Archive for December, 2012

Instagram and the Lesson for your Business

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

If you haven’t been following the news recently, Instagram, the online photo sharing service recently purchased by Facebook, just proved why I caution clients about using third party services to run their business.

In short, after amasing a user base of over 80 million photographers, Instagram changed their terms of service overnight to allow them to sell their users photos without compensation or notice. Unless users delete their account before the January deadline, Instagram assumes the rights to countless photos that it intends to offer for sales. From the user standpoint, how would you like to find that without your notice a corporation has sold a photo of your children to advertise a resort for their own profit? Or that a photo of your last camping trip is now advertising a political candidate you don’t support?

Whenever a client of mine considers using a third party service to run their business I always advise caution. What happens when the service provider suddenly changes the terms or discontinues a service that is essential to running your business? With a wealth of business service software ready to be installed on your own server and under your own control, or have software custom developed. Before making a move that could harm your business in the long run, take the time to investigate your options. This is why it’s important to work with a web developer who you trust and can walk you through these decisions.

What’s your take? Ever been disappointed by a service provider making a sudden and serious change to their service?

You May Be Speaking, But is Anyone Listening

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Every Sunday morning Chris Brogan releases a great little email newsletter about business that often gets me thinking – this past Sunday was titled ‘The Rise of the Phoneternet’ and brought to the forefront some ideas that have been rolling around in my mind lately. It’s something you’ve no doubt seen, and maybe even began experiencing, yourself – phones and browsers are taking over much of our internet usage. Chris even mentioned that in writing his morning newsletters he assumes that the average person is reading it on their phone.

And why not? I think we’re entering a new phase in the use of the web. The fascination with the internet is dying, I can’t even remember the last time I just browsed the web with no goal in mind, but the web has become an integral tool in our daily lives. But to become a truly useful tool, it needs to be easy to access, and most of the time going to our desk and turning on the computer isn’t easy. And that’s where phones and tablets come in.

There is some data out there that suggests that mobile browsing will soon eclipse the desktop. Microsoft suggests that will happen sometime in 2014 while The Guardian is already seeing it happen on their site during certain times of the day. I think the true switch is still somewhat further into the future for the average business than these sources would have you believe, but there’s little doubt that mobile access is on your horizon. So what are you doing to capture that audience today?

Recently a local technology business that I frequent decided to start posting 12 daily deals leading up to Christmas. At first I was quite excited about this and thought it was a great move for them. The execution was somewhat lacking though. The deal itself was presented in a PDF file attached to the email. Almost all my email usage today is done by phone, and downloading and opening a large PDF file on the phone is simply awkward (I won’t get into the ‘misuse’ of the PDF format in email here, but would love to know why people insist on PDF-ing everything they email). So this great idea has been all but lost in execution. I opened the first file, but not a single one since then.

How could they have done it? Why not simply insert the deal right into the message body? It’s not the most attractive means (though there are ways to make your email look fabulous – ask me how) but it is useable – and shouldn’t that be the key?

The best message in the world is worthless if no one reads it. Are you doing enough to help people read your message?

Over the next couple days I plan to post a few more articles on how to improve your presence – but if you have any questions you’d like to see addressed – drop me a line.