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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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7 ways to avoid common PR campaign pitfalls

Managing a PR campaign takes a lot of hard work and effort.  To ensure success of your PR campaigns, you should avoid these seven common pitfalls or mistakes

1. No integration

A campaign is more than a news release.  Most successful campaigns know how to take advantage of a multi-channel campaign that uses online and offline PR tactics, including developing a media kit, writing a blog post, producing a video and/or podcast or event for key stakeholders.  If all the components of the campaign don’t integrate, the campaign has a lower chance of being successful.

2. Lack of alignment and availability

Think about the key stakeholders in your organization and how they are going to be affected by this PR campaign. Is your key spokespeople who works in another department available to talk at moment’s notice to answer questions on a blog or via traditional media?

3. Lack of proper positioning

There is nothing worse than not understanding how a PR campaign fits into your overall marketing strategy. Marketing positioning is very important for a product, brand or organization.  What is your company’s identity and how will this campaign reinforce an image that has been branded into the minds of your target audience?  How will this campaign help with search engine optimization (SEO)? In other words, does the PR campaign highlight all the keywords that your audience may type into a search?

4. Too self-centered

Make sure that you solve your customer(s) problem(s) with the PR campaign.  Make sure you think about how this will help your target audience.  A journalist is more likely to write about something if the PR campaign can help its audience.

5. No newsworthy components

As a PR pro, you need to put on your journalist hat and think like the media.  Why should anybody care? Or what is in it for me?  Be sure to read: What Makes a Story Newsworthy? It is very important that you read, listen and/or watch the media outlets you are pitching for the PR campaign.

6. Not sustainable

Often times, a PR campaign is great at creating initial buzz but is forgotten months later.  You should create what is called the PR longtail on the Internet. Making sure that the content you write today can still be applicable in some way tomorrow is important for long-term success of the campaign.   Also, make sure the concept of the campaign is created in a way that it can be adapted to many different audiences.

7. Don’t know target audience

Who is the audience for your PR campaign?  Make sure that you not only know what target audience you are trying to reach with the campaign but what media outlets or online influencers would most likely be interested.  Make sure you do your homework.

What would you add to this list?

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10 free keyword research tools for writing compelling headlines

Whether you are writing headlines or copy for your website, blog posts, or news releases, keyword research can help you write better. You will know what words your audience cares about, how they search for things and how they group keywords together. Some of the benefits of optimizing keywords:

  • Increases website traffic
  • Improves visibility in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo
  • Raises your odds your audience finds it valuable to share via their social networks
  • Generates ideas for future content creation and curation

Keyword research is the foundation of a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and a key component of your content marketing strategy.

Here are 10 helpful keyword research tools worth exploring:

1. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

This headline analyzer scores your overall headline quality and helps you determine the right amount of words for your headlines. It also make sure you have a balance of emotional and power words to ensure your headlines are readable and compelling. Make sure you read: How To Write The Best Headlines That Will Increase Traffic.

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer

2. SerpStat.com

This website is so to the point, it doesn’t have a name. It is a free keyword suggestions tool, providing you with search suggestions based on popular keywords in Google searches and the different forms used by people looking for things. It collects and aggregates search suggestions and gives you a free report.

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3. WordTracker

This tool reveals the best keywords related to your search term. It shows you how much traffic keywords get and what words you may want to focus on. The one drawback is that it is geared for you to sign up for their paid version with their “continue your research” button after you get the quick analysis.

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4. SEMrush

This website provides you with analytics once you enter in your website, geared toward the digital marketer. You get information about your competitors and individual keywords that are performing well for them. You even get insight into keyword difficulty and backlink information.

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5. SpyFu

This website great for an overview of keywords. It provides you with number of monthly searches, ranking difficulty and profitable related keywords. You can enter in a name of a competitor and it provides you with an overview of what keywords, links are working well for them, what their pay per click ads look like and much more.

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6. UberSuggest

This tool provides you with helpful keyword suggestions where you can learn about specific topics. It gives you suggestions such as if you add a word that starts with an “a” to your set of keywords. It gives a word for every word of the alphabet to help you with long tail keywords. Make sure you read The Beginners Guide to SEO: Keyword Research.

Ubersuggest

7. Google’s Keyword Planner

This website is the traditional one that most people use. Recently, Google has required you to sign up for a Google AdWords account before you can use it. It is a tool that provides you with keyword idea and traffic estimates.

Google Keyword Planner

8. Bing Keyword Research Tool

If I mentioned Google, the # 1 search engine tool, it would be wrong if I didn’t mention the second most popular search engine: Bing. Here is a list of the most popular search engines.

Bing Keyword Research Tool

9. SEO Chat

This tool shows you how keywords look side by side in sites like Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon. It is great for brainstorming topics and content and showing how users may search differently on YouTube  for entertainment purposes vs. Amazon for buying purposes.

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10. KeywordTool.io

This website allows you to search keywords in Google, Bing, YouTube and the App Store. It generates more than 750 suggestions for every keyword. It is one of the only tools that allows you to search the App Store, according to InternetMarketingNinjas.com.

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Bonus! 11. Google Trends

This tool can help you explore topics and see how the popularity of certain words have grown such as content marketing.

Google Trends

 

What free tools do you use to ensure you write headlines that command your audience’s attention?

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5 tips for repurposing your content on SlideShare

Recycling existing content into a SlideShare is a great way to get more mileage from content you have already spent the time and effort to create. It is a wonderful medium for presenting information visually.

By the end of 2013, SlideShare averaged 60 million unique visitors a month…215 million page views” and was “among the top 120 most-visited websites in the world, according to its website. SlideShare is the perfect vehicle for extending the life of your content. Adapting existing content into a Slideshare allows you the perfect opportunity to present your information in an exciting, humorous or unexpected light. It provides a platform from which you can inform and educate your viewers about the subject matter.

Consider the following 5 tips as you repurpose your content into a SlideShare.

1. Tell a story

Your content may have been great as a blog post, an article or white paper, but to gain traction on SlideShare it needs to fit the medium. That means using less text than would typically be found in an article and more visuals to engage the viewer. Make sure your presentation frames the problem and conveys to the viewer why they should care about your particular topic (the “why”), outlines the solution and how it will improve the life of the viewer (the “how”), and ends with a strong call to action (the “what”) to encourage and provoke the viewer to respond.

As you begin to adapt your content, it may be helpful to work on paper first before moving to the design of slides. Tease out the theme and key points and think of each slide as a billboard, containing just enough text to get your point across while remaining easily digestible to the viewer.

2. Focus on design and be sure to maintain a consistent visual style throughout

Presentations should be well-designed to gain any sort of traction on SlideShare. Having a captivating title and visually appealing cover slide is of paramount importance if you hope to get featured on the SlideShare homepage. This is so important, in fact, that SlideShare ranks these two tips at the top of its list of guidelines to increase your chances of being featured. Be original. Aim for a title and cover that convey your content but also engage and surprise the viewer.

Remember to keep your colors, type, and placement of images and text consistent throughout the deck. Looking for color inspiration? Check out Colour Lovers for palette ideas.

While it is important to keep a consistent visual style throughout the presentation, it is equally important to complement this style with some well-placed and unexpected surprises throughout. Use a variety of visual tricks to keep your viewers clicking through such as:

  • Vary between light and dark slides
  • Hide part of a slide and promise a reveal later on in the deck
  • Use scale to emphasize a point. Think large text versus small text

3. Think outside the box when it comes to imagery and type

Instead of copying and pasting images you find on the web, there are a few options for sourcing images that are tailored to your presentation. Search for visuals on any number of sites offering beautiful, high-resolution, and free images. Unsplash, picjumbo and flickr creative commons are a few places to look for free images. Or you can also buy images on a stock photo site such as istock or shutterstock. And, if you are feeling ultra-creative, take your own photographs. Many smartphones are equipped with cameras that can produce pictures with an adequate resolution for a slide. Look for images that not only reinforce the information you are trying to convey, but stir an emotion in the viewer.

Play with fonts. Instead of working with the standard fonts installed your computer, check out all the interesting and free fonts available on sites such as fontsquirrel and dafont. Playing with type on your slides allows you to further tailor the mood of your presentation, but don’t go crazy. Stick to two or three different fonts that are readable and well-designed.

SlideShare recognizes commonly used fonts, but if you decide to infuse your slides with a less common set of fonts make sure to upload your slides as a pdf.

4. Keep it short, but not too short

While the majority of presentations on SlideShare fall under 50 slides a piece, you shouldn’t necessarily be concerned about staying under this threshold. If it takes more than 100 slides to communicate your idea, but your slides are well-designed and visually captivating, the viewer won’t mind flipping through.

Limit the number of words on your slides, but make sure the presentation flows and makes sense without your voice. You won’t be there to walk viewers through the content, so the story and supporting information must be complete.

5. Include links and increase your reach

SlideShare allows users uploading content to embed links in presentations and infographics. Don’t forget to include hyperlinks to push traffic back to the original content you are repurposing, your company’s website, or social media sites (think Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and Twitter.) It is also a good idea to include links to other pieces of content that support the information you  have presented, thereby increasing your credibility on the subject matter.

What tips would you add to this list?

This post is courtesy of guest blogger Stephanie Meeusen.

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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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10 steps to building and managing your personal brand

“All of us need to understand the importance of branding… we are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. … our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called you,” wrote Tom Peters in Fast Company.

Are you branding yourself in everything you do and developing and refining your personal brand?

What is a personal brand?

Personal branding is also knows as your career or professional brand. It is the way you present yourself to your colleagues and your network online and off. With the growth of LinkedIn, blogging, social networking and people use search engines all the time, it is important to portray your brand in a positive professional light. Just like a company differentiates itself to stand out from its competitors by identifying and articulating its unique value proposition, you should do the same. If you take a proactive approach to your personal brand, it can benefit your career.

There are 10 key steps to help you develop and take control of your personal brand.

1. Search the major search engines to search your name and its variations

What are the search engines saying about you? Is there someone else in the world that has your same name? Is your identity correct online? If there are variations of your name, have you search those names? The first place to start with your personal brand, especially online, is to find out what is being said about you and what information comes up first in the search engines about you.

2. Clean up your web presence

Are you looking to do some “spring cleaning” because you don’t like what you see? You may want erase some of yourself from the Internet by using a tool like justdelete.me. This website ranks the process of erasing yourself from easy to impossible. Social networks like Twitter are easy to delete while others like Pinterest are impossible.

3. Proactive create your online reputation with free tools

Create your own personal website that lists all of our social networks with a free tool such as about.me Or brandyourself.com that will give you a letter grade relating how your name ranks in search results. Read 10 free tools to manage your personal brand and online reputationAlso, launch a blog (see step 7).

4. Claim your social media profiles and your personalized URL on LinkedIn

Have you protected yourself from cyber squatters when it comes to your social media profiles? To ensure you secure your desired username or vanity first, visit namechk.com to see if it is still available. You should also secure your personalized URL on LinkedInIt also may worth creating a Google+ account to ensure you should up on the right hand column of search results. You may want to create a Twitter account to share helpful information with others. I found that my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to show up near the top of my search results since I share a lot of articles through these networks.

5. Buy your own domain name (even if you are not using it yet)

Do you own the URL of your name or blog name? If not, you should secure it at a website registrar like godaddy.com or networksolutions.comYou may want to read 3 reasons why buying a domain name for your child is a good ideaBy owning your own domain name, you can be sure that if you use that URL, you will rank high in search results. If you don’t own your name, you are leaving your online reputation in the hands of the unknown. Purchasing your name is about $15 a year. Read why you need a domain strategy

6. Set up an ongoing monitoring alert system

It is important to constantly monitor what is being said about you online. Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alertsa free alternative to Google Alerts. When you create the alerts, make sure you put your name with and without quotation markets. You should also include the different variations of your name.

7. Launch a blog where you can publish content and show your perspectives

I found that my blog is ranked within the top 5 search results in Google. You may want to create and publish content on your blog using a platform like wordpress.com or blogger.comRead best free blogging websitesWhen you do start up a blog, remember the Internet is a copy machine. Think before you publish. If you get angry or emotional reacting to something you see online or someone else is provoking you, you may want to email yourself first or ask yourself: would my parents, friends or colleagues like to read this post? A blog is a great way to demonstrate your personal brand. It helps you position yourself in a way that you want to be seen. A blog helps you grow your network beyond your work colleagues, may position yourself as a thought leader at your company, demonstrates your expertise on a topic or topics and shows that you know how to write and communicate (skills your current and potential future employer value).

8. Take some time to get to know yourself and share helpful content on a regular basis

What do you want others to think of you as online? What types of articles do you share with others? Are they personal growth articles, leadership articles, career articles? What do you want to be known for? Your personal brand reflects who you are. It is important to really know your strengths and weaknesses and do what you love. If you can’t blog, do you share useful tips to your colleagues about the industry you work in or how to do PR or marketing better? By learning who are you and what you are good at, you can better take control of your personal brand.

9. Create your elevator pitch and key messages

Just like a company brand creates its elevator pitch of who the company is, why it is unique and different, and why you should care, the same goes with your personal brand. Do you have your elevator pitch created and validated? What are your core or key messages? A good example of where you should really have your elevator pitch down is your LinkedIn summary section or your bio page on your blog. That paragraph or two should sum up your personal brand in a short, concise and compelling way.

10. Develop a feedback loop with those you trust and evolve your personal brand

Just like company brands change over time, your personal brand is constantly changing and evolving. As you gain more work and life experiences, your brand changes to reflect who you are at work and in life so it important to build a feedback loop with friends, family, colleagues and others you trust so they are helping you polish and refine you and your personal brand.

As Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, once said:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Do you know people are saying about your personal brand online and off? Are you taking steps to build, polish and refine it? The key is to remember your personal brand is more than just your job, it is your career. It is the brand called you!

What helpful 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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5 ways to jumpstart your content marketing

Are you having trouble producing enough content? Want to do more with less staff? Need to develop a long-term plan for your efforts?

Here are five things you can do to help you answer your burning content marketing questions.

1. Assemble a diverse content marketing team

Make sure each team member knows one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Build in processes so team members can depend on each other as you develop a diverse team of specialists, generalists, and hybrids. For example, there may be certain people on your content marketing teamthat may not be as detail oriented. These team members most likely would make better editors or proofers, whereas the more creative team members might be better writers or graphic designers.

The key is to have a wide range of skills and interests so team members can learn from one another. It may be helpful to have people outside the marketing department help you with your efforts.

2. Develop a marketing technology roadmap

A shiny, new content marketing tool can be helpful, but before you go out and buy it and implement it into your existing systems, you should really understand how it would help your team. It might be wise to create a marketing technology roadmap so you can see how all your systems will “talk” to one another.

With the right systems in place, your team will perform at a higher level. According to David and Lorrie Goldsmith of the Goldsmith Organization in a recent Fast Company article:

“Having the appropriate systems and structures in place is one of the most effective ways of bringing out the best talents and highest productivity of your people. Yet it’s one of the most ignored factors in organizations today.”

By understanding how your marketing technology systems fit together and the processes you should have in place, you will have a more efficient, productive, and integrated content marketing team.

3. Construct an overall theme around your content

It is important to develop a central theme for your content for a certain time period. Theming—or the use of an overarching framework that creates a holistic and integration organization around one theme or topic—can help with the development of your content portfolio. A theme can help your team (and your audience) understand how all the content your organization produces ties together.

It may be helpful to think of your content like a television series. A series has an overall theme and each episode helps tell the story or theme of the series. Theming helps successful content marketers create and refine their content marketing editorial calendars.

For example, content marketers can create a theme for the entire year where all the content (magazine issues, newsletters, webinars, etc.) ties into this theme.

4. Determine where your content marketing capabilities stand today

In order to understand where your company is going with its content marketing efforts, you should know where your organization is today. Determine where it lies on Altimeter Group‘s content marketing maturity model, and/or build a maturity model specific to your organization.

It can be helpful in communicating to your organization—especially to upper management—where your company stands and where it’s going. For example, your content marketing efforts might be taking place but are hemmed into silos by particular departments or even individuals.

5. Create a vision for what the future will look like

After you determine where your content marketing efforts are today, you should paint the picture of the future. What will your content marketing department look like in a year or two? What are you trying to accomplish? What does success look like? What is the purpose of your content, and how does it fit your company’s vision, values, and objectives?

Coca-Cola recently created a “must-watch” video series called Content 2020 to show where its content marketing efforts are heading. The vision: to create the world’s most compelling content by moving from creative excellence to content excellence. If Coca-Cola accomplishes this task, it will earn a disproportionate share of popular culture. That is easy to understand, whether you are a content marketer or not.

What content marketing tips would you add?