Pooler Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon

Last Tuesday, Robmark Web’s team attended the Pooler Chamber of Commerce Business Luncheon at the New Birth church in Pooler. Megan Alexa spoke about basic website health and some things to keep in mind if you are looking to update, redesign or build a brand new website.
Read below to see some of the suggestions that Robmark Web had in terms of website health.

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Website Recommendations: Optimization, Mobile Support & Social Share Features

Having a great off-site marketing strategy is great, especially when it comes to social media. However, if you’re website is not set up properly, all of the gained traffic will be wasted. In order for a website to be a successful piece of your online marketing strategy, a few things must be in place in terms of website health.

1. Optimization for Search Engines & Users
First and foremost, the website must be properly optimized for search engines and users. This goes beyond just include optimization techniques for search engines by also ensuring the inclusion of relevant, engaging content and features for your users. Consider your business and the features that your website will need to cater to those users.

Also, over time, websites can get very cluttered as more and more pages are added. Always keep organization in mind by keeping your most relevant, high-level pages in the navigation, and categorizing sub-level pages from there.

2. Mobile Support & Responsive Design
Secondly, the website should be mobile-friendly or be fully responsive. As of 2014, mobile traffic has now surpassed desktop traffic to websites. Tablets and mobile phones are increasingly popular, and many people are opting to purchase a mobile device over a full-size desktop or laptop computer. Additionally, search engines, such as Google and Bing, have reported that those websites which do not conform to the latest technology and techniques for supporting mobile devices will see decreased rankings on mobile search results. With this in mind, mobile support is no longer optional, but a necessity.

The best option when looking for mobile support on your website is responsive design. If a responsive design is not an option for your business or budget, option for a fully-functional mobile website can solve this issue. If you are building a separate mobile website, two things must be managed: redirects for all URLs, and tablet-to-mobile responsive layout.

Often times, when a separate mobile website exists, redirects are not thought out in advance. For this reason, shared links through social media and email may be shared on a desktop device, then opened on a mobile device. If redirects are not in place, users will be pulled back to the mobile homepage, which then interrupts the user experience and often time forces a bounce.

Additionally, it is common for mobile websites to only cater to mobile phone users, and often forget the slightly larger display on a tablet device. A tablet-to-mobile responsive layout can alleviate this by providing a fluid layout for iPads, Kindle Fires, iPhones and more. With this solution, the website can cater to any device width, regardless of the viewing environment.

3. Social Share Features
Lastly, websites in relevant industries should include social share features throughout and include the appropriate social media tags to ensure proper display throughout user profiles online.

Social share features provide an easy way for users to share your content on their personal profiles, and by doing so generate traffic back to your website. Do this for industries that make sense. A restaurant or travel-related website may see huge benefits from this, but an insurance agency may not. It all depends on your users and the amount of social activity you’ve seen in the past.

Open Graph tags unify the titles, descriptions and photos of shared pages and encourage a higher click-through-rate. Have you ever shared something on Facebook and noticed the logo pulling as the default image? Or seen an empty description pop up? These kinds of things happen when Open Graph META tags are not properly installed or ignored altogether. Avoid this by asking your development team to ensure they are included in the launch process. Open Graph tags also present additional opportunities to improve your click-through rate from social media. Well thought out, eye-catching headlines and graphics encourage users to click to visit your website to learn more.

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We hope that these suggestions help to address some basic website health questions for you. If you have additional questions or inquiries, please contact us through our website. We thank the Pooler Chamber of Commerce for inviting us to the luncheon on Tuesday.

Facebook adds ‘Safety Check’

Facebook adds ‘Safety Check’

In the wake of disasters, such as the tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes, wildfires, and floods; Facebook employees have observed how people communicate during natural disasters. Many people tend to turn to Facebook to see if their friends and loved ones are safe. The social network introduced a tool Thursday to simplify that process – Safety Check.

Safety Check’s main goal is to allow you to provide your friends and family with a status update that you are in fact safe. It also allows you to check on the well-being of others in affected areas and to mark friends as safe. Once activated, the tool uses the location you have listed on your profile, your last location (if you have opted in to the Nearby Friends product) and the city where you are using the Internet. If you are in fact in an affected area, a notification will pop up on your phone where you can select “I’m Safe”, and an update is posted so your loved ones know you are okay.

Facebook isn’t the first or only company to consider such a feature. Google launched Public Alerts for natural disasters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Do you think this is a beneficial addition to Facebook? We’d love to hear your opinion.

Further Reading:

http://allfacebook.com/safety-check_b135353

Will Ello Overtake Facebook?

Will Ello Overtake Facebook?

The mainstream media seems aflutter about a new “alternative” social media network named Ello that they believe is destined to overtake Facebook.

What is Ello? Simply put, Ello is a new social network that claims to be oriented towards privacy and positions itself against social networks, namely Facebook, that advertise to their users. Currently in an invite-only trial phase, Ello attracted some media attention after some Facebook users rebelled against Facebook’s “real name” policy and flocked to an alternative, the beneficiary of which was Ello.

The “Next Facebook” Trope

We regularly hear stories like this from media outlets desperate to dig up a tech story: “Will this new thing be the next Facebook?” Or we hear reports of droves of users leaving Facebook. And yet, in truth, Facebook continues to grow and now has 829 million daily active users.

To be sure, we have seen a variety of new social networks enter the scene and prosper over the past several years. Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat have all found a following in the online community. But these social media services either serve a different purpose from Facebook or do something for a niche audience that Facebook cannot. LinkedIn is a social network strictly for business professionals. Twitter and SnapChat allow for pithy, fleeting bursts of communication. Pinterest is great for gathering pictures from around the Web so folks can find new ideas. Instagram is primarily for sharing pictures taken on mobile phones and has editing and filtering options not found on Facebook. Some of these social media platforms have also found newer and better ways to integrate themselves into the mobile smartphone experience than Facebook has. The point that needs to be made is that none of these social networks positions itself as a full “alternative” to Facebook. And I would expect that most active users on these other social networks also spend time on Facebook (as also seems to be true for Ello, for now).

“Alternatives” to Facebook — in other words, social platforms that do pretty much the same thing as Facebook with “wall”-style personal profiles and friend networks — are already out there. For example, Myspace is still chugging along (though it seems their infamous founder Tom has found his way to Ello). And Google+ is also a suitable alternative. But Facebook remains on top.

What would it take to Overtake Facebook?

In order to replace Facebook, or even be a formidable “alternative,” a new social media service will have to outdo Facebook at its own game. A competitor that wants to attract Facebook’s consumer base will, in true free-market form, either need to A) provide an equivalent service for cheaper, or B) provide an indisputably better service.

At first glance, with Facebook being free, it seems that option A is irrelevant. However, not all costs have to be purely monetary. Being advertised to or having one’s profile data crawled is itself a cost, particularly to those who are concerned about privacy and about who might have access to that information in this day and age.

Nevertheless, to my knowledge, we have not seen privacy-oriented startups of any ilk ever make much of a dent in the big online service giants. Email clients that promise not to screen your emails have not made any dent in Google’s and Yahoo’s email service domination. Most of those private email clients have fees attached, and most people are okay being “Scroogled” and enduring targeted ads if it means the service is free. And we have yet to see a privacy-oriented search engine, such as DuckDuckGo, make much headway against the big search engines. Evidently, search engine performance tends to outweigh the value of extra privacy for the vast majority of Web users. (Sometimes the Internet giants do feel the pressure and improve their own privacy features to stay ahead of the competition, so there are benefits to these small competitors even if they don’t themselves make it big.)

More important will be option B, creating a better service. The “next Facebook” would have to do what Facebook does, but even better. Facebook replaced its predecessors, specifically Myspace, mainly because, in my opinion, Myspace was filling up with spam and junk and also had a younger demo that users eventually felt they outgrew. Facebook, in essence, especially in its earlier days, did the same thing as Myspace but got rid of the spam issue and developed a cleaner and more ageless interface that appealed to a wider demo, and they have been growing ever since.

Facebook’s Virtually Insurmountable Community Value

But the enduring value of Facebook does not include only its features but also its already-established community. Because Facebook started becoming popular in 2006, when more and more of the country was getting online, Facebook grew as the Web grew. Facebook now has almost a billion active users, and pretty much everyone we know is on Facebook. Our Facebook accounts now link us to our family members (no matter their ages) and a whole collection of friends that span across our lives these past several years, as well as to our favorite organizations, businesses, and brands. I expect that most all Facebook devotees would be hesitant to abandon Facebook since it would mean also abandoning the years they have spent building their profiles and friend networks and starting all over. Even Google+, with the weight of the world’s most popular website behind it, has not dethroned Facebook. It will be difficult, indeed darn near impossible in my opinion, for any social network to lure users away from the extensive communities they have built for themselves on Facebook.

So while there is certainly always room for new social media services that provide new forms of communication for new purposes, becoming the next giant comprehensive social network akin to Facebook will be no easy feat. The new social network will have to be so much better than Facebook that it would make sense to start all over again. And while nothing’s impossible, that’s hard to imagine.

Further reading:

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/531231/saying-hello-to-ello-an-ad-free-facebook-alternative/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/30/the-curious-rise-of-ello-and-why-you-cant-quit-facebook/

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/ello-guy-invented-alternative-facebook/story?id=25860717

http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/61616666/ello-goodbye-five-social-network-flops

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11070116/What-happens-when-your-friends-start-leaving-Facebook.html

http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/

Social Media Ecommerce

Online shopping was first introduced in 1995 with the launches of Amazon and eBay. At that point in time, only 16 million people in the world had Internet access. Ecommerce made shopping for most items more convenient, but not necessarily easier. Over the years we have seen many changes and advances in ecommerce, not only from the seller’s side but also in buyer’s behavior.
Now, in 2014, there are over 3 billion people in the world that use the Internet, and the way we use the Internet is drastically different, thanks to the introduction of social media in the early 2000s. With an immersion in constant, immediate information, we are turning into an instant gratification-seeking type of people. Experian Marketing Services says Internet users spend 27% of their time online on social media, which, according to Business Insider, makes social media the most popular online activity.

Facebook and Twitter are both working on a one-click buying process that won’t take you away from their website, making it easier than ever to buy the products you want, need and love. Back in July, Facebook started to test a ‘buy’ button to make it easier for consumers to purchase items featured in its ads and posts. It was also announced in September that Twitter is working on a ‘buy’ button for tweets. These social networks seem to realize that when users are on their favorite social network, they don’t want to leave.

Twitter has been focused on making “social ecommerce” easier for a while now. They have been working with the number-one online retailer, Amazon, since May. Simply by using the hashtag #AmazonCart, you can now place an item in your cart on Amazon. In July, Twitter bought CardSpring and now allows users to redeem coupons and discounts by using —you guessed it —tweets. This month, Twitter introduced the hashtag #AmazonWishList, to place an item, on your Amazon Wishlist.

Not only will these ‘buy’ buttons change the way users purchase items, they will also change social media advertising. This ecommerce push gives even more value to ads on the social networks. Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke says, “Because you are actually selling something directly, that makes all kinds of sense.”

This new, strong focus on ecommerce efforts poses a lot of questions and potential opportunities for retail businesses on social media. Do you think these ‘buy’ buttons will be successful? Do you think there will be an increase in social media advertising? Do you think other social networks will join in on the ecommerce fun? Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations would love to hear from you!

Further reading:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/hot-stock-minute/e-commerce-in-social-media-is-inevitable-154403857.html

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/81009.html

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/use-twitter-build-amazon-wishlist-using-hashtag/116829/

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/social-media-is-a-terrible-ecommerce-tactic-or-is-it/

YouTube’s Transition to Hollywood

Brian Robbins worked in the traditional entertainment industry for decades, getting his start on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class.  Since then, Brian has produced TV shows such as Smallville and One Tree Hill and directed several feature films catering to the teenage audience. But when he noticed the way his two teenage sons consumed media, he was convinced that the future of youth entertainment wasn’t in broadcast or cable TV but in short-film videos, particularly on YouTube.
In 2012 Robbins launched a YouTube channel called AwesomenessTV, geared toward teenagers and preteens and featuring thousands of two- to five-minute videos ranging from talk shows to mini-reality shows. Within months, AwesomenessTV was ranking among the top YouTube channels on a regular basis.  Around the same time, Robbins started noticing that several new media companies in Los Angeles were accumulating billions of monthly views on YouTube began bundling existing channels together to create a multichannel network, or MCNs. Mons were attempting to solve a problem that plagued YouTube since the beginning — how to organize such a vast and chaotic programming environment in a way that makes sense for viewers, creators, and advertisers.

Multichannel networks combine small amounts of crafted premium content produced in-house with large amounts of less polished content acquired from decentralized amateurs. As the MCNs gather up channels, they form programming clusters based on popular topics, which they then sell to advertisers. This business model has proven to be a success when it comes to generating a huge audience, but it’s not quite there with the profits. However, that is predicted to change. Some of the top multichannel networks include Maker Studios (55,000 channels, 8.5 billion monthly video views), Fullscreen (50,000 channels, 3.5 billion monthly views), Machinima (12,000 channels, 3.1 billion monthly views) and AwesomenessTV (88,000 channels and 1 billion monthly views).

Six months after creating AwesomenessTV, Robbins posted an invitation to anyone interested in becoming the next big YouTube star. These hopefuls were encouraged to join AwesomenessTV as a member of what they dubbed the ATV Network.  After thousands of inquiries within 24 hours, Robbins knew they had something good. In the months to come, AwesomenessTV blossomed into a teen entertainment factory, and within a year, venture capitalists were looking to invest. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV in May 2013 for $33 million up front and $84 million in potential payouts in the future.

On the heels of the DreamWorks acquisition, other media companies with backgrounds in storytelling and talent management have been drifting toward YouTube to snatch up top MCNs. “There is a tremendous amount of activity,” says Gian LaVecchia, a managing partner at the global media-buying agency MEC. “At the macro level, it’s about these companies moving aggressively to reimagine how they connect with digital, mobile, and social audiences.”  In March, Walt Disney acquired Marker Studios for an initial $500 million, plus a potential $450 million, depending on future performance. Warner Bros. invested $18 million in Machinima, which focuses on programming related to video game culture. Chernin Group and AT&T are closing in on Fullscreen. And Scripps Network Interactive led a $25 million investment round in Tastemade, an MCN specializing in food.

This rapid consolidation of YouTube programming has thrown everyone, especially small players, into a frenzy of excitement and uncertainty. Some people are afraid these big companies will squash the creativity of the community. But on the other hand, these investments are helping creators create more premium programming that will lead to more premium advertising, which will finally unlock YouTube’s full economic potential.

There are some people that will tell you YouTube in 2014 is comparable to cable television in the 1980s, when a handful of entrepreneurs conquered a new distribution landscape, giving rise to programming brands like MTV, CNN and ESPN. “We are the paradigm, we believe, of what media companies will look like in the future,” says Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Maker Studios. Says George Strompolos, CEO and founder of Fullscreen: “We want to be the next Viacom, the next Disney, the Next NBCUniversal. We feel like we’re on that path. We’re laying the foundation for what we believe will be a massively valuable and massively profitable media company.”

There has already been a change in viewing habits reflected by decreasing TV and box office numbers. Over the next few years we should begin to see a faster increase in premium video content on YouTube, which will lead to premium advertising opportunities. The net global advertising revenue for YouTube is continually growing, from $1.2 billion in 2012 to a projected $3.4 billion this year according to estimates from EMarketer. Though it will always be secondary to TV advertising, we should expect to see tremendous growth in online advertising, especially on YouTube.

Further Reading:

http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/221838-hollywoods-big-money-youtube-hit-factory

How to improve your Facebook Algorithm score

The following tips will help you improve your Facebook Algorithm score by helping you optimize your images, improve the affinity of your fans, increase the weight and decrease the decay of your posts. Check your current Facebook algorithm score, and see where your page needs improvement. Don’t forget to call Robertson & Markowitz Advertising & Public Relations for help creating or improving your content.
Photo posts dominate the News Feed space. In just over a year, the percentage of News Feed stories that are photo-oriented grew from 20% to 50%.

Photos in News Feed: Always meet or exceed Facebook’s recommended dimensions for each type because no one “likes” a pixilated picture. The recommended dimensions are 470px wide by 394px tall.

Cover photo: The recommended size for a Facebook cover photo is 851px wide by 315px tall. The minimum accepted width is 399px, but the image will be stretched.

Profile Picture: Profile pictures are recommended to be 180px by 180px. Rectangle images will always be cropped to fit a square. Make sure your image or logo does not get cropped, by starting with a square image. Images larger than 180px by 180px are fine as long as they are square.

Links preview images: The recommended size for a link preview image is 470px wide by 246px tall. If it is smaller than those dimensions, the image will adjust to 154px x 154px.

Improve Affinity:

  • Create and share great content. The better your content, the stronger your Facebook algorithm score will be. Your sense of what people like will become sharper the more frequently you post.
  • Increase your engagement. The more engagement your posts get, the higher your Facebook algorithm “weight” score will be. Taking time to respond to messages and posts will help your engagement rate.

Optimize the Weight:

  •  Facebook is very visual and is considered the world’s largest photo-sharing service with over 200 million photos posted daily. Capitalize on this by frequently sharing images and graphics.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Posts with 140 characters or less receive the most engagement.
  • Tag people and pages.

Decrease Decay:

  • Post on weekends. If you increase the frequency of the high quality content you make by posting on weekends, this can help keep your brand fresh. By posting light-hearted content on the weekends, you help humanize your brand.
  • Post at strategic times. Pay attention to the times you post and the engagement you receive because every network is different. Over all, the better your content is, the better your Facebook algorithm will be.

The variables in which Facebook uses to determine News Feed content changes, but affinity, weight and decay are three main principles of the algorithm. The most recent addition to the algorithm is content on the News Feed that looks like spammy or considered click-bait. It is suggested to make sure your post or headline gives enough information to the reader to decide whether they want to read the article or not. If your post or headline is vague, it will be harder for it to be seen on the News Feed. Don’t forget to call Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations if you need help improving your content and increasing your Facebook algorithm score.