Do you remember when news was only in print and on the TV? Then came the internet. CNN.com would have all the latest news on demand, a simple click or two away. Things are changing faster than ever. This week I have been really thinking about blogs and RSS feed readers. For a few years I was really big into google reader, and I subscribed to 200 or so RSS feeds. Designers, Firms, Gallery sites, Businesses, Authors, etc. Anything I found useful or insightful consistently, I would subscribe.
In the last year or so, my RSS readership loyalty has dropped like a rock. I went from checking in to google reader a few times a day, to a few times a week, to now maybe 2 – 3 times per month, usually out of some odd self obligation. What’s interesting, is that the content hasn’t become less interesting, I’m just overwhelmed with information. The mediums have changed. Twitter and facebook feeds now dominate the landscape. I don’t think I’m alone either.
So what does this have to do with design, the web and small businesses or non profits? Everything. So as I was analyzing this over the week, I was thinking about the content. The content is still there, just the method changed. First I used to visit sites for updates, then RSS, now its twitter and facebook. Here is there interesting fact, with each change, the content headline, the call to action gets less visually stimulating.
Back when you manually checked a site for news, you had photos, graphics, buttons, etc. Then in RSS you still had some of that, but only what was IN the post. No pretty site frame, logo or nav bar. Now, you hve the headline and maybe a small intro in 140 characters or less. That’s a big change to entice your dedicated traffic to actually reading your content.
So what about my site? Well I am still a firm believer in a well designed, well planned and well constructed site that meets your needs and goals. But more importantly these days your content matters more than ever. The headline, the sub headline, the first few sentences all matter 10x more.
So as you have us make your awesome website, remember we can’t write killer content for you. We can work with a copywriter to help shape it, but ultimitly the source of info is you. Want people to read your stuff? Well, think about the headline, in 140 characters or less, and what the call to action is to get the user to read on. Your users attention span is smaller than ever.
Dont get me wrong, I’ll be the first to look at a new idea and ask if we can make money from it. Where are the expenses, and where is the profit. But I need to remind myself and others often, to have value first.
Try not to become a person of success but a person of value. ~Albert Einstein
Lets take a look at twitter’s newly announced plans of advertising in twitter for a great example. This week twitter announced how it will be selling ads within twitter. Its a pretty unique method. But lets step back for a second.
Twitter was free of ads, and free to users for a few years. They built up a customer base, and refined their systems. They kept it lean and mean by only offering one core service—updates. No photos, elaborate profiles, member pages, or other things that have hurt others in the past. Just updates, and a way to follow others. This added a large value to its base, and probably one key factor to its growth.
So back to present day. Twitter built value, and a customer base as its first goal, income streams came later. Did they always have plans for a revenue stream, I hope so! Sure it may have been a rough outline or a few sketchy ideas, but I am sure they did, and their investors saw it too.
Here are some simple questions to answer as you launch a new business, new product, service, or idea.
- Who is my customer for this product & what is their need?
- How will this address their needs?
- Where is my competition on this new product?
- Where can this under promise, and over deliver?
- What is the opportunity for growth after we launch it?
- Where do we see this product in 1, 2, and 5 years?
- How are we going to make sure we keep up on the times
(value now, with outdated needs in a year is no value!)
- What if we fail to offer value now, can we innovate and change? or is the product dead?
- How will we gauge & measure the value created?
(It’s not always sales numbers, especially early on)
We at factor1 are always coming up with new things to help our clients. We clearly outline the goals, benefits, costs, target customer, and where the money is. We often will beta test and give out some freebies to make sure the value is where we expect it.
What tools do you use to measure your value?
Who do you turn to for advice on your new products, service, or ideas?
There is a lot of debate about the value of Facebook & Twitter. Here are two things that can make them worth some of your time.
1. Follow people, businesses or organizations that matter to you. Identify those who are in your field or in your area of interests. People are watching who you follow.
2. Add value to the people who follow you. If you run a business or lead an organization make sure that you are adding value when you contribute something on twitter. Don’t say things here that you wouldn’t say in a relevant business meeting. Please, don’t tell everyone about your morning breakfast from your work account.
This is what trying too hard looks like.
So clearly Chevy is trying their hand at social media integration. Lets count up all the “apps” shall we.
- facebook link
- ohh i can create my chevy account
- a foum
- a blog
- photo feed
- twitter tweets
- and a site share stuff at the bottom
Wow. all on the home page. This site does NOTHING to promote what the volt is, why its cool, or why i should care. Instead it blasts me with its attempts to get me to engage. Unfortunately I dont really want to subscribe to the blog, be their friend on twitter, because I dont yet care about the car, or the site.
For me, the home page is overwhelming, and over the top. I appreciate the video, i think videos are cool. And a blog / news updates are good. The layout and presentation is so far behind the times. We used to see sites like this in the late 90′s.
The volt is a cool car, and should really be impressive for chevy to launch. this site is more in the way of other marketing efforts than anything.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll offer my solution. What are your thoughts? Am I being too harsh here?
In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #4
So you want to use twitter as a company / organization. In following our other tips, i’ll keep this short.
- create a company account (nothing special, just an account reserved for professional stuff)
- only tweet the big things
- keep @replies to a minimum
- avoid linking to things out of your control (but DO link to your own stuff as often as needed)
- Follow your new company account from your personal, and vice versa.
- follow other businesses, employees, organizations you belong to, and industry leaders.
In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #3
Avoid twittering just for the sake of twittering.
Nothing to say today? this week? Thats okay.
In Continuing our series on twitter tips, I present tip #2
Would you call a customer to tell them this tweet? even email it to them?
If not, dont tweet it.
Posting relevant, important, news is good. Silly is okay some times if it fits your company culture. Just dont tweet when you used the restroom, something you ate, what you did off your to do list, etc.
In a new series, I’d like to share tips on using twitter effectively as an organization. Small, short and easy to swallow tips on twitter.
the first tips to kick off the series:
DO NOT feed your twitter posts into your blog.
People reading your blog dont care to see your @replies.
DO feed your blog posts INTO twitter.
So we have been really exploring the use of twitter as a tool around her for Factor1 (follow us here factor1). The jury is still out on it being useful for us.
In my 2 week exploration, i find some people are litteraly just brodcasting white noise. Twittering to twitter, even if they have nothing to say at all. Its pretty annoying, and I un-follow those people quick.
Are you one of those people? Here is a quick tool to help you know.
Ever feel like you are the last to hear about something? Maybe somone is talking about you or your organization online and you dont know about it.
Here are some great tools to keep an eye on things.
- Google Alerts
Have Google email you anytime a specific term, or link pops up.
- Twitter Search feed
Yes, you know you can search on twitter. But did you know you can have an RSS feed update of the results?
- Technorati blog search
Who blogged about you? And yes, this too has an RSS feed for the results.
- Google blog search
Same deal as technorati.
You can never have too close an eye on whos talking about you. Listen, adapt, react as needed. But dont become obsessed about it.
Any tools i missed?