Articles by Lorraine Ball

Social Media: 2013 Predictions

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Every Monday morning all across America, football fans slip into the mode of the armchair quarterback. They argue loudly over the water cooler or morning coffee about the choices their favorite coach made the day before. Of course, they have an advantage. It’s Monday morning, long after the pressure of the action is over.

The coaches they are criticizing had to make those same decisions on the fly, in the heat of the game. Some of their plans are even made two and three weeks out in anticipation of what their opponents will do on the field.

In many respects, the life of the Internet marketing professional is a lot like that of a football coach. We have to make recommendations to our clients based on our best guess of what will be hot the next week, month or year. Will Facebook grow or crash and burn? Will there be a new Pinterest emerging on the scene this year? Will LinkedIn finally take their dominant role in the business-to-business arena?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have opinions about what I think will be hot or not: Social media 2013

•Facebook is NOT going to throw in the towel. Businesses are not going to leave despite the many complaints. Facebook is here to stay, at least for a few more years. They have enough money to test a variety of tactics and make rapid changes in response to recent outcry.
•Facebook will launch subscription services for business. Given the lack of response and even outright disgust for their promoted posts, Facebook will find other ways to build value for small businesses. Look for offers of enhanced service bundles at a nominal fee to reengage small business users and generate revenues.
•This will not be the year of the QR code. Although I love the promise of the technology, there are not enough people who have smart phones with code readers. And let’s face it, even those of us who do have the readers rarely think to use them. Further reducing the chances the technology will catch on is the fact that companies just don’t seem to get how these tools can be used. And as a marketer, technologies such that the QR codes are still ugly.
•YouTube will become more social. Look for additional comment and sharing functionality as the integration with Google+ increases.
•Age of Social Television. It’s already happening sporadically as shows encourage viewers to live tweet during programs and cable advertisers allow consumers to download coupons or call companies with one click from their remote. 2013 will be the year these interactions move transition from novelty to mainstream.
•Google+ will grow. We may not like it any more then than we do now, but it will be harder and harder to ignore this network as Author Rank, which is tied to your G+ profile becomes an important measure of your on line credibility.
•Marketing messaging will become even more personalized. 2012 was the year of data collection as more and more tools became popular which allowed businesses to learn more and more about their clients. In 2013, consumer-centric communications will become the cornerstone of effective marketing. Businesses who are holding on to a one size fits all approach in their marketing will be left in the dust.
•Businesses are going to hold social media accountable. Tired of nebulous conversations about fans, followers and engagement, senior managers and business owners are going to look for more direct correlation to the bottom line.

As I was working on this post, I found a number of other predictions. Some I agree with, some I don’t, but they make for interesting reading. Come back in a year and we can see who was right.

Lorraine Ball
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Is Your Website Turning Off Visitors?

Friday, August 5th, 2011

No one designs a website to deliberately turn off clients, prospects, and
search engines, but all too often that is the end result.

What have they done to turn site visitors off with web design? Here is a
list of the most common mistakes we see.

1. *Confusing Navigation *- Do you make it difficult for people to find
information? Often we see confusing site architecture, or clever page
titles, which don’t mean anything to the average visitor. I made that
mistake on the first roundpeg website. The pages all rhymed: Create,
Generate, Colloaborate.. etc. People left, never knowing that we did
graphic design, brainstorming strategy sessions and team building.

2. *Hard to find contact information* – I read somewhere that the number one reason people come to your website is to find your contact information.

Is your phone number visible on the home page? Is the CONTACT US button easy to find?

3. *Copy that talks about You not Me*. I know it is your website, but before someone cares about your years in business, mission statement, and return policy, they want to know – “Can you solve my problem?”

4. *Technical jargon* – If I knew what HSPF, SEER, AFUE, VSP, SEO … all stood for, would I really need you?

5. *Graduate level text – *This is a hard one for many people to get
over. On the one hand you want to sound smart. On the other hand you want people to actually read your content. Remember even the NY Times is written at an 8th grade level. Why? It is done to make it easy for people to digest the information quickly.

6. *Unreadable text on dark backgrounds – * It may look cool and edgy, but if you want people to be able to read your site, pay attention to readability

7. *Irritating flash animations, auto play videos and audio tracks *-
They are cute, clever and you spent a fortune to create them. But the third or fourth time a visitor comes back, they want to skip past them. And if they are viewing your site on an iPhone, they can’t see them anyway. Also in this category: *popups, pop unders and pop overs,* which block the view of the very information the visitor has come to find.

8. *Slow loading pictures* – Did you forget to convert those high
resolution images to small, quick loading GIFs? By the time the image has loaded your visitor has made a snack, gone for a walk or found someone else to do what you do.

9. *Too much, too much, too much – * read full article »

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It is About the Relationship – Not the Release

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

lorraineballSocial media expert Jason Fallsshares some candid advice for PR specialists. Essentially, PR is changing. It is no longer about how many journalists you contact with a mass email, but the relationship you have with an individual journalist. As he was talking about the need to have relationships, I thought about how lucky I am to liveand work in Indianapolis, where the local media; the IBJ , Indy Star and Inside Indiana Business Business are
relatively accessible and open to story suggestions.

read full article »

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Company Brochures

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

At some point, every small business creates a brochure. but it is often an exercise in futility. Whether you are creating the brochure yourself, or hiring someone to do it for you, be sure to ask the following questions before you get started!

lorraineball

Lorraine Ball

How will the brochure be used?

Is it sent as a follow-up to phone inquiries, left behind after a sales call or delivered with a formal proposal?

Are you trying to get more repeat business from customers who already know you? Or is your goal to attract the attention of a new client? Define your objective up front, and then write your copy with that in mind.

read full article »

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