Does your content hide behind a play button?

Video is great, but do visitors ever get past the play button? Sometimes when visiting a webpage for a service, the page might be nice and simple with one single video. In marketing tactics, a focused page is great. No distractions. One call to action. In this case, watch the video. You’d think that people would click through to watch. But often I don’t.

Intro to Telesofia Medical - Telesofia MedicalOne example of a focused landing page is Telesofia Medical. When a coworker shared the simple landing page with me, however, I didn’t get past the play button. I generally have a no-watching-video rule at work, because it keeps me focused on my job (otherwise I would be distracted all day by baby monkeys riding backwards on a pig).

Certainly, there are many cases where there is a video that applies directly to my job. But I have a hard-fast rule to not watch non-work related videos. Often that creeps over into services I’m reviewing for work.

Not watching video at work must certainly apply to other corporate workers as well. It makes me question using a marketing page where the sole focus is a video.

No final thoughts here. The medium of video is certainly powerful, so are focused landing pages. However, the combination of the two can sometimes be a challenge, as a play button can actually hide your great content.

Do you watch video at work?

The impenetrable glass of browsers

How internet browsers can expand our reading ability

It’s funny how flexible the internet is, yet we don’t have technology to write directly on webpages in a browser and immediately share that marginalia. When reading an article on a piece of paper, you have an immediacy with that sheet of paper where you can underline text and write notes in the margin.

When reading an article in your browser, we can’t immediately underline text, nor can we write notes in the margins. Digital technology is praised for being so feature-rich and flexible over print on paper. Yet, paper still trumps technology when it comes to marginalia on articles.

However, the reader sees immediate benefits to reading in a browser versus sheets of paper:

  • Immediately sharing the article to any number of people
  • Ability to copy passages into another document
  • Freshest material with up-to-the-second updates

The list goes on and on.

Yet, the very action of reading and notating while reading is lost in the browser. It’s as though we are reading articles behind an impermeable glass. Only once you are done reading can you release the article through comments, sharing, or saving the article as a PDF.

Our society is losing something through our readers not being able to engage with their texts while reading the text. We only engage with the text after we are finished reading. Or if you are like a large number of twitter users, you don’t even read the article before sharing it.

I’d like to see a deeper engagement with our reading. What is the reason why we haven’t seen browser technology develop that allows people to directly highlight and comment on text in the margins?

Perhaps there isn’t the demand. Most readers don’t want to engage with texts in this fashion. Or perhaps publishers fear releasing their texts to this sort of interaction. A reader who can write directly on the text and share it with others, is a reader who takes ownership of the text and manipulates it to his/her own thoughts. Perhaps publishers fear readers having the ability to mold and shape the texts they publish.

I look forward to a world where people engage deeper in texts. Let’s get a browser that will allow us to write directly anywhere on webpages, save that webpage, and immediately share our comments both large and small to any social media channel and blogging platform.

Tag a photo with #toppslive and it becomes immediate property of Topps

MLB’s only official baseball card manufacturer, Topps, is running a super-fun photo competition. Thirty fan-submitted photos will be used for the 2015 baseball card set. Imagine the delight baseball fans will get seeing their own photo appear on a baseball card! To enter just your photo on instagram with the hashtag #toppslive and it’s automatically in the competition.

Everything sounds great, except when you look at the terms of the competition.

Any photo tagged with #toppslive will IMMEDIATELY become property of Topps. A screenshot of their specific language (highlighted by me):

All entries become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned or acknowledged

All entries become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned or acknowledged.

Meaning, even if your photo is not picked, it still is property of Topps. ALL the submitted photos become the property of Topps.

All of the sudden this competition became super-not-fun. Imagine the horror baseball fans will get seeing their photos become Topps property–even when their photo is not selected.

The only photos that should become the property of Topps are the thirty photos that are selected to appear on baseball cards for 2015. All the cards shouldn’t become their property.

But then again, does that mean if I submit a photo, I’m now an official Topps photographer? Perhaps I can put that on my resume, along with the millions of other Instagram photographers out there.

Also, what will Topps be doing with a 612 x 612 low-resolution photo that Instagram uses? Seriously. These days Topps is all about quality. While the competition is a fun idea, the photos will be extremely low-quality. But perhaps the whole aura of user-generated content–especially content from Instagram–the king of low-quality photos.

The low-quality photos matches the low-quality of the terms and conditions. Further down in the contract, this part cracks me up:

Entries may not contain any image or depiction of the following

Entries may not contain any image or depiction of the following: (i) materials which include or constitute trademarks, trade names or copyrighted works created or owned by any person or entity other than Entrant or for which the Entrant has obtained owner’s written permission to use

Sooo, I’m not allowed to photograph baseball players wearing the Cubs logo or any MLB logo? What if I photograph my brother wearing a Cubs hat? Perhaps Topps only wants duck-lipped selfies from teenagers. That will make for an… interesting 2015 Topps set.

But it makes sense Topps doesn’t want any copyright in the photos, because they want to own the entire copyright of all the photos. I’d love to enter this competition and have the possibility of getting my photo on an official baseball card. However, I will be staying away from this competition as I don’t believe companies should be making blanket terms that steal people’s rights.

The storm of pageviews

Instead of raindrops in this storm, I had a dream it was pageviews.

The first raindrop hits the ground. Then a few more tap on the concrete alley outside my bedroom window. Suddenly I hear thousands, probably millions more raindrops land upon the thirsty ground.

How many raindrops does an average storm produce in one square mile?

Do raindrops compete with each other to see who will land on the ground first?

Laying in bed, listening to the rain, I was composing tweets in my head with these questions. Instead of the word “raindrops,” my brain used the word “pageviews.” Funny to think I was dreaming about a storm where instead of raindrops, pageviews were falling from the sky. Each pageview one person looking at a page on your website.

The storm of pageviews starts off small and light. Maybe just about ten raindrops. But then the floodgates open and you have million of pageviews.

Now that is a nice day dream.

Get more mileage out of comments you give

How to give your comments more reach

Do you ever feel like not leaving a comment on a blog, because you feel like it won’t be seen by anyone else other than the author? With the dominance social media today, people are more apt to make their comments on another social media channel rather than your lonely blog post.

Imagine if today’s blogging system online treated comments like mini-blog posts. Whenever someone leaves a comment on another website, the author of the comment could have the option to publish the same comment on their own site. With this system, the author of the comment would get more mileage out of authoring a comment.

Other ideas for sharing your comments:

  • Google Plus: You can still make the comment on someone’s website. Just copy that comment and the blog post URL, then paste it into Google Plus.
  • Reddit: Search for the article URL on reddit. If someone already posted the article, then paste your comment into the comments area. If the article doesn’t exist on reddit, then submit the link. Then post your comment into the comments area.
  • Delicious: Bookmark the article on delicious. In the description area, paste in your comment.
  • Twitter: You can make these tweets manually, or you can have them automated through delicious and IFTTT. On delicious give your bookmarks a specific tag, and IFTTT will tweet it out for you. (I currently use another service to automate this, but I forget the name. At some point I’ll write a tutorial and publish it on the mattmaldre.com blog)

I’m currently using all four of these systems. You can read my comments at: Matt Maldre on Google Plus, Spudart on Reddit, “Commented” tag on delicious, and @mattscomments on twitter.

Where do you prefer to leave comments on blog posts? On the blog post itself? Twitter? Facebook?

Why do you use Twitter?

Is twitter dying?

Are the overabundance of people trying to gain followers on Twitter actually killing the service? Marketers constantly tweeting utility links, never sharing their own personality. People trying to impress others by constantly retweeting others. Is all this noise killing Twitter? The Atlantic wrote a Eulogy for Twitter, claiming “the beloved social publishing platform enters its twilight.”

Are you tired of Twitter?

It all comes down to intent. Why are you on Twitter? If you are on Twitter to read interesting tweets, then chances are, you’ll be making interesting tweets. And you’ll follow people who make interesting tweets.

You just need to find the right people to follow to get those interesting tweets, and to have interesting engagement. The Atlantic article has some great insights–specifically about how if you don’t have that interesting circle of friends on Twitter, there’s always this feeling that there are those interesting people out there…somewhere. Twitter holds out this promise that there are more people to connect with.

The real motivation here is people. People to connect with. Not people to broadcast to.

The danger lies when we want to use Twitter as a broadcast medium. Users are so hungry to connect with more people, that they treat the platform as a broadcast channel. Twitter is so not a broadcast channel. If you use it to broadcast, you’ll never get the response you desire. If you broadcast on Twitter, you’ll find lots of silence.

Everyone should really have just about 100 people they are following. That’s the reality. But those numbers are soooo tempting. You have to follow people to get people to follow you back! You have to play the game to find those people who you might just connect with. The game!

I play that game too. I follow people in the hopes of maybe there being a connection. Someone who would find my tweets interesting. But the reality is that out of 780 people I follow with @mattmaldre, I have two lists of 257 people whose tweets I actually read. Such is the game of Twitter.

Of those 257 people, one list is 103 people who I know in real life. The other 154 people are those who I find interesting and don’t broadcast. They engage. And that’s what I care about on Twitter.

UPDATE:

How to get on my rad or cool people list:

If you find that you aren’t on either of these Twitter lists that I read, simply send me an at-reply to any of my @mattmaldre or @spudart tweets. Your at-reply can be about anything. Whenever someone demonstrates that they read my tweets, chances are, you’ll get put onto the “cool” list of 154 people.

Ways you might not make it onto my lists:

  • Your at-reply ratio is below 20%
  • Your retweet ratio is 25% or higher
  • Your tweets with links ratio is 50% or higher

I’m sorry but if you fit into any of these criteria, you are a broadcast tweeter. Find out what type of tweeter you are at twtrland.com.

Why Amazon’s purchase of Comixology spells doom

No more in-app purchases for Comixology? At first I didn’t care, because I always purchsed my Comixology comics through my local comic book store’s website (that way a local shop gets a cut of my purchase).

But there is bad news behind Amazon killing in-app purchases on the popular comics reading app. It signals that Amazon doesn’t care about the comic book industry. They only care about money.

In-app comixology purchases = good for the comic book industry.

An anonymous author wrote an opinion piece to comicsbeat.com pointing out that in-app purchases helped the comic book industry by making the purchase of comic books super-easy. The casual comic book person would be more likely to buy something in the app rather than having to go out and seek the comic book on a website or physical store. “Getting comics into the hands of people whose goal was never to make that purchase is the only way the industry could grow. The Comixology app fill that role in a high visibility way when the iPad was new any and everyone was desperate to put these new devices to some unique use.”

In-app comixology purchases = 30% of cost to Apple

The author explains, “With the removal of in app purchases from the Comixology app this function of facilitating casual purchases is now gone. Customers have to once again make the decision to buy a comic, and go to a place designated for that purpose and that purpose only.”

Amazon strictly wants to make money. More money. Comixology is a platform they acquired not to help the comic book industry. Instead Amazon bought Comixology to help themselves.

If you enjoy comic books, give the entire 982-word letter a read. This seriously makes me reconsider using the Amazon-owned Comixology app any longer.

What will the Google Plus employees who worked on imaging do now?

Techcrunch reports that many of the workers who formerly worked on Google Plus will be doing things in other parts of google. The techcrunch author states that perhaps other parts of Google will benefit from the people who worked on the imaging on Google Plus:

…there are a ton of really interesting things going on in Google+ like its efforts in imaging. Having the photos team integrate the technologies backing Google+ photos tightly into the Android camera product, for instance, could be a net win for Android users.

Maybe I need to do more research into all the great things Google has done with imaging, because Google Plus does not impress me as a place to post my photography.

Anyone have great experiences using Google Plus for photography?

Why Mashable is wrong about user-generated content

Mashable's misperception about user-generated content

Mashable is reports that “Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media.” Sounds reasonable, right? However, in that article Mashable makes a false claim, “User-generated content (UGC) is media created by your peers.”

Whoa. Mashable. Hold it there. Be careful with this report. Mashable is blending together the terms “user-generated content” with content made by your peers. User-generated content is created by people you know AND by people you don’t know.

Millennials trust content made by people they know–not ALL user-generated content by people they don’t know.

We can’t go around making blanket statements that ALL user-generated content is more trusted. If someone you don’t know posts a photo and claims something about that photo, will you trust that person? Perhaps not. But if someone you know posts a photo and makes a claim about that photo, depending on the person, you might trust him/her–because you know that person.

With Mashable bending the truth to make a eye-catching headline, it’s no wonder that Millennials don’t trust brands as much.

Flickr is for quality photos, Instagram is for bad photos

How is it that Flickr is now the place for quality photos? Isn’t that Instagram’s realm? Not quite. Here’s what has happened between the two services in the past few years.

With the rise of Instagram in 2011, many photographers left Flickr. Instagram became THE photo app for mobile, while Flickr sat undeveloped since Yahoo bought the formerly popular photo service in 2005.

How did Instagram get this rise? Flickr had no mobile app, so Instagram stepped in with their beautiful filters. Instagram enabled hungry cell phone owners to easily post quality photos on a mobile device.

Instagram started out as a service with quality photos

When the photo app first came out in late 2010, people would post their best stuff to the app, because:

  1. You could only upload one photo at a time to Instagram. You couldn’t just do a huge dump like Flickr.
  2. Instagram were actually artists attracted by the aesthetics of Instagram’s filters, not teens attracted by themselves taking selfies.

Instagram is no longer a service for quality photos

Today with over 120 million users, it seems everyone with a smartphone is on Instagram. Instagram is no longer about quality photos, it’s about posting your every day life. While I’m a fan of the power of creativity within everyday life, the stuff that gets posted to Instagram is mostly the power of mundaneness.

Flickr = quality. Instagram = lots of engagement

Author of “Delight in the Details” Shawn Blanc confirms this theory of Flickr = quality. He explains in his insightful blog post that he puts his best photos on Flickr, however he finds much more feedback on his Instagram photos, therefore Instagram = lots of engagement. Hence, Flickr’s dilemma. Lack of users.

More bad photographers = Many bad photos

Certainly the quantity of Instagram users explains the higher rate of interactions on Instagram. More people = more interactions. But there’s another factor at play here. This higher quantity of users means not everybody on Instagram are good photographers. In fact, the great majority are bad photographers–many bad photographers. More bad photographers = Many bad photos. There’s so much garbage on the service that when someone sees something good, they jump at liking and commenting on it.

Flickr on the rise

In the past couple years I’ve also noticed a lack of feedback on Flickr. It’s kinda sad. But in the past couple months, I personally have been noticing a bit more life on Flickr. Take the number of searches my flickr photos have been getting:

Flickr searches 2010-2014

Starting in November, searches for my photos have skyrocketed. (source: statsr.net). Views are also increasing in 2014:

Flickr views 2010-2014

How can my photos have more views? Perhaps I didn’t uplaod any photos during 2013? Nope. I was still active on Flickr posting a steady stream of photos:

Flickr account growth 2010-2014

Increasingly, I’m seeing more people that like my photos are ones who just signed up for Flickr. The fascinating thing about seeing people sign up for Flickr is that they saw enough value in Flickr to sign up.

Perhaps Shawn Blanc is onto something with how Flickr is the place for quality photos now. Plus, there’s also great value in Flickr’s archive and the searchability of Flickr’s collection.

Instagram lacks features

Instagram isn’t about search. Instagram is all about the stream. If you want to find an old photo by someone, you have to manually scroll and scroll, tap “load more” and scroll, tap “load more” and scroll. You can indefinitely scroll-n-load trying to find a photo. You cannot do a search on an individual’s photos. If you use Instagram’s search box, you are forced to search the ENTIRE Instagram universe. And then you can’t even search with more than one word. Searches can only be ONE word long. Want to search for: “chicago art”? Tough luck. Or how about “train station” Nope.

Flickr is all about features. You can do all sorts of searches. You can add photos to public groups. Your photos can go into your own collection of sets.

Instagram? You can add one-word tags to your photo. That’s it. Instagram greatly simplified the photo sharing process, making it really easy for people to upload photos. Instagram dumbed down the process. When you dumb something down, you often end up with something dumb. Today we see Instagram revealing itself for what it really it is. Something dumb.

Flickr is advanced, sophisticated, in-depth. It only makes sense that Flickr is now the place for quality photos. Thank you Instagram for taking away most of the bad photographers, leaving Flickr with good serious photographers.