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Our Brand: How to Convey It
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Our Brand: How to Convey It.

May 2010 Archives

Access control changes for Lyris

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Effective immediately, Lyris user agreements are no longer necessary for all users. In short, only three authorizations are needed for any unit:

  • a unit agreement
  • two user agreements, one for each key contact

Other users do not need to have an agreement of file; key contacts should be making their users aware of the various considerations for using Lyris and sending mass email at the University.

Three cases to consider:

  • If a key contact changes: submit a new unit agreement and a user agreement for the new contact.
  • If a new unit comes on board: submit a unit agreement and a user agreement for each of the two key contacts.
  • If a unit adds a new user: do nothing.

4 ways to beat the clock in your social media efforts

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I am oftentimes asked about the best way to manage social networking efforts. Typically, the first response I offer is..."Be sure whatever you are contemplating doing, it is part of an integrated marketing strategy." There should be a method behind the madness of starting a Facebook page, Twitter feed, etc. Entering into the social networking arena -- absolutely, 100%, -- must support your main communications strategy and goals.

Second, I usually follow up with the caveat you must have the time to devote to maintaining the channels. It is much worse to have an out-of-date social networking presence rather than no page at all.

I came across this article about time management and thought it might be helpful when determining if entering the social networking sphere is right for your communications efforts.

Enjoy!

MEUG meeting notes

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Notes from yesterdays meeting are now available at http://www1.umn.edu/urelate/ecomm/meug/meug_notes_2010_may.html.

This is our last planned meeting until September, although we may have a demo of ListManager 10.x from the vendor this summer. Stay tuned for details.

MEUG time and location change

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Please note that the MEUG meeting scheduled for this Wednesday has been moved up by half and hour and to a different room, still in Morrill. It is now:

Wednesday, May 26
10:00-11:00 a.m.
Morrill Hall room 12

Using the Google Search Appliance to find bad links

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The University of Minnesota offers the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to units at the University to help customize the search experience for their website users. Most groups will setup a front end and collection and never really look at anything else within the system until the next redesign of their pages. But, if you dig a little bit deeper, the GSA provides some great features that are underutilized. One of these features is the ability to find bad or old URLs that you would like to get updated. GSA can see they still exist when those old URLs show up in the Crawl Diagnostics reports.

For instance, after the UofM home page was redesigned in 2008, some of the URLs changed. A page that use to be at http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/01_about.php is now located at http://www1.umn.edu/twincities/about.php. University Relations has put in the proper redirects so end users will get to the proper place, but if we look in the GSA, the page still comes up in the Crawl Diagnostics page. The fact that the 01_about.php page is showing in this report indicates that some site somewhere has this old link still in use.

So, how can we find the sites that have this old link?

The simple solution is to go to http://search.umn.edu and do a search for link:http://www.umn.edu/twincities/01_about.php. You can see the results for the search here. From the search results, we can see the pages that have the old link. One of the first links is to the Educational Psychology site that has the link in it's navigation. We could send a note to the webmasters informing them of this wrong link.

In the case above, we were looking at a site with a known redirect. But, in another case we had a link to http://www.umn.edu/twincities/commencemen. Now this site does not have a redirect as it was never a valid page, so in this case it is a mis-typed URL. Doing a search on it reveals a single page that has the incorrect URL. Since the site is owned by our group, we can update the link ourselves.

This trick has come in handy many times. In one instance we not only found a page with the bad link, the page itself had a lot of incorrect information that had changed over time. So instead of having a page with a lot of outdated information, we hopefully will have a page that serves our users well.

Next MEUG meeting is Wednesday, May 26, 10-11 a.m.

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Note the time and room change.
The next MEUG meeting will be Wednesday, May 26 from 10-11 a.m. in Morrill 12. As was the case in March, we don't have a topic yet. The March meeting wound up with four smaller topics that came up at the meeting and each had about 15 minutes of discussion, which seemed to work well.

If you're interested in a particular topic, let the list know or send me a note off list and we can discuss those.

Some possible topics:

* List hygiene
* Using more images
* Coding for Outlook 2007
* Retention changes in Lyris

If you're interested in attending remotely, please send a note to ecomm@umn.edu so we can setup the conference call.

- (612) 625-2003 (ask for the mass email conference)
- https://umconnect.umn.edu/meug/(screen share only; no audio)

We may have a meeting in June with a demo of the next major release of ListManager, otherwise we'll be off until September.

Gmail change resulting in added image margins

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A recent change to Gmail is resulting in added margins around images, particularly noticeable if you're using sliced images that should be touching one another. Details can be found in a Campaign Monitor blog post from last week.

We'll update the templates to address this in part, however Gmail doesn't read styles in the <head> section so these changes need to be done using inline styles.

In short, if you find HTML source daunting, you'll want to consult a web developer in your unit to make the necessary changes to your own templates.

Also note that as of this week there were approximately 15,000 U email accounts set to forward to Gmail, plus those who've opted in to Google Apps (I believe ~10K), meaning there's something like 25,000 people at the U who may well be reading their email in the Gmail web interface. If you use more than just the header image you should probably look to make your changes ASAP, even if you only send internal communications.

Are you checking your delivery failures?

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If not, and you're sending to anything other than an internal-only audience using @umn.edu addresses, you should be.

At some point between 4:55 p.m. on Friday, May 14 and 4:55 p.m. on Saturday, May 15 Lyris was temporarily blocked by Comcast. It appears that only 397 total recipients were affected.

Please note that while we keep a closer eye on Comcast due to past problems, we generally don't make notifications of this sort. You should be keeping an eye on your delivery failures. This is just a friendly hint.

Lyris mailing retention to change June 13

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Due to increased use of Lyris over the last several years, it has become necessary to reevaluate the retention standard for mailing and tracking information that has been in place since Lyris was recommissioned in August 2007.

With few exceptions, every list in Lyris currently retains mailing and tracking information for 365 days. This includes copies of messages sent, number of recipients, unique and total open counts, clickthrough information, and more. A receipt for every recipient of every message is also kept for 365 days, which consumes a significant amount of space.

Database problems this week and in the past have occurred as a result of the sheer amount of information being retained. It is our belief that a 'normal' Lyris user does not make regular use of this information after an extended period of time, especially with regard to personally identifiable information (e.g. john@example.com clicked on this link in this mailing on this day at this time). Further, aggregate information on mailings and campaigns can be easily exported from Lyris into comma-separated values (CSV) files.

As such, we are planning to reduce the retention on all current and new lists to 190 days on Monday, June 13. If you have questions or concerns about this change, please write to ecomm@umn.edu.

Captioning: It's easier than you sync, ahem, think.

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Our marketing communications colleague Liz Giorgi graciously volunteered to share her expertise with captioning videos. Below is a post by Liz.



Captioning video content should be a priority for any one who is producing video. Not only will your video be ADA accessible, but it will also improve search engine optimization. Believe it or not, Google reports that their bots read through closed caption files, improving your search results. On top of all of this, if you are using MediaMill (which you should be) then the process of captioning is very simple.

First, you need to create a Flash8, Medium derivative and download it.

Your next steps depend on whether or not you have a text transcript of your video. If you have a complete transcript for your video, then save it as a .txt file.

AutomaticSync.com is a great, affordable solution for creating time coded caption files for a variety video platforms. If you have a transcript in hand, a five-minute video will cost you about $6 to caption. An hour long video costs roughly $70.

If you do not have a transcript, AutomaticSync.com has a service that will create a transcript for you. On average, it doubles the cost of captioning and usually takes 1-3 business days, depending on the length of your video.

Because University Relations is familiar with AutomaticSync, I've put together some directions on using it. I thought you might find this interesting and helpful and wanted to share them with you.

Using AutomaticSync for Captioning Videos (PDF)

Captioning might seem intimidating at first, but the benefits are enormous to you and your viewers. Does any one else have a suggestion for another service that offers affordable captioning? I'd love to hear what else is out there.