Hiring Social Media Experts

In case you haven’t noticed, everyone that was a search engine expert a few months ago and a “Web 2.0” expert a year or two ago is now a “social media” expert. The transition has occurred so rapidly that the biggest beneficiaries are the business card printers and web designers who have to crank out new brands and identities for the scores of self-styled social media consultants minted every day.

What constitutes a “social media” expert these days? In most cases, not a whole heck of a lot. Most social media gurus are simply folks who are a few steps ahead of the technology curve and got on Twitter and Facebook long before you did. They realize – as does CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and pretty much the rest of the world at this point – that web-based social networks are ubiquitous and free. Whether or not social media offers any tangible benefit to your particular enterprise is often beside the point to these people – they want you promoting your business there, because, well, they’re promoting their business there, so it must be the right thing to do.

But, as I’ve discussed before, the benefits of social networking and media like Facebook and Twitter are minor for many businesses. That often doesn’t matter to social media experts, who tend to assume that you “must” participate in every possible venue in order to fully promote your business. What they won’t tell you is when that might actually be a waste of your time.


Categories: Articles

Microformats and RDFa

The technically inclined might want to check out this article on Google’s newly announced support for certain types of semantic data. This should have an interesting impact on e-commerce, especially complex e-commerce products which have a great deal of options and attributes like promotional products.

Essentially, Google is looking to index information in a more meaningful way so that computers can understand it and provide better results to users. Right now, when Google looks at something like a product page, it really doesn’t know the difference between something like an imprint area and an imprint method, because they are both simply textual information. Google may understand them in the sense that they are similar to other terms in other places, and it may be able to help you find something using that similarity, but at the root, Google doesn’t really know what those terms mean.

XML gives us the ability to structure data in a meaningful way, but it isn’t necessarily available to Google in an html web page. It is only meaningful within a system or when exchanging data with another system.

RDFa attempts to structure and label data in a way that in meaningful to a computer. The development of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) pointed web content in the direction of semantic markup, but RDFa takes this much further by explicitly defining the structured content in a web page for the purpose of indexing and understanding.

If all this is making your head spin, think of this: What if you saw an event on a web page, and could automatically add it to your calendar, with all details correct, with just a single click? What if you could compare the lead times of products across many different websites just using a search engine – say, to find the vendor that has the fastest turnaround time for a given product?

That’s what Google is shooting for, and we will be testing these features and incorporating them into storeBlox over the next few months. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Categories: Articles, General

eBlox launches Mondo Tees

Mondo Tees homepageWe’re proud to announce the launch of Mondo Tees, a consumer e-commerce website specializing in movie-related apparel, posters, DVDs and collectibles.

Mondo Tees is operated by the fine folks at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, another great Austin company. showcases two great strengths of storeBlox: Complete design customization and apparel management. eBlox also built a JavaScript-based dynamic image slider for the homepage that loads thumbnails for all the products in the site and then allows a visitor to quickly scroll through them.

eBlox also developed custom listing styles for categories and searches, and used the storeBlox Banner Management system for rotation of header images on every page load.

The result? A dynamic, appealing merchandise site with a lot of visual “wow!” Check it out!

Categories: General, Launches