Freedom of speech

Charlie hebdo gives us pauseIn the wake of the events of the past few weeks, many people throughout the world are realizing just how precious the right to freedom of speech is. As Americans, we sometimes take this right for granted. Between the terror events in France and the Sony movie The Interview, we are now seeing how some other people view our freedom.

In my business, I have the opportunity to write about a wide range of topics. The most controversial I have gotten in my work has been organizing your clothes closet or picking a team that might win tomorrow’s game. But I know I have the right to write about whatever topic I chose. This is not true for some people.

As a college intern, I worked at a Baltimore television station during the American hostage crisis in 1979 that took place in Iran. It was an exciting yet scary time to be in the news business. The Associated Press and United Press International alarms were ringing in what we called “the wire room” all evening, every evening with news updates and bulletins. Every time the alarm went off, my heart jumped.

Back then, we didn’t have a 24-hour news cycle, social media or cell phones. Okay, maybe there were cell phones, but they were about the size of a shoe box and few people owned them. At the TV station where I worked, they didn’t even have computers. We typed on typewriters with large keys so the stories could be put directly into the teleprompter for the anchorman.

As a young adult, it was the first time I was exposed to terrorism. I also learned a lot about patriotism and freedom during my internship. It has been a long road from that job to creating Social Squids, but freedom of speech has been there all along.

With the technology of today, people use freedom of speech and social media to instantly send images and words to the world. With this freedom people have gotten themselves into all kinds of trouble from “sexting” to sending out things by accident. Of course, many also use it for sending funny, informational, inspirational or newsworthy messages.

As citizens of the world and especially as writers, we should remember how precious this freedom is. Some people have paid the ultimate price. We should take advantage of our freedom of speech and use it wisely.

Je suis Charlie.

Making the most of trending topics

make the most of trending topicsWith a Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Vine or other social media page to help grow your business, you should take note of what is trending. Try to connect something from the topics to your business. Many times social media is trending. Everyone who has a social media account can relate to that.

Other times there are sports figures, politicians, criminals, natural disasters or other current events trending. Anniversaries of big news stories often make the list.

What are trending topics? These are the most popular topics on social media right now. They change, usually many times per day. But the big stories always are on the list. Search engines also list trending topics so you can find them on Bing or Google.

By using the hashtag (#) and a trending topic on Twitter, your term becomes searchable. So, if wild fires are trending and you put #wildfires in your post, people who search for that hashtag will find your information. You need to stick to the topic for this to be effective. You can send good wishes to people who are in danger of losing their homes from the wildfires. If you have a product, say smoke detectors, that have a natural connection with the trending topic it works best. You can use that to your advantage and help funnel traffic to your social media pages and your website.

Make sure it is a natural fit. If you check trending topics every day, you will find something every now and then that works with your business. You cannot force the issue. It can backfire and result in people making negative comments.

Keep posting on your social media pages. Make it a daily habit. You will find that you gain new followers, likes and connections.

Use trending topics for social media posts

jpg_diagram022When you visit your Twitter page there is a list on the left hand side of the page with trending topics. Google and Yahoo also have trending topics. Wikipedia jumped on the bandwagon with its own site. So, what are they and what is their significance?

Trending topics are what people are talking about right now. They change as people search for different things. Obviously, as events unfold, people begin to discuss them in blogs, webpages and social media. When Michael Phelps broke the record for the most medals in the Olympics, he was a trending topic all over the internet. When there is a mass shooting, like recently in Colorado, that becomes a trending topic. It does not matter if the subject is positive or negative. It can be a coup in a foreign country or someone winning an election. Some sites have local, national and international trends so it can be broken down to where you are.

How does this help with marketing?

You can write your great content either using the trending topic as an example or somehow weaving it into the subject of your article, blog or web content. By using keywords that are trending, you are automatically getting more attention and page views. The search engine bots will be trolling for those keywords and when you use words that are trending, they know. The more your comments are up to the minute, hot button items, buzzwords, trending – whatever name you give it – you will see an upswing in your activity.

Another way to use trending topics in your blog is to give your own take on a trending topic. Let people know how you feel about it. Almost always you can find something that relates to your business that happens to be trending.

When using Twitter and a hashtag, for example #olympics, it becomes searchable. Someone who is interested in finding out about the Olympics can search that hashtag and see a real time list of people’s tweets on that subject. If you are using that hashtag in your tweet, it will appear in the list. People will be reading it. Hopefully people will click on your link or retweet your statement because it is worth repeating.

Certain trending topics can be predicted like elections, back to school, holidays and the World Series. You can always write something ahead of time, knowing that your topic will be trending. Football season is beginning now. While a football related topic might not be trending right this second, you know football is something that will be happening for the next several months and will be on the minds of a lot of sports fans around the country. People will be predicting what certain players will do, how teams will do and then there will be actual news stories about players, teams, owners, stadiums, fans, mascots, and much more.

As with everything else, you need good, clean copy in your content. The internet is a popularity contest and you need to join in the fun. Put some thought into your content and then tell it to the world.