Category Archives: Higher education

Raise your profile with Google Authorship

The evolution of social

The evolution of social.

It’s hard to know what social media is worth your time, professionally speaking. I often hear people’s frustration. “I don’t have time for Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Tumbler, Pinterest, LinkedIn…” The list goes on.

So how can you get the most bang for your buck? For better and for worse, Google is where it’s at. At least for now. If you want Google Search to find you, you’ll want to look into Google Authorship.

Google search has changed

It’s a simple idea. Your photo appears next to your content as a call-out. It instantly sets you apart and attracts the eye. This tool goes hand-in-hand with Google’s new focus of using search to connect searchers with people and organizations that have some expertise on the topic.

You’ve almost certainly seen this and maybe you’ve thought how did they do that? Now you can.

1) First, establish a Google + profile.
2a) If you have an email address that matches the website domain of the organization where you publish then register it here in 4 easy steps and you’re ready to go.
2b) If you don’t have an email address that matches, then you can connect your Google + account with your website in 3 easy steps, if you can access the html view of your website.

If you don’t have full access to your site’s html, say because you use a blog site, don’t give up. Try this simple workaround, I came up with.

Stuck? Try this workaround

3) Publish your Google + profile ID (That’s the url with the long string of numbers that’s unique to your Google + profile on your homepage e.g. https://plus.google.com/u/1/113037853255556955377. It will create a hyperlink on the page. Unfortunately, it can’t be “hidden” in widgets, comments, tags, and other places — at least not in WordPress.com.

Think you’ve got it? Test it out here. Still stuck? Shoot me an email or tweet me!

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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Our Predicament…

Communications and marketers are trained to get attention by creating content. But the more content there is the less attention there is. The more free content there is the more expensive attention becomes. More @GerryMcGovern

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

4 Reasons @Mentions, Re-tweets, and, #Hashtags are Critical

University of Portland Facebook page

Click to enlarge.

Feeding your own social media channels is a terrific first step. But don’t stop there. To get the biggest bang for your social media buck, promote your Facebook posts, Tweets, and Pins by friending and following others who have a similar interest or expertise — then mention them.

Why should you bother? Because it can help you in four ways:

1) It improves your search results by populating your social media pages and potentially others with quality links that lead back to your page.

2) It establishes social relationships, which is what social media is about, helping you spread what your message when others like, re-tweet, and re-pin what you share. Mentioning clients, friends, and followers is the surest way to get their attention and engage them.

3) It encourages interaction with your message, as readers view such sharing as a conversation and not a sales pitch.

4) It encourages reciprocal sharing, which can help build your audience.

The social multiplier

Look at how Joe Kuffner at the University of Portland recent used this strategy on the school’s Facebook page, calling out the San Francisco Giants, the University of Portland’s Women’s Soccer Team, and Portland’s professional women’s soccer team. By mentioning the Giants and the Thorns, the post feeds into what others say on their FB pages (unless that feature is blocked) and the teams can choose to highlight share Kuffner’s UP post with their own fans.

The same is true when it comes to mentioning fellow tweeters using their @handle or a commonly searched #hashtag. Followers of those handles or hashtags will see your message and might very well share it and begin to follow you.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

How Social Can Help Your SEO

Social media risingDuring a recent OakTech Talk seminar with Beth Kanter, author of the “Networked Nonprofit,” someone asked whether their nonprofit had to be on social media. Well, you don’t have to do anything. But whether you work for a nonprofit, private university, or small business, you have a valuable message to communicate to clients and customers.

Kanter’s advice: Build your social network. But don’t try to do everything. Strategically choose what’s likely to be most beneficial. Stay with it. Measure it. Learn from what it has to tell you and what questions it raises. Who does your brand engage? What type of content resonates with readers?

Meet your readers where they are

There are many advantages to being on social media, not the least of which is that you can reach readers, clients, customers, and investors where they are—rather than depending on them to find you online. Now a days, being where readers are means better search results. That’s because search engines in recent years began including results from Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. Driving readers from social media to your site improves your search engine score and improves your rank in the search engine algorithm. The more your social media posts are discussed and shared the better for your search results. So, if your “How Social Can Help Your SEO” post goes viral on Twitter, you can bet Google, Bing, and Yahoo! search will take that into account when someone searches “SEO”—placing your site nearer the top.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

Golden Rule: People Ahead of Products

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One of the most effective ways to convince readers to spend time on your site is to tell a story about a person.

But, you just opened a terrific new restaurant you say? Oh, or what about your ingenious new app that will change the way I order my coffee? Well, wouldn’t you rather read what dish someone enjoyed or how some uses your app in a way you never thought of? Of course! People prefer to read about people.

Let your associates, clients, and partners be the lens through which you digital visitors get to know you and what you do. Here are 7 lucky tips to make your website’s content more people-centric.

Lucky No. 7

Ask yourself:

1) Who led the way?

2) Who showed initiative and accomplished the unexpected?

3)What obstacles did they overcome?

4) Did they grow or change in the process?

5) How does their work and family related to your brand or business?

6) Does what they accomplished elevate their status?

7) Who has a unique insight (a mechanic on whether the newest hybrid car is worth the money)?

See, it’s fun. You can do it yourself. If you want to introduce a new product, introduce the inventor or a key person on the development team with an interesting backstory. Is your nonprofit or business approaching a milestone? Let’s meet customer 10,000 and find out why they’re your client.

From Good to Google

A site that does this masterfully is Good Eggs. Every product has a face. Every face has a short backstory. The site’s stunning photos are worth the visit alone.

Then there is the recurring Google doodler story. Google couldn’t have scripted this better. We all know the Google doodles, right? Here are the faces behind the creations, some of them just out of college. Talk about making your brand relevant.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

Very Pinteresting: How social media can help you spread the word with images

PinterestProPublic2The popularity of the image-based social media site Pinterest is making it hard for publishers of any kind to ignore. Savvy news publications, nonprofits, and companies are using Pinterest boards to aggregate and catalog research tools creatively. Just like Facebook stopped being just for college students a while back, Pinterest is quickly being used by more than online shoppers.

What’s so special?

Boards allow you to mix your own content with reposted content that you want to feature without dealing with the legal dilemma of copyrights and photo credits that plague blogging platforms. For writers and editors, a.k.a “word people,” Pinterest offers a nice-looking platform where even the geekiest content (infographics, charts, and maps) can be displayed with a sexy look.

Having surpassed Tumblr and expected to overtake LinkedIn in popularity this year, Pinterest recently received yet another round of funding and launched its new look. You should care because your readers and potential collaborators are pinning away.

What should inspire you?

Pro Publica,” beyond being one of the most dogged sources of investigative journalism out there, also has a solid, useful Pinterest account (under the cute catchphrase, “Journalism in the Public (P)interest.”). The organization’s boards cull resources, exhibit its projects, and even give a face to its operations.

The feminist “Ms.” magazine uses Pinterest to answer a simple and relevant question for their readership, “Where are all the millennial feminists?” The board is a comprehensive answer, detailing the struggles and accomplishments of young feminists around the world. The board tells a story, as well as gives due credit to the many different projects it links back to.

A smaller, more personal endeavor is my board, Raw Data Resource, where my collaborators and pin useful data sources. From campaign finance disclosure records to the Holocaust victims search tool, the board is a starting point for any numbers-based writing.

Learn more about Candice at www.candicenovak.com.

Your web content dreams come true

Counterspill3WebOne of the best websites of 2012 was created by the folks at CounterSpill. It has an interactive map of coal, gas, nuclear, and oil spills, tons of videos, up-to-date news stories, a community blogs feed, and an updating Twitter feed.

The centerpiece of this site is the interactive map. Readers can click on a specific spill and be taken to a landing page with video, a timeline of events, photos, and facts about the spill.

From interactive to engaged

In contrast to the Pine Ridge Sioux site, which is an interactive and interesting site, Counterspill goes the extra mile to engage its readers. Right up at the top the homepage, readers are invited to become part of CounterSpill’s social media community. There is a rotating feed of the latest Tweets about various spills. Bloggers’ and activists’ videos feature prominently on the site, below the fold. And news stories, also below the fold, show the number of engagements, e.g. Facebook likes and re-Tweets.

This is a beautiful site. I especially enjoy the way the Tweets, news, and community feed rotate horizontally as well as vertically, offering readers twice as much information without scrolling. Genius!

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

How your site can bling like Bing

I came to web content from journalism. I was a writer and editor. Sure, I took a photo here and there for a story. But I had no doubt when I started in this business that words and how I put them together mattered most above all else.

Today, I handle images and videos weekly, even daily. I read upwards of 100 web pages in a week. I’m here to tell you, I was wrong. I’m a changed man.

Don’t misunderstand, the stories on your website are critical. Good writing and editing re-enforce your company or nonprofit’s brand and allow visitors a glimpse into who your are and what you’re about. The problem is that visitors these days have so much going on they won’t stick around without good imagery to hold their attention. The flip side is that visitors will stick around for good imagery, assuming your site has what they’re looking for.

The good news is that you can use visitors’ tendency to peruse good imagery to your advantage. I call it the Bing Effect. More web sites are combining a minimalist approach with imagery and search as the focus to capture visitors’ attention. Boring government web pages? Not these.

While this elite group of pages might be at one end of the spectrum, they re-enforce my point that imagery deserves serious consideration and the appropriate budget to back it up compellingly.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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Corral the acronyms

AcronymCloudScreenYou’re undoubtedly familiar with the term “mission creep.” It’s most often used in military terms to describe  a war that’s gotten out of control, going beyond its original purpose. The world of online content has its own creep, “acronym creep.” You don’t have to work in the world of online content creation to have acronyms creep into the crevices of your work-a-day life. If you work in business, the military, or government and education at any level, you undoubtedly see your fair share — and then some.

Some see acronyms as branding opportunities: Unlikely. Others see them as repeated chances to show off their knowledge in a particular field: Yawn. For those of us who create online content, the problem is that acronyms are jargon. They get in the way of plain speech. When we are at our best, we communicate clearly to all of our readers not a chosen few. So what are some guidelines to help you decide whether to peddle the alphabet soup that people try to pass off as great business ideas, the latest degrees and certification programs, or ingenious marketing ploys?

Ask yourself

  • Is the acronym’s main purpose to prevent those who conjured the name in the first place from having to write it out on their  stationery? If so, that’s just lazy. One thing bureaucracies do well is churn out acronyms. There must be a department of acronymology somewhere. Help the reading public by stamping out these acronyms before they find their way into print.
  • Does the acronym make the words it represents easier to remember? Shorter doesn’t mean it’s easier to remember. Think NASA and KFC. If a clever word or phoneme doesn’t present itself, it’s probably worth forgetting.
  • Will the acronym be around for a significant period of time? More than two years is my best suggestion; certainly more than a year. If not, then it’s bound to be part of the revolving door of come-and-go acronyms that readers meet during their busy days on a 60 second elevator pitch or 3 minute speed date. They won’t bother to remember. Like us, they’ve seen them all and know the next one is waiting in the wings.
  • Finally, does the acronym align with your overall message and brand strategy? Bear with me as I related a story that, while not entirely parallel to acronyms, illustrates my point comically. A friend once suggested that I could easily recall his phone number as ###-UMFF. At which point, I suggested that ###-TODE might leap to mind with  less effort. All these years later and phone numbers past, I still remember. And don’t you know that I bring it up whenever we get together?

A- or D+?

If an acronym passes these tests, it’s probably safe to use with caution. A general rule is that you should spell out an acronym the first time it appears on a site (if not a page) and include the acronym in parentheses immediately afterward. At a basic level, acronyms should have a compelling reason for being used. While content creators can’t keep acronymologists from getting their kicks, we can prevent a confusing jumble of letters from bogging down our readers — something that’s bound to drive them elsewhere.

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

There’s more to the story (Vol. 3)

ImageLook at Oxford University’s homepage for a minute. What’s your assessment of this page? Again, it uses two contrasting colors to good effect. Negative space is the dominant feature. The logo is prominent, so I know where I am. Overall, the design is straightforward and familiar. But is it too familiar? Whether intentional or not, the design, layout, and content communicate conventionalism, even, I dare say, orthodoxyIs that the primary message Oxford is trying to communicate? One can only hope it is.

The point I’m trying to make is that it’s critical that your web design and content not undermine the message you’re trying to communicate elsewhere.

5 second test

But I chose this page to illustrate a different point. When I land on any web page, I try to clear my mind and approach it as if I don’t speak the language and have never heard of the product or university. When I land on Oxford’s page, I have one question. What’s it about? I should be able to answer that question in my head in less than 5 seconds—before I click away. Try it. What is your answer?

by Ed Carpenter — He’s a bad mutha … shut yer mouth.

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