I Can’t Twitter at Work!

So I went on and on about how I was a born again social media user and then I didn’t post for, what, two weeks? I’m a jerk. But I did move and start a new job and start another term of school, all in the last few days. And today’s my birthday!

That doesn’t explain why I didn’t post before all that happened, but oh well. Sigh. I did manage to Twitter and Facebook regularly-ish. And I finally worked on a colleague’s Web site (if you’re interested in publishing, check it out), although I still have things to do. (I’m planning to work more on it tomorrow, if you’re listening Angela.)

One interesting thing I found out is that my job doesn’t allow access to social media sites (I’ve only tried Twitter, Facebook, and HootSuite but they were all blocked so I assume it’s true for all social media). I guess I’ve heard vague whisperings of companies that didn’t allow their employees to … whatever you call it. Twittering is an acceptable word, even to me, but is Facebooking? Not sure. Anyway, I hadn’t even considered the possibility. So now I can’t post something during lunch—but I can blog. Mwa ha ha! I probably shouldn’t brag or they might take down my site …

And now after reading dozens of standard operating procedures (SOPs to those of you in the know), I’m really wishing I had developed a photographic memory. Is that possible? How do you practice that? I’m reading stuff, and it’s all important, but I don’t know if I’ll remember it. There’s just so much! Today I learned to do my first task as a technical writer, which was saving and printing labels. I hope to learn a bit about Change Requests tomorrow. Wish me luck!

And just for fun, here’s a link to author Robin McKinley’s blog that gives her explanation for the sudden, unexpected cliffhanger at the end of Pegasus, which I kind of still hold against her. I did enjoy reading about an experience she had when she was writing Hero and the Crown. Oh, and I got this really interesting blog article from another author about why illegally downloading books is BAD, not just for the publisher, but also for the author and for the INDUSTRY!

And now I need to think of a new blog title because this entry had absolutely nothing to do with Keeping Up With the Joneses. Hmmm. Maybe another day.

I’m a Born Again Social Media User!

Violet On Sunshine Updated 1 Images
So this whole blog has been for my emerging media and the market class, which is part of my master’s in integrated marketing communications at West Virginia University. I turned in my final project on December 26, and now I suddenly feel liberated.

Yeah, I feel liberated from the course, but I also feel completely energized by social media. In the last few days I’ve Facebooked more frequently than ever before, and I even started posting to the Twitter account I got several weeks ago. I’m also on HootSuite now, which I learned about during my research for a course assignment early on, which means I can now schedule posts to my social networks and even post simultaneously, which is so awesome. I’m totally excited!

Of course it helps that I got a new job today. I mean, there’s nothing like a life-changing decision to motivate you to tell people all about how things are going, right? My job is as a technical writer for Bard Access Systems in Salt Lake City, which is a great job with people I really liked interviewing with. How great is that?!

So I just have to decide what to blog about now that I don’t have to concentrate on new media. I’ll probably stick with it for a while, because there’s still so much I’ve learned that I haven’t really had time to sit down and write about. I might even keep blogging when I start my new job in January. Granted, I’ll be working and going to school so the posts will likely be short, but even if it’s just one thing …

So my testimony about social media is that it ROCKS! It’s so great to be able to talk to so many people so many places without having to write one letter or e-mail at a time (though I did that too for people I don’t yet have on Facebook). I still appreciate letters, which are great to receive, but new media is so much more immediate. Big sigh of happiness!

The Price of Search Engine Optimization

I have been aware of the existence of different types of search engine optimization for a while, including pay-per-click, which is often used synonymously with the term “paid placement.” In marketing meetings it was something that was left for our Web development staff to worry about, so it’s only now that I’m really learning about the options available for companies that want to increase or ensure placement in search engine results.

image credit: David Liu, Resource Nation

Paid placement is pretty straightforward: you pay a specific fee for guaranteed placement of your site on a search engine’s results. These sites are sometimes found at the top of a query page, but most often you see them at the right, and they are usually labeled as either “sponsored” or “paid,” something like that. Often, paid placement is on a pay-per-click basis, meaning advertisers only pay when someone clicks on a site. The fee is usually based on a bid, which determines a site’s ranking. As long as a search engine clearly labels paid placement sites, I don’t have a problem with them, since their placement is similar to banner ads.

Paid inclusion is a technique that has waned in popularity and has always been somewhat controversial because it mixes paid sites with unpaid ones in an organic search, and the paid sites may not be labeled as such. TheSearchAgency.com defines paid inclusion as “a program in which a search engine accepts payment for indexing a web site, although specific placement on a results page is not guaranteed.”

The original attraction of paid inclusion was for sites that changed regularly and wanted to ensure their updates were regularly indexed by search engines; however, the fact that indexing a site didn’t ensure ranking had to have made the technique less attractive to advertisers. I think a lot of the technique’s unpopularity—among consumers, at least—is because a site that pays for inclusion may or may not be labeled as an advertiser, depending on the search engine’s policies.

Ask.com discontinued its paid inclusion program in 2004 with CEO Jim Lanzone calling it “hypocritical to do something we need to do anyway.” Yahoo followed Ask.com’s example in 2009. However, it appears that Google has continued the program, insisting that “ads are always labeled to indicate that the information is sponsored.” But the fact that paid listings are included with editorial results at all indicates that Google is engaging in paid inclusion, despite its protests to the contrary. Even if you insist that sites aren’t guaranteed placement, if a site is paying to ensure indexing and inclusion in any kind of search, it’s paid inclusion.

In my mind, paid content should be kept separate from unpaid content, and even if you label paid content as such, as long as it appears mingled with unpaid, it’s more likely that consumers will miss the distinguishing labels.