Web Strategy

Cocacola-timeline-exampleIf you’ve been on Facebook recently, you know that the design and layout for individual profiles changed dramatically to what Facebook calls Timeline: wall posts, photos and other data is displayed to visitors in a reverse chronological order.

With the rollout to profiles complete, Facebook is now doing the same for business Pages. And it’s not optional.

You can implement your business Timeline anytime from now going forward. However, if you don’t do anything your Page layout will get updated automatically on March 30. That means you have about 2 weeks to take control of your Page’s Timeline layout and update before Facebook does it for you. Here are 3 big things you need to know before March 30:

  • No more landing tabs. If your Facebook Page employed a custom landing tab for visitors, that option will no longer exist. In fact, there are no tabs on Timeline at all. So what do you do? There is an “About” section of text that is permanently displayed at the top of the page; you could put a link to a custom landing page for Facebook fans there. Keep in mind that it will take them out of Facebook.
  • Thumbnails are replaced by a cover photo. Instead of 5 small photo thumbnails at the top of the page, there is now a large 960x530 pixel “cover photo.” That’s a pretty big image, so choose wisely or, better yet, have your designer create a custom image for this space.
  • You can add dates to your Timeline. Activity that has already taken place on your Page while it’s been in existence will automatically appear on your Timeline in its proper chronological order. But you can now add events from any time in the past, even before Facebook itself was born. Think about dates that are meaningful to your business—when it was founded, major milestones, product releases—and add them. Also, "Insights," Facebook’s metrics for Pages, will also change. Instead of being a link on the right of the page, it will be housed in an expandable panel at the top of your Timeline view.

The clock is ticking, so take some time to plan out your business’ timeline, and build in enough time to get supporting material—screenshots, photos, external links, etc.—all lined up before it launches. And of course, be sure to get buy-in and approval from your company’s leadership before the timeline goes live.(We're in the process of doing that at CDG right now—look for our timeline soon!)

Want to know more about Timeline for Facebook Business Pages? Here’s some additional reading:

Need help updating your business’s Facebook Page for the new Timeline layout, or with your larger social media strategy? Contact Us today.

Afb-site-redesign-accessibility-2012

Yesterday the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) launched the new afb.org, designed and developed by CDG Interactive.  This redesign of AFB’s flagship website marks the organization’s latest collaboration with CDG; over the past seven years, we’ve provided multiple interactive solutions for AFB’s wide and diverse audience.

In redesigning its site, AFB wanted to capitalize on technology and mark-up advancements that allowed for greater aesthetic and functional flexibility—while still maintaining a 100% accessible site. In addition, AFB needed an information architecture strong enough to support its immense and growing amount of online resources and information. It was a challenge that CDG approached with enthusiasm.

“Working with AFB gives us the opportunity to really explore what’s possible in a fully accessible environment,” said Matthew Snyder, CDG’s creative director, “We’ve always embraced the idea that accessibility can—and should—coexist with a highly compelling online experience.”

Collaborating closely with AFB’s team, CDG streamlined afb.org’s IA and provided a comprehensive search optimization strategy for the new site. We then created a design that supported AFB’s image as a dynamic and vibrant organization. Both the IA and the design were subjected to several rounds of user testing, in order to validate assumptions and refine the final result. CDG then coded the site’s HTML templates and handed off the markup to AFB’s developers for implementation into the AFB content management system.

The newly launched website provides an online presence that reinforces AFB’s position as the nation’s premiere organization for people with vision loss. We’re proud to continue to support AFB and its mission.

If you want to make your online environments more accessible and more effective, contact CDG.

 

Over the past week, there’s been a lot of digital ink spilled over Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, and its swift about face.

Taking the politics out of the situation, Komen has provided a textbook example of how to severely—and possibly irrevocably—damage your brand. Its bungling of the original announcement, its initial silence (while Planned Parenthood went on a PR/social media offensive), its feeble attempt to reframe its policy decision, and finally its sheepish reversal, had the cumulative effect of tarnishing its image as a non-partisan advocate for women’s health and angering supporters on both sides of the issue.

But rather than piling on about the mistakes made by Komen, we wanted to focus on an organization that did all the right things last week in terms of messaging, outreach, and brand positioning: The Ms. Foundation for Women. This high-visibility non-profit organization took swift and immediate action to address the situation in a way that promoted their organizational goals and advanced their cause.

After Komen’s initial announcement, the Ms. Foundation worked quickly to figure the most effective way to shape its message, reach its supporters, and inspire them to take action. In less than 72 hours, Ms. Foundation supporters had a message urging them to donate to “The Ms. Foundation Stands with Planned Parenthood.” Supporters learned that Ms. would match their donations dollar-for-dollar up to a total of $40,000.

Launching the campaign involved a great deal of planning and fast-thinking. “Rapid response involves a lot of moving parts,” said Kelly Parisi, Vice President, Marketing and Communications for the Ms. Foundation. “With the Ms Foundation stands with Planned Parenthood, there were so many elements . . .  from identifying what we were going to call this campaign, to how we were going to message our response, and getting the website up and able to accept donations correctly. Adding the element of a matching campaign proved another layer of complication, because there were a lot of pieces that needed to get lined up before we could launch it and put the press release out.”

The campaign proved to be highly effective. Within 30 minutes of sending the initial email, the Ms. Foundation had received 27 donations. Yes, you read that correctly—nearly one donation per minute. And donations continue to roll in.

“It was a really galvanizing issue for people,” said Parisi, “And also I think the immediacy of it was helpful. People who are very passionate about this issue were excited about the ability to take their dollars even further.”

Given that the Komen Foundation reversed its decision the following day, it’s safe to say that immediacy was the most essential key to the Ms. Foundation’s success. With an effective message, a clear mission, and a rapid, disciplined response, the Ms. Foundation was able to transform its supporters’ outrage into action—and dollars—for Planned Parenthood.

If your company has an opportunity to launch a successful, time-sensitive campaign, follow the Ms. Foundation's example:

  1. Develop a simple, coherent message and call to action
  2. Have the technology in place to launch a rapid response
  3. Reach out to your audience as quickly and thoroughly as possible

If you need help with your online marketing strategies or technology platform, contact CDG. We'll help you get everything in place so you're ready to react.

Google+ participation impacts search ranking and now it's part of the search results, too. You ignore it at your peril. Here's what you can do.
At the end of our post last month on “5 Things To Know About Google+ Pages for Business,” we wrote “participating in Google+ [is] almost a necessity for search engine optimization. Ignore it at your peril.”

Just weeks later, you can scratch “almost” from that sentence. Google+ matters for SEO, period.

Why Google+ Matters for SEO

Earlier this month on Social Media Examiner, author Kristi Hines presented a convincing case for the impact a robust Google+ presence has on search results for her name and business: her rankings in the search results were not only affected by having a Google+ profile, but were actually different for people who were following that profile on Google+.

In other words, you rank more highly in Google when your logged-in Google+ followers search for keywords related to your business.

Then on Jan. 10 Google announced an actual integration of information from your Google+ social graph into its search results which it calls “Search, plus Your World.” (“Search, plus”—get it?)

Now you’ll get what it calls Personal Results integrated into your search results when you’re signed in to Google, including information that was shared only with you—via Google+ of course.

As Mashable explained the next day in the aptly titled “Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut,” “Google+ circles, photos, posts and more will be integrated into search in ways other social platforms can only dream about.” (And by "other social platforms," they mostly mean Twitter and Facebook.)

Oh, and Google+ profiles are now part of the search query box when you’re signed in. Type in someone’s name and matches through your Circles on Google+ will pop up first.

Update July 26, 2012: Early reports indicate that Google search engine results are now factoring in and displaying the most actively discussed posts on Google+. This places additional weight on links that aren't just added to Google+ but are interacted with by followers on that platform.

What You Can Do About It

Hines’ Social Media Examiner article has good, step-by-step instructions on how to leverage Google+ to your advantage, both for your own profile and your business’s page. We recommend reading through them carefully.

The bottom line is this: If your business is not on Google+, now is the time to start. Even if you only have a few minutes a day to spend, give it some attention.

The “Search, plus” integration is only going to get stronger.

Need help sorting through the brave new world of Google+? Let CDG help you navigate the waters. Get your life line today.

Projects are winding down; office parties are ramping up. Before you take off for the holidays is the perfect time to reflect on what’s happened and think about goals for the coming year. Here’s our checklist of things to do now to position yourself for success in 2012.

Continue reading "Top 6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Ensure Success in 2012" »

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post with an urgent message – you MUST do usability testing on your website.

Although it might sound daunting—and expensive—usability testing is nothing more than a fancy term for getting an objective opinion. As the wonderful Steve Krug (who has a PhD in Awesome) has pointed out, usability testing doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. And it always gives you insight into how you can improve your site.

Last week at CDG, we conducted formal usability testing sessions with a client who’s redesigning a site for a very specific audience. In testing just seven users over the course of two days, we found—happily—that users had a quite positive reaction to the site. Much more importantly, however, we identified several, crucial, forehead-slap inducing changes that we need to make. These changes aren’t huge, and they won’t be difficult to fix, but without getting objective opinions from the target audience, we wouldn’t have known that there was a problem to fix (at least, not until the redesigned site was launched—and that’s too late).

At CDG, we regularly do formal testing sessions on behalf of clients, but we also do informal testing as well—and it’s always revealing and useful

So, how can you get the benefits of usability testing? Easy.

  • Round up five people who aren’t familiar with your site. Ideally, they’ll be somewhat representative of your target audience.
  • Ask them to look at your site and give some general impressions
  • See if they can perform two or three key tasks (buying a product, finding a contact form, etc.)
  • Take some notes

That’s it.

I guarantee that if you get five people to give you an objective opinion about your site, you’ll come away with ways to improve it. Maybe your site just needs few tweaks, or maybe it needs some bigger fixes. Either way, knowledge is power.

If you want to learn more about usability testing, check out Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems.

Need more help? Contact CDG. We’re happy to help.

Politician-screenshot Haven’t we all heard at least once that political campaigning is as much marketing as it is anything else? After all, it has a lot in common with any other business: facing stiff competition and looking for a message that will resonate with an audience and earn their loyalty.

In 2004, Howard Dean showed us the power of online channels like Meetup to enhance traditional media for communicating a message and organizing constituents.

And in 2008, the Obama campaign demonstrated the importance of social media in the marketing mix, from videos on YouTube to get-out-the-vote sharing on Twitter and Facebook.

So what can we learn in this campaign cycle? (In a completely neutral, non-partisan way, of course.)

While the 2012 presidential election may be over a year away, the party primaries are within months. With a large field of Republican candidates, and a Democratic president running for re-election, the push to catch voters’ attention—and grab their loyalty—has already heated up.

While the final lessons will be analyzed later in November 2012, this is what we’ve already learned.

Continue reading "What Politicians Can Teach You About Marketing" »

4182826573_3c20158212_m It’s the time of year when critics start compiling “best-of” lists. Not to be outdone, we’ve put together a list of the year’s top-10 resources for web professionals.

These resources are the ones we turned to again and again in 2010—for useful information, to learn something we didn’t know, or to think differently about marketing and copywriting.

Two of the categories are online (blogs and Twitter) and the third category, books, can be found either in old-fashioned paper-bound or electronic e-book versions.

Continue reading "CDG’s Top 10 of ’10 for Web Professionals" »

Is that you, Santa Claus?

Google and NORAD are set to track Santa's journey on Christmas Eve again this year. Use Google Earth or Google Maps and watch as the North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa's sleigh as he delivers toys across the world.

Attention online shoppers

Online holiday spending rose 12% for November 1 - December 2010 versus last year. More than 50% of transactions featured free shipping this year. Interestingly, transactions with free shipping included averaged a total order value 30% higher than those that did not.

Who's reading your tweets?

And your DMs or direct messages? If you've authorized applications, then those applications have access to your entire Twitter account, including Direct Messages. The Guardian reminds us to periodically check which applications you've authorized and revoke the access of any you no longer use or want.

Cash registers ring, are you listening?

Cyber Monday originally began as a way for online retailers to compete with the traditional retailers' sales on Black Friday, but now everyone gets in on the action including the big box stores like Walmart and Target, travel companies and even charities. comScore says that this year Cyber Monday shopping surpassed $1 billion for the first time, a 16% increase over last year.

To see more about Cyber Monday shopping trends, watch CDG's own Matthew Snyder on TBD News.

Who's that girl?

Now you don't have to feel bad about not having a Verified account on Twitter - they've stopped issuing verified status except in rare cases. While existing verified accounts won't have their status removed, no new verified accounts will be issued. Look for a new process that "will be better for users" which we all assume means watch for some sort of paid model in the new year.

What Twitter is good for

And as you're heading home for the holidays, you're sure to hear "I just don't get Twitter." Here's a list of 15 things Twitter does effectively from the Guardian's editor in chief.

Be nice, rank better

You may have seen the story in the New York Times last week about a company claiming to rank better in search engines by having lots of complaints. Google responded to that by updating the algorithm to detect merchants that provide a poor user experience.

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