Archive for the ‘Web Technology’ Category

Using Facebook Pages to Market Your Business

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Ladies Markets, Kowloon, Hong Kong

In a recent Tribune, I suggested looking at Facebook Pages as a free marketing medium for your business. Love or hate Facebook, it will be around for a while yet, and it’s very likely that many of your target audience are already on there. So how do you best leverage Facebook for your business?

Facebook have a few tools available for you to use the platform as a marketing medium. Firstly, the more traditional advertising system, where you pay for impressions or actions on text-based and image-based ads. The level of reporting and targeting is advanced; you can build a campaign to target only those who list certain interests (such as small business), or meet specific demographics (females, aged 25-40 in Canada only).

Then, there’s the simple Facebook Share button which can be integrated into your own web site, popular for content-based services.

Then, if you’re up for a challenge, you could use the Facebook API to build your own innovative application that works within Facebook. This does require a certain level of development experience though.

The one I’m focusing on today, however, is Facebook Pages. The Facebook Terms of Use prohibit organizations to have their own profiles, unlike individuals. Your options as an organization are better served with Pages, which are open to anyone to use.

You can create a company page from within your individual profile by clicking on the Advertising link in the footer. By choosing a category, naming the page, and completing a number of fields, your page will be created. You can then share it with others, and they can choose to Become a fan.

As people become fans of your organization’s page, it appears within their News Feed, revealing to the rest of their Facebook colleagues that you have added the page. It then links the page name with your page, driving more people to click on the link and have a look.

This is where your page can win or lose. I suggest that you consider your Facebook page as a micro-site; you should start adding more content to the page, encourage conversation within the discussion board, and ask fans to promote it using the Share feature.

Here are a few examples of how SitePoint Tribune readers are using Facebook Pages as part of their marketing strategy.

OntarioColleges.ca uses its Facebook Page to share details of events (120 events listed at the time of writing), as well as link their find-a-college program using a large graphic in the center of the page. They have also linked YouTube videos and lively discussion on their Wall and Discussion Board. Janice Henshall from ontariocolleges.ca says “With our fan base steadily increasing, we’re hoping that our target demographic (potential college applicants, many who are between 18 and 24 years of age) find it a useful communication tool. Time will tell.”

Chinese nightlife web site, Zhuhai Nights uses their Facebook page as a promotional tool to drive people to their web site. They have many videos (including fan videos) and photos to build rich content within the page.

Mark Clulow from Coos Creations, creators of the site, states “We use the page to generate interest and tell people about events. The most popular feature though, is photo tagging. Tagging people in photos from events we’re involved with lets them know about the site, as well as their friends and family — all in a subtle but effective way. Actually watermarking the photos with Facebook has proven very successful at dragging people over to our site.”

Chicago web design business, Addicott Web has a Facebook page to market their services to a wider audience. Hirsch Fishman from Addicott has a few great ideas on how to better utilize Facebook Pages for web professionals.

“I set up a Facebook page because I wanted to directly market my web design business to everyone I know on Facebook. The vast majority of my clients come through word of mouth, but only a few of these know about my web site. Then there are people where it’s been years since I’ve spoken to them so they’re unaware of what I’m up to now. Posting on the Facebook page allows for these situations — and help fuel the word of mouth and referrals that might come my way.

Overall my goal has to been to create a well-rounded marketing piece for Addicott Web on the Facebook page. As much as my web site serves that purpose, if people don’t visit, then it’s pointless. With so many people on Facebook, it seemed the perfect approach.

What am I doing in particular on my page?

I import my RSS feed to it, so that all blog posts display on Facebook as soon as I post them on my blog.

I’ve been using the photo gallery as my portfolio and in the caption of each web site that I feature, post the complete project details, taken word-for-word from my actual web site.

I’ve asked some past clients to post positive reviews of my work.

I specifically invite new clients to Become a fan of my Facebook page so that they can see all of this information (if they’ve yet to look at my web site).

The most positive aspect of all is that it’s given me a potential service that I can now offer clients as well — creating and consulting on their Facebook presence as a complement to the web site that I’m creating for them. Being able to offer services like this helps me as a professional, as I can offer clients more than just a web site — and that’s the value proposition of my business.”

Thanks for your feedback and suggestions, Janice, Mark, and Hirsch. It’s great to see businesses using a variety of methods on their Facebook Pages to increase their fan base and interact with audiences.

I trust this article has you thinking about how better to market your organization using Facebook Pages — best of luck with it!

This post first appeared as part of Issue 434 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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Posted in Marketing, Tribune, Web Technology | 1 Comment »

Australian Web Industry Events

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Australian Web Events Calendar

Whoa, it’s the annual event season for the Australian web industry, with plenty of exciting events coming up in a city near you! As in previous years, I’ve penned a summary of what’s on; please visit the links, and support these organisations by attending and showing your support (you never know; they may just hold more events in your neck of the woods!).

Here goes, there are a whopping 13 events between now and Christmas 2010, in date order…

Oz-IA/2010
8/9 October 2010
Sydney NSW
http://www.oz-ia.org/2010/

Australian Web Awards Sydney
11 October 2010
Sydney NSW
http://www.webawards.com.au/award-events/sydney/

Web Directions South 2010
12-16 October 2010
Sydney NSW
http://south10.webdirections.org/

AIMIA Digital Summit
13-14 October 2010
Sydney NSW
http://www.aimiadigitalsummit.com.au/

Amped 2010
16 October 2010
Sydney NSW
http://ampedweb.org/

Australian Web Awards Brisbane
26 October 2010
Brisbane QLD
http://www.webawards.com.au/award-events/brisbane/

Australian Web Awards Perth
6 November 2010
Perth WA
http://www.webawards.com.au/award-events/perth/

SMX Melbourne 2010
16/17 November 2010
Melbourne VIC
http://www.searchmarketingexpo.com.au/

The A Team: ARIA & HTML5
23 November 2010
Sydney NSW
http://wipa.org.au/html5/

The A Team: ARIA & HTML5
24 November 2010
Canberra ACT
http://wipa.org.au/html5/

The A Team: ARIA & HTML5
25 November 2010
Melbourne VIC
http://wipa.org.au/html5/

The A Team: ARIA & HTML5
29 November 2010
Perth WA
http://wipa.org.au/html5/

The A Team: ARIA & HTML5
1 December 2010
Brisbane QLD
http://wipa.org.au/html5/

I encourage you to get to as many of these as you can! Attending events is always educational, not to mention the great networking opportunities that come with hanging out with a building full of geeks! If you know of an event that I haven’t covered, please let me know in the comments below…

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Posted in Industry, Web Technology | 3 Comments »

Interview with Mike Brown

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Bali Trees

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mike Brown, co-organizer of the well-renowned Webstock, New Zealand’s largest web conference. With only a few weeks to go before Webstock 2009, Mike took a few moments out of his busy schedule to reply to my questions.

Rumor has it you were a web developer before becoming an event organizer. How did you end up running events instead of cutting code?

The programmers I used to work with would laugh at the idea of me “cutting code,” but yes, I worked for around eight years doing HTML/CSS. Then I moved into information architecture and user experience. All of which I enjoyed a lot.

I was on the Web Standards Group mailing list and made the mistake of posting a few times there. Someone emailed me and suggested I think about setting up a Web Standards Group in Wellington. This was in 2004 and the idea was to have city-based meetings discussing web standards topics of the day. So I emailed everyone in Wellington that I knew and for our first meeting in early 2005, had around 75 people attending.

It grew from there as it became clear we were satisfying a need for people in the industry to meet, learn, network, and share.

The main impetus for Webstock is that we’re all total fanboys and fangirls at heart, and the only way we’d be able to meet people we really admired in the industry was to invite them ourselves! I blogged about the journey to Webstock in more detail on the Webstock blog.

There are obviously challenges to face when changing careers in such a big way—from building web sites to running conferences. What’s been the highlight of this change for you, personally?

Well, in a sense my life has been a series of career changes, often to the chagrin of my wife! I guess the highlight of this particular change is being able to do what I’m truly passionate about. Previously I was doing this outside of my work, so the chance to make my passion my work really feels like a privilege I’ve been handed.

It’s also a chance to work closely with Tash Hall, my main Webstock partner-in-crime who is one of the most inspiring people I know.

Finally, and more personally, it’s given me the chance to be a lot more flexible with my hours and consequently spend more quality time with my wife and kids. The week I quit my previous job I walked my kids to school for the first time ever — there was no longer a need to be at my desk by a certain time!

Lucky guy! If you could give one piece of advice for a web designer or developer who is considering selling products instead of services, what would it be?

I’m sure there are others better equipped at giving advice here! It seems to me, though, that a lot of success in this area almost comes about by accident. People build a product to solve a problem that’s bugging them (to scratch their own itch, so to speak); it’s only as they’re building it, or after it’s finished, that they think about selling it.

So I guess the advice is: concentrate on building a dynamite product. Solve real problems that you come across. Build it for yourself first. Then worry about selling it.

My area of expertise does lie elsewhere though, so follow any advice at your own risk.

As for web developers trying to break into the speaking circuit, what do you look for in a conference speaker?

Well, there are a couple of points here. Webstock probably is more for experienced speakers, rather than those trying to break into the speaking circuit. So I’ll talk first about what we look for at Webstock. Then I’ll offer some thoughts on how to become a (good) speaker.

For Webstock, first and foremost, they need to be a good, entertaining speaker. This example is a bit extreme to make a point, but in general I think it’s true that an entertaining speaker with shallow content trumps a boring speaker with great content. People are paying money to attend a conference; the presentations they see are a performance that should engage them.

The speakers we look for also need to know their stuff. We want attendees at Webstock to be inspired and pushed and challenged. And we want them to learn from people who are among the best in their fields. So we need speakers that have the knowledge to do that.

Also, and this is much more intangible, we want speakers that we’ll personally like as people. One of the bonuses for us is working with the speakers and hanging out with them a little, and it’s much nicer when we can feel a connection with them.

For someone trying to break into the speaking circuit, I’d offer three pieces of advice.

  • Speak as much as you can; present at work to small groups for short periods. You’ll suck at times, you’ll be nervous, but you’ll get better. Knowing how to present to audiences is a skill you can learn.
  • Work at being better. Study other speakers at conferences you go to and by watching the TED talks, and learn from how they present. Read Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen.
  • Respect your audience. It’s a privilege to be able to speak to a group of peers. They’re giving up their time to watch you. Put in the research time needed. Spend time crafting your slides. Rehearse your presentation. It will take longer than you think it should to prepare, but it’s worth it and it’s the minimum you should do.

Great tips, thanks. So, what are you most looking forward to during Webstock ’09?

As an organizer I most look forward to feeling that buzz a successful conference has; when you walk around and people are animated and smiling and blown away by what they’ve just heard. If we can create that atmosphere at Webstock, I’ll be very happy.

As an attendee it’s really hard for me to single out the speakers I’m most looking forward to seeing. I think Jasmina Tesanovic will be fascinating.

I’m really looking forward to Annalee Newitz and Matt Jones. Damian Conway is perhaps the most entertaining speaker I’ve seen. But if I had to pick one speaker I’m most looking forward to — Bruce Sterling. Speaking in Wellington. At Webstock. OMG!

Thanks for your time, Mike, and I look forward to attending Webstock and visiting New Zealand for the first time, later this month. I hope to catch up with any Tribune readers while I’m there too — trust I’ll see you there!

This post first appeared as part of Issue 432 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I am co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.

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