This week’s tip is part of a newly inaugurated series about web development and off-the-shelf web presence tools we’ve been trying ourselves and we can’t wait to share with you.
Last week we took some first steps in putting together a website, getting support, minimizing efforts and keeping track of our moves. We also mentioned some good practices for publishing media on the various available platforms, a topic that Michael Ashley had handled in greater detailed in a post about our Lightroom-to-Flickr workflow.
As Knights of the Digital Age, we strongly believe that rich media – pictures, videos, zoommy presentations, 3D models, interactive panoramas or whatever else you can create – can be the soul of your content, and can influence the quality and success of your web adventure.
But how do we connect the trunk-website to our dispersed leaves-media? How do we build our narration and communication branches? finally, how do we come out alive of a complicated metaphor once we get stuck in it??
While I don’t have an answer for the latter, I think a mix of good practices and “knowing what to look for” can help achieving an effective communication and outreach to our friends / fellow bloggers / clients.
(Let someone else) Build your content repositories
First of all, there are a couple good reasons for why you should bother uploading your media on specialized platforms instead of stockpiling them in your website Gallery.
The first one is storage: whatever the amount of space your web hosting is providing, high definition media – especially video – can fill it up in no time… (just think that apparently, in few years an incredible 91% of online data altogether will be video!).
Conversely, online software and online media platforms are the heart of the Cloud computing landscape, where final users don’t have to care about maintenance and storage. Why not make the most of it?
Formats are another issue: not only will cloud-based platforms like Flickr resize your images to make them usable in different versions, but by linking to external resources, you will be able to host on your website a much richer variety of media, like gigapans or interactive 3d scenes.
A highly specialized online service, for instance Vimeo for hi-def videos, will also allow for richer metadata and deep-data linking (such as linking to documentation files), and take care of credit attribution and access control probably much better than we could do on scattered single files, so every derivative use such as including media in a post can just link back to the richer version to ensure data preservation.
Finally – social media environment are primarily social spaces, where your media will live their own life, be connected, commented and rated, and be part of a continuous re-interpretation process. Ain’t that great??
Cut in on the Global Conversation
A website is not (anymore) just a portal for static information, such as where you are and what you’re doing. You don’t make friends with a monologue!
Moreover, in the Google Age a website’s ranking on search engines is determined by its interconnections, links and quotes within other sites more than by the relevance of its own content: if your message has to reach out to your target, what you want to do is getting interactive and engaging your public in a conversation.
Getting on social networks is one of the first steps you can take: our choice was to differentiate the channels we used, for instance creating a Facebook page and a more professional Linkedin profile.
Interactivity is key to increase your incoming traffic. If you have time to keep regular updates, blogging and microblogging can generate buzz through comments and linkbacks (notifications for cross-linking between two blogs).
Twitter, a microblogging-only service that brought a revolution in web information with its in-the-moment small chunks of news, can serve as a perfect cloudish substitute for a forum, once again letting us free from the responsibility of hosting and running an otherwise complex service: to start a conversation you can create an hashtag (a community driven convention for grouping tweets around a topic) or you can ask for feedback on a post or during an event by inviting your public to reply or mention you.
If your website includes a blog section, that can be your main channel for linking together your content, making sense out of it, in a word, telling stories.
Otherwise, once you are well positioned in the social or business community you are addressing, you can designate another social platform to be your shop window, posting and encouraging conversation about your activity.
Cross-posting tools like facebook badges or twitter widgets allow you to embed your “social” updates on your website, and the other way around you can have your blog entries forwarded or linked to external services with the help of widgets and plugins for your website if you are using a CMS (see previous post on web developing options).
Also, check out some amazing mashup services that allow composite story-building from different sources, like Storify, that we have experimented recently both to relate about events and to enrich our posts!
That’s all for today…
We still have a lot of possible topics for this series, web marketing, analytics, e-learning… What would you like to read about? Get in touch or comment below to show you’re a good web-conversationalist!