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Pick a Card, Any Card: The 8 Twitter Cards and Your Website

29 August

Twitter_Cards_Play

Last year, Twitter introduced a new feature called Twitter Cards. They’ve really started to push the Cards this summer, around the time that I was getting introduced to Twitter generally (and no, I do not in fact, live under a rock). It seemed worthwhile to investigate, and determine if Twitter Cards are actually beneficial or just another pushy social media experiment.

What is a Twitter Card?

An example of a Gallery Card, from https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/types/gallery-card

An example of a Gallery Card, from https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/types/gallery-card

It may not appear to be anything impressive or noteworthy- look at it, it’s just a picture and some words, and it happens to be on Twitter. So what? As is the case with most internet-related content, there’s actually more than meets the eye here. A website has to have Twitter Cards set up in order for this image to happen, otherwise, any links that get shared on Twitter will show up as, well, links (more on Card setup later).

There are 8 different kinds of Twitter Cards (and you can have as many as you want):

  1. Gallery (a mini photo gallery, in a 4×4 set up- see above)
  2. Summary (shows page title, description, featured image, and Twitter handle)
  3. Photo (self-explanatory, but also shares photos from other places, like Flickr)
  4. App (Shares an app and its download link)
  5. Player (Plays audio or video right on Twitter)
  6. Product (displays a product from your site, description, cost)
  7. Lead Generation (displays item, such as ebook or newsletter, with a “sign-up” or “subscribe” button that automatically signs a person up using their Twitter account e-mail
  8. Website (displays homepage or desired landing page, site title, a featured image, and “Read More” button).

The great thing is that you don’t even have to use all of these cards (or any, for that matter). Just determine what appears to be the most beneficial for your business, and use those. Do you have an online store? Consider the product card. Are you an App developer? You probably should have the App Card. And so on.

Since Twitter Cards are relatively new, there isn’t enough big data to showcase their success (or lack thereof). Here are a list of pros and cons:

Why They’re Cool:

First, Twitter Cards give Twitter a more visual component. Sure, you could share pictures before, but if you wanted to link to a website, it wouldn’t pull up a picture to go along with the text. As we’ve mentioned before, when you can integrate appropriate visuals to enhance text, people are usually more interested in what you have to say.

Not only do the cards make Twitter a more visual platform, they also work for your website. For example, the Summary card gives viewers a rundown of what your website is all about, which may be more enticing than a bare link. An image, brief description, and title are more appealing (and have more value) to the human psyche than a string of letters and maybe some symbols. Additionally, having a Player Card for your audio and visual content could get more people watching your video. I’ll admit, I’m a bit lazy, and the more things I have to click through to watch a minute long video, the less likely I am to commit. The Player Card lets you watch it right on Twitter. The Lead Generation Card also makes life convenient for your followers: This newsletter looks interesting, but it’s probably a pain to subscribe…Oh wait, I just had to click the button? Boom!

Finally, Twitter Cards have their own set of analytics that you can follow. We LOVE analytics! You can see how many people are clicking on your tweet, how many are getting to your website, and which cards are generating the most engagement. If posts with Player Cards are getting a large response, but Gallery Cards are getting ignored, you can figure out where to focus your energy (and maybe just nix the Gallery Cards altogether).

A sample of the analytics you can get from the cards.

A sample of the analytics you can get from the cards.

Why They’re Annoying:

It seems like this is Twitter’s way of getting in on the visual game, moving towards Facebook or Google+’s image sharing capabilities. As someone with a younger brother, I’m overly sensitive to the whole “copycat” business. Be yourself, Twitter!

The message that “this is good for you and your business!” may be true, but don’t be fooled- Twitter Cards are just as much for Twitter as they are for you. They’re looking for ways to boost numbers of users and engagement for their own purposes, and they’re hoping the Card option will achieve just that.

You have to jump through some hoops to set it up, and is it really worth it? Ok, in the grand scheme of the universe, 15 minutes or less isn’t really that much of a commitment. But seeing the meta tags that one has to add on a website seems a bit daunting, even for someone who is somewhat familiar with code. The good news is that sites running on WordPress have a few plug-ins that can do the heavy-lifting. Otherwise, you have to do it manually.

Sample code for setting up Photo Cards. Eek?

Sample code for setting up Photo Cards. Eek?

The best way to determine if Twitter Cards are worth your while is to try it out for a bit. Most of the “annoying” occurs during the set-up process, but you may end up reaping some serious benefits. Check out your own analytics, and if you see an uptick in engagement or traffic to your website, it’s probably worth it.

Tech Thursday: WordCamp 2014, or Why You Should Go to Conferences

28 August

It’s Tech Thursday…in Cambridge! We’re reporting from WordCamp Boston 2014, and thought it would be fun to film while we’re here!

Professional development is important in all industries, and conferences are a perfect example. They give you the chance to learn new industry specific things that you may not have come across otherwise. Plus, it gives you a chance to meet people you’ve heard of or interacted with online (i.e. tweeting or reading their blogs). And, perhaps most importantly, it helps your customers! Keeping your industry knowledge up to date ensures that your customers are getting quality service.

Conferences: they’re good and good for you!

(Sorry about the windiness, apparently it was a bit blustery out!)

What I Learned At Wordcamp This Summer: Nicole’s Takeaways

26 August

2014-boston-wordcamp-logoThere is always something to know… and even though I’ve been working in WordPress since 2008, I am always blown away not only with the new technology coming out but new ways of using features that I’m already familiar with.

Wordcamp Boston took place at one of MIT’s state of the art buildings and there were about 300 of us on hand to drink coffee and learn what we could from each other. The fact they had 8 sessions (!) in one day I was a little worried about but 45 minutes each was somehow manageable and fun.

We not only attended the after party but also the after-after party where we got to hang out with cool ‘celebrities’ like Sam Hotchkiss, creator of BruteProtect and a rep from Sucuri, a service we’ve used and loved. (A rep from GoDaddy was there too, apparently his sister makes GREAT fondant, and he took the elephant shooting jokes we made about a former GoDaddy exec  in stride!)

Here’s what we learned:

Accessibility is key.
It was fun to meet Jordan Quintal who has a firm that specializes in accessible sites for the disabled. As one of the 1 billion people worldwide who has a disability, Jordan talked about features I just thought were pretty, like mouseover color changes, and how you can test your site’s accessibility level. Bonus is these tools give specific improvements you can make on your own website. You can see his presentation (from a previous conference) here: Jordan’s Presentation about Accessibility (Video)

Us as mad scientists at Wordcamp.Live tweeting is still awesome.
Because of Twitter, not only did we get some of the talking points and ideas of other talks going on at the same time (I literally can’t be in two places at the same time after all!) but it also connected us with some cool people, including Myrna, head of Good Egg Marketing who we hope to collaborate with on some future projects.

Seeing Matt Baya should happen more than once a year.
The fact that the picture with this blog post is the only picture of Kassie and I at this conference is a little sad. And super sad we didn’t get one with Matt. But as usual he blew our minds, this time introducing us to Yik Yack.

My favorite talk of the whole conference was David Hickox’s talk about Designing for Content. Really great overview and actually got me excited about sexy topics like line spacing and h5 tags!

Overall, great job Wordcamp organizers on a smooth conference with a nice range of presenters. Let’s do it again next year!

Tech Thursday: On Website Maintenance

21 August

After some recent car troubles and a sunburn, we came up with an idea for this edition of Tech Thursday.

Ever had a noise under the hood of your car that you don’t want to deal with right now? It’s easier to just turn up the radio- problem solved, right? Nope. Eventually, your whole engine will just implode and you’ll be stranded on the side of the road. Suddenly, you’ll wish you’d had that noise checked out earlier.

Okay, so that’s a bit dramatic, but the point is, regular maintenance on anything is important, websites included. We’re going to offer some ways that you can maintain your website and prevent a crash later on.

What’s in a Tagline?

19 August

Taglines have been around since the dawn of advertising. Brands seeking a way to stand out among competitors, to have their voices heard above all the others, have often utilized these simple yet effective marketing tools. The general goal for a tagline is to be timeless, unique, and true to the business. Remember the whole Verizon “Can you hear me now?” Or TNT’s “We know drama”? Admittedly, there are just as many terrible taglines out there as there are amazing. So, what are the elements of a decent tagline?

You sure do TNT, you sure do.

You sure do TNT, you sure do.

First and foremost, a tagline should be short. It shouldn’t just be your mission statement verbatim, or a list of your businesses promises. You don’t want to make people feel like they’re trying to memorize the first 18 lines of The Canterbury Tales. Where images and logos offer the “show, don’t tell” mentality, taglines are more of a “tell, but tell it quickly.” Your tagline should reflect your mission and overall philosophy. For instance, you shouldn’t be a community radio station with the tagline “The World is Yours.” It doesn’t really correspond with our business, and I also got that from Scarface, so it’s already been used (oh, yeah-taglines should also be original).

You also want something that can withstand the test of time (to a degree). Most taglines have a lifespan of at least a few years: there’s a happy medium of frequency somewhere on a scale of updating your Facebook status  to “This is how it must stay until the end of times.” In other words, creating a tagline doesn’t have to be a “‘Til death” commitment (Coca-Cola has cycled through some taglines over the years), but you will want something that’s going to stick for a bit.

It’s also a good idea to consider the type of business you have when thinking about taglines. Different industries have different tagline generation formulas. Service based businesses tend to use taglines that reflect reliability and quality, along the lines of “Service you can trust.” For example, Orkin recently used the tagline is “Pest control down to a science.” This tagline works because a) it demonstrates what they do (get rid of pests), b) gives them a bit of authority and expertise (i.e. we’re so good, we have this down to a science). This tagline gives the message “We will take care of your problem easily and efficiently, don’t you worry.” It’s not warm and fuzzy, but it is comforting. Examples of warm and fuzzy taglines are Olive Garden’s “When you’re here, you’re family,” or Allstate’s “You’re in good hands” (plus, the whole James Earl Jones bit helps).

Allstate_Tag

I can’t help but read this in James Earl Jones’ voice.

Taglines for product based businesses are less about reliability guarantees, and more about standing out as a brand. These taglines are all about what makes a product special, different from the rest, and rely more on the brand’s story. Some product based taglines that you’re most likely familiar with include “Just do it” from Nike, “Be a hero” from GoPro, “They’re magically delicious” from Lucky Charms, or even “They’re grrrrrrrrrreat!” from Frosted Flakes. These taglines are all award-winning in terms of brevity- two to three words. And, they each hint at a promise. GoPro’s message suggests that YOU can go out and be a hero, with the help of their product. These taglines also address something unique about the product. What sets Frosted Flakes apart from the store brand Sugar Coated Corn-esque Flakes? Well, they’re grrrrrrrrrrrreat! Not just “they’re great,” that doesn’t sell. But “They’re grrrrrrrrrrrreat?” Now we’re getting somewhere.

Gr-r-reat, you say? I'm in.

Gr-r-reat, you say? I’m in.

Last but not least, considering the message of the non-profit sector. These are usually a “good for the community and/or world” message. Most non-profits use simple taglines that emphasize their mission, such as Doctor’s Without Borders: “Medical aid where it is needed most. Independent. Neutral. Impartial.” It’s a bit lengthier than the other examples, but it clearly conveys what the organization does, as well as their focus. People come first, not other institutions or organizations.  Another non-profit example is Smithsonian’s tagline: “Seriously Amazing.” And, if you’ve ever been to any of the Smithsonian museums, this tagline seems fairly accurate.

Smithsonian_Tag

If you’re considering a tagline for your business, this article is a good starting point. In general, short, sweet, and true to your mission are always the way to go. In fact, you know who does a killer tagline? Little Caesar’s Pizza: “Pizza, Pizza.” 

 

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

We Can All Go-Pro

15 August

A couple years ago, when I’d first heard of GoPro, I assumed it was something used exclusively by hardcore outdoorsy people or extreme sports enthusiasts. It may have started out that way, but after watching a 60 Minutes segment with Go-Pro CEO Nick Woodman the other night, it seems like this product has morphed into a household name. I felt pretty inspired by the whole thing.

GoProLogo

An Entrepreneur at Heart

In particular, Woodman’s entrepreneurial spirit captured my attention. Here was an almost 40 year-old guy who seems a LOT younger. This is not solely based on appearance, but use of words like “stoked” (which I love), his high energy level/exuberance, and clear passion for what he’s created. (As an additional disclaimer, I’m terrible at gauging other people’s ages). Go-Pro was by no means his first business idea. In the early 2000s, when he was 24 (my current age), he started a business called Funbug, which didn’t take off.

Everyone loves a comeback story.

Instead of giving up completely, Woodman retreated (abroad and then in his VW van) for some personal reflection, and came back with GoPro. The power of example here doesn’t just lie in the idea of perseverance. Sure, Woodman was wildly successful on his second go-around with innovation, but what struck me was how his approach changed. The idea and prototype process for GoPro started around 2001, but it took another ten or so years before it really took off (check out this timeline from Forbes for an in-depth look at GoPro’s story).

Video Sharing for All

But just why is something like Go-Pro so popular? Besides setting itself apart from regular cameras, or their rivals-the smartphone (it has been referred to as a “rugged gadget,” which seems accurate), GoPro found itself “in the right place at the right time.”

Video sharing, as discussed in a few of our other blog posts (like this one on SEO and online video), is becoming increasingly prominent in the online world. We have sites like Upworthy, YouTube, and Vine, which all rely on video content. GoPro offers a way to create and star in your own video, whether your idea of hardcore is slack-lining between skyscrapers or taking a swig of milk straight from the bottle (don’t act like you haven’t done it).

Example Footage:

Along the lines of the “every day,” there’s this video of the baby on a skateboard. People enjoy it because it’s cute, simple, and accessible. There wasn’t a huge amount of skill required for this particular video (although this baby would probably disagree), so people get the sense of “Oh yea, I could maybe make something like that!”

Other videos are a bit wilder. These take you on a different kind of journey, perhaps in a plummeting-to-the-ground-in-a-freefall sort of way. They’re fun to watch because many of them give you a sense that you’re there, too. You get to see what’s going on, from a safe distance, and who knows- maybe you’ll want to go do something bold, too. For those who enjoy skydiving, surfing, taming grizzlies, running with bulls, or that sort of activity, GoPro offers a way to document it and say “Hey, check out this thing I just did!”

Kudos to GoPro for showing us how marketing, perseverance and passion can help a business flourish (even if it takes some time). Who knows if I’ll ever go skydiving or do that crazy flying squirrel thing, but if I do, you can bet I’m getting it on film.