How do I embed a Tumblr post and what is the value?

Embedding posts from Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and a few other websites, has become a common practice, especially among bloggers and journalists. It’s a tool that can help you tell a bigger and better story that revolves around engaging with fresh, dynamic content that is available to reuse simply and easily.

This week, Tumblr announced that it has followed other social media sites, and now allows users to embed posts from the Tumblr dashboard. That means that a whole new ecosystem is available to embed, and that’s giving people access to an incredible amount of content.

Tumblr is quite simply massive–their counter currently has them at 100.5 billion posts across 218.2 million blogs–and the styles of posts vary greatly between users, companies, and age groups. If you have a topic you write about, Tumblr offers something relevant that fits your niche.

To take a look at how it works, check out one example from my own personal Tumblr blog:

Essentially, the post looks exactly like it did on Tumblr, right down to my user icon, hashtags, and the action buttons in the bottom-right corner where Tumblr users can like the post, or share it. (Clicking the image takes you to my Instagram photo, since the image was posted directly to Tumblr from that service, but interactions with media will depend entirely on what was posted, and how it was posted.)

For those users who want to share their own Tumblr posts outside of the site, this new functionality is a big boon that allows people to spread content even further than before. You don’t need to post something twice–now you can post it once, and share it anywhere else. It even means that a company can run a Tumblr blog separate from their regular website blog, and selectively share posts on their website whenever they feel like it.

The only downside to the functionality is that, at least right now, you can only share content from the Tumblr dashboard, or from a site that has embedded a post already. The reason probably comes down to Tumblr themes not being all compatible with the necessary code, but whatever the reason, it means you need to keep an eye on the Tumblr dashboard to find posts you want to share, or do a search to find posts that way.

For instance, below is a post I found on Tumblr with the CES hashtag, from this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

How To Embed A Tumblr Post

So, how do you embed a post? It’s really simple. From the Tumblr dashboard, or from a shared post on a website (like this one), look for the icon that resembles three dots in a row and click on it. It will look like this after you click on it:

Tumblr embed a post

Next, just click on “Embed” and Tumblr will display the embed code, which has already been highlighted for copying. Copy it (using CTRL+C on PC, and Command+C on Mac) and, next, in your content management system, paste in the code.

For WordPress, you will need to paste the code into the Text editor (not the Visual editor), so the code doesn’t get mangled by the text editor. For any other content management system, you will likely need to paste it into the HTML view. It’s also important to note, for users who aren’t aware, that this code will only work in a content management system, including WordPress or Blogger. You can’t paste this code into Facebook or Twitter.

Okay, But Is Embedding Worth it?

Circling back to the start, for anyone looking for content to help them tell a story, Tumblr posts can be a great source for discussion, and of course they can be fun, interesting, or just plain funny. But, what other value is there?

In terms of Search Engine Optimization–if you are writing content for your site that you hope will appear highly in Google searches and possibly improve traffic to your website–there is also value in embedding posts because search engines can read the content that is being embedded. Whether it will help a lot depends on a whole bunch of other factors, of course, including keywords, keyword density, and even the length of the whole post.

The greater value, as I see it, is simply that social media offers a huge opportunity for engaging with your audience. Writing a smart, well-written article that includes embedded content can help retain visitors on your pages for longer periods of time, and possibly entice them to share a story elsewhere on social media. The value of embedded content can be big, especially with posts that offer images, video, or other graphics–and Tumblr is really all about the images.

There are no guarantees, of course, but this is a promising opportunity, and Tumblr has a wide range of incredible content from brands, businesses, and savvy people from around the world. If nothing else, it’s worth testing to see what reaction you get from your readers. Just be conscious of the type of content you share, and how relevant it is to your website, and your readers. Knowing your audience is still one of the most important factors.

Here’s one more of my own posts, for the Doctor Who fans, just for fun:


CASL: What you need to know about Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation

Business owners have a lot of options in front of them when it’s time to promote sales, drive traffic to their website, or reach out to customers. Despite the power of social media, there is no question that email still plays a big part in marketing and sales campaigns, and it works incredibly well in getting customers, and leads, interested in new opportunities with your business.

That’s why Canada’s new anti-spam legislation, or CASL (pronounced “castle” by many), is raising eyebrows for many businesses who are unsure how the law impacts their email newsletters or what they need to do since the law comes into effect, for commercial electronic messages, tomorrow, on July 1, 2014.

With that deadline in mind, if you or your business have not started complying with the new rules, you definitely need to start, so I’ve put together some basic information to help you plan for the new law.

First of all, it’s worth noting that I am not a lawyer, and none of what I’m about to explain is official legal advice. As a web developer, however, I can tell you a few best practices, and help you understand the basics of CASL.

The first thing to realize is that the anti-spam legislation has its challenges, but it’s also represents what should be considered good business practices. The new rules are intended to deal with spam by ensuring that people not only explicitly choose what they receive by email, but also that they can easily leave that subscriber list at any time.

If you’ve ever received unwanted marketing phone calls when you’re having dinner, you can likely understand why this rule is necessary. Prior to these rules, I’ve been on multiple lists that had signed me up, but didn’t offer me an easy way to leave them.

So, how do I comply with CASL?

Compliance essentially means that businesses need to use a newsletter system going forward–one that allows customers, or potential customers, to explicitly opt-in to communications, and to cancel their subscription at any time.

For businesses who have managed their email lists using a simple spreadsheet of information, it is possible to comply with the requirements of CASL, but it is much simpler to use a system like MailPoet (for WordPress), or Campaign Monitor. By using solutions like these, customers can sign up for your newsletter on your website, and in each email they can click on a link to unsubscribe.

What if I don’t comply by July 1, 2014?

Technically, July 1 is the first deadline you need to be aware of for CASL, but there’s a second one; July 1, 2017. Where there is “an existing business or non-business relationship”, implied consent is considered to be given to businesses unless the customer indicates that they wish to leave the newsletter list.

During this transition period, businesses need to seek out express consent from their customers.

Businesses should be aware, however, whether or not they have anyone on their emails lists who they have never done business with. For those who have harvested email addresses from lists created by other companies, or taken email addresses off of websites, you could be found in violation of CASL.

What is I don’t comply with CASL?

For individuals who violate the new law, there is a maximum fine of up to $1 million, and businesses can face fines up to $10 million per violation. There are a number of factors that will determine the fines levied for infractions, but it’s still obvious that it’s not worth risking the fine just to maintain a large email list.

What do I do next?

The first step is to set up a newsletter system for your future communications, and then ask your existing clients or contacts to sign up using the new system. Many companies are handling this by setting up a special sign-up page for their newsletter and sending out a link to that page through their existing email list. This strategy is also helpful in that you are not bringing old contacts into the new system.

Where can I get more information on CASL?

The Government of Canada has extensive resources available for businesses and individuals. Here are a few of the main resources you should review to better understand the law and its implications:

How Phoenix Gate Studio can help you and your business.

Phoenix Gate Studio can help you make the most of your email communications, and we can make sure you comply with all of the new rules under CASL. Whether you need a built-in solution for your website, or are ready for a third-party solution to manage your email newsletters, we can help you not only with compliance, but by making your newsletter grab the attention of your readers, and giving your company an easy-to-use system that is quick and efficient.

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WooCommerce: All about the number$

WordPress has an amazing, thriving community of plugin developers, and no matter what you want to do with the website content management system, the range of available add-ons makes almost anything possible.

The only trouble is that some developers have no problem charging for extras that are not always all that “extra”. Take, for example, WooThemes and their WooCommerce shopping cart plugin.

WooCommerce is a fantastic system that generally offers a lot of the bells and whistles that people need to run a fully-featured store on their website, but it is also exactly the kind of plugin that charges for a lot of features thanks to the plugin’s extensions (yes, the plugin uses extensions–like plugins for a plugin).

Want to handle advanced shipping? The table rate shipping extension is $199. Need to handle subscriptions in your cart? That’s also $199. PDF invoices? $79.

The trouble is that at least one of those add-ons is actually a core feature that most people actually need.

Within the free plugin (and it is worth noting that the core functionality is provided as a free plugin), you can do a lot, including creating products, adding shipping charges, and you can send people to PayPal to pay for everything.

But what if you want to export your sales out of WooCommerce to analyze or even just use to file your taxes? CSV exporting is $79.

The thing is, I actually love most of what WooCommerce does. It’s a strong plugin for WordPress that is actually better than most of the alternatives, and it’s fairly easy to get it up and running, but when every little feature costs another $79, or more, I have to question if I want to support them.

WPML is one of the best systems around for translation, and for a lifetime purchase, the total fee is $195 and you get every release they put out forever. It’s a fantastic system, and it’s feature-rich.

Gravity Forms is another powerful WordPress plugin that lets you do anything you could ever want with a form, and all for the price of $199, including a year of support and updates.

By comparison, if I had to package up just a few of the important elements that are available as WooCommerce extensions, we’re easily looking at over $500 for one year of support and updates.

What really irks me though is that, when I brought this up on Twitter, Woo’s Support account chimed in suggesting that you can export sales from WooCommerce already, and not including sales exporting is actually important to keeping WooCommerce lighter:

Considering they’re talking about an XML export, which contains all sorts of useless data that you don’t want in your accounting software, including orders that were never finished, and it also assumes that your accounting software can even open an XML file. I also can’t quite understand the tone the tweet takes, which seems to be a bit on the offensive, suggesting that their system does something users want, when it really, really does not.

Woo Support even went on to add:

The problem is that I am happy if WooThemes wants to make money off WooCommerce–because that’s what they’re in the business of doing–but I can’t swallow the idea that charging for every single feature is a bad model that follows Facebook’s incredibly flawed concept that they’re using in the news feed.

On Facebook, if you post something as a person, or on a page you manage, only a portion of your friends or fans will see that post because Facebook wants you to pay to advertise that post, thereby actually reaching the full potential audience. That’s their sales model, and it’s a terribly flawed model that makes me question even using Facebook to reach people. If there are people who have requested to get updates from my page, shouldn’t they see what I post without me paying for it?

This WooCommcerce situation is similar because all of the sales information is in front of you within the plugin, but short of writing it all down on paper, there’s no real way to use it elsewhere. That means that WooThemes is asking you to pay for the right to export the sales information that they’re effectively holding ransom for $79.

If you’re really desperate, you can at least export your sales from your payment gateway, but if you’re using the built-in option, that probably means PayPal standard, and frankly, that’s another mess that I won’t get in to here. It’s possible, but it’s not pretty.

So, what am I trying to get at with my criticism? I want to support plugin developers who are helping the community at large, and as someone who builds websites for people for a living, I want to be able to rely on plugins that work without any trouble that gets in the way. To me, this situation is incredibly greedy, and while I don’t intend to make a habit of being this critical of developers, I either have to hope that WooThemes will make some changes, or hope that other developers will step up with alternatives that make more sense.

I also wanted this post to act as a small warning for those thinking of using WooCommerce on their own sites: the plugin is powerful and effective, but if need more than the basic features, you’re going to have to pay for them.


A little bit about typefaces, and Comic Sans

A lot of elements go into making a great website design, but one of the big cornerstones of any design is picking the right font. What font family will you use for headers or the menu, how big is the text, and when you mouse-over a link, does it change colour, or does an underline simply appear?

On the dark side of this topic, a lot of people have come to hate and loathe the ugly duckling of the font universe: Comic Sans, and that’s for good reason. In the history of typography, no font has been so widely used in so many unfortunate ways, but this video offers a mild defence for Comic Sans, and why it may not be as bad as we think… well, at least to a certain degree.

In Defence of Comic Sans: