Header photo by Hamish Grant. Used with permission.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Track Your Traffic Using Google Analytics

So you're populating your blog with profound brilliance, but wouldn't you like to know if it's getting read?  Google Analytics is a free service that enables you to track your website's performance and traffic in some very useful ways!  What's better is how easy it is to add and use it is.  Here's how you load it onto your Blogger site:

Get the HTML code:
1.  Go to http://google.com/analytics/.  Sign in using your Google account.
2. Click on "Add Website Profile." A form will display.
3. Select "Add a Profile for a New Domain."
4. Enter the URL of your blog.
5. Select your country and time zone.  Click finish.
6. Google Analytics will create a bunch of HTML code. You're going to put that into your website.  Highlight all the code and copy it (Edit > Copy; or Ctrl-C; or Command-C).

Next you need to add the code to your site or blog.  Navigate to it and log in.
1. In Blogger, click the "Layout" tab.
2. Next click on "Edit HTML."
3. This will open up a page with all of the HTML code for your site.  There is a link that says "Download Full Template." Clicking it will save a copy of your template so that you can revert to it if anything goes horribly wrong.
4. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the HTML.  The last 3 lines will read:


5.  After , press return to make a space.  Paste in the Google Analytics code there (Edit>Paste; or Ctrl-V; or Command-V).
6.  The code should look like this:
7.  Click "Save Changes."


That's it! Now go check your work.
1. Return to http://google.ca/analytics.
2. There will be a summary chart in your dashboard.  Next to the blog name is a "status" column.

 =    Google Analytics is working properly and receiving data.

 =    The code is installed properly, and Google Analytics is working on aggregating your data. 
       This may take up to 24 hours.

 =    The code was installed improperly.  Try installing it again, and refresh your browser after the save.  Or, visit this link to check and fix it. 

Now you're free to enjoy the many features of Google Analytics!

Google provides some help and instructions if you're looking for more information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Twitter-pated: Finding Love on the 'Net with Match.com

"We met online."  Three words that would have once elicited a "tut tut" from Grandma are now common thanks to the ever-growing connectivity through social media and the proliferation of dating sites like Match.com.

Why should a married guy in a (mostly) PR blog, discuss online dating? Because PR involves social connectedness and the building of online communities in the place of real-life ones.

Social media has revolutionized the ways that we build relationships, and this is no more evident than in the world of online dating.

Overview:
Match.com is one of the many online dating options available.  Boasting 20 million current users, and over 20,000 more joining daily, Match.com calls itself the pioneer of online dating, starting in 1995.  For basic service, the site charges between $16 and $38 per month for users to build their online profiles.  A profile includes detailed detailed information, pictures, and desired qualities in a partner.  Match.com guarantees that within six months, you will meet someone special, and if you don't, you will receive an additional six months free to keep looking (some restrictions may apply).

I enlisted the help of a friend who is a new user to the site to give me a tour of some of the features and functions of Match.com. 

Usability and Aesthetics:
How to navigate the site was immediately self-evident.  There is good flow on the pages, and information is well laid out.  Browsing profiles is easy, and navigating between pages is extremely straightforward.  Aesthetically, my only complaint was the number of advertisements.  By collecting $20 per month for each of the 20,000 people who join each day and generating ad revenue is double-dipping and suggests an ambivalence toward the site's paying users.

Features:
The search features allow for a customized browsing experience.  One can search for a mate based on location, height, body type, ethnicity, interests, faith, education, profession, income, living arrangement, sexuality, relationship history, eye colour, hair colour and countless other qualities.  Where some other sites only show you your ideal matches based on personality tests, Match.com gives you access to all of the users who are signed up for the site.  This feature adds value to the membership, because there are so many users on the system, which increases your odds. 

Other features include integration with MSN messenger, applications for mobile devices, including the iPhone, Blackberry and Palm Pre, as well as an automated system that helps you find matches based on personality quizzes and shared interests.  When you send someone a message, the site shows you other "similar" profiles that you might be interested in - much like the "users also bought" feature on Amazon.com and iTunes.

Users also have the option of upgrading their accounts to receive additional services, including relationship advisors to help improve your profile, video intros, voicemail and SMS text messaging.  It is too bad that these features do not come standard, because having to upgrade seems to reduce the value of the overall membership.

Community:
Match.com differs from other social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube because it it isn't really about creating a community of information senders and receivers; rather it is an individual experience that seeks to be the community (or venue) that facilitates the meeting of two people.  Where other social media outlets rely on user-generated content to create value, Match.com's value is dependent simply on users populating it.  Additionally, the site gains social capital because of peoples' investment in the application.  Because members are paying $16 to $38 each month to access the site, there is a financial motivation to use the site and be successful.  This is something that we do not see with many other social applications.

As a way of connecting to a potential partner, Match.com seems to be fairly effective; however as a social media platform, it fails to capitalize on social media's vast possibilities - but then again, that isn't really what it's for.



For more information, I would encourage you to check out Neil Sareen's blog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sharing Content in a Connected World (The Creative Commons Way)


It’s likely that you don’t spend too much time thinking or worrying about intellectual property, but maybe you should.  Creative Commons is here to help.

Copyright is everywhere.  You’ve certainly seen it around: the innocuous ©, which cheerfully graces all manner of content, sending a very clear message:  All rights reserved.  Ask permission. No trespassing.  

This little © has become problematic in a “Web 2.0” digital landscape because it defies social media’s greatest strength: the ability to share (usually user-generated) content widely. Social media has enabled us to take an idea, song, image, video or other work, re-work it and share it as a means of communicating a new idea. 



We see examples like this all the time, but seldom stop to think about their copyright implications.  This is the way that people are communicating. 

When you copy and paste an image or video onto your blog, are you guilty of copyright infringement? What about if you record a mix of two popular tunes and post them on MySpace?  Are you stealing someone’s intellectual property?

The mainstream understandings copyright assumes that these activities are illegal; however many people are happy to see their content duplicated, shared and mashed-up.

Enter Creative Commons, a “nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright.”  It provides the tools and resources for people to declare, “some rights reserved” when it comes to their creative work.  Creative Commons has created a flexible copyright framework which allows users to protect their work while still encouraging sharing, free for certain uses.  It uses legal language to communicate the licence agreement; but also translates it to an easy-to-understand format

Here’s how it works:



So for example, if I wrote and recorded a song, I might include the following logo, which you could click to learn the details:




This particular logo means that anyone is free to share the work as well as remix and adapt the work on the conditions that they attribute the work to me and then share it only with the same license as this one.

Or, suppose I took some digital photography that I posted to my Flickr stream.  I might include this creative commons license:




It means that you are free to copy, distribute and transmit the work on the conditions that you attribute the work to me, that you not use the work for commercial purposes, and that you do not alter, transform or build upon the work.

Creative Commons gives the creator protection, and the potential users a clear understanding of what they can do with the content. 

Creative Commons opens the doors to the effective management of various open source and collaborative projects, such as Wikipedia, Mozilla Firefox, various Google applications and many more. Creative Commons is valuable for bloggers, casual internet users, webmasters, business communicators and PR practitioners alike.  Understanding what content can and cannot be lawfully used might just save you some legal headaches in the future. Conversely, by licencing your content appropriately, its spread can be made a lot easier.

Mom was right - "Sharing is caring."

UPDATE:

As of April 19, 2010, the Montreal Gazette reported that the Conservative government plans on tabling new legislation around the issue of copyright, and making restictions more stringent.  This represents a debate between major media corporations with the interned open-source community.  These types of changes have the potential to threaten the availability of open content.   

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Embed a Video?!? I've never done this once in my whole life!

Want to learn how to embed a video into a blog or website? It's really not as hard as you may fear!


"Pack my suitcase? I don't know how to pack a suitcase. I've never done this once in my whole life!"

- Kevin McCallister, Home Alone (1990)



When it comes to a new social media application, program or process, do you ever feel like Kevin McCallister - overwhelmed, panicked, frustrated? You're not (home) alone.

Fortunately, there are abundant help resources online (here's a helpful "How To" resource list compiled by my colleagues, in an effort to sustain better Network Learning).

Embedding a video into a blog or website may initially seem daunting, but I found an excellent resource that gives written step-by-step instructions as well as a descriptive video (which I've embedded below) that walks you through the process.



If you're still unsure, try this link, which also shows how to embed the video.

My colleagues from Humber College's Public Relations class: Ali, Julie and Sarah all agree that these two sites provide a comprehensive "How To." Happy embedding.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pizza Friday: An Introduction

Maybe it’s been a long, arduous week. Perhaps you’ve exhausted all other dinner ideas. You may be settling down for a quiet evening in, or gearing up for a rambunctious night out. In all these situations, I can think of nothing more agreeable than Pizza Friday.

Pizza Friday is a beloved, time-honoured tradition within my family. We have laughed, shared, debated and grown—all while enjoying (usually homemade) pizza.

It is important to know that this isn’t a food blog (though I hope you find it, at times, sumptuous and fulfilling). This is a blog that will chart a course through the field of Public Relations, social media, community development and the occasional frivolity within the context of my own discovery as a blossoming PR practitioner.

But why pizza?

Aspects of my family’s Pizza Fridays converge with many PR ideas, values and other elements that I view as important.

Community. Though pizza enjoyed alone is good, pizza shared with an old friend seems to taste better. As I have been often reminded in class, Public Relations it is usually about building and maintaining relationships. Furthermore, I believe that it is important to establish and cultivate links in the communities we belong to—both virtual and real, in and outside the workplace.

Connectedness. Sharing a meal with someone is an intimate, communal experience that fosters connectedness and facilitates the growth of relationships. Connecting with people creates opportunity to learn, share and produce incredible things. These connections link us to fresh perspectives that we may not have access to when disengaged.

Creativity. Pizza Fridays require a healthy dollop of creativity. Whether you’re substituting something for a missing ingredient, innovating a new taste sensation or pitching your client’s latest news to the media, the realm of creativity takes you from the mundane to the exceptional.

Collaboration. I don’t always supply the cheese (though I do usually make the dough). The best pizzas are the ones where everyone brings something different to the table. Our strengths and frailties are important in who we are, but should not define what we are capable of achieving. Through collaborative action, one’s impact can be profound (and delicious).

I look forward to an appetizing journey.