Tech Tips

Indianapolis Social Media – The Social Media Revolution

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on September 17, 2010 | No Comments

This is a test.  Is social media

a)      A fad?
b)      Just another internet tool?
c)       The biggest shift since the industrial revolution?

We’ve spent several weeks extolling the benefits of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter and we’ve had plenty of folks ask us why they should bother to fit yet one more task into their already busy schedules.  If you think that social media just one more item in a long list of fads that will eventually fall by the wayside, you need to watch this video.  We guarantee you will see at least one thing that will make you go “wow.” (Plus it’s short and has really snappy music so make sure you turn up the volume).  Social media’s star is burning brightly, and its impact will only increase over time.  So watch the YouTube post below on the social media revolution to learn more about how social media is changing the way the world communicates.

Video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFZ0z5Fm-Ng

Indianapolis Web Design – Cool Tools: TweetDeck

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on September 10, 2010 | No Comments

A few of us from the Online Architecture staff attended the Blog Indiana conference a few weeks ago.  Sitting in the back of the auditorium we watched everyone in front of us posting to Twitter and Facebook while they were listening to the speaker on stage.  Guess what they were using to post?  The same application that we were using, TweetDeck.

If you tweet regularly, or have friends that do, TweetDeck is a fast and easy way to stay abreast of the flurry of activity via your web browser. As TweetDeck notes on their website, www.tweetdeck.com, they like to think of their product as “air traffic control for Twitter.” TweetDeck allows you to not only connect with those you follow on Twitter, but also Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, just to name a few.

Using your browser, you can arrange your contacts into groups, or sort them into columns for easy review. TweetDeck also allows you to stay connected with your colleagues on Facebook. Using the interface you can update your Facebook status, like other users or pages, upload photos to your Facebook page and comment on other users’ posts without actually going to your page.

Last, but not least, you can use TweetDeck on multiple platforms. Do you have an iPhone? iPod Touch? iPad? You can connect to TweetDeck via each of these, and they’re currently beta testing for Android users.

Indianapolis Social Media – Do You Tweet?

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on September 2, 2010 | No Comments

We’ve spent the last several weeks delving into Facebook and its benefits. And while the social networking giant boasts more than 500 million users, there is another equally popular product that has generated a great deal of interest. Twitter is a web-based tool that allows users to send small, 140 character updates to friends and followers, as well as follow the activities of other users.

Twitter users vary greatly. Some often “tweet” status updates throughout the day, pointing out items of interest or just noting what they are doing at the moment. Others post only a few times a week. The result is a quick exchange of information between individuals and groups that can be light-hearted or offer significant value.

Just how big is Twitter? In June, Twitter said that users were sending out 65 million tweets a day on average. And companies ranging from the small shop down the street to Fortune 500 titans now have Twitter accounts used for disseminating information. According to the company website, developers have created more than 50,000 Twitter-based applications that run on the web and mobile devices like your phone.

As with Facebook, Twitter is another valuable social tool that can help you stay connected with a broad audience. If you haven’t tried Twitter, now is the time to take that first step.

Indianapolis Social Media – Creating a Page for Your Business on Facebook

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on August 26, 2010 | No Comments

Last week Online Architecture provided pointers on getting started with social media and the basics of Facebook. This week we’ll take the next step: turning Facebook into a marketing tool.

So you’ve built your small network of Facebook friends for your personal profile, and that’s great. But what about your business? How do we harness the power of Facebook and generate exposure and a following? The easiest way to do so is to build a page for your business (formerly known as a Fan Page). Fortunately, setting up a page is a lot like creating your Facebook profile, so it’s pretty easy.

Start by going to Facebook.com.  If you’re not logged into your account at the bottom of the page underneath the green sign up button you will see “Create a page for a celebrity, band or business.” After you click on the link, select “Local business” from the options and add the page name for your business. Make sure you check the box verifying that you are the official representative for your business and click the “Create Official Page” button.  On the next screen you’ll be asked to sign in with your personal login (all pages have to be connected to a personal profile).

Now you are ready to build out your company profile, adding as little or as much detail on your business/company as you choose. Start with the simple things. Add your company profile and contact information. Post some relevant pictures of yourself, your staff, or images related to your business. Start a discussion and encourage others to participate.

Once you’ve taken the time to build a page, build a following by getting others to “like” it. The more users you can get to like your page, the more you can utilize it as a marketing tool. Then, use the page to post interesting articles, polls/surveys, and other items to engage your followers. Keep them informed on subjects that may interest them or spur them to action. Give them content that keeps them coming back, and pushes your business through all the clutter to the front of their minds.

One important point.  Many people have contacted us asking about adding other tabs and gizmos to their page.  That’s certainly helpful, but our recommendation would be to wait until you’re putting a steady stream of posts on your page, and until you have a good base of people who have “liked” your business.  People will “like” your page because of what you post, the rest is bonus material.      

The easiest part is setting the page up. But don’t forget to promote it outside the Facebook network. Add a link to the page from your website. Include it in your email signature. Get the word out and build your following.

Indianapolis Social Media – Dipping Your Toe in the Social Media Pool

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on August 16, 2010 | No Comments

When others mention social media tools like Facebook and Twitter do you feel overwhelmed? Confused? Intimidated? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Technology often improves our lives, but not without a little first-time anxiety. In July, Facebook announced that membership had exceeded 500 million users, meaning that it’s not just Generation Y that is plugged into the internet’s largest network.

So you want to plug in, but you don’t know where to start. Or you’re ready to start but you’re afraid of getting immediately bombarded by everyone you ever knew. Fair enough. The good news is that you don’t have to jump into the deep end. You can wade into the shallow end of the pool and build your confidence first.

The first step: Set up a Facebook account. You need to know your name, gender, email address and birthday, that’s it.

Once your account is set up, if you really want to keep a low profile to start, click on Account (upper right hand corner) then Privacy Settings, then Application settings uncheck the box to disable public search. Doing this removes your name from Facebook and other search engines. So you can roam around Facebook and choose who you want to connect with.

Here are some suggestions on where to go from here.

“Like” a Page. Probably one of the simplest actions you can take on Facebook, clicking the “Like” button does two things. It shows support for the organization, and any posts made by the organization will appear on your personal News Feed. “Liking” pages is a great way to track your favorite places and organizations.

Family First. When you’re ready to connect with others, start with those you know best, your family. Chances are there are children, grandchildren, siblings, even grandparents that are plugged in.

Friends/Co-workers. The next logical step is connecting with those you interact with everyday. Do you have a friend you haven’t seen in a few years? Facebook is an easy way to stay informed when time and distance don’t permit.

Destinations. Do you have a favorite restaurant or watering hole? Another local business you frequent? You’d be surprised how many businesses are now on Facebook. A great example is Schuler’s Restaurant, a family-owned establishment in Marshall, Michigan that has served the community for more than a century. Close to 900 customers and fans stay informed on upcoming Schuler’s events, activities and specials via Facebook.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Go to your favorite website(s) and find an interesting story, “like” it and see how it is added to your Facebook wall. Post a comment that includes a url, or better yet, use your newfound knowledge of bitl.ly to post a shortened url! Practice makes perfect. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to turning laps in the social media pool.

Indianapolis Website Design – Cool Tools: bit.ly

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on July 30, 2010 | No Comments

From time to time we at Online Architecture will share “Cool Tools” that can help improve productivity or just aid in simplifying your online experience. Today’s tool is bit.ly (http://bit.ly/) a website that takes the hassle out of sending web links to others while providing meaningful statistics.

Have you ever tried to send a friend or colleague a long url for an interesting story you read online, only to find out they could not open it because the link didn’t translate on their end? Have you received an email and experienced the same? Using bit.ly you can take that long url, shorten it, and share it with others. Let’s see it in action.

Here is the link to a CNN story titled “Rise of the renting class”.
http://money.cnn.com/2010/07/28/real_estate/housing_debate_rent-vs-buy.fortune/index.htm

Using bit.ly, here is the same link to the story, only much shorter.
http://bit.ly/apPzPH

The bit.ly link is considerably shorter, making it easier to use anywhere you choose. It is particularly ideal for Facebook and Twitter posts, where space comes at a premium.

But bit.ly doesn’t just shorten links, with a free account it also offers users a chance to archive all bit.ly links you create and mine valuable data. You can track how many times a bit.ly link that you have distributed is clicked, as well as when links are used in Twitter, and whether Facebook users “like” a link. Even more valuable, links generated in bit.ly are unique, and they never expire.

Whether you’re looking for an easy way to send long urls, or your desire is to better track how effective your communications efforts may be, bit.ly is a valuable, and cool, tool.

Indianapolis web design – How to register your unique web address*

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on July 9, 2010 | No Comments

In a recent Tech Tip we talked about suggestions for creating a unique web address like www.sallysrealty.com.  But once you have settled on a domain name, how do you obtain it? Here are the steps you need to follow:

First, make sure someone hasn’t already beaten you to it. To find out, check the domain with a Whois registry (as in, “who is” that domain registered to). We at Online Architecture use GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com), where you can perform a quick search right from their home page. Simply type the desired web address into the box that says “Start Your Domain Search Here.” If the domain name has been registered it will provide you the registrant information. If the domain name is not registered you will receive a message that the domain is available for purchase.

Once you’ve confirmed your web address is available, you need to register it. If you’re on the GoDaddy website, add your domain name to the shopping cart and click “Continue Registration.” GoDaddy will walk you through the purchase process. One word of caution; pay attention to the buttons you are clicking through the registration process. Our one complaint about GoDaddy is that they throw a lot of ads at you to purchase hosting, website templates and other add-ons to increase the sale at checkout. Skip all of those for now.

Also, make sure you enter a valid email address that you know you will have for a long time. Registrars communicate with customers exclusively through email, so when it’s time to renew your domain you’ll receive only an electronic notification. We’ve assisted a number of clients who awoke one morning to a non-functioning website because their domain expired as a result of notifications going to an old email account.

Once you’ve completed the process you will be the proud owner of your own web address. The next step is to link to your LeadStreet website. Log into the Site Builder portion of Lead Street for instructions on how to do that, or stay tuned for a future Tech Tip on this topic.

If you need help getting your website up and running, call Valerie at Online Architecture at 317-253-2900 x110

*  Domain name, web address and URL all mean the same thing.

Indianapolis Web Development – Ten tips on choosing a good domain name

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on June 25, 2010 | No Comments

Not to put too much pressure on you, but choosing a good domain name is pretty darn important.  It will be the basis for all your online marketing, your email address, and more for a long long time.  So it’s important to give some thought how you will be referred to online.  Here are some tips for picking a domain name.

  1. Your domain name should equal your website name should equal your email address.  If you sell real estate don’t
    • call your website Sally’s Realty
    • then use the domain www.sallyhomes.com
    • and have an email address of sally@homesbysally.com.
  2. Sally’s Realty should equal www.sallysrealty.com should equal sally@sallysrealty.com.   Seems obvious but I’ve seen it done.

  3. Your domain name should relate to your product:  If your website is Sally’s Ocean Realty don’t register www.SallySellsSeaShells.com just because it’s catchy.
  4. Your domain shouldn’t compete with other trademarks.  Especially if it’s a big trademark.   The only visit you want to get from a trademark lawyer is when s/he wants to buy a house, not take yours.
  5. Pick a domain that can serve as a strong trademark so other companies can’t use similar names.  Overhead Doors of Indianapolis certainly passes the test for a business name that relates to the product, but has to work hard at distinguishing itself from all the other overhead door companies.
  6. Pick a domain that you don’t have to spell out when you’re giving it to someone over the phone.  If your name is Tracy (Tracey, Traci, Tracee) don’t use it in your domain name.
  7. Your domain should be easy to remember.  www.google.com. Enough said.
  8. Keep your domain name short.  When you consider that your domain is also part of your email address, be kind to all those people who will be typing your name.
  9. Hypens – bad or good?

    Pros:

    • Search engines like hyphenated names because they can distinguish your keywords better and rank you in search results.
    • If you have the perfect name but it’s not available, the hyphenated version is the next best thing.

    Cons:

    • It’s easy to forget the hyphens when typing a name. This can be particularly problematic if the non-hyphenated version of your name is your competitor’s website.
    • When people recommend your site to others, there is more potential for errors than when the name does not contain hyphens. For example, how do you think your visitors will refer to your site if it is named “Indy-Lakeside-Realty.com”? They might say, “I visited Indy Lakeside Realty dot com yesterday. It was fabulous.” Their friends, remembering that comment later, might type into their browsers “indylakesiderealty.com”. Oops.
    • It’s a pain in the neck to type.
  10. Plurals, “The”, and “My” Forms of the Domain Name.  See the comments under hypens.  If the regular version of this domain is not a competitor site, then you can probably get away with it, since visitors who mistype the address will immediately see their error.  See etoy.com vs. etoys.com for an example.  But if is a competitor then I would stay away.
  11. COM, ORG, NET, etc?  The jury is out on this one.  Personally, I stick to .com names.  I wouldn’t get a .org version unless I was a nonprofit (which is what .org designates).  I might be persuaded to get a .net name but only if I really couldn’t find a better .com name and if the .com version isn’t a competitor.

Not creative?  Get on the mailing list for justdropped.com, which emails lists of expired domain names.  Or use Wordoid http://wordoid.com/ which creates a new word out of a fragment you specify.  Or use the suggestion tool at www.godaddy.com/whois (and you can use GoDaddy to register that perfect domain name once you’ve found it).

Indianapolis Social Media – Why Facebook is not Important (sort of)

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on June 22, 2010 | No Comments

Now that I have your attention, let me explain. When you think of social media keep in mind the end result is a mixture of your social content (photos, comments, video, etc.) with the social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Picasa, YouTube) that you select as your online vehicle(s) of choice. What’s important to know about social media sites is that they are driven entirely by users, that is, people like you and me. Facebook provides the framework, flush with  fancy bells and whistles, but the users truly make it come to life.

The reach of these social media sites is almost eye-popping. Consider this – NBC, ABC and CBS combined reach 10 million viewers each month. Facebook, YouTube and MySpace combined reach 250 million users. The impact is equally stunning. Think of the role social media played in the 2008 Presidential Election, how it has proven influential in elections around the globe. Facebookers even mounted a campaign in support of Betty White as host of SNL, and were successful!

In the long run, a particular social platform may have staying power, or it may fade into the sunset. Remember MySpace? It once held the lion’s share of the social media market but has been in decline while Facebook’s fortunes rose (literally). The same can be said with photo sharing sites. Flickr is the current titan, but PhotoBucket is gaining ground every day. As the technology behind social media platforms grows and evolves, many live and die based on their ability to stay ahead of the pack, as well as what the savvy consumer anoints the next big thing. Do you remember how you searched the web prior to Google? Me neither.

So while Facebook may be around a decade from now, you could just as easily find yourself saying, “Remember when we all had Facebook pages?” However, what isn’t going away is the fact that any user, anywhere, at any time, can post something of importance, whether a photo, video, or comment. Content generated by users is growing at an exponential rate. More data (texts, photos, videos) is being transmitted over cell phones than voice. And much of that data is housed on social media sites.

So do you need to get on Facebook? To me, that’s not the first question you ask. The first question is: “Do you need to engage in social media?” That answer is a resounding yes.

Indianapolis SEO – How search engines work

Posted in: Blog, Tech Tips by admin on June 11, 2010 | No Comments

If you have a website, you know how important it is for people to be able to find you in the major search engines.  You also probably know  that to get your site on page one of a search engine like Google, you need to “optimize your website,” also known as search engine optimization or SEO.    But do you know how a search engine actually goes about the task of deciding where to list your page?  Knowing the basics of how a search engine works is a good first step to understanding how to optimize your web pages.

Search engines perform three basic tasks.  First, they go out and find web pages.  Second, they keep an index of the pages they find.  Third, they rank those pages for a particular keyword and allow users to search for pages containing those words.

So how does a search engine find a web page?  There are no humans involved in this task.  It is done with the use of software robots called “spiders” that “crawl” the web (get it?)   The spider will typically start at a heavily used site, crawl through all the pages on the site and follow all the links from that site to other sites.  As it crawls pages, it builds lists of words found on those pages, notes on where the words are found, and indexes those lists.

Search engines index billions of pages annually, so the next step is to determine what order to display those pages when someone types in a particular search term.  It does that through the use of complex algorithms, or sorting techniques, based on what it finds on a page.  For example, if a spider reads the words “real estate,” “Indiana,” and “commercial,” it knows that this is a page about commercial real estate in Indiana and would likely show this as a result when a user types those words into a computer.

Note the use of the word “likely”.   It’s not a given that your page will show up for a particular word or phrase, and it is less of a given that it will show up on page one.  When you’re competing with thousands or even millions of other pages for a particular word, it helps to know how to structure your page to give it the best chance of it being listed highly in the results when a user searches on those words.  This is where search engine optimization comes in.

Now that you know how search engines work, stay tuned for future Tech Tips on how to optimize your pages.

If you need help optimizing your web pages or any other internet work, contact:

Valerie Baten
Online Architecture
317-253-2900 x110