Discover Google+ pages while you browse the web

Google have released a cool little feature for use of their social network Plus. It should make it easier for pages to get discovered and circled.

A website will have to link its Plus Page and then when an opted in use visits a site that has authenticated the Plus page a small marker will appear at the side of the screen allowing the visitors to Circle the page.

Best we can tell this is part of the latest public build of Google Chrome a very interesting development.

Enhance your Google+ stream by following the Google+ pages that you find interesting:

  • When you visit a site connected to a Google+ page, a slider will appear on the side of the browser window. Hover over the slider to expand it and easily add the page to your circles.
  • The notifications button in your browser will be badged with a “+” to indicate when you’re viewing a site connected with a Google+ page. Clicking on the button shows your notifications just like it did before but now it will also display the related Google+ page information and provide a quick way to start following it.

Whenever a Google+ page is in your circles, all of the posts from that page will start appearing in your stream.

This isn’t the usual yada yada:  The URLs of the sites you visit will be sent to Google in order to identify the Google+ profiles and pages linked to those URLs.

The end of social influence as a brand strategy?

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A new study has cast doubt on the idea that key social influencers hold massive sway over large portions of social media users.

Social consultancy Lucule has developed a new model they call Pente that looks at a wider range of metrics when comparing social influencers to other variables like time of day, type of message and  device.

Their statistical analysis indicates that the influence score accounted for only 3% of the variation in response. That is, 97% of the differences in behavioural response were driven by factors other than social influence. Rohn Jay Miller

This is something that has been spoken in hushed tones but until now there was little hard data to show what really influenced social media users to engage.

Now we have a better idea of the social landscape and can craft our campaigns so they include the right mix of social influencers to good planning and execution.

It’s never wise to rely on influencers to carry your message, even more so now we know they really are only one part of the engagement story.

I don’t think this sidelines influencers, but this new data does allow us to help influencers be more effective at delivering our messages.

Let’s take time of day as an example. Rohn Jay Miller’s excellent post reveals that mobile use is dominant during daylight hours but in the evening it’s the tablets that people reach for.

Consider if it’s wise to push out a campaign video at 5pm when the majority of people are travelling and so on a smartphone. The likelihood is they will skip your video due to bandwidth cost or device constraints.

However, the same video at 7pm is much more likely to reach the largest majority of users who are at home, on wifi and have a PC or tablet. The barriers to engagement fall away quickly.

Now this is a numbers game and you are playing to the majority rule so my advice is to build your campaigns to best talk to the available audience at the time you want to push. If you can create multi-phase campaigns that roll all day so much the better.

If you do you will automatically help your influencers by giving them content that the majority of their followers can engage with.

Check out the full post on SocialMediaToday for a more in-depth look at what Lucule discovered.

 

How to use Twitter Cards for your Charity Mobile app

Twitter have launched new functionality that will make everyone’s Twitter stream just a little bit more engaging. Taking a leaf out of Google Plus, Twitter has now expanded its “Cards” functionality to allow for iPhone, iPad and Android apps to stand out in streams with their own look and feel.

The way it works is to include meta data in one of your webpages where you talk about your Mobile app, say on your website. In that page’s meta data you add the following meta and customize it with your apps details and links to the Apple and Google stores.

To make use of Twitter Cards you first need to validate your domain with Twitter and complete the Cards sign-up process on Twitter Developers.

To enable this new feature, copy and paste this code into your <head> </head> and then customize it to suit your app. You can remove any tags that aren’t relevant. If you don’t have an iPad app remove those lines.

<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”app”>
<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Connect with our charity on your smartphone.”>
<meta name=”twitter:app:id:iphone” content=”306934135″>
<meta name=”twitter:app:url:iphone” content=”example://action/5149e249222f9e600a7540ef”>
<meta name=”twitter:app:id:ipad” content=”45672334″>
<meta name=”twitter:app:url:ipad” content=”example://action/5149e249222f9e600a7540ef”>
<meta name=”twitter:app:url:googleplay” content=”example://action/5149e249222f9e600a7540ef”>
<meta name=”twitter:app:id:googleplay” content=”com.example.app”>

Let’s break down each Twitter Card tag and see how it works

<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”app”>
 This tag tells Twitter that the meta data below is to be used for an APP Card, if you don’t set this correctly it won’t work.

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”My app description”>
Here we are setting the app description that will be seen by Twitter users.

<meta name=”twitter:app:id:iphone” content=”306934135″>
This is your iPhone app on the iTunes store’s unique ID code

<meta name=”twitter:app:url:iphone” content=”://iphoneAppURL”>
The url of your iPhone app on the iTunes store.

<meta name=”twitter:app:id:ipad” content=”45672334″>
This is your iPad app on the iTunes store’s unique ID code

<meta name=”twitter:app:url:ipad” content=”://ipadAppURL”>
The url of your iPad app on the iTunes store.

<meta name=”twitter:app:id:googleplay” content=”com.example.app”>
Your Google Play app ID

<meta name=”twitter:app:url:googleplay” content=”://PlayAppURL”>
The URL to your app on the Google Play Store.

Once you have all of that information included, and your tags saved into your page, any time that link is shared on Twitter your App Card will be displayed instead of just a boring link and a page title.

It will be interesting to see if Apple and Google include this new meta on their respective stores, it’s bound to increase the visibility and virality of mobile apps if they do.

Let us know in the comments if you set-up your charity’s mobile apps with a Twitter Card.

The Facebook phone is coming…

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It appears that Facebook and HTC are warming-up for the launch of a dedicated Facebook phone. Based on Android, the new Facebook device will offer deeper integration between the operating system and the world’s biggest social network.

This isn’t the first time Facebook and HTC have teamed-up to work on a device, the ChaCha was the first and had a dedicated Facebook button to quick launch their app.

This new project looks much more involved and may include a separate Home Launcher for those who want the look of the new Facebook mobile experience but on their non-Facebook Android device.

For charities, this could well mean Facebook users becoming even more mobile focused. Should Facebook also allow developers to create custom applications that take advantage of the deeper integration, it could be a big boost for charity non-profits looking to offer a cutting edge social / mobile experience for their supporters.

All will be revealed on April 4!

How your charity non-profit can survive the largest DDOS attack in history

The largest DDOS attack in the history of the internet is well underway, and if you’ve noticed the internet is loading more slowly, that’s the reason. There’s now a possibility that it might affect online banking and email.

We have been following this story since the first salvo was fired by Spamhaus, the non-profit spam prevention service, that blocked Dutch hosting company CyberBunker as a source of large amounts of spam hitting systems across the web.

CyberBunker hasn’t taken kindly to this, saying it will host anything except child porn and terrorism content, and has struck back launching a DDOS attack in excess of 300gb/s. This is equivalent to about 40% of the world’s web traffic all being directed against Spamhaus in an attempt to take them offline.

It failed. While the internet slowed down as routing points around the web became congested, Spamhaus and its partners were able to keep the servers live and their service intact. It remains to be seen what CyberBunker will do next, but so far at least all their DDOS attacks have failed to do more than dent the web the world over.

How did Spamhaus survive the largest DDOS in history?

When the DDOS hit, Spamhaus knew there was only one partner to turn to – CloudFlare – a company dedicated to accelerating and protecting the web from attacks.

CloudFlare is traditionally thought of as a web accelerator. It sits in front of your server and ensures that visitors always receive data as fast as possible, served from a location close to them. So even if your server is in the UK but a visitor is in America they get data as if they were just popping to the local shops and back… fast, fast, fast.

CloudFlare though, has another function. It offers some of the best DDOS protection in the world which is mostly FREE! Yes that’s right! You can make your website load faster AND protect against DDOS and other security issues and it won’t cost your charity a penny to get started. If you want to move up to the pro package that offers even more speed and security and it will cost you just $20 a month!

In our experience, the free service is ideal for 99% of charity / non-profits, and only in specific situations would you need to spend any cash to protect or accelerate your website.

The site you are reading this on now uses CloudFlare.

CloudFlare works so well because it’s able to analyse hundreds of thousands of sites using its network and provide fast action against DDOS attacks, in most cases filtering the bad traffic automatically and only allowing the good to pass through. Its caching systems ensure that it takes the hit, not your servers, and by distributing its servers across the world any attack that is DDOS in nature has to overwhelm many internet points worldwide, not just your server which is always the weakest link.

On top of all that CloudFlare also offers protection against other forms of attack like XSS and Injection Attacks, although we would recommend securing your code on the server rather than relying on a third party to deal with those particular security issues.

How to add CloudFlare to your service mix

It’s very simple to move to CloudFlare. All you need to do is sign-up, let them analyse your current DNS settings and then change your Domain Name name servers to the ones they give you. Just 12 – 24 hours later all requests to your website will first be routed via CloudFlare and protection and acceleration is active. In all it takes 10 minutes to do the actual work of enabling and setting up CloudFlare – more than worth the peace of mind it provides.

  • If you would like advice or would prefer not to go hands-on we can provide CloudFlare setup for you. Call us +44 (0)20 8123 2555 to learn more.

Google’s £2 million contest for social entrepreneurs

Google are looking for four social entrepreneurs in the UK to win a share of £2 million through the Global Impact Challenge for their good idea.

The start-up tech projects can be in the field of education, economic development, health, environment or community service.

The Global Impact Challenge closes on April 17 so there’s not much time to get your bid in. Among the judges will be Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the acclaimed father of the internet and director of the World Wide Web Foundation, and Richard Branson, the popular boss of the Virgin empire. The public will also get a vote.

Each winner will get £500,000 and each of the 10 finalists will get 10 Chromebooks to help with their development.

The four winners will also get help from Google to turn their projects into a reality. That may be mentoring or technical assistance and Google employees could also be involved through their GoogleServe program, which asks workers to give up 20 hours a year to volunteer.

The Global Impact Challenge

Matt Brittin, Google’s VP for northern and central Europe, who is also on the judging panel, explained: “Over the years Google has sought to support great organisations that are using innovation and technology to improve the lives of millions around the world. With this new challenge, non-profits will have the chance to make their own pitch for why they deserve the money.”

Google is hoping to extend the contest to other countries if the Global Impact Challenge goes well in the UK.

Berners-Lee is enthusiastic about the opportunities the project creates. “The Web’s contribution to economic progress has been much celebrated, but I believe that we are only scratching the surface of its potential to solve social and political problems.”

The difference between this competition and previous ones is that this time the Google Global Impact Challenge prizes are open to any non-profit in the UK that wants to apply whereas the earlier grants went to exceptional organisations doing amazing things with tech.

How non-profits can increase their YouTube views

Making your non-profit YouTube channel popular can be a challenge and at times it may seem like there is only a limited audience. Well hang-on in there. With these tips you can give your YouTube videos a boost and gain views.

Top 10 ways to increase YouTube views

  1. Research the keywords you are going to use before upload. Your file name should match the title you use in Step 2, then upload to YouTube. Doing so helps YouTube to place your video into its search engine.
  2. Make sure your title, description and tags are filled out and always use the same keywords that you chose through keyword research and placed in your file name.
  3. Closed caption all your videos. This is the single most important thing you can do. It helps Google better place your video content and it helps accessibility for people of all walks of life and around the world.
  4. Promote to your social channels.  The more external signals you can point at your video the faster it will be picked up by search engines and gain a rank.
  5. Embed the videos on your website. Ideally place your latest video on your home page (don’t enable auto-play!). Embeds count as back-links – observe SEO rules.
  6. Reply to every comment YouTube users leave you on your videos, even if it’s just to say thanks. Some people can be rude, don’t rise to it.
  7. Ask people to subscribe to your video.  Annotations are a great way to call attention to your subscribe link, also place a call to action on the screen linking to your other videos.
  8. Submit your YouTube RSS to ping feeds and syndication sites, doing so will allow websites to promote your videos to their visitors automatically.
  9. Watch videos by other non-profits.  Watch, like and comment on other non-profit videos. It helps to teach YouTube what your channel is about.
  10. Work with other non-profits to cross promote or use a Google hangout to do a joint video together sharing your expertise.

If you use all or some of these techniques you should see a nice bump in your views. It can take time so you need to stick at it.

Subscribe to other non-profits’ Youtube channels and if you can contact them through another channel ask them to subscribe to you. It really does help YouTube work out what you are all about.

 

Top Google+ tips for growing your audience

Google Plus seems to have a low profile with people at the moment. Many appear to think that Plus is dying or not really catching on. We remember they said the same about Twitter once. Where people are going wrong, we think, is in not treating Google Plus as a specific type of network with its own tools to allow you to communicate and discover.

So here are our top tips for using Google+ and our methodology to growing your Circles.

Near Field Communication (NFC) and charities

NFC or Near Field Communication to give it its full title, is a way for devices to exchange information with each other without having to plug in or even physically touch each other. Soon it will be used to create “contactless” payments where you can simply place your credit, debit or even phone onto a pad and the retailer can charge you for your purchase in seconds.

How does NFC work?

NFC uses small chips, sometimes called tags that have no power of their own but when scanned by an NFC reader a small electromagnetic charge brings the NFC tag to life and the data contained can be accessed by the reading device. A device can be both a reader and able to write to NFC tags and tags themselves can be write once or written to many times over.

Facebook Timeline allows fans to message you!

If you’re one of those eager social media managers and have upgraded your Facebook page to Timeline you need to be aware that your page fans can now send you a private message. Just like on Twitter or by tagging you on Google Plus we can now have those private conversations with our supporters on Facebook.

When you access your page as an admin, keep an eye on the top of the page, this is where the Admin Panel sits. Your Notifications are on the right and Private Messages are on the left. The messaging system works just like the main Facebook message tool, note that you can’t send a message to a fan until they first send one to you.

For fans to send a message they need to Like your page (obviously), and then they click the message button under your cover photo on the right (you have uploaded a cover photo haven’t you?). Their message will then appear in your admin area as described above.

This is a great way to offer a private support service or move a difficult public discussion into a private area, but keep within Facebook. Some people don’t like to have to email you to carry on a conversation. This provides a cleaner experience for the supporter and opens up a new way to deal with issues when they happen.