Maybe You Don’t Need a New Website

update

I recently told two potential clients that I didn’t think they needed a new website. Sounds like I am not a very good businessman.

But they didn’t need a new site. Their existing site worked for them, even though it was a few years old. They had been adding minor updates but nothing else changed. Both sites were built using a WYSIWYG site designs (Squarespace and GoDaddy) which make it pretty easy to update, but neither owner was comfortable in doing anything more involved with the sites other than minor updates without some help. One had forgotten how to access the editing tools.

Web designers and website owners learn pretty quickly that site maintenance ultimately will involve more time and work (and cost) than site creation.

What I ended up doing for them consisted of some smaller but important updates and maintenance. Here are 6 possibilities for you to consider:

  1. Make content changes. People don’t return to your site if it never changes. That’s what makes blogs or news updates on a site bring people back.
  2. A site audit of security, performance and usability can reveal some changes to be made.
  3. How does your site work on phones and tablets?
  4. Does the site have the latest versions of the software, such as plugins? There may be new themes that can give your site a fresh and significantly different look for little time or cost.
  5. Is it worth moving the site to a new hosting account that offers better pricing or more flexibility? can that be done with minimal work by me?
  6. Search engine optimization (SEO) is important but an area that has a lot of scam offers to get your site “to the top of search results.” Simple use of keywords and other page code can help, along with some advice about how to move up the results.
  7. Related to SEO is getting the word out via newsletters, mailing lists and social media. Are you using those things?

 

Social Media 2020

four people using smartphones behind glass wall

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Social media in general had a tough year in 2018. Criticisms of fake news, private data being sold and made public by hackers and other issues gave it a bad reputation in the general public. Even the media that uses, perhaps even relies on, social media was critical. But social media is not going away.

Hootsuite made some predictions for 2020 social media (jumping right over this year)  that are pretty safe bets to make. For example, based on their annual global study of internet, social, and mobile adoption across 239 countries, social media usage will continue to grow.  I agree.

In 2017, one million new people joined social networks every day. Nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Where is the fastest growth? No surprise that it is places like Africa. Five years ago it would have been the emerging Chinese market, but that country has been pretty much conquered. Though Google, Facebook and others would still like a bigger piece of the share.)

Product discovery becomes more visual and social, according to GlobalWebIndex, because about half of internet users follow brands they like or brands they are thinking of buying something from on social media.

Again, the fast-growth markets are in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. In  the Philippines, Kenya and Morocco, social media beats the big search engines as a way to research purchasing and so it is a good bet that by 2020 search’s grip on product research will be even less. I have to believe that search engine companies are looking hard at that trend. And we know that Google never got social right. We saw the end of Google+ in 2018.

Have you done searches in the past year using voice via Siri, Alexa et al? Visual and voice search are also growing and Baidu expects half of searches by 2020 are going to be through images or speech by 2020. Baidu has the second largest search engine in the world but (like the leader’s company) this Chinese multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence, is also involved in lots of other tech, such as autonomous vehicles.

Pinterest – which I find myself using less and less – has Lens which uses machine learning for brand and product discovery and could really help broaden their reach.

On the commercial user side of things, I don’t think we have really seen much innovation in areas like customer service and support using messaging apps and chatbots. That may be a 2020 trend.

Some would say that social video is at a saturation point. I agree. So if it is to grow there needs to be some evolution. We know that watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram is commonplace. How much of your time doing that is for social or pleasure and how much is coming from commercial and promotion?  I suspect the latter uses will increase. I read that for some late night talk shows and Saturday Night Live video replay on YouTube or their own sites now accounts for 20% or more of their advertising income. It’s no wonder that Jimmy Fallon urges you after every clip to subscribe to their channel.

With all this growth, there are still trends that point to possible declines. The video saturation may not cause evolution but instead just mean that people are tired of all this video hitting them and stop watching.

Privacy is a huge concern and people are sharing less personal information on major networks. I disconnected many social services from others. I don’t share my contacts as readily. I don’t use Google or facebook or Twitter to sign into other services if I can help it. Companies know this. facebook has disallowed me from automatically sharing posts from other networks on my profile.

I keep hearing that Gen Y and Z will drive increased adoption of technology like VR and AR. But that is not what I see in my students that fall into these generational groups. Like myself, they just don’t see compelling reasons to own and use expensive glasses/goggles or add apps yet.

I think it is a given that AI and mobile will continue to grow and slip into our daily lives in many almost unseen ways.


You can read Hootsuite’s report on Digital in 2018 and make your own plans to join (or rebel against) the rise of social in the year ahead.

Does Your Business Need to Use Houseparty?

It is difficult to keep up with social media apps and networks. Though the big names have remained pretty much the same for a few years, there are always new contenders.

Last year Meerkat was a bright and fast burning star that brought a lot of attention to using mobile broadcasting. Meerkat got users quickly, but Facebook and Twitter introduced Periscope to quickly jump into the space too with their own tools and Meerkat fell.

Meerkat’s Ben Rubin said last year that its appeal was “spontaneous togetherness.” Requiring only a few taps on a phone to reach friends and interested strangers was very appealing and the company quickly raised $12 million in new funding from investors who thought it could be the next major social tool.

The app was released in February 2015, and found an audience after its debut on the website Product Hunt and use during the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March 2015. But on October 4, 2016, Meerkat was shut down.

If businesses put any effort or money into using it, it was time and resources without any ROI. But there is always that temptation to get on board with new tools rather than look behind the times or have to play catch-up.

Meerkat is no more but its website now redirects you to Houseparty another app for video chatting with friends that the company is calling a “synchronous social network.”

The app for Android and iOS has been gaining traction with young people with about a million users.

houseparty

Rather than billing Houseparty as a way to broadcast to the world, it is billed as a way to have frequent, candid conversations with friends and family.

Does it have business applications? Not so far.  Will it last longer than Meerkat, and will Facebook, Twitter and any other networks have their own version soon?  I don’t place bets on social media.