Author Archives: Leon Troeth

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.


email-marketing

Top tips for email marketing [Infographic]

Email marketing is awesome, but..

Email marketing is one of the most effective strategies for nurturing new sales leads, keeping in touch with customers and enticing customers to buy from you again.  But people get so many emails every day – it is easy for your message to be lost in the noise!

How do you cut through the email inbox clutter to make sure that YOUR email is read?

What subject lines work and which fail dismally?

What’s the best time to send a marketing email?

All this and more is answered in this great infographic by OnlineCourseReport.com.

 

Click on the image to see a larger size!

anatomy-of-email-outreach

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

Acknowledgements


The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things – What is it and how does it work?

In a time not far from now..

Imagine a world where everything is connected.

And I mean – EVERYTHING.

Your entire house is connected to the Internet.  Each device, door, window – anything that can turn off and on, or can open and close, is connected.

Your day starts like this: Your alarm on your phone goes off.  It talks to the coffee machine and tells it to make a coffee.  If you hit the snooze button, it tells the coffee machine to wait.  After all, you like your coffee to be HOT.

The TV in your bedroom automatically turns onto your favourite breakfast show when your wristband determines (by measuring your heart rate) that you are now actually awake.

As you head to the shower, the radio takes over.  It’s not really a radio.  It is a device which automatically provides a summary of all of the news that you’re probably interested in, based on your history of Internet searches and online news reading habits.  A sensor in the bathroom tells it when you’re there, and it just starts up.

If you say “boring!”, it moves onto the next story.

As you wander out of the bathroom, it automatically turns off.

As you have breakfast, you use the last of your milk.  That’s ok – the fridge detected it.  Milk was just added to the shopping list for the order that is being placed this morning (automatically of course – billed to your credit card), and being delivered 5 minutes after you get home from work this afternoon.

It usually takes you 35 minutes to get ready, and since it’s cold outside, your car turns itself on 25 minutes after you get up.  The car warms itself up to your favourite heat setting – synchronised with your household central heating.  We wouldn’t want you to have to be cold or anything.

As you sit down, your car tells you that there is an accident on your main route to work – maybe you should take a second suggested direction instead.  Meanwhile, your home alarm detected you leaving, locked the doors and turned itself on.  Your house also switched your devices into a hibernate mode to save electricity.  They’re ready to be woken up again when there’s any sign of network activity.

The car knows that you have a meeting as soon as you’re due to get to work.  Since you’re now going to be a few minutes late, it contacts everyone in the meeting to let them know.

Welcome to the Internet of Things – a world where everything is connected, all of your devices know everything about you, and having to lift a finger to grab a remote control is so.. 2016!

The Internet of Things – a definition

Wikipedia defines the Internet of Things as follows:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems”.

How does the Internet of Things work?

At a basic level, there are a few components that are needed.  Each device that is connected has the following:

1.      A network connection

This is typically a fixed line connection for large objects like a house, and a wireless or Bluetooth connection for devices like phones, appliances, etc.  Any other common communications protocol can be used including GPS and the mobile phone network

ZigBee, Z-Wave, mesh networks and more

One of the problems with the traditional network approach is that it requires a decent amount of power.  Other network connection methods (including “ZigBee”, “Z-Wave” and others) require much less power and are tailored for managing a large number of devices in close proximity to each other.  The whole IoT field is new at this stage, so various companies and interest groups are scrambling to make their network specification the one to use.

2.      A network address

Each device that is connected to the Internet must have a network address – called an IP (Internet Protocol) address.  In the old days (which in computer terms is more than 5 years ago!), this consisted of a series of four numbers between 0 and 255, for example 61.9.133.193.  This numbering system is called IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4) and is still widely used today.  This approach allows for a total of around 4.3 billion addresses.

Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s it was realised that this approach did not provide enough addresses if all of the devices in the world were going to be hooked up to the Internet.  At the time, people were already talking about fridges having their own IP address and being connected to the Internet!

IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) was created to address the problem.  IPv6 addresses are made up of a series of 8 groups of 4 hexadecimal numbers, for example: 2001:0000:3238:DFE1:0063:0000:0000:FEFB.  Hexadecimal numbers are used since they convert easily into 1s and 0s, which at their core, is what every computer is made up of.  The also take up less room than standard decimal numbers.  If this sounds interesting to you, here’s a nifty IPv6 tutorial that also covers how hexadecimal numbers fit into the picture.

If not, the important bit to note is that IPv6 allows for approximately 3.4×1038 addresses – as in

340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

That should keep things going for a little while.

The devices can also be set up so that they don’t connect to the Internet directly.  A number of companies have produced hubs that link the devices to the outside world.  The devices all connect into the hub, and the hub has the Internet connection.

3.      Communications protocols

For devices to talk to each other, they need to speak a common language.  For example, when you send an email, the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the language that email servers use to talk to each other.

In the breakfast example above, the phone would need to know how to talk the Hot Coffee Protocol (HCP) (not a real protocol!) in order to turn the coffee on.

Typically, when the technology is new, each major company makes its own software with its own proprietary language.  This (as you would expect) is a bit of a mess. Over time, as a given type of device becomes more common, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) gets a working group together and defines a common protocol for all companies to use.

4.      Software

A software program is required to handle everything.  Devices at the end of the chain (for example, a door or a coffee pot) tend to have very basic software that just controls the device.  These are usually controlled by a much more sophisticated device such as an Android tablet or iPad, a phone or a computer.  These devices are rapidly becoming much smarter, and much better at putting different pieces of information together.

For example, my phone now tells me how long it will take to travel to work or home, even though I never told it where either location was.

It prompts me about upcoming events in my calendar, shows me news it thinks I’ll be interested in, tells me to update my contact list with new information from an email I received.  It isn’t much of a stretch to think that its alarm could turn on my coffee pot.

5.      Specialised hardware

In a lot of cases, specialised hardware is required, but even this is becoming more common place. It often boils down to a programmable computer chip that is connected into the device itself.  Add in a wireless network (or Z-Wave or Zigbee or..) transmitter and most of the hardware components are in place.

The most common hardware types are sensors (for example, to work out how much water, milk and coffee pods are in the coffee machine), wireless network connections, enough of a computer to translate the Hot Coffee Protocol into basic instructions like “turn the coffee on”, and hardware that can turn the coffee on when an electrical impulse passes along the right wire.

Summary

So that is a very quick intro to the Internet of Things – what it is, and how it works.

What new application for IoT are you waiting for the most?  Add your gadget wishlist to the comments below.

PS – If you found this interesting, please share it with your friends 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.


Blogs and websites that have been left to die

Make sure your website doesn’t say that you’ve gone out of business!

This week I carried out a survey of 50 Brisbane-based IT services companies.  My aim was simple – I’m looking for companies that might be interested in help with writing material for their business or managing their social media.

I was shocked with what I found.

My survey was focused only on IT companies – specialist IT services companies!

The amount of sloppy IT work that I uncovered was frightening.  Not just sloppy social media advertising, but also a number of ancient relic websites that look like they were built in the Stone Age (which in computing terms is anything more than a few years ago!).

Survey results – website updates

Out of the 50 companies, 15 companies had websites that are desperately in need of an overhaul.

There were a number of obvious mistakes like:

  • Links that don’t work in Chrome
  • Websites that have been optimised for an 800×600 screen
  • Websites that are not responsive (as in.. they won’t look good on a mobile phone)
  • Copyright info dating back to 2012 or earlier
  • Websites that just look awful compared to modern designs

These websites are so far out of date, it looks like the company has gone out of business.

Survey results – social media presence

Social media survey of 50 Brisbane-based IT services companies

Social media survey of 50 Brisbane-based IT services companies

54% of the companies had no social media presence at all.  That’s ok – it’s not a requirement to be on Facebook and twitter.

Another 13% were doing a really great job of it. Constant updates, regular engagement with their audience, blogs with good material.

However, one third of the companies really struggled.   These companies had done something in the social media space, but then left it to wither and die.  They had a page on Facebook, Twitter, etc, and even had a few updates.. but then.. nothing.

They also had a blog or “news” page with very few updates, and often no updates for months at a time.  It is hard to call it “news” if there is nothing new on there!

Bad social media presence is a whole lot worse than no social media presence

The bottom line is –

If you are not going to keep a blog or social media page updated regularly, don’t make one!

It gives a really bad impression to have a website that is so obviously out of date.

First impressions matter

Having an out of date website leaves a very bad impression.  It is very easy to tell which websites have been updated in the past couple of years.  Modern, responsive websites all have a particular look about them.  Any website that hasn’t been updated in that time looks very old, and gives the impression that the company may not really know what it’s doing.

The sad part was, all of these were IT services companies.  If IT companies can’t modernise their website when they probably have the skills available in-house, how is the rest of the business community meant to do it?

The good news is that keeping websites and social media up to date is a lot easier than it looks.

Tips for keeping your website and social media alive

The following can keep your website and social media presence alive with the absolute minimum of effort.

1.      Use WordPress for your website, and update the theme regularly

If you are struggling to keep your website up to date, this is the best tip for you!

WordPress is a content management system for websites.  It is very easy to use, and many web hosting providers have a one-click install for getting it up and running.

There are hundreds of different themes that can be used with WordPress – each providing a different style for your website.  It will not take long to find one that you like.  Do a search on “Wordpress themes” in your favourite search engine to get started.  Other good searches are “best responsive WordPress themes” or “best free responsive WordPress themes”.

Many themes are up to date with all of the modern features.  They work on all modern browsers and automatically resize content to work on mobile phones, tablets, desktops – you name it!

You don’t need to know anything about coding webpages – just put in the text and WordPress and your theme will look after the presentation for you.

There are also a number of providers that will run WordPress for you – you only need to worry about the content.

WordPress also has a multitude of plugins that make enhancing your website easy.  It is very easy to install a plugin to provide whatever features you want – from being able to add social media sharing icons through to running an online store.

WordPress themes and plugins are also updated regularly.  Keeping your website up to date is as easy as logging into the admin console once a month and installing the updates that are available.

2.      Be consistent

If you have a blog, news section or any social media pages, make sure you post updates regularly.

As a minimum, post something every month.  It doesn’t have to be new material – just post a link to something that is relevant to your audience, and a brief blurb about why it is relevant.

It will be enough to show that your company is still alive.

Whatever you do, don’t post a few updates during one enthusiastic week, and then leave your pages idle for months on end.  Over time, this lack of updates looks really silly.

Note – if you want to get any traction with a blog and social media in general , you really need to be posting at least a couple of times, preferably three, a week.   For platforms like twitter, a few times a day is better.

3.      Consider removing your blog and social media pages

If you don’t want to have to worry about making regular updates, that’s ok – you can always remove your blog and social media pages.  Just review your website content at least once a year, and occasionally update the look and feel of the website (see tip 1 above), and the job will be done.

You can also create a company page on sites like LinkedIn.  These work just as well if it has static information about your company.  They don’t all need updates.

If you have any existing articles on your blog that you want to keep, you can always re-brand the page as a “resources” section.

If you do post any information that is only relevant for 6 months, put a note in your calendar to take it down when it is no longer relevant.

Summary

Just remember, your website and your social media pages say a lot about your business.  Just make sure they don’t come across like this..

This website is in major need of an overhaul!

This website is in major need of an overhaul!

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

PPS – If you need some help resurrecting your website, send me your web address.  I’m happy to give some free advice on where to start.

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

Cemetery image by Stockvault


Do driverless cars dream of being a convertible?

7 ways a driverless car will change your life

Category : technology

Earlier this week, I was thinking back to the first computer I owned over 30 years ago, and I was reminiscing at just how clunky it was in comparison to modern technology.  But then, I don’t have to think back that far to see how much my life has changed due to new technology.

It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was carrying around a Nokia brick, great for phone calls and text messaging but little else.  Now I spend a lot of my day looking up things on my Internet and app-enabled phone.  It’s not like I’m doing anything new – I had the ability to check the weather 30 years ago too.  It’s just becoming a lot easier to do it.

Do you want to see a movie?  No worries, I’ll just buy a ticket now and we can skip the queue.

Order pizza?  These days I order pizza on a phone app and it’s ready by the time I drive past.  I just walk in, pick it up and keep going.

I got to thinking about what is next? What is the next bit of technology that is going to change my day to day life?

Driverless cars

Driverless cars seem to be all the rage at the moment.  Many car manufacturers, and even a few other players like Google and Uber have come out and said that they’ll have something ready for 5-10 years from now.

Of course they’re not really new are they?  Michael Knight was driving around in one years ago..

Driverless is one thing, but to really be useful, I’m going to push the envelope and go for unsupervised driverless cars.

Here’s a taste of how my life would be different.

[If you would rather know how they work, skip to the bottom of this article!]

1.     No more picking up the shopping

The shopping is one of those chores that are hard to avoid.  After all, we’ve got to eat! I haven’t made the transition to online shopping yet.  One of the reasons is that I really don’t want to commit to being home to receive the delivery.

But how about if I could just send the car?

Some supermarkets already have a click and collect arrangement where I can order my goods online, then drop into the store and pick it up.

I’m sure they could make that a “send your car over to collect” service.  Beats me having to do it!

2.     No more walking to sporting events

My wife and I regularly head off to watch the footy (Go Cats!).  This usually means parking a fair distance away and hiking to the ground.  Even in Geelong, we’re parking a good ten minutes walk away from the ground.  The walk to Etihad stadium and the MCG in Melbourne is worse.

I would love to be able to get out of the car right next to the ground, then just tell it to go and park itself somewhere.

Afterwards, I can just give it a call and have it pick us up somewhere near the ground.

3.     No more expensive airport parking!

Speaking of parking – there seems to be nothing in the world more expensive than an airport car park.  The Melbourne airport in particular is a long way from home, and getting someone to drop us off is often a struggle.  So we end up driving ourselves.

When we get there, we’re often parking miles away and trying to juggle kids and bags through the car park, onto a long term car park bus and into the terminal.

I love going away, but the parking at the airport really brings the mood down.

I would love to get dropped off at the front door, then just send the car home for the week.  It can come back and pick us up when we get back.

No more expensive airport parking!

4.     No more paying for parking anywhere!

Actually, why not extend that?  Why pay for parking anywhere at all?  We can just drive into wherever we’re going and get the car to go and park itself wherever there is free parking.  Do I really care if it has to travel 5kms to find some?

No more city parking at $48 for a few hours!

[At this point, I wonder about how airport parking and other parking industries will survive in the world of driverless cars?]

5.     Pick up the kids from the train station, sporting events, etc.

By the time driverless cars are available, my kids are likely to be teenagers.  It would be great if the car can go and pick them up from their regular sporting events, or when they get back to the train station from a late night out in the city.

If anyone could make an automated way to drop off the kids to school and pick them up, all the while supervising them properly, they would be very, very rich!

6.     The car can take itself off for a service

This one is a bit of a problem in my family.  We have two cars.  The family all fits in one, but doesn’t fit in the other.  When we want to get the main car serviced, we have to drop it off and pick it up when we don’t have all of the kids at home.  This is a real pain to organise.

I would love the car to be able to drive itself off to the mechanic’s and bring it back when it’s ready!

7.     Catch up on sleep during those long drives

We have a lot of friends in Geelong, and are constantly driving from Melbourne to Geelong and back.  The activities when we get there are limited somewhat by how awake I am.  After all, I need to be alert enough to drive home late at night.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could stay out late then just sleep while the car drives us all the way home?

That would be awesome!

So how would a driverless car change your life?

What technology has made the biggest change for you?

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

PPS – I can’t let you go without saying something about how driverless cars actually work.  Here’s a nifty little overview, thanks to The Economist.

How a self-driving car works

How a self-driving car works

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