Like all the other team members here at TPI I’m addicted to sharing and consuming data. I wake up, check Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email, then (if I have time) I play some Angry Birds. Throughout a typical day, I check Facebook way too much, tweet more than the average person, read a couple blog posts, check in to wherever I eat lunch, send 50+ emails and exchange instant messages with my coworkers. As a person who works in the social media world each day, I understand that I might visit these sites and share more data than the typical person, but depending on what kind of business you’re in, there are many ways data plays a part in your everyday life and for your company.
Consider the following infographic, courtesy of DOMO.
As Facebook has evolved over the years, the one thing that has essentially stayed the same is the Facebook News Feed. Earlier this month, they released a totally new look that we think users will love…eventually.
Facebook plans to filter content in a completely new way in an attempt to de-clutter the home page of the site. It’s no surprise that we all have a slight addiction to content and the new Facebook layout will attempt to satisfy those needs by organizing content into categories. Categories could be the kind of music you listen to, what games you play, updates on the pages you follow or and photos that might appeal to you and your friends.
Over the past few years Facebook found that people want more choices and control over what appears in their News Feed. People want specific areas where they can locate content quickly and easily. Zuckerberg stated, “We want to give the world the best personalized newspaper we can. Stories should be displayed with more than just text.” He adds, “50% of the content in the News Feed is photos and nearly 30% is page posts.”
That’s a lot of photos…
In response to these findings, Facebook is giving images top priority in the News Feed. As you can see, the new layout is simplified and really showcases photos in every facet, including third party apps, upcoming events and photos you share.
See events better with new event thumbnails:
See a better image of what your friends are doing with third party apps, like Pinterest:
Happy Super Bowl weekend! We know each and every one of you are looking forward to 4 things; the Super Bowl game, an endless offering of delicious Super Bowl appetizers, beer and, of course, the ONLY advertisements you actually look forward to watching! To get into the spirit of the weekend, we’ve put together a list of our favorite Super Bowl ads. So for your viewing and entertainment pleasure, here are our top 10 Super Bowl ads:
1. VW Jedi – May The Force Be With You. Come on, who doesn’t love a cute kid dressed up as Darth Vader?
2. E-Trade Baby
3. M&M Party – We love our chocolate, so this was an obvious choice for us.
As usual the holidays snuck up on us, which left us with 2 days to do our holiday card. But here at TPI, we are masters of rapid web design and development . Considering we did this in about 4 hours, we’re pretty proud of how this one turned out! Happy Holidays from our family of computer nerds and web designers to yours!
Facebook is taking a trick straight out of David Copperfield’s playbook today. I’ll call it the “Vanishing Post Act”. Let me explain. It all started last week. I uploaded a post to promote a sweepstakes on a page with over 40,000 fans. The post shows up on the page and I move on to my next task. 20 minutes later I check back and POOF!, the post has vanished! I refresh the page (thinking I did something wrong) and the post reappears. This happens a couple more times on different brand pages, but I brush it off as an issue with my browser (don’t even get me started on Firefox).
This morning, however, I’ve discovered with certainty that it’s not just me or my browser. Last night, before I left work, I made a post that looked something like this:
In the fast-paced world of today’s internet, the only thing that seems consistent is change. This is especially true when working with Facebook. The premier social network maintains it’s lead by constantly developing new web technologies and attempting to perfect existing feature sets. We love to see new features (most of the time!), but as a web developer, you get a very uncomfortable feeling every time you find out there will be updates to a service you are currently using. If your web design and development uses any web services at all, you probably have first hand experience of the havoc that can be wrought when API changes are implemented.
Fortunately, Facebook has made it trivially easy to manage the inevitable changes to their API. All changes are grouped into monthly migrations and listed in their Web Developer Roadmap, so that at any given time you can quickly see what changes are in the near future. Knowing what changes will be implemented in an API and when may help you sleep better, but running your production code against their production code is the only real test. Facebook excels here as well, by letting you manually opt-in to their breaking changes before they are officially implemented. You can do this by navigating to the Advanced page in the settings for your app and setting any of the items listed under the migrations section to enabled.
Time’s annual list of the 50 Best Websites is out and, as usual, is an excellent way to discover what’s new on the web. Our web designers use it to inspire ideas for the next big thing or waste a couple of hours looking at cool stuff.
My favorite from this year’s list is probably #25, Longform.org. I can (and often do) lose an entire afternoon on that site – on the weekends, of course
Is one of your favorite new places on the web listed? Anything you see that you’re particularly excited to check out?
Here at Thoughtprocess Interactive we are in the middle of a major rewrite of Relay CMS, the software platform we use for almost all our major web design projects. A big goal for the new version is task automation. With the push of a few buttons we’ll be able to install copies of the platform for new projects and push updates to existing projects when bugs are fixed or features are added later. Some of the automation tasks are taking serious amounts of new code to make happen, but others just mean adopting (and adapting) ideas and tools that are already out there. One of those big automation wins we’ve put in place is database migrations.
Relay CMS stores its data (the content of pages, configuration settings for the site, etc.) in a relational database, normally MySQL. The database schema (how the information is organized into tables) changes over time as parts of the platform change and new features are added. Some tables are added, others are modified, some tables may even go away. The problem we face is how to manage that change. Every web developer working on the project has multiple copies of the database. Whenever one web developer changes the structure, that change needs to make it out to all the other copies used by all the other web developers. The problem is how to make this simple and as close to automatic as possible, so database changes doesn’t take too much time from forward progress and don’t introduce mistakes (the copies don’t become different from each other).
The solution we’ve arrived at is database migrations, which is an idea popularized by the Ruby on Rails web framework. The concept is actually pretty simple — rather than changing the database manually (either by typing instructions at the MySQL command line or using some interactive tool like phpMyAdmin), each change is written in code in a file. (In Rails the code is written in a domain-specific language specific to Rails, in the solution we adopted it is just plain SQL). That file is a “migration” and each migration is part of a set of migrations managed by a command line application. You use the app to create a new empty migration file and after editing the file, you use the app to “run” the migration and cause the database change to happen.
As anybody who’s ever paid for a service knows, it’s not unreasonable to expect dependable answers to questions like “do you have time to do (X)?” and “when will it be done?” Conversely, anybody who regularly provides a service knows those questions are devilishly difficult to answer accurately — unless you are willing to turn away work in order to maintain a safe amount of ‘pad’ in your schedule. Most businesses can’t stomach that sort of inefficiency, and web design and development, ours is no different. What’s to be done?
An alarming number of businesses seem to implement (either de-facto or by design) the “promise-first, figure it out later” school of scheduling. It’s amazing how often this approach works, but it has the unfortunate side effect of rewarding the squeaky wheel and punishing the client with the most patience — inevitably inviting clients to act accordingly.
Some businesses take the “punish everyone equally” approach — either by refusing to commit to a schedule at all, or by committing only to a broad ‘window’ that places the burden of dealing with variability on the client. Think ‘cable installer.’
Some services are consistent enough to be deliverable in pre-defined timeslots, such as doctor’s appointments or piano lessons. That works great when it’s a single service delivered by a single person, but it’s woefully inadequate for a web design and development team like ours. By way of example: TPI worked on 91 projects for 34 clients in the month of August. We have 10 deadlines in the next 30 days and we estimate 1829 hours of work outstanding on currently active projects, spread across 12 people and divided into 3881 tasks which vary in length and required skillset (web design, application development, copywriting, social media, etc).
I want you to think for a moment about the Facebook brand pages you follow. Think about what they post on a day to day basis and what type of benefits you get from those posts. Are you done thinking?
I’m willing to bet that the pages you’re thinking about are not up on their soapboxes blasting daily deals, scheduled brand events or asking you to do their work for them and share their page with all of your friends! Am I right?
You can probably think of a few pages like those I’m talking about and you’ve probably “unliked” those pages since they were doing nothing but selling to you because, lets face it, that’s just plain boring. If you’re in the process of building a community or if you already have a brand page, but are not getting any interaction then keep reading! These tips can make or break your social media presence:
First you need to evaluate your demographic. You wouldn’t sell jewelery to women the same way you would to men, right?…right?
Take the time to really experiment with your posts. Ask questions that are relevant to the industry you’re in (I’ll pretend we’re selling jewelry again). For example if you’re demographic is 20-30 year old women, you might ask something like, “When you get engaged what is most important to you about the ring you’ll wear forever? Style, diamond clarity or carat?” If you’re selling to 20-30 year old men you might ask, “Ok guys, we want to know, when you popped the question do you really remember what you said, or were you too nervous?” See how I asked fun, relevant questions?
Days and times matter! If you’re located in New York you may not want to post something at 8:00 am when most people in the U.S. are just waking up. Wait until a time when the greatest number of people are usually most active. Start experimenting around lunch hours, evening hours and weekends. Here is a great read from Mashable about Best Time Practices. But remember, every community is different. Find out what works best for you and do it!
Post photos. People tend to just skim through the Facebook News Feed, but if there’s a photo they are more likely to stop and look at it rather than pass it by. Make sure you include a call-to-action to get fans to interact with the post, not just look at it.
Coupons & Specials. Of course, if you have a coupon or are having a sale, you want to share this information with your fans. Just don’t overdo it! I like to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the content you publish or share should pertain to things that really matter to your audience. The other 20% can be about your products, services and promotions.
Check your analytics. Social sites offer free analytics. Take advantage of them! Utilizing these numbers can really give you great insight into what your fans are interacting with, what they like, what they dislike and what they’re sharing. If you’re interested in learning more about analytics, make sure you check back in the next few weeks. I’ll be doing a post all about these important numbers and what they mean for you.
See who’s already talking about you. There’s a ton of information online and more than likely, there are people out there already talking about you! Make finding these conversations easy on yourself by using programs like Icerocket, Google Alerts, and Twilert.
Have fun and be yourself! Every person is different and so is every brand. Make sure your brand “voice” resonates with your page. If your brand is fun and quirky then make sure your page’s voice matches that. Skittles does a wonderful job of this. Do your research and get ideas from other pages that might be similar to your audience. It’s very easy to see what works and what doesn’t.
It takes time to do all these things, but if you build it, they will come! And of course if you’re having a hard time or if you just don’t have the time, the web design and development professionals at TPI can help you with all your marketing and social media needs! Just give us a call, email, tweet, Facebook message, comment…you get the point