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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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Blogging Questions & Answers 24

I hope you guys had a great week, and to close it in style, here comes the Blogging Questions & Answers.

I am answers the questions on batch 19 already, so stay tuned if yours has not been featured yet. You can leave a question for me by writing a comment below.

questions and answers

1. Lax asks:

Why webmasters ask people to not copy their content?

They will get traffic with that copying also right?

I wouldn’t feel bad when some one copies content from my blog.

This is a hot topic, and I am glad you asked it Lax.

First and foremost, I think it is wrong copying someone else’s material without permission. Both on a legal and on a ethical perspective. If the person took the time to write it, the minimum you could do is to ask permission, and if you can’t find the author don’t assume it is public domain either.

Now on your question you are probably talking about the cases where a blogger will copy an article and give credit to it with a link right? Well just keep in mind that only some people do that, there is a large amount of scrapers out there that will rip your content, put on their blog with no credit at all, and won’t display any contact information whatsoever.

On those cases, you can clearly see that the guy is in bad faith, knows he is doing copyright infringement, but doesn’t care because he thinks you will never catch him. This is the worst scenario you can have, and when it happens to me I consider getting a lawyer on the issue.

When the other person seem to be in good faith though, and puts a credit to the original, I will just contact the author and ask him politely to remove it.

Sure, it could send some traffic my way, but honestly the problems related with this practice are much larger than that small benefit.

Here is why: blogs that copy and scrape content are usually very small, so the traffic they will send my way is negligible.

The duplicate content effect is not that small, however, and is many small blogs do it Google will start noticing, and will possibly put a filter or even a penalty on my site or on some of my articles.

2. Yawza asks:

I wanted to know how do you set up contracts for guest bloggers or bloggers you may hire? Also can you provide an example?

For guest bloggers you don’t need to have a contract, just a policy. Establish what kind of guest bloggers you are looking for, what content you need, what kind of byline they can use, how many links they can include and so on. Have that information written down, and whenever someone contacts you about guest blogging, you can just email it to the person.

Alternatively, you can also create a special “Write for Us” page on your site where you would display that information.

You asked for examples so here is my policy with guest bloggers:

  • I do allow guest bloggers on DBT, but only once per week at most
  • The guest blogger just need to email me his article. If I like, I will publish
  • The content must be unique, never been published before, and useful to bloggers
  • The guest blogger can have a byline in the bottom
  • He may include one link to his site, and one link to his RSS feed

Hired bloggers and writers are a whole different matter, however. You will need to clearly describe to them every detail related to your blog. Your goal is to make sure that their content will match exactly what your audience is looking for, and that the style will be aligned with you have been doing on the blog too.

Additionally, you will have to agree on the posting frequency, post length, on who answers the comments, and on the payment rate.

3. Saurabh asks:

I have a blog and I aggregate links with some of my commentary. Now I think that I am boring my readers (if any!) and am just aggregating links with my old commentary. How do I write some original stuff? Or aggregating is OK?

Interesting question.

Let’s answer the latter question first. Aggregating can work sometimes, but rarely for blogs. In other words, if you want to aggregate news, make it a news aggregator website (doh!), and not a blog. Techmeme is the classic example of a successful aggregator.

Keep in mind that making a successful aggregator is a tough task, tough. First of all because there are established ones on most niches already. Secondly because it is difficult to offer something different and innovative. News aggregation is a digital commodity, if you will.

I would rather suggest that you keep working on your blog therefore, and focus on original content, which brings us to the former question.

How do you write original content? Find a topic that you either love or have a good knowledge about, open and word processor, and start writing!

Is there any opinion, idea, criticism, commentary or guide that you would like to share with other people? If the answer is yes, just write about it. If the answer is no, hmmm, then I am not sure if blogging is what you are looking for.

4. Tejvan Pettinger asks:

How big can a mysql database become? After 9 months, I have 500 posts. I’m wondering after 9 years, how manageable the mysql database will be.

I don’t think this is a problem bloggers need to think about. MySQL databases are pretty robust, and the number of entries that a blog will generate, even a popular one, is very manageable. Just think that many large websites run on MySQL too (including Digg if I am not wrong), and they arrive to generate millions of entries.

5. Danny Cooper asks:

Why do you think RSS readers have become a popular metric for blogger success, after all RSS readers have less chance of actually viewing your website.

I think that the number of RSS readers became a popular metric for measuring the success of a blog because it represents the number of people that deliberately decided to get updates from that blog. It is like those subscribers gave a vote of confidence for the blog in question.

This number, therefore, should give you an idea about the quality of the content on that blog, and about the overall traffic levels, because the higher the traffic, the more people will end up subscribing.

The fact that RSS readers have a smaller chance of viewing a website does not affects its legitimacy as a metric for measuring the popularity of blogs. Sure it might be a point that the blogger or the webmaster will take into consideration, but the general public does not care if your subscribers will visit your site or not, and if your ad revenue will suffer from that or not.

Finally, I am not even sure if that is the case. I think that even if you offer a full RSS feed, the long term effect will be more and not less traffic on your website.

6. Transcriptionist asks:

I notice that you have put “Disallow: /feed/” in your robots.txt file.

Question 1) Do you know that you can put a “noindex” to your feed at “Publicize/NoIndex” at your FeedBurner dashboard and then remove this “Disallow” in your robots.txt and the “nofollow” that you have put everywhere on your blog to your feed and email subscription calls?

(For your information: View the source code of email subscription call landing page, it already has content=”noindex,nofollow” by default. Then why the “nofollow” to email subscription calls also?)

Question 2) Won’t too much of nofollow by author be stamped as over optimization and penalized by search engines? (While nofollow for reader generated contents like comments, irrespective of count, is accepted by search engines as optimization.)

Question 3) You have put “Disallow: /trackback/” in your robots.txt. Your URLs are either redirecting to their original URLs for single posts and pages or returning 404 for categories if trackback has been added to their end. Then what is the use of this command?

Answer 1) First of all I did test with no-indexing my Feedburner feed in the past, but I had better results with letting it be indexed, because it would rank well for some keywords, and send a good amount of traffic to the main website.

Secondly, the nofollow attributes on all my RSS feed and email subscription links is not to avoid those pages getting indexed, but rather to don’t have my PageRank flowing to Feedburner on ALL the pages of my site. A sitewide link carries a lot of link juice, so I add a nofollow tag when that link is not editorial.

Finally, notice that even if your Feedburner feed page is no-indexed, your WordPress /feed/ page or xml versions could still be indexed, and that is something you want to prevent as well.

Answer 2) I don’t think so. As long as you use the nofollow attribute with the purpose of not following links that you don’t trust or that are not editorial links, you should be fine. That is what Google recommends after all.

Answer 3) I recently removed the trackback pages from the blog, so yeah I guess I could also remove that line from the robots.txt by now.

7. Ben Moreno asks:

How many hours a day do you spend on writing posts?

What is your strategy for finding content to write about each day?

I would say that I spend anywhere from 2 up to 6 hours a day writing content. It depends on the period. Some weeks are slow, and I just write my daily posts, so it takes 2 hours a day. On others week I will be working on a larger piece or on a new project, and on those occasions I write a lot.

As for finding content, I think that the best strategy is to have ideas and drafts saved way ahead of when you will need to write them.

For example, I have around 50 draft posts for Daily Blog Tips saved right now. Most have just the title and a brief description. When I don’t know what I am going to write about, I just open that list and pick one.

How did I arrive to have such a big list of drafts? Every time an idea strikes me, big or small, dumb or smart, I write it down.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Blogging Questions & Answers 24

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I have been planning to launch my email newsletter for a while, but wasn’t able to due to lack of time. This week I finally found some time to create an account on Aweber, and I will be launching the list officially today.

So what will it be about? Internet marketing and online business. Sure, I will often talk about blogs, blogging tips and tricks, but it will have much more than that. I have been making a living online for the past two years, and I plan to keep expanding the breadth of my online activities, and that is what I want to share with you guys. Here is some of the things I will try to cover on the emails:

  • blogs and blogging tips
  • making money online
  • Internet marketing
  • the evolution of the web
  • entrepreneurship
  • my strategies and opinions about what works online
  • web publishing

It will be a weekly or biweekly newsletter, so I will only write when I have something useful to say. Apart from my emails, the newsletter will also send a weekly wrap-up with the most popular posts on Daily Blog Tips. It is therefore another way of keeping updated with the blog if you don’t want to receive the daily emails or visit the blog everyday.

So there you go, just type your name and email address below, and stay tuned for the first email which will be going out soon!



Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

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Today’s vote is historic. And I assure you that no matter who you voted for,your guy in some way manipulated you. Once you found yourself making your choice, most people will defend their choice logically. Although as we know in sales 101, we buy for emotional reasons and justify with logic. .

Some interesting lessons for us online marketers have been revealed of late by political experts.

Mark Nagaitis, CEO of 7 Billion People, said “This analysis demonstrates how
the design of a website and the use of language can influence the effectiveness
of that site in communicating the desired message. Too many web designers
underestimate the power of language in reaching the complete audience, not just
their base.
” Key findings from the analysis include:

  • The McCain website uses language that emphasizes risk and problem avoidance
    - such as the section on the Homeownership Resurgence Plan featured prominently
    on the home page during mid-October 2008 in the final weeks before the
    presidential election.
  • By comparison, the Obama website offers voters key language on hope and
    opportunity as the primary focus, with risk items still present but secondary in
    nature.
  • Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s website is designed to appeal to people
    that use peer opinions and other references in their decision-making process.
    Obama’s website speaks to those that see themselves as part of a group. (For
    example, the Obama Everywhere section on the home page includes links to popular
    social networking sites).
  • Conversely, rival John McCain’s website appeals to those people who make
    decisions based on gut-feeling, information and personal choice. McCain’s
    website primarily speaks to the individual, not the group.
  • Senator McCain’s website presents information in a procedural, step-by-step
    fashion that appeals to analytical voters that feel comfortable with process and
    order – there is a clear path from the initial landing page that features Vice
    Presidential candidate Sarah Palin to the center panel of the website home page
    presenting topical videos denouncing his competitor. McCain’s website may feel
    constrictive to some voters.
  • By contrast, Senator Obama’s website appeals to voters that prefer choice
    and exploration of all of the options available to them. The website contains a
    wide array of menu items and clickable section headings representing numerous
    choices for visitors that need to feel that they have explored all the options -
    including a Learn menu section providing backgrounds on the wives of Senators
    Obama and Biden, texting for campaign updates, Obama Mobile for ringtones and an
    official iPhone application for the Obama campaign. Obama may be missing the
    opportunity to talk to voters that prefer order and process on the site.

The Gopac knows this and as such shows us some interesting language patterns that  politicos should use:

Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!:

Optimistic Governing Words

share, change,
opportunity, legacy, challenge, control, truth, moral, courage, reform,
prosperity, crusade, movement, children, family, debate, compete,
active(ly), we/us/our, candid(ly), humane, pristine, provide, liberty,
commitment, principle(d), unique, duty, precious, premise, care(ing),
tough, listen, learn, help, lead, vision, success, empower(ment),
citizen, activist, mobilize, conflict, light, dream, freedom, peace,
rights, pioneer, proud/pride, building, preserve, pro-(issue): flag,
children, environment; reform, workfare, eliminate good-time in prison,
strength, choice/choose, fair, protect, confident, incentive, hard
work, initiative, common sense, passionate

Contrasting Words

Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we
are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps
you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily
understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record,
proposals and their party.

decay, failure (fail)
collapse(ing) deeper, crisis, urgent(cy), destructive, destroy, sick,
pathetic, lie, liberal, they/them, unionized bureaucracy, "compassion"
is not enough, betray, consequences, limit(s), shallow, traitors,
sensationalists, endanger, coercion, hypocrisy, radical, threaten,
devour, waste, corruption, incompetent, permissive attitude,
destructive, impose, self-serving, greed, ideological, insecure,
anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs; pessimistic, excuses,
intolerant, stagnation, welfare, corrupt, selfish, insensitive, status
quo, mandate(s) taxes, spend (ing) shame, disgrace, punish (poor…)
bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power, machine, bosses,
obsolete, criminal rights, red tape, patronage.

How can you use these lessons to better your online marketing?

David Bullock has interviewed the Obama Social Media team and says:

..the key is to look beyond what the world is evaluating
(politics) to ferret out what this campaign can teach us as we grow and
expand the reach of our businesses.

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