Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

What did some of our friends in the CMS industry have to say at the end of 2012? Since we successfully thwarted the Mayan Apocalypse I took the liberty of gathering a collection of some random year end stories in case you missed any of them. Have a read and as always, please don’t be shy and let us know what you thought about the year or any other worthy posts that are floating around which I’m sure I’ve missed.

Well we survived Armageddon so let’s read a few year end opinions that crossed my desk.

Getting Socially Newsworthy with Sitecore

Sitecore goes after big customer experience stories in a great guest post by Serafina Frongia (Content Manager Sitecore). It could be said that there are many more intense news items which engaged people around the world such as the continuation of the Arab Spring and its effect on social media. It’s the personal touch that I like in her post such as the ‘hooray for humanity’ stories like the positive change in attitudes towards same sex marriages and human rights during the US election, the mobilization of Hurricane Sandy relief and a wedding planning group who rallied a social media campaign to connect disrupted wedding parties to vendors in the area which were still active after the storm. I also enjoyed the use of the word ‘Ballyhooed’ when referring to the brutal disappointment of the Facebook IPO.

I like that this post wasn’t a self promoting sales tool and spoke to real world events covering a wide range of topics.
Check it out: http://www.sitecore.net/Community/Business-Blogs/Practical-Reality-PR/Posts/2012/12/The-10-Biggest-Customer-Experience-Stories-from-2012.aspx

Top 10 Posts from the CMS Report 2012 Archive

CMS Report is another great resource and they took the liberty of collating a top 10 list of their own blog posts from 2012. These posts are more technical and nerdy (some are hyper nerd-town) and feature several guest bloggers. They are all very unique and informative. The piece covering the site owner’s relationship with Drupal is a fun story. I think the article claiming that ‘Content is no longer King’ is a bit of a link grab since content is what is served by your website whether it’s video, imagery or information. To his credit, the author is exposing the ever present instant information trend with application based consumer engagement. If Search Engines are king then we should understand that they are only ‘king’ because of the content’s optimization (seo) and therefore the successful rank. Anyhow, that’s a big ‘can’ and I can appreciate opinion. There are also some great articles listed featuring some lesser known CMS solutions that are always interesting to learn about.
Something for everyone here: http://www.cmsreport.com/articles/cms-report-s-top-ten-content-management-stories-of-2012-4998

Kentico Takes a Stab at Some 2013 Prophecies

Kentico have really hit the mark with their monthly Top 10 Websites. What a great way to engage their readership and positively spread some link love around to their vendors and constituents alike. But for a year end piece I thought I’d pick out their ‘2013 Predictions for Digital Marketing’ post from earlier in December. It’s relatively short and sweet and really opens the door for some educated and thoughtful comments that you might have on any other aspect of digital marketing in the coming year.
Do you agree with them? http://devnet.kentico.com/Blogs/Petr-Palas/December-2012/7-Predictions-for-Digital-Marketing-in-2013.aspx

Christmas Eve at Elcom Blog HQ

Elcom blogger, Lee-Sia collected a stack of CMS trends from 2012 for a Christmas Eve post. This is a very informed post covering some relatively ‘highbrow’ topics such as marketing automation, consumerization of IT and BYOD setups. It’s the first post that I saw expose the rise of the ‘info-graphic’ as a legitimate communication tool. There are so many terrible ‘clip art’, image shack blog photos out there that a nice, simple infograph can really emphasize a well written article. Note, I hope the image I used is seen in good jest :).

Share your thoughts with them here: http://www.elcomcms.com/Resources/Elcom-Blog/Posts/Looking-Back–Biggest-CMS-Trends-in-2012/blog.aspx

14 Marketers Cast their Tarot Cards Towards the Future

Here’s another great post that I found by way of @Robert_Rose (Twitter), from Blue Focus Marketing. The author was able to accost 14 marketing experts and get their take on what’s up for 2013. As a ‘grey haired’ SEO and content marketer I can definitely concur with their assumptions pointing to the rise of Social Media for brand development and reputation building. One bad Social Media wave can destroy your brand. It’s all about how you react which will determine which direction the social momentum swings.
There’s nothing revolutionary in these predictions and generally pretty ‘safe’ overall. What we would look for are the corroborations between the experts. Personally I think that as more untrained traditional marketers move into the Social scene we may see more ‘guffaws as they learn the hard way. Plus they’re fun to read about.

Oh and the 14 2013 Predictions for Social Media are: http://www.bluefocusmarketing.com/blog/2012/12/27/14-experts-predict-2013-social-media-trends-for-small-business/

Enlighten us with Your Own Favorite or Surprising Posts from 2012

There’s a few posts that found their way across my desk and stood out from some of the other content. As far as 2013 goes, our friends over at CMS Connected will be hosting a show covering some predictions, trends and hot topics and presented by the hosting juggernaught of Scott Liewehr and Tyler Pyburn. If that’s something you might be interested in, head over and sign up for the show link.
I think my next post will be on the OOB SEO features of Sitecore’s latest offering. That will take some digging around.

Happy New Year!

Written by Jade Carter

Kentico

Kentico and SEO. What’s in the Core.

First off I’m not going to spend this time explaining what SEO is (honestly, I’m tired of explaining, hehe). I’ll just say that if you don’t have a concise ‘professional’ SEO plan in place which includes social media and a content strategy, then you’ll always be down, looking up at your competition.

Second the title says it all, what is ‘Baked in’. So for the purpose of consistency, I’ll be looking specifically at the Set it and Forget it, aspects of the Software Core. Grandiose multi-channel Digital Marketing Suites are all the rage and by all accounts are driving a lot of buying decisions. However one should only consider this next step once the foundation of the website is pristine; where all aspects of On Page SEO are delivered and the staff are trained. That you have a content strategy in place and the content itself is topically AND structurally optimized to meet with current reader behavior and patterns (yet another post, heh).

Kentico’s SEO Features

Kentico’s CMS Brochure, essentially an executive overview of the platform and mentions SEO in a few spots; most notably in some bullet lists in the sidebar column. This list essentially reiterates what is summarized on the website itself, with the addition of the title point “Support for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”. That is a bit of a loaded comment since there are dozens and dozens of factors required for SEO, many of which are entirely disassociated with what can be accomplished ‘On Page’. At any rate, statements like this can sometimes imply a limited understanding of what SEO has become in recent years, but let’s look a little deeper.

The Awesome

Considering this article is essentially a constructive critique and won’t be all daisies and rainbows, I wanted to start off on a positive note with one of my favorite features that Kentico listed in their SEO features. When I saw this I literally said out loud “No Way! Awesome!”.

Move ViewState Setting in Kentico

“if checked, the ViewState field is moved to the end of the page which results in more content being processed by the search engines”. Okay that’s sort of true, but the crawlers will definitely get to the content ‘sooner’ and so will show that this content is more ‘prominent’ and valuable based on the code/content strategy. Really, the placement on the page (the higher up the better) will dictate a level of priority to search.
I have literally seen ViewState content reach Hundreds of Thousands of characters and bloat page load times by entire seconds! Unfortunately, ViewState is often loaded by default during a site build and developers often have no idea it’s there.

Check out http://www.unicef.org.au. View the source and have a gander at the code starting below. Their ‘VIEWSTATE’ content is 18,000+ characters and is served ‘inside’ the BODY tag. Ouch… Click that button people.

Kentico SEO Viewstate from Unicef

I have spent years battling developers to justify the often grotesque size of the ‘VIEWSTATE’ <input> tag that exists on many .Net based websites. This is one of the more ‘awesomely’ progressive settings that I’ve seen in a CMS yet and will help reduce the bloated code that appears before the body content on the page. Bloody well done. Note to .Net developers; turn this shizzle off if at all possible. It will literally help the performance of the website and we know that .Net sites generally need a hand with speed.

What Kentico Says About Their SEO Features

When I click the link entitled “Learn More about SEO” I’m taken to the following list of features. I would assume that, by their position on the page (also logical based on page structure and content hierarchy), this is an indication of priority for each listed feature. So let’s have a look:

Editable or Automated Metadata. Some of the oldest strategies in SEO are found here, some still have significant relevance and some have none. The following meta data is referenced:

  • The Page Title (keep it unique, on topic with most competitive phrases at the head, leave branding for the tail. 60-70 characters)
  • Meta Descriptio (one or two sentences, use topical and semantically similar phrases early, make it count)
  • Meta Keywords (oops!)

What? Meta Keywords? Are we still talking about these? *sigh

This over exploited piece of meta data hasn’t had an effect on search rankings for over 10 years. It always takes Google a few years to publically declare specifics related to ‘nerfed’ ranking factors and so look here for some closure – Meta Keywords death notice.

Kentico features a fairly outdated video titled, CMS Today: Driving Success with SEO. (look for it here on the right side bar). The video appears to be a webinar from years ago and I found the substance to be quite out-of-date with some lingering mis-information. For instance we found meta keywords still listed as a relevant factor and meta description is ‘not’ always used by Google to build the SERP snippet. Google will voluntarily select alternate on page content if it deems the Description content is not relevant to the phrase used in the search (this is old information as well) Additionally the author seemed a little out of touch with more current updates to the Google algorithm related to inbound link text and the rise of Social Media.

Some positive elements of the video related to content freshness, source code validation and their comments on searcher behavior and how that relates to link/topic depth which I feel is the most important aspect of on page conversion optimization. I admire anyone that places quality of content and freshness above all else. I would however recommend that Kentico take down their SEO video and develop something more current with specific references to the Kentico CMS features found in V7 (ViewState, yea!). There are some other Meta Data content items that would be welcomed in Kentico such as Robots, Canonical and Author (for blog/article/news document types).

Ready to Comment Already?

Natural Language URL’s. This is a no-brainer. Natural Language URL’s are now a basic requirement for all CMS systems and Kentico has a truly awesome automated natural language URL system in place. Further, their aliasing system, illegal character auditing and ‘term separator’ features are top drawer in my opinion. This ‘governance’ for sake of a better word ensures that the public facing URL paths are consistent with a pre-defined automated strategy. This automation also removes editors from the equation who may have great content writing skills but may inadvertently ad varying punctuation to the title’s, thus creating brutal and malformed URL’s. Not with Kentico.

URL Format Field Kentico 7 SEO

  • The following Characters are forbidden by default: \/:*?”<>|&%.’#[]*=
  • The Forbidden character replacement should always be dash/hyphen (-). This is also default

When URL paths are based on ‘Page Title’ fields, we often see any number of special characters making their way into the content. Kentico’s ability to identify these and intelligently rebuild the URL path is a breath of fresh air.

Spaces in File Names. With the great features listed above, it pains me to mention that there is one item that is slipping through the cracks. As an organizational nerd I abhor spaces in folder names and file names. It’s just messy from a linking, file system point of view. However one can guarantee that editors will build file folder levels with spaces in the names and they should be able to act accordingly. Instead we find direct links to media library assets complete with spaces in the URLs. Some browsers will display the spaces, while others will ‘encode’ the spaces into their character equivalent (%20). Any CMS worth their salt should be able to address this appropriately. Which of these are you most likely to link to or even to click:

  • /how%20easy%20is%20this%20url%20to%20understand/
  • /how-easy-is-this-url-to-understand/

Don’t use spaces in your filenames. I’d love to see Kentico apply the same principles that it does with uploads with spaces in the filenames. URL structure and consistency is so important for site integrity and SEO that we really should be seeing more awareness with the CMS providers. We’ll see how this pans out.

Custom URL Aliases. So long as the automatic natural language URL generation is developed correctly as per above, custom URL Aliases won’t come into play. However this can be exploited for campaign pages where specific, friendly names are necessary for topical association, tracking or other visitor behavior management. Additionally, and something Kentico does mention briefly on the site, use aliasing when rebuilding your URL structure or transitioning from a legacy content management system to a new Kentico CMS with new page names, etc… This will take a request for an old page name and redirect it via 301 Moved Permanently, to the correct URL. If you read this transition article, you’ll have learned that this protects backlinks, referrals and most of the historical SEO value from the old page.

Google Sitemap/XML Sitemap Schema. A Google Sitemap feature (well the XML schema is globally supported) is always well received and all platforms should provide this. Also an important tool, especially if you have a competent content creation strategy such as a blog or article repository.

I felt that there should have been some more direct information related to how and when the sitemap is generated or updated since maintaining an up to date XML sitemap is crucial. I like the customization options for path and name (.gz/.zip/etc…). It may have been nice to see options such as priority and lastmod although relatively minor in the big picture There is however some more concise information here regarding the features in Version7.

Google Sitemaps Field in Kentico 7

I would caution that there is a little bit of mis-information here regarding how Google Sitemaps actually work and what they represent. On this page they state the following:

“This protocol is designed to help search engines appropriately index websites, which may significantly affect their final search rank”

The second part of this sentence is simply not true. The sitemap is there to assist crawlers in finding pages that may be buried deep in the website. However this will not ‘significantly’ affect rankings. If search crawlers are having difficulty accessing your pages via a traditional crawl, you have navigation structure concerns. Additionally, signals from backlinks, referrals, syndication and the website’s own internal linking will dictate the beginnings of a ranking boost to be supported by the content and page structure itself.

Instead, use the sitemaps file in combination with BING and Google Webmaster Tools to help diagnose performance issues with the website such as issues with broken links, outages and other crawl errors. Count how many URL’s you are submitting with your sitemap and compare that with the number of actual ‘Indexed Pages’ which may indicate a functional problem with your internal linking strategy. The screenshot below from Google webmaster tools indicates a possible issue with the website structure.

Google Webmaster Tools Sitemap Example

Another quote;

“…specifies which pages should be indexed and how often they should be re-indexed.”

In truth, the sitemap file doesn’t specify which pages to index, nor does it determine the frequency as to how often to index the pages. So this statement unfortunately, is entirely untrue. It is however, a great feature of the CMS and will help webmasters diagnose many health related issues as mentioned. Moving on…

HTML Code Optimization. I admire CMS providers who take some pride in their source code. After all, this is where the real magic is since it is the playground for search engines. They list the following: (note this is surely a summary list from a much larger bucket of features)

Build CSS-based menu navigation that uses only UL/LI elements without any JavaScript and is easy to follow for robotsThis is really the de facto solution for Navigation. If you don’t do this you’re sitting at the kiddies table.

Easily add TITLE or ALT attributes to all images and links - Only the ALT attribute is required for images (W3C accessibility compliance), having titles for images often opens the door for ‘over optimization’. Best to avoid image Titles (titles are best suited for describing links (href)).

Automatically check that URLs contain only allowed characters and use a consistent case – This is Brilliant! As mentioned earlier, I absolutely love how Kentico automates this feature.

Eliminate duplicate URLs for the same content and ensure redirection – Another fantastic feature. We will see how some CMS systems have real trouble here, considering this is such a massive SEO consideration.

Web Standards Compliance. This really is a no brainer as well. All web based software should be 100% W3C compliant out of the box. However, we have to be realistic sometimes and understand that the content is ultimately up to the website owner to manage, we will often see validation issues once the reams of content begin to populate the website. Still, with the appropriate WYSIWYG logic or cleaner (HTML Tidy?), compliance is still possible and some CMS systems are at least providing validation signals to encourage compliance.

That’s a lot to digest, perhaps share some feedback and then carry on?

What Else did I Find in Kentico Version 7

As mentioned there were are few brilliant, yet simple features integrated in Kentico which should be standard across all CMS Systems. The ViewState relocator for .Net systems is a ‘Tiger Blood Winner’, as are the automated URL compliance features and the ‘turnkey’ duplicate content provisions.

Kentico SEO Features Friendly URL Extension

The Friendly URL extensions field is a great setting and should be left blank. The perfect URL structure is to serve no extension at all. Extensionless URLs deliver an ultra clean architecture and when combined with logical natural language paths, transitioning to other platforms is a breeze since there are no ‘technology’ based extensions to rewrite from (html/aspx/php/etc…). I hope that makes sense.

Kentico SEO Features Robots.txt

While the robots.txt can be a very powerful tool, I’m not sure I see great value with this field since Google will always look at the site root for this file. The exception would be if this is designed to circumvent webhosts who have not supplied FTP access. Additionally there is mention for the need for a custom response webpart which seems a bit overcomplicated for a basic text file that lives in the webroot. Instead it would be nice to see a more comprehensive Robots.txt configurator with options to deny access to certain obvious paths such as admin login paths or other private urls. Further a selection to add the ‘xml sitemap location’ would be another bonus. In its current format, this feature is assuming that the uploader is already familiar with robots.txt directives. Remember you can block your entire website from Google via this little file. =^..^=

Kentico SEO Allow 301 Redirects

Well done. Overrides Microsoft’s obsession with the 302 Temporary redirect. Can you say “Custom 404 Page Fail”?

Move ViewState to Bottom of Code

Have I mentioned how I LOVE this! This feature clearly ‘Slow Clap Worthy’. ‘great vid.

Kentico SEO NoFollow Attribute

Normally I would say this really should be a default setting. However as a rule, never sensor, moderate or generally roadblock ANY User Generated Content (UGC), unless there is an obvious need to. It’s pretty obvious when your forum or blog comments are being exploited, but wait until you see examples of this before ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’. Quality contributors are GOLD for your organization. Nurture them.

Kentico SEO Default Document Replacement

This is a smart setting. Nothing says “visitor death” like a default, dead end 404 page. When setting the alternate page, make it intelligent. Use some dynamic content widgets to display relevant content, or recent articles or somehow scrape the user session and deliver links to content relevant to their last position in the website. If you still use a default 404 page, it’s time to change or give up.

Kentico SEO Friendly URL Settings

You can never spend too much time developing governance towards your URL/Page structure. This needs to be drafted in stone and beat into the whole of your content team. Once these settings are established, should not under any circumstances, be altered. I particularly like the ‘Redirect invalid case URLs to their correct versions’. Nice work, we often see multiple versions of pages simply due to the lack of QC and Compliance with the content team. Usually this is a malformed text link which is hand entered or a referral link from a 3rd party. Set a compliance standard and enforce it. I generally don’t like caps in urls since it’s too confusion for editors and can lead to compliance chaos if there is a capitalization scheme being implemented. I generally stick with lowercase separated by hyphens for simplicity. Generally speaking each of these setting are engineered to help the site owner protect against duplicate content, much of which will be incidental based on malformed links both internal and externally sourced. Nice work.

Kentico SEO Protecting Language Content from Duplication

Protecting language cultures from serving duplicate content. We like how Kentico handles its regionalization but this is also a very common area where CMS platforms fall short on their ability to protect against duplicate content and the common ways in which the Search Crawlers will locate duplicate pages. However, with these settings Kentico has protected against all possible contributors. It’s crucially important that your default ‘language’ (usually /en/) does not serve the same pages at the site root. So for instance /en/contact-us/ should not be available at /contact-us/. And so on across the site. It’s very common to see a website duplicate its entire website but turning on that one switch.

Online Marketing Suite

Having already consumed a large portion of page real-estate I’m not going to go into any great detail regarding Kentico’s rocking new Online Marketing suite. That’s not to say that they aren’t important, far from. They are crucial to further ‘nurturing’ the relevant traffic which has just arrived at the website via search. Something which in-house marketers will need to pay closer attention to.

SEO used to be about directing eyeballs to the pages. Person clicked; Job done. Not anymore. The job of the SEO is multi-dimensional covering on page SEO, link development, content strategy and development, content and site structure and strategy, user interface design (UI/UX, etc…) and social media (that’s a big can of worms). That’s what SEO’s have their hands in these days and to think or assume otherwise is negligent.

Remember that Google/BING have sent a searcher to your page based on several on and off page factors that have already determined the initial value of the page. The page should already be clearly relevant to the searcher’s interest/phrase/behavior. The job is only half done and with the help of the additional marketing tools, you will be able to nurture this interest into a higher level of persuasion and ultimately into conversion. Whatever that may be. Well, in an ideal world.

Keeping it Turnkey

Remember that I’m looking for ‘Baked in’ core features and so the mega-licious DMS suites are ‘add ons’ and I don’t consider them part of the ‘turnkey solution’ for these articles. The DMS features are often super expensive and can cost almost as much as the CMS core itself. Furthermore, these add-ons, while massive value adds, are entirely up to the knowledge and training of the individual initiating them. This is then subjective to the quality of the implementation and something I’m not in the position to critique just yet. I will however give a little summary of what is available.

Kentico SEO Online Marketing Suite

These little checkboxes open a small labyrinth of additional features that can be accessed across various elements of the CMS. I like how in one check you can initiate ‘On-Line Marketing’. Make it so.

At any rate I like how Kentico is providing these crucial features while not dressing it up to be some ground breaking new phenomenon. While keeping it simple they may get a greater buy in without the heavy intimidation factor that many ‘enterprise’ (or those calling themselves such) DMS providers seem vulnerable to. Kentico’s DMS provides the following additional SEO/OM features;

A/B Testing and Multivariate Testing – Randomly serve page elements or pages themselves and measure which variants perform better (time on page, CTR, Conversions, Downloads, etc…) Then cut out the loser and start again! Cool.

Content Personalization – This can open up another massive can of worms depending on the implementation. Again, the whole idea here is to present relevant, high value content based on various signals from the browsing session. A lot of WCM systems are providing this type of solution which, again, is reliant on the operators experience to succeed.

Social Media and Community – Admittedly, I have far too little hands on experience with Kentico’s latest batch of features and will remain impartial here considering it wasn’t my goal to critique every aspect of the DMS. What I will say is that the inclusion of Facebook Connect, URL Shortening tools, Google+ Integration, Twitter Connect and Linkedin Authentication are top drawer additions to an already feature rich and super stable Community centric platform. The additional marketing elements may be a bit pricey (considering Kentico’s very reasonable ‘core’ price point) but they are straight goods with no fluff. I really should be devoting an entire post to the Social Networking Edition to give it proper attention.

Parting Words on Kentico’s Turnkey ‘SEO in a box’ Features

Kentico has some great stuff here baked into the core product. The URL integrity features are wonderful and is a huge priority for the work I do (fix the folder structure spaces), and the attention to code bloat was a very cool surprise (read; ViewState). The succinct awareness of duplicate content risks with active language cultures turned on is very smart and some other products would do well to emulate these features!

On the flip side there are still some ‘left over’ elements from days gone by and they really need to update their ‘SEO video’ since it really doesn’t reflect their updated direction. The addition of some ‘structured data’ or ‘rich snippet’ support at least for Author anyhow would definitely show a broader understanding of modern search. And for the love of all that is sacred please retire the Meta Keywords. J Remove them entirely from your products. I know of one CMS (know who it is?) that has done this and they get ‘super kudos’.

Great product! As always with any editorial story I may touch on subjects that will hopefully generate conversation. Please don’t hesitate to ‘call me out’ on anything mentioned above or to help me learn a little more about the product’s core offerings. This industry moves quickly and I am sometimes still on a hike in the woods when it does.
Cheers.

Written by Jade Carter

Your Website Needs a Social Life

Sunday, March 13, 2011 @ 12:03 PM
Author: Gary Eisenstein

You’re proud of your website and you should be: it’s easy to use, looks great and is packed with fresh content. But while you’ve been working hard to keep your website current and compelling, the wider web has been changing around you. And the way people approach websites like yours is changing too. 

  • A website used to be a place to read things… Now it’s a place to do things.
  • A website used to be only about creating great content… Now it’s also about creating great web experiences.
  • A website used to be a one-way medium… Now it’s a many-to-many conversation.

This ‘Social Web’ transformation, driven by the wildly popular social media experiences like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter is changing the way the web works and the way your visitors think. The social web is about fully engaging users and treating them as more than just consumers of content or adherents to your agenda. In the social web, visitors are full participants, sharing their views, their content and their contacts. The result is an exponential increase in user involvement that is changing the fundamental principles and dynamics of marketing. Brands that succeed in tapping into this enormous power will reap the rewards in traffic, loyalty, revenues and market share. Brands that fail to learn the new rules of the social web will be left with the scraps.

What Is a Social Website?

A social website is any site that invites people to participate by publicly sharing their thoughts, feedback, opinions, links and any content they’ve created as well as images and videos. It also encourages them to share their experiences with friends or colleagues, whether on the site or beyond and makes it easy to do so.

Why You Need to Be More Sociable

There are plenty of reasons to make your website more social than it is today. Here are some of the most important ones:

Engage people more fully - Your customers, prospects and target audiences are human beings first. And human beings appreciate being asked what they think about things. Nobody likes to be talked at. It’s not polite.

Boost credibility - People are more likely to trust another user than they are to trust you. Harness that force to your advantage by giving a forum to your brand advocates – yes you give airtime to detractors too, but this in itself shows confidence and boosts credibility.

Increase stickiness - ‘Unique visitors’ is no longer the killer metric of the web. Engagement metrics like time on site, page views and repeat visits are. Anyone with a budget can generate raw traffic. It takes sociability to turn that traffic into something more valuable.

Listen to your users - Instant feedback from your customers and site visitors is an incredibly valuable – but under-exploited – asset. A social website gives your brand ears.

Influence your market - You can’t join the conversation until there’s a conversation to join. Once you’ve started one, it’s a great opportunity to get involved, address negative comments, de-fuse time-bombs, acknowledge positive input, reward your brand advocates and generally get your views across.

Better target your messages - The more you know about someone, the better you can tailor your messages to them. Active involvement in your community gives you priceless insight into attitudes, behaviors and propensity to buy. It also sharpens your segmentation and feeds your personalization efforts.

Harvest great content - User-generated content – from blog comments to photos and video – enriches your site and makes it more interesting, entertaining and valuable to other users. And it’s free if you ask nicely.

Boost your search engine results - Google spiders love lots of new, relevant content. The more you can attract, the better you’ll do on search results pages and the more traffic you’ll generate.

Generate buzz - Static websites that don’t engage visitors look and feel like ghost towns. Websites that are bubbling with activity, community and participation show that your brand is young, vital, successful and popular.

Top 10 Tips on How to Go Social

Adding social features to your website isn’t difficult but if you get it wrong, your failure will be rather… public. So here are a few tips:

  1. Moderate gently - Fairness is a core principle of the social web. If you kill every negative comment, you lose respect as a moderator and alienate your community. Much better to respond constructively to negative feedback in the same forum it was given. Only resort to censoring or banning in extreme cases.
  2. Open your kimono - There’s no point going social if you’re going to be overly defensive or ‘corporate’. The social web is a great opportunity to lower your guard, give the spin doctors a Valium and just respond to people openly and honestly – you’d be amazed how much they’re willing to forgive if you just say sorry.
  3. Look after your super-users - Every community has champions – the people who really identify with your brand (or the activity you’re involved with) and get stuck right in. Identify these super-users and make sure they feel welcome and valued. Give them special privileges. Reward their loyalty. They’ll return the favor.
  4. Walk before you run - Don’t launch an über-community if you don’t have any traffic, a blog or simpler forums. Build your community from the ground up, listening to your users as you grow.
  5. Don’t forget great content - Social media never lives in a vacuum. You still need to populate your community areas with great content from your CMS to keep people interested, involved and coming back for more. You can’t expect users to do all the heavy lifting. Just make sure your CMS can easily connect.
  6. Respect privacy - This is absolutely essential. The kind of people who participate in web communities are the kind to get really rabid when their trust is abused. Only use data in exactly the way you say you will. No exceptions.
  7. Go beyond your site - A social relationship with your community doesn’t stop at the borders of your own site. Go out and meet people where they congregate. Join Facebook groups, comment on blogs, set up a YouTube channel and a Twitter account. All are great forums for listening – and for recruiting people to your social website.
  8. Get the back end right - Some social features (like social bookmarking) are fairly lowtouch. Others require a significant amount of back-end programming and integration. Make sure your developers know what they’re doing – and start with a Content Management System that you know can handle the job (if the social functionality is already pre-coded and templated, so much the better).
  9. Performance matters - Social sites make much greater demands on your servers than simple content sites – especially if user-generated photos and videos are involved. You may need a platform that can handle millions of users and billions of page views per month. If your CMS can’t scale to the demands of the social web, you risk frustrating (or losing) your users.
  10. Analytics are critical - You need to actively monitor and measure all activities on your social pages just as you would on the rest of your site. Make sure your social features include rich reporting and analysis. User stats drive insight.

The Role of Your CMS

The Content Management System you choose will make a big difference in the success of your social web initiatives. The right CMS will not only make it much easier to introduce social features, it will also make for richer, simpler, easier-to-use social web experiences.

Ideally, you need a CMS that is:

Social-centric – Not every CMS is built to handle the more challenging social features discussed here. If social media is not in the DNA of your CMS, shop around. Ask to see the community templates.

Editor-friendly – You need a CMS that makes it easy for non-technical editors to add content, create pages and moderate comments.

Developer-friendly – Developers shouldn’t have to learn a whole new language just to create social features for your site.

Modular – Your CMS should always be growing by letting you snap on new modules as they’re developed.

Widely used – A popular CMS has an active developer community to contribute modules, ideas, advice and experience.

Actively supported – You’ll want a CMS that has someone standing behind it – for support, development, training and advice.

Go forth and socialize!

 

Note: A special thanks to Alex Martel, Channel Sales Manager at EPiServer North America for supplying some great material from their eBook.

 

Kentico CMS Case Study – Hifi Centre

Sunday, August 1, 2010 @ 11:08 AM
Author: Gary Eisenstein

Hi-Fi Centre is Vancouver’s premier audio video dealer for high end brands such as B&W, Linn, Rotel, Naim, McIntosh, Wilson Audio, Classé and Sooloos, delivering the highest quality high performance audio, home cinema, lighting control, home automation and surround system products available, as well as custom design, engineering and Installation services.

Hi-Fi Centre’s Needs

Their retail store in downtown Vancouver is one of the most stunning audio showrooms in Canada. When you first step into Hi-Fi Centre you’re welcomed by a grand loudspeaker called the B&W Nautilus, setting the tone for what awaits the senses. Moving through the store you’ll find dozens of soundproof rooms set up with different audio/video configurations and ambiance settings… a true feast for the eyes and ears. The showrooms upper level is furnished with a cappuccino bar and golf putting green to enhance the experience while auditioning some of the finest loudspeakers and electronic components in the world.

 

 

While Hi-Fi Centre arguably has one of the finest showrooms in their marketspace, their website was far less than inspiring. The site was built using outdated frames, confusing navigation and without any page layout consistency. Hi-Fi Centre contracted Falcon-Software to design and develop a new website that reflected the same style and creativity their store provided to customers, while also providing a content management system as a solid foundation that can accomondate future development such as ecommerce, mobile and social media applications.
 

Key Challenges

  1. With no consistent structure or any thought towards usability the website needed an entire redesign.
  2. The site had to have an element of entertainment, providing the visitor with a memorable experience.
  3. With new products continually being released, Hi-Fi Centre needed a way of updating the site easily and cost effectively.

 

The Results

For the Web CMS solution, Falcon-Software selected Kentico, a flexible, cost effective all-in-one .NET solution. Kentico CMS provided a powerful content editing interface, allowing users to edit content, preview before publishing, organize site structure and manage extending modules with a built-in WYSIWYG editor fully integrated into the system. Yet easy to use, enabling Hi-Fi Centre to edit content as if they were using Microsoft Word. Also, the ease of uploading images and Flash movies was a must for the client and Kentico provided this feature seamlessly.

The end result is a robust website that not only better reflects Hifi Centre’s high-end products and retail showroom, but they now have a content management solution so easy to use, their site is always current and ready for future modules such as an ecommerce store that can be installed with a click of the mouse.

 

Hi-Fi Centre Testimonial

Since Falcon-Software designed our new website with a Kentico CMS system in early 2010 we have seen nothing but tremendous results.  All of our vendor partners and customers have been blown away by the creative.  However, the best part is that we have actually seen measurable improvements over our previous website.  Traffic is up substantially with customers spending more time on the site and online inquiries have more than tripled in just 3-months.  One of the criteria we had set out when choosing a CMS platform was ease of use, and with Kentico we are able to easily edit our website without the expense of hiring a .NET programmer or learning how to write code.  This gives us the freedom to make changes when we need to and not when the web design firm can “fit us into their busy schedule.”  The result is that we can now make timely changes, add new products or launch marketing campaigns on our schedule, which has had a direct result in our bottom line. Falcon-Software and Kentico CMS is a powerful combination we highly recommend to anyone looking to take control over their website and online business strategy.

Igor Kivritsky, General Manager
Hifi Centre

Content Management in Hi-Fi Stereo

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 @ 06:06 PM
Author: Gary Eisenstein

Victoria, BC – June 30, 2010 – Falcon-Software announces the signing of three high profile contracts in June and the launch of Hifi Centre’s new website utilizing Kentico’s content management platform.

Hi-Fi Centre is Vancouver’s premier audio video dealer for high end brands such as B&W, Linn, Rotel, Naim, McIntosh, Wilson Audio, Classé and Sooloos, delivering the highest quality high performance audio, home cinema, lighting control, home automation and surround system products available, as well as custom design, engineering and Installation services. 

Hi-Fi Centre’s Needs

Their retail store in downtown Vancouver is one of the most stunning audio showrooms in Canada. When you first step into Hi-Fi Centre you’re welcomed by a grand loudspeaker called the B&W Nautilus, setting the tone for what awaits the senses. Moving through the store you’ll find dozens of soundproof rooms set up with different audio/video configurations and ambiance settings… a true feast for the eyes and ears. The showrooms upper level is furnished with a cappuccino bar and golf putting green to enhance the experience while auditioning some of the finest loudspeakers and electronic components in the world. 

Watch the Hi-Fi Centre Video Web CMS Testimonial

While Hi-Fi Centre arguably has one of the finest showrooms in North America, their website was far less than inspiring. The site was built using outdated frames, confusing navigation and without any page layout consistency. Hi-Fi Centre contracted Falcon-Software to design and develop a new website that reflected the same style and creativity their store provided to customers, while also providing a content management system as a solid foundation that can accomondate future development such as ecommerce, mobile and social media applications.

Key Challenges

With no consistent structure or any thought towards usability the website needed an entire redesign. The site had to have an element of entertainment, providing the visitor with a memorable experience. With new products continually being released, Hi-Fi Centre needed a way of updating the site easily and cost effectively.

The Results

For the Web CMS solution, Falcon-Software selected Kentico, a flexible, cost effective all-in-one .NET solution. Kentico CMS provided a powerful content editing interface, allowing users to edit content, preview before publishing, organize site structure and manage extending modules with a built-in WYSIWYG editor fully integrated into the system. Yet easy to use, enabling Hi-Fi Centre to edit content as if they were using Microsoft Word. Also, the ease of uploading images and Flash movies was a must for the client and Kentico provided this feature seamlessly.

The end result is a robust website that not only better reflects Hifi Centre’s high-end products and retail showroom, but they now have a content management solution so easy to use, their site is always current and ready for future modules such as an ecommerce store that can be installed with a click of the mouse.

view website: www.hificentre.com


Three Additional Contracts Signed in June:

ASPCA

New York, New York (Sitecore CMS Intranet solution)

Microsoft

Redmond, Washington (Kentico CMS site implementation)

Danaher Corporation

Plainville, Connecticut (Sitecore CMS and online marketing solution)

“We are all very proud to have been awarded the ASPCA contract for the development of a new CMS driven Intranet system”, states Gary Eisenstein, Falcon-Software’s President and Founder. “This is a globally known and recognized organization that provides effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals… a subject that is near a dear to a lot of us at Falcon”, says Eisenstein.

Falcon-Software will be designing a more robust, dynamic and engaging web experience for the intranet users by deploying a Sitecore CMS solution that is flexible, scalable and intuitive to use and will strengthen internal processes and communication between senior management and ASPCA employees, streamlining the management and ongoing development of the intranet system through the use of an advanced Web Content Management Solution.

Falcon-Software was also awarded a 12-month contract with Microsoft Corporation’s Technology–Academics–Policy organization. Falcon will be designing and developing social media applications and assisting Microsoft’s development team with a Kentico CMS deployment. “Being selected to work directly with Microsoft on this project gives us the sense of validation as one of the top web firms in the North American IT industry”, states Eisenstein.

Country Singer Erin Haley Contracts Falcon-Software

Monday, March 15, 2010 @ 11:03 PM
Author: Gary Eisenstein

Falcon-Software announces the signing of a new contract with country singer/songwriter Erin Haley. This young artist from Barrhead, Alberta has arrived with an original sound and vision. Her compelling new album, House On Fire is a work destined to spread word of her formidable talent with brushfire like speed. A bold step forward from her 2006 debut album, Second First Impression, it is a vivid portrait of a sassy, sexy and determined young woman. Erin’s clear, strong vocals empower the songs, some of which she co-wrote or were written with her in mind. This gives the material emotional believability, while the progressive production work of Douglas Romanow ensures that House On Fire stands apart from the cookie-cutter sound of so many new country albums.

Falcon-Software will be architecting a new website for Erin that will not only showcase her talents as a successful country music artist, but will also tackle the e-business side of the Erin Haley brand. This will also include a social media strategy with a new blog, Facebook & Twitter page and a professional search engine optimization strategy.

Falcon-Software has partnered with these .Net Web CMS Vendor Solutions