Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Your Facebook Password and Your Privacy

When you first set up your profile on Facebook, interacted with friends, said a lot of things you probably wished you hadn’t later and published photos you definitely didn’t intend your grandmother to see, you never anticipated the likelihood of being asked for your Facebook login at a job interview.

This is a stirring storm that is going to get bigger unless it is stamped on quickly, and there’s no doubt that the ramifications are far greater than anyone has considered so far.

There are ways of employers viewing your Facebook profile, particularly if you’re not over careful about who you ‘friend’, but is this honest?  Aren’t there better ways of finding out about you?  Having said that, you need to read this article in Forbes, ‘A recent survey by PR network by Eurocom Worldwide of the tech industry found that almost one in five executives said that a candidate’s social media profile has caused them not to hire that person.’

In answer to the question should you hand over your Facebook password to an employer, I believe that the answer has to be no.  I also believe that employers should not ask. 

You should have an honest profile and up to date resume on LinkedIn.  You should have written references that can be backed up by verbal ones from verifiable sources.  There are plenty of other ways of ensuring that you are right for a job other than scurrying around your profile on Facebook.

At the same time you should be very careful what you publish on Facebook, or anywhere else on the web for that matter. And if you haven’t gone back for a while and checked what’s there you should do so right now.  Don’t assume anything can’t be found, it probably can.  Those who don’t do this will without a doubt live to regret it later.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The 4 Main Ingredients of Successful E-Commerce Websites

There are many who when designing or re-designing their websites want to re-invent the wheel.  This can be an extremely dangerous practice.  Retaining your individual handwriting is a must, but playing it reasonably safe and following already proven guidelines is also a must if you want as quick as possible a return on your investment.  And who doesn’t?

These are the 4 main ingredients of successful e-commerce websites, with success meaning the return on investment that everyone is looking for.

Navigation/Usability

Website usability, a frequently used term, means making it as easy as possible for your customers to get around, or to navigate your website.  This may sound obvious, but there are many sites out there who make it far more complicated than they should do, and lose orders as a result. 

If you’re using an external developer, which you probably are, take a look at what they have already designed and compare with some of the bigger, well established sites such as www.johnlewis.com and www.thewhitecompany.com.  It doesn’t matter what type of product you are offering, the design template is the same as we read and use websites in the same way.

More about your home page/website usability here

Search

There are two types of search.  Firstly being found by the search engines, and more about that next, and your own search box.  Make sure that your internal search engine is as fast as possible, and that everything on your website is clearly set up to be found so that whatever the customer puts into your search box is what they get.  Watch the conversions rise when you do this.

Also make sure that your search box is clearly marked and preferably on the top right or top centre of your header area as this is where we automatically look for it.  Don’t try and hide it for aesthetic reasons anywhere else.  It will be to your website’s detriment.

Read more about your search box here

Images

Make your images as clear as possible.  Make your zoom as large as possible, and offer alternative views.  Consider such add-ons as video which is becoming more and more common, and a great selling tool provided it is high enough quality, and 360 spin.

Allow your customers to get right up close you your products, you will not regret this. 

More about your images here in a previous post.

SEO

There are so many websites out there that are not properly optimised for search, thus losing out on the free online marketing that it offers.  The most important aspect is spending the time identifying the key words and phrases that are most relevant to your products and service using a tools such as the Google Keyword Tool and then creating, in the correct format, your title tags, meta descriptions, category names, headers and online content.  All of this matters hugely.  You can do it in house or get an external company to do it for you.  It will either be time intensive for you or costly if you use a large company to do it for you.

SEO also includes off-site optimisation/online marketing, getting inbound links to your website from other sites.  This can be via articles, blogs, press releases and web directories.  Again it has to be done properly and there are those out there who would sell you their services offering links from 1000’s of external sites fast.  Be very wary about these.  Google and other search engines are much more quick to spot bad practices online.

Either way this is a key element forming a cornerstone to online success.  One of the problems is that SEO is often sold as a dark art, which it is not.  It is a series of very logical steps that need to be taken to establish your website out there and this will generate you both traffic and revenue stream.


When you start off designing or re-designing your website, consider the above.  Getting it right from the start will bring huge benefits, in terms of ROI and avoiding having to make costly changes later.


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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

How to Optimise your Blog–SEO Tips

As with any other type of content optimisation, blog optimisation is what will get you found by the search engines. 

There are no guarantees that you’ll get to the top of page 1, however if you don’t take the time to optimise your blog you’ll be wasting a valuable opportunity to make yourself more visible on the web.

As well as blog optimisation for posts you’ve already published, which you can tweak, think in terms of search before writing new posts.  This may sound arduous, but once you get in the habit, and you see the results coming through, it’ll become second nature and you’ll wonder why it took so much time for the realisation to sink in that optimisation is fundamental to anything you write for the web.

First do your keyword research

If you want people to find your blog you first of all need to find out what they’re searching for.  The Google Keyword Tool is simple to use, and essential for anyone writing online content.  All you do is put your subject or product or any number of words and phrases (and keep them as concise as possible) into the entry box and Google will tell you how high the competitions is, what the approximately number of monthly searches are both globally and locally and also offer you alternative suggestions.

Before you do anything else I suggest you become acquainted with the Google Keyword Tool.  Choose your keywords and phrases and then write using them, without over-stuffing your content with them.  ‘Keyword stuffing’ is a technique that Google does not approve of…… Best of all find one key phrase where there is low competition and concentrate on that, that is most likely to get you to the top of the page where highly competitive key words and phrases won’t.

Here’s another post I wrote about using the Google Keyword Tool, it applies to website, blog or any other type of optimisation.

Writing or tweaking your blog

Once you’ve settled on your keyword or phrase the rest follows naturally as this needs to be your focus point in your Title Tag and your meta description (your off site blog optimisation), your H1 Header, your picture alt tags and your content for your on-site optimisation.

Where your title tag is concerned put your main keyword or phrase at the front so that it stands out. 

You can also go back over old posts tweaking them for maximum optimisation, or you may have written them without optimisation in mind.  It doesn’t matter.  Go back, establish what you were writing about that matches what is coming up in search and change your title, description, header, alt tag and content to match.  Google looks for relevance, so don’t include a keyword just for the sake of it thinking it’ll get you found, make sure it matches your subject matter and then you’ll be in with a chance.

Click here to read The Importance of Great Title Tags
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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Website Usability–Five Rules for Getting Products Off the Page and into the Basket

The easier you make it for visitors to your website to buy your products the more likely you’re going to get sales.  Ok that may seem very obvious, but probably without realising it there will be websites you visit that you frequently buy from and others you leave quite quickly without analysing why.

With online shopping via pc, laptop, tablet or mobile device the rules are the same.  You have to grab the customer’s attention, draw their eye to the product, make them look at it more closely and give them a reason to want it more.  In other words, feed their desire. 

e-Retail sales grew 16% year-on-year in January, with Britons spending an estimated £5.96bn shopping online (IMRG) so there’s no excuse for you not to be getting your share of the pie…….or is there?

To build customer’s desire for your products you need to do the following:
Main Image

Needs to be reasonably sized on the page and in clear, high quality, so that the eye is instantly drawn to it.
netaporter for webhints

Description

Should be interesting and concise – no one will read wordy descriptions no matter how much you like to write them, what customers are looking for is any necessary information written in a friendly style.  If you have more than one description area segment them into headed paragraphs, tabs or bullet points.

Alternative Views

These are becoming more and more important – a single image just will not do any more.  Give as many views as are needed to show the product in full and in detail.  Never think ‘oh they’ll know what it looks like from the back’……show it.

Zoom

Needs to be as large as you can make it, to give the customer that feeling that they can get right up close.  You must have heard, as I have heard so many times ‘but I like to get up close and touch and feel things before I buy’, well now, even online, you virtually can with expanded zoom.

Customer Reviews

The minute you start showing what your customers think of your products you strengthen your sales pitch.  It’s not just you selling and marketing your products, your customer are giving you incredibly valuable back-up, which in turn via social share plug-ins gives you added both credibility and reach.

There’s no doubt that independent product reviews are the best, where a customer has to have purchased a specific product in order to be able to review it on your website.  However not everyone is ready to go down that route, and publishing simple customer reviews will still make a big difference. 

Gone are the days when potential customers were happy just to hear what you had to say about your products and service.   Now they want to hear what other customers have to say and this ‘want’ is going to grow. 

John Lewis

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Will Pinterest Have an Effect on Website Product Photography?

Milly Dress from net-a-porterWhilst we’re all busy pinning like crazy, things that reflect our brand, items we’d like to buy/eat/wear and places we’d like to travel to what becomes obvious is that pictures most likely to make you friends, get you likes, re-pins and new followers are those that are clear and well styled.

Flash is tricky as Pinterest cannot see pictures on a flash page although you can pick them up with a bit of hassle (but many may not know or may not bother), so maybe it’s time to move on from there. 

Scruffy limp pictures of anything from even perfectly nice clothes to beauty products, homewares and food are serious no-nos.  So for those who don’t pay enough attention to their photography but would like the brand take-up that Pinterest increasingly offers it’s time to wake up dear and yes that means you.  Anyone, in fact, who’s online.

The best websites for fashion pinning have both still life and model shots, with the model being ‘undeterminable’ in a way that doesn’t put anyone off.  Inevitably net-a-porter.com leads the way – and yes I know must spend a fortune on it – but that doesn’t mean you can’t aspire and take note from the way in which items are pictured, doecupcakess it?

Otherwise from cupcakes to swimwear to sunglasses clear pictures with consistently good focus and good colour balance.  That’s all.

With the growth of Pinterest it may well be that particularly e-commerce websites are encouraged to do all they can to get pinned.  I very much hope so, anyway.
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Tuesday, 6 March 2012

How to Use Twitter–What Not to do to New Followers

New Twitter LogoI really want to show you an automated ‘thank you for following’ direct message that I received last week, that led me to instantly unfollow the sender.  But I could get into trouble…..in any case, it went along the lines of

’Thankx for following.  The Wall Street Journal named me #4 in the Top 10 Social Media Experts.  Visit my blog at …………………….’

Enough said?  Incidentally this person does have a large number of followers, however I am not one of them.

I want to follow people who are interesting, and keep my interest up with their posts and conversations.  I do not want to follow people whose only aim in life is a) to tell me how wonderful they are and b) to try to sell to me and nothing else.  I will follow them as I continue to be interested and unfollow them if they’re not, as I know people do to me.

Twitter is about a conversation first and foremost.  The automatic ‘thank you for following’ is easy to spot.  Don’t do it.  It will not make you friends.  Combined with self-selling (a polite word for arrogance) it is simply unacceptable.  And if all you do is sell, and you never join in the conversation, that is the worst of all.
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Saturday, 3 March 2012

Facebook Timeline for Brands–5 Reasons to Get on Board Right Now



Facebook Brand Page

It was inevitable, Facebook is launching Timeline for Brands for everyone very shortly, whether you like it or not.

The new format has advantages for some and disadvantages for others and at the end of the day it’s up to you whether you’re going to embrace it or not.  This is not Facebook for the lazy but for those who want to make the most out of enhancing brand identity and conversation – this Facebook tells more about your brand, but at the same time it requires more effort.

1. Firstly it’s well worth viewing how your Facebook Page will look in the new Timeline format straight away.  You will need to go through your past post history to make sure there’s nothing you want to take out as everything is much more visible and posts you truly thought in the past may come back to haunt you – obviously this shouldn’t be as bad as profile page posts but you should still check.

2.  Then there’s your cover picture, which needs to be 850 wide by 315 deep.  For those who have money to spare you can get a great picture designed, although be aware you may want to update your picture throughout the year so this could become very costly.  You can Photoshop your own picture, or you can use one of the many tools on the web.  This post by Mashable gives you some of the options and there are a great deal more.

Your cover picture is going to be very important to your brand as so much space is allocated to it, so don’t hold back, get going now.

3.  Links.  Facebook has removed the links to the left of your Brand Page and given them much more prominence underneath the cover picture – you need to decide what you want to show and this is a great opportunity also to review and update all the information you have there – if you’re like most you may not have done so for a while.

4.  Review your history, and if you want to, include more information about your business, why when and where it started, the people behind it etc.  This creates more involvement with your audience and so is well worth doing.

5.  Private Messages – the new Facebook Timeline Brand Pages allows companies to interact with their customers both publicly and privately.  Make use of the Messaging facility when you want to to keep down the clutter on your brand page and resolve issues with customers directly.

Facebook Timeline for Brand Pages is far more relevant to marketing your brand than the social media add-on it was before.  This is well worth spending time on right now, as March 30th you’ll be on Timeline regardless.


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