Wordpress 3.1 just came out and I’m excited to be using it! It has some new features that will make your life much easier.
Of course you should always update for security reasons. The wordpress developers are always looking for ways to improve the safety of the software, and each new version has additional means of doing so. But 3.1 has lots more! The biggest change is that you will be able to see your dashboard links from your wordpress site – not just the dashboard! If you are familiar with blogger or wordpress.com, you’ll know about the links across the top of the screen already. But this is something new for 3.1. There are dropdown menus for comments, adding posts or pages, upgrades, etc. right on the top of your screen. No more needing to go back and forth between the site and the dashboard if you want to add or change something – it’s right there! Another addition is the possiblity to choose a post type, which makes wordpress have some of the tumblr-style functions.
FBML used to be the easiest way to make a custom Facebook landing page. Facebook has never supported certain HTML features like image maps, making it difficult to link to different areas on your welcome page. Now they are moving away from FBML and into iframes – which have more possibilities, but still aren’t easy for the typical user to install! If you don’t understand what all of that means, you would probably love the service that I have started using in the past couple of weeks – Assembly Line by Lujure.
Lujure is a service that lets you build custom facebook pages without knowing any code – just drag and drop, then publish to your page! The first step is to make the graphic for your main welcome page – 520px wide is the standard, and you can go up to 2000px tall. Once you have your page graphic, you can go to the Lujure dashboard and upload the background image. Then use their drag and drop interface to add things like clickable hotspots, flash content, a flickr stream, etc. Click on publish and it will show up on your facebook page! Of course you’ll still need to know your way around facebook in order to set the page up as your default landing page, but it makes things a LOT easier.
More and more businesses are using facebook to connect with customers and to stay connected with current customers. Some companies are doing away with the standard website altogether and opting to just use facebook – so you definitely want to have a web presence. A welcome page allows you to greet new visitors and show them immediately what you’re about. And happy customers are likely to share your link with their facebook friends, making it easier to get that coveted word of mouth advertising. You really should have a nice facebook page, and Lujure makes it easy. Lujure has plans ranging from free (one page, one tab) through $195 a month (unlimited pages, unlimited tabs – it’s unlikely a small photography business would ever need this) and most photographers will be fine with either the free or the $5.49/month plan (one page, unlimited tabs). Keep in mind that you also get a nice discount if you pay annually – $53 for the whole year.
Of course you don’t have to do it yourself – not all photographers want to be involved in the tech side of things, or have time to build a page and deal with the installation. I can do both the design of pages and installation on facebook. Installing lujure and the pages you design yourself is $25, if you want me to design the pages for you it is $60 – including the side profile picture. Take a look at Kim Skavnak’s page to get an idea of what you can do with the profile and main picture telling your story! (Keep in mind that if you already ‘like’ Kim, you won’t see her welcome page – you’ll need to click on it on the left side of the page.)
Many of you probably read Lawrence’s Tofurious blog about marketing your business. One thing he suggested earlier this week is making it easy for potential customers to contact you by adding links beneath posts, at the bottom of your blog, etc. Here’s Diana Lawrence’s take on this – she put a graphic contact area on the bottom of her blog. When a reader reaches the bottom of the page, all it takes is one quick link and they can fill out the form!
Wordpress has several contact plug-ins, but if you really want to be fancy and take forms further, I suggest appnitro’s Machform. It allows you to make unlimited forms with all sorts of fields, and then embed them on your blog, HTML site, etc. It’s very powerful and also environmentally friendly!
You might have noticed people posting check-ins from Foursquare on their Facebook profiles, or you may have seen the Foursquare logo somewhere on the net. What exactly is it, and why should you care? Well, it has some great social marketing potential, as well as being a way to reward your loyal customers.
Foursquare is a social networking program that allows people to connect with their friends – you can see where your friends are and ‘check in’ as you go to various places. Some of it is kind of silly fun – you can unlock badges, so if your inner Girl Scout didn’t earn enough as a child that is one possible plus. But you can also leave tips and read tips left by others. For example, you might be in a new restaurant or visiting a new city and you don’t know what to do – what is the best dish on the menu? What should be avoided? Which tourist attraction is worth the time and money to visit, and which isn’t? Reading the tips will let you know – and often it is the small things that would not be noted in typical restaurant reviews or tour guidebooks. But tips can also be used to share information on specials – so why not put that out there?
It can also be used as a rewards program. The person with the most check-ins at a place within a certain period of time gets bragging rights as ‘mayor’ of that location. Many businesses offer special perks to the mayor – nothing huge, but something that will keep them coming back. For photographers, that might be a free 8X10 with their session or a waived session fee. Of course, the mayor will only get those perks if they patronize your business – so they will have to keep coming to reap the rewards! You could also do a special prize opportunity for customers who ‘check in’ at lest once during a certain time period – have a drawing for a big prize.
When a foursquare user logs on to the app, it will show a list of places nearby. If your business is listed, everyone who opens up the app within a certain range of your business will see it there. Maybe they never knew you existed – maybe they’ve been looking for a local photographer, but your name didn’t come up in whatever search they did. Why not take advantage of the local factor?
Word of Mouth is a big seller for many small businesses – and Foursquare can help with that. Foursquare users can add friends to their accounts, and they will see where their friends are checking in. When your customers who use Foursquare check in at your business, their friends will see it as well. Take advantage of that by encouraging your customers to log in and you may find new customers calling.
Like any other social media, Foursquare isn’t going to be the savior of your business. But considering the cost of adding it to your arsenal of marketing strategies (did I mention that it’s free?), it’s one more thing to put in your bag of tricks.
I recently tried out the new splash page editing software by DecoImaging. It’s an application that allows you to code your own splash page without having to know any HTML, CSS, or any other acronym! All you have to do is design a page in photoshop, then upload the image to the editor and tell it where you want your links. You can also put SEO text, etc. on there so that the search engines can find you easily.
It’s a simple program to use, and if you’re not up to buying Dreamweaver or some other program to help you code image maps, it can be an easy way to make a splash page. It’s $15 per month, only payable when you need it. So if you are designing a splash page this month, you’d pay the $15 and get it set up. Then you don’t pay again unless you need to edit your page in a different month. The $15 is not a recurring payment, so you don’t have to remember to cancel anything.
They have a free demo you can try, so if being able to change your splash page yourself is something you’ve wanted to do but didn’t know how, give it a try! And through 10/26, use this coupon code to get one month’s access for only $9! E377EB