Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Content Management Systems are In

Sharon Wildwind

Last week I mentioned I’d been to computer camp and gotten the T-shirt. I was a little nervous going to camp. Would I be able to understand what was being said? Would people think I was dumb if I didn’t understand?

In fact, I understood most of it, and I heard some very interesting discussion around the perennial question:

Do I really need …? (a blog, a website, social media, photo site, etc.)

That’s like asking what’s more important in my car: tires, gas, oil, fuel pump, etc. Everything is essential for running the car, but things become more or less important at certain times. If my gas gauge is on Empty and that annoying low-fuel light is on, I worry more about where is the nearest service station than whether I have windshield washer fluid. If it’s ten-below and snowing, snow tires and antifreeze are more on my mind than they are in July.

There are a lot of unfunny jokes that link women, cars, and stupidity. People learn to ask intelligent car questions because being able to have a meaningful conversation with their mechanic is as important to them as having meaningful conversations with their banker, doctor, or their child’s teacher. We need to learn to ask intelligent Internet questions as well.

Content Management System is the new umbrella term for focusing on getting our messages out. The question is no longer, “Do I have to have X?” but rather “What is X good at and how does that fit the message I want to get out?”

What do we need to know about the basics of an on-line presence? This is a starter kit. We all need at least a nodding acquaintance with (listed alphabetically):
  • Creative Commons
  • Facebook
  • Goodreads
  • Google +, Google Analytics, and Google Authorship (3 separate sites, all related to Google services)
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • RSS Readers
  • Twitter, Bit.ly, Nestivity, and CommunIt (4 separate sites, all related to using Twitter)
  • WordPress or Blogger (2 examples of blogging/web site software. There are others.)
 Don’t trust family or friends for word-of-mouth information about these services. Type in the names listed above. Find their main page. Many of them have videos or other tutorials that will explain what this service does. Also take a look at their terms of agreement, privacy, and security pages. There should be easy-to-find links to those pages. What we’re doing is building a data base of what social media possibilities in order to get the best match to get out message out.

If I had to pick one paragraph to describe our relationship, as authors, to social media, the next one is it.

As authors with an on-line presence, we can't afford to dismiss something because we don't "get it." At the very least, we need to do some data collection. We need to become very good at moving the fear line. We must do things that make us uncomfortable. Whatever we do, we develop relationships. We fail early and often, aiming for progress rather than perfection. The more we can know, like, and trust other people, the better our chances of survival. 

What about metrics?
Getting our message out is half the circle. Getting feedback is the other half, and that’s where metrics comes in.

Knowing how many visitors came to our Content Management Site is useless because it’s not how many come, it’s what they do once they get there.

A bounce is a two-second visit. A bounce may means that what contacted our CSM was a robot. Or someone realized very quickly they were in the wrong site. I do blackwork embroidery, and the term blackwork is also a tattoo term. If I reach a tattoo site, I bounce. If I reach an embroidery site, I stick around. Not that there is a thing wrong with tattoo sites; they just aren’t what I’m looking for. A third reason visitors bounce is that the initial impression is the site is boring or too complicated.

If we’re getting a lot of bounces either something is directing people to the wrong site or our site looks uninteresting. Programs like Google Analytics, JetPack, and Visitor Flow can tell you huge amount of useful information about what happens when someone visits your site.

And above all, here’s another quote from Chris Garrett, this one about on-line safety, which is something we can all use.

Quote for the week
I quickly learned to draw strong boundaries about how much personal information I put on line. Once you put something on the Internet it’s there forever. You might not be able to find it, but someone can. There is this strange phenomenon where the crazier the person, the more he can find.
~Chris Garrett, author and computer smart guy, 2013 May 25

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