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Fresh Thinking

Category Archives: Change

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Something has changed today — but do you know what it is?

By | Change, News, Strategy, The Future | No Comments

Over the holidays, we tend to play board games at our house. Popular choices for my wife, our 23-year-year old son, 16-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son include Cosmic Encounter, Risk, Guillotine and Oxford Dilemma. This year we found ourselves playing a game called TriBond.

TriBond, which is theoretically for ages 12 and up (and therefore theoretically suitable for the entire family), is a game in which players hear three individual clues and must analyze and determine what all three words have in common.  Example:  Delaware, today, and George Washington. (Answer: They are all firsts.)

Here’s one none of my children, ranging in age from tween to adult, could get:   Fossil, Citizen and Timex. My wife and I were sputtering in confusion. How could anyone miss that? They’re all watches! Then I looked around and noticed that no one was wearing a watch:  not me or my older son or my daughter (smartphones all) or my wife or our youngest. They didn’t know what a Fossil or a Citizen or a Timex was because they’d never worn a watch.

Here’s another one that my kids couldn’t get:   Little, Sloppy, and GI. I know:  They’re all Joes! This time I broke it down and asked all three kids who Little Joe was. No idea. (Bonanza having gone off the air in 1973, I barely knew.) Then I asked them what were Sloppy Joes, the curse of many of my grade-school lunches. Again, no idea, so I had to explain again. GI Joe, a staple of my childhood, they’d heard of, but never played with and couldn’t fully explain.

Then I looked at the box and noticed that TriBond, while renewed recently and purchased in a new edition, was “copyright 1993.” Which explained why all the cultural references seemed to be aimed at people in their 40s or 50s. Note to the TriBond guys:  If you want teens and 20-somethings to play your game, it’s time to update the cards.

This made me wonder what else has changed at some companies that the people running those companies haven’t noticed.

Here’s something that we at Counterintuity find more often than you’d imagine:  a client telling us that a mobile version of their website isn’t necessary. Then my business partner or someone else at Counterintuity will look at the client’s stats and let them know just how much of their traffic is from mobile. For a small manufacturer recently it turned out to be 17% — almost one-fifth of their traffic was from mobile. For a construction firm, it was 52%. They had told us that these “construction guys” are never on a mobile device, but when we told them that 52% of their traffic was from a smartphone or a tablet, they looked at each other and said, “Oh, right, they’re all looking at our website while they’re on the job.” And who is “they”? Their prospects.

It’s easy to not know what you don’t know. I taught graduate writing at the University of Southern California for 10 years, and one night during the seventh year bemoaned the fact that I was always paying for parking. One of my students said, “Why don’t you park on…” and named a side street near campus. I explained that it was metered parking with a limit of two hours, and this was a three-hour workshop, so I’d get a ticket. “There aren’t any meters there,” I was told. So after class I went and looked — and indeed, there were no meters there. Why did I think that street was metered? Because when I was a grad student myself at USC in the late 1980s — 20 years earlier! — that street was metered. But it had changed, and I had never thought to look.

Why is it easy to fall into this trap of thinking that things are set, that once you know something you know it for life? Maybe it’s because, for most of history, that was true. But no longer.

We live in the greatest period of change in human history. I am part of the last generation on Earth to grow up in a pre-Internet world, so we’re the fulcrum class:  We fully appreciate the Internet, and know what it was like not having it. Everybody younger just expects it. Given how much change has occurred on our watch — just to start:  the rise and fall of nations, the transformation of economies, instant access to more than one billion people across the globe, easy and seamless transfer of funds electronically, instantaneous and constant delivery of news — it would be naive to think that other things haven’t changed right within our own households and businesses and careers and communities.

What does this radical change mean? Among other things, it means that all of us are better served by questioning our own facts every day before making decisions that accidentally reflect times long gone.


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How to go out of business

By | Change, Email Marketing, Strategy | No Comments

In no particular order:

  1. Don’t know your numbers:  what your expenses are, what your projected income is, your balance sheet, a cashflow, a profit and loss, and the number. (What is the number? It’s the easily-checked-in-on number that tells you at a glance how you’re doing. It might be a monthly sales target. It might be the number of bottles on a shelf at the end of the night. It might be the number of units moved.)
  2. When things change, don’t adapt.
  3. Provide bad customer service. Or just be inconsistent.
  4. Check out on your own business. Get distracted and stay that way.
  5. When you have a problem, don’t rally your team, communicate the problem, and search for solutions. Because they might have some.
  6. Just fret, and do nothing.

Any one of these is sure to help put you out of business. A combination of two or more? Surefire.

As we saw again yesterday, when we learned that a friend’s business had closed.



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The end of guest blogging, keyword articles and link building

By | Change, Content Marketing, SEO | No Comments

Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it?

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, has declared that if you’re using guest blogging for link building, you should “stick a fork in it.” Matt also slammed article directories as a link-building tactic.

Google and Matt’s reasoning is that something that started as an authentic way to increase a website and author’s reach and authority has become spammy. Too many have taken advantage of the guest blogging and article directory link benefits and ruined it for everyone.

Believe it or not, now there are guest post and keyword article generators, websites you can pay to play, and even folks who will pay you to put their post on your blog.

Matt shared, “There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future.”

But he also said, “So there you have it: the decay of a once-authentic way to reach people. Given how spammy it’s become, I’d expect Google’s webspam team to take a pretty dim view of guest blogging going forward.”

What does this mean? It means that Google will devalue these types of links and, in the future, these types of links might even hurt your search rankings.

What’s the solution? Fabulous content and earned links.

How do you do that? Create terrific, relevant, valuable content and put it on your blog or website regularly. Share that content everywhere – Facebook, LinkedIn, your email newsletter. If your content is good, people will read it, share it, link to it and talk about it. This is how you earn the links and engagement that can help your search engine rankings.

There’s also the benefit of having greater keyword density on your website. This means using keywords that people would use when searching for a business or service like yours.

Plus you’ll be regularly adding relevant content to your website that will make it website and your blog a destination, giving people a reason to visit regularly and stay longer – which is also a search engine ranking booster.

The truth is, it’s not easy to create good content. Search engine optimization and content creation require art, not just science. Blog posts and website content that get search engine rankings now need to be longer and juicier. You need substance, not just style.

To help with search, you need to write pieces that set you apart from your competitors and position you as a thought leader and authority. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Some posts need to be long – like 750-1000 words long
  • Write a mix of types of posts – opinion, how-tos, and news
  • Include the keywords people will use when searching for a company like yours
  • Look at your list of keywords for inspiration if you don’t know what to write about
  • Do it
  • Do it again next week

Not everyone is equipped with the ability to do all of this writing and sharing. Need a content strategy or help? Let me know.

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Opt-in page notifications: Not impressed, Facebook.

By | Change, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Facebook, News, Social Marketing, Strategy, The Future | One Comment

Ever since Facebook rolled out promoted/sponsored posts the organic reach of facebook pages has gone down drastically. If you manage a facebook page this isn’t news to you. I understand that Facebook needs to find ways to continue to make money and afterall, we use the platform for free. Still, these changes are frustrating to say the least.

Gone are the days where your newsfeed isn’t littered with ads, sponsored posts and paid results and that is unlikely to change anytime soon. So short of investing some funds here is Facebook’s latest solution for page managers everywhere: sign up for notifications. Facebook now allows users to opt-in for page notifications. With this feature, an interested “fan” can make sure they’re not missing any of their favorite pages’ posts and get notified every time there is new content.

Seems like a good enough solution, right? Sure, unless you have several pages that you like to visit frequently and they each post more than once a day. Before you know it you’ll have more notifications from pages than your personal facebook page. That’s annoying.

Kudos to Facebook for making an effort to appease the unhappy cries from  Page Admins everywhere but they can’t seriously think this is a permanent solution, right? These opt-in page notifications serve pages much more than they do users who like that page but at least now you have the choice!

Would you opt-in for page notifications? I might go ahead and sign up for notifications for a select few of my favorite pages, but only the ones that post so sporadically that I wouldn’t want to miss what they’re broadcasting. Share your thoughts in the comments below or talk to us (ha) on Facebook.

UPDATE: Facebook has just released a Pages Feed underneath your pages (If you’re an admin) on the left sidebar. The posts are not showing in chronological order and it’s unclear how this affects their placement in the regular newsfeed. Again, I appreciate that they are responding with more options, but are these features worth much?

Would YOU check the Pages Feed? How do you feel about all these rapid fire changes to chameleon that we call Facebook? Feel free to tweet us at @Counterintuity

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How Facebook’s Timeline will change your custom landing pages

By | Change, Facebook, News | No Comments

Many of you have asked, “What will happen to our custom Facebook welcome pages and apps when the change to Timeline is made on March 30?

True to form, Facebook is doing away with what they call “canvas apps” or “tabs” as it did away with FBML when it introduced iframes.  What does this mean for your business page? According to Facebook:

1.         Canvas apps and tabs (commonly known as default landing pages or welcome pages) will NOT be automatically transferred into Timeline apps

2.         Pages will no longer be able to use canvas apps as the default landing tab that users first see when they visit

3.         Timeline “covers” may not display calls to action or references to Facebook features such as “Like this Page”, purchase or pricing info such as “40% off” or “Download at our website”, or contact information such as web address.”

4.         Yes, you will need to have your canvas apps redesigned for the new Timeline format.

There is some good news about the change.   You will still be able to add tab applications to Facebook pages, four of which can be displayed directly under your cover photo to showcase your best content, including contests and likes. (Well, the “Photos” tab is stationery, so you actually only have 3 editable tab positions). And, there’s a drop down menu on the fourth tab that allows you to edit what tabs people see. To rearrange them, click the drop down button on the far right tab. Anything available in the drop down menu can be pulled to the front.

The boxes used to promote apps are improved as well; instead of a few words on the left of your page, you can now create images up to 111px x 74px to promote your tab app.

Even better, there is now more real estate on tabs. Page tabs used to be 520px wide, and now have been updated to 810px.

So while there are no more custom landing pages with interactive content, there are many features that make Timeline a better experience for your users.  And isn’t that the key?






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Is Facebook Timeline for Pages a small business killer?

By | Change, Facebook, News, Social Marketing | No Comments

For a social network that relies on goodwill (aka advertising dollars) from businesses, it’s telling that Facebook has essentially shut out marketing and PR from their newly-released Timeline for Pages format. Businesses formerly enjoyed a robust cache of “free” functionality on iframes to promote sales, including for custom welcome tabs inviting users to like and share the page; e-mail and data capture; website links and much more.  For the cost of an app and/or a few design hours, companies could sell, promote or feature the heck out of themselves, and the sky was the limit on creativity.

Now, we’re not even allowed to tell potential customers how to reach us.  The current Timeline rules state that none of the following information can be included on the cover photo of a brand’s Timeline, including:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at this website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for a Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

counterintuityfacebooktimelineThat’s all being reserved for the “Info section,” a tiny text-only area barely noticed below the extremely large and suggested “engaging” cover photo. In fact, users have to click to see your website and unless you sell physical goods, it might be hard for someone to determine what you do.  Take Counterintuity, for example.  We’re a web design, social media and marketing agency. Check back in a few days to see how we convey that in a photo that meets Facebook’s strict guidelines.

It’s no coincidence that Facebook recently introduced two new ad types, as well. With new “Premium on Facebook” ads, businesses can now expand their Facebook “reach” by paying for a video, a coupon or other message to appear on the timeline of Facebook users, full screen on log-out and even within users’ newsfeeds. Until now, newsfeed had been free of any paid marketing messages.

It’s evident that with their IPO imminently forthcoming, Facebook is trying to attract the heavy hitters who can afford to pay big bucks to have their ads placed right where they want them.  That ad revenue will certainly look attractive to investors.  But what about the little guys?  We’re left to purchase the big-brand leftovers like pay-per-click ads on the side of the page. Or, we can create really pretty cover images that somehow convey without mentioning the services we sell. Bands and musicians? They are no longer allowed to use third-party apps like ReverbNation or BandPage as their landing page.

We hope that the big brands and app companies will balk at not being allowed to capture data or promote contests on the Timeline cover photo.  They have until March 30, the date that Timeline becomes mandatory for all brands.

Brands have spent millions creating custom landing pages and loading their page with apps, and research shows that those pages and apps actually help attract likes. By eliminating the use of iframes and third-party landing pages, Facebook is esentially moving the goalposts in the middle of the game.

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Don’t buy into the Facebook iframes hype–YET

By | Change, Design, Facebook, News, Social Marketing, Technology | No Comments

Courtesy of blog.madarco.net

We have been diligently researching the Facebook switch on Friday from FBML to iframes.  Our advice?  Don’t panic. Static FBML will be around for awhile.

All this move changes is that developers and designers now need to know HTML and have access to a hosted site in order to make custom applications and graphics for your Facebook page. Most page owners don’t realize that this is simply a change in how the coding of a Facebook app (i.e. a custom page) works.  It’s a slow phasing out of Static FBML, Facebook’s proprietary application that allows users with little coding experience create custom tabs Facebook Pages.

With an iframe application, the main difference is that content must now be located within an HTML document that is hosted outside of Facebook’s servers—usually, your own website (although they can and should be hidden). An iframe is simply HTML code or “inline frame.”  Basically, customs apps will now be a hosted “web page” layered on top of your Facebook Page.  And your designer will need to know HTML.

There is already a lot of hype surrounding this change, and a lot of companies are trying to make money off of it, such as Wildfire and Involver, to name a few.  Don’t buy into the propaganda.  Remember that “Free for 3 months” is not ultimately free.

In fact, there’s even a possible SEO downside to switching to iframes. At present, search engines do not crawl content within iframes, so anchor text links on your existing FBML tabs will not be crawlable.  Unless something changes, iframes have absolutely no search engine value, and FBML does.

Your existing Static FBML tabs (like welcome pages and contests) will be fully supported by Facebook for a while. They can still be edited or replaced with new FBML code. No page owner with FBML-based apps needs to panic.  When your current FBML apps no longer serve your audience, that’s the time to look into iframes.  Right now, the cost of recoding into HTML and adding monthly hosting fees are too high to justify a switch.

For the near future, there is no reason we can see to upgrade existing static FBML tabs to iframes. Rest easy for now, Facebook  friends.

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Old news and the new 24/7

By | Change, Culture, News, Strategy, Technology, The Future | No Comments

The current plan to revive Newsweek plan is silly: reliance on a better look for the magazine, and offering discounts to subscribers who want to buy books. (Last I checked, Amazon.com offered major discounts on books — without having to subscribe to Newsweek. And they offered them as digital downloads, too.)

That’s essentially a 1907 model.

Newsweek’s only hope — after the new owner loses his pants, having already lost his shirt on it — is to make it immediate and interactive. NewsWEEK, aping  Time, was intended to encapsulate all the news in a timely fashion for busy people. People too busy to read 2-3 newspapers a day, as was the norm at the time. That was 1933.  Today, no one would wait a week to find out anything; that’s why the magazine’s best hope is in realizing that the news and information cycle is now 24/7 — 24 seconds, every 7 minutes — and that much of the news comes from individual users, not from press poobahs sitting on high.