach the 66,000 subscribers to /r/bodybuilding, I propose the creation of a new “subreddit” that will promote discussions surrounding the relief from muscle soreness. Because you moderate the subreddit, you can cleverly introduce, with impunity, the elixir you are looking to sell and a description of how it works.

Reddit posts that garner up votes are interesting and well-written, filled with rich content and a list of sources. One would not spam his own subreddit with a line stating, “Hey, visit this link to check out this natural alternative to pain pills.” Rather, one could be creative and lead the conversation by saying, “Maybe there is a natural, “side effect” free alternative to the pain medication being prescribed by doctors.” After some discussion, the marketer can gently introduce his link to his audience. In this way the marketer would not come off as obnoxious, screaming for people to visit his page. While it may be  obvious that you are promoting your product,  Reddit does not prohibit the self-promotion of your blog or your product provided others users do not complain that you are inundating them with spam.shutterstock_171401612

Why didn’t anyone like my post?

Common lore teaches that Facebook allows the user to connect with people he once knew while Twitter provides access to people the user wishes to know. While this is a gross over simplification of what these two different, but very similar, virtual communities are used for, it is true to countless individuals cruising on the information superhighway.

The click-through rate (CTR) of a site is a way of determining the success of an online advertising campaign. The CTR is defined as the ratio of the number of clicks on a link to the number of times the ad is displayed.  Facebook generally has a much lower CTR than most major websites, at an abysmal 0.04%. In layman’s terms, this equates to four clicks for every 100,000 pageviews. This may be attributed to the reality that Facebook friends utilize the site primarily for social interaction rather than to view the content on a page. In contrast, Google, boasts a CTR of 8%, 8,000 clicks per 100,000 views.

This phenomenon is not unique to Facebook.  A similar statistic can be observed on Twitter. If an advertiser’s window CTR on Twitter is above a mere 0.5%, he is among the most successful advertisers on the site.

Does this mean that companies looking to market through the internet should ignore social media and focus elsewhere? Not necessarily.

With the exception of throwing colossal amounts of money behind an online advertising campaign during the Superbowl, there is no quick and easy way to gain huge amounts of followers. However, it is important to realize that an advertiser is far better off with a small audience who listens than a large one who does not.  In the latter case, the amount of followers is just a number without understanding. While it is vital to build a large audience when marketing through social media, it is absolutely essential to have an audience that is paying attention to what you are attempting to relate to them.

A seemingly infinite number of pages are competing for the attention of one consumer, and it is important to ensure that your company rises to the top. How? Facebook and many other social media outlets employ algorithms to determine what content is shown to a page’s followers. In general, when something is posted on a Facebook page it is only shown to a small percentage of the page’s followers. In order for the rest of the page’s followers to see the post, this small percentage of users must interact with it first through likes, comments, and shares. Only then will the exposure of the post be maximized. By having followers who interact with your page, your ad will reach an audience that understands, that desires, and that needs what you are offering. It is clear that the ‘quality’ of the followers that you attract is much more important than the quantity.

Throwing an unsolicited ad in front of millions of bought followers leads to the following truth: it is unlikely that followers who are genuinely interested in seeing the content of a page are ever going to see it on their newsfeed. Yet the argument for a social media platform to support a filtered newsfeed is also strong. Twitter does not screen any of the content that shows up in a user’s newsfeed. The pattern of users following many pages can be attributed to what is today called FOMO- a dreaded “Fear Of Missing Out” on the newest trend. Because most of these users follow many pages simultaneously, the likelihood of them seeing something posted a few hours before is unlikely.

Therefore, it would seem that separate approaches to marketing through Facebook and Twitter are needed. In the case of Twitter, a social media platform that does not filter its newsfeed for its users, the volume of posts is most important. The advertiser must hope that a follower happens to be online when the ad is posted or it will be buried in the other pages the consumer is following. When advertising on Facebook or other platforms that filter newsfeeds, it is imperative to have quality posts that users will feel motivated to like, comment on, and share so that the content of your page may be read by as many people as possible.shutterstock_164596421

Social Media In China

In China, there are several social networks very similar to the ones found here. The most popular are:

Facebook-like Social Networks:

  • www.Renren.com (Registered Users: 170 Million – Active Users: 95 Million)
  • www.Kaixin001.com (Registered Users: 95 Million – Active Users: 40 Million)
  • www.pengyou.com (Tencent) (Registered Users: 131 Million – Active Users: 80 Million)
  • qzone.qq.com (Tencent) (Registered Users: 481 Million – Active Users: 190 Million)

Twitter-like Micro Blogging Platforms:

  • weibo.com –Sina (Registered Users: 200 Million)
  • t.qq.com –Tencent (Registered Users: 110 Million)

www.Renren.com started off targeting college students, but they are currently transitioning to cover all age groups. Still, the majority of users are young people. Renren is very similar to Facebook and they continue to copy most successful features from Facebook. The site now boasts more than 300 applications.

www.Kaixin001.com is another social network trying to play catch up with renren.com. Kaixin001 builds high quality applications, but the quantity is limited (~25 applications total). The SEO has a technical background, so they want to do something special, rather than copy others’ work. The site mainly appeals to white-collar workers.

www.pengyou.com and qzone.qq.com are owned by Tencent, a large player in China. Tencent also developed QQ – a messaging platform similar to MSN or AIM. QQ is a powerhouse- boasting 647,000,000 users in China. Tencent has leveraged this user base to grow both pengyou.com and qzone.qq.com. Qzone.com is a social network that works with the QQ platform. Since many Chinese use QQ when they are in middle school or elementary school, Qzone has the youngest user group. Pengyou.com is Tencent’s attempt to create a network for adults, separate from their core QQ userbase.

Sina weibo.com has grown from 100 Million as of January 2011, to over over 200 Million now (11/9). Sina Weibo is conceptually similar to Twitter, but provides more features like upload video, images to share with other people. They also have certified features for all members- much like twitter’s verified users. Sina Weibo has many celebrities members using their real names much the same way twitter uses celebrities to grow their userbase.

t.qq.com came after Sina weibo.com and are trying to play catch up with it. Again, Tencent’s 647 Million registered users makes it easy for them to crowd out smaller websites.