Monthly Archives: March 2016

Car crash

Don’t forget to update the software in.. your car!

Seriously – that is the latest advice from the FBI – make sure your car’s software is up to date.

Working in IT, I see reams of good advice go to waste.

Make sure you patch your computer.

Don’t install software from dodgy websites.

Don’t open that zip file in your email that you got from some strange person you’ve never heard of!

Make sure you back up your computer – especially your really important files!

[One of my saddest days at work ever was trying to help a lady who had her entire thesis on one floppy disk that was now toast. Months of work – gone!]

But what’s this all about?

Hacking is one thing – but what if someone hacks your car?  While you’re in it!

It turns out that there have been some proven hacks of car computers while people were driving in them.

A security company purchased a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, and (over a period of several months) were able to attack it remotely.

They managed to connect in via the mobile network and were able to affect the following systems:

  • At low speeds (5-10 mph):
    • Engine shutdown
    • Disable brakes
    • Steering
  • At any speed:
    • Door locks
    • Turn signal
    • Tachometer
    • Pump up the radio volume, the bass, changing the channel
    • Setting the heating, ventilating and air conditioning fan to arbitrary speeds
    • Tracking the cars GPS coordinates

In this case, the company is friendly.  The attack resulted in a white paper being produced and a recall and update of the affected cars.  There are plenty of hacking examples where the results are not so friendly.

How to prevent this happening to your car

The FBI advises that you do the following:

  1. Ensure your vehicle software is up to date.
    As mentioned, I’m sceptical that software updates will happen regularly.
  2. Be careful when making any modifications to vehicle software.
    Another way to put this is.. I really hope that you trust your mechanic.
  3. Maintain awareness and exercise discretion when connecting third-party devices to your vehicle.
    This is a short way of saying that buying a cheap no-name car diagnostics instrument from the Internet may not give you the results you expected. They can also be used as a way to hack into your car.
  4. Be aware of who has physical access to your vehicle.
    As with all hacking, it is extremely difficult to prevent hacking if someone has direct access to the computer. The trouble is, it is not that hard to get direct access to someone’s car.  If you really wanted to do it, a short distraction at a petrol station (for example) is all that’s needed.

Overall, it looks like if you really wanted to hack a car (and had a known vulnerability that you could exploit), it would be difficult to stop.

The ultimate prevention against hacking

So how do you really fix the problem?

Go vintage and get rid of the damn computer!

Old car - no on board computer here

Try hacking this, sucker!

References

Acknowledgements

About the author

Leon Troeth is a Melbourne-based freelance technology copywriter.  Leon loves turning complex tech jargon and concepts into articles that everyone can understand.

P.S. – If you liked the article, please share it using the share buttons below!


Twitter birds

7 reasons why Twitter is great for your business

Twitter is a crazy place – a world full of opinionated one liners – good, bad, and often just mean – all shared publicly for all the world to see.

TV shows have harnessed its power and use it to give the fans a way to connect and see what everyone else thinks.

Celebrities use it to keep in touch with their fans and send the occasional messages of love or condolences to other celebrities.

But is Twitter any good for business?  Should you really bother?

The answer is a resounding YES.  Here’s why.

1.      You don’t need a pre-existing relationship with your audience

The top three social media sites are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Facebook and LinkedIn are focussed around connecting with people that you already know.  Sending random requests to people that you don’t know on these sites is generally frowned upon.

Twitter is the complete opposite.  Part of the twitter culture is that you “follow” anyone you like.  The great thing about this is that if people like your content, they are likely to follow you.  And if you follow someone, they often follow you back.

Once they’re a follower, you’re able to contact them directly with Twitter direct messages.

Each follower is a potential lead for your company.  Each have chosen to follow you, and decided over time to stay on as your follower.  From a marketing point of view, this shows that you both have their interest and managed to retain it!  Great!

2.      You don’t need any followers for people to see your message

Another powerful feature of twitter is the use of hash tags. If you’ve never used twitter before, you’ve probably seen some strange messages scrolling across the bottom of TV shows that look something like this:

Get VOTING guys - Shane really wants to stay in #ImACelebrityAU! RT & post #celebshane up to 20 times! #TeamWarne

Sample tweet with hashtags

In this example, a TV show has asked its audience to use #ImACelebrityAU hash tags to keep track of the conversation the audience is having.  By searching on that tag, you will see tweets from other people who are commenting about the show.  You don’t have to know who they are or follow them to see the tweets.

The same goes for anything that you write.  Just add some relevant hashtags, and your tweet will be seen by people who are interested in that topic.

Two minute hashtag research introduction

There is a lot that can be said about keyword research, but for the two minute introduction..

Pick a few keywords and put them into http://hashtagify.me.

It will show you how popular that hashtag is, and a number of the related tags.

Let’s say you’ve written an article about renovating a kitchen, or want to sell kitchen renovation related services.  Try searching on “kitchen renovation”.

At the top of the screen, you can see the popularity of the tag, out of 100.

#KitchenRenovation - popularity: 22.7

Popularity of the “kitchenrenovation” hashtag

22.7 is not great.

The next thing to note is the diagram of related hashtags.

Tags related to #kitchenrenovation

Tags related to #kitchenrenovation

The output is nice and visual –bigger bubbles belong to the more popular tags.

If you hover over one of the bubbles, it will tell you what its popularity is, as well as its correlation with the “kitchenrenovation” hashtag:

#renovation hashtag details

#renovation hashtag details

From looking at this diagram, I would use #DIY, #kitchen and #renovation as hashtags to use in a tweet, for example:

This #kitchen #renovation is starting to look great! http://link-to-your-site #DIY

And make sure you attach a nice big picture to get more interest in people actually clicking on your link to find out more.

3.      Connect with people and find customers from all over the world

If you have a business that is able to deliver internationally, Twitter can help you build your customer base in other countries.

As you tweet and gather new followers, you will find they are from everywhere.   Here’s a breakdown of where my followers are from.  The numbers are percentages of followers.  The map is a free service provided by tweepsmap.com.

Twitter follower map

Twitter follower map

My business is about writing materials in English, so naturally my target audience reside in all of the English speaking customers.  As you can see from the map, Twitter has given me direct access to potential customers in all English-speaking nations without me directly having to try to achieve that result.

4.      Gain regular exposure to your content over a longer time

On a lot of social media sites, you get one real opportunity to post an article and drive traffic to your website from it.  If it manages to gain some traction and other people share it, that’s great!  But in many cases, your article is published, gets some interest for a few days, and then fades away into the archives.

This is not a great result if you spent ages writing it!

Advertising can bring it back to life – for a price of course.

Or you can re-post it several times.  On most sites, that just makes you look like a spammer and is largely annoying!

Twitter however makes it easy for your articles to live on long after they were initially published.

On Twitter, it is common for tweets to scroll by fast enough that it is hard to read them all.  Often, if you weren’t on soon after a tweet was published, you can miss it altogether.

As a result, it is common for people to re-tweet their content number of times.

The main thing to avoid is having your twitter feed looking like it’s all the same thing over and over again.  That is easy to do if you tweet regularly and leave a bit of time between resending the same tweet.

When people look at your profile on twitter, they’re most likely only going to scroll back through a few pages of tweets.  Try recycling tweets from further back.

To get the best benefit from it, check out your tweet performance on https://analytics.twitter.com and retweet the most successful ones.

Note – Twitter also keeps your more successful tweets alive without you needing to do anything.  As I was writing this, I received a few likes for a tweet that I sent out 24 days ago. (Or some of my new followers are bored and are reading back through tweets I’ve sent previously).

5.      A/B market testing is super easy

A/B market testing is the process where you systematically test different variations of advertisements, landing pages and the rest of the marketing process to see what works best.  I previously wrote about how Twitter is great for A/B market testing since it provides you with a super cheap and easy way to carry it out.

A/B market testing on men's hairstyles

A/B market testing on men’s hairstyles

Related article: Cheap and effective A/B market testing with Twitter

If you’re writing a book for instance, brainstorm some different titles and send them out.  See which one gets more interest.

Then, make a few sample book covers and attach them to a series of tweets.  See which works best.

When it comes to advertising to it, make a few different image ads and send them out.

Traditionally, this would be done through paid advertising.  Twitter makes it easy to try different variations at no cost to you!

The same process is also good for helping you to learn what it was that your customers liked about an article.

Reusing a previous example – I recently wrote an introductory article on the Internet of Things – what it is and how it works.

On twitter, I advertised the article over a series of 5 tweets.  Each tweet was different, just to avoid looking like re-runs of the same material.

I thought my article was about explaining a geeky technical term. I included a short day-in-the-life example just to make it more realistic.

It turns out that people loved the example, and in particular, loved the topic of home automation.  This was really just a side note in the original article.  I never expected that to be what people liked the most.

6.      You can meet the big players in your field

Twitter also gives you a great forum for meeting the leading influencers in your field.  Twitter keeps an eye on what you’re interested in and who you follow, and prompts you with people to consider following.  If you hover over a person’s name, it shows you how many people follow them.  You can quickly find out who the major players in this field are.

Here’s an example:

Twitter suggestions about who to follow

Twitter suggestions about who to follow

If I start a conversation with @VentureBeat, I will be talking to someone with six hundred and seven thousand followers!  Imagine the exposure to one of your tweets if they re-tweeted it?

Twitter makes it very easy to find leading influencers.  There are also a number of programs that can help.  RazorSocial have a good overview guide to some of the programs.

7.      You can learn a LOT about your customers

Twitter provides a gold mine of information about your leads and customers.  Many people include information about their likes, job, their website and a whole range of other information right in their Twitter biography.

This makes it super easy to get to know more about each of your followers, and really focus in on the type of buyers that you’re looking for.

Aside from their profile, you can also view a full history of all of the public tweets they’ve ever sent.  It is hard to get a clearer view of what people are really interested in.

This makes it very easy to get them talking – after all, you already know what they’ve been talking about.

For anyone in sales, this is awesome!

It’s a bit too easy isn’t it?  Of course, you still have to nudge them along from being a lead to being a customer, so there’s still plenty of work to do!

Conclusion

In summary, there are many good reasons why Twitter should be included in your social marketing mix.

  1. You don’t need a pre-existing relationship with your audience
  2. You don’t need any followers for people to see your message
  3. You can connect with people and find customers from all over the world
  4. You can gain regular exposure to your content over a longer time
  5. A/B market testing is super easy
  6. You can meet the big players in your field
  7. You can learn a LOT about your customers

If you haven’t given Twitter a go, try it now!

PS – If you found this interesting, please share it with by using the share buttons below.  Thanks!

About the author

Leon Troeth is a Melbourne-based freelance technology copywriter.  Leon loves turning complex tech jargon and concepts into articles that everyone can understand.

Acknowledgements

Twitter bird pictures by Vecteezy
Men’s hairstyles image designed by Freepik


Snapchat – what’s it all about and how do you use it?

Tags :

Category : technology

Ever wondered what Snapchat is all about?  If you’re under 30, you probably know already!  But for the rest of us..

Here is a great intro guide with heaps of info about how to use it.

Snapchat 101 for VCs and Old Folks


Does your website support Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)? It should!

Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, is some extra code that can be added to websites to significantly improve the load time of pages on mobile devices.  According to Google, pages with AMP load four times faster on mobile devices, and use ten times less data than their non-AMP-enabled equivalents.

Google are also prioritising AMP-enabled page in search results on mobile devices.

Adding AMP functionality to your website can be very easy.  For WordPress websites, just install the “AMP” plugin and it’s done!  Simple!

For some more info, check out:


17 tips for improving your website ranking with guest blog posting

Introduction

Having a good rank in the Google (and other) search results is a great way to bring in more business.

Backlinks are one of the critical factors in determining your website’s place in the search results.

A backlink is a link to your site from another website.  It can’t just be any link though – it needs to come from a reputable website.

One of the most effective ways of building up links from other websites is to become a guest article writer.  The trade is that you provide them an article for free, and they provide you with a link to your site.  It’s a win for both parties.

Check out this great article from Authority Hacker with some detailed, practical tips for getting guest blogging gigs.

17 Guest Posting Tips I Learned from Failing Thousands of Times


Cheap and effective A/B market testing with Twitter

Introduction

In any marketing campaign, the main goal is to get the best possible results.  The response rate is a critical measure of how many people respond to the campaign.  The method for communicating with potential customers, as well as the style and content of the materials all make a significant difference to how well people respond.

It is important to try a few different variations of each part of an advertising campaign to see which one works the best.  In marketing circles, this is called A/B Market Testing.

The idea is very simple – Try two versions of an advertising campaign where one small variable is different.  Check the response rates, and see which version works the best.

What should you test?

In short – you should test everything!  This includes:

  • Headlines
  • Advertising layouts
  • Fonts
  • Colours
  • Use of pictures
  • Website landing pages
  • Pricing variations
  • Layout variations

It is often surprising to find out what works best.

How to setup A/B market testing on Twitter

When it comes to A/B market testing, Twitter is awesome.  Twitter provides the ability to easily present a quick message or an image to a large number of people.  It also provides very clear metrics that show the engagement for each tweet.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, or don’t have any followers, that doesn’t matter.   Twitter will help you to find an audience.  Just sign up for a twitter account and you’re ready to go.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Create your content. This could be a website, blog, landing page, eBook, advertisement image, etc.
  2. For written content, write a few different variations that all link back to the article but in different ways. The easy way to do this is to use the headings in the content to help come up with ideas for different tweets.
    For images, create a couple of different variations of the image that you want to test.
  1. Make sure that each tweet has some appropriate hashtags in there. This will help to present the tweet to a suitable audience.   If you’re not sure where to start, list the keywords that relate to your content, and search for them on http://hashtagify.me/.  It will quickly show you hashtags that exists on twitter, their popularity and related hashtags that you could use.
  2. Post the tweets. I tend to schedule tweets one a day over a series of days.  There’s no need to login each day to post the tweets – just use Tweetdeck or one of the many other social media scheduling programs to schedule all of them at the one time.
  3. After the series of tweets have all been delivered, login to the Twitter analytics platform to see what worked and what didn’t. [Note – the analytics are updated nightly at midnight UTC time.  You will need to wait until the day after each tweet to see the results.]

An example

Here’s a simple example.

I recently wrote an introductory article on the Internet of Things – what it is and how it works.  On twitter, I advertised the article in 5 different ways, each focussing on different elements of the article.

Check out the summary of the tweets and their different engagement level.  This info is from the Twitter analytics platform.

Sample A/B market testing results from Twitter

A/B market testing on twitter

As you can see, the concept of dreaming about home automation gadgets was a clear winner, with a massive 10.6% engagement rate – almost three times higher than any other variation that I tried.  It is also more than double my average engagement rate of 4.9%.

This tells me that home automation gadgets are a topic worth writing about.  Maybe I should write an article about the top home automation gadgets for every home?  Or review particular devices?

I note too that the article title had a very low engagement rate – only 1.9%, and less than half of my average rate.  The article could do with a new title!

Summary

Hopefully by now you’ve been convinced that Twitter is great for A/B market testing.  This work is easy to do within an hour or two, even if you’ve never logged into Twitter before.  It is highly effective, and best of all, it’s free! The results are also very clear and can give you great insights into what your customers are actually interested in.

Next steps

For homework, how about you try this for yourself?  Pick some material that you currently publish, try a couple of different variations and let me know how it goes.

About the author

Leon Troeth is a Melbourne-based freelance technology copywriter.  Leon loves turning complex tech jargon and concepts into articles that everyone can understand.

Acknowledgements

Men’s hairstyles image designed by Freepik.