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5 free content curation resources to save you time

To be successful with content marketing and social media, content curation is vital. To grow your influence in today’s world, you need to be a great content resource for others so you can help them filter out all of the noise. Content curation is one of the Cs of a successful social media strategy.

What is content curation?

Content curation is acting like a museum curator where you go out and share the best of other people’s content.

Why should you curate content?

Content curation is an excellent way to help you generate ideas for your own content creation. It is also an easy way to share content because you don’t have to create content from scratch. And it helps you grow your authority on certain subjects such as social media, content marketing or public relations.

People and brands who find the sweet spot of content creation and content curation are successful on social media and with content marketing. According to Curata, more than 50 percent of marketers who curate content enhance their brand visibility, thought leadership, search engine optimization (SEO) and website traffic. If you want to learn more about content curation, you may want to read the beginner’s guide to content curation, a busy person’s guide to the content curation and/or 5 ways to succeed with content curation.

What is the difference between content curation and content aggregation? 

Content curation uses the human touch while content aggregation uses a computer. If you are using a computer you are doing content aggregation through automation and algorithms to find content. Content curation is a process where you hand pick the best content and share it with your audience through social media, your website or blog. You should read how do content curation and content aggregation differ?

5 content curation resources

To help you save time, I provided you with my go-to resources for content curation.

1. SmartBrief Newsletters

These newsletters provide executive summaries each day of the most relevant industry news, keeping busy professionals like you up-to-date with the latest news and information. They have more than 200 niche email newsletters on topics such as business, leadership, enterprise IT, careers, social business, marketing, digital, sales, business travel, etc. The editors cull through more than 10,000 major media outlets and blogs to find the freshest and most relevant information.

Take action: Subscribe to the SmartBrief newsletters.

2. Who’s Blogging What

This email newsletter is a go-to source for marketing and public relations professionals who want to stay current on social media, search marketing, email marketing, digital marketing and web analytics. It provides links to the latest news and developments in digital marketing. The email is sent out every Thursday. The articles include hot topics, new strategies and how-to articles. Their tagline is that they “spot things that digital marketers need to see.” If you are looking to keep yourself up-to-date and sharp in today’s era of digital disruption, this email newsletter is for you.

Take action: Subscribe to the Who’s Blogging What newsletter.

3. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions Blog

Almost every Friday, Alex Rynne publishes a trending content blog post that summarizes the must-read marketing articles that week. She provides you with the link to the article and provides one to two sentences on why she feels that the article is worthy of your attention.

Take action: Subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog.

4. Convince and Convert Definitive

These newsletters pick the best content from around the web on the topics you want to know and learn more about it. These newsletters are sorted by topic. There are four newsletters produced each week. Monday is digital marketing, Tuesday is social media, Wednesday is content marketing and Thursday is the Convince and Convert blog. You can change the amount of content you want to receive each week.

Take action: Subscribe to the Convince and Convert Definitive newsletters.

5. Quartz Daily Brief

If you are looking to keep up-to-date with the most important and interesting news in the world, the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter is a great content curation resource. This newsletter works nicely across a lot of different platforms (desktop, smartphones, and tablets) because it is a text newsletter that doesn’t have big images. You can choose your time zone (America, Europe or Asia) so it is delivered at the right time.

Take action: Subscribe to the Quartz Daily Brief newsletter.

What would content curation resources would you add to this list?

 

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12 Twitter tools to help you maximize your tweets

How do you get your tweets noticed? How do you get them read? And how do you get re-tweets? These are some of the most-pressing questions that many Twitter users ask. The key is to optimize the timing of your tweets to make sure you reach the greatest number of your followers.

These Twitter tools can help you figure out and maximize the timing of your tweets.

1. WhenToTweet

This tool will help you figure out when most of your followers are online.

2. TweetWhen 

This free tool shows you the best times to tweet based on your past 1,000 tweets.

3. Tweriod 

This free tool looks at you and your Twitter followers’ tweets to provide times on when you should tweet.

4. TweetStats 

This free tool will show you detailed analysis of your best tweeting time.

5. Timely 

This free tool analyzes your past 199 tweets and figures out the best time slots for you to tweet.

6. Tweue 

This free tool is basically a Twitter queue that will evenly space up to 10 tweet from 15 minutes to eight hours apart.

7. TweetReports 

This free tool gathers the stats from your top 25 influential followers and analyzes the times where keywords are talked about the most, and when you may want to participate in these conversations.

8. Lookacross 

This paid tool (30-day free trial) to find the best time to reach people.

9. 14Blocks 

A paid tool ($5-$49/month) that analyzes your followers’ activities to find out the best times to tweet each day of the week.

10. Socialflow 

A paid tool ($1 for first month) publishes your content when it will resonate the most with your Twitter followers.

11. Hootsuite 

A free web-based social media dashboard that allows you to queue up and post updates in a timely fashion.

12. Buffer 

This free app allows you to add articles, photos and videos to it anytime of the day and then it automatically shares them throughout the day.

What Twitter tools would you add to this list?

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15 helpful tools to increase productivity in the workplace

We are all looking for tools to help us save time to complete that important project with a pressing deadline, make sure we can leave work on time, or create an outstanding presentation.

Whether you want to convert PDFs to PowerPoint slides, find out how much time you spend time during the day working on different things, or create cool social media graphics, these tools can help you be more productive.

Here are 15 tools that can help you improve your productivity.

1. PDF To PowerPoint Converter

Creating PowerPoints from scratch are tough, especially when you want to insert PDFs into the slides. With this converter, you can easily change PDFs into PowerPoint slides. Just upload the PDF and the file will be converted online. If you are worried about privacy, all files you upload are deleted from the tool one hour after the conversion. This tool works on all computers.

2. RFP Monkey

This is an automation solution to help you respond faster and better to a request for proposal (RFP) or a request for information (RFI). It helps you reuse, collaborate, categorize, and even search your knowledge base of information. You are able to rack project assignments of team members and see the progress of RFPs or RFIs.

3. Awesome Screenshot

This tools helps you capture screenshots for all or a part of a web page. You can add annotations; put in comments; blur sensitive information; store and organize images by project; get feedback from your colleagues on screenshots and designs; and collaborate with friends and colleagues. You can even add it as an extension to your Chrome web browser.

4. SnagIt

This tool is similar to Awesome Screenshot, SnagIt helps you capture images on your computer with a couple of clicks. You can customize your screen captures with its markup tools. You can also create quick videos by recording your screen and then narrate and trim them. You can get SnagIt on your Android and iOS phone with the Fuse app so you can send photos and videos from your mobile device to your SnagIt editor.

5. Pixlr Express

This online image editor help you re-size and crop images via your web browser. You can apply a quick fix to the image, add creative effects, and add borders.

6. Tomato Timer

This mobile-friendly tool helps you take breaks using the flexible Pomodoro Technique – a time management method to break down work into intervals (typically 25 minutes in length separated by short 5 minute breaks). These intervals are called pomodoros: the Italian word for tomatoes. After four pomodoros, it is suggested you take a longer 10 minute break. With this timer, you have the ability to pause or reset the timer, be notified on your desktop with audio notifications, and change the alert sound and volume. If you are looking to add more breaks to your workday, this is the tool for you.

7. Toggl

This tool is a time tracker application. When you click the Toggl button, the timer begins and you track the time it takes to complete various tasks. It provides you with reports to show you much time you spent on different projects. You can do all of this through your web browser or you can install it on your desktop.

8. Rescue Time

This tools is similar to Toggl but with more bells and whistles. It shows you the hours of the day that are your least/most productive and your best and worst days of the week/month/year. You can install it on your computer to track what programs and websites you spend the most time on.

9. Strengths Test

This tool helps you find out your strengths. Do you know what you do best every day? Most likely, you probably don’t. This test helps you find out your preferred way of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

10. Email Future

This tool helps you send yourself emails in the future. Whether it’s a reminder email in half hour or a message to your future self in 5 or 10 years, it is a great way to remind yourself of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, when concert tickets go on sale, project due dates) or remind yourself to buy things at the grocery store. You can send yourself helpful links you find on the internet or send yourself an email about a list of goals you want to accomplish this year or where you want to be in life in 5, 10 or 15 years from now.

11. Kapost’s Content Audit Tool

A content audit can be time-consuming process but important to knowing what content you have on your website(s). It is a critical part of an effective content marketing strategy. Kapost has simplified and automated the process with this free content audit tool. It crawls your website to categorize content by type, publish date, persona, author, and theme.

12. List.ly

We all love lists. Some people love to create lists of their favorite things. If you are blogger and you want to curate a list, this is the tool for you. It provides you with a list format that is interactive and engaging for your readers.

13. Readability Score

Want to know how well your content reads? This free online readability calculator grades your content on a numerical scale (0 to 100). It tells your character count, syllable count, word count, sentence count, characters per word, syllables per word, and words per sentence. You can paste in the text or add the URL.

14. Canva’s Social Media Graphics

This tool helps you design cool graphics for social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram. You get access with more than 100 layouts. Open Canva, choose a layout for a specific social media channel, upload your own photos or stock images, fix the images, edit text, and then save it.

15. Buffer Pablo

Similar to Canva, Pablo is a cool tool to help you create engaging images for social media networks. This tool does not require a sign-in and no design experience is needed. You just type in text (they have 130 inspirational quotes to choose from), an image as a background from your photos or from professionally-looking photos at UnSplash. Then, you can share the image via Twitter or Facebook or add it to your Buffer queue.

What tools would you add to this list?

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The 7 Cs of a successful social media strategy

A lot of people and companies decide, after using social media for a while, that they need a strategy. Of course, that approach is like putting the cart before the horse.

To ensure success, you should think about your social media strategy in the context of the seven Cs.

1. Community

Like all good communication, it is best to start by determining your target audience.

  • Where do they spend time online?
  • What social media channels do they use?
  • How do they communicate on these social media channels?

Before your social media efforts can take shape, you should listen and learn about your community. For example, a B2C consumer goods brand such as Oreo, one of their top social media communities is Facebook. Their salute to the Mars landingwas a huge hit with their Facebook fans. For a job seeker, he or she will most likely find a community on LinkedIn because 93 percent of job recruiters use LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.

Finding out where your community interacts on social media is the first step of a successful social media strategy. It is important to first determine what type of conversations are taking place about your brand and in your industry before engaging in a community or building a community from scratch. If you decide that your brand should build a community from the ground up, you should learn from Mark Ragan, the publisher of the Ragan Communications’ PR Daily andRagan.com.

2. Content

After you figure out how your community engages with social media, you should next figure out what content you are going to share with your followers. For example, if you are looking to grow your personal brand, what articles are you going to share to highlight your expertise about your job or personal interests? If you are a company, how can you show your clients and prospects that you are a thought leader or that you are trying to make their lives easier? To learn more about the importance of content, you may want to read the Content Marketing Institute blog.

3. Curation

You can’t think about content, without mentioning curation. Curation is a way of sharing other people’s content and acting like a museum curatorBeth Kanter in her post Content Curation Primer says content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way. Rohit Bhargava in Manifesto for the Content Curator post defines a content curator as someone who continually finds, groups, organizes and shares the best and most relevant content a specific issue. Content curation is one of the easiest ways to share content because you don’t have to create anything. This leads well into the next “C”: creation.

4. Creation

Creation is the act of creating content online, whether it be in the form of text, images or video. If you have posted a blog post, uploaded a video to YouTube or took a picture and posted it to Instagram, you are in the creation business. One of the ways to help you create content is to create an editorial calendar. It may be helpful to use this editorial calendar template. If you don’t like spreadsheets, then you may want to consider using an application such as Divvy. For the more advance content creators, using a content marketing software platform such as Kapost should be something you consider.

What is the sweet spot between creation and curation? According to research, the sweet spot of curation to creation is a 60-40 (60 curation and 40 percent creation). You can always think about as the 4-1-1 ratio.

5. Connection

After you have either curated and/or created content, the next C is the physical act of sharing content. This C is about connecting with your community and getting a deep understanding of what your target audience likes about your social media activities and strategy. Based on measurements and data, what content are your communities attracted to and willing to share with their friends and colleagues?

Many brands today have created buyer personas so they can better understand and connect better with their target audience. In other words, personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients, based on real data about demographics, online behavior, along with educated assumptions about their history, motivations and concerns. On the personal branding side, you may want to use one of these 5 tools to manage your relationships online.

6. Conversation

This C is all about having a conversation with your community. This C is very similar to the community, but the important difference is the actual engagement part of communicating with your communities. To help you with this concept, learn the 3 key social media conversation starters.

7. Conversion

The seventh C is conversion. You can’t talk about social media without having a return on investment (ROI) conversation. The important thing to remember here is that your social media strategy should be tied to your business strategy. To help you get started, you may want to look at the 14 social media ROI metrics.

When thinking about this from the company perspective, it is important to remember to look at it two ways:

  • external view by your clients, prospects and partners
  • internal view by your employees

To develop a successful social media strategy, it is important to communication, convince and most importantly, convert social media into action, both externally and internally.

Whether your social media metrics are at your company, they will boil down to three main categories:

  1. awareness
  2. sales
  3. loyalty

On the personal branding side, social media is a way to help you advance your career—whether it be successfully climbing the corporate ladder or launching a successful business. You can judge the success of your personal social media strategy by whether or not you are top of mind with your network and whether it helps you get that interview or land that perfect job.

One of the ways to maximize conversion with your social media strategy, you may want to learn about the social media maturity model. According to Forrester Research, there are 5 main stages of social media maturity and adoption.

More than 7 C’s

In conclusion, a successful social media strategy should include:

  • finding and engaging your communities and/or building a new community
  • making sure you have the right mix of content curation and creation
  • connecting well with your community
  • having relevant and meaningful conversations
  • converting on your goals

Just like the 4 P’s of marketing has grown to the 9’s P’s of marketing, I am sure there are more C’s than seven.

What C’s would you add to this list?

Some additional resources

You don’t have to take my word for it. There is a lot of great information online about developing a social media strategy.

Some my favorite blog posts on this topic include:

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Optimize your LinkedIn profile: 10 steps you should take

LinkedIn is one of the most professional social media networks. Professionals sign up to join LinkedIn at a rate of more than two members per second.

As part of my job, I have had the opportunity to LinkedIn to hundreds of Forsythe Technology employees and students at Duke University as a social media instructor.

Here are 10 things every career professional should do to optimize their LinkedIn profile.

1. Update your profile information

Make sure you add all of your basic info such as your full name, title at you company, location, correct industry, and company (linked to your company’s page).

Some key points to remember:

  • Add a custom background. The image should not be distracting and should be at least 1400 x 425 pixels in size.
  • Include a professional photo. Make sure you take the time to get a real professional picture taken by a photographer. Taking it on a white background is the recommended but it is up to you.
  • Your name should ONLY contain your name. Please avoid adding any additional titles, acronyms or credentials. Please keep your name clean and concise.

2. Customize your public profile URL

When customizing your LinkedIn profile, aim to just have your full name without anything else. If you have a more common name (sorry, John Smith) then you might have to resort to a slight modification. If you can’t add your full name consider adding your middle initial or “your company name” at the end of it. If you leave your company, you can always edit it.

3. Add important websites

Add important websites (LinkedIn limits you to three). Make sure you check off “other,” then add the Website title and URL so people quickly understand the website title. It is better to use “Other” than “Company Website” or any other pick list items LinkedIn provides.

4. Add or tweak your Summary section

Ensure your LinkedIn profile Summary section captures your overall career and specifically your current role at your company and how you help others and your company’s clients. This summary section is basically your elevator pitch in written form. Remember, LinkedIn is not your resume so make sure you are always writing in first person.

5. Make sure you have company logos for each of your positions in your Experience section

Go through your Experience section and make sure you have logos for each of your old positions. Please go to “change company” and find the correct company to ensure the company logo is set up. If your company was acquired by another company, find the acquired company, link it to that and then in Edit Display Name, change to XXX (acquired by XXX).

6. Add articles, blog posts, videos or work samples to your LinkedIn profile

Under your Summary section and past positions in Experience, there is the capability to “add a link” to your profile. Go to your Summary and add articles or blog posts you have written. Or you may want to add videos or samples of your career work.

7. Update your Skills and Endorsements page

Take a proactive approach to editing your endorsements by adding skills you want to be known for with your network. For example, you may want to add “Team Leadership” to your skills. You can’t change the order of these endorsements because LinkedIn has them ranked by number of endorsements for particular skills and orders them accordingly.

8. Follow companies to keep up-to-date with your ecosystem

At the top of LinkedIn in the black header, go to the white search bar and find some companies you want to follow. There are four main categories of companies that you should follow: 1) analysts; 2) partners; 3) competitors; and 4) clients.

9. Connect with “People You May Know” to grow your network

Make sure you have at least 501 people but only connect with people you know. LinkedIn will show how many connections you have until you hit 500. Once you reach over 500 connections, LinkedIn will continue to count. It says “500+” connections on your profile. Remember: People like to connect with “connected” people.

10. Update your LinkedIn status at least once a week and/or write via LinkedIn publisher

One of the pillars to social media success is how many people view your profile and sharing content consistency. Be sure to update your LinkedIn status daily or at least once a week with something that provides value to your network. You may want to put a reminder on your calendar to share an article. You should also think about publishing through LinkedIn.

What steps would you add to this list?

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10 tips for getting more done with less effort

These days it seems like we don’t have enough time in the day to do everything we need to do. How often have you heard: There are not enough hours in the day! I have no time to work out. I don’t have enough time for social media. Whatever the excuse is, we all have a lot on our plate.

So the question is: how does one find more time in the day?

Here are 10 time management tips that you may be overlooking:

1. Ask smart questions about your email inbox

Let’s face the facts. We live in our email inbox—whether it is your work or personal email. Are we asking ourselves the right questions when it comes to our email? Can this email wait until later? Does this email need my attention right away? Can I direct that person to someone else? Am I really ever going to ever respond to this email? Is this email just an FYI, is there action required or is it for my files? The key is to be aggressive when it comes to your email inbox. Will you really need this email 6 months or a year from now? No? Delete. You may want to read 4 steps to inbox zero.

2. Keep your emails short and sweet

Don’t send one-word emails but get to the point fast. As they say in the journalism world: don’t bury the lead. For example, change the email subject line when an email changes topics. You may want to read 6 CEO productivity tips to steal for yourself where it talks about that you should think about your emails like you do with your tweets (limit them to 140 characters or less.

3. Take advantage of web tools

Like it or not, organizations and users are going to the cloud. Think Adobe’s acceleration its shift to the cloud. Learn how to take advantage of web tools like Adobe’s Creative Cloud and free tools like Pixlr Editor. File sharing tools are also making it easier for collaboration. You may want to read 22 file-sharing tools for easy collaboration.

4. Pick web browsers that don’t slow your system down

Internet Explorer has features that slow your browser experience down so users are switching to Mozilla’s Firefox or Google Chrome that are faster and include useful features like bookmark syncing. Chrome has recently passed Internet Explorer to become the world’s most popular web browser. The key is to get the most of your web browser space with extensions like Hootsuite’s Hootlet and minimizing bookmark icons. You may want to read 6 ways to maximize your browser real estate.

5. Lose the clutter in your work or home office

Do you have a lot of clutter in your work or home office? Clutter can drain you. It can frustrate you. It can make it difficult for you to accomplish things. You should think about how you cause clutter and how your office or home design creates clutter. Working in the right workspace can help you get more done with less effort.

6. Discover how you are spending your time

How do you spend your time every day? You may want to fill out your own Wheel of Productivity. Then, give it a hard look. Are you spending enough time to the colors that matter most to you? Another good way to find out how you are spending time is to fill out your calendar with tasks you accomplished that hour or half hour. Then, look over the past month. What did you accomplish? When did you accomplish the most—the morning or the evening? If you don’t know already, it may tell if you are morning person or evening person. You may want to read how your body clock affects your life.  

7. Get your calendar under control

Don’t fill up your calendar with standing meetings. These meetings may be good if you are not doing anything else but evaluate whether certain meetings have taken their course and need to be restructured or canceled altogether. Another way to reduce time is by bundling meetings by location. If you are traveling back and forth from a certain location, reduce the travel time by booking all your meetings in that location in one day. As Stephen Covey said, “the key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” Are you investing in your time the right way?

8. Run meetings more effectively

You have probably been in those meetings are a waste of time. Do they start on time? It is common across corporate America for meetings to be a waste of time, not fun, and to start late. So how does a meeting run more effectively? Have the person who organized the meeting discuss the goals of the meeting. Make sure that he or she gives “homework” assignments either before or after the meeting so people know what to expect for the meeting or what to do for before the next meeting. Another time is to book the meeting for the length you need. Most meetings will go the full 30 minutes or hour if that time is booked for that. As Parkinson’s Law states: “work will fill the time available for its completion.”

9. Manage your energy not your time

The key to managing your energy is to take breaks every 90 minutes. It helps you better work with your body’s natural rhythms. It is simple concept: spend energy more wisely and you will have more of it. The key is to be conscious of the ways you are building rest and renewal into your day. You may want to read 6 ways to use less energy to get more done.  

10. Get a good night’s sleep

Are you getting enough sleep? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic. How much sleep you need depends on you and as we get older. Adults generally need seven to eight hours but according to a national health interview survey, nearly 30 percent of adults report getting less than six hours of sleep. To make sure you get sleep you need, try to go to bed the same time every night, avoid large meals before bed, and avoid caffeine and alcohol right before bed. You also need to get good, deep sleep. You want to ready about an iPhone app that promises no more sleepless nights.

In the end, managing your time well is taking the time to ensure you prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency.

What productivity tips would you add to this list?

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5 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them

Social media can help grow your personal and company brand, if done right. If social media is not done properly, it could send the wrong message to your community and it could hurt your brand. It is important that you don’t put your social media on autopilot and you don’t neglect it. Social media takes a lot of care and feeding.

We have created a list of five common social media mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Not customizing your message to the social network

How many times have you seen @ signs on LinkedIn? Probably a lot. Do you listen to those messages when you know they are for another social network? Probably not. What about learning about LinkedIn on Twitter? Are you really going to read an article about LinkedIn tips on Twitter? It is a common mistake that people make is not customizing posts for each platform.

The fix: Remember what the purpose is of each network is and its ins and outs. LinkedIn is a social network for professionals; therefore, your posts should be more professional. Facebook is a network for friends; so these posts should be less formal, more casual. Remember to cater your message to the platform. For some that is communications 101 but for others that is a common mistake.

2. No strategy

Have you ever asked yourself why you are on Facebook? What about Twitter? Are the people your company trying to reach on that social network? Are your friends still on Facebook or have they left for another platform like Instagram? Who are you trying to communicate with? Before you or your company joins a social media platform, ask yourself: why?

The fix: Create a social media strategy. Having an intern manage your company’s social media presence is a big mistake (here are 11 reasons why). A seasoned experience professional should be handling your company’s social media presence because he or she knows your business well and can avoid crises.

3. One-way communication

Social media is not a platform to blast messages one way. It is a way for people and brands to listen, learn and engage. How often do you see a brand or person never respond to a post or a message they sent? How often do you see questions or concerns go unanswered by brands and people? It shows a lack of understanding the true essence of social media: being “social.”

The fix: Social media is way to humanize brands (read: 20 tips on that topic) and open up possibilities for people to connect with people around the world. Social media is a platform for two-way not one-way communications. For everyone @ mention on Twitter, reply back. It doesn’t take a lot of time to say thank you to your followers who care about you or your brand.

4. Selling. Selling. Selling.

Social platforms are not for selling. People don’t join social media networks to be sold to. They join them to converse, see what others are doing and learn about the world. How often do you see posts about companies talking about themselves too much?

The fix: Share news and expert content that is helpful and shareable. Find a balance of posts that promote others and you or your company once in a while. Share content created by your colleagues and industry experts. Be helpful not salesy.

5. Inconsistent or no posts

How many times do you see a company create a social network but they haven’t posted in months or years? The page looks like a ghost town. For example, how many Twitter accounts have you seen where the person still has an egghead and has never tweeted? Inconsistent posting on social sites can say more to your followers than what you are actually posting. Would you work with a company that didn’t care about its social media presence? How you would be treated as a customer? Would you get neglected as well?

The fix: Make sure you post at least once a week. On some social networks, you may want to post once a day but you don’t want to clutter your followers’ feed. For example, Twitter is a much faster moving feed so posts can be much more frequent than Facebook. On LinkedIn, you may want to make an update at least twice a week because your home feed on that platform is getting more activity recently with the launch of sponsored updates.

What would you add to this list? What are you seeing that others are doing wrong on social media?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3

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3 free image editing apps for social media

If you are active on social media, you know that social networking sites frequently change the look, feel and functionality. Look at what happens almost on a monthly basis with Facebook. Not to mention LinkedIn and YouTube. They both recently underwent a series of updates and changes.

One day you have a perfect background photo and the next day you don’t.

It is important for you and your company to keep up with these changes because it is a key component of making a good first impression and keeping your community coming back for more. They are more likely to engage with you and your brand with eye-pleasing images that make their experience on your pages enjoyable and fun. Not to mention, it also provides an opportunity to show off you and your company’s personality.

But social networking sites don’t make it easy.

Have you tried to edit your graphic or photos using Adobe Photoshop or your pre-loaded image editor?

Have you tried over and over to successfully maneuver your way through editing a picture to the correct pixel size that each social network requires?

As you may know, Facebook requires your timeline cover photo to be 851 x 315 pixels, Twitter requires your background to be 1920 x 1080 pixels and YouTube requires your header to be 970 x 150 pixels.

We feel your pain.

Below is a list of three photo-editing apps (with their pros and cons) that can help you edit you and your company’s social media images for free (now you won’t have to use image editing websites that charge a hefty monthly or program subscription fee).

1. GetPaint.net

Pros: Range of effects; straight-forward interface; and diverse menu items.

Cons: Software download required; limited brush types; and lack of layer effects.

2. Pixlr

Pros: Facebook compatibility; basic layer canvas feature; and no download necessary.

Cons: Limited import/export options; no frame options; and no option to save favorite effects.

3. PicMonkey

Pros: Easy to use; variety of editing and features; and blemish fixing tools.

Cons: Lack of undo option; many options not free; and limited fonts available.

What free image editing apps would you add to this list?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Cassandra D’Aiello, social media manager at Perspectiv3

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10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputation

Do you Google yourself and find another person with your same name pops on the screen? Want to prevent a recruiter from seeing those drunk college photos that your friends posted on Facebook? Want others find out quickly who you are, what you do and what content you are sharing online?

If your answer to all those questions is “yes” then you will want to monitor and be proactive about your personal brand and online reputation.

Managing your personal brand and online reputation is not an easy task but here are 10 free tools that can help you.

1. BrandYourself 

This website is a great way to manage and take ownership of your search results. This tool makes sure that the search engines like Google and Bing find the “real” you and not someone else who may have a name close to your name (or in some cases the same name). It helps you put your most relevant results at the top and improves your personal brand.

BrandYourself

2. About Me 

This website helps you create your own personal homepage that is a central place for all of your online website properties like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and blog. This tool can help you improve your presence on the web and help others quickly learn about who you are and what you share online.

About.Me

3. Social Mention 

This tool sends you alerts of your keywords. It analyzes when you are mentioned and how important those mentions really are. In other words, it is social media search engine. It searches user-generated content like blogs, bookmarks, comments and videos.

SocialMention

4. Who’s Talkin? 

This tool is similar to SocialMention in that it alerts you of your mentions. It helps you search for conversations that you care about the most.

whos-talkin

5. NameChk 

Want to know if your name is available on a social network? This tool is helpful in making sure you secure your domains and don’t let cybersquatters steal your name on social networks. It helps you figure out if your desired social media username or URL is still available on tons of social networks.

namechk

6. HootSuite 

This tool helps you manage and measure your social media presence in one simple dashboard. You can manage multiple social media profiles, schedule messages and tweets, track mentions of your name and analyze social media traffic.

hootsuite

7. Google Alerts 

These alerts are still a must-do today for searching for the keywords you want to know about such as your name or nickname. It also helps you stay up-to-date on keywords you are interested in like public relations, content marketing, brand journalism or social media.

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8. Google’s Me on the Web 

This tools notifies you when your personal data like email address or phone number gets published online. This helps you keep up-to-date on what information is being published about you and whether you need to take action or not.

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9. Yasni 

This tool can help you search for a phone number, email address, profession and location of any person. The tool provides news and links about any individual.

yasni

10. Naymz 

This tool measures and manages your social reputation. This tool gives you a score based on how people find you. You can calculate your social influence and earn badges/endorsements of your strong reputation and influence like Klout does.

Naymz

What free tools have you found helpful to manage your personal brand and online reputation?

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The A to Z guide to social media

Sometimes it’s worth getting back to basics.

Here is a compact roadmap to social media – compiled as an easy-to-follow A to Z guide.

Access

Some companies still deny access to social networks at work.  According to a Cisco study, 33 percent of college students and young professionals under the age of 30 say they would prioritize social media access over salary in accepting a job offer.

Balance

Brands and people should balance the amount of time they spend on social media and the amount of time they spend on each of the different social media networks.

Channels

Don’t get caught up in social media channels – instead develop a social media strategy.

Democracy

According to some reports, social media has sparked democracy. What do you think?

Engagement

Social media provides brands with direct access to their primary audience: customers. Read 21 rules for social media engagement.

Facebook

Despite some people getting frustrated with Facebook, it is still the top social network a majority of us still use. According to Business2Community,77 percent of B2C companies acquired customers via Facebook.

Google+

This is now the second-largest social networkGoogle+ is appealing to many because of three reasons: search results, hangouts and the new Communities

Humanize

Social media is humanizing brands. Humans connect with humans – not with brands or logos. Social media helps tear down the traditional walls that large organizations put up. Read 10 ways to humanize your brand on social media

Instagram

Despite Instagram recently losing 25 percent of its daily active users,it is still the choice of photo sharing today. Read 5 things brands can learn from the Instagram fallout and 3 ways to grow your Instagram community.

Journalists

We are all now citizen journalists. In other words, we all play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. Remember how social media played a big role in the US Airways airplane crash into the Hudson River.

Knowledge

You can learn a lot on your social networks. As a job seeker, you can learn about your future company before you interview with them. As a brand, you can learn about the digital body language of your customers.

LinkedIn

This network keeps growing with more than 200 million users.It is the top social network for many B2B companies (read 7 steps to LinkedIn success for B2B companies). Their new endorsements feature has negative and positive reviews but the jury is still out. In the meantime, you may want to read how to make the most of LinkedIn endorsements.

MySpace

Justin Timberlake is bringing sexy back to MySpace. But is it enough? Only time will tell but it is worth keeping an eye on. Read 5 things marketers will love about MySpace.

News. People now go to Twitter or other social networks to find out their news since it can break faster than through the traditional media outlets. Read how social media is taking over the news industry.

Openness

Whether you like or not, you are learning a lot about your friends and brands than you ever did before … the good, bad and the ugly. Social media is breaking down the traditional “walls” of information that friends or brands put up.

Pinterest

This network has exploded. It is on its ways to becoming a household name in social media. Pinterest is addictive and it recently launched business pages. Read 5 ways brands us Pinterest to authentically connect.

Quora

With the death of LinkedIn answers, this Q&A site has a lot of potential. Bing has integrated it into its social search. Read 9 ways to get more out of Quora.

Relationships

This is what social media is all about. Connecting with others.

Slideshare

This is the most underutilized site out there. Read 7 reasons why B2B marketers should love SlideShare and 11 ways to use SlideShare for content marketing success.

Twitter

Twitter is where a lot of news breaks these days. According to Twitter, there are over a billion tweets sent every three days.

Universe

Social media opens up your world to the entire universe, not just your city, town, neighborhood or street. You can connect with people all over the world with a couple of clicks.

Voice

It is important to find your authentic voice in social media and craft your own voice. Read how 5 brands crafted their social media voice and 5 tips to strengthen your company’s social media voice. Have you developed your own personal social media voice? What about your brand’s voice? Read 20 great social media voices and how to develop your own.

Widgets

Social media networks have developed stand-alone applications that you can embed into other applications like a website or a desktop. Some of the top social networks widgets: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.

X-factor

Social media is changing the game. It can be hard to truly describe social media’s influence on marketing, public relations, organizations and people but social media is changing worlds.

YouTube

Gangham Style video on YouTube now has more than 1 billion views. Need I say more about the popularity of this social network?

Zest

In other words: vigorous and enthusiastic enjoyment. This is what social media is all about. People enjoy spending time on social media. In the United States, people spent 121 billion minutes on social media in July 2012, according to Nielsen’s 2012 social media report. That is 6.5 hours per person (if every person in the U.S used social media).

What would you suggest as alternative letters to this list?