About the Author: Jonathan Sanders

Jonathan Sanders

Jonathan Sanders is the self-professed "Geek of the Office", and we couldn't be happier about that. He keeps us running, and keeps our clients' web sites updated and in fine shape. When describing his love of technology and all things gadgetry-related, he says, "I guess it's just the perfect playground for an ADD brain to find what it needs." Indeed.

Recent Posts from Jonathan Sanders:

Should Churches Pay To Advertise Themselves?

My sister-in-law called me today with a question about Facebook. Should her church spend money to advertise itself on Facebook? My gut reaction was absolutely not. I am not comfortable with a church spending it’s tithes and offerings on advertising. Shouldn’t that money go to social services like housing the homeless or feeding the needy? However, I have to be careful not to let that reaction become dogma. This issue, like most in life, does not have a simple yes or no answer.

Here in Nashville, we have multiple mega-churches. You will see billboards all over town advertising these churches as if they were a company advertising it’s services. Now, I understand that it would be foolish to think these churches aren’t run like a corporation at times. Honestly, that’s not entirely a bad thing. A well-run church will be efficient, and will use it’s resources wisely.

However, some part of me feels that free services like Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages or Squidoo are better for churches to use. The resources that would be spent on advertising could then be spent on programs like Room In The Inn, food banks and counseling services. These are the types of things I have always felt were the Church’s true calling. After all, Christ implored his followers to help the “least of these”.

In the end, I can’t say whether or not it is a waste of church resources to pay for an advertising campaign. It is up to the individual churches to decide if that is part of God’s mission for them. Nevertheless, I think they would do well to make sure they are fulfilling their core mission. What do you think?

Beware the Streisand Effect

For the uninitiated, the Streisand Effect is a phrase coined by Techdirt blogger Mike Masnick. It refers to a situation that arose when Barbara Streisand sued a photographer who was shooting the California coastline. He happened to shoot her home, and she felt this was an invasion of her privacy. However, once news of the lawsuit hit, the photo of her home got much more attention.

I’ve talked about the hotel in England that regularly trashes it’s guests on TripAdvisor.com, and there is the story of the towing company in Michigan that is suing a college student for $750,000. These two businesses, in an effort to protect their reputations, actually brought more negative attention on themselves. Rather than address customer concerns, they brought attention to the complaints. In the internet age, businesses must never forget that even a small matter can blow up in very short order.

The moral of the story? Don’t sue or try to intimidate in any way people who say negative things about your business. Even if you win, you’ll lose. Releasing a reasoned and matter-of-fact response, while offering to help rectify the situation, will help you diffuse the criticism. Plus, you’ll gain the reputation of a business that takes care of it’s customers. That’s a win for everyone!

Why You Need Video Now!

A lot of people love the idea of having video on their site, but when it comes down to it, don’t follow through. This is a mistake that could be costing you tons of page views, which in turn can cost you money! Studies have shown a large increase in traffic for those sites that have content-related video. In fact, we have a client who is a former mortgage loan officer. His website still gets hits because of the video we shot of him.

Your first thoughts are probably, “How do I get video on my site? What kind of video do I put up?” I’ll answer the second question first. You’ll want to put up video that is related to your business, preferably video that features you or your company. Use your digital camera’s or mobile phone’s video function to video yourself talking about what you do. Hopefully, you enjoy what you do, so that your personality will show.

As to the “how you get video on your site” question, use YouTube. It is the world’s second largest search engine. It is very easy to embed video from YouTube into your website, and it is another place to help your business be found.

You really are missing out if you don’t have video on your website. If you don’t want to do it yourself, hire us!

By . Tagged with: Tags: , , | No Comments

Google May Be The Best, But Not The Only, Way To Be Found

I’m a regular reader of Techdirt, a blog that deals with many issues facing us in the digital age. Mike Masnick, the author, poses an interesting point in a post from last Thursday: Has anyone noticed that sites don’t have to rely on Google so much for traffic anymore? Now, remember, the key words in that sentence are so much. There is no doubt that for now and the foreseeable future, Google is the dominant player in search, and you’ll want to be seen there.

However, more and more people are finding that their traffic is coming from a variety of places. Facebook is definitely a great place to find new things. Also, don’t forget about Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon and other places like them. These are great networks to find new people, places and content. I find my most timely news comes from Twitter. I’ve found some of the most interesting analysis of current events on Reddit. There is one caveat, however. You do need to have good content that people actually want to read and share.

Google can be a tough nut to crack. You don’t want to put all of your “eggs” in one basket, so I suggest you find your place somewhere in the social media-sphere. You’ll find there are many to choose from that provide the perfect platform for your unique voice.

It’s Important To Back Up Your Word

There often seems to be embellishment in advertising. It’s no secret, then, why consumers are so frequently skeptical toward marketing campaigns. The counter to consumer skepticism would seem to be obvious: be exceedingly truthful in your advertising. I will give two examples of companies that would be wise to heed this advice. Not surprisingly, they are mobile phone carriers.

  1. T-Mobile: You are hearing more and more about 4G mobile data connections. It is the latest and greatest technology for accessing the internet with a mobile connection. T-Mobile has declared they now have 4G. Did they suddenly upgrade their network to something faster? No. They simply decided their network was fast enough to define it as 4G. The International Telecommunications Union has set a standard that defines “4G” and T-Mobile doesn’t meet those standards. Unfortunately for them, you just can’t speak something into existence. Their network may be fast, but it’s not 4G fast.
  2. AT&T: They like to boast about having “more bars in more places”, but any customer of AT&T knows that’s only part of the story. You may remember how AT&T and Verizon publicly feuded over Verizon’s claims that its 3G network was larger than AT&T’s. AT&T fired back with a barrage of commercials showing how much larger their overall network was than Verizon’s. While technically true, the actual point was about 3G coverage, and Verizon’s 3G network is larger. Semantics won’t make you look better in advertising.

In these two cases, some customers may not care because the technology is over their head. However, it is never good to embellish your service. People will stop trustingĀ  anything you advertise about your business. On the flip side, if you are nakedly truthful, you’ll stand out amid the advertising chatter.

Google Is the New Phone Book

I’m sure those in my age group (30’s) once used the phone book to find listings for people and businesses. Many in the older age groups still do. However, people are increasingly using Google to find out about their immediate surroundings. The web has become more than just a giant encyclopedia, and businesses need to adjust.

As I have said before, the smartphone age has brought mobile search light-years ahead in a short amount of time. People just aren’t looking to phone books for business listings any more. Businesses are finding that phone book listings are just too expensive for what you get. Even though phone book companies have tried to setup their own web services, they are having a hard time competing with Google. That’s because Google provides the same services as a phone book company to a wider audience for no cost.

If you want people to find you, make sure you have a solid presence on Google. Their Places and Maps services are becoming very important to search results. Get familiar with the way Google works, or you risk being left behind.

Creating Video Is Just Too Easy!

It wasn’t that long ago that you had to carry around a video camera if you wanted to shoot video. Even after the Flip video camera hit the market, it still meant carrying an extra device. Cell phone video has only recently made it to the point where it could realistically replace a video camera for normal, everyday shooting.

My cell phone, the iPhone 4, shoots excellent 720p HD video. The clip below contains video I shot and edited with my iPhone. The subject is my rascally terrier, Murphy. I edited the video on the phone with iMovie for iPhone. It was simple to edit the various clips I shot of Murphy into one four minute video.

Video camera functions on cell phones give you a way to capture various parts of your business on video. From customer testimonials to how-to videos, you can connect with your customers in exciting new ways. As YouTube has proven, you don’t need to be an OscarĀ®-winning cinematographer to shoot video. Just shoot it, upload it and share it with the world.