A Second Life

If you could live anywhere, where would it be? If you could be anyone, male or female, robot, or animal, what would you choose? If you could fly, would you? If you could live in a whole alternate world, have a second life, would you take advantage of the opportunity?

If you have never heard of it the best comparison would be to The Sims or World of Warcraft. Or, if you have never played those games maybe you have see the movie Tron: Legacy – a movie about a boy who goes looking for his missing father in a virtual world. Second Life allows people to create avatars and live in a virtual world. While playing I was able to choose what I wanted to look like in my virtual world. I could change my clothes, or morph myself into an animal. I could walk, run, and even fly. I went to the Bahamas and did some sightseeing, along with a few other places around the world. I was even able to talk to other avatars. I was a bit startled with a chat popped up and the other avatars were trying to talk to me. What is the proper etiquette for talking to another avatar? Do I talk like I am the “real” Michelle, or do I talk as if I am a completely different person. It was also interesting because I will probably never know the person behind the computer.

Anthropologists, more specifically digital ethnographers, study digital cultures and how the digital technology affects culture. It reveals that relationships are changing because of this, and that relationships differ online than in person. Are these changing relationships a good thing or bad thing? Well, it depends on the way you look at it, or who you ask.

How far can you take things in a virtual world until that world becomes yours? If you are married in the “real-world” can you have a girlfriend in your virtual world? Or is that cheating? That is just one example of the potential ethical issues that can arise from virtual worlds. NBC News wrote about a virtual world affair that affected a person’s life outside the computer. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Questions:

1. Have you ever played a game where you lived in a virtual world? What was your experience like?

2. If you read the article I posted from NBC News, what are your thoughts on this controversial situation?

Social Analytics

There is no doubt that society is becoming more reliant on technology than it used to be. From the digital immigrants to the digital natives, most everyone uses the Web. So, what does this mean for advertisers?

Social media usage has been rapidly growing – an eMarketer report, “Worldwide Social Network Users: 2012 Forecast and Comparative Estimates,” details just how much. According to this article, the number of social network users around the world will increase by 18 percent from 2012 to 2013, from 1.47 billion to 1.73. Furthermore, by 2017, the global social network audience is predicted to be 2.55 billion.

With so many people using the Web and social media, it is essential for a company to know how this affects their brand. You can no just longer run an advertising campaign and see if your sales increased to know if there was some concrete ROI or if you just wasted your money. Did you increase sales? Did you gain Facebook Fans or Twitter followers? Are you trending on Twitter? There is a lot more to take into account with social media added to the picture.

“Today’s marketers are under-utilizing the large amounts of personal data their customers are sharing publicly every day.”

– Chad Warren, Adobe’s senior manager of social media products

But with social media in the picture, it is much easier to find out more about your consumer – although, not all companies take advantage of this. A good chunk of people fail to turn their marketing tactics into money. Marketers need to get to know their customers to ensure success. They are sending out signals in many different ways and it’s a marketers job to investigate. Customers are posting personal information on their Facebook profiles, tweeting information that allows people to access real-time, creating online pinboards with Pinterest, and more. These are all insights to your customer.

But, digging deeper – analyzing people and companies on social media is now necessary. HootSuite Social Analytics allows people to select from over 40 plus analytic modules, and is also easy to organize and share. Also, both Google and Adobe released tools that assist markers in tracking ROI through social media. Adobe Social is a bit pricey, but collects data from key social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, allowing you who has activity on any of those social media platforms and visits your website. Social reports, through Google Analytics, show a causal relationship between social media activity and sales. Did I mention this is free to use, but it does not provide date from Facebook and Twitter? There are some key differences in these tools, but they all have the ultimate goal of providing social analytics.

Questions:

  1. Do you think it is necessary for a marketer to use any of these Social Analytics tools?
  2. How do you think Social Media has affected the advertising world? Do you think social media is beneficial for advertisers or complicates things too much?
  3. Have you ever used any of these Social Analytics tools and what were your thoughts based on your interaction?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Surveys

Creating and analyzing online surveys is something I have come to love as someone who graduated with a degree in Advertising from the University of Florida. I conducted a few online surveys through Qualtrics in a few of my classes, analyzed the responses, and created an advertising campaign and marketing strategy from the results. Without these surveys, I don’t think I really would have had a clear vision of the campaign, or even understand my target market.

My final semester at UF I had to create a campaign for Brevard Community College as they transformed into a four-year state college, Eastern Florida State College. My group and I began by conducting secondary research to see truly understand what the college and its competitors currently do. But, we couldn’t stop there – from personal interviews to focus groups to ethnographic studies to online surveys. Each one of these methods of primary research had its advantages and disadvantages. But, online the online study provided us with quantifiable data.

The online survey was created and distributed in a timely and cost-effective manner, especially when comparing it to the other methods of research used. First of all, an online survey has global reach. However it is distributed, whether it is a simple link via email or appears while visiting a website, anyone has the ability to take the survey. Along with that, online surveys have a pre-screener built in. When I conducted the survey for Eastern Florida we only viewed and analyzed the results of the participants who met our needs. This in itself saved us time. We were able to control the order of the questions based on a respondent’s previous answer and target a person more specifically. None of these things would have been possible otherwise.

While there are many advantages we did find some disadvantages. Some people just didn’t want to take the time to complete the survey, making the response rate lower than the ideal. It was also difficult to control who took the survey. It was impossible to ensure we had an equal amount of males and females and a good distribution of ages that took the survey.

Since I have conducted surveys on my own I am probably more likely to take an online survey, or one in general, than someone else. But, I still am guilty of refusing to take them sometimes.

Questions:

  1. Have you ever conducted an online survey? If so, describe your experience.
  2. Do you think the results of online surveys are more or less valid than those conducted in person?
  3. What persuades you to participate in an online survey?

Google it.

If you have a question how do you generally find the answer? Simple, Google it.

Google (noun & verb): a multi-billion dollar company with a vast array of capabilities. It is the world’s most popular search engine uses algorithms to display the most relevant content to a user’s query. People use the term Google as a verb because it has become such a large company. Other search engines are not even thought of most of the time. People remain loyal to Google.

This search engine discovers, crawls, and serves web pages to users almost instantly as a person begins typing. It starts with Googlebot, “spider,” crawling through billions of pages on the Internet to create an index of websites that are displayed, giving a higher importance to those that are most relevant. As a newer web designer, this system seems brilliant from both the user and designer standpoints.

Google analytics allows you to measure your advertising ROI as well as other things like social sources. Google’s social reporting tool can be extremely advantageous as it analyzes everything in one location, thus, saving time. Google’s capabilities seem endless since it can even recognize the interactions people had with a company’s website and the value of the conversions. As a user, how do you feel about Google analyzing how you interact with a website socially? Do you feel like your privacy has been invaded?

If you are new to Google Analytics, or are looking for new tips check out KISSmetrics for 50 resources on the topic.

Search Engine Marketing

From conversion testing, search engine optimization (SEO), analytics, social media, and content marketing – there’s no doubt that there is a lot to search engine marketing (SEM) strategies and tactics. In fact, there’s a whole Anvil glossary dedicated to defining the various terms. SEO doesn’t just effect company websites, but can also increase traffic on personal websites, blogs, social media sites, etc.

So, how does a web designer, marketer, or social media manager best utilize the web? As an advertiser we know that a company wants people to spend an endless amount of time on their website and visit it often. There’s a lot more that goes into this than I ever imagined there could be. How often do you really stop and think, “How does Google know what pages to show me when I search for something?” Google even has strict guidelines that dictates what a person can and cannot do to enhance their search engine optimization. These guidelines just increase Google’s credibility as a company because they ensure they are displaying the best results on the earlier pages, and trying to reduce the spam you may encounter. Not only that, but if you break the rules, your website won’t appear in their searches at all. These guidelines spell it out so clearly that even a beginning web designer will be able to effectively design a website.

But once you get a person on your website, you have to be able to keep them there. Gregg Digneo provides some great tips for this on the Unbounce blog, most of which I tried to incorporate into my personal portfolio website. For example, if you have a form you want to keep it above the fold because people are less likely to scroll through your website. It is essential to really take these tips into consideration. The more user-friendly the website, the more people will enjoy visiting it.

Questions?

–       What terms from the Anvil glossary were new to you?

–       Do you think SEO is just a trend or is it essential in web design now?

–       What are some website features or designs that you think will increase the amount of time a person spends on your website?