Ice hockey and social media

IMG_1372My nephew Jake plays ice hockey for the University of Maryland (Go Terps!) and because it is a club team, they do not have good attendance or recognition for their efforts. Don’t get me wrong, they play as hard as any hockey players. The games are certainly not televised and the webcasts are not the greatest. They have a website and Facebook page and at one time there was a Twitter page, but it did not have a lot of activity.

I believe the wifi is not very strong at the arena. Using a webcam for a wide shot of an entire ice rink is not the best way to shoot a sporting event. But, they use social media to their advantage with the home games webcast from the arena. They basically use a laptop webcam and broadcast on LiveStream, a website that shows webcasts.

Isn’t that a great idea? Why not broadcast your events? Grow your business through webinars.

If you use Google+, you can create a hangout where up to ten people can have a live video conference call and millions more can watch. And it’s all FREE! What if you gave a webinar about your business and had people from all over the world watch, some can ask questions (the ones who are on the conference call). No fancy equipment is necessary. Really, all you need is a laptop with a camera and an internet connection. If you have headphones with a microphone you can get fairly good sound.

Plop a vase of flowers on a desk to gussy it up a bit, and aim the webcam at your face – you’re ready to go! Maybe put a few notes in front of you, but you know about your business. You don’t really need a lot written materials, just enough to keep you on topic – and you don’t want to read from a script.

If you announce and promote the event on your website, blog, email and through social media, put it in your newsletter or ezine – any way you want, you will get results. Encourage people to send questions in advance so that you have time to prepare great answers.

Be sure to offer this complimentary webcast to your ideal clients. Give them good information, stuff they can use. Encourage them to hire you at the end of the talk.

As you are prepare for your webinar, take a break now and then and watch or listen to a Terps ice hockey game!

New iPhone iOS6

frustrated with iPhone ios6Do you ever feel like you are back-peddling in life? That’s how I felt when I downloaded the new iPhone software. To be fair, I’ll admit I have an older model, the 3GS. I changed my main email about 6-9 months ago and the new version of iCloud reverted back to the old email address and refuses to cooperate!

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Apple and Mac. I’ll give away my age and say that I’ve had a Mac since day one and an Apple 2e before that. You can talk to me until you’re blue in the face, but you will never convince me that a PC is better. Sorry.

I taught word processing back in the days of Dos. I’ve kept and used PCs over the years (along with Macs) because some of my clients worked on PC only and the files didn’t translate from one to the other way back when.

Back to my dilemma… I have to say that the people at Apple were very nice, they couldn’t help me, but they were very nice. I seem to always have the “exception to the rule,” no matter what my software, hardware, house or car problems are.

I spoke to three different people at Apple and while I was on the phone for two hours with them, I did a little research. Every time they upgrade anything, they are inundated with phone calls and emails from people with problems. I’m sure this is true with every software company. Usually, (not in my case, but with most people), they give a quick answer and the problem is solved. Honestly, the software generally does most of the work. You just plug your phone into the computer and it is done in a matter of minutes.

After talking to two young techs, I was passed along to an expert. He couldn’t help me either, but we had a great conversation while he tried.

He told me that the new You Tube app is a winner. It apparently has some excellent new features. Many social media sites are changing to keep up with people wanting to share things using the mobile versions. This is wonderful news for those of us who are constantly on the move.

One of the new iPhone features is that when you download a new app, it has a little blue ribbon across it. This helps those people who have tons of apps to find the new ones they just downloaded. Once you use it, the blue ribbon goes away.

The interface with Twitter and Facebook is a main change on the new iOS for the iPhone. Sharing is easier and that’s the name of the game with any new software. Connecting people in every way possible is the goal of all social sites.

I will try not to be discouraged about my problem. If you haven’t upgraded, do it. Don’t let my problems dissuade you. An engineer at Apple has been contacted and will be getting back to me when they figure out how to solve my one-of-a-kind issue.

New Twitter layout

On the Today Show this morning, Twitter unveiled their new page layout and upgrade. After much hoopla, it doesn’t really seem all that much different. The big difference is really on the ipad app. So, thumbs up or thumbs down?

The home page looks the same. It is only when you look at your profile in the new design, that it has a much new look. Similar to the much maligned Timeline on Facebook, there is a smaller photo in the middle with a larger photo behind it. While Facebook put the little photo to the side, Twitter has located the photo  smack dab in the middle of the larger one.

If you know anything about photography, or design in general, you usually put your subject matter in the general vicinity of the center. Of course, more artsy people might disagree that the subject matter could go to the side of the photo. What I’m trying to say is that, at least for me, it was very difficult to pick a photo where my smaller photo didn’t cover the face in the picture.

After a lengthy search for the right photo, I went with a picture of my dog. I wasn’t thinking about the placement of the smaller photo because. I actually laughed out loud when I saw that the smaller photo was right on top of his face. I tried some trees, some other animal photos and I ended up with the same photo I am using on my Facebook page. So much for being creative. I’ll have to take some new photos with the subject matter around the edges of the picture.

As someone who likes to keep updated wherever I am, I often use the mobile app. I think the new version looks a bit more friendly. It has the same smaller photo in the middle of the bigger photo though. The larger photo does give you a better view than the tiny thumbnail.

I wish I could tell you all about how the ipad app works, but unfortunately I do not own one. From what I saw and read, this app has had the biggest overhaul of all with more features that allow you to view photos easier.

More photo-related apps like Instagram and Pinterest are gaining in popularity. Twitter and Facebook are trying to keep their sites more visual.

Just like most people, I tend to fight change. I don’t feel like the new upgrades make a huge difference in Twitter, but I do find that photo within a photo a bit awkward.

Microblogging with Twitter

twitter-for-microbloggingWant to have more influence on Twitter? A great way to have an impact on other users is to keep posting. Use keywords in your microblog just like on your website.

Start by getting organized. Make sure you send your tweets multiple times every day. By sending unique tweets, you avoid being boring and redundant. There is someone I followed on Twitter who sent the exact same message every day, countless times each day. I would see it over and over. I don’t spend that much time using Twitter. While sending the same message a couple times a day might be effective, I think this person goes way overboard. Maybe it works for him, but I had to drop him because it felt too spammy for my liking.

If you are a jeweler, for example, you might start off the day talking about the price of gold or silver. Later in the day, mention that you have watches on sale. There should be a lot of content on your page, so there is always something to tweet. Almost always include a link to your site, blog or Facebook page to get people to read the whole story. The tweet is just a snippet, that’s why it is called a microblog.

If the web address is too long, it takes away from the characters you need for your message. The remedy is a site that will create a shorter link for you, like tinyurl.com. Tinyurl.com even allows you to customize the link.

If you don’t want to send people to your web page, try adding a photo and get attention with that. When using photos, post them on Pinterest or Instagram, and add hashtag keywords in your description. Always let people know who you are and what your message is.

Always try to get at least one or two keywords into your tweet. Just like on your website or blog, keywords are truly key. Everyone wants people to click the link in their tweet. In order to do that, you need to attract people with keywords that explain what your business does. Your message, including keywords, should be a part of everything you do and everything you say – this is your brand.

Make your tweets interesting and thought provoking. Then get to work. Tweet early and tweet often.

Infographics on the rise

infographics-for-business-growthInfographics, like the one on this page, are gaining ground on regular photos for marketing. Why not? Take your subject matter and turn it into something that is a little more entertaining than a boring photo or mere words. You do not have much time to either get someone’s attention or lose him. Having interesting artwork can make the difference.

As memes have become more popular, infographics followed along with B2B (business to business) messages. At a glance, a person can see the article’s subject matter. Then, he can make the decision to read or to move along to something else. Because my background is in graphics, I find the use of infographics a fun way to get my message to others. Because the graphic work is a jpg or gif file, the image can be pinned on Pinterest.

Often times, I take some base clipart and add my own spin. I’ve always been a huge fan of collage and taking pieces of art and putting them together in a graphic is a little collage-y. I didn’t realize I was such a trendsetter until I started reading about infographics in the news lately.

Since the beginning of this blog, I’ve been custom designing little graphics to make my point. Who knew? What I thought was a quick little flourish on my blog, is now becoming a serious marketing technique. Without getting an advanced degree in graphics, you should be able to find some clipart (I subscribe to a service) and then embellish it to illustrate your content. If not, I’m available for consultation at a reasonable price.

As You Tube, Pinterest, Instagram and memes are snowballing in popularity, the visual media is nearly as important as the written words. Make sure if you are using artwork in anything you do, like your website or blog, that you have permission or pay for the art you use. If not, you can get yourself into trouble with copyright infringements. Better yet, draw your own images or take your own photos.

It seems like every day the social media possibilities are changing or growing. As a B2B owner, freelancer or subcontractor, you have to change with the times. You only have a couple seconds to get someone’s attention or they will click on to the next item. If you have read all the way to this point – thank you!

Using the wrong social media is like wearing mismatched shoes

do-not-mismatch-your-marketingThis is a true story… I was having some car issues and a friend loaned me a truck to use to use for the weekend. I’ll admit it, I like to drive without shoes. I wear flip-flops a lot and it’s just not a good idea to drive with them. The floor of the truck felt really icky on my bare feet. I wanted to run over to the grocery store, but didn’t want to drive in my usual shoe-less manner.

I decided I would look silly wearing my regular shoes with shorts. I wore my flip-flops, but I didn’t want to take them off to drive. I brought one shoe with me to wear on my right foot while I drove. I know, it was a dumb idea. I did my shopping, paid for my groceries and started toward the truck. As I was walking out of the grocery store I heard some people muttering and snickering. I thought nothing of it. I jumped back into the truck and felt around with my foot for the shoe. Whoops. I was wearing it. So that means… yes! I was wearing a flip-flop on one foot and a shoe on the other! Then, I understood why people were snickering.

So, what does this have to do with social media? I promise, I don’t share embarrassing stories just for the fun of it. Sometimes we get so comfortable with our social media, that we forget every site we use is not a perfect match for our business.

Many of us are more B2B (business to business) than B2C (business to consumer). Twitter is a fantastic option for B2C, but does not always work as well for every B2B company, although some businesses can excel with Twitter. LinkedIn, being more on the professional side, might be better for those B2B companies. BizSugar is perfect for bookmarking advertising and marketing businesses, but not so much for people selling pet supplies. Etsy is a wonderful place to sell home made or crafted items, but not mass produced goods. Facebook, while informal, seems to work for many B2B and B2C businesses. Google+ is better for people who want to target their market.

Every business is different, so every marketing plan should be different. What works for me might not be the best option for you. As you experiment with various social media sites, you will discover that some things will work really well. And others, well… not so much.

Look into all of the social media available and then make the decisions about what will be the best fit for growing your business. Don’t walk around in mismatched shoes! Take the time to see what matches best with you, your business and your clients.

Bookmarking sites can work for you

bookmark-your-blog-and-websiteBookmarking sites are the one easy way to spread your message to the most people in a short amount of time. If you have never heard of StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, BizSugar, YahooBookmarks, GoogleBookmarks, you are missing out on a way to reach countless people. For every blog I write, website I design and article I post, I spread the word through bookmarking sites.

There are tons of these sites out there, you just have to know where to find them. For the most part, the sites are popularity contests. Like or vote for the page, and it rises in the ranks.

By using the Add This toolbar to your browser, you have a convenient way to organize all of the bookmarking and social sites. You load your favorite sites, and when you use the toolbar, all of your social sites are right there. You can just click on them one by one and share your blog, site or article. Unlike Twitter, Facebook and Google+, many bookmarking sites can only be used once per page. Each blog entry can be viewed as its own page, so you can promote each blog entry through each bookmarking site for maximum exposure of your business.

Before you sign yourself up for a whole bunch of bookmarking sites, take a look at each one and see if it is appropriate for your business blog or website. Some, like BizSugar, are more appropriate for marketing and business related sites, but not so much for others. StumbleUpon, Reddit and Digg are more general and have lots of topics or subtopics from which to choose. If your business does not fit well into their custom topics, it might not be a good fit for you. Don’t waste your valuable time promoting something that is never going to be viewed. Remember to sign up for – and use – Google Analytics and see which sites and search engines are sending you the most traffic.

Another issue is how many members the sites have. Some of the bookmarking sites have limited membership, or the members may all be from foreign countries. That’s great if you market your business to foreign countries, but not if you don’t.

You have to join each bookmarking site before you can use them. But after that, it becomes easy and routine. Add This has sharing codes that are easily attached to your blog so other people can share the page too. You will see the share buttons at the bottom of each of my blog entries. Once you set up your accounts, you can add the codes to the blog. Be nice to the bloggers you like and share their page. Hint, hint…

The Add This sharing codes and toolbar both have loads of social media and bookmarking sites. That is why I chose to use their links on my blogs and websites. In order to grow your business, use these bookmarking sites as much as can. I’d love to hear about how bookmarking is helping you.

Social media and the elections

politicians love social mediaAs we get closer to the presidential election, social media is playing a huge role in the process this year. I remember back when George W. Bush was running for president and there was a row of bloggers at the convention. I had no idea what a blogger was! Oh, how times have changed.

Blogs and social media have come light years ahead since then. Obama crashed Reddit with his impromptu AMA (ask me anything) interview with the world. He also made a big splash on Google+ with a hangout where regular citizens had the opportunity to have online face time with our commander in chief. (The video is still available for viewing.) Obama is all over social media proving to his supporters that he is hip and computer savvy.

Mitt Romney is no slouch himself when it comes to social media. He’s all over Twitter with many tweets daily about his campaign. Romney also has 6.5 million Facebook followers, and that is no small feat. He, like many other politicians, is trying to attract voters via social sites.

National candidates are not the only ones taking advantage of this method of promotion. Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Local candidates all over the country are making promises, badmouthing their opponents and promoting their fundraising events on every social site they can find.

The power of this promotional tool called social media is growing and changing daily. The best part of social media is allowing public figures to connect with as many individuals as possible, give opportunities to followers that were never available in past elections. Fans, supporters and opponents all feel a closer personal connection when they can respond to the candidate. Back in the day, it was a big deal when Bill Clinton showed his human side and went on late night television playing his saxophone. Now, it’s Google+ hangouts, Twitter Q&As, You Tube messages and so much more.

Everyone who has a business should take a lesson from the politicians. Check out what they are doing on social media. You should be doing the same things to reach as many people as possible. Take your message to the people and grow your business.

Instagram for fun and profit

instagram for business growthWhile I’ve been an avid user of many social media sites, I only recently started using Instagram. As a rival to Pinterest, businesses can take advantage of this very visual medium to spread the word of their brand. Unlike Pinterest, users can edit their photos.

Last night I went to a happy hour event to say goodbye to a friend who is moving out of town. It just so happened there was a big rally for the Ravens going on at the same time. I snapped a photo of a car – Ravens purple – on display. Not bad, right?

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, take advantage and start posting. Whether you have photos of people, movie stars, athletes, food pics, crafting projects, flowers or whatever – you can spread a message visually. Use this free service to grow your business. Think of all the images that define who you are and what you do. Then go take some pictures.

Just about everyone has a camera on his/her phone. With Instagram, you can add a little flair to your pics and make them look old-timey or change the warmth of the photo. Essentially, you can make fairly awful pictures look pretty good – or at least make them look artsy!

Instagram started gaining popularity as a business tool with chefs showing off their delicious food. If you have ever taken a photo of food, it generally looks terrible – unless you have professional equipment and great lighting. Using the various tools on Instagram, you can make your dinner plate look much more appetizing.

Just like with Twitter and Pinterest, you can add hashtags to keywords in your descriptions. You should use descriptions of the photos when using Instagram for business purposes to help people find you when they search keywords or terms.

WordPress and other websites have Instagram widgets that can add up to 20 photos onto your web page. This keeps your site ever-changing as you regularly update photos. We all know how much people love to see new content. It gives your clients a reason to keep checking back with your site or your Instagram page.

Analyze who views your page

analyze website page viewsDo you have any idea who is looking at your website? Do you know where the traffic originates? If you are trying to grow, or care at all about your business, you should know how people are finding your website or blog. If you do not know where you are getting customers, this is important information.

The most popular way to get a handle on your page viewers is with Google Analytics. It takes a little know-how to use this. You have to be able to add code to your page, or get someone add it for you. Google Analytics will analyze how your viewers find you, the efficacy of your keywords and there is even a section just for social media sites. Lots of information is there, but it does you no good if you are not looking at it on a regular basis. New features just came out for Google Analytics including shortcuts to the stats you use the most often.

If you have ecommerce on your site, Google Analytics can even figure out the percentage of website visitors who become customers. You can analyze individual pages, and get in-depth analysis.

If you are sharing new pages or blogs on Twitter, but you are not getting any traffic from Twitter, that is saying something that you need to know. Either you are not reaching enough people or your message is not encouraging people to click the link to your page. Making your message a call to action may improve the clicks.

Some people are not technically savvy and have no clue about how to add code to their page. I totally understand. Most of my clients don’t get it at all. For them, there is another way to figure out who is viewing their site. It’s called Stats Crop. By entering your web address, you can get a lot of information about how your site is working. Stats Crop gives each page a number score and gives suggestions on how to raise it (adding backlinks, getting the page indexed on search engines and more). Learn about your keywords. Are they working? Do you need to add more? How are similar sites doing? This can help you figure out what marketing methods are working best.

Users of Blogger can get access to how the blog is doing. They have most of the same information as Google Analytics, but without doing a thing! All you need to do is go to the dashboard page and click on the little blue graph under the name of the blog. If you have multiple blogs, there will be one for each of them. By clicking on “traffic sources,” you can see how people find you.

Somehow I’m getting viewers from a porn site. I swear, I don’t know how that is happening! I can’t imagine why someone would go from porn to my blog, but I’ll take the page views however I can get them.

A year ago, I never heard of BizSugar, and now I know I’m getting most of my page views through them. Friend Feed, on the other hand, isn’t doing much for me at all. One of my clients gets her best page views from StumbleUpon. Maybe it is how each book-marking or other social site categorizes the keywords entered when I submit the pages.

The best way to know what is happening with your clients and page viewers is to use every way possible to analyze your website. Learning who comes to the page will help you figure out more about your target market. You will learn what marketing is working, or not. If you don’t understand how to use this analysis, view the help section. It is definitely worth the trouble.