Four Things to Look for in a WordPress Theme

Whether you’re building a website or blog for personal or business reasons, WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems out there and it certainly provides a safe and effective choice for your site. However, once you’ve signed up to WordPress and figured out your website name, it’s time to begin the hugely important task of putting your site together. For many WordPress site owners, this will mean choosing a WordPress theme. With literally thousands to choose from, you won’t have any trouble finding some that you like. But, what should you look for in a theme that’s going to suit your site well and keep your visitors happy too?

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#1. Responsive Design

One of the first things that you should do when selecting a WordPress theme is rule out any themes that do not come with a responsive design. With more and more people today using their smartphones and tablets to access the web, a theme that looks awful on an iPhone screen is never going to go down well. Along with irritating your visitors, an unresponsive theme can also wreak havoc with your SEO efforts and cause your rankings to drop, so they are best avoided as they’re quickly becoming a thing of the past.

#2. Simple Navigation System

When choosing your WordPress theme, it’s a good idea to put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and imagine what you’d like to find on your website. For most web users, being able to easily find what they want on a website is a very important factor that can easily sway their opinion of your brand. A simple, well-laid out navigation system that categorizes all the different parts of your site and makes anything easy to find should be one of the top priorities when picking a theme.

#3. Easy Customization

When starting your own website, no matter whether you’re doing it to bring in an income or for a personal venture, the last thing that you want is a site that looks exactly like somebody else’s! Because of this, using a theme that you can easily customize to fit in with your business or personal brand is essential. Opt for a theme that allows you to change colors, add images, and tweak the layout if needed to come up with a unique layout for your site alone. Don’t forget that you can also get in touch with the professionals at Snap Agency to put together a custom-made theme for you too.

#4. Plug-Ins

The type of plug-ins that you’ll need from your WordPress theme will depend on the purpose of your website. For example, if you’re planning to make an income from selling items online, then you’ll need to opt for a theme that is compatible with WooCommerce so you can set up an online store with a secure payment system. Make a list of the various features that you require from your theme to help you narrow your search down.

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Five Ways to Tell Your Marketing Strategy is Working

At first glance, this would seem to be a rather elementary topic. After all, one of the best ways to tell your marketing strategy is working is whether or not you’re generating more revenue after a suitable time period has passed. However, while this is indeed a significant measure of failure or success, there are other aspects to consider.

Are You Seeing an Uptick in Traffic?

A strong marketing strategy is going to bring more people in to take a look. So how much of an increase in traffic are you seeing? How much of it is organic from search? How much came in directly from your advertisements and social media? Paying attention to where your new visitors are coming from will give you a strong idea of what’s working and what isn’t. When you see you’re getting better traction in certain areas, redouble your efforts in those to make them even more effective.

How Long Do Those New Visitors Stick Around?

More traffic is always a wonderful thing, but an even better thing is when those new visitors spend enough time on the site to see what it’s about—and buy something. In other words, your marketing efforts are definitely working when the majority of the new visitors to the site “take off their shoes and sit a spell.” Better known as your “bounce rate,” most sites see 50 to 55 percent of new visitors stay on the page. Anything over 60 percent is considered fantastic. In other words, your marketing strategy is working rather well when your bounce rate is 40 percent or less.

What’s Your Click-Through Rate?

If first-time visitors are drawn to your blog by your content marketing efforts, how many click through to your ecommerce pages? If you set up a store using free website templates  like those of a software provider like Shopify, you’ll get a suite of analytics designed to help you measure this activity. If you’ve successfully woven contextual links into your content as part of your marketing strategy, you should be seeing some pretty strong numbers in this area.

Do They Convert?

Obviously, the goal of this endeavor is to convert visitors into buyers. When people do click through to your ecommerce pages are they also buying? What are they buying? How much are they spending? Track the activities of your sites’ users so you can get a firm grasp upon their responses to your efforts.

You should be able to discern how many purchases were influenced by your blog content, the average amount of those purchases and how effective that aspect of your site is at generating revenue. If the numbers show steady growth, your strategy is working. If they don’t, it’s time to see what needs adjusting.

Is the ROI Sufficient?

When you measure the sales you made against the amount you spent to attract the new visitors, does the return on the investment (ROI) pencil out? How much did it cost to get each one of those new visitors? Did they spend more on your site than you spent to get them there and stock the merchandise they bought?  As we alluded to at the beginning of this article, the absolute best one of the five ways to tell your marketing strategy is working is if you made more profit after implementing it than you did before putting it into play.

Keep in mind, while increased sales are absolutely desired, exposure is important too. Sometimes people just look around a new site, then comparison-shop another one before returning and making a purchase. If you can them to visit, you’ve got a chance to sell them.

Implementing Visuals to Your Online Marketing Strategy

Did you know that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual? Moreover, according to BrainRules, when we hear information, we’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, our ability to recall information increases to 65%.

Considering these facts, visual content becomes number one deciding factor for buying products and is more successful than any other tools of marketing communications.

 

As a marketer, it’s important to realize the value of visual content and understand how exactly you can get the most out of your marketing efforts by using visual content in your campaigns. But, when you think of an effective visual content, what comes to your mind?

4 Types of Visual Content that Works

 

Eye-Catching Pictures and Photographs

The first thing that any brand should use and utilize is photography. Especially when it comes to social media, pictures are much better because a lot of people do not like to read a lot of text. You have to think how this image is going to portray your audience. Is this something that they can use or is this something that you are posting just for entertainment? Think about how you are engaging with your audience with that image. Starbucks shows how to make creative visual content that describes what brand is about and at the same time delicately promotes their products. In their original photographs, Starbucks regularly informs about happy hours and other promo activities.

 

Infographics

Also known as information graphic, an infographic is a visual representation of information and data put to you in the form of a chart, graph, or image accompanied by minimal text intended to give an easily understood overview often of a complex subject. Infographic is used by all major brands that mainly are illustrating interesting facts aimed at promoting their marketing campaigns. Red Bull demonstrates one of the greatest examples of using visual content to drive customer’s attention by producing videos, animated ads, and infographics. Red Bull’s Flying Car infographic describes the history of the flying car to get some attention to their International Air Race competition. One of the reasons their visual content works so well is because it always goes in line with their mission and tagline, “Red Bull gives you wings.”

 

Engaging Videos

Creating videos is a great way to boost your content marketing strategy as this is a unique tool for storytelling, which can be used on nearly all social media platforms.

You can create the video:

  • To engage your audience by offering fun and interactive content and asking your users to take part in a contest or just create a ‘wow’ effect as Oreo did with their #OreoDunkSweepstakes that involved celebrities.
  • To inform your audience by offering them tips and tricks about your product, or making a series of short how-to videos.
  • To use video testimonials that are made by your loyal customers or brand ambassadors.

 

Animation

With so many video content that is trying to get viewer’s attentions, it has become very difficult for companies to stand out. That’s why using animated videos can be a creative way to tell your unique story to the audience. Animated videos can become a viral content which is the most sought after by marketers. According to Spiel, finding a creative way to mix up your visual content can allow you to express ideas more effectively and set your brand apart from traditional written content that is published every day. One of the best examples of moving away from traditional visual content is transforming static content into animated infographic. Although there is no exact answer on what kind of content works best, it is absolutely clear that variety should be a key to clever visual marketing.

 

Keys to Effective Visual Content

What does effective visual content mean? Here are the basic rules for a video content that will help you to captivate your audience.

 

  1. Combine Text with Visuals

 

This is one of the best ways to make your content stand out from others with appealing and useful facts. Any content is a means of information that’s why, insert informative text into the image, add a quotation or ask a question. If you include the text into the image, make sure it is laconic and clear. TripAdvisor can be an example of how brands make visual content both informative and engaging by asking their users about their travel experience and then including quotes into the images.

 

  1. Be Consistent with Your Content Creation

Everything you show on the visuals becomes a part of your brand identity. That’s why, always consider design, voice, and personality of your message that you deliver through visuals. If you have doubts whether this content goes in line with your brand, you’d better not use it.

 

  1. Make Your Content Diverse

Your users do not want to see the same type of visual content every day. Combine videos, memes, infographics and animation so that you could grab and keep the attention of your audience.

 

There is no doubt anymore that visuals have become a substantial part of marketing. Whether your business goal is to build an audience, enhance your brand or add more engagement, visual content can be both creative and fun way to achieve those goals.

How to Create a More Innovative Culture at a Traditional Company

workplace innovation

In some ways, a traditional company can be great. The concept of a traditional company evokes ideas of something tried and true, and something that’s followed a formula of success over many years or even many decades. Many family-owned businesses and long-standing corporations are often considered traditional in many ways.

At the same time, it’s almost impossible to remain entirely competitive in a fast-paced business world if you don’t embrace some ideas of innovation and new technology.

There are ways to balance tradition with innovation and create a culture that incorporates both.

Below are some ways to make this work across your organization.

Start Small

Your employees and even corporate leadership may be reluctant to embrace entirely new ways of doing things, but start small. Introduce relevant, manageable and value-creating technology and software to begin.

As an example, start by eliminating your manual expense report process, and replace it with invoice and AP automation.

This is something that’s almost instantly going to improve efficiency and productivity, and it’s unlikely to be met with a lot of controversy. Once smaller additions are introduced, and new ways of doing things have gained some acceptance, you can move toward larger and more cultural shifts.

Go From the Top

The hardest people to convince to embrace technology and innovation are often the ones at the top, but if you can get them on board, it’s going to be much easier to have that become a cultural shift.

Your workforce is much more likely to move in an innovative direction if they see company leaders doing it.

If you’re introducing new software for example or a new digital platform, you have to get those leaders onboard from the start, and then they can create a sense of excitement for the rest of the workforce.

Encourage Efficiency

Efficiency was touched on above, and it’s really a key selling point when you want to shift ways of doing things and move toward more technology in a traditional organization.

For example, if you have a large sales team, rather than focusing on the concept of replacing them with digital technology, put the focus more on the idea of working smarter rather than harder, and becoming a more streamlined department.

Try to move employees and executives away from looking at technology as a replacement, but rather frame it as an enhancement for how things are done.

Be Transparent and Authentic

Finally, one of the big ways a startup’s culture often varies from that of a traditional organization is in its inherent sense of transparency and authenticity. These are great things to try to achieve even in long-established companies that might tend to have a more tight-lipped, behind-closed-doors mentality.

When you are authentic with employees, explain the rationale for changes and decisions, ask for open and honest feedback and discussion, and create a sense of transparency, there’s more room to welcome new ideas, embrace new technology and have a more forward-thinking and competitive company.  

4 Tips To Better Engage With Your Email Subscribers

engaged in conversation

Having an email list of subscribers is one thing, but actually engaging with those email subscribers is something else entirely. In fact, there’s literally no point to having an email list to begin with if you don’t engage with your subscribers.

If engaging with your email subscribers is something you’ve been struggling with lately, there’s no need to worry any longer. You’re about to learn how you can engage with them to gain higher click and bounce rates.

Here are the top four tips to better engage with your email subscribers:

1. Make Your Personality Show In Each Of Your Emails

Making your personality show in each of your emails is something your subscribers crave most, and yet it’s also something that many email marketers fail to do. Fortunately, you don’t have to make this same mistake.

When writing your emails, write like how you would write or talk to a friend. Don’t make your emails sound robotic or automated. By making your personality show, you’ll make your email messages feel more authentic and unique, which your subscribers will undoubtedly love.

2. Include A Countdown Clock To A Special Event

Another engagement trick you can use is to send messages with a countdown clock to special events. This will help make your subscribers actually look forward to whatever event you’re hosting.

The best email countdown clocks should allow you to choose between different fonts, colors, and sizes, come in a variety of different languages, and will update each time a subscriber re-opens the email.

3. Reward Your Subscribers

Email subscribers love to be rewarded. The moment they subscribe and are sent a welcome email, include a reward such as a free book or video in that message so they feel appreciated.

But you don’t want the rewards to end there. Continue to hold special contests and offer free giveaways throughout your marketing campaign.

4. Segment Your Email List

Segmenting your email list means breaking it down into specific different lists of subscribers. This will make it far easier to manage and also enables you to run a targeted email campaign to increase your leads and sales.

By dividing your email list into different segments of subscribers with different personal tastes, you can then send messages or rewards that those subscribers will be more likely to click. The best way to find out what the tastes of each subscriber are will be to send them a survey with a free gift at the end as a reward to compel them to actually take it.

Engaging With Your Subscribers

Email marketing will only work if you make your subscribers happy and build a relationship with each of them as individuals. This is what engaging with your subscribers is all about: getting them to actually know you as a person.

By following the tips you have just learned in this article, you will be able to more effectively engage with each subscriber and make them happier as a result.

6 Social Media Marketing Tips

Social media continues to grow, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a business that doesn’t use social media marketing to some extent to promote awareness among online audiences. However, if you want these platforms to work for you, you’ve got to approach it like the pros. Here are some seasoned tips to keep in mind:

Use Twitter

When people think of social media, the first thing that comes to mind is Facebook ever-expansive influence. However, it’s also worth keeping Twitter in mind, thanks to how it offers such a smooth and direct means of connecting with your target audience. If you commit to the platform and stay on Twitter for a significant period of time, – while sharing relevant posts about your brand – you will find that people will follow you. Twitter also offers you a chance to interact with your followers, and quickly establish what they’re looking for.

Assess Your Posts

Don’t just post for the sake of posting. Make sure your posts attract customers, and that they either answer their questions or pique their interest. Are there certain topics that get more attention than others? It’s wise to take time to identify the more successful ideas and approaches, investigate why they’re more reaching more people than your other posts.

Another way to improve content on social media is to curate from other sites. This is a good way to keep people interested in your site, and to promote your presence as a part of the online community.

Use Visual Media

Text is powerfully informative, and you can’t do promotions without it. However, we are psychologically drawn to visual stimulants, and you’re going to get more attention by including graphics, images and videos in your content. Rather than a set of lengthy and descriptive how-to instructions, you should upload or share a video online. You can also use videos and images to promote products and services, as they’re far more effective in helping the user to visualise their role.

Use Different Social Media Platforms

Check out the most successful companies, and you’ll see that they maintain a consistent presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. It is to your advantage to do the same and to use a variety of different social media platforms; some people prefer one over the other, and so you reduce the risk of missing out on a potential audience. By establishing your presence in those platforms and encouraging people to start following and noticing your brand, you can avoid getting left behind.

Listen to What People are Saying

You don’t need to respond to every post or tweet, but do pay attention if a growing number of people are complaining about a particular feature on your product. Social media is all about reaching out and communicating, so use that to promote your business without being pushy.

Have a Plan

This sounds obvious, but a lot of companies and individuals just put up a Facebook page without thinking about the long term. Whether you go with Facebook, Twitter or several social media platforms, keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure the platforms are updated regularly with relevant content.
  • The content must always be with your target audience in mind, and think from their viewpoint about what they want to see in your channels.
  • The goal: what is your company’s goal? Is it to draw people to your website? To promote a product? Have a clear goal in mind and use that as a guide to decide what to post.
  • Tone: what is the tone of your posts? Serious, casual, playful or professional? You must have a consistent tone so people will associate your brand with a certain style.
  • You also have to consider the type of reaction you want and expect from your audience. Once you have an idea, make sure to deliver content with that goal in mind.
  • Don’t lose focus of your main goal.

Conclusion

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are now a primary means by which people communicate, and your business needs to take advantage of this. Contrary to what some may lead you to believe, you don’t have to give up your website, as you can use both social media and your website to gain prominence online. With these two online poles of focus at your disposal, your business can gain the audience that it needs to grow and flourish in the contemporary sphere.

As Cyber Threats Continue to Mount, It’s Time to Beef Up Your Security Measures

Cloud storage adoption is on the rise, which makes security critical. High-profile data breaches are often in the headlines. This is why it is imperative for businesses and IT teams to understand that security is a proactive, two-way street. According to Gartner, information security spending is expected to surpass $113 billion by 2020. Security can get redundant, similar to a whack-a-mole where you are always on the defense–patching issues. Is the cloud more secure for your data? Read on to learn more.

Applications

Many businesses are moving to the cloud simply because it has the ability to recover quickly from any failure. In addition, the cloud was designed to scale even under heavy loads. As a result, developers have started getting into the habit of breaking applications into components in order to facilitate these types of features.

Here is the problem: sharing components can create a backdoor for users to gain access to data they’re otherwise unable to see or modify. This is certainly much more complicated than sending secure information over fax server software.

Hacking has become a billion-dollar industry. The bad guys are stealing your data and benefiting financially. It’s no surprise we’re seeing ransomware everywhere.

Lack of control

Sending company data to the cloud can make you feel insecure about who is monitoring your data. Who can you count on to keep your data safe? You’re giving up control since the information is no longer in only your hands. You can’t see or feel the servers. You won’t know if they need an update. You have no idea who works with your data.

This is why you need to ensure your cloud service provider offers bank-level encryption to keep your data safe. In fact, all of your data should be encrypted both in transit and at rest.

Explosive data growth

The Internet of Things and big data are fueling data growth. A lot of that data is now stored in the cloud. While cloud vendors do offer updated security services to meet evolving needs, it’s important to stay away from the set-it-and-forget-it train of thought. Your security team needs to monitor everything consistently.

Even if you have an open window, for just a few seconds, the bad guys will know. They are constantly checking for vulnerabilities–it’s their job. The minute you have a vulnerability, you will get hacked. You just can expect security features to protect you all of the time. This is why you must monitor and test your deployments continuously.

Zero-knowledge cloud storage

These types of providers are rising in popularity since they encrypt all of your data on the client side. As the name implies, the vendor has no way to access your data despite the fact that they are storing it. This type of storage can make the difference between keeping your data secure or exposing it to cyber threats. On the other hand, before you upload all of your data to the cloud–you can encrypt it yourself with tools such as Cryptomator and Boxcryptor. By encrypting your data, potential hackers can’t read it.

In a day and age where hackers are making millions, it is critical to do everything you can to keep your information safe. Even if you partner with a trusted cloud vendor, you must play your role in the execution of robust and comprehensive security.

 

The birth of the audio blogging revolution: Anchor

In this age of information, almost everything exists on the internet. Several years ago, we regarded the internet as a collection of written content documents coming from different sources around the world. Today, almost everything can be found online thanks to the new generation of developers who might have been following some java logging best practices. Consequently, the internet is no longer just a filing cabinet for text content.

Nowadays, we can enjoy seamless videos, attractive slideshows, online phone and video calls, and webinars. This is why many people have shifted from television to online videos, from hard-cover books to eBooks, and from radio to possibly Podcast. Well, partly podcasting as this has become an alternative to radio.

Image source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com

Is there a True Alternative to Conventional Radio?

Yes, there is, and this is through Anchor. This is a social media and a blogging platform that allows you to listen to different news stations. On top of that, you can also share some audio files to your Anchor friends and followers, or even to different social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.

The good thing about this new social media platform is that there is also a new way to like audio. Instead of clicking a like button, you can applaud the audio you are listening or applaud what the broadcaster has just mentioned during the audio recording.

When you listen to a high-traffic station, you might hear some endless applause, which could get annoying. That’s not a problem as you can disable the applaud feature, so you can focus in on listening.

Who is Broadcasting on Anchor Radio?

Anyone can broadcast on Anchor radio. Although big media companies can use this platform for their own radio broadcasting, you can also create your own Anchor radio station.

All you have to do is to record an audio that runs up to 5 minutes. After recording, your audio bytes become converted as a wave that can be shared online. Your audio will be online for 24 hours, and after 24 hours, the audio won’t be available anymore, so you have to create a new one the next day.

The reason why your audio is available only for 24 hours is to ensure fresh content. This means that Anchor listeners can search for fresh news stories.

Is Anchor a New Audio Blogging Platform?

Anchor is not only a new audio blogging platform, but is also the first audio blogging platform on the internet today. It does not aim to replace the traditional text-based blogging because Anchor audios can also be transcribed instantly into text form. This means that Anchor broadcasting can be considered audio blogging and text-based blogging at the same time.

Will Anchor Start a New Revolution?

Anchor will probably start a new revolution in radio broadcasting and blogging. There are really many people who feel more relaxed listening than reading to content. Moreover, there isn’t any alternative to radio yet except Anchor. The exciting thing about Anchor is that it has begun attracting some big media and social media personalities like Gary Vaynerchuck.

Conclusion

Anchor is not just a radio broadcasting platform as it’s a social media and a blogging platform as well. Although it has been launched recently, it’s now fast becoming the talk of the town.

This is because Anchor is easy to use for both listeners and broadcasters. Would you be interested in checking out Anchor today?

 

 

Important Questions You Should Answer Before Choosing a WordPress Website

Are you thinking about starting a WordPress website or would you like to give your existing WordPress website a makeover? If the answer is yes to either of these questions, you need to think carefully about the WordPress theme you select. There are many excellent themes out there, but there are also themes that could cause problems later on. Below are some of the main questions you should answer before choosing a WordPress theme.

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What Do You Want Your Website to Do?

With so many themes available, it can be a difficult task trying to decide which one to use. Before you look for a theme, make sure you understand how to create a website by using a website like sitebeginner.com, so that you know how to install a theme and that you are clear about what you want your website to achieve.

Some website owners simply want a brochure style website, which means a basic theme is required, while other website owners require more advanced features such as e-commerce functionality, which means they need a much more complex theme. In other situations, you may want to start with a basic website and expand its functionality later. In this case, you need a WordPress theme that caters for these future changes.

How Is the Theme Rated?

When it comes to WordPress themes, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ so you need to find out what experiences other users of a particular theme have had. It’s relatively easy to find out this information through theme marketplaces, forums and blogs that are dedicated to web development. Once you are satisfied that a theme delivers and that it’s good value for money, you can purchase it with more confidence.

Is There Support with The Theme You Are Interested In?

Internet technologies keep changing and website owners continually face new online challenges, so it’s vital to have the proper support for the theme you purchase. In many cases, you have to pay a fee for this support, but it’s usually money well spent. The support normally offered by leading theme development companies includes regular security updates and updates to the functionality and appearance of the theme you choose.

How Does the Theme Appear in Different Situations?

Your theme has to look perfect on a wide range of devices and browsers. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so you should test a theme before you purchase it. If possible, find out if you can view a demo of the theme or find websites that feature a theme you like and then simply view the theme on as many devices and browsers as possible. If you don’t have access to a wide range of devices, there are online emulators available that will show you what a particular website looks like on smartphones, tablet and other devices.

It’s important to think carefully before choosing a WordPress theme for your website. Make sure you know exactly what you want the theme to do and find out as much as possible about the options available. Once you do this, you will be much more likely to have fewer problems and will be able to concentrate on more important aspects of your online work.

 

Are Chatbots Right for Your eCommerce Site?

Odds are you’ve already interacted with a chatbot without realizing you’ve done so. If you have an iPhone, Siri is essentially a voice-activated chatbot. Another example is Amazon’s Alexa. According to Amazon, Alexa provides capabilities that enable customers to interact with devices in a more intuitive way using voice. One of the capabilities of Alexa is reminding Amazon customers of purchases they need to make. So far, it’s working pretty well for Amazon and Siri is an unquestionable hit too. But are chatbots right for your ecommerce site?

RobotCellPhone

Precisely put, Siri and Alexa, while sterling examples of chatbot platforms, are more properly considered virtual assistants. The type of chatbot with which you’re more likely to come into contact in an ecommerce situation is primarily found in messaging apps. These are capable of providing basic communication, such as responding to FAQ queries and ordering products and services.

These chatbots have gone a long way toward improving consumer acceptance over their earliest deployments. We’ve all called banks, the local utility, or other large institutions that routinely field thousands of calls a day for repetitive requests. That voice you get saying something to the effect of; “If you’re about lose your mind because you really want to talk to a live human being, press 0 for the operator,” is also a chatbot.

When viewed in those terms, they don’t have the best reputation. But the fact remains, if they are implemented strategically and programmed to respond as organically as possible, chatbots can be of tremendous service to an ecommerce enterprise.

Uber employs chatbots for scheduling rides, fast food restaurants have incorporated them for placing orders and some airlines are using chatbots to schedule and book flights. Any situation in which there are a finite number of closed-end responses to a specific set of questions can usually be handled by a chatbot. With the potential to considerably lighten the customer service load of an ecommerce enterprise, chatbots can be very useful when you create an ecommerce website, You just have to be sure the ‘bot you deploy is the same one with which your customers interact.

And this brings us to the cautionary tale that is Microsoft’s Tay. Rolled out for Twitter users in March of 2016, within 24 hours, Tay had taken on all of the worst traits of the Twitter-verse.

Designed to think and talk like a millennial, while learning from Twitter content, Tay began issuing racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic Tweets, as well as bragging about Marijuana consumption to police officers. One of her more benign Tweets, “Chill, I’m a nice person! I just hate everybody…”

The lesson here is to make sure your chatbots are never subjected to undue influences. Counter to the basic rule of commerce, the customer isn’t always right. Sometimes the customer is absolutely vicious. When you’re considering deploying a learning chatbot, you have to make sure its responses are carefully scripted and not open to outside influence.

Check it regularly to ensure it is functioning properly. Update it continually as new functionalities, concepts, situations and opportunities emerge. Used well, chatbots can be a significant asset, saving you both time and money.

Just know, if left totally unattended, they have the potential to go off the rails.

Making the net better – one nut at a time.