"God, I really wish I had spent more time at work!" Who said that when lying on their deathbed - NO ONE?! Here is another one for you. "Find me the cheapest surgeon available." Sounds demented does it not? In my humble opinion, we hear folks voice statements akin to this every day. Believe it or not. Now on to the show.
For those of you responsible for looking after your company social media accounts, this thought may or may not have crossed your mind in the last couple weeks. It did mine. I follow (like) all our customers company Facebook pages to keep myself current on all the "goings on" at the company. Last week one of our great customers asked me if I saw a recent post to her company page and I had not, so I "hot-footed" it over to my Facebook tab looking for the post. I was nowhere to be found in my news feed. My initial thought was just maybe something had run amuck in the world of Facebook, and I had somehow my like of this page had gone unnoticed or worse deleted. I discovered after much diligent searching that neither was the case. According to my account settings, not only did I still like the page I loved it.
I admit it! I tried to ignore everything social media for a long time. I decided if I ignored it long enough it would likely go away - NOT SO. Not only did the big two not disappear like a bad dream, they are more prevalent factors than ever in deciding what a company's online marketing strategy should be to make the most effective impact on their target audience. Being from the Midwest, 18 to 24 months ago, I viewed a company online presence as a three-legged stool - Facebook, Twitter, as well as a drop-dead gorgeous website. Now, depending on the business you are in, the stool begins to closely resemble a poly-legged monster. With the advent of the up-and-coming social media sites, "How can you make an effective choice?" Where does a small business spend its limited budget and time to get the biggest bang for its buck? Also, to add another factor into your strategy decision process is answering the question, "How to I address smartphone and tablets?" Here at C2C over the last 12 - 18 months we have seen the traffic take a dramatic shift to the mobile side of the formula.
For those of you too young to remember, back in the 1950's there was a cartoon on Saturday morning TV that let you dial up a date and then travel back to that time. It was great fun, but in reality, it was just a thinly disguised way to encourage kids to become interested in history. I must admit at least in my case, it did not work. I had a huge dislike for history in school, and the "Way Back" machine did little to improve my opinion. That said, I got over it; eventually. Now out of the 453 cable channels I have available to view, I spend 99.8% of my viewing pleasure on the History Channel, Food Channel, and SyFi. However, that is a whole other story we won't go into here. My reason for writing this post is to describe how laughable it is to me when I see the current news that states a certain company is eliminating the ability for staff members to work from home. Seriously!!!
Sounds like the take on the latest lottery pot, right? Nope; it is the number of active websites on the Internet as we close in on the end of 2012. As I'm sure with many of you, the end of each year, and the anticipation of the next, causes me to reflect. This morning I began to ponder the question, "Were there any common threads in our web development business this year, and if there were, what were they?" And perhaps more important, "What learnings should we take away?" The answer is there were!!!
C2C Consulting has not spent a penny on advertising since its inception. All of our business comes through referrals, and we ARE proud of that fact. The breakdown between website rebuilds, and new websites is heavily slanted to the rebuild side of the ledger. Over the years we hear it all, as to the reason folks are coming to us to rebuild and manage their site. Now, a bit of background information you need to keep in mind is, these are company sites. I'm not referring to a site that an individual(s) develop and publish to communicate along the lines of some hobby they are passionate about, or a family site used to publish pictures and news from the various holidays. These are commercial sites, on to the horror stories. These are actual quotes from some of our clients, although I changed the names to protect the innocent.
Recently, one of our large multi-site customers went live with a totally updated and revamped site. The thought occurred to me that this is a topic that "anyone" responsible for the regular care and feeding of a website needs to have at top of mind. To the point of sounding like a broken record I'm sure, I remind my clients regularly that websites are very much like real-estate. The main difference is instead of the mantra being, "Location, location, location. It is content, content, content." To be honest, content is only part of a successful formula for creating a site that continually draws traffic and continues to grow your business. A website is made up of three primary parts: content, technology, and visual (look and feel), at its simplest level. All of these foundation bits and pieces needs to be kept current and not looking stale. Why else do you occasionally put a fresh coat of paint on the old homestead?
Having been born and raised in the midwest, I've done my fair share of chores around the barn, some fun, some not so much. My family raised a small herd of dairy cows when I was a kid, and as most of you from that upbringing know, some of the cows would allow themselves to be milked by machine (the preferred method), and some would not. Not wanting the milk from those "rebels" to escape the production cycle, we milked those individuals by hand. One necessary item to complete this feat was the ol' milking stool. Now to be honest with you it was a complex contraption made by nailing two boards together in the shape of a T, but that tried and true design does not do anything to further the real point of this article, so you'll see my stool has three legs. Yes; now you can say you actually know a programmer / web-developer that can milk a cow and ride a horse, just in case the internet ever goes away!
One of the most common questions we receive from our small business customers is, "Do I need a Facebook account?" As with just about everything in the technical world, the true answer is, "That depends." I do believe there are some common sense steps to follow regarding a company's desire to incorporate social media into their marketing and sales efforts.
The Internet has become one huge game of follow the leader. Companies are spending huge dollars to find out all about your browsing habits. For example let's say, you are in the market for some new sneakers. In your quest for the perfect pair of shoes at the right price, you fire up your trusty Internet browser and begin the process of sniffing out your quarry and sizing it up for the kill; with free shipping too! At this moment unless you take steps to ensure the sneaker manufacturers, distributors, and retail outlets are looking over your shoulder at every dark alley you browse down. So you say, "How widespread is this?" Or, perhaps you are thinking, "I didn't even know this was happening." Now, keep in mind there is nothing even close to scientific about this data, but about two weeks ago I started conducting a survey on the websites I visit regularly (and no I won't name them.) I found there are between 6 and 12 tracking tools showing up on every site. Actually, the counts didn't surprise me at all, but the next valid question is just what kinds of tracking are they sites doing.
Everybody's dream is to own a business of their own. So why then, do some small business owners resist what being "online" means and stick with the former marketing mediums of yesteryear? The answer, I believe, is lack of understanding coupled with fear, a combination that may be lethal to some businesses. Read on to understand how today's hippest small businesses are creating boom businesses by using the digital world as their storefront.
A couple weekends ago, the Arizona Court Reporter's Association (ACRA) invited C2C Consulting, LLC to speak at their annual state-wide convention in Prescott, Arizona. Randy went prepared to speak about the benefits of a website for those individuals in the court reporting profession, but because of a topic covered at a meeting over lunch, he ended up expounding upon the topic of websites to the value of social media and technology as a whole to their profession.
A very wise man once said, "Keep it simple stupid!" Or if you prefer the same four letter acronym, KISS can be said to stand for "Keep it simple sweetheart." Which ever definition of the phrase sits best with you, it doesn't really matter. My basic point here is when designing web interfaces and how they flow to accomplish a given task, you have to keep your primary end user in mind. When I was a twenty-something software engineer fresh out of college and ready to take on the world, this fact was brought to my attention in a VERY clear and unforgettable way. Here's how the story goes as I remember it.