Thursday, January 21, 2010

Digital Media & The Haiti Appeal

The rise in usage of digital media technologies and increase in consumers being hyper-connected (Facebook, Twitter, Google Voice, Skype) has lent a helping hand to the opportunities available to share ways to help with the Haiti Earthquake Appeal. Through New Media image, print and text it has also helped us all feel a lot more connected to the situation.

Along with the sense of feeling connected, digital media has allowed people to:

• Easily donate
• Family members to connect with one another
• Locals to share their eye witness accounts via image and video and text
• Send relief to the right parts
• Share stories on Haiti to spread the word and convince others to donate

There are a number of digital brands also helping spread the word of the appeal including:
Apple, which allows people to donate directly through their iTune stores. Google have helped by providing a one stop resource for all things connected to the Haiti relief, with links to major charity organisations via their Google Checkout. Google have also teamed up with GeoEye a satellite imaging company to make available the most recent satellite imagery of Haiti.

The BBC have produced an online interactive map to show the routes that aid is getting into Haiti, view the interactive map here (also shown in above image), which illustrates each of the main routes for aid, from sea to air together with a short explanation on what is involved with each supply.

For more information on how social media has played a key part in the news from Haiti, we suggest you read this article from the Guardian.

The important part of writing this blog post is to point out, how much everyone in the digital age can have a huge impact on historical world events, whether it is sending out a tweet of the latest article you just read; encouraging your friends on Facebook to donate or sharing real time images from Haiti. We are certain that as digital media technology adoption increases the impact for future world events can only be greater.

For information on donating from the UK, we recommend you visit the UK Disasters Emergency Committee, an umbrella organisation for 13 humanitarian aid agencies.

Along with uniting agency efforts in times of disaster - such as flood, earthquake or famine - wherever it happens in the world and maximising funds raised to ensure they are spent in an effective and fully accountable way, we would also like to praise the DEC for their use of Social Media. The Haiti Earthquake was just a week ago and they are spreading their charitable good will via appeal on YouTube, images on Flickr and they are providing the charitable with the ability to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

We hope this blog post has helped spread the news further.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rocktime's XML Sitemap generation tool

Introducing XML sitemaps

XML Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional meta data about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is/priority in relation to other URLs in the site) so that search engines / robots can more intelligently crawl the site.

Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers/robots to do a better job of crawling your site.

Manual submission versus automatic submission

Many choose to update their XML sitemaps manually (re-submission when new content added) which is OK if your site content rarely changes. The main advantage of an automatic sitemap is that you completely eliminate the need to create and submit your sitemap to the search engines and you can explain to the web crawlers the structure of your site (setting priority). The main pages on your site that will benefit from automatic sitemap are the pages which include last modified date eg: news stories and blog posts and articles.

The value of the automatic sitemaps

The value of automatic sitemaps to the site, is that spiders will crawl updated content areas readily and without prompt of a new manual submission freeing up the webmasters time to concentrate on adding new content and new features to the site. Automatic sitemaps inform “this page changes ie: weekly” as they can see the up to date last modified stamp (with manual: this will be the same date for all pages). As the web has moved to real time online posting, we believe that the addition of an automatic sitemap now has even more importance.

The supporting meta data we recommend as standard includes: Location, Priority, Last modified date, Change frequency. Note the Meta data used in the XML sitemap is dependent on your site and there may be more extensions or exclusions to add.

Rocktime Sitemap Manager

With upgrades to our CMS, you can adapt the sitemap directly from within our CMS system.

NB: In order to get the sitemap to be automatic some changes were made to our CMS, as some pages being physical pages and others being page managed a technical rule was established so that the computer could determine which is the most appropriate page (managed or physical) to choose the “last modified date” from.

Find out more

To learn more about our Automatic XML sitemap generation tool available within our CMS talk to the Rocktime sales team.
Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, January 15, 2010

Google could be a secret fan of the favicon

We noticed today that Google have started to add our site favicon to our Google Webmaster Tools alongside our site name. See above screen shot.

(For those new to the term, a favicon AKA 'Favourite Icon' are small images of 16x16 pixels that are usually visable to the left of the the URL in a brower's address bar)

I was talking to someone the other day about Google's favicon design, maybe I have predicted the future of how search results are to be presented in coming months!!

Actually the glory can't just come to me as someone did post up in Google Blogoscoped Forums screenshots of Google experimenting with favicons in natural search some time last year. Find out more information here .

What this means to us and our clients is to consider that favicons may be / could be released in Google's search results in the very near future. So we need to start thinking whether we like our favicons and whether they integrate well with our other marketing communications.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, January 08, 2010

Geek Video on the month

This video was submitted by our Technical Manager Andy Clarke. It is very geeky indeed and only true geeks or web developers will understand the awesomeness of it.

What the very geeky video is all about: A guy has written a program in .NET to be able to play tic-tac-toe (noughts and crosses) using his webcam and a laser pointer. The program looks at the webcam image and identifies the brightest red spot and then tracks the motion of it until it is in a valid space to place your move. The source code is available if anyone would like to try it out for themselves!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Rocktime's Book of the month: Seth Godin, Tribes

Famous author Seth Godin has written nine books, all bestsellers that changed the way we think about marketing, change and work. He is responsible for many words in the marketer's vocabulary, including permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, the dip and sneezers.

A few of us have recently been reading his new (Oct 09) book “TRIBES: We Need You to Lead Us,” which explains how the Internet has eliminated barriers and enabled new tribes to be born.

In less than 130 (A5) pages the book argues that lasting and substantive change can be best effected by a tribe: a group of people connected to each other, to a leader to an idea. Some of the chapter’s are quite repetitive as he drums home the principles of leadership and the importance of word of mouth marketing to create movements. However despite this repetition, we are all glad we took time out to read it as it relate to our passion of generating long lasting online relationships / communities for our clients.

Please find three of our favourite quotes, from the book below, also make sure you click on the True Fans link the article there is genius:

“a Tribe needs a shared interest and a way to communicate”

“creating a tighter tribe and/or "transforming the shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change" usually leads to much more impact than trying to make a tribe bigger. beyond public relations and awareness related benefits, measuring the breadth of spread of an idea is not as important as looking at the depth of commitment and interaction of true fans, who end up being the people who recruit most new members”

"It's clearly more fun to make the rules than to follow them, and for the first time, it's also profitable, powerful, and productive to do just that."

For more information on why you may need a Tribe enjoy this conversation on YouTube with Seth Godin on Tribes and why we all (may) need one. And if you need help forming your Tribe please do get in touch with the Flashlight team, to discuss online community forming further.

Author: Sarah Griffiths