January 30, 2016

Updating the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs

Dear English-only friends,
Do allow us to address this post to thousands of our esteemed visitors from the Hindi world. This post is about mid-year updation of the 2014-15 edition of 'Directory of Best Hindi Blogs'.

मित्रो,

उत्कृष्ट हिंदी ब्लॉग्स की डायरेक्टरी के 2014-15 संस्करण को पेश करते हुए हमने कहा था, क्षमा कीजियेगा इस बात के लिए कि हमने कुछ ऐसे ब्लॉग भी डायरेक्टरी में शामिल किये हैं जिनका स्तर उन्नत ब्लॉगों की तुलना में कमतर है, लेकिन ये ब्लॉग यहां इसलिए आ सके हैं कि ये हिंदी ब्लॉगिंग को बढ़ावा देने में महत्वपूर्ण योगदान दे रहे हैं.


लेकिन हम साल दर साल यह देख रहे हैं कि हिंदी के कई सारे ब्लॉगर बहुत आत्म-विभोर रहते हैं अपनी भाषा से, अपने गँवई लहज़े में कुछ कह पाने के हुनर से या अपने कवित्व से. कुछ मित्र आधा दर्जन ब्लॉग खोल बैठे हैं लेकिन एक ब्लॉग पर भी ध्यान नहीं दे पाते. कुछ ने अपने ब्लॉग को दर्जनों बैज, उतनी ही widget, उससे भी ज़्यादा निम्न-स्तरीय फ़ोटो और कुछेक विज्ञापन से इतना सजा दिया है कि समझ नहीं आता कि ब्लॉग में हैं या गाँव के मेले में. अब कुछ मित्र हमारी इन टिप्पणियों पर बखेड़ा भी खड़ा करना चाहेंगे, सो करें. हम स्पष्ट कर दें कि न तो हम भाषा के विद्वान हैं, न कवि हैं और न ग्रामीण संस्कृति को कमतर आंकने वाले. हमने बस इस ओर ध्यान दिलाना चाहा है
किअगर हिंदी के ब्लॉगर या अन्य ऑनलाइन लेखक अपनी सोच का दायरा बढ़ा लें, ब्लॉग को कविता से बाहर ले जाएं, डिज़ाइन-रंग-सज्जा जैसे मुद्दों पर भी ध्यान दें, और भाषा के मूलभूत ढाँचे और मात्रा आदि का ध्यान रखें तो हिंदी का यह ऑनलाइन संसार बहुत खूबसूरत तथा समृद्ध हो जाएगा. 

ब्लॉग हमारा अपना कैनवस है, लेकिन हमने इसे www में उतारा है इस मंशा से कि अन्य लोग इधर आएं और जो हमने लिखा है/ दिखाया है उसे पढ़ें/देखें. इसलिए अगर हम इसे  बेतरतीब ढंग से रखें तो न तो यह आर्ट कहलाएगा, न अच्छा साहित्य और न सुसज्जित डायरी. अगर ऐसा लगा कि कुछ मित्र ब्लॉग-सज्जा पर हमसे सलाह लेने के लिए उत्सुक हैं तो हम इस ब्लॉग पर ऐसे विषयों पर चर्चा कर सकते हैं.  वैसे हमने ब्लॉग शुरू करने पर अभी भी कुछ पोस्टें प्रकाशित कर रखी हैं जो इस लिंक पर उपलब्ध हैं: अपना ब्लॉग कैसे बनाएं तथा कैसे संजोएं How to make one's blog and maintain it

आपके सुझावों का स्वागत है. आप तुरंत ईमेल भेज सकें, इसके लिए साथ में contact form दिया हुआ है. आशा है, आपके कमेंट्स हमें मार्गदर्शन देते रहेंगे. 

इस updation में हमें कुछ ब्लॉगों को खोना पड़ा है. कुछ ऐसे ब्लॉग हट गए जो पहले ही हट जाते तो अच्छा था, लेकिन
कुछ अच्छे ब्लॉग केवल इसलिए हट गए कि ब्लॉगर मित्रों ने उनको कई महीनों तक छोड़े रखा. ऐसे ब्लॉगों को खोने का हमें रंज है. इस बीच तीन ब्लॉगों का URL ख़त्म हो गया, चार ब्लॉगों में ऎसी widget लगा दी गईं कि उनमें नुक्सान-दायक कोड आ गए, और एक ब्लॉग प्राइवेट हो गया. इस बीच कई मित्रों ने नए ब्लॉग भी सुझाए, लेकिन उनमें से हम केवल एकाध ब्लॉगों को ही सम्मिलित कर पाए. क्या करें, डायरेक्टरी का स्तर बढ़ाते रहने की कसम जो खाई है. 

 नए मित्रों का सादर अभिवादन और उन्हें बधाई. 

January 26, 2016

Why not highlight your best post on Blogger with a featured post widget?

Blogger keeps adding new widgets (=gadgets) to its collection. We discovered a gadget that keeps one of your important posts on top. This feature was already there in Wordpress but was sorely missed on Blogger.

This gadget allows you to put a title and show image if you like. You can put this gadget anywhere on the blog - top, bottom or sidebar.
The Featured Post gadget is highly customizable.

If you want to put the featured post on top of the blog, be sure that its image is not too small (it will pixellate as it'll try to fill the width of the blog) or too tall (it will push all your contend too much down). Or you can think not to include image in the widget.

Also keep in mind that if you select the latest post as the featured post, it will show up near the post - you will have two versions of the same post near each other.

Other useful but uncommon widgets on blogger


If you have a blog on Blogger, we hope that you have had a look at major gadgets already. However, we do not see these gadgets often on blogs: 

Slideshow: This widget is very useful in photography blogs or blogs with many photos associated closely with posts (e.g. travel blogs, food blogs). A good slideshow helps in showcasing the best in the blog and also spruces up the design.

Video Bar: This widget allows you to show YouTube videos on the blog. It is very useful in blogs that need to show how a thing is done or to visually show an event. For example, you can easily show the  preparation of a food item or a DIY tip with the help of a small video. The video need not be your own.

Poll: You can have this widget in the sidebar and take poll on something on which you want to know opinion of visitors. It could be a hot political issue or about yourself or your blog or anything else.

One caveat: Use widgets on the blog wisely. Do not put a widget only because it looks interesting or hip. Too many widgets have the tendency to clutter the blog/ website. Also note that widgets should supplement the main content and not distract attention from it. Do visit this post on what to keep in mind when applying widgets on a blog.

January 23, 2016

Trump games, Twitter in Iran, Liife... social media updates

Have you played any of the Donald Trump games? If not, you are missing some fun that is playing out on mobile apps at the cost of the controversial presidential nominee in the forthcoming US elections. 

Latin Americans are especially cheesed off with the billionaire after he made uncharitable remarks on them. Their revenge? Trumpealo, a game in which you hit Donald Trump with shoes, bottles and clubs whenever he speaks something indiscreet.
Trumpealo


If you wanted to hit this politician with a stick, you better play Trumpinata. You'll get to hit him till his parts fall apart.

Donald also gets a special treatment from pumpkin artists. When you paint Trump on a pumpkin, you get a Trumpkin, that's how Paras Pumpkin community like to call the art.

Some opening up of social media?

Iran has lifted ban on Twitter and YouTube after economic sanctions on it have been lifted by the EU and the US. Whether this lifting of ban is the outcome of economic easing or not, or whether the opening up will last is anybody's guess.

According to a survey by Al Jajeera, even during the ban about half of the people could use Facebook and a third Google+ using VPN and other tracking-proof methods.

Among other countries that have put a clamp on social media (China, North Korea, Vietnam and Turkey to name a few), Pakistan has lifted ban on YouTube after the online video giant launched a localized version. If that's what will bring at least a sanitized version of YouTube to China, YouTube should agree and help the people of China to enjoy internet a bit more, isn't it?

But clamping down on social media happens in smaller dozes even in the most open societies. Facebook's Friend finder, a feature that gets information from e-mail contacts and then invites people to join Facebook has been declared illegal by Germany's highest court. Finer details of the verdict are not yet out but the writing on the wall is clear.

FriendsReunited closes; Liife gets birth

It is no big news, in one sense. In the social media crucible, new formats keep taking birth and old ones keep dying at a rather fast pace. GeoCities and Orkut might have gone out of memories of many avid users of these free platforms.

FriendsReunited was a great way to unite with school buddies, and in that way to keep one's cherished teenage memories alive. It thrived in pre-Facebook era, then changed hands, then declined, and finally has been put to rest.

The creators of this nostalgic social network have now announced Liife, a place where you could share your present and past memorabilia with - unlike Facebook - only those who share them with you. It will be interesting to see whether people used to 'likes' that often don't mean much will lap up a sharing platform that cares for real liking of each other's lovely moments.

In this post, one of the founders writes about the journey of FriendsReunited.

When Facebook COO wants you to like terrorists, you need to take note.

You can help liquidate hard-core terrorists such as ISIS by a 'like attack' on their Facebook accounts. Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg said so at the World Economic Forum at Davos this week.

She gave an example of a neo-Nazi page, which was once filled with hatred and was now overwhelmed with messages of tolerance and hope due to activism by Facebook followers. She believes, Counter-speech to the speech that is perpetuating hate we think by far is the best answer.

Top global CEOs don't go to social media

Most CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are not in love with social media, the Social CEO Report of ceo.com says.

In a survey of use of the popular six social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, it was found that 61% of CEOs have no social presence at all. 

Others are active on one or more, but none on all six platforms. LinkedIn and YouTube seem to be the platforms of choice among those present on social media. Even if they were active on Twitter, only 60% of them were really tweeting. 

Though they did not have their own accounts, it does not mean CEOs were not available on company accounts - at least they were featured there.

When read with a study published in Harvard Business Review last year, it appears that top global CEOs have of late started taking greater interest in social media but are constrained by shortage of time and various priorities. In fact, overall social engagement of top 50 global CEOs has more than doubled in five years: while only 36% of them were social in 2010, now 80% are on social media.

January 18, 2016

Is blog part of your omnichannel strategy?

The terms 'omnichannel' is in vogue in marketing circles these days. But don't be unnerved by the jargon; it just refers to multi-channel retailing of products with emphasis on integration among the channels. The channels could be offline (e.g. store) as well as online (e.g. website).

Omnichannel and blogging??

We'd try to answer two questions that might arise about omnichannel in the context of blogging: 
  • Why and how does omnichannel matter to bloggers?
  • How does a blog fit in retail omnichannel concept?

Omnichannel matters immensely if you are using the blog to sell something - a product or service. That would also include a book blog, a review blog, a photography blog that also offers photos on payment.

If you are not into marketing, it matters less but improves your understanding about growing the influence of your personal brand, and helps you grow your reputation and influence on the web. This in turn will surely result in better professional networking, opening of new avenues, and popularity and reputation of your content, to name just a few.

For non-commercial and purely personal blogs, thinking omnichannel would mean integrating all social media properties and making social media (including blog) as part of one's offline presence too.

In the medley of social accounts, blog surfaces as the most stable (after website) and yet regularly updated (unlike website) web property, and these qualities make it the most important web property. Due to these properties, we strongly recommend that you make the blog the fulcrum of all your social media activities. It goes without saying that in that case, the blog must have very high quality content.

Now come to blogging for businesses. As retailing has grown from brick-and-mortar to multi-channel, integration is the next logical phase in its development. Companies are trying to give the customer a seamless experience in making his choice, buying, paying, giving feedback and even returning goods. Only good customer service and branding do not help; the technology plays an important role in today's connected world. We'll explain it further a bit later.

The blog is just one of the many web-properties that a brand has, but it is a high value property if maintained well over a long term. When the purchaser wants to analyze the product or service more deeply than just making a routine re-purchase decision about grocery or toiletries, blog comes handy.

You must have visited websites of big tech companies such as Apple and Samsung. They showcase the top-selling and latest products before everything else, sometimes annoying the visitor who is NOT interested in that expensive product. He might be interested in trouble-shooting an old product or a comparison between different products or an accessory. These sites do have many segments on customer service, etc but these give matter of fact information - these do not discuss industry trends, new technological developments, why a new technological offer (e.g. an app or a curved design or...) is good or bad. Blog fulfills this gap beautifully and increases the credibility of the website by a good margin, if it is maintained well and discusses matters without prejudice to competitors.

What really is omnichannel in the context of retail marketing?


Omnichannel vision works something like this (and more): Imagine yourself inside a multi-brand departmental store where you've gone to buy some  products. Before taking the buying decision, won't you like to know each product's details and instantly compare them with other brands and also other offers from the same brand? You may want to know whether something completely new has come to market that is better than what you have been purchasing. You'd want to instantly know hundreds of why-how-when-where questions that come to your mind. You'd also like to see what users say about these products. You'd even want to try a sample then and there. Once you selected your merchandise, you'd want to instantly make payment (without standing in queue) and the product delivered either there itself or at home at your convenience. You might like the delivery boy to take back anything that you don't find suitable and instantly make refund. You might want to give feedback and the company instantly responding to it in a positive way. All this must be recorded somewhere and should come handy when you later make a purchase from this or some other departmental store. To top it, how about getging your loyalty reward right away and a loyalty discount offer the next time you search for a product or visit a store relating to that brand / product? Won't you also expect a better product based upon your feedback? 

How does the company provide all that experience to you, and seamlessly? That is where thinking omnichannel comes.

Omnichannel has to be all-pervasive but that should not make the company burn the candle from both ends. It should prioritize and customize channels. It should evolve over time by thinking ahead.

Use of available technologies and investment in future tech is important especially for growing retailers and sellers. All the channels work together based on available data (which can bulge too soon), its processing almost real time and its use through different platforms. Without that, omnichannel is not likely to work when the client base grows and sales are made over large geographies.

Offline and online both are important. Whether for selling products or networking, not being available offline is like ignoring a huge potential market / audience. In developed countries, a trend is emerging of online-only retailers venturing into offline. In fast-growing economies such as China and India, the offline-online synergy is happening too, though in a different direction: old-time retailers lapping up online in a big way.

Mobile and app use is growing in making purchase decisions and payments, as well as socialization. Apps, if made properly, help in integrating many or all online activities. They also help by directing traffic towards offline stores. Same goes for new devices, including wearable tech.

We must remember that the customer lives in a universe of his own, which often is very small - revolving round his family, office, local market, gym, park and picnic spots. So, unless the retailer approaches him through local presence, much of his experience may not be 'seamless', something that omnichannel vision demands. Localization is and has always been important for sellers. Online-only retailers are learning it the hard way and turning local, sometimes hyper-local.

Integration has to be front-end as well as back-end. Processes need to be integrated back-end while the front-end must make it easy to move from one platform to another if need be. The transition (e.g. website to store; app to website to payment gateway to reward-disbursal) must be smooth and painless for the customer. When the flow is disrupted, it must be easy to pick up from where one left (e.g. from website, the customer wants to compare products: he must be given that choice there itself and he should not go away but come back to where he'd left.)

We leave you here, hoping that you apply the principles on your blog and other social media properties. If nothing more, just linking all social accounts for better visibility. Happy blogging!

January 14, 2016

Why google rejected my adsense application? ... and what should I do?

Google AdSense pays. It pays handsomely if things are done right and lady luck is not too unfavorable.

Of late, AdSense requests seem to be getting rejected in higher numbers than before, mostly because of laziness on part of the blogger or his greed to earn big bucks overnight.

We have seen comments on the web that new bloggers cannot get AdSense accounts approved, Google does not approve blogs on free platforms, etc etc. By our experience with blogging and through discussions with bloggers, we are sure that for an ethical and hard-working blogger, there is nothing to worry. However, it is always better to take precautions so that the chances of success increase. Don't we fill up forms and prepare resume carefully and check them again and again when applying for a job?

This article is organized into three parts:
  • What you should do to get AdSense account easily approved.
  • What you should NOT do, so that your application is approved and you are not penalized later.
  • What you should do if by chance Google has disapproved your application.

 

What should I do so that Google does not reject my AdSense application?

 

  • Fill the form carefully. Give correct email ID that is connected with the blog. Place the approval code in the right place.
  • Maintain your blog/ website well. Though poorly maintained websites too get approval, it helps if the offered website looks professional.
  • Place a page on yourself, e.g. an 'About Us' page. This, again, is not mandatory but serves to identify the author of the website / blog and adds to the overall authority of the blog.

 

What should I NOT do in relation to AdSense?


Avoid the following during the process of approval and even after the AdSense account has been approved. Not following Google's various policies on content, ads etc may lead to termination of the account later on too.

Please also note that while your AdSense account is live, you can put ads on a number of blogs or websites. However, even if one of these flouts Google's policies, the account is likely to be terminated. You will not be able to get it re-approved.

  • Do not submit website/ blog that is under construction or has not been fully developed.
  • Don't fill the blog with irrelevant stuff or stuff that is there only for promotional purposes. 
  • Do not place ads in a way that they compromise navigation of the site.
  • Do not put elements that deceive the visitor into clicking on ads. Similarly, don't have links that take the visitor to unintended destinations.
  • Do not put content on your blog for which you do not have copyright or permission. Do not put content copy-pasted from others.
  • Do not drive traffic to the blog by spurious, wrong and illegal means including link farms. 
  • Do not solicit clicks on advertisements or go for paid clicks. 
  • Do not put ads in places not meant for that, e.g. popups, emails or software.
  • Don't have inappropriate content on the website/ blog. This includes pornographic and adult content; content that generates hatred or violence; promotion and sale of weapons; filling of forms etc that may hurt the privacy of children; promotion and sale of counterfeit goods, alcohol and drinks; and so on.

What should I do if my application is rejected?


If despite following do's and don'ts given above, Google rejects your application, take notice. Chances are that you have done something that looks improper to Google; of course, in rare cases Google too can go wrong. 

  • Please note that you can put AdSense on a blog only when you have the right to change HTML code of the blog. Among major free blogging platforms, only Blogger allows that.
  • Look at the advice given above about what NOT to do. Take care that you are not flouting any of them.
  • If Google has given you the reason while rejecting the application, that is what you need to look at. Take corrective action and re-submit. Technical corrections need no further elaboration here. You can see this help topic on problems in filling AdSense form.
  • If it is a business account that you have applied for, Google will likely be more finicky about your payee name, company name etc.
  • If the reason is insufficient content, tank up the blog with good content over a period (not in one go) and re-submit after a few weeks.
  • If Google found the content inappropriate, remove all such content. Give fresh content that is as per Google's content policy, and re-submit.
  • Remove ads from other PPC networks (affiliate ads will generally not interfere with AdSense).
  • If you are from India or China, your blog must be at least 6 months old before Google approves it.
  • If your account is not approved despite taking corrective action, you need to apply afresh through a new email account.
  • Please also note that at present Google does not allow more than one account for the same publisher. It means, you cannot put AdSense ads of two accounts on the same blog. If you want another account, apply separately.

Resources from Google:
AdSense Program Policies
Languages that AdSense supports
Prohibited content

January 12, 2016

Easily improve understanding of html and web pages

We showcase good blogs. We showcase good software and tools for bloggers that we find on the web. We also showcase authoritative and dependable websites.  This time, let's share one nice website for learning concepts of web languages.
 
HTML-for-bloggers
Let web lingo not scare you!

The site we're talking about is W3Schools The articles on this site are written in simple language with examples, and in a modular way i.e. you can go to articles of different levels of expertise. 

The site offers guidance not only on HTML - the universal language for creating web pages - but also other associated programming languages. These include JavaScript, XML, PHP, ASP.NET and SQL. In HTML, there are tutorials about graphics, games, maps and CSS (style sheet) too.

You might have realized that knowing a bit of HTML always helps in blogging and website maintenance even if you are not a techie. If you have a blog on Blogger, you can experiment with many minor HTML tweaks such as putting internal links / tags. If you are slightly more adventurous, you can change the looks of webpages, add functionalities here and there, customize pages and widgets better, add scripts and so on. The least, these simple tutorials and references add to your understanding of how websites work.

You can play with codes given in examples and instantly test them in a testing window. 

The site is free as far as learning is concerned. W3School runs certificate courses, of course on payment.  

Disclaimer:
We are in no way associated with W3Schools.

January 6, 2016

All you wanted to know about #hashtag

Hashtag (# sign) is everywhere on the web these days. However, in absence of clarity on use of hashtag, it is being used indiscriminately. Sometimes this hurts the very purpose for which it was created, that is, greater visibility. That's why this post. [updated in Feb 2016]
hashtag-on-twitter

The use of hashtag on social media started in 2007. It was used in Twitter to make words instantly searchable like any hyperlink, and for finding and grouping all tweets related to that expression. The basic purpose remains the same till date. So, if you put an expression '#CleanTheWorld' in your tweet, and if a visitor clicks on it, he will be shown all recent tweets on which this hastag has been used. Similarly, if he searches for this expression on Twitter, he is likely to see your tweet in the search page.

Hashtag is now being used on other social platforms, sometimes with some good sense and often wrongly by hashtag-crazy people. We have seen some Google Plus accounts with posts full of hashtags, which only harms the prospects of such accounts. Google itself puts relevant hashtags around posts.

We'd limit this discussion to use of hashtag on Twitter, as this is the platform optimized for this.

When and how should hashtag be used?

We should use hashtag when we want to propagate or promote something on Twitter. In general, this 'something' would include a thought, an issue, an event, but not a specific product. Most people use hashtags to spread a thought or support a cause or criticize something they dislike, thus trending it. Businesses often use it to promote a fad associated with their brands, or a campaign. Hashtags are now being used more and more for directed conversations on Twitter through Twitter chats and contests.

Hashtag best practices

1. Use relevant expressions / keywords with hashtag. Do not use hashtag expressions that have no relation with the topic of the tweet.

2. Use hashtags already in use. It helps if you use a hashtag that is already popular and is relevant to your subject. Inventing new hashtags for your needs is fine but these would take long time and you will have to work hard to make them popular.

3. Use hashtags that are short and memorable. When using long expressions, they must be such that people would recall them easily. Conversely, don't use abbreviations unless they make a sense.

4. Use Capital Letters and numbers to separate words. When using more than one word, capitalize each word for easy readability as well as recall. You can see the difference between these two: #ChampionsLeague vs #championsleague. You can also use 2 for to and 4 for for to separate words (e.g. #Volunteers4charity).

How not to use hastags on Twitter

1. Putting too many hashtags in one tweet. In one tweet, you should put only one or two hashtags, rarely three, but never more than that. Even three 
looks a bit too much.
hashtags-on-twitter
Too many hashtags!


2. Using hashtag just because the expression looks great to you. If you are in love with some expressions, do promote them but not just by putting # sign before them. There are better ways to do so, such as writing more about them on your blog or discussing them over on social media. 

3. Spoiling sense and readability with hashtag in sentence. A hashtag can be used anywhere inside the tweet. But if you use it inside a sentence, take care that it does not spoil the readability and sense of the tweet. (A bad example of such tweet: Whenever #socialmediatalksabout something, it goes viral, not when #Obamacriesabout. At the time of writing this post, we found both these hashtags popular, one even trending, but the way these are used to compress phrases hurts readability, isn't it?)

4. Putting too broad or general hashtags. Well, this is not an abuse of hashtag but a waste of this facility unless you are an authority on that subject. For example, if you write tweets on news around you, putting a hashtag #news will not make the tweet viral because this hashtag is too broad and anybody searching for #news will get hundreds of results from big newspapers etc and your tweet will hardly be visible.

5. Repeating the same hashtag in a tweet. Repeating a hashtag does not help; rather it shows the person in poor light. It also irritates.

6. Using hashtags for wrong purposes or without sensitivity. Don't use a hashtag to malign people, spread hatred or aggravate a social situation. Restrain yourself from using hashtag to divert a discussion towards an undesirable direction. Avoid popularizing a hashtag that is likely to be exploited for wrong purposes.

In their urge to get traffic to their opinion, especially on a controversial topic, some people make hashtags with intemperate language. Some use expressions that might hurt a religious or racial minority. Social ethics requires that we do not indulge in promoting hatred or demeaning someone's faith.

Avoid these technical mistakes while putting hashtags

1. Hashtag with only numbers. Twitter does not accept hashtags like this: #1234

2. Text before hashtag sign. If you put letters or numbers before # sign, nothing after this sign is hashtagged.

3. Putting a space or punctuation mark or @ within the tagged expression. Such expressions are not accepted: #World News (The hashtag will be read only as #World) | #It'sFriday (The hashtag will be read as #It)

4. Hashtags on private account. Hashtags work only when the Twitter account is public.

Promoting your hashtag(s)

When you are passionate about some thought / cause and you have created or you follow a hashtag. Show that hashtag on your email signature line and social profiles (on FB, Google Plus, Twitter, website, blog, etc). Same goes for your own hashtag or a hashtag that tags you with a club, a local store, a football team.

Businesses can, additionally, create hashtags around their business: about their products or relating to their area of operation or a social cause that the business promotes. They can promote their hashtags not only on social networks but also by putting these on business cards, writing pads and other stationery, advertisements, presentations, company pamphlets etc.

Hashtag, for what purpose?

Commonsense says that a hashtag would make the connected expression popular, which in turn would help the tweet popular. If the tweet is connected to a blog post or a photo or a video, these should get popular too. 

With this premise, brands have been using hashtags to promote campaigns. But do all hashtags bring traffic? Do they lead to engagement? Is the engagement always helpful?

While majority of campaigns using hashtag get desired results - to varying extent - some backfire. In some cases, poorly constructed hashtags have hurt sentiments or have been seen inappropriate and have received backlash from followers.

In some cases (e.g. when an opinion is sought through a hashtag), there can be very critical responses. Sometimes, trolls have been seen to exploit hashtags and post irrelevant or abusive responses, thus derailing the campaign and embarrassing the brand.


The short point for use of hashtag by persons and businesses is that this should be taken as a tool for promoting thoughts or products on Twitter. Like a physical tool, it would work to its best if used expertly; it would hurt the user if used shabbily or for wrong purposes. 

A 2015 study found that using hashtags on Facebook posts in fact reduced engagement.

January 2, 2016

How to quickly put alt tag on images and reap benefits?

You might have heard about 'alt tag' in relation to HTML or web images. The expression is also often touted when techies discuss search engine optimization (SEO). Yet, this tag is among the least applied ones, though extremely simple to do so. 

What is an HTML tag, and why is ALT TAG special?


HTML is the language in which webpages are written. Even in the Blogger text editor which looks pretty much like a page on MS Word, there is html hidden behind it. It is this language which your browser (e.g. Edge, Safari, Firefox, Chrome) recognizes.

In HTML, there are expressions that perform various functions. For example, if you type Make your blog search-friendly and want to make the text bold, you will have to put a tag for making the text bold. The HTML with this tag looks like this:
<b>Make your blog search-friendly</b>

Alt tag is used for giving a text identity to images. Images cannot be read by search engines and by image disabled browsers. Screen readers for people with defective vision also are not able to read images. The alternative information that describes the image (i.e. in text form) has, therefore, importance in terms of SEO as well accessibility.

How alt tag looks inside source code.
If you are not a tech guy, you will find it interesting to know how the alt tag is actually used on websites. On this webpage that you are reading, right click and from the pop-up menu select 'view source'. A new page opens; this is HTML behind this page. Look for this expression: alt="use-of-alt-tag-on-image" You will see a long line with expression as given in short in the image above. Note that there is an image tag ( <img>) which defines various properties such as height, width and placement of the image. One such property is alt, which defines what text should be read in place of the image by search engines etc. In our example, we have put an image 'alt-image.png' on this post which has use-of-alt-tag-on-image as its alt text. 

How to put alt tag on an image?


You can put alt tag without knowing HTML at all!

On text composers on major blogging platforms (e.g. text editors in Wordpress.com and Blogger) you use the formatting tools and forget the HTML behind the content, isn't it? So is the case with the alt tag.

use-of-alt-tag-on-image
Option of alt tag on image in Blogger post
On Blogger's post editor, click on the image and you get a bar below or above the image. On it, look for 'properties' and click on it. You get three options now. Put the desired text in the text-box for alt text, and that's it! (By the way, on Blogger you can put a caption and a title on the image. Do take care that if you put more than one of these, they should not be exactly the same.)
 
However, if you want to put an alt tag to an image that is not in the text editor, you may have to put the alt tag manually within the <image> tag as shown in the image given above.You will be able to do this only when you have the facility to edit the html code. On Blogger, this is possible: (i) on the blog's main images through Template editor and (ii) on most widgets through Gadget pop-up window.

Some technical terms such as attribute, property and tag have been used loosely so as to keep it simple.