Why SOPA is Bad PR…and a Social Media Management Nightmare

For years, the music and movie industry have been doing everything they can to stop online piracy. While exact numbers are had to come by, there have been reports that say up to 95% of all music is downloaded illegally, while there have been plenty of discussion going back and forth about how much this has actually affected the music and film industry, it is clear that online piracy is a problem. To this end, congress is mulling over SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act. We here at fishbat, as a social media management firm, strongly condemn SOPA due to its overreaching powers and dire consequences, but we also feel that, if passed, SOPA would do more harm than good to the industry it’s trying to protect.

Something that any social media management firm will tell you is that people like what they like, and if they don’t like it, they’ll move on to something else. The balance of power has shifted from company to consumer, and any attempt to stop it is a lost cause. This is the first rule of social media management, but everyone forgets it.

Take, for example, high definition DVDs. The movie industry tried to encrypt them as well as they could, and the code was broken in less than 24 hours. The industry has attempted to prosecute as many file sharers as they could, and it turned public opinion against them. Everything they’ve done to stop file sharing has proved ineffective and actually harmed their reputation.

If the bill were to pass, it would be the disseminator’s responsibility to police their content for any potential breaches of copyright. While this idea works for a static website, it’s a social media management nightmare. Companies have significantly less control over what is placed on their social media pages, but they’ll be held responsible for it. Every corporation would have to double their social media management team to constantly police all posts and comments for any and all breaches, which is nothing to say about the damage to the social media outlets themselves. Social media management is a powerful tool, but imagine if missing a single post could result in jail time. It would cripple every single social media page out there.

From a social media management and public relations perspective, this bill is even more harmful. There are already dozens of Facebook groups against SOPA, many with tens of thousands of fans. All the major internet players, from Wikipedia to Google, have spoken against the bill on their social media pages. The laws of social media management have spoken: if the music and film industry continues to pursue this tactic, people are going to turn against them even more. Your brand is paramount and when the rules of social media management turn against you, you have no choice but to comply.

Website Design Mistakes

Although there certainly is an art to website design, it generally is a mistake to get too creative when you build your websites. Users do not want to be “challenged” when they go to a website; they want to find exactly what they’re looking for immediately, sooner if possible. Therefore, when you’re building a website, here are a few things you’re going to want to avoid like the plague.

PDFs: PDFs have their place; if you have forms that people want to print out or flyers to share, use a PDF. However, if the document is meant to be read exclusively (or even mostly) online, PDFs are verboten. PDFs can’t be searched easily, and not everyone has the software to read them. When it comes to website design, online content should be text.

Fixed Font Size: So you can’t use PDFs, but you still want to control the user’s viewing experience. Can you make the font size fixed. This is another website design no no. Everybody is going to read your page on different screens, and for some, being able zoom in makes it significantly easier.

Images of Text: This is probably the worst website design mistake. Simply put: there is no reason your website design should feature a picture of text outside of a logo. Search engines can’t read them, people can’t copy them easily, and editing them is a nightmare. Simply stay away.

Bad or Nonexistent Search: Not every website design needs a search function; if the user can get to everywhere from your homepage, you’re probably fine. But if you have hundreds of pages, you better give the user a way to find what she’s looking for. Make sure the search is smart enough to handle typos and that the search engine points to the correct page for the results. For example, if you have a page devoted to widgets, a search for widgets better bring up your widgets page, not an endless stream of widget press releases.

Do you have any website design pet peeves? What do you wish you could stop seeing on websites.

The Offline Benefits of Online Search: Why Your Online Conversion Rate is Only Part of the Picture

So, you sell sprockets. And, luckily for you, you rank #1 in sprockets in Google. But nobody’s buying sprockets from your website. So, you lose your mind.

However, before you go all Lady Macbeth up in this joint, there is a study out this month which shows that the value of web marketing, particularly, online searches is significantly greater than previously thought. According to a two year study, for every $1 of revenue a company gets from search, they can expect $6 in offline revenue. In other words, web marketing is actually seven times more effective than we once thought.

Although the study only studied paid search, its findings are transferable to organic SEO (and other types of web marketing) as well, since visitors who come to a website from paid search don’t, on average, behave differently from users who arrive from organic search (the only difference is that you can expect to get a lot more visitors from organic search). The takeaway is simple, if you are measuring the efficacy of your web marketing only in online conversions, and you have brick and mortar locations, you’re not getting the whole picture.

So, the next time you look at your web marketing campaign, you’re going to have do a bit more homework to get the whole picture. Are my in-store sales increasing alongside my online sales? Is web marketing driving people to your stores, or is it lagging behind?

Press Release Week Part Four: Public Relations, or, How to Write One!

Here at the Fishbat Blog we’re closing out our first theme week and we figured we would focus on the simplest and most-overlooked part of any public relations plan: the press release. Often quickly written and rarely read, press releases can be vastly improved upon. And, chances are, if you’re writing a press release, you’re doing it wrong.

First off, brevity is the soul of wit. I’m going to explain that in a longwinded manner. In the days of print, a press release should’ve been about 400 words. Now that we live in the future, if you’re writing more than two hundred words, about as much as can be read on a screen without scrolling, you’re doing too much.

Secondly, remember that public relations is about grabbing people’s attentions. Even though you only have two hundred words to work with, most people won’t read more than ten. So, make your first sentence, really count.

Thirdly, the holy grail of public relations: make it sound like a story. Everything’s on fast-forward these days; journalists are going to prefer if they can copy your text exactly, so make sure it reads like something they can use: full sentences, quotes, details, etc.

And lastly, make sure that you include your contact information. Nobody is going to spend more than ten seconds trying to find you, so if you want people to publish your press release, you better make it easy for them to reach you or your public relations department.

Press Release Week Part Three: Website Design, or, Give Them a Place to Stay!

Here we are in week two of press release week (yes, we know). So, what should you do with your press releases once they’ve been sent out? Should you abandon them, internet orphans left to fend for themselves? No, you should bring them home and incorporate them into your own website design.

If you are sending out press releases relatively frequently (once a month is a good cutoff point), you should include them incorporate them into your website design as its own section, with a simple title, like “press releases.” Like everything in website design, you shouldn’t bury it too far from your homepage, although, chances are, your press releases are not such a major part of your business that you’ll need to put it in too prominent of a position.

Now, you may be wondering why the average user would want to go through your old press releases. Well, to be honest, the average user would probably skip right over a press release section, no matter what your website design. But, there is a certain subsection of people who would be keenly interested in what your press releases have to say, namely potential investors and reporters. You should always keep this subsection in mind when you engage in website design

Investors are making a much stronger commitment to your company than a customer, so they’re going to want to read as much about you as possible. They’re going to want to see what kind of activity you’ve been up to: what new products you’ve developed, what big events you had. Your press release therefore should be incorporated into your website design as a detailed timeline of your company’s activities, which shows just how great and dynamic you really are.

Reporters are going to want the same level of detail that a potential investor wants, albeit of a different kind. Whereas investors are looking for more or less “boring” facts, like sales figures and market penetration rates, reporters are looking for “exciting” events, such as fundraisers or celebrity endorsements. By having your press releases in your website design at their fingertips, they’re better prepared to write the engaging, informative articles you want them to.