All posts by David Gerhart

Profession: www.davidgerhart.com

Internet.org – Redoubling Efforts

6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa.  Big business has noticed, and understands that getting online will drive product and service sales.
6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in Africa. Big business has noticed, and understands that getting online will drive product and service sales.

Worth reviewing this weekend…

News about Internet.org creating free network access for users:

PCWorld.com News Article July 31, 2014

The position http://internet.org develops comes from the basic statistic:

Only 1 out of every 3 people can go online.

Why aren’t more people connected?

  • Devices are too expensive.
  • Service plans are too expensive.
  • There’s no mobile network to connect to.
  • Content isn’t available in the local language.
  • Awareness of the value of internet is limited.
  • Availability of power sources is limited.
  • Networks can’t support large amounts of data.

Internet.org urges:

“Together we can remove these barriers and give billions of people the power to connect.”

Next AoWP Workshop Aug. 27th.

Using free to very inexpensive tools online -- organically, following a few simple rules -- will naturally optimize your web presence Search Rankings
Using free to very inexpensive tools online — organically, following a few simple rules — will naturally optimize your web presence Search Rankings

We’ll continue our exploration of various on-board capabilities within the WordPress.com CMS.

Including:

  • Site visibility, sharing and other basic content controls
  • User types and the “Publishing” workflow
  • DNS and EMail Aliases
  • Site Template selection and Customization
  • Making pages, manipulating menus
  • Making posts, proper tagging and categorization
  • Widgets and content navigation menus

Follow developments with us in Google+ or at www.cherryintermedia.com

Congratulations on your new Web Presence! Consider these thoughts.

Going from no Web Presence to a fully meshed site with blog and facebook / twitter feeds can feel like having a brain cramp.  But it can be very disruptive in your space.  We know how to help.
Going from no Web Presence to a fully meshed site with blog and facebook / twitter feeds can feel like having a brain cramp. But it can be very disruptive in your space. We know how to help.

An open letter based on dialogue with an agency we did some volunteer work for recently…

So! You registered a domain and directed traffic to a WordPress or Wix (wherever) website. Perhaps you’ve even built Facebook pages and are thinking about Twitter.

You’ve established a toe-hold in the process… consider these thoughts as you pursue development of your Web Presence.

If you’re an NGO/NPO — you’ll always need to design from the perspective of Succession Planning.  If you use personal tools, it will be clumsy to transition to the next volunteer or director.  Generic identities built upon email forwards and list management tools online like MailChimp.com or EventBrite.com are indispensable.

For an NGO / NPO – the identity of the franchise drives development of all of the web properties and this branding needs to be consistent across all aspects of internet tools.  NOT those of the leader — their personal style and character evaporate after they leave.

    • Facebook will require a bit of fitting before implementation and small bit of effort to connect, and then some instruction on publication / use.  There are some “agency” best practices operating for NGO/NPO — that helps answer the successor issue.  We shouldn’t be using personal page login credentials but be posting as the Page. — I know, confusing.
    • Learning the fundamentals of page and post attributes and using the media library, the CMS, and other page content / menu processes will require effort.
    • Content generation and refinement for the Static pages is not urgent, but it’s critical — long run. If your English isn’t excellent, you’ll want to find a good, fast copy editor.
    • If you’re considering a Twitter feed, same subset of issues as Facebook.
    • A weekly rhythm of posting should begin just prior to site “Launch”

In all these cases and others, the site needs to reflect your vision.

So, these Items require an investment of time.  Put in the hours that will result in a significantly disruptive change for you – something people will notice and be moved to follow.  Bear in mind, you’re moving from never operating a web presence to launching a really good one.

So what, in a nutshell, do you intend to accomplish with your site?  Begin with that clearly in view, and you’ll move the ball forward.

I know your schedule is cramped.  And as site owner, the initiative to push ahead / timeline is yours to manage.   A consultant can help!

Launch: At some point you’ll want to consider what kind of a “Launch” you want.

“soft launch” is normal — just go live (toggle out of sandbox mode) and circulate email.

But also, your launch could be optimized into a full-blown media blitz, with count-down clock culminating in cocktail hour and live event push with a tight focus on snagging followers / subscribers in the moment.  These can be really fun and generate buzz.

  • Embed an EventBrite widget sell tickets to fundraise — the app can be used to manage your email contacts list and capture new ones.
  • A couple of  months is a good planning horizon.

By the way, your launch method can be a combination / some measure of both.

Email campaigns – there is a whole range of list management and contact / relationship tools you should begin to incorporate – principally owing to your diligent consideration of successor planning in the NGO/NPO space.  Your personal contacts can’t be readily “handed off” — and retain any sense of history. This is an area you should find some time to address.  A consultant can help.

Conversely, it’s worth mentioning – by realizing these simple facts – that you haven’t spent a great deal of money, and very few even know you’ve begun. Therefore, if the bubble of work required to satisfactorily accomplish an attractive / professional presence isn’t feasible — you’re not harmed so much if you just let things go.

But you could be harmed if your site is launched and is full of errors (text, for instance – nothing is more off-putting to contributors and sponsors than poor use of English.)

In some cases – consultants are asked to use their experience / awareness of your context and best practices in your space to set things up.  Then folks live with it for a few seasons. A consult can be responsive to your needs and will / can continue to do so if you feed content to them, and help iterate improvements so that your vision is reflected.

We strongly suggest you find an intern / volunteer that can assume some or all of the content creation and maintenance aspects. Now is an excellent time to appoint that person into the role. Who within your membership has a son or daughter in HS or fresh out of college?

We hope you hit a home run with your effort.

Best $5 monthly fee we pay – just got better!

GHS - a suite of apps from email, to phone, calendar file share, webs, and multi-media.  Integrated. $5/mo.
GHS – a suite of apps from email, to phone, calendar file share, webs, and multi-media. Integrated. $5/mo.

Our solutions design process builds on free services. If needed we look at paying fees, we always aim for minimal expense.

So,we’ve had a policy — begin with Google Hosted services.

If for some reason clients can identify a legitimate reason the enterprise tools can’t work, or be extended… we’ll start looking at self-hosted or other combinations of services.

Well, in June Google announced that premium features will be added to basic accounts.  These new features go into effect in a few days.

This is the text of the “go live” announcement we received this morning:

Hello Administrators,

As we announced on June 16, the advanced capabilities and admin controls known as Google+ premium features will become standard for our existing business, government, and education customers. This change will take place the week of July 23.

After the change, these controls and capabilities will no longer be called premium features. The premium features setting will also be removed from the Admin console.

If you use Hangouts on Air (HOA), you might’ve noticed that enabling premium features disables HOA. To continue using HOA, just do one of the following:

Before July 23, proactively enable premium features for your domain, then re-enable HOA.

After premium features become the new default, enable HOA.
Visit the Google Apps Help Center to learn more about Google+ premium features.

The fees are minimal. $5/mo per account to start.  Amazing, right?

Okay but here’s something you should consider – Google is advancing the end-to-end messaging security thing.  Right now if you communicate within Google’s servers, your email is secure.  Our understanding is that it’s transparent — but message encryption/decryption is already in place.  That’s a big thing.

So if your enterprise is hosted at GHS, you’re starting from secure.   That’s step one.

Our Position on Oregon Hemp

Pot LeafPlease think about making a small donation to “New Approach Oregon”  (use this link or see the widget in the side bar at right.)

We support reforms that are aimed at regulation over criminalization.

We support policies aimed at treatment and recovery over those that drive incarceration.

We simply have to stop damaging families and lives.

Not users ourselves, but as devoted libertarian thinkers (notice the small “L”?) — we want government to tax and regulate — to cease wasting public treasure in the War on Drugs.  (Which we feel to be the biggest failed domestic policy — well — ever.)

Decriminalize pot and demilitarize our police.

Please don’t hesitate to ask us why we take this position.

Happening Today — Amazon Sumit

If you’re at all interested in “Where things are going”, Amazon is holding it’s AWS Summit in NYC this weekend.

Learn how IT is being removed from the business process — IT is being reshaped in the cloud….  AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a prism through which we can view our collective futures…

90 minutes you’d invest wisely — view the Keynote Address by Amazon.com Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Werner Vogels.

Event registration and resources here

 

 

5 Tips for Mining Your Contact List

Condensed from internet authority Noah Kagan:
A couple months ago John Corcoran, a former Clinton White House Writer, reached out on Twitter, then email, and then email again.

Despite all of the other emails we see asking for time, John cuts right through.

Here’s how he does it.

Five Tips:

1. Grease the Wheels Ahead of Time
2. Be Brief
3. Communicate How You Will Benefit THEM
4. Make It Fun
5. Find Things You Have in Common

InterwestIT agrees. Remaining in touch with your contacts other than by Social Media is essential.

Be the master of prospecting your contacts for new leads by following those rules but also by using a re-mailing service — that has some kind of contact management built-in.

Some of these are MailChimp.com, Constant Contact. Our advice is try the free version. Most will permit you to upload segments of your contact list by ASCII text file. Try them, see what happens.

Social Collaboration in the Agile Age

Engaging collaborators in the Agile Age -- requires fluent Social Media skill
Engaging collaborators in the Agile Age — requires fluent Social Media skill

Read with interest an article published on how Social Media has affected collaboration among Software Developer communities.

It’s being called the “Agile Age.”

What’s interesting to me is that it’s been my experience that the methods used by developers and engineers eventually percolate down to the rest of us.  For instance, in the 80’s as an engineer myself, I was utterly dependent on BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) for support.  And then BBS’s showed up in all sorts of places — Gardening communities, Radio Controlled Model Airplane nuts, every area of interest had one.

And I can see some of this happening again in Social Media– as a consultant, I’m ever more aware that my work depends upon diverse resources, near-instant responses and all of this across a variety of appliances (from desktops to tablets and phones.)

Social Media and Responsive webs are making this all possible.

Adwords. When & How.

Social Media not generating enough calls.  The old school idea of advertising -- applied in new media might be a good idea.  But you'll need "custom" landing pages -- so that your search terms for advertising can be narrow and targeted.
Social Media not generating enough calls? The old school idea of advertising — applied in new media might be a good idea. But you’ll need “custom” landing pages — so that your search terms for advertising can be narrow and targeted.

I always appreciate when my clients or others — take time to build pages in their websites that describe services, offers and products. For the rare (sometimes exceedingly rare) diligent site visitor,  the effort conveys quite a bit of information about you and your business.

So we appreciate the effort it took to generate all of the information, and the process you went through to develop each idea. And so there the value exists — that you’re organized and are telling a well-developed story.

Somehow you’ll have to remember to keep them “fresh”, but that’s another subject.

If the content had been produced as Posts, rather than static pages — and published over time, you’d have had incurred some benefit in Social Media. Followers, almost certainly. But also cross-links and the Search interplay among those channels. You can still do this — Post about these subjects and you should! — and link your posts back to each of the pages, etc. This is an excellent beginning … this method works well.

As static pages — the material has essentially no value on the internet.  Perhaps, though – as reference material for interested parties who you invite directly (like by giving a business card or directing to a url in a phone call) – they might find them compelling.

Eventually static pages will be crawled by search ‘bots, indexed and featured in results — but you’ll discover that they are so down-ranked as to never likely receive organic traffic.

Here’s the deal — After coming to the site via one landing page or another — people seldom visit more than 2 or three static pages in any given web. Among those: About, Contact & Services receive 75% of those clicks. With the emerging prevalence of mobile appliances this is exacerbated and time on-site further diminished.

Strong calls to action on each page are critical. Putting a phone number right up front isn’t a bad idea. I recently conceded this issue, myself. And this has mostly to do with an increasing volume of mobile visitors who’s attention is even more reduced.

What do you want the visitor to do? “Call” of course — but some of the other words (like I use on this site) — Learn, Get, Explore, Demystify (came from a friend, I recall) are helpful.

You’re to be commended in one very important area — that each of these pages is a natural “landing page” for narrowly defined pay per click advertising.

So: You’re well positioned to benefit from a certain level of sophistication in a Google Adwords marketing campaign. Google always has offers are available — often you can begin for free, to see what happens. Once recently Adwords gave away $300 for new accounts. That sum might generate 150 quality clicks — perhaps 5 of which might net you a phone call. A hurdle many face is that your space is full of big spenders. There are means of getting around this, that’s why I said “Sophisticated.”

An investment in advertising might be a vehicle you should consider.

Don’t attempt this on your own, unless you have budget to spend that you need to waste.