All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Capturing Email Addresses – I’m Almost On Board

In January 2014 I wrote a post titled To Capture Or Not Capture Email Addresses; That Is The Question. As the title suggests, I was looking for a compelling reason to start capturing email addresses, beyond the old saw “the money is in the list”. As the comments on that post indicated, only one person was making any real money from having a list.

where its at
Chris Preen via Compfight

My major lament about it all was I had nothing tangible to sell, thus what would the purpose be? After all, without a product there’s no money to make right?

Well, it’s 16 months later, and now I’m closer to going the route of capturing email addresses. Why?

Two reasons.

The first is that one of the thoughts from last year, the only one that broke through my mind, was the possibility that RSS feeds might go away. Even though there’s been no more talk (at least as far as I know) that Feedburner will be shut down by Google, since they’ve been shutting down lots of other stuff one never knows what they might do.

I love RSS for my own use and I’m sure lots of other people do also. However, I know some people, out of fear, have gone to something called Feedly, while others have started using Flipboard. I’m using Flipboard myself, but I’ve only connected 3 blogs to it, one a local sports blog that shows up in my general feed, while the others I have to specifically go to.

What am I also worried about? At one point I had nearly 400 people subscribed to this blog. Now it’s down to 151, and I have no idea whether they’re subscribed to the RSS feed or the email feed, mainly because I can’t find that one on Feedburner anymore. I do know that most of those who used to subscribe did so through the RSS link.

Thus, having the ability to capture email addresses might be the smart thing to do to make sure people will continue receiving my stuff… if they want it.

The second is that I’m about to not only have a couple of new products, but I’m going to be doing a massive push for sales of the two products, and starting to capture email addresses wouldn’t hurt the process long term, especially since, if it turns out to be successful, I might be doing more of this type of thing.

Still, I want to differentiate the email from what most people send out. My thoughts are that I would send out an email once a week highlighting every post I’ve put on on all my blogs, any videos I’ve created, any interviews I’ve given, and have a brief thought of my own on there that’s not anywhere else. I don’t know many other people who could claim to offer that much information weekly.

Of course, the issue might be deciding what type of original thought to share. Having multiple blogs gives me multiple topics to discuss, but will the people who subscribed through this blog care about leadership? Will the people who subscribe through my business blog care about finances? Details, details…

I haven’t solidified all the details yet but now that I’m close I’m ready to ask some of you what you think about it all. Remember though… just because you offer advice doesn’t mean I’ll necessarily take it. lol I say that because I’m expecting some of the opinions are going to counter each other, and I’m smart enough to know it’s pure folly to try to appease everyone.

By the way, if I do this thing I found a WordPress plugin that looks like it’d be up to the job. It’s called WP Email Capture, and it sets up a double opt-in process to make sure no one’s subscribing someone else just to be sneaky. After that… I’ll figure out how to send out my newsletters, which will initially probably be manual since I don’t expect a major run early on.

That’s all I have for now; your thoughts on it all?
 

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Try Not To Take Things Personally

Back in 2011 I wrote a post titled Taking Twitter Unfollows Too Personally. In that article, I talked about the strange reaction Chris Brogan received when he decided to unfollow all the people he’d been connected to, even though his reasoning was pretty just at the time. I was pretty amazed that all those people took it personally, even though he wrote about it to explain what he was doing.

Amnesty 20p books - 2
Caroline via Compfight

You know what? I’m going to admit that there are times when I struggle with not taking things personally. Sure, sometimes things do get personal, and in those instances you have to deal with it directly in some fashion; my favorite way, at least on social media, is to block people so I don’t have to bother with them anymore. It keeps me from saying something rude or from escalating things to an extreme.

Every once in a while I stay calm and try to diffuse a situation, especially when I don’t really know the people I’m suddenly in conflict with. For instance, last October I got into a confrontation with a couple of millennials about something called Gamergate. I let them fuss and fume, called them on a couple of things they said, let them calm down and then had a nice conversation with them that ended well. I could have really gone off the deep end but in that case I felt it was better to see if I could find a way to talk to them instead.

Of course I could bring things closer to home by talking about people I know. In at least 3 cases now I’ve asked people if I could interview them, only to see them do their first interviews with someone else. Each person started off with something like “I’d be too nervous to do an interview” or “I don’t know what I’d say”. Each of them I pursued more than a couple of years. Eventually, well, I already stated what happened.

Now, I could take it personally, wonder what I might have done, wondered if I wasn’t as compelling a person to be interviewed by them and sulked. Truthfully, I did sulk briefly each time I found out about it. Then I moved on; after all, I’ve interviewed a good number of people anyway, including one of the people I’ve talked about above.

One of those things we all have to learn sometimes is that it’s not always about us. Sometimes it’s timing. Sometimes a person is having a bad day and decides to take it out on you. Just last week I was having a conversation with a guy on Twitter about something and he said he was tired of being called a racist. I said I hadn’t called him one. He looked back through his stream, saw that I hadn’t (I hadn’t even come close lol), and apologized for his overreaction. His assumption that, based on what he was saying at the time, was that I was going to call him one, which was strange because I’d began the conversation by saying I agreed with him on something. lol

It’s hard enough in one’s real life to not take everything personally. It can be harder on social media, especially since we can’t always see someone’s facial expressions and, let’s face it, the English language is so goofy that you can look at a sentence and take it many different ways sometimes, depending on how you’re reading it at the time (proper punctuation might help; just a suggestion…).

In any case, give it a shot and see if it makes you feel better and helps you communicate better online. Meanwhile, check out the video below, where I had something happen last year that irked me so much that I had to wonder if some people just aren’t meant for social media; lates!
 


https://youtu.be/dA6uaLsEJNE

 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Getting More Eyes On Your Facebook Business Page

I’m always reading and then trying new things. Whether or not they work, I like to share what happened with the testing. This time around I’m going to talk about Facebook business pages; some folks call them fan pages but since mine has my business name associated with it (as you can see by my business logo over there on the right) I’m calling it a business page.

Facebook Screenshot
Neeraj Kumar via Compfight

Just 2 months ago I talked about some changes in promotions of myself and my business via social media, and I declared that Facebook was a disaster. And I wasn’t lying. At that time, there wasn’t anything I could do to generate any interest whatsoever.

I was seriously thinking about dropping the page and moving on with life; I just couldn’t pull the trigger though. Instead, I read a couple of articles that happened to mention a couple of things in particular.

One talked about video and how Facebook was starting to share more of those with the masses. I have lots of videos on two channels on YouTube, and I’d been sharing some of those links. However, they really didn’t seem to be doing much for me.

Sometimes I’m slow though. I finally realized the recommendations weren’t to share links to videos, but to actually upload videos. If you look at your news stream you’ll see a lot of videos there. Many are shared from other pages, but at some point at least half of those are original videos, most very short, but still uploaded directly by the originator.

I decided to take a shot at uploading my own videos to my business page. What I noticed that instead of when I used to share videos that linked to YouTube and got less than 10 views, suddenly videos were getting upwards of 30 to 50 “reaches”. That doesn’t actually mean people watched them, but underneath the reaches you see the view figure, and those had at least doubled from what I was getting before. Not all of them but more of them.

The other article talked about more free flow thoughts on a page rather than linking to blog posts, which is what I mainly did. On that front I should have been paying attention to the few times when I actually wrote something original on the page. Those always got way more views than when I’d write a sentence or two and then pasted a link.

Thus, it was time to try a couple of new things. One involved writing brief articles, maybe 3 or 4 paragraphs. The other involved one of my newer Twitter strategies, which was posting an original quote of mine and adding an image to it. Both of those strategies started getting more reaches and views from subscribers to the page, which was uplifting.

I didn’t stop there though. I started to think about sharing some of these things with my personal stream. That came from a personal video I shared last year on this blog when talking about airport stories, which I’d posted a YouTube link onto the business page but never had shared with my personal stream. This time I wrote a brief bit about what happened, posted the video directly from my computer, and also shared the link back to the blog post.

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Les Stockton via Compfight

That bad boy took off, and my friends loved the video. A couple asked for more videos; who’d have thought that would happen? So, I started sharing videos from my business page to my personal page. Not all of them; I know there are some leadership and social media tales that most of the people in my stream could care less about.

Many people love motivational stuff though, so I started sharing those posts. While I was at it I realized that some folks might also like my quotations on my personal page, especially since each one has an image with it.

Success! Suddenly I was getting hundreds of reaches, Facebook was telling me how these posts were performing better than the norm (while trying to get me to pay to promote them further; as if!), and, with just that effort, I started getting a few more people liking that business page. I don’t have a giant number, but at this moment I’m up to 371 when just 6 weeks ago I was stuck on 352.

That’s not bad, especially since I haven’t sent out any new invites during the time. This means that people must be sharing some of my posts because even though half the people who joined already knew me (those are the only folks you can invite to a business page), the other half (I know, 19 means one person would be cut in half; just go with me lol) are people I didn’t know before they signed up to the page.

Frankly, I’ve been happy with what’s been going on. Because of that, my message is starting to reach a few more people and it’s made Facebook a much better experience. I still don’t have tons of activity, but I have some hope for it to happen now. I’ll own up that I haven’t increased traffic to either blog all that much, but because of the increased activity on the page a couple of people will actually click on a blog link now if I promote it a bit better on the page; that doesn’t depress me one bit.

That’s what I’m seeing. No promises that it will work for everyone but that’s my experience. Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

Trying To Become Mobile Friendly Isn’t A Friendly Process

Ever since Google and a couple other search engines decided they wanted to rank websites that they consider mobile friendly higher than other sites, people like me have been tearing our hair out trying to figure out how to get there. I can tell you it’s not easy at all.

For those of you who haven’t heard about this or don’t understand what it means, let’s talk about mobile friendly sites for a quick minute.

Growing Smartphone Collection
Michael Kwan (Freelancer) via Compfight

It seems that more than 55% of all web traffic is now being performed via some type of mobile device. This means smartphones, tablets, readers, etc. It doesn’t mean laptops or notebooks and definitely not desktop computers.

Mobile friendly for the specific items I mentioned means that if someone pulls your website up that it’ll load fast and look like it was designed for a mobile experience since the screens are smaller than what some of us are traditionally used to. Strangely enough, it’s their expectation that the website needs to look good if someone’s looking at it on their phone vertically, which means the long way, rather than horizontally, meaning you’re looking at more physical real estate.

Frankly, I’m a horizontal viewer whenever I need to use my phone to look something up. It’s easier to hold my smartphone in two hands and easier to type that way. I might search for something vertically, but once I pull up a site I always move horizontally because it’s a better viewing experience in my opinion.

Never mind that for now I suppose. Let’s look at trying to get one’s site mobile friendly.

This is the link you can use to find out if your site is mobile friendly or not, courtesy of Google: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. Go to this site and put in the URL of your website or blog.

If you’re having issues, go to this other link, also courtesy of Google: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights. It will give you insights as to how you might fix whatever your issue might be.

You’ll get some kind of score. If you’re already using something on your blog to make your site mobile friendly (I use WP Touch) then you’ll probably come up as being friendly, although some people say it’s not 100% effective; I’ve done okay so far. If not, the most common issue is the font, in which case you just go into the plugin and select one of the supposedly favored Google fonts and get on with life.

Maurizio Pesce via Compfight

If it’s your website… you’re probably in some kind of trouble. Google will give you a score, then they’ll give you links that you can click on to refine what your issues are and give you a chance to fix them.

I have three static websites, and none of them are compliant. However, by working on some of these things all of them are at least 80% compliant, one of them at 93%. However, there are issues, which I’m going to point out and, maybe, some day someone will be able to help me get around them because so far the advice has been the same but none of the fixes have worked.

Before I go too far, let me tell you that size seems to be the major issue overall, as in how it will look on a smartphone if you’re looking at vertically, as I mentioned above. This is how they begin scoring you; after that it’s speed.

The biggest recommendation I kept getting was to add this code into the header: meta name=viewport content=”width=device-width initial-scale=1″. For every one of my sites, when I put this sucker in and tested the site again my score went down. So, instead of using this I started experimenting with different widths. I tried going larger first but it seems bringing it down in degrees works better. On the site I got to 93% I changed the width to 400; system assumes it’s pixels so I didn’t define it further than that. Eventually I tried taking out the “initial-scale=1” part and there are no difference in score at all.

The next thing is your fonts. For all my sites it kept telling me that the fonts were too small. I kept changing the pixel size, by degrees of course because you don’t want your site looking goofy; they say they don’t want it looking strange either. They recommend making the size 16px; only on the site that I got to 93% did it make a difference; not sure why it didn’t work on the other sites. Still, it’s something to play with.

After that you might have to do something with your logo image if it’s a large one. On two of my sites the logo is larger than 320px. If you try shrinking your logo it looks stupid; trust me on this one. However, the fix that was recommended that raised my score was to not put a “restrictive” size on the image. Instead, make the width 100%; it allows the phones to resize it somewhat… I’ll get back to this point later.

The final thing… do you run Adsense on any of your sites? On the site I’m getting the 93% on, my lingering issue has to do with my Google Adsense code. At first they were griping because I wasn’t using what they call an asynchronous version of their code. Turns out they changed their codes somewhere along the line; totally missed that.

So, I went back and changed the codes on most of my sites. The top code size is 728×90, which is one of the highest converting codes Google’s ever put out, and works well on my site (this is my medical billing site by the way). Guess what… Google hates that size! That’s the last thing it wants me to fix, and it’s their code!

Pffft--Daily Image 2011--October 7
rochelle hartman via Compfight

Come on now; that’s just not fair! It’s still a code choice in Adsense, which means their own code isn’t mobile friendly. Thus, they’re going to penalize me and lots of other folks for using their own code; tell me that’s not the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard! Sigh…

Not only that, but when I looked at each of my websites after making the changes… vertically they all look stupid. Horizontally they look a lot better, and one can resize as necessary to read easier, especially with the larger phones.

Thus, my contention that trying to go mobile friendly isn’t a friendly process whatsoever, and Google is a big part of the problem. Trust me, I’ve researched this a lot and most of what I’m seeing either keeps recommending things that don’t work, like what I’ve mentioned above, or talks in riddles with language I just don’t understand. Many recommendations are to totally change your design, with an understanding that a lot of small businesses (me!) might not be able to do it for a while.

My saving grace? On two of my sites I have blogs attached to them that are mobile friendly. So, I shouldn’t take a big hit if I take one at all. The other one… I’m not really worried about it yet, however it’s the one site that just might need a total redesign because I built it in a very complicated way. I like it, but it’s never done what I wanted it to do so if I have the time it just might need some major reworking.

That’s my tale and my sharing… as much as I could. What have you been dealing with, if you’ve bothered to deal with it? I know my buddy Pete changed his sites over to WordPress so he could run the mobile app. I don’t have that luxury unfortunately, as I’m running a couple of scripts that I couldn’t run with that software. Anyway, share your thoughts on all of this; I need a cookie!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell

9 Relationships Between Blogging And Social Media

Blogging was the first social media. Some people might think it was AOL but I’m not sure AOL really counted as social media since it was more of a news and information site. In any case, blogging continues to be the biggest purveyor of social media information, even in the face of sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Britain Going Blog Crazy - Metro Article
Annie Mole via Compfight

Why do I say that? If you look at what’s shared most of the time via links it’s one of 3 things; video, news stories of some sort, or blog posts. Huffington Post, in all its glory, is nothing more than a huge blog site; exclusive in its own way, but still mainly a mash of opinions and such.

While blogging can be considered as social media, it’s also different. The idea behind blogging overall is much different.

For instance, I post something on Facebook and I might get some likes. Most of the time, if I get a comment, it’s one line, then on to the next thing.

With blogs, one hopes to build up a community whereby there’s a nice mix of usual visitors with new visitors, with multiple intentions. Some of us just want to espouse our philosophies on things. Some of us want to make money. Most of us want to talk to people, which is why we leave comments open.

With that as a setup, let’s look at this interesting relationship between blogging and social media in the context of being separate entitles:

1. Bloggers promote their articles on social media; social media helps them gain notice.

That’s pretty much how it’s been since the old days of sites like Blogger and diary sites, where the people who promoted you were people who belonged to the same sites. Back in 2004 there were lots of people promoting their blog posts on Ryze; later it became MySpace. Take a look at your Twitter feed one day and you’ll see all sorts of posts going to some type of blog.

2. Social media feeds the bear with blog topics to write about.

I’ve written a lot of posts over the years about all the big social media sites. I got those ideas by participating on those sites. I also got ideas for certain types of topics by reading what people put up on these sites. You don’t always have to think of something on my own… thank goodness!

Pro's & Con's of Social Revolution
P T via Compfight

3. Social media gets more benefit from your blogging than you do.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s true. This doesn’t mean you’re not getting anything out of it, but social media gets more. Let’s use Twitter as our example.

How many millions of blog links do you think goes through Twitter every day? How many of the people you’re connected to do you think are actually seeing your link so they’ll come to your site for a visit? How many more of those actual visitors are retweeting your post as opposed to leaving a comment on your site?

4. If you want to make any real money, you need to get people from social media to come to your blog or website.

In some ways people are missing the idea behind social media marketing. The idea isn’t to get people to like your stuff offsite; the idea is to find ways to entice people to come to your blog or your website. I’d say your affiliate link but trust me, most of those links and posts are getting ignored.

People hate being sold to blatantly. However, if you write an article about a product you like, then promote it on social media, and make it attractive enough to get people to come to your space, then you have a real opportunity to possibly make some money. Think about why we all hate those people posting links telling us they can get us thousands of Twitter or Facebook followers; it’s not only that we don’t believe them (it’s a scam by the way) but how does that help us?

5. Unless you’re already well known, famous people or people thought of highly in your industry aren’t coming to your blog unless they hear about you via social media.

I’ve had a couple of folks known fairly well online stop by here for a comment or two; it’s rare but it’s happened.

However, I’ve connected with a lot of famous people via social media… and they followed me first! lol I’ve ever had the opportunity to talk to them; that’s pretty cool.

Here’s the overall thing, at least from my perspective. I’ve never really tried to get anything from any of these people and I don’t go out of my way to show who I know and how I know them. In 13 years of being online and 10 years of blogging the only person I ever reached out to for anything was asking Guy Kawasaki to add my business blog to the leadership section of his Alltop site, and that was after I helped edit his book Reality Check (and my name’s in the book; pretty cool!).

The thing is, you can connect with someone via social media in a way you probably won’t on a blog. If you’re genuine they might even stop by your blog or possibly help promote you. Don’t ever expect it though; do your own work.

6. You benefit most from both blogging and social media by sharing.

You might benefit more from sharing things on social media but your blog can get a benefit also. If you mention and link to others on your blog you may get more people to your blog. That’s because a lot of people look at trackbacks for their stuff and sometimes if they see you’ve linked to them they’ll stop by to see what you had to say or share.

Social media allows you to easily share the content others produce. If it’s certain people better known than others it can bring you some attention. If it’s regular folks like you, then they’re more apt to stop by your blog or website to take a look… Some of that depends on…

bloggingdemotivator

7. Blog titles are important; social media is but it’s not always in your control.

Don’t even think about changing someone else’s article title to fit your own needs, even if it’s just to tell people what the article is about. For your own missives, finding creative titles will be productive because that’s what a lot of people are looking for. They’ve all been told that one way to garner trust is sharing other people’s links so they’ll do that, even if they never read what you’ve written. This leads to #8…

8. More people will read your blog posts than your links on social media, even if more people see them on social media.

Isn’t that a shame? I have way more people comment and share my stuff on Twitter and Google Plus without reading it than I get comments on the blog.

How do I know this? I have posted videos that take at least 5 minutes to watch and seen them shared in 30 seconds. I’ve checked viewer counts later in the day and the counts, if I had any views, never match how many times the link has been shared.

On Google Plus, I’ve gotten responses to a link that don’t match up with the article but might match up with the title. Every once in a while I’ll press someone on it and they’ll admit they didn’t read the article. The same happens on Twitter; although I have a couple of folks who’ll retweet my stuff because I’m on their list and they know me, many more share my links and occasionally comment on the title that never come to the blog.

However, if people come to the blog, I can tell who’s actually read the article or not. Some comments aren’t even worthy of keeping and I immediately move them to spam but that’s not the majority of what I get anymore, thank goodness.

What does this mean overall? It means the people you’re really going to reach are the people you can get to come to your blog. Sure, every once in a while you might get some attention on Facebook if you do certain things, but in general people are going to skip it unless you can bring them into your space.

9. Neither blogging or social media is going away any time soon.

As a matter of fact, I predict that both are going to continue growing in some form or another for decades unless there’s some type of world catastrophe; I hope against hope on that one.

Since both are going to be around, both individuals, bloggers and marketers still have time to figure it all out, how to work with each other, how to make each other grow, how to protect each other… well, I have big dreams I suppose.

There are some things that need to stop. Trolling needs to stop. Bullying needs to stop. Revenge sites need to stop. Honesty needs to be spoken of more. There probably needs to be more social progress. The world needs to find better ways to talk to each other rather than at each other.

I don’t have that answer; I’m probably too old and set in my ways for that one. However, when there’s the potential for discourse, I’ll probably be there. I’ll comment on the blog; then I’ll share it on social media.

How will you participate?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015 Mitch Mitchell