Tag: social media (page 1 of 3)

10 resources to amp up your blog!

Dear Readers,

I know a lot of you (okay, most of you) (all right, all but a small handful of you, and that’s my final offer) are bloggers. And if you’re like us, you’re always on the lookout for stuff to help improve your blogging skills.

Bloggers do this for so many reasons—for fun, for money, because they’re dedicated to a cause, because they love writing or want to be better writers—but most of us find that one of the great benefits is that bloggers are so incredibly friendly and helpful toward one another. We’re always trading ideas, thoughts, suggestions…and resources.

So for today’s Saturday List, I’ve found you 9 great websites that will help you: find inspiration, talk to your readers, make pretty pictures to enhance your words and make your blog look awesome, and deal with the ever-shifting world of social media. You’ll get hints on how to put Twitter and Facebook to better use, and who knows, you might learn a thing or three!

I’ve turned the sites into a clickable Listly list, so you can hop right on over to the bits that interest you.

And don’t forget: you can click on the little left-side arrows to vote your own favourites up or down; you can add comments; and you can suggest resources you like, that I might have overlooked. Keep in mind that this is just a tiny sample of the stuff that’s out there to help bloggers. I’d love to see your suggestions!

Hope you enjoy them—and I’ll look forward to any and all input.

Great resources for bloggers
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KarenWendy Irving Great resources for bloggers

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  1. 1  IFTTT | Social Automation for Working Smarter Not Harder

    IFTTT | Social Automation for Working Smarter Not Harder

    Julie Deneen shares how she manages to keep all her juggling balls in the air--and Julie's got a lot of balls! Wait, that came out wrong. But she really is a busy lady, and a wonderful resource person for anyone who wants to get a handle on this blogging thing. IFTTT (If This Then That) is a site where you can set up "recipes" to help curate content to your social streams...without annoying your followers. Always a good idea.

  2. 2  How To Find Your Social Share Stats in 5 minutes

    How To Find Your Social Share Stats in 5 minutes

    The Blogging Betties are chock-full of excellent information, from "finding your social share stats" (say what?!) to blog monetization. You really want to check them out. Seriously, you do.

  3. 3  59 Tools, 9 Books, and 7 Great Pieces of Advice on Productivity

    59 Tools, 9 Books, and 7 Great Pieces of Advice on Productivity

    On Wednesday, June 11, Buffer kicked off a new weekly Twitter chat called #Bufferchat. I use Buffer to keep my social media under control, and I found the information from this chat invaluable. (If you have trouble keeping up with Twitter chats, try using the Tweetchat app to keep it all straight.)

  4. 4  How Graphics Can Increase Your Conversion Rate - Starting Today

    How Graphics Can Increase Your Conversion Rate - Starting Today

    I am a completely unabashed Canva fan. And the Canva blog is a fantastic resource for anyone who's interested in adding excellent graphics to their posts or social media shares. This article on "increasing conversions" with graphics is helpful, even if you're not sure what a "conversion" is (outside of religion or football, that is).

  5. 5  23 Rather Marvellous Twitter Best Practices for 2014

    23 Rather Marvellous Twitter Best Practices for 2014

    So you think you can Twitter? Sure, anyone can slap up a 140-word tweet...but there's more to it than squishing your thought into a tiny space. Passion Digital shows us how it's done!

  6. 6  Content Week: How to Consistently Come up With Great Post Ideas for Your Blog. : @ProBlogger

    Content Week: How to Consistently Come up With Great Post Ideas for Your Blog. : @ProBlogger

    You've been there. We've been there. That horribly moment when you think, "ACK!! MY BRAIN IS EMPTY!!" Copyblogger to the rescue, with a list of places where you can find stuff to write about. And if you really get stuck, there's always the old standby, the post about your cat(s).

  7. 7  Shh! Work-around Can Help Recover Facebook Page Views

    Shh! Work-around Can Help Recover Facebook Page Views

    Okay, I admit it. I wrote this. But if you're a blogger who's run up against Facebook's new sharing algorithm for its Pages, you'll want to know: there's a fix. It's quick, it's dirty, and it works...at least until they shift their algorithm again. So use this one while it's hot.

  8. 8  Feeling Uncomfortable: The Way to Create Amazing Content

    Feeling Uncomfortable: The Way to Create Amazing Content

    More from the Buffer blog. Yep, I love this blog. They're constantly sharing information that helps me hone my blogging and social media sharing skills, and their ideas are the kind you can put into action right here, right now.

  9. 9  The Art of Blogosphere Conversation: Responding to Readers

    The Art of Blogosphere Conversation: Responding to Readers

    Whether you blog on Wordpress.com or not, the Wordpress Daily Post has excellent tips for bloggers, along with prompts and ideas for those days when you can't think of anything to write.

  10. 10  The Definitive Checklist For Effective Blog Post Promotion

    The Definitive Checklist For Effective Blog Post Promotion

    Promoting a blog can be harder than writing it. Here's a checklist to help keep you on track!

View more lists from KarenWendy Irving

Have a great weekend, and see you tomorrow for our weekly video roundup!

Love,

Karen

Facebook, vague-booking: Lesson learned

Dear Wendy,

Last week I learned something very valuable. And of all places, I learned it on Facebook.

As with most Important Life Lessons, first I had to screw up in a fairly big way, though.

Here’s what happened.

You’re familiar with the term “vague-booking,” right? It’s where someone posts a status update on Facebook consisting of an apparent cry of anguish…and doesn’t elaborate on what they’re talking about. It’s the Facebook equivalent of calling up a friend, sobbing that you just can’t take it any more, and then hanging up. It’s unkind, it jerks people around, it’s self-serving.

alt="IMAGE-vague-booking-alert-meme-after-the-kids-leave"And for some reason, last week there was an epic outbreak of vague-booking…at least among my circle. It started Monday, and by Thursday, I’d counted 4 separate incidents. Frankly, I was getting annoyed. As far as I’m concerned, vague-booking is a form of emotional manipulation. Almost invariably, as soon as someone does it, a crowd of well-wishers gathers, with equally vague messages of comfort. “Hang in there!” and “Be strong!” and “Whatever it is, hope it gets better soon!”

Of course, all this does is encourage the original poster, and things can escalate into a weird game of Blind Man’s Bluff, in which no one has the faintest clue what the original poster is talking about, but dammit, they’re determined to help! No one ever says, “Hey, could you stop beating around the bush and just tell us what’s going on, already?”

Anyway. This happened multiple times last week, and by Thursday I was ready to scream.

I know, a bigger and better person would have just ignored it. A bigger and better person would have walked away from the computer. Sadly, that’s not what I did.

Nope, you know me. Gallop in where angels fear to tread, and stomp around in my gumboots, roaring and growling. I posted an expression of annoyance:

Okay. The next vague-book post I read, I plan to punch the person in the nose. “Oh, the world is so cruel…so sad that the mean are rewarded and the innocent (like moi) must suffer the torments of the damned.”

Followed, of course, by sixty posts from people who are apparently okay with being emotionally manipulated by an attention-seeking nutcase. “It’s okay, snookums, we have your back!” and “Awww…tell us what’s wrong?”

No, really, it’s cool. I can live without knowing.

Okay, rant over. Time for more coffee now. Grr.

And then I felt better, and went about my business for the rest of the day. I’d vented, and that was the end of it. Or so I thought…

Because the next morning, I woke to discover that someone I know, but am not Facebook friends with, had responded at some length. She’d assumed my rant was about her, and she was hurt, angry, and very vocal about it. She ended her response by blocking me.

At first I was just bemused: why would this person assume I was talking about her? We weren’t even friends, for pity’s sake! I decided the best course of action would be to delete her response, as leaving it up would only inflame things further…but that didn’t feel right either. Suddenly I was the one feeling uncomfortable.

The situation had blown up in my face, and I had no one to blame but myself. By yesterday, I realized: I was guilty of doing the exact thing I was ranting about.

By leaving my rant vague and open-ended, rather than saying, “Person X, Person Y, Person Z: your posts have annoyed me, and here’s why,” I’d left room for misinterpretation. I’d created a situation in which my angry/hurt commenter believed I was targeting her, and that made me wonder how many others were making the same assumption, but not saying so.

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’d been a hypocrite. And if there’s one quality I hate, it would be hypocrisy.

So here’s my solemn pledge, to you and to Facebook: no more vague-booking for me. In future, I’ll live by the motto, “Say it or stow it.”

Lesson learned.

Love,

Karen

Mum’s imaginary thoughts on Social Media

Dear Karen,

I’ve been thinking of Mum lately (actually, when don’t I think of her?) because I often wonder what she’d think of this brave new world in which we live.  What would she think of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging?

I have a feeling she’d wryly smile, raise her eyebrows and say “well, that’s interesting”, which in Mum-speak means “that’s about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”.

MUM WOULD HAVE BEEN A GREAT SPY

Mum had a bizarre need for privacy, which sometimes bordered on the nutty.  When I was 18, I divulged family plans for the weekend (Dad was going to chop down a tree in the back) to one of her friends.  You’d have thought I’d committed a sin equal to letting the recipe for Coca-Cola fall into the hands of Pepsi, the way she lectured me about ‘family privacy‘ and ‘it’s no one’s business but our own’.

alt="IMAGE-facebook-privacy"

Mum would choose a new category:  Hide This From Everyone (photo credit: flickr.com)

 

That lesson stuck with me.

I listen, I read, I share, but I don’t spend a lot of time talking about myself, my children or now, my grandchild.

It just doesn’t feel right.

When I see comments, threads or posts that annoy me, Mum’s voice of reason comes into my head and says ‘leave it alone, Wendy, this isn’t your business and if they want to behave like jackasses, you can’t stop them‘.

So I back away.  When something really bugs me, I get involved, but it doesn’t happen often.

I don’t discuss politics or religion online either, but that doesn’t stop people from wanting to ram it down my throat at every opportunity.  I can’t get through a day without an ‘I blame the sudden rise in teenage acne on Obama’ or ‘Jesus Loves You’ on my wall.  Ugh.

NEVER DISCUSS POLITICS, RELIGION OR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

alt="IMAGE-mum-with-two-dogs-after-the-kids-leave"

Right, you two. Not a word to anyone. About anything. Ever.

They were ‘small-L’  liberals, our parents.  We knew, come election-time, who they’d vote for.  It was only discussed in the lightest of ways, mostly when Mum threatened to negate Dad’s vote by ticking the Conservative box.  She never went through with it, as far as I know, but she did like to tease him that she would.  It drove Dad nuts.

I don’t know if our parents were religious but based on how many times I went to church as a child, I’m guessing they weren’t.

However,  being lapsed Christians didn’t stop them from loving puppies and kittens and John Wayne movies.

Mum told me to never get involved with a man who didn’t like animals.  She had a soft spot for dogs; perhaps she appreciated their loyalty, devotion and inability to spill her secrets?

PREPARE FOR THE WORST AND HOPE FOR THE BEST

That sums up Mum’s whole outlook on life, in my opinion:  sit quietly and wait for the enemy to come to you.  Don’t search out fights or strife.  Just wait, and if trouble comes, be ready for it.

That’s a good mantra to have on Facebook.  I don’t search out problems.

There are bloggers out there who thrive on drama and if it works for them, I’m happy.

Drama is great when it’s on the TV, in the cinema or on a stage.  I don’t want it in my house, on my computer or in my life.

MUM’S HYPOTHETICAL STANCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

What on earth would Mum think about how we communicate today?  She’d say it was for the birds.  Too much bragging.  Needless information passing from one person to groups of thousands.  Who needs to know I’m on the 5.16 train from Albuquerque, or just had my second margarita served to me by a cutie named Jorge?  No one, that’s who.

Maybe, like me, she’d read it, but she would never contribute to the voices in the social media crowd.

Interesting, how much I feel the same way as (I imagine) she would.

Hmmm.  Maybe I’d be a good spy, as well.

Love,
Wendy

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Is Google+ really walking dead?

Dear Readers,

As some of you might know, in my day job (“Wait, what? You don’t spend all day writing After the Kids Leave?”) I work as a content marketing advisor with a company called Smarter Shift. Earlier this week, I wrote the following post for our company blog, The Content Roundtable.

I know many of you use a number of social media platforms, including Twitter and Google+, so I thought you might find this useful. Or at least entertaining.

Enjoy!
Karen

Don’t write eulogies yet:
Social media platforms aren’t dying.

alt="IMAGE-google-plus-walking-dead-techcrunch-twitter-eulogy-atlantic-magazine-rebuttal"A bad moon is rising over social media platforms, according to sources. Google+ is the walking dead. Twitter is dying. Oh, and Facebook is moribund. Plus, don’t get too attached to your blog—blogging is on its way out. Or so I hear.

In fact, if you pay attention to various tech soothsayers, pretty much the entirety of social media is either doomed, dying, or has already gone to that great Hard Drive in the Sky.

And yet…here I am blogging about it. And when I’m done, I’ll be talking to people about this post…on Google+, Twitter, and possibly even Facebook.

So what’s up, then? Do I have a particularly spectacular case of denial, or are all the reports of the death of social media just so much cynical link-bait, propagated by click-hungry news outlets to incite panic and drive fears that the social media party is over before it even really got into full swing?

Is Google+ really dying?

Mark Traphagen of Stone Temple Consulting points out that shortly after the infamous TechCrunch story announced that “unnamed sources” at Google were claiming that more than 1,000 G+ staffers were being “moved elsewhere,” and that the Google+ project was basically now “walking dead,” a couple of actual named Google sources jumped in to comment.

Calling the TechCrunch story “complete bollocks,” Yonatan Zunger, Google+ Chief Architect (whom you might think would know a thing or three about the project) stated, “G+ is just as much a crucial asset as it was a month ago: social is critical to our success.”

Later, he added that “it is true that somewhere around 1,200 Google+ employees moved to another building. That would in fact be the entire Google+ team, as we outgrew our old building and were packed in like sardines. The new building is great. :-)”

So…not off to the gulag, then?

Nope, just a nice shiny new building for a team that needs room to grow.

But if the Google+ story isn’t true, why did TechCrunch report it? While the story broke after Vic Gundora, head of G+’s social efforts, announced he was leaving his position, that hardly seems enough reason to declare an entire platform kaput. After all, no one believed that Apple would go out of business when founder and guiding hand Steve Jobs died.

I see the TechCrunch story as an extension of the “Google+ is a ghost town” misperception—one that’s easy to believe if you’re dropping in and using the platform only as a place to broadcast your own posts, rather than to engage with other users. More cynical observers have framed it as link-bait: basically, an attempt to lure readers on a slow news day.

As for the specific allegations made in the TechCrunch article, I refer you to Matt Cruikshank, a former Google employee, who analyzed it very cogently on his blog last week. Basically, he argues that staff reassignments and redeployments are standard practice for major projects at Google. The company takes a “tiger team” approach to launching new projects, before moving into development mode over the long haul.

But what about Twitter?

If the TechCrunch Google+ article was filled with unattributed rumors and unwarranted speculation, the Atlantic’s recent “eulogy for Twitter” was based almost entirely on personal hunch, and read more like a wistful remembrance of the good old days than a report on the demise of a social media platform. In fact, the authors admitted as much in the article’s fourth paragraph:

The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform’s place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel.

While it’s true that Twitter’s growth, once explosive, has slowed slightly, it’s hardly reason to start ordering the casket.

In a fascinating article on Slate, Will Oremus points out that Twitter is not a “social sharing site” in the manner of Facebook; rather, he says, it’s a “social media platform,” with the emphasis on “media.” And he states Twitter isn’t dying; in fact, its influence is growing far beyond the bounds of the Internet.

What should content marketers do?

What’s the takeaway from all this?

First, I’d suggest we not get our knickers in a collective twist over every rumour we hear or every article we read.

Yes, the world of social media is changing and evolving—as it has always done. Yes, platforms are growing and shifting—as they have always done.

And our job as content marketers is to monitor the changes carefully, assess the benefits and drawbacks of each platform, and plan our strategies accordingly. Just as we’ve always done.

Blogging for a living: Who knew it could actually work?

Dear Wendy,

When we started this blog—on a whim, for a lark—in July 2012, I had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.

I mean, I thought I knew, as I’d had a blog before; and I might have conveyed to you that I kind of/sort of knew what we were doing. Or at least I did.

Um, yeah, sorry about that. Because when it came right down to it, I was driving blind.

alt="IMAGE-road-trip-where-are-we-going"

Karen and Wendy on the road trip of a lifetime

It really was a learn-by-the-seat-of-our-pants adventure: everything from “How does WordPress work?” and “What in the name of all that’s holy is a Gravatar?” to “What happens if I click…oh, shit!”

We made a few bloopers along the way—like accidentally stealing someone’s trademarked business name (although I maintain she didn’t need to be such a cow about it) and letting ourselves get dragged into a series of interminable arguments with people who apparently want all the baby boomers to just die, already. Yeah, good times.

Still, an advantage of starting from scratch is that we were really forced to learn so much, so quickly.

For one thing, I remember thinking when we first started that maybe at some point we’d start getting paid to blog. I’d been hearing lots of stories about bloggers being courted by brands—everything from weight loss gadgetry to toilet paper to fine wines—and at first, I thought that might be a great way to go.

But as we talked about it, we realized that we just weren’t comfortable acting as “brand ambassadors.” And we didn’t want a blog plastered with ads, even if it meant making enough money to pay the rent on our little corner of the Internet. Not that other bloggers shouldn’t do these things, but it’s just not our bag, baby.

So I’d pretty much decided that this is a project of love, not money, and that’s cool with me.

Except….it turned out that all that stuff we learned (and let’s not kid ourselves—that we’re continuing to learn!) about blogging and search engine optimization and Gravatars and tweets and algorithms and such? Well, these things, which I’d pretty much written off as “hacking around on the Internet,” now count as gen-you-wine work skills!

That is, people are willing to pay money so I can apply some of my hard-won knowledge and experience to their social media marketing campaigns. Score! It means I get to spend my days doing stuff I love (aka hacking around on the Internet), and now I’m constantly on the lookout for new and interesting tips and techniques—because that’s part of my job!

So it turns out there’s more than one way to “monetize a blog.” You can do it the old-fashioned way, with sponsors and affiliate links and reviews and suchlike, or you can think of it as a way to get a really good education, really fast, in a field that’s growing exponentially, in some really interesting directions.

And maybe that road that you thought would lead you in one direction turns out to go someplace else entirely. But that’s a good thing, right?

Love,

Karen

 

 

 

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