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On the hero, hub, hygiene content strategy - Dig Content

Hero, hub and hygiene content – a strategy that Google has been touting for some time with special emphasis on Youtube – doesn’t need to start and end with video. As I explored in my last post on content strategy, there’s a very valuable place for it right there behind your blog or your brand’s website, and it can be a great structure on which to hang your overall story. For those at the back, let’s begin with a recap of what the strategy is. Google present it using the example of Volvo trucks and their success with Jean Claude Van Damme, so we’ll look at that first, before exploring an area where it has been applied successfully in the past.

  • Hero content is designed to inspire, entertain and attract both new and loyal customers.
  • Hub content takes the form of regular pieces that loyal customers expect, such as weekly or monthly updates.
  • Hygiene content aims to answer questions from customers.

Lynda.com Course: Developing Secure WordPress Sites | Perishable Press

This is definitely going on my queue at Lynda.com!

Course Description

with some basic site configuration, code updates, and free plugins, you can make an existing or brand-new WordPress site much more secure. Beginning with the basics (your backup/restore and password settings), author Jeff Starr explains how to harden WordPress by setting up user roles, configuring authentication keys, and setting proper file permissions. 

Topics Include:

  • Backing up and restoring your site
  • Setting up strong passwords
  • Understanding users and roles
  • Choosing trusted plugins and themes
  • Changing and recovering passwords
  • Configuring authentication keys
  • Securing the login page
  • Fighting spam in the comments
  • Blocking access and detecting hacks
  • Building a firewall for WordPress
  • Detecting and blocking bots
  • Auditing your WordPress security

All In One WordPress Security and Firewall Plugin

Currently thinking this is the best Wordpress security plugin.

A comprehensive, user-friendly, all in one WordPress security and firewall plugin for your site.

All In One WP Security also uses an unprecedented security points grading system to measure how well you are protecting your site based on the security features you have activated.

Our security and firewall rules are categorized into "basic", "intermediate" and "advanced". This way you can apply the firewall rules progressively without breaking your site's functionality.

The All In One WordPress Security plugin doesn't slow down your site and it is 100% free.

  • User Accounts Security
  • User Login Security
  • User Registration Security
  • Database Security
  • File System Security
  • htaccess and wp-config.php File Backup and Restore
  • Blacklist Functionality
  • Firewall Functionality
  • Brute force login attack prevention
  • WhoIs Lookup
  • Security Scanner
  • Comment SPAM Security
  • Front-end Text Copy Protection
  • Regular updates and additions of new security features
  • Works with Most Popular WordPress Plugins

How to Automatically Reshare Your Social Media Updates

Via Social Media Examiner:

In this article, you’ll discover how to use IFTTT and Google Calendar to publish and repeat your social media posts for as long as you want.

Keeping your social media accounts filled with content can be a full-time job. But delivering content to your audience is a crucial part of your social media marketing.

Now you can automate and loop your posts using free apps such as IFTTT and Google Calendar. The process takes 15 minutes to set up and a few more minutes to populate your CSV file. But when you’re done, you’ll have your posts automatically publishing to your social media accounts and looping too!

This process works well for both Twitter and Facebook.

Official Google Blog: Say hello to Google Allo: a smarter messaging app

So Google have release Allo:

Today, we’re releasing Google Allo, a new smart messaging app for Android and iOS that helps you say more and do more right in your chats. Google Allo can help you make plans, find information, and express yourself more easily in chat. And the more you use it, the more it improves over time.

 But why would you install it?

Here are just a few ways your Google Assistant can help in Google Allo:

Make plans with friends. You can easily move from discussing dinner with friends to making plans for the night, right in your chat. Just add the Assistant to your group chat and ask for movie times, local restaurants and more. You can also research travel destinations, flights and hotels together with friends.

Get answers. Get the latest info on everything from news, weather, traffic, sports, or your upcoming flights status. Ask the Assistant to send you daily updates on the information you care about.

Have some fun. Ask your Assistant to share that funny YouTube video or play games with friends right in your group chat — for instance you can compete to guess a movie title based on a series of emojis.

Use Sentiment Analysis To Understand Your Customers

12 min read

Sentiment analysis provides the tools which enable you to learn what your customers are saying about your product. This will help you build a better understanding of your customers.

[caption id="attachment_833" align="alignright" width="100"] Download this article as a PDF[/caption]

“Sentiment analysis or opinion mining refers to the application of natural language processing, computational linguistics, and text analytics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentiment_analysis

Eh?

Basically it’s good to know what people are saying about your company or your product.

So how do you gather this information?

In the old days, companies spent lots of cash doing consumer research by surveying people on the street, in focus groups and via the telephone. Today, companies can ask people to complete online surveys when the visit their website or contact them via email to follow up an online purchase. Despite the advancement in technology, the questions remain the same.
What do you think of the service? How easy was the transaction? Would you recommend the product? And so on.
However, people lie in surveys. Think about it. How truthful are you when you complete a survey? Do you always tick the right age box? What about your financials, do you pretend to have a £10k or a £100k a year job. I mean what harm does it actually do?

The point I’m making is that the research is only so good. It’s like stats.
63% of people who visited this blog ‘liked’ the page on facebook.
Over what time period?
The previous stat doesn't reveal that! Stats can be used to hide a lot of relevant information.

So what are the options?

Customer surveys are only part of tracking feedback. We live in a culture which publishes blogs, reviews, status updates and emotions online and in public. This is good as it allows companies to mine that data for references that are relevant to them. Sentiment analysis allows you to use that information to find out what people are saying about your company / brand / products / staff.

How to start.

Define your overarching objective and be realistic.
Why do you want to know what your customers are saying?
Is it going to affect your price point, your marketing strategy, what products / services you provide?
Be honest.

What’s your budget?
Do you have the resources to carry out customer surveys?
Ask your customers a direct question. If you are on social networking sites, ask your followers for feedback. You can use the front page of your website to promote a customer feedback survey or just ask people to complete a comments section.

Let’s talk about conducting online research

You could go to google and enter a search term and collate the results, but how useful would that be?
Sentiment analysis is all about getting real data together that you can then use to shape your future strategy, policy, or product line.

Before discussing some of the tools that can help you conduct your research I want to explain how you will score content so that it is actually useful.

Let’s use the example that you’re trying to find out what people think of the “iPhone”.

Example content from a review site:
“I bought an iPhone 3GS. Well I say bought, but it was free with a contract. The contract is expensive but the phone will be worth it. I hope! After only a few hours use I can see that the battery wont last all day, but I don’t mind as I’ve already downloaded lots of cool apps. I love Apple products.”

Example content from twitter:
“One thing I can't live without? My iPhone 4.”

Example content from facebook:
Woohoo!! Just got a white iPhone. I’m now one of the cool kids ;) Anyone know any good apps or have tips on how I can really make use of it? I can’t figure out how to get my music onto it either, any help would be great. Thanks.”

Example review from Apple.com:
“The iPhone 4 is the best phone ever, not just by design but it also has the best apps. I use it everyday.”

Example review from Play.com
“The HTC Sensation is way better than the iPhone. While people claim the iPhone has better apps, that is no longer the case. The HTC has a far better battery than the iPhone and while the iPhone has a great screen, it’s smaller than the sensation as it therefore not as good”.

From the five examples above the iPhone would seem to get favourable reviews. However, let’s take a closer look.
To quantify the data you need to set some parameters.
Who is writing these reviews? Let’s assume that they are written by ordinary people.
Do they seem genuine? I believe that the reviews above are genuine.
What are they talking about? The iPhone of course!
Really?
Which model?

This is the first obstacle you will encounter. From the outset the search term was too broad and produced results that weren't specific enough. Each of the examples could be talking about a different iPhone. Not one mention the size of the included memory.

Keep thinking about your overall goal. If your objective is just to research the brand “iPhone” then the examples above can still be used. If it’s to assess the iPhone 4 then the first review can be discounted.

Once you are sure that the data you have collated is valid i.e. refers specifically to the task at hand, you should then try and score each statement. You can do this by asking the following questions:
Is the statement positive?
Is the statement negative?
Is the statement neutral?

You will need to develop a scale which you can then score the statement against e.g. a positive statement receives a score of +2, neutral 0 and negative -2.

It’s not always easy to judge whether a statement is positive or not. There are additional factors that will need to be considered.

  • What are the emotional components of the sentence and how do these influence the classification e.g. anger, sadness or happiness?
  • We would need to how much influence that statement could have e.g. is it a tweet to 20 people or an article on Amazon?
  • Is the facebook page private?
  • Is the statement opinion or fact?
  • Is the statement provided by the owner or is the statement a quote by another?

In the examples above I have added the bold font and red colour, but what if the original author used different fonts to create emphasis on their words?
The intended message could have a different meaning with certain words written in bold. It is important that you factor this into you calculation. Consider why a person has taken the time to highlight a positive (or negative) feature.

Where does the author mention the pros and cons of the product within the review? These positional features indicate the strength of the piece. A review that starts on a negative tone will most likely be negative overall. People tend to lead with their strongest emotion.

Here is a quick guide on what to do:
1. Determine objective - “I bought an iPhone”.
2. Determine document subjectivity - is it a factual statement or opinion?
3. Determine document orientation - is the statement positive, negative or neutral?
4. Determine the strength of the orientation - i.e. weakly positive, mildly positive or strongly positive.
5. Determine the sentiment - what emotional components are in the statement i.e. it’s a nice phone.
6. When was the statement written? This can help deduce what product model the review refers to.

If you follow these six steps you will have a good understanding of what the statement says about your company or product.

What if an article contains both positive and negative phrases? How can that be evaluated? Is there a weighting formula?
Break up the statement into scoring chunks.
Weight the statement by keyword, emphasis (e.g. bold type), where it’s published, small following, how influential, private / public etc.
Things to remember: how many times is the keyword mentioned? Is there a lot of emphasis? Does the person have a small social media following? Is it a popular website? Is the post public or private?

I suggest that you plot this data on a chart
Bar charts can help you visualise the data

1 = keyword
2 = positive orientation
3 = negative orientation
4 = level of influence
5 = negative orientation

This is just an example to give you an idea of how useful plotting your data on a chart or a graph will be in determining the overall sentiment associated with just one phrase.

Of course, you will be able to find many different sources of information regarding your company or products, the trouble is how do you quantify them all? Is that realistic? I firmly believe that depending on the volume, companies should only take a snapshot of data e.g. information published one week per month or one month per year and analyse that. I would account for any outside influences e.g. product launches or news related items about your company during this time period.

You should look at each resource individually i.e. score updates on twitter, then score updates on facebook, then product review sites, then blogs etc. Once this is completed you will have total scores for each network that you can then plot on another graph which will give you an overall snapshot of opinion.You may decide to weight each network differently e.g. if you sell on Amazon, an Amazon review is going to be more influential than a blog post.

A simple formula that could help you with this process is:

Ci = {C1, C-3, C4, C0}

and

D = {Ci, Cii, Ciii, Civ, Cv}

C can be used to represent a classification e.g. a keyword. So if your company was trying to assess sentiment against a range of products each product would be identified by a different keyword and hence would be represented by Ci, Cii, Ciii etc.
Ci is the sum of the figures within the series {C1, C-3, C4, C0}.
C can also represent different places you have researched e.g. Ci = twitter, Cii = facebook, Ciii = Amazon etc.
You just need to make sure that you understand what you need C to represent and then run with it.

D will represent your companies / products overall score and will provide a representative sentiment analysis.
D is the sum of the figures within the series {Ci, Cii, Ciii, Civ, Cv}

A screenshot of the twitter sentiment website
If you find that you are swamped by data you can try using an automated service such as Twitter Sentiment(screenshot above) which is “a Twitter sentiment analysis tool. Research the positive and negative opinions about a product or brand.”

Tools

There are many tools that you can use to track sentiment online, but you can start with google alerts, twitter and facebook searches.
With google alerts you can establish a search query specifically relevant to you and have google email that to you each day. Google will search websites, blogs, news sites etc and email you the results, thus saving you from having to repeat the search on a daily basis.
Twitter allows you to save searches and to track , but I’d recommend using a tool like Seesmic or tweetdeck to view these searches. These will allow you to see every time you have been @ mentioned or how many times someone has tweeted about your brand name or product. You can have many ongoing searches making it easy to monitor on an ongoing basis.
Seesmic and tweetdeck will also monitor your facebook pages and notify you when someone leaves a comment against one of your posts.
Bing has agreement with facebook that gives them access to facebook profiles, so head to http://www.bing.com/social and enter your query.
Blekko is another site that searches facebook e.g. http://blekko.com/ws/iphone+/facebook
so don’t limit your tools to just a few applications.

One trap that you definitely do not want to fall into is spending all day everyday searching social media sites. If you set these tools up correctly, you should only be checking in a couple of times per day. Respond where necessary and record sentiment when it comes up. Only analyse the data when you can set aside the appropriate amount of time. So your work flow could be that you check your data once per day for 10 minutes and you spend another 10 minutes capturing feedback. Compile that information in whichever way suits you e.g. copy and paste into Word or onto a spreadsheet. At the end of the month you can then spend a few hours going through the data with the aim of producing a sentiment analysis which you will then use to review your existing products or services.

Conclusion

With sentiment analysis it is easy to get carried away and spend too much time focusing on finding and rating content that describes your product, which can take your focus away from developing great products or services. You definitely need to find the correct balance between conducting the research and actually carrying out your business activity.
However, the importance of sentiment analysis cannot be stressed enough. Even a little research into what people think about your products can help your business overall. If you are deaf to customer complaints your business will start to get into trouble.

Feedback! I’d like your thoughts on this article.

Do you think it is wrong, factually incorrect, glosses over important topics?
What has been your experience with sentiment analysis?
Is your company doing it?
Do you have any tips that you’d like to share?

Thanks for reading.

My first impressions of google+

7 min read

Last week Google launched their long awaited social network, Google+ and while it is currently in closed beta, I have been lucky to get an invite and have been using it for the last 5 days. View my profile to see what I've been up to.

What is Google+ and can it give facebook a run for it's money?
According to Google:

The Google+ project makes sharing on the web feel like sharing in real life.

But will that get them the critical mass that so many of their previous social apps failed to get? Google's executives have been quick to deny the companies social ambitions and have instead stated that google+ will only improve the user experience within the google ecosystem and that this product is about understanding social, location and other signals so google can enhance its core search platform. They can say what they want, but to me this product poses a real threat to twitter and not to facebook.

So what can you do on google+?

[caption id="attachment_740" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Google plus running in the Chrome web browser."][/caption]

When you first join you are asked to add your gmail contacts into circles. Don't worry, you only need to add the people you expect to interact with on a social network. At this time it is unlikely that any of your friends will be able to join, but do put them into circles now while you remember. Circles enable you to separate out your private life from your public life, therefore allowing you to send status updates to only certain groups of people. Watch the video below to see how useful circles are.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocPeAdpe_A8
The Google+ project: Explore Circles

The ultimate status update?

I have been known to exaggerate at times, but the status update in google+ is more useful than twitter as you are not restricted to 140 characters and you can include all of your media within google+, therefore you are not relying on third party media hosts such as yfrog or twitpic. However, you can do this in facebook, so it's not the ultimate platform for updating your status. From an ease of use perspective, it is very easy to post an update, control how visible that update is and you can edit your update. Yes, unlike twitter and facebook, should you make a typo you can just edit that post. Accidentally posted your exact location? No bother, just delete the location from your post. Simple.

Sparks

One of the many things I do on twitter is search for specific subjects e.g. I'll search the hash tag android to see what people are saying. On google+ google are introducing Sparks, which allows you to search a specific subject and pin it to your sparks area. This allows you to check in regularly to see the latest information. This is no different than using a saved search on twitter, except that it looks a lot better and seems to be more user friendly. If something really interesting comes up I can share that with my android buddies or to my wider social circle. This you would struggle to do on twitter.

Group messenging

[caption id="attachment_738" align="alignleft" width="180" caption="Google plus has its own native android appGoogle plus running in the Chrome web browser."]Google plus has its own native android app[/caption]

Huddle is clearly aimed at iMessages (Apples soon to be released iOS messaging app) and allows you to a send instant messages to multiple recipients. It also features its own separate android app which is a sinister way of threatening all those other group messaging apps such as ping chat.

Group video chat

The killer feature for me is hangout which enables you to hold a group video chat. If I want to have a video chat with my family who live all over the place, now we can have one conversation instead of multiple conversations. We could say we'll hangout on a Sunday afternoon and just chat to each other as each turns up. What I like about this approach is the lack of pressure to be somewhere or answer the phone.

There are other nice features such as the integration with gmail where you get notified to your google+ updates, the seemingly free photo storage with picasa and the (rather scary) instant uploads from your mobile of your recent photos (can be turned off) to name a few.

So who should be scared?

I don't think facebook has anything to be worried about, they are just so big, with many active daily users who really engage with the site. They have a business model that is making them serious cash and they are growing revenues year on year. If anything, google+ will inspire facebook to push out new features. The potential loser in this is twitter, a company that is not turning a profit and has much venture capital invested in it. Those guys will want their pay out soon! The reason twitter has been so successful is is limitations, but twitter seems to be moving away from the basic 140 characters and let's be honest, would you as a third party twitter app developer be confidant that they will keep those APIs open?

Gmail has 200 million active monthly users and if google can persuade those to switch their social profile to google+ then they will have serious traction. There are far more google accounts, so the potential is there if google can sell this social network to the masses.

[caption id="attachment_737" align="alignright" width="180" caption="your google+ stream on the android app"][/caption]

What can we expect in the future?

Google has already said that they will release APIs, so third party apps and the ability to post to several social networks will happen soon enough.

Native apps on the iPhone and iPad should be with us within days depending on Apple's app store policy.

The uptake to the service will be slow! Remember how long you will have been on facebook and twitter. I have been on facebook for 5+ years and twitter for at least 4 years. If google+ can stay around, let's judge how successful it is in a couple of years.

Businesses can expect to tie in their google profiles and place names into google+ so that they can offer a better customer service experience. Imagine using your mobile to search for a local business, check out their profile, ask them a question on google+ (any availability for a table at lunchtime?) they can then respond directly to you. Even better would be to update their status with offers and lunch menus etc.

Marketers will love this site. I have no doubt that google ads will creep in eventually and if facebook is anything to go by, marketers will have access to all sorts of profile data. Therefore Adsense will become much more targeted. Let's remember that while search might be google's best product, they are for the most part an advertising company and that's how they make their money.

Google apps customers need this product fast. Huddle and hangout would be really powerful within the workplace.

Conclusion

Is this going to be my main social network? Probably, but only if I can get my family to use it. I find google+ to be more engaging than twitter and much more valuable than facebook, but it's early days and the noise ratio is quite low.

To join visit plus.google.com  and don't forget to say hello to me on google+.

The Cost of iPad Apps

3 min read

Some of my favourite iPad apps are free e.g. Flipboard but if I need an app or think it deserves the purchase price I will pay. How do I make this decision?
I regularly play Words with Friends and while there is a free, ad supported version, I play it enough to actually want to pay for it. It is important for me that the developer receives payment for their work, and I know that my small part may convince them to continue to support the app and hopefully release updates in the future.
When it comes to productivity tools, sometimes there is no choice but to pay. Goodreader is an example of this, where the free alternatives are not quite as polished.
When it comes to entertainment, the decision is not quite as straightforward.
t3-ipad app
Let’s take magazines. Esquire and T3 both cost £2.99 per issue which is not a big saving over the printed version, but surely the convenience of the digital edition would justify the price?
Well, er no actually, the experience is worse. The apps themselves are massive, generally over 500MB, buggy and not that intuitive.
One of the things that irk me about the publishing industry is that it seems to be waging a war on itself. For every publication that erects a pay wall, there are hundreds more that offer compelling content for free (ad supported) either through apps or via the web.
Why then can traditional media companies not adapt their businesses models to suit this new dawn?
Small (and big) iOS developers are making a living creating apps that offer a really good user experience and deliver a useful service all from a price point starting at zero and rising to a few pounds. Typically these apps will only ever be bought once (that is no new monthly content or subscription model), yet these businesses have created over 300,000 apps that have been downloaded over 10 billion times and in the space of a couple of years have created an entirely new market.
If I buy a magazine I'm not fully engaged with the content, it's something that I will come back to, but on the iPad this is not the case. Often the magazine app provides a clunky interface that looses my interest and almost compels me to find alternative content through the browser. In my previous post I touched on what would make pay for a news app (mainly offline reading) but I can think of no reason to buy a magazine iPad app.
There is just so much good content available either as a free app or through the browser that I have no desire to pay for content. Publishers take note!

Jailbroken and Unlocked

2 min read

So the once unbreakable iPhone 3GS has now been hacked by the infamous George Hotz allowing not only the fastest and easiest jailbreak but also the ability to use any GSM sim card in your iPhone.

Having only released the software this afternoon, blacksn0w is already trending on twitter with many successful unlocks already.

This is a vunerable time for the incumbent carriers, especially in the UK where the iPhone is about to become available on multiple networks.
I myself will be using this opportunity to trial other networks to see which one will give me the best performance my iPhone deserves and I suspect many others will be doing the same.

I've already popped a sim card from 3 into the iPhone and get full 3G reception where O2 would only get 2 bars at most.


I see no detriment to the performance of the handset so I would recommend you give blacksn0w a try.

To unlock your iPhone you need to download software from http://blackra1n.com/.
Once you've downloaded blackra1n, connect your iPhone, don't open iTunes, run the App, disconnect your iPhone and you should see an App on your handset called blackra1n. Open this app and open 'snow' and click install. If you have problems with wifi, reset network settings on the iPhone and this will fix that issue!

For updates from Mr Hotz see his blog for the latest: http://iphonejtag.blogspot.com/ or follow @geohot on twitter.