March, 2013

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Google Announces Animated GIF Filter

Google announced on March 19 the introduction of a new image search function that provides the ability to easily and quickly search for animated GIFs using an animated GIF filter. Prior to this change, finding GIFs has been an arduous task, and the response to the change has been overwhelmingly positive. With the new change of Google GIF search, select “animated” under “search tools” and choose GIF as the type. The change to Google’s image search includes the ability to narrow the search to transparent images as well. This enhancement is of benefit to those looking for the GIFs but may have an even larger impact to publishers who use GIFs with regard to their visibility.

How GIF Search will Impact SEO

The Google animated GIF filter will speed up the process of finding GIFs to embed, allowing publishers and bloggers to publish more quickly and therefore more frequently using GIFs. And because more people will be able to find GIFs easily, the number of searches for GIFs will increase, so having them on a site will net new visitors.

The direct impact of the search change on SEO is unknown, but because GIFs have been around since the 1800s and are one of the most popular formats for publishers, making them easier to find and use will increase the likelihood that more websites will feature GIFs. Animated GIFs are easy to make, quick to use, and don’t take up much space, so they load quickly. They add visible interest to blogs and websites, increase time spent on the site, and encourage increased pageviews.

Read the Google announcement here.

How to Leverage Facebook Design Changes

Why Bother with Facebook?

This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis, especially now, as each time I add a post to my page, I am given the option of spending up to $50 to reach 5,000 people.

Over the past two years, I’ve seen decent growth in my personal blog, MomsGetReal, which has gone from about 2,000 unique views per month and about 10,000 pageviews per month to more than 10,000 unique pageviews and 40,000 pageviews per month.

While Facebook is responsible for driving some of that growth, Pinterest has actually been responsible for more traffic (by about a third) than Facebook (although the resulting addiction to Pinterest is certainly something to consider). Even though Twitter sends less traffic to the site, it provides a better platform for networking. My connections on Twitter have resulted in paid advertising for my blog, participation in promotional events that improve brand awareness and wonderful, enriching partnerships. Google+ allows me to connect more effectively with people who share interests.

But Facebook is not going away, and the changes they are making to their algorithms (whether they admit it or not), combined with the rollout of EdgeRank last year and now the up-and-coming visual redesign (which is not yet fully available, though most people can sign up for a waiting list), makes Facebook something we will have to continue to contend with.

What’s Changing?

According to Facebook, the new design will be image intensive, with better control over what appears in your stream and the ability to define streams based on content. This is very much like Google+ Circles, which demonstrates that Facebook not only sees Google as a threat but is also trying to keep up with their design. While I ultimately predict Google+ will have the ability to dominate, thanks to its integration with all other Google-based products and because I think everyone should be on Google+ now, it’s not worth giving up on Facebook just yet.

Facebook’s Three Major Changes

  1. Image display will be larger. Images are shared a lot, and Facebook is making it even easier to share them, giving up more landscape to those images and changing the way the accompanying text will appear. Because the text will now overlay the image, it will be important to keep that in mind when you have commentary to accompany your image.

  1. Newsfeed. Users will now be able to define what appears in their feeds, and this is where managing pages gets tricky for businesses and communities. If users choose to have only friends show up in their feed, the only way your page will show up is if their friends liked or shared your content. Brand cheerleaders have never been more important, making engagement critical to visibility.

  1. Mobility Rules. The best change to come out of the latest revamp is that Facebook is making it easier to use the platform on any mobile device. This change provides a consistent look whether you’re using a phone, tablet or laptop. The mobile redesign will roll out first to iPhone and iPad, then to Android devices.

These changes not only will alter the way your page is seen, since users will have more control over their newsfeeds, but they will also make image-intensive and video-intensive posts far more appealing than plain text updates. If you want to have your posts viewed, liked and shared, a strong image-based marketing effort will be required.

What the Changes Mean for Social Media Managers

For those who use Hootsuite to provide bulk updates to clients, be prepared to have a more labor-intensive experience with clients who want an image-based campaign. Hootsuite is not capable of offering a bulk update that includes an image, so the only option is a manual update via the page admin or via Hootsuite one post at a time.

How to Handle the Changes

As the Facebook changes roll out, both companies and page managers need to take steps to leverage the improved image and video visibility, but the real focus needs to be on engagement. You need to turn your fans into brand cheerleaders and your brand cheerleaders into evangelists. So in the end, it really doesn’t matter what the design or platform is that you’re using. It’s not a matter of having the most images; it’s a matter of having great fans who love you enough to share what you post.

If you need help bringing  your social media up to speed, DaSh factor can help.

Writing and Grammar are Important, Especially in a Virtual World

by David T. Bruce

Most of us would never consider going to a job interview wearing less than our Sunday best. Our hair would be properly groomed, our teeth would be brushed and our oratory skills would be as polished as our résumés. What we wear as business professionals matters, because people draw conclusions and form first impressions about us based on how we look and how we promote ourselves.

Perhaps an advantage of working in front of a computer screen or from a handheld device is that you don’t have to put on a front if you are having a bad hair day. An advantage of working from home and building virtual professional relationships is that your clients and co-workers don’t have to know that you are working in your sweats or pajamas. On the Internet, clothes don’t make the man or woman. You can make your first impression based on your credentials, your résumé.

Another powerful way to make a good first impression – or not – is in the way that you use language. Simply put: Words are your wardrobe. As your résumé communicates your experience, your choice and use of words reflects your professionalism, your voice and your personality. Consider the number of business letters, blogs, emails and tweets that you post, each highlighting these attributes. Poor grammar and sentence structure, as well as communiqués sprinkled with spelling and proofreading errors, communicate either a language deficit or a lack of attention to detail, leaving the reader with a bad first impression of your skills and ultimately of you as a professional.

Poor grammar is indeed a communication crisis that becomes evident when we speak and when we write. And improving grammar certainly doesn’t mean that writing needs to become snobbish and long-winded. On the contrary, in many instances, writing can be improved by using smaller words and shorter sentences.

Given the immediacy of social media and the expediency in which communication is delivered, the benefit of taking time to write, edit and proofread professionally becomes fundamental. Review your grammar rules and review your writing before sending, posting or tweeting.

Will Rogers said that “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression,” and in the virtual business realm of the Internet, that chance has global implications and may  instantaneously become extinct with a click or a swipe. Conceivably, you might not get a first chance to make any impression. So make your impression count.