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11 tips to make your video interview run smoothly

Posted in Tips on 26 January 2015

You've landed the interview of your dreams. It's for a remote job that pays more than you ever thought you could make working part-time (or maybe it's for that international gig you've been daydreaming of). In short, you are over the moon!

But the interview is over Skype and you are petrified. Of course, you'll try to look natural and you'll rehearse what you should say. But what if there is a terrible echo? Is it okay to join the interview sitting in bed in your room? (Where else will you find a background that hides your messy apartment!?)

You've got this. Read on for a list of absolutely everything to do, from your tech setup to "designing your set," to making sure you look and sound fantastic on your video interview.

1. Get headphones

If you do nothing else to prepare for a video chat, do this one thing: use headphones. An echo ruins a video chat, fast. And lags in connection and internet blips can easily create an echo, delay, or other sound disruption that can be lessened with headphones. People will forgive your video quality, but they won't forgive your sound. If the person on the other end can't understand what you are saying, you're in trouble!

So, dig up those headphones that came with your first iPhone, or buy a pair of cheap headphones with a mic. (For example, Skullcandy makes a pair for $20.) Your sound will be crisper, the risk of echo will be reduced drastically, and those sirens and dogs barking in the background won't get in the way of the great impression you're making on screen!

Note: even if you don't have headphones with a mic, regular old headphones will work to reduce the echo as well. A sketchy set of headphones is better than no set of headphones.

2. Download the necessary tech

Most video chat systems require time to download either an application or a plugin. Do a quick search of the technology that your video interview is using, and see what you need to prepare.

Two common (and free!) platforms to use are Google Hangout and Skype. There is a quick plugin for Google Hangout that requires a browser restart (download here), and an easy application download for Skype (find your version here). There are hundreds of other video platforms that you could use, such as Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting, so setting aside 15 minutes before your interview to make sure you have the right tech downloaded will ensure you are prepared!

3. Test your Internet

Being on a video chat requires solid, fast internet speed. Starbucks Free WiFi just isn't gunna cut it. Test the internet speed at the location where you are going to be joining the video interview by running a free test at speedtest.net. Google recommends an upload and download speed of at least 4 Mbps for a solid video connection.

Also, wireless internet signal can fade in and out. If you have an ethernet cable handy (they usually come free with your internet router or you can purchase one on Amazon for less than $10), plug it in to ensure you have a steady connection.

4. Check your sound inputs and outputs

Do a quick check of your sound settings to make sure everything is set correctly. Every video chat system has slightly different settings, but most will default to "built-in audio," which means the speakers and microphone on your computer. If you are using headphones and there is an option to set to your headphone audio (and microphone) instead, click it!

On Skype, you can try speaking and watch the audio bar rise and fall with your volume.

If you are using Google Hangout, try playing a test sound to make sure you can hear in your headphones.

5. Plug in your charger

Video drains your battery more than nearly any other program you can run on your computer. If you are taking your video interview using a laptop or tablet, charging it to 100% is a great idea. An even better idea is to have your laptop plugged in! Sort through your closets and find an extension cord if you need it so that you can be in the best position and not run out of juice in the middle of your call.

6. Design your "set"

Actively think about setting up what is behind you in the shot for your video interview. As executive recruiter Jennifer Johnson shared, being in a big room and having too much depth behind you can be distracting. It's best to position yourself a few feet from a wall, and have one or two tasteful decor components in the background. For example, a painting, a plant, or an organized bookshelf. Imagine meeting with the CEO of a huge company, and think about what how their desk is positioned: try to create the same setup for yourself. A white wall absolutely works, but if you have the time to "design" your set, it can certainly boost the impression you make!

7. Bring your camera to eye level

"It looks like I have a double chin!" That was Laura Belgray's reaction when we started to set her up for her fantastic Skillcrush webinar. You know what she's talking about: you look down at your laptop, while your chair has you perched up high, and the camera hits you at possibly the least-flattering angle of your neck you've ever seen.

Prop your laptop up so that you are looking at the camera at eye level, instead of down. Use a few textbooks, a pile of magazines, or even a rectangular tissue box to set your laptop up a few inches on your desk. It makes you look relaxed and composed, is a more flattering angle, and saves you from neck cramps.

8. Light from the front

A cardinal mistake of newbies on video interviews is to have light shining from the background. If you have a big window with a view, why not show it off?

Doh! You want the (spot)light on your face, not on the background! Think about getting your school pictures taken (I know, I know, terrible memories of braces. But bear with me on the analogy...). Where did that huge, blinding flash come from? Directly in front of you! So when you setup your video interview or chat, think about your school pictures and place your lighting in the front.

Natural lighting is best, so face towards a window if you can. If you are in a darker room, or you are getting on video chat in the evening, find a lamp that you can plugin and place about a foot in front of your laptop to give you some good lighting. (Just relying on the lighting from your laptop might give an eerily creepy glow.) If you have the time, take the extra step and take away, turn down, or turn off the lights behind you, as well.

To show you just how important light can be for the professionalism of your set, I took a few screenshots so you can see how Google Hangout responds to light. Which one do you like best?

With the focus adjusted, you can see me on camera, but I'm a little fuzzy (almost ethereal!?) because of the light behind.

Aha! The light coming from the window in front of me makes for a crisp, clear, and professional video chat image.

9. Check yourself out

Before you go live, make sure to check that your video camera works and that you look great on screen! The easiest way to test how you look is the audio settings in Skype. Once you open up Skype, click "Preferences" from the menu and open up the Audio/Video tab. Your camera will turn on and you will see yourself!

If you don't have access to Skype, there's a great workaround for testing out how you look on Google Hangout. Pop into Google Calendar and open up a meeting invite. There is an option to join by Video Call (see the bottom field in the screenshot below). Click that, and you'll open up a Hangout with yourself.

10. Do a test chat

The best way to know that everything will work correctly is to do a test run! Try out the technology you are using in a test call before your interview or chat starts. Setup everything as close to the way you will do it on interview day to make sure you have all variables under control.

Quick tip: haven't talked to your roommate from college in a while? Instead of giving her a call by phone, see if she's up for jumping on a video chat! You get to test your sound and audio so you feel confident that it works, and catch up with a great friend while you're at it.

BONUS!

11. Think solid + bright

Bright colors look amazing on video. Avoid wearing stripes, paisley, and the like, as the detail can come across as fuzzy and distracting on video. (Ever notice how the best dressed at Hollywood awards shows are usually the solid, bold colored dresses, and the outfits that crash and burn are often patterns?). Particularly outstanding colors for camera include scarlet red, emerald green, and royal blue. Pick your favorite!

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2015 could be the year in-flight Wi-Fi becomes ubiquitous

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

Access to in-flight Wi-Fi is expanding rapidly, but having an Internet connection on your next trip is still not a given.

Fliers currently have at least "some" chance of Wi-Fi on 24% of flights worldwide, according to Routehappy, which released a report Monday on the global state of in-flight Wi-Fi. In the U.S. the percentage is much higher: 66% of flights on U.S. airlines have at least "some" chance of Wi-Fi.

Routehappy last did a comprehensive in-flight Wi-Fi study in July 2013. In the year and a half since, connectivity in the sky has increased dramatically: Wi-Fi hotspots globally have increased 271% since the beginning of 2013.

"Passengers are not only aware that in-flight Wi-Fi exists, but they actually expect it to be available."

"Passengers are not only aware that in-flight Wi-Fi exists, but they actually expect it to be available."

However, only 1% of flights worldwide have what the company calls the "best" Wi-Fi, the most advanced connectivity systems currently available.

Among U.S. airlines, Delta, American/US and Southwest have the most connected flights.

United comes in next, with about 1,000 flights with a "very good chance" of offering Wi-Fi.

Honeywell Aerospace — which had been working on an in-flight Wi-Fi system with AT&T before the project was scrapped — surveyed passengers in summer 2014, and found that availability of Wi-Fi influenced flight choices for 66% of passengers.

The same survey found that about 22% of passengers had paid for in-flight Wi-Fi, and 85% said they would use it on a flight if it were free.

Considering 94% of leisure travelers and 97% of business travelers carry at least one mobile device on their trip, the desire for constant connectivity makessense.

"We believe passengers have indeed come to expect its availability, especially on long haul international flights," Rabinowitz said. "Once a passenger is offered Wi-Fi access in-flight, it almost comes as a surprise to them when they are on another craft that is not Wi-Fi enabled."

Looking ahead to the rest of 2015, Rabinowitz said he expects many airlines to outfit nearly all of their aircraft with Wi-Fi. He added that the prices could also come down — once everyone has it, it won't be a given that it costs a premium.

"In the future, and the not too distant future, in-flight Wi-Fi will be faster, less expensive, and available on airlines you probably wouldn't have guessed today," he said.

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The Difference Between Successful and Very Successful People

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

LinkedIn Influencer, Greg McKeown, published this post originally on LinkedIn.

I recently met with a capable and driven executive and asked him, “How are you?” He gave me a rapid-fire answer of all of the things he was doing: travelling, business updates, career changes and his children’s innumerable activities. It sounded like an intense but satisfying life.

Then I asked him again, “How are you really?” And the moment I did, he became emotional and the reality of his life just flooded out of him: his stress, his frustration of trying to juggle it all, his sense that he had no time to really think, or play with his children or enjoy any of it. The (cute) summary is this: his schedule was always filled but his life wasn’t fulfilled. What is less cute is the idea that he, and many of us, have been sold a bill of goods.

We’ve been sold on a heroic ideal of the uber-man and super-women who kill themselves saying yes to everyone, sleeping four hours a night and straining to fit everything in. How often have you heard people say, “I am so busy right now!” But it almost seemed like a back-door brag.

But it’s a bogus badge of honor. It suffocates our ability to think and create. It holds otherwise hard working, capable people back from our highest contribution. Below are a few of the myths of success that hold us back from becoming very successful.

Myth 1: Successful people say, "If I can fit it in, I should fit it in."

Truth: Very successful people are absurdly selective.

As Warren Buffet is credited with having said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything."

As I wrote in a piece for Harvard Business Review, this means, "Not just haphazardly saying no, but purposefully, deliberately, and strategically eliminating the nonessentials. Not just once a year as part of a planning meeting, but constantly reducing, focusing and simplifying. Not just getting rid of the obvious time wasters, but being willing to cut out really terrific opportunities as well. Few appear to have the courage to live this principle, which may be why it differentiates successful people and organizations from the very successful ones."

Myth 2: Successful people sleep four hours a night.

Truth: Very successful people rest well so they can be at peak performance.

In K. Anders Ericsson's famous study of violinists, popularized by Malcolm Gladwell as the "10,000 hour rule," Anders found that the best violinists spent more time practicing than the merely good students. What is less well known is that the second most important factor differentiating the best violinists from the good ones was actually sleep. The best violinists averaged 8.6 hours of sleep in every 24 hour period.

Myth 3: Successful people think play is a waste of time.

Truth: Very successful people see play as essential for creativity.

Just think of Sir Ken Robinson, who has made the study of creativity in schools his life's work. He has observed that instead of fueling creativity through play, schools actually kill it: "We have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it's impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies. Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement."

Myth 4: Successful people are the first ones to jump in with an answer.

Truth: Very successful people are powerful listeners.

As the saying goes, the people who talk the most don't always have the most to say. Powerful listeners get to the real story. They find the signal in the sound. They listen to what is not being said.

Myth 5: Successful people focus on what the competition is doing.

Truth: Very successful people focus on what they can do better.

The "winningest coach in America" is Larry Gelwix, the former Head of the Highland High School rugby team. His team won 418 games with only 10 losses in over 36 years. One of the key questions he challenged his players to ask was “What’s important now?" He didn't want his players getting distracted with what the other team was doing. He wanted them to play their own game.

Last week I took a tour of the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. One of the quotes there grabbed my attention. John F. Kennedy said, "The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic."

The myth here is celebrated in modern culture: it’s someone who is capable, driven and wants to win and be popular. They have been rewarded for their willingness to take it all on, fit it all in and just make it happen. They believe doing more is better than doing less. I call this type of person a Nonessentialist.

Still, there is a new hero in our story. She asks, “What is essential?” and is willing to eliminate everything else. He says no to the less important activities so they can give themselves fully to the few things that really matter. It is a path that takes courage. It may require making the tradeoff between short-term popularity and long-term respect. It leads to a greater sense of control and even joy. But as an added benefit it also seems to be the thing that distinguishes the successful from the very successful.

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Ten Buzzwords that are a Buzz Kill for Your LinkedIn Profile

Posted in Tips on 26 January 2015

f you don’t want to sound like everyone else on LinkedIn, listen up!

The professional social network has released its annual list of the most over-used words in LinkedIn profiles across the world. In 2014, top honors go to ‘Motivated’ as the most overused buzzword.

“If you’re motivated about your career, passionate about doing your best work, and are highly creative, then I’ve got news for you: so is everyone else,” says LinkedIn PR officer Catherine Fisher.

The following words and phrases were the most used in 2014:

Motivated; passionate; creative; driven; extensive experience; responsible; strategic; track record; organisational; expert.

“The new year inspires many of us to start thinking about our careers and explore new job opportunities,” Fisher says. “Before you begin your search, take some time to think about your professional brand and how you want to Brand You. Pledge to banish trite buzzwords.”

Here are some tips from LinkedIn on how you can make your profile truly shine:

  • Your Summary:  Rather than using buzzwords, list examples that explain how you are motivated or creative. How did your motivation drive business results?  Did your creativity result in a new product or program?  Upload examples of your work that prove your motivation or creativity.
  • Your headline: Compose a strong headline such as “Mary Smith: Solving complex technical problems through code” rather than “Mary Smith: Software Engineer.” Make sure your headline indicates if you are actively seeking a job.
  • Your good side:  Be sure to list your volunteer experiences and the causes you support. “Forty one percent of professionals surveyed by LinkedIn in the U.S. alone stated that when they evaluate candidates, they consider volunteer work equally as valuable as paid work experience,” Fisher says.
  • Your skills:  A list of your skills makes it 13 times more likely your profile will be viewed on LinkedIn.  To show up in search results, be sure to include a mix of high level and niche skills — this also highlights the scope of your talents.
  • Recommendations: Ask someone with whom you have worked to write about specific examples of your skills and talents, even remind them of the projects you worked on together to offer some inspiration.

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Reports Indicate Apple Will Accommodate China's Inspection Request

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

China’s Cyberspace Administration has been granted permission by Apple, Market Watch reported, to inspect its devices — including iPhones — to ensure they comply with the country’s laws and are not being used for secretive spying and data gathering.

The official newspaper of the Chinese government, People’s Daily, first began reporting on the deal and issued a tweet announcing the news.

Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Chinese official Lu Wei, reported Mashable, and told him his company has never had any security backdoors or provided customer data to other parties.

Just last year, Apple was accused, by the Chinese state television, of tracking users’ locations via devices. That report, SMN Weekly reported, said “those with access to that data could gain knowledge of China’s economic situation or even state secrets.”

Then, in the fall, Apple reassured the Chinese government its devices are secure and are not used for any type of spying.

Apple has not yet issued a statement on the Chinese reports though it has always promised to be a transparent company that will accommodate requests. However, what exactly it will be doing to alleviate China’s concerns has yet to be fully disclosed.

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North Carolina Cities Make Google Fiber List

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

Google is hosting events in both Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte this week, likely to announce that Fiber construction in slated to begin in both regions this spring.

A number of media outlets received invitations for the Wednesday and Thursday events. According to the Charlotte Observer, the Charlotte event is set for Wednesday. The Raleigh event will also be held Wednesday, while the Durham event is set for Thursday.

A source told WRAL TechWire Google is now accepting bids for construction of the fiber network, which could begin as early as April.

So far, Fiber has come to Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Google last year said it planned to work with 34 other cities to build similar networks and, presumably, Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte are two of them.

The chosen cities “will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed,” Google Access Services vice-president Milo Medin wrote on the company’s blog last year. “For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.”

Google has been working with officials in cities to determine what needs to be achieved and what challenges may be ahead to ready itself for the project.

Google has plans to expand its Google Fiber community across the country, greatly increasing Internet speeds. By expanding its fiber-optic networks, the company said, it will greatly enhance connectivity for millions of Americans.

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More Than Half of Android Users Vulnerable

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

There’s a good chance — more than 50 percent — if you’re an Android user you’re vulnerable to a security flaw.

There’s an even better chance — 100 percent, in fact — if you happen to fall in to that category that Google won’t be doing anything to help you. That’s because despite the fact Google is aware roughly 60 percent of Android users are operating on an Android 4.3 or older operating system and, therefore, are vulnerable to the flaw, the company has chosen not to do anything about it.

“Keeping software up-to-date is one of the greatest challenges in security. Google invests heavily in making sure Android and Chrome are as safe as possible and doing so requires that they be updated very frequently,” explained Google’s Adrian Ludwig, the company’s chief of security for Android, in a blog entry.

Ludwig went on to recognize there is a known issue with WebView but noted the company is not offering a patch for it and, rather, suggested developers use “a browser that is updated through Google Play” and use applications that follow security best practices.

Changing Web browsers is one step to increase security, reported Thai Tech. Switching over to Chrome or Firefox will lessen a user’s chances of being impacted but won’t completely address the matter.

Ludwig’s blog post met with varied responses — some simply thanking the Google official for the information while others vented frustration over the news.

Jake Weisz, one commenter, said it was a “joke” that Google is not addressing the matter and stated he was “calling Google out for failing to protect their customers still on contract with their devices for up to another year or more.”

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Has Pinterest Plateaued? Facebook Still King of Social Referrals

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

Social media platforms are eating every other traffic source’s lunch. Formerly, organic search (i.e. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) made up the lion’s share of overall visits to sites.

In 2014, the tables turned.

Data we shared with BuzzFeed confirms, “The shift from search to social isn’t just in progress: it’s already here.” Collectively, the top eight social networks drove 31.24 percent of overall traffic to sites in December 2014, up from 22.71 percent the same time last year. This is significant as brands, publishers and marketers finalize budgets to power a successful 2015.

Over the years (and in 2014, especially), our media consumption habits have changed dramatically. We rely less on homepages and search engines, discovering news pertinent to us through social media and direct messaging on mobile apps.

In the latest edition of the Shareaholic Social Media Traffic Report, we take a precise look at how much traffic each of the top eight social networks drove to publisher sites across the web. The data reveals “share of visits,” a percentage of overall traffic — direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, paid search, etc. — sites received, for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Our latest report, which aggregates data from Shareaholic’s network of sites*, is broken up into three main parts:

  • Section I: Social referrals over Q4 2014 (September – December 2014) – A brief look at four months of data collected from 300,000+ websites reaching a global audience of more than 400 million unique monthly visitors.**
  • Section II: Social referrals Year-over-Year for 2014 (December 2013-2014) – A review of 13 months of data collected from 300,000+ websites reaching a global audience of more than 400 million unique monthly visitors.**
  • Section III: Social referrals over 3 years to understand greater historical trends (December 2011-2014) – An in-depth analysis of 37 months of data collected from 150,000-plus websites reaching a global audience of more than 200 million unique monthly visitors.**

Without further adieu…

Section I: Social Referrals over Q4 2014

First, we have “share of visits” for each social platform over September, October, November, and December 2014. Data for September is provided for comparison purposes. The final column quantifies how much each social platform’s respective share has changed since the end of Q3 (September) up until the end of Q4 (December).

In Q4, only two platforms — Facebook and StumbleUpon — grew their share of traffic. Share for the remaining six social networks shrunk during this time, between 0.46 – 0.01 percentage points.

In Q4, only two platforms — Facebook and StumbleUpon — grew their share of traffic. Share for the remaining six social networks shrunk during this time, between 0.46 – 0.01 percentage points.

The remaining six (Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube) saw their shares dip year-over-year by more than 25 percent. YouTube was the year’s biggest loser; its share was annihilated, dropping 93.24 percent (0.18 percentage points). It currently clings onto a 0.01 percent share of overall traffic.

Section III: Social Referrals from 2011 through 2014

For simplicity’s sake, we’ve highlighted each social network’s respective share for December 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 to minimize information overload and control for seasonal fluctuations. The results are startling.

Three noteworthy takeaways include:

1) Facebook drives a one-quarter of overall traffic

  • As a platform that knows everything about us (our lives, interests and friends), Facebook dictates the news we read, enables brands to promote targeted messages and offers, and is the No. 1 source of social referrals to sites around the web.
  • Facebook sent 24.63 percent of the total visits publishers received in December 2014. Its share of traffic swelled 277.26 percent (18.10 percentage points) since December 2011. Over a comparable time frame, its user base grew 60 percent, from eight45 million monthly active users (Nov. 2011) to 1.35 billion (Sept. 2014).  Facebook’s near 4x explosion in traffic share represents a far more engaged user base. According to Nielsen, Americans spent an average of 15.5 minutes each day on Facebook in August 2011. In November 2014, eMarketer published a study that suggests the average user spends 42.1 minutes each day on the ubiquitous social network.

2) Pinterest hit its plateau

  • Pinterest, one of the fastest growing social networks in history and the preferred platform for American women, may have lost its momentum.
  • Since December 2011, Pinterest’s share of traffic has skyrocketed 684.86 percent (4.41 percentage points). Last month, Pinterest delivered 5.06 percent of total visits to sites across the web, up from 0.65 percent in 2011. In 2012, it overtook Twitter and StumbleUpon, rising to 2nd place and has dramatically increased its lead over 2013 and 2014.
  • Pinterest’s share of traffic hit an all time high in March 2014 at 7.10 percent. But since then, its share has been in decline. Quantcast reports a similar trend too.
  • Principal Analyst at Forrester, Nate Elliott, calls Pinterest a conundrum. Elliot says, “Pinterest is confusing. It’s a bundle of contradictions: at once it offers marketers huge potential and huge frustration.” Select brands recognize its commercial value and have invested big dollars on ‘Pinfluencers’. But the platform has yet to realize its full potential. To do so, it needs to quickly shed its isolating for-women-only image and develop more mass-market appeal.

3) The six remaining platforms make up less than two percent of total Web traffic

  • Twitter, the third largest referrer of social traffic, contributed 0.82 percent of overall visits to sites last month. Should marketers, publishers and site owners care about the ‘other’ social networks? Collectively, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube had a combined 1.55 percent share of traffic in December 2014. That’s less than one-third of the traffic Pinterest sent to publishers and approximately one-sixteenth of Facebook’s share.
  • From December 2011 to December 2013, Twitter’s share of traffic mostly stayed just above one percent. By December 2014, it dipped below single-digits. Twitter’s share is now down 24.41 percent (0.26 percentage points) from 1.08 percent at the end of 2011. The company faces a myriad of problems moving forward. Its user growth has slowed, but smart marketers can still utilize advanced strategies to further distribute and promote their content on the platform and inbound traffic.
  • Over the past 37 months, StumbleUpon’s share of traffic sunk 69.41 percent (1.13 percentage points). Formerly the 2nd largest driver of social traffic, StumbleUpon has dropped to fourth place. In December 2011, its share of traffic was 1.63 percent and last month it was 0.50 percent. According to the company, StumbleUpon has 30 million users. This means there remains plenty of opportunity for individual brands and publishers to capture tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of views if a single link they share goes viral.
  • Reddit’s share of traffic was effectively halved, down 47.71 percent (0.13 percentage points), over the years. Three years ago, it drove 0.28 percent of total site traffic; today, it drives 0.15 percent. Its users are part of an increasingly insular community, and they aren’t fond of brands. But if you have thick skin and will play by the rules, here’s how you can win on Reddit.
  • Google’s resilient social network lost one-third (34.68 percent, 0.02 percentage points) of its share of traffic since the end of 2011. It now sends 0.04 percent of overall visits to publishers. Mention of Google+ often sparks polarizing responses. It earns both wholehearted praise from active users and pithy pessimism from non-believers. There is also a large camp — Facebook and Twitter already take up too much of their time — that maintains full ambivalence towards it. To generate more visits from the platform though, you’ll have to commit to regular participation.
  • In three years, LinkedIn’s share of traffic also dropped by a third (34.31 percent, 0.02 percentage points). In December 2011, the world’s largest professional network held a 0.05 percent traffic share. During the same time last year, that figure was 0.03 percent. Fortunately, you can still leverage marketing hacks to grow inbound visits from LinkedIn.
  • Though YouTube delivers the most engaged social visitors, it drives the fewest. Since 2011, YouTube experienced a sharp drop (94.76 percent, 0.23 percentage points) in share of traffic. Formerly, it maintained a 0.24 percent share, which is now a paltry 0.01 percent. For brands and publishers, video is hard (and expensive) to create, but that’s not stopping anyone. Video is a necessary storytelling medium. The fact is: YouTube is no longer the sole gatekeeper of video views. With auto-play videos, Facebook has cannibalized YouTube’s traffic share. Thankfully, this is more a problem for YouTube than it is for you. To maximize the potential reach of your videos, you can (and should) publish them to Facebook and to YouTube.

Finally, to admire Facebook’s uncontested dominance, Pinterest’s rapid rise and recent stagnation, and the negligible changes among the other six social platforms, here is our three-year trend graph.

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6 Reasons Why Your Website (probably) Sucks

Posted in News on 26 January 2015

You might think you have a pretty neat website. It might look really nice, with its pretty picture sliders and updated HTML 5 coding. But in reality, it’s probably not actually doing anything positive for your company, despite the thousands of dollars you spent paying that internet developer company with the equally flashy looking website to make it.

At Megaphone, we sadly come across heaps of poorly performing websites, and that’s because people don’t understand what a high performing website really means to their business.

So here are 6 reasons why your current website (probably) sucks.

1. It Doesn’t Convert

In business, there’s the age-old saying; To make money, you must spend money. Well, if that’s true, then why do you have a website that doesn’t make you any money? Your website should be if not a steady source of income, at least a steady source of leads. This applies to any industry. Your website should be focused on getting people to make enquiries, sign up, sign in and everything else that pushes your customers further into the funnel. You should also be able to directly track exactly how many visitors you’re converting into solid leads, and you should be actively improving that percentage from week to week.

2. It’s Not Mobile Responsive

What’s that? You have a separate web page built specifically for mobile devices? That doesn’t count. With more and more web traffic coming from mobile devices, it is imperative more than ever to make your website properly mobile responsive so that it works across all different screen sizes. This means your website is able to scale to any screen dimension and still look good and function great. An easy way to test whether your website is mobile responsive is to open your page up in a web browser and play around with your browser window size. If it’s mobile responsive, everything should scale properly and elements fold into each other neatly.

3. It Loads Too Slow

Loading times might seem like a trivial problem; after all, your website looks nice, and you have a nice product, so a few seconds of load is worth the wait right?

No, it’s not. Nearly half of web users expect a page to load fully in 2 seconds, and will abandon after 3. 79% of web shoppers who have had a loading problem with a page won’t come back. Web page load speeds also heavily affect your search engine rankings, and people bouncing right off your home page while it’s loading further exasperates the problem. So all those image sliders and super-high resolutions might look nice, but there’s no point if no-one is seeing them.

4. You’re Cluttering Up Your Homepage Without True Purpose

There are heaps of websites that rely too much on their homepage to provide all the information possible. First impressions are super important, so you do have to get it right in the first go. Having said that though, the true purpose of your homepage is to get people off your homepage onto your other web pages as fast as possible, whether it’s clicking through to a registration form, or scrolling down to below the fold. High performing home pages will usually only have one or two lines of text about the benefits your product/service provides, a primary and secondary call-to-action (Sign up here + Find out More), and one nice, static image of your product or service.

5. Your About Me Section is Terrible

This is a bit of a trick section. Good “About Me” sections should still be focused around your visitor. Visitors are selfish people, so even when they are looking up more about you, in reality, they’re looking up extra information on whether you’re the right person to help them. So while a little smattering of personal information can’t go astray, you should really be focused on spelling out your benefits and why visitors should choose from you instead of the schmuck down the road. Use ordered and unordered lists, break sections up so there isn’t massive chunks of text to keep it all engaging, and if you are including head shots of your team, make sure they are specifically taken head shots to bring extra credibility to your website

6. You Haven’t Thought About User Experience

User Experience is all about how someone feels when using your website, and placing information right where users think it should be. Another term for UX is user flow. Bad user flow means high exit rates and high visitor dissatisfaction. However, rather than purely rooted in the world of design, UX is highly data driven. Go thorough your analytics and see which pages have high Bounce and Exit rates, as this usually indicates a problem. Also, there are a plethora of heat mapping and recording tools that allow you to see how exactly visitors are using your site, where they’re getting lost and if they’re clicking on things that aren’t there, or aren’t clicking on things you want them to click on.

Source

MyEvent.Vision Deadline Approaching

Posted in Jobs on 26 January 2015

The deadline for new events industry competition, MyEvent.Vision, is fast approaching, with entries

closing on 6th February. Introduced to find fresh creative talent, the initiative is open to anyone in

Britain with an original event concept.

This is a fantastic opportunity to kick-start your event career as well as get yourself noticed in the

event industry.  Entering is simple all you have to do is visit www.myevent.vision and upload your

event idea in approximately 1,000 words.  

The winner will receive £5,000 cash, a full-time job offer from leading events agency, Events

International Group (which has 17 event brands in its portfolio), investment into the winning event

concept and the winning candidate will be part of the team that brings their event vision to life!

The format of MyEvent.Vision can better be understood as ‘Dragons’ Den meets The Apprentice’ and

the strongest submissions will be invited to pitch their concept to a panel of industry leading judges.  

Chaired by Chad Lion-Cachet, Managing Director of EIG, the panel includes; M&IT Magazine, The

Financial Times, Storm Model Management and Disneymedia+.

Hurry! Entries close on 6th February with the shortlist announced on 11th February. The judges’

pitch takes place on 27th February and the winner will be revealed at the M&IT Industry Awards on

3rd March.

Enter now at:  www.myevent.vision or contact us with any questions at team@myevent.vision

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