Tag Archives: Website

A Place We Can Call Home

Many of the questions I get asked these days revolve around social media.  You know the usual suspects: Facebook and Twitter.  Sometimes clients want to know about Tumblr or Google+ or Pinterest.  From there the discussions move on to “outliers” such as Vine, Instagram, and others.  We spend a lot of time going over the plusses and minuses as well as how to advance the client’s goals using these platforms.  It’s a valuable exercise but it points out something that I think is given short shrift and which is today’s topic.

The Homestead of Captain Alfred

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every one of the aforementioned proprieties creates next to no content on its own.  Users generate nearly everything.  Unfortunately, everything users – and businesses fall into that category – put out there isn’t presented to the massive user bases these platforms have built.  So, as Facebook said in a New York Times interview:

On any given visit to Facebook, the average user could potentially see about 1,500 items, the company said, from wedding photos posted by a close friend to a mundane notice that an acquaintance is now friends with someone else.  Since no one has time to scroll through that many Facebook posts, items in the feed are ranked to put the most recent and relevant posts near the top.

In fact something like 85% of the people who “like” a page don’t see posts from that page in their news feed on a regular basis.  As a brand, you’re at the mercy of the news feed algorithm which is constantly changing.  So often in the effort to expand our reach to the broadest possible base, we give up control of the distribution in a platform that we don’t control.  We do, however, have something that we can do – and probably are doing – that should, in my opinion, be our tp priority: our own websites.

We own our websites.  They are our home base on the web.  We can control everything on it although as I’ve written before, if you’re permitting comments be judicious in your moderation and be sure you’re behaving in a way that prompts mostly positive user response.  We can be sure that the new visitor’s first encounter works just as well as the long-time fan who checks in every week.  The time and resources to support social are far greater than those required to support home base, and because the number of outlets is expanding, so too are the resources to support them properly.  But even if they were equal to those required for home base and it became an “either/or” choice, I’d advocate quality of encounter along with assured exposure over quantity and less control.

Don’t misunderstand.  I believe strongly that brands (and my clients) need to be in social channels.  Not, however, by letting their web homes get run down while they’re off in cyberspace doing so.  That’s my take – what’s yours?

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Filed under Consulting, digital media

Keeping It To Yourself

We have discussed privacy here on the screed several times. During many of those rants I talked about how companies need to think about their privacy policies (and being transparent about it is a great start) and how those policies will play with the folks whose data the companies are using. My theory is that young people have never really had any privacy (mostly due to hovering parents) and they’re less concerned about the issue than are people of my generation. However, there are netizens of every age who do care, and I suspect that as the “creepy” factor of ads following you around grows due to retargeting, etc., more people will begin to look into what data they’re sharing with the web overlords and how that data is used.

If you care or if you wonder if you should, the folks at Privacy Choice will be of interest to you.  Their research reveals that 20% of sites and apps reserve the right to share personal data freely for commercial purposes. Also, 60% of website privacy policies do not provide any written assurance that users can delete their personal data at the end of the relationship:

The most critical component of a privacy policy governs how a website or app handles personal data, which increasingly includes not only email addresses but also profile and other more intimate personal information gathered through social network integration…Nearly two-thirds of all policies examined (63%) provide assurance that personal data generally will not be shared with other companies, while another 10% promise not to share personal data for “marketing purposes.” However, one in five sites provide no assurance against sharing personal data with other companies.

If you are interested, I urge you to install their Privacyfix tool and the browser extension.  You can check a site’s tracking using this tool.  The results can be eye-opening.  It’s becoming obvious that companies are counting on us to take control if that’s what we want.  What do you think?

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints

Too Many Cookies Make You Fat And Slow

“What the heck is he doing writing about food on a Monday?”

English: Plateful of Christmas Cookies

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Given that it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US I’ve got food on my mind more than I usually do.  However, while cookies is the theme, it’s not about the sugary kind.

I was reading a bunch of sports sites as part of a research project when I came to one that seemed to lock up my browser   As it turned out, this site (which shall remain nameless since singling them out doesn’t serve any purpose) hadn’t locked me up but it was taking forever to load.  I opened a new tab and hit another site which popped right open.  Returning to the slow-poke, I took a look at what the page was doing as it loaded.  Imagine my surprise when I had a look at all the external (meaning off the site’s own servers) scripts and cookies that were running.

While my browser had taken the site’s primary analytics cookie (hey, I’m in the business so I like to help others learn) as well as their main ad serving cookie and even their Twitter tracker, my browser had  blocked 66 third-party cookies.  Each of those took a call to a third-party server.  These were ad networks, retargeting firms, on site ads from third parties, behavioral targeting firms,  etc.  The page (and each subsequent page, as it turned out) took  a long time to load .  While it came right up the  browser won’t respond since dozens of scripts are running.  Maybe a great revenue experience for the site owner but for we lowly users, it sucked.

One solution to this issue might be Google Tag Manager or deferring the parsing of JavaScript but it really goes beyond that.  Years ago there was a real emphasis on light page weights (the amount of code on the page as well as all the images, etc) and fast load times.  With the advent of broadband, I can’t recall having that conversation with anyone lately and maybe that’s a bit of negligence.   In addition to the SEO benefit fast pages get, they’re better user experiences.  That’s a broader point no matter what business you’re in.  If the focus isn’t on making your product the best it can be for your consumers, you need to refocus.  While I get that for media the “consumer” is the person buying the eyeballs you’re aggregating, without a good experience to bring those eyeballs back again and again, you won’t be in business for very long.

In other words, lay off the cookies!  Thoughts?

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Filed under digital media, Thinking Aloud