Digital Sharecropping: Why You Can’t Just Rely on One Website

Digital Sharecropping: Why You Can’t Just Rely on One Website

What is Digital Sharecropping?

Sharecropping is a system where tenants farm on land owned by another person and give a portion of their crops to the landowner. In 2006, writer Nicholas Carr coined the term “Digital Sharecropping” to describe a phenomenon that has arisen among online businesses. It happens when a website relies on other users to provide the majority of its content.

According to Carr, “One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.”

While in traditional sharecropping, the landowner is in charge, online “landlords” are the websites: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.

What’s the Problem?

Anyone can create content on these websites. However, the content ends up belonging to the website, not the creator. The more content we create for them for free, the richer and more valuable the landlord becomes.

With any kind of sharecropping, the landlord is in control. The landlord receives the majority of the profits. The landlord can dismantle the system at any time. Even trustworthy websites can suddenly go under or become obsolete. This leaves all of their users suddenly without their services. Most importantly, the landlord doesn’t really care about its individual underlings. Facebook doesn’t care if a single business page gets deleted.

Let’s take a closer look at this Facebook example. Most businesses these days decide to make a Facebook page and update its content regularly. This is a good thing and provides many benefits. It brings in new viewers and customers, raises awareness of their product, and opens a channel of conversation between the business and its clientele. But what if Facebook suddenly decides that you’ve violated its terms and conditions? What if your account gets deleted and you lose your one way to talk to your customers? Facebook is fast-paced and constantly changing. This can come back to haunt you if you rely too much on its services to run your business.

What Should I Do?

There are several ways you can go about making your online business presence stronger. The great news is that by taking these steps, you not only protect yourself from the hazards of digital sharecropping, you also make your business stronger now.

The first step you should take to protect your business online is to have a well designed website that you host yourself. This should be your most crucial business asset online, since it doesn’t rely on other sites. When you use other websites, make sure you link back to your own site constantly to bring in viewers to your own property.

Diversification is your strongest weapon against the downfalls of digital sharecropping. Use many platforms and systems. Provide content on many social media sites. By using a variety of tools, you protect yourself when one of them lets you down.

Another useful tip is to create an opt-in email list on your website. By providing content through an email newsletter directly to your customers, you cut out the middleman in the conversation.

A crucial aspect of building an online presence is to develop a reputation of trustworthiness and value. Provide high quality content, take Internet security seriously, and avoid spammy practices. If your customers trust your business and value your content, they’ll continue making purchases and spread the word about your product.

Following the most recent social media trends is a great way to bring in new business and keep the interest of your customers, new and old. However, you should never build your entire online platform on an asset that you don’t own. By diversifying and talking as directly to your customers as possible, you can create a strong online presence that doesn’t rely on a company that you can’t control.

If you want more tips about SEO, content marketing, and other topics, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s other blogs here!

15 Ways to Boost Your Online Sales Using Old Fashioned Methods

15 Ways to Boost Your Online Sales Using Old Fashioned Methods

Even if you have an online business, there are many old fashioned methods that can greatly benefit your company. Check out these tips to boost your online sales. Even using a couple of them could greatly improve your presence and bring in new customers!

Sell a Unique Product

Having a unique and newsworthy product is important if you have a lot of competition. Try to stand out from the crowd so you don’t get lost in the huge amount of Internet businesses.

Build the Right Relationships

Whether it’s online or offline, building the right relationships is one of the best ways to develop your business. Ideally you want to establish such relationships with people who complement your business without being direct competition. Keep an eye out for bloggers, suppliers, and others who could help out your business, and make a connection with them.

Set up a Cartel

Small online cartels can be a great way to get support for your business. Find a small group of complementary businesses and agree to promote each other. Just make sure you don’t group up with competing companies!

Sell Wholesale to Other Retailers

Especially if you’re having trouble selling your product to enough customers, consider selling wholesale to other retailers. Even though you’re selling at a lower price per unit, you’ll get the cash flowing by moving more products at once. It will also get your product to more people, spreading the word about your business. You can also reach out to local businesses to see if anyone is willing to put your products on their shelves.

Send Free Samples

The Internet is full of people who influence many others, such as bloggers, journalists, and entrepreneurs. By sending free samples to people who can spread the word about your product, you can form a mutually beneficial relationship that helps advertise your business.

Offer a Contest or Giveaway

Contests and giveaways are great ways to spread the word about your business while also establishing trust in your products. It takes very little time and effort to set them up, and can bring in lots of new potential clients.

Sponsor an Event

Sponsoring an event can be a great way to bring in business, but it can also be waste of time and resources. Make sure you choose an event that will host people who will have interest in your business. Take into consideration how many people will be there, where it’s located, and how it will reflect upon your company.

Make a Pop-Up Store

Even if you sell online and don’t have a store, creating a pop-up store can help supplement your online presence. Pop-up stores are much cheaper than owning an actual building, and allow you to move to the locations that seem best at the time, such as farmer’s markets, fairs, or shopping malls. They help with marketing and bringing in new business.

Write a Press Release

A press release can be a great way to spread the word about your business. However, it can be tricky to write a press release that’s interesting enough for news outlets to actually distribute it. Besides being interesting, the press release should be concise, professional, and have a killer title to draw people in.

Pull a PR Stunt

Think about how fast videos that go viral can spread. If you’re feeling creative, utilizing a PR stunt can propel your business to fame by word of mouth (and keyboard). PR stunts don’t require a lot of money to pull off, but they aren’t guaranteed to grab your audience, so don’t rely solely on such tactics to get the word out.

Advertise Offline

Even in the current world of Internet advertising, it can still be useful to use more physical forms. This includes resources such as billboards, flyers, and newspaper or magazine ads.

Deploy a Sales Team

As your business grows, eventually you won’t be able to handle all of the sales yourself. Setting up a sales team will allow for sustained growth, especially if your product requires a bit of convincing to get people to buy.


Starting your own business can be overwhelming, especially when you’re just starting out. As your business develops and grows, you need to learn how best to delegate so that each task gets done quickly and effectively to maximize sales.

Start Word of Mouth

Family and friends can provide a great network when you’re just starting out. If they’re willing to help, they can help spread the word about your budding business.

Demonstrate Trust, Security, and Reliability

A small budding business needs to demonstrate reliability to its customers in order to grow. If potential customers don’t trust you, they are much less likely to make an online purchase. Make sure your website looks safe and trustworthy. Make an effort to follow through with promises. If problems arise, do your best to solve them (or delegate someone else to solve them) quickly and courteously. The more people trust your company, the more they’ll be willing to put money into it!

Looking for more ways to improve your business? Check out Virtual Market Advantage’s other blog that goes over ways to use your new website to boost sales.

How to Create Evergreen Content

How to Create Evergreen Content

Technology changes constantly, and the Internet is being updated and expanded every second. With ever-changing social media, it’s hard to keep up and know what’s most important for keeping your business’s online presence strong. It’s relatively easy to pay attention to the latest trends, but it’s possible to make a more lasting impact by providing evergreen content.

Evergreen trees are a symbol of sturdy, long-lasting life. Evergreen content marketing seeks to imitate this stability by producing content that will remain relevant and important over long periods of time. Some of the most influential websites rely on providing such content. For example, Wikipedia and IMDb are used daily by thousands of people to get pertinent information. This is achieved by constant updates and awareness of what people will want to know for years to come. You too can provide evergreen content of your own and make a lasting impact on the Internet.

Timeless or Sustainable

There are two major types of evergreen content: timeless and sustainable. Timeless content remains pertinent through long periods of time and changing trends. Sustainable content requires periodic updating to ensure that it’s still relevant to current trends and technology.

An example of evergreen content is “how to” guides, which can be either timeless or sustainable. Timeless guides instruct the viewer on tasks that won’t change much over the years, such as “how to cook chicken over the grill” or “how to braid your daughter’s hair.” On the other hand, sustainable “how to” guides, such as “how to transfer photos from my iPhone to Facebook” require updates to stay useful, since these technologies are changing all the time.

Blogging is an amazing tool for providing both timeless and sustainable evergreen content on your website. They allow you to provide tons of information about your product or field of interest and keep your site relevant, up-to-date, and interesting to your audience. By producing evergreen content (whether it’s timeless, sustainable, or a mix of both), you will constantly bring in new viewers and potential clients.

Evergreen Social Media

Sometimes it feels impossible to keep up with all of the constant changes, but some aspects of social media marketing remain the same over time. Social media allows you to establish a strong online presence, form new social channels, and engage and converse with your audience. All of these aspects contribute to your evergreen social marketing.

By utilizing social media, you can help reveal the human aspect of your business while also prolonging the shelf life of your social media content. Evergreen content will continue to pull in more views, and thus more potential customers, for a longer period of time than regular content.

Also keep in mind that every social media campaign has a target audience. This audience might be big or small. For example, Wikipedia can be used and enjoyed by almost anyone, but a specialized online store that sells face paint has a much more specific audience. Social media evergreen content can help in either case by drawing in the people who want to use that website the most.

Creativity goes a long way in social media marketing. Even if your product isn’t the most exciting, a fresh and enthusiastic social media campaign can be interesting and enticing. Feel free to use your imagination and go zany with your marketing to get those extra shares and likes. Focusing on evergreen content will ensure that people keep coming back for more. Remember to have fun with your social media!

Focus Your Content

Even if you come up with the most amazing evergreen post for your website, it won’t do much good if people can’t find it! Make sure that you don’t bury your evergreen content under your other kinds of posts.

You can set up your website to help solve this problem by directing people towards the evergreen content. This can be done in several ways, including “Where to Start” or “Top Posts” pages or a training section.

You can also focus attention to your forgotten evergreen content through your newer posts. As part of your regular audit, make sure to go through your old posts, update them if necessary, and re-share the most popular and/or pertinent ones. Unless it’s a news article, you can even remove the date stamp from an old post and re-post it if it’s still accurate and relevant.

Another great trick is to provide links to your older evergreen content from within newer posts. This will bring new viewers back to older content, and works especially well if there is a topic connection between the two posts.

Evergreen Content Examples

Here are a few more examples of types of evergreen content that you can try. If you don’t have some of these on your site already, this is a great place to start growing more evergreen. Keep in mind that these don’t necessarily have to be in the form of blog posts; they can be images, videos, infographics, or any other form you want!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
“History of” Articles
“How to” Guides
Industry Resource Connections
Providing evergreen content is a great way to make sure that your website stays relevant and brings in new viewers regularly. However, don’t take this to mean that you need to only provide evergreen content. A good mix of timeless and current content is the best way to keep people engaged and willing to come back time after time.

If you want more information on social media, blogging, or other content topics, check out Virtual Market Advantage’s other blogs here. For example, here is a blog that helps you determine how to properly size your pics for various social media sites.

Facebook Organic Reach

Facebook Organic Reach

Improving Your Facebook Organic Reach
Organic reach is your ability to reach people for free on social media sites through posts on your business page. Over the past couple of years, it has become increasingly difficult to develop a good amount of organic reach, especially on Facebook. This guide will help you combat the decline in organic reach so that you can improve communication with your followers.

The Decline in Facebook Organic Reach

There are several reasons for the recent decrease in Facebook organic reach. The major reason is content overload, which affects all social media sites. More content is being put onto social media sites than ever before. In the past, it was a hassle to share content with other people over the Internet, and not everyone knew how to do it. Smart phones and increasing interconnectivity between websites now allow people to easily share thoughts, links, photos, or anything else they want with the click of a button. Also, people are collecting more friends and becoming fans of more pages now than ever before.

Now that there is more content available than anyone can ever hope to see, each person is limited in what they can look at on their social media sites. Facebook states that the average person has over 1,500 to 15,000 posts that could appear on their feed each time they log into the site. As the news feed increases, the likelihood that a single post will make it to a viewer’s front page declines drastically.

Facebook attempts to show each person the information that is most relevant to their interests. Out of over 1500 possible posts, Facebook only shows you about 300. How the site determines these posts is complex. It has ever-changing algorithms that try to distinguish between high quality content and spam and determine what interests each user specifically. Not all social media sites work exactly like Facebook, but all of them are being affected by content overload, making it harder to reach out to people across the board.

What You Can Do to Improve Facebook Organic Reach

There are a few things you can do to improve your Facebook organic reach. Since each social media site is different in how they approach their news feed, what works for one site might not be as effective on another. However, these tips will help your organic reach on Facebook, which is the biggest and most researched site for organic reach, and other sites that also attempt to provide quality news feeds instead of showing you every single post.

Track Your Reach. Facebook allows you to track your organic traffic with Facebook Insights. Under the Posts tab, you can check the performance of your posts over the past month. You can click “See More” to check out older posts. You can also compare organic versus paid reach using a drop-down menu.

Publish Content that Remains Fresh. If you post content that will only remain relevant for a short period of time, it is less likely to spread and be seen by more people. You want content that will be be spread over a long period of time and continue to engage people days, weeks, or even months after the initial post.

Quality Over Quantity. You don’t need to spam posts all the time in order to be seen. In fact, this works against you. Instead, try to create quality content that will engage your fans. Exactly how many times you post depends on your business, but a general starting place is 2 or 3 posts per day. Also try a variety of post types such as text, links, videos, images, etc.

Target Your Posts. You should use post targeting when available, and Facebook offers several options. These options allow you to focus your reach to specific audiences using categories such as gender, age, location, interests, and more. On Facebook, if you target certain fans using these options, more of your total amount of fans will actually see the post on their feed.

Choose Post Time Carefully. The chance that fans will see your posts increases if you post during off-peak times of the day for business posts. If you are trying to compete with the majority of other posts, yours will probably be buried. Around 3pm is a good time when other businesses aren’t posting as much, but you might find a time that works better for you. You can also use Facebook Insights to see when most of your fans are logged in and plan accordingly.

Speak to Your Audience. According to Facebook, videos and links perform better than other types of posts, but other types might resonate more with your particular audience. You can check and see what your fans like the most using Facebook Insights. The easiest way to do that is to slowly introduce different types of posts and see how each performs over time.

Because of Facebook Insights, Facebook is probably the easiest site to use to track your fans and determine what kinds of posts they prefer, when they are online during the day, and how well your posts are reaching your target audience. If you want to improve your social media organic reach, try out some of these tips and see what works best for your business. Keep in mind that social media sites are changing all the time, and you need to stay on your toes to keep up with the latest trends.

New Twitter Character Count Rules

New Twitter Character Count Rules

New Twitter Character Count Rules
When Twitter was first created, users were drawn to its simple system designed around spreading short messages quickly to lots of people. These days, most Tweets include more than just text, including links to photos, GIFs, videos, and other media. The old system of including links in the 140 Twitter character count restricted the amount of text a person could actually include in their posts. The new system allows for more expression and interaction while maintaining short post lengths.

@replies and @mentions

With the new system, links and @replies wont be included in the character count, so everyone will have more freedom in their ability to express themselves through their Tweet responses. Previously, the @replies that were included in responding Tweets resulted in interactions petering out as more people joined the conversation and they had fewer characters to work with in their replies. With the changes, Twitter allows people to engage more and have the ability to hold meaningful conversations. Now an @name indicator will show up above the Tweet instead of being included within the body of the text.

@mentions will still be included within the character count limit at the beginning of a Tweet. This occurs when a user makes a new thread that is directed at someone else rather than a response. @mentions can also be inserted in the middle or end of a the text body. Also, users will no longer need to use the “.@mention” format, so all Tweets will reach their entire audience. Before, if a user didn’t include the period, the Tweet would only reach viewers that followed both people in the conversation.

Media Attachments

Users will now be able to choose whether or not to include links within the Twitter character count. The URL generated from attaching links to photos, GIFs, videos, and any other media directly to Twitter can be included at the end of the Tweet and not restrict the character count. Alternately, the user can type URLs within the body of the text and have it count against the character limit like it did previously.

Compatibility for Developers

The changes to Twitter’s format might affect how developers need to code their websites and apps in the future. Twitter claims that they are taking backwards and forwards compatibility a priority, but lists several areas that will be affected by the changes:

Public REST and Streaming APIs


Gnip data products

Display products

Twitter also warns coders against hard-coding length assumptions into their applications. The display text will still have a 140-character limit, but the overall Tweet JSON object can be larger. The new system separates each Tweet into three sections:

Prefix: A hidden segment that includes @mention metadata.

Display text: The body of the Tweet that is visible to everyone.

Suffix: A hidden segment that contains the attachment URL.

Further details for coders have been provided on Twitter’s website. You can also check out Twitter’s official post that includes an overview of the changes if you want to learn more.

EULA Example

EULA Example

Free EULA Example for Apple
“It would be appropriate to also require users to agree to the terms (EULA) and these terms must make it clear that there is no tolerance for objectionable content. We’ve attached a screenshot for your reference.”
If you have seen this notice, you are developing an app and most likely, it is currently rejected. Well never fear – you can use this sample EULA example for Apple App Store.

App End User License Agreement

This End User License Agreement (“Agreement”) is between you and and governs use of this app made available through the Apple App Store. By installing the App, you agree to be bound by this Agreement and understand that there is no tolerance for objectionable content. If you do not agree with the terms and conditions of this Agreement, you are not entitled to use the App.

In order to ensure provides the best experience possible for everyone, we strongly enforce a no tolerance policy for objectionable content. If you see inappropriate content, please use the “Report as offensive” feature found under each post.

1. Parties

This Agreement is between you and only, and not Apple, Inc. (“Apple”). Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that Apple and its subsidiaries are third party beneficiaries of this Agreement and Apple has the right to enforce this Agreement against you. , not Apple, is solely responsible for the App and its content.

2. Privacy

may collect and use information about your usage of the App, including certain types of information from and about your device. may use this information, as long as it is in a form that does not personally identify you, to measure the use and performance of the App.

3. Limited License

grants you a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, revocable license to use the App for your personal, non-commercial purposes. You may only use the App on Apple devices that you own or control and as permitted by the App Store Terms of Service.

4. Age Restrictions

By using the App, you represent and warrant that (a) you are 17 years of age or older and you agree to be bound by this Agreement; (b) if you are under 17 years of age, you have obtained verifiable consent from a parent or legal guardian; and (c) your use of the App does not violate any applicable law or regulation. Your access to the App may be terminated without warning if believes, in its sole discretion, that you are under the age of 17 years and have not obtained verifiable consent from a parent or legal guardian. If you are a parent or legal guardian and you provide your consent to your child’s use of the App, you agree to be bound by this Agreement in respect to your child’s use of the App.

5. Objectionable Content Policy

Content may not be submitted to , who will moderate all content and ultimately decide whether or not to post a submission to the extent such content includes, is in conjunction with, or alongside any, Objectionable Content. Objectionable Content includes, but is not limited to: (i) sexually explicit materials; (ii) obscene, defamatory, libelous, slanderous, violent and/or unlawful content or profanity; (iii) content that infringes upon the rights of any third party, including copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other personal or proprietary right, or that is deceptive or fraudulent; (iv) content that promotes the use or sale of illegal or regulated substances, tobacco products, ammunition and/or firearms; and (v) gambling, including without limitation, any online casino, sports books, bingo or poker.

6. Warranty

disclaims all warranties about the App to the fullest extent permitted by law. To the extent any warranty exists under law that cannot be disclaimed, , not Apple, shall be solely responsible for such warranty.

7. Maintenance and Support

does provide minimal maintenance or support for it but not to the extent that any maintenance or support is required by applicable law, , not Apple, shall be obligated to furnish any such maintenance or support.

8. Product Claims

, not Apple, is responsible for addressing any claims by you relating to the App or use of it, including, but not limited to: (i) any product liability claim; (ii) any claim that the App fails to conform to any applicable legal or regulatory requirement; and (iii) any claim arising under consumer protection or similar legislation. Nothing in this Agreement shall be deemed an admission that you may have such claims.

9. Third Party Intellectual Property Claims

shall not be obligated to indemnify or defend you with respect to any third party claim arising out or relating to the App. To the extent is required to provide indemnification by applicable law, , not Apple, shall be solely responsible for the investigation, defense, settlement and discharge of any claim that the App or your use of it infringes any third party intellectual property right.

Free EULA Example for Apple

Good luck – let us know if our Free EULA Example for Apple worked for your application!

Optimal Character Count Guide for Social Media Posts

Optimal Character Count Guide for Social Media Posts

Each social media site has different character limits that restrict how much you can include in each post. When you’re crafting your posts, you need to be aware of these limits and also take into account that the optimal character count can differ from the max amount of characters possible for a particular site. Below we will go through guidelines for posting length on some of the most popular social media sites.

Blog Posts
Headline Length: 8-12 words, fewer than 70 characters

By keeping your headline length under 70 characters, it optimizes your blog post for search engines. Also keep your keywords towards the beginning of the headline. If you need a longer headline but want to be able to post it to Twitter, make sure to keep it under 116 characters, since the link will take up 24 of the 140-character limit.

Blog Length: 1,600 words

The length guide for blog posts is trickier, because it depends heavily on what kind of blog you are writing. Different topics require different amounts of explanation and description, and you should make sure that you get your point across clearly even if that results in a much shorter or longer post than is considered “ideal.” 1,600-word articles result in about a 7-minute reading time, which tends to keep people interested and sharing the most.

Title Tag Length: Fewer than 70 characters

The title tag is what is shown in a search engine result and at the top of Internet browser, and it is used to describe the topic. You don’t want your title tag to get cut off prematurely, so keep it below 70 characters in length. Interestingly, Google seems to cut off according to pixel length rather than character length, which means that the letters you use and whether or not keywords are bolded will affect the outcome.

Meta Description Length: Fewer than 155 characters

The meta description is a short description of the link that shows up on the search engine result page. Again, Google determines meta description length by pixels rather than characters, but if you keep yours under 155 characters, you should be good to go.

Status Update Length: 40 characters

The maximum limit for Facebook status updates is 63,206, but the ideal character length is 40. That being said, you need to use as many characters as necessary to clearly provide context for the post.

Video Length: 30-45 seconds

If you keep your video posts relatively short, viewers are more likely to watch them completely and enjoy them rather than move on to the next post. However, this again depends on the content you are providing. Videos that are 5 minutes long or longer can work and be very popular. Videos that you post on Facebook should be compelling and engaging, and it helps for them to make sense even when muted.

Tweet length: 140-character maximum

Tweets are limited to 140 characters, but this is lessened even more if you are Retweeting, including an image, video, or other link, which take up part of the character limit. The ideal Tweet length is 100 characters without a link or 120 characters including a link. This leaves viewers enough room to add their own comment if they decide to Retweet your content word-for-word. You can also check out Twitter’s guide on the subject, since it’s definitely one of the more confusing sites for character limits!

Retweet Comment Length: 116 characters

Tweet with Link: 116 characters

Links greatly increase your chance of having people view and share your content on Twitter, so be sure to include them in most of your posts.

Tweet with Image/GIF/Video: 115 characters

Tweet with Link and Image/GIF/Video: 93 characters

If you find that you have more to say and can’t fit it into the strict Tweet character limit, try adding words onto the images that you include in your post.

Hashtag Length: Fewer than 11 characters

Hashtags should be small so that they can fit into other posts easily. In any given post, 1-2 hashtags are ideal, and make sure you don’t go over 3.

Video Length: 30 seconds or shorter

The maximum length for Twitter videos is 30 seconds, whether you import a video to the site or use Twitter’s own video recording function.

LinkedIn is a more professional social site, and most of the ideal character lengths are simply “under the maximum,” depending on what you do and what you need to portray.

Professional Headline Max Length: 140 characters

The professional headline is a brief description of what you do and shows up under your name.

Summary Max Length: 2,000 characters

Position Title Max Length: 100 characters

Position Description Length: Between 200 and 2,000 characters

Status Update Max Length: 600 characters

If you plan to update your Twitter profile using LinkedIn, make sure to stay under the 140-character limit for status updates.

Profile Bio Max Length: 150 characters

Caption Max Length: 2,200 characters

Keep in mind that if your Instagram caption is longer than 3 lines, the viewer has to hit “more” to see the entire post. However, it’s not necessary to keep your post under that limit, just make sure that you frontload your post so the most important information is given without having to hit “more”.

Keep the maximum limit and optimal character count in mind next time you post to your chosen social media site!