Archive for Susi’s Blogs

Why do you need to maintain WordPress?

First off, let’s not confuse content maintenance with WordPress maintenance. You can make all the content changes you like. You can add text, add photos, you can even add pages and navigation. All of this is a part of CONTENT maintenance. WordPress maintenance is on the technical side – updating WordPress software versions, theme updates, plugin updates, backing up the website files and databases, and the list goes on.

Think of caring for your website as you would your house – it requires maintenance and occasionally, redecoration. You don’t just move your stuff in and never touch it again. You have to regularly keep things in order, otherwise “Murphy” comes in and mucks everything up. If you avoid maintaining your site long enough, your site can actually crash. This was the case with one of our clients whose former developer went out of business and the site remained unattended for quite some time. Eventually, the software was so out-of-date that the site became unstable, got hacked and crashed.

How do you prevent this from happening? What’s the website equivalent to scrubbing the floors and cleaning the bathrooms?

It’s simple. Keep your WordPress (and other CMS platform) installations up-to-date. WordPress makes this somewhat simple by allowing you to choose automated installations. While this might be OK in some instances, it’s not what we would recommend. Automating updates of WordPress without manual updates of plugins can sometimes have undesirable results.

Outdated plugins can be a significant problem. Plugin developers sometimes abandon their plugin and it becomes incompatible with the latest version of WordPress.  Often, new versions of software get released solely to fix issues that have been exploited by hackers. If your website isn’t being updated and is found by a well-known bug, it’s highly likely to be compromised.

WordPress even tries to make updating your site simple for you.

Every time you log in to the dashboard, it checks for updates and displays a banner at the top of your admin panel to let you know about them. The process is relatively easy and can many times take only minutes. But there is a process and you need to be sure that you are comfortable with that.

But I don’t log in to my site very often,” you say.
You don’t eat off the floor very often, either, but you still have to clean them.

No matter how often you log in to post new content on your site, you should still log in frequently to update its software (along with any plugins you use). If not, you’re potentially subjecting yourself to a worse experience. Not the horrible smell of rotting milk coming from the fridge, but a slow website or even worse, a crashed website, can smell just as foul.

If you’re a bit “iffy” on maintaining your own site, contact a professional and subscribe to their maintenance program. These typically cover all the essentials required to keep the site updated, stable and available. Sure, you have to pay a small fee each month for this service but the alternative is nasty. You also may pay a pest service to keep the “bugs” from your house – not to mention the need for homeowners insurance. Remember Murphy? You’ve invested a sizeable amount of money to build your site. Now is not the time to be penny-wise and site-crashed foolish.

Pinterest Wannabes, Heads Up – Pinterest is a Visual Board of Your Life

As many of you are discovering, Pinterest is a fabulous site that’s pretty new to the social media scene but has been around for a little bit. You can share photos and images from the web that attach to their own stories – whether it be a recipe, a design project or just a favorite hobby or collection. I joined the Pinterest Waiting List almost exactly one year ago because as a creative, it was an exciting new place for me to be! Once I was approved in April, I went in and immediately created boards with names that appealed to me and my personality instead of using their defaults. Over time, I continually add images and links as they reveal themselves to me as being part of my life.

What’s particularly endearing to me about Pinterest is that it is all visual and that you can really see some gorgeous photos, obtain some magnificent recipes, and reap so many other benefits of thoughtful sayings, collector hobbies and fascinating miracles. I joined this site because of its unique ability to allow you to have so much fun sharing and displaying so much of who you are. Not to mention the sort of visual mind mapping that it allows. We literally re-designed the entire main area of our house and kitchen by pinning elements we planned to incorporate into our design.

Sadly, I am prompted to write this blog because of the “Pinterest Wannabe” crowd. This is the crowd that is joining Pinterest merely for the exposure or because they think it’s where they need to be and not for the value that it offers. According to Pinterest’s “Pin Etiquette“, read Item #3 which explains that this site is not about promoting yourself. As is true with most social networks, it’s about sharing. I have been so disappointed lately watching this “Pinterest Wannabe” crowd appear.

Wannabe Scenario:

  • Someone follows me.
  • I go to their link to see what fascinating things they have for me to “Like” or “Re-Pin”.
  • I find they have no boards, no likes, no pins and yet they are following many and being followed by many.

What a shame. It reminds me of all of those who joined Twitter or Facebook for the same reasons – they join to be part of the “Wannabe” crowd and have no clue how to use it or make it valuable to themselves or others. It’s particularly upsetting with Pinterest because why would I want to follow someone who HAS NO PICTURES OR BOARDS? This is a visual board of your LIFE people. 20% of those following me have no boards whatsoever or one board with one pin relating to their business.

So there.. my rant.. and here’s my advice to Pinterest newbies – don’t be a Wannabe! And…

  1. Don’t sign up if you don’t want to share things you love
  2. If you do sign up, don’t follow anyone until you have something to show them
  3. Don’t put your logo in your photo spot – this is about you, not your company
  4. Have fun with this. Show pieces of who you are professionally because that’s part of who you are – but don’t bore us to death with sell, sell, sell.

Am I too sensitive?

 

Happy New Year – And Enjoy Our Simple Hoppin’ John Recipe!

We’d like to share one of our favorite recipes to start you into a great New Year! Hoppin’ John is a Southern tradition for the New Year’s Day meal. We pair it with some kind of “greens” (spinach, collard, mustard) as that is said to bring you lots of “folding green” while the black-eyed peas are said to fill your pockets with change. This is a basic recipe that we have enjoyed for years. There are many ways to “kick it up a notch” so use your imagination! We wish everyone prosperity in 2012!

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Is Facebook Hurting our Families and Friends?

I joined Facebook a little over 3 years ago because that’s when we started our business and became specialists in Social Media. We are in the business of promoting Facebook for business. It’s just what we do. Along the way, I started using Facebook more and more for connecting with friends, family and “blasts from the past”. Lately, I have been questioning whether this is a good thing or a bad thing and here’s why:

      1. It has reduced the number of phone calls and actual interactions. While I believe this may be good for business (and not all of the time – face-to-face contact is a good part of an overall business strategy), I am sometimes saddened that the only place to catch up with family or friends is through Facebook. And it really blows my skirt up when someone uses the “I didn’t see it on Facebook” as an excuse.
      2. It has caused unwitting arguments. I had a certain incident where I liked a page that happened to be a competitor of someone close to me. The page was beneficial to us from our marketing standpoint, but I was called out on it and basically forced to “unlike” the page due to this conflict of interest.
      3. Sometimes people post things that they are feeling, which may have a profound impact on another family member or friend. I have had family members or friends remark to me that they were hurt or upset about comments or postings from other family members or friends. While I understand that “intent” is a key factor, sometimes it’s just a post where it didn’t enter someone’s mind that someone else might be hurt before that enter key was pressed. When we post on Facebook, we are generally posting our feelings. Unless privacy controls are strictly set to restrict certain people, everyone gets to see what our feelings are, be they happy or sad. This sometimes causes old wounds to resurface and an argument to ensue or it may just remind a person of losses, things they wish had been different, things they wish are different. You get the drift.
      4. Arguments or “discussuments” with family members or friends happen. Does it hurt you or help you that you can keep up with what’s going on in their life because you can still see the status on Facebook? And if they hide their statuses or, God forbid, the dreaded “UNFRIENDING” occurs, you may find yourself at a point of anger, frustration, hurt, fear or apathy. How does this affect this relationship? If you were not online, wouldn’t you pick up the phone more readily and try to come to an understanding?
      5. Old Wounds. Have you “friended” someone from the past and had it bring up an old wound? I bet most of us have – whether it’s an “old love”, an ex-spouse and their family, or a memory of being ignored by the popular kid in high school. How about a once very close friendship that managed to just disappear? Somehow you manage to reconnect on Facebook but it doesn’t rekindle that once close tie.

When we taught the Facebook class for social media at the local tech college over the last 2 years, one of the examples we gave as “what not to do” was this one:
Now this may be somewhat of an extreme, but it is an example of how things might slip out that others could be hurt by. And, of course, much of the comments that we see may be taken much more to heart than the writer intended. This same type of thing occurs in email.

Emotions are hard to read when you’re not looking someone dead in the eye or hearing the sound of their voice.

I’m in the process of evaluating whether or not staying connected with family and friends on social networks is something to reconsider. If I come to the conclusion that it isn’t, and I start the un-friending process, please don’t be offended – it’s not personal. I’d much rather talk to you over the phone or visit with you in person. I am a huge proponent of family and friend get-togethers and meaningful relationships. The featured photo in this post is of my grandmother and my son a long time ago. It is a photo that memorializes a connection that just can’t be made online.

I know there are lists and I know that I can segregate my comments to specific audiences. This thought process is in its infancy stages. We, as a business, will of course stay on Facebook both through transparent personal profiles and our business page. I do believe that Facebook is a fantastic place for businesses to connect.

What are your thoughts? Is this what the future holds and you need to just “deal with it”? Or would you prefer that IRL (In Real Life) interaction with your family and friends? Is any interaction better than no interaction? Are we too internet focused? Is instant gratification the “all important”?

I don’t know about you, but I need a hug.

Inspiration Comes in Many Ways

As most of my friends and “fans” know, I’m not a huge blogger. I do get a few atta-girls every now and then for writing a small post, but not blogging as often as I should definitely rates an “oh sh_t” instead. Because, as we all know, life is a series of atta-girls(boys) and oh-sh_ts.  But today, I will write.  And I don’t need the atta-girl.  I’m passing out atta-boys and atta-girls today because this week, I have been inspired.

This week, I was invited to attend a meeting for the Milwaukee Chapter of EWI – Executive Women International by a good friend and business associate.  What a fantastic opportunity she presented me with. EWI was established in San Francisco in 1938 by Lucille Johnson Perkins.  Ms. Perkins recognized the importance and potential of an association bringing key women together to promote their firms and improve their community. I plan to join this organization’s Milwaukee Chapter because it embodies many of my beliefs and it will provide another way for me to give back to the community. One of the greatest things that I left with after this meeting was a renewal of spirit and drive courtesy of this group of lovely, friendly, professional women. They shared a fantastic poem during dinner that every person should read. They should read it to their daughters and their mothers and their friends. It is quite simply called “She”, by Kobi Yamada. Not only was I inspired by its words, but I was inspired to create the image in this post reflecting the words of that poem. Click on it and read it. And then celebrate and share it with a woman you know and love.

My second atta-boy is posthumous. As has been relayed across every media channel yesterday and today a thousand times over, a great man, Steve Jobs, has left us. I have only become an Apple fan in the last couple of years after purchasing both an iPhone and a MacBook Air. I can tell you that I’m a huge fan of both. But it’s not the products that bring Mr. Jobs the atta-boy or me the inspiration – it’s his pure, unadulterated quest to follow the beat of his own drummer. It’s his speech to Stanford University in their 2005 Commencement. It’s his brilliance in forward thinking. It’s his resilience in the face of once being fired from his own company. And it’s his obvious determination to keep moving forward until the last hour – even as he battled his life threatening illness. This is deserving of an “atta-boy” – and so much more. And I just needed to say that. Rest in peace Steve Jobs. Your body may have left us, but your legacy and your spirit will live on and inspire so many more. And your family is in our thoughts and prayers.

So, for you, today – move forward, give back, aspire to do more, inspire those around you.