This month, my “TacTech Talk” Column (a fusion of Tactical and Technical tips for today’s marketers) discusses Responsive Design vs. Mobile App solutions; and I have an “authentic” Social Media Marketing tactic or two for you.
Responsive, Schmonszive… Responsive or Mobile App Solution?
There are a lot of gurus out there claiming that “responsive design” (your site shrinks according to the size of the mobile device screen) is the only way to go nowadays. Wrong. You have two choices — compromise your desktop view and go for a smartphone/tablet view that looks the same but smaller, or design for desktop, then optimize in an app-like interface for mobile devices. Is one “better” than the other? It’s debateable, and the answer depends on two things: your budget; and how best to serve your visitors. Let’s look at strengths and advantages to both:
- Responsive Approach: Advantages include develop both solutions in one programming/styling project; you have slightly less time managing one responsive version of your site; your mobile site looks the same, but smaller, as your full size site (but is this an advantage?); and ___________ – I Googled this and couldn’t find much else on the plus side. Sure, some echo-gurus parrot out the “it’s better for SEO” talking point, but that is not true if your mobile site uses the same content and loads faster.. Disadvantages include designers locked into a long scrolling web page approach; simplified navigation structure can be limiting; slower load speeds; it often costs more than the mobile app approach to adjust all layouts, images, videos and graphics for fluid resizing; it takes longer to develop.
- Mobile App Approach: Here, to be clear, I am not talking about separate content or a separate site, but instead a separate styling of your same content, but with simpler layouts and smarter navigation for mobile audiences (we use the WordPress plugin WPTouch* to do this). Advantages include being able to swap in a mobile specific homepage (and other pages if desired); use of same blog and inner page content for SEO value and time saving; better range of navigation options including mobile specific navigation icons; faster load times (also good for SEO); the ability to test the mobile interface separate from desktop design for conversion results; and it usually costs less. Disadvantages include managing any mobile specific pages (though most of your site and blog will use the same content from your database).
Boiling it down — when we go the Mobile App route, we swap in a “lighter”, faster-loading, mobile-UI friendly theme for the same content on our custom WordPress sites. Have a look at this comparison of desktop theme to mobile:
Bottom line: I think there is way too much hype echoing about responsive design merits. We offer both solutions– you pick the best one for your projects, and I do like responsive sites for some sales applications. Remember, while responsive designs generally look presentable on mobile devices, they may or may not be optimized for a compelling, touch-friendly experience.
Real Social Media Marketing… authentic tactics
Why do I make a distinction about “real” social media tactics? Because too many marketers are giving into faux factors like hiring people who care nothing for your brand, services or products to like your Facebook page, or push out false tweets across the social venues. Both are a waste of time, and worse — they can actually bring ranking penalties.
Why? The quick answer is that false likes and tweets, just like a black-hat SEO tactic of having people that do not read or care about other blogs comment on them and mention your site, is worth exactly ZERO — minus the time and cost wasted when you could have been doing valuable marketing. That’s right. 5,000 likes mean nothing when a) the people are not engaged with your brand and so will not become customers; b) they don’t care anything about your posts appearing in their stream. No-brainer, right? But too many marketer’s continue to do it… c’mon.
WordPress Social Media Plugin: Now here’s our latest preferred bundle of on-site social media tactics — all available in one — Monarch, by Elegant Themes* (we deploy it for all retainer clients). We like it because using several different methods under your control, you ask for an authentic like from a real person that has been reading your posts. Get it? Real person, reading your posts. This gives you a much better chance at engaging people who will actually be interested in what you are selling.
- Tactic 1 – Provide Network Options: You want proven social networks in any good social media plugin and Monarch does not disappoint. Included are the top tier networks (you should be using Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn), plus some lesser known by effective options like StumbleUpon (Mashable Magazine has rated traffic from StumbleUpon to be more valuable than some top tier networks). You even have an option to use Buffer — an application that lets you schedule tweets from one central dashboard. TIP: Assign 5-6 of your staff to one of the top networks, then ask them to routinely go to your latest content and click social icons, and write a review to amplify your reach
- Tactic 2 – Smart Icon Placement: Choose whether your icons float left, appear at top, or under content. Change locations throughout your site. For example, on pages, our social icons float left, while on posts, they appear underneath the article on Webdirexion.com.
- Tactic 3 – Ask for the Tweet: Many people now tune out social icons due to “banner blindness” — they habitually ignore the little buggers. This plugin gives you a couple of ways to break through and ask for your visitor’s support… via a complete pop-up, or by a smaller zoom-up in the lower right of the browser window (we use this option). Further, you can throttle how often the pop-up appears, and set it to appear only after a return in a month, for example.
In summation, get real about social media marketing — social means real people talking to real people with an authentic connection. And, resist the responsive-schmonsive guru echo out there to consider optimal mobile solutions.
* Webdirexion LLC has a marketing agreement with both WPTouch and Elegant Themes — we use both because we believe in them (Webdirexion.com is built with Elegant Theme, Divi, and we use the outstanding Monarch social media plugin).