What Does the FTC Say About Disclosures? Top 10 Takeaways

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

 

FTC and disclosures

Last week the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) hosted a Twitter Chat to help influencers learn about some of the many new rules regarding disclosure. But that’s not all that has been going on with the FTC. There have been letters to influencers, guidelines for Instagram, an updated endorsement guide, information on revealing affiliate information and a whole lot more. While New Creative Media participated in the #Influencers101 chat, instead of reading into the instructions and advice provided I’m just going to share with you straight from the FTC’s Twitter feed highlights from the conversation. We also have sources for your to refer to, email address to send your questions and our Top 10 Twitter Chat and New Disclosure Rules Takeaways.

FTC Twitter Chat Regarding Disclosure

ftc disclosures

ftc disclosure ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures ftc disclosures

The official document is available here – https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

 

Updated FTC Guidelines for Instagram

After petitions from Public Citizen complaining that “Instagram is being used for for disguised advertising directed towards young consumers,” the FTC reviewed Instagram posts from celebrities, athletes, and other influencers. For the first time, the FTC reached out directly to educate influencers about endorsements. They sent 90 letters to influencers and marketers with updated guidelines for sponsored Instagram posts with detailed instructions for making sure your disclosures are clear and conspicuous. This marks the first time for the FTC to reach out directly to influencers.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. If you have a relationship with the brand, service, or event you must reveal that relationship. Your audience needs to be put on “notice” that a relationship exists.
  2. A relationship aka “material connection” is defined as “a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement.” In other words your relationship with a brand could be seen as affecting the endorsement, no matter what the relationship is including financial, sponsorship, or products provided.
  3. Your disclosure of the relationship must be clear and conspicuous.
  4. There are very few “words” permitted to be used to inform of disclosure, but one thing is consistent. That the use of the word AD or #AD is acceptable.
  5. “Particular disclosures that are not sufficiently clear, pointing out that many consumers will not understand a disclosure like ‘#sp,’ ‘Thanks [Brand],’ or ‘partner’ in an Instagram post to mean that the post is sponsored.”
  6. Let’s talk “conspicuous” particularly as it pertains to Instagram and the use of mobile devices. Blogs may use the “read more” tool, your disclosure should come before that. Your disclosure needs to be before the advertising link – either an affiliate link or your blog post link. Here’s a popular example from Instagram:Content.

    .

    .

    .

    hashtag and disclosure hashtag.

    I admit I’ve been guilty of this. Your audience shouldn’t have to read more or open more in order to see the disclosure.

  7. More on conspicuous, avoid putting your disclosure “ad” in a long string or like this on Instagram. Your disclosure specifically MUST be above the “MORE” button. For example many have used this system.
  8. When disclosing on a image or video it must be super imposed over the first image – for example on Snapchat or Instastories as well as YouTube. In the case of YouTube it is best to also provide a written disclosure in your description.
  9. Disclosures on pages, linked to pages, or on profile page are not enough.
  10. Tools available on social media, for example the Facebook or Instagram Branded content tool are not enough. You must still disclose using the AD or #ad information.

 

Official statement:  The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter , read the FTC blogs and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.

If you have additional questions, specific questions, or require more information, please email: ENDORSEMENTS@ftc.gov

Sources: 

Twitter Chat

https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/04/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose

https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking

https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-reminds-influencers-brands-clearly-disclose-relationship/influencer_template.pdf

https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf

 

 

 

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

6 Personal Branding Lessons Every Working Professional Can Learn from Trump and Clinton

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Today we have a very special guest post and content from Karen Leland.  CEO of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm helping CEO’s, businesses and teams develop stronger personal and business brands. She is also the author of  “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build, and Accelerate Your Brand.”

Trump vs Clinton Branding Lessons Learned

Despite having the two highest unfavorable ratings of any major presidential candidates in history, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have outlasted their competitors—and one of them is going to become the leader of the free world.

What does success in the face of such highly unfavorable ratings teach us about personal branding? And what can working professionals at every level learn from it?

Below I examine both candidates’ personal branding successes, challenges and resulting lessons for us all in six specific areas. According to the predictive Brand Mapping Matrix I’ve devised, the success of any brand—in business, politics or otherwise—boils down to how the brand performs across these six key dimensions. Here’s a look at each dimension, including exactly how each candidate fared therein as well as the correlated Personal Brand Takeaways, to help other enterprising professionals achieve in kind.
1. Develop Your Brand by Design, Not Default. Know precisely where you are so you can discern where you need to go.
Trump: The Donald has clearly defined himself as the billionaire Maverick, owing no one anything. Trump has carefully crafted his image as the anti-establishment candidate proudly going against the grain. As a general strategy, it has allowed him to get away with more than the typical business leader or politician normally would.
Clinton: Despite her best efforts to promote herself as “the qualified candidate,” many Americans have by default stamped Clinton with the brand of Matron—part of the old guard of Washington politics. Recently she has begun to pivot and is trying to find her way to a brand by design based on straight-talking thoughtfulness.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: Every business person, from secretary to CEO, needs to start by assessing the personal brand they currently have and be truthful about the degree to which it exists by design—or default. Then they need to take stock of the impact that current brand is having. Is your brand producing the reputation you desire? Is it creating the environment and responses you are looking for? If not, a pivot to a more powerful personal brand may be needed.

2. Anchor Statement. What is the go-to description of who you are and what you do? This is sometimes referred to as an elevator pitch.
Clinton: To date, Mrs. Clinton has made her marketing bottom line “I’m the woman candidate,” but that has not played well with Sanders supporters and younger voters in general. While Clinton’s status as the first woman Presidential nominee is certainly history-making and a proud moment, as an elevator pitch, it’s flawed. She would be better served by focusing on another message (consider Obama’s focus on messages of hope and change, as opposed to his race) that resonates with a wider slice of democrats and the population at large.
Trump: Four words—“Make America Great Again.” This single sentence has become Trump’s signature call to arms, his reason why voters should check the box next to his name come November. The issue Trump will face as the election gets closer is how he will translate this general idea into specific policies.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: All business people need to be able to present their brand in less than a minute. For example: When at a cocktail party you are asked the standard, “What do you do?” can you answer in a few short sentences that pique the listener’s interest? If not, your anchor statement needs some work. In addition, it’s important to pay attention to how your anchor statement is resonating and landing with your desired audience.
3. Unique Branding Proposition. What is it about what you do, or how you do it, that makes you unique, distinct and special? What sets you apart?
Trump: The presumed Republican nominee, Trump has taken a two-pronged approach to differentiating himself. First off, he is keen to point out (at every possible opportunity) that he is a businessman, as opposed to a career politician. Secondly, his message of “I’m willing to go it alone,” whether it relates to raising money to fund his campaign or being supported by the Republican party, is at the heart of his “why I’m unique” message.
Clinton: Hillary’s strongest point of differentiation to date has been “I’m the woman candidate.” The problem is that too much of her messaging has focused on this, and the voters don’t really seem to care.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: Positioning yourself by specifically articulating how your brand speaks to the needs of your audience, and the unique way you address those needs, is critical to creating an effective personal brand. And the more specific you can be, the better.
4. Brand Tone and Temperament. What is the consistent mood, tenor, quality, character and manner you bring to all your interactions?
Clinton: Clinton’s tone has consistently been one of a serious Implementer. The tonal subtexts to her speeches ring with “I’m experienced, I know what I’m doing and I can get the job done.” Her demeanor, while dignified, is missing an accessibility (and even friendliness) that voters need to see in order to wholeheartedly embrace her as their Presidential candidate. However, given the alternative, it may be enough to win her the highest office in the land.
Trump: Trump is always Trump. To some, his brash pronouncements play with a tone of rugged individualism. For others, (even some members of his own party) his demeanor shows up as angry, and even childish in cases. So much so that the question of his temperamental suitability to be President has become a Democratic rallying cry. Likewise, Trump’s tone has some Republicans begrudgingly supporting him for the sole “anyone but Hillary” reason. Not exactly the inspiring message you would want your personal brand to create.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: What you say has power, but the way you say it—your tone—has just as much impact. Every businessperson needs to be aware of how their brand tone is coming across (online and off) and adjust where necessary. In addition, taking any tone to an extreme will always backfire: Too serious or too snarky both harm a brand in the long run.
5. Signature Story. Why do you do what you do? What’s the essential story that brought you to this place?
Trump: Rather than focus on a narrative based on how his past has informed his bid for the Presidency, Trump is pointing to the present problems America faces as his reason for seeking office. But by doing so, he is missing the opportunity to tie his brand to a bigger, more historical reason for running.
Clinton: After her win in California on Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton spoke about her mother, the influence she had on her life and how the way she grew up set her on a path to public service. Clinton has skillfully integrated her history into her narrative and connected the dots from how what she learned there has brought her to here.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: Never underestimate the power of a good story. A strong (and truthful) narrative about where you came from and what has influenced you to do the work you now do can connect you with your customers, employees and colleagues at a deeper level. Your brand needs to be more than a single sound bite or pithy elevator pitch. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your brand when things don’t go exactly as you planned. The best brands feature multiple, complementary messages that weave together to form an accessibly complex and in-depth communication.

6. Signature Services. What are your core competencies?
Clinton: At the heart of Hillary Clinton’s brand is her varied and deep experience in government—and her proven ability to get things done in a political system that makes this challenging at best. Her particular expertise in foreign relations—especially at this time in American’s history—gives her a powerful place to stand as the candidate of choice. She is able and willing to talk about the “how” of the why.
Trump: In almost direct opposition to Clinton, Donald Trump’s brand is rooted in being “not” a government insider—but a business one. Continually providing tough talk about his corporate success, negotiation expertise and business acumen, Trump is presenting voters with the idea of a president who would function more like the CEO of a company than the head of state. While this “non-establishment” message is resonating with many people, the downside is Trump’s lack of specifics and seemingly naïve understanding of how things actually work in Washington and the protocols that keep the wheels turning—thus causing a questioning of his suitability for the job.
*** Personal Brand Takeaway: Know exactly what your brand brings to the table and how it stacks up against your competitors, and craft a powerful way to talk about it that inspires confidence in others. The fulcrum of your brand needs to rest on the material ingredients of your values and commitments.

A standout style (be it a brash Trump or competent Clinton) is a plus, but it will only take you so far. At some point going beyond taking a stand for what you believe in and specifically letting people know how you plan to get there will become a central issue. Think about one area where your personal brand is being expressed more in talk than displayed in action and focus on aligning the two.

 

Karen Leland

Karen Leland is CEO of Sterling Marketing Group, a branding and marketing strategy and implementation firm helping CEO’s, businesses and teams develop stronger personal and business brands. Clients include AT&T, American Express, Marriott Hotels, Apple Computer, LinkedIn and Twitter. She is the best-selling author of 9 books, including her most recent title, “The Brand Mapping Strategy: Design, Build, and Accelerate Your Brand, ” which details proven strategies, best practices and anecdotes from real life brand-building successes to help readers design, build and accelerate a successful brand. Learn more online at www.KarenLeland.com.

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Using the Paypal invoice feature for your small business needs

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Whether your are a new blogger or an experienced blogger, a small business owner or freelancer you may have been asked if “you accept Paypal.” You may have also been asked to submit an invoice via PayPal or by some clients to accept credit cards. All of these things can be done, making PayPal an efficient way of keeping track of payments and expenses as well as what is outstanding or unpaid, and providing a quick way to send a reminder. I find PayPal (other than the fees) to be one of my favorite methods of handling my small business finances.

+ The information provided is based on the belief that you currently have a PayPal account. If you don’t have one, it can be easily created by visiting Paypal.com. If additional assistance is needed when setting up your account or using it for business be sure to talk to the helpful customer support system.

creating a paypal invoice

Log into your account and select the Send and Request option.

creating a paypal invoice

Select Create Invoice.

paypal invoice feature

 

Select the type of invoice you need to submit. I usually use the default function because my invoices usually are a flat rate sum but I like being able to detail what it is. You can also use the amount function if you are charging a rate only. Select hours if you charge by the hour (example 4 hours at $55 an hour).  The invoice number and date are automatic, however you may want to change the invoice number if you have for example submitted other invoices using an alternate method.

If you need to you can create your own template, however the three provided do offer most the itemization that they need.

Optional items: You can upload your logo and use your logo on your invoice. Other optional items include changing the due date, reference number, currency or due date. Additional options include attaching files like reports.

Include the email address to the person you need to bill. Once you have included their address it can be saved and used  repeatedly by starting to type the name. You can also send to multiple parties. For example I’ve had some clients where I send it to the accountant for payment, but also to the marketing department so that she would know it had been submitted and be aware of where it was in the process.

paypal invoicing

I like to end my invoices in the notes section with “Thank you for your business,” or other note of appreciation. I leave other correspondence for email messages. Terms and conditions can be stated, for example my contractor included a note about the warranty on the parts and labor for the repairs made in my house and attached the files of the items used and hours worked.

PREVIEW: It’s important to preview and review your invoices before sending. The wrong number can cause difficulties with your client. You can also save them to be sent at a later date should you get called away from the office.

SEND: Click send and you will receive an email message to the email account associated with your Paypal account confirming your invoice has been issued. An email will be sent to the client to pay and they may use their debit or credit card or their PayPal funds available in their account.

It’s that easy. I like that I can also go through the unpaid invoices quickly and easily with the sorting function or I can look at the full list of all paid and unpaid. Use the “REMIND” button to remind clients that they invoice remains unpaid when it has not been paid by the time agreed upon.

Remember PayPal just charge a fee but then again most of these types of services as well as even some banks do. Consult your accountant to determine if it is a tax deductible expense.

This is just the basics of using the PayPal invoice feature, be sure to contact their customer service department for additional information as well as assistance should you have any problems.

 

 

 

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Facebook Pages Feed: Instant engagement and feed information

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

How to and Benefits of Using Facebook Pages Feed

A great number of bloggers I know frequently say “just don’t know what to share on Facebook.” They don’t want to be egocentric and only share content from their blog. But what they do want is engaging content, information and hopefully not have to pay for the increasing their engagement through the use of boost or ads. One really fun way of finding new content for my pages Facebook Feed is to look to use the “Pages Feed” tool available on each of your Facebook Business Pages.

How to Use the Facebook Pages Feed Tool

facebook pages

Start with making sure you are following the blogs, brands and news sources you know and love. For example, if you frequently create and/or share recipes there are probably a number of food brands out there that you follow like Red Gold or Hillshire Farm.

facebook pages feed tool

Check your Facebook Pages Feed when you are looking for interesting content to share.

facebook pages feed tool

Read down through the pages feed content and when you find something you think your readers will enjoy share it.

Be sure to include the original content and create a status post which not only includes a tag back to the original source, but add a few comments or thoughts. Returning to the food brand idea – say Hillshire Farms posts a recipe. You could share it, tag Hillshire Farms and indicate that you may try it tonight – after all it’s easy and you already have all the ingredients at home. Then maybe ask them to share what they are making for dinner that night.

Benefits of Using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool

There are actually several benefits to using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool.

Stay on top of the brands, blogs, services and events which are of interest to you as a blogger and writer, but also those which may be of interest to your audience. 

  • The key to this: know your audience. Look at other posts and see what types of content they respond to on your Facebook business page. What makes them like, share or comment.

Using the Facebook Pages Feed Tool saves you time.

  • I also use Google alerts, but the pages feed tool helps me quickly and easily stay on top of the information I need and want to know from brands, businesses, services and events. The less time I have to spend on research the more time I can spend on other things like graphics, social media, content, images, and learning more about the tools of my trade.

Be seen as an expert in your “field.” 

  • Using the Facebook Pages Feed tool you are “in the know.” So could everyone else be if we actually saw EVERYTHING which those we follow share on Facebook. But thanks to the Facebook algorithm we don’t. As a result, you may have knowledge which others don’t. This creates a trusting relationship with your audience as they continue to see you as knowing what they want to know you that you will share it.

Creates engagement. 

  • Not just engagement with your audience, though that may be a result too. But you will also create engagement with the brands, businesses, events, services etc., which you want to get to know and which you want to get to know you. I know I check to see (and I know brands do too) who has shared what from my Facebook feed and as a result use those opportunities to not only learn what my audience likes, but also to create opportunities for engagement, conversation and relationships with those I want to work with in the future. Brands will do the same thing. Noticing that your ability to share and create opportunities for others to know what they are doing, will continue to bring you to their attention and possibly lead to an email or private message and an opportunity to work with them on a more official basis.

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

What to Write: 29 Writing Prompts for February

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

february writing prompts

If you are anything like me, and many of the writers and bloggers I know, you started off with really great ideas about writing topics and goals for the year. You were ready to fill in your editorial calendar with topics and ideas and be ready to plan ahead and even take some time off from work occasionally because you could work ahead.  But sometimes are best laid plans just don’t work out the way we had hoped, especially when we pick up extra projects and work and have all those spots to fill. To help out with this months planning here are 29 writing prompts inspired by this month, the season and the topics which people are searching for during the month of February.

Holidays always provide great inspiration. You have crafts, decorating, DIY projects, and events to attend. Here are some unique and not so unique holidays in February which can provide you with some inspiration and writing ideas.

*Note while not a “list” of 29 ideas, it is 29 ideas based on groupings of various topics.

Super Bowl Sunday gets a lot of hype, and it’s a great way of sharing party planning ideas, recipes and more. But you have to act fast to fit them into the beginning of the month.

American Heart Month – Talk about heart healthy tips, clean cooking and even offer recipes which are heart healthy. Cover events and share your experiences with getting your heart checked this month, or how your family is dealing with heart disease or other heart health issues.

Black History Month – What are some changes you have seen and experienced the course of history? What are some African American historical figures which inspire you?

Related content:  Black History Month activities for kids

Creative Romance Month – Sure it’s Valentine’s Day, but let’s think about creative ways to bring romance into the relationship. Do you have some ideas about inexpensive date night ideas? How about some romantic inspiration in fashion or decorating the home/bedroom?

Related content:  7 Romantic free and inexpensive date night ideas

 

Great American Pie Month and National Cherry Month – My mouth waters over these two topics. While you can post your favorite pie recipes don’t forget about things like Chicken Pot Pie or delicious recipes made with pie crusts. To monetize using your favorite pie pans, mixers and more.

Related content: 3 Cherri-fic Recipes 

National Children’s Dental Health Month – Do you have a neat trick to share about teaching your children to brush their teeth? Maybe like our family you got to do a tour of a pediatric dentist office to help kids become more comfortable with dental health care? Maybe you could share some fun book reviews or free printables. Feb. 28th is also National Tooth Fairy Day.

Related content: Making and using a free toothbrushing chart 

Valentine’s Day – This one is easy. Thing of love, romance, activities, dinner or snacks for the kids. Free printables, Valentine’s Day party favors or gifts for teachers are also all good ideas this month. Actually you probably should have started these in January, but it’s not too late.

Gardening and Pruning – Gardening content if for planning ahead. While people may not actually be starting the projects until later on in the month or on into March, they are looking for ideas and starting to purchase their supplies. Pruning trees and bushes after the long winter months (at least here in Houston) is recommended. It’s the perfect time especially for the flowering bushes so they bloom nicely once spring arrives officially.

Start looking ahead to March and April and work on getting your content out there for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.

Daylight savings time is just around the corner. What are some regular activities people should do that it is a good reminder. This is a great time to remind readers or provide them with a checklist of DIY items in the home like changing out filters or checking smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  Consider creating a free printable which you can also use in your newsletter or as a thank you for subscribing.

With Valentine’s Day, consider doing last minute gift ideas for those you love. These can be anything from crafts and DIY at home or quick purchases. It’s a great time to do a round up of crafts, foods, or even create your own top ten items like gifts for him, gifts for her or movies to enjoy. These topics are also really easy to monetize.

Online dating – Do you have some great online dating tips or funny stories to share. It’s that time of the year when many look to blind dates or online dating as a method of meeting a new “love.”

Relationship tips – Every marriage or relationship has their share of ups and downs. Share with your readers what you have learned about love.

Google alerts can keep you up to date about the latest trends and topics in your niche. Have you set up your alerts yet to find out what’s new in your area of expertise or what other are talking about. Use that to help you with a little or a lot of inspiration.

Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could also Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle Your Old Content making the most of the work you have already done.

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

10 ways to Reuse and Repurpose your Content

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

reduce and reuse content

I remember when writing web content meant writing quality content, free of errors and with topics and titles which readers would enjoy. Of course you had to learn some writing skills for Search Engine Optimization, because that was back in the dark ages without the popularity of the many social media channels we enjoy sharing on content on now. But now there is so much more to writing web content, whether it’s for your own blog, a business blog or as a freelance writer. Does that mean your content you wrote in the past is obsolete? It doesn’t have to! There are many things you can do to bring your evergreen content back to life.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Well not exactly, but with the advent of sites like Pinterest and Instagram, as well as other social media channels becoming image intensive it is more important than ever before to include an image in your content. Not only does it make sharing your content more inviting but gets the attention of the reader, as well as makes it more appealing to the eye as you battle against getting the attention with so much other content out there.  You can use your own original images, images available in the public domain or released for use by the public or create your own graphic using sites like Picmonkey or Canva or tools like Photoshop. Whatever you do, (I’m sure you already know this) don’t use someone else’s image, unless you have asked permission and obtained it.

Other ways to incorporate images include creating an infographic, slideshow, podcase or video to accompany the evergreen content.

 

Update your images “content.” Can you turn the image into a graphic which shows off your content? For example 25 Christmas Gifts for Dad, you may have made a collage for. Now can you add the words to the image making it instantly possible for the reader to know what your collage is for? Also make sure your image now has a title, alt text and description. This makes it easier for search engines to pick up not only the content but the image too and show it in the search results. Your image and content now may rank higher and it is definitely easier to find. Without the information it is drowning in competition.

Share and share alike.  Since you first created your content you may have joined new social media media channels or for example created new boards on Pinterest.  Re-share your content on your social media channels, especially that seasonal content. Add it to new boards on Pinterest. Share it with links and new images on your other social media channels. Add it to share threads. You may be surprised how your bring new life – and page views to old content again.

Give old content an SEO boost.  Maybe you didn’t know about SEO when you first published your evergreen content. Maybe you didn’t have a really cool plug in to tell you what you are doing right and wrong. Maybe it just seemed like too much effort to go back and designate keywords for each post. Don’t do it for each post, do it for the evergreen content first as well as seasonal as each season comes around.

Make a list and check it twice. Break your list down into individual post and take your individual posts and create a list. Do you have say 15 great slow cooker recipes individually posted on your site? Do a list or round up (15 Chicken Slow Cooker Recipes). You can also work with other bloggers and make your list grow by adding in some links to their recipes – and hopefully they will return the favor.  The advantages of link list and round-ups? Linkback value, as well as new purpose for old content. Now it can be shared/syndicated and breath new life into old posts.

Update and evaluate. Does your evergreen content need a little dust off? Updated stats or information? Has a recent news article or announcement happened about that topic/brand/business which could be incorporated into the content? Could bullets, headlines or even titles get changed?

Dig it up.  Incorporate older content in your newsletter.

Form relationships between new and previously published content. Have you ever really looked at news articles? Have you noticed the “related content” or “you may also like?”  Link back to other content on your site which is related or there are also several plug ins you can use so that previously published content is noted in new posts.

Create an FAQ page.  Start with an FAQ page and then link to the content to answer the questions. Start with a sentence or so then link back to the content which offers more assistance or advice.

Create an e-book. Pull out all those DIY tips, crafts, recipes, tutorials and experiences. Start working on that book you always hoped to write. If you are going to use it in an ebook make sure you have all your I’s dotted and T’s crossed with additional images, information and research. Now you have another avenue for making money or as an incentive for joining your email list.

work smarter not harder

Why Repurpose and Reuse Your Content

There are several advantages to breathing new life to already published content.

  1. Work smarter not harder. You have already written quality content. There’s no reason for it to slide to the bottom of your blog simply because the day changes.
  2. Helps to avoid burnout and writer’s block. Take the opportunity in front of you to do something new with your content and then take some time off.
  3. It is good for SEO.
  4. Reach a new audience.
  5. Reinforces your expertise with your existing audience.
  6. Allows you the opportunity to rework your content, making it stronger than before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Using Facebook Call to Action App to Gain Subscribers

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

 

facebook call to action

Did you know that Facebook has a cool app called “Call to Action?” Have you really looked at it or just left it alone thinking maybe it didn’t really have anything to offer? It’s actually quite easy to use this app and in just a few short minutes you can use it for a number of different options like: Contact Us, Send a Message, Shop, Sign Up or Watch a Video. This tool on your Facebook page can also help you with your social media marketing and promotion. Using the Call to Action you can promote your newsletter and gain subscribers, in just three short and easy steps.

facebook call to action

Visit your page, logged in as an administrator. In the top left hand corner near your “LIKE” and other buttons there is a “Call to Action” app. Select it.

call to action to gain subscribers

On the pull down menu for “Call to Action” select SIGN UP. Then insert a page from your website where your readers can sign up for a newsletter. If you haven’t already created one, it only takes a few minutes.  Then insert the website link.

Select NO for Link to an app. Then Create.

call to action

Your page will return to the main page and you will receive this message. The curious will select it to see what is available to sign up for or you can start promoting your sign up page through posts on your pages.

It’s that easy!

 

 

 

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Perfecting your post before you publish: The ultimate blogging checklist

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

 

blogging checklist

Whether you are an experienced blogger with many years behind you blogging or a brand new blogger a blogger checklist can help you make sure that you do more than dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s before you hit that publish button.

Creating Your Content

  • Research your topic thoroughly.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a parenting tip, article or product review. It doesn’t matter if it’s an “editorial” piece of content on something you saw in the news. Make sure you know all sides of the content you are going to write and be ready to provide sources for them too. Sure, there are plenty of times that you are just writing your own thoughts, but it doesn’t hurt to know what else is out there as you share your experiences with a topic.
  • Draft your content. Now is the time to get it organized, think about transitions and of course concentrate on your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Know what your most common mistakes are and look for them.
  • Have clear and concise content. Break things up with an ad, image or other graphic (like a tweet this) or quote so that content isn’t too long (unlike this list- see I’m not following that checklist item today).
  • Create a call to action. This may be to encourage your reader to leave a comment and share their own experiences, directions to by tickets or another method of follow up like an ad for the product you mentioned.
  • SAVE FREQUENTLY! It doesn’t matter if you are drafting in a document program like WORD or if you are drafting in our blog, be sure to hit SAVE DRAFT after each change.
  • Can you use a header, or other breaks in the content? the <h2> before content and </h2> after creates a visible break as well as adds to your SEO. Use it well.
  • Do you need list or bullets to break up your content into more manageable pieces?
  • Include any sources or links you need to in order to support the content.
  • Final draft. Now that your content is clear, concise and error free put your final draft into place.

Headline and Titles

  • This is where I like to create my headline. Sometimes I just need the content to be completed before I know how to do the headline. Other times I already know what the headline/title will be. It should be catchy, thought provoking and clear. It should be between 40 and 69 characters.
  • Decide if you are going to use a hashtag in your title. It is helpful and something I’ve started doing for some content but not all.
  • Edit your pictures. Are you using just the pictures you have taken? Do they need some cropping, straightening or formatting? What size are your pictures? Are they visible. While bigger may be better 640×640 usually works quite well on most blogs. It all depends on your design and spacing.
  • Add your image to your media library. Be sure to create a title, caption, alt text and description. You can skip the caption if you like, but adding the alt text and description can help with your placement in search engines as well as search engine results.

image in post

  • Consider this .. .would a pinnable graphic be more useful or should you let the pictures share the story.
  • Connect to other content of a similar type. This can be done through a plug in or you can insert a line of text with anything from “related content” or “for more on this topic,” then link to your complimentary topic.
  • Create social media content. You can even take that Tweet or Instagram post and embed it into your content so that it is easy for your audience to share.  I don’t do this often, but when I do I like the results. I admit I should do it more frequently.
  • Mark your categories on your content.
  • Mark your tags on your content.

categories and tags

  • Set a featured image. This will be the one most likely to be pulled when content is shared or pinned. However not always. If you have a slider it will be the image which appears on your featured content slider.

SEO Settings

  • Complete your SEO settings – this can include a title, excerpt, meta description (133-160 characters) and any changes you may want to make to no-follow links. It depends on your SEO settings tool. Many find that Yoast is one of the easiest for them to use because the tool tells you with red, yellow and green as well as a list after you check what you are missing or could do better.
  • Is your main keyword in your title, header, meta description, excerpt and content. On content make sure it’s no more than 4.0% . Some experts say only 2.5%.
  • Do all your outbound links open in a new tab? No need to direct traffic away from your site.  And yes, there’s a plug in for that, or you can pick and choose as your create your links.
  • Do these links need to be no-follow or can they be do-follow.

seo settings

  • Schedule or Publish
  • Promote on social media channels. Not all channels work for all content.
  • Use your hashtags.
  • On your editorial calendar  set additional days to share again. This is especially important with seasonal content.

 

I’ll be honest. Some days I get all the checklist done. Other days I don’t, for whatever reason.  A great deal of what I do is from memory, and from practice. Sure I’ve been doing this for many years, and I’ve worked with many clients and other publications. But that doesn’t mean I always get it right and that’s where a checklist comes in handy. We forget things. We get in a hurry and we may make mistakes.

While this may be considered by some to be the ultimate blogger checklist it’s also much like a recipe. Sometimes a recipe includes an ingredient, which says “optional” and so should your checklist work. If one or more of these things suggested don’t work for you, your voice or your audience then you shouldn’t do them. But by having them on the checklist, it also may just provide you with the new idea, concept or boost you may need.

Free printable one page ultimate blogging checklist available in PDF

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

Can you improve your Instagram instantly?

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

instantly improve instagram

After attending a blogger conference where Instagram was one of the sessions, I started wondering is it possible to instantly improve your Instagram? I think it is. But then again it depends on what you mean by improve. Do you judge your improvement by the number of hearts your images receive, the number of followers you have or on being true to yourself and being the best you can be. Personally I sort of judge my success by all of the above. Here are a few ideas you can use to instantly improve your Instagram, no matter what your goals are.

Should you have both your personal and professional Instagram as all one feed? At Blog Elevated  the brand Lilly Jade  recommended you separate your personal from professional and I agree. Here’s why.

  • Everyone needs a little break from work.
  • While you may adore that your baby is learning to walk, and the family wants to know every step, your audience nor the brands you hope to work with may not.
  • Your personal life may not always mesh with your professional life and as a result having one account can “muddy” the message which you are hoping to bring to brands and your audience.

hashtags on Instagram

Hating on hashtags? There is a great deal of discussion out there about hashtags. Hashtags are awesome! Though some may say they water down your message.  While some brands may feel that way, others may not. And, let’s face it hashtags work. As you can see from above. GreatBeerNow headed out to a brand new sports pub in the area. Here he’s used 18 hashtags. He has engagement and 155 likes. It is true to his brand and information his audience wants to know. Would he have received that interaction with fewer hashtags? He thinks not. Take a look at his Instagram feed, where he consistently receives over 100 to over 200 “LIKES” on his Instagram posts using upwards of 10 hashtags.

Do I need to edit pictures before sharing on Instagram? You of course always want to put your best foot forward. Research indicates that first impressions are 80% of a person’s impression of you. But Instagram is meant to be “instant.” Instant means in the moment, but with the easy to use filters available on Instagram as well as many cell phones it doesn’t have to take long to do a little cleaning up of your images.  Look at saturation, the depth of your colors. Look for distractions in the image, does it need cropped? Look at the texture and layers of the image. Remember dominant colors are blue and green. They are appealing to the eye. You do want bright, clear images and if there is a background, Lilly Jade says leave it. It only adds to the story you are trying to tell. Use a variety of images from close up to far away. Use a consistent color palette. The details matter and variety keeps your feed from looking flat.

How can I gain followers on Instagram?  Doing all of the things above can organically gain you followers. It may take time but they will be followers which really are interested in what you have to share. Other ways to gain followers is to follow others, whether it is bloggers or brands or individuals who have images you admire. Give their images a little love and see who else is following them. Follow those that follow the images you are interested in, if they appeal to you. Try an Instagram “loop” giveaway, though I’ve heard many bloggers say that it has gained them followers immediately, but in some cases they eventually fall off.

instagram features

Instagram features are actually perfect for getting attention.  Don’t miss out on the Instagram features which can help you gain attention to your feed. Look carefully at your screen. Are you making the most of the features which Instagram offers?

  • Tag people: Are you posting a picture which features a brand or product, a restaurant, attraction, hotel, travel destination? Then tag them and let them know you are sharing what you like.
  • Location: You will need to turn on your location device for this feature but it can help you gain followers. It will automatically pull up your location (or nearby locations) and then when people do a search on Instagram for that location it pulls up your images. You now have an audience you wouldn’t have otherwise. Be sure you use this nearby, as I’ve been unable to if I’ve moved too far away or tried to do it later from the hotel so I dont’ lose my family while we are traveling.
  • Direct: Direct your images to a specific audience, using a menu much like the Facebook tagging system.
  • Social Media connections: You can link your images to each of these social media channels and your post on Instagram will be posted to these social media account. However only Facebook will actually show the image. Personally I try to take separate ones and do another post to Twitter but link the Facebook account. If you are using both Twitter and Instagram use “tag people” then use the @ symbol for Twitter. This can bring in followers to your Instagram feed from your other accounts.

There are several things which hold true when trying to instantly improve your Instagram and I’ll let others say it better than I can.

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man. ~ Shakespeare

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

A beginners guide to shorten URL’s

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+

shorten url

There are many reasons why you may want to shorten a url. Two that come quickly to mind is social media sharing. After all with Twitter’s limit on characters, every space counts. But Twitter isn’t the only place you can use a shortened URL. Using a short URL also helps with all your social media channel sharing, frequently you may not even realize it’s happening. It looks neat and tidy, and depending on the services you use you can even create a report to show you who is clicking on what URL’s that your are sharing.

URL shortener services

I don’t like to reinvent the wheel, so I’m sharing what I think are two really good lists of URL shortener services.

URL examples long and short

Here’s an example of a share that is not shortened by a sharing service or shortner service.

example of URL

Most of the time when you share you probably use a share tool on a website or blog. In most cases this share tool automatically shortens the URL providing you more room to add content or hashtags. It may look a lot like this.

URL shortened by Hoot Suite

 

 

See how much more space you have? So what do you do when you may want to share something, like a news article or other link such as an affiliate link that is very long and unsightly?  You turn to one of the services listed in the articles above.

I know that bitly.com is a very popular URL shortener service. If you use the Hootsuite bookmarklet it’s easily and quickly done as you see above. Hootsuite also makes it easy to shorten URLs and schedule your social media shares and syndication.

Those are a few ways, but sometimes you may need to manually create it and for that I normally head to tinyurl.com  or goo.gl url shortener which is an extension you add to your Chrome browser. Tinyurl is sort of my go to, since I started using it many, many, many — okay you get the idea – years ago when I started writing content online for both clients as well as content providers like Yahoo. Maybe I use it because it’s just so easy!

Shortening Your URL

Say you want to share something from Amazon, and it is an affiliate link.

1) Select text option. It’s easier to find the code than if you are using image. Your code will look a little something like this

<a href=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J3ZPNCI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J3ZPNCI&linkCode=as2&tag=XXXXXX-XX&linkId=Q3DNQNSIDBLPAPZK”>&#x26BE;&#xFE0E; MARCH MADNESS SALE 50% OFF &#x26BE;&#xFE0E; Zoom Power Bank – External Cell Phone Battery Pack – Provides 80 Hrs Talk-time/320 Hrs Audio Playback For Most Cell Phone Batteries. Lifetime Guarantee, See Why Zoom is the #1 Rated Brand.(Electric Blue)</a><img src=”http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=freefind03-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B00J3ZPNCI” width=”1″ height=”1″ border=”0″ alt=”” style=”border:none !important; margin:0px !important;” />

Who wants to share that?

2.Find your code for just the link. that would be from the “http:// ….. until the ” so in this case you would want to select this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J3ZPNCI/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00J3ZPNCI&linkCode=as2&tag=XXXXXX-XX&linkId=Q3DNQNSIDBLPAPZK

Do not select the ”

Now that is a little shorter but it’s definitely not leaving you a lot of room for any content or hashtags.

3. Head over to your URL shortener service of choice. For this example I’m going to use tinyurl.com. Enter your long URL.

tinyurl.com

Copy paste the long URL into the space provide. Select make Tiny URL! And you get this!

urlshortenerex4

 

Your URL went from 169 character to 26 characters. That leaves a whole lot of room for adding a description, statement, content, and or hashtags.

3. Look at the first picture and note “never expires.” What does this mean? Do you plan on sharing this information or content again and again? If so I recommend starting as shorty spreadsheet using your favorite spreadsheet tool. In one column describe what the URL is shortened for (for example Zoom Power Bank portable charger on Amazon) and then in the next column insert the shortened link. You can now easily use it over and over again wherever you need to.

Remember if you do an affiliate link shortener service you better use the #ad hashtag when you share because it’s not clear, conspicuous and concise that there is a relationship between you and what you are sharing.

The cons of a URL shortener

We’ve talked a little about the advantages of using  URL shortener and why you may want to use it. Let’s talk a little bit about the cons. In the first URL you can tell exactly where this content is coming from (Amazon). As a result it is more likely to be trusted. However, not everyone uses a shortened URL for good. You know those email messages you get which say have just a line of content – usually a shortened link? What does that mean? It means the not so good guys know about the URL shortener services and use them too. They use them to hide malware, viruses and other phishing schemes. That’s the downside. Many consumers and readers are aware of that so may be cautious about accessing a link from a shortener service. It’s up to you to be reputable and honest so they know they can trust yours.

Sharing is simple . . .
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on LinkedInEmail this to someoneShare on Google+