Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Facebook has become a great resource for companies. Nearly every company, from major retail stores to local pubs, has at least some presence on Facebook. The ability to easily reach out to hundreds of millions of people worldwide has made Facebook a hotspot for commercial advertising (although Facebook maintains its commitment to a relatively clutter-free website.) One of the best aspects of Facebook from an advertising standpoint is the wealth of information available to accurately target ads. Roughly half the ads that appear on my Facebook page are of at least moderate usefulness to me. Many of them are local businesses that have targeted only people within a close radius to the business itself. This allows smaller companies to pay less to advertise than they would on say, Google which may place ads on computer screens across the country or world (although with Google+ this will probably change quickly to be more targeted like Facbook.) From what I have gathered from researching the ad-placing costs on Facebook, the more confined your target audience (say, only those people with Facebook accounts within 30 miles of the Tri-Cities) the less you will probably end up paying as Facebook charges per ad, but only places ads on pages that meet your particular criteria. If I ever start up my own company, I feel that advertising to a select audience on Facebook would be one of my first customer relations moves after creating a company Facebook page.
Video hosting has become an integral part of many a major corporation's advertising strategy. YouTube, with its millions of daily viewers, has become a crucial link between companies and those customers seeking more information on products. For example, most video game companies (even smaller, independent studios) utilize YouTube to release promo material for upcoming titles. Nearly as soon as a video is released on a company website (often times even before) it is also often released on YouTube along with tags for people to locate the video. Add to this the dozens of fan-made videos after release and you get a perfect storm of product hype and viral advertising that spreads like wildfire across the internet and drives people to the best products offered. It is a dual-edged sword, though. Along with the hype generated by studio- and fan-made videos, you also get the nearly parallel release of review videos. In some cases, reviews are good and can increase sales. Other times, they can be quite negative and can sink sales of products, especially negative reviews by trusted YouTube users. The nature of YouTube is that both sides of the fence are available for all to see. In the end, though, it is usually the potential customers that win out in the end.
I believe small businesses with lower storage and bandwidth allotment on their websites could benefit greatly from photo hosting. If you are only posting a few pictures of products (say menu items for a small restaurant) then there is no need to over pay for huge amounts of storage space and high bandwidth. Embedding these images in your website, but hosting them on a free photo hosting site, could be a great way to lower overhead costs. I have had two .com websites I have created in the past and neither of them used anywhere near the allotted space or bandwidth. But these were just hobby sites, with very few page views. It was necessary for me to use FTP to upload images and files, which can be a pain sometimes. Photo hosting sites are much more intuitive and easy to use than FTP so adding content is much quicker.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Wikis can be used as a great resource for businesses, especially those in the technology fields. They allow rapid communication between customers and companies as well as other customers in a semi-controlled environment. They also allow for easy assistance on technical issues as well as general customer service issues that can be taken care of by people outside the company. Wikis have become a popular source for help on modding games, such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Before the launch of the game editing software, Bethesda Game Studios went to great lengths to develop a wiki specially designed for assisting the modding community. Because of this effort, they ensure that modding will stay alive and well long after the normal life-span of a PC game (modding had proven time and again to extend playability for months, if not years after a game's release.)