A Future For Viral Sites?

future for viral websitesAre Viral Sites Dead?

So I confess, I’ve been thinking about creating a viral website. OK I said it.

I mean of course a site that depends on organic sharing of its content from readers on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, etc., rather than focusing on SEO traffic or paid traffic.

(Naturally you can pay for traffic from social media platforms, but the focus starts with people finding your content, then sharing it in a burst of enthusiasm.)

I can hear the eye-rolls among you: how can I even consider a viral site in September 2017?

Is Virality Dead?

Am I not aware that for a several reasons the model is dying and that many sites which had lots of success a couple of years ago are really struggling now?

Yeah, I’m aware.

I know the Facebook algorithm changed to favor content shared by users’ friends and family more than companies or people trying to make a buck.

I know that viral sites are dropping like flies, or if they haven’t stopped posting entirely (a surprising number or formerly successful sites have) they have a small fraction of the visitors they once did.

I know I need some kind of “pivot to video” strategy to take advantage of the way Facebook’s algo is favoring video nowadays.

I even know that one exception (so far) to the nosedives viral sites are taking is LittleThings.com, which seems to still have some traction maybe because it prioritizes content creation rather than just ‘curation’ (i.e. ‘repurposing’ or rewriting content….).

However

Knowing all this I remember something that happened around the turn of the century.

And something that happened in the past couple of weeks.

Exhibit 1: The “dot-com bubble” and bust was proclaimed by some–many?– at the time to be the logical end of irrational exuberance surrounding amazing technology.

Tech was making implications it couldn’t possibly fulfill. Falling stock prices seemed to seal the deal, to some.

But what happened? The best of those companies–even many that had huge drawdowns in their stock price, did not go out of business.

Years later–Apple and Amazon are two incredible examples–they came back stronger than ever: both the companies and their stock prices.

Exhibit 2: In the last couple of weeks Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have experienced gut-wrenching collapses in price for anyone holding them.

I don’t know what will happen with all the cryptocurrencies that have sprung up in the last months, but I’m pretty sure of one thing. Regardless how their current values wash out in the next months and years, the technology–cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology–will change the world.

Just what we know we can do with them now is too compelling for both not to be a huge part of our future.

Viral SuperNova

I think that what we’ve seen with viral websites is the beginning of something bigger than any of us really understand, yet. I think it’s wrapped up with “fake news” and even Donald Trump getting elected.

I think many factors have converged and we as a society are collectively creating new ways to tell our stories, to hear stories and be entertained too, to select what is important to us, and to make money in a new economic landscape.

I think a small clue was the rapid outsized success of viral sites. I really do. A nerve was hit. Scott Delong, operating from a bedroom with a few contractors helping him, sells Viralnova for 100 million dollars.

Virality 2.0

The word is “outsized”. The scale here was what was incredible, and Facebook changing their algo doesn’t mean these sort of rapid, scalable attractors of mass attention are done yet, in my opinion.

Because virality itself is somehow just getting started, with or without the Facebook algo shoveling attention to these sites.

If information wants to be free, attention wants to be possessed. That’s still true, potentially at viral scale, even if the viral site 1.0 model is broken.

Virality is a force still waiting to be harnessed.  The question is how to create a viable business model around Virality 2.0.

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Should You Use Google Adsense?

using google adsense

using google adsenseMonetizing your website. Using the Internet to make money. Unless your website is a hobby–nothing wrong with that by the way–it’s why you’re playing this game, right?

Look–using Google Adsense is one of the easiest ways to make money with a website. Sign up and get approved, create your ads and paste the code you’re given into your site.

In my opinion it’s not the best way to make money online, for most websites.

And I don’t say this because I ‘ve had any problems making money with Adsense, or the program itself.

In fact, for years I was using Adsense on about 100 niche and authority websites I’d created or bought starting in 2008.

They made me enough to live here in Bali, Indonesia, and 90% of my income at the time was from Adsense.

Not only that, you might notice that I’m using Adsense on this very website!

So what am I talking about?

What You’re Saying When You Use Adsense

When you put Adsense on your site you’re essentially saying you have no better idea for that valuable space than ads contexual advertising will send you.

And as good as Google is at serving ads related to the content of the page, the usage habits of the person looking at the content and the browser they’re using, etc., the ad inventory Google has available to serve your readers is limited.

More to the point, you can’t really expect these ads to convert as well as some other things you could do with the same space.

Now, ideally website monetization is something you wrap into the initial planning for the site; its focus and audience. You’ll always need to be flexible but you should have in mind a place to start. So, what other options are there? Check this out:

Adsense Alternatives

Say your passion was antique furniture, and you started a site and created quality content on where to buy it, how much to pay for antiques, how to care for them, etc.

This quality content would attract free, targeted visitors from Google and other search engines to your site. To create a more lasting connection to otherwise casual readers you’d start an email list, where you could offer premium tips, or just connect more directly with your readership.

Over time it would make sense to create products in the form of books or courses on say, refinishing furniture, how to spot fake antiques, etc.

You’d market these products to your email list subscribers. Can you see how effective and lucrative it can be to show your own offers to people who know you and trust your opinions on your topic?

Especially compared to using Google Adsense.

If you went into building this site with this sort of plan, you’d make far, far more than contextual ads. A site making a coupe hundred dollars per month can make thousands if it is properly monetized. I’ve seen it.

And know this: you can go much further with this kind of monetization custom-made for your readers than I can outline in a few sentences, as you get to know them better.

Of course, you could already own a site that you created or purchased without having much of a plan in place. That’s why I have Adsense on this site, Digital Media Minute.

Is this site well-suited as a tool to build an email list and for selling digital or physical products in the tech niche? Of course!

And I do have a plan for a course, geared toward geeks who’d like to earn more from the Internet with their skills…

In closing, I’ll mention one monetization model for which Adsense is appropriate. No doubt there are others, but this is interesting and chances are you see Adsense on this kind of site every single day.

Viral websites succeed based on the sheer number of posts they can push out each day, and the number of views (and Adsense clicks) their content gets. Resources are put toward getting as much distribution and reach as possible using social media, etc.

Matching a piece of content with an offer that might be appropriate for readers of the article would have a cost associated with it, and you do see affiliate links in content on these sites.

However, Adsense ads normally reside in the template or code of the site and don’t have to be manually inserted into maybe dozens of posts per day, so they’re a quick solution here that makes sense.

My point isn’t to dissuade you from using Adsense at all. I’m just encouraging you to have a flexible monetization plan in place if you’re just starting a site, and always be thinking about how to better monetize as you get going.

If you have any comments or questions please drop me a line below.

 

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Editing Google Analytics User Access–When It’s Not Your Website

A friend of mine was considering buying a website and asked my opinion on it. After checking to see that the site did in fact have Google Analytics installed (just click your right mouse button and look for ‘view page source’), I told him to ask the seller to add me to their Google Analytics account.

In case you aren’t aware, you can share read-only access to your Analytics account stats for any website in your account.

I looked at the site, gave my friend a thumbs-down (way too little traffic for the asking price!) and then attempted to remove myself as a user, so that the site in question would no longer show in the list of sites in my own Analytics account.

After granting someone read-only access to the Google Analytics stats for a website you own, removing their access is simple enough, but I just spent too long looking for a way to remove someone else’s website from my Analytics account so that it  would no longer show in the list of sites in my Analytics admin.

A little Googling didn’t help me, even searching more recent results, so let’s see if I can help someone else here without getting too convoluted in my explanation.

Go into your Google Analytics account and–on the desktop dashboard–look for the gear icon in the far left bottom corner. In the upper left hand corner in the pulldown menu find the website you want to remove from the list of websites in your admin area–the site in the case owed by someone else.

Now, simply click on “User Management” in the Account column:

google analytics user access

Assuming you do not own the site you have selected, you will now see the following. Click the blue “Remove myself from this account” button and you are done!

User management remove myself from this account

Looking for a Business Name?

Starting up a new media firm? Need digital media company name suggestions? Looking for a company name and a catchy tagline to suit branding for just about any business at all? New Media Company Generator will display a random company name and tagline for you! As more and more people catch the entrepreneurial bug and start their own companies, of either the online or traditional brick-and-mortar type, free tools like this becomes more relevant dreaming up names for so-called ‘brandable’ company names. You can stop bothering your friends for naming ideas for this business concept you have that doesn’t seem to want to go away, by making use of random name generators on the Internet that provide you with an endless source of potentially catchy, branded business names.

How To Build And Grow An App Business

Building an App BusinessEach year the app business gains momentum as an economic force in the global economy with app usage and revenue increasing rapidly.

According to this statistical report, global app revenues amounted to $41.1 billion US dollars in 2015 alone and are expected to rise to more than $101 billion USD by 2020. In many cases apps are replacing websites as the number one source of information, entertainment and commerce today.

Given the historic business opportunity that apps provide, there has never been a better time to tap into the app business, as it were.

If your app achieves any degree of popularity–or even virality–it will not only create a steady source of income, but can also help fulfill other business goals for your company, i.e. brand recognition, visitor funnels, advertising revenue, etc.

However, building and growing an app business gets more challenging over time as the industry consolidates and competition increases. Let’s take a look at the key steps necessary for building and growing an app as a business.

Where and How to Begin

Unless you have the resources to do in-house development, you’ll need a suitable vendor to hire or perhaps to partner with.

Explore different avenues to gauge the price and specs of the type of app you are interested in developing. Do yourself a favor and don’t base your decision on price alone. Find an experienced developer with demonstrated expertise in UI/UX (user interface/user experience), as a foundational requirement for your end-product.

Look at the design specs of the platform for which you are developing the app, and the experience of development companies you are considering for help in this area. A basic question is whether you’ll be developing for iOS or Android, or both; you cannot necessarily expect a team competent with one OS to be able to deliver quality on the competing OS.

Remember that high cost doesn’t necessarily ensure high development standards. The best mobile apps companies are not just a group of developers, but a team of people who don various hats from project managers to designers and developers. You can only be assured of an economical and quality standard app if you set aside the time to do in-depth research and as to the best company for your particular requirements.

Choose a design

When designing an app, keep in mind the layout and design. Select only visually appealing and attractive designs because folks nowadays decide whether or not to use an app based on its first glance. Always put design first and functionality second, although you may think that it will put off geeks.

With so many apps being installed, opened once, then never used or deleted immediately, initial impression is critical, as traction can be gained quickly if your app has a good aesthetic layout and whose usability is immediately apparent.

Select an appealing niche

Your app doesn’t necessarily need to be built around a popular subject, or crowded niche. As with niche websites, there’s a lot to be said for appealing to a narrow market segment. Millions of dollars have been made by companies who produce apps that target often obscure, yet profitable niches.

On the other hand, to gain a competitive edge over the millions of apps already in the store, another approach is to aim to provide a feature no other app has.

Take QUAD for example. Its founders found a vulnerability in already existing messaging apps like WhatsApp (i.e. that don’t offer bulk messaging) and took it upon themselves to offer a unique solution for a segment of their user base that was clamoring for it.

They then aggressively marketed the app to target groups like college students and hence ended up making a place for themselves in the cut-throat niche of messenger apps.

Optimize your app for app stores

Are you aware that as with optimizing your website around specific keywords to boost its rankings on search engines, best practices dictate that you apply the same strategy for your app description in the App Store or Google Play, etc.?

Make sure that your app’s title includes the keywords that users will search for specifically when they look for an app specific to your niche on the app store.

For example, “WhiteHunt” will not appeal to users more than “WhiteHunt Land & Property Consultants.” The bottom line is that you should rank for popular but unique and medium-search volume keywords when deciding a title for your app. And again, don’t forget to include relevant keywords in the app description.

Launch your app early

You’re looking to grow a user base and attract the attention of investors, so it is of paramount importance that you launch your app early.

As the saying goes: ‘Perfect is the enemy of done.’

Launch the main features first and get a community of users (and hopefully experts, who will promote your app) to rally behind the app. This will give you invaluable data as to who your users in fact are, and what they really prefer to find in your app, as opposed to what you think they want.

Done properly, as you grow your user base through successive iterations, you’ll know which group of people to specifically target, as well as what features to expand upon or drop.

Promote the app via review sites

Most app development projects probably end up needing a bigger budget to build and promote your app than originally forecast.

Remind yourself that you are playing a longer-term game here. To this end, consider promoting your app through popular companies such as Android Pit, Apps Zoom, App Annie etc. Most companies like allow you to choose an economical package which will be appropriate use of your particular marketing budget.

Awards Bait

Look for any kind of mobile app ‘award bait’ such as Best Mobile Apps, Leading Mobile apps etc. and seek to enter your app into these contests. Whether you win or not the exposure your app gains will be vital for expanding your user base.

Act like a business person

After putting so much money and time into planning, developing and marketing your app it would be a shame if you yourself didn’t act the part of a real businessperson when you really start with promotion.

Carry business cards, brochures and the like, and seek out networking events where you’ll encounter people who can facilitate distribution for you.

Now is the time to emulate the habits of the successful entrepreneurs you’ve been reading about all these years! Seek to market your app appropriately.

Conclusion

The most important selling factor of your app is going to be the user base. There is probably no better marketing than glowing word-of-mouth recommendations and user testimonials. And again, to grow a user base it is important to first test the waters i.e. releasing core features early, maybe even offering a free version first, and if it seems to gain traction price and market it accordingly.

Remember, though the app ecosystem has become more competitive over the years there are still many apps released each year that do spectacularly well. For an app idea that seems to have promise, development costs are usually still relatively low compared with other products or businesses you can launch. And, a successful launch can still completely transform different aspects of your business in 2016, and beyond.

If you have other tips to add please feel free to comment below, and we’d really appreciate it if you’d share this article–using one of the icons on the left–if you found it to be a helpful overview.

This article was written by Usman Hassan, a digital marketing psychopath, who is passionate about Inbound marketing, SEO, CRO, Email marketing and Ecommerce. He is a regular writer at Mobiwoz.com .

Looking For Company Name

Have you ever played around with random business name generators? I used half an hour that I’ll never get back today looking for a company name or a graphic design company that my wife may or may not create. “Advanced Depictions” anyone? The key to creating brandable names is a word combination that is memorable, and if you can’t squeeze any more out, an automated generator might save the day. Product name generators function in much the same way, throwing together nouns and adjectives in permutations that you would probably never think of yourself. This is a great way to dream up brandable domain names also if you’re not looking for company names.