The Hottest Social Media Trends This Season

Trends in social media are difficult to pin point. But there are some overarching trends that have survived and are still going strong this season. Some of these trends are mentioned below.

Focus on images

The meteoric rise of Pinterest is testimony to the fact that images are in. Pinterest is a content sharing service and a social network that allows users to make extensive use of images. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that after Pinterest’s latest round of funding netted the company $100 million, the company was valued at $1.5 billion. The popularity of Pinterest is a pretty good reason why other companies should place a premium on visual content. Facebook has already shifted to timeline. Humans process a lot of information visually and will respond to imagery in a positive way. Since people like images, social media websites have capitalized on it.

Going mobile

Nearly half of Facebook users log into their accounts using their mobile phones. Mobile internet users are going to overtake desktop internet users by 2015. And social media on mobile is still in its infancy. But mobile phone companies are coming up with better audio, video, location selection and third party application integration.

Social media websites embracing open platforms

When it comes to adding new users, Facebook has seen continued success while Google is moving at a snail’s pace. One reason is Facebook allows third party application providers to contribute to users experience. The result – consumers stay longer on such sites and engage more.

Crowdsourcing

Wired.com’s Jeff Howe defines crowdsourcing as outsourcing the creation of content to groups of people rather than tackling such tasks in-house. Sites such as Wikipedia, Tumblr and Pinterest are leading the pack here. People tend to trust their friends and relatives more than corporations who they perceive won’t give them bipartisan information. So everything from starting a new company to learning how to bake a cake can be accomplished through crowdsourcing.

Online Video

With the advent of faster internet connections such as 3G (and now 4G) and the proliferation of smart phones, video content is only going to become more popular. Some years ago, production of video was deemed to be expensive, but not anymore. Smart phones with share capabilities and HD technology have changed the rules of the game. Now we have budding entertainers, citizen journalists and YouTube campaigns.

The privacy vs. personalization debate

Social media sites and online retailers are mining information about us constantly. They are logging data such as our likes, dislikes and even the interests of people with whom we interact. The issue here is the breach of privacy that social media sites are being accused of. Government regulators have increased their scrutiny and users have become more sensitive. On the other hand, some social networking sites have gone public and their shareholders are demanding results. The pressure to collect information is only going to grow.

How Social Media Can Help Your Small Business

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn help millions of people around the world connect. But did you know that you can also use them to connect with your customers? Susan Barnes, an associate director and professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s social computing lab says that small businesses can benefit from social media in two ways. Customers can provide testimonials about the business on small networks. On the other hand, employees can contribute by sharing information through social media.

One of the appeals of social media is that social media companies don’t charge fees. There are few barriers for entry. One businessman quoted, ‘If someone is offering me an opportunity to market my products for no extra cost, then why shouldn’t I take advantage of the offer.’

Some tips on how social media can be used to enhance business are mentioned below

Choose social media carefully

There are dozens of sites where small businesses can begin. LinkedIn has often been called the best site for business networking. As you upload new information on Facebook, your ‘friends’ will come to know where your interests lie and what it is that you are doing.

Set goals that are realistic

Don’t try to participate in as many social networks as you come across. You will be quickly overwhelmed. The idea is not to make it look like a chore but to enjoy the process. Make a list of goals. What is your idea behind using a social network? To create a buzz? To sell products? To get feedback or build relationships?

Find the audience

To get the best results, you will have to segment your customers, Go where they are, in order to be found. Don’t wait for them to come to you. Your search may lead you to other social networks that are not in the mainstream.

Open up

An important reason why social networking as a business tool is so effective is because it gives us a chance to meet new people. But you’ve got to keep an open mind. Jorge Olson, an expert on social networking and the author of two books on marketing says, ‘whenever you join a social network, be an open networker‘. Who is an open networker? It is someone who will accept invitations to be ‘friends’ or will connect with anyone. It sounds very simple but it isn’t considering that many people still don’t network, post their photos or give their email addresses online.

Avoid ‘over-sharing’

Assume that everything posted on a social network will be read by everyone. You have to be careful posting details about your personal life, like your political leaning, jokes and personal beliefs. Among friends, this information may be considered appropriate, but others may find it misconstrued. You are a businessperson using social media as a channel to promote your business, communicate a bit more formally.

Importance in Proper Navigation Development Of Websites

It is widely acknowledged that the website’s design and it’s content are the main areas of concern when creating an effective website. That’s true, but only to an extent. The usability of the website is largely determined by the usefulness of the content and its accessibility. This is where website navigation comes into play. You must remember that no matter how valuable and superior the website’s content is, it is worthless if it cannot be found or accessed by the visitor.

Proper navigation within the website is vital because it ensures that the site’s visitors find what they are looking for. The more extensive a particular website is and the more voluminous its content, the better its navigation should be. What good can a well-written blog or product page be, if your visitors cannot find it on your site? From this perspective, the importance of proper navigation in a website cannot be overestimated.

User-Friendly Website Navigation

Proper placement of the website’s navigational links is one of the most overlooked aspects of site design and development. If the links to your site’s pages are poorly placed, the chance that your visitors will read what you want them to, or even find the pages you want them to see, are slim. Similarly, if your webpage’s links are not properly named, they will not be able to guide the visitor as they should.

Remember that your general online audience, are generally impatient and do not have the time or the energy to search through your site to find what they want. If the visitor cannot find what he/she is looking for, they will waste no time in clicking off from the website and look for a similar site that is easier to navigate.

Keep it simple

In their attempt to create unique websites, many business owners end up with complex site designs that are hard to comprehend. The simpler and neater the website is, the easier it will be for your visitors to browse through it. A successful site design focuses on all the website elements and creates a hierarchy, such that the most important pages are on top and easily accessible to the user.

When designing website navigation, you should consider not just the site’s visitors, but also the search engines. Keep in mind that the site’s navigation should be simple enough to use and smart enough to guide the customers to the webpages you want them to reach. Designing website navigation requires detailed planning and once done, it should not be altered too often, or else you could end up confusing your regular visitors, or worse, lose them as well.

 

Why Does My Website Need to Minimize Flash ?

With over 25 million iPads sold since its launch in January of 2010 the demand for the iPad continues to nearly exceed supply. Never before, had any a product hit the 1 million unit mark so quickly. Another Apple product, the iPhone, has sold 109 million units since the device’s inception in 2007.

Nevertheless, an alarming number of web applications and content do not work on Apple’s  iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch devices. Despite Adobe Flash being a popular platform used for adding multimedia to web pages, Apple continues not to support Flash on any of it’s i-branded products.

A 3rd party survey of 3.5 million web pages revealed that approximately 30-40% of websites contained elements that were driven by Flash. So, what happens when any of the 125+ million users try to access a Flash website on one of these devices (not to mention other non-Apple mobile devices that do not support flash)? Instead of the website, or the content within, they see an error message. In other words, all Flash content is invisible to these users.

So how does the growth of iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch users and the lack of support for Flash on these products impact your business? If your website was developed in Flash or has Flash elements, your customers and prospects will have a disappointing online experience. Many consumers are unaware of the technical issues between Apple and Adobe Flash and will assume the website is broken.

As US mobile internet usage increases (to over 134 million users by 2013) and number of Apple i-products and other non-flash supporting mobile devices grows, it will be progressively important for companies to update their websites and make them compatible with these devices or risk alienating their customers.

The advent of competitive products from Blackberry, Samsung and others, that do in fact support Flash are out there now.  However 25 Million iPad units and 108 million iphone users is nothing to sneeze at.