Archive for 'social'

An image is an act of communication. Images play an important role in the presentation of ideas. Worth more than a thousand words, they encapsulate meaning by both simplifying and embodying conceptual theories.They make information more appealing, more persuasive. In the realm of art or activism, images reflect the underlying current of collective feeling by vocalizing both public consensus and private desires.

On the internet, you can see the same popular pictures in websites of every language. Russian, Chinese, French or English. Images transcend linguistic and cultural barriers faced by text. There is no need for machine or human translation. No need for mediation.

Like videos, images can spread very quickly online with little artificial push. Are they inherently more ‘viral‘ than textual content? It is difficult to say with certainty if it indeed has a higher potential for popularity. But images have undeniable value in spreading ideas. Especially when they are elegantly integrated with the use of text to present information.

Unique, original images can attract an audience. They are not only high quality content for an interested readership but they can be useful promotional tools for anyone interested in gaining more attention. A particular form of image is relevant to this purpose: the infographic.

Visual representations of information, data or knowledge. These graphics are used where complex information needs to be explained quickly and clearly, such as in signs, maps, journalism, technical writing, and education. They are also used extensively as tools by computer scientists, mathematicians, and statisticians to ease the process of developing and communicating conceptual information.

You’ve seen infographics everywhere. In books, magazines, newspapers, instruction manuals, maps, public signs and business reports. Visually, they come in many forms as well: charts, graphs, emblems, cartoons, diagrams and illustrations. Any image is suitable as long as it effectively works to convey data in a way that fulfills a specific or general purpose.

These graphics seek to inform. They can be a supplement to existing textual content or a hermeutically sealed construct, a stand-alone presentation which covers a subject in full. A complete statement and explanation that everyone can cite as a reference.

Infographics are a form of concentrated nutrition for data consumers. They are multi-vitamins, fulfilling basic info requirements in a simple hassle-free way. Like a pill, knowledge is condensed into essential components, enough to satiate your basic informational needs. They give you a general overview, one you can convert into talking points and social currency.

The amount of information they convey and the style used will vary depending on its purpose. Who is the intended audience of this piece? What specific frame or idea angle do you want to emphasize? How much abstraction and simplification is necessary for data to make sense?

Here are some examples from Princeton University’s International Network Archives. These infographics each give you a brief overview on a topic. See this page for full images and more.

The finished infographic is often beautiful to behold. Swirling gradients of color form into tangible shapes, contextually arranged to demonstrate quantifiable meaning. It’s easy to take it all in at one glance. Your eye darts around the numbers and skirts between the illustrations. You interact with it. You are thoroughly absorbed in its display of coherence.

And after looking, you’ll often think of sharing it. Maybe save the image, attach it to an email and fire it to a friend. Maybe you’ll include it in your latest blog post or tweet it. Or you’ll log into your favorite forum, drop the link and see what everyone else thinks.

There are many ways to propagate these images once they are produced. Apart from the usual social media channels, you can provide link codes by hosting the images and providing the html which points back to your site. Or you can package it into PDF formats along with other similar infographics to make a mini-report.

Unlike textual content, these images often do not include much text: you can consider pre-emptively translating them into other major languages so they can be shared more widely among different audiences.

They can also be produced on a regular basis as feature content. As a pictorial representation of information, infographics are often considered to be unique even if the data shared as already been elaborated elsewhere in text articles. Therein lies its appeal to a readership that might be jaded by the repetition of ideas in the content of other media sources/websites.

Good Magazine is an excellent example of a site that recently started creating infographics (known as ‘Good Sheets’) as regular online content. The print editions of these images were also given out free of charge at Starbucks. The combination of online and offline distribution is something that is suited to the nature of one-page documents like infographics.

Next time when you’re planning on sharing specific ideas or data, consider using infographics. They are a terrific way of making information accessible and a useful primer that will pique the interest of your intended audience. When created and marketed effectively, they can be part of a powerful viral strategy to magnetize attention to your website or business.

P.S I intend to write more on the topic of information design specifically as it relates to marketing. This is something I’m recently interested in and hopefully you’ll find it entertaining and useful. And by the way… Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and friends!

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Infographics Can Help You Spread Ideas and Attract Attention

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The internet is a fast-paced environment. People can come to your website at any hour from a wide range of locations, each of them with different intentions or needs. Unlike physical retail stores, you can’t see who is coming in and browsing around. You don’t know much about the people reading you. How can we develop a rough profile of all these individuals?

You already get a glimpse of them everyday when they interact with your website. Some may register for an account, leave a comment or send you an email. But many are ‘invisible’. They get to your site, see what you put out, click on a outbound link and disappear.

What you currently know about these individuals comes from a combination of visible user actions (e.g comments/emails) and statistics (e.g visit frequency/visit length). Is this knowledge sufficient for most businesses or bloggers? Yes. But I think it would be tremendously helpful to learn even more about your audience.

In marketing and advertising, we proactively define our target audience. We start with our end goals and then structure our website/ads with the right buzz phrases, pitch, style, keywords and angle to appeal to people we want to attract as a consumer/user/reader. Gathering information on visitors to our website makes us more effective marketers.

It is helpful to analyze and construct a general profile of your audience, however shifting it may be, because it provides you with information that will allow you to better improve your content scope, site usability, conversation rate or marketing campaign. Let’s split this process up into two sections: statistical analysis and data collection.

Statistical Analysis: Start Working With What You Already Have


Image Credit: Mint

Depending on the stats tool you’re currently using, you can get a lot of information on how visitors are using your website, where they come from and what they are looking at. There are obviously a lot of different metrics to look at but I’m listing what I think is more relevant to understanding visitors in general:

  1. Visitor loyalty, bounce rate, recency, time on site. These sites measure one critical thing: the level of engagement. They reveal how often people visit your site, the last time they used it and the depth of their visit. While these numbers aren’t a definitive interpretation of on-site user actions, they are a gauge of their enthusiasm.

  2. Visitor Location. This allows you to make cultural and linguistic assumptions of your visitors. If you know you receive the most visitors from a few specific countries, you might want to create landing pages/offers or content with a geographic focus.

  3. Visitor search terms/keywords. This includes both search engines and on-site search boxes. The clearest indicator of visitor interest, search terms tell you what they want to get from your site and it reveals information gaps you can fill up. This is where data collection gets specific. If you consistently get a lot of queries for a specific phrase, you can safely assume that there will be visitor interest in content or offers related to it.

  4. Traffic source. This includes search engines, referrer sites, type-in/bookmark traffic and ad campaigns. Pay attention to referrer sites: it reveals what visitors are reading or using. Traffic sources also tell you where to improve for greater visibility.

Take some time to look at these statistics. Instead of only looking at them at each single point in time, it makes more sense to regularly study them to see how they trend over the lifespan of your site or the course of a marketing/ad campaign. On the whole, they will give you a good idea of what users want and what draws their attention.

How to Get More Audience Data: Using Polls, Surveys and Features

Now for the fun part: the active solicitation of user information. Instead of simply monitoring web statistics, you create opportunities for visitors to voluntarily reveal personal data and opinions. These can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Polls. An excellent and informal way to get information on user preferences, they are very easy to set up and maintain on any website. The questions asked can be diverse and they are a good way to gradually accumulate a lot of information without being too invasive. Run a poll for two weeks and change the questions to pull in more information. They can be integrated on a regular basis alongside articles or they can be left alone on a visible corner of the website.

  2. Surveys. Depending on their length and how they are created, surveys may be more labor intensive. Some visitors will avoid them if they are too long. They are ideal when bundled with competitions or special offers which provide incentives for completion. Short surveys can be used for exiting visitors or as a follow-up after a user completes a specific purchase or opts-out of your payment plan/subscription.

  3. On-Site User Features. If you’re running a community, social media service or even a blog, you can get more information by simply offering more user features (ways users can interact with each other and your site). For example, allow users to input more biographical info in profiles or give them the option to favorite/rate your blog posts and the contributions of other users. Features also add value to users and increase their engagement with your site. Think strategically about what data you want and create a feature that allows users to indirectly reveal it. Facebook is a good example of a site with features that generate a lot of mineable data. Of course, it is always good to have an appropriate privacy policy and allow users to opt out easily from their side.

  4. Audience Feedback. To understand your visitors, its useful to ensure that you monitor your feedback channels. Comments, emails, incoming blog links, mentions on online communities and even tweets allow you to get an intuitive feel of what people think about your website. Subscribe to the right feedback channels (Google alerts, blogsearch etc.) and track them daily. Either do it yourself or get someone to be the official feedback/community coordinator. Audience feedback is often unsolicited, although you can easily get more comments/emails by specifically asking for them. This provides you with clues on how to better cater to your target market.

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, some of these methods can be applied online and offline simultaneously. For polls and surveys, you should be able to find some plugins or software available for your site platform. Alternatively, you can always use external online services like SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, 4Q and Wufoo.

After obtaining this data, setup a system which allows you to segment and compare your findings over a period of time. This can be a simple spreadsheet or something more sophisticated. When combined with the visitor statistics you already have, it’s easy to understand your audience, allowing you to to better accommodate their needs or interest.

Can you think of any other ways to get more audience data?

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How to Understand Your Audience: Data Collection & Analysis

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Digg PicsNow that the election and post-election elation is over, it’s time for Digg to go back to basics.

Very basic.

Yes, now that McCain/Palin bashing is over and the Obama love-fest is waning, Digg will rapidly return to its primary reason for existence: funny pictures.  As can be seen at any given moment on the “Top in All Topics” widget on their right toolbar, it’s time for lolcats, funny signs, photoshop ingenuity, and paint by numbers to make its triumphant return atop the most Dugg “media”.

I’m so excited.  Can you tell?

* * *

Read more Digg analysis on Social News Watch.

The following was inspired by an email thread that went back and forth
between myself and the President of a Web Design House. the project
mentioned is  in the very beginning stages of an SEO project that we
are fulfilling for one of their clients.I thought you might find this
of interest…..

At the start of a project brand increases because of linking. Often times a client thinks that this was built in, when in fact some of it may have been but Google does not necessarily care about your brand. They care about mentions and citations of your brand. Google cares only what
links to the references of your brand across the web on your site or
not. As your links increase to your pages of your site, your brand
references (keywords) within your analytics should go up.

So what you get last month in your original, pre-seo campaign "brand traffic" spreads out to larger
derivatives of that word and more searches as it gets links to the
pages with brand words. And links that carry those
branded words in the anchor text increase. In the case of brand it
usually is not very competitive if at all, so a few links can really
get the brand out there.


Reputation Management

This by the way is what reputation management is about. One can easily
steal your brand by creating pages about your company on many web pages. It can even be done anonymously on free sites. Its easy to do because
there is 0 competition for it until someone actually does it.

The idea being that you can get crowded out totally or partially from the SERPS (search positions) for your own name!Thats why it is important for companies to do more socially and thru
syndicates to populate the web with references to their brand.

By the way we often will get an agent site to come up higher in the
SERPS than a broker site online (if the broker is not our client). Its
very easy if the broker isn’t working for in bound links.

This reputation thing is not as bad as it is hyped up to be yet. I have seen few attempts by malcontents but not done very well. But I do
think it will be a major problem down the road not just in the real
estate business. But I see this playing out in how news and politics
can be perceived.

For a glimpse of the future and managing reputation and perceptions,
study how the Obama and McCain campaigns have run their online
marketing for the past election.
Election Special: Whatever You Do, Do Not Vote For This Candidate
Even McCain used online Video masterfully. Obama used the web better than any one politician or business yet.

Confessing Your Sins Will Get You Traffic!


A site can be SEOd all day long, but if it does not have links it does
not fully or even in some cases partially exist to Google. On many
templated real estate sites there is not much one can do as far as
onpage optimization.

So how does one get high rankings?

Links. Links make up for the sins of the site. They are the absolution from the priest called Google.

So right now a month into the project what we see is a start of a wider
span of brand words. And even a small start at seeing real estate
search words giving traffic.

We can do that by comparing the search strings from last month before
the SEO launch to now. This month is almost double brand based visits.
(names changed to keep the client private)
The list is longer (width) and many words are getting more visits compared to last month.
ie. TOTAL BRAND visits  are double last month
27         century 21 franchise name
26         url.com
19         century 21 franchise name realty
14         franchise name
6           century franchise name
6           www.franchise name.com
4           city century 21
4           century 21 in state
etc…..

Related Stories Coming to Digg?

(originally published at Soshable)

A reliable source tells me that Digg is finally putting out their related stories interface that will list stories that cover the same topics as the ones discussed in each submission.

Digg Related Stories (more…)

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