Word Watch: Internet Meme

As social networks spread and become more intricately woven, words like “meme” (rhymes with “dream”) are used frequently, in particular “Internet meme.”

Internet meme, n. an idea or catchphrase that spreads quickly from person to person online.

Examples of Internet memes are LOLcats or Twitter hashtags like #charitytuesday. Wired magazine features Meme Alerts, have a look at some of the ones they’ve discovered.

Pepole make studies of memes. You can read more from this helpful article in Straight Dope and The Lifecycle of Memes.

Why is your synagogue using Twitter?

It’s happening ever so slowly, but more and more synagogues are beginning to experiment with Twitter. Check out who’s there now by going to http://twitter.com/synagogue. Churches and non-profits have cottoned on to Twitter a while ago (check out this recent article from Time magazine), but it’s been moving much slower and with more contention in the Jewish sphere.

Twitter, for those of you who haven’t yet decided to fiddle with it yet, is a utility that lets you send a 140-character message to your community of subscribers. It’s a bit like how Reuters news service delivers stories to newspapers around the country, but you’re the Reuters, and the newspapers around the country are anybody in the world who’s interested in what you have to say. If you want to see it in action, you can follow Talance at http://twitter.com/talance or @talance.

Like any social media tool, Twitter can be useful as long as you think carefully about how you’re going to use it and work it into your overall communication plan. You can find it’s useful for attracting volunteers or promoting events.

We’re wondering how many of you synagogues have thought about how you’re using Twitter, so we put together this poll. Take a few seconds (it’s super short) to answer why you’re using Twitter. We’ll post the results here when the poll is up.

If you’re NOT using Twitter, use the comments below to tell us why you’ve decided to give it a pass.

Harsh News for Tired Eyes

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[Photo credit: “covering the eyes” by Secret Seasons, on Flickr]

Here’s a harsh reality you must face when you’re thinking about the design of your website: nobody likes to look at computer screens.

Yes, we all do it all the time, but that doesn’t change our physiology. Most people suffer from screen fatigue simply because monitors flicker and render an image that’s grainer than print. Think about how many times you’ve gotten a headache from spending too long looking at a computer screen or blinked your dry, irritated and watery eyes. Happens to me almost every day. That’s why I sit by the window; frequent eye breaks.

That’s also why we can’t help scanning websites. Our eyes seek out big fonts, bullet points and images to help us make quick identifications rather than focus on tiny text. It means that sometimes we frequently don’t take in enough information to get the full picture – we just glean what we can quickly.

Good web designers will think about these usability issues when designing a site. Make sure you think about what you need to do to present your site so it’s easiest for people to read.

Every Door on Your Website Is an Entryway

One of the mistakes web designers often make, especially those that come from a print background, is assuming visitors are coming to a site only through the homepage. It makes sense with a brochure or booklet: you first read the cover and then flip through the pages. You really only need the title on the cover.

But this makes no sense on a website. People are going to be visiting your site from any page they find. For instance, if they’re looking for your organization’s mailing address, they’re going to search for “Your Org mailing address” and probably be taken directly to your contact page.

The biggest mistake you can make is to skip branding on internal pages. Make sure that your logo, address and other important information is just as visible from internal pages as they are from the homepage.

Reader Question: How Do People Find Me on Twitter?

[Our clients at Talance ask us web strategy and tech questions all the time. In the spirit of giving, we’ll be answering your reader questions here in the blog every week. Have a question you’d like answered? Use the comments form at the bottom of this page or click here. We’ll review your question before posting (don’t be shy about asking!) and get back to you with a response.]

John K. asks:

How are people finding me on Twitter? I keep getting messages that people are following me, but I don’t know how they found me.

First of all, John, congratulations on your burgeoning Twitter network! The fact that people are finding you proves your account is doing what it’s supposed to do: connect you to more people.

There are a few ways people might be finding you on Twitter, including these common methods:

Someone looked for you on Twitter. If you click Find People in the upper-right-hand corner of the screen, you can use a variety of methods to find people you know. The first option is a search, where someone could have searched for your username, first or last name.

Searching on Twitter

Someone uploaded their address book to their Twitter account, and you were in it. If you allow it, Twitter will fetch your address book from Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, Hotmail or MSN and perform a quick match between the people in the that address book and the people who have Twitter accounts.

Searching on Twitter

Someone they know is following you, or vice versa. You can see a list of followers on any profile page on Twitter. So if you’re following your local dog club’s Twitter account, anybody who looks at the list of followers on the dog club’s page can find you, and follow you, from there.

Searching on Twitter

Someone saw a post you made. Any time you send a post to Twitter, it’s marked with @ and your username, such as @talance. So if I made a comment on my dog club’s Twitter page, anyone can click the @talance next to my comment and follow me that way.

Searching on Twitter

Send us your tech questions by using the comments form at the bottom of this page or click here. We’ll review your question before posting, and get back to you with a response. Oh, and you can follow Talance on Twitter too: @talance

Use Video for Awareness Campaigns

Video is a fabulous way to spread awareness, so think about blowing the dust off your YouTube account next time you want to drum up support for one of your organization’s programs.

International Medical Corps is an organization that’s spreading awarness of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, and it’s been tremendously successful with thousands of views and thousands of comments.

Are you planning some kind of event or have a fund drive that you can get help for by putting online?

Who Uses YouTube

Everybody knows YouTube is full of pimply 15-year-olds lip-synching to pop songs and babies who laugh funny. Right? Wrong.

Those people are all there, but there’s a different audience than you might think. Interestingly, the age breakdown is pretty even among all age groups. Surprisngly, the 55+ sector is a little bigger than the 18-and-unders, according to research from Nielson/NetRatings:

YouTube USage

What this means is that YouTube is relevant to all kinds of people who are interested in non-profit causes, synagogues or churches. It certainly was relevant during the last election. Your people are probably already there. Are you?

First Step in Promoting a New Site: Directories

Imagine buying a new car, driving it home and never once putting gas in it. It just sits there in the garage, blocking access to your gardening tools. Ridiculous waste of money, right? That’s tantamount to building a new website and never updating it, upgrading it or promoting it. It just sits there and blocks your opportunity to purvey a message, boost membership or garner support.

Upgrading and updating are iterative processes that you might begin after a few weeks of living with your new website. But the first thing you should do off the chute is start promoting like crazy. One of the easiest ways to do that is to submit your website to search engines and directories.

The reason is two-fold. First, you want to make sure your name appears where people are looking. If you’re a synagogue or church, you want potential members to find you if they’re shopping around by browsing through local directories (“Massachusetts synagogues”).

Secondly, generating links is a great way to to boost your reach in search engines, and search engines are the top way people find information online. You need to follow some proven search engine optimization, or SEO, techniques to help your name move to the top of the list when someone might be trying to find you in a search engine.

Many directories charge a fee, and these are of questionable value. Focus on free listings, especially those in your community. Take a day or so to sit down and find every directory that relates to your organization, and then submit your site to each one. Here’s a list of free directory submission pages to get you started.

Google Open Directory
http://www.dmoz.org/add.html

Yahoo! Directory Listings
https://ecom.yahoo.com/dir/reference/instructions

Yelp
http://www.yelp.com/

May Talance Newsletter: Twitter, Security Updates, Blog Favorites

[Welcome to the Talance Friendly E-mail Newsletter. This is text of the issue our e-mail subscribers just received. Sign up on the lower right-hand side of the Talance homepage.]

Hi, Friends!

The world, as they say, is atwitter about Twitter. It’s amazing, considering that last November, when we surveyed Massachusetts non-profits to see how they were using social media, no one even knew what a microblog was! Now everybody is Twittering.

That’s why we’re presenting the Talance community a 30-minute free webinar on Does Twitter Matter for Non-Profits?, Tuesday, June 23, 2009 from 2-2:30pm Eastern, presented by Talance’s own Monique Cuvelier. Learn how you can make sense of this madly growing tool and how it applies to you.

We’re keeping the presentation short – so you still have time to eat lunch – but we’ll stick around for 20 minutes for a Q&A session and also be scheduling free follow-up web strategy consultations for anyone who wants them.

»Register for this free webinar now!

New Website Security Service

Talance offers a new security service to evaluate and fix security vulnerabilities in client websites. The Talance Security Update Service (TSUS) monitors the Drupal community for discovery of any threats so you don’t have to. We help protect your website, web information and users against the latest security threats by delivering immediate and ongoing updates for various vulnerabilities as soon as they’re discovered.

One year of unlimited monitoring is available for only $49. If you’re interested in this package and having Talance monitor and update your website, please contact us.

»Contact us to sign up now!

New Social Media Icons

Are you one of our many clients who are ramping up their social media strategy but haven’t yet integrated it into your website? If so, you’ll love this.

We’re offering a stylish and effective collection of social media links and icons to keep your constituency plugged into your ongoing social media marketing efforts. This little upgrade is fast and effective.

»Contact us to put this on your site now!

Join Us on Twitter

Twitter Want to pick up quick tips and resources on technology and web strategy for your non-profit?

»Follow us on Twitter.

Blog Favorites

The most popular recent posts on Talance Friendly Web Tools Blog. Make sure you’re reading http://talance.com/blog and sign up for the news feed.

Spring Clean Your Website – Part 1
Three things to prep for your week of good housekeeping.

Spring Clean Your Website – Dead Links (Part 2)
Find and remove your dead links.

Spring Clean Your Website Copy (Part 3)
As time passes and your goals and objectives evolve, so should your website copy.

Spring Clean Your Website: Refresh the Design (Part 4)
Make sure your site looks like a cohesive piece and still looks up to date.

Five Great Takeaways from Church Websites
Tweaks that can make your church or synagogue site better.

Killer Church Websites
Websites that engage and create community

Working Your Out-of-Office Reply While You’re Away
Get a little fancy with this message and do a bit of promotion while you’re at it.

Need Some Help?

Talance has helped clients launch scores of projects, ranging from websites to online newsletters to CRM projects. Please click here to schedule a time to talk about your next project or to request a proposal.

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Spring Clean Your Website: Refresh the Design (Part 4)

[This article is part of a 4-part series on cleaning up your website. Check out the other articles on freshening up your design, copy and links.]

A house may be well-built, but the kitchen looks outdated, it’ll be hard to sell. Websites are the same way, which is why after you’ve cleaned up your links and website copy, you should think about cleaning up your design as part of your spring cleaning ritual. (We’ve been talking about spring cleaning your website all week – click here to see all the articles in the series.)

As you live with your website, you’ll make changes and upgrades to suit your organization’s goals. But those changes, made iteratively over time, don’t always synch up with the overall look of the thing. That’s why it’s important to step back a few times a year to make sure your site looks like a cohesive piece and still looks up to date.

For example, you might have added a picture here or an icon there to help address a need, but it might not fit overall. Or, you might have jumped on the bandwagon of a design trend that doesn’t hold up any more. I believe the Web 2.0 glassy effect is going to look as outdated as avocado-colored refrigerators in the near future.

It’s always a good idea to get an outside opinion on how your site looks and what can be done to improve it, but here’s a little checklist you can run through to see how messy it’s become over time:

  • Does your website fit the monitor? Many websites built a few years ago were built with smaller monitors in mind. As a result, when seen on today’s big monitors, they look either like tiny postage stamps in the middle of the screen, or they expand where there’s a wide open space in the middle. Make sure your sites fit modern monitors.
  • Do you have unified icons? You might be grabbing a graphic here to illustrate your e-mail and a graphic there to highlight your Facebook account. But do they match? Look for an icon set that matches to give your site a unified look.
  • Does your site match your branding? Your organization might have had the website designed two years ago, but only last month revamped all the print material. Make sure that you’re presenting the same branding everywhere, from your site to your print collateral to your Twitter account. If your other properties have been updated, it’s time to tweak your site to match.
  • Are you using CSS? If not, you should be. Cascading Style Sheets are the practical way to control the display of your website instead of using old-school HTML tags. Once you create a CSS, you need only make one tweak to change all the font around your entire website, for instance.
  • Do you have an Under Construction image anywhere? For heaven’s sake, if you do, get rid of it.

Make sure to read the other articles in our series on spring cleaning your website. Make sure you don’t miss anything by subscribing to the RSS news feed. Not sure what an RSS feed is? Click here.