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Creating a Digital Strategy is Like Cooking a Meal: A Simple Analogy

Creating and executing a digital marketing strategy is a lot like cooking a meal. The following table helps make the comparison.

Cooking Digital Marketing
Ingredients Content (text, images, video)
Fresh ingredients make food taste better. Fresh content make messaging more attractive.
Tools (stove, oven, mixing bowl, etc.) Tools (Facebook, Twitter, Hootsuite, etc.)
Depending what tools are used to cook the ingredients, the dish will taste different. Depending on the channel used to publish the content, the content will be consumed differently.
Recipe Digital strategy
People consume food. People consume content.
A professional chef may be able to prepare a dish in 30 min. An amateur chef may take 3 hours to prepare the same dish.
There are professionally trained chefs and there are self-taught chefs. There are university-educated strategists and there are self-taught strategists.
It is important to taste test while cooking. It is important to measure and adjust campaigns.
Cooking is both an art and a science. Digital marketing is both an art and a science.

 

This simple analogy may help if you’re ever stuck trying to explain digital strategy.

Everyone can cook a meal. Whether it is delicious or disastrous depends on variables like the chef’s experience, training, ingredients, tools and recipe.

Just like a meal, no two digital strategies will ever be exactly the same. This is why it is always important to measure and adapt to the ever-changing environment.

Digital Strategist
Victor Chan

 

Photo credit: Jun Seita

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Online Fortune Teller: Sort Of

The Google Trends interface has evolved over the years, making the tool a lot more user friendly.

Here are a few graphs generated in Google Trends that show how data can be presented and compared using the tool.

Whatsapp vs. WeChat vs. Skype

Facebook vs. Twitter vs. YouTube vs. LinkedIn vs. Myspace

Social Media vs. Online Marketing vs. SEO

Using these comparisons, we can clearly see how the popularity of different platforms, networks and terms has changed over time.

Exploring trends can be useful for different business functions, for example:

  1. Market forecasting
  2. Market comparison
  3. Keyword research

A good digital strategy looks at the past, the present – and plans for the future.

Are you working with the trend or against it?

Digital Strategist
Victor Chan

Photo Credit: Dave Worley

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How to Fight Comment Spam

Fighting Comment Spam

Opening your website or blog to 2-way communication is a great way to connect online with your target audience. Unfortunately, there’s a tradeoff; comment spam generated by automated programs are a common occurrence.

Comment spam can be annoying to deal with, but there are steps you can take to ensure only quality comments appear on your digital property. The following suggestions will use WordPress as an example because it is one of the most popular content management systems and blogging platforms.

Akismet

Your first line of defense is to use a spam fighting plug-in like Akismet (http://akismet.com/). Akismet is a program that automatically detects and filters out comment spam. This will eliminate the majority of the spam you have to deal with. However, no program is 100% accurate. Sometimes spam comments will still pass through the system.

WordPress Settings

To prevent unwanted comments from appearing on your website, it is important to configure WordPress so that comments need to be approved by a person before they appear on your website.

  1. Log in to your WordPress administrative dashboard.
  2. Select Settings > Discussion in the left navigation menu.
  3. Beside the “Before a comment appears” section, select either:
    1. An administrator must always approve the comment
    2. Comment author must have a previously approved comment
  4. Click the “Save Changes” button.

These settings will instruct WordPress to hold a comment for moderation until the selected condition is met.

Recognizing Spam

Now that comments are held for moderation, how do you determine if a comment is spam? Here are a few quick ways to identify spam:

  1. If you see a string of keywords used in the commenter’s username, it is likely spam.
  2. If you see that the commenter’s email address uses a bunch of random characters, it is likely spam.
  3. If the comment includes many links or is not relevant to the post, it is likely spam.

If you are still unsure, you can try copying the first sentence or a section of the comment and pasting it into Google Search with quotes surrounding the comment (eg. “This is questionable spam content”). Perform a search for it and if you see a long list of results where the exact same sentence appears, it is likely spam.

IP Address Blocking

If there are spam comments that are regularly passing through for moderation, you can also try blocking the spam by IP address.

An IP address is tracked for each comment. If there are multiple spam comments being sent from the same IP address, you can block it by adding it to the Comment Blacklist.

  1. While in your WordPress administrative dashboard, locate the spam comment’s IP address and copy it.
  2. Select Settings > Discussion in the left navigation menu.
  3. Paste the IP address in the “Comment Blacklist” box. Add one IP address per line.
  4. Click the “Save Changes” button.

Use these tools to make filtering spam content more manageable. Above all, do not allow spam to discourage you from connecting with your audience.

Victor Chan
Digital Strategist

Photo Credit: Sean MacEntee

 

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How to Embed YouTube Videos on WordPress

In many cases, embedding a YouTube video in a WordPress post is as simple as copying and pasting the YouTube video’s URL into the WordPress post. You can find out how at http://en.support.wordpress.com/videos/youtube/.

The instructions also describe a method for customizing the YouTube video player’s size. However, if this method does not work for your WordPress installation, you can also try the method described below.

Step 1:

Locate the desired YouTube video and click the Share > Embed option.

In the video size drop-down menu, select custom size. Next enter the desired width of the video player. In the example above, the width is 400. YouTube will automatically set the height to resize the video player proportionally.

Make a record of the video’s YouTube URL (eg. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAdXVxRDdws) and the dimensions for the YouTube player (eg. width=400, height=225), which will be used in the following step.

Step 2:

Log in to your WordPress site and locate the desired post/page to embed the YouTube video.

Copy and paste the following code in the location you want the YouTube video to appear.

Replace the width, height and YouTube URL attributes in the code above with the information you recorded for your desired YouTube video in Step 1. Your WordPress post should look like the example below once the code is inserted.

Using these few steps, you can add interest and variety to your blog with custom sized YouTube video.

Victor Chan
Digital Strategist

 

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How to Compare Google Analytics Data with Channel Data Missing

You may have noticed a message in your Google Analytics Acquisition Channels report that says “Channel data is not available prior to July 25, 2013.”

The reorganization of Google Analytics data which occurred on that date is a potential problem for users accustomed to analyzing website traffic source data year over year or in a situation where traffic source data prior to July 25, 2013 is needed.

Traffic source data used to be divided into 4 major categories, Direct, Referral, Search, and Other. Now, the default traffic source categories (aka Channels) are broken into 9 categories. A list and definition of the default channels can be found at https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/3297892?hl=en&ref_topic=3125765.

For example, if you need to analyze and report on traffic source categories for 2013 compared to 2012, you’ll see that all Channel data prior to July 25, 2013 will be categorized as (not set). This isn’t very useful when trying to determine changes in traffic sources.

So what do you do?

One possible solution for analyzing more comparable data is to view the traffic medium data. While viewing the Acquisition > Channels report, select Medium as the Primary dimension.

This is not a perfect solution, but it will allow you to identify comparable traffic source categories for both periods. For example:

  • Medium: organic = Organic search traffic
  • Medium: (none) = Direct traffic
  • Medium: referral = Referral traffic
  • Medium: cpc = Paid search traffic
  • Medium: banner = Display advertising traffic

The number and variety of mediums you see will depend on the complexity of your Google Analytics setup and custom tagging.

Hopefully this solution will aid you in your Google Analytics reporting.

Victor Chan
Digital Strategist

 

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