Why podcasting and audio is more important now

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Mobile. There, that should say it all.

Please excuse me for writing in the first person because this post includes a lot of personal experience. That experience will be valuable to someone reading this so the intent is to make it real, easy to comprehend and simple to replicate with a level of success. If you do not know already, among others I am currently involved with, I founded and host the popular Social Media Edge Radio podcast with my co-host and regular weekly contributors since 2008.

Imagine you are jogging or taking a long walk and would like to learn something while you are spending the time. Sure you could listen to some really good music or you could listen to this blog article on your MP3 player or mobile device. In fact you may be doing that right now since I did take the time to record this one for you. Since your hands are free and your eyes are free you can still enjoy your walk, wave to the neighbors, stop and smell the roses, and skip stones in the pond.

Hands free

Reading digital text generally requires at least one hand and both eyes. When you reach the bottom of the text you have to be able to scroll. You could have a text to voice application read your articles in quality that is improving but still lacking. What you cannot do is read this article while you are driving … at least not too many times. Audio frees the hands and the eyes to perform other tasks.

Comprehension

Maybe you and I do not have conditions which affect our comprehension but there are millions of people with conditions like dyslexia who have reading and comprehension levels diminished. Providing audio content to them vastly improves their comprehension of the content. This is not a guess or theory, it is a proven fact.

Inflection

How many times have you written something only to have it misunderstood because the reader interpreted your mood incorrectly? It happens more than we like to admit. Now that we have short message communication it is even more important to make sure the reader understand the voice in which we are writing. Audio can take care of this in many instances.

But how?

Podcasting and audio presentation is as easy as leaving a voice message. It can also be higher tech but unlike video the clarity is all that matters. If the listener can hear your voice and comprehend your message you have succeeded.  Years ago this was a more difficult task and prior to the MP3 format, thank you Moving Pictures Expert Group, we were pretty much limited to .WAV, .AIFF and my least favorite (but most used at the time) .RA from RealAudio.

In 1999 I started my first audio podcast. It was a weekly dedicated to Ska music called Real Aliens and I hosted under the name Reverend Munk. Amazingly the show became very popular very quickly even back then. Perhaps it was the uniqueness or simply the popularity of the bands I interviewed. Either way it required more time than I was able to be compensated for so lasted only a few months before it had to be terminated. Had some of the tools I will introduce to you been around at the time it would likely still be rolling.

Back then I had to use somewhat costly equipment to pipe phone calls directly into my computer for easier recording and I had to use some rigged peripherals to accomplish my task without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on expensive studio gear. Once that was done mixing the audio with music samples, sound effects, bed music, bumpers, and so on took hours. Today it can be accomplished in minutes with great result and some services allow you to accomplish much of this on the fly.

Some of the tools I use today

Let me introduce you to three tools I use regularly which are varying in ease of use and I will start with the easiest one first.

Cinch at Cinchcast.com

Cinch

A couple of years ago I used a service called Utterli and really loved what it offered. It had started out at Utterz but went through changes and added the ability to phone in or otherwise record audio “micro-blogs” which could then be embedded in blog posts. Utterli utterly disappeared one day. I tried to use the app on my Treo and it was completely unresponsive. I went to the site and the CSS was missing. I was really bummed. Over 100 or so recordings gone. Not to mention dozens of blog posts with embedded audio I had to find and repair.

Yay for Cinch! One day my friend Amy Domestico over at Blog Talk Radio told me about their new project, Cinchcast. I looked at it and thought for sure they had bought and improved Utterli. No, she says, they built it from scratch. And better, and easier to use. The results can still be embedded into blog posts (as you see at the top of this one), recorded from a computer or phone and syndicated to your social media accounts. Oh, and it’s free.

Blog Talk Radio is a live podcast service

Blog Talk Radio

There are several online radio “stations” and “networks” available today. I only use Blog Talk Radio and have an upgraded account so, following my own advice, I will speak to what I know best. I started my first BTR podcast in early to mid 2008 and it was really bad. What I learned from that first attempt I avoided in my second attempt and that is the show which has grown to well over 100,000 listens, 4 regular cast members and a long list of very well known social media leaders and personalities.

BTR has a free account and allows you to schedule up to a 30 minute show. I recommend starting with the free account and learn how all of the functions work before diving in full steam. One of the most important things about BTR podcasting is that it is live streamed real time. This means no retakes and edits because your show is actually “on the air”.

Some of the features of BTR are crucial to doing a live show and one person can handle a small show by his or her self. There is a chat room where listeners can join and participate and guests may call in to the voice line provided by the service. The switchboard also allows hosts to upload and play audio files. We use bed music, bumpers and sound effects regularly.

There is a learning curve to BTR and Amy or someone there is always available to help you get started. If you want someone to set it up for you, get you started and teach you the ropes I am available for that service for a fee of $195.

Self Hosting

The options here are wide open. If you’re a true techie, a propeller head like me, you may want to go this route and upload your finished production to your Blog Talk Radio show. Your equipment may range from a hand-held MP3 recorder you bought at a yard sale to elaborate studio equipment.

If you use WordPress, Joomla or Drupal as your website platform there are several plugins available to help you deliver your audio content and if you have a hardcoded or other site there are thousands of resources available to you. Some have uploading built in and others require you to get the audio content to the server using some other file transfer method. Here is what I do.

I have a Boss BR-1200CD 12 track digital mixer which burns straight to CD

I mostly use a BadAax UM600 Studio USB Cardioid Condenser Mic

I also have an Audio Technica AT4040 Condenser Microphone which is very sensitive

I record the voice to the BR1200 and burn it to CD. The quality is very good for using around $1000 worth of equipment. On my PC I have Sony Acid Pro 7 Studio which definitely has a learning curve but is much less expensive than many digital mixing applications which allow so much control. I recommend you start with Sony Acid Music Studio 8.0 which is not as robust and costs much less. There are other solutions but I am writing about what I use personally.

The Sony editor allows you to mix in multiple tracks including sound effects, music and more. You can do audio effects, adjustment of levels, compression, noise, and other studio functions. The audio for this blog post is not done using the tools I am describing but on a simple Cinchcast.

Yes, I do professional grade podcasts, too. For a fee – my wife loves shoes. And moo-moos.

Royalty Free Music

Do not get charged with copyright violation. You may really love that new Beyonce song but if you use it you may get a delivery from the RIAA which generally begins with, “This is a service of legal documents initiating an act of damage recovery …”. Just don’t chance it. Yes there is fair use and yes you can use a small snippet for certain purposes but you really don’t need to. There are plenty of lesser artists and musicians who make their music available free to use generally for a simple link or acknowledgement. You can find plenty here.

 

Very simple social media in 3 steps

By the way, baby steps are only easy for people who have already learned to walk. Most babies fail dozens or hundreds of times before they can even walk across the room. Be patient, keep trying.

I asked on The Hip Roof Radio last night what I can do better for attendees of the seminars and events where I speak. Sheri Moritz said, “We leave these seminars with our heads spinning because we’re so full of SEO and ROI and metrics. Nobody ever takes the time to say ‘this is how you create a Twitter account, here is why and here is what you do with a Twitter account once you have one.’”

 

Speaking on Applied Social Systems at Xplode

Loudly And Clearly.

 

Part I

If you do not have a website with landing page capabilities on a server account you control – get one.

If you do not have a Facebook account you will never get a referral or client from Facebook.

If you do not have a Twitter account you will never get a referral or client from Twitter.

If you do not have a LinkedIn account you will never get a referral or client from LinkedIn.

Part II

Beware of bloggers, gurus and commenters with great sounding theories and ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS shop for price before paying ANYONE for services such as setting up your WordPress blog. Think long and hard before you let someone handle your social media content for you because it’s not their license at risk – it’s yours and maybe your broker’s, too.

Part III

Here is how anyone can succeed in social media and I mean any one. Success is relative but this will get you there. DO NOT GIVE UP TRADITIONAL MARKETING IF IT IS WORKING! If you sell 3 houses at $3500 commission each a year from a $500 yellow sheet ad don’t stop. If post cards yield 2 sales commissions of $5000 per year at a cost of $1000 you’d be a bonehead to stop.

Get a website that can accept form data from visitors (landing pages, WordPress, hard coded – doesn’t matter)

Open accounts on at least those three social communities and use the same name or “handle” on all of them if at all possible

Write a short but very pointed profile (“I am a real estate agent with homes for sale in Tootooville. http://mycoolsitebyken.com 678-439-8683″)

Make sure your branding is an accurate portrayal of you and your services and use the same branding on your website, Facebook profile, Twitter background, and LinkedIn profile.

Do not use social media like a town crier’s podium – get involved, join conversations that you did not start, make friends, do NOT sell sell sell (with some small exceptions)

Establish a specified time every day to touch every site for your own plan – you can change later but develop the habit of checking Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as posting to your blog. (ActiveRain is great but get your own blog on your own server, too.)

Twitter

Twitter is so simple it is amazing. There are about 15 million real, actual users on Twitter. (source) That said most agents would be pleased to sell 1 more home per year for a 10 minute daily investment, yes? If you do not have a Twitter account go to Twitter and sign up. When asked to create a user name think about what your real name is, duh. This is not to say brand names are wrong but branding to your name is pretty simple and hard to duplicate (unless your name happens to be Ken Cook).

Whatever graphic representation you use in your marketing should be the icon for your Twitter account. You won’t burst into flames if it is not. It will be re-sized and squared so words generally are unwise. A good clean RECENT photo of yourself may be a good idea.

Find some friends you truly know on Twitter and follow them. Then message them to say, “Hi, I am finally on Twitter.” Do this for 10 minutes every day until you have a comfortable number of connections for you. I have 17,000 – I’m still comfortable but it is impossible for me to keep up with that many people manually so I use automation and lists. I use automation to “listen” for certain words. You may never need that but when you do I can help you.

Talk about whatever you want to talk about. Don’t listen to the “guru” who tells you not to tweet about what you are eating or where you went shopping – be yourself. If people do not like you for being yourself then you have still won. However … keep in mind Google listens to Twitter. This means people may actually find your Tweet with a link back to your landing page which asks for information from the visitor so you can provide them with the information about the content of your tweet.

Think of Twitter as a community picnic. You would not show up at the event and start shouting, “Hey! I have a listing at 123 Main!”, “Hey! Look at my post on Active Rain!” Certainly if you did your welcome would soon be worn out. Twitter is about engagement and providing value. Earn some respect and people will be more interested in what you are saying. That said you can do whatever you want and do nothing but feed your ActiveRain posts to Twitter. Google will find them. Just don’t ever let me hear you say, “I don’t get anything from Twitter”.

Facebook

Twitter is the community event and Facebook is the high school or family reunion coupled with a little industry love. About the best you can do for branding on Facebook is your profile picture and the five thumbnails to the right. Some people are pretty slick with that. Take a look at Randy Barnes’ Facebook page.

There are different types of pages and incorrect use is a violation of FB terms. Businesses have available business pages, personal pages are (intended) only for personal use. There are tons of terms to learn at Facebook and Mike Mueller is a true Facebook expert.

Facebook business pages provide excellent marketing opportunities and FB ads work. I’m not guessing that they work – they absolutely work. I have generated many leads and closed transactions because of FB ads to highly targeted markets and demographics. I can help you with your Facebook ads or applications. Did you know you can accept form information on a custom coded Facebook business page? Take a look at the one I did for one of our branches here.

Security and privacy settings. Seriously, to get into this here would take hours to type and it sill would leave something out. Don’t worry about privacy on you business page which is where you want everyone to see everything anyway. Do what you want with privacy on your personal page.

LinkedIn

Now to the Chamber of Commerce for social media. LinkedIn is all about business. It is a place to meet, engage and solicit other business people. LI groups are amazing and the more I use them the more I learn. Again, like Facebook, branding is limited but possible.

Every Tuesday night at 8PM eastern there is a chat on Twitter called LinkedInChat. I learn in there every week from people like @LinkedInExpert (Viveca von Rosen) how to use LI to increase the size of my network and learn from people who are experts in their fields.

Remember these six things

FUR and APE. Contact me and I will happily send you the white paper for free.

Next …

If you want more, deeper, faster, farther I’ve got it. I have been developing online applications, sites and communities since 1988. I still do it, full time. There are a lot of “new” people who have entered my industry. Some of them are pretty darned good. Very few of them are in the real estate industry. You can do one of a few things:

Sign up for the newsletter at http://SocialMediaEdge.com in the right side bar. I won’t spam you to death.

Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/thekencook

Call me 678-439-8683

I charge. It’s not a free service. However, I only accept payment through PayPal which has one of the most customer sided resolution services I have ever seen.

Easy CSS menu maker – online and free

Free, online CSS menu maker

Free CSS menu maker

It is not always that one “can” create content and widgets “from scratch” sometimes it is about saving time and still achieving the same result. Every developer who has been developing for a year or more has already amassed a large library of re-usable code. Sometimes it is expedient for the developer and the client for the developer to access a simple tool to make the job go faster. Great developers pass the savings along to the client. Hint, hint.

Say a hard-coded site (not a CMS like WordPress or Joomla) needs a custom drop down menu and the site owner is a do-it-yourself kind of person. They could easily find code that could be modified by snooping or purchase software to create the menu. But why not use something that is free, fast and requires no download?

A complete novice can make a finished drop down menu in less than 10 minutes. The site allows for different layouts (you can see one in action on iCobb), themes and drop downs. The finished product is zipped up and comes with instructions. Go ahead and play around with it. If you just cannot figure it out then call me – I do charge but I’m very reasonable. 877-7000-KEN

http://cssmenumaker.com/

Being heard over the social noise

The reward with public streams of communication is the fact they are public. The challenge with public streams of communication is the fact they are open to the public. Confusing? It shouldn’t be.

Before there was the digital media explosion, and in fact still in some venues, one could find public bulletin boards for patrons and passers-by to post business cards, announcements, for sale, lost and found, and other types of communication. When they first were put into operation the venue management would usually be diligent about policing the content and making sure the postings were orderly. Many even had rules posted and a few had categories which could be posted in certain locations on the board. Fast forward six months to a year and the board would be inundated and disorderly making it nearly impossible to be seen in the crowd.

How can one be heard over the masses?

 

Marketers, even private marketers looking to sell a motor-scooter, are innovative. Soon you would see, on these bulletin boards, lime green paper or larger photographs pinned on top of the other ads. In fact this resulted in an early form of spam and you would occasionally see 20 or more business cards from the same person pinned all over the board where others had posted a neat little stack one on top of the other.

What has changed in the last 10 years?

While local bulletin boards were not invasive into our lives digital bulletin boards, digital marketplaces and social media services are now on our desks, on our laps and in our pockets. Moreover using fluorescent colors in the Twitter stream is not possible. So what needs to be done to stand out from the massive flow of information?

Unlike the local bulletin board social media is, for the most part, global. Chris Anderson of Wired magazine coined the term “long tail” which really is an obtuse way to say “highly targeted” marketing yet for the sake of using a standard term long tail will be used in conjunction with hyper-local or hyperlocal. Long tail means using highly targeted words in conversations in the social stream with the goal of being recognized by the searchers when those words are called by a search from an individual.

Instead of spending reading time reviewing the millions of posts that are made daily it really is not important how many others are posted but how many see and react to a specific posting. Furthermore that the person acting on a post is the ideal or nearly ideal candidate for the product or service being presented. For the sake of this article the assumption is the goal is a transaction. That transaction may be an order, a subscription or simply a “follow”. Being real transactions with a required financial investment from the user are generally the more challenging so more of a focus is placed on financial transactions.

Vendors generally know everything about the product or service being offered. Vendors quite often are limited in their knowledge of how buyers search for their product. More often than not the vendor’s choice of keywords will rarely be used by those with a transactional intent when searching for the product.

Sniping key words that pay

The good news is “Budweiser”, “Coca-Cola”, “Verizon”, “Chevrolet”, are national brands which spend millions and millions in marketing. Most small businesses simply need to attract a few dozen transactions per week to be very successful. Still with the right message and the right delivery local and regional campaigns can go viral, a term used to describe a campaign which takes on a life of its own and is spread from person to person without need for further input from the advertiser. Viral is hard to hit on and mostly unpredictable. Identifying, targeting and using keywords that pay, however, is a repeatable science.

Think like a searcher. If one goes to the web in search of a hair stylists they likely do not know the stylist by name so the search will not begin with “susan smith hair stylist”. More likely it will consist of terms such as “hair stylists in Columbus” or “beauty shops on Miller Avenue” for example. Contemplate what people would search to find the service they want. Some samples may be “how often should I change my oil”, “how much does it cost to paint a house” or “how to treat a toothache”. These types of searches produce indirect marketing opportunities and if the landing page is used can deliver a direct answer and convert to transactional from informational.

Using the example of “how often should I change my oil” may send a searcher to a landing page with a video explaining about why oil needs to be changed, a chart showing how often oil should be changed in different types of vehicles and under different conditions, a coupon for an oil change to be used within the next 7 days (which is emailed to the customer) and a click-able map of locations in the area.

In the stream (A candle in the sun)

Being found by search results is, at times, easier than being heard above the roar in the social stream. For example there are 130,000,000 tweets per day. The upside is not anyone follows everyone so each marketer need be concerned mostly with the number of followers they have online at given times. It is important to know when followers are online and when they are most likely to read and take action on what the marketer has to say. Find hundreds of available tools at http://oneforty.com by my friend Laura Fitton @Pistachio on Twitter.

Don’t be afraid to automate data mining

Many people are concerned, and with reason in some cases, about automated engagement in the social stream. Data harvesting is one-way and in-bound so do not hesitate to use tools like Google Analytics, Google Alerts, Twilert, and others. Find the one which best works for you.

Respond directly to questions or comments about your brand, product or industry. Some professionals do suggest using automated replies and there is no room for comment on that technique here for most readers are small business owners and independent contractors. It requires very little time to click a link in an email and respond to a question manually and directly. Engage first, direct the engagement from conversational to transactional and everyone wins.

Sparing use of automated delivery works also

In fact, as much as most do not like it, even massive use of automated tweets and posts works for some. No names will be mentioned so as not to glorify that method but it cannot be completely ignored that many do benefit from massive volumes of tweets. Try services like Social Oomph, Hootsuite or Garious (a favorite of the author) to send a few well-timed and well authored Tweets and posts.

If making use of automated distribution it has been shown automated posts with valuable information are received well where quotes, one liners and pointed statements are generally ignored. For minor and local brands automated posts without a link to a target of value may be pointless. When posting informational links make certain the target document answers the questions or addresses the topic clearly.

Get a little FUR in your social media

People like dependability. In fact they may not prefer predictability but dependability is a quality everyone can latch on to. Use the short acronym FUR to remember three key factors common with all social media success stories. Be frequent in delivering information. Use the available tools to adjust frequency for the best results. Deliver unique information. If the information being distributed can be found from competitors it may not have as much of an impact. Provide information that is relevant to prospects, readers, subscribers – whomever the targeted audience. That’s FUR: Frequent, Unique and Relevant.

Web designer or developer? Why you should care

Back in the ancient days of web development, around 1995 or so, the common name most “gurus” chose for themselves was “Webmaster”. Of course that is, and was, a real term which was not clearly understood in the main stream. The definition, clearly being written, for a Webmaster was essentially: the person charged with overseeing the operation of a website. This included everything from development and design to content and data control. Within the name Webmaster, however, fall two distinct services which are rarely separated in main stream conversation yet when one is engaging the services needed it is relative and of high importance to know and comprehend the differentiations of these two terms developer and designer.

iCobb has provided development since the mid 90's

Why is it important to know the difference between a designer and a developer?

 

Almost certainly there will be a few who read this post and make the argument it really does not matter. For the person or company writing the checks that statement could be dangerous and costly. Understanding the difference and knowing which tasks are performed by each can help even a small site owner save time and money as well as other types of capital simply by knowing what goals each position is charged with attaining.

A designer

Designers, for the purpose of websites, are charged with the look, interface, navigation, and presentation of the site. They are the one who determines the colors, graphics, menu positioning, text styles and other meta-physical attributes of the site. The designer is the one who is, or should be, charged with what you see, what you click and how you describe a site. Generally speaking a new web client will want to show the provider another site to help set a visual direction for the creation of the new site. Understanding how to direct the creation of the website for visual purposes is the responsibility of the designer.

Generally speaking there is no need for the designer to have more than a working knowledge of the programmatic structure of the languages which cause the server and browser to work together to present the user with the desires results. While they certainly need to know what AJAX, JSON, HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS can do they really do not need to know exactly how to code a data call from a Perl script which passes to a JSON code inside of a PHP script.

A developer

Once the designer has an accepted presentation of how the site should look the developer needs to know what it will do. Will the site have user interaction parsed to an online database for an online catalog? How about a dynamic, real time chat feature? For this reason the developer must be intimately familiar with and experienced in understanding which language and which functions to use to empower the site to interact with the users as well as the server to achieve the site owner’s goals.

Perhaps the designer has decided to use a menu bar just below the header on every page which has drop down categories and fly out subcategories. To make it even more challenging the client wants the categories to change dynamically based on the current page being served. It is the developer’s responsibility to develop the site to work within the designer’s specifications to provide the client a working site according to their expectations. Likewise if the client wishes for a custom email based newsletter system it is up to the developer to find a suitable solution.

Today it is quite simple to find many “out of the box” scripted solutions to achieve the goals of the client so what once would cost thousands of dollars may cast only a few dozen. With the growing pervasiveness of content management solutions like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal pretty much everything the small site owner needs is readily available and robust websites can be online in hours, instead of weeks, for hundreds of dollar, instead of thousands.

For larger, custom coded web solutions, shopping for your design and development separately can save a lot of frustration. Even if one provider is covering all the bases, and some certainly can, at least remember there are two major roles to getting the website from your head to the visitor’s monitor. And do not forget mobile!

Can social media success be measured?


Offline meetings are a great goal

For most bloggers, tweeters and Facebookers there is no real end to online. The online simply goes on and on and on and on, online. Some would offer their opinion, a theoretical enhancement of an unmetered status, of how to “correct” the issue. Perhaps there is no issue. However, in a summary inspection it is simple to tell if social media is helping one achieve their goals. That said there is not only one test and the definition of “success” is the big variable.

Most importantly one must have a goal even if that goal is dynamic and progressive. Goals for online activity may include getting people to “like” posts, having tweets “retweeted” and inspiring comments on a blog post. These may, indeed, be the end goal. For sites generating revenue on a traffic basis this may even make economic sense. Even if the goal is not an economic value one may still set this as a goal. It is not incumbent on the world to neither determine nor validate private goals.

Notable goals from a more economic than societal perspective may include realizing a set range of transactional engagements such as orders placed or subscriptions made. Although these goals may seem to make more sense economically the real value is primarily essential and most notable to the entity creating and managing or benefiting from the content and activities. As earlier indicated having “hits” is a goal regardless of whether or not that goal is socially acceptable as a true achievement.

Quite literally there are thousands of tools for measuring online activity. Knowing how many unique visits, the source of the visits (referring URL), the bounce rate, what time of day, is all elementary to virtually every site today. The real variable which provides the ultimate metric is: what is the true goal. Only the entity (company, organization, person) needing the answer to “can social media success be measured” can truly determine the real goal. Once the goal is identified then any statistician can create a formula for measuring success.

This, then, is the challenge to the aspiring social media success story to identify and define the goals in a format which is easy to communicate and easy to measure:

  • I want more friends on Facebook (define more)
  • I want 300 more friends on Facebook (define the time period)
  • I want 300 more friends on Facebook within 90 days

Now that the goal is known, easily communicated and easily measure the real work begins.  Find out when the next totally free, no obligation, 100% usable information webinar or local event is available. Click here.

WordPress 101: Posts versus Pages


Posts vs Pages

For those of you who have used WordPress for any time at all this may seem a very elementary question. So often for new users it is one of the first questions they have around the time the site is turned over to them by the installer or after they complete an installation and begin using the site. After all everyone wants “web pages” and it plainly says there in the menu bar “Pages”.

Here is the main difference in appearance, not function or personality, between pages and posts (generalized):

  • Posts become part of the “blog” or “articles” and show up in reverse chronological order on the site.
  • Pages appear as a single “page” within the site generally linked from the menu bar or sidebar.

As with everything WordPress there are customizations which ultimately determine how the site visitor interacts with your site so pages and posts may be used differently on customized sites but the above is true in most WordPress installations.

Is it possible to have a WordPress site with only pages?

Of course it is. I have had several clients over the years not want a “blog” but because WordPress is so simple for anyone to install, setup and use I pointed them to WP as their solution. For most people there is no need to modify the installation and take away the ability to create posts they simply remember: only create new pages.

Why would someone only want to use pages?

Using pages only gives the site a more “conventional” presentation. Small businesses, small sales sites, small event sites and others may simply not want a blog but want a more static site. They may use WordPress in this way and it is simple for them to create, edit and manage pages this way.

What about comments on pages?

Pages, like posts, can have comments turned off. This can be done individually on all out of the box WordPress installs and some themes and hacks allow the feature to be turned off globally.

Theory: Thief of hope for businesses

word cloud

Words are powerful!

Warning: If you are looking for accurate information to help you in your efforts to achieve a higher bottom line through the use of online marketing I’m your friend. If you are a bloviating attention whore who steals people’s time and money by regurgitating crap you can’t understand to begin with I am no friend of those activities. Now then …

Call me a crusader. If it means I care about what happens to my readers I will wear the badge proudly. More specifically if the industry I represent has actors in it which harm my readers, friends and clients you can rest assured I will speak out. The important piece of this concept I hope everyone grasps is just because I write about something someone said or did that harmed one of my friends does not mean I wish harm to that person. It means I hope to balance their damage by providing statistical proof of a better way.

“A man with a theory is never a match for a man with experience.” Jeremy Blanton said that to me in a private Google message after a sixty plus comment back and forth about Networked Blogs . He said he heard it from his pastor. I like it. It means something to me.

Just to serve as an example let us examine one statement I heard by a “social media expert” who, by the way, follows 1350 people on Twitter and has 231 followers with 89 tweets.

Here is the theory:

Business tweeting is best around lunch time when people stop to take a break and check their Twitter accounts. (Could sound very reasonable.)

Here is the actual data:

Likewise I have read blogs, heard podcasts, and even seen fee paid webinars with equally invalid statements. Without having scientific data it would be impossible to postulate the percentage of misguidance regarding social media strategy but I can say emphatically in one of the industries where I am highly active, the real estate industry, the unwarranted gurus outnumber the pragmatists quite handily. At least among the more visible and vocal of prognostibators.

I had to include this comment I found on a Ross Dunn blog post titled, “Enough with the ‘SEO is dead’ crap“:

Those people who said “SEO is dead” mainly are:

1. Bias[ed] online marketing company who prefer PPC rather than SEO.
2. SEO guys who don’t do the job well and could not cope with the changes of search engines’ algo.
3. People who don’t understand SEO at ALL.

By the way, I did not write this post to win an award, be retweeted or liked. I wrote it in hopes one person who would fall victim to the nonsense would stop, think, investigate, formulate, then act with realistic expectations.

QR Codes; The Real Life State of Affairs

My QR State of the Union

QR codes are recognizable to many more people than last year but are still a long way from ‘mainstream’.

Mobile scans growing at over 800% since Q1 2010- per scanlife.com


I wanted to see how many real world examples that I could find so I headed out on a local mission to find QR codes around Atlanta GA, as this is my home-base, and a top social media connected city.   I had hoped to find some great examples of QR in the the ‘real world’. Have a look at this video to see the result.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fktYvYc75ck&w=425&h=349]

 

 

I’ve been seeing more and more QR at the tech events I attend including REBarCamp, ProductCamp, and RETechSouth.  QR codes make good sense in these circles as many attendees are using smart phones and can quickly install and learn to use a scanner if they arent already.

A Very Short Primer on QR Codes:

In order to ‘use’ a QR code, it must be scanned. Many scanning apps are available for smart phones and this is where it all starts. One must have one of the tools in order to ‘read’ the code and make the leap to wherever the code leads.

One list of apps is found here;

These 2 dimensional codes were developed by an auto parts maker for inventory tracking and are capable of far more information that other barcodes. They are very reliable and sturdy meaning hold up well to scuffs and scrapes.  The error correcting factor is big.

The developer and patent holder, has no interest in restricting its use by others, so it has become akin to open source.

 

QR Codes – An Easy Recipe

The codes are becoming very recognizable and are very easy to use.  More and more will be appearing, and many may even prove to be useful, and accepted by regular humans.  As smartphone use rises the QR use should follow, at an accelerated rate of growth.

Creating QR codes is very easy. There are many sites to do this and I’ll leave that for the reader to pursue.  I’ll focus here on one of the easiest and most useful, IMO, and that is Google’s link shortner,   http://goo.gl

In QR the information encoded is very often a url of some sort.  By using goo.gl the link will be shorter, and will allow for tracking analytics. This is most a useful combination as marketers and is key in knowing what works.

 

Google generates QR Codes

Google link shorterner and QR code generator

 

 

 

The best use of QR is to direct the visitor to a mobile optimized page, which could be a video [my favorite! ] Sending someone to a regular web page is going to frustrate many users when they land there on a mobile screen.

When using print media like business cards, ads, signs, tent cars, etc, I would recommend a different code for each, even though they may all land on the same page.

One way I can think of to do this is to use the “?” in your url and use goo.gl to create the code to each

for example

http://rbarnes.com/qrpage?card0

http://rbarnes.com/qrpage?card2

http://rbarnes.com/qrpage?card3

http://rbarnes.com/qrpage?brochure

All of these URL’s are really the same as your browser ignores the “?” and stuff following it  You may find this to be an easy way to track the clicks to each link via the different QRs.  This way you can determine which of your marketing pieces is most effective.

This is just one of a million ideas and strategies you might employ with a QR promotion.

Hopefully this give you some ideas to get started in your own promos

 

The simple steps to QR Success

1.Create a mobile optimized page or video
2.Create a trackable URL to the page
3.Create a QR code
4.Print & distribute your code
5.Track your results
6.Rinse & repeat

Why You Should Consider Using QR Codes

It’s time
It’s free
It sets you apart
You will learn something
Very little downside risk!

Scanners – are Money ! [meaning people who scan codes have it!]
Most are men and most make over $50k yr!

 

QR Users have high incomes

QR Users Have Disposable Income, per ScanLife.com

 

Please share any comments or questions that you may have about QR codes !

 

 

Randy Barnes, aka rbarnesdotcom,  is a geeky marketing guy with strong interest, ties, and influence in the social marketing world. Find him in most vibrant web communities and connect via your favorite. For some direct connection options just click or scan the code. If you cant find him there try the Waffle House.

rbarnesdotcom QR

connect by EzQR

 

 

Google loses 3% share while Bing gains 6%

Google means search. To bloggers, SEO professionals and the majority of users saying “let me do a search for that” can be interchanged with “let me Google that”. In an amazing month of performance, however, search provider Bing has closed the gap by gaining on competitors while Google slid back helping that closure. Read the full data at Hitwise.

Google loses ground to BingHitwise did not examine the “why” and that is an important unknown. For example if Google decreased brand advertising during the welcoming of Larry Page to the Big Chair while Bing increased their market share through traditional media that can easily be overcome. If, on the other hand, Bing has become friendly with a larger number of product developers and distributors increasing their presence in downloadables and distributables it may be a much harder fought war.

What these numbers should say to the enterprise and aggressive online marketer is “don’t forget to consider Bing in your process”. Finding a session at just about any BarCamp or tech Meetup about Google is a cinch. Seeing this report and it possibly marking a trend should increase the number of Bing sessions at those same events.

For the layman, however, this is back to basics and what your mentors have probably always told you, “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”

How about you? Are you concerned with Bing? Do you check your Bing analytics like you do your Google? Do you think this is a fluke more than a trend?