How to Make Your Website Work Better

I’ve always concentrated on just building websites and when I started out first it was nearly enough to just have a website. There were fewer sites around, less competition and more room for success but the internet is so crowded these days that you really need to work at getting your new site noticed and having it bring in revenue.

I’m hoping to move more into the “Performance” side of web design so if you feel you need help with any of the following for your existing website, give me a shout:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO),
  • SEO Reports,
  • Keyword Research,
  • Competitor Research,
  • Google Analytics,
  • Sitemaps,
  • Internet Marketing/Online Advertising,
  • Social Media/Networking Integration,
  • Blogging,
  • Website Upgrades/Added Functionality,
  • Content Management Systems (CMS),
  • Email Marketing/Newsletter Systems,
  • Viral Marketing (Image & Video),
  • One to One Mentoring.

Leon

Do I Still Need a Website?

This was the question asked of me at the Leitrim Business Network ‘IT expert Q & A’ this week. I’d like to expand on my answer here.

It’s a valid and pretty common question and to be honest, not one I knew how to answer when people first started asking me. After all, you can probably reach a hell of a lot more people on the likes of Facebook, Linkedin & Twitter than your own freshly made website.

My simple answer is that you should have BOTH your own website and a presence on all the major social networking sites. The bigger footprint you have online the better. The only valid reason I can think of for not having your own site is if you have absolutely no budget, but many people still don’t realise the cost of web design has come right down these days.

What I would try to avoid is that old problem of having people think that you’re a business that can only afford a free web presence. It’s like having a fancy business card and a big ugly hotmail or yahoo email address on it. Nothing spells success and professionalism than a nice modern website. It can be just as much a mark of quality as a marketing tool.

Website?

Here’s a  breakdown:

Facebook Pages & Twitter profiles are pretty basic

All that’s on anyone’s Facebook Business page (unless they spend serious money on having Facebook apps developed) is a small ‘About’ section, a news feed and maybe some photos. Same with Twitter. A small bio section then just a list of posts. Is that really the only business presence you want people to see!?

With your own site, you can lay it out how you like and have content presented more logically. I like to think of Facebook & Twitter as a teaser for your company, like a fish hook that you dangle in the stream of people. You give them the basics of your company and have them click through to your proper website where you present them with your full, properly branded business information.

Control

Facebook in particular are forever changing things around, whether it’s the size of banner images, logos or just the general rules on what you can and cannot do. With your own site you don’t have to be at their mercy, you control everything and always will.

The Future

Facebook wasn’t always popular and may not always be. What if you spend serious time and money cultivating followers and likers only for Mark Zuckerberg to get bored and sell the site to move onto something new? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Conclusion

My blueprint for a modern online business precence is as follows:

  • Create a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and any other Social Networking site that may be particularly relevant for your business, ie – if you sell visual products, maybe a youTube account too to show them off properly,
  • Make sure to properly fill out each site profile with your business info, service list, location and web address link,
  • Build an audience by spending some time connecting to new people on each site. Most of them make this pretty easy by suggesting friends based on your email contacts or location,
  • Build a standalone website with a modern web publishing system like WordPress,
  • Concentrate most of your efforts on your own website by regularly writing relevant news content/blogs,
  • Integrate your website with all your social networking sites to automatically send news posts through to them. Dlvr.it is good for this and FREE. This way you can be active on a pile of sites at once, from one location without really having to be on them.
If you’re like me and sit in front of a computer all day, you’ll have that extra bit of time to go in an be active on the networking sites too. Interaction gets you noticed remembered and liked. Reading other peoples news also keeps you in the loop as to what’s going on and what the prevailing mood is which can be helpful.

Leon

 

Not Who You Know or Who Knows You but Who Likes You!?

I think some new definitions and thinking are in order for continued successful business branding via Social Networking sites these days. I reckon it’s time to go back to basics.

Dead to me are the people who post the same kinda boring business stuff in a never ending, automated looking stream. 52 ways to do this, 25 tips for doing that..it’s presumed we all have the time to read through a pile of shite like that when all we need is the one best way! A lot of people who post in this way are one way only, ie – they don’t converse or reply half the time or at all and to me they violate the very definition of “Social Networking”, ie – to BE SOCIABLE & INTERACT.

Perhaps larger, corporate companies can be expected to post in this way, after all it would be kinda hard for them to become ‘friendly’ with you and people probably wouldn’t expect it but for small companies and sole traders in particular, I think they should be selling themselves and creating valuable relationships far more than pushing their products.

So how do you sell yourself? Ever tried making a friend online or off? That’s all you need to do really. The kind of stuff that most people think is utter drivel on Facebook or Twitter, ie – what you had for dinner, pics of your pets, etc..is precisely the kind of stuff that people SHOULD be posting I think. There’s a more limited audience for your business stuff but the larger populace can all identify with food, pets, kids, current affairs, topical stuff etc so why not post about the average everyday stuff people do and think about? I bet you’ll get more interaction from more people.

Which is more interesting and likely to create interaction & connection?

What's More Interesting?

 

I’ll use myself as a case study. From the start of my social media adventures I’ve always tried to be opinionated, funny, interesting, different. I didn’t have this grand plan at the start but I noticed as I went along that the allegedly mundane, non-business posts attracted much more feedback and commenting. For example, if I post up pictures of my kids being cute on Facebook you may ask, what the hell has that got to do with what I’m selling? Answer: Most people, have kids, like kids, were kids and can identify with you straight away, perhaps forming an opinion about you as being someone who loves their kids, wants to show them off, is sane enough to have kids, etc..oh and look, he’s a web designer. I’ll remember him when I need one.

Today, I think it’s all about standing out from the crowd and selling your personality, opinions and knowledge, interacting with people and only very subtly if at all, mentioning what you do the odd time. If you make yourself interesting enough, people will probe further to find out more about you and what you do so have that information handy in the background. I think people crave interaction and love to give their opinions. The success of Facebook is proof of that so tap into it, interact with people, get known, get liked and get business.

You’re more memorable when you’re liked, not just known.

Leon

Ireland IT Capital of the World with Twitter Move?

I write this on a day when it was announced that massively popular Social Networking site Twitter will be setting up an international base in Ireland. There had been murmurings that it might happen from months back but there was stiff competition from a number of other cities including London but Dublin has won out in the end probably because of it’s low corporation tax rate and possibly because of the existing presence of a number of very high profile companies here.

Ireland pretty much has a clean sweep of the top IT companies in the world now including Facebook, Google, Paypal, eBay, Linkedin, Microsoft, Intel, Yahoo, Zynga, IBM, Apple and HP – an incredible list and surely one that puts us firmly on the international business map.

Here’s hoping the government will now throw everything it has at IT support in Ireland from Education to Broadband infrastructure and guarantee we lose the twee image of Ireland and replace it with one of innovation, modernity, hi-tech and progression, leading us out of recession and showing the world how it’s done.

Ole, ole, ole..

Leon

How Do YOU Come Across Online?

Several online acquaintances were kind enough recently (I didn’t ask them!)  to offer me some super critical feedback on how they saw my Social Networking and Branding efforts online. From their ‘comfortable distances’ they pointed out the flaws in some of the things I say in my Twitter and Facebook feeds and advised me to desist from certain activities. Having relatively recently ‘found my voice’ and style so to speak through things like Twitter and Facebook among others, and feeling fairly confident that what I was saying on these sites was generally interesting, enlightening, funny or useful to my audience in some small way at least, I wasn’t too happy with this criticism and it came as a bit of a shock..

I can’t say for one second that it’s going to make me censor myself online and I hope to continue saying it like it is, calling people out, alerting people to good and bad service from companies, occasionally cursing when needed and calling a spade a spade but it at least made me aware that I should try imagine how I sound to others. With just a little ‘out of body’ thought, you might realise that the largely IT/Techy crowd on Twitter don’t necessarily want to hear about your cat or that family and friends on Facebook don’t want to be bombarded with businesses stuff. ‘Know your audience’ and tell them what they want or need to hear seems like apt advice.

My moral is basically this – think before you speak, brand yourself and your business as honestly and effectively as you can but if you feel something needs to be said, say it. And if you are being honest to yourself and your gut instinct then you should eventually gain the majority’s respect. The rest can fuck off!!

Leon

Social Networking Survey Results

Below are some results from a recent study undertaken by Sarah Diffley, Research Masters Student at Letterkenny Institute of Technology:

The total number of respondents who started the survey was 1,145.  Of these respondents, 829 completed the survey.  This constitutes an overall survey response rate of 72.4%.  However, a quota sample of 376 was determined to be sufficient for the research at hand and so this amount was utilised for the research based on the judgement of the researcher as,

In quota sampling researcher judgement is used in establishing the categories and choosing the sample from the categories

(Wrenn et al., 2002, p.167).

Findings from the survey highlight the following key statistics:

Overall:

  • 73% of respondents use SNSs to connect with current friends, 65% to connect with old friends and 28% to make new friends.
  • 67% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the SNS they were most active on had become an important method of communication for them.
  • Facebook is the SNS that respondents had been most active on in the last 30 days (53%)
  • 30% of respondents had over 200 friends on their most active SNS, 25% between 100 and 199 friends, 20% between 50 and 99 friends, with 25% detailing they had less than 50 friends on their most active SNS.
  • 84% of respondents have joined a group on a SNS.
  • 51% of respondents have visited a company profile page on a SNS.
  • 26% of respondents have completely public profiles on their most active SNS.
  • 22% of respondents have had a negative experience on their SNS, which include viruses, unwanted friend requests, spam, online predators and bullying.

Product and Marketing Findings:

  • 17% of respondents make comments to friends about products on SNSs.
  • 37% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they would make comments to their friends on the SNSs about products if that product was of interest to them.
  • 52% of respondents outlined that when a person is a close friend offline, they are influential on a SNS, 40.7% highlighted that they are influential when they are members of their family.
  • 51% of respondents explained that they would discuss products with friends on a SNS to provide friends with product information relevant to them and 41% to voice their opinion.
  • 40% of respondents have clicked on an advertisement on a SNS.
  • 24% of respondents with agreed or strongly agreed that SNSs have become over-commercialised.
  • 57% of respondents highlighted that they notice advertisements on SNSs but 53% detailed that they do not like the presence of advertisements on their SNS.  Furthermore 43% of respondents noted that they do not trust advertisements on SNSs.

Many thanks to all those who took part in the survey.  It is greatly appreciated and contributed significantly to my research.

Sarah Diffley

If you would like to contact Sarah in relation to these survey results, please leave a comment.

Leon.