the internet ideas blog

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Paid Pins?

Tonight I received an email from Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann announcing the start of promote pins.  First thought, "No, here we go with the invasion of social time." And maybe that's what it will feel like but I was impressed that (1) I was sent a "heads up" to know what was coming and (2) Ben promised a few things:


  • Tasteful—No flashy banners or pop-up ads.
  • Transparent—We’ll always let you know if someone paid for what you see, or where you see it.
  • Relevant—These pins should be about stuff you're actually interested in, like a delicious recipe, or a jacket that's your style.
  • Improved based on your feedback—Keep letting us know what you think, and we'll keep working to make things better.
  • I hope that is the case but I can't help but think of how ads feel in Facebook when they enter the "timeline" it's like you're watching your favorite television program and a really obnoxious commercial comes on - makes you want to leave the room.  Or in this case leave Facebook.  So I really hope that Ben keeps that in mind.

    I have to say though, that it's probably about time.  How else does Pinterest make money if it doesn't allow ads?  And if you want to keep good thing going you'll have to start generating serious revenue at some time or another.

    From the standpoint of a potential advertiser, I am excited.  I don't want to alienate anyone with my ads but at the same time with all the pins it's hard to keep anything at eye level in any category on Pinterest.  I'm looking forward to the prospect of pushing my pins to the top - although you and I both know that only the pins that generate the most "repins" will be the best content on Pinterest.  As it should be.

    So to Ben and the rest of the Pinterest crew - best of luck!  All of us internet marketers  (and avid pinners!) will be watching.

    Friday, May 24, 2013

    Disenchanted with Twitter

    I will admit it.  Until recently I had become really disenchanted when it came to twitter. Yes you have to be there, they are top of social media channels, yes everyone else is there but I just wasn't feeling it.  I do a lot of social media for clients and I kept everyone going very well, no one would notice I wasn't interested. But down inside I was thinking a divorce might be on the horizon.

    Then, something changed.  I'm not sure how much of it was internal and how much was external but here's what happened.

    I have a retail client that wanted us to take on the social media aspect of their business and I hadn't done much with B2C retail on twitter. The same rules apply: find the right audience, talk about the right things and build the friendly relationships that lead to sales.  So of course I'm up to the task.

    From the start I noticed that the audience was refreshingly different.  They were more engaged, they actually followed on FB, gave us a reason to follow back. They retweeted more often, gave feedback willingly.  I noticed that Twitter actually increased the number of fans on FB - which was good because that was a bottom-up effort as well.  A spark had been ignited, I was beginning to feel the love for Twitter again.

    Then I started using some of the tools that are out there, some that I've used before and an new tool.

    JustUnfollow.com is one of my favorite tools to help build a legitmate (note: not 1000's of new followers spam) audience. The paid version lets you send out customized, (read: personalized) messages to new followers so you aren't sending out the "true twit" and "get more followers" canned DM that I can't stand.  The messages I put out were engaging and elicited responses - which was great...  my love for Twitter was growing stronger!

    And this week I saw an excellent demo of NeedTagger.com . . . which takes things on Twitter a bit further as it helps cull out the "real" leads. People who are genuinely interested in buying your product or service. I had used NeedTagger.com in the free version but wasn't overly impressed, with their updates and new demo I had an eye opening experience that lead to even greater admiration for Twitter's potential.

    Today was the crowning moment... I received recognition in the Wichita Biz Journal as one of the #140Characters to follow on Twitter.  Wow.  I guess all that hard work does pay off.

    I'm in love with Twitter all over again... simply  Twitterpated!

    I'll be happy to help you fall in love with Twitter too....contact me (even better, follow me on Twitter - @MyIdeaGirl)


    Monday, March 18, 2013

    Cheap Doesn't Always Mean Frugal

    As some of you know, I'm what you would call a "hobby mechanic". I like to work on small car engines & suspension parts in my spare time. Last summer I had finished the rebuild on the motor in my 1991 Eagle Talon TSi AWD and had spent a sizeable amount of money purchasing performance parts, having things sent in to machine shops and shipping large, heavy metal objects across the country.

    It was towards the end of the summer months that I finally had the motor together and put back into the car, I was so happy. I had finally gotten the vehicle running again and got to drive it.

    A matter of weeks later, it all came to a halt.

    In my fervor to get the vehicle running, and my enthusiasm for "go fast parts", I cheaped out and bought a crank pulley (aka "harmonic balancer") from a knock-off company. I had read a couple reviews saying it "got the job done" and against my better judgement went ahead and bought it, since the part could be at my door in two days, and it was MUCH cheaper than the OEM alternative.
    As stated, just a matter of weeks after having the motor together, the part I cheaped out on split in two, causing a catastrophic failure of the motor, and sent my pistons colliding with the valves inside the motor. Needless to say, I had to tear the ENTIRE THING apart again, and start from scratch.

    Lots of time, money & enthusiasm WASTED.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen the exact same thing happen when I have to crack open a client's preexisting website. 

    We get a lot of clients who come from relatively cheap developers, unsatisfied and disillusioned. They ask us to take control of their website and "bring it up to standards" and often end up kicking themselves in the butt and realizing it would have been a whole heck of a lot easier, cheaper, and effective if they had just bit the bullet and bought quality "parts" to begin with.

    So in an effort to save you from the pain and suffering I went through when my beloved Eagle Talon's motor exploded that I meticulously put together, please save yourself the heartache, don't waste your time or money investing in fly-by-night web development companies who make promises they can't deliver with prices that don't make you think long and hard about making the purchase.

    Building your company's website is a value-adding investment, and needs to be treated at as such. Don't buy cheap parts when you're rebuilding your engine, and don't waste your time and money paying someone to build you a sub-par web presence.

    Cheap doesn't always mean frugal.

    Wednesday, March 06, 2013

    Did I miss a meeting or something?

    Twitter
    Today we've had several character building opportunities, as my friend Tim would say.  It started this morning when I read on my Hootsuite (awesome program by the way) that the Twitter feed to my home page generated by HS was going to fail due to a change in the Twitter API (application programming interface).  Okay so Twitter has changed the way it delivers it's app to other web programs.  Great.  "Hey Chris, we need to check the Twitter feeds for our social clients and make sure they are working on each website correctly...." I said to my faithful programmer as he came in the door.

    Next, I go over to Pinterest, looking for appropriate pins for clients, pinning client info and spreading the social love when my Pinterest tells me they have a new layout with larger images.  Of course I want to put that in place and when I get the new look I also notice an expanded category listing.... now I need to check the categories against the way I have my client boards categorized because if there is a better option - I need to make a change.

    While working on the latest change in social realm I come across a pin from Pam the Marketing Nut (she's awesome too by the way) and guess what? Google+ decided to give us all WAY bigger profile banner images.  This means I need to update all the banner images for our clients to the much larger size - get out the photoshop!

    This all takes place before noon today.  I'm just wondering, did I miss a meeting? Did all the social master minds get together and decide that they would all roll out changes today? And if I missed the meeting, maybe Facebook & LinkedIn did too because I haven't seen a dramatic change there. . . yet.  What happened to "if it ain't broke don't fix it!  I'm knocking on wood.

    Hope you all have a great day!!

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Good content puhleeese!

    What does it take to get good content?
    Okay by now you've heard it all. Content is king, content marketing is the way to high search rankings . . . content, content, content.  But what really makes good content?

    With the rise of social media I spend a lot of time looking at and developing content.  It's a balance between providing content for clients on their websites (because you want to bring visits to the website itself) and finding content to post about (because you want to be a resource for other good sources of content).  What I find on a regular basis is bad because:

    1. It's a copy of what everyone else is saying - argh! If I only had something new and different!
    2. It has no photos - which are essential when using Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest social channels.
    3. The site itself is ancient, circa 1995.  This includes hideous backgrounds with text that is hard to read.
    4. The content is rife with grammatical errors, spelling errors and just general bad internet form.
    What I would like to find is, obviously, quite the opposite.  This is what I strive for when providing customized content for my clients:
    1. Good, solid writing style. Must read well grammatically, no misspellings, and be easily scan-able with bullets,bold fonts and block quotes.
    2. Images that compliment the content.  This is important because, as stated above, certain social channels post a photo with the article blurb.  Since 90% of our perception begins with vision, having an appropriate image is important to good content.
    3. Page design that is conducive to reading.  No gray on gray or red on blue.  I want the page to give the reader's eyes a break.  
    4. Original thoughts, ideas and titles.  Sure the topic may not be new but find a new way to present it with a title that surprises and invites the reader. 
    Is this all too much to ask? I don't think so but after spending hours a day providing quality content for my social clients I find it's more rare than it should be to find such gems.  

    Need help with your content? Contact us! We're happy to help.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Chris' Favorite Web-Based Tools

    I missed last week's blog post, sorry guys!I figured to make up for it I'd do a blog post that may actually have some residual impact on your lives by offering you some of my favorite websites & solutions to daily problems you may not already know about.

    To be clear, I am in no way affiliated with or benefit from any of these recommendations. Just things I use in my day-to-day that you may find useful. If you've got something you think does the job better, post it in the comments!

    Buy Me a Pie (www.buymeapie.com) is a "cloud-based" shopping list. You can use your android or iOS based mobile device, or alternatively use your computer's web browser to update a shopping list. One of the great things about this is you can have a group (i.e. household) of individuals able to edit a single list. My roommate and I have used it for several months now, and it's been incredibly helpful in keeping track of things we run out of and every time I stop by the store I can just whip out my phone, look at the list and have an up to date list of things we've run out of. I use the web-based editor (found at the buymeapie.com website after logging in) to create my lists, then I can access the list from my cellphone at the grocery store, but you can figure out a system that works for you. 

    Mint (www.mint.com) is an absolutely fantastic piece of budgeting software that connects to most bank accounts with online banking. It displays your purchases, categorizes them, and allows you to review your spending habits. This has sincerely changed the way I handle my money, and given me a new sense of control I hadn't had before. If you've already got a system for keeping your spending in check, I applaud you, if not, check out Mint to see if it can help.

    Tubalr (www.tubalr.com) so when I said I wasn't affiliated with anyone on this list, I guess I lied, because I have been very good friends with the owner/developer of this website for the better part of a decade. What Cody has done is created a program that will instantly create a playlist of YouTube videos based off of your search queries. He's also developed the ability to "stream" the videos you're watching through a "DJ" mode. I use this quite a bit for new music searches. Since there are so many playlists based off of music communities where individuals are sharing "rare gems" (mostly reddit) there's always a lot of underground music you'd NEVER hear otherwise. Worth checking out if you're tired of Pandora playing the same 30 songs over and over.

    MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com) if you're one of the seemingly millions of people who make the weight-loss commitment every new years, but just can't seem to keep it together long enough to achieve results, this website may be able to help. It allows you to log all of your caloric activity, both intake and expenditure. There are apps for your phone as well, but since I spend so much time in front of a computer, I just use the browser based application. If you're serious about your resolution but feel a little overwhelmed, this application can make it so much easier to stay organized & diligent.

    My Fridge Food (www.myfridgefood.com) this allows you to select items currently in your cupboard/fridge/pantry and then gives you a list of recipes that you can prepare with the things you have, or with minimal purchasing of new food stuffs. If you're as unimaginative in the kitchen as I am this website may make it onto your favorites list, as it has mine.


    So there you go. Five web-based products that really can change the way you live your day-to-day life. If you start using them and have any questions about how to use them, don't hesitate to ask. I'm always happy to help.

    If you've got a great idea of your own and want help bringing it to life, I can help with that too. Feel free to call Teajai or I and we'd be happy to discuss your ideas and see if we can't turn your idea into one of my favorite web-based tools. Hope everyone's having a good year so far, let's see how much we can get accomplished together.

    Thursday, January 03, 2013

    Goals for 2013

    2013 is here! 

    Hi! Chris here.... Just so you know.

    Hard to believe it's already the third morning of 2013. I'm getting a late start on setting goals.. I'm sure there's some sort of irony in that.

    Most of these goals are going to be professionally motivated, but I'll try to slip in a couple personal ones so the read isn't too dry.

    1) First I think I'd like to make it a goal of mine for 2013 to review this list of goals & check on my progress on the 3rd day of every month. Hey look at that, 12 free blog posts this year that I don't even have to ponder about. Success!

    2) Learn a new programming language. I'll probably go with something like Ruby on Rails. This will expand our programming horizons here in the office in the sense that we'll be more capable of creating small lightweight "web-apps" very quickly & with a robust security and feature suite. So yeah.. New programming language. I'd like to have a test application up by my March that I'll provide a link for, that way you guys can help me keep track of that and call me out if I don't deliver. If on March the 3rd I'm not posting up a link for you guys to play around with, call me out on it.

    3) To expand on my very limited design capabilities. As most of you reading this know, Teajai is our creative mind. She's also the marketing director, the company's finance manager & client liaison to several of our most involved clients. She's a busy lady! I think it would be in the interest of the company if I developed the ability to start creating web templates. I'll start uploading some samples of work for you guys here soon.. No deadline on this one. I'll definitely create the layout for the Ruby on Rails web app discussed above in #2 so we can all laugh at how rudimentary my design abilities are.

    4) Read a book a month. Fiction book. I don't typically do fiction books, I like reading then applying my new knowledge. Couldn't tell you why I've never been a big fiction reader. I think this will be a good exercise for me though. If you have any recommendations then feel free to share them with me in the comments.

    5) Create an updated suite of web content systems for our clients. First and most importantly to me is I'd like to redevelop our shopping cart solution. I think we need more sales report functionality so I'd like to expand on that. Second is a full featured content management system, but secretly I've already made quite a bit of progress on this. (queue evil laugh)

    6) Actually do all of these things.

    Most of these you guys are more than capable of helping keep me honest on. So don't hesitate to check in on me and shoot an email asking how progress on any number of these are coming. I'm tempted to create some sort of application that will send an email (or maybe a text?) randomly throughout the year reminding you of your convictions.. Sort of funny that we need reminders of our convictions, but that's another blog post.

    I hope all is well for you & yours, and AS ALWAYS, if there's anything you need help with as we're all ramping up for the new year, let Teajai or I know. We're happy to help & excited to grab this year by the horns.
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