Marketing 101: The Right Partnerships

Published on Jun 30, 2011   //  Marketing Tips

Getting ahead in business oftentimes means forging the right kinds of relationships. There are many opportunities for partnerships where both parties can enjoy some mutual benefit. A recent example that I noticed was on The Colbert Report.

Stephen Colbert collaborated with Jack White and Third Man Records to produce a new song. It’s not a “serious” single that will get a lot of radio play, to be sure, but there is something huge that can be gained for both parties. First, Stephen Colbert gets a Grammy winning artist to help him produce a very high quality and professional song, even if it is meant to be funny.

Second, Jack White has the opportunity to not only promote his record company — Third Man Records — but he also has the opportunity to push the Black Belles. This band of goth-style girls provide the music for Colbert’s song and they feature prominently in the cover art. Without the “Colbert Bump,” the Black Belles likely would not get the same kind of attention as they have been in the last week or so.

Regardless of the kind of business that you run, it is important to seek out these kinds of mutually-beneficial collaborations and partnerships. It really is a win-win situation for everyone.

WordPress Wednesday: Crawlable Facebook Comments

Published on Jun 29, 2011   //  WordPress

There’s something to be said about integration across platforms. That’s why while it is important to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, and through your blog, it’s by connecting these profiles together that you can gain the greatest possible value.

You may have already seen a few blogs where the conventional comment system has been replaced with Facebook comments. This allows visitors to the site to post comments using their Facebook profiles and this content can be easily integrated between the two. However, this content may not be visible to Google.

The way around this is to use a WordPress plugin like Crawlable Facebook Comments. This will let Google crawl and index your Facebook comments, giving you another leg up when people are looking for certain topics and information through the popular search engine.

This plugin will retrieve the comments, including information about authors and dates, and make them visible in your source code. Otherwise, these Facebook comments would be “hidden” in an iframe that Google may not see. Crawlable Facebook Comments overcomes that shortcoming. Find it as a free download through the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Business 101: Google Calendar for Employee Schedules

Published on Jun 28, 2011   //  Business Topics

A thought occurred to me when I was having a casual conversation with a friend the other day. We were talking about different workplaces where there can be a considerable amount of shift work and how it can be a challenge for the person making up the schedule.

He or she has to make sure that there is the right combination of people working at any given time, given a defined pool of employees. At the same time, he or she has to juggle their availability requests and other concerns. Then, we thought of a solution that might work: Google Calendar.

This free resource allows any single account to create multiple calendars. From there, the additional calendars can then be individually shared with other Google users. Using this framework, the scheduler can have the “master” account with everyone’s calendar, inputting the different shifts and using the color-coding to organize the right mix of talent and skills.

On the flip side, the employees can also submit their availability requests through this. If they need July 3rd off, they can indicate as such in their own calendar. There’s lots of space for additional notes as necessary.

This kind of infrastructure is clearly not at all suitable for very large companies with very large numbers of employees, but relatively small businesses may find some value here. The automatic notifications of changes, the easy integration with smartphones, and the simple “sharing” aspect can all prove quite useful.

Great Gadgets: Sony Ericsson Txt Phone

Published on Jun 27, 2011   //  Gadgets

Great Gadgets: Sony Ericsson Txt Phone

Not everyone needs a full-fledged smartphone, though there is certainly a lot of appeal to having constant access to your Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, as well as the countless apps that Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone can bring to the table. Even so, non-smartphones can represent huge savings for people who don’t need so much functionality.

One such example is the recently unveiled Sony Ericsson txt. It may have the same look as an E-Series smartphone from Nokia, but this is “only” a feature phone. You’ll see the modest 2.6-inch QVGA display, along with the full hardware QWERTY keyboard below it.

As its name and keyboard clearly imply, the Sony Ericsson txt is being geared largely toward people who send and receive a lot of text messages. The rest of the features aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re not terribly mediocre either. There’s FM radio, Wi-Fi, a 3.2MP camera, Bluetooth, and a memory card slot.

Sony Ericsson hasn’t indicated a price for this feature phone yet, but there’s a good chance that it’ll end up on the “free with contract” offers with various carriers. Look for the Sony Ericsson txt in the third quarter of this year.

BlueFur Customer of the Week: Deborah Forbes

Published on Jun 26, 2011   //  BlueFur Customer of the Week

BlueFur is the preferred web hosting provider for a range of different individuals and companies around the world. They come from all walks of life and have all sorts of different inspirations and motivations. One such individual is Deborah Forbes.

Deborah is an artist and art educator based out of Medicine Hat, Alberta in Canada. She has studied at such institutions as the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School and the Archie Brennan MBE in Edinburgh, Scotland. Her work has been showcased in Western Canada and in Quebec, having received several grants and awards in the arts.

To get a sense of the kind of art that Deborah does, be sure to check out her website. It is there that you can browse through her Uncommon Prayer series, for example, as well as art from the Princess Mysteries series. Any image can be enlarged by clicking on the thumbnail.

Do you use BlueFur to host your websites? Let us know and we can feature you in a future blog post. Send an email message to blogfeature@bluefur.com with your name, website URL, and a brief description of what you’d like to see highlighted.

Showcase Saturday: Vintage Spring

Published on Jun 25, 2011   //  Showcase Saturday

WordPress is an incredibly versatile and robust content management system. You can use it as the backbone to your company’s corporate site, just as much as you can use it as an e-commerce platform or for the place where you have your personal blog. Fitting best into this last option is the new Vintage Spring theme.

Lending itself to more feminine tones, Vintage Spring is a floral based theme that isn’t too heavy on the color. Instead, it makes use of more muted pinks and subdued browns to provide a more “vintage” feel. You’ll also notice that there is some transparency to the main body area, allowing you to see the floral background image beneath it.

Vintage Spring is a three column theme, placing the main content in the center, and flanking it on either side with a customizable sidebar. You can use these sidebars for search, category listings, useful links, advertising, menu items, and more. There is also a stripe above the header for additional navigation.

Go to Empty Nest Themes to view a full-resolution screenshot of Vintage Spring in action. It is also there that you will find the download link for this GPL licensed WordPress theme.

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