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Amazon’s new Kindle Fire and tablet computers

I had the opportunity to meet Jeff Bezos a few years back at the first Web 2.0 Conference. Even at that early stage he came across as an amazing visionary. But I’ve only grown more impressed at his ability to innovate beyond online e-commerce, whether it’s launching a hardware device like the Kindle or getting into the cloud computing business with EC2 and AWS. At the rate they are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon becomes the world’s next dominant (or even monopolist) technology company.

So how does this impact the average business website?

It’s pretty simple:
1. Tablet computers (like the iPad has already proved) will be a very common way for people to browse the web.
2. Any company with a website should be making sure their design looks good and is easy to navigate on tablets.

Other than that, there’s not much to worry about. That is, unless your company’s name is RIM, Samsung, or Motorola/Google and you’ve got to figure out how to compete at this price point.

Mobile and the .mobi domain

Many people wonder whether it’s important for them to put their mobile website under the domain .mobi. For example, if you are XYZ Company, it’s possible to purchase the domain www.xyzcompany.mobi. The .mobi domain was created a few years back with the intention of becoming a standardized way to classify mobile sites. However, it’s never really caught on. In fact, as more and more websites are adapting to mobile, most are using their primary website domain (for example, www.xyzcompany.com) as their mobile domain.

There are situations where it makes sense to purchase a .mobi domain, such as to keep a competitor from claiming it. But for most companies, it’s not worth the extra money and effort.

Recommendations for social media

Some of the best articles I’ve written have been answering questions that someone has asked me. Here are a few articles based on last week’s Q&A session in NYC:

Creating inexpensive videos for social media

A very basic introduction to Facebook Pages

Find good information without asking a social media expert

Find good information without asking a social media expert

I’ve been building websites on the Internet since 1998, so doing Google searches is second nature for me. If I want to find out the latest on Facebook Pages vs. Groups, I know how to formulate an exact query that will get me good information on that subject.

Searching the web has gotten harder lately, partly because there are so many websites competing for your attention. So here are a few pieces of advice.

If you want to look up ‘how to’ information related to new technologies like social media or mobile apps, you need to find recent articles. For example, you don’t want an article from 2007 about Facebook. Unfortunately, Google tends to give older articles a higher ranking, which doesn’t work well for many topics.

My advice would be to do your search on Google, but filter by ‘time’ through the options listed on the left of the search results page. If you see ‘Past Year’, then click on that to narrow down the search results. If that option isn’t visible, you may have to click on ‘Timeline’, or click on ‘Advanced Search’ to see the time options. Once you’ve filtered the results by time, you’ll probably see some quality articles that are also very current.

Another suggestion is to start by looking for an expert on a topic. This is a good technique if you are looking for general background information, rather than the answer to a specific question. To perform your expert search, go to Amazon and look up books that have been published recently and received good reviews. You don’t need to buy the book. If the author is savvy at social media, they will probably have lots of useful information on their blog, their Facebook page, and their Twitter stream.

Creating inexpensive videos for social media

If you want to create your own video inexpensively, you are in luck because the prices of everything are getting more reasonable. Of course, you have the option to hire someone like Good Screens Media to create your video with no hassle whatsoever. But we applaud anyone who is willing to take the time to become skilled at creating video.

To support your efforts, here are some recommendations that can keep your total equipment and software cost under $1500.

We do recommend a decent camera. While HD camcorders can be bought for under $200, those models lack basic features such as lighting adjustment and focus. If you want your video to look good, you can still keep costs low by using a digital SLR camera. You can get one that takes very high quality video for under $1000. It will also be a great camera for taking still photos. A couple of popular options are these models by Canon and Nikon. Here is one recommended package of a Canon with lens (that lens isn’t necessary for video, but nice-to-have for still shots).

Even if you don’t splurge on a camera, you MUST have good sound. Don’t rely on the built-in microphone because you will rarely be close enough to the people speaking. Fortunately, you can get good sound cheaply with a clip on-mic and a long cable. This microphone is one option. A separate sound recorder will also help you to keep the microphone close to the speaker. You’ll get a separate audio track which is easy to combine back with the video later using editing software. Here is one sound recorder you may want to consider.

The prices of editing software have fallen as rapidly as the equipment, so you can get very good video editing software for a few hundred dollars. The most popular packages are Final Cut for Mac and Adobe Premier for Windows/Mac. There is a bit of a learning curve with either package, so you may want to consider outsourced video editing but record the video with your own equipment. The price will still be quite reasonable.

A very basic introduction to Facebook Pages

Do you want some very basic information about setting up a Facebook Page? It’s actually pretty easy to get started.

The first thing to decide is whether you want to attach the Page to your personal account, or not. There are a couple of options to ensure your privacy. One option is to configure the privacy settings within Facebook so that you can post separately to the Facebook Page without sharing information on your personal page. Facebook does have good instructions on this, but it will take very careful reading to make sure the accounts are fully separated. The other option is to create a new anonymous Facebook account (using a different email address) and use that account to set up the Facebook Page.

If you choose the second option (the anonymous account), that works fine for initially setting up the page. But be aware that people like talking to other people — not anonymous entities. So in the future, when you post on the Wall or respond to Facebook followers, it’s best to have a photo and name attached to those posts. So after you have set up the page, if you don’t want to be publicly attached to it yourself, you should start looking for someone such as an employee or a volunteer who is comfortable being the public face of that page.

Here is a simplified version of how you set up the Facebook Page itself:

1. Click this link to create your page
2. Fill out information about your organization
3. Invite other administrators (easiest way is to ask them to ‘Like’ the page first)
4. Post useful information for your followers including photos, news blurbs, event information, videos, and links
5. Promote your Facebook page by sending out emails and any other channels. Always ask people to ‘Like’ your page.

To make changes to the Page, click on the ‘Edit Info’ button near the title.

After it’s set up, you can always find it again by typing in your Page’s name in the search bar in the Facebook header. The Page will also be listed in the left-hand navigation of your profile.

If you are looking for more information on Facebook Pages, we can point out a couple of people who have established a name for themselves as Facebook experts. Check out their Facebook Pages and blogs.

Justin Levy  |  Website  |  Facebook Page

Dave Awl  |  Website  |  Facebook

Also, see our Google search tips about how to search for information on social media topics.

Presentation at NATLE

Matt Gross will be presenting at the NATLE conference, held in conjunction with the American Association for Justice conference, in New York City on July 12th. The topic will be how lawyer’s associations can use web, mobile, video, and social media for communications and marketing.

Building mobile apps, affordably

As mobile browsers become better, more and more companies are focusing on building web apps. These are apps that reside purely in the cloud like any website. They have the advantage of using the basic building blocks of the Internet in HTML (or HTML5 which is the latest version). They can also be updated at any time which makes maintenance much easier than native apps, which require a resubmit into the app store or app market each time.

However, there is an emerging third way for law firms who want to build for mobile. Hybrid web and native apps are possible, using native application components (using tools such as PhoneGap or Appcelerator Titanium) which embed a browser view into the app. In the earlier primitive phone browsers and slow data connections, hybrid apps were substandard products. But they’re now getting the point of very good performance and user experience.

Unless you are building an extremely complex mobile app, our suggestion would be to take a close look at the hybrid app.

Twitter for Lawyers

Everyone these days is talking about Twitter. Every week, 1 billion Tweets are sent out. That’s equivalent to every man, woman, and child in the US sending a status update twice a week.

Twitter is incredibly simple, and yet so complicated to use correctly. It will take you no more than two minutes to sign up for an account and send your first 140 character Tweet. The complicated part is knowing what to say, how to join conversations with other people, who to follow and how to get other people to follow you.

Tweeting is not intuitive for most people. If you’re an extreme extrovert and believe the entire world’s interested in your every word, Tweeting may come naturally. For the rest of us, it requires some strategy. And for most business professionals, the best approach is mix of news feed, commentary on public events, and an interactive channel for public business-related discussions.

What does this mean? Let’s break it down.

The news feed aspect is talking about what’s new at your business. It may be an upcoming event, a press release, or an award.

Commentary on public events would mean talking about something in the press. For example, there may be a legislative issue going on that you have an opinion about. You can post a Tweet about that. It could also be an article in the New York Times. Always include links if you can.

The interactive channel means monitoring what other people are saying, and responding to them in a public forum. So if someone mentions your business, you should respond to it in an understanding or thoughtful manner. Even if it’s critical, it’s always best to respond, unless it’s completely beyond the line of decency.

Getting people to follow you on Twitter is always a challenge. Getting followers just for the sake of numbers isn’t especially useful, unless you’re mass marketing some product. You want followers who are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

The best thing is to interact with people as much as possible. Just posting a news feed isn’t enough for that. You’ll want to monitor the conversations of your colleagues and fellow association members and write something whenever you see them talking about something interesting. Even just writing a few words of encouragement helps you to join the conversation.

Welcome to Good Screens Media

We’re excited to be finally getting this show on the road!  Good Screens Media is dedicated to making quality content work for our customers.  Associations of professionals are generally the best authority for consumers seeking information on that subject.  By implementing straightforward techniques of harnessing the knowledge of individual association members, it’s possible to reach a much larger audience.

Our mission is to provide the software and services that make this easy.