Blog - Page 23 of 24 - Rock, Paper, Scissors

Posted 18 Aug 2008

Lingo

There are days I get pretty fed up with lingo, especially business lingo. And more so internet business lingo and I am even in the industry. There are terms out there like “Web 2.0,” “social networking,” and “user-generated content” that are used freely in marketing and search optimization web sites. There is much pontificating, strategizing and meaty analysis that goes along with these sites. Use of industry lingo is common behavior for people in a specialized fields. It is important for communication to take place between experts – BUT you don’t need the lingo!

So, I’m going to break it down for you: the Internet reached a point a few years ago when there was a large shift in focus – give the users more input over the content of websites. Users are enjoying this new level of participation, that’s why we’ve got Facebook, YouTube, digg, and Flickr, which are all huge sites that you’ve probably read about, or may even use. I have noticed how people think it’s great to talk about these sites in cordial conversations, the news, just about everywhere. But where does all this new impetus leave you and your web site? Most of us are not focused on building the next Facebook

Leaving these behemoths behind for a little while, let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. I want to share something with you. There are three brand new websites each created in under 60 hours during Startup Weekend in Raleigh, and each one of them is a treatise on executing a good idea:

My Fries Suck – Bad restaurant experience? Let them know. Immediately. In about ten seconds you can review an eatery. No need for the cumbersome quantification of stars and a verbose write-up. Just type in where you ate, and click “Good” or “Sucked.” Done.

Bars For Us – It’s a specialized Yellow Pages, only it isn’t awful. Bars for Us catalogs every bar they can find (currently only in the Raleigh area, but with plans for expansion) and provides people with actual informative words about the establishment. Do you like darts, billiards, karaoke, drink specials? Find out what bars cater to your taste. You don’t even have to pay a cover charge to find the perfect spot.

Scavenja – You get a clue. You interpret the clue. Photograph something that you think fits your interpretation. Post the photograph as quickly as you possibly can. The faster you act, the more points you get. If you get the most points, you win the game and a prize furnished by that game’s sponsor. See, it’s advertising, only it’s fun.

So this is all building up to a point, and the point is this: if you are trying to attract people to your site, making it entertaining and useful is the best way to go, and it’s not as hard as you might think. Don’t let industry lingo intimidate you. The strategy to an engaging web site is simple – make it interesting for your visitors. Take these examples as inspiration, and see if you can’t come up with a good idea for your own site.

Posted 01 Aug 2008

The What, Who and Why of Blogging

Let’s start with a little blog breakdown for everyone’s benefit. To start: What the heck is  a blog?

Everyone’s favorite information source, Wikipedia, defines a blog as such:
“A blog (a portmanteau of web log) is a website where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.”

For anybody that is confused by the super fancy word ‘portmanteau’ it just means that they took the words ‘web’ and ‘log’ and mushed them together. So now that we know the ‘What’, we can move on to ‘Who’.

The ‘Who’ is You. Simple, but effective. As a business owner, it is important to maintain a relationship with your clients. In our fast paced world, it is difficult to add the personal touch that we used to provide. Since so many people gather information and form relationships on the web now, the blog has become the new personal touch.

In this small, virtual space, you can offer useful advice and make yourself a resource for current and potential clients. You can write about different ways to use your products and services in order to increase sales. You can write about how your cat ran out of wet food this morning and make yourself accessible as a human being to all of the people that visit your site. In all of these instances, you are forming a relationship with your customers and clients that can potentially keep them coming back for more.

There is an added technical bonus as well. Having a site that is frequently updated with relevant information is one of the keys to great SEO. That stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to where your name shows up in the lists on searches. Say you type your company name into Google. You scan the first page, scan the second page and finally find yourself midway down the fourth page. When people do a search of your industry, how far are they going to look before picking a link or trying a different search? Statistics say that the average person will not search past the first three pages. Search engines don’t like sites with old information so they look for frequent updates.

Blogs are very powerful tools that only require two things: your time and wit. Fantastically enough the format of the blog enables you to write 2 – 3 sentences and have that count as an ‘article’ of sorts. Everyone has time for 2 – 3 sentences a day. Of course, for those of you that are overachievers, feel free to extend those sentences into paragraphs and amaze the world with your prose and insight. The format is negotiable as long as the content is relevant and fresh.
To talk more about how a blog can work for you, please contact me at Holly@123shoot.com or call 678.442.1825.  

Posted 17 Jul 2008

Be A Cubicle Rockstar!

 

So you are sitting in traffic trying to get to work on time, listening to the radio, cd, ipod, or even a tape (for those of you who have not upgraded since 1989). You finally get to work and leave it all in the car, just to sit in silence with just the noise of the tapping of the keyboard, daily celeb gossip from your coworkers, and the bubbling of the water cooler shooting through your ears. Tomorrow, it might be a good idea if you brought some of that music from your car into your cubicle. 

We have all heard the research that music helps you work more diligently, but have you ever seen the proof of it? A trial was done where 75 out of 256 employees  were given personal stereos to use for four weeks while working. After the study they showed a 10% increase on productivity. It is just not the increase in productivity though, because the research also showed that music that had an upbeat rhythm reduced stress hormone levels as much as 41%. Read More Which basically means that next time the boss asks you if you read the memo, there might not be an “incident” that involves a security escort and a pink slip of paper. Another rumor is that the music has to be classical, but it doesn’t. Classical music can be more distracting if it is not your personal preference. It is up to you whether music will help you focus more or be a distraction. 

If you don’t have an ipod, don’t worry. If you are around a computer there are several ways to listen to streaming music online. Many radio stations offer the option to listen to their broadcast online. iTunes has a radio station feature with loads of different types of music. Pandora allows you to make playlists of artists you enjoy and then it finds similar music to the artists your picked and adds them in the mix. Myspace is not just for 15 year olds to make friends. There is music section and you can find almost any artist known, plus others not well known, that should be well known. Most artists’ music pages feature 4-5 songs by that artist for your listening pleasure. And finally iheartmusic is a webstite that allows you to listen to full albums (even albums that have not been released yet!)

So, put on some headphones (your co-workers might not like Ice Ice Baby as much as you do, Yeah you know you like it) and get back to your happy extra 8 minutes of work. Just try not to burst out in song or bust a move in your rolly chair, you might embarrass yourself.

 

Posted 08 Jul 2008

Unexpected Opportunities

I was recently reading one of my favorite publications, FastCompany, and came across the perfect topic for a summer article: Baseball! For those of you not familiar with FastCompany, it is a publication for businesses, so for them to be talking about baseball just seemed like it would be fun.

No surprise, the article was talking about the business side of Major League Baseball, but what really got my interest was not that they were talking about the importance of general managers, but the current GM of the Rangers has not played on a team since he was in the 8th grade! Granted Jon Daniels is only 30 and landed an awesome internship with the Rangers a few years back that lined him up for the job. Daniels just loved the game, and even though he did not make the freshman team back in high school, he still found a way to do what he loves.

I am all about taking what you love and figuring out how to make it more than just a hobby. But the more I was thinking about Daniels that more I admired him. He did not get to have his dream job of playing baseball, but that did not mean he did not get the career of his dreams. The time that he did not get to play ball and he went did other things, like majoring in business, which helped give him a new perspective and expertise that makes him so good at what he does now. It is the perfect example of, if you get lemons make lemonade.

You never know how two very unique experiences can relate to one another. Not only is this a good life lesson, but it is a good business and marketing lesson. We learn from experiences even if they do not turn out the way we expect them to. Some of our greatest business ideas fall flat on their face, but what we have done in the past and what we do while we are recovering can set us up for opportunities that we could never imagine. So even though times may not be as lucrative as they have been in the past, the worst thing you can do it to stop trying. This is a great time to try new out new ideas – you never know where they can take you!

Posted 27 Jun 2008

A Secret to Reading Blogs

Shhh, I’m going to tell you a little secret. Well, actually what I’m disclosing is not really a secret at all. It’s just not as obvious or publicized as it should be. My “sneaky stash” deals with how I read blogs. But before I reveal my furtive formula allow me to detail how my new fancy for reading blogs came to be.

Over the last few years blogs have permeated the internet and have thus given every man, woman, and child a reason to throw their own First Amendment fiesta. As the masses began to exercise their new medium for free speech I began to look for a better set of headphones and a cooler pair of sunglasses. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what the attraction to reading someone else’s bombastic blurbs was. My life with work, family, and home was busy enough without trying to sort through the web’s new can full of garbage. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what you’re thinking about my rhetoric right now, but if you hang with me for one more second I’ll get to the juice.

It’s not uncommon for me to search the internet for information that pertains to my job while I’m at work and I do the same with the things that interest me personally while I’m at home. What I soon began to find was that the results from my daily search queries often landed me repeatedly to a familiar set of web sites, many of which are… you guessed it. Blogs! And then serendipity hit me like a two ton heavy thing.

A secret to reading blogs is the RSS feed, often shrouded in the RSS feed icon. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s a popular technology for notifying users of updates to content in a web site, blog, or Internet TV channel. The benefit of RSS is the aggregation of content from multiple web sources in one place. Basically, you don’t have to keep checking back to any particular web site to see if it’s been updated. All you need to do is subscribe to the RSS feed, much like you would subscribe to a newspaper, and then read the updates from the site, delivered via RSS feeds to your newsreader.

First, you’ll need to download an RSS newsreader (see Google for more about RSS newsreaders). Some internet browsers such as Firefox and Safari natively read RSS feeds and hence do not require the download of a separate newsreader. After you have a newsreader you can begin to look for those camouflaged RSS feed icons or links to RSS feeds in the web sites you often visit. Before long you’ll feel the same way about RSS feeds as you did about electricity. You’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Once you start using RSS feeds you’ll feel like you’re simply reading the headlines of all of your favorite newspapers and magazines. Sorting through the junk is easy and you can read only what you want to read. Just look for titles from your Favorites list in your Bookmarks that are worth looking at and the secret of RSS feeds will be revealed. You’ll be amazed with how the RSS technology dynamically changes those Bookmark titles.

If you have an RSS newsreader and would like to subscribe to the RPS blog then simply click on any of the RSS feed icons in this post or the Entries (RSS) link at the bottom of this web site. Happy blogging!

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