It ain't all bad: 10 reasons why social media is GREAT

Social media has a somewhat shoddy reputation. This has only been heightened by the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook. But you know what? It's not all bad - it's actually pretty great.

Three billion people (about 40% of the world’s population) use social media, and we’re spending an average of two hours every day sharing, liking, tweeting and updating on these platforms. So, with social media playing such a big part in our lives, it’s no doubt that news channels and various professionals are picking up on the negative effects of socialising behind a screen.

We’re here to tell you about the positives, and trust us, there are plenty. We’ve whittled it down to our top 10 reasons why social media is truly great.

 

1. Communication is even easier

It’s undeniable that social media increases the ease of communication in a world where people are more mobile than ever before. Facebook Messenger and Skype are the glue bonding long-distance friendships and families. It also offers a type of freedom to people who found traditional forms of communicating difficult; many marginalised groups, such as the elderly and disabled, have created online communities that connect them to people all over the world, or even just down the road. Suddenly, even if you are physically isolated, you can still feel connected and sociable.

 

2. Creating communities

In a similar vein, social media connects like-minded people into communities where they feel safe to discuss different subjects without being ridiculed. Movements like ‘March for our lives’ and ‘#MeToo’ have gained a large majority of their support and grassroots activists through social media. By using hashtags, social media users can create communities that align with their beliefs and provide support (online and in real life). This is a great example of how social media can be misunderstood as a singular activity when really it excels at bringing people together.

Social media connects like-minded people

3. Generating job opportunities

If social media did not exist, I would not be sitting here writing this article. Not because this article is about social media, but because that is my job – to manage social media accounts. Not only that, but younger generations like millennials have really cottoned on to the value of social media as a legitimate brand platform – Justin Bieber was signed to a successful record label after proving his saleability and talents uploading covers and original songs to YouTube. Likewise, Ed Sheeran’s initial success was related to his presence on the video platform. What’s better is that as fans we feel closer to these celebrities – we have literally watched them go from bedroom singers to sell-out arena artists thanks to social media.

 

4. Engaging with customers

Many tech-savvy businesses benefit from having a social media presence, after all, that’s where their audience is. Not only can businesses use it as a tool to increase customer engagement, but customers use it as a tool to contact companies for enquiries and complaints. Twitter is a great example of this, with many large brands having dedicated customer service accounts where customers can get replies within minutes.

 

5. Free lessons in pretty much anything

Have you ever watched a ‘how to’ video on YouTube or Facebook – be that make up tutorials, solving software issues, playing instruments, cooking dishes, gym workouts, etc? Congratulations, you’ve used social media to learn something new! More than ever, we are reaching for our phones to find the answers to everything and anything.

 

6. Breaking news faster than ever

Nothing spreads faster than news on social media. Whether it’s a football club signing, a terrorist incident, a political upset, or a famous couple ending their relationship; chances are, it’ll be trending on Twitter before you can say “Donald Trump”. Twitter is great at breaking the news but problematic at qualifying the facts. After the initial story breaks, the lines between facts and fiction can get a bit blurry, especially on Twitter where 328 million monthly active users can pile in with opinions. But it’s worth remembering that while mistakes can be made more quickly than traditional media, they can also be fixed just as quickly.

Twitter is great at breaking news

7. Sending messages of safety

One of the most useful features Facebook has developed in the past few years is a ‘mark yourself safe’ option, Safety Check. This feature was first established during the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in 2015 but have since been used in acts of terrorism in Paris, Brussels and London. You have the option to mark yourself as ‘safe’ after an incident or natural disaster in your surrounding area, so your friends and family all over the globe know you’re OK. Features like this can relieve some of the pressure off overloaded infrastructures where disaster has struck.

 

8. Communal learning

One unlikely outcome of the meteoric rise of social media use is a better communal understanding of some subjects. Cast your mind back a month or so and you may remember social media raving about an audio clip that divided listeners. Some of them could hear ‘Yanny’ and some of them would hear ‘Laurel’ – we bet if it did find its way onto your feed, you now know why we hear different names. This is a learned experience; something you have learnt simply from the hype of social media. Although they seem trivial trends and tend to be over in a day or two, some pretty interesting articles have been written about what we can learn about ourselves from these communal discussions.

 

9. A global marketplace

The integration of online shopping into a selection of different apps has made it easier than ever before to make purchases (we’re counting this as positive, but your bank balance might not agree). This isn’t just about YouTube and Instagram influencers trying to tout their newest clothing collaborations; Instagram has enabled many designers, photographers and illustrators to curate followings and sell their work to audiences all over the world.

 

10. Social media gives everyone a voice

The final point to be made is that there are no gatekeepers when you publish via your social profile (aside from each platform’s terms of use) – you can write anything, and anyone has the chance to view it. Social media tends to be more democratized than traditional print media (which hasn’t always offered the most representative sample of voices) and it has given everyone a medium through which to express themselves.

 

There you have it – our top 10 reasons why social media is great. Considering the improvements that social media has made to lots of aspects of our lives, as evidenced above, it seems a little harsh to write it off in one fell swoop.

What do you think, have we persuaded you into giving social media another chance?


Email etiquette:
Do you fall foul of these pet peeves?

269 billion emails were sent every day in 2017.

It’s no surprise that we’ve reached a point of ’email etiquette’ – unwritten rules about how emails should be written, read, and sent. The thing is, not everyone abides by these rules and it can get pretty frustrating.

So, what’s getting on our nerves about emails? We’ve listed our top offenders below.

DO “Reply to all”

Let’s say we are sending an email to person A and CC’ing person B and C. When person A replies, they don’t “reply to all”. Why?! Think about it: person B and C have been copied in for a reason, probably because they have some sort of involvement in the matter, yet when person A responds, they are ignoring those two people who probably need to know what’s going on.

The only occasion whereby you should omit the persons CC’d is if the conversation turns into something that does not involve them. Maybe they’re in Accounts and you’re now discussing design with person A – it’s perfectly acceptable to remove B and C from the conversation. Otherwise, PLEASE REPLY ALL.

NB: We should also state it’s imperative you only CC people necessary – no one wants to receive unwanted emails, ever.

No email signature

If we had a pound for every time we’ve tried to find someone’s contact details in their email signature, only to find they don’t have one, we’d be rich. Or at least £100 better off. You should make it as easy as possible for your customers or clients to be able to contact you. Adding your phone number and website address to your email signature not only achieves this but drives traffic to your website. Better yet, it’s completely free to do. It’s a no-brainer!

Clear subject lines

Remember when we said 269 billion emails are sent every day?* Think about how many emails you receive daily. Now think again – how many of these emails have a clear, concise subject line? We can’t stress enough how important a good subject line is, and quite frankly, we’re much more likely attend to an email with a clear subject line as opposed to a confusing one – or worse – NO subject line. If you deal with multiple clients/locations/stores/teams, try to structure your subject line like this: who – what – action. For example, “Wimbledon Tennis – Social media strategy – Decision needed”. Easy.

Beware of the dreaded typo.

Businesses that use anonymous email addresses

Have you ever received a generic response from a company signed off with “Sales Team” or something similar? We understand why small businesses might use this tactic – to appear larger – but wouldn’t you much rather know who you’re talking to? Even just a first name will suffice. It makes your correspondence much more personal and tells your customer/client who to contact in the future if required.

Proof-reading

Before you click “send”, take a quick glance at your email. You’ll be surprised how many emails we receive with typos and whole sentences missing. This can be extremely frustrating, especially when these are instructions that need to be followed. We use Grammarly to flag our typos and grammatical errors.

What annoys you about emails? We’d love to know. Comment below and who knows, we might even add it to our list…

 

*Source


GDPR:
How we help you

How does GDPR affect the data stored on your website hosted by Terra Ferma Media? Yes, but it's all under control writes David Fernando.

The GDPR deadline (25th May 2018) is almost upon us. Businesses across the EU have been slowly waking up to the notion that certain things need to be in order to be completely compliant with the new legislation. If you haven’t yet got on board with any of this, the best source of information in the UK is the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), specifically here.

But how does GDPR affect the data stored on your website hosted by Terra Ferma Media? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

"Don't worry, we've got your back"

As the owner of your website, you are what’s known as the controller and owner of your customer data. By working with that data on your behalf, we, Terra Ferma Media is the processor of that data.

Here’s a few other things we’re also doing on your behalf:

  1. We’ll be writing to those of you who need to update any sign-up forms that may be present on your websites.
  2. We’ll also flag up to those of you that should have an updated privacy policy on your site (and suggest a sample for you to use which we can then upload).
  3. If we design and distribute e-newsletters on your behalf, the system we use is already GDPR compliant. However, we do suggest that any customers who have not opened one of your emails for some time be removed from the mailing list.
  4. If you host your website with us, don’t worry, you’re already covered.

Our hosting partner, WP Engine, is the world’s largest WordPress website hosting specialist, renowned for being tip-top secure (as well as fast, easy to work with and all that other good stuff). On the matter of GDPR, they state,

“WP Engine continually monitors developments in data security, privacy, and compliance around the globe, and we have invested considerable resources in preparing for EU Regulation 2016/679 (“GDPR”) which comes into force May 25, 2018. We have always upheld the core principles behind GDPR, as evidenced by our early adoption of the EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield programs, and take very seriously the trust our customers place in us when they choose to store personal data on our platform.

WP Engine will comply with GDPR’s requirements, both as a controller of our customers’ account data and a processor of the end-user personal data our customers control. In support of our customers’ own compliance efforts, we are updating our privacy terms to reflect the obligations we have as a processor under GDPR. ”

So there you have it. If you host your website through Terra Ferma Media, the data you store will be protected in compliance with GDPR.

This is made even more secure by the fact that all sites hosted with us have SSL certificates, meaning that any data transmitted during the normal operation of your website is encrypted and cannot be accessed by unauthorised 3rd parties.

So whilst there are other areas of your business you will need to audit for GDPR compliance, at least you know that your website, hosted by Terra Ferma Media will be fully compliant.


The AI Revolution:
What is it and why will it matter?

AI is the buzz word in today’s tech world. Artificial Intelligence is leaping out of science fiction and into reality. But what is it? And how does it differ from what we think it is in films and books? Web Development Manager, Adam Leone examines...

Whereas film directors like James Cameron and the like will have us believe that artificial intelligence involves legions of time travelling, Austrian flavoured robots seeking to destroy the human race – the truth of the matter is that we’re nowhere near that point and we’re unlikely to see the day that technology takes over humanity. (Personally, I’m more worried more about some of the people in power than a bunch of robots).

The reason being is that Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have recently formed a partnership that evolves around Artificial Intelligence and its benefit to people and society. This organisation is called the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society – a super catchy title if I say so myself! Their aim is to set the principals on what AI is and what it should be used for as the industry develops.

"With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon."
- Elon Musk

What is AI?

To answer this question as simply as possible, it’s best to understand the principals of a normal computer, which work like this…

  1. Input – We input some data in the form of symbols, numbers, equations…etc.
  2. Processing – The computer manipulates the inputted data based on a set of algorithms. An algorithm is a set of rules that we the human has set that are then followed
  3. Output – the result of the above symbols and processed rules on a screen, piece of paper, server or hard drive

With AI however…

  1. Input – input consists of sight (symbols, objects), sound (language, music, noises), touch (temperature, texture, pressure), smell (odours, minute particles) or taste (chemicals, sweet, sour, ingredients)
  2. Processing – The computer uses the input and uses pattern matching, logic, problem solving and knowledge representation (the key ingredient) to determine the output
  3. Output – The computer will react based on the above. The reaction could be anything from printing something on a screen to launching a series of nuclear warheads…

Why does AI matter?

AI matters because it’s a completely new technology and will form a whole new industry. With all new technologies and industries, it will either complement or disrupt the world in which we live. This is assuming that AI will explode into the mainstream.

According to Stephen Hawking, humanity is hindered by evolution, which is a slow process taking place over the course of thousands of years, compared to the growth in processing power outlined in Moors Law.

AI machines could soon replace jobs and history tells us that unemployment is a by product of all technological advances. Elon Musk has described the birth of AI as “summoning the demon” which in its self is a very telling indictment. Essentially what he means is, we don’t know what we’re dealing with.

Alternatively, if artificial intelligence is in fact, artificial (fake intelligence) based on what we, the human race, tell it – does this mean that AI will lack the ability to innovate? In which case, the moveable definition of what a robot is will become no more than a convenience item for every home. Wouldn’t it be great if all of the things that take up time in our lives (like cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing…etc) could be done by a machine, based on a lifestyles.

What do I think?

I’ve only done some light research for the purposes of this article and it’s safe to say that there’s swathes of documentation on AI and it’s potential to the human race, be it good or bad.

I haven’t yet made up my mind on whether AI is something that should be explored or stifled.

If AI does form a new industry, I believe that it should be more regulated than other technologies. We should keep on top of developments in Artificial Intelligence so that it doesn’t lead to the destruction of mankind.

Is that really too much to ask?


How much is your privacy worth?

Do you think you behave differently when you know you're being watched? Web Development Manager Adam Leone discusses the issue of privacy in the ever-growing world of home devices and assistants.

In 2013, Dave Eggers wrote “The Circle” which is the story of Mae Holland and her place as a new employee at The Circle – a technology company aimed at developing new, sophisticated consumer based products.

After being recruited as a customer experience type person – Mae becomes overwhelmed with the facilities available for employees at The Circle, these include gyms, recreational activities, free food and parties… (Any of this sound familiar?)

The Circle is pioneering the SeeChange program, where participants wear a light, portable, camera that records every move and conversation that you make. Politicians are encouraged to wear them in a bid to become more transparent and appeal to voters. “Going transparent” is then coined as a term you use when you decide to enter the SeeChange program.

There’s a lot of toing and froing as to whether this is a good thing or not – this does after all make the world a more truthful place to live in.

I won’t spoil the story of Mae Holland for you – but the main focus is that The Circle has found a way to aggregate and store the moves and conversations of every individual – and then use that information to satisfy their own means. More importantly, they’ve made all of this reasonable and socially acceptable.

The Circle has been made into a film starring Emma Watson and Tom Hanks – and I for one can’t wait to see it!  

"participants wear a light, portable, camera that records every move and conversation that you make"

Have you ever watched the Black Mirror episode called The Entire History of You? In this episode, the characters have been given a device called a “grain” which is implanted into their necks. The grain records everything they experience and they can then play back those moments in front of their own eyes, or on a screen. The story follows what impact the grain has both mentally and socially.

Becoming paranoid and less happy is a symptom of constantly going back through those experiences and analysing them. The sad part is, ultimately there’s nothing you can do about those actions except watch them over and over again. These experiences are stored somewhere at your request or approval.

The above may all sound a bit far-fetched, but is it?

It’s almost no secret that smartphones are recording your every move and conversations. We know we’re being tracked via GPS so that the maps app works perfectly. And we all have those moments whereby we look at the adverts on our phone or on a computer and realise “I was talking about that with so and so the other day…”

Google and Amazon have taken living in The Circle and recording the entire history of you one step further by selling their representatives (or assistants) to live in your own home – rent free, you’ll have to pay if you would like one of these.

I am of course talking about the new wave of home devices called Alexa and Google Home.

These devices can manage your temperature, music, shopping lists, other mobile devices – and you can even talk to them and ask questions. These devices are on all the time, so no need to worry about them breaking down or running out of battery. Great!

They are of course recording your private, home based conversations let’s not forget – but that’s OK, because you wouldn’t be doing anything you wouldn’t want anyone else to find out about right? So let’s say goodbye to privacy and rejoice at the age of transparency. How do you feel about that?

I’m not against home devices, but I’m just taking a moment to stop and think about the implications of owning one of these robots.

What is Google and Amazon selling here? What’s in the small print of owning one of these assistants? How much easier will our lives really be?
I can’t say that I’m convinced at this privacy trade off. Surely if Google, Amazon, Facebook and the like want to get hold of our thoughts via conversation – to sell to advertisers, shouldn’t they start paying us?
OK – their services are free to use, but surely this method of infiltrating someone’s private life now tips the balance? If they did pay you for this private information – how much is your privacy worth?

I’d love to know your thoughts, especially if you work for Google or Amazon!


The end of Internet Explorer

You might remember that Microsoft released Windows 10 late last year. Ringing any bells? What you may, or may not, have noticed, is Microsoft Edge. That's Microsoft's new web browser, their answer to the slow death of Internet Explorer (IE).

IE has been losing the battle of web browsers for years now, particularly since Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have been on the scene. Microsoft knew they needed to get their act together and hence created Microsoft Edge, their brand new web browser. Admittedly, we don't quite think Edge has taken off as well as they'd liked it to - I guess the Chrome and Firefox users are thinking "If it ain't broke...", which is fair enough. Both browsers work really well.

This being said, Microsoft Edge is slowly taking over Internet Explorer completely. In fact, as of January 12th, the software giant will no longer provide security updates or technical support for IE 8, 9 and 10. That means if you're still using those browsers, you could be vulnerable to threats. Microsoft are keeping IE 11 for now, so we'd recommend upgrading to the latest version if you want to hold on to the browser. Otherwise, you'll need to pack in IE altogether and get used to Edge.

To be honest, we're not surprised to see the back of IE. We've not got the best wrap with it, in fact, we've found it quite problematic in the past. We are strong believers in Google, so our advice would be to make the move to Google Chrome if you're wondering where to turn.

RIP Internet Explorer.


25% of the Internet is managed by WordPress

Breaking news! WordPress co-founder Matt Mullenweg broke some pretty big news on 9th November this year - WordPress now manages 25 percent of the Internet. That means a quarter of all websites built are made using WordPress - that's a LOT!

The guys at W3Techs (responsible for the most reliable and extensive web technology surveys) crunched the numbers and broke down the Internet by popular content management systems, and WordPress far exceeded number two on the list, Joomla, at 2.8 percent.

CMS stats

W3Tech also shows that WordPress has been the fastest growing CMS, in fact useage grew 1.7 percent since January to now (November 2015), which is a huge increase compared to the competition.

cms stats 2

Mullenweg mentioned that these numbers usually change with every month, but that it's pretty exciting WordPress supports one in four of all websites.

It's not gone to the co-founder's head though, as Mullenweg remarked “The big opportunity is still the 57% of websites that don’t use any identifiable CMS yet, and that’s where I think there is still a ton of growth for us (and I’m also rooting for all the other open source CMSes)".

The future definitely seems bright for WordPress!

Source


A lot can change in four years...

Websites are living, breathing things, and like us humans, they age too. But unlike us humans, websites can actually grow younger (we're totally not jealous) with a little bit of help from, well, us! And here's a perfect example:

One of our longest standing clients, Champor-Champor, a super delicious Thai restaurant in the heart of London, came to us over four years ago looking to create a website for their swanky restaurant. Obviously we jumped at the chance and created a beautiful, easy-to-navigate and fully functioning website.

Fast forward four years and guess what? Things have changed. WordPress designs are more seamless, better designed for user experience and generally look modern and cutting-edge. Let's just say it takes a lot less time for a website to become vintage than say, a car! It was definitely time for a refresh.

So what did we change? Pretty much everything. Whilst we used the same content (which has been continuously updated throughout the years), we're using a brand new parallax theme which essentially structures the website into one fell swoop (or one fell scroll, if you will). Parallax themes have become really popular over the last year and can really add that "wow" factor to a website.

We've also utilised some professional images our client had, displaying them in a full screen way that their old website simply wouldn't have been able to achieve. We could go on, but simply put: the whole website has had a complete upheaval and refresh. And we (that's us AND our client) love it. Have a peep here.

Trust us, a LOT can change in four years. In fact, a lot can change in even just a day with the ever-evolving internet, whether it's new features, new apps and plugins, or simply new trends. It's definitely crucial to keep up with the Joneses when it comes to websites, and luckily that's our job! Think your website might need a refresh? We're always happy to have an informal chat, so pop us an email or give us a bell.


Five reasons why WordPress is the best for blogging and websites

Here at Terra Ferma we’re pretty evangelical about WordPress. As a free blogging     platform and the backbone for premium websites, Wordpress has loads of advantages for different users: businesses and bloggers alike can benefit from its dynamic themes, SEO friendliness, fantastic functionality, incredible usability...the list goes on. In fact, 15% of the top 1,000,000 websites in the world use WordPress (including The New York Times and Time Magazine Blog). This can all seem a bit intimidating for the humble blogger, yet this evolving and expanding platform should still be the top choice for your blog.

Almost five years ago I decided that I’d like to channel a passion for cooking and eating into a blog. I’d admit it; I had no idea what I was doing. Since then I’ve learned a few things about how easy it can be to create, nurture and expand a Wordpress blog.

So here are five reasons why WordPress is the only word in blogging:

  1. You don’t have to be a computer whiz to use Wordpress

Creating a WordPress site; choosing a theme; and uploading your first post is simplicity itself. As long as you know how to open a web browser, you can create your very own blog. Of course, if you would like help developing your site, you can get all the support you need from WordPress savvy website development experts like us!

 

  1. Perfect for the technologically savvy

WordPress blogs can be as simple or as sophisticated as you want. With lots of additional functions, it offers the opportunity for users to gradually develop their blog. Whereas other blogging platforms leave you high and dry when you want to change things up a bit, Wordpress always offers easy ways to improve your site.

 

  1.  It offers amazing themes

WordPress offers a fantastic choice of free designs as well as a huge catalogue of Premium themes. Whether you want a personal gardening blog, or one to showcase your business, there’ll be a theme to accommodate it!

 

  1. It’s incredibly popular

Wordpress really dominates the blogging world and has been around for over a decade. This means that users instinctively know their way around Wordpress sites, making it really easy for site visitors to navigate. You might have fantastic content, but if your reader can’t make head to toe of your blog’s layout, they’re not going to stick around.

 

  1. Content is easy to manage

In the digital world, content is king. It doesn’t matter how flashy your site is, if you can’t easily manage and clearly display your fantastic content, you won’t be able to draw the readers in. WordPress also have a great app – perfect for uploading posts and photos on the move!

 

Perhaps the best thing about WordPress is its potential. If you’d like to find out how to get the most out of your blog then please get in touch.