WordPress is not just for Blogs
When I say WordPress, do you say blog? If you do, don’t worry, you are not alone. But you aren’t completely correct.
It was first released on May 27, 2003, by founders Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little as a fork of b2/cafelog.
That’s about when I started using WordPress for this blog you are reading right now. I liked it so much, I moved all of my blogs to the WordPress platform and haven’t looked back. There did come a time when I wanted more from it, as did many others.
Tweaking started. Hacks and plugins to add the ability to have pages, to have WP site open to a page that didn’t contain blog posts. To be able to use it as a full blown content management system. The core group of WP developers noticed this and started building the functionality into WordPress, taking it from a basic blogging platform and turning it into a full blown CMS. And it was pretty damned awesome.
If you take a look at my Portfolio, you’ll see a bunch of sites that aren’t primarily blogs. In fact, most of them don’t even use a ‘blog’, yet they are still all powered by WordPress.
I have used WordPress to power sites that are much more than blogs. Online shops, photography portfolios, podcasts, B2B businesses and even club sites, complete with membership join form! And, just for good measure, a few blogs too.
Don’t think of WordPress as a blogging platform. Think of it as a way to easily manage your website. If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress. It is just that simple. If you don’t believe me, head over to WordPress.com to start your own free site. You don’t need to know HTML or any other crazy programming language. You need to know how to click a mouse and type.
It’s about as confusing to use as Microsoft Word as I have mentioned above. Or as easy, depending on your thoughts about Word. If you lived through ‘the ribbon’, the WP would be a snap for you! And, when it’s not, that is when you call guys like me to help you out. We are here to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Or, you can do it yourself with the extensive community of the WordPress support forums and the Codex, sort of a Wikipedia for WordPress.
It’s for more than blogs. If you want more information, contact me with your question and I’ll help you out!
Who is the Customer?
It would seem that I’ve been talking quite a bit about customer service lately. There are many reasons for that, mostly because it’s the one thing that has been really bothering me more than others and the one thing that I haven’t had any control over. Writing helps me with that.
Regular readers will recognize that quote from the 34th Sunday Post. I also go on record saying that I’m pretty good at customer service.
One thing that I am exceptionally good at is customer service. What? You don’t believe me? Just ask and I will tell you that I am. _Really_. It’s a skill that I developed by working in restaurant kitchens if you can believe it. I have worked for some truly brilliant general managers when it came to service, and almost everything I know or do can be traced back to them and this simple sentence.
Remember, your ‘customer’ is not always the person that is giving you money. If that doesn’t make sense, you can substitute the word customer for client, end user, boss, fellow employee or even friend.
The key to providing good customer service is to provide your customers with good service. Good service means that you need to provide your deliverables to your customer in a manner that is expected, in the time frame expected and with a level of professionalism that is expected. This is all pretty straightforward to most of us.
Good customer service does not include blame or excuses. Blame and excuses aren’t even good to use as a crutch as to why you failed to provide good service. When good service fails, do like the adults do. Accept responsibility for your failure and correct it. Don’t argue. Don’t excuse. Fix it. Deliver. Boom.
After you have delivered, that is when you go back and provide excuses if you really must. The right thing to do is to find out where the problem happened and correct workflows or re-train to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Part of that re-training should include the mention of correct procedures should the problem happen again.
Fix it. Deliver it.
Social Media: You’re (still) doing it wrong
Interesting conversation I was having last night. The topic of social media came up, and I promptly proclaimed that everyone is doing it wrong. The response was “I’m very interested in your product and would like your newsletter. Please tell me more”. Well, ok.
Let us begin by making sure we all understand 1 thing. Social Media is not internet marketing. Just because you have an email newsletter, blog, Twitter and Facebook account, does not mean you are “doing” social media. If you are using a marketing firm, not your own employees, to represent you online, you are not “doing” social media. If you only talk about yourself online, ignore comments and questions posted anywhere, then for sure you aren’t “doing” social media. That’s internet marketing.
This is one of the things that continues to bother me. Social media is about the conversation, it’s about making connections, about being social. Sometimes, social media is even about being in person, meeting people, kissing hands and shaking babies. That is social.
Internet marketing is all about you. What you can do, what you have done. You, you, you. Your email blast, blog posts of the latest thing you created or are selling. Linking those blog posts to Twitter and Facebook. All of that is not social media. That is internet marketing.
Social media is as much customer service as it is anything else. It’s listening. It’s acting. It’s knowing what your audience/customers want and giving it to them. It’s paying attention and helping your audience/customers become the best marketing tool anyone could ever hope for. An army of raving fans that enthusiastically spread the word of your brand to any and all that will listen.
That should be your end game. Raving fans.
Raving fans will give you the follower counts you so strongly desire. And the web traffic. And the re-tweets and shares. Because you have created something awesome that is share-worthy that your audience is excited about. And when you follow that with a presence ready to answer questions and accept feedback, no matter where it comes from, and are able to act quickly on that feedback, that is “doing” social media.
Roku vs. Apple TV
Now that I have both in my entertainment center and have been using both for the last month, there are some definite differences between the two. I think you might be surprised with what I’m about to say.
The Apple TV kinda sucks.
That’s right, I said it. The Apple TV, as a cord cutting device, isn’t that great. Let me re-phrase that. The Apple TV, as compared to the Roku box as a cable TV replacement device isn’t that great. All things in context.
The Apple TV is brilliant for anything Air Play related. Click on the stereo, turn on SomaFM and send the output to Air Play. Rad. Same with mirroring the screen of any of the Apple devices in the house. A cool YouTube video to share? Send it to the Apple TV. Playing back music from iTunes works great. Viewing photos in your photostream or Flickr is equally awesome.
But that is where the awesome ends.
As previously mentioned, video playback is very slow to get started. This is a bigger hurdle than I initially thought. I find myself going to the Roku box still for the majority of video content. The Amazon app on the Roku has the same selection of shows, at the same quality, for the same price. Sometimes it’s even less expensive than the Apple store too. That and it doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 minute short or a 3 hour movie, it starts in less than 2 minutes and plays continuously without any stalls or skips. Something that can’t be said of the Apple TV.
One thing that is almost the same on the Apple TV as on the Roku Box is HuluPlus. This is the worst experience of anything I have ever experienced. The software is so poor that it usually crashes the device it’s running on every other time we start it. And with the continued dwindling of top-tier content being made ‘web only’, I’m finding less and less value with the service and will probably cancel it soon.
If you are trying to do some cord cutting of your own, I would start with a Roku box with an Amazon Prime account. Get the Apple TV if you think you would get some use from it with the Air Play. But if not, save your $100 for now. Same with HuluPlus. Use that money for your Amazon Prime account instead.
Cord Cutting: Apple TV
Continuing the qwest to get entertainment into the house without paying for cable TV. About 3 months in so far and it’s going pretty well. The Roku box has served us well with Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Hulu is there too, but performance is so poor we have really stopped using it as our go-to Roku app. Add in the Plex server and getting all of the network kinks out, and we are happily watching televised content without pay tv.
Recently there has been a new edition to the entertainment rack. Since Apple released OSX Mountain Lion with AirPlay mirroring, and since I’ve been wanting to have airplay accessibility for other Apple devices in the house, an Apple TV was procured and installed.
Installation was very easy and straightforward. I have connected the Apple TV directly to the Air Port Extreme router with a cable instead of WiFi for improved performance. The HDMI out was conneted directly to the television and the optic audio out was connected directly to the receiver to a channel different from the televison for music support. All of this was really simple and only took a few minutes.
Setting it up was equally simple. Total configuration took less than 15 minutes of password entering for iTunes and a few other online services that are supported by the AppleTV. We have access to 2 iTunes libraries and 2 flickr accounts. On the rest of the services it would appear that only 1 account is supported.
So far, using it as been a pretty ok experience. Playback of music from iTunes is fantastic, as it is from any of our iOS devices. Video playback is also very good, with both excellent sound and image quality. Finally, AirPlay mirroring works amazingly well, especially considering that the bulk of it has been from Mac Book Airs in the house. Even full screen playblack of Youtube videos on mirroring is smooth.
A few minor issues have cropped up. Airplay mirroring or music playback won’t happen if the Apple TV has ‘gone to sleep’. A quick press of any of the buttons on the remote cures that in about a minute. Just seems like an extra step that could have been ironed out. The other is streaming from iTunes on the Apple TV.
Testing with the latest episode of USAs White Collar, a purchase was made. The screen began the download process and reported that playback would be available in 1 hour and 40 minutes. The episode was only 45 minutes long. For comparison, the same episode was purchased on the Roku box through the Amazon app and playback was instant for the same quality and while the Apple TV version was still downloading. I’ve read that it’s better to go through iTunes on the desktop is a better experience and testing will continue.
Overall a great device that I’m really happy to have added to the Entertainment center. Next up will be the addition of a SimpleTV DVR. More on that as it becomes available.