6 IFTTT Recipes To Save Time and Increase Effectiveness on Social Media

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As you know, social media management can eat up a big chunk of your business day even when you are mindful of your time.  So when there are tools available to help save you time, why wouldn’t you use them?

Here are 6 IFTTT recipes that will save time and increase your effectiveness on social media. They are very easy to set-up. (For more information on IFTTT see this article: IFTTT – Possibly My Favorite New Toy)

Images

When you post an image on Instagram, you can hit the Twitter share button to send it to Twitter. Doing it from the app causes it to appear as a link on Twitter and not an image. A better way to do this is to use the follwoing recipe that allows the image to appear as native on Twitter.  True images get more engagement.

picture of IFTTT recipe for sending Instagram photos to Twitter

Because some folks are noticing that some of their Instagram images are disappearing and some social media accounts are being hacked, it’s a good idea to keep a back-up of your Instagram images. If you use Dropbox, you can use this recipe to automatically save any image that you post to Instagram into your Dropbox. (Find that recipe here.) picture of recipe for IFTTT instagram to Dropbox

 

Automated Twitter List Building

Frankly, I think Twitter lists are a necessary evil.  They are time-consuming but necessary in order to quiet a lot of the noise on Twitter.  Here are 3 automated ways to build your lists.

The first is to build a Twitter list from a specific hashtag.  So for instance, let’s say that you are a participant in a weekly chat. You could use that hashtag (ex. #BufferChat) to build a list of all its participants.  You could also build a list of those attending a certain event by utilizing the event hashtag to build it.  (You can use this recipe more than once and you can find it here.)

 

 

picture of recipe for building a Twitter list from a hashtag

 

You could also build a list of people whose tweets you have favorited.  When I find someone that I want to remember but don’t have time right at that moment to add them to a particular list, I just favorite one of their tweets. This adds them to the “Tweets I’ve Favorited” list so that I can go back later and place them into a more suitable list. (Here’s the recipe for this action.)

picture of the recipe for adding a person to a lists of favorites

Another way to create a Twitter list is by adding users who @mention you.  If they have taken the time to mention you, you’ll want to keep them on your radar as a possible connection or conversation. (You’ll find this one here.)picture of recipe for add people who mention you to a Twitter list

Curating Content

Pocket is a great place to store articles to read later or to share with your audience.  This recipe will send the articles that you favorite on Pocket straight to Buffer to be sent to your social media platforms at an optimal time.  This is a huge time-saver! (There is a Chrome extension for Pocket so that whenever you find an article of interest on the web, you can save it in your Pocket. If you use Feedly to curate your content, you can send to Pocket from there, as well.) Here’s the recipe to do this.

IFTTT pocket fav to bufferThese are my favorites for use on social media. Do you have any favs of your own?  I’d love to hear about them.

How and Why to Set Up 2-factor Authentication For Your G-Mail Account

2 step

I explained in this article that social media accounts (no matter the fan/follower amounts) were being kidnapped by hackers and held for ransom and how it could ruin your online presence.

One of the ways to prevent this from happening is by using 2-factor authentification for your e-mail and social media profiles. Yes, it requires an additional step, but it’s worth the extra effort to protect your social media accounts and your personal information.

What is 2-factor authentification?

According to Dr. Dan Manson, professor of computer information systems at Cal Poly Pomona and host of The CyberFed Show, a 2-factor authentification contains 2 of these 3 items: something you know, something you have and something you are.

  • something you know = a password or PIN
  • something you have = a card or an e-mail address or a log-in or a phone
  • something you are = a fingerprint or a retina scan or proof of I.D.

Dr. Manson feels that security questions are not really a 2-factor authentification because these answers can be learned or guessed.  This is precisely what social engineers (hackers) are doing to get into your accounts: guessing answers to your security questions.

G-mail offers 2-factor authentification by combining something you know (your password) with something you have (your phone). With 2-step verification, you’ll get a short numeric code (verification code) on your phone (mobile or landline). You’ll then enter this code in addition to your username and password (even on your laptop or desktop). (If you wish, you can set it so that you will only be asked for your verification code on that device every 30 days.)

To set up 2-factor authentification, go to your settings page (or go here) on your G-mail account and click “using 2-step verification”.  Next, click “set up 2-step verification”. Follow the directions that you see on your screen in order to set up the 2-step verification code option. You have the option to receive a text message or a voice-call to your landline or mobile device or you can use the Google authenticator app on your Android, Blackberry or iPhone.

You will also set up 2 back-up options for receiving verification codes in case  your phone is lost or stolen.

Go and do this now, while it’s still fresh in your mind! Is it perfect? No. But it MAY save you hours, weeks, even years of trouble down the road!

Other places where you can (and should) set up 2-step authentification are:

  • Evernote
  • Dropbox
  • Apple iCloud
  • Google Drive
  • One Drive
  • Most banks (although not Wells Fargo)
  • Amazon web services
  • Google cloud platform
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Basecamp
  • Campfire
  • Mailchimp
  • Hipchat is working on it
  • SalesForce
  • Outlook.com
  • Yahoo Mail
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • (For a continuously updated list, check this site.)

14 Places To Share Your Newest Blog Post

Blogging guidepost, vector clip art

As website owners, we’re always happy to complete an article for our blog. It’s a way to provide a service to our community by sharing quality information. It’s also a way to bring readers to our website.  But our community won’t derive any value from our content unless they read it and they won’t be able to read it if they aren’t aware of it.

That’s why writing a blog post is just the beginning.  Now it’s time to get the word out. So how do we do that?

 

1.  Share to your social media platforms.

Once you’ve published an article on your blog, you’ll want to share its link to your social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook (personal [if appropriate] and business), Linked in, Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc., depending upon which social media sites you are utilizing.  I would recommend setting up a Google+ account and posting your blogs there just for the search capabilities alone. Other people might argue with me about this, but I think it’s worth the effort.  (For help setting up your Google+ account, I have a very inexpensive and easy-to-follow training here.)

When using Pinterest, be sure to choose a compelling image to attach to your article so that it will receive more attention.

Don’t forget to share in your appropriate social media “groups”, as well.

2. Publish on LinkedIn

Publishing directly to LinkedIn is another way to get in front of a different audience. Published posts become part of your LinkedIn professional profile and help to position you as an expert. With this process, you have the ability to reach one of the largest groups of professionals ever assembled.

3. Set up a tweet ring.

By using a service like TwitterFeed, you and a few like-minded friends can automatically share each other’s new blog posts to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. You simply add their RSS feed to the platform and it takes over from there.  You can hook this into your bit.ly account in order to keep track of the link shares.

4.Join Social Buzz Club

Somewhat like a twibe or a tweet ring, members share each other’s content via a gamification process which brings knowledge of your article to a whole new set of people.  For more information about Social Buzz Club, go HERE.

. 5. Join Triberr

Triberr is a platform consisting of tribes.  A “tribe” is a group of people (typically bloggers) organized into like groups and committed to sharing each other’s content. So for instance, if you were a food blogger, you would join a tribe of other food bloggers.  When you follow the tribe, their newly published blog posts show up in your stream so that, if you want to, you can share their content with your community members.  They have the opportunity to share yours.

6.  Submit your articles toquality article directories.

Article directories such as EzineArticles.com are great places to submit your articles. Here they will be found by people searching for specific subjects.  They may even be reposted, and credited to you by using the bio and URL that you post in your author box.  Ask around to find the best article directories for your niche.

7. Consider publishing directly to Medium

Medium takes a bit of experimentation to see which articles work best, but it is yet another way to sprinkle your content across the internet. Medium articles seem a bit more artistic and thought-provoking than many business articles.

Remember to add a call to action at the end of your article but on Medium, your CTA should be much softer than on other platforms.

8. Make a Slide Share

If you can turn your blog post into a slide share, it would be beneficial to post to this platform. It is currently under-utilized and thus, a good slide share has the potential to reach a large audience and receive a significant share of attention.

9. Comment on other blogs.

In order to make blog readers aware of you and your blog, comment on blogs that are related to yours.  Position yourself as the expert by providing additional great content.  Be sure to register on a site that will enable your photo and information to show up when you post a response.  Gravitar.com is one that will work with most WordPress blogs.  There is also http://disqus.com/ (blogs using Disqus use this). Blogger.com and IntenseDebate.com are 2 others to consider.

 

10.  Revive Old Posts (formerly Tweet Old Posts)

There is an application called Revive Old Posts  that will randomly select an article from your website and share it to your followers via Twitter, Facebook  and Linkedin.  It’s easy to set up and you can choose how often you want to share.  Every 3-4 hours would be fine but you’ll want to be sure that you have enough articles posted on your blog so that the same ones aren’t being shared over and over.  The one problem I see with this method is that some posts aren’t evergreen and as such, they may not make sense when shared later.

11.  Participate in blog challenges.

Generally a blog challenge compels you to write a certain number of blog posts in a certain amount of time. The community usually shares each other’s blog posts on social media sites. By participating in a blog challenge, you get accountability, motivation and reciprocity.

12. Share it in your newsletter.

Some people choose to share their article in their newsletter before publishing on their blog. This is to reward subscribers by sharing new content with them first. Whether you choose to share before publishing or after, a newsletter is a great way to get your article in front of your community.

13. Create a mini-podcast.

Could your blog article be turned into a mini podcast? Because your community may prefer to digest information in a different way (audio vs. visual), create a podcast and publish it to iTunes.

14.  Create tips Extract tips from your blog posts to share on Twitter. Add the appropriate hashtag in order to get in front of community members who could benefit from your content.

Making a blog stand out can result in higher traffic, dedicated readers and ultimately more purchasers of your products and services.  So remember: once you’ve written your blog post, your work is not complete until you’ve followed at least some of the steps above.

What The Professional Photographer Needs to Know About Social Media

Professional female photographer holding a camera and smiling

 

 

In the not-too-distant past, photographers were able to rely on their photography to speak for them in order to create their success and although there was competition, it was not as fierce as it is now. Due in large part to the ability to enter the marketplace with less expense, the availability of high-functioning digital options, more simplified editing software, and the ease of establishing a website, the competition is huge. Becoming a published and successful photographer in the modern age no longer requires just the ability to take amazing shots. It also requires that you be able to market yourself in the right ways to develop contacts that will pass your name along to companies and clients in need of your expertise.

A recent article in the “Notes From a Rep’s Journal” blog by Heather Elder mentions that in 2015, photographers who participate in their own marketing will be the ones who are the most successful.

“Photographers that are committed to their marketing plans, engage in their own networking, have a strong voice on social media, utilize blogs and other websites to promote themselves and are engaged in the estimating process fully are the ones who are the busiest.” ~Heather Elder, photographer rep

Accomplishing this marketing is best done by utilizing all the tools that available.  There are portfolio reviews to attend, e-mail promotions, snail-mail promotions, interviews, website updates, blogs, and networking events to attend. One of our photographers shared that she learned to play golf in order to network . Another states that he pays monthly in order to remain on the first page of Google.

Social media is another marketing option and in this article, we are going to concentrate on its benefits to the professional photographer.

Why Are Social Platforms Excellent for Freelance Photographers?

Basically, social networking is successful because of two things: people’s desire to connect and their desire to be entertained.  Social media allows people to connect with one another, and to share what has entertained them (in the case of their children and pets, perhaps too often, but I digress)

People also are visual. They love images. This makes social networks ideal for sharing your work and building your reputation as a quality photographer.

Before I lose you, let’s address the elephant in the room:  yes, there is a possibility that your images may be lifted. Even when protections are put into place, that possibility exists. There are ways to obtain images from websites even when the right-click is disabled and there are ways to remove watermarks.  But because of the competition, it’s a chance that needs to be taken.  Don’t be careless but don’t be so protective of your work that you cut off your nose to spite your face.  Watermark your images. Most social networks have mechanisms in place that will allow you to report theft. This will result in the offending person’s images being removed in most cases.

You can publish your photos on social networks and quickly develop a following that allows you to prove to potential clients that their target demographic enjoys your work. You may even be able to find a way to become featured on one of the larger community “hubs” that republish awe-inspiring photographs with the proper attribution.

It’s also not just about your work, it’s about you. In 2015, it’s less about the photography than about the photographer. Social media allows you to showcase your personality, your vision, and your talents, as well as your work.

The Social Networks You Should Use as a Freelance Photographer

The best approach to take when establishing your presence on social networks is to take a broad one. You want your name on as many of the social networks that you can handle, as this will allow you to best grow a more generalized audience for your work.  It’s best to try to acquire a standard name across all the social networks so that friends from one platform will recognize you on another.  If you feel that participating on all social networks is just too much, at least try to claim your name and fill out your profiles completely. You never know who will be looking at your work.

“I look at a lot of work online. I have about a thousand bookmarks that I try to randomly browse through when things are quiet at work. I like to keep up with what some of my favorite photographers are shooting, but by choosing bookmarks at random I tend to rediscover people whose work I admire but for whatever reason have not stayed top of mind. It’s good to refresh my mental list of who is working on what out there; there are so many people making great work and I want to work with them all!” ~Genevieve Dellinger, Art Producer at 72 & Sunny

If you find that one or two networks produce better results, then you should focus on driving interaction with the followers you have on those networks without forgetting about the other ones. One of the keys is interaction. Showcase your work but do engage in conversation, as well. Below is a brief list of the social networks you might choose to use as a photographer.

1. Google+

When Google+ first entered the scene, it was one of the most popular social networks among photographers and artists. They said that there images looked better on Google+ (Facebook and Twitter’s images were much smaller at the time) and the gallery was an excellent feature for photographers, as well.

Google+ circles are great for dealing with the “noise” and the communities offer a lot of opportunity for sharing with similar interests.  Hangouts are being used to network with other photographers or clients, to talk about gear to give tips, provide portfolio reviews and community photo critiques and even more.

And remember, Google+ is owned by Google. It is good for  search engine results.

2. Facebook

Facebook has a substantially larger active user base than Google+. This, coupled with the fact that it’s commonly integrated on other websites gives it an incredible amount of promise for photographers.

To utilize the site itself, you need only to create an account and to begin publishing your photographs. You can make your own business page, but this is only an optimal strategy if you plan to promote your own photographs alongside the work of others. As long as you don’t do too much promotion, you are probably fine with just a personal page.  Remember that a personal page must be your first and last name. It may NOT be the name of your company or even Jane Smith Photographer.

One reason to consider a business page on Facebook is the ability to advertise using Facebook ads. Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform which may sound like a negative, but in reality, it’s not. Facebook advertising allows you to post less content and reach a much more specific group of people.  And if you are growing an e-mail list (something you should consider doing), Facebook advertising has proven to be excellent.

One negative about Facebook is that 90% of users who “like” a page, never return to that page. This is another reason that Facebook ads have become necessary.

One positive is that Facebook is THE largest social platform and because your friends and family are probably already on it, you can take advantage of the 6 degrees of separation in order to make connections. Who better than friends and family to recommend you to their friends and family?

3. Twitter

Twitter is the platform that gives you 140 characters or less to publish your message. It is a phenomenal tool to connect with individuals and companies around the world. But it is a very fast-moving platform and as such you must regularly publish your messages because they disappear quickly.

Twitter users frown on too much promotion so it’s best to use the 80/20 rule: 80 sharing and 20% promotion.  Sharing your images is welcomed though and you are able to post up to 4 images at a time. You also have to option to tag your photos.

Twitter #hashtags allows for easy search results. For instance, type #photographer in the search box and you’ll be led to photographers who use Twitter or tweets with the hashtag #photographer in them.

Will you find many clients on Twitter? Probably not, but you will be able to connect with influential photographers to aspire to, companies who might utilize your photography, industry leaders in your area and because Twitter is usually the first to break news, a possible photo opportunity.

  1. Flickr

    Flickr is an interest network which means that its goal is pretty much just to share images. There’s not much interaction there. On Flickr, you are able to license images for reuse or print sales or you can choose not to allow that option.

    Flickr has come under fire lately when Yahoo! (its owner) started selling canvas images of its photos. They changed that policy but the negative feelings have lingered.

5.. Pinterest

Pinterest is unique from the other social networks listed here due to the fact that it focuses entirely on pinning and repinning images. Images are pinned from websites and placed onto virtual bulletin boards. Boards can be organized into categories of the user’s choice so for instance, images could be grouped into themes such as nature, street scenes, animals, marsala (Pantone’s color of the year), etc.

If you have a website where you share your photographs, sell your photographs or write blog posts, Pinterest might be a great platform to consider.  Images pinned from your website would link back to it and possibly bring visitors back to explore more of your offerings. One of the great things about Pinterest is that because of the “repining factor” the life of a pin is much longer than a tweet or a Facebook post.  A pinned item could be repined even a year after the original pin.

It’s also a great platform if you are a wedding, portrait or events photographer and is excellent for finding some inspiration.

5. Instagram

Instagram is a fun and easy way to share your images. You’ll find many photographers on Instagram and they seem eager to share each other’s work (with credit), so you have a good chance of growing a nice following. Plus Instagram is a great way to share photos of your life, your travels and your personality. Remember in 2015, it’s more about the photographer than they photography.

Instagram will also share easily to Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter (although the size will be distorted in Twitter). Instagram cannot share to Google+.

This platform makes use of #hashtags and is the only platform where it’s acceptable to use large amounts of hashtags in a post. Check out the hashtags that other photographers are using.

It is a mobile only app though so in order to share images from your standard camera, you’ll need to upload them to Dropbox or another Cloud storage system and grab them on your mobile device. Another work-around for that (if you don’t have a cloud storage system) is to email them to yourself and then save the image to your mobile device.

Which Social Media Platform is Best for Direct Marketers?

two smiling women, one  applying make up to the other at homeThis article originally appeared on SheOwnsIt.com.

Many direct sales marketers are successfully using social media to help market their businesses.  But just like in any other business, choosing the best social media platform for your particular brand is very important.  In order to choose, it’s imperative to define your ideal client and determine where they might be hanging out. We already know that physical products that are sold using the direct marketing system are popular among Facebook users.  And Facebook is the largest social media platform and the second most visited site after Google.

But Facebook may not be your best choice.  Here’s why:

Facebook’s recent algorithm changes have caused a significant decrease in the amount of content that is seen by those who like your page.  Experts are suggesting that only 1 of every 6 posts is seen by any one person.  So theoretically,  if you want even one post to be seen, you need to post something on your business page at least 6 times per day.  Facebook is putting more emphasis on images and images with links to relevant information.  Fortunately, many direct marketer’s products are very visual businesses.

We have known for awhile that Facebook has become a “Pay to Play” market for businesses and now marketers are being given tools to evaluate their campaigns further emphasizing that they are serious about advertising dollars.  This is not good news for those working in a direct sales market that does not allow advertising.

This is not to say that you should dump your Facebook business page. If you have a loyal following and can provide relevant and engaging content, you might still do well.  Some ideas for content might be motivational quotes, personal notes, humor, links to your other social media presences, company news, promotions (limited but not absent), questions and links to your blog or newsletter, if you have one.

Be sure that you fill out your “about” section completely so folks can get an instant idea of what you and your business is about.

There are 2 other social media platforms to consider using.  Pinterest is one of them.

Pinterest is an excellent site for direct sales marketers for several reasons.

  • There are 70 million Pinterest accounts of which 80% are owned by women.
  • There are 2.5 billion monthly Pinterest page views.
  • 80% of total Pinterest pins are repins, which means that your original pin has a longer staying power than a post on Facebook or Instagram.
  • The percentage of total social referrals to commerce sites (your O2 website, for instance) is 20% and people who have seen an item on social media are 40% more likely to purchase it.
  • The average amount per order that Pinterest shoppers spend is $140.00 – $180.00 and 60% of Pinterest users live in the United States.
  • *(Stats are from Expanded Ramblings.com)

On Pinterest you’re able to repin images from other direct marketer’s boards onto your own boards which allows you to show different ways to use your product.  Etiquette states that you may change the caption of the pin but you should never, never change the website redirect address.

This brings up the number one mistake that I’ve noticed that direct marketers make on Pinterest.  They add their website to the caption of the pin but don’t add their website as their image source. If you are pinning from your own photos, this is a must because otherwise the image is not clickable.  To add your website address, click on the image, click on the pencil (edit), place your website address to the box that says “source” and click on “save changes”.  But remember, if there is another person’s website address listed in the source box, do not change it. This is for images that you add from your own files.

Hint: if you have a website and apply for Pinterest’s “Rich Pins”, (and are approved) you can add a price to the description of your item and it will then be featured in the “Gifts” category (thus giving more attention to your Pin). Just how Pinterest chooses to display pins in this category is still a bit of a mystery but it’s worth a try.  Be sure to check your company’s terms of service  to that posting prices on Pinterest is allowed.
Instagram is another social media platform that is being used by many direct marketers.  It is a highly visual platform and allows for images or videos to be uploaded directly from your smartphone. Using Instagram, you could not only show images of your products but ways that they can be utilized.

The great thing about Instagram is that is utilizes hashtags in a big way. Unlike Twitter and Facebook where using more than 2 hashtags in a post is frowned upon, Instagrammers use many of them.  So for instance, you could use many of your keywords as tags and even add your home town as a tag with each image you post.

Like all social media sites, Instagram is not just about selling; it’s about connecting, offering value and getting to know your connections. So do post other images on your Instagram account that show off all sides of your personality.

You are also able to repost an image that you find on Instagram by using the Repost app (iPhone) or PhotoRepost app (Android).  The app will give credit to the original poster.

Because Instagram accepts 15 second videos, it’s also a great way to provide tips for your potential customers or for your team members.

So there you have it.  Which platform do you think is the best for your particular brand? Can you think of other ways to use these platforms?

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos/Syda_Productions

4 Great Reasons To Try Rignite Now

Vector abstract background; clip-artAs a social media strategist and community manager, I am always looking for ways to save time on social media while still being effective. I also need access to reliable analytics. As such, I’ve tried various scheduling and analytic software products such as Hootsuite, Market Me Suite, Sprout Social and others.

Recently, I had the opportunity to retry Rignite and because it has changed so much since my last trial, I thought I would give it a shot.  I’ve only been using it a month now, but here are some of the features that have impressed me so far.

1. Campaigns

Rignite has different types of campaigns that can be set up. You can easily run contests (they even help choose a winner), promote an event, blog or content; boost engagement or grow your fans and followers. There are suggestions and easy to follow directions to help set up a campaign. The drag and drop calendar is especially easy to use and enables you to see which days are lacking in scheduled content.

example of rignite calendar sheduling tool

One of the features that I especially like is the ability to schedule a blog post to be tweeted out on a regular basis for up to 6 months. I have been using the plug-in “Tweet Old Posts” (now called Revive Old Posts) to randomly tweet my previously published posts on a regular basis but in the world of social media, things change so quickly. Blog posts such as “Facebook Changes Its Algorithm… Again” become outdated in weeks, sometimes days. With this feature, I can easily cancel the scheduling of the post when it is no longer relevant.

2. Photo Gallery

I love this feature! Rignite has an area called “Gallery” which can contain albums of photos. This is a great place to store all those quote images so that they can easily be scheduled out to post on social media platforms.

nature

3. Easily monitor competitors, influencers and VIPs without following them.

Sometimes there are folks that you’d like to keep an eye on but don’t necessarily want to follow (perhaps because you’ve reached your follow limit) OR whose posts you want to be sure not to miss. rignite makes it easy to do both by using their “Account Search feature. This same feature allows you to build relationships with your VIPS by being able to respond to them quickly and in a timely manner.

4. Unlimited Social Accounts and Low Pricing

The free version of HootSuite allows up to three social media accounts and no team members while its next level up at $9.99 per month has 50 profiles included and allows up to 100.

MarketMe Suite’s basic level at $20.00 per month includes  5 social profiles (and only 20 scheduled messages) while its next level at $45.00 per month includes unlimited social profiles and scheduled messages.

Sprout Social’s first level plan (called Deluxe) at $59.00 per user per month allows up-to 10 profiles   and its next level up (at $99.00 oer month) allows up to 20.

Rignite allows unlimited social profiles in all of its levels!  Their basic level is $19.00 per month but does not include campaigns. Their next level up (which does include campaigns) is just $39.00 per month. If you pay the annual price, there is a 10 per cent discount. These prices are great for the small to medium-sized business owner.

None of the social media scheduling and analytical software solutions are exactly the same. Take advantage of free trials to find out which solution is best for your own needs.

Image credit: Deposit Photos and Rignite

* I did not receive monetary compensation for this article but I was invited to receive an extended trial of Rignite upon completion of this article. I’ll let you know of my findings after the completion of my trial.

 

12 Productive Things To Do When You Just Can’t Write

Businesswoman with a writer's block crumpling paper iI’m sure that you can guess the inspiration for this post.  I’ve been sitting in front of the computer half the morning trying to write an instructional article and it’s just not coming together.  I’ve finally decided to let that idea stew for awhile and try something else. Do you ever have those days? If so, keep this list handy so you can still be productive  the next time it happens.

Try a brain dump.

Grab your timer, some paper and your favorite writing instrument. (Mine has always been the original BIC pen.) Set your timer for 10 minutes and write down everything that you need to do, whether it is business-related, family-related, health-related, etc.  Whatever pops into your head – write it down.  When the timer rings, stop!  This exercise helps to get your brain clear and may allow some creativity to flow in.

Write Tomorrow’s To-Do list

Get a head start on tomorrow by writing your To-Do list. If you tried the brain dump exercise above, go back to that list and choose 6 items that you need to accomplish the next day.  List them in order of importance. On the next day, start with your first item – complete that item. When it’s done, move on to the second item. Then move on to the third task and so on.  At that end of the day, choose 6 items to be accomplished on the following day. This method is The Ivy Lee Method.  You can find out more about Ivy Lee and his method here.

Make a list of 100 tips for your business niche that can easily be posted to your social media platforms.  You’ll be able to use these over and over again and they will help you to position yourself as an expert. Using a hashtag to promote them will also help.

Read some articles that you have stored in Evernote, or in your professional development folder.

Catch up on webinar recordings that you missed. You know you have some somewhere.

Download some images from your favorite paid image source.  There are several image sites that offer unlimited downloads for a paid membership of a certain length of time or  a certain amount of downloads per day.  Make the most of your subscription. Three of my favorite sites for these images are Deposit Photos, Graphic Stock Photos (which has a special going right now – $99.00 for an entire year of unlimited downloads), and Clipart.com.

Use some of those images and create quote graphics or tips graphicsPixlr and PicMonkey are good places to do that.

Go through your old blog posts and share them again on your social sites.  Chances are there are many people who haven’t read them yet and you may catch some inspiration from one of the former articles.

Go for a walk.

Meditate.

Organize your desk.

Take a nap.

Sometimes your body is giving you physical hints that you need some down time. If your brain isn’t working, it may need recharging. Don’t fight it. Lean into it.

Image Credit: Deposit photos/racorn

 

 

 

 

5 Proven Ways To Use Content Creation and Curation to Show Off Your Expertise

The definition of the word "expert" with "expert" highlighted in green. One of the main reasons for learning how to blog and utilize the various social media platforms is to position yourself as an expert in your field.  You want to become the go-to person in your area of expertise so that when folks need your type of services, your name comes to the forefront of their mind.

One of the best ways to position yourself as an expert is with content, both created and curated.   Here are 4 easy ways to do that.

1. Blog consistently.  If you really want to become known as an expert, you should write an article 2-3 times per week that provide value, information or inspiration to your audience.  The more you write, the more you will learn and the more expert you will become. 

2.  After you blog, remember to share your blog posts on social media platforms.  Jeff Bullas states that on the day he publishes his article, he blasts it out on Twitter at least 4 times.  Twitter is such a fast moving platform that 4 times in a single day is not over-kill in the least.  On Facebook, Linked in or Google+, once would be enough.  You can utilize such tools as Buffer app, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, Sprout Social, etc.   You can also utilize tribes (groups of folks who agree to promote each others content). Some well-know tribes are Triberr and Social Buzz Club .  You can also create your own Tweet ring.

Curate (find and distribute through your social media channels) valuable content by retweeting others, or using sources such as Flipboard, Zite, Pulse, Huffington Post or Google Currents. Your followers will come to trust that you are recommending great resources for them so don’t broadcast anything without at least a glance through the article to see if it’s worthy.  

3.  You Tube is great for those who offer content that is more visual in nature, such as “how-to” create projects, what to look for in a great glass of wine (have you ever seen Gary Vaynerchuk eat dirt?), how to make the perfect souffle’  or how to manage items that are technical in nature.  You can embed your You Tube videos onto your website and create your own You Tube channel as well.  Many folks are creating “vlogs” on You Tube and having much success.

4. E-books are excellent ways to position yourself as an expert, especially when you set them up on Amazon as a Kindle book.  In 2012 (we don’t yet have the numbers for this year), 67% of all e-books sold were for the Kindle. Another great thing about putting your content on Kindle is that it is less likely to be pilfered because it is easily searchable.  Kristen Eckstein is offering a very affordable Kindle in 30 Day Bootcamp Challenge which starts January 5th – more information about that here.  She guarantees that if you complete the steps, you’ll walk away with a Kindle book by January 30th!

5. Newsletters –  although some folks insist that e-mail is dead, I believe that is far from the truth.  DO expect to have some who download your free offer and then unsubscribe. Don’t take it personally; they are not your ideal client. But once you establish a consistent presence and an offering of valuable content, folks will look forward to receiving  and opening your mail.  Be persistent.  Depending upon your niche, you might offer your article to your e-mail subscribers one to two weeks prior to placing it on your blog in order that they receive the “news” first.  This is an additional encouragement to open your mail.

Whichever way(s) you choose to share your knowledge, make sure that it is your best content, shows your passion for the subject matter, addresses your audience’s needs and concerns and is easy to share

image: DepositPhotos.com

You’re most welcome to use this article on your website, blog or in your e-zine if you include this entire blurb, without modification: If you liked this article by Shelley Webb, you’ll want to hop on over to www.OnTheWebbSocialMedia.com where you can find more articles, resources and social media strategies.  Shelley teaches entrepreneurs and small business owners how to bring their business into the on-line conversation.

 

4 Great Content Planning Calendars to Download Now

2014 calendarWe all know that part of social media and inbound marketing is great content.  But sometimes it’s difficult to create great content for our blogs.

Michelle Schaeffer once stated that she wrote 42 blog posts in a single day.  I’ve never come anywhere close to that but I know that having a blog calendar/content calendar makes it much easier and faster to create an appropriate article because you can plan ahead using themes.  And while the day may come when you march in to the local Staples and pick up a blog planning calendar, it’s not here yet, so I’ve assembled a few of my favorites that are available to download on-line. A couple are free; a couple are not, but each has great qualities.

 

 

photo of blog planner pagesThe first is from Say Not Sweet Anne and is quite an extensive offering.  It comes with a dated (or undated, if you so choose) weekly or monthly calendar view and has 3 different add-on options: a meal planner, a lesson planner and a blog planner.  With a choice of three different design colors, this one is available on Etsy.  Her price is $13.00 plus an additional $3.00 for each add-on download. If you like their Facebook page, you can get a discount coupon code.

What I like about this one is that you can choose which add-ons you need and Kayla, the website owner, explains how to put it all together to make the most awesome planner.

 

 

 

 

 

nBlog Energizer blogging calendarThe next is from Blog Energizer and although it’s 111 pages long, it’s a freebie.  It lists monthly and weekly events such as National Write a Business Plan Month in order to help spark article ideas.  It also has social media icons that you can cross out when you’ve completed your posts for the day.  It offers 4 grids to help you plan key content types which makes it easier to create synergy between posts, email messages and offers when you can see the week’s topics at a glance.  I have used this one in the past and enjoyed it. It’s not as froo-froo as the others so would be great for the guys, as well.

 

 

 

photo of blog summary pageFrom The Organised Housewife comes this 2014 Blog Planner.  What I love about this one is that it includes planning pages, finance pages, statistics, social media, pages for tracking affiliate programs, blog summary pages for keeping track of favorite blogs, etc.  You can print out as many pages as you want for one category so it’s fairly customizable.  The weekly pages aren’t dated though so that’s a disappointment to me. 

This planner is $19.95 and can be purchased on the website.

 

 

image of year at a glance calendarConfessions of a Homeschooler offers a free printable Blog Planner that also has the ability to keep tract or give-aways and reviews, blog advertising, statistics, post ideas and notes.  It’s very colorful and would be great for Mommy Bloggers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iamge of social media checklistAnd of course, if you want a page to keep track of your daily social media, we offer that on our own site here under our Virtual Chocolates tab. 

Happy blogging and here’s to a wonderful and prosperous 2014.

You’re most welcome to use this article on your website, blog or in your e-zine if you include this entire blurb, without modification: If you liked this article by Shelley Webb, you’ll want to hop on over to www.OnTheWebbSocialMedia.com where you can find more articles, resources and social media strategies.  Shelley teaches entrepreneurs and small business owners how to bring their business into the on-line conversation.

What’s So Social About Chocolate Mousse Cake?

Tyler and Jen tasting their wedding cakeThis is not something you would normally find on a social media blog but it IS about being social in that it’s about food and great food is almost always social.  I originally made this cake (actually I made 14 of them) for my own wedding back in the early 80s.   I had tested other cakes but I just liked mine better and so I decided to go for it.

It then became tradition to make it for special birthdays and other celebrations.  My son requested that I make chocolate mousse cake for his Groom’s cake because it has always been his favorite.  As you can see, he and Jen had a gorgeous wedding cake created by Rockwell’s Bakery in Villa Park, California but they chose the mousse cake for their taste because of the whipped cream.  Normally it would have had much more whipped cream but I couldn’t bring my mixer to the winery with me. :)

A friend of mine who reconnected with me on Facebook and who was also at my wedding asked if I would share the recipe so she could bring it to a holiday party.  Another friend replied that she’d like to have  it too.  See….the power of social media.

So……. here’s the recipe.  It’s originally from Bon Appetite Magazine somewhere around 1980.  Be forewarned that this is NOT low-calorie and IS high in fat and sugar but it is SO good… and just a little bit won’t hurt.

Chocolate Mousse Cake

2 cups heavy cream

2 whole eggs

4 eggs separated

1 pound chocolate morsels

1/2 cup unsalted butter

6 T powdered sugar

8 oz. chocolate (to coat the leaves)

2 (MORE) cups heavy cream – for garnish

3 cups Nabisco chocolate wafers (if you can’t find them, then Oreo cookies work, but someone has to eat the filling – oh NO!)

8 – 10 camelia leaves (orange leaves will work in a pinch)

Crust:  (You’ll need a springform pan.)

Melt the butter; Crumble the cookies in a blender, food processor or smash them in a bag.

Add the melted butter to the cookies and press them in the springform pan making sure that the crust goes up the sides too.

Please in freezer for 1/2 hour.

 

Filling:

Melt the 1 pound of chocolate morsels.  When slightly cool, add the 2 whole eggs and fold in to mix well.  Then add the 4 egg yolks and mix until combined well.

Bet the 4 egg whites until stiff but not dry.

Beat the 2 cups whipping cream with the 6T of powdered sugar.

Now…. alternately fold small amounts of the the egg whites and the whipping cream into the chocolate mixture until all are incorporated.

Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate overnight.  

Remove the springform pan.  Place on a large cake platter.  Garnish the top of the cake with the 2 cups of heavy cream – whipped  (I really only use about a cup and sometimes I add some amaretto before whipping.)  Place 6-7 of the chocolate leaves on top – stem side facing center of cake (think bicycle wheel spokes).

Leaves:

Gather some camellia or other waxy leaves and wash them.

Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate and spread some on the BACKS of the leaves.  Put on waxed paper and place in freezer until ready to garnish.

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I once had a catering company called Satin Sheets and Red Ants Catering.  We served breakfast in bed, picnic food for the Hollywood bowl and fancy desserts. We served this chocolate mousse cake at a Bouvier’s first birthday party, complete with over-sized dog bone party favors and doggy hats.  Now THAT’S social.    :)