We posted 66 blog posts this year on the Schipul blog about topics ranging from web marketing tips and tools, social media strategy, nonprofit marketing, and general geeky fun! Our top posts of 2012 cover topics from web analytics, new social media tools, client spotlights, and some Geek Love. We’ve put together a list of the top ten posts of 2012 for you to enjoy again!
At Schipul, we love to spend our time researching what’s new and innovative and the “next big thing” in web technology and online marketing. We are super-pumped to uncover all the awesomely geeky web-tech coming in 2012 – and wanted to take a moment and reflect on what You thought was the best and most interesting news in web marketing in 2011 before we ring in the New Year – from our mobile phones, of course!
Our SEM team pulled up our analytics reports and took a look at what You were reading and sharing in 2011. Here are the most popular blog posts visited on the Schipul blog and the most shared posts on Facebook in case you missed one.
Posts with the Most Reads on the Schipul Blog in 2011:
Drupal and WordPress at SchipulCon – Drupal’s Founder, Dries Buytaert, joined the stage with WordPress’s Founder, Matt Mullenweg, for an awesomely open chat about Open Source, website CMS software, and how they got where they are today. Read the blog post and then check out the video from SchipulCon 2011!
5 Ways to convince your Boss to Buy You an iPad2 – Want an iPad and want your company to pay for it? Check out our 2011 blog post with tips to help you demonstrate the value of having an iPad2 for business use to your Boss, plus find links to great iPad business apps and accessories for your iPad. Leave a comment and let us know if your Boss bought you an iPad2 after reading this article too!
google+ is here and why you should care– Google+ is 2011’s newest big thing for online social communications and so it’s no surprise it made both our top 5 2011 Posts with the Most lists. Here are 3 more great guides to help you fully utilize all that Google+ has to offer in 2012:
With what seems to be about a gazillion blogs in internet land, how do you ever wonder how they started? Or how each blogger developed a blogging strategy? It can be a bit overwhelming to think about, especially to someone new to the blog world and may be looking for advice.
Schipul’s own JJ Lassberg knows that effective blogging takes strategy, focus and a fundamental knowledge of blogging basics. She has even composed a presentation on “Effective Blogging” for rookies that include her “Lucky 13” blogging tips, blog basics and methods. Check out the entire Slide Show for a really terrific “How-to” on Blogging!
The world of the internet is an awesome (umâ€¦ and really giant) sharing platform; a way for everyone to share, like or favorite almost anything possible, right? And sharing is an excellent way for products, Websites and brands to gain exposure and increase their company’s following and reputation.
But what if you’re not a large company?
What if you don’t even sell anything? Many companies and personal blogs belong to a certain niche. Gardening. Watercolors. Specialty Pet Food. Business Management Techniques. The most widely used method small niche blogs like these use is social media; and social media takes time. Lots of time if you want to do it well, interact with your followers and build reputation and influence. New bloggers sometimes have a hard time with this.
Here comes Social Blogmarking.
Social blogmarking is exactly what it sounds like. Similar to bookmarking a site, social blogmarking sites allow you to write a post, submit it to a blogmarking site and allows users vote it “up” or “down” or to the front of the page depending on how well they enjoyed the content.
Blogmarking is great for niche websites.
Social blogmarking can be utilized to draw more focused attention to your blog. The traffic you try hard to target through social media may find you on their own through a blogmakring site. It is also a great way to network with other bloggers and explore possible competitors.
Many social blogmarking sites, such as Blogengage and DesignFloat have navigation menus that allow you to search other niches, read and vote. This is not to say at all that social media is better or worse. Social media works amazingly for brand building and connecting to your audience, but takes far more time and dedication than blogmarking.
Personally, I believe good results should come from good, hard work’ so more hours poured into Social Media outlets should return favorable results. Realistically, however, not everyone has just a few extra hours laying around everyday to promote themselves properly.
Social blogmarking in the end…
Using both methods of social media and blogmarking may work well for some. If you have written a blog, share it with Social Media like Facebook or Twitter! Let others spread it across the world for you and shout it from the mountain tops! And while you’re at it, submit it to a social blogmarking site.
I suggest Blockube; so far I’ve found this site to be more stylish and easier to navigate than other blogmarking sites . It’s simple to blogmark your own posts and let others vote on its relevance, content and readability (less of a popularity contest, more focused on content). Also, remember to pay attention to the votes you get; you can use social blogmarking sites to learn what you are doing right or wrong by what kind of votes you receive.
This weekend marked the very first Wordcamp Houston event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. As well as being a Community Sponsor, the Schipulites were active participants as coordinators, speakers, volunteers and excitable (what’s new?!) attendees.
Didn’t get to make it this year and wondering what you missed? Here are some of the highlights of the day at HMNS, in the Schipulites’ own words:
I was honored to be given the chance to speak; it was a pleasure leading the WP 101 class, setting up Monica (aka Cosmopolitician) and Chris Eversonâ€”two incredibly talented peopleâ€”for the 102 class. I felt honored to teach some new people from the Houston Zoo, Noah’s Kitchen, Reliant Energy all about how user-friendly WordPress truly is. The class was lively, had some great questions, and was genuinely curious about how to further their WordPress knowledge. Since it was the inaugural WPCamp Houston and it sold out quickly, I can only imagine what it will look like next year!
Kelsey Ruger is a genius and I heard a lot of people agreeing with that statement.
I saw several people including Matt Mullenweg wearing ‘toe shoesâ€
April Kyle I really enjoyed having HMNS at the host. It was such a neat backdrop for us; and as part of being there I personally was exposed to things in the museum I’d never seen before. In the break times and lunch; we got a chance to play around a bit and have some fun’ totally cool for breaks as opposed to had we been in just a conference center or hotel. It was just super neat seeing the kids learning, and we played around with the exhibits too. Plus, there was a shark.
Eloy Zuniga My favorite moment was sitting next to Matt Mullenweg during a session simply because I said “I saved you a seat”. He is ridiculously nice and humble. I’m glad he’s a Houstonian.
Derek Key (who led a great panel with client Susan Saurage) My favorite sessions from WordCamp were Kelsey‘s ‘Rebirth of Slickâ€ and Bill Erickson’s ‘WordPress Beyond Bloggingâ€. Kelsey’s was incredibly fun as always and made me think about websites in general, not necessarily WordPress, and Bill’s was very informative and relatable to what we do for clients.
I think the two biggest takeaways are:
Shopify‘ ecommerce solution for WordPress that can be easily updated graphically to match a site and is easy to manage on the client’s end (from Roby Fitzhenry’s session)
Custom post types and custom taxonomies in WordPress (from Bill Erickson’s session). Allows for more than just pages and posts so you can actually call different content different names… very Drupal-esque.
Not sure how I didn’t know WordPress founder @photomatt is from Houston. Makes it a perfect home for Urban Houstonian
Chris Minor (our fearless intern and videographer)
My favorite session was Kelsey Ruger‘s presentation about design called ‘Rebirth of Slickâ€. Kelsey weaved his valuable insight into designing a website with a multimedia experience featuring music like hip-hop and jazz that made his presentation not only enjoyable but relevant and understandable in our society. WordCamp was also the first time I have been exposed to a real-time Twitter conversation. Many times I found myself staring at my twitter feed watching all the participants sharing what they were learning and I gained valuable brain-candy from the many passionate developers and users of WordPress.
Katrina Esco The major takeaway I got from Wordcamp: We understand things in story so we should be able to tell a meaningful story about a brand or company.
Kelsey Ruger’s preso was a highlight, and in a slide asking audience which of many companies listed had the ‘cool factor,â€ Schipul client IKEA was one of the few (along with Virgin Airlines, Zappos, and more). Best PHYSICAL takeaways: nifty, comfy, stylin’ T designed by Ben G and boasting Schipul on the arm and the bounteous bags of M&Ms provided by the blogger track’s ‘Whose blog is it anyway?â€ session.
1. exemplifies a unique quality; awesome; incredible
2. An expression from the mid 1950s, which fell from favor by the early 1960sâ€¦.until now...
When I was introduced to Natalie Dee, I wanted to hug her. Granted, we were not formally introduced and to digress from creepy status, I can tell you one thing – she is a satirical comic genius who totally digs Wu Tang.
I bet you want to hug her now too.
Nataliedee.com has become my daily affirmations – not necessarily by definition. Through her comics she expresses her real life encounters, vulnerabilities, conversations and of course, her addiction to diet coke. Browsing through her unique art you may even think to yourself, “maybe I’m not the only one with a screw loose…there really is someone else who enjoys Turban Tuesday.”
And over the past couple of years, I have come to realize that her comics serve a dual purpose. Because Natalie Dee is seemingly well rounded, her comics come in handy for any and all human exchanges (use of comic’s impact is likely greater if you are at a loss for words). I have created real fictional instances below in hopes that you will recognize why Natalie Dee is so BOSS.
Are you in an altercation?
Instead of lying down like a coward in the fetal position, use this little gem. Your nemesis will walk away out of mere confusion. This is also an ideal time to holler, ‘Booyah!â€
Do you own a cat?
Me either. So if you find yourself surrounded by cat lovers in deep conversation about LOLzâ€¦attempt to relate.
Did your sister-in-law just get pregnant?
Nothing will express your excitement more than a rainbow.
Are you running late for work?
Turtles are slow’ how could your boss ever refute that one?
Are you awkward?
This one is great for the time you held the door open for a complete stranger and they proceeded to call you ‘awkward.â€ You turn-around and you show them awkwardâ€¦
Not into politics?
There will never be a winner of a political debate held down the street at your local pubâ€¦until you prance in the door.
Enjoy the Moutain Dew/Nerd combo?
Dew the dew bra! That’s all I really have to say about this one.
Did you make a bad decision?
While explaining the situation to your parents, ease the mood with a cupcake. Hey, it could always be worseâ€¦
Overwhelmed by technology trends?
No need to worry your pretty little head about it. Reply to the office email about iPhone 4 discrepancies with this farcical treasure’ Nutella does wonders my friends.
Do you like adorable creatures?
When saying it in words won’t do you justice, this princess works for all occasions.
An expression from the mid 1950s, which fell from favor by the early 1960sâ€¦.until now..
Majority of corporate blogs are boring fairly informative and only transparent in the fact that they paid ‘anonymousâ€ to write their posts. There is a complete lack of vigor and let’s be honest, if I wanted to continue reading textbooks, I would have elongated my college curriculum. Basically, I want to hear your story; I want companies to convey transparency, I want to know the people behind the brand and most importantly, I want to talk about a company that is actually doing it rightâ€¦
New Media Strategies
The team over at New Media Strategies (NMS) have successfully positioned themselves as an industry leader in social media marketing and measurement; completely embracing transparency and putting the individuals that make up NMS front and center. Admittedly, a portion of this information came from their ‘About’ Overviewâ€ page while the latter was discovered when I could not stop reading the NMS corporate blogâ€¦and yes my friends, it is very boss.
Seemingly so, the NMS blog has become one of my favorite online reads. One day I am sipping a Sprite on the rocks reading about the Q3 â€˜Ass Kicker’ and the next I am learning that the terms ‘Snuggieâ€ and ‘Pelosiâ€ actually can find common ground on Twitter. There is a different voice, opinion and face to every single post and you are given the unique ability to relate with the individuals that make up NMS. Seriously, how else would I know that one of their gals has an extreme crush on Jake Pavelka? You can’t make this stuff up and you know what, I totally dig it.
A lot of people are probably wondering who in the world would let their employees’ blog on company time; better yet, write posts that do not directly sell the product. Well folks, his name is Pete Snyder, Founder & CEO of NMS…and undeniably, the biggest advocate for employee blogging.
“It’s not about technology, it’s about the people. So many are concerned with site traffic. We don’t pay attention to that; the blog is for our people – positioning them as thought leaders within the industry in order to educate our clients.”
By simply going to the NMS homepage, you immediately understand what Pete is talking about. I am not one to shout out absurd statistics, but I would venture to say that over 50% is dedicated to the blog posts, NMS clients and each individual that make up the NMS team. It is quite obvious that these people are not robots and I, for one, greatly appreciate that.
“We give people the option to be front and center. It shows the world we really are eating our own dogfood. Our goal is to put the best and most interesting content out there through our blog and who better to do that then the people that are living it every day.”
Unlike many companies, NMS fully supports the NMS team fostering their own personal brands. There is no need for blogging ninja style in fear of receiving the pink slip on Monday. The NMS folks are out there blogging about what they love because it is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.
“We want them to be the brands that we hired from day one. We only want people who have a passion for this industry, so when they begin developing their own blog, we encourage it on and off the clock. NMS is comprised of unbelievable minds and truly talented writersâ€¦putting it front and center and embracing personal interests are important to our success.”
You can’t help but admire and respect a company that says, ‘Here are our people, we love them and so should you!â€ Ok, maybe Pete didn’t say that exactly, but being able to understand that simply by reading their blogâ€¦well, that speaks volumes my friends.
We’ve all come across email SPAM, but that is only where the annoyance begins. If you have a blog, a website that takes comments, or even a contact form, then you have probably seen some SPAM there, too. It used to be easy to identify, but spammers are becoming craftier at their game. Learn how you can fight back.
Why people Spam
Before diving into the problem of comment SPAM, I’d like to answer this question: Why do people SPAM? The biggest purpose of comment SPAM is SEO-related. One of the things Google and the others factor into their algorithms is linkbacks. A linkback is any link from an external site back to your website. In many comment forms on blogging platforms there is an option to include a website, which is then linked to your name when you leave a comment. This is a way of telling people who it is that is leaving the comment. Spammers use this opportunity to link to trashy SPAM websites that make pennies per visitor. If they rank higher in the search engines for keywords like “free viagra”, they can drive more traffic and make more pennies. Pennies turn into dollars which turn into Benjamins, and you get the picture. However, this doesn’t work very well for the spammers.
While most of the blogging platforms include comments and do send links, they include a little piece of code that prevents linkbacks. It’s called a “nofollow” link. It tells Google not to count a link as a linkback. Google doesn’t follow the link, so that website isn’t given any benefit. It’s an optional setting, but it is turned on for professional blogs as well as Blogger.com and WordPress.com hosted blogs. We don’t use nofollow links on this blog so that we can pass along benefits to our commenters. However, spammers don’t know that we do this, and they don’t seem to care much either way. Even with nofollow links, the spammers will still attack your site. Now that we know the why, lets look into the “what” of comment SPAM.
What Comment SPAM looks like
Most people can identify the obvious SPAM very quickly. It is riddled with links to ED drugs or other pharmaceuticals, or in some cases it is written in Russian. This kind of SPAM is automated by the spammers and can be caught by filters. The other types of SPAM are much harder to identify. They look more like real comments. Here is an example (the link doesn’t work):
From Investment Ideas: Great Post! I stumble by this blog from Google and your content really speaks to me. You are an expert in your field and this post is proof. I am now subscribing to read more.
At first glance this looks like a very nice comment. It is probably one you would be proud to have at the bottom of your posts. Unfortunately, it is SPAM. The “name” of the commenter is used as a keyword to create a linkback to the URL, which in this case is also about investment ideas. The text sounds very nice, but it would probably sound very nice on any of your posts. These types of comments have a few things in common, and you can become a pro at identifying it and removing it.
How to Identify and Stop SPAM
Unfortunately, this kind of SPAM is not caught by the filters because it looks genuine. In many cases it is even entered by a real person (often overseas). They copy/paste a snippet on many sites as fast as possible. But, you can spot it when moderating your comments. Here is three-item test to identify the tricky SPAM:
The name looks like a description and not really a person’s name. In the example, it is Investment Ideas.
The link goes to a site very similar to the name. It may also include several hyphens, which are sometimes used in spam URLs.
The text of the comment is very generic. It doesn’t reference anything in the post and can probably apply to almost any of your posts.
Those three quick tests can help you to identify most comment SPAM. After reviewing the fake comment above, you will see that it includes all three of the regular pieces of SPAM comments. You may come across some comments that just say “Great Post!”. To determine if these are SPAM you should pay close attention to the name and link. If it is a person’s name and goes to a personal site or blog (like JMO), then it is probably not SPAM.
You will have to use your own discretion when deciding which comments are SPAM on your blog. Comments are great places to have a bit of further discussion about posts. They can add to the “conversation” in many cases, so blocking SPAM is even more important to keep the conversation fluid. While comment SPAM can’t hurt you directly, it can look ugly on your blog.
While some sites have turned off comments all together to prevent this, you may still want to keep comments on your site. Using nofollow links can help prevent the spammers from gaining anything with their garbage, but it will still pile up in the back and can clutter your real comments. Moderating your comments regularly and having a keen eye for SPAM can protect your site from the evils of comment SPAM.
I have decided it to let the SPAM comments show up on this post so you can see some examples of what we get. I will neuter them by removing the link, but the text and name of the commenter will be left alone (unless it’s profane). Our first winner is “Affiliate Network”.
Many more SPAM comments have rolled in to the mix. I’ve removed links on all of them, but the text gives you an idea of what they may look like on your site.
Ah, the Blog Contest. Who doesn’t love a good blog contest. You may be think from the title and first words (and perhaps the by line) that this will be a bit of biting criticism calling out the blog industry for selling it self short. Or perhaps you think it is ridiculous self promotion for our current blog contest. Well, this is neither. It is the perspective of those two people who can agree on one thing: Blog Contests work!
One of the values at Schipul is Win/Win. This means that in an interaction or agreement or business-dealing, both sides walk away feeling like they have gained something. When we do work for our clients, we earn their business, and in turn they are provided with a service they need. The Blog Contest is, on most scales, a true example of Win/Win.
The Blog owner can be seeking PR, attention, an urge for traffic, or perhaps they just have extra stuff. To accomplish their goal, they can utilize traditional advertising, but this does not always help them reach their audience in a fun and interesting way. Even online advertising can be a poor fit for the audience or the budget. The flexibility of the Blog Contest allows you to give away pretty much anything, from a Wii Fit to netbooks to cat T’s.
From the reader perspective, generally very little is asked of you. Leave a funny comment, become a fan on facebook, mention something on twitter, etc. Much of the time your odds of winning are quite good compared to a business card fishbowl or a clearing house sweepstakes. And generally there is a high amount of transparency in seeing who wins. Unless a contest gets out of hand (see Wii Fit above), then the contest is contained to the community of people who read the blog, with maybe a few outsiders who are just around for the contest.
Even after a winner is announced, many great things have happened. Either a new reader has won something, which may keep them coming back as a reader, or an old reader has won something, which rewards them for being a part of the conversation. Attention is gained at a cost (like all advertising), but in this case the readers profit, not an Ad agency. Aside from some twitter contests which can be quite annoying (i.e. planet-orbiting-berry), the old-fashioned blog contest is a Win/Win event.
In all seriousness, these contests are really good for everyone and are turning into a great advancement in online economics. The scale of costs and attention help to create a happy event for all involved. A small giveaway creates a small burst of traffic, and giving away something large can create bigger waves on the internets. As a blog creator, you control the size and expense. As a blog contestant, you can control what contests you enter, and what is worth your time/attention/info. Everyone remains in control, traffic goes up, and someone is a winner.
In the words of Michael Scott, this is Win/Win/Win. One Win for the blogger, one Win for the contestants, and a Win for me for explaining it here and encouraging you to create a blog contest. There’s another Win too if you follow me on twitter, because all of my followers are winners.
(I realize this was published later than normal. It is part of the story. Welcome again to another crazy JMO post.)
In the blogging world, many people teach that having posts on a regular schedule is the way to create a readership. But this is only half of the message. It leaves out the ‘quality’ part. To have a successful blog, there should be a regular stream of quality posts to feed a readership. Here is a quick list on how to have a great blog.
Ok, so that probably isn’t the Top 5 list you were hoping to see. Too bad, because that’s really all there is to it.
In writing this post I was almost guilty of overlooking Step 3. When you title your blog post Trend Tuesday, you are setting yourself up for a pretty hard deadline. And Tuesday is almost gone. Should I just hit Publish now? Probably not, as I haven’t finished my story yet. So, why am I not done yet? I’ve got some great excuses.
I haven’t reached the deadline yet
I work better at the last minute
It wasn’t a high priority
I haven’t hit the deadline. For this excuse, I am really blaming the deadline. Unfortunately, deadlines have a tendency to backfire. A week ago we set a deadline to have a new Trend Tuesday blog post done by Tuesday. I had a whole week to get it done. But really, by giving myself a deadline of Tuesday, I committed to doing it on Tuesday. Because this is due in a week, it ranks behind other tasks, until Tuesday that is. Now it is on top of the heap, but it is almost too late. Way to avoid this: set earlier deadlines, or, if you can, do things immediately. Think of the deadline as less of a due date and more of a time to actually do it.
And anyways, I work better at the last minute. Because at the last minute, there is added stress and pressure. And I work great under pressure. NOT. At the last minute, I am forced to get things done. Not to make them right, or even above average. And certainly not to make them spectacular. But they do get done. Had I made my deadline, you would have stopped reading after the Top 4 list. That is what is produced by someone who works better at the last minute. Way to avoid this: set standards for quality. For this post, it could be the words, time spent on it, or links. Or it could be that I got 5 other people excited after they read it.
But the real reason I didn’t finish on time is that this wasn’t a high priority. Unfortunately, task managers and to-do lists have this annoying priority system built in with 1-5’s and stars and red flags, etc. I think priority is really a boolean, or an on/off switch. Something is a priority, or it isn’t. Merlin Mann agrees, or really, I agree with him. But when I first learned of this task, I said this wasn’t a high priority. But if this isn’t a high priority, then why am I not done yet? It is superseded by a real priority.
The real priority is that when I publish something with my name on it, it has to be my best effort. This is the priority. This is Step 3 above. And this is what makes great bloggers, writers, designers, and all creators. When I first started this, under the deadline, rushing it out, it was about 200 words of garbage. I’ve since deleted all of that, and written all of this. While some may argue that I was just lazy and procrastinated and that’s why this wasn’t finished, I’d have to disagree. I set myself up for failure when I did the following:
I made a deadline that was the absolute last minute I needed to finish.
I did not make this a priority.
I did not start until close the deadline because this wasn’t a priority.
I lied to myself about my abilities to do quality work quickly.
All of these things caused me to miss the all important Step 3. Fortunately, the place I work is smart enough to recognize that a quality post that is late is much better than a weak post on time. Hopefully the readers if this blog and yours are also flexible.
Set deadlines before things are really due, or just do them immediately.
Don’t wait til the last minute. Your work is not better when you do.
Make quality stuff (which should be on time if you follow the first two).