Browsing articles tagged with "Google Archives | april.holle.blog"
Dec
9

THE Brian Shaler

Brian Shaler

So I got to sit down with Brian Shaler yesterday during the Phoenix BarCamp and really pick his brain regarding his recent boost in popularity on the net.

I’ve been on a big personal branding kick and I’m trying to talk to anyone who’s someone to ask them how they “did it”. Not necessarily to find the best way “in” but to be able to at least assess my possibilities and think of it another way. So when I heard Brian was getting some SERIOUS digg attention and had over 6k followers on Twitter… I started to wonder if he was my next brain-sucking victim in the quest to become immoral. Sounds kinda creepy when I put it that way eh?

Anyhow, when Chuck Reynolds and I finally hog tied him and tossed him into the back of the van, after HOURS of threating to toss him into a vat of scorpions, THE Brian Shaler gave up his secret to his AMAZING popularity rise.

When he first found Twitter, he realized the growth potential of seeding the popularity contest that is viral marketing. How you ask? It’s brilliant really. You follow people… doesn’t matter who really, the more active the better I suppose. Lets say you start following… 3 thousand people… then all the sudden, even HALF of those people return the favor by following you. You instantly have a captured 1,500 user audience in which to broadcast yourself and things you want to become known. Once you have a decent size user audience, communication back and forth can continue the viral campaign, since every @brianshaler twitter statement someone makes is broadcast to all the users twitter followers as well, and these people start to ask, who is this person they’re talking to? Perhaps they too will start following you. All the sudden you have over 6 thousand twitter followers just like Brian Shaler.

He uses this captured market as a launching pad for things to become viral and tracks every link he sends out to this base group so that he can track the SEO effects of his experiment in viral activity. So, lets say… he has a site that he wants to promote. He sends out the link to his twitter followers saying, “Hey check this really cool thing out…”. Because of his extensive research on the SEO traffic produced by his Twittering alone, he knows that he can pretty much rely on about 100-300 click throughs from his Twitter followers alone. So perhaps his twitter followers actually think that this thing that he has sent them is a great idea, so they send it to a friend, two friends or three friends. The viral exponential factor already starts working its magic… but lets say that someone submits it to StumbleUpon or Digg, and the their own viral patterns start to build on top of this small 100-300 base click throughs. Suddenly you have created a mountain out of an ant hill.

The craziest thing about this, is that due to the way the internet naturally is a sharing device, people who will never ever meet Brian are now his number one fan. During the BarCamp we were recording and streaming the presentations. A Brian Shaler follower from Germany found out about the web broadcast and came into the web chat, this follower actually asked Brian to tell his friend (who was also a Shaler follower) that he had flown to Phoenix and had actually hung out with Brian. Crazy eh? Off of merely creating a viral platform to toss things out on, Brian has actually become internationally famous.

Besides creating that viral base for yourself, Brian also seriously recommended building your own brand of yourself. As cocky as this may seem, it really helps promote the idea of “he is someone” much like personalities such as Oprah or Michael Jordan. Then using this identity for everything that you toss out into the sea of the internet, or even in real life. Brian actually has business cards that just say “Brian Shaler” on them… on both sides, nothing else. Why? He says, “If you can’t contact me in 30 seconds using the information on that card, don’t contact me.” This very small piece of printed material just adds to the effect that Brian really is someone you should already know of.

Brian also chalks up his fame to some of the side projects he’s put effort into in the past, and believes that it’s better to have many sites to your brand with lower search rankings than one site with a high page rank. Why? Because different people have different interests and you can reach a larger, broader audience. He has recently broken out his blog from his personal portfolio site, widening his name sake that much more. But you can really see this effect in his creation crappygraphs.com. The whole site’s premise is crappy graphs that really don’t display accurate data at all, but more so a point. After creating only 20 crappy graphs, he decided to create a flash application on the site that allowed users to create their own crappy graphs and submit them to the site. After ten hours of intense manual labor over the course of one weekend, he now gave his crappy graph followers a way to really express themselves…crappily graphically. Crappy Graphs now has over a thousand graphs… why? Because of user submissions. These user submissions have been Dugg, StumbledUpon, and spread throughout the viral universe, and how did Brian accomplish this? By creating one, 10 hour application that allowed his users to express themselves.

So while the rest of us are trying to figure out the best way to market some silly viral ad campaign, Brian will be tossing links out into his twitter feed and reaping the click throughs, Diggs, and Stumbles.

** I was forced against my will to name the following links… part of the verbal agreement to be talked to by THE Brian Shaler. But do check them out anyhow. 😉 You’re welcome Brian. **

For those of you who DON’T know you Brian Shaler is, check out his blog, his personal portfolio site, his famous twitter account (6k followers and counting), the ShalerJump and of course Crappy Graphs.

Oct
16

Seth Godin: How To Create a Great Website

Seth Godin recently posted his top 10 principles to create a great website. I really agreed with his perspective and wanted to elaborate with my own views.

1. Fire the committee. No great website in history has been conceived of by more than three people. Not one. This is a dealbreaker.

When you involve too many people into the process you start to conform and compromise until a great, original idea has transformed into a safe, bland piece of uninspiring web junk.

2. Change the interaction. What makes great websites great is that they are simultaneously effortless and new at the same time. That means that the site teaches you a new thing or new interaction or new connection, but you know how to use it right away. (Hey, if doing this were easy, everyone would do it.)

The web is all about interaction and ease of use, make it easy and make it essential to life. People flock to technologies and websites that make it easier to connect, share, do, and use in a way that wasn’t possible before. Take for instance, Flckr, it’s made photo sharing so remarkably easy that the whole world started sharing their snapshots. Or look at MySpace, making connecting to old friends easy, customizable so you can have your very own space on the web.

3. Less. Fewer words, fewer pages, less fine print.

There’s a new trend on the web where less is more. Don’t pitch to the client, don’t dance around the fact that you have a service they are interested in, just give it to them straight. If they weren’t interested, they wouldn’t be on your website, and they’re on your site for more concise, to the point information about you, the services you provide, and if you’re right for them. However, on the web, attention spans are at an all time low, so make it snappy!

4. What works, works. Theory is irrelevant.

Ultimately, there is no golden ticket to being a giant on the web. For years everyone thought we needed MORE everywhere on the web, and then came along Google: a logo, a text box, and a button. PERIOD. While you may think for a long time on how something may work, the true test is just to launch and see what happens.

5. Patience. Some sites test great and work great from the start. (Great if you can find one). Others need people to use them and adjust to them. At some point, your gut tells you to launch. Then stick with it, despite the critics, as you gain traction.

The bigger the site, the more complex, the more bugs you’re going to find. You can test EVERY scenario on how a user will try to use something, and then the day you launch, a user will show you a different approach you didn’t think of. The web is ever evolving, even if you launch today and it’s perfect, you’ll still need to update to stay fresh. Nothing on the web is forever. If you place your flag in the sand and wait two years to build on what you’ve created you’ll realize you have to totally rebuild because you’re washed up. Keep fresh, keep building on what you’ve made.

6. Measure. If you’re not improving, if the yield is negative… kill it.

You can spend a ton of money on a new site, but how do you know you’re getting a return on your investment? Do you know how many new contacts or sales are coming to the website? Do you know how many visitors you have and what your conversion rate is? If you’re not getting the numbers and contacts you want, where are your users bailing out of the system? Knowing all this information is key to making sure your investment is really being returned and that what you do next is really required to boost those numbers. Don’t be afraid to bail out of something that isn’t working after a period of time. Don’t beat a dead horse, just get up and move on to another approach.

7. Insight is good, clever is bad. Many websites say, “look at me.” Your goal ought to be to say, “here’s what you were looking for.”

Just because your site has all the bells and whistles doesn’t mean you’re going to draw in those users you want. Building on the less is more strategy, make sure that that select content you choose to include in your website is insightful and what the client is really looking for.

8. If you hire a professional: hire a great one. The best one. Let her do her job. 10 mediocre website consultants working in perfect harmony can’t do the work of one rock star.

Think of it as if you’re going to the doctor, would you tell him that your leg is broken and how to set, pin and cast it? No. Would you go to the illegal doctor working out of a shack instead of a highly trained doctor in a hospital? You should have the same regard for your interactive professional. Tell them where it hurts, tell them what other marketing meds you’re on, but don’t tell them how to do their operation. Even though you might save some money in the short term by going to a hole in the wall web shop, you’ll get want you pay for, junk. You’re going to reap the benefits of plunking down the dollars for a professional organized, designed and developed website.

9. One voice, one vision.

Make sure you know what you want to say and how you want to say it. You should have a solid idea of what you’re looking for. This will save time and money when you start looking at companies and solutions to help you build your website.

10. Don’t settle.

In the end, you ARE paying for a service. Don’t be steamrolled by a company who simply isn’t giving you what you need or thought you were going to get. Make sure the company you’ve selected for your project is right, and feel free to shop around. If your idea simply isn’t going to happen for your budget, more than likely several companies will tell you.

What is this?

This little blog happens to be the personal ramblings of one April Holle - I'm female, outspoken, webbie, a community evangelist, and Principal of Made Better Studio. Check out the about section for more info.

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