#witnessmyrevival Lucozade ad fail

I’m sat in front of the TV and just saw the ad that starts with the hashtag #witnessmyrevival for the sports drink Lucozade. Trouble is, this is probably the 4th time I’ve seen the ad and I’ve had to make a conscious effort to remember the hashtag. Why? Because the hashtag only appears once, at the very beginning. By the time you’ve watched the ad and made a decision to tweet about it you have no idea what hashtag to use. Sorry Lucozade, that’s a #fail for me.

Joomla : Fixing the User Password Reset Feature

Recently on one of my Joomla projects a user complained that they used the Password Reset feature but they encountered an error in the final steps of the process.

How does Joomla’s Password Reset feature work?

Joomla’s Password Reset feature asks for the user’s email address which it checks for in the user account table against that user’s record.

If found a unique token (a long series of numbers & characters) is generated and this is sent to the email address with a link back to the correct page on the website where the token needs to be entered to complete the process and allow the user to reset their password.

What went wrong?

Unfortunately, the email sent to the user displays the token in this manner :

The token is 408ebfa6c89glda0d267543e07a4cdeb4 .

Notice the space before the period? Well, understandably, the user was copying everything upto the preiod, including the space and pasting it into the field provided on the website for the final step. Unfortunately, that extra space counts as a character and so the token did not match and the user received an error and was unable to complete the reset. Not good.

The fixes

There are two fixes for this issue:

  1. Format the email properly so there is less of a chance of user error;
  2. Run the submitted token through PHP’s trim() function to strip out empty characters on either side of the token.

Making these two fixes should prevent this error occurring again and keep users who need to reset their passwords from becoming frustrated.

How to?

Format the email to remove the space

The first step requires us to amend the email that is sent out to the user. Joomla uses language files so it’s quite easy to amend this message. The reset password function is a part of the User Component in Joomla (com_user) so look up the correct file in the ‘language’ folder/directory :

/WEBROOT/language/en-GB/en-GB.com_user.ini

Search for this text “PASSWORD_RESET_CONFIRMATION_EMAIL_TEXT”  and edit the value of this setting by removing the space and period. I added newlines (n) before and after the token (%s) so that the token displays on a line by itself.

This has two advantages:

  1. Makes it clearer to the user if the token is on a line by itself
  2. Reduces the chance of user error when copying/pasting

Use trim() to remove whitespace

The second fix is the better one as it tackles the actual issue of readying the submitted token for comparison and matching.

In order to do this go to the following file :

/WEBROOT/components/com_user/models/reset.php

Search for the text “function confirmReset($token)” and inside this function add the trim function like so:

function confirmReset($token)
{
global $mainframe;

$token = trim($token);

……….. function continues ………..

}

This will now remove all extra whitespace on either side of the token submitted by the user so that the ‘clean’ token is used for comparison.

And that’s it – you will now have a sturdier Reset Password feature in Joomla.

SEO : Are you a ‘cool kid’?

Think back to your days in school – remember the ‘cool’ kids? How they were the most popular? Got the most attention? How everyone wanted to run with them? How your social ranking was based on who you knew and in what context?

Well, search engine optimisation is exactly the same. If your site is in the same circle as the top-ranking sites in your industry it will benefit from the association and rank well too; but if your site is not associated in any meaningful way with the industry leaders you will continue to struggle to get a better rank on the search engine results pages.

This is especially true after the now infamous ‘Panda’ update Google made to its algorithm in April 2011. This update reduced the clout of ‘content farm’ sites, sites that aggregate and list other sites based on industry or subject e.g. directory sites.

Such sites used to rank well (they were ‘cool’) and every website they listed or mentioned benefited from the high ranking as their link back counted as a quality inbound link for the destination site. But the moment Google downgraded the status of such sites, many sites listed that had no other ‘cool kid’ associations felt the pain of also falling in ranking.

So, in order to rank well in the search engine results pages, one of the most important items on your search engine optimisation checklist, now more than ever, must be to cultivate inbound links from high ranking sites in your industry.

If you’re not cool, you may not get noticed.

Social Marketing is Person-to-Person NOT Business-to-Person

so·cial [soh-shuhl]
–adjective

  1. pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations: a social club.
  2. seeking or enjoying the companionship of others;  friendly; sociable;  gregarious.
  3. of, pertaining to, connected with, or suited to polite or fashionable society: a social event.

Definition from dictionary.com 

If we look at the definition of the adjective “social” it becomes clear that any social interaction involves two or more people, not a corporate entity.

When businesses attempt to use social marketing channels like Facebook and Twitter, they sometimes do so behind a corporate identity or profile; this just does not work very well.
Even the best known brands require there to be a front-person who creates and nurtures relationships with followers, readers and fans.

After all, when was the last time you sent your gas or phone company a Christmas card? You, as an individual, will not have that kind of social relationship with a business entity; they on the other hand will try and maintain what is essentially a one-sided relationship with you – they will send you a Christmas card – but it’s not because they want to be friends with you.

But on social networking sites, it is a different story – these are one-to-one relationships and a business just cannot hope to nurture a fruitful relationship with a person when the person doesn’t know who he or she is ‘relating’ to.
It becomes another push channel, throwing marketing messages out hoping somebody will see them and react. This may happen initially, when a profile is first set up and word gets around that a brand is now on the same platform, but that excitement will quickly dissipate as it becomes clear that there is no truly social element to the interaction.

It also doesn’t help if the business operates an ‘avatar’ profile i.e. a non-real person who does the engagement. Think about your friends – do you know the personality types of each one, how they react to certain events, news etc. You probably do and that’s because each one of us is a unique individual; one that can be easily recognised by those closest to us.
A non-person profile operated by a business will not have a unique personality, or at least not one that will be consistent. ‘Friends’ and followers will quickly see through this and ignore anything that comes their way from that profile. Worse, there could be a backlash of negative sentiment toward the profile if people feel they’re being ‘gamed’; relationships are, after all, based on trust.

So if you are a business that wants to benefit from social channels be sure to have a real person represent the business; Pick this person carefully as it is with them that a relationship will be formed by your soon to be brand ambassadors and customers.

SEO : Marketing Silver Bullet or Long-Term Strategy?

Where Search Engine Optimisation is concerned too many businesses still believe that it is the “Silver Bullet” of online marketing and that once the web site has been optimized the job is done. However, just optimizing your site pages with context, keywords etc is not enough; these are internal factors you can directly control however there are at least a couple of external factors that require constant, long term attention :

Search Engine Algorithm Updates

It is getting harder to maintain a top 10 listing in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is because the search engines are forever tweaking their algorithms, releasing a few hundred updates every year. With every new update, the chances are that the formula you use for achieving a good ranking for your website will need tweaking too.
And because rankings are relative whichever of your competition understands the changes and is able to update their mix accordingly is likely to achieve a better ranking post-update.

The Rise and Rise of Social

With the launch of Google+, the various new features Facebook releases every year and the waxing/waning popularity of the numerous social networks, the quality of inbound links, one of the prime ingredients of SEO, changes regularly. Every change in the social landscape and the amount of social activity that generates traffic has an impact on the ranking of your site.

Both of these factors are in constant flux and as such they require someone with knowledge and experience to keep up with them; This makes SEO an important part of your marketing mix.

Twitter and LinkedIn announce ‘status update’ partnership

In an announcement on Monday Twitter and LinkedIn said they are rolling out a service whereby it will be possible sync status updates between the two services. Facebook and Twitter already do this to a degree and it just makes sense that the world’s most popular micro-blogging platform and the world’s most popular professional networking platform should collaborate in this way.

Check out the announcement video from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman –