Five Ways To Get Your Blog Up And Running!

blogging-tipsIf you are like me, writing may not be your first love. I am a storyteller, but I’m much more comfortable with the spoken word than the written. Like me, you may have a lot to say but organizing your thoughts and putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboards may not come naturally. You may be worried that no one will be interested in your point of view. I’m here to tell you, nothing could be further from the truth. We all have a voice and a story to tell. It’s not always easy to make time to blog, but the effort pays by growing your online community, setting yourself up as an expert in your field and sharing your vision and brand in a way that is engaging, entertaining, and can take clients or customers from prospects to actual business revenue generators.

I blogged for twenty-one days straight as part of my 21 Day Dream Big Challenge. I started blogging on April 4 and posted every single day, without missing a beat for twenty-one days. The goal of the challenge was to encourage readers to dream BIG and to get into the habit of focusing on their greatest desires and aspirations. Scientists say it takes twenty-one days to build a habit. We were on a journey to build a habit of dreaming big and living out loud. Little did I know that not only was I building a habit of dreaming big, I was also building a habit of blogging. After blogging every day for twenty-one days, I discovered a few things.

Here are five tips that will take the fear and anxiety out of blogging to get you on your way to telling your story and sharing your point of view.

  1. Blog Post Platforms: I use WordPress as my blogging platform of choice. I think WP is easy to use and very intuitive. For many people, WP is a bit intimidating. If you’re not worried about analytics or SEO (if you have to ask what SEO is then you probably aren’t worried one bit) there are plenty of user-friendly blogging platforms from Tumblr to Blogger that are an easy 1-2 process. If you are worried about analytics and SEO, I suggest you blog from your website and push the content out from there to your other social networking sites. This will help drive traffic to your website and, in addition, your blog will help establish you as an authority in your industry. It can also help you build your network with potential clients. Plus, I think it is a good idea to curate your content in a hub that you own. I have two blogs. One blog that lives on my website that is strictly business related and one blog that caters to my geeky, techie, lifestyle connoisseur interests. I often cross promote posts across both blog platforms when appropriate.
  2. Blog Post Length: People often think they have to write the next great American novel when they are blogging. Some people may tell you this is necessary. I would beg to differ. When you are doing a blog post, you don’t have to write a long novel. You have to write an interesting post. In fact, if the information resonates with the reader, shorter is often better. Regardless of the length, I alway cross promote my blog post across my various social networking sites. I may also share a blog several times throughout the month or share an archived article when I haven’t had time to write an original post. When I do this, I change-up the title in an effort to attract new interest. Speaking of blog titles…
  3. What To Name Your Post: The catcher the blog title, the more likely someone will click on your post. But, be mindful of how that title will translate if you have your blog set up to post to across multiple platforms. “Get Your Sexy On In Five Easy Steps” may work for Facebook or Twitter. You’ve told the reader what the subject is and what they will be learning. However, that may not be what you want to post to LinkedIn or Google Plus. A title on those sites may read, “From The Office To Evening in Five Easy Steps.” Get it?
  4. Double-check Spelling: If you are like me, grammar isn’t your strongest attribute. Look, I do many things well. I cook, I teach aerobics, I cycle all over the city and I’m one heck of a producer and storyteller. But spelling and grammar? Yeah, I think I was absent the entire time they taught that in elementary school. If you can’t afford an editor (I use one for professional documents and presentations) then use a service like Grammarly to help you edit your copy. I’m using it now. That said, don’t send me your editorial notes on all the things that need correction in this blog post. Send your notes directly to Grammarly. They are the ones acting as my editor at the moment. On a serious note, remember, these sites that have been set up to help us write mistake-free will check for grammar and misspellings. They often cannot determine context.
  5. Writers Block – Write about what you love and you’ll never get stuck on what to write about. OK, that’s not entirely true. But, as a rule, if you are blogging about things that interest you, what you are writing about should come naturally.

Once the twenty-one-day challenge ended, I was both relieved and saddened. The pressure was off to not have to write every day. But, I soon missed my morning blogging ritual. Currently, I have committed myself to blogging at least once a week or twice when I have time. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.

Need help getting started with your blog? I can help you develop a strategic content management strategy that will be the most effective way to use your blog to generate leads that turn into revenue. Together we can start telling your story in a way that will elevate your brand and generate revenue. Fill out the contact form below and let’s get started.

Five Things To Know In Social Media This Week

I searched the headlines for the hot social media topics of the week. Here are five stories to help with your professional development in the social space.

Twitter Blog JpegFrom TechCrunch: Twitter Officially Launches Its “Retweet With Comment” Feature – “Twitter just officially launched its “retweet with comment” feature, which it began testing last summer. “Retweet with comment” allows users to embed a tweet in their own tweets, which lets them get around Twitter’s 140-character limit when they write their own commentary. The feature is now available on Twitter’s site and iPhone app and will be available on its Android app soon. [ED NOTE: This is WAY cool!]”

From WaPo: Snapchat’s controversial emoji update: An explainer for the old and/or confused– “Nothing prematurely ages you quite like social media. Are you upset about the big Snapchat update? No, okay, you’re probably old. You didn’t hear about the update? Positively ancient. You don’t even use Snapchat?!?!??! Dinosaur!! Allow me to inform you, oh fossilized one, that Snapchat yesterday made some changes to its popular messaging app, which have become something of a flash point among the teenage set. But if you’re older than, say, 17, the very substantive, concerning implications of the update are not apparent immediately.” [ED NOTE: After reading this article, we can all be happy with the notion that we are not dinosaurs!]

YouTube JpegFrom Re/code: YouTube to Video Makers: Join Our Subscription Service or Go Somewhere Else– “YouTube is getting ready to launch an ad-free subscription service. And the world’s largest video site is flexing some muscle to make sure its new product is as big as possible. YouTube is doing that with new rules that will make it difficult for video makers to keep their clips out of the new service, which should come out in the second half of this year. The key change: YouTube “partners” — video owners who make money from ads on their YouTube clips — will need to let YouTube put their clips in the ad-free service, too. If they don’t, YouTube will make it nearly impossible for a casual visitor to find the videos. It will classify the clips as “private,” which means the only people who can see them will be those preselected by the video owner. YouTube says it will share subscription revenue with video owners whose stuff gets viewed, and it isn’t requiring video owners to keep their stuff on the site exclusively. So the new rules likely won’t pose a problem for the majority of video makers.”

From ReadWrite: Yahoo Has Apparently Decided It’s Time To Really Cash In On Tumblr – “Yahoo is planning an internal reshuffle that could effectively end the independence of its most popular acquisition, the visual blogging platform Tumblr. The Information reports that CEO Marissa Mayer spoke about the major changes inside the company at an offsite meeting with executives. She also reportedly asked Tumblr CEO David Karp which Yahoo executive he’d like to report to from now on. Yahoo spent $1.1 billion to acquire Tumblr in May 2013, and it looks like the company is finally planning to seek a return on that investment. Tumblr’s highly visual format makes it possible to serve native ads—that is, ads that are barely distinguishable from the content around them, and thus less intrusive to users.”

From The Verge: Facebook launches standalone Messenger for web browsers – “There’s now a web browser version of Facebook Messenger to go along with the standalone smartphone apps the company is making everyone use. No, Facebook the website isn’t taking away your ability to chat with friends. After the controversy that surrounded divorcing the two central features on mobile, Facebook is adamant that Messenger isn’t leaving Facebook.com anytime soon. Instead, Messenger for the web — which you’ll find at Messenger.com starting today — focuses solely on simple conversations and leaves the other parts of Facebook that can be distracting to the primary site.” [Ed Note: I don’t use Facebook Messenger. It’s the one place where you cannot get in touch with me. It’s my own private rebellion]

There you have it. You’re up-to-date on the hot social media topics for this week.

Social Media Is Still Relevant And Here Is Why

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Tinu Abayomi-Paul, web site promotion specialist, and author, is also the principal consultant of Leveraged Promotion, a website promotion company. Their specialty is bringing companies with an existing offline presence the local, national or international exposure they need to increase profitability, by leveraging the cost-effective tools available on the web.

In January 2014, Tinu was named one of the top 50 Industry Influencers by AGBeat. In February 2014 she was also awarded a Women’s Leader Fellowship by the Hot Mommas Project. In September 2012, Tinu is quoted in the CNN article: “Why Business Women are Flocking to Twitter”, as part of the CNN Leading Women showcase. In October 2012, Tinu was featured in TopRank’s yearly updated list of 25 Women Who Rock Social Media.  In June of that same year, Tinu was featured in AGBeat’s Business Leader Showcase. In December 2011, Liberated Muse named Tinu as one of the Top Ten Women in Social Media. Whew, that’s a lot of accolades!!

She is a woman in the know and an all around cool connector of people. I was able to catch up to her to get her thoughts on social media and where we are going in the social space.

Q- Why is social media relevant?

Social media is relevant because it provides a layer of communication and data in real-time, one that previously did not exist. In terms of customer feedback, focus groups and other types of research based on end user feedback, you can gather actionable data about a topic faster than ever before. As a marketing source, it helps democratize and facilitate word of mouth within a global context, at a cost low enough to even the playing field for small businesses.

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other tools also give power to the individual on a level that hasn’t existed before. We may not all be using it that way yet – but the potential to be able to use your personal voice and opinion to affect change on this level is unprecedented. If you wanted the potential to reach the world with your voice, as little as ten years ago, your options were much more limited than they are today.

For example, if you checked into a hotel in 2002 and had a problem with customer service, you could ask for management’s help to resolve it, but had few other options. Depending on how much the hotel cared about your repeat business, and whether or not customer satisfaction was a primary goal, your voice might be heard by the hotel or it might not.

Armed with social media, companies are now not just marketing to you; they’re marketing to whatever your potential audience reach is. Now, a complaint isn’t just a complaint – it can go on record on Yelp or Foursquare, go viral on Twitter, or be permanently posted to a Google local or Facebook business page.

How do you use social media in your work?

One of my companies helps build marketing systems for small businesses, integrating search, social or reputation management with existing PR or other types of online or offline marketing. All of the activities that increase visibility for a company are more effective in synergy.

Q- What trends to you see in the upcoming year for social media?

1- More discerning choices about what we’re paying attention to – the problem now in social media is that there are too many channels, most of them repeating the same information, though sometimes in different formats. The younger users are enjoying tools like SnapChat, which deploys a shared image, video, drawing, etc for a set period of time, then destroys it.

We’re seeing the results of the backlash, with people opting out of Facebook and other new media channels indefinitely or for set periods of time. And yet you never hear anyone say “I have to quit Googling, it’s just too much.”

The question is: how do we respond to those trends as small business owners and social media professionals?

2- The maturation of the visual web trend. Clearly, the web is becoming increasing more visual, and much less text heavy before our eyes. With internet enabled TV and other devices like Roku that gets the video we view on the web on the big screen, the demand for content that can be consumed on the bigger screen is increasing as well. Early movers will benefit when this trend hits a peak. It may not happen this year but it is coming.

3- The web will be soon be everywhere – our refrigerators will be linked to the grocery store, and we might be able to update our list by sending a direct message in Twitter. At the leading edge of this right now is mobile. If your social content isn’t web enabled, you’re missing out on a lot of additional exposure.

Q- What is your best social media tip?

Start all of your social-related endeavors with research and clear goals. Why this channel? Who uses it? What competes with it? What do we hope to achieve? How will we know we’re successful? And most importantly, what do the people we want to reach want to hear from us on this channel? The data is out there and accessible. Or if you have some access to the community you want to grow with, just ask them what they want.

This post is edited and updated from the original version that appears on the All Things E blog.

Search Engines Want To Sit Between YOU and Your Friends

You may have noticed that the online marketing strategist in your life has been sweating a little more than usual these days. It’s not because the heat inside your building is set to unnaturally high temperatures to combat the cold. Thanks to recent changes in search engine security, online marketing has just gotten a bit more challenging.

Major search engines – including Google, Yahoo, and little brother Bing – are looking to find that sweet spot between customer privacy and satisfaction. As Christopher Soghoian, technology researcher and Principal Technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union, stated during his speech with Edward Snowden at SXSW, “Google, Yahoo and other internet companies want to sit between the conversations you have with your friends and add value…That business model is incompatible with your security, with your having a secure, end-to-end connection to your friends.”

Players in the virtual world were up in arms after revelations about government internet monitoring were brought to life (synopsis here). In response, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, and six other integral names in the information exchange mix formed Global Government Surveillance Reform. This committee strives to limit government oversight of user data and increase transparency of back-end snooping.

So why are marketing strategists feeling the stress? You may notice (or, if you didn’t, you will notice it now) that after you type a search into Google, the resulting page URL begins with HTTPS. This extraneous S automatically encrypts data or veils them to potential eavesdroppers. This means that keywords, or search terms that eventually lead a potential customer to your site, will no longer be included in the analytics.

Yes, keyword searches are an important piece of the marketing puzzle. They provide valuable insight into how you can move your website up the Google food chain. However, this recent layer of protection is not an impenetrable barrier. Here are some ways that you can respond to this strategy change:

  • Enlist outside help. Programs offering ways to interpret available data have begun to surface. For example, gShift Labs unveiled Not Provided, a program that analyzes daily metrics to offer popular keywords. Their website advises this product is best for medium-sized-and-up companies, so if you’re a small business, this may not be work for you.
  • Pay to play. Those who advertise on Google using AdWords still receive keyword data. Yahoo and Bing do not. This handy chart breaks down the differences between each major search engine’s handling of secure search.
  • Keep doing what you’re doing, and then some. You are the expert on your intended audience. When maintaining your online presence, it’s important to research key terms and common subjects; however, trying to stick to a few choice statements puts barriers on creativity and increases chances of redundancy. Having limited contact with keywords limits your chances of self-imposed restraint. Given that changes in security, protocol will not affect current rankings on search engines, embrace your new-found freedom and get creative with content!

Look at it this way, marketing gurus: secure searching is a challenge, but not a barrier. It’s time to let your flag fly: highlight your great design of infographics and not your ability to work “changemaker” and “sustainability” onto every page. If you build it and build it well, your well-protected clientele will come.

This post was originally written All Things E.

The Big Four Tech War

As the Holidays near and the four powerhouses of tech, Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon are fighting for position in the tech wars and holiday season sales.  This is a tech war like none other.

“It’s the biggest, most intense battle in tech history,” said Ted Morgan, chief executive of Skyhook Wireless, a firm that provides location-based technology for mobile devices. “It’s so much bigger than even the Microsoft, Apple, IBM battles of the 1990s.”

Here’s how the four shake out:

Google

  • Makes money selling ads that appear alongside its search results.
  • Developed the Android software to run on phones built by others, including Motorola, Samsung and HTC.
  • Looking to acquire cell phone-maker Motorola Mobility Holdings.
  • Recently released Google Music

Apple

• Built success by selling computers, phones and tablets that work seamlessly with the company’s software programs.

• Announced that more than 25 million people have downloaded iOS 5.

• Recently shared iCloud, a brand-new service that lets you store your emails, music files, videos, and more on an Apple-controlled remote server, and access the data from any other device with iCloud support.

As a side note, the passing of Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs has the entire tech community wondering how his absence will impact the company he co-founded.

“Since Jobs passed on the baton to Tim Cook in late August this year there has been concern among market watchers that an Apple without Steve Jobs at the helm will not be the same. However, some believe the skeptics might be underestimating Apple’s bench strength. “This is something they’ve been planning for and thinking about for a long time,” David Riedel, President and Founder of Riedel Research Group, said.  “One of the qualities of a good CEO is that he can pick the right people, and Jobs was such CEO, Jeff Ebersits, CIO at Shareholder Value Management.” Source

Facebook

• The baby of the bunch, Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. But founder Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitions are grander – and they run directly into those of the three other Titans.

• Facebook hopes to be an alternative way to organize the Web, a platform for consumers to spend their time online. Instead of using Google’s algorithm to search for news and information, Zuckerberg envisions a future in which people consult their network of friends.

• Most critically, content on Facebook is out of the reach of Google’s search engine. And the more time people spend on Facebook, the less time they are looking at ads on Google, which recently launched Google+ as a rival social network.

• Facebook is beginning to bump into Apple’s business of selling apps on its devices. Zuckerberg’s company has quickly become a powerful player in the booming market for social games, such as the popular FarmVille.

Amazon

• The world’s biggest online retailer.

• Benefiting from growing sales of its Kindle e-book reader and digital media, including books, movies and music, putting it in competition with Apple’s iTunes.

• Like Google – is shifting toward Apple’s territory of making devices. Not only does Amazon have the Kindle, but they recently released the Kindle Fire to rival the iPad.


Why I Deleted Your Post!

Removepost

People forget that the most important part of social networking is… well… being social and networking.  How is it that someone who doesn’t interact with me – either online or off- finds it permissible to post information on my Facebook wall.  They will often promote their upcoming book release, event, or new business venture?  They have never, ever engaged with me on one single topic… ever. Yet, they have no problem asking to me like their Facebook page, support their contest or vote for their business. It’s like walking into a party, (barely) introducing yourself, then telling having that person ask you to tell everyone else in the room why their business is so great. Who would do that?

How can it be that someone who didn’t bother to take the time to ever send me so much as one single tweet, feels comfortable sending me a DM to Tweet something for them?  Well, I won’t do it.  If you do not socialize with me; I will not support your cause, event or business.  I will promptly delete your post and may potentially block you from accessing my sites all together.  Don’t tag me in the photos that I’m not actually in.  Don’t post your fliers and website information to my wall.  Oh, and PLEASE stop asking me to Tweet details about your event as part of your marketing strategy.  But instead of just fussing about what doesn’t work, let me give you an example of what does.

For over a decade, I was a part-time aerobic instructor.  For a time, I was even a personal trainer. Seven years ago I decided I didn’t want to teach anymore.  I just wanted to do my day job and not worry about coming up with new routines.  As a result… you guesed it… the pounds have started to creep on.  My muscle mass has began to decrease at an alarming rate and I’ve lost quite a bit of bone density.  I am an avid biker – clocking at least 25 miles a week – so my heart is healthy but my body is weak.  So, I’ve recommitted myself to getting back into shape.  I’ve been working out and using my favorite fitness apps to share my progression on Facebook and Twitter.

For the past month, a Facebook friend has been commenting on my posts, encouraging me and providing me with inspiration.  As a result, I started watching his Facebook posts more closely.  Come to find out… my Facebook friend, Orlando Darden Jr, is a personal trainer, has a Facebook group page and runs a FREE Bootcamp just blocks from my house.  He never once, in all this time, posted one single thing about his business or occupation.  He never tweeted me anything about what he does (he Tweets as @BodyFitDC).  But, because he’s been social… being generally supportive and interested in my progress.. engaging with me online… I found out what he does on my own.  Once I discovered he was a trainer, I joined his Bootcamp via Meetup and of course I will naturally be tweeting, blogging and doing Facebook posts about my progress and his personal training skills.  He gets free marketing and promotion… organically… without having to ask.

Remember, it’s called social networking… so go ahead… start being social… start to care about the people you interact with online.  Otherwise, at least in my case, I’m deleting your post from my wall – quick, fast, and in a hurry- and won’t be tweeting anything on your behalf.  Oh, and in an ironic twist, I will post this blog on your wall or send it to you in a Tweet as an FYI and as free promotion for my blog.  Hey, fair is fair.  I’ll “see” you online!

Social Media Pack – Common Craft – Our Product is Explanation

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By far Common Craft has some of the best videos demo around.  Still confused about just what Social Media is all about? Check out Common Craft’s “Social Media Pack” for all things social media from blogs and podcasts to social networking and social book marking then let us know if you need help navigating through the digital space.

Social media is transforming how we use the web by making it easy for everyone to create and share information. This Common Craft Social Media Pack covers the basic tools, technologies and topics that make social media possible to include:

  • Introductions to common social media tools
  • Simple metaphors that communicate big ideas
  • A focus on the productive use of social media
  • Messages designed to increase adoption

Click the link to learn more

Social Media Pack – Common Craft – Our Product is Explanation

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Socialtivity: Managing your online content

Helps marketers build a comprehensive onlince community
Helps marketers build a comprehensive onlince community

The power to define and control a brand or cause are shifting to the digital community.  More and more those of us in social media marketing are looking for powerful tools that will allow us to manage our content.  I ran across the Socialtivity site from a fellow member of the Social Media Marketing group on LinkedIn (Big thanks to Lina Barbieri, Owner, Lina Barbieri – Public Relations Consulting).

Socialtivity caught my eye because it appears to be a breakthrough social media content manager and online community software platform.  I’m passing it on to all my Social Media Gurus and I plan to start using it by the end of the week.  I’ll keep you posted on how it’s changing the way I do business in the digital space but in the meantime check out their website and let me know what you think.

Socialtivity

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Tweeting for United We Serve

How do you get the word out about nearly 200 AmeriCorps VISTAs (Volunteers In Service To America) being sworn in by the Mayor of New York City?  Well, you tweet it live on Twitter, of course.  As a Social Media Specialist for Campaign Consultation, Inc. and while representing our client, the Corporation for National and Community Service, we were there first hand as history was being made to tweet events as they unfolded.  VISTA PSO SessionUnited We Serve, President Obama’s call to service initiative, marked July 27-August 2, 2009 as Education Week, highlighting the countless Americans who roll up their sleeves to read with a child, volunteer at a library, organize a book drive, and strengthen education and learning in other ways.

On July 30, 2009, 193 VISTAs rose to President Obama’s call and took place in one of the many Education Week activities when New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the Corporation for National and Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren swore in the newly formed NYC CivicCorp with VISTA members from 25 states and 19 countries on Thursday, July 28, 2009.

NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Corp for Nat'l Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren
NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Corp for Nat'l Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren

The VISTAs hail from all five NYC boroughs and range in age from 21 to 72. The program, the first as part of United We Serve, runs from the second week of August through 2010.  The swearing in also marked the launch of @VISTAbuzz, the Twitter account designed to engage, involve and invoke interest in current VISTA members and VISTA alumni.
Tweeting 2 crowd
Follow @VISTAbuzz for updates as the Social Media Plan begins for this group of unique individuals who have been fighting against poverty since 1964.  This week, Mayor Bloomberg and nearly 200 NYC CivicCorps VISTAs have responded to United We Serve, President Obama’s call to service, challenging all Americans to engage in sustained, meaningful community service.  Continue to look for us on-line as we continue to grow the VISTA brand in the digital space.

VISTAs at swearing in at NYC City Hall
VISTAs at swearing in at NYC City Hall
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Corporation for National and Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and to his right Corporation for National and Community Service Acting CEO Nicola Goren
Reporting events to Twitter
Reporting events to Twitter

program

Michelle

Tweeting outside

We are off to the races… live Tweeting!

Tweeting every detail of the NASCAR race
Tweeting every detail of the NASCAR race

One of the aspects of creating a brand presence for clients is developing a Social Media strategy.  It can be anything from setting up a client’s Social Networking page, creating a viral marketing campaign, to live Tweeting an event as a marketing or promotional tool.

Patering with Richard Montgomery of Rixstar Studios we introduced the value of social media to WHUR-FM, sponsor of NASCAR driver Marc Davis.  Davis, a 19-year-old from Silver Spring, MD is NASCAR’s only African American owner/driver. He made his first NASCAR Nationwide Series owner/driver entry at Bristol in March.  During one of his qualifying races in Virginia I did a three-day Twitter campaign live tweeting from the NASCAR cockpit.  Rick and I developed a campaign designed to drive attention to the race and to Marc Davis before, during and ultimatly, after the race.  Our efforts were successful enough to create a buzz and ultimately got the racer a write up in the Washington Post.

This is the power of Social Media and developing your brand!

(Marc Davis photo courtesy Of Harry Davis)
(Marc Davis photo courtesy of Harry Davis)

See what the Washington Post has to say about Marc Davis

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/22/AR2009052203425.html

The WHUR-FM Car #39
Moments before the race I sneak in a picture with the Marc Davis WHUR-FM Car #39
A moment before the race
I share a moment before the race with Marc Davis
Marc Davis creats the crowd
Marc Davis greets the crowd just before the race
Rick of Rixstar Productions
Richard of Rixstar Studios is always ready with camera in hand to document event