A Changing World: The Importance of Tracking Social Media

Once I had immediate family members above 60 years of age constantly sending me friend requests on Facebook I knew things were changing. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and all the other social media platforms are no longer for a small segment of the population as it once was. Today, everyone from your neighbor’s kids to the president of the United States has a few social media accounts. With the popularity of social media, coupled with the growing access to the Internet and smartphones, there are more channels for marketers to consider. Essentially, today marketers must not only track their website’s analytics but also their social media efforts.

While social media does not equal a conversion outright, it can assist conversions. Meaning, someone may have come to your website to buy something because it of something they saw posted on Facebook or Twitter. Thus, assisted conversions are important. So how does a company go about tracking their social media efforts? Google Analytics, HootSuite analytic tools, Adobe, and a range of other social media tracking mechanisms can help.

What marketers need to understand is why social media analytics is crucial to their business. Sure, they already know that their fans and foes are posting reviews, praise, and backlash about their products, services, and operations, as well as “liking” and “following” content, but they need to analyze this data further in order to get anything out of it.

There is a lot that marketing executives can gain through social media analytics, namely rich consumer opinion. Here are the top benefits:

-Discover new opinions, which are often more sincere than what you might receive in a survey questionnaire.

 -Receive instant feedback on your marketing efforts.

 -Track what people think about your company as well as your competitors

 -Gain more understanding on your assisted conversions and what is working and what needs improvement.

 I look forward to hearing your comments on any of the above but also have two questions on this topic:

 -Should companies pay big bucks to track their social media analytics or stick with the basic free programs out there?  

 -How much mining of social media is necessary and not considered too intrusive on a customer (i.e. do you really need to know their activity on Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon wish list, Twitter, etc. to understand their opinion?)?

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Generating Some Big Bucks–Web Advertisements!

ImageIn the last lecture of my web design class we discussed advertisements. I have to say, somehow I never considered that ads might be featured on any of my websites. I’m still curious to know who might want to advertise on my personal website which may get only a few hits per month (if I’m lucky). However, I do think my blog could gain enough attention to one day allow for advertisement (fingers crossed).

Accordingly, I am going to explore advertisements and how they Imageaffect web design. If I were to revamp my blog and create a proper domain beyond this wordpress account, I’d have the chance to design it my own way—and that means I could keep some space open for advertisements. I guess when designing my own blog, or any website, it would be best to know whether ad space should be considered and the amount and dimensions of each one. With this in the mind of the designer, ads have a greater chance of seamlessly being integrated into a web design. From wireframe development to final launch—the website’s advertisements must be a consideration. Too much ad space or a messy layout because of last minute advertisement add ons could easily spoil users’ experience so it’s always best to plan ahead for the possibility of ads.

Web Carousels: How to Use them Effectively

You know how some websites have a rotating slideshow of sorts that goes through their news of day or highlights? I’ve just been informed that among web designers and coders it is known as a carousel. Good to know!

For those of you who are also in the dark, carousels provide a neat way to showcase content on a website’s home page. Not only is it neat, but often efficient because it allows designers to take advantage of precious page space.

I decided to get a better idea of carousels by checking online for the best of the best. I was pleasantly surprised to find Smileycat.com’s compilation of noteworthy carousels which lists a University of Florida webpage (go GATORS!) as its first example.

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The Department of Recreational Sports webpage isn’t the only place you’ll see carousels on this university’s sites. In fact, many UF pages take advantage of them—the main homepage and the College of Journalism and Communications both do it well.

UF homepage:

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UF College of Journalism and Communications homepage:
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If I were required to add a carousel to the website I’m designing and coding, I’d really have to think about how to do it right. My site features myself and my work so one option would be to have the carousel highlight news about myself. However, this poses more issues. How much news can on myself can I produce? And how can I be sure that it really interests my audience? I wouldn’t want to bore my audience or seem to be tooting my own horn. Taking this into consideration, another idea for the carousel would be to have recent blog posts rotate across the screen. That may best accommodate the need to have a carousel. I would say it is not impossible to add a carousel, but it must be studied in order to ensure it is employed in a way that enhances users’ experience instead of diminishing it.

Is it Possible to Determine a Website’s Success?

While there are millions of sites on the Internet today, not all of them are successful. How does one determine a website’s success? Some might consider a website successful if it makes a “Best Designed” list. Others might deem a website appropriate if it shows up in the top ten page results for Google searches. Lastly, some might judge a website’s success based on whether enough people know it and recognize it (i.e. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.).

Sure, it’s important to be searchable via Google, be recognized by the public, and have a web design that is worthy of being mentioned by fellow designers online, but I think that a successful website is based on a few other things, such as: a) the website reaches its target audience b) the website’s users’ experience is at least satisfactory c) the website’s content is clearly organized.

Some web designers get caught up in the hype of creating something that will draw attention. I think that creativity is a great addition to a website but its main purpose is to reach and serve its target audience while providing them with an extraordinary user experience that includes information that is laid out in a logical way. I’m fully aware that my personal portfolio website may only reach a few people and may not be easily searchable via Google, but as long as the right people are able to find my website and have an enjoyable time seeing my work and reading my material, I would consider it a success!