Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

All News, Design, Events, Interactive, Tech

WordCamp Minneapolis 2016 Talks JavaScript, REST API and the Future of WordPress

If you love all things WordPress, you’ll love WordCamp. WordCamps are two-day conferences that popup in cities around the world. As the name suggests, they focus on everything related to WordPress, the leading content management system (CMS) used to create and manage websites. Since we’re big fans of the platform here at Swim, attending WordCamp Minneapolis was a chance to learn from industry pros and share ideas with our peers. While WordCamp also covers content marketing, design, and community building, here are some highlights from the web development track. Warning: this post may contain developer-speak.

One message rang loud and clear at WordCamp: we’re approaching a pivotal moment with WordPress. Version 4.4 took the first steps toward WordPress’s REST API, something that until this point was only available via plugins. And while you’ll still need to grab the plugin to access the API’s endpoints, there remain substantial implications for the future of the platform.

Goodbye PHP, hello Javascript

I won’t digress into the, “Why Javascript?” conversation. If you didn’t know, it is taking over the world. WordCamp Minneapolis’ developer track was almost entirely devoted to exploring Javascript’s role in regards to theme and application development. As the REST API opens up more and more possibilities, WordPress will move from blogging platform to fully fledged application framework resulting in:

  • A shift away from PHP theme development to Javascript theming
  • Native apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone powered by WordPress
  • An optional WordPress front-end where WordPress itself is just another application hitting API endpoints

A New Way to Build Themes

For Javascript, the big player at WordCamp Minneapolis was ReactJS. ReactJS is a Javascript library maintained by Facebook used to build web and mobile applications. When you pair that with WordPress’s REST API, you can unlock powerful theme development benefits that leave PHP in the dust, including:

  • Improved animations and transitions for smoother interactions and navigation
  • Faster speeds with more server-less access to stored and pre-fetched content
  • Opportunities to create and control offline experiences

If you’re looking for some real world examples, check out:

WP Tavern’s article on ustwo

ustwo

Picard WordPress Theme

picard

Modern Tribe’s website

As as aside, Partner & Art Director Reid Piefer, was one of the speakers I saw at WordCamp Minneapolis

moderntribe

WordPress theming with Javascript is still in its infancy and it will be a while before any standards or best practices emerge. Until then, there are a number of great articles on Javascript and WordPress on ThemeShaper, the official WordPress.com theme developer blog.

WordPress-Powered Mobile Apps

APIs for WordPress aren’t a new idea. The API has existed as plugin for years and even the popular JetPack plugin also offered a JSON API module. As such, WordPress as a backend for mobile apps isn’t a new idea. Here at Swim, we launched the DSSO app in 2014, an iOS and Android app powered by WordPress.

If you’re a web developer, don’t despair, you won’t need to learn Swift or Java to start building mobile apps. A number of great projects already exist that let you leverage your existing HTML, CSS and Javascript skills to build “hybrid” apps for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone. Two notable projects are:

Onsen UI

onsen

Ionic Framework (my favorite)

ionic

As WordPress continues to roll out its REST API, we’ll likely see a boom in WordPress-powered hybrid and native mobile apps.

Do we need wp-admin?

I’m going to close with this question. Do we need wp-admin? Obviously for the immediate future yes. Though, the technology is certainly available to work around it.

During Reid Peifers talk at WordCamp, he described a project that required a custom interface for WordPress content authors in rural Africa because of slower connectivity and internet speeds. In his case, he was mostly concerned with file sizes and page load times.

Yet, I could argue (WordPress purists don’t read this next part) that regardless of internet speeds, there are cases when WordPress’s UI is just plain unnecessary. Think micro-task stuff.  Managing stock may be a perfect example:

I just ran outta Hello Kitty handbags on my online store. I pull out my phone and hop on my super snazzy companion app for my WordPress site. It lets me manage my inventory with a simple on/off switch. I can quickly update my stock so I can get back to being kawaii.

Like it or not, this is what is possible with WordPress, Javascript, and the REST API. Admittedly, it can seem an intimidating future for those of us who are comfortable with the PHP and WordPress. But if WordPress is going to continue to remain relevant and dominant, it definitely needs to continue to evolve with the rapidly changing web landscape.

Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

All News, Social, Strategy & Research

Last week we attended the Social Media Breakfast – Twin Ports, a monthly session where social media experts share their advice with business owners, managers, marketers and students. Topics and locations change month to month and there’s always free coffee!

This month’s speaker was Dave Scott, CMO of BNG Holdings, Inc. He spoke about the importance of content marketing and how to implement it into your overall marketing strategy. So, we took his advice and wrote up a quick summary.


STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL CONTENT MARKETING:

Step 1: Identify Your Target Persona

Who are they following on Twitter? What LinkedIn groups are they involved in? What blogs do they read? Where do they get their news? How do they make their decisions?

Use this list of placements to determine where to share your content and engage with your consumers.

Step 2: Build a Strategy

We recommend  building month-by-month content calendars. It’s best to keep timelines short and flexible due to the ever-changing content and platforms in the digital realm.

Step 3: Post Content

  • Website
  • Email
  • Blog
  • Social Media
    • LinkedIn Publishing

Step 4: Share Smart

  • Send responsively. Don’t overdo it.
  • Share free information, like e-books and whitepapers.
  • Use the gradual approach:
    • Start by sharing tips and information with absolutely no intent to “sell”
    • Then, move into sharing information about your business/product
      • Who are you? What’s your story?
    • Finally, pitch the sale + show the value behind the product with a strong CTA

Step 5: Acquire Trust + Credibility

When you create + share content, it provides at least one of the following:

  • Awareness
  • Trust
  • Purchase Intent
  • Word of Mouth
  • Customer Engagement
  • Lower Acquisition Costs

And we’d like our marketing efforts to result in “all of the above.”


Key takeaways:

  • Success in content marketing takes lots of trial and error. Expect to fail a few times, or a few years.
  • Commit to the long haul. Creating constant and useful content  for the foreseeable future is the key to building your brand’s presence and audience.
  • Don’t let “years” scare you away. If you put your customer first, you’ll find a lot of success. Don’t ever give up.

Thoughts on content marketing? Comment below or send us a note.

Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

All News

So, two very important things are happening this week.

First, Mad Men kicked off its final batch of episodes as we inch closer to the series finale. Like a John Deere tractor incident, nothing is more bittersweet. Through its seven seasons, Mad Men has given us a glimpse into the crazy world of advertising in the 60s. Not all of it is pretty, but its truthful details and perspectives always kept us coming back for more. What will happen to the diverse cast of characters on Madison Avenue? Only the six remaining episodes stand between the end and us.

To that, we raise our beers in salute.

Oh, and that’s the second thing, today’s National Beer Day.

There seems to be at least one alcohol-centric holiday per month, but this one tops the list. Back in the depths of the Great Depression, Congress finally rolled back the law forbidding creation of any brews above point-five percent. Since then, beer culture has evolved and expanded and we are currently in a craft brew era unseen since the 1870s. With breweries popping up here, there and everywhere, it is the best time to be a beer drinker.

So, although Don Draper would probably choose an old fashioned, today he would surely be impressed by the diverse brews and creative possibilities at our fingertips. With data within reach thanks to the digital era, advertisers of today are becoming Math Men. Through the combination of data and creativity, agencies are able to hit the sweet spot with more accuracy.

While it’s an exciting new era for advertising, we will sorely miss Joan putting us in our place, Don’s tear-jerking presentations (we’re looking at you Carousel) and Pete’s receding hairline.

Cheers, Mad Men! We can’t wait to see what you have in store and thank you for showing us simple can be significant.

 

 

Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

All News

Last week, Swim Creative hosted a Google Party. We learned a ton about YouTube ads and how they can work for our clients, no matter what business you’re in.

#1) Have an “always-on” content strategy.

This doesn’t mean stop promoting yourself in the local newspaper, we’re simply saying think about where your customers spend the most time.

In 2014, people spent an average of:

  • three hours/day watching TV
  • nearly six hours/day online

Examples of brands with “always on” strategies:


#2) Show, don’t tell.

Find the one attribute you want your customers to think of when they think of you. Are you authentic? Are you organic? Are you quirky? Pick an adjective and own it.

Example: The Talenti Story


#3) Help. Hub. Hero.

Structure your content in a way that effectively reaches your customer. As we explain the H-H-H Theory, Whole Foods Market will serve as an example.

Help: Answer the questions your customers are asking. What products/services do you offer? How do we get in contact with you? Where can we find you?

Use Google Trends and tap into your customer service department.

Whole Foods Market example: recipes and cooking tips.

Hub: This is a balance of what your brand stands for and what your customers really want to see. What are your customers looking for? What’s your business story?

Whole Foods Market example: the Dark Rye series (soon-to-be premiering on cable).

Hero: This is when you orchestrate all of your best advertising methods and messages at once.

Whole Foods Market example: Values Matter campaign.


Now that you understand how to reach your customers, it’s time to implement. Once ads are live, actively practice the following:

  • Test & measure: study the analytics and make sure your videos are working.
  • Listen & respond: you have a chance to listen to and respond to your customers.
  • Leave no dead ends: make sure your call to action is clear and upfront.

Still not convinced?

  • YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, right behind Google.
  • Every minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube.
  • Sixty four percent of viewers use YouTube to find products.

Swim Creative has invested a lot to become a Google Partner. We provide services to help get your business at the top of search results and in front of your target audience.

A few online videos we’ve produced:

Interested in increasing the performance of your brand on YouTube? Give us a call!

Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

All News

It’s been a busy few weeks for live-streaming video.

At the end of February, iOS introduced Meerkat, an app allowing people to watch live-streaming video. There have definitely been similar functioning apps out on the market, but none ever took off. What made Meerkat the talk of SXSW?

Timing.

People were searching for the Next Big Thing and SXSW was the perfect launching platform. It quickly jumped to the top of everyone’s top trends articles. Celebrities like Jimmy Fallon quickly started using it to connect with fans on Twitter.

And that’s where things got interesting.

Twitter had purchased a similar app for $100 million the year previously. So, when they realized that a competitor was utilizing them to gather more followers, they stopped allowing people to find their Twitter friends on Meerkat.

Then, last week they introduced their live-streaming video app, Periscope, to the public. Unlike Meerkat, people can save and replay video streams for up to 24 hours. Celebrities and brands such as Katy Perry and Red Bull have already embraced it.

Who will win in the live-streaming race? Here are some tidbits from around the web:

“By Sunday [March 29] at 7:00 p.m., Meerkat had collapsed to No. 523 on the U.S. iPhone download chart.” -Tero Kuittinen, BGR

“In the long run, I believe Periscope has an advantage here. You can easily follow anyone in Periscope you also follow on Twitter, as those people will automatically show up in your ‘people’ tab.” -Kurt Wagner, Recode

“Meerkat has become a key political tool in recent weeks, with Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush ‘meerkatting’ his speech last week before Georgia’s state legislature.” -Rob Lever, The Sydney Morning Herald

“So I just tried #periscope and #meerkat. I think I liked Periscope better. It was really fun. I thought it was gonna be weird.” -Courtney Act, Twitter user

The key insight into who will win may be this: influential early adopters of Meerkat, Jimmy Fallon and Mashable, have made the switch over to Periscope. Only time will tell, but as of now we’re putting our money on the more intuitive and connected Periscope.


 

What do you think of live streaming? Which app do you prefer?

 

Benjamin Luoma

 | 

Director of Interactive

Advertising, All News, Social, Strategy & Research

Millennials, myself included, are bringing a new challenge to advertising. As the generation grows larger than the baby boomers, brands need to understand how to talk to us–and with us. Currently, we make up 36% of the U.S. workforce and by 2020, that will rise to 46%. Not only are we growing, we are breaking all the rules of traditional advertising.

We don’t have landlines and half of us don’t own a TV. Our hands are glued to our cell phones, we seek news on Twitter and post way too many selfies on Instagram. Who knows where the word came from, but we love to blog. And vlog. We enjoy sharing our experiences with the world, even if only our moms are reading it.

Basically: traditional media won’t cut it with us. You’re better off trading in the Yellow Book and newspaper inserts for search marketing, social advertising and videos.

Where to reach millennials:

  • Social Media
  • Entertainment / Community Events
  • Mobile Apps
  • Online Video

Once you’ve figured out where to talk to us, you have to figure out how to talk to us.

For us, memories trump materials. Seventy-eight percent of us would rather spend money on a desirable experience than buy coveted goods. Who needs new underwear, anyway?

We have passions and follow those who share our ideals. We support those who support others. So figuring out our values is VITAL.

No matter the product, sharing items that we connect with on a personal level garners the most attention. Sometimes you have to share things that have nothing to do with your product and everything to do with your customer. Whatever media we are connecting on, entertain us with pop culture, fun facts and the good things your brand is doing.

Once you have our attention and you’ve proven your brand’s worthiness, there’s a good chance you’ve got us for life.

That’s where the golden keyword in millennial advertising comes in: Brand Evangelist. They are your best friends, and your strongest sales people.

Did you know 51% of us trust user-generated content over information on a company website when looking for information about a brand or product?

Keep them happy and positive reviews and recommendations will follow.

Bottom line:

  1. Whether it’s Starbucks or The Color Run, be where we are.
  2. Give us an experience. Entertain us.
  3. Keep us happy: connect with us on our level and our values.

 


 

Amber Ooley is the Media Strategist and Socialista at Swim Creative. She understands why things like hashtags, likes and having a social media strategy are important to any business. She’s also a certified Google Partner and a pro at research and organization. Follow her on Twitter.