Keep it Simple 

Keep it Simple 

Here is my latest Ink Slinger newsletter:

ink slinger

My mom used to call me the queen of the simple sentence – I thought I was simply being concise. As a senior in college I worked for a tv station and wrote for the 11:00 news. In only 15-20 seconds, I had to relate my story. That’s a mere 4-6 sentences.

In the world of social media, being the queen of the simple sentence can be a good thing.

Writing for websites can be tricky. No one wants to read any more. Bullet points and short statements are the only way to get someone’s attention and hold it. Long winded dissertations are no longer used in advertising, websites and never, ever in social media. The creators of Twitter made it 140 characters for a reason.

I took a class in graduate school where I had to take a complicated insurance form and condense the information into one page. Then it was shrunken down to a few paragraphs, and then to one paragraph. The paragraph was turned into a single sentence that summed up the entire document.

Try to do that with your company information. Can you? Take the content from your website and condense it down in stages until you have one statement. The result is probably very close to your elevator speech. If it’s not, then maybe your mission is getting lost.

How do you get your message across when no one wants to read?

  • Use bullet points!
  • Only say what is truly worthwhile
  • Infographics tell a story with images
  • Write down everything you want to say, then pare it down to the bare bones
  • Add images to your posts
  • Add videos to your posts
  • Vary sizes and fonts to make text stand out

Deliver your thoughts in a way that is short enough to read over a cup of coffee. Anything longer and you begin to lose people. Don’t let your true message disappear in a sea of meaningless words.

social media engagement infographic_

Twitter tips

twitter-logo-2Microblogging with Twitter is a fast way to get your message to a large audience. Messages move at the speed of light. Often times headlines that have not yet hit other news media can be found on Twitter. Here are some handy tips that will help you get the most out of this social media platform.

One of the best examples of putting Twitter to use is a food truck. As the food truck travels, the driver can tweet where he is and where he is headed. Followers can see when the truck is nearby and plan lunch accordingly. Most businesses do not move around like a food truck, but posting updates on what is happening with your business is something you can do.

Retweet and follow posts on other accounts every day. Retweeting other messages shows you are not just posting messages, but you are also reading them. You are engaged in the process. Retweeting is a nice way to assist your favorite accounts and it will come back around to you in a good way when you get some new followers.

Search for your competition, good referral partners, your target audience and influencers in your field. Once you confirm your cell phone number you can follow up to 2,000 accounts. After that, you can follow 10% above the number that follows you. The more accounts you follow, the more will follow you. Most celebrities do not follow back, so only follow your very favorites.

Using hashtags will help people find your message. If you use #SocialSquids in a tweet and someone searches for that hashtag, the message will be more easily found.

If there is way to use a trending topic in your tweet – do it. Trending topics are the most popular topics or hashtags at any given moment and are listed to the left of your Twitter feed. In your settings, you can adjust for local trending topics if most of your business or interest is local. The mention of a trending topic will get more attention to your tweet and you may gain followers.

By adding a photo, your tweet is more likely to be seen (just like with all social media).  If you are able to embed text in the image, you end up with a longer message than a normal tweet. Add a video and get even more attention.

Making an offer or announcing a sale for your Twitter followers, helps you measure how many people are seeing your message by how many people ask for the offer. Twitter now has its own analytics. See how your account is doing by visiting twitter.analytics.com when you are logged into your Twitter account.

Send a direct message to another account by using the @ symbol and the account name. If you use .@ it will be seen by many more people because it will be in your feed and the other person’s feed.

Always remember that once you tweet, even if you delete it, your message is out there in cyberspace. Be careful and proofread your text. Be sure about an image before you post it. There have been countless “whoops” tweets by celebrities that have gone viral, but your tweet can get you in trouble too.

Once you get the hang of the lingo, symbols and using only a few words to make your statement, you will discover the effectiveness of Twitter.

Create content that gets attention

Frequent social media posts are recommendedOne way to attract people to your business is to create great content on your social media sites. Whether it is a silly meme or a serious article, you need to do things that bring awareness to your brand. The difficulty lies in making statements that get you noticed by your target audience.

Is it funny? People love looking at funny pictures and anecdotes. There is plenty of funny material out there, just make sure that you use something that is not copyright protected. There is nothing funny about taking someone else’s work and using it as your own. Silly situations that are highly unlikely or even impossible, make the viewer smile, which helps them to like you.

Inspire your target market. Sometimes the post can be a statement or blog that gives your audience something to ponder. Inspirational quotes are popular ways to get attention. Maybe the quote hits home with someone you know and want as a client.

Does your status update have the wow factor? If you post information that some people find unbelievable, but yet is true, you can attract a lot of attention. People, some of whom are potential clients, like to make comments on and forward posts that contain impressive information.

Other posts pull at your heartstrings. Sad puppies than need homes, veterans who are out of work or homeless people are issues that bring up emotions in most people. Those deep feelings bring attention to your post.

If your comments are not politically correct, you may end up with the wrong kind of attention. You want to make people smile or think, not incite a riot. Stay away from religion, politics and current events that are highly polarized. You can certainly post that information on your personal pages, but you do not want to alienate any group on your business pages.

All in all, people respond to content that pertains to them. If it is interesting, funny or emotional to your friends, connections, followers or people who like you, the relationship is there. Try to correspond with your audience as often as possible, daily if you can manage it.

Swinging out on Vine

At first I was apprehensive. Isn’t that the way with every new social media? I want to try it, but it’s different. Along with most people, I am not so good with change. And social media is constantly changing.

So, what is Vine, anyway? Think of Instagram with a 6-second video. In fact that’s what Twitter is calling it and they are the company who released it. It’s a video sharing app, but here’s the fun part… the videos are only a few seconds long and they are on a continuous loop.

Here’s a link to a Vine video.

All you have to do to take the video is hold your finger down. Let go, reposition things, hold your finger again. You can take a continuous video, or start and stop several times. It is user-friendly, which makes it more fun and bound to be a huge hit.

How can you grow your business with Vine? I don’t mean to put down consumers, especially since we are all consumers, but the majority of people have the attention span of a gnat these days. A 6-second video is just what is needed to get a quick point across to the consumer.

Do you have an amazing product? Show it! Take one second from far away, get a little closer for a second or two, keep moving forward and adding to the video until you are close to the product. There’s your video.

Do you clean houses? Show a messy room for a second, a person dusting for a second, vacuuming for a second, etc. In the end, you show the clean room.

Have a clothing store? Show someone trying on clothes. Make it like a time lapse series. A person wearing one outfit, then another and another. There is your video.

Teaching your dog to sit? Same thing. Show it!

Once you create your video, you can share it on Vine, Twitter and/or Facebook. You can “like” and make comments on other people’s videos as well.

They are organized by hashtag (#), which categorizes the videos. Be sure to add a description and hashtag when posting your videos.

There is a bit of bad news for anyone without an iphone or ipod touch. It is not available for other formats just yet.

Social media year in review

jpg_2013_bursting_open_boxThis has been the most spectacular year for those of us involved in social media. The entire industry has grown in leaps and bounds. More entrepreneurs and companies are using it to help grow their businesses. Athletes, musicians and individuals are so involved in social media that they use it multiple times every day.

Here are some of the highlights of 2012:

  • Facebook stock goes public. Mark Zuckerberg gets even richer.
  • Facebook buys Instagram for a big pile of money.
  • Obama is called the “cool” president, has impromptu visit on Reddit and crashes the system.
  • Infographics are on the rise, using pictures and words to get a message to huge numbers of people.
  • Twitter had a record number of tweets during Super Storm Sandy.
  • Angry Cat and other fun memes flood social media.
  • Pinterest becomes 6th most popular social media.
  • Finding lost kids is enhanced with social media. Since it is incredibly fast, it gets the word out almost immediately.
  • Gangnam Style goes viral. Do you know how to do that dance?
  • Find lost pets, rehoming pets. Gets the word out faster and to more people than traditional methods.
  • The new MySpace – it’s bigger, better than ever and making a comeback.
  • Instagram changes policy, people get angry, Instagram changes it back in a matter of a couple days.
  • School shooting in Newtown, CN has social media ablaze with outrage, gun control opinions, tributes and an outpouring of emotions.

No one wants to read text these days. That’s why this list is a list, in bullet form. Infographics are snowballing in popularity because the graphics make it simpler than a paragraph of words, to get the information to the masses. People all over the world want instantaneous information and they do not want to spend a lot of time reading it.

The best thing that happened in 2012 with social media is that people now take this method of communication seriously – more now, than ever before. So, here’s to the end of 2012 and to watching social media grow even bigger than anyone ever imagined in 2013!

Instagram’s latest policy may cause them to go extinct

instagram will own photosAfter all of the great times we’ve had with Instagram, the latest news might be the end of the popular app. Starting mid-January, Instagram, which was recently purchased by Facebook, has the rights to use any photos posted on the app. They can even use the photos for the purposes of advertising their product or selling photos without even giving any credit to the person who took the photo. What’s up with that?

This is a perfect example of how social media can create change in a company. People have about a month to start bombarding Instagram with angry messages about how they want their photos to belong to them and not to be used or sold without compensation.

Recent updates have given more options to the Instagram app. They added another photo style and changed the look of the program. This is supposed to make it more attractive to users. But the idea of the program selling photos without compensating or even acknowledging their users seems a bit unfair. There are plenty of other companies, like Hipstimatic, will be happy to have new users switch to their product.

I noticed that a few of my Facebook friends posted that they closed their Instagram accounts today. National Geographic has suspended posting photos as of this evening. I have a friend who is a photographer for them and he makes crazy money on each photo. Knowing that Instragram can use photos for free that after they pay tons of money to their photographers is going to keep them from posting anything. Their pictures were honestly the most amazing things I’ve seen on Instagram [not including family stuff].

This situation is quite a big deal in the realm of social media. A lot of people promote their businesses by using this app, but are not going to give Instagram free access to photos they pay to use themselves.

You have until January 16, 2013 to quit using the app or accept the fact that your photos are no longer your own. There are other, not as popular photo apps, that can be used instead. Whether Instagram changes their policy may depend on complaints and whether or not people jump ship and stop using this app.

Twitter to make changes

What makes Instagram better than Twitter? Nothing soon! Twitter is going to add Instragram-like photo editing features to the mobile page putting it in direct competition with the well-known photo app. So, how does this help Twitter? It gives people more incentive to stay on the site longer.

Any time you stay on a site or app, they benefit. Advertisers have a better chance to grab your business. And, at the same time, they are taking business away from other mobile apps.

All of these apps are trying to one-up each other. Guess who benefits? We do, as consumers. The apps are becoming more sophisticated and provide new options, as people get more attached to them. Many apps come in and out of popularity, but Twitter has had staying power.

Right now, many people including Twitter VIPs, actors and athletes, are taking a photo with their phone, manipulating it in Instagram and then posting it to social media. By giving users the option to edit the photo right in the Twitter app, it saves a step. In the settings section, users can set up their Twitter page to post everything on both Facebook and Twitter. That saves social media people like me, precious time and effort. Removing the need for Instagram would make things even easier.

I’ve been a huge fan of Twitter from the first time I used it because of the 140 character limit. While some people see that as a negative, I love it. I feel like you should be able to sum up anything with 140 characters. It eliminates the fluff and reduces your message to the real facts.

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.

Social media “Whoops!” posts

This morning I read an article about Bill Cosby. Yesterday, for the fourth time, there was a rumor that he died. It was all over the internet. False celebrity death notices seem to be the norm on Twitter and Facebook. Remember the false death stories about Jon Bon Jovi a few months ago?

Then there are posts that should never be said at all. A man was arrested in England after making racial slurs against a sports star. Either the poster didn’t think or didn’t care what he was posting.

Whether it is risqué, wrong, racist or just in poor taste, that is no way to get people to like, know and trust you. Those are the people who will want to buy from you or use your services. Your reputation is based on what you say and how you say it. Don’t blow it by making an off the cuff comment that contradicts your message or brand.

How many times have we heard about people accidentally (or on purpose) sending nude photos of themselves or others? How about when Tori Spelling’s husband sent a touching tweet about how beautiful his wife looked playing with their kids first thing in the morning? It accidentally showed his wife’s bare breast! He didn’t look at the photo closely before he posted it.

There are entire websites devoted to inappropriate photos that people have posted. Sometimes it’s a sexy or nude photo with a small child in the background. There are all kinds of examples of what not to do!

If you are an entrepreneur, you need to filter things before you send them. We all know that once it’s out there, it’s out there for good. Even though the Tori Spelling photo was taken off Twitter after a few brief hours, countless people saw it and people downloaded the photo. Once that happens, there is no taking it back.

If you need to do so, type out your posts in a word processing program so you have a chance to proof them. If you run a business, you can type out several messages that you want to send during the day. Proof them all in the morning and then copy and paste them into Twitter at the time you want to post them.

Always look at the links before you share or retweet someone else’s post. Make sure it is not offensive or incorrect information. There might be a message that seems okay, but then when you click on the link or view a photo, you might discover something disturbing.

Checking photos and proofing your posts before you send them should be something everyone knows and does. If you are an entrepreneur, this is vital to the success of your business (unless you are in the business of exploiting these posts). Don’t stop posting – just think before you post!